Pairings: Elegant wine fine with chips
Published: Wednesday, December 18, 2013 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 8:58 a.m.
Schramsberg 2009 Brut Rosé ($43), our Wine of the Week, is a beauty, with a coy effervescence and a cornucopia of flavors that range from fresh berries to toasted pineapple, with tiny ribbons of mango, papaya and mangosteen and bursts of clove and cardamom punctuating lively, refreshing acidity. It's a wine that makes you sigh “ahhhhh” as you raise your glass for another sip.
As you would expect from Schramsberg, long one of the finest sparkling-wine houses in the world, this sparkler is suave, sophisticated and elegant, with an appealing subtlety and flawless balance.
One way to think about this wine is that it has a broad reach, as if its arms were flung open wide to welcome the world, which is to say, the world of flavors. It is as delicious with a rare bacon burger with all the trimmings as it is with a spoonful of caviar. You can enjoy this sparkler with sushi — it's extraordinary with unagi (eel) — and shellfish. It's outstanding with roasted chicken, roasted turkey and ham, and a great choice with cheeses, dried fruits and tree nuts. It is lovely with chocolate.
The wine is also excellent with sweet potatoes, as its suggestion of spiciness resonates beautifully with the tuber's sweetness. Sweet potato salad, roasted sweet potato wedges with a delicate vinaigrette, sweet potato soufflé and a sauté of sweet and savory potatoes spiked with sweet paprika all are flattered by this wine.
Sweet potato chips are a good match, too, and a fun one, which brings us to today's recipe, homemade sweet potato chips with caviar dip, a dish inspired by a recipe in a sweet little book “Caviar, Truffles and Foie Gras” by Katherine Alford (Chronicle Books, 2001).
Sweet Potato Chips with Caviar Dip
Makes 6 to 8 servings
1/4 cup creme fraiche
3/4 cup natural (without gum or other additives) cream cheese
— Cream, as needed
3 scallions, trimmed and minced, or 2 tablespoons fresh snipped chives
— Grated zest of 1 lemon
3 ounces American Black Caviar
3 ounces American Golden Caviar
— Black pepper in a mill
4 cups olive oil or other mild vegetable oil, for deep-frying
1 large (1 1/2 pounds) sweet potato, peeled
— Wondra flour
— Kosher salt, crushed, or fine sea salt
Put the creme fraiche into a medium bowl and whisk thoroughly. Add the cream cheese and mix with the creme fraiche until smooth. Add a bit of cream, about a tablespoon at a time, to achieve your preferred consistency. Fold in the scallions, lemon zest and caviar, mix gently, add several turns of black pepper and mix again. Transfer to a pretty serving bowl, cover and refrigerate.
To make the chips, pour the oil into a large heavy pan, filling it no more than one-third full so that it does not boil over. Heat the oil to 340 degrees. Set 3 or 4 layers of paper towels on a sheet pan nearby.
While the oil heats, cut the sweet potato into very thin slices — no more than 1/16 of an inch — using a mandoline or a very thin slicing blade of a food processor. Put the sliced sweet potatoes in a large bowl, sprinkle with Wondra flour and toss gently.
Put a handful of slices into a strainer and shake to remove excess flour. Drop the slices into the hot oil and cooking, turning a time or two, until they are lightly browned and crisp. Use a skimmer to remove them from the oil, shake off excess oil and transfer to the paper towels to drain. Sprinkle lightly with salt and continue until all the chips have been made.
To serve, put the chips on a platter or in a basket and set the caviar dip alongside. Serve immediately, with flutes of sparkling wine.
Michele Anna Jordan hosts “Mouthful” each Sunday at 7 p.m. on KRCB 90.9 & 91.1 FM. E-mail Jordan at email@example.com. You'll find her blog, “Eat This Now,” at pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.