Thursday, January 31, 2008

Fancy Food Show Finds

Twice a year, foodies, restaurateurs and gourmet store owners flock to the Fancy Food Show to find the latest new food and beverages products. For the first time, the winter show was held in San Diego, bringing 14,000 foodies and lots of new trends from around the world.

With sparkling cocktails on the brain as always, here were some of my favorite finds:
Golden Star Tea a white jasmine tea with a slight sparkle, Golden Star Tea is presented as a adult beverage for someone who doesn't want alcohol. I found its fragrant aroma and taste and slight fizz enchanting. The owners say in March it will be available in New York, LA, San Francisco and on their website.

Bulgarian roses - the most prized in the world for their delicious fragrance - go into making Sence Rare European Rose Nectar that has a subtle flavor that combines rose with with a hint of citrus. The fact that the curvy glass flacon resembles a perfume bottle doesn't hurt. I'll be using it to make a sparkling Valentine's Day cocktail for NBC San Diego on Feb 11.

Rocca dei Forte is an Italian range of wines by Togni SpA that offers spumante - aka sparkling wine - from several major regions of Italy. Their new affordable line launching in the US this spring includes four offerings: Prosecco, Brachetto, Asti and Verdicchio. Each has a dark bottle with a bright capitol letter on front corresponding to the name of the wine. The biggest revelation was the Spumante Verdicchio, a light and crisp wine primarily made in the Marches with hints of nuts and warm spices. It's a very imformative web site as well -- assuming you speak Italian.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Let Freedom Ring

I wasn't able to make it to the Martin Luther King Champagne Brunch in Jackson, Miss. this morning, but I'll still be celebrating this amazing man's legacy in my own way. I definitely believe that I wouldn't be me, doing the things I'm doing today, had it not been for the Civil Rights Movement that Dr. King energized in the early 1960s.

And as a writer, I've always admired the way he delivered speeches so that it felt like his powerful words were cascading over you. I'm glad video footage of the historic "I Have a Dream" speech delivered on Aug. 28 1963 during the March on Washington still lives. These are two of my favorite alliterative passages:

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
"I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will they be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood."

If you're off today, don't miss The Dream Lives: A Martin Luther King Day Special on Oprah. My friend, the super-smart and bubbly Janet Lee, is one of the producers who worked really hard on this show, so I know it will be meaningful and moving.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

What to Drink with Bubbly

Saturday night I went over to my friend Janye and Richard's for a dinner party. Even though it was last minute, I decided to whip up some Parmesan Mashed Potatoes from Cook's Country magazine. It's a basic Yukon Gold mashed potato recipe kicked up with Parmigiano-Reggiano and Asiago.

They're so delicious, the first time I made them, I got a marriage proposal ... from a 23-year-old. I was jonesing for them again the next morning. So last night's mashed potatoes became potato patties, carefully browned in a little olive oil in a cast iron skillet. They were the perfect base for smoked salmon, garnished with creme fraiche and some chives snipped from the rain-soaked garden.

The richness of the salmon, and the beautiful pinky color were calling out for rose, so I answered by opening a bottle of Blason de Bourgogne Cremant de Bourgogne Cuvee Rose Brut one of my $10 favorites from Trader Joe's. Yes, it is a mouthful, fortunately with hints of red currant, raspberry and refreshing acidity.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Happy B-day to Us!

Not that I celebrate it or anything, but I wanted to send a b-day shout out to my pal Jeff, the regional director for the fabulous Champagne Henriot. We met at a wine dinner at Addison at the Grand Del Mar last year and discovered that not only did we share a love of bubbly, but that we were both born on January 3 in the same year. (No, I didn't say what year.)

It turns out Jan. 3 was also an auspicious day for the champagne house now known as Veuve Clicquot. That was the day in 1772, when the ambitious young Philippe Clicquot first placed an ad in the Gazette de France announcing the launch of a little wine business under the Clicquot name. The czars of Russia loved the stuff, and they've been golden ever since.

Other cool happenings on Jan. 3 according to the site :
1841 Herman Melville headed to the South Seas
1987 Aretha Frankling inducted into Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
1990 The last daily Peanuts comic strip is published
1999 Chicago and the Midwest digs out from the Great Blizzard

And on this day in 2007, the erudite food scientist Harold McGee wrote a Curious Cook column for the New York Times on whether any good can come from mixing absinthe and champagne. It's a cocktail known as "Death in the Afternoon" that Ernest Hemingway conributed to a book of celebrity potions published in 1935.

I stuck to Prosecco during my delicious lunch at Cafe Chloe, but now that absinthe is again legal in the U.S. perhaps I'll have to sample Hemingway's tipple next January 3.