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PARIS — When it comes to champagne and Hollywood, the pair go hand-in-hand. Not only at parties, but on the silver screen itself — from Champagne (1928), Alfred Hitchcock’s silent comedy that opens with a scene of bubbly personality, to more recent supporting roles in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris (2011) and Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby (2013). Moet & Chandon, in fact, re-created the period champagne bottles for both of the latter films — though the vessels they delivered on set were sadly cadavres (what the French call empty wine bottles). Now the luxury winery has decided to give champagne a leading role — at a restaurant.
The new spot, Le&, is the brainchild of Moet’s cellar master Benoit Gouez and three-time Michelin-starred chef Yannick Alleno, who, instead of traditionally pairing drink to dish, reversed the rules and paired his gastronomy to Gouez’s stylish champagne. “We need, in this business, to keep one foot in the past, but we also need to be innovative,” says Moet & Chandon CEO Stephane Baschiera.
The pop-up occupies the orangerie in the house’s Epernay estate in northern France’s champagne country. Le& boasts an open kitchen and community table (because, as Gouez puts it, “champagne is all about sharing”), a lounge-inspired club, and a seven-salt bar and a blind shot room designed to showcase the positive effect of salinity on the taste of champagne.
Of the five primary taste sensations, only salt is missing from champagne — and in a pairing, the food must bring the salt to the plate. “But adding salt to food is not fashionable,” says chef Alleno. So he salted his menu naturally and creatively with dehydrated extracts. The shot room, for example, involves a flight of progressively stronger reductions of parsnip: Drink the vegetable, then sip the wine for a sharpened smack.
The restaurant is also pegged to the debut of Moet & Chandon’s new vintage, 2006, a pre-release case of which Moet & Chandon ambassador Roger Federer brought to the hospital for the birth of his twin boys in May. “We used those bottles when everyone came around,” Federer told THR at the Moet headquarters in Ebpernay. “You’re just so happy.”
Le& is open until July 9 and is accepting reservations at moet.com.
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