Kill 2 great chefs with one restaurant
Is anyone else going to the Chip Roman (Blackfish)-Pierre Calmels (Bibou) collaboration dinner to be held April 8th at Blackfish?
Surprisingly, I haven't seen any discussion of it online, or even any announcements, although everyone seems to know about it.
If memory serves, they did a similar dinner at Blackfish back in December 2010, which was great (obviously).
BIBOU & BLACKFISH COLLABORATION DINNER, held at Blackfish on 8 APRIL 2013
Although I recently wrote reviews of dinners at both Blackfish and Bibou, I think last week's unique collaborative dinner between two of Philly's very best chefs is also worth writing up. LOL, not the least because the genesis of this dinner was apparently a tongue-in-cheek tweet I sent them back in January:
"@biboubyob VS. @BlackfishBYOB: Counting tomorrow, I've dined 7 times at Bibou & 7 times at Blackfish in the past year #shakehandscallitadraw"
Internet stalker or not, I still had to pay for my dinner like everyone else! But as you can read below, it was well worth the price of admission ($100/pp plus tip).
AMUSE-BOUCHE -- Carrot espuma & pea puree
I assume this was Chef Roman's creation, since amuses are more typical at Blackfish than Bibou. Some are delectable bites that make you wish for a whole plate, and others are more artistic nibbles that momentarily pique your senses, but are quickly forgotten. This was more in the latter camp; fresh flavors and pretty to look at, it served it's purpose and we moved on to a fantastic champagne.
~1996 Philipponnat Champagne Brut Clos des Goisses (one of the best wines of the evening)
1ST COURSE: Tuna tartare, horseradish, radish, cilantro, celery broth
Prepared by Chip, and recognizably so, as he loves to pair various raw fish with buttery English Breakfast radish (and his ever changing fish crudos with radish and spicy yuzu kosho are possible my favorite dishes at Blackfish). But the celery broth that was elegantly poured over this dish table-side was something I've never seen him do before, and it provided a uniquely interesting aromatic component that is usually missing from raw fish dishes.
~1983 Domaine Weinbach Riesling Réserve
~1985 Domaine Marc Kreydenweiss Riesling Kastelberg Vendanges Tardives
~1995 Zind Humbrecht Riesling Clos Windsbuhl
2ND COURSE: Saucisson in brioche with Perigourdine sauce
Prepared by Chef Calmels, this is a dish that I enjoyed earlier this year at Bibou for a special game dinner he prepared for us. Pierre is a deft hand with all sorts of game (I didn't actually catch what was in the saucisson), but he takes it to the next level in this dish by encasing it in a light brioche crust and adding an elegant sauce (Perigourdine is traditionally a veal sauce spiked with a sweet wine like Monbazzilac).
~2009 Thibault Liger Belair Moulin à Vent Vieilles Vignes (a fantastic Burg-like Beaujolais)
3RD COURSE: Quenelle de Brochet a l'Americaine, cauliflower, saffron
While chatting with Pierre at Bibou a couple of weeks earlier, he mentioned that Chip and he were still debating the menu for this dinner, but that they planned to alternate courses between them. Yet, when I finally saw the menu, they didn't appear to be alternating since quenelles are one of Bibou's signature dishes. After the meal I complemented Pierre on what everyone thought was the "Dish of the Night", but he laughed and said that "actually, the quenelles are Chip's!" As much as I love Bibou's classic rendition of pike quenelles in lobster sauce, this may have been the best I've ever enjoyed...light, fluffy, almost like giant, perfect pillowy ricotta gnocchi in texture, in a delicious sauce. New American sensibilities meet Escoffier. C'est magnifique!
~1996 Château de la Maltroye Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru Morgeot
~2005 Louis Jadot Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Les Folatières
4TH COURSE: Pavé de Loup, caviar, Petite Nage a L'Orange
Pierre's. As I understand it, loup or "wolf", was in this case actually black sea bass, and a pavé is a square or rectangular portion reminiscent of street paving or brick. Be that as it may, this was a perfectly cooked and seasoned portion of one of my favorite fish, with a truly lovely sauce. But it was really the large dollop of "caviar" (the suddenly trendy, more affordable paddlefish roe from Alabama, not the real stuff!), providing a dramatic flavor contrast with the mild fish, that really made this dish memorable. Perhaps my second favorite course.
~2005 Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos
~2007 Marcassin Chardonnay Three Sisters Vineyard
5th COURSE: Roasted lamb, beluga lentils, heirloom carrots, asparagus
A dish you would immediately recognize as Chips, acknowledging what seems to be a new trend of lamb belly (pig belly is soooo over, I guess!). Unfortunately, my belly was a bit tough, although everyone else's seemed to be melt-in-their-mouth. However, the loin was perfectly medium rare, with a silky rich sauce (IMHO, Chip, having been the Saucier at Le Bec Fin, does sauces better than anyone else in the city).
~1990 Château Léoville Poyferré (Wine of the Night)
~2004 Pax Syrah Castelli Knight Ranch
~2007 Cayuse Syrah Armada Vineyard
6TH COURSE: Souffle Glace Grand Marnier, blueberry coulis
When I saw Grand Marnier souffle on the menu, I immediately thought of Bibou's, a giant creation that they punch a whole in with a fork and fill with a jigger or two of Grand Marnier (a rather dangerous dessert!). But this was not that dish, but apparently an old classic from Le Bec Fin, with a frozen soufflé and a delectable berry sauce. I'm not sure if this was prepared by Chip or Pierre (they both used to work at Le Bec), but since Bibou tweeted a picture of this yesterday, it was probably Pierre's creation. The best dessert I've had so far this year.
Obviously a fantastic meal. We had a table for 10 in the back room, which I think is a little quieter than the front. Service, as always at Blackfish, was stellar, and it was also great to see Hans, our favorite Bibou server, enjoying the dinner along with the rest of us. Pierre's lovely wife Charlotte also put in an appearance with Eloise, their new baby daughter (see the adorable photo of Pierre and Eloise I posted on the Yelp Bibou page), who is obviously well on her way to being as wonderful a hostess as her mother.
~1975 Château Climens Sauternes
Who won this "competition"? I'm going give the Dish ot the Night to Chip's wonderful quenelles. But other than that, I'll stick with calling it a draw.
To steal a phrase from a famous Philadelphian (W.C. Fields): On the whole, I'm glad I live in Philadelphia (where we have two such great chefs and restaurants to choose from).
Wasn't going to go, but I got a last minute invitation to the Blackfish Sea Buckthorn dinner, which was outstanding, and here are some photos.
Mushroom custard, sesame powder
Chantenay carrot & sea buckthorn soup, rhubarb, pecans, pea tendrils
Lightly cured salmon (was supposed to be arctic char, but they ran out), hibiscus, sea buckthorn, English cucumber, radish
Roast foie gras, sea buckthorn, Bobwhite quail (changed from the original Magret duck breast), pickled onion, farro
White chocolate 'ganache', sea buckthorn, pistachio, lime crisp
The Kracher dessert wine blew us away, and I only just realized that Steve Tanzer gave it 99/100 points (nice to know our amateur palates agree with his!).
I may be @PhillyBestBYOB on Twitter, but Blackfish is the best BYOB in Philly!