Thursday, November 26, 2015

Turkey Thighs with Madeira and pearl onions.

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer


Turkey Day, better known as Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching and with it, just another heavy dinner- to be slept off over the weekend.  I have a suggestion on how to bring your guests to the table and make sure that they talk about how delicious their dinner was- without the somnambulism. 

The Founding Fathers were quite fond of turkey.  It almost became the national bird, before the eagle took its place.  But with that said, we give thanks at this time of year and celebrate our appreciation for history with a turkey dinner.  There are many schools of thought as to what goes with turkey.  I’m sometimes interested in Riesling, other times Gruner Veltliner.  And still other times, I find myself interested in a juicy, fruit forward Syrah.

But this year is going to be different. I did some research into the history of this most American of our holidays and found that of all the spirits that were enjoyed at Thanksgiving, only Madeira has been forgotten by history. 

It’s just amazing to me how well Madeira goes with turkey.  It’s really the perfect balance and combination of flavors.  From savory nutmeats to toasty, charred oak, pencil lead, blue fruits and sweet caramel popcorn.  Sure it’s produced from grapes and yes it is fortified and aged in the blazing sun, then taken for sea voyages in the crashing waves, lashed to the decks, splashed with salt spray and blistering heat for months on end…

That is what makes Madeira so sensual.  It’s not easy to make, but oh so luscious to drink.   And with turkey? Well Madeira is the perfect match for turkey dinners of all sorts.

My turkey dinner features an under 20-dollar bottle of Madeira that you can cook with AND drink at the same time.  Broadbent Rainwater Medium Dry Madeira NV is my choice to bring history to life. 

The Food Timeline, which is my go-to for all things history and food discusses Madeira as the most “Expensive and popular wine” during the 18th Century.  It’s evaporated from our scope because it is not an easy drinker… It takes great fortitude to enjoy Madeira because it is dry and sweet, at the same time.  Fortified with Brandy, Madeira is also potent.  Just a few glasses with a meal can hasten both digestion (from the herbs and the fermented grapes) and intoxication from the Brandy element, bringing forth sleep. 

Madeira as fine as the Broadbent, available at DrinkupNY is easy to enjoy, because you didn’t overpay for the pleasure of history in your glass.  Or in this case, with your turkey dinner!

Turkey Thighs with Madeira and pearl onions.
Ingredients and practice…
Pre-heat oven to 450

5 or 6 pounds of turkey thighs that you’ve soaked in buttermilk for two days, changing the buttermilk each day. (essential) then discard buttermilk down the drain and dry the thighs as best as possible
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4-5 Bay Leaf 
2 lbs. Pearl Onions (peeled and soaked in acidulated water) (1 cap of vinegar to 1 gallon of water.. let soak for a few hours then dry…
2-3 whole bulbs garlic, 1 end sliced off, paper on…
½ bottle Rainwater Madeira
½ cup Balsamic Vinegar

Practice…
To a large Dutch Oven (Le Creuset comes to mind) add ½ cup unsalted butter
Add the Turkey Thighs
Add the Pearl Onions
Add the Garlic
Add the Salt and Pepper
Add the Bay Leaf
Add the Rainwater Madeira

Place in your preheated oven, uncovered for ½ hour at the very minimum…
Drop the temperature down to 300, cover and roast for 4-5 hours or until the turkey falls apart easily with a fork.

Add the Balsamic to the pot during the last two hours of cooking… 

Serve with small glasses of the Madeira and sip gently to a Happy Thanksgiving!

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

About Warren Bobrow
Warren Bobrow is the creator of the popular blog The Cocktail Whisperer and the author of nearly half a dozen books, including Apothecary Cocktails, Whiskey Cocktail and Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails- his most recent book.

He's also written about cocktails for Saveur and Whole Foods/Dark Rye, Total Food Service, Eater, Serious Eats, Foodista, Distiller and Beverage Media among other outlets.  He’s taught the fine art of social media and food writing at the New School in New York and at the Institute for Culinary Education. Warren has also taught at Stonewall Kitchen in Maine.

Bobrow was a 2010 Ministry of Rum judge and was the only American food journalist asked to participate in Fête de la Gastronomie, a nationwide celebration of French cuisine in Burgundy.
Photo Credit: WishFulChef

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Pairing Wine with Steak

By Liza B. Zimmerman

I have long though that simple pairings such as red with red meat and white with chicken and fish have fallen short. It is so much more insightful to talk about the method in which meat is prepared, what spices are added and what type of sauce it is made to pair with.

Steak has long been a meat-eater’s wonderland with dozens of cuts, great marbling and many suburb ways to grill, roast and sauté it. On a recent visit to one of the finest steak temples in New York, Del Frisco’s, I had a chance to connect with a very ambitious young sommelier who shares my interest in creating pairings for how the meat is cooked.

A Sommelier’s Perspective
“Different Steaks pair well with different wines depending on the fat content or ‘marbling’ of the steak. A leaner steak, like a Filet Mignon, pair best with medium-bodied wines: Merlot, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Grenache, Tempranillo and blends. Well-marbled steaks, like a Ribeye, pair best with full-bodied reds: such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Malbec and blends,” says Jessica Norris, wine director at Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House New York.

Texture plays a key role in these pairings, as much or more than it might with fish, chicken of vegetables. Matching a steak, for Norris, is about my guests flavor profile. “The ‘wonder-pairings,’ come when the guest's preferred flavor profile is combined into a perfect match of texture, both of wine (tannins/alcohol) and texture of the steak (lean vs. marbled).”

Cabernet Sauvignons, particularly with accessible tannins are ideal go-to wines. Some of my favorite come  from a trio of great regions such as Paso Robles on California’s Central Coast; Walla Walla in Eastern Washington; and Chile way south of the border. Three superb wines, two of them that cost less then $25, include the Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles; the Marques di Casa Concha from Maipo; and the slightly more expensive L’Ecole No. 41 from Walla Walla.

Leaner cuts for Certo can melt in your mouth so a “more elegant wine with a delicate or smooth finish pairs extremely well.” With a touch of marbling she suggests a more full-bodied red.

Ideal and Easy-to-Pair Wines
Red wine with soft tannins that are accessible even when young will go with almost any steak. Certo includes, “Medium-bodied reds like Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Côtes du Rhône, Rioja, Merlot, Zinfandel, New World Blends, California Pinot Noir and Spanish Grenache,” among her favorites.

The South and Southwest of France are fantastic pairings for steaks. Cahors and Madirans reign supreme with all types of fatty meats: as their robust structure, intense fruits and subtle tannins make a beef-fueled pairing melt in your mouth. Georges Vigoroux’s "Gouleyant" Cahors is a great example that won’t break the budget.

Southern, and Northern, Rhone Valley wines are also divine with steak. Two great choices are Yann Chave Crozes-Hermitage and Domaine Raspail-Ay Gigondas. Both are hearty, expressive and time-proven appellations. If you want to head south to Italy Barbarescos—such as Produttori del Barbaresco---Nebbiolos and tightly wound Sangioveses from Tuscany would also fit the bill.
       
Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Liza B. Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about wine and food for two decades. She is principal of the San Francisco-based Liza the Wine Chick wine writing, education and consulting firm. She has worked on staff and freelance at national magazines such as Wine Enthusiast, The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana, Wine Spectator, Where SF and the Examiner. She currently contributes to Cheers, Wine Business Monthly and the Examiner, among others.

Zimmerman focuses on demystifying wine and transforming it into a tool for business and networking for companies all over the country. Past clients include Genentech, Roche and IBM.

She has visited all the world’s major wine regions and is one of select few in the U.S. to hold the Diploma of Wine & Spirits (D.W.S.), the three-year precursor to the Master of Wine.
Photo Credit: Napa Valley Vintners

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Exploring Baijiu: A Look at China’s top white distillate and how to enjoy it on the U.S. Market

By Liza B. Zimmerman

Vodka has long been the top white sprit stateside as its neutral and easily mixes with all kinds of ingredients. Chinese spirits producers are hoping to change the game by introducing American consumers to this white spirit, which is often incorrectly called rice wine. It is actually generally made from sorghum and can also be produced from barley, millet and wheat.

In China, some producers—and visitors—admit, that consumption has been focused on quantity over quality. This spirit was reportedly the lifeblood that kept the Red Army ticking and huge sums, which some have compared to defense spending, have been invested in its purchase and consumption.

The introduction of high-end bottlings to the American market is move that Chinese distillers hope will help Chinese consumption patterns evolve as well. Inexpensive bottles have long been available in Chinatown, but now luxury offerings such as Kweichow Moutai Baijiu, which normally sells for almost $160 for a 375-ml. bottle, are more readily available.

Baijiu’s history is believed to date back to the era BC and was officially documented in the Song Dynasty which dates to 960 AD. It’s classified by aromas that can vary from “sauce” to “strong.”

Tasting and Experimenting
On first taste Baijiu is strong, intense and can intensely heat up your mouth from an alcohol-by-volume content that often tops 50 percent. Some Baijius are blended with spirits of different age statements. Many have floral and fruit aromas that have to be carefully detected on the nose to avoid the heat from the high proof.

When Orson Salicetti opened the Baijiu bar Lumos on Houston Street, in downtown New York, he had to do a lot of research. He was experienced in putting new spins on single-spirit focused bars—having worked at New York’s Apotheke  in Chinatown—but had to do extra research to introduce the American drinker to Baijiu. That included making his own milks and creating some esoteric Baijiu infusions.

“Baijiu has a rich aroma for a clear spirits… and it’s full of flavor, great for infusions and cocktails.” He enjoys, and serves it, both neat and infusions and cocktails. He adds that, “because of  the heightened percentage of alcohol, Baijiu is great for infusions with dry fruits like dates, apricot, and figs. I like to mix Baijiu with fresh fruit juices with texture like pears, honeydew and pineapples.”

Trying it in different types of glasses both neat and on the rocks, will help a novice drinker become familiar with its different flavor profiles. Introducing an ice cube or two, or a touch of water will also help the spirit to evolve in the glass, even though most Chinese consumer it at room temperature. Since many Baijius’ have a salty flavor to them, they also complement saline and spicy snacks.

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Liza B. Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about wine and food for two decades. She is principal of the San Francisco-based Liza the Wine Chick wine writing, education and consulting firm. She has worked on staff and freelance at national magazines such as Wine Enthusiast, The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana, Wine Spectator, Where SF and the Examiner. She currently contributes to Cheers, Wine Business Monthly and the Examiner, among others.

Zimmerman focuses on demystifying wine and transforming it into a tool for business and networking for companies all over the country. Past clients include Genentech, Roche and IBM.

She has visited all the world’s major wine regions and is one of select few in the U.S. to hold the Diploma of Wine & Spirits (D.W.S.), the three-year precursor to the Master of Wine.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Wines for All Hallows’ Eve

By Liza B. Zimmerman

While the kids are out trick or treating let us enjoy some delicious wines at home. Since the season is cool in most of the country it is an ideal time for hearty reds, and maybe a splash of Champagne or a great dessert wine.

Zinfandels often have the deep, dark color of what masquerades as blood and the intensity to pair with big fall foods. Lodi and Amador County producer some of the best of them in California, with a great fruit and spice profile and ribbons of acidity. Sobon Estate Fiddletown has long been one of my favorites for how well balanced and food friendly it is.

Other Reds to Warm Up a Cold Night
There’s nothing like the zest and elegance of red Bordeaux-inspired blend. We have them in Sonoma, Napa, and there are making them as far afield as South Africa and Chile. Many countries are adding a little bit of their own home-grown style to the wines, such as with the addition of Pinotage—not always my favorite—or Carménère down in Chile.

Vina Chocalan Gran Reserva is great example of what cool-climate Chilean terroir can do. Rupert & Rothschild Vignerons "Classique" 2011 is a beautiful blend of the two most classic Bordeaux red varieties—Merlot and Cabernet—with a French touch out of South Africa. It also has a small amount of Pinotage that blends in with the stronger varietals.

Ridge in California does a totally inventive take on blends: although it has everything but the traditional Bordeaux grapes in it.

Earthy Red to Sip by a Fire
Whether you have a fireplace or not you can carve a pumpkin and toast your hands beside it. October is the time of the year is the time of year when earthy-smelling wines warm the bones and pair beautifully with big steaks.

Côtes du Rhônes or Châteauneuf-du-Pape will all stand up the occansion. One of my favorite, most consistent appellations is Gigondas and the Domaine Raspail-Ay, made mostly from Grenache is a great example. Madiran and Cahors are also great picks, best served with a rich dish like roast duck.

Going Classic
Let the kids can eat M&Ms and peanut butter cups, we can enjoy our adult candy: a great vintage Port or Sauternes. Inniskillin’s Riesling Icewine is also another favorite of mine. You could pour it over ice cream if you really wanted to indulge but it is lovely on its own.

Sparkling Shiraz or Lambrusco—I always love Lini—is a splendid way to finish an evening with something sweet and sparkling. A lovely glass of Champagne—I could never had enough Gosset—is another great way to wrap up any holiday.

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Liza B. Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about wine and food for two decades. She is principal of the San Francisco-based Liza the Wine Chick wine writing, education and consulting firm. She has worked on staff and freelance at national magazines such as Wine Enthusiast, The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana, Wine Spectator, Where SF and the Examiner. She currently contributes to Cheers, Wine Business Monthly and the Examiner, among others.

Zimmerman focuses on demystifying wine and transforming it into a tool for business and networking for companies all over the country. Past clients include Genentech, Roche and IBM.

She has visited all the world’s major wine regions and is one of select few in the U.S. to hold the Diploma of Wine & Spirits (D.W.S.), the three-year precursor to the Master of Wine.