I love Champagne and don’t profess to be an expert…settling many times for a well-known brand or even a glass of lowly Prosecco.
But, I do love Michy’s, Chef Michelle Bernstein’s flagship restaurant in the MiMo (or Upper East Side ) area of Miami, so when I saw the opportunity to attend one of their wonderful dinners...a special Champagne pairing dinner hosted by small French champagne house, Billecart-Salmon at Michy’s, I jumped at the chance.
Arriving early to take pictures and meet with both Nick Paton, General Manager, and Chef Jason Schaan, I was greeted with my first glass of bubbly… Billecart- Salmon, Brut Reserve, NV. Slightly effervescent and refreshing, I strolled around the restaurant enjoying the casually elegant environs. It is rare to be in such a popular place before the diners arrive and it offered an unique and quite lovely experience.
Billecart- Salmon is a one of the last family owned and independent Champagne producers left in France. Geoffrey Loisel, who is the Director for North America , joined us for the evening and explained the technique behind the various pairings…the cold fermentation process which retains the aromatics and flavors, to the use of stainless steel tanks.
After our first glass, and the “meeting and greeting”, we were seated at two long tables side by side. Our first dish of Crudo of Diver Scallops topped with a delicately fried Kumomoto oysters, blood range ponzu with just a hint of basil and shaved chilies arrived. The fresh scallops complimented the crispy oysters and paired with Blanc de Blancs, it was a refreshing start to the memorable dinner.
For the next course, Geoffrey introduced Billecart-Salmon Sous Bois , which is fermented in both steel and oak and its darker color was evident. “Sous Bois” in French means undergrowth or forest-growth…hence the oak notes in the champagne. Distinguished by its Oak bark label, the champagne was rich and creamy.
Perfectly paired with this rich champagne, was Chef Jason’s Seared Foie Gras Torchon, which was perched carefully on poached spring vegetable in duck consommé and pulled duck confit.. The buttery flavor of the foie gras was enhanced by the buttery flavor of Sous Bois.
I was able to sneak into the kitchen to see Chef Jason and his team assembling the main course, a sort of deconstructed Squid Ink Lasagnette with Royal Red Shrimp, Rapini, Roasted grape tomatoes, and Shrimp Nage . It was a colorful beauty to behold, and the flavors were balanced and delightful.
Billecart- Salmon chose their top rated Cuvee Nicholas Francois 1999 as the main pairing. Renowned for its fruit and nutty flavors it has been a sought after champagne worldwide. Incidentally, the Cuvee Nicholas-Francois Billecart 1959 won first place in the Champagne of the Millennium 1999, out of 150 of the finest 20th century champagnes.
The final course, Billecart- Salmon and Sabayon poached pears with Kumquat, and Crispy and Crunchies was not too sweet, light and a perfect palate cleanser for the final champagne pairing of the popular Billecart- Salmon Rose.
Throughout the evening, Chef Michelle Bernstein and her husband, David Martinez , watched over us and greeted friends…both old and new. They made each and everyone of us feel special and welcome, and when the evening had ended, David grabbed a bottle of Champagne and toasted his wife, Chef Jason and team, and all of us.