As a huge fan of the Loire Valley, a Northern French wine region containing everything from Muscadet on the Atlantic to Sancerre further inland and a ton in between, I am always on the lookout for unique food and wine pairings, especially involving sparkling rosé. And though there’s a great diversity of wines, grapes, and styles throughout the region, one thing Loire Valley wines have in common is their versatility to pair with a wide variety of dishes, flavors, and ingredients. Naturally, I found this demonstrated while watching Kitchen Circus.
Not a kitchen circus, like with seals balancing whisks on their noses. Or an endless array of clowns piling out of the walk-in cooler. But rather a cooking competition show you can view on You Tube. Kitchen Circus takes enthusiastic home cooks into a fine French restaurant and has them prepare a signature dish for 40 people. I get sweaty cooking for one person (me), so I can only imagine the stress level of putting out dozens of perfect plates to be judged by paying customers and discerning expert guests. Hosted by the affable Thierry Rautureau (known as “The Chef in the Hat“), who also opened his restaurant doors and kitchen to these contestants, you get to watch Thierry and his staff point these cooks in the right direction. Here’s a preview of the first episode:
“How much more time do you need?” Thierry asks a contestant. “I need four more minutes,” is the response. “OK, you got two,” Theirry deadpans. If this sneak peek has whet your appetite, you can indulge in more episodes at the Kitchen Circus YouTube channel.
I was fortunate enough to get to meet the Producer/Director/Writer/Editor/A Hundred More Things of Kitchen Circus, Kellie Eickmeyer. She hosted a preview of the show for a group of bloggers and contestants, and sent along a couple of the menus from the show afterwords. I was intrigued by a trio of amuse-bouches prepared by the contestants, all paired with a single Loire Valley sparkling rosé:
- Maine Lobster in a Kataifi Nest with Lemon Beurre Blanc
- Grilled Scallop in a Coconut Lime Soup
- Tuna Tartar with Pomelo and Chili Oil
Sparkling rosé, like the De Chanceny Cremant de Loire poured on the show, is a seafood and spice Swiss army knife, able to provide refreshment, zest, cooling, as well as contrast and compliment a host of flavors. Is there anything sparkling rosé can’t do? (That’s a rhetorical question, but the answer is “no“.)
Contemplating the awesomeness of Loire Valley wines got me thinking about a trip I took there a couple years ago courtesy of the Loire Valley Wine Bureau. One of the many highlights that I’ll try to revisit for the rest of my blogging life was hanging out at Bouvet Ladubay with Juliette and Patrice Monmousseau. The dynamic daughter and father team who direct the winery were a never-ending, sparkling source of charm, humor, knowledge, and opinion. The photo above (with the pink table, no less) was taken at a sunny afternoon in the courtyard of the winery.
At this idyllic locale we tasted a sparkling rosé that was memorably delicious. The Taille Princesse Rosé de Gérard Depardieu* is a Cabernet Franc/Pinot Noir blend aged in oak barrels. Though usually I like my sparkling wines to have a laser-like zest, I am also quite fond of what a little time in oak barrel can do not just for a still wine, but a sparkling one as well. The added richness balances out the, uh, laser-ness. It is unfortunately not available in the States, so I highly recommend traveling to the Loire Valley and picking up a couple dozen bottles.
I left Bouvet Laudubay that day with a lifelong appreciation of casual, sunny afternoon sparkling rosé consumption, and a copy of a fictionalized biography of Etienne Bouvet, who founded the winery in 1851.
Whether it’s in the form of a book, an afternoon outside, or a cooking competition, I love being reminded of the special place the Loire Valley holds in my wine-drinking life and memories.
*Yup, that Gérard Depardieu. Is there another?
Did you know that seal is controlling the balance of the ball with its whiskers?!? That bit of info and photo courtesy nouch82.