Perrier-Jouet Champagne Florale Edition LA Launch Party

The new Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque Florale edition was unveiled at Katsuya in Brentwood. Photos by John Sciulli/Courtesy of Perrier-Jouet

Champagne means so many different things to different people. On Champagne Day 2012, people are celebrating all the different expressions of this special sparkling wine from the Champagne region in France.

I haven’t been to Champagne, France in a few years, but one of my favorite Champagne experience here in California was the launch party for Perrier-Jouët Champagne‘s new limited edition Belle Epoque Florale bottle.

 

We gathered in a chic, candelit private salon at Katsuya in Brentwood to sip Champagne and meet artist and famed Japanese floral designer  Makoto Azuma. His name may be new to Americans, but he’s well known in Japan and Europe for his avant-garde floral designs and pieces he’s created for Helmut Lang, Lady Dior and Shiseido.

 

Speaking through a translator, Azuma explained that he was inspired by the original Belle Epoque bottle designed by Emile Galle, his respect for nature and the delicate Japanese anemone flower. Azuma says he was also inspired by the sensation of bubbles jumping around on his palate and the smoothness of the wine and its complex taste.

For his new edition, he started with a stainless steel cube which represents artificial beauty created by man and filled it with Japanese blooms, calla lilies, phaelenopsis orchids and vines that symbolize nature.

“I wanted the work to be an homage to Galle,” Azuma said. “The flower language of the plants is quiet and sincere.”

Inside the bottle is the 2004 vintage of the Perrier-Jouët Champagne. It tastes both rich and bright making it a perfect pairing for sushi or nothing at all.

On the Occasion of her 100th: A Julia Child Champagne GIF

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If you’ve never visited Julia Child’s Kitchen at the Smithsonian, stop by the next time you’re in Washington, D.C. I think the kitchen reveals more about a person than any other room in the house, and Julia’s is no exception.

The exhibit which recreates the kitchen where she created recipes for so many of her books. It’s relatively small, but carefully organized. Besides a well-used six-burner stove, there was a wall grid with an inventory for wine (including ’66 Chateau Margaux, Nuits St. George ’71 and a ’59 La Rioja Alta); a small dining table, and places for each pot, gadget and utensil, carefully outlined on the wall.

What brings warmth to the exhibit is Child’s lilting voice, coming from a TV monitor that plays various film clips. During my favorite segment, she’s telling the interviewer about her most prized kitchen gadgets, which include a champagne stopper.

To show off how well this one works, Child tells how Barbara Fairchild — then editor of Bon Appetit Magazine — had come for a visit.

“I gave her some of my very best Champagne,” says Child, ever the gracious hostess. She’s referring to an iconic bottle of Dom Pérignon, but doesn’t mention the brand by name.

They didn’t finish it, but thanks to Child’s trusty champagne stopper, the Dom still had its fizz three days later. I hope the other interviewer got to help her kill the bottle when the cameras were off.

I only got to interview Julia Child once — for an article on the true origins of the Caesar Salad — but she had a wonderful memory and was very excited to share what she knew with a young writer. I think perhaps that may be her most important legacy.

Sip a Sparkling Viola Cocktail: Inspired by Viola Davis

Inspired by actress Viola Davis, the Sparkling Viola cocktail is a deliciously bubbly mix of violet and blackberry garnished with edible flowers and edible 24 K gold.

For the first time in a few years, I’ll be tuning into the 88th Academy Awards on Sunday. I’ll be watching because I really want to see Viola Davis with the award for Best Actress.

This amazing actress, wife and mother is getting her long-overdue star turn for her work in The Help, a movie about a group of maids in 1960s Mississippi.

She may seem like a late bloomer, but Viola Davis has been practicing her craft for years, giving deeply moving portrayals of people who were often in some kind of pain. One of my roles favorite was on the show “Without a Trace.” She played a mother grappling with the disappearance of her son, and the fact that TV news blasted the story of a missing blond girl, while ignoring her son’s plight.

Davis is making the most of her star turn with gorgeous awards show ensembles, which inspired the Polyvore set by Svud Je Holivud. Viola’s bubbly, dark and lovely and it inspired me to toast her with a special golden Oscar’s cocktail.

The viola, a dainty flower related to the violet and pansy, is one of my favorite edible flowers. They come in a range of gorgeous shades, and they have so much personality with markings that resemble a face. Candied or in cocktails, they have a sweet cucumber taste.

The Sparkling Viola
1 ounce Rothman & Winter Crème de Violette Liqueur
3/4 ounce blackberry syrup
4 ounces demi sec champagne or sparkling wine, chilled
1 fresh blackberry
1 organic viola flower
24K edible gold leaf flakes

Add the violet liqueur and blackberry syrup to a champagne flute. Top with the sparkling wine. Garnish with the blackberry. Lay the viola on top of the cocktail and top with a sprinkle of gold.

© By Maria C. Hunt aka The Bubbly Girl. All rights reserved.

 

 

Viola Davis

I’m Deep, I’m Sparkling, I’ve Got Issues: I Am the Ocean Reserve by Iron Horse

Four dollars from every bottle of Iron Horse Vineyards' Ocean Reserve goes to the National Geographic Ocean Fund.
Four dollars from every bottle of Iron Horse Vineyards' Ocean Reserve goes to the National Geographic Ocean Fund.

It’s nearly St. Patrick’s Day and while as a native Chicagoan perhaps I should be longing for green beer, I’m not. With all the environmental tragedies and woes on all of our minds this week, I’m thinking about environmentally green choices that help Mother Earth.

The deep blue sea always seems bedeviled by the worst of it, what with being the final resting place for so much pollution and overfishing of so many species like blue fin tuna, which wrecks the whole eco-system.

A few weeks ago, I enjoyed my first clean and crisp taste of Iron Horse Vineyards’ I Am the Ocean, a sparkling wine that is being offered in partnership with National Geographic’s Mission Blue. I love the labels with haunting images of fish or a sea turtle and the label copy, a tongue in cheek reference to the “I am Thankful or “I am Thriving” dish names from Cafe Gratitude.

But the message is real; the ocean does gives life to all of us on earth, and it is a limited resource. Things are only going to get worse if all of us don’t start to change our habits, from choosing unbleached toilet paper to really separating the recycling from the garbage to stopping eating fish like Chilean seabass and farmed Asian tilapia which are restricted on the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch List.
(Want to find environmentally-sound seafood away from home? There’s an iPhone sustainable seafood app for that.)

Another way of helping restore the ocean is with your purchase of I Am the Ocean Reserve, a blanc de blancs made from chardonnay grapes from the 2005 harvest. Four dollars of every bottle’s $40 price supports efforts to establish marine protected areas and ending over-fishing. Apparently the Obamas – fans of great American wines – will be drinking a toast to the ocean soon as Daniel Shanks, the White House director of food and beverage, recently ordered five cases of Iron Horse’s Ocean Reserve. It’s also on the list at notable restaurants like Le Bernardin in NYC and Providence in LA.

You could sip Ocean Reserve with some corned beef and cabbage, but I’ll probably pair this clean tasting wine with hints of toastiness from the longer aging with seafood.

Over the holidays, National Geographic posted recipes for a sustainable seafood feast created by Barton Seaver, a chef and activist. His menu included Wahoo Tartare with Nutmeg, Mint and Lemon and Grilled Clams with Lime Oregano Butter.

If you’re interested in doing more, consider visiting Green Valley and Iron Horse for the Eat Drink & Be Green Earth Day celebration on April 17 this year. Ted Turner will be there, along with lots of great food, art and wine. You’ll find the Sonoma County AVA known as Green Valley is one of the most beautiful places anywhere. I love travelling the winding roads, around the green curving hills and past the majestic barren oak trees spreading their branches toward the blue sky.

It makes me want to make sure it stays that way.

Bubbly Girl Drink of the Week: The Rich Girl

John Oates and me before they performed at the Rock the Cure benefit in La Jolla.
John Oates and me before they performed at the Rock the Cure benefit in La Jolla.

It’s been a busy week since The Bubbly Bar launched last week with an awesome bash for 400 who sipped Domaine Chandon sparkling wine cocktails at the Hotel Solamar. The fun continued this week when I was the guest mixologist at Rock the Cure, a benefit to raise money for juvenile diabetes research through JDRF.org.

Grand Marnier and Navan Cognac make a delicious version of The Stiletto from The Bubbly Bar. (Photo by Maria C. Hunt)
Grand Marnier and Navan Cognac make a delicious version of The Stiletto from The Bubbly Bar. (Photo by Maria C. Hunt)

My signature event cocktail  was The Rich Girl named in honor of the event headliners Hall & Oates. A deliciously potent blend of brut sparkling wine, Grand Marnier and Navan Cognac, the Rich Girl was a revinvention of The Stiletto cocktail from the book. I wish Navan had been around when I was writing The Bubbly Bar; the fine French cognac is infused with Madagascar vanilla and has a wonderfully warm and complex flavor. It blends perfectly with the natural curacao orange in Grand Marnier, which is also a cognac based liqueur.

To make it a more luxurious cocktail, I soaked the orange peel garnish in the Navan and then added a touch of 24K edible gold leaf to the drink. It was a hit with both men and women who liked the blend of crisp Gloria Ferrer bubbles, sweetness and potency.Thanks to Steve and Lisa Altman for inviting The Bubbly Girl to be a part of the benefit and Steve Slater and Sara Southern of Southern Wine and Spirits; and Anne Walraven of Moet Hennessy for making the cocktail possible.

The flavors of vanilla and orange liqueurs mixed with bubbly appealed to men and women alike. Both of these guests came back for seconds! (Photo by Maria C. Hunt)
The flavors of vanilla and orange liqueurs mixed with bubbly appealed to men and women alike. Both of these guests came back for seconds! (Photo by Maria C. Hunt)

John Oates of H & O got a kick out of the fact that the drink was named The Rich Girl and was kind enough to pose for a picture! And the evening was a success, raising $500,000 to help combat juvenile diabetes!

Sparkling Ideas for Your Summer Vacation: Mumm Napa’s Photo Exhibit

Mumm Napa exhibit of work by LA Times photograher George Rose.
A mature Cary Grant (sigh) is one of the Hollywood photos included in a Mumm Napa exhibit of work by LA Times photograher George Rose.The exhibit is on display through Aug. 21.

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to visit some of my favorite sparkling wine houses in Napa and Sonoma counties. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be highlighting special events at some of the picturesque sparkling wine houses in northern California in case you’re looking or a delicious and fun drive-cation (is that a word?) this summer.

Mumm Napa is presenting a special photo exhibit called “Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Other Perversities” in their Fine Art Photography Gallery through Aug. 21. The black and white exhibit features the work of George Rose, a photographer with the LA Times who chronicled Hollywood life and pop culture in the 1970s and 80s.

The photographs, which are taken from Rose’s new book that shows everything from movie premieres to mud wrestling matches, includes photos of celebs including Jack Nicholson, Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, Keith Richards, Ronald Reagan, Mary Tyler Moore, and Bill Cosby.

Rose’s work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Time, Newsweek and USA Today, and he was twice nominated for a Pulitzer Prize while at the Los Angeles Times. Rose is also a recipient of a World Press Award for one of the few still photos ever taken of an earthquake as it was actually occurring.

While you’re at Mumm, you might also want to stop for a glass of bubbly in their beautiful tasting room or go for a stroll in the garden. One of my favorites is their Blanc de Noirs, which was recently rechristened as a Brut Rosé. The wine has lots of black cherry and strawberry notes from the pinot noir and is delicious with grilled meats of any kind.

Champagne & Charity

Eva Longoria and Tony Parker were among the celebrities at Cannes 2009 who signed a 15 liter bottle of champagne to be auctioned for charity. (Courtesy photo)
Eva Longoria and Tony Parker were among the celebrities at Cannes 2009 who signed a 15 liter bottle of Moet et Chandon Brut Imperial champagne to be auctioned for charity. (Courtesy photo)

Champagne is one of the ultimate luxury goods and it’s associated with celebrities and rich people living the good life. But the large champagne houses also do a lot to bring attention and dollars to deserving charities.

At the 62nd film festival recently, Moet & Chandon carried on a tradition of having celebrities sign a massive bottle of champagne. The 15-liter Nebuchadnezzar (named after the famed kind of Babylon) was signed by celebs including Scarlett Johansson, Diane Kruger and Eva Longoria as they stopped on the red carpet.It will be auctioned off for charity later this year.

And just this weekend, the Veuve Clicquot Manhattan Polo Classic on Governor’s Island in New York City drew a star-studded crowd that included special guest player of Prince Harry of England. The Prince was there to help support Sentabale, a charity that Prince Harry co-founded with Prince Seeiso of Lesotho to help African orphans and vulnerable children. Lesotho has about 200,000 orphans and the third highest rate of HIV/AIDS infection in Africa. After a successful documentary that showed much of the unfunded volunteer work being done in Lesotho to help children, the princes decided to form the professionally-run charity called Sentabale, which means “Forget Me Not.”

Prince Harry said he was pleased to be able to carry on his mother Diana’s work to help people affected by AIDS and to do so in a city that she loved.

Prince Harry during a visit to Lesotho Africa to support Sentebale, the charity he co-founded with Prince Seeiso. (Courtesty photo)
Prince Harry during a visit to Lesotho Africa to support Sentebale, the charity he co-founded with Prince Seeiso. (Courtesty photo)

“The prince and I both lost our mothers when we were very young,” Harry told a pre-match VIP gathering, according to an account on the Associated Press. “We set up Sentebale in their memory, and because my mother loved this city, it makes this occasion all the more poignant for me.”

Recipe for The Bubbly Girl’s Custom Cocktail for Preston Bailey

Perrier Jouet's Fleur de Champagne was just one of the champagnes used to create The Bubbly Girl's Perfect Beauty cocktail created for Preston Bailey. Photo by Bob Stefanko/Ranch & Coast
Perrier Jouet's Fleur de Champagne was just one of the champagnes used to create The Bubbly Girl's Perfect Beauty cocktail created for Preston Bailey. Photo by Bob Stefanko

Sooo sorry for the long wait for the actual Perfect Beauty cocktail recipe, but I have been having such a good time soaking up with culinary and wine culture of the Salentino in southern Puglia, Italy for the past 10 days – more on that soon. Plus I was waiting for the professional photo from my good friend Bob Stefanko of Ranch & Coast Magazine.

Preston Bailey, the world-renowned floral and event designer, was feted at the home of Susie Spanos when he flew to California in early March to speak at a benefit for the Village Garden Club of La Jolla. I designed a custom floral cocktail called Perfect Beauty with fresh California strawberry juice and rose geranium syrup for the party.

During the evening, the bartenders made the cocktail with sparkling water and a variety of champagnes from the Spanos’ cellar including Dom Perignon, Bollinger’s Special Cuvee, Roeder’s Cristal and Perrier-Jouet Fleur de Champagne decorated with anemones shown above. The garnish was a beautiful pinch of edible flower petals called Confetti from San Diego Specialty Produce.

Since I created a rose geranium cocktail for floral guru Preston Bailey, I couldn't think of a better time to wear my geranium pink suit from Max Mara.
Since I created a rose geranium cocktail for floral guru Preston Bailey, I couldn't think of a better time to wear my geranium pink suit from Max Mara.

I was really thrilled to see that most of the guests were sipping my cocktail when I arrived at the party just after sunset. But I was ecstatic when Bailey raved “Delicious, delicious, delicious!” when he tasted a Perfect Beauty made with sparkling water. He then insisted on getting some of my rose geranium syrup, which I promise to send as soon as I get home.

Perfect Beauty
Makes 1 drink

1/2 ounce fresh pressed strawberry juice, seeds removed
1/2 ounce rose geranium syrup (From The Bubbly Bar)
4 to 5 ounces chilled champagne or sparkling water
pink and gold edible flower petals

Add strawberry juice and rose geranium syrup to a champagne flute. Top with chilled champagne or sparkling water. Garnish with edible flower petals and serve.

Perfect Beauty: My Champagne Cocktail for Preston Bailey

Preston Bailey with one of his floral dogs. Photo Courtesy Brides Magazine.
Preston Bailey with one of his floral dogs. Photo Courtesy Brides Magazine.

When I heard that Preston Bailey, the famous New York City floral and event designer, was coming to San Diego for a benefit and private party at Susie Spanos’ home, I knew I had to create a signature sparkling cocktail in his honor.

His web site calls him the world’s preeminent designer and it’s no exaggeration: he does parties for celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Donald Trump, the royal family in Abu Dhabi and one secret client who dropped $25 million on a soiree.

Bailey’s speaking before the The Village Garden Club of La Jolla as a part of the high powered group’s Meet the Masters series. He’s appearing at 1:30 Thursday; proceeds from the $65 tickets benefit the Club’s Schoolyard Garden Project. He’s also offering a sneak peek at his gorgeous new book Celebrations that’s being released by Rizzoli in the fall.

I adore flowers so much there’s a whole chapter of floral drinks in my new cocktail book The Bubbly Bar. I knew I had to design a floral drink for Bailey since he’s synonymous with lush and fabulous floral designs. He’s also famous for the whimsical sculptured floral dogs like the ones above. And I knew I wanted it to be pink.

First I created a delicious drink named Vintage Rose with a rose petal syrup I creation, but decided it wasn’t quite original enough.

Scented rose geranium leaves grow easily and are prized for adding a lemony, floral flavor to cakes and syrups, especially in England.
Rose geranium leaves grow easily and are prized for adding a lemony, floral flavor to cakes and syrups, especially in England.

Then I thought of my syrup made from rose geranium leaves, which offers a tantalizing floral note along with a lemony freshness. Since the menu focuses on great regional foods like spiny lobster, upscale fish tacos and Chino farm vegetables, I decided to pair it with the new season’s fresh strawberries that are so delicious.

Check back for pictures from the party and the recipe to make your own Perfect Beauty.

A Golden Champagne Cocktail for Academy Awards Parties

Tiny flecks of edible gold leaf dance on champagne bubbles in the Grant's Gold cocktail. Photo by Ramona d'Viola/Ilumus
Tiny flecks of edible gold leaf dance on champagne bubbles in the Grant's Gold cocktail. Photo by Ramona d'Viola/Ilumus

There’s no doubt lots of champagne corks will be popping all over Hollywood and surrounding districts as the Academy Awards – which gives Oscars to the best work in the movies the past year – rolls out another list of winners. If you ask me, the best supporting actress is just too hard this year – I wish they could split the Oscar five ways between Marisa Tomei, Amy Adams, Taraji Henson Penelope Cruz and Viola Davis. Or maybe the best dress should win.

If you want to make like the red carpet crowd, then pick up a bottle of bubbly by Moet & Chandon – Oscar just chose the venerable champagne house as the official champagne of the Academy Awards. Their wines including Nectar Imperial, Imperial Rose and the latest Grand Vintage will be poured from the Red Carpet cocktail party to the Governer’s Ball after party.

But if you want a golden champagne cocktail that fits the occasion, then try my Grant’s Gold, a champagne cocktail that features edible 23K gold leaf dancing in champagne along with VSOP Cognac and Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur. I created the signature drink recently for a special event at the Grant Grill, the fine dining restaurant in Starwood’s U.S. Grant Hotel in downtown San Diego.

While developing this recipe, I found that static cling can make the delicate gold leaf difficult to handle, but chopping it with the sticky candied ginger takes care of this. And when you drop the pieces of decorated ginger into the drink, they’ll slowly release little flecks of gold. The Grant’s Gold is potent and delicious and whether you choose to add the gold or not, the cocktail will add a luxurious note to any party.

Pair this cocktail with creme brulee, pound cake or dark chocolate desserts. The intense flavors of fresh ginger and cognac are a perfect counterpoint to sweets while the edible 23K gold leaf from Italy makes it memorable.

Grant’s Gold
Makes 1 cocktail
3 to 4 ounces brut champagne like Moet Brut Imperial, chilled
1 ounce Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur
1/2 ounce VSOP cognac
2-3 slivers candied ginger with 23K gold leaf
Pour the champagne or sparkling wine into a flute. Add the ginger liqueur and
cognac. Just before serving, drop in the slivers of candied ginger with gold leaf.

By Maria Hunt aka The Bubbly Girl. All rights reserved.