Antipasti Party

Put out plates of Italian-inspired salads that serve as a meal for these hot, humid days. See my posts “Marinated Mushrooms,” “Gilding the Eggplant,” “Whole Roasted Cauliflower,” “Salad Days.”


The Flute

The Champagne flute, named after the long, narrow musical instrument, seems to be losing favor with wine connoisseurs. I like the sound of this, because I have never felt comfortable imbibing from it. I have to tilt my head backward to keep it from bumping into my nose, and if it’s Champagne I certainly want the last drop. The theory is that Dom Pérignon, a Benedictine monk from the seventeenth century and the inspiration for a Moët & Chandon brand, invented the flute to showcase the journey of the bubbles from the depths to the top. I have heard scientific rationalizations, as well, to the tune of fewer bubbles can escape in a limited surface area.

In addition to being an impractical glass, however, the flute constricts the aromas to a fine stream that numbs your nose. Champagne can be quite complex, and even a larger red wine glass can be more appropriate for, say, a Blanc de Noirs (using Pinot Noir and Petit Meunier). Typically, though, Blanc de Blancs, which is mostly if not all Chardonnay, should be treated like any other white wine and served in a smaller, bowled glass. In fact, a rounded, tulip-shaped glass is used for tasting in the Champagne region. The well-known wine glass manufacturer Riedel in one of its latest lines, Veritas, does not include a flute at all; the Champagne glass is egg-shaped. 

There are differing opinions on whether you should swirl Champagne when tasting. The reason for moving any wine around a glass is to release the aroma notes and to oxygenate, but this technique can make Champagne flat. It’s true that wine changes the longer it is exposed to air, as it breathes, but you don’t want to sacrifice the ephemeral effervescence of this special sparkling wine. My advice to you is whirl away if tasting only a small amount, but hold on to the sanctity of your bubbles if drinking a glass for pleasure; and if swirling in a flute, which can be risky, don’t blow it! 

Fiola Mare

Land and sea meet at Fiola Mare, Washington’s best restaurant according to the Washingtonian, and you can dream you are on the Mediterranean even if it’s only the Potomac.

The seafood platter, full of raw and cooked shellfish

King salmon with escargots and Swiss chard on polenta

Wild halibut with apricots, lettuce, mushrooms, and truffle

Chocolate semifreddo with pistachio and basil accoutrements

Lemon and cherry spumoni of mousse and foam

Fruity Clafoutis

This dish is perfect for putting to use those farmers’ market finds. Combine summer stone fruit with bountiful berries and pour a batter on top; it’s as simple as that. See my post “A Cheery Clafoutis” for the recipe.


The Mediterranean has the coloring of mackerel, changeable I mean.

—from a letter by Vincent van Gogh

No Food Is an Island 

The Brexit has major implications for the import and export of food. Isolationism is a dangerous thing; it limits variety as well as elements essential to daily living. As a safeguard against famine, the Union provides protection for production and procurement. Free trade is the nourishment of a nation.

Inn the Farmers’ Market 

The Inn at Little Washington is opening a farmers’ market for those who would like a taste of the place without making a major investment. It starts July 3 and runs every Sunday until November.

The World’s 50 Best

The magazine Restaurant has announced its 50 best restaurants list:

Strawberry Tart

Nothing could be sweeter than strawberries set in creme patissiere. Start with a pate brisee (see the tip in my post “Tart Shell Trick”), and then make the pastry cream:

When these are completely cool, assemble by spreading the cream inside the pastry and arranging lightly macerated strawberries on top.


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