Madhu, September 13, 2012

French Wine & Fine Dining at Vintage Bank, Hilton, Chennai

I have been a member of Terroir, the Wine Club in Chennai, for a couple of years. Terroir facilitates many events in a year. I must confess that although I love the wine (most of the time) at the Terroir events, being a foodie, it’s usually the Cuisine that holds the pull for the events.

Earlier this week, there was a Terroir mail about wine tasting event being hosted by the Hilton in Chennai, featuring Wines from the Maison Louis Jadot vineyards in Burgundy France. The mail mentioned that there were ‘limited’ invites, I confirmed my attendance within seconds of receiving the mail.
The event was to be held at the ‘Vintage Bank’ at the Hilton Chennai. I was greeted by the General manager of Hilton, Mr Roger Brantsma and his wife and a glass of bubbly. It was my first visit to the Vintage Bank and I was very impressed with the ambience, wood and leather, a typically plush European feel of the place. There was live music (which was excellent).

We were soon joined by the other members of Terroir. The wines were presented by a one Mr. Olivier Masmondet from Louis Jadot, who himself is a Sommelier. Incidentally he was the youngest Master Sommelier in France and before taking up upper level corporate responsibility he had been Sommelier in 3 Michelin star restaurants in Paris. He took us through the History and Viniculture in Burgundy. He also gave us a brief introduction about the wines. I have written a separate blog post about the wine(which you could click the link to go to the posts). Each of the wines were paired with different courses of food in typically French Cuisine.

The First Wine of the Evening was the Maison Louis JadotChablis 2010. This wine was accompanied by an Entrée of three dishes…

The first was Grilled Scallop, sweet Chilli and Crème Fraiche (which in French literally means ‘fresh cream’, but is actually sour cream, soured by bacterial fermentation.) The next was called the ‘Sarson Mahi Tikka, mint coriander and Missi Roti, this was basically Seer fish marinated in Mustard, served with Mint and Coriander Chutney, along with an ‘idli’ sized Missi roti. I have tasted this combination for the first time and loved it! Especially the mustard marinating of the fish. The third dish was Tartlet of smoked Vegetables, Genovese and Goat Cheese. All three dishes complemented the Wine and did indeed make me Smile 😉

The Second wine of the evening was Chassagne- Montrachetpremier cru Morgeot 2004 Vintage. This Brilliantly well defined wine was accompanied by three more dishes.

The first was Smoked Salmon over a tiny Dill scone, along with some Horse radish cream. The salmon was exquisite and quite possibly one of the best dishes of the evening. Next was a Chicken and Asparagus Roulade (Roulade originates from the French word ‘Roule’ which means Roll, this is typically a dish where some form of meat is rolled over a filling, which is either a meat or a vegetable; in this case Chicken was rolled over an asparagus stub). This was a little too bland for my liking probably because I tend to mentally link asparagus to the ‘healthy’ soups I force myself on. The third dish was Corn Cakes served with Tomato Pepper relish; basically a mixture of Corn and flour cutlet served with a relish and was pretty tasty. An excellent idea, I thought, for a quick snack that can be made at home.

From the Whites we moved on to the Reds, the first Red of the evening being the Maison Louis Jadot Chateaux de Jacques Moulin-a-Vent 2008vintage, which was a Gamet.

This wine was accompanied by another triplet of delectable looking dishes. The first being Grilled Tenderloin Cutlet, the second, Salsa Verde Croutes, which basically was a Grilled tenderloin Cutlet served on a piece of round bread along with some salsa. The Cutlet was well made. The Pork sausage wrapped with Oak smoked Bacon. This was another winner. The Bacon was heavenly and along with the sausage and the wine was a match made in heaven. The third dish was an Aubergine Caviar Crostini, which basically tasted like Aubergine blended and shredded served on a small toast. It tasted strictly ok, but it was up against the bacon which was a hands down winner.

The Second red of the evening was a Pinot Noir, Maison LouisJadot Pommard 2007 Vintage. This Wine was paired with the following three dishes.

The first was a Beef Skewer glazed with Sesame and Soy, which was skewered just right and tasted succulent. The next was a Pan seared Duck with sage Jus. I must confess that after weeks of watching masterchef, I had been looking forward to some duck meat and I definitely wasn’t disappointed. The Pan seared duck was delicious and blended well with the Sage Jus (which was basically a reduced combination of Chicken stock, sage, shallots and pepper). The third dish was called the Bharwan Dingri, Feta and Safron Nan, which I guess was the Chef’s attempt at providing a fusion experience to go along with the predominantly European fare. This was basically Mushroom stuffed with Feta cheese and served along with a small saffron flavoured Nan. This was interesting and good.

The third red of the evening was another Pinot Noir from Burgundy, called Maison Louis Jadot Gevrey Chambertin premier Cru ‘LesCazetiers’ 2004 Vintage. This was another brilliant smooth wine accompanied by another triplet platter.

The First Dish of the platter was Grilled lamb Chops serve with Mushroom Jus. Lamb Chops are always on the top of my favourite picks at most five star properties because of the quality of the lamb, which they import. This particular dish also was definitely an imported New Zealand lamb, cooked to perfection and went well with the Mushroom and the Pinot Noir. Another Winner!!. The next Dish was Roasted Chicken served with Olive tapenade, this was a little too bland, and maybe because anything after lamb chops is always a let down I guess. The third dish was a Potato and Carrot Roesti served with Sour Cream, palatable if you are vegetarian. For me it was another helping of Lamb Chops please !!

Roast Chicken, Baguette, Olive Tapenade (Foreground), Potato and Carot Roesti with Sour cream (Left Back ground), Grilled lamb Chops, Mushroom jus (Right background)
Next came the cheese Platter with three cheeses 1. Manchego (Spanish origin cheese made from the milk of the Manchega sheep of the La mancha Valley. This was a firm and compact cheese), a little too hard for me. 2. Emmenthal : which is a swiss cheese from the emme Valley. It has the big ‘holes’ that we associate with the Swiss cheeses. This was also a firm to hard cheese. 3. Gorgonzola : The Italian blue cheese, which was my definite favourite, with its buttery consistency and a salty taste . This was accompanied by a fruit paste.

The Finale of the evening was the Bitter Chocolate truffle, which was literally a melt-in-your-mouth ball of sin. Thankfully it was served on a huge platter and the waiter carried it around from one table to another, lest it had parked in out table, it would have been wolfed down in a jiffy completely and regretfully considering my long drawn love-hate relationship with the weighing scale usually the morning after.

Bitter Chocolate Truffle
By the time the evening ended most of us were on the floor jiving to some peppy music by the house band. Olivier confessed that it was one of the best tasting he had attended with a lively and vibrant bunch.

On a final note I must compliment the Executive Chef at the Hilton Chef Daniel Leah, who demonstrated his wonderful culinary skills along with the rest of his team. Also the resident Sommelier of Hilton ,Ashlin Moses, though he played second fiddle to Olivier on this evening he made sure that the Hospitality was impeccable. Finally Roger Bantsma, the general manager for having conceived a fine symphony of good wine, great ambience, excellent food and impeccable service.

I would strongly recommend the Vintage bank for the ambience and the excellent selection of wines and the Hilton Chennai for its quality of food and Service.