Thursday, November 30, 2017

Holiday Finds to Give, Keep or Serve

It’s time for holiday shopping and entertaining. Here’s a few things which have come across my door that I think you’ll enjoy.

The perfect food basket…
Last year, Murray’s Cheese NYC sent me their Most Valuable Player basket to check out. This year, I got La Dolce Vita and it was fantastic. 

What a great selection of meats, cheeses, and accompaniments it is. There’s enough to serve at least eight, making it well worth the $120. I also love that the cheeses are each different, from spreadable to aged.

• Fontina Fontal Cheese (a favorite of everyone)
• La Tur Creamy Cheese
• Pecorino Calabrese Sheep Cheese
• Gorgonzola
• Murray's Sopressata Salami
• Murray's Speck (similar to prosciutto)
• Castelvetrano Olives
• Sandimiri Crostini Bread

On a personal note, it was the first time I’ve had a true (and delicious) Italian salami since leaving New York!

Check these chips for a cause…
Honchos Chips by Deep River Snacks are a must try for two reasons: they taste good and they do good.

Founder Jim Goldberg, whose son is afflicted with Primary Sclerosing Cholangtis and Crohn’s Disease, supports the Chris Klug Foundation, to raise awareness of organ donation and education.

Goldberg’s Honchos Chips are USDA certified organic, gluten-free, and made with non-GMO ingredients in the U.S. 

They come in three flavors, Nacho Cheese, Ranch, and Peach Habaneros. They are all very good, but the Peach are outstanding.

Deliciously Inexpensive Wine…
Stock up for the holidays on Aimé Ruca Malen, a Argentinian Malbec that’s under $10 a bottle. It’s filled with tasty notes of black raspberry, cassis, and even a hint of chocolate.

For the Gluten-Free…
If you are looking for something to serve a gluten-free friend or relative, or someone on a strict diet, you might want to pick up some Skinny Pasta

They don’t have the same substance as pasta, but there’s no cooking involved, just heat and serve with your favorite sauce. I don’t recommend their rice (too mushy), but the rest will work for someone who can’t eat regular noodles.

A little chutney on the side…
Chut-Up is a unique brand of healthy condiments. They started with three kinds - ketchup, chutney, and hot sauce.

The Beet Ketchup is sweet and delicious, The Chutney, with apple and carmelized onion, was the crowd favorite with its sweet and sour mixture. As for the Hot Sauce, it’s really hot, and only for real spice enthusiasts.

Coffee or cocktails, you need this…
Most of the time when I bring out a bunch of wine and spirits for sampling, we only get through some of the bottle. This was not the case with Sugarlands Appalachian Sippin’ Cream in Pumpkin Spice Latte. I barely got a small glassful when I turned around and the bottle was empty!

This sipping cream has the smoothness of Bailey’s with distinct pumpkin flavor, especially cinnamon and ginger. It’s delicious straight, in coffee, hot chocolate, or anything else you can think of. You can’t go wrong with this one from Sugarlands

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Spooky Cocktails and Fun Finds

It’s Halloween week, which means it’s time for parties – and partying. Here’s a few things you’ll want to check out.

Let’s Get Monster Smashed…
It’s the perfect title for this book: Let’s Get Monster Smashed, Horror Movie Drinks for a Killer Time. It’s put together by Jon and Marc Chait, and the book is as colorful as the drinks.

It all starts with a great breakdown of liquors and liqueurs, everything from vodka to Lillet Blanc. You’ll also find a section listing all the tools you will need to make these deliciously monstrous drinks, as well as “Satanic Syrups” you need to know how to make.

I highly recommend adding this book to your bar. Here’s a few of my favorites: Monkey Brain (peach brandy, cream liqueur and grenadine), to drink during Faces of Death; Pazuzu’s Puke (brandy, dark rum, milk, vanilla sugar, green food coloring and corn flakes), to go with a night watching The Exorcist; and Big Fishbowl Punch (white rum, blue curacao, lemon lime soda and shark gummies), a perfect accompaniment to Jaws.

You can pick up a copy of Let’s Get Monster Smashed on Amazon (and have it delivered by Halloween if you get  Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial).

A little special rum…
Rum is one of those spirits that mixes well with anything, or with nothing at all. Casa D’Aristi released a collection of unusual rum-based liqueurs from Mexico that will add a little twist to your bar. I was able to sample three of them.

If you like black licorice with a hint of mint schnapps, give Casa D’Aristi XTA a try. While the anise stands out the most for me, it actually starts with honey from the Xtabentun flower, only found in the Yucatan, before the anise is blended in.

Casa D’Aristi Huana is rather hard to describe as there’s quite a bit of flavor in there. I wanted to say chocolate covered pineapple, and I wasn’t far off. The Guanabana fruit is a combination of strawberry, pineapple, and coconut.

The Casa D’Arista Kalani is my favorite. It’s a mixture of fresh coconut milk and pure Mexican cane rum. That said, it is rather sweet, so sipping it alone might be a bit too much, but all I would need would be some pineapple juice for a quick pina colada. Unlike other coconut rums, it has that rich milk feel that mixes well.

Check this out…
I’d like to give a shootout to The Uncommonwealth, who sent me this adorable tank top. Check out their website for more cute items.

Stick this in your bag…
You don’t have to worry if you get a stain on that shirt if you have Dryel in your bag. I really like this easy to carry stain remover with the little brush top. It’s a must for travel.