THE FAIRMONT, MARQUESA - A True Scottsdale "Princess"
by Kaya Morgan
As a member of the prestigious Leading Hotels of the World and the largest luxury hotel group in North America, Fairmont Hotels has truly succeeded in their mission to provide only the finest properties with amenities and service built around the world's most distinctive settings. One of their more recent acquisitions, the Scottsdale Princess, sprawls over 450 acres, tucked against the backdrop of tranquil dessert tones near the foot of the McDowell Mountains. This creative blend of Spanish colonial architecture and scenic landscapes represents 650 oversized guestrooms plus 125 Casitas, many with fireplaces.
The hotel's signature restaurant, Marquesa has quickly become the princess of dining. The Mediterranean fare combines a blend of Spanish, Italian and French influences coupled with exquisite décor of romance and candlelight. One of only two AAA Five-Diamond rated restaurants in Arizona, the Marquesa has consistently delivered superb dining, also earning it the title as one of Gourmet magazine's "America's Top Tables" and consistently receiving Zagat's highest ratings.
Executive Chef, Reed Groban, has been with the property since its opening in 1987. Under his watchful eye and definitive leadership over 18 chefs and a kitchen staff of more than 125, Marquesa has earned accolades across the country. A real powerhouse of energy and drive, Chef Groban has always been on the culinary fast track. Originally from Columbus, Ohio, his passion for cooking first took him from the mid-west to the south, then to the East coast and finally to Arizona as he worked his way through a variety of ethnic cuisine in different settings.
Groban takes a unique approach to regional cuisine by traveling to an area to study the culture and traditions forming the foundation of its cuisine. The diversity of the landscapes, richness of the flora and beauty of the great Mediterranean Sea offer unique and authentic ingredients for menu ideas. Both he and Marquesa Chef Garth Washburn take frequent trips to Mexico, Europe and the Mediterranean Riviera seeking additional inspiration to help create a cuisine rich in heritage, yet fresh in popularity when formulating new menus for the Marquesa.
Another European tradition brought back to Marquesa by the chefs and gaining in popularity, is the introduction of a cheese course to the menu. This is traditionally served between the main course and dessert and is sometimes considered a dessert itself. The study of cheese can be quite complex because, like wine, it has countless varieties and due to the dissimilarities in grasses, herbs, water and climate, no two cheeses are identical.
From France, the cheeses are Clochette Chaput, a bell shape goat's milk cheese with a hint of citrus, Bucheron Maitre Seguin, a firm but soft cheese made with goat's milk and Morbier Fermier, a smooth and firm cow's milk cheese that is distinguished by a band of ash dividing the cheese horizontally. From Spain, the cheeses selected are from both cow's and goat's milk and have a wide range of textures from semi-soft to hard Tetilla from Galicia, Cabrales from Asturias, Machon from Minorca and Queso de Cabra al Vino (drunken Goat cheese) from Murcia. And, the Italian cheeses, primarily from unique boutiques in northern Italy including Bianchetta al Tartufo from Tuscany, a soft blend of cow's and ewe's milk with truffles producing a unique and pungent flavor, Bra Tenero from Piedmont recognized for its mild taste and ivory color, and Taleggio from Lombard, a creamy textured cow's mild cheese with a mild and fruity flavor. Your selection is then presented with bread and a variety of dried fruits with wine and port pairings offered to complete the experience and enhance the taste sensation.
Some of the most taste tempting appetizers would be the butter-scalded chanterelles and truffles in sweet beet emulsion, ricotta pillows of rabbit fricassee in Brunello wine sauce or the daube of oxtail canalon with escargot and octopus romesco. Or, you may wish to try the demitasse tasting of soups with haricot vert bisque, niçoise froth, gazpacho, yellow tomato granita, roasted fig and serrano ham ice cream.
Entrees include exquisite Mediterranean delicacies, radiantly seasoned with herbs, garlic, tomatoes, olive oil, serrano ham and other regional flavors such as pistachio crusted squab with duck with turnip casserole, caramelized pears and fruit reduction; pan flashed daurade with lobster and clam ragout, fresh pea sauce and toasted hazelnuts; or, the charbroiled beef tenderloin with candied orange beef and Cabrales sauces, smoked foie gras and Portobello mushroom.
One of the best selections for a culinary journey to a specific city on the Mediterranean Riviera may be the Chef's Tasting Menu. Although this changes frequently it offers taste delights such as butter poached loup de mer ravioli with red mullet sauce and shaved truffles, seared venison and king prawn canalon with crayfish sauce or the Spanish paella valenciana made with saffron fragrant rice, chicken, port, chistora, shrimp, escargot and seasonal vegetables.
The extensive wine list has been named "one of the most outstanding wine lists in the world" by Wine Spectator. And, the pastry department of Chef David Blom and his team of twenty-five professionals can create anything from chocolate western towns and sugar sculptures to edible photographs that will amaze and tantalize your tastebuds include the famous, "Chocolate Dali" ganache torte, Marquesa's signature dessert.
A few of Chef Groban's favorite recipies to enjoy:
Baked Pequillo Peppers
Crab & Fontina Cheese
1 lb. lump crab meat
1/4 c. diced onion
1 t. minced garlic
5 oz. Marscapone cheese
1/4 c. green onion
2 T. flour
2 t. pure Spanish olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
8 Pequillo peppers
4 oz. Fontina cheese
2 T. bread crumbs
Clean crabmeat free of any shells. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until soft. Add flour to thicken, but do not brown. Add Marscapone cheese, season with salt and pepper. Cool mixture then add crab meat and green onions. Stuff each pepper with crabmeat first, then top with grated Fontina cheese. Bake at 350° for 10-15 minutes.
4 egg yolks
1/2 c. Dijon mustard
1 t. minced garlic
1/4 c. lemon juice
1 c. pure Spanish Olive Oil
salt & white pepper to taste
In a food processor place egg yolks, mustard and garlic. Blend until smooth. Slowly add lemon juice and olive oil until consistency of mayonnaise. Season with salt and white pepper.
Yield: 2 cups
To reserve vacation or dining experience, call 408.585.4848 or at www.fairmont.com
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