Miami is known around the world for its legendary nightlife, beautiful people and international flair. Recently these factors converged on a balmy, South Florida Summer evening at a glamorous event hosted by Champagne Taittinger. The Champagne house fêted its friends at El Tucán, a chic, modern day cabaret and supper club that pays homage to the glitz and glamour of 1940’s Cuba. Part Moulin Rouge, part CopaCabana, it’s easy to see why El Tucán is one of Miami’s hottest hot spots.
The Champagne Taittinger event was truly a feast for the senses! The lively reception featuring endless Champagne poured from large format bottles and paired with a variety of passed hors d’ouevres. Guests also mixed and mingled with the exotic Tucanette feather dancers prior to the show. Once seated, we enjoyed an elaborate, multi-course dinner paired with a variety of Taittinger cuvées including the Brut La Française, ’08 Brut Millésimé, Nocturne, Nocturne Rosé and the ’05 Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs AND Rosé. While all the selections were fabulous and incredibly food friendly, the duo of Comtes de Champagne, the house’s esteemed tête de cuvées, were truly the epitome of grace and finesse.
For dinner, dishes such as Tostada de Atun con Trufas, Tiradito de Lenguado Crudo and Fillet de Lomo al Cafe Cubano delighted both the eye and the palate. The cheeky, and at times fabulously risqué, burlesque dance numbers were sensuously executed and interspersed with numbers by other amazing performers. An incredibly flexible gymnast dazzled us with his rippled muscles and nimble contortions. Stunning female vocalist, Yoli Mayor, channeled Adele with her powerful, sultry voice. And Grammy Award-winning pianist, producer and composer, Marlow Rosado, and his wonderful band delighted us with their Cuban-inspired beats (see video below). Minutes after they began to play we were on the dance floor where we happily danced the night away!
Next time you’re in the mood for an evening of glitz, glamour and fun, be sure to check out Miami’s El Tucán. From the food to the wine (preferably Champagne) to the entertainment – I guarantee you will NOT be disappointed! Many thanks to Champagne Taittinger for a supremely special evening.
The post A Glamorous Evening with Champagne Taittinger at Miami’s El Tucán appeared first on The Glamorous Gourmet.
The Champenois have built a tradition and legacy of excellence since the days of Dom Pérignon, and Champagne Krug embodies this ethos like no other. Founded in 1843 by Joseph Krug, this iconic house surpassed traditional techniques and production standards of the time and achieved a reputation for excellence which endures to this day. A true visionary, Joseph Krug was... Read More
There are few libations on the planet that embody luxury and glamour quite like Champagne.
The Champenois have built a tradition and legacy of excellence since the days of Dom Pérignon, and Champagne Krug embodies this ethos like no other. Founded in 1843 by Joseph Krug, this iconic house surpassed traditional techniques and production standards of the time and achieved a reputation for excellence which endures to this day.
A true visionary, Joseph Krug was obsessed with the exceptional. He was uncompromising in his approach to Champagne and Krug was the first house in which each and every cuvée was designed to be of equal quality and distinction. Krug’s goal was to provide his clients with the most pleasurable Champagne experience possible each and every year, regardless of climate. To accomplish this feat, Krug took Champagne blending beyond anything customary at the time and in the Krug paradigm the uniqueness of each vineyard plot is preserved and exalted. Time also played a key factor, from the time it took the trees to grow for the French oak barrels, to the length of time allowed for the base wines to age before being blended in a cuvée. Joseph Krug firmly believed you could not make a superior product without superior ingredients and used only the finest materials, grapes, and methods to craft his legendary sparkling wines.
Krug recorded detailed notes of his meticulous methods and the founding principles of the house in a cherry red, leather bound notebook to be passed down to his family. After Krug’s death in 1861, however, the notebook was placed in a safe deposit box and not discovered again until 2010 when newly appointed President and CEO of Krug, Margareth “Maggie” Henriquez (pictured above), was searching for information about the historical basis for the house’s standards. The contents of the red leather notebook, now on display at Krug headquarters in Reims, and reading about the history of the house in Joseph Krug’s own words, helped Henriquez understand this exceptional house like no other source could. Today her mission is to disseminate this information to the world and Henriquez’ inherent grace, charm, and extensive business experience make her the perfect messenger of this compelling history.
Needless to say, it was an honor to visit this distinguished Champagne House. We arrived for our Krug visit on a sunny day in Reims after a 45-minute train ride from Paris and were greeted with glasses of Grande Cuvée and ushered into the library of Krug’s headquarters on Rue Coquebert. On our way into the library we passed a glamorous Pinel & Pinel Krug Picnic Trunk. Only thirty of these rare pieces were made and each features the essentials of any Krug-inspired picnic: a small table, two folding chairs, Champagne flutes, truffle shaver, and mother of pearl caviar spoons! On the far wall of the library, a portrait of Joseph Krug was displayed above his cherished, cherry red notebook (see photo above). Maggie soon emerged and greeted us warmly, kindly asking about our travels. Before long we were making the descent into the chalk caves, the resting place of all of Krug’s cuvées as well as their reserve base wines.
As our eyes adjusted to the dimly lit caves, we could see rows of riddling racks and massive stacks of Champagne bottles nestled in alcoves off the main hallway. While attempting to calculate how many bottles I could drink if left in the caves overnight, we encountered the Krug riddlers (pictured below). These two gentlemen are responsible for “riddling” the Champagne bottles which involves turning each bottle by hand in order to loosen the sediment which occurs as a byproduct of secondary fermentation. Their ultimate goal is to coax the sediment, or “lees,” into the neck of the bottle where it can later be disgorged (for more about riddling, click here). The riddlers were hard at work but took the time to allow us to try our hand at the process. After attempting it ourselves it sure made us appreciate the dexterity it takes to riddle 7,000 bottles and hour! To see a video of one of the Krug riddlers in action, please click here.
After our riddling lesson we wound our way around to the home of Krug’s extensive collection of reserve wines. Ensconced in a securely locked area of the cave were rows of tanks containing the precious wines. A chalk board on the front of each tank indicated the vintage and vineyard parcel since each are fermented separately. Close by was a library containing Krug Champagne dating back to the 1880’s. Some bottles were resting on their sides while others were stored sur pointe, upside down, just begging to be disgorged – at least that’s what I envisioned them saying to me! Prominently displayed in this library was a quote from French writer André Malraux which, translated to English, read, “There are works that pass the time, and others that explain time.” I think Joseph Krug would have appreciated the remark.
After our tour of the caves we were ready to savor a selection of Krug’s glorious cuvées. The Krug Grand Cuvée is the flagship wine of the house and the embodiment of Joseph Krug’s dedication to excellence. This multi-vintage offering draws from approximately 120 base wines from 10 or more vintages, some of which may have aged for up to 15 years. It is the complex blending process which helps create the wine’s hallmark richness, depth, and remarkable elegance. Once blended, the wine spends an additional six years in the Krug cellars resulting in heady aromas of toasted brioche, hazelnut, and spice. The palate rewards with a rich, yet elegant mouthfeel rife with flavors of citrus peel, white flowers, baked apple, honey and spice with a long, persistent finish.
Next, we enjoyed the delightful Krug Brut Rosé, a blend of the three classic grape varieties of Champagne: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. It is made using wines from a wide range of vintages which are then blended with skin-fermented Pinot Noir which imparts the wine’s hallmark color and spice. On the nose, expressive aromas of red berries, freshly baked pastry, and spice are followed on the palate by notes of wild strawberry tart, black raspberry, candied citrus peel, anise, and a whiff of smoke. The acid structure prevents the wine from seeming heavy at all, making it the lesson in elegance that it is.
Contrary to the concept of the Grand Cuvée which creates an exceptional wine regardless of the year, Krug’s vintage offerings express only years with character and a special story to tell. Vintage wines also remain in the Reims cellars for an additional ten years or more to enhance their expression and elegance, again reinforcing the element of time and its enduring importance to the house. We had the pleasure of enjoying the Krug Brut 1998, a luxurious and rich, yet supremely balanced wine. A delightful mix of citrus, white flowers, apricot, honey, and toasted almond were set against an elegant frame and followed by a lingering, multi-layered finish.
Next was the Krug Brut 2000 which displayed rich aromas of citrus, spice, and honeycomb. Sublime notes of brioche, hazelnut, poached pear and gingerbread graced the palate, along with refined yet subtle texture and complexity. The depth of this wine’s structure was indicative of tremendous aging potential.
This superb tasting wrapped up our visit to Krug and I was officially able to cross an item off my bucket list. If you are interested in exploring the wines of Champagne, you owe it to yourself to sample the wines of Krug at some point in your journey. They serve as an extremely valuable reference point and reflect how unwavering attention to detail can create a truly exceptional and legendary product.
Last May I asked my Mom friends what their ideal Mother’s Day would look like. Almost unanimously, right after “sleeping in” they said “breakfast in bed” so I posted a delicious recipe for baked Blueberry French Toast that was very well received. This year I thought I’d continue the tradition and share another one of my favorite breakfast dishes that would make the perfect surprise for Mom: Neiman Marcus Popovers with Strawberry Butter.
If you’re not familiar with the Neiman Marcus popover, let me give you a little background. Of course when I say Neiman Marcus I’m talking about the glamorous department store founded in Dallas, Texas in 1907 by Herbert Marcus Sr, his sister Carrie Marcus Neiman, and her husband A.L. Neiman. While the store has endured many changes since then, one of the most important was the addition of their first in-store restaurant in Dallas in 1953. The success of the first restaurant led to the addition of others and today some of their most well-known restaurants include Zodiac in the flagship Dallas store (which celebrated its 60th anniversary last year), the landmark Rotunda restaurant overlooking Union Square in San Francisco, and Mariposa in Coral Gables, Florida. We are also fortunate to have a Mariposa at the Neiman Marcus store in Boca Raton which is the quintessential spot for “ladies who lunch,” bridal and baby showers, or a quick bite after an arduous day of shopping.
Regardless of which restaurant you’re at, in keeping with sacred Neiman Marcus tradition, you will be greeted with a freshly baked popover accompanied by fragrant strawberry butter and a demitasse of flavorful, heart-warming chicken broth. This tradition dates back to the days of Helen Corbitt, a New York-born Chef hired to run the Neiman Marcus kitchen in 1955. Stanley Marcus called her the “Balenciaga of food” and she was well known for her larger than life personality and how efficiently she ran her kitchen. Even today, many decades later, several of Corbitt’s touches live on at Neiman Marcus which includes the sacred popovers and chicken broth.
A popover is an airy, hollow roll made from an egg batter which is baked in a “Popover Pan” (pictured above & available at Williams-Sonoma) which gives the roll its signature shape. Popovers can be made in either sweet or savory incarnations but for Mother’s Day breakfast, the sweet version is the way to go. Fresh out of the oven, they look like misshapen, golden brown globes of bread but on the inside, they are hollow and delicate with a deliciously mouth watering aroma. And once the strawberry butter hits the warm popover – forget about it. Positively intoxicating!
Because making popovers is a little time consuming, its probably best to pair them with something simple like a beautiful plate of sliced fruit or berries and/or maple glazed bacon depending on how Mom rolls (no pun intended!). I would advise making the strawberry butter the night before to cut down on prep the morning of. Also, be sure to read through the recipe once or twice. There are a few ingredients that need to be at room temperature and the batter need to rest for an hour halfway through the process which can be a big momentum killer if you’re not expecting it. If you find this recipe makes too many popovers for your celebration, it can be halved for future reference. Any extra popovers can be reheated in the microwave. Heat in increments of 10 seconds at a time until you get a feel for your microwave just so you don’t overheat them.
For something to drink, a rosé Champagne or other bubbly is sheer perfection! The flavors of the rosé pick up the strawberry notes of the butter beautifully. The J Vineyards Brut Rosé from California’s Russian River Valley is a lovely choice as well as the Charles Ellner Brut Rosé Champagne. You can check out these wines as well as our other Mother’s Day selections at our online store by clicking here. I promise this menu will have you looking like Husband, Daughter, and/or Son of the year. Wishing all the fabulous Moms out there a truly delicious day!
Neiman Marcus Popovers with Strawberry Butter
6 large eggs, at room temperature
3 1/2 cups of milk
4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 lb. unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups strawberry preserves
Beat the softened butter in a mixer until light and fluffy. Add strawberry preserves and beat until well combined. Put in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Preheat over to 350 degrees. Microwave the milk on high for 2 minutes, or until warm to the touch. Beat the eggs at medium speed for about 3 minutes, until foamy and pale in color. Slowly stir in the milk at low speed. Beat again for 2 minutes on medium speed. Let the batter rest for 1 hour at room temperature.
Add the flour, baking powder and salt. Spray the popover pan heavily with non-stick spray or grease with butter. Fill cups almost to the top with batter. Place popover pan on cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes at 450 degrees, then reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake for 30-35 minutes more. Popovers should be a deep golden brown on the outside and airy on the inside, Serve hot with strawberry butter.