Monday, October 05, 2015

Billecart-Salmon brunch at the Cape Grace, hosted by Ken Forrester

French Champagne has always been a luxury. We absolutely love to drink it but it is only on very special occasions that bottles are bought, or are prised out of our cellar. So it is always appreciated to be invited to taste it and write about it. This week, we were guests at a very special tasting of Billecart-Salmon at the Cape Grace hotel where we were promised brunch
We tasted three champagnes, the Brut Reserve which was our welcome drink, very French with brioche on the nose and tight, clear ripe pear & apple fruit with a good mousse. Janis Robinson says its "an extremely glamorous fizz"
The tasting was held in one of the smaller private dining rooms
Ken Forrester is the importer of Billecart-Salmon into South Africa and he told us about the three different non-vintage champagnes
Robert Parker says "Billecart-Salmon is one of my favourite Champagne houses, and their non-vintage Rosé is a consistent winner." and scores it 94 We found it delightful, with a bready nose, pink fruit aromas and on the palate crisp 'toasted' apples and pears with a lovely mousse
Our favourite is the Blanc de Blanc Grand Cru from the Côte des Blancs, made entirely from Chardonnay. There are toasted nuts on the nose, hints of almonds. Clean, lean and mean on the palate so very refreshing and food friendly. Tastes of crisp tart apples with a hint of caramel and this would make this the perfect partner for a Tart Tatin
Served in large Burgundy glasses instead of flutes. We find this is becoming more normal at bubbly tasting. The glasses capture the aromas more, let the flavours develop in the glass and let you enjoy them. The mousse is also held firm and does not dissipate as fast as it does in a coupe glass
New Executive Manager – Food and Beverage at One&Only Cape Town, Robert Hatton Jones was at our table enjoying the tasting
Caroline Bagley and Frank Winter of Savoy Cabbage being served some Rosé by Marlvin Gwese, one of our favourite sommeliers. He was very diligent in keeping glasses topped up as we ate
A top up, Madam?
To the Brunch. When we arrived we were offered glasses of coconut porridge topped with fruit and muesli. Far too healthy to go with Bubbly, Lynne thinks. We were expecting perhaps a buffet of brunch food. That was not what we got and from then on it was an incredibly well constructed lunch. And what a lunch, there was luxury rich, balanced cleverly with clean flavours, so no overindulgence. This is the menu with everything paired to the Champagnes
The starter platter. These were the best canapés we have had for weeks. A sweet strawberry macaron filled with foie gras was a wow with the Rosé. The salmon tartar, pickled beetroot and rye melba also went well with the Brut and the Rosé, but the mustard panna cotta did fight back a bit. The perfect melting choux gougère filled with gentle gorgonzola was a smash with the Blanc de Blanc. The mini brioche topped with mushrooms, a perfectly cooked quail egg and a truffle hollandaise was the best. We all wanted more. It was made for the Blanc de Blanc
A top up for Caroline
Sommelier Martin Drotsky pours the Miso broth onto the pork and Asian herbs for Caroline Rillema (owner of Caroline’s Fine Wines)
The main was pork done three different ways, one each for a Champagne pairing. But they all matched well. The Asian soup was fresh and herby with only a tiny bite of chilli. The Pork Belly with the seared scallop was tender and in a rich jus topped with great crackling. The sweet potato puree with lots of vanilla did separate the table. The third dish was just plain clever and will be repeated in our kitchen. Tender pieces of barbecued pork belly with butter fried caramelised apples in a thin crêpe. So simple and so delicious and so perfect with champagne
Dessert was a deconstructed vanilla cheesecake, again echoing the flavours found in the champagnes. A rich hazelnut crumble, a rich mango cremeaux, pineapple marmalade with nice squares of pineapple and quite a sharp exotic fruit sorbet to soften the richness of the rest of the dessert. Lots of different textures, lots of different flavours
Well done Executive chef Malika van Reenen and all the chefs in the kitchen and Martin Drotsky and his tasting team. And thank you Ken Forrester for sharing the Billecart-Salmon with us. There was loud applause
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2015

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