Love French food? French wine? French life? So do I. However, what I thought of as French was actually mostly Parisian. That is, until this month where I learned of a festival called “À la carte Chicago” that celebrates the many flavors of France. After doing some research, I came into contact with the DOPFF & IRION team who were visiting for a few days. Through that, I got to spend a lovely evening with them and others over dinner, learning about the Alsace region through its food and wine.
We all gathered around 7pm in the highly-acclaimed 40th floor restaurant that is EVEREST. Everest’s Chef Joho is from Alsace; and along with him, Access Alsace and Dopff & Irion, we were wined and dined through a 5 course menu that showcased the region. Alsace is known for it’s great wine (whites. in particular) and comforting dishes that warm the soul.
Dopff & Irion, located in Riquewihr, was established in 1945 and quickly became one of the best and most popular producers from the region. The origins of the two families date back to the 15th century. Due to the climate of the region, Alsace is especially well suitedto vine-growing. The terroir is made up of over 20 different soils which allows many different grape varieties to be cultivated. We were privileged to taste the varietals… even a vintage from 1969! Now, let’s walk through the courses as well as the wine paired with each. Actually, 2 of the 5 courses had 2 wine pairings!
TERRINE OF FOIE GRAS with compote of heritage apple, gelee au pinot gris
paired with PINOT GRIS Grand Cru Vorbourg Dopff & Irion
EVEREST ROASTED MAINE LOBSTER in Alsace Gewurztraminer butter and ginger
paired with GEWURZTRAMINER CHATEAU DE RIQUEWIHR LES SORCIERES 2012
LE SALMON SOUFFLE, auberge d’ill (homage to Paul Haeberlin)
paired with RIESLING GRAND CRU SCHOENENBOURG CHATEAU DE RIQUEWIHR 2000
& RIESLING CHATEAU DE RIQUEWIHR LES MURAILLES 1969
FILET OF VEAL TENDERLOIN with chanterelles, porcini, artisan cracked corn
paired with PINOT NOIR CHATEAU DE RIQUEWIHR LES TONNELLES 2010
RIESLING INFUSED KOUGELHOF & CRISPY LINZER
paired with RIESLING VENDANGES TARDIVES GRAND CRU SCHOENENBOURG DOPFF & IRION 2009
& CREMENT D’ALSACE BRUT PINOT GRIS L’EXCEPTION DOPFF & IRION
Needless to say, this entire dinner was special. The food highlighted classic Alsatian ingredients, as well as cooking techniques. Each dish was so well executed, and while each plate here was very refined, each bite was a bite of comfort food.
Opening up the meal with foie was a hint of what was to come after. The favorite dishes at our table were the lobster (second course) and veal tenderloin (main course). The lobster was placed on a Gewurztraminer butter that was divine. The wine pairing there, a Gewurztraminer naturally, was a perfect compliment to the sweet lobster.
My favorite dish was the veal tenderloin entree. It was the only course paired with a red wine – the 2010 Pinot Noir. A perfect comfort food pairing that I thoroughly enjoyed (as was noted by my empty plate at the end).
I’m not a wine connoisseur by any means, but I have to speak about the very special glass of 1969 Riesling we had the pleasure of tasting. I would’ve expected a deeper color and notes to it, but it was quite crisp! In fact, the 2010 also served with that course seemed more like the vintage in terms of color alone. If all vintages are as great as this 1969 we had, I can understand why wine lovers search the world for bottles to add to their collections.
Not to be left out of this post is the classic saying that while the food and wine were great, the company was truly the best. We had a wonderful group of people at our table who chatted away and laughed heartily all night long as if we were old friends. It was a crappy, rainy Friday night in Chicago made special with this dinner.
Thank you so much to the Dopff & Irion team for having me. ❤