The Brasserie Restaurant played host to a 2012 Cayman Cookout event that was fit for royalty – The Impérial Lunch featuring Moët & Chandon Champagne – that featured a new kid on the block, Moët & Chandon Ice Imperial.
If there are doubts about a particular food and wine pairing, many sommeliers suggest Champagne – one of the most food friendly of all wines.
However, while Champagne is a good match with many foods, the right Champagne paired with a particular food can be a great match. Great pairings of food and Champagne was the goal on 13 January when an event of the 2012 Cayman Cookout called ‘The Impérial Lunch: Moët at the Brasserie’ took place.
Brasserie consultant chef Dean Max teamed up with guest chef Pascal Tingaud, the chef de cuisine for Moët & Chandon, to create a three-course menu, along with a selection of passed hors d’oeuvres.
A member of the Master Chefs of France who was served as president of that organisation for eight years, Tingaud cooks for guests at the private chateaus of Moët & Chandon and Dom Pérignon. He also travels as a global ambassador or guest chef to various locations around the world. Everywhere he goes, he tries to pair Moët Champagnes with local cuisine.
“One of my roles is not only to promote the wine, but to find local ingredients that match the wine,” he said.
When travelling to places like the Caribbean, Tingaud is often faced with spicy cuisine, something he said is not a problem for Champagne.
“It’s very surprising to some people how much Champagne is matching with spicy food,” he said, adding that Moët & Chandon Nectar Impérial Champagne, which is a moderately sweet demi-sec, matches best with spicy food, while Moët & Chandon Rosè Impérial Champagne matches well with barbecue foods.
He also said Champagne pairs well with sushi, long thought to be one of the more difficult food-wine pairings, and even with asparagus, which some people think is virtually impossible to pair well with wine.
“Asparagus matches well with Champagne,” Tingaud said, noting that he’s quite aware of the notion that it’s a difficult pairing with wine. “The problem is, people often serve asparagus with vinaigrette.”
Vinegar, is the one food item that is a bad pairing with Champagne, Tingaud said.
“Balsamic is good with Champagne, but it’s not vinegar,” he said, referring to the fact that true balsamic is really a cooked reduction of the juice of a particular white grape.
Tingaud said he prepares entire meals that are paired with Champagne.
“You can have a whole dinner with Champagne,” he said, adding that Champagne even pairs well with some cheeses, like mild goat cheese.
“People are surprised that the same Champagne can match with cheese and then sweet dessert,” he said.
The lunch started with a cocktail reception in the Brasserie’s chef’s garden area. The cocktail served was very simple, but very refreshing: Moët Ice Impérial Champagne over ice with some mint from the Brasserie’s garden and a sugar cane swizzle.
Launched in 2010, Moët Ice Impérial was formulated specifically to be served over ice in hot climatic conditions. Champagne is usually made from Chardonnay grapes, or a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. To create the Moët Ice Impérial blend formulated to be served over ice, less Chardonnay is used than usual, and more Pinot Meunier.
Although drinking Champagne over ice would seem like sacrilege to some purists, Tingaud said that was the “old fashioned way” people in France used to drink Champagne when it was hot.
Cayman Distributors will launch Moët Ice Impérial officially in Cayman in February, said Wine Sales Manager Jodie Petts, adding that it won’t be available in retail stores, only at select bars and restaurants.
“We see it as a new, fun thing to bring young people into Champagne drinking,” she said.
Geoffrey Bouilly, the Moët Hennessy market manager in the Caribbean, said Moët Ice Impérial was something people could drink outdoors in Cayman, at the beach, by a pool or on a boat, or as an aperitif.
While guest sipped on their Moët Ice Impérial cocktails in the garden, they were treated to selection of passed hors d’oeuvres created by Chef Dean Max and the new executive chef at the Brasserie, Niven Patel. The small bites included Brasserie-style fish team; wahoo sashimi; java rose apple ‘Waldorf’; Island pimento berry smoked pork crostini; and snapper ceviche.
While guests mingled, Max took some of them on a tour of the chef’s garden. He later gave a short talk about the Brasserie’s usage of locally sourced ingredients.
Once guests were seated inside the restaurant, they were served Tingaud’s two creations: Cayman spiny lobster cannelloni with oxheart tomatoes, chard and eggplant and sorrel scented sauce; and Cayman sea salt crusted snapper with gungo peas, zucchini, ackee and boniato.
The lobster cannelloni was served with Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Brut 2003 and made for a delightful pairing. Tingaud said each vintage Champagne has a different taste profile, which means they all pair differently with food.
Moët & Chandon only produces vintage Champagnes from single exceptional harvests. The first was made in 1842 and Bouilly said only 68 vintages have ever been produced.
Although vintage Champagne is expensive and people think they should take small sips of it, Bouilly said it was actually better to take larger sips so that it fills more of the mouth, giving the drinker a richer experience.
Champagne is often associated with celebration and tends to lend itself to a lot of raised glasses and ‘cheers’. There was a lot of clinking of Champagne flutes during lunch at the Brasserie.
“When it comes to Champagne, there’s never enough cheers,” commented Blackbeard’s wine specialist Lee Quessy.
Before serving the salt crusted snapper, Chef Patel took one of the enormous fish around for people to see. It was then served with Moët & Chandon Rosè Impérial Champagne, a very expressive wine that has only been available as a non-vintage Champagne since 1997.
The dinner ended with local apple banana mousse, a dessert created by Chef Max and Brasserie pastry chef Christine Ward. It was served Moët & Chandon Nectar Impérial, a rich and creamy Champagne with a hint of sweetness.
It’s Moët with a ‘t’
Bouilly put one point to rest during the dinner concerning the pronunciation of Moët. It isn’t ‘Mo-way’ as many English speakers say, but ‘Mo-wet’. While it is true that a ‘t’ at the end of French words isn’t normally pronounced, Moët has two little dots – called a diaeresis – over the ‘e’, which indicates that a vowel should be pronounced apart from and in addition to the letter that precedes it. So Moët is pronounced ‘Mo-wet’. But then that’s not really totally accurate either because Tingaud and Bouilly, both native French speakers, pronounced it ‘Mwet’, as if it were a one-syllable word. Either way, there’s a ‘t’ at the end, but people don’t necessary have to point that out, said Cayman foodie Ben Maxwell.
“I like it when someone says “Mo-way” and I say “Mo-wet”,” Maxwell said. “They think I’m trashy, but I know I’m right. Then we both feel superior!”