Ristorante Cavour at Hotel Granduca recently served as the lush and intimate setting for a fortunate dinner crowd of about two dozen, at an exclusive culinary experience orchestrated by celebrated Michelin-star French chef Xavier Mathieu and Ristorante Cavour Italian Master Chef Renato De Pirro.
The luxurious five-course meal was indeed a taste of "la bella vita," or "the beautiful life," as the two gastronomical masterminds conspired to delight both the eyes and the appetite. To complement the phenomenal menu, wines provided by premier importer Maisons Marques & Domaines were matched to perfection and poured generously with every course.
The first course was less like an appetizer and more like a mélange of amuse-bouches instead, and each bite definitely delighted the palate. The course consisted of marinated salmon with tarragon oil, foie gras with quince and orange blossom, poached quail egg and vegetables in anchoïade and cumin and cucumber gazpacho.
The luxurious five-course meal was indeed a taste of "la bella vita," as the two gastronomical masterminds conspired to delight both the eyes and the appetite .
The surprise of the bunch was the gazpacho, which was truly elevated by the addition of the cumin. It paired with the Roederer Estate sparkling wine which, with its crisp flavors, was the consummate foil to each of the very different taste sensations presented during the course.
Mushroom risotto with black truffles, paired with 2009 Domaines Schlumberger Pinot Gris, made up the second course, followed by a braised beef cheek and oxtail with beet mustard and honey carrots — one of the dazzling highlights of the meal.
The supple, flavorful shreds of beef were enveloped in a savory sauce which perfectly complemented the sweet carrots. Even more palate pleasing was the 2009 Delas Châteauneuf-du-Pape served with it. With a single sip one can fully understand what all of the storied Châteauneuf fuss is about.
The fourth course, as any Francophile worth his or her salt might expect, was a cheese course consisting of Banon, a French goat milk cheese, and a quintessential Italian Parmesan cheese. The chocolaty, intense cherry-berry richness of the 2004 Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) Ramos Pinto port served alongside the cheese course was particularly well-played against the crumbly, salty parmesan.
Knowing that you can't go wrong with Nutella, the grand finale was a profiterole filled with the creamy chocolate-hazelnut spread, served with a lavender white chocolate and lemon sorbet.
The night wasn't solely about deliciousness though: A portion of the proceeds was donated by the Consulate of France to the Texan French Alliance for the Arts, an organization dedicated to the promotion of cultural exchanges between France and Texas.
This culinary collaborative effort was an exquisitely successful meeting of chef minds that was only elevated by perfect wine pairings. As Masisons Marques & Domaines representative Dominique Moran said, "It is not difficult to fall in love with great wines."