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  • Writer's pictureCulinary Cam

The Widow Cliquot and a Twisted Caviar Menu #Winophiles

Updated: Dec 19, 2023

Welcome to the final month of the year with the French Winophiles. We are looking at sparkling wines from France. There won't be a chat as it's a crazy time of year. But I was still excited to join in the fun and games...

Here's the line-up...

The Golden Dame

'The Golden Dame' is a moniker for Veuve Cliquot. I had read lots about the Widow Cliquot, but one that I pulled back off the shelf this month was Champagne Widows: First Woman of Champagne, Veuve Clicquot by Rebecca Rosenberg. We read it in one of my online book groups years ago.

In Champagne Widows Rosenberg interwines history and imagination to tell the tale of Barbe-Nicole Clicquot who builds a winemaking empire despite the on-going Napoleonic wars. Barbe-Nicole inherits Le Nez, literally 'the nose', which gives her an uncanny sense of smell. In addition to everything that we can smell, she can smell emotions and intentions; and she can smell the nuances in the grapes that allow her to blend outstanding wines.

Here are a couple of passages that show Le Nez at work...

"The widow cuts cheese while François opens champagne with an expert pfffft. He offers me a coupe of rusty-colored fizz, a whiff of jasmine and peaches. The taste is even sweeter, appealing to my palate. 'What makes your champagne so delicious?' I ask. She pats the ground with her hand. 'The earth. Where the grapes grow. We call it terroir'."

"The first carafe is marked 1798. 'That was the year we married, it rained all summer,' I say, inhaling the weak fumes. 'Too much water for the grapes?' 'I’m impressed,' she says. 'Grapes like to work for their water. The more they’re stressed, the more flavor'."

I had no idea that widows worked the Champagne houses during the Napoleonic wars. And they could retain control of their vineyards so long as they didn't remarry. I was both educated and entertained by this historical fiction. If you love Champagne, you'll want to get your hands on a bottle of Veuve Clicquot and indulge!

I rarely buy Champagne because it sells at a much higher price point than the Spanish and Italian bubbles of Cava and Prosecco. But, when I do splurge, I enjoy it immensely

Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label - the Golden Dame - is the signature champagne of the House. It's a blend of 55% Pinot Noir, 15% Pinot Meunier, and 30% Chardonnay. I am still not sure if it is called that because of its signature yellow label or the fact that it pours a deep golden yellow. Regardless, this wine has a lovely, persistent perlage with nuanced aromas of fruit (such as grapefruit and quince), warm spices (such as vanilla), and a finish of rising brioche. On the palate, the wine is velvety and creamy with a complex bready finish.

Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams

Champagne and caviar is a pretty typical pairing. I guess that's why it's a saying synonymous with wealth and opulence. Last month, my demo and tasting at local-to-me The Quail & Olive was a Twisted Caviar menu. I shared traditional presentations of caviar as well as more creative ones.

Potato Crisps, Crème Fraîche, & Caviar

Chips and caviar are the ultimate high-low foodie marriage. Using store-bought chips make this elegant appetizer as quickly as you can open a bag, scoop crème fraîche and caviar on top. But if you want to change up the texture, twice-baked potato skins are a great swap. Additionally, you can use golden Yukons or purple potatoes to add color to your platter.

  • baby potatoes, approximately all the same size

  • olive oil

  • salt

  • chips

  • Crème Fraîche for serving

  • caviar for serving

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat potatoes in a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Place potatoes on a baking sheet and roast in the preheated oven for 30 mins, or until crispy and fork-tender. Remove tray from oven and let cool until potatoes are cool enough to handle.

Slice each potato in half. Carefully scoop the majority of the potato out, leaving an outer layer to keep the skins sturdy. Reserve the scooped out potato for another purpose. Think gnocchi!

Raise the temperature of the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the skins back on the tray and back into the oven. Bake for another 10 minutes until the skins are crispy.

Let cool until ready to serve. Just before serving add a dollop of Crème Fraîche to the hollow. Top with caviar. Serve immediately.

Truffled Deviled Eggs with Caviar

Deviled eggs, also known as stuffed eggs, Russian eggs, curried eggs or dressed eggs, are hard-boiled eggs that have been shelled, cut in half, and filled. This version is made opulent with a dollop of caviar on top and white truffle oil in the filling!

  • 6 eggs

  • 3 Tablespoons organic mayonnaise

  • 1 teaspoon mustard (I used a Dijon mustard)

  • 1/4 teaspoon white truffle oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

  • caviar for garnish

  • fresh herbs for garnish

Hardboil your eggs. Cover eggs completely with cold water by 1 to 2" in a heavy saucepan and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer eggs, covered with a lid for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and let stand - covered - 15 minutes. Transfer eggs to a bowl of ice to stop cooking. Let stand 5 minutes.

Peel eggs and halve. I typically halve them lengthwise, but did it widthwise this time. Note: when you slice them widthwise, to maximize fill space, you're really only chopping off the top...and if you need 6, you need to cook 6.

Remove yolks as carefully as you can and mash in a bowl with a fork. Add mayonnaise, mustard, truffle oil, and vinegar. Stir with fork until smooth.

Fill egg whites with deviled egg mixture and garnish with caviar and fresh herbs. Serve immediately.

Poached Scallops with Pickled Persimmons and Roe

This is one of those dishes that qualifies as an amuse-bouche. Amuse-bouche. An amusing mouthful. One mouthful. Only one bite. Okay, maybe it's two bites, depending on how large the scallop is. This has a delicate scallop poached with citrus, piquant pickled red onions, sweet-tart pickled Fuyu persimmons, saltiness of whitefish caviar, and a drizzle of smoked olive oil. It's SO good and relatively easy to make.

  • fresh scallops

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar

  • lime leaves, optional

  • pickled persimmon and red onions (recipe below)

  • whitefish roe for serving

  • Smoked olive oil for serving

Place lemon juice, vinegar, water, and lime leaves (if using) in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer and keep at a simmer for at least 5 minutes to let the flavors meld together.

Add scallops to the citrus mixture. Return liquid to a simmer.

Scallops cook quickly. They are done when you press them and they are somewhat firm; smaller ones might only take 30 seconds, larger ones can take two minutes. Remove pan from heat, flip over the scallops and let them rest in poaching liquid for at least 10 minutes to fully absorb the flavors.

To serve: place the scallops on a plate. Spoon diced pickled persimmons on top of each scallop. Top with a dollop of whitefish roe. Drizzle with Smoked olive oil. Add pickled red onions on the side. Serve immediately.

Quick Pickled Fuyu Persimmons and Red Onions

Quick pickling adds a pop of delicious flavor to just about any dish. I love pickled blueberries on burgers and decided that pickled persimmons were just the ticket on top of poached scallops finished with a burst of saltiness from caviar. Be sure that you get Fuyu persimmons (the flat ones) as Hachiya persimmons (the pointy ones) will not work!

  • 2 to 3 firm Fuyu persimmons

  • red onion, peeled and thinly sliced

  • 3/4 cup white wine vinegar

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 2 Tablespoons sugar

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • Also needed: canning jar or lidded jar

Place vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Swirl to make sure tha the sugar and salt is dissolved. Stir in your red onions and remove from heat. Let stand while you prep the persimmons.

Peel the persimmons and slice into thick coins.

Spoon red onions into your jar. Layer in persimmons slices. Repeat - onions, persimmons, onions, and persimmons until your jar is full.

Pour the brine over the persimmons, making sure that everything is completely submerged. Cover and refrigerate. They'll be ready to eat after 24 hours, but you can keep them for a week or longer.

Arugula Mousse with Citrus Cream and Coho Confetti

There are several different ways to make a mousse. This is one of the most simple and doesn't include raw eggs. the flavors of the mousse and cream are savory, but subtle. So, they make a delicious base to highlight the flavor of the Coho salmon roe.

ARUGULA MOUSSE serves 2 or 3

  • 2 cups organic arugula

  • 2 teaspoons Basil olive oil

  • 1/3 cup mascarpone cream

  • 1/3 cup crème fraîche

  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked sea salt

  • Also needed: blender, wire strainer, and hand blender


  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

  • 1 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked sea salt


  • lemon rind or zest

  • Coho salmon roe

Place argula and olive oil in a blender. Blitz until well-blended. Pour mixture through wire strainer to remove lliquid. Set aside.

Place mascarpone, crème fraîche, and salt in a small mixing bowl. Beat until well-combined. Fold in the arugula. Spoon into individual serving cups and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.

Place whipping cream, lemon juice, and salt in a small mixing bowl. Beat until medium peaks form. Spoon the citrus cream over the arugula mousse.

Garnish with lemon zest and Coho salmon roe. Serve immediately.

White Chocolate Cremeux with Caviar Pearls

This dessert features the pop of caviar, but the brininess is more subtle because these are caviar-style black seaweed pearls. Chocolate and caviar are an unexpectedly exquisite pairing. I opted for white chocolate to reduce the bitterness and let the color of the caviar pearls shine!

  • 1-1/2 cup organic heavy whipping cream

  • 1 vanilla pod, halved lengthwise, beans scraped and set aside

  • 2-1/2 cups white chocolate chips

  • 1-1/2 cup thick Greek yogurt

  • 1 Tablespoon honey

  • white chocolate wafer for serving

  • caviar-style black seaweed pearls for serving

Place whipping cream in a sauce pan along with the beans of one vanilla pod - plus the pod. Heat the cream until it begins to bubble around the edges. Remove from heat. Let steep for 10 minutes.

Remove the pod from the cream. Bring to a bubble again. Add in white chocolate chips and swirl until they are completely submerged. Let stand for 3 minutes. Then, with a whisk, blend till smooth - like you're making a ganache.

Place yogurt in a mixing bowl. Stir in honey. Once the white chocolate-vanilla cream is smooth, add it to the yogurt and honey. Blend until completely combined.

Spoon cremeux into small serving dishes Cover and let them set overnight. For serving, place a white chocolate wafer on top of the cremeux. Top the wafer with a dollop of caviar pearls. Serve immediately.

And for the truly traditional caviar presentation: it's served chilled with a mother-of-pearl spoon. Not at all twisted. Just plain decadence.

And that's a wrap on my Champagne and Caviar post for the final #Wineophiles event of the year. The wine blogging groups are reconfiguring next year, so stay tuned for more on that. Each group will not be posting monthly anymore. But, I'm sure, all of the writers will still have great content on their blogs to inspire you to cook food and pair it with great wine! Cheers.

26 views2 comments


Wendy Klik
Wendy Klik
Dec 17, 2023

What a fun tasting menu to serve with taht Cliquot. I knew you would be referencing that book. It was an interesting read.

Camilla M. Mann
Camilla M. Mann
Dec 26, 2023
Replying to

I have really enjoyed all of the books about Champagne widows that I have read.

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