NEW YORK — The culinary talents behind Remy, the fine dining restaurant aboard Disney Cruise Line’s Dream and Fantasy ships, convened here Wednesday on neutral — and dry — ground to announce new menus for premium dining venue. Scott Hunnel of the AAA Five-Diamond award winning Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and Arnaud Lallement from the two Michelin starred L’Assiette Champenoise in Reims, France, took turns in the kitchen of Daniel, the upscale Upper East Side restaurant owned by Daniel Boulud.
Joining them were Erich Herbitschek, pastry genius from the Grand Floridian, and crews from both sides of the Atlantic. They prepared a six-course meal that was served in Daniel’s private dining room to members of New York media — and one representative from Central Florida
The evening started with passed hors d’oeuvres, prepared by Boulud’s team, and Taittinger brut La Francaise, the ships’ signature Champagne. The guests were then seated and served an amuse bouche of Alaskan king crab in a broth tinged with lemongrass and lime. The next three courses, by Lallement, were also seafood.
First was a langoustine served with a red wine reduction as dressing, paired with the 2004 Bollinger La Grande Annee Rose.
Next was a standout presentation of Saint Jacques, a large sauteed scallop covered on all sides by shields of black truffle. Surrounding the tender mollusk was a jus of couscous — not the couscous itself, just the juice created by its cooking. Wonderful. (And we all had fun saying couscous juice.) Another sparkler, this time 2000 Krug, accompanied.
A simpler, but no less delicious, halibut with salsify followed, paired with a 2010 Chateau Mont-Redon Chateauneuf-du-Pape. The wines, by the way, were selected by DCL beverage manager Salah Chatbi. Chatbi and Anders Karlsson, manager of hotel operations for Disney Cruise Line, were the hosts at my table. My tablemates included representatives from Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast and the Huffington Post.
Hunnel’s team took over with the next course of Minnesota elk, a tenderloin with juniper and carraway spice, accompanied, among other things, by fingerling potatoes roasted in duck fat, finished with toasted carraway vinaigrette. Louis Jadot Chapelle Chambertin, 2006, was the wine pairing..
Perhaps the evening’s piece de resistance came next, a slice of Iwate beef from the Iwate prefecture in Japan. Iwate (ai-WAH-tay) is often compared with the more recognized (and increasingly misrepresented) Kobe beef. This was the real deal, pan-roasted, just barely, and served naturally. It was truly worthy of the term “melt in your mouth.” It required no chewing. It shared a plate with a ravioli stuffed with oxtail with Morello cherry jam on top and candied red pepper, sitting atop braised short rib with roasted red pepper sauce. What could one possibly pair with such an entree? The 2007 Chateau Lafite Rothschild, of course.
It should be noted that the Iwate beef will not be part of the Remy menus that will be launched this fall. The allocation is too restricted. Hunnel does, however, offer it at Victoria & Albert’s, when he can get it, for a premium of $90 over the prix fixe cost of the dinner.
Herbitschek then presented a Tanzanian chocolate timbale, decorated with gold leaf and chocolate eyelashes, and chocolate gelato. Taittinger Nocturne, a sec Champagne (in a festively wrapped bottle), was the perfect accompaniment. At the conclusion of the dinner, Boulud came in and greeted the guests and saluted the chefs and their teams. Outside, on East 65th Street, the air seemed a little less frigid.
Scott Hunnel looks in on the team from Reims, waiting for his turn to cook in the kitchen at Daniel in New York.
Erich Herbitschek, Scott Hunnel and Arnaud Lallement backstage at Daniel.