Riches & Wonders of American Ginseng
béni’s Chef de Cuisine, Kenji Yamanaka, presented 7 dishes that included ginseng
béni’s Chef de Cuisine, Kenji Yamanaka says his philosophy about the food he serves is a “Japanese reinterpretation of authentic French cuisine with Chef’s Table Experience.” The outstanding lunch I enjoyed was created with this approach but had a special twist to it. The World Gourmet Summit, in conjunction with, Spirits Castle, Two Oceans Wisconsin Ginseng, and American Ginseng, invited Chef Yamanaka to create dishes that included ginseng. His menu, with six items, was entitled Riches & Wonders. And he added a seventh dish of scallops with Brussel Sprouts to enhance the already enticing menu that the ginseng would add gentle flavours to.
All of the following dishes were excellent, with tastes, flavours and presentation that delighted the senses. What was surprising is that the ginseng never dominated. Like an orchestra, each ingredient struck its own harmonious note.
We began this journey with Ginseng Cheese Sable that consisted of omi beef tartare, sea urchin and cavaiar. I was amazed at the range of tastes on one little cracker that was the perfect platform to deliver it.
Ora King Salmon Marinated Ginseng followed. The parsnip, pomel and sake jelly was paired with 10-year-old Cognac Pork Mizunara.
The Chicken Consomme Soup bresse chicken and bird nest was a bit more lively than other similar soups I’ve had.
Nodoguro is ginseng & chestnut crust, chestnuts and roasted chicken jus paired with Cognac Pork Extra. Just as the flavours played their role, so did the textures.
French Pigeon ginseng & spice, honey, madeira paired with Cognac Pork Cigar Blend was the main dish and the pigeon was tender and the ginger a gentle influence. I asked what drink would normally be paired with this and was surprised when Chef Yamanaka replied, “Red wine” and proceeded to get us a red that would’ve paired well with many dishes.
Ginseng Blanc Manger is Japanese rose, mixed berries and cognac ice-cream that made a delightful desert that put the exclamation point on an excellent meal.
When I’ve enjoyed other meals where an ingredient is to be used throughout the menu, I’ve sometimes felt the chef was stretching a bit to meet the brief. But not at béni. All the dishes delivered on taste and texture, and presentation. It gave me the confidence that if I were to dine at béni off the regular menu that each dish would be authentic and unique to Chef Yamanaka’s design.
Coffee or Tea, Mignardises were offered and gave us time to linger and chat. Mignardises, a French word, are individual desert servings to be eaten without utensils and all sorts of delights such as chocolates, cookies and cakes fall into this category.
Chef Yamanaka says béni aims to serve genuinely delightful food and drink, combined with impeccable service. The exclusive fine-dining establishment integrates French fine dining cuisine and Japanese produce including the Ozaki A5 Wagyu Beef from Miyazaki prefecture. “Guests are brought on an intimate and indulgent gastronomic journey through a series of courses featuring the best of the four seasons,” Chef de Cuisine, Kenji Yamanaka states.
The Ginseng Board of Wisconsin (GBW) was established to represent all 150 Wisconsin Ginseng growers in the state – the worldwide leaders of the American Ginseng industry.
In the late 1800s, Wisconsin growers pioneered the field cultivation of their native wild ginseng. Since then, a small community of dedicated stewards has passed down the secrets of raising this elusive plant. Today, Wisconsin ginseng producers grow 95% of the total ginseng production of the United States.
Ginseng grows slowly and draws nutrients from its environment over several years before harvest, so the proper growing conditions are critical. Wisconsin's deep, rich soil, cool summers, pure waters, and clean air make it an ideal growing region for high-quality ginseng. Wisconsin Ginseng is known as the highest quality panax quinquefolius in the world. The United States has strict pesticide usage standards for agricultural products. Panax quinquefolius, better known as American Ginseng, is a white root with medicinal properties known to relieve stress, increase stamina and increase resistance to common illnesses such as colds.
Ginsenosides, naturally occurring chemicals, work with the chemistry of the human body and mind to produce the desired effect. American ginseng has a moderate and cooling ginsenoside profile that allows it to be taken for long periods without adverse effects.
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