“I only drink Champagne on two occasions, when I am in love and when I am not.” Coco Chanel
L’Art de vivre à la française and the ritual of hospitality have always fascinated me and I have been studying these subjects for a long time. Opening the door of your home means putting your life in the hands of your guests for a few hours, and at the same time taking a big responsibility: making your guests feel comfortable. It is all about love, passion and kindness of heart. Veuve Clicquot knows it very well, and I would like to help you discover the excellence of the Maison through the Champagne. Taste of Clicquot is the name of this unique and elegant project, of which I am the protagonist as an expert of the Clicquot style. It is a journey through the unique flavour of the famous yellow label, to reveal all the secrets of the true ritual of serving Champagne through a decalogue prepared in collaboration with the Maison. The project involves a picturesque location, Ma’Hidden Kitchen Supper Club, Milan’s coolest dinner table that embraces the philosophy of social eating. Two hosts, Lele and Melissa, a lounge, a kitchen and a table with eleven chairs where people who do not know each other sit with the sole purpose to spend an evening in the company of new friends. One of those chairs is for me and I will have the task of offering a taste all the magic of Veuve Clicquot Champagne, between a story dedicated to the ritual of hospitality and a few rules to follow in order to organize a dinner in a perfect Clicquot style. Anyone who wants to participate can register by clicking here, where you will be given all the information you need. For those who wish to prepare a dinner at home in a perfect Clicquot style, I prepared together with the Maison some rules to follow:
-Have your guests take a seat in the living room and offer them the first cup of Yellow Label. A tip for the glasses? Choose glass flutes with a wide opening that will enhance all the flavour of the Champagne.
-Bring the Champagne to the table at a temperature of about 8° C (cool but not frozen), in order to enjoy it at 9-10° C. After pouring the first flute of Champagne put the bottle back in the ice bucket.
-Make sure your guests hold their glass of Veuve Clicquot by the base or by the stem and not by the cup, thus avoiding warming up the Champagne. Play with some yellow ribbons to tie to the stem of the flute. They will add some movement and a touch of extra color.
-Before drinking it, breathe the scent of Veuve Clicquot. Make a silent toast made of smiles and glances, without clinking the glasses.
-As real expert of Veuve Clicquot style, open the bottle without popping the cork. Take the Yellow Label gently, remove the metal cap cover, hold the bottle from the bottom and let it turn holding the cap firmly with the other hand.
-You can choose one or more products of the Veuve Clicquot series to match the evening’s menu. My advice is to start with the Yellow Label and amaze with the Demi-SEC for the dessert.
-Champagne throughout dinner. Hit the palates of the guests by creating perfect combinations starting with the youngest wines and the most delicate foods. Discover how to make the fabulous cocoa tagliatelle with flavored prawns.
-To cool the bottle of Champagne, you should put it for 20 minutes in a bucket half filled with water and ice cubes.
-The half full flute. Do not fill the flutes completely at once. First, pour a small amount by tilting the glass. This way you will see some bubbles form. Let the foam decrease and then continue to pour up to 2/3 of the flute.
-A 75 cl bottle of Veuve Clicquot provides 7 flutes.
-The flute in which you serve the Champagne must be washed softly and in any case without soap, using only hot water. The more rough the surface of the glass is, the more bubbles it produces! Many glasses are precisely “scratched” on the bottom, precisely to enhance this phenomenon.
Add a dose of fun, the right company, the delicious chocolate tagliatelle prepared by Chef Andrea Sposini and your evening will be a success.
Cocoa tagliolini pasta with red prawns and vanilla sauce from Madagascar.
Recipe. FOR 4 PEOPLE
For the tagliolini pasta. 250 g (9 oz) 00 flour + 50 g (1.8 oz) cocoa + 3 free-range eggs + 3 g (0.1 oz) salt.
For the bisque*. The heads and shells of the red prawns from Sicily + 30 g (1 oz) butter + 1 fresh bay leaf +20 white peppercorns + 20 g (0.7 oz ) onion + 100 ml (3.5 fl oz) Champagne Veuve Clicquot + 500 ml (17 oz) water + 1/2 tablespoon of double tomato paste + salt + 30 g (1 oz) rice starch.
For the vanilla marinade prawns . 16 red prawns from Sicily (only the pulp perfectly clean but not washed) + 10 g (0.35 oz) onion + 1 vanilla bean of Madagascar (commercially called Bourbon) + 30 ml (1 fl oz) extra virgin olive oil from Liguria + 50 ml (1.7 fl oz) Veuve Clicquot Champagne
For cooking. 50 g (1.8 oz) butter + 1 clove garlic + marinated prawns (see above) + 60 ml (2 fl oz) cream.
*Bisque is a soup of French origin, based on a strained broth of crustaceans. It is a soup that can be served as such or used as a starting point for the preparation of other dishes. To prepare the bisque, it is necessary to toast the shells of the prawns (which is the tastier part and adds the colour) with fried vegetables.
For the tagliolini pasta. Sift the flour, cocoa and salt. Break the eggs into a bowl and beat with a fork. Add the eggs to the flour and work the mass vigorously for 10 minutes, until the mixture is compact and elastic. Let the mass rest for 1 hour perfectly wrapped in a bag for food. After this time, roll out the mass thinly with a rolling pin. Let it dry resting on a cotton cloth dusted with flour, then cut out the tagliolini. Keep the pasta at room temperature before cooking it.
For the Bisque. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the bay leaf, white peppergrounds and onion. When it starts to brown, add the prawn heads and shells, with a wooden spoon. Fry until they start to stick to the bottom of the pan. At this point, pour some champagne, then add salt, water, and tomato paste and simmer for 20 minutes. After this time, pass the liquid through a sieve, making sure to crush the prawns’ heads to release the flavor of the fish. Add the rice starch (dissolved in a little cold water) and stir over heat until the mixture is creamy. Keep the Bisque warm and covered until you serve it.
The vanilla marinade for the prawns. In a bowl, pour the vegetable oil, 50 ml (1.7 fl oz) Champagne, add the whole onion (it will be removed before cooking), add the vanilla bean split in half and the seeds infused in oil along with the prawns. Let the prawns marinade at room temperature for 1 hour.
For cooking. In a large pan, heat the butter, add the whole garlic clove, fry quickly then add the prawns with all the marinade sauce. Raise the heat to high and, after 1 minute, remove the prawns from the pan with a slotted spoon, and keep warm and covered in a cup. Let the sauce simmer. Revove the garlic and onion, then add the milk cream and salt.
For cooking the pasta. Boil 4 liters of water with 20 g (0.7 oz) salt from Sicily, cook the tagliolini and drain after a minute. Put it into the pan with the prawns, turning off the heat. Stirr the pasta and serve.
For serving. Pour a ladle of Bisque into the serving dish, place some pasta on top, add the prawns and a sprinkle of white pepper.