champagne

A Visit With Gloria Smiley ~ Food Stylist Extraordinaire

Atlanta Gloria

I felt like I won the lottery when my friend Kate asked me to join her on a trip to Atlanta, Georgia to attend a cooking class taught by Gloria Smiley.

Gloria is an independent food stylist for print and film.  She has taken classes at Cordon Bleu and LaVarenne in Paris and with Lydie Marshall in Nyons, France.  Some of her most memorable clients include Julia Child,  Jean George Vongerichten and Daniel Boulud.  She is also a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier, IACP and AIWF.

 We were very excited to take a fish and shellfish cooking class taught by Gloria at the Cook’s Warehouse in Atlanta.  Gloria was warmhearted and welcoming as she shared tips about how to make sure we purchase fish and shellfish that is fresh and delicious.  Then we rolled up our sleeves and joined her into the kitchen to prepare some of her prize recipes including:

Scallops Baumaniere with Vegetables

Red Snapper with Creme Fraiche, Capers and Lemon

Fried Butterfly Shrimp with Roasted Salt and Pepper and Spicy Soy Dipping Sauce

Seared Swordfish with Lemon Garlic Cream

Red Snapper with Creme Fraiche, Capers and Lemon

Red Snapper! Fresh! Fresh! Fresh!

Here’s Gloria’s recipe for Red Snapper with Creme Fraiche, Capers and Lemon ~ my favorite recipe from her cooking class…

This preparation is good with any mild white fish. The recipe is adapted from Ina Garten.

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

4 six-ounce red snapper fillets without skin

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 ounces creme fraiche

3 tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard without grains

2 tablespoons shallots

2 teaspoons capers, packed in salt, rinsed and dried

1 lemon, thinly sliced

Optional:  1/2 cup panko crumbs, toasted

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. On a USA pan (coated with silicone) or on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, place the fillets skin side down on the sheet pan. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Combine the creme fraiche, two mustards, shallots, capers, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl.  Spread the sauce evenly  over the fish fillets making sure the fish is entirely covered.  (This can be done an hour or so in advance of cooking and placed in refrigerator.)  Put lemon slices on op of the fish in decorative pattern.
  4. Place pan in preheated oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on thickness of fillets or until they are barely done.  A thermometer should read 135 degrees – no higher.  It is important not to overcook the fish.
  5. Sprinkle with toasted Panko crumbs, if you like – adds a nice bit of crunch – Serve fillets hot or at room temperature with the sauce from the pan spooned on top.

Gloria’s tips for cooking fish:

  1.  Get everything in the recipe ready before cooking the fish so that the process moves quickly once the cooking begins.
  2. Heat a dry pan then put a little oil in it, then put the fish in the pan. It will stick but the fish surface will caramelize and then you can easily turn it over in the pan.
  3. After filleting fish, make your own fish stock ~ it freezes very well.
  4. After marinating fish or meat, pat it dry with paper towels.  The dry surface will encourage browning.  Browning gives the food another layer of flavor.  If food is touching in the pan (such as scallops), they won’t brown where they are touching, so keep them apart in the pan.

That’s me on the left, Gloria Smiley in the center and Kate on the right.

Gloria explained to the class that cooking classes at the Cook’s Warehouse are a very good way to discover the type of knife you like best since we used several types of knives that evening.  She also shared a superstition about knives with us: “Don’t give knives as gifts because it severs the relationship.”

Scallops Baumaniere With Vegetables

The scallops were so pretty as they simmered in Noilly Prat Vermouth under the watchful eye of my friend Kate. Gloria loves this recipe. The first time she had Scallops Baumaniere With Vegetables was in Provence, France, such a delectable memory. 

A hint: purchase “dry” sea scallops.   Wet scallops are shucked and placed directly into a container filled with cold water to help preserve them for a longer period of time.  These scallops absorb water and plump up, giving them a less pure flavor and a tougher texture.  After Dry scallops are shucked  they go into a dry container with no water or preservatives. Their flavor is  concentrated and fresh.

…and may I suggest a little bubbly to enjoy with the seafood…

Champagne Pierre De Bry Brut Reserve

Primarily pinot noir grapes with a splash of chardonnay. Elegant and sophisticated.  Notes of golden apple, apricot, lightly toasted bread and lemon curd. Does not skimp on the bubbles! Perfect pairing for the Fried Butterfly Shrimp with Spicy Soy Dipping Sauce that we learned how to make in Gloria Smiley’s class.

After class we shopped in the Cook’s Warehouse. I bought some of these fish spatulas, just the right size to turn fish fillets.

I continued my seafood extravaganza when I returned home…this appetizer shrimp recipe has just the right amount of spicy kick. So easy to prepare…ready in minutes!

Giada’s Spicy Shrimp

Calabrian Shrimp

Giada De Laurentiis recipe for Spicy Shrimp was in the Sunday, April 8, 2018 issue of Parade Magazine. I knew as soon as I opened the oven door that it was going to be delicious because the aroma wafting from my oven was fantastic!

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 teaspoons Calabrian chile paste or red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest, 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt.  Add one pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails intact), toss to coat.  Marinate 10 minutes at room temperature. Spread shrimp evenly on a rimmed baking sheet.  Bake 8-10 minutes or until shrimp are pink and opaque all the way through. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil.  Serve with lemon wedges.  Serves 4 – 6.

And to serve with the spicy shrimp…Paul Goerg Blanc de Blancs Champagne. 100% chardonnay grapes.  Brilliant pale yellow with a fine, persistent mousse.  Delightfully fresh, citrus, orchard fruit and brioche fill the glass.  $40 range. The perfect aperitif, wonderful choice to serve with seafood.

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Kumquat Champagne Cocktail With Candied Kumquat Garnish

Kumquats may look like miniature oranges but make no mistake they are very different…

Kumquats have an edible rind which is tender and sweet.  Oranges have inedible rinds.

Kumquat flesh is dry and very tart.  The flesh of an orange is sweet with a bit of tartness.

Kumquats are more expensive than oranges. I paid $6.99 for 12 ounces. Oranges would have costed me 99 cents for a pound.

Both kumquats and oranges are rich in vitamin C.  Both fruits have seeds.

For sweet cocktail lovers please note…this cocktail is NOT SWEET!  It has the tartness of kumquat with just a hint of sweet and lots of fun bubbles.

Kumquat Champagne Cocktail

This recipe is from Epicurious.com.

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

1 1/4 cups thinly sliced kumquats

1/3 cup Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur

1/4 cup sugar

1 750-ml bottle brut Champagne, well chilled (I used sparkling wine for this recipe since I rarely use true champagne to make cocktails.)

PREPARATION

    1. Using back of large spoon, mash first 3 ingredients in bowl. Let stand 5 minutes. Strain mixture through fine sieve set over bowl, pressing on solids.
    2. Pour 2 tablespoons kumquat syrup into each of four 6-ounce Champagne flutes. Fill each with 2/3 cup Champagne.

Garnish with candied kumquats.  (I saved the kumquats from the cocktail kumquat syrup to make the candied kumquats.)

Candied Kumquats

12 ounces sliced kumquats

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

Place water and sugar in a saucepan. Stir to combine.  Heat to boiling and then reduce heat to a simmer. Add kumquat slices and stir to coat the slices with sugar water.  Simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool.

I also served the candied kumquats with Roasted Pork Loin finished with Oliveto Olive Wood Smoked Olive Oil…divine!   So easy, I just put a small pork loin in a baking pan, drizzled it with some of the wood smoked olive oil (gives the pork a little hint of smokey flavor)and sprinkled it with Cavender’s Greek Seasoning.  Baked in pre-heated 350 degree oven for 40 minutes.   After I took it out of the oven I drizzled it with some more of the smoked olive oil and served each portion of pork with a spoonful of the candied kumquats.

 

I always love the signs outside our local wine shop Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar…

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Champagne And Beef Tenderloin…Yes Please!

Give me books, French wine, fruit, fine weather, and a little music played out of doors by someone I do not know…

                                                                                                                                                                 ~ John Keats

I love champagne and I love beef tenderloin, but up until now I did not pair the two.  Recently I was happy to find that Philippe Fourrier Rosé pairs extraordinarily well with beef tenderloin. Since it is made of 90 percent pinot noir grapes (and 10 percent chardonnay grapes), with notes of red cherry and juicy raspberry,  it can stand up to the bold flavors of the beef.

Champagne Moussé Fils 

Blanc De Noirs Noire Reserve

This lovely champagne is primarily made from Pinot Meunier grapes.  80% pinot meunier, 16% pinot noir and 4% chardonnay.  With notes of black currant, brioche and lemon curd and a long sustained finish, this champagne is a wonderful compliment to beef tenderloin.

Thinking about delightful pairings…my bubbly friend Mary Ellen gave me some festive shot glasses.  I filled them with a lobster salad served with a chilled cocktail fork so that guests could get every last piece of yummy lobster out of the glass.  Frozen lobster meat (for us locals it is available at Tanglewood Kroger) is perfect for this salad recipe. Chop the lobster meat and mix with a little sour cream, mayonnaise, lemon juice, Old Bay Seasoning and chopped fresh dill. Don’t add too much of any of the creamy ingredients ~ remember you can always add more but you can’t take any out once it’s mixed in.  Chill and serve icy cold.  (Put shot glasses and cocktail forks in the freezer to chill before service.)

We paired the lobster salad appetizer with Laurent Perrier Rosé.  The mid-March snow on my flowering quince tree made the perfect perch for our rosé champagne bottle. 100 percent Pinot Noir grapes.  Notes of strawberry, hazelnut and brioche. We call this champagne “Easter Wine” because a bubbly friend of ours told us that her mother always wanted a “pink wine” to match her dining room drapes for Easter dinner.  $76 range.

My bubbly sister-in-law Gwen sent me this…“My doctor told me that because of my age I should install a bar in my shower…done!”

 I recently found some Roka Cheese Crispies at a local store ~ some of my favorite “Cheesie Poofs” as I call them. I bought 40 boxes!

On Sunday, this little critter, Ziggy, somehow got out of our front door (he is an indoor cat) and was out “catting around the neighborhood” all day. We looked everywhere and said lots of prayers, especially with a snowstorm on it’s way and finally around 5 o’clock that evening he came walking up on our back deck. We were so happy to see him!  He ate a big dinner and fell asleep in front of the fire.

 

Ziggy’s brother Artie Shaw was so happy to see him!

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Enjoy Special Club Champagne With Chili-Lime Crab Salad

One of my favorite Spring recipes by Sue Zemanick, Food and Wine Magazine (with a few little twists that I enjoy with this salad).

I chill appetizer bowls and appetizer forks in the freezer for serving this salad.

Chile-Lime Crab Salad With Tomato And Avacado

4 servings

5 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon very finely chopped jalapeno

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro, plus cilantro leaves for garnish

1/2 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

salt and freshly ground black pepper (I substitute the black pepper with ground pink peppercorns for an extra kick)

1/2 pound lump crabmeat, picked over

1 1/2 Hass avocados, diced (1/2 inch)

1/3 cup minced red onion

1 large heirloom tomato , cut into four 1/2-inch-thick slices (if tomatoes are not in season I omit the tomatoes)

Tortilla chips, for serving (I substitute lime tortilla chips)

I add these two garnishes for the top of the salad ~ 1/2 cup cooked fresh corn kernels off the cob and 1/3 cup finely diced red radishes.

  1. In a small bowl, combine the lime juice with the olive oil, vegetable oil, jalapeno, chopped cilantro, honey and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper (a good grind of pink peppercorns).
  2. In a small bowl, toss the crab with 3 tablespoons of the dressing and season with salt and pepper. In a medium bowl, gently toss the avocado with the red onion and 2 tablespoons of the dressing.
  3. Place a tomato slice on each plate and season with salt. Top with the avocado and the crab and garnish with the cilantro.   Garnish with fresh corn kernels, finely diced radishes. Drizzle the remaining dressing on top and serve with lime tortilla chips.

A fabulous pairing with the Chili-Lime Crab Salad ~

2011 Roland Special Club Blanc de Blancs Champagne

I purchased this lovely champagne locally at Tinnell’s Finer Foods, Roanoke, Virginia.  tinnells.com  It is also available on-line.

100% Chardonnay grapes.   One of the consummate symbols of quality in Champagne, the “Special Club” label is allowed only on the best wines from top vintages if they pass muster after a series of blind tastings and all the other producer-members of “The Club”  (an elite group of growers formed in 1971) unanimously agree. Roland Champion’s 2011 Special Club Blanc des Blancs earned that distinction. $65 range.  Beautifully balanced and buttery with lovely bubbles.  Excellent with lobster and crabmeat.

Information about the “Special Club” from timelesswines.com:

To be a member of this Club, Champagne producers have to elaborate their Cuvées in their own facility, meaning the pressing, bottling, ridding, disgorging, etc., have to be done at the domaine/estate. Then, only the Recoltants-Manipulants are accepted. Everybody has to respect the Club’s rules to ensure the quality. These rules include: * Only vintages * Two tastings to control the quality: the first one after the blending, when the wine is still “Vin Clair” (juice) and another after the 3 years (or more) of ageing “sur lattes”. There are 26 members, each of whom can produce his Special Club with his own techniques: * blending or “monocru” (only one grape variety) * “blanc de blancs” or “blanc de noirs”; ageing from 3 to 10 years, brut or extra-brut. 4 year ageing minimum Strict selection of plots only made out of our old vineyards.

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Celebrating Dining In Cookbook With Taittinger Champagne

Tattinger champagne

Taittinger Champagne ~ lush and silky, notes of ripe pear and a touch of citrus, freshly-baked brioche with lots of tiny bubbles bouncing around the flute.

I recently entered a contest sponsored by Taittinger Champagne and I won this lovely cookbook, personally signed by the author.

Here’s Alison Roman’s bio from her book:  …the author of Dining In, is a contributor at Bon  Appétit magazine.  Formerly the Senior Food Editor at Bon  Appétit and BuzzFeed, her work appears regularly in the New York Times and has been featured in GQ, Cherry Bombe, and Lucky Peach. The author of Lemons, a Short Stack Edition, Alison has worked professionally in kitchens such as New York’s Momofuku Milk Bar and San Francisco’s Quince.  A native of Los Angeles, she lives in Brooklyn.

In her new cookbook Alison Ramon encourages us to cook at home with recipes that are fun and fresh.  “…for me there is nothing more special or satisfying than cooking for your friends, family, lovers, or, perhaps most important yourself.” And she loves going to the grocery store (one of my favorite places on this planet!) The first recipe I made out of her cookbook was this delicious salad, using as many fresh herbs as I can find this time of year. It reminds me that Spring is right around the corner!

Vinegared Romaine with Sour Cream, Bacon and Herbs…thick cut smoked bacon, crisp green romaine lettuce, fresh herbs…parsley, cilantro, tarragon, and/or dill…drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with flaky sea salt.

Dear Readers, what is your favorite cookbook? I would love to hear from you…

“Now and then it is a joy to have one’s table red with wine and roses.”                                                                                                                            ~ Oscar Wilde

lemon

My bubbly sister-in-law Gwen sent me this delightful idea.  I put some “grated lemon” in my hot tea this morning and it is absolutely delicious!  I plan to keep grated lemon in my freezer from now on.

Place a washed lemon in the freezer section of  your refrigerator. Once the lemon is frozen, get  your grater, and shred the whole lemon (no need  to peel it) and sprinkle it on top of your  foods.  The lemon seeds catch on the grater so there is no need to worry about seeds getting into your grated lemon.
Sprinkle  it to your vegetable salad, ice cream, soup,  cereals, noodles, spaghetti sauce, rice, sushi,  fish dishes, whisky… the list is  endless.
All  of the foods will unexpectedly have a wonderful  taste, something that you may have never tasted  before.  Most likely, you only think of  lemon juice and vitamin C. noodles.
What’s  the major advantage of using the whole lemon  other than preventing waste and adding new taste  to your dishes?
Well,  you see lemon peels contain as much as 5 to 10  times more vitamins than the lemon juice  itself.  And yes, that’s what you’ve been  wasting.
But  from now on, by following this simple procedure  of freezing the whole lemon, then grating it on  top of your dishes, you can consume all of those  nutrients and get even healthier.  

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Champagne And Pizza!

Italy champagne jean

Jean Vesselle Oeil de Perdrix Blanc de Noirs Brut Champagne.  A lovely sparkly to begin our weekend before we delved into the serious business of eating pizza.  Just a kiss of pink color in this rosé bubbly.  Notes of tangerine and red berry fruits.   $47 range.

pizza pepperoni

National Pizza Day was on Friday, February 9, 2018 so that gave us the perfect excuse to eat pizza all weekend!

One of my favorite bloggers Talk-A-Vino shared a new concept from Wines Til Sold Out (WTSO) that we’ve been enjoying at our house too ~ theme box of wine.  This month we chose the pizza pairing box to celebrate National Pizza Day. Here’s the link to Talk-A-Vino’s post that explains the theme box concept:

How To Expand Your Wine Horizon – With Wine Til Sold Out Weekly Tasting

Pippin Hill Vineyard Wood-Fired Pizza ~ red sauced thin crust topped with Tasso Ham, Artichokes, Bell Peppers, Cabbage, Arugula and Parmesan.

We recently visited Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards in North Garden near Charlottesville, Virginia.  http://www.pippinhillfarm.com

italy entrance pippin hillitaly pippin hill outside

italy pippin hill vineyard

pippin hill wine bottle

This bottle of the Pippin Hill Viognier wine has a painting of their vineyard inside.

pippin hill menupippin hill red wine

The Pippin Hill Petite Verdot with notes of plum, black cherry and tobacco was the perfect accompaniment to the wood-fired pizza.

pizza-final

italian wine tasting

italy wine red wine

One of the wines from our WTSO pizza theme box:

Virna Barbera D’Alba San Giovanni 2013 Virna Barbera comes from the Piedmont region of Italy.  Red and garnet in color with a deeper hue and notes of red berries, cranberries, black plums, truffles, mushrooms, forest floor and black earth (think the same char flavor as when your pizza dough gets those little black spots and tastes so good). Medium body, fresh, bright acidity and subtle but fine tannins, this is a wine to pair alongside pizza with cheese, truffles, and mushrooms. Also enjoy with speck or prosciutto. 

pippinhill meats

We enjoyed a Charcuterie Board at Pippin Hill Vineyard. The grainy mustard and arugula pesto were delightful accompaniments to local and internationally cured meats. Tasso ham was my favorite…a south Louisiana favorite hot-smoked with cayenne pepper and garlic.

mostardo cookingmostardo

That delicious treat inspired me to create my own Charcuterie Board at home.  I love serving fun variations of condiments with cured meats.  I found this recipe for Mostarda ~ Northern Italian condiment made of candied fruit and a mustard-flavored syrup ~ in Food and Wine Magazine.  This recipe has crystallized ginger in it which gives it a little “zing”.  Locally crystallized ginger can be found at Tinnell’s Finer Foods on Crystal Spring Avenue in Roanoke, Virginia.  (Keep any leftover ginger in the freezer to use in other recipes.)  Don’t expect the Mostarda to be sweet, it most definitely has a mustard taste to it with fruity undertones.  Spicy Capicola Ham and Italian Soppressata Salami are two of my favorites on a Charcuterie Board.

Yield : makes 1 1/4 cups

How to Make It

In a small saucepan, combine the apricots, cherries, shallot, ginger, wine, vinegar, water and sugar and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over moderate heat until the liquid is absorbed and the fruit is softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the dry mustard, Dijon mustard and butter. Simmer until the mostarda is jamlike, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Serve the mostardawarm or at room temperature.

Make Ahead

The mostarda can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Notes

Best Uses Serve the mostarda alongside charcuterie or cheese, or spread on a sandwich. The mostarda is also delicious with grilled chicken, steak, pork, lamb and sausages.

 

Italy champagne sign beer

Love the signs outside my favorite local wine shop… Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar http://mrbillswinecellar.com

italy champagne sign

Heart in sand

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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10 Helpful Hints For Pairing Wine and Food

“Have you thrown up your hands in despair and confusion with too many choices? In that case, just remember one word: champagne.  It’s refreshing, relatively low in alcohol and sufficiently neutral to go with a myriad of foods.One minor tweak might be to have  a more full-bodied vintage champagne with red meats and non-vintage champagne with everything else.  That’s a lot easier to remember than what wine goes with yak.” ~ Sam Gugino, contributing editor to Wine Spectator and author of Cooking to Beat the Clock.

Be adventurous and have fun with wine/champagne and food pairings using these helpful hints:

1.Purchase the book “WHAT to DRINK with WHAT you EAT”, by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page. 

This easy to use reference book is our “Pairing Bible”. Our local wine shop keeps a copy so that we can refer to it when deciding which wine and food to purchase at their shop. Just look up the wine you want to pair and the book will tell you the foods to serve with that wine (includes other libations as well such as liquor and beer)  or look up the food you want to serve and it will suggest the wine/libation to serve. This book makes a thoughtful gift for your wine loving friends too.

pumpkin-pie-with-whipped-cream-on-top

2. Surprise your taste buds and experiment with the unexpected.  One of the best food and libation pairings I’ve tasted was single malt scotch and pumpkin pie.  If you are in the mood to splurge pair  Macallan 18 Year – Single Malt Scotch Whiskey with pumpkin pie. Otherwise Macallan 12 year old is a very nice pairing.    Notes of spice, dried apricots  and wood smoke enhance the autumn spice flavors in the pie.

mahadev-398622__340

3.  Don’t force it.  If you truly do not like a food or wine ~  pairing it will not necessarily make it better.  I recently read in Milk Street Magazine that licorice and champagne make a delicious pairing.  Problem in that I can’t stand licorice. It might just be an old wives tale but I’ve heard that if you are born with a certain gene then you like licorice, if you don’t have that gene then you don’t like licorice. I definitely don’t have that gene.  But, I am a good sport so I tried this pairing a few weeks ago. My mouth is still puckering whenever I think about it…ick!

3. Start a conversation with someone you respect in the wine world.

One of my favorite wine blogs is Talkavino.com.  Anatoli is the author of this blog that chronicles his explorations in wine, food and life.  I recently asked Anatoli about his approach to wine and food pairing, especially champagne:

Overall, I find Champagne to be one of the most versatile pairing wines available, as there are plenty of different Champagne types which will support any kind of dinner. My typical approach to pairing is – let me know what the menu is, and I will come up with the pairing. If the occasion even a little bit formal, I always like to open with sparkling wine – it sets the mood. I find that Rosé sparklers perfectly compliment most of the appetizers and salad courses – the Rosé is typically playful enough with just a touch of a fruit to complement the widest array of flavors, and the acidity helps to cut through a variety of textures, from oysters to mushroom beignets to foie gras.

The vintage Champagne would typically work very well with the variety of entrée – I can perfectly see steak and vintage Champagne as a combination, as the mature flavors of Champagne would meld very well with the steak. I’m sure that there is a Champagne for every type of food you want to serve, and the inherent acidity, which is in Champagne’s DNA, makes it ultimately food friendly.

My only challenge would be with the dessert, as I’m not familiar with sweet Champagnes, so to be entirely honest, my typical choice for a dessert sparkler is Moscato d’Asti or Brachetto  d’Acqui, depending on the food. But – if my main course Champagne was Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill or Piper-Heidsieck Rare, you can keep the dessert, I will stay with Champagne.”

thewineraconteur.wordpress.com writes engaging and entertaining stories about wine.  One of my favorites posts about wine pairing is on his blog:  https://thewineraconteur.wordpress.com/2015/11/21/mwwc-21-pairing/

Here’s the wineaconteur’s thoughts on champagne and food pairing:

I usually like my bubbles at the beginning of the meal, and it doesn’t always have to be Champagne. Sparkling wines from Alsace, the Loire, California and even Michigan all work for me, it is more the moment, as I tend to shoot from the hip and not much of a control freak. I am honored that you asked my opinion. I find that Champagne makes any meal more festive and if I could have a steady diet of any one Champagne, I guess it would be Dom, as it seems to be the one that I have had the most, and the one I write about the most often.

Tonya, author of the blog Fourth Generation Farm Girl loves bubbly as much as I do…she is currently pursuing the WSET (Wine and Spirit Education Trust based in London) with her husband Scot, affectionately known on her blog as “Farmguy”.  She has lovely memories about champagne and food pairing:

fourthgenerationfarmgirl.com

As far as pairing food and Champagne goes, in my opinion, Champagne is incredibly versatile with food—that’s why I love it.  So, when in doubt, drink bubbly!  Ideally, the best pairings happen when the Champagne is chosen first, then paired with food.  This is because a recipe can be altered to perfectly match the characteristics of a wine. However, unless you’re a chef, that’s not always realistic. The wonderful thing about Champagne is it goes well with so many foods.  It’s excellent with Asian food, braised foods, eggs and egg dishes, all kinds of seafood (e.g. lobster, monkfish, salmon, oysters, shrimp, turbot, cod) chicken, turkey, quail, rabbit, pork, vegetarian dishes, truffles, cheeses, especially ones that are creamy and salty, pizza, French fries, popcorn, gingerbread, and the list goes on and on.  Basically, if your food has butter, cream, or salt in it or is fried, then Champagne is the answer. Think:  fried chicken, buttery popcorn, or triple cream brie cheese. My personal favorite Champagne pairing is with truffle popcorn.  I first had it while dining at The Inn at Little Washington.   Farmguy and I were celebrating an anniversary, and our amuse- bouche was truffle popcorn paired with Ruinart Blanc de Blancs.  It was heavenly! 🙂

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4. Do  not limit yourself to pairing only wine and champagne with food.  Include beer and hard cider on your menu.

per se

Meeting Thomas Keller and touring the Per Se kitchen was one of the highlights of our trip to New York City.

A favorite pairing at Per Se ~ Thomas Keller’s restaurant in New York City is: Olive oil ice cream with chocolate and sea salt; and Thyme ice cream with drizzle of warm extra virgin olive oil topped with a chocolate wafer disc.

Paired with Ale: La Choulette Blonde (a beautiful surprise — this traditional French ale is toasty, nutty, and creamy — yum)

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5. Get to know your local wine merchant and ask their opinion on wine and food pairings.  One of my favorite local wine shops in Roanoke, Virginia is Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar, owner Bill Phillips. We recently had a conversation about pairing and he recommends choosing the wine first.  “The chefs I’ve worked with always suggest identifying the wines first and then choosing foods to go with the wines.  You can always tweak the food selections but once you’ve chosen the wines you’ve made an investment and you won’t necessarily want to change them.”

6. Keep it simple.

prosecco and nuts pairing

Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad Cava pairs perfectly with simple roasted lightly salted almonds and walnuts.

EF Brie Cheese with bread

A triple creme cheese with a crusty baguette is always a good pairing with many sparkling wines and champagne. Quick and easy to serve last minute guests.

7. Find on-line resources you trust and read about pairings. Here’s a good one from Epicurious:

https://www.epicurious.com/archive/drinking/wine/champagne-sparkling-wine-food-pairings

And I always enjoy reading the advice of Ray Isle, Food and Wine Magazine’s Wine Editor:

http://www.foodandwine.com/articles/an-experts-pairing-advice

8. Practice makes perfect pairings.  You may find that some pairings do not work well for you and that’s OK.  Just keep pairing and keeping notes and soon you will have a wine and food pairing repertoire to share with family and friends.

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9.  Look to the experts:

“The Scent of Champagne,” by champagne expert Richard Juhlin is one of my favorite books. It addresses the thorny issue of pairing champagne with food. He explains what pairs well with champagne and what foods to avoid serving with champagne. He’s done all the “heavy lifting” for us in search of the perfect champagne and food pairings.

I encourage you to learn  more about champagne pairings and Juhlin’s fascinating background:
10.  Brown bag it.  A fun way to taste wine and champagne is to serve it in a brown bag without anyone knowing what’s in the bottle.  Your taste buds will begin to recognize flavors such as the citrus in champagne that is primarily chardonnay grapes, the peppery notes in Shiraz, grapefruit flavor in Pinot Grigio.  Using this method it is a good idea, at least at first, to taste wines/champagnes that have only one predominant grape so not to confuse your taste buds.
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Readers, what is your favorite wine/champagne food pairing? I would love to hear from you!

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