For those of you who really know my husband Stephen, you probably know what a sucker he is for great food. My aunt Cynthia, who is great at giving good Christmas presents, knocked herself out again this year with his new favorite cookbook, David Chang’s Momofuku.
My husband is also addicted to Chowhound, a website devoted to finding great, authentic food in any area of the world. About a month ago, he came across the piece of material saying David Chang would be in Chapel Hill dining at Lantern for a Momofuku feast. Of course, thanks to my wonderful sister who is at the pulse of all publicity, I found out first. As luck would have it, within two hours of the dinner being advertised, it was also sold out. We would be number four on the waiting list.
The dinner was set for Tuesday, February 9th at 6:30 p.m. On Monday, February 8th, around 2:30, I called to see if we had moved from our number four slot into the ranks of greatness. No such luck. We had moved to number two on the waiting list, but we were still not invited to the special tea party.
Thirty minutes later, the same gentleman I had spoken to on the phone called back to say Andrea had made it happen. We were in, and boy, we were excited.
Let the good times roll. Let the games begin. We are ready.
We arrived at Lantern right at 6:30 to drink sparkling sake paired with raw oysters topped with a kimchi puree, chicharron a.k.a fried pork skin and ramen broth in shot glasses with a nori rim. Can you say delicious? Can you say super fun? I can.
We were seated at a table for 10 with some friendly and not-so-friendly folks. It always blows my mind when people act exclusive at a wine dinner. Wine dinners are so much more enjoyable if you bond with those around you. Needless to say, I was seated across from a journalist in Atlanta who was absolutely awesome and thoroughly enjoyed a great culinary experience.
Wine & Food Pairing #1:
Pepiere Muscadet “Granite de Clisson” 2007 with Fluke soaked in buttermilk, soy and poppy seeds–one of the best Muscadets I have ever tasted with pure, sea-driven fluke that had the creamiest, richest finish thanks to the buttermilk. Absolutely stunning.
Wine & Food Pairing #2:
Fitz-Ritter Gewurztraminer Spatlese 2007 from the Pfalz in Germany with Shaved Frozen Foie Gras–think lychee and pine nut brittle topped with what looked like pillow of shaved milk chocolate. Absolutely incredible, and the textural contrasts were insane. Sweet, crunchy, fruity, salty, fatty and somewhat cloud-like. Making love to the tongue.
Food & Wine Pairing #3:
Fried Cauliflower in a fish sauce vinaigrette paired with my favorite grape, Petite Arvine (this is just a joke, by the way) from Grosjean in Valle d’Aosta 2008; the cauliflower was sauteed to perfection, and the fish sauce vinaigrette had enough acidity to punch your mother in the face. The humblest ingredient made our most favorite food & wine pairing…probably the most inexpensive feature ingredient throughout the meal.
Food & Wine Pairing #4:
Clams with Fingerling Potatoes in Bacon Dashi with Peillot’s Altesse, another great dish that had tons of delicious smoked flavor and juicy clams to sink your teeth into. We smelled liquid smoke quite a bit, but to each its own, I enjoyed it, but my husband wasn’t crazy about it.
Wine & Food Pairing #5:
The first and only red wine of the night…how cool is that? Occhipinti SP68, a blend of Nero d’Avola & Frappato from Sicily that drinks like Pinot Noir on steroids. We drank this killer, light-bodied red with the famous Momofuku Pork buns, enhanced with cucumber, hoisin and scallions. Super, super yummy and the buns were absolutely perfect. Truly a wonderful trip for the mouth, this was a highlight.
Wine & Food Pairing #6:
J&H Selbach Riesling from the Mosel with a Gala Apple Salad. Here is where the Korean kimchi really comes into play as the apples were slathered in it then served with baby Arugula, maple labne (think baby yogurt) and smoked pork jowl, the sweetest bacon I have ever eaten. Completely decadent.
Wine & Food Pairing #7:
Avinyo Cava with Fried Chicken…”I am the weakest link.” The Cava rocked my world, but the chicken skin was more steamy than crunchy and while the flavor was nice, it was a sin calling this dish friend chicken (coming from a Southerner).
As an intermezzo, we enjoyed a slushie of RC Cola with Meyer lemon sorbet, very refreshing and different.
Food & Wine Pairing #8:
Last but least, we had the Cereal Milk Panna Cotta with the Quinta do Infantado White Port, the only bad match of the evening. I loved the Panna Cotta although I wasn’t crazy about the Avocado that accompanied it. The white port, on the other hand, seemed alcoholic and clumsy, even more so with the dish. Of course, I understand that port is a fortified wine, with high alcohol, but more often that not, port is balanced as well. This one was not and it ended up toying with the panna cotta.
One of the guests at our table asked my husband were there any new culinary ideas out there. While we differ in our opinions, I will have to say, the human race has been in existence for over 3,000 years, and with food, cooking and wine, it is difficult to find new ideas. Trying to find new ideas for the sake of finding new ideas sometimes doesn’t lead to a pleasant experience. Our experience last night was fantastic because while we realize they were not trying to recreate the wheel, they took ingredients and added Momofuku touches that were simple yet delicious, and they elevated them to new heights. Even the misses on the menu were appreciated for their efforts in trying something unique and testing the culinary psyche. I would be a fool to forget that while I may not love the Fried Chicken with Octo viniagrette, others may love it. That is the beauty of this world. WE all love and dislike different things.
On a side note: David Chang and Andrea Reusing rule, and GREAT JOB by the service staff and the awesome kitchen!