Montreal, 2010 November 26
- Alsace evening in detail
- Wines served
- A closer look at the menu
- Next Alsace evening
The new place to be!
After only four breathtaking evenings, Alsace On The Menu dinner parties are the new place to be—and be seen! A place where foodies and Epicureans can come together to enjoy the pleasures of food. Foodies enjoy a worldly menu of culinary delights in first-class style, heightened by the great flavours of Alsace wines. The final dinner party of the season introduced our taste buds to the many flavours of the Mediterranean.
Welcome to the Mediterranean
The moment we set foot inside Beaver Hall, the cold November weather becomes a thing of the past. The music and Crémant d’Alsace Pierre Sparr Brut Réserve instantly transport us to the land of sun and exotic conversations. The atmosphere is bubbling with anticipating and dinner guests are clearly ready for adventure. A festive mood all around! The consensus is that tonight’s dinner party—a blend of Mediterranean delights and noble Alsace wines—is destined to be great. Indeed, from entrée to dessert, and from pinots to gewürztraminers, it is an affair to remember!
A grand, grand entrance
As always, Philippe Fehmiu, our wonderful master of ceremonies, welcomes us. Only this time, he’s dressed in ultrachic tweed! He invites us to quickly take our seats, and all in attendance are more than willing to oblige. A quick scan of the room finds Richard Martineau, Sophie Durocher, Bianca Gervais, Sébastien Diaz and the incorrigible Patrick Lagacé, while a show of hands reveals that many regulars are back for more. After all, you cannot stop at just one Alsace On The Menu dinner party!
Jérôme Ferrer—chef extraordinaire
Philippe Fehmiu introduces us to chef Jérôme Ferrer of Europa, whose reputation is beyond compare. Tonight, Jérôme will play master of Mediterranean ceremonies… and flavours. It is a perfect fit seeing as Jérôme grew up in from the Mediterranean region. He’s a charming man who does his best to introduce himself in a hoarse voice, before joking about yelling too much in the kitchen. He promises an evening of “bistronomie” and passionately guides us through the menu with a smile on his lips. Philippe concludes the formalities with a quick anecdote. It appears that Jérôme has a fondness for Brazil where he spends quite a lot of his time. Who knows, we might soon discover Brazilian influences on our plates. We hope so! The pairing of Alsace wines with Jérôme’s international flavours will be all the more pleasing. And thrilling. He wishes us bon appétit and disappears into the kitchen. We are already won over.
One entrée, two divine wines
Nick Hamilton, renowned wine steward and dinner party favourite, takes to the microphone to profess his fondness for the first two wines accompanying our Cod Charlotte in sweet balsamic vinegar and beaded olive oil. The first, a Pinot blanc Réserve, Willm 2009, delights with its light, round character and apple-pear aroma. The second, a Sylvaner Bouquet Printanier, Ruhlmann 2008, has a strong, intense character. Nick points out how these two connoisseur favourites are absolute delights to discover. And we couldn’t agree more—one sip is all it took to fall in love. Before wrapping things up, Nick shares a little secret: oysters and a Sylvaner = quasi-orgasmic pairing. Thanks Nick, something to remember for later on!
Aurélia’s coup de cœur
Aurélia Filion is as bubbly as ever and recommends a Pinot gris “Barriques”, Domaine Ostertag 2008. For those not yet familiar with Aurélia, be sure to check out her blog, Bu sur le web. She explains, quite eloquently, how everyone has a sensorial memory and that we can all identify the true essence of a wine. Tonight, she recommends something quite atypical and influenced by the wood tones commonly associated with burgundy winemaking: grey, rich and ultra-spicy with an aroma of licorice and anise. Definitely seductive. She tastes and offers the following observation: “It comes on strong, almost horizontally, before it explodes, full of life!” Then applause all around. Patrick Lagacé is left speechless. And that’s saying a lot!
A warm welcome for a hot starter
It’s time for our appetizer: Sea bass filet on mashed vegetable root. A hot starter paired to perfection with two Rieslings. According to Nick Hamilton, Riesling is the crowning glory of Alsace wines. We begin with a Riesling Bonheur Convivial, Rieflé 2009, which, by the way, wears its name quite marvelously, followed by a Trimbach 2007. Sheer delight!
Our main entrée arrives with all the warmth and splendor of the Mediterranean sun! Foodies sharpen their knives to sample Chef’s sage and prosciutto grain-fed chicken breast with risotto-style orgeotto. Catherine Fourron, who recently graced the front cover of Elle Quebec, melts with pleasure, while bloggers tweet to their taste bud’s content. A wonderful climax to a remarkable evening. And what better than three flavourful pinots to accompany our main dish: Pinot gris, Pfaffenheim 2009; Pinot noir, Domaine Paul Blanck 2005 and Pinot gris Grand Cru Hengst, Domaine Albert Mann 2008. Perfection!
End on a high note!
Just when we thought it could not get any better, we are thrilled with the arrival of a sophisticated crème Catalan, served with a Gewurztraminer Vendanges Tardives, Trimbach 1999. An astonishing dessert bursting with the aromas of litchi and rose, and a unique way to celebrate the Canadiens’ 4-1 victory. Philippe calls it a night, and Jérôme, who pulled off a highly successful dinner party, bids us farewell. We’re already dreaming of the next Alsace On The Menu dinner party.
So here’s to good health. We’ll see you in 2011.
- Crémant d’Alsace, Pierre Sparr Brut Réserve
- Pinot blanc Réserve, Willm 2009
- Sylvaner Bouquet Printanier, Ruhlmann 2008
- Aurélia Filion’s coup de coeur
Pinot gris “Barriques”, Domaine Ostertag 2008
- Riesling Bonheur Convivial, Rieflé 2009
- 6. Riesling, Trimbach 2007
- Pinot gris Grand Cru Hengst, Domaine Albert Mann 2008 (from the latest issue of Cellier)
- Pinot gris, Pfaffenheim 2009
- Pinot noir, Domaine Paul Blanck 2005
- Gewurztraminer Vendanges Tardives, Trimbach 2000
Crémant d’Alsace, Pierre Sparr Brut Réserve
Gourmet voyage on the Mediterranean Sea
Cod Charlotte with sweet balsamic vinegar and beaded olive oil
Pinot blanc Réserve, Willm 2009
Sylvaner “Bouquet Printanier”, Ruhlmann 2008
Aurélia Filion’s coup de coeur
Pinot gris “Barriques”, Domaine Ostertag 2008
Mediterranean flair for fine palates
Sea bass filet on mashed vegetable root
White butter citrus
Riesling “Bonheur Convivial”, Rieflé 2009
Riesling, Trimbach 2007
Presentation by Nick Hamilton, Cellier magazine
Pinot gris Grand Cru Hengst, Domaine Albert Mann 2008 (latest edition of Cellier)
Mouth-watering moments on the coast
Sage and prosciutto grain-fed chicken breast
Pinot gris, Pfaffenheim 2009
Pinot noir, Domaine Paul Blanck 2005
Sweet escape under the sun
Gewurztraminer Vendanges Tardives, Trimbach 2000
Prosciutto wrapped chicken stuffed with sage (serves 4)
• 4 grain-fed chicken breasts with skin
• 1 bunch fresh sage
• 4 slices prosciutto
• Salt and pepper
Insert a sage leaf between the skin and flesh of the chicken breasts. Salt and pepper to taste. Then wrap a prosciutto slice around each chicken breast and tighten to shape. Sauté the chicken breasts in olive oil in a skillet over high heat long enough to brown the prosciutto on all sides. Finish cooking in the oven at 350˚F (177˚C) for about 10 minutes (or until the internal temperature reaches 167˚F or 75°C). Let stand for 2 minutes before serving.
Sage sauce (500 mL or 2 cups)
• 1 Spanish onion, coarsely chopped
• 1 carrot, coarsely cut
• 2 stalks celery, coarsely cut
• 3 cloves garlic, crushed
• 150 mL port
• 250 mL red wine
• 15 mL red wine vinegar
• 750 mL veal stock or 500 mL demi-glace (not powder)
• 1 bay leaf
• 3 sprigs thyme
• 1 sprig rosemary
• 2 cloves
• 6 black peppercorns
• 3 crushed juniper berries
• The remainder of the pack of sage
Sauté vegetables in one tablespoon each of oil and butter until they are lightly coloured. Deglaze with port and reduce by half. Add vinegar and reduce until almost dry. Add red wine and reduce by two thirds. Stir in veal stock and reduce by one third (just bring to a boil with the demi-glace). Then add the spices and herbs and bring to a boil. Turn off heat, cover and set aside 15 minutes, strain through a fine colander and serve.
Pearl barley risotto (serves 4)
• 200 g pearl barley
• 100 g butter
• 150 g Parmesan
• 1 Spanish onion, chopped
• 100 mL white wine
• The remaining thyme and rosemary
Bring salted water to a boil, add the remaining thyme and rosemary and pour the 200 grams of barley into water. Cook the pearl barley three quarters of the way (so it is still a bit crunchy) and cool quickly. Keep the rest of the cooking water when removing the herbs. Sauté diced Spanish onion (as big as the grains of barley) in a tablespoon of butter over low heat (without browning) until cooked. Deglaze with white wine and reduce by three quarters. Add the pearl barley and stir well. Slowly pour in the cooking liquid, stirring constantly. Salt and pepper to taste. Reduce liquid until almost dry, turn off heat without leaving the pan on the burner. Add remaining butter and Parmesan, stirring constantly until the two are well incorporated with the barley. Serve immediately.