October 19, 2022, Memphis – There are several things that our Bailliage looks forward to this time of year, cooler temperatures (you can only relate if you understand Memphis summers) and having an event at a member’s home. A Saturday Fall brunch seemed to be a perfect time to get together, enjoy some conversation, some wine, and some fine food, even if we might miss some collegiate football games.
Once again, Professionel du Vin Dr. Michael Dragutsky and his wife Beni opened their beautiful East Memphis home to 46 members and 4 guests to come together for a fall brunch. The Dragutskys are owners of Cornerstone Cellars, having started this premier Napa winery in 1991 after a couple of bottles of wine among friends in Napa Valley and a conversation about starting a winery. Fortune presented Mike with an opportunity to purchase five tons of fruit from Randy Dunn, a local vintner, and Cornerstone Cellars was born. Thirty years later, enduring the droughts, fires and other natural disasters, Cornerstone Cellars is still going strong and has evolved into a premier producer of Cabernet, Pinot Noir and Merlot.
Sometimes the Robert Burns line “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry!” hold true. For a nice fall day, the weather did not cooperate as the forecast predicted heavy rains during the time of our brunch and since the Dragutsky’s planned some of the party outdoors, it was “iffy”. And Dr. Mike Dragutsky was unexpectedly called to a meeting in Florida and had to fly home that morning, just in time for the party, and it happened to be Beni Dragutsky’s birthday. Ironically, we had a guest whose name was Robert Burns, same as the poet who had penned that line long time ago. Maybe that was an omen! The day turned out perfect, Dr. Mike made it home only a few minutes after the party started, the bad weather held off, and Beni had a happy birthday, and everyone enjoyed the food, wine, and fellowship.
The brunch and passed appetizers were prepared by Another Roadside Attraction Catering. We all looked forward to what lay in store from Karen Blockman Carrier, Owner and Executive Chef and Dana Baldwin, General Manager and Chef, and their experienced catering staff led by Jenny Dempsey and servers Hallie, Kelsey, Quin, Chelsea and Katie. The crew was very efficient and professional in all that they did, which made the day special for everyone. Karen Carrier is also owner of several quality restaurants in the Memphis area, including The Beauty Shop and Molly Fontaine Lounge.
The event started with a glass of N/V Collet Brut Art Deco Premier Cru Champagne with passed hors d’oeuvres of Cajun Crab Hush Puppies with a Remoulade sauce and Cheddar Pecan Crisps with Goat Cheese & Pepper Jelly. As usual, everyone enjoyed seeing each other since our last event, and catching up on the month’s activities. The Champagne and appetizers helped to excite the conversations giving our caterer sufficient time to set up the first course.
Bailli George Chandler took a moment to welcome everyone and to thank Professionel du Vin Dr. Mike Dragutsky and Beni Dragutsky once again for opening their home to the Chaîne de Rôtisseurs. George also asked our members to introduce their guests so that everyone could welcome them properly throughout the afternoon. Guests included Robert Burns, Holly Ford, and Jonathan and Suzanne Scharff.
Once the welcoming remarks were completed, a call to brunch was announced asking everyone to pick up their glass of wine in the dining room for the First Course of Roasted Salmon over Butternut Squash, Quinoa with Kale, Cranberries, Walnuts and Goat Cheese. Plates were staged on the working island in the magnificent kitchen. The wine pairing was a 2019 Chablis from the Domaine de l’enclos from the Romain et Damien Bouchard. Once all had received their wine and Salmon plate, they migrated to various locations throughout the house and even outside in the covered patio area. Being a casual event, it worked well for intimate conversations between members and guests.
After everyone enjoyed this course, the plates and empty glasses were cleared to make room for the Second Course. This would be a special treat for all, as the wine was set up in the Dragutsky’s underground beautiful wine cellar. Being in the wine business for 30 plus years, they have collected a vast array of wine and enjoy drinking it and sharing with others. The Second Course wine was a glass of 2020 Domaine Sarrazin Maranges Burgundy, which paired nicely with the Pan Roasted Chicken Thighs with Grapes and Olives. Everyone returned to their seating and enjoyed this course.
Once the plates and glasses were cleared, everyone was asked to go outside and pick up a glass of wine for the Third Course which was a Tenderloin Medallion with Tomato Herb Butter and Sautéed Mushrooms. The wine was a 2007 Goretti Sagrantino de Montefalco which had been left to breathe for an hour beforehand. We went back to our normal places to continue conversations and enjoyed the food and wine.
As if we needed another course, the Chef had prepared a Dessert Course of an Apple Tatin with Créme Fraiche which was served with a glass of various assorted Sauternes, a perfect way to end the brunch.
Once the dishes were cleared, we gathered in the expansive living room for a brief presentation to our hosts, even if it really was in honor of only one of them. A small chocolate layer cake with only a few lit candles to celebrate Beni Dragutsky’s birthday was presented. A gallant effort at singing “Happy Birthday dear Beni” ensued and even though not all the notes were sung perfectly, Beni could tell that it was heartfelt as members wished her the happiest of days.
To close out the afternoon, we all gathered in an orderly manner to try and take a group photo. Several folks had already escaped; however, we did manage to capture a nice picture of the Memphis Bailliage, our way of saying that we had a great time at the Dragutskys and appreciated them opening their home to the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Memphis Bailliage.
Vive la Chaîne!
Featured photo: Dame de la Chaîne Glaucia Novoa, Dame de la Chaîne Ellen Meyer, Guest Holly Ford, Chevalier Ben Bobbitt, Dame de la Chaîne Robin Chandler, Dame de la Chaîne Carol Wasielewski.
Photos courtesy of: Dennis Meyer, Vice Chargé de Presse, Vice Conseiller Gastronomique Valerie Bearup and Dame de la Chaîne Ellen MeyerCopyright © 2023, The Chaîne des Rôtisseurs. All Rights Reserved.