WPCNR White Plains City & Country Les Chochons Qui Vole at Beachcliff:For the last weekend of the summer, WPCNR introduces a new feature about food and wine featuring the tasteful adventures of nine area residents who are members of a secret wine society, Les Chochons Qui Vole (The Pigs Who Fly). This Labor Day Weekend, for those of you not spending a final weekend in “The Hamps,” or “The Berks” or “The Dacs,” or “The Jersey Shore” or “The Cape,” we take you now to enjoy a sunset dinner overlooking Long Island Sound on the North Folk of the Gold Coast.
THE PIG WHO FLIES, celebrated mascot of Les Chochons Qui Vole presides over the conviviality, conversation, and contretemps of every meeting of the secret wine society. The priceless statue was created by a former member of the group.
Photo by WPCNR
The Story So Far: Les Chochons Qui Vole were founded by a former publishing editor, Michael, and his wife, Cassandra in 1986, inviting Cassandra’s daughter and her husband, a doctor, another friend of theirs, Sonny and his wife at the time, and an old school friend Ron and his wife, Pin, and yours truly and spouse.
Investing in Vintages, Not Stocks.
Financial resources were pooled to stock a wine cellar and for the last sixteen years the group has met approximately five times a year. They sample the great wines of the planet, in consort with self-created culinary experiences from all nations, and to ruminate on the issues of the day.
16 Years of High Living and Delicious Dividends.
Eighty gatherings of this iconoclastic conclave have been held. The objective: to sample wines expensive and economical, see if the price matches the experience, compare vintages and drink good wine at affordable prices. The dividend: preparing feasts themselves better than any restaurant can.
Wives and Husbands prepare the dishes and each couple chooses the course they will prepare from the menu suggested by the host couples. On occasion picnics will take place at parks and scenic vistas in the area or selected restaurants.
A Lifetime in Wine and Good Taste
During this nearly quarter of a century, four of the original twelve “Dining Disciples” have departed the group, others have changed professions and retired, but Les Chochons Qui Vole continue to meet and remain forever young and “forever wine.”
The protagonists and prolific consumers in this unique society range from real wine enthusiasts and gourmands and preparers of food-to-die-for to persons like myself who just enjoy drinking wine and eating good food.
The society, founded in 1986 meets very loosely, bimonthly in the homes of the members. Michael, the self-appointed “wine steward” keeps the club’s “cellar” of fine wines and finetunes the selection.
Creating Special Occasions.
The Club host for each meeting plans the upcoming dinner, picnic, brunch, around a specific theme. The members munch to tastings of flights of wines intineraried around a 5 to 6-course dinner showcasing the palatery delights of a chosen cuisine from around the world. Each couple prepares a dish.
Members have traveled the world, around the nation, and live around the New York metropolitan area, from Queens to Westchester, Suffolk County to Fort Lee, and bring a lot of culinary experience and preparation expertise to the table.
A Peak Into Rare Archives of Taste
WPCNR has obtained permission of the members to present for the amusement and suggestion of our readers, the extensive wine notes and menus of the 80 meetings of Les Chochons Qui Vole, prepared by the obsessive but lovable Wine Steward, Michael, its founder.
Weekend at Beachcliff.
For our debut selection from the club archives, WPCNR has chosen the most recent meeting held at “Beachcliff,” Sonny’s magnificently refurbished cliffside bungalow overlooking Long Island Sound where a summer meeting was held. Let WPCNR take you there now to experience an idyllic summer wine experience (in celebration of Labor Day Weekend) overlooking Long Island Sound on a sultry summer evening.
Minutes of Meeting No. 79:
Picture if you will driving through the former potato fields of Suffolk County and motoring into the erstwhile vacation colony of small cottages on small backroads East of Port Jefferson. You pull up in front of a tiny bungalow which its owner has recently refurbished.
He has added two Hamptonesque decks snug to the edge of the sandcliffs overlooking the crescent panorama of Long Island Sound. The effect is as a ship’s bridge plowing out to sea with the wind from the water in your face.
A World Apart By the Sea
The air is humid, but astir with salty soundbreeze, perhaps the only place in the metropolitan area that is in the least bit comfortable on this muggy steamy summer of ’02. The dress casual and light for the women, golf shirts and khakis for the men. We are greeted by Sonny and ushered in to the booklined living room, and proceed to the small kitchen retrofitted with modern kitchen conveniences where Cassandra is fixing salad, and the first of the wines are being removed from their travel casks by the attentive Michael.
Cue the Sunset
The first order of business is to adjourn to the lower sundeck with the brooding, amazing clear dark slate gray waters of the Sound sprawl indolently stretching across to the Connecticut shore, visible in the waning lazy orange sun. We prepare ourselves for the sunset and the first course:
All of Michael’s notes begin with, of course the most important thing: the selection of wines for the affair:
On the Beach Wine Selection:
2000 Newton Chardonnay
1999 Paul Pernot Puligny Montrachet
1999 Robert Sinskey Pinot Noir
1999 Trapet Gevrey Chambertin
1998 Girardin Clos Vougeot
Now WPCNR turns the narrative reins over to the historian of the club, the impeccable Wine Steward, Michael:
On August 10, 2002, les cochons met to toast, if not roast, the pig. No one was sorry, however, that Sonny did not follow through on his longstanding threat to offer up a suckling pig, given the incredible flavor and perfect cooking of the beef tenderloin that served as the main course.
The day was perfect, as we got in behind the wheel, and not even the traffic broke the spell as we wound our way out into the wilds of Suffolk County. Michael and Sandy arrived first, in order to take up Sonny and Shellie on their offer to be ignored while enjoying the beach. Then Sol and Jean making their first visit to the Frankel’s fabulous beachfront property, followed fast behind, with Solomon greeting Michael with a cheery “hey bro!”
After a short walk on the beach, Sol and Jean returned to the house, where they were properly awed by the view. When WPCNR and spouse followed soon after, the meeting was called to order (“sooey!, sooey!”).
As to wine and food, the meeting was one of our most successful – and if we say that every time, that doesn’t make it false.
Served on the lower deck, the curried scallop salad appetizer was a stunner, with the spices (savory coriander seed, cumin and fennel) coming through the red wine vinegar. The scallops – London Lennie’s famous – were full of favor, the mango and figs (the last a necessary departure from the recipe after the greengrocer informed “yes we have no jicamas, we have no jicamas today”) providing a sweet foil to the spices. Tomatoes and arugala completed their wonderful dish.
The First Vintage
A Newton unfiltered Chardonnay, rich, rounded and slightly sweet, turned out to be a perfect accompaniment as as twilight rose in the east. Indeed, it was Solomon’s pick as the best of the evening (with the disclaimer that he also says that about the first wine he drinks).
So delightful was it on the deck that as soon as it was confirmed that it would not be needed for a subsequent course, the second white – a crisp, light and lemony Paul Pernot Chassagne – was served solo.
The Main Course and Third and Fourth Selections
Adjourning upstairs (to the dining salon with its wraparound window view of the Long Island Sound), Les Cochons were treated to an excellent gazpacho, prepared by Sonny and Shelly as Bina was unfortunately unable to attend. Piquant and refreshing, it went well with the smoky, sweet Pinskey pinot noir.
The main course was outstanding, some of the best beef ever offered to les cochons (and clearly more than they deserved) and was perfectly cooked, juicy and rosé inside and a fabulous replication of Julia’s (Child) haricots.
The two burgundies that served as accompaniment were both wonderful, firm and with good intensity and sweetness, although the Clos Vougeot was in a league by itself, perfectly round, bursting with red fruit and without a trace of tannin.
Sol and Jean provided a refreshing baby greens and avocado salad, lightly and flavorfully dressed, but we missed having a cheese course.
To say that we were then ecstatic with our dessert, Mrs. WPCNR’s to-die-for chocolate cake, so rich and dense, would be the understatement of the summer.