Monday, June 22, 2015

A Veuve Clicquot Afternoon Soiree With Pierre Casenave At Brasserie Enfin

Since Veuve Clicquot really IS my favourite bubbly, (no offence to the other excellent brands that hail from Champagne, these things are very personal and subjective), I shamelessly solicited an invite from the kind people at MHD and Geometry Global... and double bonus, the event was held at Brasserie Enfin, under the famous James Won, whom I had read so much about, so it promised to be a great afternoon.

Located in the trendy Oasis Square which, Brasserie Enfin has a lovely cheerful interior, suited to the bright orange theme that characterises Veuve Cliquot.  Cute plastic champagne flutes veer away from the traditional sleek and slender crystal flutes, as Veuve seeked to create an atmosphere of casual conviviality, and there is something about the bright oranginess that lightens the spirit...even before the contents does so.

Various pictures with narratives tell the story of Veuve Clicquot, ...

And finally, a context to the picture that is on the metal clasp of every Veuve bottle of champagne, Madame Clicquot herself, the first French lady entrepreneur and business woman, according to Wine Maker Pierre Casenave.

The menu sounded scintillating, and we eagerly awaited the arrival of the food to pair with that glorious stream of bubbles, which in the afternoon, and on and empty stomach, does have a rather pleasant heady effect.

It's not often you get served by the MHD guys themselves I can tell you that!!!

The lovely Cherry Koh introducing Pierre and James.....

Pierre Casenave grew up in the pyrenees atlantiques, renowned for tapas, ferias and rugby.  He is an oenologist at the Champagne House Veuve Clicquot in Reims, France since 2008.  He has also been wine maker at prestigious wineries in St Emilion, Pomerol, and well as the South African Stellenbosch wine region and in California.

James Won, the guy behind Brasserie Enfin...sharing with us his menu and pairing notes...

To start, an amuse bouche of chicken liver parfait. James explained that he does not use foie gras, (I guess this is quite a divisive issue between chefs), but promised us a treat to the palate with this smooth buttery parfait.  Indeed, one morsel of this was not enough, and paired with the Yellow Label, a perfect match.

This amazing scallop torchon, chicken skin, sevruga (I've only ever read about beluga and sevruga in books, and it was mentioned in Disney's Little Mermaid), caviar and oyster emulsion.  That mast like thing is actually chicken skin, and it is TO DIE FOR.  So delicious, I could eat the skin from a whole chicken, I reckon.  I recall James mentioning that the skin from his signature chicken fed with cordyceps is even better.  The oyster swimming in the emulsion, foamy as it was, was ethereal, and glided down the throat.  Those were no ordinary oysters, but Kelly Oysters, from Ireland. (not from Kelly Thean of Geometry)....

As we ate, Pierre Casenave did enlighten us on some facts about VC... founded in 1772, Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin has stayed true to its motto "Only One Quality, The Finest" and the Maison is effectively the hard work of the exceptional Barbe Nicole Ponsardin, also known as Madame Veuve Clicquot, whose portrait I alluded to earlier.

Not sharing my lovely skin with Melissa....

The second entree was the Lamb Eye of Short Loin Carpaccio, confit strawberries, puff cherry, champagne mustard, paired with the gorgeous and elegant Veuve Clicquot Rose.  Very interestingly using lamb instead of beef, this rather primal dish is an acquired taste.  Whilst there was miraculously absolutely no ovine odour, which I find as I age, I am more averse to, I still feel that the gift of fire to Prometheus was specifically for use on thankfully I had copious amounts of Rose to wash down that troglodyte rawness.  However, if you do like carpaccios, (isn't that the surname of the Titanic guy? Leonardo De Carpaccio?), then you would LOVE this.

Not sure if the shades are meant to hide a prior hangover...

The host, Pierre Casenave and the Chef James Won

Another interesting story was about these racks for the cellar in the sea, which the narrative pretty much self explains....

And then, we were in for a treat, with the piece de resistance of the day, the Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame, which till now, I've only ever heard about.

Packed in an elegant box, the bottle is not revealed immediately when you open the lid of the box, but instead, it swivels on the internal turntable to reveal the Grande Dame....very dramatic entrance for a bottle of champagne.

And as if the Grande Dame wasn't a treat by itself, it was paired with the Trio of Pork Shoulder, Belly and Rib.  The pork belly with the crispy crackling was melt in the mouth, literally, with its sublime layers of fat, with perfect fat to meat ratio, (though the more health conscious did not agree), whilst the pork shoulder stuffed in a raviolo ...well, that was a bit too al dente for me, though the pork within was fine.

The La Grande Dame 2004 is 61% Pinot Noir, 39% Chardonnay and is an exclusive blend of their 8 historic Grand Curs: Ay, Bouzy, Ambonnay, Verzy, Verzenay, Avise, Oger and Le Mesnilsur -Oger.
The luminous body is shimmering gold with amber glints, abundantly effervescent, with elegant fruity notes of white peach and bergamot, with a crisp and silky texture.

It really was quite a delightful treat, and the pairing of the La Grande Dame with that Trio of Pork, together with the wonderful ambience of the afternoon made it a winning trifecta.

For dessert, Citrus Textures and cloud, ...the dehydrated orange was gorgeous, and the varying textures of citrus were fascinating.  Paired with the Yellow Label, it was a wonderful end to a wonderful meal.

To end, Pierre reminded us that good champagne isn't only a good oparing for any food adventure, but it's also a bond which unites daring, confident and sophisticated individuals ..just like the woman behind this quality and fine champagne, Madame Clicquot.

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