Those would be little cubes of verjus gelée filled with almond, chili, and basil.
On Sunday we took a jaunt up to Healdsburg for the third in a series of supper club events being held at Copain Wines, featuring Food & Wine Best New Chef Corey Lee, of Benu. This marked only the third time that Lee had cooked for the public outside his restaurant kitchen since the restaurant opened in 2010, and it turned out to be an elaborate, multi-course marathon very much in tune with his usual tasting menu. The evening started off with a pair of Copain’s rosés, one made with Pinot Noir and one (our favorite) made with the uncommon Trousseau grape, along with a storm of inventive canapés, fourteen in all. There were then three more courses from Lee’s latest repertoire, including a wild amberjack crudo, and a delicious dried scallop porridge with ham, lovage, and black truffle. Pastry chef Christopher Bleidorn wound things up with a very pretty, architectural dessert of pear custard and buttermilk ice cream.
Check out our slideshow, and it should be noted that the next two dinners in the series will feature James Beard-Award-winning chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson of Boulder’s Frasca Food & Wine on September 30, and David Chang on December 14. Email Hollie Schulze or call 707-836-8822 for reservations.
As guests arrived they were greeted with Champagne, and a chat with Copain’s winemaker Wells Guthrie (foreground, left) and assistant winemaker Mike Lucia (foreground, right).
Dinner was served in what is usually the winery’s tasting room.
First to arrive in the storm of canapés were these crisp, spiced buckwheat lavash crackers.
A shrimp mousse was sandwiched between multigrain bread and garnished with onion.
with lamb tartare, cauliflower, sea beans, and lemon
topped with yuzu mousse and black sesame
with rabbit sausage
topped with caviar and chive
with almond, chili, and basil
These were actually more soy-sweet than spicy, but delicious.
Small nuggets of pork belly were wrapped in jellyfish, seasoned with mustard, and deep fried.
This custard, which was filled with small beech mushrooms and topped with a rich jus, was possibly our favorite dish of the night.
These pork cheeks, braised and fermented pepper and black truffle and served over buttery mashed potatoes, were also fantastic. At right, a chanterelle mushroom soup with ginger.
with celery, on brioche.
with lemon zest.
with cucumber, radish, green apple, avocado, lime, and chili.
Lee’s excellent spin on jook was filled with ham, corn, lovage, and black truffle. It was paired with an extraodinary 2006 Rousanne from Copain.
with mountain yam, celery, and wood ear mushroom.
Pastry chef Christopher Bleidorn’s beautifully composed dessert was a mix of pear custard, dried pear skin, melon-balls of lightly seared pear, chamomile, nuggets of spiced pound cake, and a buttermilk ice cream. It was all built on and under a platform of clear sugar glass made with agar-agar.
Benu’s traditional chocolate service rounded out the evening, served in their signature, architectural boxes.
Corey Lee (right of center) came out to the dining room and took his bow afterwards, thanking winemaker Wells Guthrie, whom he met when Guthrie did a brief stage at the French Laundry in 2006. “He’s a better winemaker than he was a chef,” Lee joked.