Sud de France Festival kicked off (prior to its Launch Party on Monday, June 3rd) their Festival with the “Tasting Tables” series with Chef Joseoh Buenoconsejo and Sous Chef Tony Venegas at Hôtel Americano in Chelsea.
This particular dinner was set outside on the hotel restaurant’s patio during this humid, very warm Sunday evening in communal tables set in blue and white check tablecloths and a live band playing convivial swing music. It almost felt like I was transported to Southern France.
Glasses of 2007 La Coume du Roy Maury Rouge were interestingly passed around as apéritifs. This wine tasted almost as sweet and complex as port but much more balanced since the grapes are Grenache.
We started our meal with a trio of amuse bouches: Mousse de chèvre, Oeuf en cocotte, and Fleurs de courgette Farcies. The chèvre mousse was on a small bed of dehydrated tapenade that was tart yet creamy, making it a pleasant palate wake up call. The warm oeuf en cocotte that had laid on top of finely diced asparagus, morels, and the egg was topped with a morel foam. Warm, satisfying and had the wonderful flavors of spring. The stuffed zucchini flower was filled with diced tomatoes. The flower wasn’t fried, so this light preparation wouldn’t weigh anyone down for the next courses.
This was paired with the Domaine de la Coume du Roy, Muscat de Rivesaltes AOC 2010, another sweet wine tastes very close to the cloying Italian Muscato except there’s a roundness and subtle acidity that prevents this wine to become too sweet.
The langoustine and ris de veau (sweetbreads) was the most attractive looking dish that many of my table mates were taking out their smartphones and snapping photos of this dish. Beyond the aesthetics, this dish was very rich. The buttery, black truffle sauce coats the succulent langoustine and sweetbreads that it feels heavy for a summer evening like this but the flavors were wonderful. Thankfully, the minerally, crisp acidity of the Alios Grenache Blanc VDP Hérault 2011 cuts through the richness.
Agneau de printemps, apricot, jus à la moutarde (Spring lamb, apricot, mustard jus) was a better option for a more substantial course. The fork tender, braised lamb shoulder and pistachio-crusted lamb chop was delicious with the mustard jus. The apricot marmalade added enough sweetness without overwhelming the dish. The wine paired with this dish was the Borie la Vitarèle, Les Terres Blanches St. Chinian 2011 that is made of a blend of Grenache and Syrah; the wine’s low tannins worked well with the lamb. Not overpowering yet substantial enough to be sipped on its own, even on a hot evening like this.
Dessert was millefeuille aux pommes, Apple sorbet, and lemon verbena soda paired with Domaine Collin Cremant de Limoux. The apple millefeuille was not my favorite item on that plate, as I found the puff pastry layer too thick but the tart apple sorbet with a touch of caramel was very tasty. The lemon verbena soda was very refreshing and not too sweet.
The Cremant de Limoux is a blend of mostly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, that has a toasty, brioche-like flavor and texture to the wine. Tiny bubbles deliver clean notes of apple, lemon zest and pear, plus a whopping of cleansing mineral notes bringing the dry finish toward the end. A very good, refreshing digestif to end this lovely meal.
To view more photos of this event, please view the slideshow below (or CLICK HERE for my photo set:
Sud de France Festival
Remaining Tasting Tables Series on June 9th at The Smile, June 11th at Calliope, June 16th at Donna, and June 23rd at The Pines.