A flight of French wines amid a fine French dinner...
I've always wanted to try Brasserie CiÇou, having heard of so many good things about Chef Cyrille Soenen's French masterpieces. And for that night's meal, not only did I get a taste of his legendary creations, I also had a chance to participate in a wine tasting workshop conducted by wine connoisseur Bernard Flour of Manila Wine. I've attended a few wine flights and wine appreciation events, and this is one of the more informative ones.
Manila Wine is an online wine store that carries mostly French wines, but also offers wines from other countries such as Italy, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, and Chile. They select the best wines in France and ensures their availability here in the Philippines by delivering nationwide within 24-48 hours. Aside from the vin [voh(n)], they also carry luxury jams from The Fruit Garden, Belgian premium beers, delicatessen, and some wine accessories.
And did I mention that Manila Wine also sells the Miraval Rosé Côtes de Provence 2013, a rose wine from Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's summer home in France. They've partnered with the Perrin family in managing and launching this vintage.
Manila Wine does not stop at being an online wine store, though. They conduct these interactive oenology classes designed to help you learn and understand French wines, its history, the terroir, the major and sub-regions in France, grapes and varietals, wine storage, steps and practices in wine tasting, and wine pairing, letting you discover for yourself which French wine is right for you.
They'll be holding a workshop on March 21, 2015, Saturday, 10AM at Brasserie CiÇou. It includes a taste of 5-6 red and white wines, a luxurious lunch, a summary of the presentation, a discount coupon you can use at their online store, and a Certificate of Attendance, all for just P1,999. Click this link for details, inquiries, and reservations: Wine Tasting Workshop
We started dinner with some warm mini baguettes, fresh from the kitchen. Attending wine classes, like eating, is best done in the company of friends. We were all chatting away as we pinched a piece of bread and slathered on some butter, but when the workshop started, everyone was all ears. I, for one, am always up for learning something new about wines.
Did you know that the date on the bottle is the date of harvest and not when the wine was bottled? I didn't, and was surprised to learn about this little fact. Did you also know that the shape of the bottle is different for every region it comes from?
I also learned that a particular appellation requires that certain grape varieties---cabernet sauvignon, merlot, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, etc.---be used in the production for that region that is why the appellation is usually cited when identifying a wine, instead of merely mentioning the grape variety. This also helps understand the nuances of a particular wine, since a lot of factors such as topsoil, climate, slope of the hill, and altitude are responsible for a wine's taste, and so no two vineyards produce the exact same wine.
All these and a lot more are discussed in the workshop, making me appreciate all the complexities that goes into producing wines. It's a fun class, and if you love your vin, I suggest you give this a go.
We started the wine tasting with the whites, as you usually do with flights. We were given a glass each of the Sancerre - Domaine Fournier White 2013 from the Loire Valley region, a Sauvignon Blanc that was lighter in color, but had a full and crisp sensation; and the Pouilly-Fuissé - Domaine du Chalet Pouilly 2010 from the Burgundy region, a Chardonnay that had a round, balanced taste with fruity notes. I preferred the latter and felt it fared better with the dishes that night. But of course, taste is subjective and that rings true for wines as well.
For the reds, we we had a taste of the Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune - Domaine Dennis Carré 2008 from the Burgundy region, a Pinot Noir that is a bit strong in flavor with intense fruity notes; the Anjou - Domaine des Forges 2013 from the Loire Valley region, a Cabernet Franc that had fruity black currant and raspberry notes; and the Côtes du Rhône - BIO Vignerons Ardéchois 2012 from the Rhône region, a combination of Grenache, Shiraz, and Mourvedre that had ripened fruity aroma with spicy notes.
I never imagined using parts of a pig's ears and jowls in a salad, but this pork head pâté simply works in this dish. The combination of the savory pork and sweet potato salad, accented by the subtle sharpness of the vinaigrette makes for a unique yet delightful prologue to an exquisite meal.
This is one dish that won't be soon forgotten. I was enamored with the sensual yolk oozing gingerly onto the pumpkin purée. A spoonful delivered a sweet promise of utopia where everything else falls into oblivion, and all you're allowed to focus on is the blending of the luscious flavors. Each bite thereafter hidden beneath the foam brings an anticipation of the very same gustatory sensation, but with an intermittent dose of crisp, salty chorizo or pepper tuile for contrast.
Fork-tender pork belly resonated with such flavor, I thanked my lucky stars I was able to go that night. The melding of flavors is spot on, you'd be inclined to wonder about the thought process that went into this dish. Savory with hints of sweetness here and there, I reveled in each sumptuous forkful. Needless to say, I fell in love with Brasserie CiÇou that evening, and dreamed of my next meal there.
For dessert, Anna Soenen presented us with CiÇou's famous Kouign Amann (pronounced as "queen a-mahn"), a caramelized laminated sweet dough. First were small portions of the original KA, one topped with salted caramel ice cream using white sugar, and the other topped with ice cream of the same flavor only this time using muscovado sugar. I can't decide which of the two I liked better. The second was their new flavor, Peanut Butter and Banana Kouign Amann. They're all best paired with a cup of coffee because of the sweetness of these well-loved dessert pastries.
Learning about the intricacies that goes into wine-making is always an enjoyable experience. Matching it with opulent food helps etch that experience into your mind -- the one filled with great memories you'd be fond of reminiscing at sporadic moments in your life.
Two more things...
Brasserie CiÇou will be a part of Gout de France, a worldwide event wherein over 1,000 chefs from around the globe (5 continents) will be hosting a simultaneous dinner on March 19, 2015 to celebrate French gastronomy. The menu will consist of healthy dishes prepared from fresh, seasonal, and local produce.
Here is CiÇou's dinner menu:
Also, Brasserie CiÇou is one of the purveyor's in Lori Baltazar's Food and Flair event happening at The Podium Mall this weekend. Catch them there!
Spot: G/F OB Montessori Complex, 57 Annapolis St. Greenhills, San Juan
Contact No.: 661.9200
Contact No.: 0915.749.2232