Sparkling Wines and Fried Foods
Crispy Buttermilk Fried Chicken
Pairing: NV Sorelle Bronca Prosecco
With this buttermilk-soaked version, F&W’s Grace Parisi has perfected fried chicken.
Autumn Fritto Misto
Pairing: NV Louis Bouillot Perle d'Ivoire Blanc de Blancs Brut Crémant de Bourgogne
Antonio Ciminelli prepares this starter year-round with whatever produce is in season. In the fall, that means apples, mushrooms and late-harvest zucchini, fried in a batter made extra-light and crisp by adding sparkling wine and whipped egg white. The fritto misto is best eaten hot from the pan, perhaps served in a paper cone.
Salt-and-Pepper Squid with Chinese Five-Spice Powder
Pairing: NV Roederer Estate Brut Rosé
Wendy Leon gives this classic Chinese squid dish a fun twist by flavoring it with five-spice powder (typically a ground mixture of cinnamon, star anise, black peppercorns, fennel and clove). "It's her version of a Super Bowl snack," says her son Humberto. "Most kids eat chips; we grew up eating squid."
Sweet Potato Fries
Pairing: NV Col Vetoraz Brut Prosecco di Valdobbiadene
The Peninsula flavors its sweet potato fries with furikake, a Japanese seasoning made from salt, sesame seeds and nori that the restaurant spikes with chile or hot paprika. If you can't find furikake (sold at Asian markets), substitute chipotle chile powder.
Hush Puppies with Remoulade
Pairing: NV Bollinger Special Cuva Champagne
F&W's Emily Kaiser created these crispy hush puppies—cornmeal dumplings—by adapting a recipe from chef Susan McCreight Lindeborg. (Lindeborg ran the kitchen at Washington, DC's Morrison-Clark Inn when Emily worked there as a line cook.) Emily serves them with a version of the creamy French sauce remoulade, which she spikes with Tabasco and a little ketchup.
Fried Shrimp-Stuffed Crêpes (Pantras)
Pairing: NV Henri Billiot Brut Rosé Champagne
For dinner parties at his stunning apartment, Surajit Bomti Iyengar serves pantras (fried stuffed crêpes) as an appetizer. They're well worth the effort of making crêpes (which are surprisingly easy to prepare once you get the hang of it). Coating the crêpes with egg and bread crumbs makes them fantastically crispy when fried.
Crispy Udon Noodles with Nori Salt
Pairing: 2006 Domaine Carneros by Taittinger Brut
Inspired by a snack served at Japanese restaurants, Marcia Kiesel boils udon noodles until they are just al dente, then ties them into small bundles and quickly fries them in a shallow layer of vegetable oil. They are addictively crunchy.
Shrimp-and-Pork Spring Rolls
Pairing: NV Montsarra Brut Cava
Zang Toi's supremely crispy spring rolls are filled with a mix of marinated shrimp, ground pork and a handful of colorful julienned vegetables, like carrot, jicama and beans. The fried shallot rings add alluring flavor and crunch to the spring rolls, too, but they're optional. Toi even makes his own chile sauce to serve as an accompaniment.
Fish Fry with Ramp Aioli
Pairing: 2002 Dom Pérignon Champagne
To get his son Braedon to eat fish, Shea Gallante fries it in a seasoned crust. "My son's like me: He goes for strong flavors, not wimpy ones," he says.
Pairing: NV Pol Roger Extra Cuvee de Reserve Pure Brut Nature
Gerald Hirigoyen's airy beignets (doughnuts) can be deep-fried a few hours in advance and recrisped in the oven just before serving.