Sip Szigeti? Champagne Risotto

champagne seizler

The name Szigeti is intriguing…this lovely Austrian sparkling wine tickled my taste buds. I was pleasantly surprised at the first sip – creaminess on the palate with crisp apple notes.

Grape Varieties: Grüner Veltliner

 Vintage: 2013

Region: Lake Neusiedl – Burgenland

Tasting Notes from website:
Lovely golden colour with light green tinges. Delicate aromas of apple with a touch of white pepper. Dry with crunchy acidity, hint of honeysuckle and kiwi over elegant lime notes.

My notes: Creamy, fruity with apple notes.

Locally sourced at Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar, Roanoke, Virginia ($21.00 range)

risotto champagne

Champagne Risotto

The champagne in this dish gives the risotto a bit of a lemony flavor ~ and the fresh herbs give it even more zest –  some of the best risotto I’ve ever tasted – yum!

Serves 4

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 bunch (6) spring onions, white part and just a little of the green part, sliced thin

6 baby Portobello mushrooms, chopped

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 garlic cloves, minced

4  cups  to 4 1/2 cups vegetable broth

1 1/2 cups arborio rice

1/2 cup champagne (sparkling wine can be substituted) plus 1/2 cup champagne for the cook to sip on while cooking the risotto since this dish does take a little bit of time to cook!

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

10 fresh basil leaves chiffonade

1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

1/3 cup chopped fresh chives

 Chili Oil for garnish (available at Asian grocery)

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the spring onion, mushrooms, garlic, salt and pepper. Stir and cook until mushrooms are soft.  Add the rice to the mushroom mixture. Stir to coat the rice with the butter mixture and cook over low heat for about 2 minutes.  Stir in the 1/2 cup of champagne.  Continue to cook and stir over medium low heat until all of the champagne is absorbed.  Add vegetable broth one cup at a time, stirring and cooking until rice absorbs the broth. If the rice is not tender after adding 4 cups of broth, add 1/2 cup more broth.  After about 18 minutes of stirring and cooking the rice will be tender.

Remove rice from heat and stir in basil, Italian parsley, chives and Parmesan cheese. To serve spoon rice into warm bowls and drizzle lightly (to taste) with chili oil.

From Karen MacNeil’s WineSpeed Newsletter:

 Wine question of the week:  Which of the following is the driest style of Champagne or sparkling wine?

A. Brut   B. Extra Dry   C. Demi-sec    D. Extra Brut

Answer:  D. Extra Brut is a very dry Champagne or sparkling wine with less than .6 percent of sugar per liter.  Brut is a dry to very dry style containing less than 1.5 percent sugar per liter. Extra Dry is slightly sweeter than Brut. And Demi-sec, with 3.3 to 5.0  percent of sugar per liter, is sweeter than Extra Dry.

 

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A Pleasant Twist On Italian Rosé

rose-strawberry-2

Cleto Chiarli Brut de Noir Rosé

Rosé Vino Spumante Brut

I readily admit I am a sucker for a pretty wine label.  The Cleto Chiarli with its fancy label and frilly script pulled me right in.  Pretty pink in the glass. This sparkling is a wonderful value and a very enjoyable rosé  for summer sippin’. I picked up this bottle at Barrel Chest in Roanoke, Virginia. http://www.barrelchestwineandbeer.com/

Blend of Grasparossa and Pinot Nero grapes.  Raspberry and Strawberry notes are no surprise in this wine. The real surprise is the smooth finish…no acidic bite or tannins at the end of the sip…just a touch of refreshing lingering lemon at the very end.

After I purchased this bottle, chilled it and was sipping on it, I opened the Sunday, June 18, 2016 issue of the Wall Street Journal (thank you to my bubbly friend who always saves WSJ wine articles for me!) and found the article 20 Splendid Summer Wines – All Under $20.  The very wine I was sipping was recommended in this article:  The Emilia-Romagna region of Italy is as famous for Lambrusco as it is for cheese, though its Parmigiano-Reggiano may get more respect – or at least recognition – and that’s a shame.  A dry, frothy red like this is compulsively drinkable and great with food.  Serve well-chilled.  

Rose kind of day

Please follow me on Facebook:  BubblyBee

U.S. Sparkling For The Summer!

In anticipation of the summer season, Wine Spectator published an article:  Sparkling Summer ~ As consumers thirst for bubbly, U.S. producers continue to shine.   Here’s a list of U.S. Sparkling Wine from Wine Spectator with rating and release price:

http://www.winespectator.com/wines/list/id/51550

Included in the article are the Top Values ~ sparkling wines that won’t break the bank.  I will try as many of these sparklings that are available to me and will report back here.

Argyle

Wine Spectator tasting notes:  Argyle Brut Rosé Willamette Valley 2011. Light and refreshing, a refined style, with finesse to the balance of fruit and savory notes as the finish dances. Rated 91.

My tasting notes:  My bottle of Argyle arrived as a special order from Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar, Roanoke, Virginia. http://mrbillswinecellar.com

A lovely sparkling offering from Oregon. Tiny bubbles dance around the glass.  Pretty pale pink salmon color.  The first sip explodes with fresh ripe cherry flavors.  A blend of 70% pinot noir and 25% pinot meunier with a splash of chardonnay. The finish is creamy but with a little tingle on the tongue. This sparkly is well deserving of its 91 points. Cheers!

Champagne Tasting And A Coca Cola?!

Coke bottle

Forget the V8! I bet this guy wished he had champagne!  This sculpture is on display at MoMA (Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art), NYC.  Titled Love  by Marisol Escobar, Venezuelan, born in France 1930.  Plaster and glass (Coca-Cola bottle).

A couple of sparklers to get this weekend started…

champagne

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). Wine Enthusiast rated this champagne 92 points.

dom

2005 Dom Perignon Brut, Champagne

Toasty, balanced and silky with a creamy mousse and a long intense finish. Beautiful tiny bubbles dancing in the flute.  Wine Enthusiast rated this champagne 95 points.

bubbles and brunch

Happy Weekend! Don’t forget the Mimosas and the Buck Fizzes!

Mimosa = equal parts champagne and orange juice

Buck Fizz = two parts champagne and one part orange juice

Cocktail School At River and Rail Restaurant!

cocktail shake

Sunday evening my bubbly friend and I attended Cocktail School at River and Rail Restaurant in Roanoke, Virginia.  Our talented “Cocktail Professors” were Devon Steiner, Manager and Sous Chef John Diaz (pictured above) of River and Rail.

Veuve champagne

We started the evening with Veuve Ambal Blanc de Blancs Brut sparkling wine.  A lovely apéritif, crisp, dry, with notes of fresh apple and a touch of honey. A lively little sparkler!

A bit of history about this bubbly from http://devinewine.com.au

Maison Veuve Ambal was founded in the heart of Burgundy in 1898, by Veuve Marie Ambal, widow of a Parisian banker. Marie returned to Rully to join her brother, a wine lover and wine broker, to make wine at the time “method traditionelle” was being introduced for sparkling wines. The wines immediately gained recognition, and her grandson Charles Roux Ambal, followed by his grandson and current President Eric Piffaut, have continued to build on Marie’s philosophy of quality, and the combination of tradition and modernity which is the signature of Veuve Ambal. With over 200 hectares of vineyards across Burgundy, mainly planted to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Veuve Ambal remain leaders in the production of  sparkling wines today. 

Pale yellow gold in colour, the Veuve Ambal Cremant de Bourgogne shows an exceptionally fine, persistent mousse. The fruity bouquet shows enticing citrusy notes, with a hint of red fruits and some biscuity complexity. The palate is elegant and harmonious, the finish long, crisp and dry. 

strawberry shrub

One of the reasons that River and Rail’s Strawberry Daiquiri tastes so good…they make the daiquiri with strawberry shrub (pictured above).  A shrub is a vinegar-based syrup and referred to as “Drinking Vinegar”. Drinking vinegar is often infused with fruit juice, herbs and spices for use in mixed drinks.  Devon and Chef John recommend adding ingredients to match the season such as clove and cinnamon during the holidays.  Our shrub had a little orange zest in it. My bubbly friend and I determined that the shrub made the daquiri taste not as syrupy sweet as commercial mixes which was refreshing. They recommended serving the daiquiri in a chilled coupe glass. Double straining with a cocktail strainer is a good idea for this drink to remove any ice crystals. Always use fresh juices in your cocktails, it’s worth the little bit of extra effort.

River and Rail Strawberry Shrub

Wash and slice 1# strawberries

Cover with 2 cups granulated sugar, stir to coat evenly

Let this sit with a breathable cover (cheesecloth) for 24-48 hours

Strain syrup through fine mesh strainer or use coffee filter

Add red wine vinegar to taste (Devon likes 2/3 cup for this recipe)

Pour into mason jar and refrigerate. Over time, the shrub will mellow out and flavors marry

  • Experiment with citrus, spices and vinegars
  • Great in nonalcoholic beverages as well

River and Rail Strawberry Daiquiri

2 ounces rum

1 ounce lime juice

1 ounce strawberry shrub

1 dash rhubarb bitters

Add ice to shaker, shake hard, double strain into coupe glass. Optional garnish:  Thin lime wheel, strawberry or cherry

River and Rail Bourbon Sour

1.5 ounces bourbon

.75 ounces simple syrup

.75 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice

Add ice to shaker, shake hard, strain into rocks glass

Sour mix:  DO NOT BUY STORE SOUR, make your own. Equal parts lemon juice to simple syrup. Simple syrup:  1 cup sugar + 1 cup boiling water = 1.5 cups simple syrup. Refrigerate up to 1 month.

negronivermouth

June 6 – June 12, 2016 was National Negroni Week. Here’s a link to some fun information about this Italian cocktail: https://www.thrillist.com/drink/nation/negroni-cocktail-facts-history-negroni-week

They recommend serving this cocktail over a “big rock” (large ice cube that fills the glass).  Do not shake this cocktail because shaking bruises the botanicals in the gin.

River and Rail Negroni

1 ounce gin

1 ounce sweet vermouth

1 oz. Campari

Combine over ice, stir until glass is frosty, about 30 stirs.  Serve over ice or up.  Garnish: Orange Peel

meatstrawberry bowl

The  lovely hors d’oeuvres included housemade Charcuterie and fresh strawberries.

champagne

Finished this lovely evening on the patio under the stars with this bottle of bubbly: Tendil & Lombardi  Blanc de Noirs Champagne.

100 % pinot noir champagne. Creamy mousse, crisp apple and raspberry notes with a hint of toast.  Wine Spectator rated this champagne “90 points”.

L Asiatic Trogon Lily

This Red Carpet Cocktail Deserves An Academy Award!

chili oil on red carpet cocktail

Link to The London Bar, NYC: http://www.thelondonnyc.com/photos-en.html

Jean Carlos Parra, Bartender, The London Bar, NYC creates this fanciful cocktail: The Red CarpetI was intrigued by the Thai Chili Pepper-Infused Oil drizzled on the top of this fabulous raspberry blood orange cocktail. Here’s the original recipe and a couple of my twists – very easy to make and very sippable!

The Red Carpet

10 fresh raspberries (I did not have fresh raspberries so I used 4 tablespoons frozen raspberry puree that I had in the freezer – I made the raspberry puree by placing fresh raspberries in a saute pan, heating and smashing them with a fork until they are mushy and juicy. Strain the puree through a fine sieve. Discard seeds from sieve. Place juice in a freezer container and freeze until ready to use. )

2 ounces blood orange puree (I did not have blood oranges so I substituted 2 ounces of blood orange European soda – the soda has a little carbonation in it – this soda is sold locally at Fresh Market.)

1 ounce fresh lime juice

1 ounce agave nectar

3 ounces vodka (I used 1 ounce of Sunset Hills Virginia Gin…I did not want a strong drink so I used less than the 3 ounces the original recipe called for and I wanted to make a gin drink so I used the Sunset Hills. I like this particular gin because it does not have a strong juniper berry flavor or aroma.  https://sipologyblog.com/2012/04/24/sunset-hills-virginia-gin/ (Other types of gin may be too strong in juniper berry flavor for this drink.)

5 – 10 drops of Thai chili-infused oil (optional) (I found this oil at our local Asian market.)

In a cocktail shaker, muddle approximately 10 raspberries (if using raspberry puree place puree in cocktail shaker). Add blood orange puree (or blood orange soda), lime juice, agave nectar, and vodka (or gin) and shake vigorously. (I added a few ice cubes to the cocktail shaker to make sure the cocktail was icy cold.) Strain into a chilled martini glass. For an added kick, top with Thai chili-infused oil.

 

Flûte! Champagne Bar and Lounge, Midtown, NYC

stary night

It was a Starry Night…

(Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night at the Museum of Modern Art, NYC)

flute me 2

The perfect night to visit Flûte Champagne Bar and Lounge in Midtown, New York City…

http://www.flutebar.com

Flûte Bar & Lounge opened in midtown Manhattan in 1997, taking over the space that once operated as the notorious speakeasy, Club Intime. At Flûte Midtown, we take champagne out of the nightclub VIP room and bring it into the chic, intimate, comfortable setting of a New York lounge: French art de vivre meets New York City nightlife.

Down a short flight of stairs from the sidewalk, but worlds away from the bustle of Midtown Manhattan, Flûte Midtown operates in a space that was once a speakeasy run by the notorious Texas Guinan. Texas Guinan was infamous for her brazen disregard of Prohibition, her army of scantily clad showgirls, her witty catch-phrases and her string of New York nightclubs where writers, socialites and shady types rubbed elbows. Flûte Midtown’s speakeasy history is preserved in its subtle lighting, cocktail menu and honeycomb of intimate booths, and it continues the tradition of providing a haven to the chic, the literary, the night owls and those in-the-know.

flute glasses being served

flute flight

“The Magic Flûtes”

“Le Vie en Rose”

Champagne Tasting Flights

Reasons to love this place:

  1. 100 champagnes and sparkling wines, a full bar, specialty sparkling cocktails and small plates.
  2.  Two-for-one drinks, including champagne, every Tuesday until 8pm.
  3.   They have a champagne school!  Join Flûte’s experts every month to learn about champagne and sparkling wine by tasting wines side-by-side, with detailed information presented on each wine and time for questions.
  4. Lots of super cool events and jazz music…check out their Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/flutemidtown/timeline

champagne school

flute lady

 

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