At Great British Chefs we were extremely delighted to welcome the legendary Pierre Koffmann to our site recently. Koffmann set new standards for British restaurants, earning and retaining three Michelin stars over an amazing 30 years of service. We were even more excited to hear that he’d be hosting his first ever Big Bordeaux Brunch & we knew that Robert McIntosh from Thirst for Wine might be keen to attend. Discover what happened.
The most powerful effect of good wine, and great food, is their ability to combine in the most exhilarating ways to create moments of great personal pleasure, but this experience can be also enhanced further - through sharing.
There are few things that would take me away from my family home on a damp and dreary Saturday morning, then travel an hour on public transport into London’s shopping centres. One of the very few is an invitation to experience the cuisine of Pierre Koffmann for brunch, his first, to be partnered by the wines of his favourite wine region, Bordeaux.
My invitation to the first ever Big Bordeaux Brunch needed only the barest of facts: Pierre Koffmann, 11am, Saturday, with wines selected by @WineChapUK.
Tom Harrow aka The Wine chap
Pierre Koffmann’s return to the London restaurant scene has been well documented, from the success of his ‘pop-up’ in 2010, to his choice to focus on more rustic, regional dishes at the re-opened eponymous restaurant at The Berkeley. This was, however, to be something of a departure for him as the concept was to create a 3 course “brunch” menu for a small group of 20 or so enthusiastic diners.
Saturday Brunch is not the time for formal dining, for quiet intimate moments with a partner or for standing on ceremony. This is a time for friends, family and relaxing, and so instead of individual tables, we were ushered to a single, communal table, dominated by the multitudinous glassware we were to employ, and invited to choose our places next to other eager attendees hungry for course and intercourse.
Tom Harrow, otherwise known as the Wine Chap , took charge of the event in his usual polished, entertaining and erudite manner. Tom introduced us to the different areas and histories of the Bordeaux wine region, accompanied by a deliciously grassy and rich Ch. Lamothe Bouscat 2008 Graves white, a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, a style and colour of Bordeaux too often overlooked by UK diners.
Calamars Facon Bolognaise
We then moved on to explore the match of a lighter Chateau La Tour de By, Grand Cru de Bordeaux, Medoc 2006 with “Calamars Facon Bolognaise” - a delicious seafood variation on the pasta classic. The richness of the cuttlefish ragout stood up to the red wine, but in fact it made an even better match for the last few sips of the Graves still in my glass.
We then ran a brief vinous gauntlet before, during and after the next dish with a succession of increasingly complex and fuller bodied wines. First was the earthy Fleur de Fonplegade St. Emilion Grand Cru 2007, then the crowd’s favourite, the opulent Ch. Duluc St. Julien 2004, and then the complex Ch. de Pez, St. Estephe 2006.
Entrecote, Oeuf et Frites
The star dish was the “Entrecote, Oeuf et Frites” - a sirloin steak, topped with an egg and a generous portion of foie-gras as well as a mushroom jus. The wines each offered something different in combination with the amazing flavours of the dish, but the aged complexity of the Ch. Duluc won the most fans who were, by this time, happily exchanging thoughts around the table and challenging Tom with questions about wine sourcing, decanting and investment.
The final course was a divine “Tarte Fine” that expertly balanced the tart, baked sweetness of the thin apple tart, with the crisp yet honeyed richness of the Barsac from La Chartreuse de Coutet 2007. A suitably elegant, yet unpretentious, end to a most enjoyable brunch.
The food, the wine and the service came together to create a social event that was more than simply a gastronomic or vinous treat, but a memorable friendly personal experience. I believe that the unanimous positive feedback on the day means that there will be other “Big Bordeaux Brunches” in the near future. I highly recommend you bag yourself a ticket or two and come along to make friends.