Last week, as the weather took a turn towards winter, the hubbs and I were honored to attend a very intimate dinner and wine pairing at one of San Francisco's (and America's) best known restaurants- Boulevard. It was a truly memorable evening spent with President of the Chablis Wine Board, and master of Domaine Seguinot-Bordet, Mr. Jean-Francoise Bordet. The combination of company and culinary pleasures marked the evening as one of my favorite dining experiences to date...
In 1993 Nancy Oakes opened Boulevard in partnership with designer Pat Kuleto to highlight her hearty, flavorful and beautiful cuisine.
"Surrounded by Pat Kuleto's timeless Belle Epoque inspired design, Chef Oakes wonderful expression of American regional flavors with a French influenced style has made Boulevard a culinary landmark on San Francisco's revived Embarcadero waterfront."
Our evening was one of "Pure Chablis"- a program put together to explore, sip and savor the wines of France's Burgundy region, complemented by the hearty, flavorful cuisine of Boulevard. We tasted through seven different Chablis Cru bottles, each paired with a separate meal course uniquely designed to bring out the best of both the food and the wines of Chablis. Our hosts, Jean-Francoise Bordet and Francoise Roure were warm and gracious dining companions, sharing their backgrounds, stories and observations with our small but involved table. There were plenty of smiles and a good amount of laughter shared, along with an almost infinite wealth of French wine knowledge.
One of the most exciting parts of our evening was the anticipation of the unusual, completely original food pairings coming out of the kitchen from Chef Oakes. Always a delightful surprise, her dishes completely outshine tasting menus from events past, both in presentation and flavors. The food was the perfect accompaniment to the unique, elegant wines of Chablis.
As we made our introductions, got comfortable and settled into our cushy alcove smack-dab in the middle of the restaurant, the dishes began to arrive, all politely and professionally described by our savvy waiters...
Kushi Oyster, Steak Tartare, Pomme Frites
Domaine-Seguinot-Bordet Chablis Vieilles Vignes 2010
An incredibly buttery, decadent combination of flavors with a perfect, slight crunch. The steak was firm and seasoned well. The pomme frite were as light as air.
Deviled Crab Bisque
Mendocino Uni Toast, Chives & Lemon
La Chablisienne Chablis Premier Cru Cote de Lechet 2009
Domaine Long- Depaquit Chablis Premier Cru Les Beugnons
The delicate toast was topped with exotic Uni, a texture new and unfamiliar to me- the bisque was heavenly, served table-side from an elegant tureen. I sliced the toast, eating in portions soaked in the creamy, savory, dense soup... Other ate the two separately, but I couldn't resist.
Pan Seared Scallop
Fresh Shelling Beans, New Zealand Spinach, Castelvetrano Olives
Domaine Pinson Chablis Premier Cru Mont de Milieu 2009
Domaine William Fevre Chablis Premier Cru Vaulorent 2009
I loved the textures is this dish- the scallops were lightly seared, the spinach was crisp and refreshing, and the shelling beans were semi-firm, hearty orbs with a potato-like consistency.
Risotto al Nero & Shellfish Mushrooms
Domaine Christian Moreau Chablis Grand Cru Valmur 2008
This course was my favorite of the evening. The risotto was cooked exquisitely, colored and flavored with black squid ink. The mushrooms helped cut the strong essence of the risotto, while the steamed lobster claw added another burst of fresh seafood to the palate.
Brent Wolfe Quail
Mendocino Porcini, Soft Celery Root & Chestnuts, Roasted Quail Jus
Domaine Drouhin Vaudon Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos 2008
The giant, succulent mushrooms and roasted quail jus were meltaway right off the fork. The quail itself had a crispy, crackling skin on the outside, but the flesh inside was fall-off-the-bone tender. We were told that the bird had been "butter-poached", giving it remarkable flavor. The birds come from a local bay area sustainable, cage-free organic farm.
Butternut Cake & Maple Sugar Creme
Sage Ice Cream, Brown Butter "Hard Sauce"
Fuyu Persimmons, Piedmontese Hazelnuts
This dessert was the equivalent of a very fancy bread pudding served with a scoop of what I can only call "winter on a spoon". The sage ice cream was unlike anything I've tasted before- cool, herbaceous and creamy. The bread was dense, tasted of spices and wonderful fall squash. It tasted almost as if the Chef captured November and December in a bowl.
Many thanks go out to the lovely folks representing Chablis and the entire staff of Boulevard. It was an incredibly educational experience that left us fat, happy and a little bit more in love with French wines (and people!) Please don't hesitate www.chablis.fr to learn more about the beautiful wines of Chablis and/or explore www.seguinot-bordet.fr for a more in-depth look at Domaine Seguinot-Bordet. The history is fascinating and the wines are as refined as their 500+ year old family heritage.
You can also visit Boulevard, located in the Audiffred Building (one of the very few buildings in SF to survive the 1906 earthquake) at 1 Mission Street in San Francisco. Reservations are very highly recommended... Arrive early to have drink at their luxurious bar, or just explore the gorgeous interior of the restaurant itself.