December 30th: Even if you procrastinate as pervasively as I do, even if you’re still hunting around for a clever New Year’s Eve idea at T-24 hours and counting, I’m still going to figure that you’ve already thought of Champagne and caviar, and probably oysters and chocolate to boot. Indeed, Google Trends confirms it: Internet traffic containing either the word “caviar” or “Champagne” rises up to 500% this time of year, and we San Franciscans trail only New Yorkers in their apparent affinity for these NYE classics. Classics are, as a rule, classic for a reason, so how much can I possibly add at this point?
If you’ve already got Champagne and caviar lying about, then by all means, use it, with neither apology nor reservation. But here is my contribution, and what all those other NYE shopping lists won’t tell say: Whatever you do, make sure you serve something that will get you lucky. As it happens – to nobody’s surprise, at least if they’re regular readers – we in the Proximal Kitchen are nothing if not opinionated, we love to speculate about which foods and wines are most likely to earn you flirty looks and messier sheets, and we think we’ve got just the ticket: A big, rich, opulent, and very sexy Sonoma County Chardonnay.
I’ve waxed previously about the sundry virtues of the smoking hot Chards fermenting over in my neighboring valley (several columns, starting here), as well what I’m pretty sure must be the only dry white wine to survive dinner service for the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations (reference here), so herewith a drive-by post of my Three Bottles Most Likely To Result in Tussled Hair:
- Selby Winery, 2008 “Dave Selby Reserve”. I love Susie’s wines, she’s a part of the ongoing ascent of women winemakers, and it doesn’t hurt that she and her TR staff are all tasty little numbers themselves (and, to their undying credit, won’t call me a wanton scoundrel for saying so). I particularly like her Chards, as they strike a pitch-perfect balance between creamy oak (100% new French) and crisp fruit (from the western Russian River Valley). Seriously, if the wine is good enough for the Bushes to keep serving it after the Clintons, and the Obamas after the Bushes, then surely it’s good enough to impair (or enhance, depending on your perspective) the judgment of your date?
- Robert Young Estate Winery, 2008 “Barrel Select”. The full extent of my digital drooling over this wine may be found here, but suffice it to say that, in my personal opinion, there is not a better example of New World Chardonnay at almost any price, and certainly not for less than 2-3 times the cost of this beauty.
- Ridge Winery, 2007 “Monte Bello”. My only pick from outside the County and, even more unconventionally, one of the rare examples of the extraordinary Chardonnays being grown up in the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA (I could just as easily picked one of the “Estate” designates from Mount Eden or Varner, but I’ve had a soft spot for Ridge since my days as a slug, and they have a tasting room right here in Healdsburg, so they win the push). Very different, in all sorts of good ways, from the Napa and Sonoma juice further north, and a great example of what cooler climate, mountain grown whites can be like in the New World (as well as the less conventional practice, typical at Ridge, of using primarily American oak). Rich and creamy, to be sure, but with a well defined and steely backbone of acidity – American’s Next Top Model, but with some muscle mass and a brain to back it all up.
If you’re still wondering what to cook with all of this, you could do a lot worse than Gently Scrambled Eggs with Naughty Whipped Cream – get some really nice, local eggs (we have lots of good local egg farmers, but my favorite oeufs come from Wyeth Acres); very gently scramble them, until the reach a custard-like consistency; and top them with some of that Salty Vodka Whipped Cream (see previous recipe link). If you’ve already got that caviar lying about, by all means, gild the lily – the salty, buttery pop of the fish roe will pair perfectly with the vodka, cream and eggs, and the contrasts in temperature and texture really complete the dish. Any of those Chards would pair perfectly, as would Champagne – particularly a blanc de blanc. And, most of all, someone is going to feel very flattered by all of this, after which you can thank me in the morning.