Tag Archives: French Champagne

To Every Season There Is Champagne

pumpkin

Welcome Fall!  Cooler temperatures, colorful leaves…let’s toast this beautiful season with champagne!  Pumpkin can be a bit overdone this time of year (just ask any coffee shop barista about pumpkin lattes!) but champagne is perfect for any occasion, any season.

pumpkin

Fleutau champagnechampagne

Fluteau 2006 Cuvée Symbiose Champagne  

Champagne Fluteau, founded in 1935, is a family owned winery located in the southern part of the Champagne growing region of France. The grapes are all hand harvested and sorted to ensure that the grapes arrive at the press in pristine condition.  Artisan crafted grower champagne.  Crisp with apple and lemon notes. Lovely pairing with seafood.   Lots of lovely little bubbles dancing in the flute.   $50 range.

champagne and pumpkinchampagne toast

White pumpkins are my favorite…I love creating tablescapes with white pumpkins.

Voirin-Jumel Blanc de Blanc Grand Cru Champagne

100 % chardonnay.  Small producer located in Cramant, France.  Lovely pairing with oysters. $40 range. Light lemon notes.

Truly a very special treat…one of my favorite champagnes… 1998 Cuveé R. Lalou Champagne Cuveé Prestige.  Lemon, crushed granite, honey,  toast – and nice finish.  Beautiful radiant gold with effervescent bubbles.

René Lalou was the Chairman of the prestigious Champagne house of G.H. Mumm during the 20th century.    In tribute to him, a special cuvée bearing his name was produced  from 1966 to 1985.  Luckily for us,  in 2007, G.H.MUMM decided to revive this legendary cuvée.  The Cellar Master devised a champagne de terroir bred from the best of the House vineyards and named it R. Lalou.  $200 range.

Champagne…if you are seeking the truth, is better than a lie detector.  It encourages a man to be expansive, even reckless, while lie detectors are only a challenge to tell lies successfully.  ~ Graham Greene

cocktail mixercrackers

Sometimes I enjoy mixing a cocktail without all the fuss of sourcing and measuring the ingredients, so I was happy to find Cocktail Crate Craft Mixers at Fresh Market…”Born in Queens, NYC”.  Bubblybee chose “Ginger Bee”, mixed it with vodka, served it in a frozen “Copper Mule Mug” with lots and lots of fresh lime.  Rich honey sweetness, fresh ginger and subtle clove.  Just add one part spirit to one part mixer in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake, shake, shake!

I served Dewey’s Sharp Aged Cheddar Crackers with my cocktail. Delicious crisp little crackers that disappeared quickly! A southern favorite, Dewey’s Crackers are also available in these flavors Low Country Boil,  Chipotle Cheddar Cornbread, and Carolina Style Barbeque.

If you’d like to sign up for the Fresh Market newsletter (to find out about new products and promotions),  here’s the link:  https://www.thefreshmarket.com

toast-1

CHEERS!

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My Favorite Recipe For Baba Ganoush

My wonderful husband presented a champagne tasting as a surprise for me this week…Champagne Dautel-Cadot Grande Tradition Brut NV and Dautel-Cadot Champagne Cuvee Prestige Brut NV.

I love it when I walk in the kitchen and find this sitting on the island which means we are about to commence to tastin’…

My favorite was the Champagne Dautel-Cadot Grande Tradition Brut NV.  Consists of 100% pinot noir grapes. $25 range.  We tasted notes of lemon meringue and green apple.  Bright without being too acidic.  Fresh and crisp. After my first sip I exclaimed:  “I love this!”

champagne tasting 1

The Dautel-Cadot Champagne Cuvee Prestige Brut NV was also delightful. 50% chardonnay and 50% pinot noir grapes.  $28 range.  We tasted orange blossom and meyer lemon flavors in this champagne.  Lots of fun bubbles dancing in the flute!

champagne tasting 2

Eggplant is in season!  This is my husband’s favorite appetizer, much like a  Baba Ganoush with some fun taste twists that enhance the flavor of the eggplant:

Eggplant Paté

Note:  I puree the ingredients in my blender. A food processor may also be used.

1 cup pureed eggplant (cut eggplant in half and roast in oven, scoop out eggplant pulp with spoon and discard eggplant shell. For one cup pureed eggplant you will need 2 eggplants)

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 red bell pepper, cored, roasted and peeled, pureed (place cored pepper under the oven broiler and blacken all sides of the pepper. Place pepper in a paper bag, close the bag and allow the pepper to cool.  Remove the pepper from the bag and scrape off the peel with a sharp knife.

1 tablespoon butter

2.25 ounces pine nuts

1 tablespoon fresh oregano

12 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 ½ teaspoons medium peri-peri sauce

1 tablespoon tomato paste

3 ounces goat‘s milk cheese (little log)

Firehook Mediterranean Baked Crackers – sea salt variety (or serve with your favorite flatbread cracker)

  1. Melt butter in small sauté pan. Add pine nuts and sauté over medium-low heat, stirring constantly (monitor carefully because pine nuts will burn quickly) until pine nuts just begin to brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Place the eggplant puree, red pepper puree, oregano, basil leaves, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, peri-peri sauce, tomato paste in a blender or food processor . Blend until all ingredients are combined and the mixture has a relatively smooth consistency.  If the mixture is too thick to blend a little more olive oil can be added.
  3. Place half of the eggplant mixture in a small serving dish. Crumble the goat cheese over the eggplant mixture. Top the goat cheese with the other half of the eggplant mixture. Top the eggplant mixture with the pine nuts.
  4. Serve with crisp flatbread crackers.

tim tam packagetim tams

Love these irresistable chocolaty happiness in a biscuit Tim Tams!  Dark mint is my favorite. 

limenchello

sparkle

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Champagne Baron-Fuénte ~ Perfect Food Pairings For Champagne

Where there is no wine there is no love.

                        …Euripides

On a warm summer evening my husband treated me to a tasting of Baron Fuénte Champagne.

It is always tons of fun to delve into food pairings to match champagnes. I use the book WHAT to DRINK with WHAT you EAT by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page to help get my creative food pairing juices going.

I decided on these champagne and food pairings for our champagne tasting:

Pan Fried Rainbow Trout with Fresh Dill Butter / Baron-Fuénte Grands Cepages Chardonnay Champagne NV

Black Currant Glazed Pork Barbecue on Brioche Buns / Baron-Fuénte Esprit Champagne Grand Cru Brut NV

Saint-André Triple Crème Cheese with Flatbread Crackers / Baron Fuénte Baron S Champagne NV

Baron-Fuénte Grands Cepages Chardonnay Champagne NV served with Pan Fried Rainbow Trout with Fresh Dill Butter.  This champagne is composed of 100% chardonnay grapes. I love the shape of this bubbly bottle.  $45 range.  Notes of citrus (lemon zest), creamy, nice tiny bubbles dancing around the flute, finishing with a touch of toasted almond.

The butter sauce made the champagne taste even more buttery…yum!  Dill pairs very well with chardonnay.

The Baron- Fuénte Grands Cepages Chardonnay Champagne NV was my favorite champagne of the three champagnes we tasted that evening.

porkchampagne baron

Our next pairing was our favorite pairing of the evening.   Baron-Fuénte Esprit Champagne Grand Cru Brut NV ($35 range) served with Black Currant Glazed Pork Barbecue on Brioche Buns.  This champagne had red currant flavors and consists of 55% chardonnay and 45% pinot noir grapes.  Pork is a good pairing for chardonnay, so I set out to create a recipe that would showcase the pork and red currant flavors.

I’ve found that the quality of ingredients in making a sandwich is of utmost importance. Purchase the best quality pork loin available for this sandwich.

I could not find red currant jam, but I did find a delicious black currant jam at our local Fresh Market. I glazed very thin slices of pork with the jam, added a few “secret” ingredients and served on toasted brioche buns. The brioche buns are where it’s at baby!  This pairing was over the top yummilish!

As I was cooking the pork I noticed that someone else was very interested in the aroma of the pork:

cat cat

champagne flightcheese

The final pairing of the evening was Baron Fuénte Baron S Champagne NV served with Saint-André Triple Crème Cheese with Flatbread Crackers.  The Baron S ($30 range) is composed of 60% pinot meunier and 40% chardonnay grapes.  Lots of tiny bubbles with a fine mousse.  The pinot meunier grapes give this bubbly a bit of earthiness which pairs well with the cheese.

I enjoyed finding this website that has tasting notes and fun photos from Baron Fuénte vineyard:  https://baronfuente.com/en/

Each of these champagnes could serve as an aperitif (alcoholic drink served just prior to a meal to stimulate the appetite) as well as a pairing with food.

fiancier boxfinancier

For dessert I served “Financiers”, tiny pound cakes that a bubbly friend of mine sent me from France.  They are the perfect little buttery bite after a rich meal.

champagne napkin

kitty cat

Relaxing after the champagne tasting…

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The Chocolate Experience + Champagne!

peaches

This Summer Is Just Peachy!

Historic City Market, Roanoke, Virginia

http://www.downtownroanoke.org/explore/farmers-market

Altus Chocolate Envelope

chocolate nibs

Another reason to love Downtown Roanoke:

Altus Chocolate

http://www.altuschocolate.com

Campbell Avenue, Downtown Roanoke

The Altus Story is posted in their chocolate shop:

After watching the movie “Chocolat”, Carl and Mary (now the owners of Altus Chocolate) were enamoured by the idea that chocolate could be made in small batches.  The molcajete (Mexican version of the mortar and pestle) pictured above is similar to the one they used to grind their first batch of chocolate.  It took them roughly 24 hours to grind that first batch and it was, as they describe it, “incredible”.

Their chocolate lounges are in Lynchburg and Roanoke, Virginia.  What they love about making chocolate:

  1. Dancing in the kitchen.
  2.  Sharing the best chocolate with the best of friends.
  3. Watching faces light up when others experience a single origin tasting for the first time.

They are sharing a chocolate experience!

The best way to find out about happenings (such as the chocolate tasting on July 15) at this lovely chocolate shop is by Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/altuschocolateroanoke

Altus features handmade chocolates, gelato, delicious pastries, unique chocolate bars, drinking chocolate, espresso and specialty coffee drinks (wine coming soon!).

chocolate firechocolate peach

Altus handmade chocolate flavors include Mango Mint Coriander, Summer Sangria, Strawberry Balsamic, Madagascar Vanilla, Chai Spice, Virginia Peanut…

gelato

Altus also serves one of my favorites…Affogato…a shot of fresh espresso over your choice of gelato.  DELIZIOSO!

champagne at wines

And I always enjoy some sips of bubbly with my chocolate…such as this delightful Fluteau Cuvée Symbiose Brut 2006.  50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir grapes from Gye-Sur-Seine in the southernmost part of Champagne. Balanced and vibrant with lots of bubbles in the flute.   Toasty notes with a hint of lemon and spice.  $50 range.

This Summer I could…

rose

Our bubbly friends are in the islands during this 4th of July holiday and here’s what they are enjoying…

rose mary ellen

While here at home I am enjoying…

rose french

Provence Rosé 2016 Chateau Paradis ‘La Grande Terre’

Crisp and refreshing. Juicy peach notes with just a touch of minerality.  I love the label on this one!  40% Syrah, 30% Grenache and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. $13 range.

Please comment to let me know the name of your favorite Rosé!

flower

Happy 4th of July!

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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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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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