Calamity Sue and I went to see Weatherwise and Mild Oats by Noel Coward, performed at Teatro Vivaldi. Sadly it is the closing performance at this theatre restaurant. The one act plays were entertaining and the company, as always, was wonderful. It is such a shame this venerable institution will no longer be providing such diversions, as it is knocked down to make way for 'progress'.
|Calamity Sue at Teatro Vivaldi|
Him Outdoors and I went along with some friends to a champagne masterclass with the Champagne Dame (Kyla Kirkpatrick) at Marble and Grain. She's charming charismatic, informative and funny, which all makes for a great afternoon.
|Kyla Kirkpatrick, the Champagne Dame|
Each course (there are five of them) is matched with a champagne, sparkling wine or rose. An added bonus was the opening glass of Blanc de Blanc Non Vintage (made from grapes from more than one year; a blend of different year's harvests) from Gallagher, right here in Canberra. It is dominated by fruit and has a creamy rich texture and a clean crisp finish. It's really good.
|Calamity Sue and General Philosopher with Gallagher Blanc de Blanc|
The first course was bilini pikelets with caviar and lemon mascarpone. Him Outdoors has never had caviar before - he's not a big fish fan at the best of times, and so was highly suspicious of the unfertilised fish eggs. The accompanying wine was a Claude Cazals Vintage 2008 Blanc de Blanc (100% Chardonnay)
The goat's cheese soufflé was matched with a Arbeaumont Non Vintage Brut: the wine has an even ratio of the Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay grapes, which are the three varieties accepted in champagne.
Smoked duck breast and red cabbage goes beautifully with an Aubry Brut Jouy-Les-Reims consisting of 45% Pinot Meunier, 25% Chardonnay and 25% Pinot Noir. As the Champagne Dame explained, champagne goes with anything (or nothing) at anytime and any where. Quite right.
|Smoked duck breast and red cabbage|
Next up was a Jean Vesselle Saignée Rosé, which is made from 100% Pinot Noir. The term Saignée means to bleed and, when it comes to wine, it means that the red wine juice has been in contact with the skins and seeds. This Pinot Noir is grown in Bouzy, which is both a great name and location - it is within the champagne region and where the red wines used in the production of champagne come from.
It offers red fruit aromas (strawberries and raspberries) and a subtle meaty, yeasty character resulting from extended lees contact and exposure to the grape skins. Although more usually consumed as a celebratory drink - not accompanied by food - it is extremely versatile and goes well with strong food flavours and textures. The bold acidity and forward fruit aromas make it a good match for simple grilled seafood, roast pork or even ore exotically spiced dishes. We had it with salmon confit, green apple, fennel and sorrel. Utterly delicious.
|Gindelle and The Minister|
The Champagne Dame does enjoy her theatrics and she was not going to let this opportunity for sabrage pass her by. Sabrage is the technique of opening a bottle of champagne with a sword, or sabre. It became popular just after the French Revolution when the sabre was the weapon of choice of Napoleon's light cavalry - the Hussars. Napoleon fought all over Europe and the survivors partied hard. He allegedly said, "Champagne! In victory one deserves it; in defeat one needs it."
One story goes that Madame Cliquot used to entertain Napoleon's soldiers in her vineyard (after she inherited her husband's champagne house aged 27), and as they rode off in the early morning with their complimentary bottle of champagne, they would open it with their sabre to impress the rich young widow. Kyla Kirkpatrick did not ride a horse, but she did make quite an impression opening that bottle. She admits it could also be done with a spatula or even the base of a wine glass, but that wouldn't look quite as cool.