Friday, July 20, 2007

Tasting Parties Part 1: Chocolate

I'm gearing up for another segment on KNSD 7/39 this morning -- but at least I can get some sleep since it's for Streetside San Diego, which starts at 10 a.m.

The topic du jour is tasting parties -- a great way to combine fun with a little education. Tasting parties are about exploring one single food or drink and getting to know how its flavor changes depending on how or where it's made. The goal is finding what appeals to your palate.

I presented ideas for a chocolate tasting party, which can be done with chocolates made with different percentages of cocoa, which the range of Scharffen Berger Chocolates shows wonderfully. The line goes from a 41 percent cocoa milk chocolate to an 82 percent cocoa dark chocolate.

Then there's the Lake Champlain Select Origin chocolates, which show the differences between chocolates sourced from Tanzania, Sao Thome (an island off Africa) and Grenada.

Or if you want someone else to do the work for you, pick up an assortment of chocolate desserts from the best bakery in town. Michele Coulon Dessertier in La Jolla makes a range of mini choclate desserts from white chocolate and passion fruit tartlets to chocolate truffle cake to mini cheese cakes to bittersweet chocolate and cherry cake.

The chocolate theme inspired me to make up a fizzy chocolate cocktail, that recalls the old-fashion ice cream sodas my mom made working at College Pharmacy in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It goes upscale with in a champagne glass and sipped through a Christofle silver champagne straw. I know, the sake sounds weird, but trust me!

Chocolate Sake Soda

This would be divine with a bittersweet chocolate ganache as its base, but if you don't feel like making that, Hershey's chocolate syrup works just fine.

1 tablespoon chocolate ganache or syrup
1 ounce Kahlua coffee liqueur
4 to 5 ounces Zipang sparkling sake, chilled
1 tablespoon vanilla ice cream

Add chocolate ganache or syrup to a champagne flute. Next add the Kahlua and stir lightly to combine. Slowly add the sparkling sake, so it doesn't fizz over your glass. When the bubbles subside a bit, add the vanilla ice cream. Serve immediately.

Recipe by Maria Hunt "The Bubbly Girl" All rights reserved.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Summer White Wines

Sure I'm the Bubbly Girl, but you didn't think that meant I always drink wine with bubbles? You did? Oh, well sorry to burst your bubble.

Actualy I enjoy a range of well-made wines from all over the world, carbonated and otherwise.

Last Thursday, I shared some of my favorite Summer White Wines on this segment on the KNSD 7/39 morning show -- at 6:45 a.m.!

Since it's hot outside, summer is the time to drink wines that are both light on the alcohol (less than 14 percent) and high in acid, which makes your mouth water.

Here's the list of wines that I presented, along with some Super Sips.

Albarino -- A racy white wine from Rias Baixas region of Spain, albarin~o has flavors of ginger lime and kiwi. It's great with seafood, especially scallops.
Mar de Frades Albarin~o 2005, 16.99 at BevMo

Riesling -- This elegant and electric wine is best made in Germany, where it picks up flavors of peach, lime and minerals. Try it with sushi, sashimi or spicy Asian food.
Zilliken Riesling Butterfly 2005, $16.99 at BevMo
Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling Eroica 2006, $19.99 BevMo

Chenin Blanc -- This lush and refreshing wine is well known in France, where its made into fruity Vouvray, but they're also great from cool areas of California. Tasting of melons and honey, chenin blanc excels with rich seafood like lobster or grilled chicken.
Husch Chenin Blanc, $8.99 at BevMo
Francois Pinon Vouvray 2005, $16.99 at BevMo

Sauvignon Blanc - This is a clean tasting wine, classically made into Sancerre in France, but well-crafted all over the world, especialy in New Zealand. Its herbal and grapefruit flavors make it great with goat cheese and hard- to-pair veggies like asparagus.
Pastou Sancerre Cotes de Sury, $18.99 at BevMo
Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2006, $13.99 at BevMo

Prosecco -- This crisp and fresh tasting grape grows best in the soaring hills east of Venice, Italy. With flavors of green apple and citrus, this gently sparkling wine is ideal with prosciutto ham and cheeses.
Fantinel Prosecco, $9.99 at BevMax
Zardetto Prosecco, $12.99 at BevMo

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Charmat, I'm Sure

Even though it's been a part of winemaking since the early 1900s, it took the Oxford English Dictionary nearly 100 years to add the word "Charmat" (shar-MOTT) to its esteemed list of official words.

As you lovers of bubbly may know, the Charmat process is one of the common ways that still wine is transformed into bubbly. Also known as the tank or bulk method, it was invented somewhere between 1907 and 1910 by a Frenchman named Eugene Charmat.

Wine is added to a temperature-controlled tank like the one above, along with some yeast and sugar. The tank is then closed. The yeast and sugar start to ferment, which causes CO2 gas to be released into the wine.

Charmat is faster and less expensive than methode champenoise and is also best for preserving delicate aromas and flavors found in some grapes. It makes wine with fewer bubbles than champagne.

So next time you enjoy a glass of Prosecco or Moscato d'Asti, be sure to toast Mr. Charmat.