You know the rest of that line, right? Well, it's with some small amount of sadness that I am saying that about this blog: It must come to an end. I've had a terrific time writing it, but we've decided that in the end it's a bit strange, for a magazine that's all about bringing together food and wine, to have separate blogs on those topics.
So, from here on out, any wine blogging that I (and Megan Krigbaum, Kristin Donnelly, and various other stalwart folks) do will instead appear in F&W's primary blog, Mouthing Off. No less wine coverage, just a different venue. See you there.
Wines Under $20
'Tis the season to do TV appearances on wines for the holidays, apparently! I was at the CBS Early Show last weekend offering wine & spirits gift-giving strategies, and on Fox Business News last Friday with some great wine values for holiday entertaining.
Also, if you need a last minute stocking-stuffer for the wine geek in your life, you could definitely do worse than the Twistick ($9.99), which may well be the world's smallest corkscrew. You can put it on your keychain for wine emergencies (they do happen!), and while it's not the easiest corkscrew in the world to use, it's a lot better than biting off the top of the bottle with your teeth.
Last weekend goes down as one of the best in recent memory for me thanks to two great meals in Boston and a little baseball team called the Red Sox.
Friday night found some friends and me at Coppa, where I made it just in time for the late-night menu-an abbreviated version of the dinner menu, but no less impressive. Highlights included chef Jamie Bissonette's stunning crudo with radishes and carrots and borage flowers and the Pattypan di Popeye pizza topped with summer squash and spinach. A friend ordered the Strongman cocktail, which came in an enormous stein with a very muscular glass arm as the handle. The drink, a mixture of green chartreuse, yellow chartreuse and Coors Light (!) was remarkably refreshing and surprisingly strong.
The next day we were lucky to score some seats to the Red Sox game versus the Detroit Tigers. Now, as a girl who grew up in Michigan, I get a lot of flack for rooting for anyone other than the Tigers, but I can't help it. I love David Ortiz. I confess. I also love walk-off homeruns. And guess what: Bottom of the 9th, Sox down 3-2, David Ortiz gets up to the plate and WHAM! Three-run double, and the Sox win the game!
To celebrate this ridiculous victory, we sat down for dinner at Eastern Standard where the oysters were delicious and the 2009 Domaine Colotte rosé (find this wine) from Marsannay went expertly with the tomato, goat cheese and almond salad. Mixologist Jackson Cannon started us off with a to-be-named mini-cocktail (created by fellow bartender Bob McCoy) that was the perfect aperitif. Cannon's been making amber vermouth in-house, and it made this cocktail particularly herbaceous and balanced and refreshing. This is the best possible drink for a hot summer night after your favorite team comes through in the end:
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add 1 ½ oz. gin, ¾ oz. amber vermouth, ½ oz. fresh lemon juice, ¼ oz. simple syrup and 1 dash orange bitters. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Squeeze a fresh lemon twist over the glass and discard. Serve.
© Jen Murphy
Highland Park whisky tasting.
If there’s one thing that will lure me out into a New York City blizzard, it’s the chance to taste a super-rare whiskey. So the other evening, a handful of die-hard Scotch enthusiasts and I braved the snow so we could be among the first to taste Highland Park 1968 at a whiskey-tasting dinner at the Scottish gastropub Highlands. The Scottish distiller’s single malt—produced in extraordinarily small batches (only 1,550 bottles) and sold for an extraordinary price ($4,000 a bottle) will be released in May.
After we tried pours of the 18-, 25-, 30- and 40-year-old Highland Park whiskeys, the splash of '68 revealed it to be remarkably complex and smooth, with hints of ginger and clove and a fierce kick. But even with the extravagant packaging (an oak box inlaid with the Highland Park silver amulet) it still seems like an insane splurge in these recession-minded times.
Bartender extraordinaire, friend to F&W, and general all-around good fellow Jim Meehan of NYC's PDT came up with this cocktail a few months back for a wine-vs-cocktails smackdown held at NYC's Nios Restaurant. I attended the event, drank the drink, and at the time thought to myself, well, that's about the best Valentine's Day cocktail I've ever run into. It's gorgeous to look at, tastes terrific, and also packs a reasonable punch. (Note: It might not be the thing to stir up for a crowd of longshoremen; it's a very pretty drink.)
recipe courtesy of Jim Meehan
1.5 ounces Clear Creek Framboise (or other Framboise—the eau de vie, not the Belgian beer)
1 ounce Royal Tokaji 5 Puttonyos Red Label (or other 5 Puttonyos Tokaji)
1/2 ounce Pama Pomegranate Liqueur
3 drops Rose Flower Water
Stir ingredients in a cocktail shaker and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a rose petal, particularly a peach-colored one if you can find it...
© Gordon Campbell Gray Hotels
The Lobby Bar at One Aldwych
I’m always impressed by the quality of London’s hotel bars. During my stay there last year, I spent most nights going back and forth between the Connaught hotel’s Connaught bar and Coburg bar (the latter recently introduced an amazing Bordeaux trolley). This year, I found a superfun pre-theater scene at the glamorous Lobby Bar of One Aldwych. The bar is known for its eclectic art, particularly an oversize bronze sculpture of a rower that towers over guests, as well as its great cocktails. They had just introduced an impressive new cocktail list that includes 63 drinks, both classics and wild concoctions like a Gazpacho Martini, made from lemon-infused gin spiced with sweet green pepper, cucumber, Midori and elderflower. I’m a traditionalist, so I ordered the G&T Martini, a glamorized gin and tonic made with homemade tonic syrup, the delicious new Beefeater 24 gin and lemon twist. There’s also a fancy bar-food menu that offers light snacks (hummus, tzatziki and Lebanese flatbread) or indulgent ones (braised pork belly with teriyaki sauce).
I finally made it to Boston this weekend so that I could grab a stool at Barbara Lynch's newest spots, Sportello and Drink. The dishes at bright, modern Sportello was the sort of homey, upscale comfort food found at all of Lynch's restaurants. A simple salad of thinly shaved fennel and batons of celery was fresh and crisp and all of the pastas were expertly cooked-the highlight of which was the rich, sweet pantacce (a wide, short noodle) with pork cheeks, parsnips and quince.
But the real standout for me was a wine that we had. Our server steered us towards the 1998 Martilde Ghiro d'Inverno Bonarda from northwestern Italy's Lombardia region, and I'm glad we followed her lead. Its black fruit had mellowed nicely thanks to its age, but what was particularly striking was its distinct earthiness—flavors ranging anywhere from soil to mushrooms—which also made it perfect match to a bowl of pasta made with toasty chestnut flour with whole roasted chestnuts strewn throughout.
After dinner, we headed downstairs to Lynch's enormous—and packed—bar, Drink. It was rather astounding to watch three bartenders expeditiously serving excellent cocktails to 90-some thirsty guests. For our part, we probably enjoyed a few too many of the cocktails, but we ended the night off with a liqueur glass of and exceptionally intriguing Chartreuse Milk Punch called Vert Poinçon de Lait, developed by Drink bartender Scott Marshall. Marshall was inspired by a recipe he found in a cocktail book published in 1827 for "Oxford Nightcaps." The original recipe calls for rum and cognac, but Marshall traded those for viscose Batavia-Arrack and spicy green and yellow Chartreuse. Since the drink's complicated to make—and the recipe makes a gallon at a time—it's worth a detour at Drink to try it. It's a terrific digestif, or, as a nightcap, will ensure sweet or possibly surreal dreams.
I've always thought Mai Tais were kind of campy, something fun to have with roast pork shoulder and pineapple. Now I know better. Recently my friend Joe Raffa, a Hawaiian native, mixed the world's greatest Mai Tai from his extensive rum collection. He calls it the $100 Mai Tai because it would cost $100 to buy bottles of all the necessary ingredients. But the drink itself costs much less. And with last week's news about the growing GDP, it seemed ok to post. Especially because it's just so good: caramelly yet tart, smooth yet bright, perfectly balanced — and supersmart (case in point: instead of Cointreau, Joe uses Rhum Clement Creole Shrubb, an orange liqueur made from rhum agricole instead of neutral spirits. "It keeps the rum with the rum," Joe says. And in place of ordinary simple syrup, he uses Depaz cane syrup, a Caribbean sweetener gives the Mai Tai a richer maple note.) The best part, Joe is José Andrés' chef de cuisine at Oyamel in DC, and has been dropping hints that his boss should open a Hawaiian restaurant in DC serving roast pork and really good Mai Tais. All I can say is, José, please, listen up. Recipe after the jump.
© Courtesy of Absolut Vodka
Absolut Boston Blackberry
When angry colonists threw tea into Boston Harbor in 1773, they had no idea that their rebellion would eventually lead to the American Revolutionary War in 1775, or that it would inspire the creation of another kind of beverage in 2009: Absolut Vodka Boston
, a limited-edition vodka infused with black tea and elderflower.
Recently, mixologist Jamie Gordon hosted an Absolut Vodka Boston
Tea Party at Food & Wine
's New York City office. He gave the editorial staff a taste of some fantastic cocktails he created with the spirit, such as the juicy and aromatic Absolut Boston Blackberry.
ABSOLUT BOSTON BLACKBERRY
Makes 1 Drink
4 large blackberries
1 ounce agave nectar
4 ounces Absolut Boston
1 1/2 ounces fresh lemon juice
4 dashes rhubarb bitters
In a cocktail shaker, muddle 2 of the blackberries with the agave nectar. Add the Absolut Boston, lemon juice, bitters and ice. Shake well and double strain into a chilled large martini glass. Garnish with the remaining 2 blackberries.
When a friend invited me to a five-course, whiskey-paired dinner at Eleven Madison Park last Wednesday, I hesitated before accepting. I’ve been to plenty of wine- and beer-paired dinners, but sipping whiskey through a meal sounded a little intense. If anyone could pull it off, though, it would certainly be genius chef Daniel Humm. And the whiskeys around which he created the menu weren’t just any whiskeys. We were being treated to six limited-edition Balvenie 17-year-old single-malt scotch whiskeys, including the 2001 Balvenie Islay Cask and the super-rare 2006 Balvenie New Wood. The pairing of the night: The 2007 Balvenie Sherry Cask matched with Humm’s black angus tenderloin with roasted summer beans. Most of these scotches are nearly impossible to find, but the newest limited-edition release, the Balvenie Madeira Cask, will be in stores in early October. This extraordinarily rich scotch, matured in oak and finished in casks that were used to make fortified Madeira, was the nightcap to our feast, with sweet vanilla-oak notes that gave way to spices and dried fruit and a seemingly never-ending finish.
© William Grant & Sons
The Balvenie Madeira Cask 17-Year-Old