“Serial tester” Andréa, aka @andee_a_table on Instagram, attended chef Yannick Alléno’s special food and spirits pairing dinner at the 2019 France Quintessence fair. She tells us all about it.
“An invitation to the Ledoyen Pavillon, the den of three-starred French chef Yannick Alléno? That’s something you don’t turn down! Especially when it’s for a dinner designed to be enjoyed as a performance, meticulously paired with spirits, from the aperitif to the dessert – a dessert which (spoiler alert) was served with two Cognacs…
If you go through my Instagram page, you’ll soon see I’m really into food and wine pairing. Needless to say, the invite immediately caught my attention and I had no trouble convincing Narathino, my Instagram photographer, to come with me. He loves spirits and actually knows a lot about what France has to offer. For my part, I’m most used to seeing spirits used in cocktails. So, we were both excited to see how Yannick Alléno would combine them with his dishes… Cognac was on the pairing menu alongside the dessert.
Before the evening, like any good student, I did my research on Cognac, the region and how it is made. When I arrived, I was lucky enough to be sat next to Patrick Raguenaud, President of the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac. I got out the notebook I take to every tasting, expecting the evening to full of great discoveries… And I wasn’t disappointed! On my table there were bloggers, chefs, professionals from the Cognac trade and even the president of the France Quintessence fair.
The dessert? Picture a magnificent crispy butternut and frangipane raviole with melted butter, flavored with citrus and bitter almond, flambéed in front of each guest. The almond and orange flavors were clearly going to pair well with the two Cognacs. And, first surprise of the evening, the Cognacs weren’t served as an after-dinner drink! The second was that both glasses came from the same appellation but had very different aromatic palettes, length and texture!
The first Cognac was as delicious as the dessert, and came from the relatively new producer Moonshadow. The founder created it primarily for mixology, but the honeyed notes and full body paired beautifully with Alléno’s raviole. The powerful yet subtle second Cognac, the Très Vénéré from Maison Delamain, was from another category. The aromas enhanced and brought new depth to a dessert that had already gotten off to a great start. The length on the palate made it an incredibly sweet treat all of its own, a real pleasure to taste. My conclusion? I’m completely won over by the idea that spirits, and Cognac in particular, deserve much more of my attention when looking for perfect pairings!”