by Bob Barnes
Earlier this month, the Bellagio began its Epicurean Epicenter Series with an exclusive four-course pairing of the wines of the Williams Selyem Vineyard from the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County, California. The sold-out event began with a reception of passed appetizers accompanied by the 2005 Blanc de Noir Brut Magnum. We were then escorted into the Tuscany Exhibition Kitchen, where Master Sommelier and director of wine Jason Smith partnered with Williams Selyem executive winemaker Bob Cabral in describing the wines that would be paired with Le Cirque executive chef Gregory Pugin’s creations.
The state-of-the-art demo kitchen is outfitted with three cameras, positioned above the prep stations and stove tops, which projected shots of chef Pugin at work onto 60-inch plasma screens. Before each course was served, chef Pugin demonstrated its preparation and described the ingredients he had chosen for the dish. First up was citrus-marinated New Zealand langoustines au caviar complemented with the 2005 Hawk Hill Chardonnay. The feast continued with Le Flétan d’ Alaska, a potato-crusted halibut that was matched with the 2007 Westside Road Neighbors Pinot Noir. Next was L’Agneau Du Colorado, an Espelette pepper-encrusted lamb chop, alongside two varietals of pinot noir, the 2004 Rochioli Vineyard and the 2004 Hirsch Vineyard. A selection of les fromages allowed us to enjoy yet another outstanding wine, the 1999 Allen Vineyard Pinot Noir. The grand finale was the Pot De Crème Au Chocolat, a collection of chocolate pot de crème, cardamom emulsion and Pop Rocks marshmallow.
This magnificent culinary experience was capped off with parting gifts of an elegant Laguiole waiter’s friend corkscrew, recipes for each dish that had been presented and served, and a handsomely packaged box of Le Cirque chocolates. The Bellagio’s next Epicurean Epicenter event, BBQ & Beer, takes place on Saturday, July 2 at noon.