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Posted: 12:00 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012

LOCAL PAIRINGS

A dance of contrasts and parallels

Master sommelier and chef team up for inspired food and wine tasting



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A dance of contrasts and parallels photo
(Damon Higgins/The Palm Beach Post) Chef Julien Gremaud’s white tuna tartare with crispy shiitake mushrooms, yuzu ponzu, watermelon and cucumber.
A dance of contrasts and parallels photo
Brandon Kruse
Chef Julien Gremaud, of Pistache and PB Catch restaurants, headlines Saturday’s food and wine pairing event. (Brandon Kruse/The Palm Beach Post)
A dance of contrasts and parallels photo
Robert J Nelson
Master sommelier Virginia Philip is hosting a chefs’ series at her West Palm wine shop and academy. (Photo provided)

By Liz Balmaseda

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

On their own, chef Julien Gremaud’s dishes are exquisite specimens in looks and flavor. But even an inspired dish can be elevated, and Gremaud’s small plates are no exception.

They’ll meet the inspirations of master sommelier Virginia Philip on Saturday when the chef and the sommelier team up for an afternoon tasting at Philip’s wine academy and shop in downtown West Palm Beach.

Philip, The Breakers’ master sommelier who earlier this year earned a nomination for a prestigious James Beard Award, opened the shop 10 months ago. Soon thereafter, she began opening its doors to mostly local chefs for intimate pairing events.

“What we do is pair the best possible wine with each course. We’re trying to get guests to understand the intricacies of pairing wines,” says Philip, whose shop is located in the easternmost block of Clematis Street. “We have them taste the wines first, then taste the wine with the food to see how the experience changes. When they taste the wine with the dish, they go, ‘wow!’”

Recently, Philip hosted chefs Michael Ober (Cordon Bleu Catering, The Backyard Bar), and Clay Conley (Buccan, Imoto).

“The chef participation has been amazing,” says Philip, who will be hosting four-time James Beard “Best Chef South” nominee Zach Bell (Addison Reserve Country Club) on Oct. 6, chef Josef Morera (Echo) on Nov. 10, and pivotal South Florida chef Norman Van Aken (Norman’s in Orlando) on Dec. 8, during the Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival.

Saturday’s tasting will showcase the nuanced and elegant dishes of chef Gremaud, who heads the kitchens at Pistache bistro in West Palm and PB Catch in Palm Beach.

It’s a progression of dishes seemingly meant to coax the sommelier into a dance of parallels and contrasts.

For his white tuna tartare, for instance, Gremaud reaches for distinct flavor notes like pickled cucumber, yuzu ponzu sauce, watermelon and crispy shiitake mushrooms. Philip responds with a Tuscan rose from the Bolgheri area, a 2011 Tenuta Guado Al Tasso, “Scalabrone.”

“The rose is a category that is overlooked quite often and it’s so versatile,” says Philip.

Also on Saturday’s tasting menu:

Heirloom tomato and burrata, with shaved red onion, toasted pine nuts and white balsamic vinaigrette – paired with a crisp Torrontès from Mendoza, Argentina.

Brown butter and sage-infused jumbo scallop in a white corn and chorizo broth – paired with a 2009 Remoissenet Père & Fils pinot noir from Burgundy.

And a key lime pie with raspberry coulis – paired with a 2008 late harvest Riesling from Marlborough, New Zealand.

Attendees will get four small-plate courses, a food demo and ample discussion on why each wine was selected for its corresponding course.

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CHEF SERIES AT THE VIRGINIA PHILIP WINE SHOP & ACADEMY

CHEF: Julien Gremaud, of Pistache and PB Catch

WHEN: Saturday, from 1 to 2:30 p.m.

WHERE: Virginia Philip Wine Shop, 101 North Clematis Street, Suite 150, West Palm Beach

HOW MUCH: $50

TICKETS: To register for any of the Chef Series events, or any other class at the wine shop, call (561) 721‐6000 or visit VirginiaPhilipWineShopAcademy.com

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CHEF JULIEN GREMAUD’S WHITE TUNA TARTARE

3 ounces of white tuna, diced finely

1/2 ounce scallion, sliced thin

1/2 ounce watermelon, finely diced

1/2 ounce crispy shiitake (see recipe below)

1/2 pickled English cucumber (see recipe below)

1/2 ounce yuzu ponzu (see recipe below)

Sea salt, to taste

Make the tartare:

Gently fold all ingredients together. Season to taste.

For the crispy shiitake:

1/2 ounce shiitake mushrooms

Butter, for saute

Sea salt, to taste

Finely julienne shiitake and season with sea salt. Sauté lightly until tender. Drain on paper towels and then fry at 160F until crispy.

For the pickled english cucumber:

1 English cucumber

1 cup white balsamic

1 cup water

3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon salt

1 bay leaf

Peel and fine dice cucumber. In a saucepan, heat the rest of the ingredients to create a brine. Add cucumbers to heated brine. Let sit at least two hours.

For the yuzu ponzu:

1 pint clam juice

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/4 cup mirin

2 ounces ginger, minced

2 ounces garlic, minced

3 ounces yuzu juice

Mix all ingredients together.

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