Tag Archives: wine

Cava For My Valentine

Just because it is Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune on bubbly. Spainish cava can be white or rosé and it is made with the same method as champagne “Méthode Traditionnelle “. This method requires a
second fermantation of the wine that takes place in the individual bottles which will later be sold. Cava is a refreshing aperitif or a lovely pairing with Valentine’s dinner.

Codorniu Anna Cava Brut
Rosé

I recently tasted several cavas that are available on-line and locally in Roanoke, Virginia. My favorite of the five was Codorniu Anna Cava Brut
Rosé. It was offered on our hotel breakfast buffet in Sevilla, Spain along with freshly squeezed orange juice to make mimosas. They had little orange trees on the tables in the outdoor courtyard.

Anna Cava was my favorite of the bunch. This pretty rose color bubbly would be a very nice aperitif or dessert wine for Valentine’s Day. Pair it with a white or milk chocolate dessert with strawberries since its flavor is predominantly strawberry. $14 range. Available locally at Earth Fare.


Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Heredad Cava

One of my all time favorite cavas is Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Heredad 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. Available locally at Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar.

Photo by Mikes Photos on Pexels.com

One of the cavas I tasted was Dibon. It is commonly found in grocery stores. This cava has grassy undertones with stone fruit flavors and mild minerality. It is crisp and light-bodied on the palate but in my opinion it is not the best sipping cava. I would serve this cava in mimosas or other sparkling wine cocktails. $10 – $12 range.


My favorite white cava of the cavas I tasted was the
Avinyó Reserva 2015. Fresh and vibrant with lemony brioche notes. A fun sipping bubbly. Available locally at Rock Fish Restaurant. $20 range

Photo by Pixaay on Pexels.com

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Sparkling Holiday Champagne Dinner

man wearing black dress shirt holding a flute glass and black wine bottle

Photo by GEORGE DESIPRIS on Pexels.com

Champagne Thought Of The Day ~ The Whisper Of Love

The sound of air slowly releasing from the Champagne bottle when de-corked is called ‘the whisper of love’. To hear this noise, place your thumb on the muselet, the wire cage that fits over a bottle of Champagne, and gently turn the bottle left. (Under pressure, the longer a cork stays in the bottle, the smaller and more narrow it becomes.)

Sparkling Holiday Champagne Dinner

I love small plate dinners especially during the holidays. Wine pairing is easy with tiny bites of flavorful foods and no one gets overstuffed with huge portions. Here’s my recent menu from a festive champagne small plate dinner with friends.

We greeted our guests with Charles de Cazanove 2000 Stradivarius Brut Champagne. I served the champagne with delicate Boursin cheese palmliers. These cheese pastries are easy to make, light and airy that compliment champagne.

Boursin Cheese Palmiers

The palmiers can be prepared a day ahead of the party.  Prepare the palmiers, do not bake,  place them on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with vegetable spray, cover with plastic wrap and freeze. Bake them just before service.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

1/2 (5.2 ounce package) package Boursin herb and garlic cheese

1/2 cup Italian blend shredded cheese (Mozzarella and Provolone, Parmesan,Fontina, Romano and Asiago)

Melted butter

Place puff pastry sheet on a cutting board that has been dusted with flour. With a rolling pin, roll the dough until it’s 13 by 13-inches square. Spread the puff pastry sheet evenly with the Boursin cheese.  Sprinkle the Italian blend cheese over the Boursin cheese. Roll each short end to the center of the pastry, making sure to roll tightly and evenly. Freeze rolled log for 20 minutes, until very firm but not frozen. Slice crosswise into 3/8-inch slices. Place the palmiers on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with vegetable spray. Brush tops of palmiers with melted butter. Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 6 to 10 minutes or until nicely browned. (Watch carefully so that they do not burn.)

champagne lobster

Our first course was Lobster Mashed Potatoes in a cocktail spoon paired with Veuve Clicquot Brut Champagne. The lobster mash is super easy to prepare. Marinate lobster tails in Sprite or ginger ale and sprinkle the meat side of the lobster generously with Old Bay seasoning in the refrigerator for two hours or overnight. Broil or grill the lobster until the meat starts to pull away from the shell. Cool the lobster the remove the lobster meat from the shells and chop it into little pieces. Mix a little whipping cream into deli mashed potatoes, place a dollop of the mashed potatoes in appetizer spoon, top with chopped lobster meat, melted butter and chopped fresh chives. Broil until bubbly. Let the spoons cool a little before serving so they will not be too hot to handle. I bought two small lobster tails to serve 14 spoons (2 for each guest) along with 1/2 pound mashed potatoes from the Fresh Market deli.

theroanoker.com

Our second course was Braised Pork Ragout With Pearl Onions And Mushrooms.  The recipe is in the Roanoker Magazine Blog and here’s the link:

https://theroanoker.com/blogging/behind-the-page/how-the-french-warm-up-in-winter-ragout/

We paired the ragout with Isiri Barolo.

Our third course was mini shrimp and grits and fourth course was mini cheeseburger sliders with caramelized onions paired with Silver Oak Alexander Valley.

Pre-dessert is to dessert as amuse bouche is to hors d’oeuvre.  A small dessert-like course served before the main dessert. I served a tiny almond cake with espresso topped with sweetened whipped cream. I found both the cakes and the espresso coffee beans at Fresh Market.
The presentation is a metal electrical box I bought at Lowes covered with decoupage paper.

dessert

And the grand finale…Flourless Chocolate Cake with Sweetened Whipped Cream and Amarena cherries paired with 2004 Haut Charmes Sauternes. Here’s the recipe for this lovely cake. The cherries are available at Tinnell’s Finer Foods in Roanoke or on-line. 

https://bakerbynature.com/flourless-chocolate-fudge-cake/

The next day we had a 14 inch snow. Our cats were fascinated when snow fell off the roof!

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Celebrating Cava at Parés Baltà Winery in Spain

It is a pleasure to co-host Fiesta Friday with my co-host Catherine today.  FiestaFriday.net. Please visit Catherine’s blog: https://kunstkitchen.wordpress.com. I’ll be sharing interesting tidbits from the Fiesta Friday link-up throughout the day on Pinterest, Instagram (bubblybeeboop), Facebook (bubblybee) and Twitter.  

“Bacchus opens the gate of the heart.” … Homer

While visiting the Catalonia region in Spain I couldn’t wait to visit the wineries that make Cava. One of my favorites is Freixenet.

The first bottle of Freixenet was released in 1914, the creation of a couple named Pedro Ferrer & Dolores Sala who were both from winemaking families.
In 1889, Pedro Ferrer married Dolores Sala, whose family had been making wine at their Casa Sala property since 1861. Pedro’s nickname was “El Freixenet”, named after his family’s ranch “La Freixeneda”, which means ash tree grove in Catalan. Dolores’ keen interest in the winemaking process was easily complemented by Pedro’s business savvy and sense of community.
Their marriage coincided with the arrival of the Phylloxera plague in Spain, which wiped out most of Europe’s vineyards. Far from being deterred, the couple replanted their decimated land with white varietals to make sparkling wine. In 1914, the first bottles were released with Pedro’s childhood nickname on the label. Freixenet had been born.
The Ferrer family continues to own and manage Freixenet today. Salut!

Motorcycle made in the shape of a Freixenet Cava bottle!

Driving towards Cava Heaven…Parés Baltà Winery

“A fruit is a vegetable with looks and money. Plus, if you let fruit rot, it turns to wine, something Brussels sprouts never do.”  … P.J. O’Rourke

Parés Baltà Winery, Pacs del Penedes, Catalonia, Spain.

Since 2000 the winery has been managed by two grandsons of the original owner Joan and Josep Cusiné Carol.

The wives of Joan and Josep, Maria Elena Jimenez and Marta Casas are the winemakers and oenologists.  Parés Baltà has been certified organic since 2004.

All of their wines are certified as organic and their vineyards as biodynamic. They do not use herbicides, pesticides or any chemical fertilizer. They have sheep that fertilize the vines after the harvest and bees that pollinate the vines during the flowering season.

They use organic manure and special herbs in their compost (as well as cattle horns) but they also plant, and trim vines and harvest according to the phases of the moon.

“The juice of the grape is the liquid quintessence of concentrated sunbeams.” … Thomas Love Peacock

Cava is the Catalan word for “cellar.”

We asked about these moldy bottles in the wine cave. Our guide told us that they no longer use those bottles. They are just for show. They call them “cemetery bottles”. I call them creepy!

cava caves

Our guide explained about the “Mother” in the Cava:  This sparkling wine is made with the traditional method, an aging system similar to that of “Methode Champenoise” which is used when making champagne. As the bottle is turned upside-down and rotated, the “Mother” of the Cava, in small filaments, slides to the neck of the bottle. The “Mother” is expelled from the bottle at very high pressure, in a process known as “Desgorche”.

Rosa cava

Our winery tour included a chocolate and wine tasting. The first taste was Rosa Cusine (the last name of the winery owners is Cusiné!) (100% Garnatxa)  2013 with white chocolate with tiny bits of strawberry in it. The smooth creaminess of the white chocolate was perfect with the bubbles and the strawberry flavor made the rosé pop!

Our next taste was Hisenda Miret Garnatxa 2015. 100% Garnacha grapes. On the palate, there are flavors of cherries and blueberries with an accompaniment of spicy toast. It is a silky smooth wine with a lingering finish.

cava vineyard and olive oil

And for “dessert”…dark chocolate on baguette drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. Served with  Gratavinum Dolç d’en Piqué. This wine is deep ruby in color,  soft and velvety. Intense aroma of dry fruits combined with vanilla and toasty notes from the barrel.

https://www.gratavinum.com/

b cava

When I returned home I purchased Parés Baltà b Brut Cava at the Roanoke Natural Foods Co-op.  $15 range.  Blend of 62% Parellada, 22% Macabeu, 16% Xarel·lo grapes. Creamy and elegant, with a bright mineral finish. Notes of fresh green apple with a hint of almond. Crisp and refreshing.

Photo by Mikes Photos on Pexels.com

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Summer Time Sparkles … Sangria + Rosé + Dragon Fruit Salsa

Visit Roanoker Magazine to find Fun Summer Appetizer Recipes

including Dragon Fruit Salsa with Baked Wonton Chips Sprinkled with Sea Salt and Pink Peppercorns

Here’s the link:

https://theroanoker.com/magazine/features/healthy-summer-appetizers-with-an-asian-flair/

Happy Summertime Sippin’!

 Peachy Rosé Sangria

This Peachy Rosé Sangria is a lighter, fruity version of classic Sangria. The Grand Marnier Raspberry Peach is a blend of the natural flavors of succulent European raspberries and rare red peaches from Ardèche in the south of France, combined with the world-renowned Grand Marnier…makes any get together a FIESTA!

1 bottle Rosé

5 ounces Grand Marnier Raspberry Peach

6 ounces fresh raspberries

12 fresh strawberries, capped and sliced

2 tablespoons sugar

3 small fresh peaches, pitted and chopped

1 cup seltzer water

Ice for service

Place strawberries in a small bowl, sprinkle with sugar, stir to combine. Set aside.

Place Rosé in sangria pitcher.  Add Grand Marnier Raspberry Peach, raspberries, sugared strawberries and peaches. Stir to combine. Place in refrigerator overnight.  When ready to serve, add seltzer water and stir lightly to combine with other ingredients.  Serve in glasses over ice.

This recipe was originally published in the South Roanoke Living Magazine, July 2016 issue.

First Press Blood Orange Rosé is a fun little summer wine.  I think it’s perfectly OK to put ice in my wine glass when the temperature outside is over 90 degrees Fahrenheit.  So pretty in the glass, this rosé is made in France with blood orange and other natural flavors.  $15 range. Available at Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar locally or on-line.  http://mrbillswinecellar.com/

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Happy Orange Blossom Day!

“A man who was fond of wine was offered some grapes at dessert after dinner. ‘Much obliged’, said he, pushing the plate aside, ‘I am not accustomed to take my wine in pills.’ “

                                                                                                                                                                         ~ Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Wednesday, June 27, 2018 is National Orange Blossom Day!

The orange blossom  is Florida’s state flower.  National Orange Blossom Day celebrates the flower which is used in culinary dishes, desserts, teas and honey worldwide.  They add a slight citrus flavor to any dish. This special day also celebrates the Orange Blossom Cocktail.

Here’s a fabulous Orange Blossom Cocktail recipe from Foodviva.com:

Makes one cocktail.

Ingredients:

1 ounce London Dry Gin (vodka is also delicious in this cocktail)

1/3 ounce Grand Marnier or Cointreau

1 ounce fresh orange juice (I used blood orange juice)

1/3 ounce fresh lime juice (optional)

1 dash grenadine syrup (optional)

orange wedge

crushed ice

Directions:

  1. Frost the glass rim and put it in freezer to chill.
  2. Fill cocktail shaker 2/3 full of ice.  Add first 5 ingredients to the shaker and shake well.
  3. Strain and pour chilled mixed drink into chilled cocktail glass.
  4. Garnish with orange wedge and serve

I’ve always loved the way shadows play with wine glasses on a table.

My bubbly friend Cindy and I recently enjoyed a special event at Rockfish Restaurant in the Grandin Village, Roanoke, Virginia.  Every third Thursday of the month they offer a flight of tapas paired with a wine flight. https://www.rockfishfood.com/

The first tapa we enjoyed was a goat cheese and cherry tart…puff pastry round topped with creamy mild goat cheese and fresh cherry compote.  We savored every morsel, absolutely delicious paired with Miquel Pons Cava Brut NV.

The second tapa of the evening was a scallop ceviche…refreshing and delicious! Paired with:

  

Viña Cartín Albariño Rías Baixas 2017.

One of my favorite Albariño wines is Lagar de Cervera. Please visit the Roanoker Magazine:  https://theroanoker.com/blogs/behind/what-to-sip-this-summer-spanish-wine/       to find tasting notes and other fun facts about Spanish wines to enjoy sipping this summer.

Cherry Glazed Pork Belly

paired with Genio Español Monastrell Rosado

and for dessert…

Dark Chocolate Creamux with Szechuan Peppercorn Streusel paired with La Greña Rioja

We finished the evening by sharing a couple of appetizers…my favorite…Fried Green Tomatoes wrapped in Pimento Grit Cake with Comeback Sauce and Spicy Greens. Comeback Sauce is a spicy remoulade sauce ~ a Southern favorite!

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Happy Orange Blossom Day!

Carrabba’s Sausage And Lentil Soup Recipe For Father’s Day

Potatoes Picante, Grilled Prosciutto Wrapped Peaches, Charred Corn Burrata Salad…find fabulous tapas recipes on the Roanoker Magazine blog. Here’s the link:

https://theroanoker.com/blogs/behind/it%E2%80%99s-time-for-tapas/

Did someone say SOUP?!

Here’s the most delicious soup you can serve Dad on his special day.  Tastes like a yummy chili with the spicy addition of Italian sausage.  Our bubbly friends Judy and Bill served this to us for an Italian themed dinner and I loved it so much I made it for dinner the very next evening!  Bill found the recipe on Copykat.com:

Carrabba’s Sausage and Lentil Soup

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 1 cup diced white onion
  • 1/2 cup diced carrot
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 1 pound Italian sausage
  • 1 48 ounce package low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning (I used Cavender’s Greek Seasoning)
  • 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup brown lentils (I used red lentils)

Directions

In a large pot add onions, carrots, garlic, and celery and either butter or vegetable oil. Saute until the onions are transparent. Add sausage, and cook until browned. If the sausage is fairly lean drain the excess oil.

Add chicken broth, Italian seasoning, diced tomatoes and brown lentils. Cover with lid. And simmer for about 1 hour. You may want to add some additional water if too much water cooks out during the cooking process.

We found this 2016 Izadi Blanco Rioja to be an excellent pairing with the sausage and lentil soup. A blend of 80% Viura and 20% Malvasía grapes. Creamy texture with a fruit-driven freshness that balances well with the spicy flavors in the soup. Available on-line or locally at Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar.

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Sparkling Strawberry Shrub Cocktail ~ Just In Time For The Weekend!

Sparkling Strawberry Shrub

 A shrub is a vinegar-based syrup, referred to as “Drinking Vinegar”. Drinking vinegar is vinegar which is often infused with fruit juice, herbs and spices for use in mixed drinks.

I was so happy to find the recipe for Front Porch Chillin’” Sparkling Strawberry Shrub in the April/May 2018 issue of Chilled Magazine It is absolutely delicious and fruity. Do not let the idea of vinegar in a cocktail stop you from making this fabulous drink this weekend!

I was very happy to find the Cava that the magazine recommended for this cocktail in my local grocery store. You can always substitute your favorite rosé cava.

Segura Viudas Brut Rosé

The wine tastes of sweet strawberry, cherry and citrus and has lots of fun bubbles. In the $15 range.

Situated on an estate that dates back to the 11th century, Segura Viudas draws on its rich Spanish heritage, blending its legacy with modern winemaking practices to create sophisticated yet approachable Cavas.  Its award winning Cava uses distinct méthode champenoise sparkling wine by the Ferrer family of Sant Sadurni d’Anola (near Barcelona). Segura Viudas is part of the Freixenet Group, a world leader in sparkling wine production. 

To make a very good sparkly shrub:

  • Invest in a muddler. You can find a muddler for around $5. It will help you muddle up the fresh fruit with sugar and vinegar to make the shrub.
  • Plant fresh mint in your garden to use for cocktail garnishes – I particularly enjoy pineapple mint and spearmint. Fresh rosemary sprigs also make a flavorful and aromatic garnish.

Sparkling Strawberry Shrub

To make the shrub:

1 cup strawberries, chopped

1 cup water

1 1/2 cup sugar (I like to use extra fine sugar for this recipe because it dissolves very quickly, but granulated sugar works just fine too.)

1/2 cup rice wine vinegar

Muddle the strawberries in a large mason jar. Add water and sugar and stir to combine. After the sugar has begun to dissolve,  add the rice wine vinegar and stir to combine all ingredients.  Cover and refrigerate. The shrub can be stored, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to one week.

To make the Strawberry Shrub Cocktail:

Makes one cocktail:

1 ounce strawberry shrub

Segura Viudas Brut Rosé

2 large ice cubes

Rosemary Sprig or Fresh Mint and Strawberry for garnish

Place all ingredients into a snifter and add ice cubes. Stir and top with Rosé Cava; give it another little stir,  garnish with rosemary sprig or mint and a strawberry.

Saludos!

 

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