As the city’s heartbeat pulsed outside of our King West townhouse on a recent Saturday night, 18 carefully selected influencers and media gathered to indulge in an evening of fine food and even finer Champagne. We were pleased to host Champagne house principal Vitalie Taittinger into the iYellow Loft to hear her stories and experience an exquisite tasting menu from Chef Adam Hynam-Smith. If Champagne is the king of the sparkling wine category then Vintage dated bottlings, Rosés and Blanc de Blancs round out the whole royal monarchy. The Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs Champagne 2006 had a strong showing paired with octopus around a fermented celeriac cream and daikon chipotle gastrique.
Champagne has had a long and successful relationship with the marking of celebratory occasions but happily, this relationship is starting to change. Long gone are the days where Champagne was relegated to the pre-dinner shuffle. And it is a good thing as Champagne has both the body and complexity to be paired with a variety of courses. Champagne has earned a rightful spot at the dinner table and Chef Adam did these complex wines justice by crafting a menu inspired by French gastronomic techniques partnered with middle eastern influences.
The intersection of these culinary themes allowed Chef Adam to really play up his creativity in the kitchen, congruent with the direction that new and younger French chefs are taking. When you see someone like Action Bronson eating and drinking his way through rural France and doing some cool sh*t along the way, you start to learn that the French food culture is evolving, much like the wine industry. Champagne, which was once thought of as serious juice confined to celebratory toasts, has now become more diverse and relaxed, much like the French food scene which finds itself opting for a more non-traditional approach. Increasingly younger chefs in France are ‘shrugging off formality and tradition’ where other chefs like Paul Bocuse left behind a legacy of a more modern approach to French cooking that he philosophized in the 1970’s called nouvelle cuisine that shied away from white linen service and embraced fresh produce and ingredients.
The third course was a perfectly pink duck breast with fermented Jerusalem artichoke puree with whey soured shallots and king mushroom crowns roasted in duck fat and duck jus paired with the Taittinger Prestige Brut Rosé Champagne. Traditionally, Duck à l’orange is a classic French dish in which the duck is roasted and served with an orange sauce but Chef Adam elevated the breast and made the pairing his own with a creamy Jerusalem artichoke puree that balanced with the bright acidity in the Taittinger Brut Rosé.
A fabulous evening was had by all. Thank you Vitalie Taittinger for sharing your wines with us and Thank you, Chef Adam, for the remarkable wine and food pairing experience. Check out more event photos here!