Make every day a celebration with sparkling wines

Posted Tuesday, Mar. 25, 2014  comments  Print Reprints

Love food and wine?

The inaugural Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival begins Thursday. Among the various tastings, strolls and soirees for food-lovers and savvy sippers to put on their plates is the decadent Tastes of the World lunch event happening Saturday at Bass Hall. A limited number of lucky patrons will dine on stage and experience four courses paired with live performances, including appearances from artists of the Fort Worth Opera, Texas Ballet Theater, the Texas Boys Choir and a former Cliburn competition pianist.

Dallas chef Stephan Pyles and Fort Worth chef Jon Bonnell will team up to take guests through a gastronomical journey across the United States. Lunch will be served in high style with synchronized service from the banquet team at Ashton Depot; local historian Quentin McGown will act as master of ceremonies and food tour guide. Guy Stout, master sommelier and president of the Society of Wine Educators, will be on hand to select rare, fine wines well matched to the menu.

Patrons will also be wined and dined with champagne and caviar, and will view prized images from local museums on display. The event takes place 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday at Bass Hall, Fort Worth. Tickets, $500 per person, can be ordered through

Other signature events of the festival:

Kickoff Event. Twelve Fort Worth chefs will offer tastings paired with Texas-made craft beers, wines and spirits. Music by Stoney LaRue. 7 p.m. Thursday, concert at 9:30 p.m., Billy Bob’s Texas, $65.

Grand Tasting. More than 20 wineries, craft breweries and distilleries will be showcased, along with 40 area chefs and food artisans, making this the festival’s largest event. 7-11 p.m. Friday, Renaissance Worthington Hotel, $125.

Burgers, Brews & Blues. Local burger institutions will offer sliders to pair with beer from 26 craft breweries. 6-9 p.m. Saturday, Heart of the Ranch at Clearfork, $60, $75 VIP.

Sip and Savor. Local family-owned restaurants and food artisans will present sweet and savory bites to pair with wine, spirits and craft beer. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Renaissance Worthington Hotel, $75 per day.

Meals on Wheels for Meals on Wheels. A dozen North Texas food trucks and chuck wagons will provide tastes to benefit Meals on Wheels Inc. of Tarrant County. 3-5 p.m. Sunday, Coyote Drive-In, $50.

Culinary Plaza in Sundance Square. The festival also will include chef demonstrations and culinary-themed activities in the pavilion of the Sundance Square Plaza from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Activities will be complimentary, and beer and wine will be for sale. Guests also will be able to purchase a souvenir wineglass and visit Sundance Square retail outlets for a shop-and-stroll event 4-6 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Details: General-admission subscription packages, which include one ticket to several signature events, are $324.75. No one under age 21 will be admitted to the signature events. For more information and tickets, visit

Prosciutto-wrapped scallops with tamari sauce

Makes 4 servings

1 1/2 tablespoons gluten-free tamari

1 1/2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided use

1/2 red bell pepper, julienned

1/2 onion, julienned

1 pound large sea scallops

8-10 strips of prosciutto

1. In a small bowl, whisk together tamari, honey, mustard, vinegar and red pepper flakes. Set aside.

2. In a small pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and saute the red bell pepper until soft. Remove from pan and reserve.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in the same pan and saute the onions until caramelized. Set aside.

4. Pat scallops dry with paper towels and wrap each with one slice of prosciutto.

5. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook scallops in a single layer, flipping once, until golden brown and just cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. (Work in batches, if needed, adding the remaining 1 tablespoon oil when needed.) Transfer scallops to a large plate as done.

6. Reduce heat to medium low and allow skillet to cool a bit, then add tamari-honey mixture to skillet and simmer briefly until reduced to a glaze.

7. Drizzle sauce over scallops and garnish each scallop with bell peppers and caramelized onions.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 287 calories, 16 grams fat, 12 grams carbohydrates, 24 grams protein, 47 milligrams cholesterol, 990 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber, 49 percent of calories from fat.

— 910 Houston St., Fort Worth, 817-850-9463,

Beef bone marrow

Makes 2-3 servings

3 6-inch beef marrow bones, halved lengthwise

1 small baguette, sliced into half-inch slices

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 ounce capers, drained

Salsa verde (recipe follows)

Sea salt, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the bones in a smoking hot saute pan and allow to roast on the stove for approximately 7 minutes, flipping once halfway through.

2. Meanwhile, place baguette slices on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until just golden.

3. Place the bones marrow-side up on a baking sheet. Heat in the oven for 5 minutes until the marrow is hot and melted.

4. In a small saute pan, heat the oil and fry the capers until crispy.

5. Brush the bones evenly with the salsa verde. (Note: There may be extra salsa for another use.) Stack bones on a plate, sprinkle with capers and sea salt and serve with toasted baguette slices.

Nutritional analysis per serving, based on 2 (including salsa verde): 883 calories, 34 grams fat, 120 grams carbohydrates, 20 grams protein, 15 milligrams cholesterol, 1,786 milligrams sodium, 7 grams dietary fiber, 36 percent of calories from fat.

— 155 E. Fourth St., Fort Worth, 817-332-2473,

Salsa Verde

Makes about 1 cup

4 garlic cloves, chopped

4 shallots, chopped

2 bunches parsley, chopped

1 cup capers, drained

5 anchovy fillets

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1. Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse until combined.

Crab cakes with grape tomato salad and chardonnay beurre blanc

Makes 6 crab cakes

For the crab cakes:

1 pound jumbo lump crab meat

1/3 cup chopped red onion

1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper

1/3 cup chopped celery

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon white-wine Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

2 cups panko breadcrumbs, divided

Oil for frying

Chardonnay beurre blanc (recipe follows)

Grape tomato salad (recipe follows)

Micro greens, for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine crab cake ingredients, reserving 1 cup of panko crumbs. Mix so that all ingredients are evenly distributed.

2. Form into six 3- to 4-ounce patties, pressing well to form.

3. Coat patties in reserved panko crumbs.

4. Pan-fry the patties until golden brown.

5. Finish in 400-degree oven until patties are cooked through.

6. Top with chardonnay beurre blanc and garnish with grape tomato salad and micro greens.

Nutritional analysis per crab cake (without salad and beurre blanc): 316 calories, 21 grams fat, 16 grams carbohydrates, 17 grams protein, 63 milligrams cholesterol, 710 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber, 59 percent of calories from fat.

— 4101 Camp Bowie Blvd., Fort Worth, 817-546-6843,

Grape tomato salad

Makes 3 cups

2 cups grape tomatoes, halved

1 shallot, julienned

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1 teaspoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 teaspoon sherry wine vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt to taste

1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Keep refrigerated.

Nutritional analysis per 1/2-cup serving: 34 calories, 2 grams fat, 3 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram protein, no cholesterol, 5 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber, 60 percent of calories from fat.

Chardonnay beurre blanc

Makes 1 cup

2 tablespoons oil

1 shallot, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

4 ounces chardonnay

4 tablespoons heavy cream

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 pound unsalted butter

1. Heat saute pan with oil and saute shallot and garlic until caramelized.

2. Deglaze the pan with chardonnay, bring to a boil and allow to reduce by half.

3. Add heavy cream and sugar and bring to a boil again, and then remove from heat.

4. Whisk in butter in 1-ounce chunks, then strain sauce and serve.

Jalapeño & onion crusted Chilean sea bass over saffron risotto

Makes 4-5 servings

1/2 white onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons jalapeño, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped

1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs

1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 egg

1/4 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup half-and-half

4 pounds boneless sea bass, cut to desired size

Saffron risotto (recipe follows)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine onion, jalapeño, salt, garlic, pepper, parsley, breadcrumbs, lemon pepper, onion powder and flour in a mixing bowl.

2. Whisk together the egg, buttermilk and half-and-half and brush mixture on top of each piece of sea bass.

3. Place sea bass, egg wash-side down, into the jalapeño crust mixture.

4. Heat olive oil in a saute pan and sear sea bass, crust-side down. Remove from pan and place in the oven, crust-side up, for 10 to 12 minutes until done. Serve atop saffron risotto.

Nutritional analysis per serving, based on 4 (without risotto): 607 calories, 13 grams fat, 26 grams carbohydrates, 90 grams protein, 245 milligrams cholesterol, 691 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber, 20 percent of calories from fat.

— 1265 S. Main St., Grapevine, 817-421-0200,

Saffron risotto

Makes 4-5 servings

2 tablespoons salted butter

1/2 white onion, diced small

1/2 tablespoon garlic, minced

1 1/2 cups arborio rice

1/4 cup white wine

4 cups chicken stock

1 cup water

1 teaspoon chicken base

Pinch saffron threads

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1. Melt butter in a large saucepan and saute the onion, garlic and rice.

2. When the rice starts to become soft, deglaze the pan with the wine, then add chicken stock.

3. In a separate pan, add the water, chicken base and saffron threads.

4. Once the rice has consumed almost all of the liquid, add the water and saffron mixture and stir continuously. Season risotto with sugar, salt, pepper and tomato paste and continue to stir until all liquid is absorbed and the mixture is sticky.

Nutritional analysis per serving, based on 4: 360 calories, 8 grams fat, 61 grams carbohydrates, 17 grams protein, 16 milligrams cholesterol, 1,648 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber, 19 percent of calories from fat.

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We break out the bubbly for special occasions without batting an eye, but area wine experts suggest sparkling wine not be reserved for celebrations.

Drink fizz with food, they say, because sparklers like champagne, prosecco, cava and moscato are the most versatile wines to pair with cuisine, thanks to their minerality and palate-cleansing properties. They can cut through rich and fatty dishes, hold up to ingredients with high acidity and add excitement to a meal in the form of tongue-tickling bubbles.

“You can have it with dessert, seafood or a steak,” says Cef Zambrano, sommelier and owner of Zambrano Wine Cellar. “When I ask customers if they’d like to start with champagne, so many people say, ‘Well, I’m not celebrating.’ They think bubbles are only a celebratory wine.”

Brian Herman, wine director at Bird Café, says there’s a great bubbly available at every price point.

“It’s certainly great for special occasions. But it’s also great to start a meal and end a meal,” he says. “It doesn’t have to be wrapped up in all this mystery.”

A 17th-century Benedictine monk named Dom Pérignon famously exclaimed he was “drinking the stars” upon his accidental discovery of champagne. Savvy sippers know true champagne only comes from the Champagne region of France, and although its production adheres to a strict, centuries-old process that many connoisseurs insist leads to a higher-quality product, other sparkling wines are becoming increasingly popular.

“There are some California sparkling wines that have similar notes to champagne,” says Eric O’Connor, executive chef and general manager at Winslow’s Wine Cafe. “But prosecco is a big mover for us. I think it’s due to the sweet flavor and drinkability.”

In Grapevine at Winewood Grill, wine director Cody Peters says he has also seen a rise in the popularity of the Italian sparkler.

“Prosecco is slightly sweeter than champagne and even the California sparkling wines,” Peters says. “People prefer a little sweetness but also want the bubbly to be dry, clean and refreshing.”

For traditionalists, Herman says grower champagnes — those from wineries that grow their own grapes rather than outsource them — are “definitely where it’s at.”

“What’s old is new again,” he says. “You have legacy houses like Veuve Clicquot and Nicolas Feuillatte that are buying grapes from everybody, and that’s pretty much the norm. But for grower champagnes, it’s less about consistent year-to-year house style and more about the year-to-year changes.”

Whether you adore asti spumante or go gaga for Spanish cava, their festive effervescence provides balance for many dishes. We asked four food and wine pros to share recipes for their favorite pairings of bites and bubbles.

Zambrano Wine Cellar

The bite: Prosciutto-wrapped scallops with tamari sauce

The bubbles: Lucian Albrecht Brut Rosé

Many restaurants give a complimentary dessert for customer birthdays. Cef Zambrano gives a glass of port or bubbly, and most folks choose the latter.

“Champagne is the most versatile of all wines,” Zambrano says. “I usually pick a white or a red, but when I get champagne, I always tell myself, ‘Gosh, this is my favorite.’ In fact, it very well may be my favorite wine.”

That’s saying a lot, as Zambrano is constantly tasting wines and pairing dishes at his namesake restaurant, now in its seventh year. He says his recommended French sparkling wine matches well with his meaty and savory prosciutto-wrapped scallops topped with tamari sauce, a thicker, darker, less-salty version of soy sauce.

Bird Café

The bite: Beef bone marrow

The bubbles: 1999 Nicolas Feuillatte, Brut Champagne

We’re seeing bone marrow on more menus lately, and Bird Café wine director Brian Herman explains why it pairs so well with sparkling wine.

“It’s incredibly rich. It’s mouth-coating. People tend to describe this dish as the most luxurious butter you could have,” he says. “When you have a dish like that, you need something that brings fresh and bright flavors to the table. The richness of the marrow coats your tongue, and the acidity of the bubbly helps reset the palate so that the next bite is just as outrageous as the first.”

Winslow’s Wine Cafe

The bite: Crab cakes with grape tomato salad and chardonnay beurre blanc

The bubbles: Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve Champagne

Winslow’s executive chef Eric O’Connor says sweet notes from jumbo lump crab meat, along with spicy seasonings, balance well with crisp, dry champagne.

“You get a nice contrast,” he says. “Crab cakes are a menu item people at the restaurant really enjoy with sparkling wine.”

Ask for O’Connor’s recommended pairing, Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve, because it’s not on the restaurant’s wine menu. O’Connor says for its price point and consistency, the bottle is a bargain.

Winewood Grill

The bite: Jalapeño & onion crusted Chilean sea bass over saffron risotto

The bubbles: Cantine Maschio Prosecco

Cody Peters, Winewood Grill wine director, says his recommended Italian prosecco is one of his bestselling wines. Its sweetness helps settle the spice found in the Grapevine restaurant’s jalapeño and onion-crusted sea bass.

“Recent trends have more people choosing prosecco over French champagne or California sparkling wine,” he says. “Prosecco is typically slightly sweeter than champagne and that seems to be the draw for my guests.”

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