The role of aperitif is well served by a dry champagne. Appetizers are the traditional accompaniment. The following are a few of our favorites that match well with EQUINOX (or any dry sparkler):
EQUINOX POTATOES, small creamer potatoes split, dressed with wasabi sour cream, topped with tobiko.
GRILLED ASPARAGUS SPEARS, dressed with red pepper goat cheese, wrapped in prosciutto. (From Viaggio Restaurant, Saratoga, Ca.)
SMOKED SALMON, cream cheese, yogurt, fresh dill and lemon spread on cucumber slices.
TOASTED BAGUETTE SLICES, spread with goat cheese, topped with fresh diced tomato, garnish with fresh basil.
The following work well with sparklers, fruity/dry whites and light-to-medium bodies reds:
FRESH MELON SLICES, wrapped in prosciutto.
CHERRY TOMATOES, basil leaf and baby mozzarella skewered on a cocktail toothpick, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.
TOASTED BAGUETTE SLICES, spread with goat cheese and pesto, topped with a cherry tomato half.
Champagne and Cheese
“Man has yet to find a better companion to cheese than wine.”
Pierre Androuet, 1970
The most generally acceptable companion to the broadest range of champagne/sparkling wines would be a fresh goat cheese, locally produced, if possible. The creamy-slightly grainy texture of the cheese is a perfect foil for the effervescence of the champagne, the crispness of the wine matching the slight tang in the cheese.
Grana parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Toscano thinly shaved off the wedge match their granular texture with the effervescence of the wine. The crispness and fruitiness of the Blanc de Blanc offsets the slight salty-tang of the sheep’s-milk feta.
The following are some recommendations from “The Cheese Plate” by Max McCalman and David Gibbons. (2002) and “The Complete Encyclopedia of French Cheese and Other Continental Varieties” by Pierre Androuet. (Copyright 1970, English translation, 1973.)
Blanc de Blanc recommendations:
Pierre-Robert: A triple-creme, soft-ripened cow’s milk cheese, similar to Brie. France.
Vacherin Haute-Rive: A soft-ripened cow’s milk cheese. France.
Gruyere: An aged cow’s-milk cheese from Switzerland.
Epoisses: A soft, washed-rind cow’s-milk cheese from Burgundy.
Beaufort: An aged, firm cow’s-milk cheese from the French Alps. Similar to Gruyere or Emmenthaler.
Queso de la Serena: A semi-firm sheep’s-milk cheese from Spain.