L’art de vivre – the art of living – is a wonderfully French concept: the notion that a life well lived should be a thing of beauty and elegance. For 300 years Martell Cognac has placed l’art de vivre at the heart of its eponymous spirit, adhering as closely as possible to the craftsmanship and attention to detail that its founder, Jean Martell, established in 1715.
Throughout 2015, Martell is celebrating three centuries of l’art de vivre through its Very Special Nights – festive happenings that combine fabulous food, great company and Martell Cognac. The London Foodie was thrilled to host a Martell Very Special Night Supper Club, which demonstrated just how beautifully the elegance, balance and complexity of Martell Cognac goes hand in hand with the art of gastronomy.
Cognac is made from white wine; to earn the title of ‘cognac’ it must be made from at least 90% Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche or Colombard grapes that are grown in one of the six crus surrounding the town of Cognac. The wine used to make cognac is twice distilled in copper stills to create eaux de vie, then aged for at least two years and finally blended to make cognac.
Beautiful served on its own, cognac is also tailor-made for cocktails and a Martell expert gave us a literal taste of the possibilities throughout our evening. We began with a Classic Champagne Cocktail: a perfect home for Martell VS Cognac. With dashes of Angostura bitters, a sugar cube and a top-up of G.H. Mumm Cordon Rouge Champagne, it was an irresistible start to the evening. Dating back to the mid-1800’s, the Classic Champagne Cocktail is one of the oldest cocktails, with its first written mention found in 1855 in New York. The cocktail even pre-dates the first cocktail book published in 1862.
Appropriate to the celebration of an iconic French brand like Martell Cognac, The London Foodie prepared a six-course French menu. The Classic Champagne Cocktail was served with a pissaladiere, and this was followed by Curried Mussel Veloute, Wakame Seaweed and Croutons, with which we enjoyed a Vin de Savoie Chignin-Bergeron, Domaine Jean Vullien et Fils. This lovely, dryish wine with strong pear and peach notes also worked nicely with our Premiere Entrée of Baked Camembert with Honey, Garlic and Rosemary, Brown-Sugar Roasted Ham, New Potatoes and Cornichons. All wines on the evening were expertly paired by wine merchant Laurent Faure of Le Vieux Comptoir.
Our Plat principal & Accompaniment was Parmentierde Confit de Canard aux Cepes Duxelles et Foie Gras With Green Leaf and Herb Salad in Vinaigrette Dressing. With this we enjoyed another wine selection, Guillaume de Pratavone Ajaccio, a spicy, medium-bodied Corsican red made from a Grenache-Sangiovese blend not uncommon in Corsica’s Ajaccio region, which is otherwise famed as the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte.
Androuet Maitre Fromager of Spitafields was the perfect match for a glass of Martell Cordon Bleu, created in 1912 by Edourd Martell and long since renowned as a classic cognac. Dark and coppery, Martell Cordon Bleu has a complex nose of orchard fruits – plum, apricot, apple – interwoven with coffee and spices, most particularly cinnamon. Mellow and rich, it has a gloriously long finish.
Martell Cognac cocktail twist: a Martell & Coffee Martini, made with espresso, Martell VS Cognac and Irish cream liqueur and served in a martini glass and topped with two coffee beans.
For recipes, cocktail ideas and further information on Martell Cognac’s 300th year anniversary, please visit www.martell.com or find them on twitter @MartellCognacUK