For Sweethearts and Friends: Fondue, Croissant Casserole, 3 Alsace Wines #Winophiles

fondue fun with Alsace wines

What’s an easy, romantic and fun meal for Valentine’s, Galentine’s, or an evening with friends? Fondue!

Fondue is fun and easy, especially if you buy the cheese in a kit ready to melt! No need for a fancy fondue pot; you can melt the cheese on the stove. Cook up some vegetables and sausage, cut up some bread and you’re good to go! To make chocolate fondue, chocolate chips are easy to do also, either in a double boiler or microwave, and then dip strawberries and bananas in it– yum!

If you feel the need for something more, try this croissant custard casserole. If you get too full on the fondue, you can just heat it up in the morning! NOTE: Make this recipe with day old croissants! I found mine in the clearance of the Vons bakery department.

Croissant Custard Casserole (inspired by this recipe)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 1/2 pound bacon
  • 4 ounces baby spinach
  • 140g of grated cheese (we used Lioneza)
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup 1/2 and 1/2
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 – 6 croissants – depending on size; we used 6 mini-croissants

Preheat the oven to 350 and butter a 8 x 8 oven proof dish.

  1. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan.
  2. Saute and caramelize the shallots.
  3. Cook the bacon in a separate pan, drain excess oil, add the spinach and cook until wilted.
  4. Whisk eggs with milk, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper.
  5. Tear up the croissant pieces and place half in bottom of dish.
  6. Pour over shallots, bacon, and spinach mixture.
  7. Layer half of the grated cheese.
  8. Layer remaining croissant pieces.
  9. Pour over the milk and eggs.
  10. Top with the remaining cheese.
  11. Bake in the oven – covered with foil for the first 30 minutes, then remove the foil and continue cooking for another 10 minutes to brown the top and it’s completely firm.
  12. Let sit for 5-10 minutes then slice and serve.

This combo of dishes is very much of the Alpine variety which is where these wines come from — Alsace is located at the foot of the Alps.

While firmly located in eastern France just north of Savoie and Jura, Alsace snuggles right in with Switzerland and Germany.

2012 – Trimbach – Pinot Gris – Reserve – 13.5% alcohol SRP $20
sample

Since 1626 Mason Trimbach has crafted wine of precision and focus from the classic terriors of Alsace. Perfect with any cuisine

Color:  Golden, color is prevalent due to it being a 2012

Nose: Sulphuric, a bit like hot springs, earth and funk

Palate: Wow, what an interesting wine. For a Pinot Gris, it is surprisingly rich, there is a rich mouthfeel and the finish hangs out for a while. There is a coating of the palate. There are petrol characteristics, slate, and apricot, the apricot kernel, the nectar of the apricot without being sweet. The essence is there without the sweetness. It is sweet without being sweet

We tasted this wine in traditional Alsace glass and a riesling glass; the Alsace glass mellowed the acidity of the wine and rounded it out a bit more.

Pairing: Sue imagined this wine would be so great with spicy asian food, give it curry, kung pao chicken, or even Indian curry and it would be fantastic. Very nice with our croissant meal, but Sue felt it was better with the fondue. With the fondue it loved the cheese with bread, but was especially great with the roasted broccoli and fondue, which is a really difficult pairing. We imagined that it would also be quite nice with grilled or roasted brussels sprouts.

 

Lucien Albrecht – Cremant D’Alsace – Brut Rose – 12.5% alcohol SRP $25
100% Pinot Noir; RS 8.5 g/liter
sample

Color: Rose gold, very pretty color with delicate bubbles

Nose: Cherry, orchard in bloom, salinity, mountain stream

Palate: Cherry, lemon tartness, like cherry lemonade, soft bubbles, very lengthy finish. For the amount of production and as easy as it is to find this wine, it is a go to, you can’t go wrong, it is classy, well made, and easily accessible. It is not Champagne, but it is a $25 bottle of sparkling wine that completely delivers at that price point– and that you can usually find on sale.

Pairing: Great with the bread and cheese fondue, but not so great with the broccoli. I liked the boar sausage with the wine, but did not care about the cheese.

The Wow moment perfect pair was when we had it with our brunch dish. It loves the bacon, and the cheese,  Truly amazing for the morning after or for brunch.

Fantastic with strawberry and chocolate fondue, not as great with the banana, but did just fine. For it to work, the banana has to be on the firm side. The banana highlights the chocolate while the strawberry highlights the fruit.

Drink now or in the next few years; this is not a wine that will improve with age.

2012 Famille Hugel  Estate Riesling  12% alcohol SRP $40
sample

“Riesling is the Pinot Noir of white wines! It is our most demanding variety as it is also the latest ripening. Dry and elegant, it expresses itself best on our steepest slopes with the most complex minerality,” Etienne Hugel

With vines under conversion for organic viticulture, the marl soils of the area offer a characteristic minerality. While the residual sugar seems to be a substantial 7 grams per liter, this sweetness is balanced out by the acidity. What makes it exceptional is the depth of flavor and complexity.

I poured for Wines of Alsace at the Wine Bloggers Conference in Lodi in 2016. At the end, I was asked which bottle I would like to take home and I chose this wine.

Color: Daffodil, golden, It is showing its age as far as color, but there is no brown or discoloring

Nose:  Petrol, pine grasses, slate granite, nectarine, asian pear, white stone fruit. I really liked the earthy quality on the nose which comes out more when it is on the palate and you are truly experiencing the wine. There is an earthy loamy quality.

Palate:  Sweet with acidity, pine, silky smooth mid palate, and great acidity on the back end. This wine has it all.

This is a wine that you can hang out with. Engage it in conversation. You won’t be disappointed.

Pairing:  Riesling and fondue just go together. The rich creaminess of the cheese with the earthy richness of the veggies makes the wine shine. Dip, Drink and Enjoy!  Not as wonderful with the croissant dish as I’d hoped so fill up on the cheese! A few days later I tried it with uni and pasta: one the wine lasted a long time and two it’s really good with the rich buttery uni.

This wine will continue to improve in the bottle for a few more years.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

NOTE: Valentine’s Day 1:11pm– I accidentally hit publish before this post was completed! I apologize if you were wondering what happened! Please return in an hour or two for the finished and edited post– which at this point will likely be abbreviated since it is already published… and at 145om it’s over 900 words…

 

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