Monday 13 August, 2012

Champagne & Caviar: What Is Not To <3?

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Los Angeles Food& Wine Festival: I Heart Champagne & Caviar at The Montage Beverly Hills

If you are going to do a big star-studded food festival in this era littered with big star-studded food festivals, booking Giada DeLaurentiis and Guy Fieri is a good idea. But an even better idea, since they can’t carry the whole thing on their shoulders, is to curate events that will be memorable, events with themes that inspire the chefs as much as the patrons, events that feel like they’re worth the price of admission.

I can’t think of a better example of all these at this year’s Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival than “marquee event” I Heart Champagne & Caviar. Quasi-hosted by Sang Yoon (Father’s Office), the walk-around patio fete—upstairs from Scott Conant’s Scarpetta and Thomas Keller’s Bouchon--challenged some eight chef/teams to come up with a caviar dish to pair with champagne.

Co-sponsored by California Caviar (who make Jacques Pepin’s pressed caviar), the event’s indulgent tone was set by ladies offering mother of pearl caviar spoons on neck ribbons along with “prescriptions” of pure white sturgeon roe.

But don’t forget the bubbles. To an experienced wino, of course, the majority of the labels were familiar: Billecart-Salmon, Louis Roederer, Perrier-Jouet, Tattinger. But the opportunity to try them all back-to-back in one setting (and unlimited amounts)? That almost never happens, even for sommeliers. Personally, I was more curious about the lesser-known labels: Henriot (an excellent, balanced Brut) Lanson (big soft bubbles, complex fruit—perfect for pairing) and Delamotte.

The chef’s creations were impressively varied, from Yoon’s popcorn custard (one of four creations he offered) to Gabriel Ask’s mille-feuille, to Clark&Mark’s corn lobster chowder, which was a perfect balance between creativity and satisfaction. Rick Tramonto, Walter Manzke, William Bradley, and Johan Bjorklund all represented well.

Between the bubbles and the random samplings of lump caviars, if you couldn’t get $195 worth of indulgence out of that evening, you should just stick to Subway.

The entire LAFW event is a fundraiser for St. Vincent Meals on Wheels. Please consider making a donation.

California Caviar 

Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival official site

 


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