Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Champagne Tuesday.... or Wednesday...

You have to admit, throw a bit of bubbly into an otherwise-routine night and suddenly your ordinary becomes extraordinary. (Tall flute glasses just seem to make people smile....) And it doesn’t take much to glitz up an evening - - a few lunchtime calls to friends, drive-by at the grocery store and quick stop at the wine emporium or liquor store....

Such was the case last Tuesday. Work had been chaotic and friends neglected. So a few calls and an intimate impromptu dessert/cocktail party emerged. The get-together was set to start at 8, which gave my husband just enough time to swing by the grocery store to pick up fresh berries, oranges and a store-bought angel food cake on the way home from work (he passes the grocery store so it’s only fair). I already had a bottle of our favorite go-to sparkling wine: Domaine Chandon Extra Dry Riche. We found it on our honeymoon in Napa (more to come on planning a trip to Napa this fall!). An hour in the fridge was all it needed.

There was no time for an all-out meal and quite frankly, no need for it. Nor was there any need for a smorgasbord of desserts, just one simple crowd pleaser. A favorite throw-together dessert? Berries a-la-Italia. It’s ridiculously quick and simple - - and always impresses. Simply rinse and slice a variety of berries (we like strawberries and blueberries). Toss with freshly squeezed orange juice or lemon (just one orange or one lemon) and a packet of your favorite no cal sweetener or sugar. Doesn’t get much easier than that. It’s fabulous on its own or over top angel food cake. And on Tuesday, who has time to bake? Store-bought angel food cake is usually great and easy on the budget.

Last but not least, ambiance is everything. Admittedly, an impromptu Champagne Tuesday doesn’t give one too much time to decorate. But we pulled together a quick “counterscape” (like a tablescape - - only you use your kitchen counter) with fresh branches from the crepe myrtle tree in the backyard, candles and a few napkins (setting the table would be too formal -- and all guests eventually end up in the living room or kitchen anyway, right?). This was a great way to pull off a Napa-meets Italy-meets Boho mix. The blue flutes helped create a relaxed chic vibe. We jazzed up plain tealight candle holders by placing them on top of intricate antique glasses.

And if you’re more of a mixed-drink fan and don’t like your Champagne straight, there are many fabulous ways to dress it up. My favorite way? Bellinis - Champagne or sparkling white wine mixed with fruit juice. No fresh juice in the house? Throw a little peach schnapps and peach slices into a glass of champagne. Fresh blueberries are great, too.

If you like the antique glasses (aren't they fantastic?) or funky purple cracked vase, let us know! They’ll soon be for sale at our online “Chic Seconds” store!

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