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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cocktail fznlemonade vodkaI am not a big drinker. It’s rare that I finish a glass a wine at dinner and I rarely order a “cocktail”. With that said, when I do invite friends over for dinner, I like to have a little cocktail on hand for those that simply want one.

Seeing a lot of fruit infused vodka on Pinterest sparked my interest to create a red, white, and blue cocktail for the 4th of July. Seeping the blueberries in the vodka for 36 hours, creates the most amazing scent. For lack of a better word, the smell was intoxicating.

When I do indulge in a cocktail (I much prefer to eat my calories), it’s generally something slushy, fruity, and not overly alcoholic. Grabbing the last of the Meyer lemons from my tree, I made a huge batch of Molly’s raw honey lemonade. Making something slushy was what I was craving. Tossing the lemonade and some ice in the blender, this frozen lemonade and blueberry cocktail was created.

I wanted to use the blueberries as garnish, but didn’t want them simply floating in the glass. Grabbing a handful of small wooden sticks, I skewered them and then put them in the freezer for about an hour. After the fact, I thought how yummy these would have been if I would have sugar coated them.

Freezing fresh, organic, summer berries and fruit from the farmers market is my newest obsession. I see many more fruit and vodka combos in my future.

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From the North Coast Journal

champagne_c_w250h250.jpgIt happens every year about this time, in magazines and newspapers, online: an outpouring of effervescent enthusiasm for holiday sparkling wine bargains. "The best of West Coast bubbly has rarely been better," trumpets San Francisco Chronicle Magazine. The online wine merchant www.novusvinum.com features the "Top 20 American Sparkling Wines," from a modest $19 for Francis Coppola 2008 Sofia Blanc de Blancs to a staggering $100 for Schramsberg 2002 J. Schram. Words like "festive" and "elegant" promise a transcendental experience.

They lie. Well, they pretty much have to lie. No one would be long in business selling wine or print ads if they told the truth: American sparkling wine at its best is not in the same class as even the least expensive imports from Champagne. The fact is, it may never be.

The world of cuisine is fertile ground for happy, often accidental inventions: the 18th century discovery that oil and vinegar could, by careful blending with egg yolk, be emulsified into Sauce Mayonnaise. Peking Duck: an ancient dish, eaten by wealthy Chinese, consisting of just the crisp skin of a fattened duck, slowly roasted to a glossy brown in a long process taking a whole day. Distilled spirits, a byproduct of 8th century alchemy that produced what an Arabic poet described as, "a wine that has the color of rain-water but is as hot inside the ribs as a burning firebrand."

But the ultimate adventure may have been the one that produced gold from straw.

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From the Huffington Post

hair_color_chart.jpgThey say the eyes are the window to a person's soul, but I disagree. I'm pretty sure it's the hair. Seriously.

For the sake of this article, I'm going to go ahead and admit that I judge people, and I judge them by their hair. I'm not saying everyone does this, I'm saying I do this, and I'll go ahead and tell you why.

You can judge a person on their shoes (Louboutins or Converse?), or what they wear (Armani or Anthropologie?), and that's fine. And hey, you'll probably get somewhere with that, maybe by going a little deeper and analyzing how they wear something: Does she mix Versace with vintage? Are her jeans skinny or flared? And just how flared and how expensively distressed?

All important factors. They might tell you how much money (or credit card debt) she has and if she lives on 73rd or somewhere between Bedford and Lorimer, but what they don't tell you is how much fun she'll be three-beers-deep on a girl's night out. What will? Her hair.

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whitewine.jpgAfter about a decade of studying and drinking wine, I've become the de facto "expert" amongst our group of friends. Which is to say I've read more wine books, taken more classes and wine tasted in more regions than them, but what I've learned is just the tip of the wine iceberg. That being said, since I have this website, I get asked a lot of questions about wine, but there are two that always seem to come up with the answers usually engendering surprise.

1) What are my favorite Napa wineries?

and

2) Do you really LOVE white wine? Really?

My response that I don't make a pilgrimage to Napa several times a year is akin to saying something like "I hate puppies." The shocked looks are quite amusing to me. I've been all over California, tasting in every region where wine is grown, including Napa, yet there are just other places I'd rather go. I've come up with an equation that should explain this apparent break down in my mental faculties.

(Too far away x snotty attitude + $$$$ bottle price = Unhappy Wine Traveler)

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