Presented by the French-American Chamber of Commerce, Passport to France was the closing night of the first edition of A La Carte Chicago, a celebration of ciontemporary French food, wine and art de vivre a la Francaise. The second edition of the Chicago French Food Guide 2015 debuted at the event, reflecting the desire to foster the discovery of French restaurants and food purveyors.
Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau 2015 ($9), was the star of the show. The first arrival of wine from the new harvest is celebrated around the world, and this year's arrival was not dampened by the events of 11/13, but only heightened its significance. A sold-out event featured this bright, fruity expression of a wine that is perfect for the Holiday Day, with its panoply of flavors and culinary expressions. Beaujolais Nouveau announced itself with a lovely bright purple color, rimmed in crimson red, which is only a mask for the rich, red fruit flavors that lie beneath; ripe wild strawberries, red currants and the aroma of raspberries, violet flowers and crushed rose petals. The wine has just a hint of cinnamon spice and cardamum, which makes it an excellent accompaniment to the savory herbed and spiced dishes of the Holiday Table, such as Turkey and Sage Dressing, Mac 'N Cheese, Cranberry Relish, and Candied Sweet Potatoes and Sweet Potato Pie, but an excellent companion with ethnic dishes that have worked their way into the lexicon of the traditional holiday meal due to the great diversity of America.
Passport to France offered a dizzying array of culinary treats with copious pourings of wines, sparkling wines, aperitifs and other libations, including Luxury Spirits, featuring such premium delights as Angel's Envy artisanal, hand-finished Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Boisset Collection of unique wineries from diverse Franco-American terroirs, , CH Distillery, Chicago's only distillery making grain-to-bottle Vodka, Gerard Bertrand, dedicated to the art of wine as expressed in the unique terroirs of the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France and the gastronomic riches of the South of France and its Mediterranean Art de Vivre, Heavenly Spirits, from Daniel and Christine Cooney, promoting French Cognace, Armagnac and Calvados appellations, and Illinois Sparkling Co., the independent craft winery obsessed with making amazing sparkling wines.
Some of the culinary delights and Chefs included Bistro Zinc, serving up Lamb Stew with Cumin Carrots and Roasted Eggplant Puree, a terrific accompaniment to the Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau 2015, Chef Dominique Tougne of Chez Moi, Bistro Dre's delicious interpretation of Lentil Soup, Executive Chef/Proprietor Marco G. Conte and his unique blend of Italian and French specialties at Cafe Amano, Christopher and Lucia Ala of Hemmingway's Bistro, Executive Chef/Ower Martial Noguier of Bistronomic with a phenomenal fresh smoked lox with crispy carrots and vinaigrette glaze, and Pierre Olivier of Gerard Bertrand and his L'art de Vivre Les Vins Du Sud and his sparkling Rose' in a unique bouquet-of-roses bottle.
Not to be forgotten, the dizzying array of pastries and desserts from Alliance Bakery and Alliance Patisserie, Belgian Chocolatier Piron, Cafe Amano, French Quarter Biegnets, French Pastry School, La Biulangerie, La Fournette, Leonidas, Vanille Patisserie and Vosges Haut-Chocolat, among others.
Dominique Tougne of Chez Moi, A Unique French Bistro
Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau 2015
Passport to France: A cornucopia of food and wine pairing ideas