I was exceptionally pleased to atend the 17th Annual Grand Gala Dinner of Les Toques Blanche - the white hats. This is the name of an organization of executive chef's. Currently under the presidency of Massimo d'Lucca it has some 120 members. Executive chefs include largely unheard of chefs of major corporations, law firms and so forth.
Some 500 formally dressed guests were entertained at the Regent's Plaza ballroom with a pot pourie of pieces from the Phantom of the Opera - the theme of the evening.
On arrival we were offered a 2001Clover Hill Blanc de Blanc bubbly or a 2006 Buddha's wine rose.
On entering the ballroom we found a variety of masks at our places. Each table was adorned with a centrepiece- a foot square cube of ice in the centre of which was a half mask, phantom style, and a rose.
The meal began with 'Phantom Intimacy' four delights. A South Australian oyster with champagne vinegar and shallot dressing, a prawn cocktail on a fine onion, tomato and cucumber salsa, a seared scallop on a pea puree with lemon oil and a winter salad. this was accompanied by a 2001 White Box Heathcote Voignier or a Buddha's 2004Sangiovese if you preferred
A great start to the night
The main course was oven roasted crusted lamb with mint eggplant caviar, potatosubric and piquant sauce accompanied by the best wine of the night a 2005 White Box Heathcote Shiraz Voignier.
A cheese platter preceded the Plaza Ballroom dessert Symphony - a mini ginger and roast cardomon creme brulee, a dark/white chocolate truffle mousse, a fine sauterne jelly with berry fruits and an almond strawberry tart with gold leaf.
It is indeed a rare event to get excellent food in a party of 500. I hope to be able to try it again next year
Matteo's new chef, Brendan McQueen produced an outstanding meal accompanied by well maching wines selected by wine master Peter Millington.
Starting with a large Pacific oyster with a cucumber and salmon caviar salsa and a Louis Roderer Brut Premier NV Champaigne the meal continued with Antipaso di Pesce a superb tasting .trilogy consisting of a lightly cured Carpaccio of Hiramasu Kingfish, prawn remoulade, a seared scallop, 'baccala' salt cod brandade and a smoked eel on a coddled egg salad. This was accompanied by a 2006 Bollini Pinot Grigio from the Nth East of Italy.
An absolutely outstanding very large forest mushroom raviolo with sauteed cavolo nero, chestnuts and Porchini mushroom sauce was served with a 2004 Felsina Chianti Classico a heavier chianti than most matching the strong tasting raviolo
A memorable meal
Whilst these dishes are not on the regular Matteo's menu the do serve variations of themand it will not be too long before I return to again try McQueens' fine fare