We were reminded how great the culinary talents are at Belmond’s global collection of hotels when we attended a dinner at Belmond El Encanto in Santa Barbara where four visiting chefs from the brand’s North American properties prepared a dinner to remember. Our hosts were the chefs from Belmond El Encanto (Leo Andres Ayala), Belmond Maroma Resort & Spa (Eugenio Villafaña), Belmond La Samanna (Serge Gouloumès); and New York’s legendary ‘21’ (Sylvain Delpique).
Together these four gifted men delighted us with an inspired feast that began with a sunset reception of some of their specialties: halibut ceviche, compressed watermelon, baby beet and warm goat cheese salad, ‘21” burgers, seared fresh diver scallops, slow-cooked wild boar loin, chilled roasted tomato soup and lobster ravioli, all accompanied by a nicely chilled Louis Roederer, Brut Premier. And that was just for starters.
When the curtain rose on the dinner, we were greeted by Belmond El Encanto’s amuse bouche of avocado gazpacho that hinted of cucumber and fresh mint. The first course soon followed, a raw and cooked vegetable tart with wild mushroom duxelle and a honey dressing, a light and flavorful dish that Belmond La Samanna is known for. A second course from ‘21’ was slices of tasty octopus carpaccio in a zingy orange supreme with Kalamata olives and Za’atar vinaigrette. A 2013 Rosé Presqu’ile from the Santa Maria Valley was well-chosen for the wine. We had our choice of three entrees: a black “Xilpaxole” from Belmond Maroma Resort & Spa, a silky blackened lobster soup infused with coconut milk Mayan lime tea froth, lobster tail ‘sous vide’ marinated in Axiote, organic corn tortilla “Sand” charred chayote, epazote, avocado oil infused with Xcatic chili, and squid “Chicharrón”. Our second option was a vegetarian creation created by Chef Ayala of Belmond El Encanto: a sweet, creamy corn risotto with English peas, white mushrooms and a lemon mascarpone. We opted for Rohan duck from ‘21’, dressed with Chantenay carrots, baby fennel slaw, and cromesquis candied orange. A very fine 2013 Pinot Noir Cotière, Santa Maria Valley, was a superb companion to these entrees.
Last, but not least, came Belmond El Encanto’s signature dessert, Enchanted Floating Island, an ethereal, delicate, sweetly-spun confection worthy of its fame. This celebration, with these four acclaimed chefs, will go down as one of our most memorable celebratory gastronomic galas. Overlooking the Santa Barbara hills, the evening evoked the golden age of travel, which befits Belmond’s exceptional reputation for superior hotel and luxury globetrotting adventures. http://www.belmond.com
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