I got ready for a messy (five prep bowls and lots of scattered flour) night of cooking, and I carefully followed the recipe for buttermilk-brined fried chicken. A dozen organic chicken legs were battered and coated in seasoned flour. A couple inches of oil was heating up in my dutch oven. And a just-bought bottle of Cava was cooling down in my freezer.
It occurred to me recently that Cava, with its delicious fizz and lovely acidity, was a great beverage to wash down the crunchy goodness of fried chicken. I was drinking solo tonight, so frugality pressed me to discover the best, least expensive Cava I could find. I'm fortunate to have a well-stocked wine shop right down the road, and I found the inexpensive yet quite satisfying Conde de Caralt, a traditional method bubbly for under $10 - now there's a feat that's hard to match, as most cheap bubbles have CO2 added to the tank. Fried chicken is one of the least pretentious foods, and this good quality Cava is a great match, both on the palate and in the pocketbook.
As it turns out, frying is messy but it's not that hard. Bake a pan of cornbread, steam some asparagus, and you've got a dinner to look forward to. My dining companion declared it "marvelous." At 14, she was a bit young for the Cava, so she would have to wait to learn how delicious it all was washed down with some of Catalonia's magic bubbles.