“Tartar of Shinshu Salmon,” the second amuse for this dinner event. Tartar topped with Aquitaine-grown Oscietra caviar was placed on a slice of eggplant.
The Japanese delegation that experienced “LE&” at the house of Moët & Chandon in Épernay, located in the Champagne region of France, included not only chefs but also restaurant and café professional support staff, including sommelier, managers and garçon. Yuji Shundo, owner and sommelier of restaurant Orexis in Shirokane-takanawa, Tokyo, is one such professional. With long experience honed from offering hospitality at hotels and gastronomic establishments, he opened his own restaurant in 2007. Aiming to set the stage for a generation of young chefs, he now makes up one half of an exceptional team with the third grand chef Hayato Kobayashi.
But it was not so easy for Shundo to convey the “LE&” gustatory experience to Kobayashi, as the grand chef was unable to attend the event. After devising, testing and tasting numerous menus again and again, they finally decided on the menu the day before their special dinner.
“I experienced first-hand a toe-in-the-water experiment, the “cuisine cooked with salt uncontained in champagne, yet derived from ingredients, without adding solid salt,” at the Épernay event. Japan, a country surrounded by ocean, is a rich source of ingredients containing salt, so my intention was to try an approach focusing on these ingredients.” said Shundo. This challenge was richly and successfully reflected in the “Clam soup,” the first amuse paired with “Moët Imperial.”
Handwritten type to indicate the vintage of wine in the cave is also used for the labels of the “Grand Vintage” series. In the special dinner, “Moët Imperial,” “Grand Vintage 2006” and “Grand Vintage Collection 1999” were served.
The first amuse, “Clam soup with flowers and sepals of Japanese basil”
The third amuse, “Fritto of a Mont Saint-Michel-grown mussel.” Garnished with the foam of extract from mussels, saltwort, and bell pepper sauce.
The “Grand Vintage 2006” was then paired with two main dishes. Sweet Bretagne-grown Homard lobster came with a champagne sauce, and lamb cooked tender and juicy grilled over gentle heat was served on top a consommé with small onions, carrots and zucchini.
One of the main dishes named “Glamorous/consciousness.” Bretagne-grown Homard lobster was garnished with poireau jaune, physalis, edamame (boiled soybeans), and Aomori-grown herbs.
The second main dish named “2006: Move toward hope” using Iceland-raised lamb. 2006 is the year Chef Kobayashi left for France with hope.
To close the dinner elegantly with the help of “Grand Vintage Collection 1999”, a dish of burdock root subtitled, “1999: Back to the source” was paired. While wine is typically served from old vintages to new throughout a dinner course, “LE&” surprised guests by serving “Grand Vintage Collection 1985,” the oldest vintage, just after “Moët Imperial,” the youngest vintage, as the second champagne. However, Shundo said, “The deep flavor of the aged champagne paired perfectly with the northern pike dish!” Inspired by this experience, he tried to express a profound flavor of winter evoking leaf soil by adding a lot of black truffle to the rich soup of burdock root to accentuate the ripe feeling unique to “Grand Vintage Collection.”
The soup of burdock root named “1999: Back to the source.” 1999 is the year when Kobayashi started his career as a chef. One of the attractions of Grand Vintage is its ability to coax forth a sense of nostalgia, leading one to reflect on life’s transitions.
The dessert is Shinshu-grown Kyoho grape with blueberry mousse, accompanied with the sorbet and gelée of black beer.
For guests who usually appreciate the exquisite marriage of wine and food offered by Shundo, this special dinner which paired exclusively with Moët & Chandon champagne was truly a rare experience. They treasured the opportunity to fully savor the flavor of “Grand Vintage” while discovering a wide array of new taste sensations.
This early summer experience of the palate offered at “LE＆” has subsequently linked sommelier with chef in an inspirational manner, sparking a synergistic creativity, and has consciously been conveyed to others throughout Japan.
Yuji Shundo, owner and sommelier of “Orexis” (right) and Junko Tominaga, Moët & Chandon brand ambassador (left). Smart conversation between these two peers sharing their “LE&” experience in Épernay set the mood from start to finish.
Chef Hayato Kobayashi (left) and Shundo examining their result after a triumphant completion.
English translation by Yuko Wada and Sean Gaston
More Info on MOËT & CHANDON:
MHD Moët Hennessy Diageo K.K.
Carm Court Shirokane-takanawa 1st fl.
2-3-3 Shirokane, Minato-ku, Tokyo
closed on Mondays and second Fridays
||Activities by “LE&” members
|■Kenjiro Hashida, owner and chef of ”Hashida Sushi Singapore,” shared his accomplishments, after receiving two prestigious prizes (Best Japanese Fine Dining and Best of the Best Fine Dining) at the ”RAS Epicurean Star Award.” For more details, clickhere.
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