I’m at sitting at the end of a long, elegantly attired communal table eating dinner with my fingers and drinking some very good Mumm champagne. What’s more, I am sitting in a Jewish delicatessen just north of Manhattan’s Lower East Side eating an assortment of shellfish dishes from oysters on the half shell and pickled shrimp to lobster salad and beet cured scallop.
So trés treif! So deliciously decadent with all the slurping, sipping and licking of the fingers after each course without the structure of forks, knives and spoons. And so thankful the organizers gave us all hot towels to wash our city hands as we sat down to eat. Pity anyone who keeps kosher at the delicatessen that night. Mile End would have felt like a wrong turn off the deep end. But for the 40 or so guests, an assortment of food and wine writers and bloggers, it was a Mile High Mumm experience: a classic champagne with contemporary twist to dining in an unconventional setting.
On its website Mile End is a self-described “Montreal inspired Jewish Deli.” I don’t know any Canadian Jews and I always thought “Jewish Comfort Food” was pretty universal: chopped liver, pastrami, lox and bagels, gefilte fish, smoked fish and brisket. But, why was this night different from all other nights? Because on this night Mile End was tuned into a trés chic pop up dinner party of pop in your mouth foods served sans utensils paired with some very good champagne.
Mumm’s Chef de Cave Didier Mariotti, a charming French man (aren’t they all?) guided us through the menu pairings of G.H. Mumm Blanc de Blancs, G.H. Mumm Cordon Rouge and, my personal favorite, G.H. Mumm Le Rosé. As a bona fide pescatarian who loves a good dose of quality fizz, I was in my element. I grew up with a Mom who preferred Mumm Cordon Rouge (Mom’s Mumm), so Mumm was was my training champagne when I was taught by my wine instructor father to drink responsibly and selectively.
Being that we were in a Jewish delicatessen, there was chopped liver. Well, sort of. It was more like chicken liver mousse on toast next to the lobster salad on challah and a shrimp toast. Being that our host was a French champagne there was foie gras tucked in my pot sticker side by side with the whitefish croquette. Ooh la la! meets Oy veh!
Naturally we goaded Didier to sabre a champagne bottle. Since when do you go to a champagne event where someone doesn’t brandish a sabre to pop open a bottle? Au contraire, Didier brandished no sabre. Instead, with true savoir faire and a magic flick of his wrist he used the bottom of a wine glass to uncork the bottle. For the uninitiated, don’t try that at home unless you have a broom, dustpan and extra set of glassware.
Dinner concluded with puffy donuts and passion fruit sorbet with more Mumm of course. It was hard not to ask for seconds of both. But I resisted and only wished my last parting dish had been a small bowl of warm scented water and a hand towel on it to wipe my fingers.
Champagne Selection and Menu for the Evening
Menu of decidedly non traditional Jewish comfort fare created by Mile End’s Noah Bernamoff and James Merker.
G.H. Mumm Blanc de Blancs ( SRP$75) – served with Oysters of the Half Shell, Sake-Cured Trout Roe and Pickled Shrimp with Smoked Cocktail Sauce,
G.H. Mumm Cordon Rouge ( SRP $45) – served with a trio of Lobster Salad, Sunchoke, Black Truffle on Challah; Chicken Liver Mousse on Rye Toast Point and “Shrimp Toast” with Hoisin and Cilantro. Also served with the soup course, a duo of Cauliflower with Caviar and Chive and Butternut Squash with Pecan Granola and Creme Fraiche
G.H. Mumm Le Rosé (SRP $75) – served with Beet Cured Scallop with Blood orange and Poppyseed paired with Fried Oyster and Brussel Sprout Slaw. Also served with the fourth course: Smoked Potato with Bone Marrow Rillette, Foie Gras “Pot Sticker” with Apricot Mustard and Whitefish Croquette with Pickled Red Onions
Dessert with our choice of Mumm (I chose Le Rosé) – ethereally addictive donut puffs with ricotta, lemon curd and passion fruit sorbet
Mile End Delicatessen is located at 53 Bond Street in Manhattan 212.529.2990 . There is a second location in Brooklyn at 97A Hoyt Street, Boerum Hill. 718.852.7510 Website http://www.mileenddeli.com