Tuesday, December 31, 2019

For the Holidays and Beyond

I have some delicious ideas for you this month, including one that brings me back to a place with a lot of memories.

A Sweet Serendipity…
As a teenager growing up on Long Island, I would go with friends into New York City a few times a year, on breaks from school. We’d go into a museum or to see a play (from the half-price ticket booth). Whenever we had extra money, we’d also head to Serendipity for Frozen Hot Chocolate.

In the following years, my trips were less frequent, but I did make it back occasionally to this iconic place for delicious treats with my daughter when she was younger and when we were both adults.

Given my history, I was all too happy to get a copy of Sweet Serendipity: Delicious Desserts and Devilish Dish. The book, by the restaurant’s founder Stephen Bruce, was issued to celebrate the 65th anniversary of one of the most famous eateries in Manhattan.

This is far from just a recipe book, even though it provides the recipes to the famous Frozen Hot Chocolate and many other Serendipity sweet sensations. It begins with a forward from Cher and continues with celebrity endorsements and “dishing” on the comings and goings in this famous restaurant.

I had to try the Frozen Hot Chocolate for myself and, even though my cupboard and fridge contain more low fat than indulgent, it still came out close to I remember. So, if you can’t make it to one of the Serendipity locations (there are now others in Florida and Washington DC, as well as a Serendipity in Tokyo.

While you may not be making it, you’ll also want to check out the recipe for the $1,0000 Golden Opulence Sundae, which is in the Guinness Book of World Records as its most expensive dessert.

More fruit-filled Alize…
In June, I talked about how much I enjoyed Alize Pineapple, a French vodka made with natural flavors. I recently received two more of the brand’s products and they are also worth raving about.

Alize Peach is also full of flavor with a powerful kick, almost like a pre-made cocktail in a bottle. It’s not overwhelmingly sweet either.

Alize Red Passion includes passion fruit and cranberry, and was even more tasty. It brought me back to my childhood. It tastes a lot like Hi-C fruit punch, but without any artificial flavors. Just be careful – this “fruit punch” is 16% abv (alcohol by volume).  

Some Special Whiskey…
Angel’s Envy, a long-respected brand of whiskey known for its unique finishing, sent me some samples I was happy to check out.

Angel’s Envy Bourbon is finished in Port wine barrels, to give it a bit of a unique taste. It brings out the vanilla, with a hint of wine on the back.

The latest release is Angel’s Envy Rye, aged in Caribbean rum casks. This one is definitely smoother and sweeter, for a different whiskey than you might be used to. This bottle will run you about $100, but is worth having around for special occasions.

Looking for more spirits ideas? Check out my story for Proof

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Getting holiday Ready

Thanksgiving was late this year so it’s feeling like a tighter holiday season. I’ve been inundated with samples to try and finally seeing the end of the (tasty) tunnel.

Wine for your dining…
Seven Falls Cellars in Paterson, Washington sent me a case of some of their most popular wines. I have to say I liked them all, especially since they have a price point around $20.

The 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon is a quality cabernet sauvignon at a $22.99 price. It’s starts with the familiar black cherry and ends in smoke and spice.

Seven Falls Cellars Merlot (2014) is more flavorful for my taste, when you add in the black raspberry and currant, and a finish with a hint of cocoa.

The 2015 Rapids Red is filled with red fruit, with just a little spice on the back. I could actually take this wine warmed with some cinnamon or nutmeg, or a full set of mulling spices, to drink in front of the fire.

Although I prefer my chardonnay unoaked, the Seven Cellars 2016 is the red lovers white. It’s bold and buttery, with an oaky vanilla.

Canned Wine with a twist…
Don’t worry about flipping that metal open to drink this wine. ICAN has a unique can: it’s a reusable, insulated can, resembling a bottle, with a twist top.

I love the design and the fact that it can be reused for wine, water, or anything you’d like. The wine also happens to be pretty good because it’s produced by an established winery, Mercer Wine in Washington State.

I was sent the current options: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Rose, and Red. Although Sauvignon Blanc is my favorite wine, I liked that one the least as it tasted a bit watery.

I thought the others were really good – especially the Rose. The Chardonnay had a light frizzante, which made it even more tasty.  I also loved how the cans kept the wine cold.

A most unusual cordial…
I’ve had some unusual spirits over the years, and Somrus Chai Liqueur tops the list. I wasn’t really sure what to think of a chai liqueur, but I’m always willing to give liquor a chance. I’m glad I did.

I found this cordial to be a bit spicy and very creamy. Although the taste is nothing, I can describe beyond a super-rich chai latte at 27 proof. The Indian spices, especially the cardamom, are very obvious, and it’s made with real cream.

I don’t believe in taking a perfectly mastered cordial and doing anything other than sipping it, but there are some fascinating recipes on their website.

A new offering from an old favorite…
Just in time for Christmas, Bailey’s Irish Cream has a very appropriate new liqueur - Red Velvet. I was thrilled to get a bottle of this one and gathered some friends to give it a try. It is even better than we expected.

Bailey’s Irish Cream has always been known for its natural flavors, and the Red Velvet is no different. You’ll taste that dark chocolate, cream cheese, and butter, with a smooth and sweet finish.

It’s delectable by itself (cold or on the rocks) or added to coffee or hot chocolate.
The folks at Bailey’s seemed to agree with my assessment that a cordial doesn’t need to be a cocktail, however, it has become popular in recipes (like the ultimate red velvet cupcakes). We finished my bottle before I had a chance to do any baking, but it’s certainly worth considering.

You’ll want to pick up a bottle (or maybe two) of Bailey’s Red Velvet Irish Cream for the holiday season.