I loved it when Chef Rugelio cooked a special dinner for us at Breadbar and then Chef Rugelio arranged for Chef Noriyuki Sugi to cook a special dinner for us. When I heard that Chef Sugi would be consulting on a series of Hitachi dinners at Breadbar in Century City, I made a reservation immediately! Little did I know at the time that I would know one of the main “players.”
The guest chef was Michael Voltaggio. We have tasted his talents at Bazaar, but have yet to taste his revamped menu as executive chef at The Dining Room at The Langham in Pasadena. I did meet his mother and father (who are wonderful) and can’t wait to watch Bravo’s Top Chef when Michael and his brother, Bryan go against each other on Season 6 Top Chef, premiering Wednesday, August 19.
To see Michael’s bio go to:
When I made the reservation I didn’t know that my son, David would be doing the wine pairings and working the event. What an absolute treat and pleasure and to say I was one proud mommy is a massive understatement. Our wine pairings were not as listed on the menu as David had brought wine from our cellar so we had the unique experience of some very special wines.
Chef Michael Voltaggio
Gosset champagne to start
Salmon Belly, Philadelphia Cheese, Smoked Salmon Roe – this was sensational – fatty salmon belly, popping salmon roe, the “blobs” were artichoke liquid that had been strained and jellied, artichoke heart with stem and “flakes” of cream cheese formed with liquid nitrogen.
The reason that I am able to accurately describe these dishes is thanks to Edwin – Michael’s sous chef. He is talented, knowledgeable and just a wonderful guy.
White wine with the Tomato Tartare
Japanese Tomato Tartare
Green Almonds, Parmesan “Overeasy”, Tapenade Powders, Basil – This brief description doesn’t do justice to this dish – absolutely extraordinary. What appears to be a poached egg on top is not an egg at all. The parmesan is cooked in water, sits for 24 hours and then mixed with LO2A. (I hope I got this right, Edwin!)
The yellow color is from yellow tomato coulis – clever plus delicious.
Bandol with the Hamachi
Smoked Egg Yolk, Sea Sponge, Watermelon, Wild Rice – Another complete winner. Sushi grade hamachi was perched on a watermelon rectangle that looked exactly like tuna sashimi. The sea sponge was actually Dashi broth (70% cold – 30% hot), watermelon gelatin compressed with soy sauce then added, the egg was smoked at 63 degrees celsius for 90 minutes and finally wild rice that added a perfect textural component of crunch. (I hope I am giving accurate descriptions of these dishes and any mistakes are mine not Edwin’s. I need to add, he was very patient with me at the height of service.)
Sherry for the Sweetbreads (regular pairing)
Poached Egg, Pea Consomme, Coffee-Cardamom Soil – The sweetbreads were excellent and the coffee-cardamom “soil” a perfect seasoning. I did find the egg a touch underdone – the yolk was perfect, but the white was too loose and runny.
The pea consomme was added tableside
Deus Beer with the chicken (regular pairing)
Crispy Chicken Thigh
Cuttlefish, Green Garlic, Sweet and Sour Mushrooms- this was an interesting take on surf and turf - a piece of crispy chicken thigh was the base, thin slices of cuttlefish were perched on top, a green garlic foam covered the cuttlefish. The sweet and sour element , I am guessing, is the orange blob on the left and on the right are the Hon Shimeji mushrooms.
Red Wine for the Wagyu
Short Rib, Saul’s Pastrami, Tamarind, Broccoli Textures, Horseradish “Styrofoam” – Saul’s Pastrami is Saul Copperstein’s – Managing Director of Business Development for SBE Entertainment Group. It is made by trimming the external fat before the meat is brined. The brine is made from: water, salt, brown sugar, pink salt, black pepper, mustard seeds, cinnamon, cloves, juniper berries, all spice berries, bay leaves, ground ginger, coriander seed, pimentone and garlic powder. The pastrami is not put in ice after smoking to get to 90 degrees F, rather it is cold smoked over ice so that the temperature during the smoking never exceeds 90 degrees F. The immersion circulator process is 48 hours. The “styrofoam” is made from horseradish stock that is strained, whisked with egg white powder, then gelatin with seaweed mixed in so a meringue is formed. Also on the plate was broccoli puree plus a take on crispy broccoli (Edwin explained the process, but I have had quite a bit of wine so…….) This was a very, very rich dish and I ended up taken half of it home.
Wine for the desserts (regular pairing)
Miso Cake Jasmine “Rice Cream”, Strawberry, Yuzu – The strawberries and rice cream were the standouts in this dish. Edwin explained that the cream was yogurt, dried coconut, Greek yogurt and agar agar.
Hazelnut Praline, Salty Caramel, Nitro Coffee Mousse -
I started dinner at 6:00 (as soon as they opened) and left around 12:00. Needless to say, I had a wonderful time, met wonderful people and was introduced to the contemporary cuisine of Michael Voltaggio. I can’t wait to try his food at The Langham in Pasadena.