When we were invited to sample the Harvey Nichols champagne dinner in association with Veuve Clicquot, we couldn’t say just no!
The five course tasting menu was put together especially for the evening by the fabulous chefs at Harvey Nichols second floor restaurant.
Our sommelier for the evening was Alex Gamble, who was able to introduce us to all the different champagne, including a history of Veuve Clicquot.
The first step on our champagne journey was the Brut Yellow Label Veuve to accompany the Amuse Bouche of Onion Bhaji with spiced aubergine and shallot. Alex told the audience that this ‘paring is fantastic’ as it balances the spice of the dish. He also told us that ‘non-vintage champagne goes well with light spices,’ something everyone should bare in mind when ordering it as an accompaniment to their food.
The starter was Black Pudding with Quail Egg and soused blackberry, something I had never tried before! This was served with Veuve Clicquot Rose Non Vintage, which is a fruit driven champagne with raspberries and strawberries, along with a hint of citrus and is quiet dry. Alex told us that ‘Madam Clicquot was the first person to start making Rose as we know it, mixing red wine with champagne because this creates qualities and consistency every time.’
Then onto the fish dish, Atlantic Cod with Crab Beignet and Tempura Samphire, paired with Veuve Clicquot Vintage Blanc 2004, which has a nutty, toasty flavour that develops in the glass. Madam Clicquot was also the first person to create vintage champagne in 1811, using just one crop, after she saw a comet go over her vineyard. The comet is now the symbol used on most of the Veuve Cliquot bottles. This particular bottle was from 2004, which Alex told us was a good year for grapes. It has been aged for five years, where as non-vintage is only aged for 15months and is made from a mixture of grapes from different years to ensure that it tastes the same every time.
On to the main course of Goosnargh Duck with Fennel and Vanilla Creamed Potato which was paired with Veuve Clicquot Vintage Rich 2002. This champagne is much sweeter that any of the others we had tasted previously, but worked really well with the Duck as fatty foods bring out the flavours in the champagne. Alex told us that when Madam Clicquot was creating champagne, she used upto 200grams of sugar, which was for the wealthy, to create a ‘sec’ (dry) style of champagne. Then the English decided to create a demi-sec (half dry) champagne, then Brut which was thought to be for the Brits who didn’t like the sweetness of the French champagne.
‘Brut is also the most popular style of champagne because the extra sugar stands up to the stronger flavours.’
Finally on to dessert, Creme Brûlée with toasted Brioche and blackened Apricot which was paired with Veuve Clicquot Demi-sec. This is a non-vintage champagne and much sweeter that the Vintage Rich which makes it the perfect dessert champagne. ‘The sweeter the champagne, the better with the dessert,’ Alex told us. He also said that strawberries and champagne is not a combination! Something to bare in mind when we are getting in the Wimbledon mood!
We had a great night at the Harvey Nichols second floor restaurant, which has great views of the city and it was lovely to watch the set over Manchester, something of a rarity! Being a novice foodie, it was great to sample some exquisite flavours that I had never experienced before.
If you would look to book in at the restaurant, visit the website http://www.harveynichols.com/restaurant/manchester-dining/ and check out the different menus that are available.
By Emily Parker