Author Archives for Becky Ellis

About Becky Ellis

Welcome! Thank you so much for visiting my blog. I'm Becky or "Bubblybee" as I'm known on Facebook. (Bubbly = champagne and BEE are my initials) My passion is champagne and my quest is to find perfect small food pairings for bubbly. Don't wait to celebrate! When you visit my blog you will find unique recipes that pair wonderfully with champagne, sparkling wine, cava and prosecco. I personally taste each sparkly that I write about...life is good! If you are looking for a $10 Cava to drink at the lake you will find it here. If you are looking for a nice sparkling wine at a decent price to serve at a wedding you will find it here. If you are looking for a fabulous champagne to serve on your wedding anniversary you will find it here. Enjoy and cheers! Please visit my facebook page: Bubblybee Follow me on Instagram: bubblybeeboop

Lemon Pots de Crème With Almond Brittle Sprinkle

lemon pots de creme

Viva La Local! Please visit the Roanoker Magazine Behind the Page blog:

https://theroanoker.com/blogging/behind-the-page/viva-la-local/

to find new Virginia products offered in local Roanoke grocery stores.  Love supporting local!

sliced of citrus lemons

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Lemon Pots de Crème is one of my favorite desserts because I can make them the day ahead, refrigerate the ramekins, then garnish the desserts right before serving. This recipe is from Fine Cooking magazine with my additions of the sweetened whipped cream (add a little powdered sugar to the cream) and almond brittle sprinkle.

Ingredients

  • Finely grated zest of 4 lemons
  • 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3-1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped and pod reserved (or 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract)
  • 10 large egg yolks
  • Sweetened whipped cream, for garnish
  • Candied citrus peel or candied flowers, for garnish (optional)

Preparation

  • Put a large pot of water on to boil for the water bath. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F. Put eight 6-oz. ramekins in a large roasting pan or baking dish with high sides.
  • In a small saucepan, combine the lemon zest, juice, and 1/4 cup of the sugar. Simmer until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 15 minutes; set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, 1/4 cup of the sugar, and the vanilla seeds and pod (if you’re using vanilla extract, don’t add it yet) and bring to just below boiling. Remove from the heat.
  • In a medium bowl, beat the egg yolks with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar until smooth. Gently whisk a ladleful of the hot cream into the yolks and then whisk the yolk mixture into the saucepan with the rest of the cream. Cook slowly, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 170°F on an instant-read thermometer, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the reserved lemon syrup and strain immediately through cheesecloth or a fine sieve. If you’re using vanilla extract, stir it in now.
  • Divide the mixture among the ramekins in the roasting pan. Pull out the oven shelf, put the roasting pan on it (be sure it’s stable), and pour enough boiling water into the pan so that it comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the ramekins with a sheet of foil (simply lay the sheet on top, don’t crimp the edges) and bake for 25 to 45 minutes—start checking early—until the custards are set about 1/4 inch in from the sides, the centers respond with a firm jiggle (not a wavelike motion) when you nudge the ramekins, and the centers of the custards register 150° to 155°F on an instant-read thermometer (the hole left by the thermometer will close up as the custards firm). Let the custards cool to room temperature in their water bath. Remove the custards from the bath, cover them with plastic, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours. Garnish with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream and candied zest or flowers, if you like.

Make Ahead Tips

Custards may be baked up to two days ahead and refrigerated, covered with plastic.

Garnish

Lemon Zest

Almond Brittle:

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup sliced almonds

2 tablespoons sugar

Slice butter into several slices and place it on a baking sheet (with sides so butter won’t run off sheet).  Place in oven and allow the butter to melt.  Remove the baking sheet from oven and sprinkle the almonds on the butter. Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the almonds.  Return the baking sheet to the oven and bake for 3 – 5 minutes. Watch carefully because the almonds will burn easily. Remove from oven and stir the almonds. Return to oven for more toasting if needed.  When the almonds are toasted remove from oven and allow to cool.

Place a dollop of whipped cream on top of each  pots de crème and sprinkle with crumbled almond brittle.  Sprinkle a little lemon zest over the almond brittle. Serve chilled.

close up dark drop of water droplet

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You are invited to visit my Facebook page: bubblybee

Please follow me on Instagram:  bubblybeeboop

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A Pinot Noir Lesson for Self with Tendril Cellars

This sounds like such a fabulously fun Pinot Noir tasting! Love Talk-A-Vino’s descriptions including ” Rutherford dust”. Cheers!

Talk-A-Vino

Tendril Cellars winesBack in May, we virtually met with Tony Rynders of Tendril Cellars and talked about … many things wine, of course – you can find this conversation here.

Tony is one of the few winemakers I know who teaches people about his wines by conducting organized tastings. As I didn’t have an opportunity to attend any of those events, I decided to run a lesson for myself on the same subject. How you ask? Easy – by tasting the wines blind.

I can literally see the surprised looks and raised eyebrows. How is it a blind tasting if I know already everything about those wines? You see, the lineup I had included 6 wines. Out of those six, four were different Pinot Noirs – different vineyards, different winemaking process, different price points. Obviously I was not planning to try to identify the exact wine, but still – will I…

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Learn About Do’s and Dont’s for Sabering a Champagne

Happy Sabering!

Champagne Sabres Blog

Great news, your friend just announced that you are invited to a party whereas, you are the one who is going to open a bottle of champagne. You have the chance of getting all the visitors to turn their heads on you and announce your plan to behead the bottle with a sword. This can be really exciting indeed. Perhaps you already know how to execute such art, but then again, here are the do’s and don’ts of champagne sabering or also known as sabrage.

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Philipponnat Royale Réserve Brut

King Louis XIV rarely drank anything other than champagne. I would have loved to participate in one of his evening meals, sitting at the King’s table laden with gold, silver and crystal dishes!

Vinthropology

Abundantly regal and intense. At once sharp, structured and refined.

An intriguing champagne expressing a clear predominance of Pinot Noir. Luminous straw yellow colour with gold hues, elegant perlage with fine, persistent bubbles. Warm aromas of citrus, mandarin, cranberry, orange blossom, magnolia, dried roses, dried apricot, vanilla, toasted and brioche. Subdued intensity on the nose turns into a powerful palate with high acidity and minerality, well balanced with a slight sweetness. Finishing with a long persistence with notes of pomegranate and plum.

Clos des Goisses, Vallée de la Marne, Champagne View of the vineyards in Clos des Goisses, Vallée de la Marne, Champagne

The Philipponnat family tradition runs over 5 generations of Champagne production in the heart of Champagne, in the region of Vallée de la Marne. Among their vineyards is Clos des Goisses, part of the family’s property for nearly 100 years. This “Clos” is noted for its steep 45 degree slant facing south in one of…

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Driving the Champagne Route in France

Do you know the way to Épernay? A happy bubbly road!

That One Point of View

Champagne Route by That One Point of View

Champagne is serious business in France and can only come from the very distinct Champagne region in the north of the country; everything else can be called sparkling wine, cava, prosecco, sekt, ect.  The most spectacular part of the harvest in this region is the 18th Century tradition of manually picking the crops and hand spinning the bottles still remains today. There are four different routes in the Champagne area to choose.  We did some research and decided to drive the Montagne de Reims route starting in the Champagne capital of Reims and heading towards Epernay as there was a nice mix of large and smaller champagne houses to explore.

2 – 3 DAYS

____

at a glance…
Pick a home base city, it is easy to do any of the four routes in one day
Visit in May and June for those looking to skip the crowds
Visit in August and September for those looking for grapes ready to…

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Celebrating Cava at Parés Baltà Winery in Spain

It is a pleasure to co-host Fiesta Friday with my co-host Catherine today.  FiestaFriday.net. Please visit Catherine’s blog: https://kunstkitchen.wordpress.com. I’ll be sharing interesting tidbits from the Fiesta Friday link-up throughout the day on Pinterest, Instagram (bubblybeeboop), Facebook (bubblybee) and Twitter.  

“Bacchus opens the gate of the heart.” … Homer

While visiting the Catalonia region in Spain I couldn’t wait to visit the wineries that make Cava. One of my favorites is Freixenet.

The first bottle of Freixenet was released in 1914, the creation of a couple named Pedro Ferrer & Dolores Sala who were both from winemaking families.
In 1889, Pedro Ferrer married Dolores Sala, whose family had been making wine at their Casa Sala property since 1861. Pedro’s nickname was “El Freixenet”, named after his family’s ranch “La Freixeneda”, which means ash tree grove in Catalan. Dolores’ keen interest in the winemaking process was easily complemented by Pedro’s business savvy and sense of community.
Their marriage coincided with the arrival of the Phylloxera plague in Spain, which wiped out most of Europe’s vineyards. Far from being deterred, the couple replanted their decimated land with white varietals to make sparkling wine. In 1914, the first bottles were released with Pedro’s childhood nickname on the label. Freixenet had been born.
The Ferrer family continues to own and manage Freixenet today. Salut!

Motorcycle made in the shape of a Freixenet Cava bottle!

Driving towards Cava Heaven…Parés Baltà Winery

“A fruit is a vegetable with looks and money. Plus, if you let fruit rot, it turns to wine, something Brussels sprouts never do.”  … P.J. O’Rourke

Parés Baltà Winery, Pacs del Penedes, Catalonia, Spain.

Since 2000 the winery has been managed by two grandsons of the original owner Joan and Josep Cusiné Carol.

The wives of Joan and Josep, Maria Elena Jimenez and Marta Casas are the winemakers and oenologists.  Parés Baltà has been certified organic since 2004.

All of their wines are certified as organic and their vineyards as biodynamic. They do not use herbicides, pesticides or any chemical fertilizer. They have sheep that fertilize the vines after the harvest and bees that pollinate the vines during the flowering season.

They use organic manure and special herbs in their compost (as well as cattle horns) but they also plant, and trim vines and harvest according to the phases of the moon.

“The juice of the grape is the liquid quintessence of concentrated sunbeams.” … Thomas Love Peacock

Cava is the Catalan word for “cellar.”

We asked about these moldy bottles in the wine cave. Our guide told us that they no longer use those bottles. They are just for show. They call them “cemetery bottles”. I call them creepy!

cava caves

Our guide explained about the “Mother” in the Cava:  This sparkling wine is made with the traditional method, an aging system similar to that of “Methode Champenoise” which is used when making champagne. As the bottle is turned upside-down and rotated, the “Mother” of the Cava, in small filaments, slides to the neck of the bottle. The “Mother” is expelled from the bottle at very high pressure, in a process known as “Desgorche”.

Rosa cava

Our winery tour included a chocolate and wine tasting. The first taste was Rosa Cusine (the last name of the winery owners is Cusiné!) (100% Garnatxa)  2013 with white chocolate with tiny bits of strawberry in it. The smooth creaminess of the white chocolate was perfect with the bubbles and the strawberry flavor made the rosé pop!

Our next taste was Hisenda Miret Garnatxa 2015. 100% Garnacha grapes. On the palate, there are flavors of cherries and blueberries with an accompaniment of spicy toast. It is a silky smooth wine with a lingering finish.

cava vineyard and olive oil

And for “dessert”…dark chocolate on baguette drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. Served with  Gratavinum Dolç d’en Piqué. This wine is deep ruby in color,  soft and velvety. Intense aroma of dry fruits combined with vanilla and toasty notes from the barrel.

https://www.gratavinum.com/

b cava

When I returned home I purchased Parés Baltà b Brut Cava at the Roanoke Natural Foods Co-op.  $15 range.  Blend of 62% Parellada, 22% Macabeu, 16% Xarel·lo grapes. Creamy and elegant, with a bright mineral finish. Notes of fresh green apple with a hint of almond. Crisp and refreshing.

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You are invited to visit my Facebook page: bubblybee

Please follow me on Instagram:  bubblybeeboop

Bollecine! An evening of wine tasting with three different sparkling wines

Bubbly and food pairings – my favorite pastime. Zucchini Flower Risotto with a reserve Brut champagne – fabulous!

Vinthropology

“Bollecine” means “bubbles” in Italian. It’s a word Italians use to talk about sparkling wine, like an English speaker would say “bubbly”, and for my first wine tasting event, I thought a bit of bubbly would only be appropriate. (As I’m based in Italy the event was in Italian).

Most of my guests were not very experienced wine drinkers, so I prepared a small booklet with some information about the wines to read at their own leisure. I was surprised to find that they were actually very curious and full of questions, making the evening all the more engaging. We eat and drink so often that we rarely take the time to think about and reflect on it, but it’s truly magical when you do because everything becomes exalted.

Here’s how the evening went…

Booklets for guests with evening’s menu and information about the wine Booklets for the guests with the evening’s menu and information about the wines

Information about the differences between the Martinotti method and the Champenoise method Information about…

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