Monthly Archives: March 2011

Fun with gum

Pineapple gum syrup, that is: pressed pineapple mixed with organic cane sugar and gum syrup.  We recently got some at the restaurant and I’ve been wanting to mix with it.  It used to be in the Haus Alpenz portfolio, but now you can buy it direct from small hand foods.

The back label promises a cocktail with a “silky, lush mouthfeel and the bright acidity of fresh pineapple”.  It delivers.

The gum syrup is rich, so I wanted to mix it with something spicy and something earthy.

A key ingredient in Pisco Punch (2 oz Pisco, ¾ oz fresh lemon juice, ¾ oz Pineapple Gum Syrup, shaken and strained), I think this gum syrup will prove pretty versatile. 

Today’s inspiration was one of my favorite things that contains pineapple – fruit salsa.  I muddled fresh cilantro with lime, salt and pineapple gum syrup.  Tequila is a natural salsa partner, so that went in next.  While I do think something hot spicy would be good with this stuff, I opted instead for earthy spicy with Domaine de Canton.

The bright flecks of cilantro make this a pretty cocktail. I didn't bring a decent camera to work today. Garnish options: lime, candied ginger, fried cilantro, caramelized pineapple...

Here’s the recipe:

Yellow #6
1.5 oz. unaged tequila
1 oz. Domaine de Canton
1 oz. pineapple gum syrup
juice of 1 lime
handful cilantro, enough to fill 2″ in the bottom of your muddling glass
dash salt

Muddle cilantro with gum, lime and salt.  Add ice, tequila and Domaine de Canton.  Shake and serve on the rocks.

I chose Yellow #6 because there are 6 ingredients, if you count ice and also because another term for it is “sunset yellow”.  It may or may not lead to hyperactivity.

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Blogging Scholarship

Submit your food or beverage blog idea for a chance to win a scholarship to the Food Blogging Class with Steven Shaw (scholarship value is $695).

The class runs on Thursdays, 6:30pm – 8:45pm from May 19, 2011 to June 23, 2011. As a scholarship recipient, you will receive all instructional materials and be able to participate in all hands-on and practical exercises.

Email Arnish at athakore@intlculcenter.com and be sure to include:

Your Name:

Date Submitted:

Address

City:

State:

ZIP:

Email:

Mobile:

Daytime Phone:

Your Blog Idea (in 200 words or fewer):

Good Luck!

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DIY

Julia Moskin published an awesome article in the NYT this week, “D.I.Y. Cooking Handbook“.  She notes that before getting started, “it’s not necessary to understand lactic fermentation, or to learn the difference between bacon and pancetta.” 

The article reminded me of some of the successful and not-so-successful undertakings of this blog.  I need to post more “projects” like this.  I’m thinking about tea infusions and rosé vermouth for spring.

Two of Moskin’s recipes caught my eye.

Horseradish beer mustard. Photo by Hiroko Masuike for the NYT.

Moskin sourced the recipe from Jessie Knadler and Kelly Geary:

In a bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup dry mustard, such as Colman’s; 1/3 cup sweetish dark beer, such as Brooklyn Local 2 or Negra Modelo; 1/2 cup drained prepared horseradish (a 6-ounce bottle); and 1 tablespoon brown mustard seeds. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate overnight to let the flavors calm down a little. The next day, taste again for salt and pepper, and whisk in a little more beer if the mustard seems too thick. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Use it to elevate a simple dinner of sausages, roast chicken or steak.

The other:

Vin d'orange. Photo by Hiroko Masuike for the NYT.

This time the recipe is from Sally Clarke, a chef in London:

Your citrus should be organic and clean, because anything on the peel will end up in the wine. You will need 3 tangerines or oranges with a good balance of tart and sweet plus 2 lemons or grapefruit, or one of each.

Slice them in thick wheels and place them in a clean container (glass or hard plastic) with a wide mouth and a tight-fitting lid. Now add 1 1/2 cups sugar; half of a vanilla bean, split lengthwise; a cinnamon stick, about 4 inches long;2 liters rosé; (about 2 1/2 bottles), and a cup of vodka.

Stir this well with a spoon (not wooden, as it may harbor bacteria that could inhibit fermentation) and fasten the lid. Keep the jar in the refrigerator, shaking occasionally to dissolve the sugar. After about 6 weeks, mix in 1/4 cup dark rum and strain everything through a fine strainer or several layers of cheesecloth. Store in bottles at a cool room temperature or in the refrigerator; it will last indefinitely. Lovely plain or mixed with sparkling wine or water.

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Distinctive White Wines of Alto Adige

…is the title of a seminar I attended today, and distinctive they were.

The panel being introduced. Mary Ewing-Mulligan (love her!) was the moderator and the panelists were winery directors, managers and marketing directors with fun names like Klaus and Wolfgang.

Some fun facts about Alto Adige:

*300 days of sunshine per year.  Wouldn’t that be nice?

*It’s the smallest region in Italy – 50% larger than New Jersey with 6% of the population of  New York City.

*20 grape varieties are planted.  Gewürztraminer, Schiava, and Lagrein are indigenous.  Current trends are leaning toward white production – 55%.

*It’s one of the oldest winemaking regions in all of Europe.  Even in 700 BC, winemaking was already thriving.

*The region has the highest percentage of DOC wines in Italy, as well as three times the Tre Bicchieri-rated wines (the highest rating from Gambero Rosso magazine) that Tuscany does.

We did two flights of 4 wines. Many of the wines were made by cooperatives, which are critical in this area, as the average vineyard holding is 2 1/2 acres.

1. Nals Margreid Pinot Grigio Punggl 2007.  Pinot Grigio is the wine that everybody loves to hate as well as the varietal consumed by housewives, but this was delicious: hazelnut, anise, citrus, green apple, with great acid structure, a round mouthfeel and loads of minerality.  Punggl, pronounced poon-gull, is old German dialect for hill.  A panelist accurately described this wine as having “one leg in Alsace and one leg in Italy”.

2. Franz Haas Cuvée Manna 2004.  This was an IGT Dolomiti wine instead of a DOC Alto Adige because of its unique blend: Riesling, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc.  Franz had the idea for this blend in 1988, after he and his party consumed 7 bottles of wine with a 7 course tasting menu at a local restaurant.  He wanted to come up with a wine that would work across multiple courses and the first vintage of Manna (named after his wife) debuted in 1995.  Golden, with red apple, herbs, and some interesting developing aromas, I could see how this complex wine would be versatile with many dishes.

3. San Michele Appiano Pinot Grigio St. Valentin 2006.  A dry year in Alto Adige that produced concentrated berries.  This wine had incredible freshness even though it had seen 11 months in barrique (1/3 new) as well as lees aging.  Stone fruit, hazelnut, minerality and sweet spice were there, too.

4. Caldaro Sauvignon Blanc Castel Giovanelli 2007.  The Castel is for a castle built on the vineyard in the 19th century (which the panelist dubbed, “not old”).  This wine also had some barrel aging and lees contact, but maintained the bright grapefruit, tropical and grassy notes that we all love from Sauvignon Blanc.

5. Terlan Nova Domus Terlaner Riserva 2005. 60% Pinot Blanc, 30% Chardonnay, 10% Sauvignon Blanc.  The Sauvignon was noticeable on the nose and the Pinot Blanc provided the intense minerality on the palate.  Pretty notes of pear and chamomile tea, too.  This vintage is a current release – the winery considers a 20 year old bottling “old”.

6. Alois Lageder Chardonnay Löwengang 2002.  Löwengang, pronounced loo-ven gang, means lion’s gate or passage, and refers to the 400 year old manor house on the property.  Chardonnay has over 150 years of history in this region, so they’ve had plenty of time to figure out the best terroir.  I initially wrote, “yum!” and followed up with: creamy, ripe apple and pear, white flowers, Burgundian elegance.

7. Peter Zemmer Gewürztraminer Reserve 2006.  Planted at altitudes of up to 1300 feet, this wine had classic Gewürz notes of perfume, rose and lychee, but was lighter on its feet.  Cool mountain winds in the afternoon extend the hang time of the grapes and increase their physiological ripeness.  It was so well-balanced, that no one noticed its residual sugar of 6.2 g/l.

8. Tramin Gewürztraminer Nussbaumer 2004.  At 15% abv, this was a powerful wine, with similar, yet more intense aromas than wine #7.  Gewürz has a rich history in this region and it is the most important varietal for Nussbaumer, whose 700 year history isn’t so shabby either.

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So Much Pretty

One week from today, my sister-in-law has a book coming out. 

You can pre-order it from Amazon.  You can read more about the book and about her on her website.

My favorite review for it so far is the LA Times:

“So Much Pretty” is harder to pin down, trickier in its aims and delivers a skillful, psychologically acute tale of how violence affects a small town, its tentacles enmeshed so deeply into the collective fabric that it takes the thoughts and actions of one intelligent adolescent to shake things up and force everyone to examine their duplicitous complacency. To say more about Hoffman’s constantly surprising story is to reveal too much, but the payoff is more than worth the slow-building suspense.”

Look for her in the NYT Book Review this Sunday, 3/13. We’ll all need a drink in anticipation of that, which leads me more to the point of this post. 

I’ve developed two cocktails for the release party we’re hosting for Cara at The Monday Room next week. 

So Much Pretty
1 1/2 oz. McKenzie Bourbon
1 oz. Campari
1 oz. Carpano Antica Vermouth

Combine ingredients and shake with ice.  Serve up in a chilled glass with a cherry garnish.

Cara’s favorite cocktail is a Negroni (she hasn’t tried this one yet), and if you subbed gin for bourbon, that’s what you’d get. I wanted to use a spirit from upstate, since that’s where the story takes place. The drink has a girly color, which belies its non-girly flavor. Once you read the book, you’ll get why this last part makes sense.

So Much Pretty, 0% abv
4 oz. ginger beer (I like Fentimans, though I think we’re using Ithaca for the party, for additional upstate-appropriateness)
½ oz. fresh lime juice
½ oz. star anise simple syrup (made this at home, more on this later)

Shake with ice, strain into rocks glass over ice and garnish with candied/crystalized ginger.

When asked in an interview if she could only eat one thing for the rest of her life, Cara replied crystalized ginger, so that explains version 0% abv.

Looking forward to toasting So Much Pretty with a So Much Pretty!

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Blending at Brooklyn Winery

On Monday night we attended the JBF Greens event, “Blending at Brooklyn Winery“. 

I hadn’t been out to Brooklyn Winery yet, which just opened last fall.  The space was impressive; shiny new tanks, a temperature-controlled barrel aging room, a pretty bar and great nooks and crannies on two levels for having a party (they took over a nightclub).  My favorite part, other than all of the winemaking equipment of course, was the (free!) photo booth in the bar.

Conor, the winemaker, is on the far right and Brian, the CEO is on his left. Conor is from the West Coast and most recently worked at Crushpad. Brian's background is in social media. Jonny Cigar, a member of The Noble Rot, the duo that led our blending experiment is to Brian's left. Before getting down to business, we got a tour of the facility.

The winery is bringing in grapes from the Finger Lakes, the North Fork, various locations in California, and from Chile. The first bottlings (some whites and some rose) will be ready in May. The grapes arrive so fresh, thanks to refrigerated trucks and a blanket of nitrogen, that Conor is able to do some native fermentation.

After the tour, we were broken into 4 groups, and instructed to create several meritage blends.  Meritage rhymes with heritage and pays homage to Bordeaux-style blends.  Each team was given commercial bottlings of the 5 Bordeaux varietals, pipettes, and beakers.  The idea was to create as many blends as time would allow and then to submit your best blend for Brian, Conor and The Noble Rot crew to judge.

This chart was in our handout:

The group, measuring and blending.

Each team had a "sucker". When you admit to being a biochem major in college, you get the pipette.

Noah and I were on rival teams. I would've taken more photos, but I was shoo-ed away from his end of the table by his teammates who claimed I was distracting him.

I’m proud to announce that my team won top prize (glory), while Noah’s team came in second place.  Our winning blend was 35% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Malbec, 10% Petit Verdot and 5% Cabernet Franc.

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