For the sixth straight year, October is Dining Month on OnMilwaukee.com, presented by Concordia University. All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, delectable features, chef profiles and unique articles on everything food, as well as the winners of our "Best of Dining 2012."
At the conclusion of Tuesday night's dinner at Bacchus featuring Veuve Clicquot Champagnes and attended by winemaker Cyril Brun, Chef Adam Siegel said his challenge was to create food that played well with Champagne.
While typically he might have to be careful to not overshadow the wines, in this case, he said, the wines were so strong he more had to meet their challenge.
And that he did, which comes as small surprise, considering Siegel again was voted the city's top chef by OnMilwaukee.com readers.
Brun brought with him from France five wines for which Siegel created five courses for the dinner, which drew a couple dozen culinary arts fans to the main dining room at Bacchus.
We started with Veuve Clicquot's NV Brut "Yellow Label" and Yukon gold potato pancakes with a swoosh of cauliflower mousseline and chive puree and a dollop of caviar.
The subtle flavors of the cauliflower, chive and potatoes were perfectly complemented by the pleasing yellow hue of this fresh, fresh fruity wine. And this first course set the tone for the evening, which would feature an array of supreme sparkling wines and Siegel's never showy, but always inventive and satisfying dishes.
The morning after, one remembers the delicate braised fennel and tomato confit – to say nothing of the butter-poached Maine lobster in the same dish – and the way they wedded with Veuve Clicquot's NV Rose's surprising dryness and smokiness.
The third course was an intriguing one, pairing the elegant 2004 Brut Gold Label Veuve Clicquot, with its bright citrus snap, and an almost rustic roasted squab breast with wild mushrooms, sweet potato and brussels sprout leaves. This wine was especially favored by my dining companion.
A similarly hearty pairing of roasted Strauss free-raised veal tenderloin and braised cheek with cranberry beans, turnips and veal jus was married to a 2004 Brut La Grand Dame – named for the famed 19th century Champagne maven Madame Clicquot – a peachy wine with hints of vanilla and honey and a long, sublime finish, that has rightfully earned ratings in the high 90s.
Siegel – and Brun – wrapped up with a poached honey crisp apple topped with a scoop of acacia honey ice cream and olive oil cake. A delicious finale, by any measure, but one that was still hard pressed to win a battle with my favorite wine of the evening.
Though I don't typically favor sweet bubbly, Veuve Clicquot's NV Demi-Sec is a balanced dessert wine with apple flavors and a delightful creaminess. Brut noted that this is the way Champagne was made in Madame Clicquot's day and it is the wine I'm still thinking about the next day. That's quite a thing, too, considering the range of excellent bubbly that Bacchus poured on Tuesday night.
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