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Report: Beaujolais and Beyond at the Omni Dallas

Beaujolais festival goes shagadelic at the Omni. (photo by Desirée Espada)

Friday was the night to be French in Dallas! The French American Chamber of Commerce threw their annual Beaujolais and Beyond Festival at the new Omni Dallas Convention Center Hotel. This festival started in Dallas over 20 years ago and it celebrates the arrival of the first bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau wine which is ceremoniously released each year on the third Thursday of November. Recently organizers have broadened the scope and now include wines from elsewhere in France and French grape varietals grown in the US. They have also invited French restaurants and caterers to provide a cornucopia of food. Friday’s soiree had a ‘60s theme and most of the sponsors were in costumes (I had no idea how many identical twins Austin Powers had). Images from the decade were displayed on a giant overhead screen and a section near the front was roped off to display iconic cars  which included a Jaguar e-Type, Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia, and a Porsche (Austin Powers 7th thought that it was the 356 Super 90). Impossibly thin girls in mini-skirts and Mary Quant tights danced on pedestals and one was kind enough to explain to me that the particular e-Type on display had the closed-in headlamps, making it more valuable to collectors.

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France on Your Plate's liquid hard-boiled egg. (photo by Desirée Espada)

The most shagadelic food was the Liquid Hard-boiled Egg served in an eggshell. As long as you were aware that the container was as fragile as a monetary union including Italy and Greece, you could get to the ethereal flavors inside. I know; I ate four. The creator was Edouard Barbaste, owner of the catering company France on Your Plate, who learned to cook in his family’s restaurant in the southern French town of Carcassonne.

The Food Providers

Go-go fabulous (left); Janice Provost, chef/owner of Parigi (far right, with Austin Powers look-alike) (photos by Desirée Espada)

(photos by Desirée Espada)

Other foods were provided by Bonnie Ruth’s Café, Cadot Restaurant, Eddie Deen, Empire Baking Company, France on Your Plate; Henry’s Homemade Ice Cream, Hotel St. Germain, La Madeleine, Lavendou Bistro Provençal, Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, Mimi’s Café, Mozzarella Company, Omni Dallas Hotel, Parigi, Sambuca Uptown, Scardello Artisan Cheese, Studio Mykonos, Texas Spice, Les Trois Petits Cochons, and Delice Chocolatier Selection.

(photos by Desirée Espada)

Parigi's escargot (photo by Desirée Espada)
Anyone up for shots? (photo by Desirée Espada)

The Wine Details

The ‘beyond’ in the theme Beaujolais and Beyond refers to the fact that this year produced some superior wines:  a super 2009 Pinot Noir Reserve from Argyle Winery in Oregon; an impressive display from the folks at McPherson Cellars (Texas) who showcased their 2010 Viognier ($13.59), 2010 Roussanne (which I reviewed here) ($12.69), and 2010 Rosé of Grenache-Syrah ($9.79). All three are made from 100% Texas fruit and were good enough to stand blind comparison with the same varieties from anywhere in the country.

Dakota's version of finger sandwiches. (photos by Desirée Espada)

The Dakota's contingent. (photo by Desirée Espada)

The French contingent was represented by a stellar budget Bordeaux (do any still exist?)– the 2009 Château Bellevue de Fourcas Dupré, Listrac ($16.99). Several good wines from the Perrin family of Châteauneuf-du-Pape (an especially good value was the 2009 Côtes du Rhone Villages at $12.69). However, the biggest surprise and the most topical finds were the Cru Beaujolais wines. These  Beaujolais wines have been allowed to grow up. They are aged in wood with the care and attention afforded their Burgundy brethren to the north. They are relevant now because they are still light enough to be paired with turkey on Thanksgiving. I was especially impressed with the Mommessin Domaine de la Presie from the town of Fleurie ($13.99) and the Mommessin Domaine de Lathevalle from Morgon ($11.99). Both were complex, balanced, and lively with red fruit notes and earthy tones of mushrooms and the forest floor. These were two of the finds of the night and bargains at these prices.

Sampler plates of rosted pork and cous cous. (photo by Desirée Espada)

All of the wines were supplied by Goody Goody Wines and Spirits and all of the wines are in stock at their stores at the prices shown above.

Terry Touchstone and Alexandria Eaton (left); Artisianal Beverage Co. tapped into the fun (right).(photos by Desirée Espada)

Major sponsors included: Patron Sponsors BNP Paribas; United Airlines; Essilor of America, Inc.; The Honorable Robert Lavie, Honorary Consul of France; Jackson Walker L.L.P.; Michael A. Burns & Associates, Inc.; and Safran USA, Inc. The festival’s Villages Sponsors were Alcatel Lucent, American EurocopterCorporation; Eurosource, Inc.; and Evian North America. Nouveau Sponsors included Accor North America; BMW of Dallas, Dallas International School; The Foret Law Firm; L. Scott Brown, FACC President; Les Trois Petits Cochons; and Y.O. Ranch Steakhouse.

Guests served themselves, buffet-style. (photo by Desirée Espada)

The Venue: Got to say a word about the Omni Dallas. It was hard to guess that it has only been open a week. The place seemed to be well on top of things. Also, instead of crawling through Highland Park or Deerfield to take the kids to see Christmas lights this year, take them down Lamar to ogle at the animated colored lights bathing the exterior of the Omni hotel (there has to be a name for this use of lights as part of the architecture. From the Beijing Olympics to Las Vegas to Singapore it seems to be everywhere). They can get barbecue down the street afterwards.

Venison roll-ups from Y.O. Steakhouse (photo by Desirée Espada)

I was an invited guest at this event.

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