Food and Leisure

Champagne makes this dinner sparkle Karla Reyes

FOOD FOR THOUGHT - Millie & Karla Reyes - The Philippine Star
Champagne makes this dinner sparkle  Karla Reyes
At Nicolas Feuillate, the Brut Champagnes spend two to three years in the cellars to develop style and character.

MILLIE: Something about the word “champagne,” when uttered, connotes a celebration and makes me smile. I didn’t have to think twice when I was invited to attend an exclusive Champagne dinner at Solaire Resorts and Casino. The dinner was held at the Oasis, transformed into a beautiful garden setting amid lush greens and giant butterflies made of fresh flowers. The feel was casual elegance and the flowing Champagne set the tone for a wonderful, relaxing evening with soft piano music playing in the background. Impressive wait staff passed around bite-sized amuse-gueules of duck confit balls, cauliflower tartlets, and melon cubes topped with shrimp.

KARLA: When I heard about the invitation for a Champagne dinner, I was very jealous since I wouldn’t be able to attend. I remember our trip to Europe last year where my mom’s friend, uncle Bernard Douchet, drove us from Paris to Champagne country. Although we only stayed for one night, we were able to take a tour of a Champagne cellar. The process of Champagne making was explained, which is a tedious task, and therefore needs a lot of patience. They first press the grapes and ferment the grape juice. The second fermentation is what differentiates Champagne from wine. It is when sugar and yeast are added and the bottles are sealed. They are stored horizontally as the yeast turns into sugar, then are aged further. Then the bottles are placed on special racks at a 45-degree angle and rotated every few days. This is to push the dead yeast and sediments towards the neck of the bottle so it can be removed. Then a sugar mixture is added into the bottle to make the Champagne sweeter. It is then shaken and rested before it is ready for drinking.

In the case of Nicolas Feuillate, the Brut Champagnes spend two to three years in the cellars, which goes above and beyond the minimum 15 months imposed by law. Vintage Champagnes are aged four to five years, some even eight to 10 years. They say that aging develops the style and character of the Champagne.

MILLIE: The impressive sit-down dinner was impeccably served with Champagne all the way. Michael Dinges, a German national and culinary director of Solaire who was formerly an executive dhef of the Grand Hyatt, designed the menu especially for the occasion.

For starters, we had a delightful, cold, home-smoked salmon loin with Osietra caviar and homemade yogurt gel served with Cuvee Brut Reserve NV Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte.

KARLA: Smoking is when you expose a food item to smoke by burning wood chips and sealing it in. Usually it is placed in a smoker — a smoke chamber or even a simple oven. Smoking helps preserve an item and gives it a more complex flavor. There are two kinds: cold smoke and hot smoke. Hot smoking is when you allow the temperature to reach 126-176 degrees Fahrenheit, which will cook the food item. This is usually used for meats like hams and sausages. Cold smoking, on the other hand, is used as a flavor enhancer without necessarily cooking the item. The temperature for cold smoking is 68-86 degrees Fahrenheit and is commonly used for my favorite appetizer or brunch item, smoked salmon.

MILLIE: Next was a heavenly, melt-in-your-mouth, apple-shaped foie gras, with a smooth and mousse-y center-filled with apple compote. It was breathtaking and divine, perfect with the Cuvee Demi-sec, NV Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte.

The summer pot-au-feu was a light lobster consommé with tasty lobster ravioli and pearl-shaped summer vegetables with homegrown fresh herbs. One could smell the faint aroma of lobster as the waiter gently poured in the consommé. This time, a bottle of Cuvee Chardonnay Blanc de Blancs, 2006 Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte, was presented and served.

The best was yet to come and I was excited as I waited for the exquisite, slow-cooked Bobby Veal, with white almond foam served with Champagne-braised veal cheek shepherd’s pie topped with light pommes mousseline. It blended well with the Cuvee Palmes d’Or 2006 from Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte.

KARLA: It’s not every day one gets to try veal. Veal is actually young cow up to one year of age. There are two kinds of veal: milk-fed veal, which is from four to five months, or grain-fed veal, aged at six to eight weeks. Veal is, of course, more tender than beef and is a bit more expensive as well.

MILLIE: Wild berries for a perfect ending — a log-inspired, not-too-sweet dessert with fresh raspberries and blueberries on a chocolate plaquette served with Cuvee Brut Rose NV Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte. It was just too much for one evening and I was head over heels!

I wasn’t quite prepared for another surprise when the wait staff wheeled in treasure boxes filled with different petits fours and handmade chocolates such as ganache tarts with edible gold leaf, pistachio and white chocolate, hazelnut and milk chocolate Roche, dark chocolate with sea salt, amaretto and dark chocolate, rum praline with milk chocolate, and more, all designed by Solaire’s executive pastry chef Roberto Molleman. But my favorite was the blood orange pate de fruit.

All in all, the Champagne and fabulous dinner added sparkle to my life!


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Send email to milliereyes.foodforthought@gmail.com and quichethecook.ph@gmail.com. Find us on Facebook: Food for Thought by Millie & Karla Reyes.

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