This past Saturday I attended the Chefs & Champagne fundraiser event held at Wolffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack. The event was the annual tasting party run by the James Beard Foundation and featured small bite culinary offerings by 30 chefs and liquid refreshments by Wolffer Winery and Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne. It was an outdoor event under a huge tent and the weather gods smiled on us that day. The weather was gorgeous, if we would have had one of those oppresively hot days, we all would have been baking under that tent, not to mention what the cooks would have been going through slaving over a hot stove.
The Feuillate Champagnes that they poured included the 1997 Palmes d’Or Brut, the 2004 Brut, the Brut NV and the Rose NV. Wolffer Estate poured their 2009 Chardonnay, the 2011 Rose, the 2008 Merlot, the 2007 Fatum (Bordeaux blend) and the 2010 Diosa late harvest Chardonnay. For a warm Summer afternoon I stuck with the Pink Champagne for my beverage of choice, it was crisp, light and refreshing and went well with most of the food offerings.
It was a pretty crowd. I made my way through most of the food offerings, and of course there were some that I enjoyed more than others. At the carving station they served slices of Spanish Pata Negra (Black Hoof) cured ham. These babies feast on acorns before being processed into cured hams. Very expensive, a slice of the fat-streaked amber meat melts in you mouth with all the porky flavor and the right amount of salt. Very tasty.
Todd English served oysters (Blue Points) several ways. I like the ones “Escargot Style” which were grilled with butter, chopped parsley, lots of garlic and white wine. Another way I liked them was topped with crabmeat with a red pepper remoulade. Luke’s restaurant served miniature Maine Lobster rolls. Served on a buttered toasted bun. The lobster was tossed with a minamal amount of mayo so I got a mouthful of lobster in every bite. And really, how can you not like lobster on a buttered roll? Very tasty. Jeremy Culver served a chilled pea soup with lobster which was an excellent Summer dish, cool, refreshing and delicious. Jeremy McMillian served Puglian Mozzerella with grilled tomatoes, nigella and fresh pollen. It was a very interesting dish, the mozzarella was unusual in that it had the texture of ricotta only more tangy. It was another nice Summer dish. I also enjoyed Seamus Mullin’s dish of grilled octopus with summer squash, sun gold tomatoes and olive vinaigrette
I stopped by the after party to nosh on some more Spanish ham and drink splits of pink champagne out of a straw. I hope none of my wine-geeks friends saw me do that.