Traverse City Record-Eagle

November 15, 2012

Appetizer blends with sparkling wines

FROM STAFF REPORTS
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---- — - Food: Alsatian Bacon & Onion Tart

- Wines: Chateau Chantal's Tonight & Celebrate

Every year, the team at Chateau Chantal winery develops a new wine dinner and tapas tour menus for guests to enjoy during the summer and fall season.

For inspiration, they often look to German and Alsatian (France's easternmost region) cuisines, where there are similarities to the Old Mission Peninsula in wine style, as well as hands-on expertise. Chateau Chantal winemaker Mark Johnson was trained in Germany and visits the country regularly with his German-born wife, Ursula. In addition, winery founders Bob & Nadine Begin spent about six months living in Alsace in 1983 to research wineries while planning Chateau Chantal. These influences play an important role in the winery's food and wine offerings.

This Thanksgiving, try something new, quick, and easy, to whet your guests' whistle. Introduced by Johnson, this Alsatian tart makes a great appetizer that pairs delightfully with Chateau Chantal's sparkling wines, Tonight and Celebrate. While this dish is traditionally baked in a wood oven stoked with vine cuttings, the rest of us can get by with our regular ovens.

With bright acidity and fruity characters, these sparkling wines meld with the creaminess of the tart's cheese base, the sweetness of the onions and the saltiness of the bacon, creating a refreshing sip between bites.

If you prefer a dry wine, try pairing the Tonight "Blanc de Blanc," made from Chardonnay and Riesling grapes. With a bright fruity nose of pear and Honeycrisp apple, this bubbly stays fresh and light.

Prefer something with a touch of sweetness? Chateau Chantal's perennial favorite, Celebrate, is a deep salmon-colored sparkling rosé with strawberry and watermelon characters and balance between acidity and sweetness.

To carry your appetizer wines into the main Thanksgiving course, Johnson suggests pairing the 2011 Semi-Dry Riesling and 2011 Pinot Noir. Both wines are versatile fruit-driven wines that represent the character of Old Mission Peninsula.

Alsatian Bacon & Onion Tart

1 sheet of puff pastry, defrosted

½ c. plain Greek yogurt

½ c. fromage blanc or ricotta

2 T. olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Dried herbs, such as parsley and basil

2 Vidalia or sweet onions, diced

8-9 strips of smoked bacon, cut into small pieces

Fresh chives, chopped

Mix yogurt, ricotta, oil, salt, pepper and herbs together and chill while preparing the rest of the ingredients.

Partially cook bacon and remove from pan, leaving the bacon drippings in the pan. Set cooked bacon on a paper towel to drain. Add onions to the pan with bacon drippings, then a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until onions are translucent, but not overly browned. Set onions aside.

Preheat oven to 450°.

Place puff pastry on parchment paper on a baking tray.

Spread the cheese mixture onto the dough, then evenly top with the onion and bacon pieces.

Place the tart in the preheated oven and cook for up to15 minutes, or until the onions are golden and the bread edge is crisp and puffed. Once cooked, top with chopped chives and cut the pizza into the desired number of slices and serve immediately. Serves 4-6.

Perfect Pairings is an occasional feature presenting suggestions for recipes that pair well with specific wines from around the region. To submit items for Perfect Pairings, write to kgibbons@record-eagle.com or call 933-1477.