Bubbles, Burrata, Beef and a Big One -- Or, Beautiful Day

The heart is a bloom
Shoots up through the stony ground
-U2, "Beautiful Day"

Easter Sunday began brilliantly, with a warm, breezy sky; my favorite springtime flower -- azaleas -- bursting in blinding glory; and a (double) double-blind food and wine pairing that involved 1. brunch and 2. bubbles. It's fortuitous that we had so much fun before the 7.2 Baja earthquake rocked and rolled us later that afternoon, quickly shifting the day's focus to rumbly aftershocks, and leaving nerves just slightly ragged.

Still, it was a beautiful day.

Sparkling Personality

I was on wine duty this week, and as I thought about what to choose, I realized the ridiculous fact that sparkling wine has never made an appearance at our secret food-and-wine dinners. How could this be? Most of my friends know my eventual goal is to have an entire wine fridge dedicated solely to bubbles. Why on earth hadn't I brought a bottle to the table yet? Time to fix that.

The bead's so pretty on this one. Teeny, tiny bubbles.

It was pale straw in color, with a nose of toasted brioche and pear. On the palate, a tingly burst of bubbles, and then the lemony, buttery (with none of the heaviness that word implies) sensation of a delicious croissant melting in your mouth.

"Schramsberg?" Jody asked. How exactly he pulled that off, I'm not sure, because I can't remember the last time we drank Schramsberg, as yummy as it is. He was right, though. This happened to be a vintage bottle, of which I informed him, upon which he took another sip and called it 2006. Again, correct.

2006 Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs (100% Chardonnay) sparkling wine, North Coast, California.

This is Why We Eat

Brunch: It's what's for dinner. Today, anyway. Another first for the Garagistes-in-Training secret food-and-wine-pairing meals. I love brunch, so I was quite happy to find out that's what Jody had in the works, especially since bubbles already were involved. Can't go wrong with bubbles and brunch, right?

This one had nothing to do with eggs, but it still turned out to be a scrumptious pairing in all its parts. I'll get to them. First, allow me to rhapsodize for a moment about burrata.

Decadent, extraordinarily sensual, with a combination of textures that simply make your eyes widen at what is going on in your mouth, burrata is a ball of fresh mozzarella wrapped around a soft mix of mozzarella curds and cream. That definition does absolutely nothing to explain what happens to you when you slice the ball open; drizzle it with oil and aged balsamic; sprinkle it with fleur de sel and fresh ground pepper, and place a forkful between your lips.

I need a moment.

Some foods aren't done justice by their photographic representations. Burrata is one of them. Gioia Cheese in Los Angeles makes this amazing creation, which must be consumed almost immediately after it's produced. (Don't be fooled by the stuff of the same name at Trader Joe's. Pass it by.) In CA, the best cheese shops should carry it. You can  order your own from Gioia, too. (Or, you could come visit and I'll see what I can do. But I only eat burrata with people I really like.)

The Rest of the Story, er, Meal

If you've gotten this far, you may have noticed something else on the plate in that photo. That's Jody's take on Jamie Oliver's beef carpaccio with marinated bean salad from the Jamie at Home cookbook. He used filet mignon; mandolined sweetpeas for the bean salad, and shaved Carmody cheese over the top. 

Filet mignon and methode Champenoise Schramsberg blanc de blancs? Oh, it worked just fine. The fresh, spring flavors in the marinated sweetpea salad were enhanced delightfully by the wine's dry, citrusy notes, and the thinly sliced carpaccio didn't overwhelm the bubbles at all; in fact, the richness was a grand partner.

(There also were mashed potatoes -- mixed with more butter than I care to think about -- which had a natural sweetness that called to mind fluffy, butter-flavored candy.)

Shake-and-Bake
(Or, Did That Just Happen?)

We were happily sated, at least, when the earthquake hit. And, aside from the lengthy shaking and swaying of light fixtures, we all remained unscathed. The residual nervousness, though, lent itself to another glass. 

Oh, who am I kidding? We switched to cocktails.

Until next week - cheers! If you'd like to leave a comment, I'd love to hear from you.