UGK held its Valentine’s Day event in a venue that is very close to home — Micheal Sparks Design Studio in the historic Manchester District of Richmond, VA. In a way, this is where UGK was born, so what better place could there be for reflecting on the love we share for food, wine, and community.
Chef Brice Cunningham (Executive Chef, Tempo, Charlottesville, VA) prepared a five course meal with surprises and interludes throughout. The first scheduled course, after the amuse-bouche — a shrimp and tomato aspic — was a creamy oyster velouté that paired perfectly with a Royal Chenin Blanc from the Cape Province of South Africa. The Chenin Blanc had a light and crisp acidic quality that made it a great selection to go with the creamy soup. The second course was a Seared Scallop over a Celery Root Purée with a Bacon Parmesan Foam. Along with this course came an unexpected bit of pageantry — the smoke alarm went off and the Richmond Fire Department came to the party! After checking the panels and turning off the alarm, the firemen left to applause and were each given an individual bundt cake prepared by the chef. While he did not anticipate the firemen, it would appear that Chef Brice is prepared for any situation!
After this brief interlude with the Richmond Fire Dept. the meal continued with a Salmon Tartare on an Endive Salad. The beverage pairing for this course followed the “rule of place.” If the food comes from a certain area of the world, a beverage from that same part of the globe is likely to pair nicely. Since the Salmon was Scottish Sockeye (the best in the world in our opinion, though we acknowledge the opinion of Alaskan and Norwegian Salmon defectors), the natural pairing was a Scotch Whiskey, the Ardbeg Ten Year. The peaty, smoky, sea-salty, and briny subtleties in the scotch intertwined with the fresh fish to create a creamy and succulent taste.
Before the fourth course — a perfectly cooked Beef Tenderloin with Potato Dauphinois and Creamed Leeks that paired beautifully with an Oak Ridge Pinot Noir from the Lodi Valley — was a palette cleanser that consisted of citrus sorbet and Calvados. The fourth course proved yet again that well prepared meat and fruit-forward red wine is a natural combination. Finally, the meal was closed out by a Chocolate Tarte and Raspberry Purée paired with a Winter Citrus Hot Toddy prepared with A. Smith Bowman Bourbon Whiskey. As the guests finished their dessert the snow was just beginning to fall in Richmond, Mother Nature lending her assistance to a romantic evening our guests will be sure to remember.
Chef Brice Cunningham grew up in France and Tahiti and began his professional career in Paris under Alain Ducasse, currently recognized as one of the top chefs in the world.
Tempo Restaurant & Bar is the third restaurant, after Fleurie and Petit Pois, that Executive Chef Brice Cunningham has owned. After moving to the United States in 2001, Brice opened Fleurie as co-owner and chef. The modest, yet upscale, fine-dining French restaurant nestled off the (then) sleepy Downtown Mall in Charlottesville, VA, turned out to be a hit, receiving national recognition and acclaim. Brice continued, with his business partner, to open Petit Pois, a more accessible form of Fleurie, but still longed to have a restaurant that spoke to his dynamic background in France, Tahiti, and other world travels.
Tempo showcases French fare with an international twist, offering dishes such as scallops infused with lemongrass, lamb braised in coconut, and foie gras with naschi pear. Both the menu and the atmosphere embrace the savoir vivre of great food, amazing atmosphere and good friends.
“Tempo” is the underlying beat that stays the same no matter the culture from which it comes, and it is in this vein that the carefully thought-out menu and wine list pay tribute to a dynamic mix of bright and international influences, while still being anchored in the tried-and-true art of French culinary tradition.
Shrimp and Tomato Aspic
Seared Scallops with Celery Root Purée & Bacon Parmesan Foam
Salmon Tartar with Endive Salad
Beef Tenderloin with Potato Dauphinois & Creamed Leeks
Chocolate Tarte with Rasberry Purée
Royal Chenin Blanc (South Africa) — 2014
Chateau de Nages Vielles Vignes White Burgundy (Nimes, France) — 2013
Oak Ridge Pinot Noir (California) — 2014
Winter Citrus Hot Toddy