Thursday, May 27, 2010

Debate a Bubble - Champagne and Seafood - How To Put On A Very Special Dinner

Debate a Bubble - Champagne and Seafood - How To Put On A Very Special Dinner

Link to Debate a Bubble - Champagne News and Reviews

Champagne and Seafood - How To Put On A Very Special Dinner

Posted: 26 May 2010 01:13 PM PDT

Menu from Le BocalIf you've ever fancied bringing some champagne style to your dinner table, here's a post that will show you how to put on a very special dinner that's not hugely complicated and that will really give your foodie friends something to talk about

It was last Wednesday evening that I was invited to go along to a special champagne and seafood dinner in Reims.

We parked outside what looked like just a fishmonger's shop - a pretty impressive one it has to be said, but just a shop nevertheless.

Little did I realise that behind the scenes is a small 30 seater restaurant that I imagine is a mecca for lovers of fish.

It's called Le Bocal and the owner (in her spare time??) is in charge of the kitchen at Laurent Perrier's hospitality mansion Le Château de Louvois, so she knows a bit about cooking

But tonight it was simple meal.

The theme was to taste and compare 3 mono cepages champagnes with a variety of seafoods.

What does mono cepage mean? Well, these are champagne made with just one grape variety instead of being a blend of different grapes, so with mono cepage  you have a true impression of each grape variety's characteristics. So there was a Blanc de Blancs( 100% Chardonnay ) and two Blanc de Noirs, one a 100% Pinot Noir and the other 100% Pinot Meunier.

Of course there was another champagne for the aperitif - we're in Champagne after all - and this was a classic blend of all three grapes.

It was Cuvée Brut Réserve from Bérèche

Premier Cru from Ludes, Ormes and Mareuil Le Port, this is a blend of equal parts of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier with 9 gr/litre dosage and at least 2 years ageing.

I have to say it was a little disappointing. Lacking in depth and body for me.

When we sat down to eat all the champagnes were served blind so it wasn't until later that we found out exactly who had made them and which was which - that was the challenge for the evening: to identify the champagnes and see how they matched up with the food - and gorgeous food it was too.

A dozen bio-dynamically raised crevettes from Madagascar of all places - apparently the world's most sought-after source.

Seafood Platter Two very generous strips of Red Label smoked salmon from Scotland. The thickness and texture were amazing and there was an amazingly bold  smokiness to them.

Red Label is the topmost quality category and is a far cry from ordinary scotch salmon. The Scots went to great lengths to meet the rigorous standards needed to obtain the Red Label tag and much of the production now finds its way to France

Last but not least, home made taramasalata made with cod eggs and cream and no colouring at all.

You needn't go to quite these extremes at home to put on a great meal, but if you're going to serve good champagnes, they deserve good food to accompany them.

Talking of the champagnes, we enjoyed:

Cuvée Carte d'Or Blanc de Blancs from Champagne Doyard Mahé in Vertus3 mono cru

Cuvée Réserve from Champagne Trudon (100% Meunier- sometimes called a blanc de meuniers)

Blanc de Noirs from Champagne Patrick Soutiran in Ambonnay (100% Pinot Noir)

Personally Ithought the Trudon was the best match across the board with the various dishes.

The Pinot Noir from Patrick Soutiran was just too heavy with fish and the Blancs de Blancs was pleasant without being outstanding

I was in a minority though and most people felt that the Blanc de Blancs took the honours

So here's the thing. Why not do the same thing at home with 6 or 8 friends?

The food is relatively simple to prepare, the champagnes made need a bit of tracking down, particularly the 100% Meunier, but you don't have to use the same brands as we did as long as you get one champagne of each style.

Serve the food with simple fresh bread, then sit back, taste, sip and chat.

Notice the  different shades of colour across the different champagnes, then look for different aromas and tastes

I bet you'll have a lot of fun and learn quite a bit into the bargain

Let me know how you get on

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