You know how when your friends are pregnant, they talk about how they’re going to be that super cool mom and nothing in their life is going to change? And then they squeeze out a kid (or in my case, have it removed via the jaws of life) and they become lame, lame, lame? Every conversation becomes focused on how much the kid is pooping, breastfeeding, napping, and pooping again? Your friend can’t hold a decent conversation about anything because every 2 seconds she starts baby talking to her infant. Well, welcome to Lameville, population: ME. I’m baby obsessed. Every waking moment is consumed with my little milk monster, as we’ve affectionately named him. And basically all my moments are waking… I think I’m getting about 4 hrs of sleep a day – not consecutively.
Usually on New Year’s Eve, my husband and I get together with our friends Eunice and Reg and we invade my old boss, Dave’s house. We arrive with our own communal bottle of Don Nacho tequila and as many bottles of bubbly as possible so that we can sabre them while 3 sheets to the wind, spraying glass everywhere. My boss has 2 young children and no matter how hard we try to keep the shattered champagne bottle glass contained, these poor little guys wake up barefoot on New Year’s day to a mine field of broken glass. Last year we sabred in the bathroom, which seemed brilliant at the inebriated time, but really just meant a bathtub full of glass shards and one broken bathroom window. Just for the record, that broken window was NOT my fault.
This year, we are spending New Year’s just the 3 of us. Our little Lameville family will probably choke down some food as quickly as possible, do bath time for the baby, and all be asleep by 10PM… if we’re lucky. BUT, I have big plans for New Year’s Day! In Vietnamese tradition (or maybe just my mother’s personal superstition), there are some guidelines for how to conduct yourself on New Year’s Day. First, don’t do anything that you don’t want to repeat for the rest of the year! Only do activities that you want to do everyday for the next 365 days! Next, don’t throw anything away – you could accidentally be throwing away good fortune! So, this New Year’s Day, I’ve decided that as soon as we can get our little one down for a nap, my husband and I will be snacking on Osetra caviar and some really delicious bubbly. We are doing it up in style and taking a temporary reprieve from Lameville.
I’ve already got 2 ounces of American farmed Osetra caviar, which I ordered from Rue la la at a discount… but not much of one… this will still be a DAMN expensive little snack. Next, I needed a really delicious glass of bubbly. I’m only allowed one glass a day, so it has to be as delicious as possible. No Cava, no Prosecco, no skimping, especially since it’s accompanying caviar that’s worth more than my shoes. Well, skimping a little, maybe. I called in a favor and asked my friend, Christie’s Wine Expert Amanda Crawford, for her Top 5 Champagne picks under $50. I met Amanda while working at Murray’s – she frequently taught our Wine and Cheese pairing courses. When people see Amanda’s name on the Murray’s class schedule, her classes usually immediately sell out. It’s not only because the lady has a baller palate and knows it all when it comes to wine, but it’s also because of how she conveys it to you. Passion, people! You sip the wine and she’s your tour guide through every taste sensation, providing energetic commentary on what you are smelling, tasting, and feeling. You put down your glass and feel like you’ve just returned from a week long vacation in the wine’s country of origin. Yup, she’s THAT good!
Instead of bastardizing her words, I’m going to just quote her for your reading pleasure (and yes, it’s a bit of a shortcut for me since baby is up and demanding food). Where I could find it at Astor Wines & Spirits, I’ve provided a link:
“As for Champers, there are literally so many incredible Champagnes on the market right now that I absolutely adore with all of my heart. Skip the Grand Marque houses and head straight for the Grower-Producers (you can see on the label by the tiny, infinitesimal RM on the front label. This means Récoltant-Manipulant, i.e. owns land and grapes, as opposed to an NM, Négociant-Manipulant, which means they buy grapes). Obviously, this doesn’t tell you about the quality of the juice, but it does tell you that the person who made the Champagne had more control and direction in the growing of the raw material….a good sign.
Anyhoo [Yup, Amanda uses it to so it MUST be a word! Sorry for interrupting]. The most basic level Champagne starts around $35 these days, so with $50 you’re looking at really fantastic Non-Vintage or Multi-Vintage wines for the most part. The ones I’m digging are:
Voirin-Jumel Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs NV $35. All Chardonnay from Grand Cru village in Champagne, this is stelly, intense and tons of citrus and tart apple fruit. Super high acidity. [It's Mindy, sorry to intrude again, but "blanc de blancs" means that the champagne is 100% Chardonnay - a really excellent pairing with your creamier, custardy caviars.]
Loriot Blanc de Noirs Brut Réserve NV $40. The main three grapes in Champers are Chardon, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, and most Champs is a blend of all three. This is super cool because its is mostly Pinot Menuier, so it is a totally different expression of the wine. I pair this with cheese all the time in classes and it is a huge hit.
Pierre Peters Blanc de Blancs Cuvée Réserve NV $50: I just love this producer and will buy anything they make. The guy who imports them, Tierry Thiese, calls this a cross between Champagne and Mosel as these wines have intense concentration and tons of mineral expression. Lots of fruit and herbaceous aromas. All Chard, too. [Yup, it's me again. This is the champagne that I'll be tenderly sipping on Jan 1!]
Henri Billiot Brut Réserve NV $50: Unfiltered, no dosage, no malolactic , Pinot based Champagne that is absolutely stunning with a wide array of usual fruits on the nose. Sure, you get cherries, but you also get plums and flowers. Neat, powerful, concentrated, top quality stuff.
Jean-Milan Carte Blanche Blanc de Blancs $50: 100% Chard, this is the most floral and “pretty” Champagne I’ve ever had. It’s rounder, not as steely as others. Romantic.
[And Amanda added a little something special to blow the budget, but I decided to go for it and buy a bottle to keep for a special occasion!] For you, special bottle. My favorite Champs of all time is the Vilmart Cuvée Rubis Rosé. Its $80, but f*ing incredible. Fermented in oak, its decadent and delicious.” [I censored a little there because I'm a mom now and the F word is off limits unless someone really deserves it in an F you sort of way, which nobody has yet... so that's good...]
So, as I sit back and enjoy my glass of Pierre Peters and my mother-of-pearl spoonful of Osetra with my husband while frantically watching the baby monitor for signs of movement Jurassic Park/Aliens style, I hope that you will spend your New Year’s Day surrounded by garbage and clutter, eating something truly decadent. I will try to post pics on New Year’s Day to force myself to continue blogging for the next 365. Cheers and thanks for reading!