Chef Fischer, The Farm and '82 Pichon at Crystal Springs Resort

by Melody Kettle


 A view from Restaurant Latour.  

A view from Restaurant Latour.  

There's nothing a good getaway can't fix!  Whether you're trying to come down from a stressful undertaking, or trying to remember who it was you married ten years ago - getting away is a good thing. 

Often times the problem is finding a good getaway.  Crystal Springs, New Jersey's only four-season resort has enough angles and amenities to satisfy  the oenophile, the agrophile, the gastronome, the Francophile, and general hedonist.  

On my recent press invite to The Grand Cascades Lodge at Crystal Springs, Mr. Hot and I began our visit in the renown Latour wine cellar for the dedication ceremony of their newest wine room in honor of late creator and resort founder, Gene Mulvihill.  

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Robby Younes, the genuine and enthusiastic Vice President of Hospitality and Lodging at Crystal Springs,  along with charming and gracious sommelier, Susanne Lerescu and assistant sommelier, Samantha Shaw welcomed us into the wine cellar, and briefly spoke -   without pretension - about the joys of learning and experiencing wines with people.  

The Latour wine cellar is one of the largest and  deepest cellars in the country, boasting over 135,000 bottles, 9,100 labels, including vintage and rare  bottles dating back to 1795. The Latour wine cellar is also the holder of Wine Spectator's exclusive "Grand Award" since 2006.  There is a daily free cellar tour at 3pm.  

 

 The first bottle of Simi produced after the repeal of Prohibition. 

The first bottle of Simi produced after the repeal of Prohibition. 

During the ceremony we enjoyed hors d'oevures and champagne in the Bordeaux room, and got to mingle with Crystal Spring's new executive chef, Timothy Fischer and Florian Wehrli, the executive sous chef for Crystal Springs Resort.

Fischer, a native Minnesotan, 
was drawn to Crystal Springs because of its commitment to sustainable products and the culinary arts. “I like to use local ingredients. It comes in fresh, we cook it right away and we know it’s going out fresh, that’s paramount. If it looks, smells, and tastes great and is artfully arranged and our guests get a complete sensory experience, that’s culinary artistry to me[.]”

 with Chef Timothy Fischer in the Bordeaux Room at the Latour Wine Cellar. 

with Chef Timothy Fischer in the Bordeaux Room at the Latour Wine Cellar. 

Fishcher prepared a six course wine paired dinner that began with an East Coast Fiddle Head Fern salad with shaved summer truffles, baby mache and a Banyuls vinaigrette that tasted like eating a garden: fibrous and vegetative.  This was paired with a smooth and balanced Didier Dagueneau, 2007.  

Next, Fischer presented an ode to Minnesota with a Walleye cake and fried green tomato "sandwich" that cleverly utilized the fried green tomato as the bun.

 Day boat halibut with sweet pea sabayon, fava beans, cherry tomato, fennel, bay spinach, and lobster roe. 

Day boat halibut with sweet pea sabayon, fava beans, cherry tomato, fennel, bay spinach, and lobster roe. 

The following course, day boat halibut with an outstanding sweet pea sabayon, was my favorite of the evening.  Clean on the palate, colorful,  and pure, it  paired effortlessly with a perfect Shubumi Knoll Chardonnay, 2009.  

The next course was a heavy hitter;  beautifully cooked bison strip loin with morels, accompanied by a rather boombastic  foie gras crusted bone marrow luge, with a seasonal and delicious spring onion and ramp pesto.   This was paired with Gianfranco Fino, "Es", Primitivo, 2010. 

 Bison strip loin with foie gras crusted bone marrow 

Bison strip loin with foie gras crusted bone marrow 

The following course was a cheese plate from Lida Gold Calkins Creamery, which I'm sure was very good, but my recollection of the  details are somewhat obscured thanks to the 100 Point  (Robert Parker) 1982 Chateau Pichon-Lalande!  (Confessional:  I smuggled the empty bottle back to our hotel room, and it now stands on my bedside table.)   

We wrapped-up dinner with a spring cobbler trio: strawberry cobbler with basil gelato, blackberry cobbler with Meyer lemon gelato, and rhubarb cobbler with goat cheese gelato, with a nice Tokaji Aszu, 3 Puttonyos, 2003.   

The following morning, in the afterglow of Pichon '82, we enjoyed an incredible breakfast at the Crystal Tavern.  Then, we joined Chef Wehrli for a drive to the 56 acre farm where we took in the Sussex County air and met a few of the resident chickens. 

A perfect getaway, indeed.   Mr. Hot and I look forward to returning for culinary events and monthly wine seminars held the first Sunday of every month, featuring wine regions and grape varietal.