Last night at 7 pm, we attended our first “chef demonstration” with wine pairings.
Basically, a chef creates a menu and not only cooks it but talks us through the preparation and recipes… and then there were wines that were selected to taste with these dishes. This was incredible. The professionals at my school selected the wines so all I had to do was enjoy the food and wine immensely…. and take notes! This was absolutely amazing… unforgettable. I cannot believe this is a required class. How can this be so fun?!
We started with a glass of Roederer Champagne… to cleanse the palate and intense the appetite 🙂
Foie Gras Ravioli with Hazelnut and Fried Jerusalem Artichoke
This paired absolutely wonderfully with a nicely oaked
Viognier (grape variety) from the Condrieu region.
The oak aging in the wine paired lovely with the hazelnuts in this dish. It was an obvious compliment. On the nose of the wine in regards to aroma… there was a roundness of dried candied fruit and baked apricots that stood up to the rich and savory foie gras in the ravioli stuffing. This wine also had a beautiful buttery creaminess on the palate that paired exquisitely with the creaminess of the dish…
Am I getting good ?! 🙂
At this point I have to be. The chefs and professors are starting to just randomly select someone to discuss the pairing. It is like the socratic method where you are “called out.” I must be able to attend formal professional tastings and be able to speak what they call “wine talk.” I have to articulate my observations with confidence and proper vocabulary. Otherwise, they say they will not grant the degree at the end of the program. This is a very important step in passing! This definitely pushes me out of my comfort zone… I can no longer be the shy, observer… but it is the best thing. Oh, and they will definitely tell you if your observations are wrong in front of everyone. The french are very blunt and hold nothing back.
I thoroughly enjoy this and could literally spend all day focused on food and wine and the nuances…. I think I am in the right place!
Next, after discussing this dish with the chef and all of my wine-loving class mates… we were onto the delicious entree course.
Mussel risotto, with lobster… and garnish of parmesan. The chef basically cooked the mussles… then used this oceanic mussle broth and reduced it with cream, white wine, and salt… until it is this very fresh sea, salty, umami flavor. Umami is the 5th sense of taste in the gastronomic world. You have sweet, salt, bitter, acid and… umami… according to the chef world. It is a savory flavor.
This was a strong, rich dish that needed a wine with the proper acidity to stand up to it. The wine selected was a Riesling from the Alsace region.
Oh. My. Goodness.
Delectable. Simply Divine.
This risotto dish was out of this world, melt in your mouth. Luckily, I have all the recipes as well! I am definitely recreating this.
Finally, we were onto the cheese course. What is a french meal without the cheese course, right?! I am quickly learning that a cheese course will just always happen in France. Not a problem with me AT ALL.
This was an aged goat cheese, with ash on the rind. From….Sainte Maure Frais
It paired impressively with this Sancerre.
Sancerre and Goat Cheese is actually a classic pairing. I secretly knew this… remember my hot goat cheese salads with a glass of Sancerre when I first moved to Paris?!
What an incredible experience. I still “must” attend 9 more of these fabulous pairings. I simply cannot WAIT until my next one!
Chef Demo… we can ask questions and also learn the cooking methods.
One part of my final exam next June will be this~ I will be handed a seven course menu and I will need to pair excellent/and proper wines with these dishes. I will have 10 minutes and I will have to complete this off of pure memory including the analysis of why…i.e., the flavor profiles as I described above. The professor said this is the easiest part of the exam. To think I will have that kind of expertise in food and wine pairing come June blows…. my mind. How exciting!
I have another tasting in Paris on Friday night that I have to attend… I believe this one is at a highly acclaimed restaurant. Stay tuned!