Sunday, June 27, 2010

3-Star Michelin Event + Recipe for Ceviche = Exceptional

History of Michelin and Food
So how do Michelin tires and food come together? Michelin guides were started as a way to promote automobile travel in France to sell more automobiles, hence more tires.

Michelin has two guides: the green ones and the red ones. The green guides focus on in-depth historical and geographical descriptions of cities, towns and noticeable aspects of the landscape, monuments and geological wonders. The red ones rank hotels and restaurants according to a strict protocol that encompasses everything related to hospitality.

"The Michelin inspectors are tough, reliable and pretty accurate."
— chef/restaurant owner Adel Ayad who earned a mention in a
Michelin guide for his Clair de Lune restaurant in Ottawa

Stars are the highest ranking in their lexicon however. Short of reaching that level, a restaurant may be recognized through a "worthy of mention" or "worth a detour from your planned itinerary" type of mention without any further comment. Then, there is a one fork (or more) symbols attached to a name before reaching the coveted star level.

Over time, Michelin expanded to the rest of continental Europe, England, North America and lately a strong push was made in the Japanese market that drew some angry reactions from local Tokyo chefs. In spite of this, this year Tokyo has more three-star establishments than any other city, including Paris!

Michelin is not the only international rating organization. Over the years, competition started shaping up: the "Gault Millau" and "Guide du Routard" in France and the "Gamberro Rosso" in Italy for the red books and the "Guida Verde" in Italy for the green books. However, the Michelin ranking remains the most coveted in the industry, notwithstanding critics and detractors.

The Chef

Before I tell you about the food, let me tell you about the chef.

Michelin-starred chefs are rare. I studied at Le Cordon Bleu for one semester under a couple of such awarded chefs, and the chance to meet Michelin-starred Chef Jeremy Bearman from Rouge Tomate in New York was appealing.

Chef Bearman was flown in from New York with his team to prepare a tasting menu to showcase his talent and feature a common ingredient in tires and food: sunflower oil.

He is self-taught and worked as a protégé under Joel Robuchon at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas. He was also a sous chef at Daniel and executive chef at the Ritz Carlton’s Medici Café and Terrace in Lake Las Vegas and the opening chef for Lark Creek Steak in San Francisco, which was recognized as one of Esquire’s Best New Restaurants of 2007.

But what he's doing at his restaurant, Rouge Tomate, is setting a new trend. Without using cream or butter and with a nutritionist on staff, he is creating healthy meals for his patrons and keeping the calorie count low. An entire meal usually comes in around 800 to 900 calories.

The restaurant works under a charter of guidelines called S.P.E (Sanitas Per Escam), which means "health through food." It is a nutritional and culinary charter created by chefs and health professionals that is dedicated to the balanced procurement and treatment of food. The acronym also stands for sourcing, preparing and enhancement. Chef Bearman works closely with farmers, trying to keep it local and sustainable. This is common for most restaurants these days. But the difference at Rouge Tomate is their guiding principle of nutrition.

Instead of grills and fryers, you'll find planchas and sous-vide machines in his kitchen. Rather than cream and butter, he purées vegetables and uses olive or argan oil. He also uses almond milk, buttermilk and yogurt as common substitutions.

Chef Bearman earned his Michelin star after only one year of opening the restaurant. Just think what another year might bring.

The Tasting Menu

The tasting menu that Chef Bearman served us that night was stunning in its beauty and taste. Every element blended together to create the perfect bite. Even after all this food, I didn't feel full, which I think is the proof of his methodology. And his plates were a food photographer's dream.

Chilled Ambrose farms Asparagus and Spring Onion Soup with Blue Crab,
Lemon, American Surgeon Caviar

Paired with: Champagne Blanc de Blancs NV Emmanuel Lassaigne,
"Les Vignes de Montgueux", France, practicing organic 

Salad of Garden Beets and Carrots, Split Creek Farms Goat Cheese,
Sugar Snap Peas, Basil Pistou, White Balsamic

Paired with: Shinn Estates "Coalescence",
2009 Long Island, practicing biodynamic 

Photo courtesy of Michelin

Ceviche of Local Fish with Tropical Fruits and
Kaffir Lime-infused Sunflower Oil

Paired with: Fritz Haag, Trocken,
2007, Mosel 

Crescent Duck en "Sous Vide" with Anson Mills Farro, Strawberry,
Endive, Pistachio, Rhubarb Vinaigrette

Paired with: Paul Dolan, "Deep Red", 2006,
Mendocino County, biodynamic 

Caw Caw Creek Pork Loin with Petits Pois à la Françoise,
Honey Glazed Tokyo Turnip, Pickled Mustard Seeds

Paired with: Schiavenza, Barolo,
2001, Piemonte 

Biodynamic versus Organic Wine

While we were sipping the wines, I noticed that one was labeled organic and a couple were biodynamic. At the time, I didn't know what a biodynamic wine was, so I researched it when I got home again. Biodynamic wine is organic with a little new age spirituality thrown in for good measure and is a new trend in winemaking.

"Biodynamic wine specialists believe that there’s a lot more to growing organic grapes than simply refraining from the use of pesticides. They use nine types of preparations to dynamize soil quality and stimulate plant life. The preparations are a mixture of extracts from minerals, plants, or animal manure. Furthermore, the farmers only sow and reap harvests according to principles they believe control the cosmos. For instance, wine is only racked under a new moon because sediment is at its most compact at this time." — from here

An Interview with Chef Jeremy Bearman

After the five-course tasting meal, I interviewed the Chef. He's a very personable, down-to-earth, friendly guy who could have talked for a long time about his passion for food.

{My first question: "Why did you pursue a career in food?}

Interview with Chef Jeremy Bearman from Shari Goodman on Vimeo.

Recipe for Ceviche of Local Fish with Tropical Fruits and Kaffir Lime-infused Sunflower Oil

Serves 4 people

8 pcs Shrimp deveined with head and tail removed
8 oz Sliced Sushi Grade Fluke
8 oz Calamari cut into small pieces
½ cup cucumber diced
½ cup red onion sliced
2 jalapenos julienne
Juice of 3 limes
¼ cup diced mango
¼ cup diced Pineapple
¼ cup diced kiwi
¼ cup diced papaya
½ cup sunflower oil
5 leaves kaffir lime
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 tbsp chopped mint
Sea Salt
Micro Cilantro to garnish
¼ cup toasted sunflower seeds to garnish

For the Shellfish:

In a hot sauté pan, add about 1 tbsp of sunflower oil. Wait until the oil is just about to start smoking then turn flame off and add the shrimp and calamari. Season with salt and pepper then Cook for just about 10 seconds or until seafood is just barely cooked. Remove the seafood from the pan and cool quickly on a plate in the refrigerator.

For the Ceviche:

Add the chilled seafood along with the fluke to a bowl. Add the cucumber, red onion, jalapeno, cilantro, mint and two tablespoons of the kaffir lime oil. Season well with salt; toss all together then let sit for at least 5 minutes. Plate the ceviche equally amongst four bowls and garnish with the pieces of tropical fruits, micro cilantro and toasted sunflower seeds.

For the Sunflower Oil:

Place a ½ cup of sunflower oil in a very small pot or pan. Bring the oil to a temperature of 180 degrees farenheight and toss in the kaffir lime leaves. Let the leaves steep in the oil until there is a strong flavor imparted. Strain out the leaves and chill the oil.

This recipe was specially created by Chef Jeremy Bearman for the Michelin Primacy MXM4 tire launch event.

Three-Course Meal in The Ocean Room

After the five-course tasting menu and the interview with the chef, we moved indoors to enjoy a three-course meal in The Ocean Room of The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island, the only steakhouse in the United States to earn both Forbes 4 Star and AAA 4 Diamond ratings. Chef Nathan Thurston and his team are committed to local and seasonal ingredients.

Clockwise from top left:

Rosebank Farm's Arugula Salad with Baby Artichokes,
Fresh Heart of Palm, Citrus, Chorizo Crisps

130˚ Prime Beef Tenderloin with Rosebank Farm's Potato Gnocchi,
Mepkin Abbey Oyster Mushrooms and Foie Gras Bordelaise

The Chocolate Box with Ricotta Orange Cake,
Chocolate Grand Marnier Mousse and Pistachio Ice Cream

Local beet Risotto with House-made
Ricotta Cheese, Beet Espuma

 Wild Alaskan Halibut with Anson mills faro Cerde,
Rumps, Spring Peas and Dijon Mustard Sauce

Tasting Notes
This night was one of the most memorable food experiences of my life. Every bite was carefully crafted for texture, beauty and taste. The setting on the terrace overlooking the ocean, the matching sips from the Champagne and wine, the Southern hospitality of the hosts, along with every taste and smell was 360˚ of ultimate satisfaction for me.

{This was part one...stay tuned for part two coming up later this week.}

Famously Anonymous - The Michelin Inspector Website
The Inspectors - The secret history of the Michelin guide
Michelin Stars - The Madness of Perfection - A documentary about the passions, pressures and obsessions behind that apparently all-important description, 'Michelin-starred chef'
Gordon Ramsay's Boiling Point - A documentary showing Gordon Ramsay striving to be the youngest head chef to achieve three Michelin stars
MichelinGuideNY - Follow a New York Michelin Inspector on Twitter
MichelinGuideSF - Follow a San Francisco Michelin Inspector on Twitter
60 Minutes segment of Chef Jose Andres - Chef Bearman mentioned this segment in my interview with him

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    Lynda said...

    What an amazing post. I love the picture of the Ceviche of Local Fish with Tropical Fruits and Kaffir Lime-infused Sunflower Oil on the tire. Your photographs make the food look very tasty. What a treat for you to be able to attend this event.

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