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Photo Recap: A Champagne Dinner with Olivier Desaintmartin of Caribou Café and Zinc

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While this post is primarily a photo recap of our recent Champagne Dinner with Olivier Desaintmartin of Caribou Café and Zinc, we would be remiss to not mention three things we ourselves learned from Monsieur Desaintmartin. One of those is most certainly not that Team COOK loves Champagne–it’s no secret that I, along with Michelle and Lily, love  bubbles, so no surprise there…But among the many lessons learned last Friday are the following:

1. Champagne is not a grape, but rather a blend of three grapes–Pinot Noir (which gives body), Chardonnay (which gives strength), and Pinot Meunier (which gives fruitiness).

2. The wine governing officials in France are preparing to change the legal boundaries of the Champagne region in order to include nearby producers that can help meet an ever-increasing demand for Champagne. Officials fear that without doing so, the demand would drive prices so high that there may be a consumer backlash, thereby harming the Champagne industry. The fear is that more and more consumers would seek out less expensive sparkling varieties.

3. Most champagne is non-vintage, meaning it is a blend of grapes from a variety of years. However, occasionally there is a year in which the grape harvest is considered exceptional, and champagne from that single vintage (rather than a blend of vintages) are bottled and labeled as millesimé. These single-vintages are aged, unlike their multi-vintage kin which are intended to be consumed young.

So, with the lesson portion of this post behind us, here are the pics. Cheers…or rather, à la vôtre!

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Caribou Café’s custom sparkling blend

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The evening’s four-course menu

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First course: Foie Gras Cuit au Naturel

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Second course: Champagne Poached Salmon

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Perfectly pared vegetables for the Feuillette of Plenty

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Olivier Desaintmartin checking on the doe fillet

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Third course: Doe Fillet, Black Currant Sauce and Feuillette of Plenty

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Breaking the seal on the massive Vieux Marc de Champagne, essentially a French equivalent of grappa, aged in oak barrels

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Brûlée-ing the Red Fruit Gratin with Marc de Champagne Sabayon

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