Food, Wine, Good (and Evil) Spirits

From the NY Times

jeffersonwine.jpgWhen Thomas Jefferson embarked on his grand tour of France in 1787, he claimed the journey was for his health. A broken wrist sent him 1,200 miles south from Paris to take the mineral waters at Aix-en-Provence, and on the way he planned to fulfill his professional obligations as America’s top envoy to France, researching French architecture, agriculture and engineering projects.

But when he chose to begin his three-month journey in the vine-covered slopes of Burgundy, Jefferson’s daughter, Martha, became suspicious. “I am inclined to think that your voyage is rather for your pleasure than for your health,” she teased him in a letter.

In fact, Jefferson’s five-day visit to the Côte d’Or — a region famous even in the 18th century for its extraordinary terroir — was not accidental. After spending more than two years in Paris establishing diplomatic relations with the court of Louis XVI, Jefferson, a lifelong oenophile, had tasted his share of remarkable vintages. Now he was keen to discover the vineyards and cellars of Burgundy, and to study firsthand a winemaking tradition that stretched back to the 11th century.

“I rambled thro’ their most celebrated vineyards, going into the houses of the laborers, cellars of the vignerons, and mixing and conversing with them as much as I could,” Jefferson wrote about the winemakers in a letter posted during his trip.

Read article...

lemon-straws.jpgEven though I take all those silly self portraits of me doing absolutely nothing and blog about trips to pretty places I am not much of the relaxing type of guy. I’m actually quite the opposite and find myself nervous or antsy when I’m sitting still. The thought of midday naps freak me out and stopping to sit down for tea or coffee in the afternoon is a luxury I rarely allow myself. Even if I had the time I’d still feel like I was missing something or that something terrible would happen because I wasn’t working working working working working.

Yea, I have issues. I know this. But I’m trying to grow and slow down just a little bit.

When I got home the other day after I was greeted by Adam clanking away in the kitchen. He had the urge to bake and it’s an urge I completely encourage. Who doesn’t like fresh baked anything the second they walk in the door? But I had a chunk of editing to do and had to submit some images to the magazine I was working for that day before running to Fed Ex to send out a package.

Read more ...

Old FashionedIt 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.

Read more ...

pinot_gris.jpgI had to laugh the other night while having dinner in a local restaurant. The patrons next to us ordered a bottle of wine, confidently requesting "Pinot Grisss", with lots of heavy emphasis on the "isssss", as their wine of choice for the evening.

I shouldn't have laughed. Really I shouldn't have. But I'm horrible like that. Don't worry... they didn't hear me. I wanted the waitress to correct them though, "You mean PEE-noh Gree?" but she didn't. Maybe she was worried about her tip or was trying hard not to laugh herself.

I think the intimidation for ordering wine is even greater at fine dining establishments employing a sommelier (sum-muhl-YAY). The sommelier is there to help guide restaurant guests in the best wine choice possible in terms of their meal, palate and pocketbook. It can be intimidating to speak up and request something from somewhere like Chateauneauf-du-Pape (shah-toh-nuhf-doo-PAHP), if you have absolutely NO IDEA how to pronounce the words.

I should be more forgiving. I know for a fact, as many have confessed to me, some people shy away from ordering particular wines simply because they are afraid of making a pronunciation mistake in front of friends and clients.

Read more ...

savinoThough 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?

Read more ...