True champagnes have a richly deserved reputation as some of the finest, most sublime liquors in the entire world. Their sparkling texture and broad range of sweetness, however, sometimes make them difficult to properly pair with the right foods.
Here are just some of our favorites:
Chevre and Peaches. Do yourself a favor and wait for peaches to be at the height of the summer season before creating this simple dish. A good chevre – that’s goat cheese to you non-cognoscenti – can be found throughout the year. Assembling the dish is a simple as slicing the cheese and fruit, sprinkling with one of the following herbs – we prefer basil, mint or thyme and even lavender – and then complementing with a delicate champagne like Taittinger’s la Francaise.
Apulia Bread w/Olive Oil. This “crusty on the outside, doughy on the inside” bread is the perfect vector for transporting a load of the Egyptian condiment, dukka, drenched in a grassy olive oil into your mouth. Then add a mouthful of a demi-sec like Heidsieck & Co’s Monopole Red Top and you will be floating on a cushion of pure gastronomic joy.
Oysters Rockefeller. Created over a century ago in the renowned restaurant, Antoine’s, in New Orleans, the rich buttery sauce of this dish beautifully complements the broiled, breaded oysters underneath. Still, some gourmands find it overly rich unless paired with a little champagne on the fruity side like Moët & Chandon’s Impérial.
Fried Mushrooms. While many will denigrate the drinking of champagne with any fried food, a blanc de noir – made from darker grapes like pinot noir – actually makes quite a nice complement to the earthiness of the mushrooms. For a truly memorable experience, consider trying Bollinger’s Vieilles Vignes Francaises for a new look at the taste of mushrooms, chanterelles and even truffles.
Poached Eggs with Parmesan. For a slightly different approach – one without the hollandaise – consider simple poached eggs laced with fresh basil and parmesan. Then, add a glass of a dry brut sparkling wine like Krug’s and you will have a sure-fire winner of a meal for breakfast lunch or dinner. By the way, for a little extra oomph, serve with a side of smoked salmon toast.
Steamed Lobster. As simple as it gets, preparing lobster in this way with just onion, garlic, red pepper in the bottom of the pot makes a fantastic main course. For a little extra flair or, if it is January 1st, add some leftover champagne as the steaming liquid. Afterwards, a little more of the same – obviously a little fresher – like a dry Napoleon Tradition Brut. It is a great way to end the start of the New Year.
Chocolate Glazed Pound Cake. This dessert has it all – the firmness and moisture of the cake and the crunchiness that turns to syrup of the bittersweet chocolate are highlighted by the sweetness of a doux champagne like those made by Fleury Pere et Fils Millesime Doux. Fathers and sons have never before made something so decadent.
Foie Gras. This pairing goes quite far out on the limb but we think you will appreciate it. Most connoisseurs prefer fois gras with a sauterne like Chateau d’Yquem but for something completely different, try Veuvre Cliquot champagne with foie gras, a biscuit – yes, a simple buttermilk biscuit – and, dare I say it? – sausage gravy. Crazy talk. I hear ya‘ but this pairing is simply superb and quite unique.