Bubbly Girl Cocktail Recipes, Drinks

Make My Bittersweet Naughty Negroni

February 1, 2018

Anyone who loves classic cocktails or things Italian knows the Negroni. It’s a bracing and bittersweet cocktail that stars Campari, sweet vermouth and gin.

Lately, I’ve noticed that riffs on this traditional Florentine cocktail have been making the rounds.

count-camillo-negroni

From camillonegroni.com

Just the other day, GQ Magazine penned a love letter to the Negroni Sbagliato, a version that adds a sparkling wine, such as Prosecco, to the mix. The name “sbagliato” roughly means broken or incorrect, as if adding Prosecco is a bad thing.

The original Negroni is named for Count Camillo Negroni, an esteemed patron of Caffè Cassoni in Florence. He usually drank Americanos (Campari, sweet vermouth and club soda), but one day in 1919, he asked barman Fosco Scarselli to swap the soda for gin!

What may have started as libation to erase a bad day has become an Italian contribution to the classic cocktail pantheon.  The Count even has his own tribute site and inspired a couple books.

Judging from the drink, I bet he liked other bitter elixirs like Italian espresso. I found my first Negronis a bit too bitter and viscous for my palate. So while I was developing recipes for my book The Bubbly Bar back in 2007, I made a softer version.

My Naughty Negroni includes a splash of Moscato d’Asti. This refreshing sparkling wine from Piedmont adds freshness and lightens. But it’s still a perfectly bittersweet aperitif  and a great way to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

The Naughty Negroni 

1 ounce Campari
1 ounce sweet vermouth
1/2 ounce gin
3-4 ounces Moscato d’Asti, chilled
1 orange peel spiral, for garnish

Add the Campari, vermouth and gin to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until your hands are cold, then strain into a champagne flute. Top with Moscato and garnish with the orange peel.

Makes 1 cocktail

© By Maria C. Hunt – Author of The Bubbly Bar. All rights reserved.

Dinner Tonight, Food + Recipes

Cauliflower: My Vegetable of the Moment

August 31, 2017
true_food_kitch_mediterranean_cauliflower

When I’ve made the same vegetable for dinner twice in one week, it’s more than a matter of convenience; I’m officially obsessed.

Right now, I’m fascinated with cauliflower. Sure, this milky member of the crucifer family lacks the superfood sexiness of kale, the exoticism of eggplant or even the sweet crunch of carrots. No, this mild-mannered vegetable is a quiet superhero of the vegetable world with the ability to be anything you want it to be.

It started with a gorgeous Food 52 image of this deep chestnut brown cauliflower steak. In case you’re wondering, you get a cauliflower steak by slicing it about 3/4-inch thick. Here’s a Dan Barber recipe for cauliflower steaks that I spotted on Food 52.

And when True Food Kitchen opened in Walnut Creek, I went to visit their super chef Nathan Coulon. We shared the Mediterranean roasted cauliflower with tahini, harissa and mint, and it’s been one of my favorite dishes there ever since. I can’t find the real recipe online, but there are a few good copycat versions, like this one by Alyssa of Her Modern Kitchen.

I’ve made cauliflower mashed potatoes, and they turned out just as creamy as the ones from the actual tuber, with a fraction of the simple carbs. And buffalo chicken cauliflower, with a tangy hot pepper sauce mellowed with a hint of sweetness, is pretty tasty, too.

But I’ve drawn the line at subbing cauliflower for a pizza crust. You may even like that sort of thing, but there are some places a Chicago girl just won’t go.

Drinks, Sparkling Wine

Drink This: Richard Grant Cuvée Rosé Brut

September 20, 2016

I never know where I’ll discover a great sparkling wine that I’ve never tasted before.

This summer, it happened at the grand opening of the Axiom Hotel, a tech-enhanced 152-room boutique hotel near Union Square in San Francisco. The owners kept vintage touches like scrolled columns and exposed brick, adding tech amenities like Bluetooth enabled 42-inch flat-screen TVs in rooms, Pac-Man and Space Invaders in the upstairs lobby and fiber-optic cable Wi-Fi that’s lightening fast and free.

The hosts were showing off their signature cocktails like the Axiom, an updated sour with rye, honey, lemon and two kinds of bitters. And it was hard to ignore the dancers in the green LED-light suits.image

But I was more interested in the unfamiliar bottle of sparkling wine I spotted behind the bar: Richard Grant Pinot Noir Cuvée Rosé Brut. When I finally got a glass at the downstairs bar, I loved the deep and intense flavors of berries and pink grapefruit in this dry sparkling wine.

Who is Richard Grant?

It turns out the full name of the man behind this wine is Richard Grant Peterson. Most California wine lovers don’t know who he is, but Dick Peterson just may be the most influential person in the California wine industry you’ve never heard of.

His two daughters are quite famous though: Holly Peterson is a chef and former instructor at the Culinary Institute of America Greystone in St. Helena, while Heidi Peterson Barrett of La Sirena is the original winemaker who made cult labels like Screaming Eagle, Dalla Valle and Grace Family famous.

Richard Peterson is a scientist and inventor whose wine career started with E&J Gallo in the late 1950s. He’s credited with bringing dry wines and bubbly to Gallo. Next he took over Beaulieu Vineyards from the legendary André Tchelistcheff, later working for The Monterey Vineyard and Atlas Peak.

His biggest impact may be his innovations in wine making techniques and equipment, such as creating the metal wine pallet system that’s used in wineries all over the world. When I interviewed Heidi Barrett a few years ago, she remarked how her dad unselfishly gave that invention — known as the Peterson Pallet — to the wine industry, never seeking a patent or any compensation. thewinemaker cover ss

And here’s another fun fact about Peterson: he created the first wine cooler. We turn up our nose at them now, but when I was just about 21, wine coolers opened a gateway to white Zinfandel, which led to Chardonnay and then international sparkling wine — and the rest is history! You can learn more about Grant’s childhood and his fascinating life in the wine industry in his 2015 autobiography called The Winemaker.

His sparkling wine probably owes some of its distinctive flavor profile to the fact that it’s made from the rare and ancient Wrotham pinot noir clone. Get a taste of Grant’s Pinot Noir Cuvée Rosé Brut at the bar at the Axiom, or order a bottle at Cellar Collections. Grant’s wine sells for an unbelievably modest $22, but trust me — it drinks like a wine twice the price.

Bubbly Events, Champagne

#TopItOff with Louis Roederer Champagne & the Tablehopper

January 8, 2014
Party_guests_Marianne's_Roederer
At Top It Off hosted by Louis Roederer Champagne and the Tablehopper, the Brut Premier flowed.

At Top It Off hosted by Louis Roederer Champagne and the Tablehopper at The Cavalier SF, the Brut Premier flowed freely.

A few days before the end of 2013, I had a preview of New Year’s fun to come at a sparkling party with my friend the Tablehopper Marcia Gagliardi and Louis Roederer Champagne. Dubbed Top It Off, the party offered a chance to experience the exclusive, members only event space at The Cavalier in SoMa and to enjoy the most agreeable Louis Roederer Brut Premier.

Cavalier is tucked away off Jesse Street on the backside of the Hotel Zetta; smart red awnings announce that you’ve arrived. It offers a San Francisco interpretation of a slightly posh London pub, with fish and chips, sticky pudding and Pimm’s Cups. In the style of many famous London establishments like Quo Vadis in Soho, the Cavalier has a clubby private space with a bar they call Marianne’s.

 

A smartly dressed coterie in Marianne's at The Cavalier. Can you spot The Tablehopper?

A smartly dressed coterie filled Marianne’s at The Cavalier. Can you spot The Tablehopper?

The room is dimply lit with tiny flickering tiny white votive candles placed about the room amid low sofas covered in a pastiche of materials like black-and-white houndstooth or hair calf. Velvet ottomans, Oriental carpets, and bric-a-brac like ceramic horse heads, taxidermy, old books and vases completed the vintage look.

Lots of champagne lovers go ga-ga for têtes de cuvée like Cristal, but I prefer the versatility of a well-crafted non-vintage brut. Like its American cousin, the Roederer Estate Brut made up in Anderson Valley, the Roederer Brut Premier had generous fresh fruit flavors, mixed with hints of toast and refreshing acidity. That winning combination gives Brut Premier marvelous drinkability.

And since the blend is lead by pinot noir, it pairs with so many foods. All sorts of tempting appetizers flowed from the Cavalier kitchen. Besides fresh oysters with mignonette, we nibbled grilled ham and cheese sandwiches cut into long fingers and served with a hollandaise dipping sauce, cured salmon on toast points, gougéres filled with Welsh rarebit gravy and perfectly seasoned sliders that I’m guessing were kobe beef on brioche.

Chef Jennifer Puccio's gorgeous gougères were filled with a Welsh rarebit sauce.

Chef Jennifer Puccio’s gorgeous gougéres were filled with a Welsh rarebit gravy.

We were treated to a performance by stunning jazz and cabaret singer Veronica Klaus. Her alto voice resonated beautifully in the small room as she sang standards like Peel Me a Grape. Here she is singing Wild is the Wind.

Klaus has a smooth voice that’s just as drinkable as a good glass of champagne… like the Roederer Brut Premier. I looking forward to more of both for Valentine’s Day.

Bubbly Events

The Bubbly Girl Featured in The Quick Sip column

January 4, 2014
Mercury News quick sip interview Maria Hunt
Photo credit: Alisa Damaso

Photo credit: Alisa Damaso

I receive all kinds of mail via my website, but it’s especially fun when it reconnects me with someone from the past. In mid-December, I heard from Jessica Yadegaran, the clever wine and food writer for the Oakland Tribune and San Jose Mercury News. We met some years ago when I was a staff food writer and she was a news assistant at the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Each week for her Quick Sip column, she interviews a local wine blogger about what they’re drinking right now and gets suggestions for fun food and wine pairings. We talked about some of the fabulous breakout bubbly I’d discovered this past year, like Illinois Sparkling Company‘s traditional method Brut crafted amid the cornfields, the Bodkin sparkling sauvignon blanc that’s perfect with sushi and lots of clean and fresh traditional method sparkling wines from Brazil’s Vale do Vinhedos, especially Cave Geisse and Casa Valduga.

Click to read the full interview with Jessica, and get a great recipe for an Asian style dipping sauce that pairs perfectly with Dungeness crab and brut sparkling wine.