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.

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chaieggnog.jpg I don't know about you but when Christmas is in the air, it's time for my favorite, favorite drink.....

Can you guess what it is?  It's EGGNOG!  I love it, in any shape or form and prefer it sans the alcohol....most of the time.

I even love the cheap stuff right out of the gallon jug at the supermarket (I know, I know, sometimes I'm desperate) or McDonald's Eggnog Shakes.  My obsession runs deep with this one.

However, several years ago I started making my own Chai Eggnog and I've never looked back.  Of course Chai is another obsession, so when you combine the two...oh mercy.

This is the perfect warming drink for a cold Sunday morning, what a way to start the day.

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sneeze.jpg Anyone who has known me longer than he’s willing to admit will tell you that there’s one grim subject that haunts my waking hours, a capricious and terrible bitch that lurks constantly on the outer ridges of my consciousness, ready to leap to the fore at the sound of a sniffle. What provokes such cathexis, you ask?  It’s the state of my perpetually fucked sinus cavities.1   I’ll avoid the details, just know pollen is my nemesis, Kleenex abound, etc.  Electric conversation really, sure to win many admirers.

The logical response to these histrionics should be, “go see a doctor, son.”  But you see, the thing is, I already have an allergist and an ENT and to whatever extent they’ve helped—and they’ve helped a lot—I still don’t breathe right.2  So I started seeing a Chinese physician whose holistic approach relies largely on acupuncture and healthy eating.  My allergies, I was told, would be much less of a noticeable intrusion if the following things were cut back on/removed from my diet: red meats, dairy products, wheat, potatoes, sugar, caffeine, everything created for human enjoyment. 

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From the Huffington Post

holiday-cocktails.jpgThere are bartenders who make a living mixing cocktails, and baristas whose wages are earned behind espresso machines. There are high-concept tea masters, sommeliers, and soda jerks, too. At home we are never expected to be any of these, but when guests arrive for your holiday parties some simple instruction might be helpful. After all, there's a week's worth of celebrating still to be done.

I tend to restrict drinks at my dinner parties to champagne and wine and perhaps one great cocktail. I suggest you try all the ideas here, or create your own, but choose only one as your "house special." "What you don't need," says wine writer Anthony Dias Blue, "is people sidling up to your bar expecting a Singapore Sling or a mai tai," or both!

I know a thing or two about drinks. At age 16, I was a bartender, illegally, at the Olde London Fishery in Queens, New York. I was tall for my age and looked the part. Next, I had the ultimate pleasure of helping create two of New York's most spectacular bars -- the Rainbow Promenade at the Rainbow Room atop Rockefeller Center, where Sleepless in Seattle was shot, and the Greatest Bar on Earth on the 106th floor of the now legendary Windows on the World. A great drink is always remembered.

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altThe quest for health and wellness continues. Kombucha is an acquired taste. A few years back, I picked some up at my local health food store. I was totally tuned off. This past year, I tasted homemade Kombucha at my friend, Carrie’s. I was hooked.

I loved it so much that when I left her house, I was gifted a little glass jar filled with my very own Kombucha culture. The 93 mile drive home was done with a big smile on my face.

My little jar sat in the passenger seat; I had company. The next day I purchased the few ingredients I needed to concoct my own black tea, fizzy cocktail. I was in business.

After my visit to Carrie’s I made it endlessly.  There was always a batch brewing. I had to ration out the kombucha in the fridge so it would last the entire week. I lost weight, my sweet tooth subsided, and I was addicted.

Then I took a break. You ask why? I cannot answer that.

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