Category Archives: sparkling wine

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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Happiness Is A Weekend Of Bubbles…Wine Flies When You’re Having Fun!

Kitchen Remodel Update:  We added a new window to the back wall of our kitchen. When we looked out the new window we were delighted to find 4 little blue Robin’s eggs tucked into a nest in the Rhododendron tree.  Fortunately Mama Robin has not been disturbed by the construction.

Happy Weekend!

One of the nicest things about remodeling our kitchen is the way our family and friends have been taking care of us…treating us to dinner in their homes or taking us out to dinner.  So thoughtful!

Our fun weekend began on Thursday evening when our bubbly friends welcomed us to their beautiful apartment overlooking downtown Roanoke with glasses of  Mumm Napa Cuvée with a fresh raspberry in the bottom of each flute.  The Cuvée was a very pleasant bubbly surprise with aromas and flavors of toast, pear, apple and citrus.  Rich body, smooth with a creamy mousse.  $26 range.

Our bubbly friend made the most wonderful cheese crackers served with fig jam.  I can’t wait to make these when my kitchen is back up and running, but until then here’s a couple of links to Ina Garten’s cheese crackers recipes ~ delicious!

http://www.food.com/recipe/barefoot-contessas-parmesan-black-pepper-crackers-ina-garten-215143

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/blue-cheese-and-walnut-crackers-recipe/

On Saturday evening we enjoyed this lovely pink bottle of Broadbent Vinho Verde Rosé that looked so pretty on my bubbly friend’s tablescape. $10 range. Vibrant aromas and flavors of fresh strawberry, pomegranate and orange zest with a little spritz of effervescence. We enjoyed every sip.

So excited that the Grandin Road Farmer’s Market is now open on Saturday mornings!  These baby turnips were a fabulous find…eat them whole (with butter and sea salt to dip them in if you prefer…just like radishes) or slice them to add to salads. Delicious and a little more sweet than radishes.

Edible Flowers!

Finished the weekend with MASfi Cava…100% Trepat grapes.  Bright and clean. Cherry and strawberry are the the predominant flavors in this Cava.  Lively pink color. $12 range.  And since it is “Mimosa Season”, this cava made a nice strawberry mimosa!  I will have some yummy seasonal mimosa ideas in my next blog post…stay tuned!

You are invited to visit my Facebook page:  Bubblybee

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.

You are invited to visit my Facebook page:  Bubblybee

Loving Weekends With Laurent-Perrier

I love Saturday mornings in the Spring.  Promise fills the air as I walk downtown to visit my favorite bakery Bread Craft  to purchase over-sized pecan sticky buns and almond croissants.  http://breadcraftbakery.com/

Continuing my walk along the city market…

Love these heart-shaped wild bird seed treats to hang in my garden.

Rolling Meadows Farm has the most colorful succulents. I can always find interesting plants at their booth on the market… the plant pictured on the right above is a “Frizzle Sizzle” plant (Albuca spiralis).  Tightly curled leaves on short stems that arise from an underground bulb, this plant loves the sun!

Mushrooms are Mother Nature’s work of art…from Shady Spring Farm.

Love this whimsical bird house!

We are getting ready to remodel our kitchen so we started packing up dishes on Saturday. Our kitty “George Gershwin” felt the need to personally inspect our work. Here he is checking out the empty buffet.  Curious cat!

I am trying to figure out how to prepare meals for the next 6 weeks without a kitchen. We plan to use our outdoor grill for some meals.  I recently discovered Fresh Market’s “Little Big Meals”.  A different meal is offered every week or so –

for $20!

The meal I purchased included 4 gourmet hamburger patties with brioche buns, cheese slices, cut up fresh fruit and garlic and black pepper potato puffs.  Easily served the three people and I can cook the entire meal on our grill.

I found this recipe contest which is perfect for the grill and might keep me occupied while our kitchen is being demolished…http://www.grilledcheeseacademy.com/contest

After packing up our kitchen I could use a hug…

My bubbly friend treated us to a bottle of Laurent-Perrier this weekend!  This lovely brut bubbly consists of 45% chardonnay, 40% pinot noir, and 15% pinot meunier grapes. Made by the same champagne house that brings us  the beautiful Grand Siècle champagne. Fresh and lemony. It was the perfect ending to a fabulous Spring day.

You are invited to visit my Facebook page:  Bubblybee

¡Cava! Me Encanta El Vino Español

Last week I enjoyed a Spanish wine tasting at our local wine shop:  Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar.  https://www.facebook.com/mrbillswinecellar/

Spanish Wines ~ Lots to Love!

 I found a new favorite and renewed acquaintances with a couple of old favorites.

Senda Verde Albariño

My new favorite:  Senda Verde Albariño. This bright freshness of this wine reminds me of another of my favorite wines:  the Vinho Verde wines from Portugal.

Notes from Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar: Senda Verde is a collection of artisanal wines from unique regions in northern Spain that follow the 43° N parallel, stretching from coastal Galicia eastward along the northern coastline.  In contrast to the rest of Spain, this area is lush and green from oceanic and geologic influences.  The region is referred to as “España Verde” (Green Spain). The grapes are sourced from the vineyards situated in the Salnés Valley and the ORosal area, within the D.O. Rias Baixas appellation. Vines are arranged in the “emparrado” and “trellis” systems. Bright and aromatically complex, notes of ripe apricot, apple and wild flowers. Fresh and crisp with persistent lush textures on the palate. The finish is fruity and with mineral nuances.  Aged on the lees for 4 months. $13 – $15 range.

Here’s a couple of links about Spanish wines and more specifically Albariño:

https://www.facebook.com/WinesfromSpain/

http://www.foodswinesfromspain.com/spanishfoodwine/global/products-recipes/products/more-about-products/do-rias-baixas-where-small-plots-rule.html

Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad

My favorite Cava!  With the pewter base and family crest on the bottle…so pretty in a gift basket.  And now I’ve made the connection…the producer, Segura Viudas, is part of the Freixenet family of wines that includes Gloria Ferrer in Sonoma which is one of my favorite California sparkling wines.  The non-vintage Reserva Heredad is the label’s top offering, made only from 67% Macabeo and 33% Parellada grapes.  Aromas of smoke and honey and flavors of apples, dried fruit, and nuts. Creamy and crisp, it finishes clean and bright. Perfect pairing with almonds and walnuts to begin the meal. $30 range.

Juvé y Camps Pinot Noir Cava

100% pinot noir, this pretty pink sparkler has notes of strawberry, warm bread and rose petals.  Very fruit forward and a bit too much minerality  for my taste, but I’ve  heard great reviews about it from others who drink a lot of Cava.  Fine bubbles and a long, creamy finish.  $17 range

2014 Vega Sindoa ~ El Chaparral (Old Vines)

This was my favorite red in the tasting because it had notes of raspberry at the beginning that remind my of Pinot Noir.

Notes from Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar:  Although the Valley of Valdizarbe has always been considered one of the best areas of production in Navarra and viticulture there is centuries-old, it almost disappeared due to the depressed prices of grapes and extreme weather conditions. This winery is one of the first to bring the vineyards back to the valley by the hands of an energetic winemaker, Concha Vecino.  This is a wine made from old vine Garnacha, between 70 & 100+ years old, from 40 parcels on the hills that surround Añorbe.  Floral qualities add complexity to the nose and fade into the red berry aromas, which continue on the palate. The wine has terrific body, good acidity and underlying, earthy minerality. Aged in French oak for nine months.  ~ 91 points Robert Parker  $16 – $20 range.

You are invited to visit my Facebook page: Bubblybee

Celebrating The Flavors Of France ~ Country French Cooking

Center Stage Catering Country French Culinary Workshop

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending this deliciously informative workshop where, in the French tradition, simple fresh ingredients were transformed into mouth-watering delicacies.

Pictured above (left) Herb and Cheese Gnocchi tossed with Beurre Blanc and (right) Ratatouille with Roasted Asparagus

Pictured above (left) chicken marinating that will be the main ingredient in  Coq Au Vin and (right) Fresh Green Salad with sliced Potatoes and Bacon Lardons tossed in a Champagne Vinaigrette.

The workshop took place at Center Stage Catering in Rocky Mount, Virginia.

Center Stage Catering Commissary Entrance : Only Elves, Oompahs, Rock Stars, Grandmas, Hipsters, Sexy Cooks, Vikings, Cool Organic Farmers, Sales Reps, (& occasionally Food Brokers), Artists, Philosophers, Magicians, Poets, and World Leaders allowed…everybody else must find another door to enter!

Center Stage Catering

Rocky Mount, Virginia

Pictured above (left to right):  John Schopp, President/Executive Chef, David Carachure, Sous Chef, Jonathan Hart, Chef de Cuisine

John Schopp, CEC, CEPC, CCA, CE is a full-time culinary instructor at Virginia Western Community College. He is president of Center Stage Catering, Inc., a full-service event/catering company.  Schopp has also been the Chef for Victor Wooten’s Center for Music and Nature, outside of Nashville, for the past 15 years.  He writes food columns for several local and regional publications and is an avid primitive cooking enthusiast. In addition to recently appearing on the Food Network’s “Halloween Baking Championship”, Schopp is heavily active in the American Culinary Federation at both regional and national levels.

David Carachure is a graduate of the Al Pollard Culinary Program at Virginia Western Community College, Roanoke, Virginia.

Jonathan Hart is a graduate of the Art Institute of Tampa.

Pictured above:  Zoe Campbell, Pastry Chef

Zoe Campbell is a graduate of the Al Pollard Culinary Program at Virginia Western Community College, Roanoke, Virginia.

Pictured Above: Ingredients for Becky’s Sparkling Coq Au Vin

I love this original Country French Culinary Workshop Coq Au Vin recipe, but…no surprise here…I wanted to make mine with sparkling wine. My additions/suggestions are listed next to the original ingredients.

Coq Au Vin

Yield:  8 servings, 2 pieces each

2 whole chickens (2 lb. 8 ounces – 3 lb. each)

Flour, as needed for dredging

salt and pepper, to taste

Clarified butter

Brandy (I appreciate the flavor brandy brings to this dish, but I omitted this ingredient because I don’t like to ignite the burgundy in my small home kitchen…afraid I will ignite the entire kitchen!)

Bouquet garni:

1 4 inch carrot stick

1 4 inch leek, split

fresh thyme

bay leaf (I omitted this ingredient because I neglected to get a bay leaf at the market!)

6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed (I omitted the garlic because the sweetness of the sparkling wine and the garlic did not seem to compliment each other…just my personal preference)

24 fluid ounces red wine (I substituted sparkling white wine Lagarde Dolce Espumante)

16 ounces chicken stock

Bacon lardons (I substituted 6 ounces of country ham cut into Julienne strips) – lardons are small strips of bacon that are fried later in the recipe

18 pearl onions, peeled

1 leek, white part only, split in half and cut into small pieces

10 medium mushrooms, quartered

(my addition) 1 Russet potato, peeled and chopped into small pieces, sautéed in butter until almost tender

Beurre manié, as needed (Beurre manié (French “kneaded butter”) is a dough, consisting of equal parts of soft butter and flour, used to thicken soups and sauces) I found that the flour on the dredged chicken thickened the Coq au Vin enough that I did not need to add the Beurre manié.

  1.  Cut each chicken into eight pieces (2 legs, 2 thighs, 2 wings with tips cut off and 2 breasts – breasts can be cut in half) and dredge in flour seasoned with salt and pepper.

  1. Heat the clarified butter in a 12-inch braiser, brown the chicken in two or three batches.
  2. Add the brandy and ignite (omit this step if not using brandy).  When the flame dies, add the bouquet garni, garlic, wine and stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  3. Cover the pan and simmer until the chicken is tender, approximately 40 minutes.
  4. In a separate pan, sauté the bacon (if using country ham, add a little canola oil to the bottom of the pan before sautéing the ham). Add the onions, leek and potato and sauté until they begin to brown.  Cook the bacon (or ham), onions  and potato covered, over low heat, until the onions are tender.  Add the mushrooms and cook them until they are tender.
  5. Remove the chicken from the pan and adjust the sauce’s consistency with the Beurre manié and a little extra chicken stock if needed. Strain the sauce through a china cap and adjust the seasonings.  Spoon the bacon, onions, potato and mushrooms onto a serving plate, place the chicken over them and ladle the sauce over the finished dish.

I will share more of the French Country Recipes from the workshop in future posts…Apple Tarte Tatin, Herb and Cheese Gnocchi with Beurre Blanc, and Ratatouille…oh la la!

Our Country French Culinary Workshop Class!

Until Next Thyme!

You are invited to visit my Facebook page: Bubblybee


 

 

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