Champagne dinners at The Ritz

Oct 12, 11 Champagne dinners at The Ritz

Posted by in Champagne, France

Walking into The Ritz, I couldn’t help but be slightly overwhelmed by the opulence of the hotel – red velvet, gigantic golden chandeliers, marble and damask as far as the eye can see, now I know where the expression “putting on the Ritz” comes from, you can’t help but feel like should be dressed in your best when in such classically lush surroundings. All very old school but in the best possible way. I was directed to the Marie Antoinette Suite for the canape and champagne reception before dinner. The Ritz is the kind of hotel that has a champagne of the month, naturally, and this month, it was Perrier-Jouet’s turn to be featured and hosted. As it it the biencentennial of the founding of Perrier-Jouet, Head Chef John Williams created a sumptuous 5-course meal paired with some of the finest vintages of Perrier-Jouet for that evenings dinner. The Ritz has also invited Chef de Cave of the House, Herve Deschamps to elucidate us on the vintages that we would be enjoying with dinner. After drinks, it was on to the Music Room for dinner. The room is actually located in the William Kent House right next to the hotel. It was built in the 1780’s and added onto the hotel after being beautifully restored. The champanges featured included the 2004 Belle Epoque, the Grand Brut Millesime 1998, the Belle Epoque 1996 in magnum and the Belle Epoque 2004. Perrier Jouet champagnes are quite fresh and very good partners to rich cuisine, having excellent acidity and bubbles which are not too aggressive. The dish of seared scallops with smoked eel, bacon and watercress was the best match of the evening with the Millesime 1998, the toasty notes of the champagne quite agreeable with the smoked eel and highlighting the sweet notes of the scallops. The Ritz does champagne dinners once a quarter and the next one will be at the end of the year. The Ritz charges £195 per person for the dinners. For...

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Perrier Jouet Cuvee Belle Epoque – jeroboams and magnums

  Is there anything nicer then a magnum of champagne? How about a couple of vintage bottles of champagne in jeroboam? I ran into my friend, Neil Phillips, not long ago at the Harper’s Champagne summit held at the Soho Hotel in Central London recently and he twisted my arm  into trying the Perrier-Jouët Cuvée Belle Epoque range of magnums and jeroboams he just happened to have on hand.  As well as being a summit on all things champagne, there was a small selection of exclusive and rare champagnes for us to taste throughout the day long event. One thing I discovered about jeroboams (capacity 3 litres) is that the champagne is decanted into the bigger bottles after it has gone through secondary fermentation. The biggest bottle that a champagne house will do a secondary ferment in is a magnum as anything larger then that and the logistics of containing the fermenting wine inside the bottle become a bit of a nightmare. Imagine jeroboams exploding in the cellar because the pressure was just too high for the glass. There is a champagne house that doesn’t decant and their full nebuchadnazzer (15 litres) specially made bottles can weigh up to 38 kilos ! Some people might complain that decanting the magnums into larger format bottles makes the champagne flat but that is a matter of opinion. As for me, I had the pleasure to taste the 1995 & 1996  in jeroboam and the ‘2002 in magnum Perrier Jouët’s vintage Cuvée Belle Epoque, complete in their flower bedecked bottles. The bottles are even prettier and the flowery motif just seems to work better on the bigger bottles, not that I don’t like the normal sized painted bottles. There are some who say that wine ages best in magnum sized bottles and I am inclined to agree with that assessment. Whether it is because the wine has more room to develop or who knows, really? Once the bottle is sealed we still don’t know what goes on...

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Mardi Gras, Gumbo & Bubbles

I’ve always wanted to go to a Mardi Gras celebration. The beads, the parades, the music, the copious amounts of alcohol consumed. I mean, doesn’t that sound like fun? What if you threw in Mardi Gras at an American theme park? Like say, Universal in Orlando, Florida? It might not be New Orleans but it was a hell of a lot of fun nonetheless. When Eat Like A Girl (Niamh) asked me if I was available for a trip to Florida, I jumped on it like a duck on a June bug. I hadn’t been to a theme park in years and I still don’t like big roller coasters but Universal has so many rides In both it’s parks, (Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios) that are not roller coasters that there’s plenty to do. My favourite had to be The Mummy, although technically it’s a rollercoaster, it’s more like a baby roller coaster with no huge drops. We did however ride on the River Adventure in the Jurassic Park area of the park and that has the sharpest water ride drop, 55 degree angle, plunging 85 feet. Our guide neglected to tell us that but it was so much fun we wanted to ride it again anyway. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey was fun and threw you all over the place, although technically it’s not a roller coaster and Spiderman, complete with fire in your face and smoke in your eyes, was another simulator ride I ‘d do again.  The only ride I didn’t really care for, but Niamh loved, was The Simpsons. That simulator was way too realistic for me, I thought I was gonna puke.   We were there not only to visit the park but also to sample some authentic Cajun gumbo as Niamh was covering the food side of Mardi Gras for iVillage. For those who are unfamiliar with it, gumbo is of Cajun origins. The Cajuns being the Acadian French who were kicked out of Canada by...

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