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Celebrities & Champagne

Celebrities & Champagne

Perrier-Jouet Champagne Florale Edition LA Launch Party

October 26, 2012

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.

Celebrities & Champagne, Pop Culture, Travel

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

August 14, 2012

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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 Perignon, 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.

Bubbly Girl Cocktail Recipes, Celebrities & Champagne, Drinks

Sip a Sparkling Viola Cocktail: Inspired by Viola Davis

February 24, 2012

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

Celebrities & Champagne

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

March 16, 2011
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 Cocktail Recipes, Celebrities & Champagne

Bubbly Girl Drink of the Week: The Rich Girl

September 5, 2009
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

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!