Did you know that vanilla came from orchids?
As a champagne and chardonnay enthusiast, I had no idea and I had not heard of NAVAN before last week but, as the saying goes - now I know. NAVAN is made by the House of Grand Marnier and, although it stands for "natural vanilla", it is blended using the select vanilla that is found is the village of Navana in Madagascar.
The NAVAN Orchid Studio was a presentation designed to showcase NAVAN Vanilla Liqueur in various incarnations - spice, floral, mixology and culinary. I didn't have a chance to chat with the floral expert, but I did speak with the experts for "Spice", Brett Breach; the "Mixologist" Aisha Sharpe (below right) Think of her as sort of a sommelier for mixed drinks. I'm a witness! I had my share of the "Navan Orchid" martinis she's holding in the picture. Culinary expert, Jacqueline Lombard (bottom photo, far left) a chef who created a number the fabulous hors d'oeuvres in the opening photos utilizing the unique taste of NAVAN including an amazing Late Summer Corn Risotto (recipe below!)
The event was held at Ramscale Studio, a beautiful and popular event space in Greenwich Village. For whatever reason, it has taken several visits for me to realize why Ramscale has always felt so familiar to me. Remember the movie Boomerang? Of course you do! Now, do you remember the incredible apartment where Eddie Murphy's Marcus character lived? That is Ramscale!
Is "Love Should Have Brought You Home Last Night" going through your head yet? Small world, isn't it? I touched on Navan on the night of the event, but I could not let the Boomerang connection go!
Jacqueline Lombard, the chef behind the amazing culinary creations made with Navan, was kind enough to send over the recipe for her delicious Late Summer Corn Risotto. I actually stood beside her by the stove as she made it and I had about three or four of these things...
Jacqueline Lombard's Late Summer Corn Risotto
2 sticks/1/2 # unsalted butter
6 medium shallots, minced
6-8 Ears fresh local Corn, shucked and kernels cut from cob
1 box/32 oz./2# Vialone de Nano Rice
1 cup NAVAN (or dry white wine such as DRY white vermouth)
3 quarts vegetable stock (Imagine Organic Veggie Stock works great)
1 container/8oz. Crème Fraiche
1 bunch Scallions, sliced thinly on the bias, green parts only
Melt butter over medium heat in a wide, shallow pot—the wider and shallower, the better.
Add shallots and cook for about 5 minutes, until they become clear but do not take on any color.
Add corn, stir well and cook for 10 minutes, until the kernels have become bright yellow in color and are occasionally “popping”.
Add rice, stir well to coat each kernel in butter, and increase heat to medium high.
Stirring constantly, add the wine. The pan should sizzle. Stir well to make sure that nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Add 2 cups of stock and stir slowly but constantly until all the liquid is absorbed and the pan is almost (but not quite) dry.
Repeat until you have used up just about all of your stock and the rice has become al dente.
Stir in Crème Fraiche and continue to cook for another 5 minutes, until rice is cooked all the way through.
Season with Salt & Pepper.
Check risotto for consistency—you want it to be almost soupy, not dry or gummy. Add a little more wine or vegetable stock to achieve consistency if needed.
Ladle into soup bowls, garnish with Scallions and another sprinkle of salt & pepper, and serve immediately.