Champagne and Caviar with Alain Giraud

Paris, Petrossian and Perrier Jouet.  Never have 3 P's come together in such a perfect way pour moi!

The Strand House's Culinary Masters Series with Petrossian caviar and Perrier Jouet champagne

The Strand House's Culinary Masters Series with Petrossian caviar and Perrier Jouet champagne

The Strand House in Manhattan Beach has started a unique dining program called the Culinary Masters Series where they're trying to bring creative food and wine experiences to their idyllic ocean front location, proving that they're not just another pretty face in a pretty space.

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I can't help thinking that this night was tailor made for me.  It featured French Chef Alain Giraud cooking a multi course menu featuring salty sturgeon eggs.  

Strand House chef Neal Fraser, French chef Alain Giraud, and Strand House owner Michael Zislis

Strand House chef Neal Fraser, French chef Alain Giraud, and Strand House owner Michael Zislis

Then there was Christopher Klapp, General Manager of Petrossian Paris who was responsible for delivering, caring for and dishing up an outstanding collection of caviar.  And last but not least was the Ambassador to Perrier (a title that could have more clout than some royalty), Ariane Bouron, who had just flown in from Paris the night before to tell us about her bubbles.

Ariane Bouron, French ambassador to Perrier Jouet

Ariane Bouron, French ambassador to Perrier Jouet

The evening started with champagne in the downstairs bar with teaser tastes of caviar apps to prime our palate for the main event.

The Strand House's lower bar and kick off area for the evening

The Strand House's lower bar and kick off area for the evening

We were then told to move to the upstairs dining room as quickly as possible.  I was nearly running when I heard the word "move."  It didn't matter the reason, but I later learned about the sensitivity of caviar to air.  The Petrossian representative told me about the extreme care used when transporting and serving sturgeon.  In fact, they dished out our caviar in a walk in refrigerator so as not to expose it to any warm area before necessary.  Like wine, caviar's taste changes when it comes in contact with air.

Petrossian cavair tasting with Perrier Jouet champagne

Petrossian cavair tasting with Perrier Jouet champagne

The display at each of our seat's nearly brought tears to my eyes.  A selection of 4 different caviars were placed in front of 4 different glasses of champagne, each hand selected to pair with the sturgeon.  I was ecstatic after sampling the first pairing of the "starter" caviar, "Royal Transmontanus" from CA and not just because I was eating local.  The caviar was salty, nutty and buttery.  Paired with the Perrier Jouet Grand Brut, I could have called it a night right then and there, but you can imagine that the tastes evolved and matured the further down the line you tasted.

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The size of the beads, the color, the texture and taste all changed.  The "Tsar Imperial Ossetra" was soft and more rich, but then there was the "Royal Kaluga," which indeed had an air of authority and complexity with layers of rich, mellow and buttery notes.

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It's hard to imagine that there would be more after this, but yes, then the meal began.  It started with a bang with a classic pairing of egg and caviar with a side of brioche toast, which ended up being an even better instrument than my finger for lapping up all the goodness on the plate.

Egg custard, savory chantilly, brioche toaste, caviar

Egg custard, savory chantilly, brioche toaste, caviar

I kept thinking we've peaked, let's quit while we're ahead, but then came the lobster crêpe with lobster hollandaise.  Seriously.  And of course they threw some caviar on top so as not to deprive us.

Lobster crepe, lobster hollandaise, fines herbs, caviar

Lobster crepe, lobster hollandaise, fines herbs, caviar

The trout was a near blur since I was on such a culinary high, but I do remember the crisp bacon, which I think they included just so we can have some red wine, and I happily sucked down the Shatter Grenache paired with it.

Steelhead trout, sunchoke puree, braised endive, lardons, buerre rouge, smoked trout roe

Steelhead trout, sunchoke puree, braised endive, lardons, buerre rouge, smoked trout roe

The cheese dessert course was très français.  The Beverly Hills Cheese shop provided a nice mix of artisan cheeses that coupled with a fruit caviar and was washed down with a delicious Chateau De Cosse Sauternes.

It's hard to go back to eating "normal" food after this, but at the same time, it's extremely necessary.  

Until next time - à la prochaine!