May 1, 2009

Wedding in Reims day 4: wedding banquet at Les Crayères

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Today is the big day. Basically we would spend the entire day staying within the grounds of Les Crayères, eating and getting drunk....

The ceremony started around noon and was staged outdoors. One could not have asked for more beautiful weather. Blue skies, white clouds, temperature not too warm and not too cold. Perfect day for a lovely wedding.

Lunch was served after the ceremony in the private area of the restaurant. The hotel restaurant used to carry 3 Michelin stars on my last visit, when Gérard Boyer was still the resident chef. Now the 2-star restaurant is overseen by Didier Elena, who spent time under Alain Ducasse and opened the chef's New York restaurant.

1999 Amour de Deutz was poured to celebrate the happy occasion, as this was the wedding couple's favorite Champagne. Nose of toast, toffee and slight oxidation. Pretty nice to drink.

The amuse bouche was langoustine ravioli topped with foam. The sauce had a curry flavor. Nice way to start the meal.

Salade de homard: rafraîche, mangue vert et avocat - the lobster salad was very nice and refreshing, topped with shredded and marinated green mango on a bed of avocado cream.

2006 Domaines Ott Clos Mireille Blanc de Blancs - very floral with white flowers, anjou pear, ripeness and a bit of honey on the nose. Very good mid-palate with an acidic finish.

Blanc de bar: au naturel, aromates aux herbes fraîches - nice, gently-cooked seabass with a lemon sauce topped with zucchini, pine nuts, tomato, arugula and red olives.

Fruit exotique: soufflé cacahuète passion, nage de fruits frais, neige d'argumes, sorbet coco-citron vert - a nice tiny soufflé with passion fruit and peanuts, with lemon and coconut sorbet. Refreshing and the flavors dance around the tongue...

2007 Mas Amiel Muscat de Rivesaltes - a bit of orange, rose and floral nose.

A very good and "light" lunch... Of course I was sitting at the rowdy table, so there were loud cries of "Cheers!" in Cantonese every few minutes and everyone would get up to clink their glasses. The staff was amused, if not a little annoyed perhaps...

While everyone went off to sleep off the alcohol, I continued my duty as the backup photographer, snapping pictures of the wedding couple in all their glory. Soon it was time for dinner...

Once again we started with some 1999 Amour de Deutz outside for cocktails and some snacks, before moving into the main dining room. Nose of toast and pear.

Huître Gillardeau à peine tiédie, crème citron et herbes fraîches - Gillardeau is my current favorite oyster, but here they decided to cook it lightly, so the freshness has been lost. Still reasonably nice with the lemon cream.

2000 Blain-Gagnard Batard-Montrachet – buttery, toasty, sweet grass, tangerine, lemon and white pepper. Ripe on the palate.

Homard bleu: à cru, caviar d'Aquitaine et condiments - nicely sliced lobster topped with some caviar, surrounded by a ring of crème fraîche with onions, chives and sprinkles of paprika.

Saumon sauvage: enrobé de truffles noires et cebettes, quelques champignons blancs, relevé de gingembre - the wild salmon was topped with scallions on a bed of tiny croutons, mushrooms with sprinkles of black truffles.

2000 Pichon Baron – what a beautiful wine. Mint, eucalyptus, ripe stewed fruit, smoke, forest…all coming together for a wonderfully sweet nose.

Piece de bœuf Rossini: reduction d’une sauce madère truffée, dauphinois – the steak was covered in a truffled Madeira sauce, but it was too big for me to finish. The big hunk of foie gras was soft and tender, and I couldn’t even touch the potatoes…

Pommes de nos regions: en superposition, beurre “Suzette” – interesting green apple and white chocolate concoction.

1988 Yquem – wonderful nose of orange marmalade and honey. It’s a pity that we didn’t stick around to finish the wine.

We moved outside and watched fireworks being launched from the large hotel lawn. I guess the groom did pull out all the stops...

After a bit of dancing, I slipped off and opened a bottle of Champagne that I REALLY wanted to drink. The Jacques Selosse Brut Initiale NV was as I remembered, with lots of bubbles and a nose of oxidized iron, pear and lemon citrus. It's a bit more on the dry side. Good stuff but I ended up with only one glass... boohoo...

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