Pairing: Oysters, asparagus worthy of sparkling rosé
Inman Family Wines Russian River Valley Olivet Grange Vineyard Estate Brut Rosé ($68) is as delightful in the glass as it is on your palate, or nearly so. It is a delicate beauty, as pale pink as a baby’s blush, with compact little bubbles that tickle your nose as you take your first sip. Sassy notes of spice — think nutmeg, mace and a whisper of dried ginger — transport more ethereal flavors, including pomegranate, cranberry, Queen Anne cherry, watermelon rind and a bit of tangerine, across the palate in voluptuous harmony.
This sparkler is rich, mouth- filling and refreshing at the same time, thanks to the its delicate mousse, or small bubbles.
To enjoy the wine as an aperitif, serve it in tall, thin glasses and offer some rich nibbles, such as Marcona almonds, jamon serrano or San Daniele prosciutto, smoked salmon and a triple cream cheese, alongside.
Don’t feel like going to all that trouble? Here’s a secret: A great sparkler makes a yummy companion to your favorite potato chips.
At the table, you’ll enjoy this wine immensely with such shellfish as Dungeness crab and lobster, served hot with a simple butter sauce, or chilled, with lemon and olive oil or a Louis dressing.
Smoked salmon chowder, Thai foods that are not too spicy, and any kind of traditional risotto are excellent matches, too.
Because there is a holiday coming up, and because I tend to prefer nontraditional acknowledgments of this holiday, I’m suggesting a favorite midnight indulgence, best after an evening on the town.
If you happen to be a morning person, this is a delicious breakfast too, especially if you have someone who will make it for you.
Eggs on the Half Shell with Oysters & Asparagus
Makes 2 servings
6 fresh medium oysters in their shells
3 tablespoons butter
1 small shallot, minced
¼ cup cream
— Black pepper in a mill
4 large or 3 jumbo organic farm eggs
— Kosher salt
6-8 fat asparagus stalks, roasted (see Note below)
— Olive oil
— Osetra caviar (optional garnish)
2 tablespoons snipped chives
— Lemon wedges
4 baguette slices, toasted
Prepare a double boiler so that the water comes just below the line of the insert. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
Shuck the oysters over a fine strainer set in medium bowl and catch their liquor. Remove the oysters from their shells and set them in a small bowl. Reserve the lower halves of the shells (the cupped side); discard the flat side of the shells. Set the oysters, the shells and the liquor aside.
In a small saucepan, melt ½ tablespoon of the butter over low heat, add the shallot and sauté until very soft and fragrant, about 7 minutes. Add the cream and the oyster liquor and bring to a very gentle simmer. Add the oysters, simmer 30 seconds, remove from the heat, set aside and keep warm.
Melt a small amount of the remaining butter in the top of the double boiler. Break the eggs, one at a time, into a small dish and then tip them into a large bowl. Use a whisk to whip the eggs until they are very smooth. Break the remaining butter into small bits and add it to the eggs, along with a teaspoon of kosher salt, a tablespoon of the chives and about five or six turns of black pepper.