Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Casino Royale Wine Pairing–Tournedos with Béarnaise Sauce, Rognon de Veau Paired with 1998 Jacquart Champagne Blanc de Blanc Brut

Tournedos with Béarnaise Sauce

Customarily, the title of my wine pairing are more descriptive and include the principle parts of the meal along with the wine.  In this case, it was impractical.  This event was the most ambitious undertaking yet and included the full meals ordered by James Bond, and his traitorous lust interest Vesper Lynd from the Ian Fleming book Casino Royale.  Here is the menu:

To start:

  • Caviar and toast with grated egg and finely chopped onion
  • Vesper Martini

Caviar with Grated Eggs and Toast-3

Vesper Martini-1

Vesper's order:

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

Rognon de Veau-4

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

Roasted Artichoke Hearts-3

Fortunately, I had a lot of help with this.  All nine of our dinner party contributed to the event.  I want to give a special thanks to hostess and Suisse Chef Dawn, and Chef Sue.

For the wine part of this extravaganza, Bond ordered Champagne – a 1943 Blanc de Blanc Brut.  Having just finished off the last bottle from our massive wine cellar (the shelves underneath the stairs in the basement), I decided to take a recommendation from my good friends at Schneider’s of Capitol Hill and substitute a 1998 Jacquart Champagne Blanc de Blanc Brut.  Each of the other couples attending this event also brought a bottle of bubbly.  Unfortunately I did not get photographs, and by the time the bottles made it to the recycling bin, I had failed to take notes. 

1998 Jacquart Blanc de Blanc Brut Champagne

The evening began with the caviar and Vesper Martini’s prepared by bartender Steve.  The Martini’s were true to the original recipe with the exception of the Kina Lillet which is no longer produced.  My research suggested Cocchi Americano as a suitable replacement.  Cocchi Americano is a fortified aperitif wine infused with citrus and herb.  This martini is very tasty, with most of the flavor coming from the Cocchi Americano.  However, this drink should come with a warning label as Bartender Steve figured out through experience.  Really, one is enough.

Cocchi Americano-1

Steve the Bartender-1

Across the board, the food was spectacular.  Using French recipes as the basis for each component, the meal was thoroughly lathered in buttery goodness.  The big surprise of the night was the rognon de veau.  Even those in the crowd who were not fans of kidney (or organ meat in general) found this dish pleasing.  For me, the real star of the meal was the filet mignon with béarnaise.  Chef Sue prepared this part of the meal and the execution was flawless.  The filet was perfect, and the béarnaise was the best I have tasted.

Filet Mignon

Béarnaise Sauce

The 1998 Jacquart Champagne Blanc de Blanc Brut was a real treat.  I found this bottle to be fresh, with aromas of lemon, toast and herbs which were balanced nicely with the richness and freshness. The palate is complex and flavorful with high notes of toast and moderate citrus/lemon acidity which makes it a nice pairing choice.  On the other hand, I did not find the pairing to be exceptional.  It was certainly pleasant and enjoyable, but I did not find that the combination of the meal and the wine to sum to something greater than their parts. 

1998 Jacquart Blanc de Blanc Brut Champagne-3

But I do not want to disparage the pairing completely.  With a heavy bodied meal, the 1998 Jacquart offered a lemony freshness and acidity that contrasted nicely.  Also, the toast flavors complimented the meal nicely.  If I were constructing this pairing from scratch, I would have made other wine choices.  However, it is important to recall this pairing comes from a couple lines in an Ian Fleming novel.  I have the feeling that Mr. Fleming made the choice of both meal and wine based on consistency with Bond’s natural attraction for the extravagant rather than a studied composition of flavor.  In the end, it worked and was enjoyable – just not a 5 star pairing.

If you decide to recreate your own Casino Royale night, go ahead and give this pairing a try.  You may think differently.  Regardless of your choice, you will have fun.  And if you take it to the length I did, you will find yourself in the kitchen in a tux preparing a great meal.

Finally, we get to the dessert.  What can I add to any description of fresh strawberries and freshly whipped cream?  On the other hand, I can comment on the avocados with French dressing.  I am a big fan of avocados, but I never thought of avocado as a dessert fruit.  Further, I have never experienced avocados with French dressing.  Although I doubt that avocados will show up as dessert in the future around our home, we thoroughly enjoyed the combination of avocado and French dressing.

Strawberries with Cream

Avocados with French Dressing-1

As a final comment, I would definitely recommend a Casino Royale night.  It was a great excuse to bring friends together, dress up, and enjoy a fabulous meal.  The breadth of the meal makes for a great culinary challenge, and conceiving of the meal as a Casino Royale recreation turns the meal into a great event.


Vesper Martini

Vesper Martini

In the words of James Bond:

Three measures of Gordon's, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it's ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?"

Kina Lillet is no longer produced, so substitute Cocchi Americano.  If you live in the Washington DC area, Schneider’s of Capitol hill carries Cocchi Americano.

Caviar, diced onion and Grated Eggs on Toast

Caviar with Grated Eggs and Toast-2

This is almost self explanatory.  The only thing to note is to hard boil your eggs, separate the whites from the yolks then dice them finely and place in separate serving bowls.  Similarly, dice your onion finely (we used red onion to add some color).  You can either make your own toast or purchase small (about 1” square) toast.

Roasted Artichoke Hearts

Roasted Artichoke Hearts-1


  1. 3 cans of artichoke hearts
  2. 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
  3. 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  4. Juice of 1/2 freshly squeezed lemon
  5. 2 tablespoons melted butter
  6. salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Drain artichokes and rinse thoroughly.
  3. Mix artichokes, garlic and olive oil. Use your hands, and do so gently to prevent the artichoke hearts from falling apart.
  4. Place artichokes on a sheet pan and drizzle with melted butter and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and place in oven for one hour, turning artichokes after 30 minutes.

Tournedos Béarnaise


  • 5 filet mignon
  • 1/2 stick butter for Filet Mignon
  • 1/2 pound butter for Béarnaise sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons peanut oil
  • 5 slices of bread with crust removed
  • 1 Tablespoon minced shallots
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon fresh parsely
  • 1 Tablespoon wine vinegar
  • 3 egg yoks
  • Salt and pepper

Filet Mignon Preparation

  1. In a frying pan heat 1/4 stick of the butter and 1 tablespoon peanut oil.
  2. Add filets and cook 10 minutes on each side. Remove and keep warm in oven.
  3. In the filet frying pan, add 1/4 stick of butter with the 1 tablespoon peanut oil. When heated, brown the bread on both sides.

Béarnaise Sauce Preparation

  1. In a small sauce pan, add shallots, tarragon, parsley and wine vinegar. Reduce until liquid is almost evaporated.
  2. Remove from heat and add egg yolks and 2 tablespoons of water.
  3. Return the sauce pan to the heat and whisk until thick, being careful not to burn or overcook.
  4. Add melted butter slowly, whisking constantly, over low heat. When butter is absorbed into the yolks, remove from heat. 
  5. Continue to whisk until sauce begins to cool.


Place bread on a plate then add the filet to the bread and top with a tablespoon of sauce. Garnish with tarragon sprigs. Add remainder of sauce to a gravy boat.

Pommes Soufflés

Pommes Soufflés-3

Pommes Soufflés-4


  • 8 large potatoes
  • vegetable oil for deep frying

Rognon de Veau

Rognon de Veau-2

Rognon de Veau-3


  1. Peel the potatoes and trim away the round edges.
  2. Cut lengthwise in slices that are uniform from end to end, about 3/8 inch thick. Cut the slices into 3/8 inch widths.  If the potatoes are particularly long, cut to 2 to 3 inch lengths.
  3. Soak the sliced potatoes in ice water for 30 minutes. Drain the potatoes and pat dry completely.
  4. Pour vegetable oil into adequately sized pot to a depth of 3 to 4 inches. Heat oil to 325.
  5. Drop slices into the for 6 to 7 minutes. After about 5 minutes the slices should start to blister and rise to the top.
  6. Remove the slices and drain on paper towels.
  7. Increase the oil to 375 and return the slices to the oil. They should swell instantly. Cook until golden, then remove and drain on paper towels. Discard any that have not puffed. 
  8. Season with salt and serve.


  • 1 1/2 pounds veal kidney
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • All purpose flour
  • 1/2 c madeira wine
  • Toasted French bread slices
  • salt, pepper,
  • Parsley for garnish


  1. Cut the kidneys into small cubes discarding the white part. Dredge in flour.
  2. Warm the olive oil and cook the minced garlic over medium heat.
  3. Add the kidneys and sauté briefly.
  4. In another skillet, cook the mushrooms in the butter.
  5. Add the mushrooms to the kidneys along with the Madeira.
  6. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. Cook, covered, over a low flame until a sauce forms.
  8. Serve on thin slices of toasted French bread garnished with parsley.

In vino veritas, buen provecho.



  1. The planning, preparation and execution of this decadent meal was a treat to behold. One word of caution...moderation. One Vespar martini (shaken, not stirred) is plenty for most people. Balanced with other libations, you are sure to be a bit tingly before the night is over. Cheers to Chefs Craig and Sue!!

  2. Fabulous meal and even more fabulous company!