What do you get when you put ten foodie fanatics, three WOM guiders and one Krug expert in a private room together with bottles of champagne? Answer: an epic four hour, progressively rambunctious dinner peppered with talks of spam and bricks of butter. This was my evening two Fridays ago, when I was most, most fortunate to be invited by Krug and WOM guide for a night of champagne education and good banter at the 3 star Michelin restaurant 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana. I had been dying to go to 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo for yonks, but was saving a trip for a special occasion so I could go all out and spoil myself, so I couldn’t believe that such a dinner was being hosted. This was definitely too unique of an experience to turn down (what’s a girl to do eh?).You know the night will end well when one walks in to be greeted immediately by a glass of champagne. After a few rather large gulps, (I’d been waiting all day at work for 7pm to arrive), Regional Brand Ambassador for Krug at LVMH, Arnaud Mirey, kick-started things by giving us a wonderful history lesson on the house of Krug. I loved hearing how Krug has in fact a German background, founded by Joseph Krug, a German immigrant, in 1843, who learnt his trade at Champagne before setting up the famous house in Reims and making it his own, thus solidifying the presence of Krug in the world of bubbly. More fascinating still, is how, even today, members of the Krug family aren’t permitted to travel on the same flight together, lest something should happen and the secrets of Krug are lost!We had the privilege of trying four champagnes: the flagship Grande Cuvée, Krug Vintage 1998, Krug Clos du Mesnil 1998 and the Krug Rosé. After giving us a bit of guidance on the tasting notes, we were pretty much left to our own devices to decide which would pair better with each course. I was half drunk by the time the first course arrived, and was merrily interspersing bits of my warm lobster salad with Roast Ligurian artichoke and Cinta Senese ham with sips of the Grand Cuvée (spelt Cruvée in my tipsiness on my phone) and Clos du Mesnil and didn’t notice that my glasses were being magically refilled.Just a little ditty about the food- the Roast Duck Foie Gras with Piedmont Hazelnut Sauce was sensational. I didn’t know what to do first, drink the Vintage 98 (which paired exquisitely with it) or eat my foie gras. I tried to savour every morsel, but great conversation and alcohol meant that it was over too soon. However, by then, all eyes were on the ridiculously generous amount of black winter truffle that was being shaved agonizingly slowly over our third course- the Homemade fettucine, which again, I thought, went superbly with the Vintage 98. Or maybe I was just letting the champagne control my taste-buds and I was too happy to with my glass of Vintage!I can’t remember what went with the excellent Spiced Roast Challans Duck Supreme with apple and eggplant compote, I’m pretty sure I was still drinking the Vintage, but the Crispy Pear Tart, was a scrumptious sweet ending with the Clos du Mesnil.
The Clos du Mesnil 98 and the Krug Vintage 98 were by far my favourites of the four. Somehow I managed to cobble together some educational notes for myself. First up, I learnt about the elegant, highly sought after and eye-wateringly expensive Clos du Mesnil 98, which is unique in being a single vineyard (Chardonnay grape), single vintage, blanc de blancs, bottled in the village of Mesnil-sur-Oger. The vineyard is surrounded by a wall and used to belong to monks. (I have no idea why I chose to take this bit of information down, but it seems nice to share!). It has a beautiful pale golden colour , a blossom smell and a sweet honey, fruity flavour with bready notes. The wonderfully long after-taste makes this very memorable.I loved the Krug Vintage 98. This champagne, the last Krug vintage of the 90s, has a lovely soft spice, nutty, gingerbread aroma and flavour to it. Very easy on the palate and honestly, goes down a little too smoothly. Dangerous. Lucky this stuff can’t be found in your local supermarket, or else I’d be broke.
As the dinner went past the halfway point, conversation turned to spam. One foodie couldn’t believe we were talking about this tinned meat favourite of WWII, but too much fun was being had discussing spam potluck gatherings, how to prepare spam, how to optimise the caramelisation of pan-fried spam. You get the idea. We also ended up talking about butter as if it was bricks of gold, much to Arnaud’s amusement. If you passed our room and heard a lot of ‘oohs’, followed by, ‘oh noooooooo, ughhhhh’ it was most probably because we’d just discussed how rubbish it is when croissants are made with margarine. Travesty!
Anyway, back to the champagne, and the Grande Cuvée, being the flagship, is of course, lovely to drink as well. It is multi-vintage, as 50% of the blend is made of reserve wines from three grape varieties. Some of the wines have been aged up to 20 years before they are used for the Grande Cuvée, and up to 200 base wines may be used for this blend. It’s special as it shows signs of maturity: an extra stay of 6 years in the cellars after the blending process cements its finesse. I enjoyed the Krug Rosé, (which I think I’d prefer drinking on its own). It’s nice and girly with its pretty pink flush and delicate flavour and is made from a blend of 10%, skins included Pinot Noir, with the remainder being a white base. I showed all 4 champagnes a lot of love that night, so much so that I face-planted onto my bed when I eventually got home and could barely support my head weight. I’m not sure if I was lucky but I didn’t have a hangover the next day. So I reckon drinking Vintage is the way to go!
Thank you WOM guide and Krug for such an enjoyable evening. Great company is always integral at meals, but coupled with an impeccable menu and fine champagne I’d say that that night had the very best of combinations.
You will probably have read a few recounts of the same evening from my fellow foodies and the reason for all our quick write-ups is because we have a special prize of a private Krug room dinner for 12 people being dangled in front of us! All our write-ups will be uploaded to the WOM guide and links placed on their Facebook page. The blog with the most LIKES wins this dinner, so take a look and ‘like’!
8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana, 202, 2nd Floor, Landmark Alexandra, 18 Chater Road, Central, Hong Kong. Tel: +852 2537 8859
LMVH Krug http://www.krug.com/en