Food, Wine, Good (and Evil) Spirits

ImageMany of us have heard that old adage from the Corinthians: "When I was a child I spoke as a child, thought as a child, and reasoned as a child; but when I became a man I put away childish things." Well, when I was a child of sixteen I liked to drink beer, smoke pot and listen to Led Zeppelin at top volume.

Admit it – you did too.

Eventually, much to my dismay, I was required to become an adult and to reason as one. I am not saying that I have achieved any great levels of thought; but I did stop listening to Seventies arena rock. I thought I was supposed to. Just like I thought I was supposed to acquire some decent furniture, invest in an IRA, and make sure my hemline never again drifted above my thighs....that kind of crap.

I even brought myself to marry someone who liked “Smooth Jazz.” I found myself spending many evenings at the second-rate jazz clubs on Bleecker Street, trying to look at least mildly entertained as I listened to some tepid trio, while drinking even more tepid wine. There were things about adulthood I found incredibly disappointing.

I know I am not the only person who feels like this. New York City is full of adults who still crave the thrill and energy of the head-banger music of their childhoods, but no longer want to have to resort to banging their heads. In other words: We no longer want to fight for our right to party.

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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?

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aprihop071.jpgLast night husband Martin and I were feeling a bit restless – nothing that an ale at the Verdugo couldn’t fix. The Verdugo is our (somewhat) local bar. It has an awesome selection of craft beers on tap, and really, is there anything as good as a good beer on draught? Beer geeks LOVE this place – it has Pliny the Elder, Craftsman, Sour Beers, Belgians, stouts, meads – you name it – on tap. Dudes love the place because the bartenders are pretty, and there is a flat screen t.v. at the bar, where if you ask nicely, they will turn on the ball game. Chicks love the place because, er, the beer is so fine? Also, if you happen to have unenlightened friends who don’t appreciate fine beer, there is a full bar.

So last night perusing the beer list, we both fixed on Aprihop by Dogfish Head. We requested a small taste (they will let you do that!) and we both ordered a pint. Dogfish is an interesting brewery. It’s in Delaware and there was an entertaining article about it in the New Yorker a couple of years ago. Unbeknownst to us, Bryant Goulding, Dogfish’s West Coast Regional Sales Manager was sitting a few seats down, and we got to chat him up about the beer and brewery.

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sangriaWhen summer temperatures go up, my appetite goes down. I want less to eat and more to drink. Homemade lemonade with mint is a great favorite. Iced tea in a tall glass filled with cracked ice is a great way to cool down. On a recent trip to Spain, I rediscovered sangria, which might be the best remedy for double and triple digit heat waves.

In the summer, the Iberia Peninsula bakes under an unforgiving sun. Spaniards long ago learned that the best way to beat back the effects of hot weather is to eat small plates ("tapas") and drink wine flavored with fresh fruit.

When I was served a glass of sangria in a bar in San Sebastián, a small resort town on the coast of Northern Spain, I loved the way fresh fruit added flavor to the wine. Fortified with brandy and sugar, sangria goes well with small sandwiches, salads and snacks.

Visit Spain and you'll see sangria pitchers. Wide at the base, the large pitchers have a spout narrowed at the end. When the pitcher is made, the potter gently pinches the spout to narrow the opening, allowing the wine but not the fruit to enter the glass.

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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.

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