Thursday, June 23, 2011

Preview of an Upcoming Theme Pairing Inspired by Casino Royale

Winery in the Fog

Food and wine should be fun, and I’m not talking about the time when I was 10 years old and pushing the horribly overcooked carrots around my plate hoping for a magic trick that would make them disappear.  I am presently planning a dinner party that should add a component of fun that goes beyond the pleasure of enjoying a great meal.  A pairing inspired by James Bond from the book Casino Royale.

I have recently read a number of books that have movie counterparts.  Each of these were movies I had seen, but had not read the book.  I was pleasantly surprised to read Casino Royale and find an elaborate description of the meal shared by Bond and the ubiquitous Bond series femme fatale, Vesper in this case.

Story line:  Bond is tasked with beating Le Chiffre at baccarat and thus leaving him bankrupt and at the mercy of the Soviet counterintelligence agency (the SMERSH) to which Le Chiffre owes millions.  No Bond episode is complete without a "Bond Girl."  In this case it is Vesper, a counterpart from the British Intelligence "S" directorate who turns out to be a double agent.  Prior to the big face off with Le Chiffre, Bond and Vesper have dinner, and in typical Bond fashion, it is indulgent.  My goal is to recreate this dinner.  Oh, and importantly, this is the book that introduces his famous martini recipe which he names in honor of Vesper.  

Here is the menu:

To start:

  • Caviar and toast with finely chopped onion and grated hard boiled egg (whites and yolks separated into two bowls)
  • Vesper Martini

Vesper's order:

  • Plain grilled rognon de veau (veal kidney cubes sautéed in a garlic mushroom butter sauce)
  • Pommes Souffles (twice fried potatoes)
  • Fraises des bois with lots of cream (strawberries and cream)

Bond's order:

  • Tournedos, underdone, with Béarnaise sauce (filet mignon with Béarnaise sauce)
  • Coeur d'artichaut (artichoke hearts)
  • Half an avocado pear with french dressing

The meal is paired with Champagne Blanc de Blanc Brut 1943 - clearly not a realistic pairing for us. So we will do the contemporary (and affordable) equivalent. Blanc de blanc is a champagne made only from white grapes. The "Brut" part is a classification that indicates a "dry" Champagne (meaning not sweet - don't confuse with “extra dry” - another classification ironically not as dry as brut) that is very food friendly.

Check back in couple of weeks for full photographic coverage (including the chef toiling in a tux) along with all the recipes.

In vino veritas, buen provecho.


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