Few sounds are more festive than the pop of a champagne cork, and on December 15th, the Royal Palms Resort and Spa hosted a special champagne dinner to celebrate this effervescent elixir with Veuve Clicquot, Moët & Chandon and Ruinart champagnes.
During the cocktail reception, we mingled under starry skies in the idyllic Mansion courtyard. Hors d'oeuvres were passed as we sipped on lead mixologist Michael Regan's wonderful champagne cocktail made with champagne, cognac, house cider, and AZ Bitters Lab bitters.
We were then invited to take our seats at a beautiful dining table set in the elegant Vernardero Room, the original living room of this grand estate built as a winter get-away by New York financier Delos Cooke in 1929. Executive Chef Todd Allison of T. Cook's had created a fantastic seafood menu to perfectly pair with the starring beverage.
Our engaging host for the evening was Armando González of Moët Hennessy, who shared his depth of knowledge about France's renowned champagne region, rich history, production methods, and its champagne houses of Veuve Clicquot, Moët & Chandon, and Ruinart. As he introduced each pour, we learned interesting details about our pairings: Veuve Cliquot being founded in 1772 and its Yellow Label widely recognized as its flagship, Jean-Rémy Moët's friendship with Napoleon Bonaparte (legend has it that he drank Moët & Chandon before every battle...except for Waterloo), and that Ruinart, founded in 1729, is the oldest maison de champagne in the world.
Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label's signature blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay was a superb complement with our first course of sweet Dungeness crab salad, Honeycrisp apple, brioche croutons, and Tahitian vanilla bean vinaigrette.
Another flawless pairing was butter-poached lobster with goat cheese ravioli, beurre blanc, and crispy shallots with a sparkling glass of Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Rosé.
Ruinart's pale gold Blanc de Blancs made with 100% Chardonnay grapes and delicate John Dory with artichokes, radishes, pickled pearl onions, and crispy Brussels sprout leaves was a decadent marriage of flavors and textures.
Our evening ended on a similar high note with a dessert inspired by the vibrant hue and lush fruit of Ruinart's rosé champagne - creamy vanilla bean panna cotta with fresh berries and a luxurious strawberry "broth."
The Royal Palms is well known for its gorgeous setting and superlative dining. Adding a selection of France's preeminent champagnes to this magical combination can only result in an unforgettable evening of celebration.
I was hosted by the Royal Palms and my evening was complimentary.