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A very Royal Wedding Breakfast with Boutique Champagnes

In Champagnes, Marc & Andrew on April 17, 2011 at 7:08 pm

It is one event happening only once a generation. On April 29th his Royal Highness Prince William will marry Catherine Middleton at Westminster Abbey. To celebrate this grand day we will have an extended weekend and another valid excuse to drink some Champagne and gather friends and family around the table. For this Royal occasion we are suggesting you a pure British breakfast to be toasted with the most delicious and appropriate Boutique Champagnes.

First you need to set the dining table and make sure your finest china and silverware are polished and ready for use. Three colours should apply on the table that are Blue, Red and White and a Union Jack should be at sight in the room. For your glasses make sure you have two Champagne flutes, one white wine and one red wine glass per guest. A table from six to eight guests is ideal.

Concerning the menu, go British all the way, from nibbles to cheeses with an extra touch of Scottish as William and Kate found love at St Andrews.

I suggest you to serve three types of nibbles for the drink reception and serve two rounds of them.

There, no need to go bonkers. A simple Smoked Salmon on Toast with a drizzle of lemon juicean horseradish cream will do well to start. Then send a very cold Pea and Mint Mousse in a shot glass with a tea spoon. That will wake up your taste buds. To finish serve a warm mini crab cake with a dollop of Tartare sauce . With this trio you can be sure that everyone will love this start. A bowl of Bombay Mix can be welcome on the side.

You will serve these appetizers with Champagne Francois Diligent Brut N.V. This fantastic Blanc de Noirs Champagne is light, refreshing and expresses a delicate Pinot Noir with hints of bruised apple and nuts. This will be a great moment of refinement and a fantastic start to your Royal Wedding Breakfast.

For the starter we will look at celebrating Britain by using ingredients that are truly local. It is a call for Hand Dived Scallops from the shores of Scotland served with Stornoway Black Pudding and Scottish Forest Girolles mushrooms and roasted Granny Smith. These flavours work fantastically well together and this recipe is easier to make that it seems. As much as the mushrooms and the black pudding would do with fairly oaky Champagne it will need to be a Blanc de Blancs (100% Chardonnay) to bring this extra apple freshness to the match. It will work wonders with the sweet flavours of the Scallops. For this “out of this world” starter no other Champagne will work than Andre Jacquart Premier Cru Vertus Experience Brut N.V. Leave the bottle to rest at room temperature for ten minutes and then serve it in a white wine glass to get a maximum of aromas and enhance your experience.

The main course will have to be stylish, rich in flavour and really branded British. That is the reason why we have chosen 28 days aged Aberdeen Angus Beef Wellington, Creamy Mushroom sauce served with Nipps and Tatties and English Asparagus. Scottish beef is so tender that it just melts in the mouth. The meat will be browned in butter and placed on a bed of wilted spinach and a mushroom duxelles and wrapped in puff pastry before being roasted. The nice thing about this dish is that everything can be prepared in advance and will just have to be put in the oven when your starters will be served.

With this main course fit for a future King you will need Champagne with lots of personality, strong earthy flavours and enough body to sustain the richness of flavours. A Blanc de Noirs made of the finest Pinot Noir grapes from the most prestigious Grand Cru village of Ambonnay will do the trick just fine. For the one of you who has won the lottery recently I would strongly recommend Krug Clos D’Ambonnay 1996 at £1885.00 a bottle. If you are like me and still have to meet your bills requirements but still want to treat yourself and your guests with fantastic Champagne the choice of Soutiran Grand Cru “Perle Noire” Brut N.V. makes more sense. Rising star that has impressed many wine pros at the Champagne Bureau annual tasting, the cuvee “Perle Noire” is packed with flavours and will be the perfect companion to your beef Wellington. I promise you a “time of your life” moment with this combination. Make sure the Champagne has rested ten minutes at room temperature before pouring it in red wine glasses. For the more adventurous, you can decant this champagne to add to the wow effect.

With summer on the horizon your choice of dessert will have to be a “sunshine caller” and use what Britain is producing at best: red fruits. A summer pudding filled with strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries served fresh from the fridge with a generous serving of whipped cream will conclude royally your meal. This dessert is a real crowd pleaser and will work marvel with pink champagne with a good dosage to it. That is why we chosen the Henri Giraud “Esprit Rose” Brut N.V.

Made of 70% Pinot Noir and 22% Chardonnay and 8% Ay Rouge in oak barrels, this mouth watering Champagne reveals clear Aromas of Bigaro Cherries, fresh Berries with delicate scent of Spices and freshly cracked Black Pepper. Its Mouthful Palate shows Intense Juiciness, Vigorous Freshness and round all flavours in a medium to long length. This will be the perfect compliment to your summer pudding bringing sunshine all around the table. Serve it in Champagne Flutes straight from the fridge for a great result.

Feel free to finish your meal with a board of British cheeses and a nice bottle of vintage port.

That, my friends, is our idea of the perfect Royal Wedding Breakfast. It is a celebration of the finest food Britain can offer today and will surely make this event one of the bests in generations.

If you fancy creating this meal in your own home, just click on the dishes to download the recipes.

We have created a Royal Wedding Box for the occasion. This box contain two bottles of Francois Diligent Brut N.V., one bottle of Andre Jacquart Premier Cru Vertus Experience, one bottle of Soutiran Grand Cru “Perle Noire” Brut N.V. and two bottles of Henri Giraud “Esprit Rose” Brut N.V.

Case value: £194.20 plus £15.00 delivery charge.

Limited offer until 27th April 2011



The magic of lemongrass

In Chefs, Marc & Andrew on February 1, 2010 at 2:17 pm

For some years now we have been exploring the origins of food pleasure and have discovered something very magical indeed called Umami, the sensation or taste related to pleasure.

Today in Champagne a few growers are making surprisingly refreshing champagnes with so much freshness that the foam disappears in the mouth just like the “Lime Foam” at the Fat Duck.

Traditionally we offer champagne with seafood, oysters or caviar like some very rich Blanc de Blancs or Blanc de Noirs with foie gras or veal sweetbreads. But then spices and herbs appeared from far-flung. Spices like turmeric, roots like ginger and stalks like lemongrass can be found in many recipes today and not only in Chinese, Indian or Japanese restaurants.

The latest example of success has been organised by the “champagnes de vignerons” (Grower’s champagne association) and a top chef from Paris, designated by the famous restaurant guide Gault & Millau as the 2009 Chef of the Year, William Ledeuil of “Ze Kitchen Gallerie” in Paris 6th Arrondissement. Strong of many years travelling the world he built for himself a cooking philosophy where all food ingredients are a “perfume affair”.

When recently tasting the range of Egly-Ouriet, Soutiran and Vouette & Sorbee I was stunned by the freshness and minerality of some of them especially the Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru from Soutiran. A very fine mousse disappearing like a cloud in the mouth and a very appealing citrus palate made me wonder what food item would be best and, after a few minutes discussing with friends, we agreed that some dishes with kalamansi or ginger would be good but then, like a thunder strike, came the idea of Lemongrass.

Would lemongrass be the perfect match to some very dry and crisp Blanc de Blancs? I will take every effort to find out for the next month or so.

But what about you? What do you think?

Have you ever experienced this?

Bacon Popcorn and Cod Skin with Champagne?

In Champagnes, Chefs, Marc & Andrew, Sommeliers on January 24, 2010 at 10:10 am

What is it all about? And who are these Ulysse Collin, Jerome Prevost and Jacques Lassaignes?

There is only one way to find out, by visiting Texture Restaurant and Champagne Bar on Portman Square by Marble Arch in London.

Opened almost three years ago by  chef Agnar Sverrisson and  sommelier Xavier Rousset MS, this venue has just been awarded its first Michelin Star and already holds three AA Rosettes for a good reason. Xavier and Agnar met while working at Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons where Aggi was Head Chef and Xavier Head Sommelier. Both with a vision on how a restaurant should be where food and wine have equal values, they have created the first ever restaurant to be imagined by a chef and a sommelier in the UK.

Both of them have a great background and awards. Aggi has passed by the Ramsay stables working under Marcus Wareing and Xavier, Master Sommelier, has won the title of Best Sommelier of UK while working under Gerard Basset MW MS at Hotel du Vin.

Before talking about the fantastic selection of Champagnes at Texture lets talk about its fantastic food. On the menu with Icelandic influence you will be served with your aperitif a plate of Salted Dried Cod Skins (a delight); Char grilled Anjou Pigeon, Sweet corn, Bacon Popcorn and Red Wine Essence; Yellow Fin Tuna, Asian Flavours or Icelandic Line Caught Cod, Chorizo, Avocado, Squid and Artichoke. In all menus you will find the freshest of ingredients cooked to perfection and presented like a “Grand Maitre” painting.

Concerning the wines and more particularly the Champagnes, Texture has taken the bet of making discover rare and unknown Champagne houses. For Xavier, Champagne is Wine and he believes, like us, that there is more today in a bottle of bubbly than the old blend and its worth exploring. With over 80 champagne bins, the list is presented alphabetically by producers and their origin, would it be Premier or Grand Cru. See champagne list

We are very impressed by the fact that the list is featuring houses like Bruno Paillard, De Sousa, Delamotte, Gosset, Henri Giraud, Larmandier-Bernier and Philipponnat; all of these we are proudly promoting but you should not miss some even smaller houses such like Ulysse Collin, Jerome Prevost or Jacques Lassaignes.

In addition, every day you will have a selection of five champagnes by the glass giving you the opportunity to sample some of the most unusual houses.

But don’t think that you have to put your name on the waiting list for lunch or dinner to take a taste at these fantastic champagnes. As stated, Texture is also a Champagne Bar and people are welcome to pop by for a glass or a bottle any time.

For a true “Texture Experience” we strongly suggest you to choose the tasting menu and ask Xavier or his charming assistant Erika to match the dishes with Champagne. Many did it and they are still talking about it.

Do not hesitate to give your notes or feedback on the Blog and to keep us informed of your champagne experiences.

Next stop for us will be Kettner’s Bar, London’s oldest Champagne Bar situated in Soho to see if they also have been taken by this Small Champagne Houses Fever.

New Year’s Resolutions

In Champagnes, Marc & Andrew on December 16, 2009 at 11:19 am

What if Champagne was the elixir of life? A recent study published by Reading University on 15th December 2009 shows that regular consumption of our favourite drink is good for your heart. This research says that two glasses of champagne a day causes improvement in the way the blood vessels work. As the university explains: “Champagne does this by increasing the availability of nitric oxide, a vascular active molecule which controls blood pressure. It is able to induce these effects because it contains polyphenols, plant chemicals from the red grapes and white grapes used in Champagne production. When you drink Champagne, these polyphenols get absorbed into the circulation where they are able to act on the vascular system. Specifically, they appear to slow down the natural removal of nitric oxide from our blood, meaning that it will have a longer time to act on blood vessels and so improve the flow of blood around the body.”

We were waiting for a miracle for Christmas and it seems to have arrived. But it is not hot news to champagne makers. There is a tradition in this area that no winemaker can leave this world without having drunk a “tirage” (A year production), which guarantees good health and happy talks. So if you didn’t know what New Year Resolution to make this year you have found one which is not painful and we are certain you will keep on to it …DRINK MORE CHAMPAGNE! (with responsibility of course!) After all French don’t say Cheers but Sante, meaning health!

Shooting season

In Champagnes, Marc & Andrew on December 7, 2009 at 9:19 pm

Ready for the shoot...

As we are right in the middle of the shooting season we couldn’t miss a great opportunity to tell you how fantastic Champagne is with games. So, poor me, I had to travel to France for a shooting weekend in the slopes surrounding our family country house in Thiembrone, a tiny village situated in the “Boulonnais” just half way between Boulogne sur Mer and St Omer.

Like in Britain, shooting in France has been for centuries a sport for the nobility only. We all know what happened in 1789 but more unknown is the fact that one of the very first rights given to the people was the “droit de chasse” or the right to hunt. Today for the one not devoted enough to go to church every week, there are two activities on offer on a Sunday morning: the Café (or Bistro) or La Chasse so we opted for the great escapes of the countryside. First cartridges can only be fired from 10am and the bells of the church are what give a perfect indication. And there you go with your guns and dogs. Most importantly is not what you shoot but the champagne you need to match.

Number one game of choice, and most abundant, are pheasants. For this game you will try not to roast it as it dries very quickly but maybe a light braising with wild mushrooms and creamed at the last minute. For this I would suggest a Blanc de Noir. This champagne made of 100% pinot noir and with a clear gold colour develops a lot of character. If you are shooting pheasant in large quantity I would suggest Francois Diligent Brut NV but if you would like to treat yourself I suggest you go for the Henri Giraud Code Noir Brut NV. If you choose the latest you can spice up your dish with a bit of grated Truffle.

Second game of choice are partridges. The best of them are Red Legs. For these, very simple with a salad, just the breast roasted for no more than 10 minutes and with raspberry vinaigrette. The choice of champagne will have to be rose. Try the Bruno Paillard 1ere Cuvee Rose which has this little extra spiciness that would complement the dish perfectly. For a treat it has to be Gosset Cuvee Celebris Rose 2003.

Last game of choice in abundance in northern France are woodcocks. This highly prized game is a delight for cooking. One thing to know is that you can roast them whole without emptying them as they are very frightened when shot (I won’t go more in details on this). The best way is to treat it as a grouse, served on a toast with redcurrant jelly, bread sauce and winter vegetables. There is only one champagne for this exclusive dish; it is the famous Larmandier-Bernier Rose de Saignee NV, this match is made in heaven.

So you see there are many options to enjoy champagne during the shooting season and we would like you to give it a try. If you just want to try at a more accessible manner why don’t you treat your guests with a Venison Carpaccio and Francois Diligent Brut Rose NV? It is delightful. Hoping that you will consider our suggestions I whish you a….Bon Appetite as well as a great shooting season!


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