Food, Wine, Good (and Evil) Spirits
You have about a month to make these before Clementine season is officially over. Don't miss it.
Have you ever had a Clementine? They are tart, tangy and have a slight sweetness to them. A cross between a mandarin and a sweet orange, they are easy to peel and taste slightly different than both. It has distinct enough flavor that I always make sure I enjoy them throughout the season.
And here's the thing, they are supposed to be seedless, however I am having a hard time finding seedless Clementines. I've heard they lose their desirable seedlessness when they are cross-pollinated with other fruit, bees are the usual culprit.
My latest batch of Clementines was full of seeds, which made them a much better vehicle for making margaritas than just peeling and eating them.
It all started with a Napoleon. And a desire for a cocktail after dinner. The Napoleon, uneaten, and so taken away in a box from a late lunch at Petit Trois was the itch, scratching my brain. It’s eggy vanilla aroma permeates the car on the way home and a bottle of newly purchased Bulleit Rye clinks next to me. I get the vision of a vanilla driven rye cocktail sipped along with that Napoleon.
Ludo’s Napoleons aren’t delicate fine things with a slick of sweet white icing across the top. No, they’re robust and sturdy finished off with a perfect shard of bruléed confectioner’s sugar. They are so thick that I’ve never eaten one by cutting down a bite with my fork. Instead I pluck off the top layer of crunchy puff paste and the clinging pastry cream, which leaves another layer of the same to munch later open-face sandwich style. This is the life of the food obsessed. Upon googling rye and vanilla I found Brandon at Kitchen Konfidence and a recipe for an Old-Fashioned made with vanilla sugar. I always keep a jar of sugar studded with vanilla beans in the pantry, so his recipe was quick to put together. Here’s my version. I’m making some vanilla syrup to keep in the fridge for the next one.
Though I love wine, I don’t own much wine paraphernalia. Good glassware and a sturdy corkscrew is pretty much all anybody needs. Carafes are nice for entertaining. Aerators a possible necessity if you’re drinking a lot of young red wine, but I generally spend my wine dollars on wine. We have a fairly large cellar and once people find out how many bottles we have - enough to survive a year without buying more, not so much we couldn’t drink it in our lifetime - the first question is always “how much do you drink?” Let’s just say there are two of us, usually one bottle a day…you can do the math.
Leftover wine is rarely an issue in our house. Yet not everyone has a nightly wine buddy and some people just like to have a glass with dinner. Others like to try several different ones at a time. How do you make sure the wine stays as fresh as possible? Once you pull that cork oxygen begins it’s hack job trying to turn your luscious vino into vinegar. I’ve found the “re-cork it and refrigerate it” method works pretty well with most red wine, since - except for very old ones. Most reds could use a little opening up and many are better the next day doing this. However, if you’re not going to get to the wine for a few days you’re really taking a gamble. Especially if you really LOVED it the first night. (Our advice when that happens - drink it all. Seriously.) When it comes to white wines or rose, you’re pretty much guaranteed to be disappointed the next day if you don’t take some precaution against oxidation other than refrigeration.
When I got the chance to try the Savino, I figured why not give it a spin?
No town knows how to celebrate like New Orleans. With parades and festivities going strong until next Tuesday, here are some classic libations from the Big Easy that will make your Mardi Gras celebration a night you won't remember.
The mint growing in my garden is prolific. I'm really bad about getting out there and thinning it so it pretty much takes over. I don't mind though, I love sprinkling it over summer fruit and mixing it into iced tea and water in the summertime. As far as I'm concerned I could never really have enough mint, I find it's uses endless.
Between the prolific mint and a recent trip to Mexico, (where Mojito's were flowing) and a slight suggestion for a mojito party, when we returned to the states...the Best Mojito Recipe was born.
Up until now, I was a mojito drinker, not maker. I'm not sure why, but it's something I left to the bartender. So I did a lot of research and read a lot of comments about certain recipes. Mojito's are a finicky drink and can quickly go from refreshing to medicinal tasting, when the ingredients are not balanced. As a winemaker I'm always concerned with balance in wine, in food and cocktails. I found that specific ingredients make a difference for varying reasons.
I hope you give my version a try.
With summer in full swing there’s no better drink to sip by the pool than sangria. Filled with fruit, it seems less “boozy” and perhaps slightly “healthy”, so if you start drinking it before Happy Hour there seems to be less shame and guilt involved. Believe me the fruit only masks the alcohol, but who cares? It’s a drink I find hard to resist.
While I always have wine in the house, I am not a big fruit lover. Sure, if someone else brings it all bright and juicy and already cut up, I’ll generally eat my fair share, but I’m more attracted to the “idea” of it than its physical reality. Plus, I’m more a cheesy/salty person. Sweets of any kind just don’t float my boat.
Which foods pair best with rosés? The question is almost beside the point. Rosés are made for warm summer evenings, dinners outdoors with friends and laughter. Serve dishes that fit with that kind of setting and you're on the right road.
Think of summer foods, like tomato salads, olives, salumi, vegetables right off the grill. Rosés love brash flavors: salty, a little spicy, redolent of summer herbs like basil and oregano, and, of course, garlic.
Olives, cured with cumin and garlic or baked with herbs? Of course. Prosciutto and melon? Perfect. Toasts with tapenade? Even better.
Pork sausages right off the grill are terrific with rosés, and so are grilled vegetables, such as peppers, zucchini and eggplant, seasoned with handfuls of basil and moistened with good olive oil.
To my mind, there is no single better match for a dry rosé than a good aioli. Mash garlic and a little salt in a mortar and pestle. Beat in a couple of egg yolks, stirring until they're lemon-colored. Very slowly, a drop at a time at the start, stir in olive oil and maybe a little lemon juice, depending on your preference (I think it helps match the wine better). It should be the consistency of soft mayonnaise.
With National Margarita Day coming up this weekend, we thought we'd share some of our favorite ways to enjoy a splash of tequila. No mixes means no hangovers...so only the freshest ingredients found here. You can thank us later...
Srirachaberry Margarita - OK this one uses Sriracha-infused vodka instead of tequila...who cares. This is for those of you who like it spicy!
As a margarita fanatic (dare I say connoisseur?), I feel like I have a certain responsibility to find the best margaritas wherever I go—dive bars, hotels, even the Greek Theatre (theirs is surprisingly worth $18, by the way). There’s only one rule: they need to be crafted with fresh juice and premium tequila. No artificial sour mix that looks like antifreeze or tequila that comes in a plastic bottle!
I love the simple, like “The Boss” at Valley institution Casa Vega and a traditional Cadillac at Hillstone. They house-make the best sour mix: freshly-squeezed lime, lemon, and orange juice and a splash of simple syrup. The complex cocktails intrigue me, too.
The best I’ve had is the Market Margarita at Rick Bayless’ Red O. It’s a fusion of tequila, muddled fresh cucumber and honeydew melon and homemade limonada.
Naturally, I’m always looking for the latest trend to spice up my love affair with the Latin libation. Pepper-infused concoctions have been popping up on specialty cocktail menus everywhere (jalapeno martinis, Tabasco gin and tonics, sriracha everything), and now it’s the margarita’s turn.
My father's singular obsession with noble limestone permeates every discussion of our wines. He purchased our vineyard land only once he discovered it lies on a 300 foot deep slab of the white, porous rock. Because we are so proud of Limestone’s mineral, high acid effect on the wines, we seldom discuss the thin layer of dirt above.
The Stolpman estate vineyard's clay topsoil is light gray when dry and becomes a sticky mud when wet. Many 2×4 cars have fallen victim to the wet clay, even on our hard-packed roads. Boots become several pounds heavier with mud stuck like bricks in the treads.
That’s the very beauty of clay in our perpetual California drought: it retains moisture. This year, as we look at the driest winter thus far in our vineyard’s history; we are thankful to have clay. As we drip water on the ground through our irrigation hoses, we mimic normal rainfall, allowing the clay to become saturated. Like a year of normal rain fall, when we hope to get 12 inches, we won’t irrigate after set. Set describes the transition when the vines’ tiny flowers become “.” sized grapes.
By cutting water at set, we are ensuring that the plant will still have to fight through the summer to ripen tiny concentrated grapes, undiluted by irrigation. In a drought year like 2014, this is our new definition of dry farming.