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March 20, 2023

Persian Fish with Herb Rice

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by Jinous Jahromi

Wedding and Event Specialist

Culinary Crafts, catering, Jinous, event manager, wedding specialist, team portrait, smile, brunette, Persian New Year Every March, my family celebrates Persian New Year (Nowruz) which marks the beginning of spring and the start of the Iranian calendar. During these thirteen days we go all out! Of the many festivities and family traditions, my favorites are always the food, especially Persian Fish with Herb Rice.

The Haft-sin

We start by prepping our Haft-sin, which is a table full of seven different traditional items. Each item begins with the same Persian letter (which is pronounced “seen”) and symbolizes a different hope for the new year. Lentil sprouts, representing rebirth and renewal, were always one of my favorite items of Haft-sin because we grew our own, and I would beg my grandparents to let me be in charge of watering the tiny sprouts. Nowruz, Persian New Year, Haft-sin, Jinous, Culinary Crafts, Utah caterer, sprouts, coins, yellow flower, garlic, samanoo, sumac, recipes, sabzi polo ba mahi The second item, samanoo, is a sweet pudding that symbolizes wealth and fertility. I didn’t care much for the taste, but Grandpa loves it, so Grandma always made extra for him. Sumac (which tastes amazing on rice and kabobs) is a red berry spice that symbolizes the color of sunrise. Apples represent beauty and nutrition. Garlic stands for health and medicine. Vinegar signifies age, wisdom and patience. We also had dried fruits on the table, but I’m not sure what they stood for. I just remember trying to convince my grandma to get dried apricots so that I could eat some too.

sabzi polo ba mahi, Persian recipe, Persian New Year, Nowruz, sumac, apple, garlic, coins, sprouts, Haft-sin, samanoo, staff recipe, Jinous Jahromi In addition to all these Haft-sin items, we would add goldfish, which I loved because, I mean, who doesn’t love goldfish, right? My brother and I would always argue on who got to feed the fish. Goldfish represent new life/new beginnings. We would also add some coins and flowers, traditionally hyacinths if we could find any, for the beauty and fragrance. On the last Tuesday before Nowruz, all our families and friends would get together and build small bonfires. Then we would jump over the flames as a symbol of wiping the slate clean of the past year and starting fresh. Believe me, the first time I did this I was excited, but scared to catch on fire. Nowruz, fire-jumping, leap over fire, Persian New Year, night, bonfire, jump, danger, celebration, Persian tradition But, like I said, the best part of Nowruz is the food. If I could, I would eat Persian food all day and every day. On the night of the New Year, we eat sabzi polo (herbed rice) with mahi (fish). To this day, my grandma makes the best Persian fish with herb rice. I loved going shopping at the Persian market with my grandparents, then going to Costco to get the Atlantic salmon. We had to make sure to get plenty to feed our whole family and enough for seconds and leftovers. I still have the oil-marked, torn paper I took notes on as I carefully watched Grandma prepare the sabzi polo. I am still trying to get the technique down perfectly. It’s tricky, but I’m almost there. Persian rice, sabzi, Nowruz, Jinous, herb rice, Utah caterer, Persian New Year, pecans, garlic, parsley, cilantro, Persian Fish with Herb Rice  

Persian Fish with Herb Rice

(Sabzi Polo Ba Mahi)

 

Sabzi Polo (Herbed Rice)

INGREDIENTS
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 1 cup roughly chopped fresh dill
  • ½ cup packed sliced fresh garlic chives (At an Asian market, these might be called nira or Chinese leeks.)
  • ½ cup packed chopped fresh cilantro
  • ½ cup packed chopped parsley
  • a dash of ground saffron powder (optional) for the top
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. In a 3-quart saucepan (or rice cooker), boil 4 cups of water. Add 2 cups of rice. Allow water to reach a simmer. Cover and reduce to medium low heat. Cook for 6-8 minutes until the water is gone and little holes appear in the surface of the rice.
  2. Drain in colander and rinse with cold water.
  3. Add the prepared herbs and gently toss together to combine. Pour mixed rice back in the same pot and put it back over medium low heat.
  4. Cover the pot with a kitchen towel. (Be careful not to let the towel touch the heat and catch fire!) Let the wet rice cook in its own steam for 45 minutes to one hour, or until the steam rises and the tahdig (the skin on the bottom of the rice) is golden and crisp.

Mahi (Fish)

INGREDIENTS
  • 2-3 pounds of salmon
  • kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp saffron powder
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup of water
  • lemon pepper to taste
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Pat dry salmon, with or without skin, and sprinkle kosher salt on the front and back side.
  2. Place on greased sheet pan. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove from oven.
  3. In small bowl, mix together lemon juice, water, and saffron powder. Pour saffron mixture on salmon and sprinkle lemon pepper.
  4. Return salmon to oven and cook for 15 more minutes or until salmon reaches 130° F. (It should be easy to pull the fish apart with a fork.)
Nowruz mobarak! (Happy New Year!)

March 14, 2023

Culinary Crafts Featured in Utah Valley Bride

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Tasting Room, Salt Lake City venue, Utah wedding, Smoke Show, Utah Valley Bride, inspirational, photo shoot, brides, toast, white dress, balloons, smoke, theme, decorative balloons, red brick wall, salt lake caterer, wine flutes, plated meal, fine dining, catered event

Culinary Crafts has a long history as a contributor and preferred caterer with Utah Valley Bride magazine. The most recent edition of that gorgeous publication features “Smoke Show,” a smoke-themed inspirational shoot we did at the Tasting Room to showcase a few beautiful new wedding trends.

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Wedding catering is trending toward “experiential dining” which means treating your guests to an unforgettable experience. By putting creative thought into your planning, you can do much more than just place delicious food in front of your loved ones. You can entice and enchant all their senses, creating a fun and engaging event that they (and you) will always remember.

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The use of smoke is just one of countless ways to heighten the dining experience. You can let your guests start savoring their food with their eyes and noses before it ever reaches their palates.

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As always, we were delighted to work with Utah Valley Bride and the excellent vendors who helped us put together this unique shoot. A special thank-you goes to Potted Pansy for the florals, Pop Culture by Snap Happy for the balloons, Just Girl Stuff for the dresses and jewelry, Diamond Event and Tent and Wild Event Studio for the rentals, and the inimitable Logan Walker for his amazing photos. We love you all!

Eat well!

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March 8, 2023

Kitchen Safety Tips for the Accident-Prone

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by Amanda Mize

Scullery and Prep Chef

Kitchen Safety Tips, culinary crafts, utah catering, carving knife, steak, tomahawk steak, knife handling, safety, knife skills, trim steak, March 2023, cut, how to

I have always been accident prone.

The first time I rode a scooter to school, I hit a pebble and went down hard, knocking my teeth on the road. I never told my parents about that. In fact, I never told them about a lot of accidents I had over the years, like the longboarding mishap or the road rash I got from slipping on a wet sidewalk at a friend’s swimming party. They have no idea how many accidents I’ve had, and I want to keep it that way.

For someone who has so many scars from so many accidents, working in a kitchen seems like a terrible career choice. But actually, it’s a good thing because I’ve had to train myself to be super careful and follow good safety rules. The truth is that anyone can get hurt in the kitchen. When you get too confident and ignore the rules, that’s when you’re in trouble.

My boyfriend likes to tease me that the reason he does most of the cooking is because I’m not safe in the kitchen. (I let him think that because I’m just glad to have a break from being in the kitchen all day at work!) But once in a while, I get the urge to cook at home. Recently, I made grilled cheese sandwiches. I didn’t cut myself. I didn’t get burned. There was no accident of any kind. I have to admit, I was feeling a little proud of myself as I carried my sandwiches up the stairs to show him what I’d done.

And that’s when I slipped on the stairs and dropped the plate.

Life is hard for us accident-prone people, but I swear, we’re the safest people around if we follow good safety guidelines. Here are a few kitchen safety tips I’ve had to learn along the way:

Kitchen Safety Tips for the Accident Prone

  • Make your workspace safe.

    Before you turn on any heat or pull out anything sharp, make sure you’ve cleared out any pets, children, or amorous partners. Don’t leave anything where it can fall, be bumped, or overheat. Have a fire extinguisher nearby as well as a cookie sheet or other flat surface to smother a fire. Also, no slick surfaces.
  • Don’t wear anything loose.

    Tie up your hair and avoid loose-hanging clothes or jewelry.
  • Never reach into something you can’t see.

    This includes murky water and drawers that are out of your vision. If you have a bin full of dirty utensils, pour it out rather than trying to sort through it by hand.
  • Don’t dump broken glass into the trash.

    It will cut through the plastic and hurt someone carrying it. Place broken glass in a used cardboard box, an opened tin can, or some other waste container that won’t easily be cut open when it’s in the trash.
  • Make sure your cutting board is secure.

    You don’t want it to slide around! If it’s on a slick surface, lay a damp cloth flat underneath your board.
  • Keep your knives clean.

    For health safety, you should always keep your tools clean, but be extra careful not to use a knife that has oil or grease on the handle.
  • Make a flat surface on anything you cut.

    The first cut a chef makes is often one that creates a stable, flat surface so that the object will rest firmly in place.
  • Don’t use anything wet to shield you from heat.

    A wet towel will burn you just as badly as a pan if you try to use it as a hot pad.
  • Don’t wear plastic gloves under grilling gloves.

    Trust me. Just don’t.
  • Don't get complacent.

    This is the hardest rule to follow, but it's the most important. When you stop paying attention and start thinking, "I got this!" that's when you spill your beautiful grilled cheese sandwich on the stairs.

February 22, 2023

Butternut Squash Soup

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The Soup that Changed My Life

by Katie Carter

Wedding and Event Specialist

Butternut squash, soup, swirl, sour cream, orange sou, white bowl, Culinary Crafts, February 2023 recipe, Utah Catering, pumpkin seeds, pepita, pepitas, Utah fine dining, Wasatch Front caterers,

Let me tell you about my first encounter with Culinary Craft and butternut squash soup, two thing that changed my world.

In October 2018, I was just starting my new job as the Venue Coordinator for River Bottoms Ranch (RBR) in Midway, Utah. I had planned several big charity fundraising events back in college, but RBR was my first official job in the hospitality industry, and I was feeling a bit overwhelmed.

My anxiety grew worse at the RBR Grand Opening when I walked into the dining room and saw the elaborate display. From the gorgeous centerpieces to the fancy glassware to the proliferation of silverware at every plate, I had never seen such opulence! My Utah/Minnesota upbringing hadn’t prepared me for that experience.

I looked around for a friendly face and sat down next to a beautiful, kind-looking woman who introduced herself as Jocelyn. I confessed that I loved her hair and asked for the name of her hair girl, which she gladly shared. We chatted easily throughout the meal, and my nerves started to calm down. I hoped she wouldn’t notice that I was following her lead on which forks and spoons to use.

It turned out that Jocelyn was an event planner for Culinary Crafts and someone I would end up working with many, many times at RBR. My first impressions of her were right: she has always been the same cheerful, caring person who helped me find my footing and feel at ease when I was brand new to the world of hospitality.

But That Soup!

The other detail that stands out in my memory from that first encounter with Jocelyn and Culinary Crafts was the butternut squash soup that was served at the event. Here is Culinary Crafts’ own recipe. I promise: it’s amazing! It’s even better when served hot on a cold day. And, unless you happen to be sitting at a fancy table and are worried about committing a faux pas, I highly recommend dipping your bread in it.

Butternut Squash Soup

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup butter
  • 12 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • ½ - ¾ tsp thyme
  • 1 cup yellow onion, large diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup apples, peeled and diced
  • ½ - 1 cup cream
  • 4 lbs butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Garnish

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3 Tbsp apple cider powder
  • 1 - 2 cups pepitas, toasted

DIRECTIONS

  1. Melt butter. Sautee onions and apples until onions are soft.
  2. Add butternut squash, stock, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil.
  3. Turn heat down and simmer until squash is soft.
  4. Remove bay leaf and strain ½ of liquid out.
  5. Puree the soup. Add cream and nutmeg.
  6. Adjust seasonings to taste.
  7. Make garnish by mixing sour cream and apple cider powder. Top soup with a swirl of garnish and a sprinkle of pepitas.
  8. Serve with a smile, and don't judge your guests if they lick their bowls clean.

February 9, 2023

Top Tips for Shopping for Champagne

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Champagne, Sparkling Wine, Shopping for Champagne, toast, glasses, amber wine, fizzy, celebration, party event, Utah catering, flutes, salut, bubbly

For many of us, Valentine’s Day is a great chance to share some bubbly with our special someone. But champagne can be pricey, so how can you know that you’re getting your money’s worth? At the end of this article, we’ll give you our picks for the best value champagnes and other sparkling wines. But first, if you really want to understand what you’re looking for when shopping for champagne, here’s what you need to know.

What’s the difference between Champagne and sparkling wine?

“Sparkling wine” refers to any kind of wine that contains a significant amount of carbon dioxide, the gas that gives sparkling wine its characteristic bubbles. People often refer to sparkling wine as “champagne,” but that’s not strictly correct. Champagne is only one type of sparkling wine.

In fact, under European law, a wine cannot be labeled as “Champagne” unless it fits specific criteria. It must be (a) produced in the Champagne region of France, north-east of Paris, (b) using specific types of grapes, (c) which are picked and processed by hand, and (d) bottled using a specific technique called the “méthode champenoise” to give the wine its iconic fizz. If a sparkling wine does not fit those four criteria, it’s not Champagne.

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Why is Champagne so expensive?

The fact that Champagne can only be produced in the Champagne area of France is one reason that it’s typically expensive. The region of Champagne has a limited growing area, which means it can produce only a limited supply of grapes. Economics tells you that when supply is low, prices are high.

A second factor that drives up the price of Champagne is the time-consuming way it’s made. As we said, Champagne grapes must be harvested by hand and bottled by the “méthode champenoise.” Traditionally, sparkling wines are made the same way as other wines except that there are a few extra steps. After the wine has fermented, the bottles are opened, and a small amount of tirage (a mixture of sugar and yeast) is added. Then the bottles are resealed and allowed to ferment a second time. As the yeast consumes the sugar in the tirage, it produces the carbon dioxide that forms the bubbles in sparkling wine. That traditional method is time consuming, which is why some kinds of sparkling wine use newer methods which save time and lower the price of the wine. But remember, Champagne must use the traditional method, so that drives up the price.

A third reason for the relatively high price of Champagne is the simple fact that Champagne producers have done a great job of marketing their product. People know about Champagne, even if they don’t know about other types of sparkling wine. They assume that Champagne is a superior wine, and they’re willing to pay for it.

Is Champagne better than other sparkling wines?

Not necessarily.

The old adage “You get what you pay for” is not always true in the world of sparkling wines. Remember, when you’re shopping for Champagne, you’re going to pay a premium for that word on the label. The truth is, some very expensive bottles are not worth their price point. However, on the lower end of the price range, the adage generally is true: Don’t expect to find a good sparkling wine for $7.

Don’t get us wrong. Some Champagnes are worth every penny. But over the last century, wine producers from all over the world have begun producing some truly excellent sparkling wines, and compared to Champagne, some of those newer wines offer an even better buzz for your buck.

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What are the alternatives to Champagne?

Today, there is a wide range of sparkling wine options. They vary according to where they are made, what grapes they use, and what process is used to process them.

Sparkling wines that are made in any area of France other than Champagne are called Crémant or Mousseux. Crémant is made using the same “methode traditionelle” process as Champagne. (Some wines made in other parts of the world also call themselves Crémants, so don’t be confused if you see a California Crémant.) A Mousseux uses either the tank method (a.k.a the “charmant method”) or involves injecting the carbon dioxide into the wine, much like soda.

Prosecco (from Italy’s Veneto region) also uses the tank method, which makes it cheaper and one of the most popular alternatives to champagne in the world. Other Italian sparkling wines fall under the broader term of spumante.

Spain’s hugely popular sparkling wine is Cava. Although it is made with the same “methode traditionelle” as Champagne and often uses the same grapes, it is considerably less expensive. Spain has much more area to grow its grapes than the Champagne region has, so the grapes that go into Cava are generally less costly. Also, Spain has automated a lot of the process and shortened the aging time, all bringing down the overall cost. Cava is an excellent sparkling wine that tastes drier and less fruity than Prosecco.

Moscato d’Asti is a sweeter, semi-sparkling white dessert wine from northwestern Italy. It is made with the “tank method.”

Espumante, Portugal’s entry in the sparkling wine world, can be made by the traditional, charmat, or injection method, so you’ll need to check the label.

Other significant sparkling wines include Sparkling Shiraz from Australia, Cap Classique from South Africa, British Fizz from the UK, German Sekt, and several kinds of American sparkling wines.

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How can I recognize a great sparkling wine?

The only reliable way to find a sparkling wine you will love is to try different types and see what suits your taste. That said, here are a few guiding principles to help you spot a quality sparkling wine.

Bubbles. In general, when it’s poured into a glass, an excellent sparkling wine will release a steady stream of tiny bubbles that form a foamy head (the mousse) on the surface. Lower quality wines will have large or inconsistently-sized bubbles that will often cling to the sides of the glass. It’s not just a matter of visual aesthetics; these bubbles affect the way the wine tastes and feels in your mouth.

Bottling method. Many wine critics swear by the traditional method used to make Champagne. It tends to produce sparkling wine that has softer, richer, and more nuanced flavors which is why several other types of sparkling wine such as Crémant and Cava use the same method. However, some wine enthusiasts prefer the taste of Prosecco or other wines made by the “tank method.” These wines—including German Sekt, Italian Moscato D’Asti, and California sparklers—tend to have more simple, tart, and fruity flavors. They are definitely worth trying since they are significantly less expensive and may be exactly what you’re looking for. (One word of advice, though: Because of their narrower flavor profile, tank method wines are often more difficult to pair with foods.)

Aging. As sparkling wine undergoes its second fermentation—before the tirage is removed and the bottle is sealed for the final time—it is allowed to “age.” The longer the wine ages, the more complex flavors it will absorb from the tirage. Champagne is aged for a minimum of 15 months, while Cava is aged anywhere from 9 to 30 months. Check the label to see how long a bottle was aged.

Vintage. The term “vintage” on the label is not a guarantee that a sparkling wine will be high quality, but it’s a good sign. To produce a vintage wine, the winemaker will use their highest quality of grapes grown that particular year. This is generally thought to produce superior wine, although an argument can be made in favor of non-vintage wines (which are designated by a “NV” on the label). Non-vintage wines allow the winemaker to combine grapes from different years, giving them more control in creating the flavor profile.

Reserve. Winemakers put the term “reserve” on their label to indicate that some percentage of the wine used was held back from previous years. In general, a reserve wine is understood to be of a higher quality because it has aged longer. However, wine producers use the term inconsistently, so take the term “reserve” with a grain of salt.

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How dry of a wine do I want?

A crucial question to ask yourself when shopping for champagne or other sparkling wine is how sweet you want your wine to be.

Before sparkling wine is capped for the final time, a little bit of dosage (a mixture of wine and sugar) is added. Without that dosage, the finished wine would be tart and bitter. Obviously, the amount of sugar added determines how sweet the wine will be.

The most popular level of sweetness is called Brut, but there are several other variations to choose from. In order from least to most sweet, here are your choices.

Brut Nature (also called Brut Zero): No sugar is added in the dosage, so the wine is completely dry. This level is a bit much for many drinkers, but it pairs well with salty or fried foods. Don’t try it with anything sweet or the food will make the Brute Zero taste terrible!

Extra Brut: With only 6 grams of sugar/liter, this wine is very dry. Again, it’s great for cutting oily or salty foods like French fries or crackers, and it goes well with oysters and raw seafood. Brut: With 12 grams of sugar/liter, Brut is by far the most popular variety of sparkling wine. It is perfect for toasting and pairs well with a wide range of foods.

Extra Dry (Extra-Sec): Moderately dry with 17 grams of sugar and a tinge of sweetness. You never want your wine to be sweeter than your dessert, so Extra Dry works well with foods that aren’t overly sweet, including sushi, vegetables, salads, and soft or creamy cheeses.

Dry (Sec): With 32 grams of sugar/liter, now you’ll start to notice the sweetness. Balance out the sweetness by pairing it with savory or buttery foods.

Demi-Sec: A whopping 50 grams of sugar/liter makes demi-sec a dessert wine. Still, it pairs well with blue cheese, red fruits, cinnamon, or yellow and white fruits. Serving it slightly chilled will help cut the sweetness a bit.

Doux: A very sweet dessert wine with 60 grams of sugar/liter. It’s okay for sipping, but it really shines when paired with bold food like Indian, Thai, or Chinese dishes.

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What sparkling wine do you recommend in my price range?

When you’re shopping for champagne or other sparkling wines, the best buy is going to depend on your personal tastes, your price range, and your plans for the occasion. Here are some wines that are great deals for the price.

(Because the only way wines can be purchased legally here in Utah is through the state’s DABS website, the prices listed here are taken from that site. Utah prices include an automatic 88% markup.)

Bargain (under $15)

  • Segura Viudas Aria Estate Brut Cava $14

Low End ($15-20)

  • Zonin Prosecco Extra Dry $16
  • Domaine Ste Michelle Brut $16
  • Charles De Fère Reserve Brut $16.50
  • Lamarca Prosecca $20
  • Domaine Ansen Cremant D’Alsace $20.50

Mid-range ($20-40)

  • Mumm Napa Cuvée M $23
  • Decoy Brut Cuvee $26
  • Santa Margherita Prosecco Brut $28.50
  • Roederer Estate Brut $30

Upper End ($40-80)

  • Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs Brut $42
  • Schramsburg Blanc de Noirs $45
  • Heidsieck Monopole Blue Top $45

Premium (above $80)

  • Schramsberg Cremant Demisec $89
  • Krug Grande Cuvee $242
  • Pol Roger Cuvee W Churchill $345

Where can I find these sparkling wines?

As we said, the only place in Utah where you can purchase wine is at the state-run liquor stores. However, each store can vary widely from other stores in their inventory, so be sure to check the state’s DABS website or app for availability before you go. At times, some wines are not available anywhere in the state, so you may have to place a special order.

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I’ve selected my sparkling wine. Is there a best way to serve it?

Yes!

It’s especially important that you chill sparkling wines before opening them, both to enhance their taste and to preserve their effervescence. And, unless you’re going for the theater of a dramatic pop and fizzy champagne spilling on the floor, there’s a better way to uncork your sparkling wine:

  1. Remove the foil from the wire cage that surrounds the cork.
  2. Hold down the cork with a cloth napkin or kitchen towel and twist the tab to loosen the wire cage.
  3. Tilt the bottle away from you at a 45° angle, and don’t point it at anyone. (If you do the uncorking correctly, you won’t have an explosion, but still, there’s no reason to take chances.)
  4. With the cloth still over the top of the bottle, hold the cork (and the loosened cage) in one hand. With your other hand, grasp the bottle and gently twist the bottle (not the cork) back and forth. You don’t need to pull out the cork; the pressure from the bottle will force it out for you. You should hear a soft pop as the cork comes out and the air is expelled.
  5. Pour the champagne slowly into glasses. Tall, thin Champagne flutes are great for prolonging the Champagne’s effervescence and highlighting the long, thin trail of bubbles as well as the mousse. Wide, shallow tulip glasses don’t show off the bubbles as well, but they do a fantastic job of maximizing the aroma and taste of the champagne. A third choice, the saucer-shaped coupe glass, is the type used in champagne towers. Any of these styles of glass will allow you to hold the drink by the stem so that your hand won’t accidentally warm the wine.

Salut!

27x winner Utah’s Best of State

24x Best of State Caterer

3x Best of the Best / Hospitality

1x Entrepreneur of the Year