Ready for a shot of life! Here’s your biweekly Drinking With Bwog fix with JJ Rivera from the Columbia Bartending Agency.
C’est la Vie. At least, that’s what I was thinking on Sunday while enjoying wine, bread, and cheese at the park. This past weekend, Bryant Park transformed into Taste of France, an event celebrating important aspects of the French culture, fashion, music, cuisine and wine. There was even a French kissing booth, where, for a small donation, visitors could close their eyes and receive a big, wet smooch from a French bulldog!
Contracted to serve wine and beer, a small army of CBA bartenders descended on Bryant Park for two days, ready to help promote French vintners and brewers. And we did not disappoint! Inside the main tent, during a private $150-per-plate dinner, we poured over 500 glasses of champagne for the guests over a two-hour span.
After my twelve-hour shift on Saturday, I decided to return to Taste of France on Sunday as a visitor. With friends in tow, I managed to turn the sun-drenched afternoon into a French feast worthy of King Louis XIV. We began our celebration of France’s cuisine with creamy foie gras drizzled with a balsamic reduction and served on warm bread. This paired nicely with the well-balanced red wine from Provence that I had been pouring the day prior.
Our bellies, longing for more, soon drove us to purchase several wedges of cheese from a vendor. After buying a freshly baked baguette, we settled down to satiate our hunger. Viscerally ripping of chunks off the baguette, we spread a generous amount of buttery brie on the crusty bread. A crisp white wine with a hint of apricots, from the Languedoc region, not only complimented the cheese but the warm day as well.
We ended our adventure as it began—with more food and drink. Glasses of dry champagne (bubbles!) worked well with the sweetness of a few paper-thin crêpes covered with Nutella and crunchy hazelnut macaroons. The afternoon made me thankful that the chill of winter was still a few weeks away. This weekend I suggest heading to a park for a picnic with your favorite French cheese, bread and wine for your very own Taste of France.
Want to try something different with your favorite champagne? Try the following recipe with another French export, the St. Germain Cocktail.
Pour the champagne into a glass. Add the St. Germain. Top with club soda. Squeeze the orange rind, releasing the oil, and drop the rind in the glass. Garnish with an orange slice, and you’re good to go. (Try experimenting with different fruits to change the dynamic of this versatile recipe.)
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