Friday, March 23, 2007

Cava, Cava!

I was out wine shopping with my friend Kristi at a local grocery store this weekend when I stumbled on one bottle of Cava Can Vendrell sitting all by its loneseome on the shelf. I think I yelled "Oh my God" and grabbed the bottle.

I was so excited because it was the first time I'd ever seen a bottle of this organic cava by Albet I Noya. I thought it was a bargain at $18. Cava, which means "cave" in Spanish, is a sparkling wine made in the same method as champagne, but it using native grapes from Penedes named xarel-lo, macabeo and parellada. Josep Maria Albet I Noya, as their web site explains, is one of Spain's pioneers in making fine organic wines, dating back to the late 70s.

So I raced home with my prize, stuck it in the refrigerator and planned a cava-worthy meal of Spanish shrimp with grapes.

Turning on the computer while I waited, I found an email from a "Bubbly Chap" named Patrick and his wife Roso who live near Barcelona, Spain. She works for an Institute promoting cava, the Spanish sparkling wine, and in doing research found my site The Bubbly Girl.

How freaky and cool is that?? They were as thrilled to find someone in the US who loves bubbly as I was to hear from them. Every Friday, they celebrate what they call "Happy Friday" with a bottle of cava and different foods. They say there are lots of local stories about cava, like the one that promises if you dig a hole in the earth in Penedes, cava will run out of the ground.

I hope to get there one day soon to find out!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Other Dom

Who hasn't heard of Dom Perignon? But there's another Dom who's quite famous in the world of Champagne. Dom Ruinart also created champagne, and realized selling bubbly to Europe's high and mighty would make a fine business. His family founded what is the oldest house in Champagne in 1729.

As good as Ruinart champagne is, it's somewhat rare. So I was thrilled to discover their Blanc de Blancs on the wine list at Chive in downtown San Diego. And mon dieu, it was half-price, thanks to a Mad Monday wine special!!
The clear bottle of Blanc de Blancs was gorgeous and the wine was a revelation: incredibly elegant and light while still being round. It's rare and refreshing to find an old-school French bubbly that's so lithe and juicy with chardonnay fruit. It was perfect alone, but magical with a dish of seared scallops stuffed with chorizo.

After dinner, I moved over to the bar to meet a co-worker who had a guest named Stephen visiting from London. He works at the posh bar Artesian in the Langham Hotel -- which serves loads of bubbly and cocktails based on artisanal spirits.

The half-price Ruinart caught his eye too. "We sell this for 17 pounds a glass!"

Here we go again...

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Sweet Surrender Cocktail Recipe

OK, sorry it took me so long to get back to you, but I've been a busy girl -- even more than normal.

One of my new activities is joining my first book club, informally known as the Best Book Club Ever. It's filled with smart, fun women, who are mostly attorneys or their wives. Our first book was My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult, a very moving and controversial tale of a girl who was born in order to donate stem cells, and then bone marrow to her older sister who has a rare form of cancer.

Since I was longing for a bit of spring, I decided to create a girly, rose-scented cocktail to add some sparkle to our first meeting. I named it after a hot pink rose called Sweet Surrender. Here, finally, is the recipe:

Sweet Surrender aka Book Club-tinis
Makes 1 cocktail
2 tablespoons Stirrings 60 Petals Rose Essence
splash Torani raspberry syrup
Rotari Brut sparkling wine
candied rose petals

Add the rose syrup and a drizzle of raspberry syrup to a champagne flute. Top off with Rotari or another favorite brut sparkling wine. Add a few pieces of candied rose petals to the glass, they'll float up and down and make it extra bubbly.

I plan to sip a few of these while reading our next book, The Other Boelyn Girl by Philippa Gregory, a tale of political intrigue, romance and sibling rivalry set in the court of King Henry VIII.