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Design, Pop Culture, Shopping

Like I Said … Keep Calm and Drink Bubbly

April 22, 2013
keep calm drink bubbly

keep calm champagne

This really doesn’t need much text; the sentiment expressed is quite self-explanatory. In fact, I’m a bit chagrined I didn’t think of this myself. Bubbly is an instant mood tonic, and I’ve been encouraging everyone to enjoy the Bubbly 365 lifestyle for a while now.

This adorable poster from the Keep Calm Shop on Etsy is pretty in pink, as well as a range of other vivid shades like gold, turquoise and emerald, because they want you to be happy. The poster is just $16 retail, which is the same price as a decent bottle of domestic U.S. sparkling wine, cava, or prosecco, but alas just a glass of champagne.

Food + Recipes, Shopping

Delicious Chocolate & Champagne Candies for Valentine’s Day

February 1, 2013
socola_valentine_chocolates

Words of love are screen-printed on champagne ganache chocolates filled with raspberry pâte de fruits. Sea salt caramels topped with red salt complete the box from Socola Chocolates.

Probably because they’re both foods associated with indulgence and pleasure, people love to talk about eating chocolate while sipping champagne for Valentine’s Day. Know what that combo makes me think? Yuck!

A typical brut champagne is far too acidic to pair with a sweet food like chocolate, so even your favorite champagne will taste tart and thin. And the wine does nothing to improve the flavor of the chocolate. It’s really a waste of both.

Here’s how we can stop the madness: with chocolate truffles that are made with champagne! This way, the champagne lends brightness, fruit and a hint of luxury to the chocolate.

If you’re feeling ambitious, it’s easy to make Chocolate-Champagne Truffles yourself with this recipe from Martha. She rolls hers in white sparkling sugar, but it would be fun to use different colors.

But if you don’t fancy cleaning chocolate and sugar off your kitchen cabinets and floor, here are some great champagne and chocolate truffles to buy for your sweetie or yourself for Valentine’s Day:

Socola Chocolatier’s Aphrodite’s Delight: This chocolate gift starts with raspberry pâtes de fruits enrobed in champagne ganache; each one is topped with the word love in a different language. The other half of the box is filled with grey sea salt chocolate caramels topped with red Hawaiian salt. Super-cute sisters Wendy and Susan, who are based in San Francisco, just became the featured chocolatiers for Zaarly, a cool site that curates all sorts of services. New members can go to Zaarly and snag the 12-piece Aphrodite’s Delight box for just $15; shipping is free in San Francisco and $5 elsewhere.

 

Recchiuti Champagne Truffles: Chocolatier Michael Recchiuti adds the deeply toasty and fruity Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs to super creamy dark chocolate. They’re rolled in powered sugar as the final step. Pick them up at the Recchiuti shop in the Ferry Building, at the new Chocolate Lab Café in Dogpatch or online.

 

Moonstruck Chocolate Pink Champagne Truffle Heart: I met a sweet lady from Seattle’s Moonstruck Chocolates at the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco and was eyeing these cute pink hearts. A candied raspberry is at the center, surrounded by a white chocolate ganache flavored with champagne and raspberries and finally a white chocolate shell. Like all of their confections, it’s hand painted.

 

 

Teuscher Champagne Truffles: While I’ve not tried these yet, the website for the Palo Alto-based confectionery makes a compelling claim: company founder Dolf Teuscher Sr. invented the chocolate truffle back in 1946 in Switzerland.  A buttercream center infused with Dom Perignon Champagne is wrapped in either dark or milk chocolate. The milk chocolate original is dusted in confectioner’s sugar for a juicy sensation, while the dark chocolate is rolled in bittersweet cocoa powder for a drier, deeply flavored bite.

 

Vosges Haut Chocolat Champagne Truffles: These truffles and I go way back: We’re both from Chicago. The stylish chocolatiere Katrina Markoff mixes Krug Champagne Grande Cuvée with 85% chocolate and a splash of rosewater. The truffle is finished with a dusting of cocoa powder before being popped in a purple box.  You should know that the Vosges website has a range of other Krug and chocolate gifts, just please promise you won’t drink the champagne and the chocolate together.

Bubbly Events, Shopping

A Scented Soirée: Jo Malone & The Bubbly Girl Launch Wild Bluebell Sept. 22-30, 2011

September 22, 2011
jo-malone-wild-bluebell

I’m joining Jo Malone to make fragrant cocktails for the launch of their new fragrance Wild Bluebell.

Whenever I create a new cocktail, my inspiration usually starts with an amazing piece of seasonal fruit, a fun sparkling wine or a unique spirit that captures my imagination. Then I start adding other flavors to create a cocktail that’s harmonious and complex.

That’s the same way the perfumers at the British fragrance brand Jo Malone blend fruit, floral and spice aromas to create a beguiling scent. I love the way Jo Malone fragrances like White Jasmine and Mint, Nectarine Blossom and Honey and Lime Blossom perfectly capture those natural aromas. Their latest creation is Wild Bluebell, a dewy and slightly mysterious floral scent.

This month I’ll be working with Jo Malone to present a series of interactive cocktail and fragrance parties to explore the elements in the new fragrance Wild Bluebell.

Our heroine Wild Bluebell grew up in a grand English country manor. When she was a young woman, she left home to go traveling the world on different adventures. When she returned home years later, she discovered that her childhood home had fallen into neglect; overrun with namesake wild bluebell flowers. The scent was so intoxicating, she couldn’t resist falling into the fragrant carpet of flowers — kinda like in the picture above.

Wild Bluebell starts with top notes of wild bluebell and orange flower water, heart notes of persimmon and eglantine rose and finishes base notes of white musk. It’s made to be layered with other scents in the Jo Malone range, the same way spirits like gin and brandy pair with a range of other spirits, liqueurs and fruits.

Call the stores directly to reserve a place at one of these scented soirées:

Sept. 22 – Nordstrom Walnut Creek, 4 p.m.
RSVP: 925-930-7959 ext. 1042.

Sept. 23 – Neiman Marcus San Francisco, 1, 2:30 and 4 p.m.
RSVP: 415-362-3900 ext 211.

Sept. 24 – Neiman Marcus Palo Alto, 1 and 2:30 p.m.
RSVP: 650-329-3300.

Sept. 30 – Saks Fifth Avenue San Francisco, 3 p.m.
RSVP: 415-438-5243.

Champagne, Drinks, Shopping

Real champagne for $20? Mais oui if you know where to shop

June 13, 2011

Champagne Didier Chopin, a real brut rosé from the Champagne region of France, was one of the bargains I found at Grocery Outlet in Oakland this weekend.

For the past few weeks, a new friend has been telling me about the wine bargains he finds at a placed called Grocery Outlet. Actually, he calls it Gross Out, so  can’t say I had been in a hurry to get over there. But when he brought a couple white wines to dinner that were surprisingly good, my curiosity got the best of me.

It looks like a bodega outside, with bins piled high with oranges and mini watermelons. Inside, racks are piled equally high with everything from toilet paper and toothpaste to flower pots. I snagged some organic baby green mix in the produce section, then went to track down the wine. Along the way I noticed a very extensive cheese section, where a woman explained to her friend what “ricotta salata” was.

On the display opposite the cheese, I spotted my first wines. I picked up an Italian one in a familiar berry shade of magenta. The label said Casorzo D.O.C. Ricossa Antica Casa.  The description on the back read: “a semi-sweet sparkling frizzante style wine of fragrant floral aromas with hints of rose petal and a soft smooth taste.”

That description told me I had found a wine that contained some brachetto, the red grape from Piedmont typically made into sweetly balanced sparklers with distinctive rose and berry aromas and flavors. A wine with word brachetto on the label will usually run $18 to $22. Grocery Outlet was selling it for $7.99 – perfect for making sangria.

There’s some brachetto blended into this Italian dessert wine that was just $7.99.

In the wine aisle, I spotted all kinds of wine, mostly unfamiliar. Many of the wines were blends, such as the Spanish white Pazo de Monterey that my friend had brought to dinner. It was marked $2.99 here, but drank much better. A Google search revealed that the blend of treixadura and godello grapes that had soft apple and floral aromas sells for $9 to $12 around the country.

But in the refrigerated wine case, I found the real bargains. Among a bunch of half bottles of botryitized semillon from Australia – a super bargain at $9.99 -  I spotted a few bottles of rosé sparkling with the name “Champagne Didier Chopin” and “product of France.” I didn’t know this wine either, but that doesn’t mean much since there are hundreds of smaller producers in Champagne that never make a name in the US.

I Googled the name from my phone and learned that Msr. Chopin started making wines in the Vallée de la Marne nearly 20 years ago. His brut rosé sells for around $55 in U.K. He’s a négociant -manipulant, meaning that he buys pinot noir and pinot meunier grapes and then fashions them into wine. We savored this fruity deep pink wine with its bold berry flavors and aromas. Even more delightful was picking it up for $19.99 at Grocery Outlet.

I’ll definitely be going back for more.

 

 

 

Shopping

I Love This Gin & Rosewater Perfume by Tokyo Milk

October 1, 2010
SLS_hotel_gin_tonic

This fresh scent perfectly captures the aroma of lime zest, quinine and rosewater.

Just after my 21st birthday, my friend Wendy took me to a busy bar in downtown Chicago for my first grown-up drink. I remember standing at the bar, scanning the menu and trying to decide what to order. She suggested I order a Tanqueray and tonic. While I’ve changed up my brand of gin, the G & T has been my fallback cocktail ever since.

I’ve never grown tired of the aromatic contrasts a simple gin and tonic presents. There’s floral and spicy gin, the watery scent of quinine mixed with the bright bitterness of the freshly squeezed lime.

I was instantly transported to that first bittersweet sip, when I sniffed this Gin & Rosewater perfume by Tokyo Milk. We were browsing through Flutter, an artful shop on Portland’s Mississippi Street that carries an eclectic mix of vintage clothing and jewelry, toys, pretty beetles in resin and whatever else catches the owner’s eye.

With its juicy brightness and seductive rosewater notes, this Gin & Rosewater perfume makes for an instant pick-me-up, even if it’s nowhere near happy hour.