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Douglas Blyde: European Dessert Trophy blog

Published:  31 January, 2011

Douglas Blyde blogs on the Rencontres Méditerranéennes du Muscat: European Dessert Trophy

Douglas Blyde blogs on the Rencontres Méditerranéennes du Muscat: European Dessert Trophy

A sommelier and chef team from a leading London restaurant competed for Roussillon's European dessert trophy. Recently Michelin starred, 'Galvin La Chapelle' sent head sommelier, Andrea Briccarello and chef/pâtissier, Daniel Fancett to Perpignan to battle against representatives from Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, and for the first time, Catalunia. Owing to an undisclosed accident, the French team's sommelier, Aurélia Demeter was unable not attend, ironically meaning the home country lacked representation.

The competition, held among St. Valentine's memorabilia at the invitingly aromatic premises of Olivier Bajard's International Patisserie school was judged by panel of nine comprising leading pâtissiers, sommeliers and journalists from the participating countries. This included Champagne Piper-Heidsieck's UK Sommelier of the Year 2010, Christopher Delalonde.

This year's theme was citrus desserts with wines from the Muscat grape family. Briccarello and Fancett designed the dish, lemon bavarois with citrus fruit salad and paired it with lemon and acacia scented '09 Muscat de Rivesaltes (Domaine Pouderoux). "We used almost all the citrus we could find on planet earth" said Briccorello when explaining the dish, served last, to the severe looking judging panel. He continued: "the sweetness of the Muscat counterbalances the acidity of the dessert's lemon and basil components."

Despite putting in over seven hours of preparation, team UK was not victorious. Danish patissier, Daniel Kruse and sommelier, Jacob Christiansen of restaurant 'Formel B' took first place for 'textures'. Assertively representing the Rivesaltes terroir, it featured a crumbly 'dirt' base with citric touches such as sherbet, lemon and orange as well as white chocolate elements. According to fellow Dane, Dorte Pontoppidan of Sopexa, Denmark, the dessert would normally make use of yellow flowers, although these were out of season at the time. Bracingly fresh '10 Muscat de Rivesaltes, also from Pouderoux accompanied.

Magnanimous in defeat, Briccarello later told me "the winners put in a lot of effort But it was their third attempt while for us, it this was our first. Although we believed in the simplicity of our dish and its rawness, we look forward to entering again armed with the knowledge of what's required."

To get to Perpignan, Galvin La Chapelle fought off fellow UK restaurants, 1 Lombard Street, Summer Lodge Hotel and Green's Restaurant and Oyster Bar.

Other sweet highlights included Belgium's commanding chocolate and orange tower, which, complete with gold hued pastry shard, looked like a flame. Regardless of aesthetics, it lost on account of the fact it back-grounded citrus although judges offered a degree of praise for its innovative use of tobacco alongside cocoa and coffee in an accompanying rough powder garnish. It was matched with Rivesaltes Ambre Hors d'Age.

Briccarello concluded: "perhaps 'citrus' was a difficult theme - hopefully in the next edition it will be held along the lines of something more playful."

Denmark's win preceded the victory of another Dane, Rasmus Koefoed who won Lyon's Bocuse d'Or competition just two days later...