You know the drill: you’ve got your gal pals coming around for a few glasses of the bubbly stuff (Champagne in pay week, something more practically priced all other times), and you want to line their bellies with something delicious so shit doesn’t get too crazy too fast.
Because we’ve all got that one friend – you know who she is, but often she has no clue, let’s call her Janelle – who gets ham-faced by 7:30pm and starts oversharing about how dissatisfied she is with her husband in the bedroom, or demanding you get Sophie Monk pumping on the stereo.
At Champagne Cartel, we pretty much reckon bubbles go with anything, but believe it or not, there is an art to pairing champs with food. And it’s one we’ve felt it necessary to master. Because we reckon we deserve better than that bog-standard boring old plate of supermarket brie with a side of white rice crackers. Don’t you?
If you take this shit super seriously, you can really drill down into different types of bubbly, with varying sugar content and all that, but we’re going to speak more broadly so we can stop blah-blahing and get this party started.
First, here are a few simple do’s and don’ts when it comes to pairing champagne and food:
- pair salty food with your bubbles – it offers a delightful counter-balance to the acid and sugar of the booze.
- opt for crunchy foods because they match well with the fizz of the champs. That means champagne and chips are a totes legit pairing and that makes me very happy.
- serve your champs with flavours that are overpowering. You don’t want anything too spicy, bitter or sweet. This is no time to wheel out the chilli, olives or anchovies. Bummer.
- eat anything too heavy with your bubbles. Think light and lovely. Not stew. No. (Caveat to that is the vintage champagne is pretty full bodied and can stand up to some stronger flavours, like truffle risotto, duck ragout with rigatoni or grilled salmon. Vegemite toast is also entirely acceptable and bloody lovely.)
- count calories. You just have to accept bubbles and nibbles as the treat it is and forget about everything else until tomorrow. Okay? Okay!
So what are our favourite champagne snacks? We’re glad you asked! We recommend you try one of these this weekend. Or tonight. Or now. Whatever, we’re not judging.
- bread sticks, crudites and salty dips like taramasalata or olive tepanade
- buttered and salted popcorn or salty potato chips (no weird flavours please!)
- lightly cooked seafood like white fish, grilled scallops, smoked salmon, ceviche or whole fish cooked in foil on the barbie
- fried chicken – no shit, it’s awesome and you need to try it (but please don’t buy that one we’re all thinking off – even the fanciest champagne can’t make that okay)
- hard cheeses like pecorino or aged cheddar with salty crackers – Jatz anyone?
- fresh spring rolls
- Mexican – oh yeah! Go for fish tacos, crunchy chicken tostadas, or our favourite: nachos. Just don’t go in heavy with your squeeze of lime. You want to keep the acid to a minimum.
- mac and cheese, for the ultimate comfort meal
- fabulous meaty mushrooms fried in butter with some thyme sprigs
- asparagus with hollandaise sauce
- salt and pepper squid (dust in rice flour for a delicate – and gluten-free – touch)
- raw seafood like oysters, sashimi, or caviar if you’re Mariah Carey
- scrambled eggs or eggs benny – which is now making us all think about brunch, aka day drinking
- crostini with salty toppings like anchovies, olives, goats cheese or prosciutto
- dessert platter of berries, almonds, and dark chocolate with sea salt.
So you mission, if you choose to accept it, is to grab some bubbles and give one or more of those options a go. Which one will you choose first?