Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tuesday Night's Wine Selection?
Champagne of course!
Perfectly paired with: Chile Pepper Striped Bass
(healthy to boot)

To think, on a Tuesday night we opened some Champagne for no reason and lightning did not strike us! Champagne in our society is a celebratory beverage. Many of us only have it 2, maybe 3 times a year and its always because of a special occasion. Why does it have to be that way? Well, it doesn't and I am here to tell you that! If I have to wait for another New Year's Eve, birthday, or anniversary to drink some bubbly I'd go nuts so we try to have a bottle on a random night once or twice a year. We also have quite a bit of it at Thanksgiving and Christmas, Walter Evick is the family Champagne bandit at Christmas time!

We typically buy our year's stock of bottles between Thanksgiving and the later December holidays when tastings are frequent and the savings quite nice. We tend to go for grower Champagnes, not the big name Champagnes that are all the buzz with rappers and others with too much money to know or care what to spend their money wisely on. (Though Cristal is some good stuff). Big Champagne houses are fine, especially for vintage cuvees, but do not offer the complexity and individuality a grower Champagne consistently offers for the same price. I consider the grower styles something more "home made".

Guy Larmandier and Benoit Lahaye are my favorites and we get a few of those each year and a few others that may impress our palates at tastings. The Larmandier is 100% Chardonnay, a Blanc de Blanc in nature but not in name as it does not state so on the label. The Benoit-Lahaye is mostly Pinot Noir (yes, that Sideways grape) and the rest Chardonnay, about an 80/20 blend. They make a great 1-2 punch and cover two different styles to match any occasion.

Tonight however we are having a bottle of wine from some good friends of ours, one of whom I am seeing tomorrow and immediately thought to open this wine. This is an extremely unique and special wine being that is made from the three permitted grape varieties allowed in Champagne: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, & the less often used Pinot Meunier. It even has a larger than normal proportion of Pinot Meunier at 45%, 35% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir.

Tasting Note:

N.V. Gaston Chiquet Champagne Tradition Brut Premier Cru 
(France, Champagne)

Color: Shimmering gold with green flecks, very nice
Nose: Mixed notes of biscuit, citrus, and slately minerals
Palate: Crisp and clean finish, the acid is razor sharp and clean. Crisp green apples, limes, lemon zest and some fresh brad notes fan nicely over the palate but finish a bit short.
Chile Pepper Striped Bass

A little salt sprinkled onto the fillets balances and enhances fiery flavors from the marinade. Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) has about one-fourth the sodium of dry breadcrumbs but offers the same satisfying crunch to sautéed fish.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 fillet and 1 lemon wedge)

- 1/4 cup finely chopped seeded Anaheim chile
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
- 5 teaspoons canola oil, divided
- 4 (6-ounce) striped bass fillets (about 1/2 inch thick)
- 2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
- 1/3 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
- 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 lemon wedges


1. Combine the first 3 ingredients and 2 teaspoons oil in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add fish to bag; seal and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2. Remove fish from bag, discarding marinade. Brush chile off fish. Place egg whites in a shallow dish. Combine panko and rind in another shallow dish. Dip fish in egg white; dredge in panko mixture. Repeat procedure with remaining 3 fillets, egg white, and panko mixture. Sprinkle fillets evenly with salt.

3. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add fish to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until golden brown. Turn fish over; cook 4 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Serve with lemon wedges.

Nutritional Information

Calories: 230
Fat: 9.8g (sat 1.3g,mono 4.5g,poly 3g)
Protein: 29.8g
Carbohydrate: 3.8g
Fiber: 0.3g
Cholesterol: 131mg
Iron: 1.4mg
Sodium: 274mg
Calcium: 26mg

(Recipe thanks to Cooking Light)

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