Pairing Champagne and Food at Washington DC’s Fabulous Blue Duck Tavern

The Blue Duck Tavern is one of Washington DC’s finest restaurants. Located in the Park Hyatt in Georgetown, the upscale restaurant serves seasonal cuisine with ingredients sourced from local farms and purveyors. The center of the restaurant is an open kitchen with a large wood burning oven that turns out classic roasted chicken, whole roasted fish, extraordinary vegetable dishes and outstanding charcuterie.

We recently enjoyed a magnificent lunch at the Blue Duck paring 12 exquisite champagnes with a tour de force lunch created by Executive Chef Adam Howard and his team. The event was organized by the Blue Duck’s outstanding veteran general manager, Joseph Cerione. Our tasting was part of the International Wine Review’s in-depth examination of Champagne and food which will be published in December. What follows is a summary of our Champagne lunch, which was extraordinary on all accounts.

For the first course, chef Howard and the team served Hay-Smoked and Raw Wellfleet Oysters, a lovely Autumn Garden Salad, and a Fois Gras Mousse. Champagne and raw oysters are usually a match made in heaven provided one selects the right Champagne to pair with the oysters. The Hay-Smoked Oyster dish with pink peppercorns, pomegranate and mignonette was especially creative and delicious. For the oyster dishes we especially liked the single-vineyard, non-vintage Clandestin Les Grandes Lignes Brut Nature from the Côte des Bar and a rich Louis Roederer 2011 Blanc de Blancs with 8 years on the lees.

The Autumn Garden Salad and the Fois Gras Mousse were also wonderful starters. The Garden Salad contained flavorful root vegetables with chevre mousse and granola, while the Fois Gras Mouse was silky smooth and deeply flavored. The Lamiable 2011 Les Meslaines Grand Cru, a 100% Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims, and the 2009 Pol Roger Brut Rose with seven years on the lees were selected for these dishes.
For the second course, a Whole Roasted Organic Chicken with Charred Escarole and Black Mission Figs took center stage with the presentation by Chef Howard. This magnificent dish was joined by a Wood Oven-Roasted Whole Snapper with herb salad, crisp shallot, grilled cabbage and pickled heirloom peppers. These dishes were accompanied by Roasted Hubbard Squash and Stone-Milled Corn Samp with Braised Radicchio. For these dishes, our tasters selected three rich Champagnes: an outstanding Veuve Clicquot 2008 Vintage
Brut Rosé, a 2009 Pol Roger Brut Rosé and the Pierre Moncuit 2006 Blanc de Blanc Brut Millesime Grand Cru Mesnil. These Champagnes enhanced the richness of the dishes. The Pierre Moncuit Blanc de Blanc was outstanding with the roast chicken while the Pol Roger Brut Rosé paired beautifully with the roasted fish.

The side dishes were also great companions to the roasts, especially the squash and the stone-milled corn samp. The latter dish is noteworthy for its uniquely rich flavors having been sourced from the first press of the corn meal.

For our dessert course, the Blue Duck’s pastry chef served their classic Apple Pie with an assortment of ice creams and sorbet and a verbena Cremeux featuring lemon curd, figand black currant sorbet. Pairing dry Champagne with these dishes was a challenge but we enjoyed the Andre Jacquart 2007 “Blanc de Blanc Experience Brut Nature Millesime Gran Cru. Since the apple pie not excessively sweet, the Andre Jacquart’s spicy, nutty flavors paired well with the desserts.

The International Wine Review publishers, Mike Potashnik and Donald Winkler, wish to thank the Park Hyatt for hosting the tasting.

November 15, 2019


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