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.”

The Bubbly Girl Drink of the Week: Apricot & White Cherry Sangria

Fresh white cherries and apicots - soaked in apricot brandy and maraschino - make this sparkling sangria a delicious treat for Memorial Day weekend.
Fresh white cherries and apricots - soaked in apricot brandy, Cognac and Maraschino liqueur - make this golden sparkling sangria created by The Bubbly Girl a delicious treat for Memorial Day weekend parties. (Photo by Paul Body)

The somewhat awkward season between spring and summer is actually one of my favorite times of year. It’s the time when the first soft and fragrant apricots appear in the stores, along with the gorgeous white cherries that might be called Rainiers or Napoleons.

Besides their delicate flavors, these fruits look  beautiful together, so I decided to make up a special white sangria to use these early summer fruits. The market had some gleaming white Asian pears that looked very fresh and juicy, so I threw those in the mix too.  Of course, the wine in this sangria is a sparkling wine, in this case a bottle of sparkling pinot grigio that I had snagged from Trader Joe’s. Sangria doesn’t need expensive wine, something in the $5 to $8 range works just fine.

Apricot & White Cherry Sangria

Makes 8 servings

8 fresh apricots, cut in quarters

1 cup white cherries, pitted and halved

1 white Asian pear, cored and diced

1 lemon halved and thinly sliced in half moons

Juice of 1 orange or 2 tangerines

1/2 cup apricot brandy

1/2 cup Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur (at BevMo)

1/2 cup Landy Cognac

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon orange bitters

1 bottle brut sparkling wine, well chilled

handful fresh mint, torn

Add the apricots, cherries, Asian pear, lemon slices and orange or tangerine juice to a large pitcher. Top with the apricot brandy, Maraschino and Cognac. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve. You could let the sangria sit for a while in the refrigerator at this point so the fruit has some time to soak and release its flavors. Or if you’re in a hurry, next add the orange bitters and sparkling wine to the pitcher. Add a cup of crushed ice, since this is a pretty potent sangria or you could add another bottle of sparkling wine if you want it to serve more people. Top with the freshly torn mint and serve by ladling some fruit into each glass and then pouring sangria on top.

By Maria Hunt aka The Bubbly Girl, author of The Bubbly Bar: Champagne & Sparkling Wine Cocktails for Every Occasion (Clarkson Potter, August 2009)

Sparkling Pineapple Sangria on Foodista

Estrella Damm INEDIT is a New Beer Designed for Food…Oh Really?

Estrella Damm INEDIT, a beer from Spain, is touting itself as the first beer designed to pair with food. (Courtesy photo)
Estrella Damm INEDIT, a beer from Spain, is touting itself as the first beer designed to pair with food. (Courtesy photo)

I don’t write about beer very often, though technically it is bubbly. But I couldn’t resist when I got this announcement trumpeting the release of Estrella Damm INEDIT, a beer that was crafted under the direction of genius chef Ferran Adria from El Bulli in Spain.

INEDIT is supposed to be served in a wine glass, in order to allow its bouquet to show itself. I do like the curvy, champagne-like bottle and the way the star logo stands out on the black bottle.

But get this: the people from the Spanish brewery are touting INEDIT as the first beer designed to go with food. Really? I think all of the brewmasters in Belgium are going to be rather nonplussed and amused by that one. After a short trip to Belgium last fall to experience Stella Artois, Leffe and Hoegaarden in all their different styles, it’s quite clear that to Belgians, beer is it’s own food group. The many styles and weights of beers are expertly paired – just like wine – with everything from appetizers to desserts. One of my favorite pairings was a tangy Kriek cherry lambic beer with an airy Belgian waffle topped in whipped cream!

I'm really enjoying this raspberry Hoegaarden while in the town of the same name; sadly this beer isn't available in the U.S. .... yet.
I'm really enjoying this raspberry Hoegaarden while in the town of the same name; sadly this beer isn't available in the U.S. .... yet.

The extra-ironic part is that INEDIT is made in the style of a Belgian witbier, a white ale made from wheat and spiced with coriander and orange peel. I haven’t tasted it yet, but I’m sure it will go with frites and all kinds of foods just fine.

A Bitter Swill: The Aperol Flip for MxMo

The Aperol Flip mixes the orangy Italian amaro with brut champagne, lemon and egg white. (Photo by Paul Body)
The Aperol Flip mixes the orangy Italian amaro with brut champagne, lemon and egg white. (Photo by Paul Body)

For years, I couldn’t stand most bitter foods: broccoli, radicchio, black coffee – no thanks.

But I think the key to appreciating bitters is all about the balance. So that’s probably why my first adult cocktail was the gin & tonic; a perfect equilibrium between fragrant slightly bitter gin, bittersweet tonic and tangy lime.

And though straight Campari still can set my teeth on edge, I appreciated it for the first time when I tasted the Quo Vadis Apertivo, a mix of Campari, tangerine juice, lemon and champagne that Paul Mant mixed up late one night (actually early one morning) at the venerable Soho bar.

It was a different story  — love that first night — when I discovered Aperol, Campari’s fruity orange cousin. I was still in it’s thrall when I visited Bourbon & Branch in San Francisco; so Joel Baker and I created this Aperol and champagne cocktail I dubbed the Aperol Flip. I know classic flips include the egg yolk along with the white, but it’s just a name.

Mixology Monday is an online sharing of cocktails all created on a theme.
Mixology Monday is an online sharing of cocktails all created on a theme.

It’s one of the drinks in my new book The Bubbly Bar: Champagne & Sparkling Wine Cocktails for Every Occasion being released by Clarkson Potter on Aug. 25 and my offering for Mixology Monday on amaros hosted by Chuck Taggart of the Gumbo Pages this week.

Aperol Flip

Makes 1 cocktail

1 ounce Aperol

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1/2 ounce agave nectar

1/2 ounce pasteurized egg white

2 ounces brut champagne

wide swath orange zest, for garnish

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add the Aperol, lemon juice, agave nectar and egg white. Shake until well-chilled. Pour the champagne into a smallish martini glass. using a strainer, pour the Aperol mixture into the glass. Pinch the orange zest over the glass to release its oils, then carefully lay it atop the foam.

From The Bubbly Bar: Champagne & Sparkling Wine Cocktails for Every Occasion by Maria C. Hunt (Clarkson Potter, 2009)

Check the post out on Tastespotting.com

The Bubbly Girl Drink of the Week: Blood Orange Margarita

The Blood Orange Margarita at Whisk'n'ladle features a hibiscus infused tequila, but you can use the regular stuff at home.
The Blood Orange Margarita at Whisk'n'ladle in La Jolla features a hibiscus infused tequila, but you can use the regular stuff at home.

Ian Ward makes some of the tastiest and most creative cocktails in San Diego, but alas they’re not usually the kind of drinks mere mortals can make at home. Take the super tangy Blood Orange Margarita that Ian made for me on a recent visit to Whisk’n’ladle.

Turns out that he mixes it with a hibiscus blossom infused-tequila; and then the nice pink layer on top is a blood orange foam that includes gelatin and coconut.

The thing that I took away from the experience though is remembering the intensely tart flavor of blood oranges. On early visits to Northern Italy, I fell in love with the sweet tart taste of blood orange juice, since that’s usually what you get when you order a glass of fresh orange juice. You’ll find that although many blood oranges aren’t ripe enough to eat on their own, they really shine when mixed with a bit of sweetener, such as agave nectar. Here’s my version of a Blood Orange Margarita, to use the last of these fruits from the farmer’s market.

Blood Orange Margarita

1-1/2 ounces good tequila

3/4 ounce Cointreau

1/2 ounce agave nectar

1 ounce fresh blood orange juice

1 ounce fresh lime juice

Add the tequila, Cointreau, agave nectar, blood orange juice and lime juice to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until well chilled, about 30 times or until your hands are really cold. Strain the contents into a wide flute style glass or a traditional margarita glass.

Cheers!

Bubbly Girl Drink of the Week: Iron Horse Wedding Cuvée

Iron Horse Wedding Cuvée is a blanc de noirs style California sparkling wine, meaning its made from dark skinned grapes - pinot noir in this case.
Iron Horse Wedding Cuvée is a blanc de noirs style California sparkling wine, meaning the pale wine is made from dark skinned grapes - pinot noir in this case.

In case you hadn’t noticed, May wedding season is in full bloom.  Champagne and sparkling wine are classic beverages for this celebratory season, but few seem as appropriate as Iron Horse’s Wedding Cuvée.  The peachy pink wine is ideal whether you’re looking for a wedding toast or a sparkling wine to give as a wedding present along with a pair of champagne futes. Crafted from pinot noir grapes with a hint of chardonnay, the Wedding Cuvée has a soft richness to it with a hint of fruit at the end.

Joy Sterling, who runs her family’s winery, says she always loves the moment when she pours Wedding Cuvée at tastings.  “Everywhere I go I meet people who became engaged over it, had it at their wedding, in the delivery room and for anniversaries,” Sterling says.  I like sipping it on its own, but the wine also shines with salmon in a spring preparation with morel mushrooms and wild spring onions. It would also be delicious with lighter pork dishes or this soup made from the wild onions called ramps Epicurious.com.  Sterling says she enjoys it with bittersweet chocolate with a high cocoa content – she swears the combination is like eating chocolate-covered strawberries.

Iron Horse's open air tasting over looking the vineyards is the scene for the new After Hours Friday wine and food pairing. (Photo Iron Horse Vineyards)
Iron Horse's open air tasting over looking the vineyards is the scene for the new After Hours Friday wine and food pairing. (Photo Ion Horse Vineyards)

If you happen to find yourself with a free Friday afternoon in Sonoma County, then reserve a spot for Iron Horse’s After Hours, a new happy hour with wine and food pairings. It’s available for up to 30 people from 5:30 to 7 p.m. every Friday through October.  To make a reservation, contact tasting room manager Lisa Macek at (707)887-1507 or email her at  lisam@ironhorsevineyards.com.

Taralli Pugliese: The Perfect Snack with Any Bubbly

Taralli Pugliese, shown here at Babbo Ristorante in NYC, are neat olive oil crackers that shine with wine. (Photo Babbo NYC)
Taralli Pugliese, shown here at Babbo Ristorante in NYC, are crunchy and savory olive oil crackers that shine with bubbly or any kind of wine. (Photo Babbo NYC)

In March I spent a magical week at The Awaiting Table cooking school in Lecce, Puglia, where we cooked and ate  all sorts of wonderful regional dishes from chicken with green olives, thyme and fruity olive oil to handmade orecchiette pasta to simple seafood soup with the sweetest shrimp I’ve ever tasted.

But the Pugliese dish that may be my favorite is one of the simplest: a cracker. Actually, taralli aren’t just any crackers, they’re olive oil based snacks that have been made in Puglia for hundreds of years. They were on the table one night when the class went out to a wine bar that served all the regional wines like primitivo di Manduria, Nero di Troia and negroamaro along with the oddest assortment of country music and Beatles songs. A new friend Carolyn served them to me one evening as we sipped a brut sparkling wine from the Salento.

Whether they’re plain, seasoned with red pepper or fennel, all have a nice crunch, a crumbly texture and a satisfying flavor from all that good Italian olive oil. I was serendipitously surprised when a quick Google search turned up a recipe for taralli from Gina dePalma, the pastry chef at the Mario Batali restaurant Babbo in New York City. Here’s her recipe for Taralli al Peperoncino flavored with red chile flakes and oregano. They’re crafted from low gluten 00 flour, shaped by hand, boiled and then baked like a bagel. The spicy ones are popular, but dePalma also suggests flavoring them with crushed fennel seed and lemon zest.

Taralli -- olive oil crackers shaped like little bagels -- are a savory traditional snack served with wine in Puglia, Italy.
Taralli from A.G. Ferrari on Amazon.com.

If making them from scratch sounds like too much work, then pick some up at your local Italian gourmet shop or  order them from  A.G. Ferrari on Amazon.com. But there’s no way they’ll be as fresh as homemade.  

Desert Rose: A Sparkling Cinco de Mayo Cocktail Recipe

Fragrant guava nectar and cava sparkling wine make the Desert Rose a chic Cinco de Mayo drink. (Photo by Paul Body)
Fragrant guava nectar and cava sparkling wine make the Desert Rose a chic Cinco de Mayo drink. (Photo by Paul Body)

Whew, it’s been a busy cocktail week with Cinco de Mayo coming hot on the heels of Champagne Juleps for Derby Day this weekend!

Fortunately, I created this fun and fragrant sparkling tequila cocktail called The Desert Rose for my book The Bubbly Bar. It uses the same sweet-tangy-tequila formula as a margarita, but I thought a blend of guava and passion fruit juices would give this drink a tropical flair.

It gets its sparkle from cava, the sparkling wine from Catalonia in Spain, but any brut or dry sparkling wine would work. Segura Viudas makes several great and affordable cavas as does Cristalino. For a great in depth discussion of cava, check out this article from the Culinary Institute of America. Guava and passion fruit juices can be found in the juice aisle of any Asian or Latin grocery store.

Salud!

The Desert Rose

Makes 1 cocktail

In this sultry sparkling version of a margarita, guava nectar and passion fruit juice add the sweet-tart flavor that would ordinarily come from sour mix.

1 ounce guava nectar
1 ounce passion fruit juice
1 ounce tequila
½ ounce Grand Marnier
Juice of ½ lime
3 drops rose water (optional)
3 ounces dry or brut cava, chilled
1 key lime slice for garnish

Add guava and passion fruit juices, tequila, Grand Marnier, lime juice and rose water if using to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until well chilled. Strain into a margarita style glass. Top with the cava or sparkling wine. Garnish with lime.

Bubbly Girl Drink of the Week: Champagne Julep

A splash of champagne adds a tony note to the classic Mint Julep.
A splash of champagne adds a tony note to the classic Mint Julep. Photo by Paul Body

I discovered this recipe for the Champagne Julep while poring over the historic drink book called 173 Pre-Prohibition Cocktails. It’s based on a circa 1917 book called The Ideal Bartender, written by Tom Bullock, an African American bartender who was well-known around St. Louis and Chicago for his Claret Punches, Free Love Cocktails and juleps of all sorts. Bullock was one of the first celebrity mixologists and definitely the first African American one. George Herbert Walker (as in the 41st president’s grandpa) was one of his devoted patrons and so was beer baron August Busch.

Bullock’s julep became part of a scandalous national libel case, when former president Teddy Roosevelt sued a newspaper editor for calling him a drunk unfit to hold another public office. Roosevelt testified under oath that he had only had two alcoholic drinks in his entire life, including a few sips of one of Bullock’s juleps.

Newspaper editorials didn’t buy it, writing that the only part of the drink Roosevelt probably left behind was the ice, the mint and the metal cup. The jury did though, and Teddy won his libel suit.

Champagne Julep

Makes 1 cocktail

8 fresh mint leaves

2 teaspoons sugar

1 ounce brandy

4 ounces champagne

sprig of mint, for garnish

Bruise the mint leaves by rolling them between your fingers. Add the sugar, bruised mint leaves, and brandy to a rocks glass. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Fill the glass three-quarters full with crushed ice. Pour on the champagne. Garnish with a sprig of mint.