I frequently donate meals to charity auctions. I go all out to make these feasts a memorable experience for the lucky bidders. This time, though, I have just returned from wining and dining my way through Southern France. What that means is the bar has been raised significantly.
Here is my menu for Saturday’s dinner for 10 people:
Baguette w/ Brebis Florets, Goat Cheese Medallions & Fresh Berries
Dungeness Crab Bisque (1 guest is allergic to shellfish so I’m making a squash bisque for him.)
Green Salad w/ Pears & Gorgonzola in Pear Vinaigrette
Duck Confit w/ Brussels Sprouts in Dijon Mustard Sauce served with Chanterelle Risotto (Three guests don’t eat duck so I’ll create a salmon version of the duck Plate.)
Classic Tarte Tatin w/ Crème Anglaîs (1 guest has a wheat allergy so I’m simply caramelizing an apple and serving it in a puddle of Crème Anglaîs.)
The wines that accompany this meal are:
White: Picpoul de Pinet 2011
Rosé: Domaine Sorin Terra Amata 2011
Red: Carignan Vielles Vignes Terre d’Ardoise 2009 & Chateau Blouin Bordeaux 2009
We had the Picpoul a number of times throughout Languedoc. It’s local and very good with a bright, dry fruitiness against the palate.
The rosé is from Provence and is typical of the French style – nothing sweet about it. Instead, we get a taste of fruit that is light and refreshing and sets up the taste buds for food.
2009 was a VERY good year for red wine in Southern France. I don’t think I’ve tasted any bad 2009s yet, so I stuck with that year for the dinner. Carignan is the name of the grape from which the Carignan Vielles Vignes is made. This is a very commonly used grape in Southern French wines. It is usually blended with other grapes but this bottle is pure Carignan, which makes it unique and interesting. It’s a gutsy red with much more complexity than our other red for this meal. That’s not to say that it’s rough to the taste. It’s got a nice forward flavor with black raspberry and plum, which sets up nicely on the palate and allows for secondary flavors that give it some nice complexity.
The Chateau Blouin is a classic Bordeaux style cabernet/merlot blend. It’s soft and plummy and will go down well when served after the Carignan toward the end of the meal.
Wish me luck! This is the first time I’ve done duck confit from scratch. It looked and smelled great as I pulled it out of the oven after 10 hours of slow roasting. (My dog, Gabrielle, will attest to that fact. We couldn’t get her out of the kitchen until I got the duck stored away.) It’s now under fat in the refrigerator awaiting its final preparation before the meal.
Just in case any of you are curious about the Brebis cheese florets mentioned in my menu above, I’ve included a photo of the cheese girolle that I will use to make them. I bought my girolle while we were in Toulouse so that I, too, could make cheese look this pretty.