Fried chicken isn’t French and Champagne isn’t from the American South, but when the two are together, something magnifique occurs, y’all. One of the many who can attest to that was my mother, who, at 90 years, passed on February 3 of this year.
Southern fried chicken was one of her best loved dishes. When she moved to the Midwest from her home state of Virginia, mom was on a quest to find the perfect fried chicken, one that reminded her of family, handmade quilts, scents of a warm kitchen with her own mother making her signature comfort food, and having dinner with friends and family on the grass with views of the James River. Add a side of crispy fries and Mom was in her element. Here in the Midwest, she craved chicken pieces dipped in buttermilk, coated with seasoned batter, and deep fried with a crisp coating on the outside and tender, juicy chicken on the inside… and she let everyone know it!
Ahh, Champagne, my mother’s favorite sparkling wine. When she stopped by at my house, I always had a bottle of Champagne at the ready in the event she was ready for a healthy pour. More often than not, the cork was popped! Truth be told, it would have been a joy to travel with her to the Champagne region. We had been to Paris together years ago, but for some reason we opted out of a day trip to Champagne, 90 miles northeast of the city and easily accessible by train. (Once we returned home, though, we engaged in repeated journeys to the region via the official Champagne website, here.)
Last night, as an homage to my mother, I opened a chilled bottle of Champagne Besserat de Bellefon Cuvee des Moines Bleu Brut ($60) and attempted to have yet another go at making Southern fried chicken that she would have approved of. For obvious reasons (i.e. fried chicken fail), there’s no photo of my final dish, but only of the exquisite Champagne I wish we had shared.
Mom would have loved the story behind this Champagne. Besserat Champagne de Bellefon was founded in 1930 when Victor Besserat developed a champagne from grapes grown in the heart of the champagne Appellation. He wanted to produce a wine that would be delicate, lightly effervescent and have the ability to accompany any meal.
“Born by the water on the countryside around Aÿ in 1843, BB leaves its mark on Parisian hotspots, from The Louvre to Orsay to Le Palais de l’Elysée. In vogue during the Années Folles, BB celebrates the fervor of cabarets before concentrating on the freedom inspiration of the 1960s Saint-Tropez. To choose the elegance of life in the simplicity of its beauty means “being free” by BB!
You cannot teach or learn BB; you share BB, you tell BB, you live BB! To immerse yourself in BB’s universe means travelling through moods, places, meetings and seasons, to discover the timeless flavor of the BB fantasy which belongs to you. Listen to it and let it flow into your glass!” Champagne Besserat de Bellefon
Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier varieties were cultivated in prime locations of Le Mesnil sur Oger, Chouilly, Cramant, Grauves, Fontaine-Denis, Bisseuil, Bassuet, Boursault, Venteuil, ,Reuil, and Verzenay. The Besserat de Bellefon Brut offered a vibrant straw color with streaks of copper in the glass. Aromas of honeysuckle, apples, pears, plums and marzipan with a persistent, frothy mousse provided the perfect entry. On the lush, creamy palate with bright acidity, notes of fresh fruit and hazelnuts were energetic and nuanced.
Although my chicken didn’t look the same as my mother’s, the tastes reminded me of her. And when my crispy Southern fried chicken met that vibrant glass of Champagne, all began to be right with the world.
Cheers to you, Mom ~ Cindy
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