Category Archives: champagne

Black Garlic And Champagne

cat

Under the watchful eye of Maxine AndrewsTHE CAT

These days we are enjoying dining al fresco on our backyard deck…in 80 degree Fahrenheit weather with a slight breeze…

“Champagne makes you feel like it’s Sunday and better days are just around the corner.” ~ Marlene Dietrich

champagne bottlechampagne top

 Pascal Lallement Champagne À Chamery Premier Cru Brut 

  This artisanal small batch farmer produced cuvee is 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Pinot Meunier, and 20% Chardonnay.  This vineyard sits on the mountain of Rheims where the grapes receive plenty of sunshine as they grow on the vines.
  I love the top of this bottle…Champange! Champagne! Champagne!  Notes of apple, honey and toast.  Fresh and creamy with a long mineral driven finish.   $35-$40 range.

My  brother is always discovering fun ingredients for me to try.  He and his lovely bubbly wife live near Blacksburg, Virginia where they found this black garlic.

http://www.obisone.com/

black garlic

black garlic on plate

ObisOne is a family owned business associated with the Virginia Tech Research Center.  Here’s a link to their story:  http://www.obisone.com/about-us

Some fun facts about black garlic from the ObisOne website and some of my notes:

  1.  Nothing is added when we make artisanal batches of organic black garlic. Heat, humidity and vacuum create an environment that lets the natural sugars and enzymes within the garlic do its own thing. 
  2. Black garlic adds a smokiness with just a tiny bit of sweetness and underlying notes of molasses to recipes, all the while maintaining the rich garlic flavor.
  3. The shelf life of our black garlic bulbs and cloves is a minimum of 6 months at room temperature.
  4. Twice the Antioxidants of Raw Garlic.  All natural, no additives.
  5. No Garlic Breath!

Their website includes some fabulous recipes using black garlic.  Black Garlic Recipes link:  http://www.obisone.com/Recipes

Deviled Eggs Black Garlic

Black Garlic Deviled Eggs

Makes 18 deviled eggs

9 fresh eggs (I enjoy getting my eggs from a friend who has chickens…these eggs taste so rich and delicious compared to run-of-the-mill grocery store eggs), hard-boiled, cooled and peeled.

5 cloves black garlic, minced

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons Duke’s (brand) mayonnaise

1 tablespoon chunky sweet pickle relish + 1 tablespoon pickle relish juice

1 tablespoon stone ground mustard

Garnish: crumbled crispy bacon and chopped fresh chives

Here’s a link with a recipe for perfectly cooked hard-boiled eggs….it works every time and the eggs are easy to peel!  http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_make_perfect_hard_boiled_eggs/

  1. Cut eggs in half lengthwise; place egg yolks in a bowl. Mash yolks with a fork; stir in  mayonnaise, mustard, black garlic,  pickle relish and juice.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place in a food processor or blender and blend until black garlic is incorporated into the mixture.  Add more pickle relish juice if needed to blend, being careful not to add too much juice.
  2. Arrange egg white halves on a serving platter; spoon yolk mixture into egg whites. Cover and refrigerate. When ready to serve, garnish with crumbled crispy bacon and chopped chives.

 Italian Rose

Lady Lola Rosé. I admit, I bought this Italian rosé for it’s pretty bottle.   $12 range.   The Lady Lola Rose NV is a wine that’s begging to be brought to a garden party.  Inexpensive, perfectly drinkable (not remarkable) wine.  Peach, raspberry and strawberry notes. Crisp and fresh.  It’s peachy pink color told me it would be light and the grape blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Indigenous Veneto varietals promised a not too sweet wine.

cava with cheese wafers

Whisps!  Cheddar Cheese Crisps (like the parmesan crisps, but these are made with cheddar cheese). Delicious and yummy with champagne! Available at Walmart in the deli section or on-line.

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Shishito Peppers Stuffed With Fontina And Prosciutto

Shishito Peppers ~ local Farmer’s Market, fresh from the garden or Fresh Market

15 Shishito Peppers

6 ounces Fontina cheese, cut into 5 slices and then cut each slice into 3 strips

3 ounces prosciutto, cut horizontally into 15 pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Rinse and dry Shishito Peppers. Cut a slit in the side of each pepper (lengthwise – keeping the stem end in-tact) and remove the ribs and seeds.  Wrap the cheese with prosciutto and stuff into peppers (wrapping the proscuitto around the end of the cheese will help the cheese to stay in the pepper as the cheese melts).  Arrange the stuffed peppers on a baking sheet and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper and lightly with sea salt. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the peppers start to brown and the cheese is bubbly. Serve warm.

To stuff peppers: Rinse and dry peppers. Slice peppers lengthwise to split open (leaving stem end intact).

pepper

snack sign

Alfred champagne

Alfred Basely – Champagne Brut

  Alfred Basely is a smaller producer based near Epernay.  Ripe lemony citrus with notes of white flower, mineral and freshly baked bread. Fine bubbles with a long, clean finish.  $30 range.

corn on grillfeta mayo

Grilled corn is one of my favorite summer treats.  Here are links to two of the most yummy spreads to top grilled corn on the cob…Spicy Taco Butter and Feta Lime Mayonnaise:

https://www.pillsbury.com/recipes/grilled-corn-on-the-cob-with-spicy-butter/45ecbca2-a940-441a-bcd1-9ace22a2090c

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/patrick-and-gina-neely/grilled-corn-with-feta-cheese-recipe-1918855

squash

Scenes along the Greenway…Squash Blossom

senda verde alberino wine in glass

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Lemony Herbed Fresh Ricotta Recipe + Dhondt-Grellet Brut Grand Cru Champagne

Tōgarashi is the Japanese name for chili peppers. The Nanami Tōgarashi that I purchased at a local Asian food market is a combination of chili peppers, white and black sesame seeds, ginger, orange peel and seaweed. It has a nice little kick of spiciness to it.

To serve my fresh ricotta I generously sprinkled the serving plate with freshly ground gourmet peppercorns (pink, black, white and green) and Nanami Tōgarashi so that the cheese would pick up the little bits of pepper and spice as each guest spread the cheese on toasted baguette slices.

Fresh Ricotta is super easy to make. I tried several recipes made with lemon juice (that did not have enough acidity to make the milk curdle) that failed before I found Ina Garten’s recipe (uses vinegar, not lemon juice) which works perfectly.

Here’s the link to Ina Garten’s Fresh Ricotta recipe:  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/homemade-ricotta-recipe-1923290

I like to mix into to the ricotta:

8 large fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

4 green onions, white part only, thinly sliced into tiny rounds

10 chives, chopped fine

Juice of 1/2 fresh lemon + 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

Serve on toasted baguette rounds that have been brushed with melted butter. Garnish with tiny basil leaves and (if in season) chive blossoms.

 

Dhondt-Grellet Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Prestige du Moulin — N.V.

A perfect pairing for my lemony herbed fresh ricotta.  100 % of Chardonnay from two Grand Crus villages (Cramant & Chouilly).  $55 range.   Golden color with delicate consistent bubbles in the flute. Elegant with notes of white flowers, quince paste and freshly baked pastry.  A grower champagne, only a handful of cases are brought into the United States each year.

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Sunshine In A Flute! Enjoy This Mimosa Bar Guide From Shari’s Berries!

Happy Mimosa Season!

Champagne is always a great idea. But, sometimes you need it for an extra special day, whether it be a bridal shower, birthday, Easter gathering or even just a get-together with the girls. Cue the mimosa bar!

If you want to know how to get one started, check out this guide from Shari’s Berries. It has everything you need to know about a mimosa bar — essential ingredients needed,  unique recipes, set-up tips and a super easy backdrop idea, perfect for any occasion.

This classic cocktail dates back to the early 1920’s when a drink called “Buck’s Fizz”  (two parts champagne to one part orange juice) was invented at the Buck’s Club in London.   Later in 1925, a bartender at the Ritz Hotel in Paris named Frank Meier invented the classic half champagne half orange juice Mimosa that we’ve grown to love.
Looking forward to lots of occasions to serve Shari’s Berries sparkly sugar-shimmered champagne berries this Spring!  Perfect with strawberry mimosas!
In-season fresh strawberries from the local farmer’s market make the perfect Strawberry Mimosa!  Simply puree fresh strawberries (about 5 fresh berries per mimosa), add 1/2 teaspoon simple syrup (make your own syrup or several bottled versions are readily available at the supermarket), stir well.  Pour the strawberry puree mixture into a champagne flute, slowly add champagne or sparkling wine (Cava and Prosecco are delicious too!) to fill the flute. Garnish with a fresh strawberry and a small sprig of fresh rosemary.
Fresh rosemary complements many the flavor of many fresh fruits.  I consider rosemary to be a very special garnish because my mother, an avid herb gardener always said “Rosemary for remembrance” . The rosemary in my garden makes me smile thinking about my mom.
Champagne is an excellent choice when making mimosas, but if you are having an informal gathering or serving a large crowd you may want to find a less expensive alternative. I’ve listed some bubbly alternatives here:
Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut is a Spanish Cava.  Crisp and dry with fine consistent bubbles which make a very happy mimosa!  $9 range.
 Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut. This is my “go to” sparkling wine that is always in my refrigerator. Nice and bubbly, fresh with a bit of fruitiness that complements the fruit juice in the mimosas. $26 range.
If you prefer a sparkling wine that is a little more fruit forward  MASfi Cava is delightful…100% Trepat grapes.  Bright and clean. Cherry and strawberry are the predominant flavors in this Cava.  Lively pink color. $12 range.
Cheers!
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Welcoming Spring With Champagne And Rosé!

Since this is what my kitchen looks like right now, it’s understandable that I am not doing a lot of cooking these days.  We are combining our kitchen and dining room to make one big kitchen.  Very exciting, but I miss cooking!  Should only be a month to six weeks to complete. Thinking about what should be the first meal that I cook in my new kitchen…would love suggestions from my readers!

Fortunately our family and friends have seen to it that we get fed well during our kitchen remodel ~ so thoughtful!

My bubbly sister-in-law took me out to lunch at my favorite neighborhood restaurant River and Rail.  I had the Green Bibb Salad. The reason I love this salad is that the Buttermilk Herb Dressing is in the bottom of the bowl along with Clemson blue (cheese), pistachios, celery, and little chunks of Virginia apple, which helps to distribute the dressing more evenly as you eat the salad.  I look forward to preparing salads that way when I get my kitchen back.   Blue cheese is not my favorite so they substituted Parmesan cheese on my salad, yum! For dessert we enjoyed an ice cream trio ~ Honey Lavender ice cream is pictured on the above left.  Unique and delicious!

My bubbly friend made this beautifully delicious fresh coconut cake for Easter…yum!!! The fresh eggs in the photo above are compliments of my bubbly friends hens.  The hens even colored their eggs for Easter (of course they color their eggs all year round!).

My bubbly friend also made this lovely strawberry appetizer…fresh strawberries halves stuffed with a combination of softened brie cheese, blue cheese and chopped toasted pecans. Delicioso!

“Wine is sunlight, held together by water.” Galileo

Enjoyed this bubbly over the weekend…Ruby Red Grapefruit Rosé SPARKLES!  you will think that you’ve just cut into a fresh ruby-red grapefruit. It’s easy to see why this is all the rage in Paris…lots of tiny bubbles, a lovely light grapefruit flavor with a tee-tiny bit of sweetness. $13 range.

McGah Family Cellars flagship wine is “Scarlett” named after the founder’s daughter.  http://www.scarlettwines.com

“My philosophy is simple: create the most natural and expressive wines California can offer. I believe in allowing the fruit to fully reveal itself in the wines, encouraging the personality and terroir of the vineyards, while showcasing itself to the fullest extent. Thus, allowing the wines to be true to their nature and bringing harmony to the bottle.”  ~  Mike Smith / Winemaker

Another wine we shared with bubbly friends this past weekend was McGah Family Vineyards Scarlett Sauvignon Blanc. Honeydew “green melon” flavors along with notes of honeysuckle, Meyer lemons and lime blossoms.  Clean, crisp finish. $30 range. Excellent pairing with Thai food.

Easter Wine!

Notes from The Champagne Guide 2014-2015:

Laurent-Perrier macarates its rosé for 12-72 hours, depending on fruit ripeness, until the color is fixed and the aroma resembles freshly picked raspberries.  So crucial is timing, legend has it that the first Chef de Cave, Edouard Leclerc, slept by the tank to stop it just in time! This wine has achieved that elusive ideal of volume and finesse, the world’s best-selling rosé champagne epitomizes the ultra-restraint of  rosé’s finest expressions.  All the more remarkable for the challenging  saignée method.

One of the first times that we served this delightful rosé, one of our guests exclaimed “Oh! Easter Wine!” She explained that her mother always liked to serve wine that matched her pink dining room drapes on Easter Sunday (White Zinfandel Wine). We all got quite a giggle over that story and we continue to call this  Rosé Brut “Easter Wine” to this day.

 Perfect for Spring sippin’ because it is so nice and light.  A grenache/cinsault/syrah rosé  blend.  $15 range. Very fresh with notes of strawberries, peaches and rose petals. I love this bottle…the base of which is cast into the impression of a full rose flower.

My bubbly friend introduced me to Noosa Blackberry Serrano Yogurt. Served with fresh blackberries it made a perfectly yummy healthy dessert.  Just the right amount of sweet and just the right amount of heat.

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Lovin’ Local Spring Greens and Rosé Champagne!

Christina Nifong, Culinary Instructor, Food Writer and Blogger Extraordinaire!

Local For Lunch: Welcoming Spring!

Christina’s culinary classes include lunch she creates out of local ingredients, many of them right out of her own garden!

Please visit Christina’s website and subscribe to her newsletter where she shares lots of her cooking and gardening expertise and fabulous recipes:  http://christinanifong.com

Christina’s Local For Lunch classes at the Roanoke Natural Foods Co-op are always colorful!  Pictured above Radicchio (a type leaf chicory, sometimes known as Italian chicory.  It is grown as a leaf vegetable which usually has white-veined red leaves. It has a slightly bitter and spicy taste, which mellows when it is grilled or roasted) that is sold at the Co-op.  Rainbow carrots mixed with radishes (from Christina’s garden) are in the middle photo and fresh mint from Christina’s garden is pictured at the right.

Christina introduced us to kale flowers for salad.  The kale in her garden had bolted and bloomed so she cut the flowers and chopped them up to add to the lovely green salad she made for us.

Another delicious salad ingredient that Christina introduced us to is Black Rice sometimes known as “Forbidden Rice”.  I love Christina’s recipe. She cooked the rice in vegetable broth and added about 1 tablespoon (to one cup uncooked rice) coconut oil to the rice while it was cooking. These flavors made the rice taste rich and yummy. She served the rice cold to serve alongside our salad greens.

Black rice is an ancient grain that was once reserved for only Chinese royalty.  It contains many healthy elements including disease-fighting antioxidants.

After attending Christina’s classes I have gained more respect and love for fresh seasonal produce, but I must admit, I still LOVE the dressing!  My favorite part of this class was Christina’s Poppy Seed Dressing.

Poppy Seed Dressing

by christinanifong

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sweet onion (about a quarter of a large onion)
  • 1 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup honey (local if you can get it)
  • 1 tsp. ground mustard
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup canola or avocado oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. poppy seeds

Instructions

  1. In a food processor, using the knife blade, chop onion, with salt, until ingredients are ground into a liquidy paste.
  2. Add vinegar, honey and mustard. Process until all is well-mixed.
  3. Mix two oils together in a pitcher or measuring cup with a spout. Slowly (so slowly!) pour oil into the food processor while processing. The slower you go, the better incorporated the oil will be with the other ingredients.
  4. Add poppy seeds and mix gently. Pour salad dressing into an air-tight container (such as a Mason jar) and keep in the refrigerator for up to a week. If dressing separates, shake to recombine.

Another fun find at the Roanoke Natural Foods Co-op:  Lacinato Kale or “black cabbage” in Italian is well-known in Italian cuisine. Slightly sweeter and more delicate than curly kale. This is the green that we see so often in Italian soups and pastas.

It’s always nice to celebrate Spring with a little rosé bubbly.  We popped open a bottle of Paul Déthune Brut Rosé this weekend. 80% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay grapes.  Absolutely delightful with notes of wild strawberry, peach and Meyer lemon. Very fine mousse. $50 range.

We also had the opportunity to taste Lagard Altas Cumbres Extra Brut 2013 from Mendoza, Argentina this weekend.  Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sémillon blend prepared under the Charmat (tank) method. Young, fresh and fruity with light citrus and apricot flavors. A fun little sparkling wine for casual sipping in the $10 range.

We toasted our kitchen remodel (kitchen and dining room demolition completed, next step is plumbing and electrical) with Champagne Lelarge-Pugeot Les Meuniers de Clemence NV.  Look what we found in the wall ~ Garst Brothers Dairy paper milk container.  This container has probably been in the wall since our house was built in 1952.

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The “C Food Groups”…Coffee, Chocolate and Champagne!

A very bubbly friend of mine gave me this “Coffee Mug”.  I love it!

 I recently attended a specialty coffee class taught by:

 and I couldn’t wait to share what I learned about coffee and coffee brewing with my readers. After all I love all of the “C” food groups… Coffee, Champagne, Chocolate!

Fun facts I learned in “Coffee School”…Red Rooster Coffee Tasting Room & Lab, 1116 Main Street, Roanoke, Virginia:

  1. Coffee is the second largest commodity in the world ~ second only to crude oil.
  2. Philip Hatter is the Account Manager and Coffee Tasting Room & Lab Manager for Red Rooster Coffee.  Their coffee is roasted in Floyd, Virginia. The lab serves to increase brand awareness of Red Rooster Coffee and have a place to train baristas that work in local coffee houses. Hatter offers coffee classes ($25) to the general public that help determine the best roast for your palate as well as teach us the proper way to brew coffee.

  1. Barista is the Italian word for “Bartender” and is used to address a male or female who is behind the counter preparing your cup of coffee.
  2. It was exciting to have a celebrated barista teaching us how to brew the perfect cup of coffee. Philip is so skilled at his craft that he won a place at the national coffee competition in Seattle, Washington and he will compete next month.  If he wins the national title he will go to Budapest to try out for the world title. The competition involves a blind tasting (barista prepares 3 cups of coffee for 3 judges behind a curtain and the judges give the coffee a score based on taste alone).  Then the barista prepares 3 cups of coffee for 3 judges in front of the judges and the audience. Those cups of coffee are judged on how well the barista explains the preparation process as well as the taste of the coffee.
  3. During training sessions for baristas, Philip asks them to “Honor what has come before you when you brew a pot of coffee”.  Honor the work that has been done by the grower and the roaster by taking time to brew the coffee correctly. Philip carefully walked through the six elements of good brewing. He shared the importance of the proper water temperature and he used a kitchen scale to measure the ground coffee (not a scoop!) He recommends grinding the coffee beans right before brewing because coffee starts to lose its flavor 15 minutes after grinding.
  4. One of Red Rooster’s coffees ~ “Hambella” ~ won a “Good Food Award” in San Francisco this year. http://www.goodfoodawards.org/winners/
  5. Naturally my thoughts turned to wine and the commonalities of the coffee and wine experiences. Coffee, just like wine is effected by terroir…the natural environment (soil, climate, topography)  in which the wine is produced. These factors make the flavor of the coffee unique and those flavors cannot be reproduced anywhere else.

One of my favorite flavor combinations is chocolate and coffee…

 This Flourless Chocolate Espresso Cake tastes like a rich, chewy, decadent chocolate brownie.  Super  easy to make and it’s gluten-free!

https://www.landolakes.com/recipe/18242/flourless-chocolate-espresso-cake/

The champagne pairing for this lovely chocolate cake …a Grand Champagne…

Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle

 This Champagne is a blend of three excellent  harvests: 20% 1999, 20% 2000 and  60% 2002. It is 50% Chardonnay, 50% Pinot Noir and all the fruit comes entirely from Grand Cru villages in Champagne. Soft, elegant and balanced with notes of black currant and creamy marzipan and apple.  Tiny consistent bubbles dance up the flute.  $125 range.

And just for fun here’s some other bubbly we’ve enjoyed recently:

1995 de Venoge Champagne Brut Louis XV

Presented in a beautiful crystal bottle. Bright with green apple, hazelnut and brioche notes. Tiny consistent bubbles in the glass.  De Venoge produced this champagne in honor of King Louis XV, who first decreed the bottling of Champagne in the region to preserve the bubbles (prior to this time wine was transported in wood barrels which resulted in flat champagne since most all of the gas would escape through the wood).

This champagne comes with a lovely glass stopper that matches the champagne bottle so after the champagne is gone the bottle becomes a beautiful glass decanter.  $195 range.

Each bottle of Krug champagne has an ID number on it. I reviewed the notes about our bottle of Krug Grande Cuvée at krug.com and here’s what I found:

Received its cork in August, 2013.

Blend is 142 wines from 11 different years.

Oldest wine is 1990.

Youngest wine is 2006.

$215 range.

Notes on this bottle by: Eric Lebel, Chef de Caves, Maison Krug

This bottle left the Krug cellars to receive its cork in automn 2013. This is the last step after more than six years of ageing in the cellars to acquire finesse and elegance. This bottle is an extraordinary blend of 142 wines from 11 different years, the oldest from 1990 and the youngest from 2006. Every glass of this bottle of Krug Grande Cuvée is the fruit of more than 22 years of craft and patience. Reserve wines lend structure and depth to this season’s harvest which seemed to be somewhat too homogeneous. It is this year’s wines of many plots from the villages of Mesnil-sur-Oger, Avize and Villers Marmery which provide the shine and minerality to the blend. Blending many years gives Krug Grande Cuvée its unique fullness of flavours and aromas, incredible generosity and an absolute elegance that are impossible to express with the wines of just a single year. Krug Grande Cuvée is re-created each year beyond the notion of vintage. Every year, we recreate from scratch the multitude of facets that do not compete on the palate, but instead form a perfect harmony, the main characteristic of Krug Grande Cuvée. Its myriad aromas make Krug Grande Cuvée the richest of them all. Its generosity means that everyone can find something in it that stirs the emotions. 

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