Food

DESIGNING A BIRTHDAY DINNER MENU WITH CHAMPAGNE

32 years ago, on the very rainy morning in Izmir of March 4, I was born…

I don’t know you, but I always loved to celebrate my birthdays. This is one thing that won’t change no matter how old I get, hopefully! I enjoy a lot being with my loved ones, put my nicest cloths, be happy and of course, eat my favourite food with some good wine. This is pretty much the plan for me! That’s why, I’d like to use this opportunity to share with you how I design my birthday dinner menu and find the best wine and food pairing for this important occasion.

I chose the wine first

When it comes to special days like this, I tend to choose my wine first, and design the menu around it. I find it easier to build the menu around the wine. Because I can basically use different ingredients to create the flavor and texture which will go well with that specific wine. Let’s say I am having a light bodied aromatic Gruner Veltliner for dinner. In that case, I’d be choosing some fresh herbs and olive oil to dress my food. But if it’s a Chardonnay, I’d add some more butter to my sauce that I am preparing. There are endless of options to create the best food with the correct components to suit the wine.

I got to know my wine

For my birthday, unsurprisingly, I had a bottle of Champagne: Nicolas Feuillatte, Palmes d’Or Brut, from vintage 2006. I haven’t tasted before this particular wine, so I went ahead and read the production method to have an understanding about the style that it has. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay share equal parts in this blend and they went through all the aging together. It also went through malolactic fermentation, and topped with around 8 g/l of dosage, so I was expected to have a very complex and rounded Champagne.

I collect all the clues and design the menu

With these clues, I designed my birthday menu:

First, I chose the main dish. I didn’t complicate myself, just went with one of favorite dishes, pasta! For the sauce, again it was not complicated since Nova Scotia has delicious and abundant lobsters. At that point, I had my main ingredients and then I passed to the details which will make the difference and make the dish more palatable for the Champagne. I knew that I’d like something that will have nice creaminess, but also some acidity and freshness, so I decided to make shallot cream sauce was able to provide all what I need.

Since I had a quite nutritious and rich main dish on the menu, I tried to be “lighter” with the starters. Caprese skewers are very easy to make, super nice looking and tasty at the same time.  Also some grilled shrimp to start the seafood theme, and I served them with a salad of beetroot and tomato which combine very well with their sweetness and saltiness, and give a great color and touch as well!

  • Starters: Caprese skewers, grilled shrimps served with a side of beetroot salad.
  • Main dish: Linguine with NS lobster, with shallot cream sauce.
champagne pairing 3
  • Dessert: Obviously, birthday cake!

Nicolas Feuillatte, Palmes d’Or Brut, from vintage 2006

Amazingly elegant and creamy Champagne, great companion for birthday celebrations. The aromas of various stone fruits and brioche were the first ones to come up, and a touch of toast and roasted almonds gave only some more aromatic complexity and created different layers of flavors. On the palate it was still fresh with medium acidity, rounded, creamy and smooth. Great pairing with the briny sea flavor of lobster, and soft acidity of the combination of shallot and cream.

I’d normally use a bottle sealer to close any sparkling wine which doesn’t finish during a meal, and I can keep it up to 5 days at the fridge with minimum change, with only some expected gas losses. But when I have a Champagne like this, it never has to wait in the cold fridge! Birthday girl deserves one more glass to celebrate!

champagne girl

Cheers!

Wi.Nes

All images © 2020 by Neslihan IVIT. All rights reserved.

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