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Easy, Elegant Party Desserts

Michel Richard of Washington, DC’s Citronelle is heartbroken when diners don’t leave room for dessert. He offers this pairing tip: “The best all-around wine to pair with dessert is Champagne. It’s so bubbly and refreshing that it goes well with everything. You don’t have to be supersmart to come up with that combination.”

“Banyuls and chocolate are the perfect marriage,” says Michel Richard. “They won’t ask for a divorce.” The impish chef, who has many quips and tips about dessert pairings, spent two decades as a pastry chef. Today he helms four restaurants: Citronelle and Central, both in Washington, DC; the new Citronelle in Carmel, California; and Citrus at Social in Los Angeles. At all of them, he creates ingenious desserts with ingenious wine pairings in mind.

To serve with a citrusy Beaumes de Venise, for instance, Richard coats grapes in white chocolate, then dips them in orange curd. “You can control how much orange flavor you want,” he says. “You can take a small dip of orange curd, then a big sip of Beaumes de Venise.” In another inspired matchup, he partners his cinnamony rhubarb soup with a peppery Black Muscat. As for the Banyuls with a chocolate-macadamia tart? “If you overbake the tart, that’s not so bad—you can just drink more Banyuls.”

Published April 2008


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