Thursday, August 31, 2017

Lots of New Wine, Spirits and More

I had a lot of sampling to do this month and actually had to leave some for next month. It’s harvest season for wine, plus there are some great new spirits out there. Here are some of the things I loved this month.


A very special scotch from Glenfiddich…
What do you get when you blend together 20 single malt whiskies? Something especially delicious. Glenfiddich Project XX is a treat for any scotch lover. It’s full of vanilla and oak, with a bit of apple, and a cinnamon finish.


Try these wines…
I’ll never forget when I was in Burgundy, France, and we headed to Chablis to taste some of its namesake wine. It was the first time I had tasted true Chablis and I fell in love with the wine. The William Fevr Chablis brought that memory back. It’s buttery, but not heavy, has a touch of vanilla and a bit of lemon.

When I saw the “sweet” on the label of Aime Sweet Moscato, I saved it for dessert. That wasn’t necessary as this wine is less sweet than most moscatos. It’s an excellent summer sipping wine, with lots of tropical flavors and a touch of sweetness.

I also fell for the Chateau Rollan de Medoc Bordeaux. It’s my kind of red, not too heavy, light on the pepper with a burst of berries.

My friend Lisa prefers her reds drier, so she really appreciated the 2014 Meli Maule Valley Carignan, with lots of spice and dark berries.

Another Van Gogh to try…
It’s hard not to enjoy Van Gogh Vodkas. They really know how to bring flavors alive. This holds true for  Van Gogh Cool Peach. It’s bursting with peaches, but not too sweet. I could definitely sip this over ice, or in one of these cocktails…

PEACHY PALMER
2 oz. Van Gogh Cool Peach Vodka
2 oz. Iced Tea
2 oz. Lemonade
Add all ingredients to a tall glass filled with ice and stir well.
Garnish the cocktail with fresh raspberries.

THE ROYAL PEACH
Created by Jonathan Pogash, The Cocktail Guru
 1-1/2 oz. Van Gogh Cool Peach Vodka
3/4 oz. Elderflower Liqueur
3-4 Dashes Angostura Bitters
Stir ingredients in a mixing glass with ice
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish with a flamed orange peel.

SKINNY PEACH COOLER
Created by Sue Pietoso, Mixologist at Jasna Polana, Princeton, NJ
2 oz. Van Gogh Cool Peach vodka
3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
3/4 oz. sugar free sweetener syrup
1 oz. peach purée
2 basil leaves
1 oz. club soda
Shake all ingredients, except basil and club soda with ice.
Pour into a glass.
Top with club soda.
Garnish with basil leaf.


Big Red and Big Blue
I’m not a big soda drinker, but I was curious when I was presented with the opportunity to try Big Red and Big Blue. It turns out Big Red has been around a while and has quite a fan base among my friends. I too enjoyed the vanilla cream soda which, for adults, goes great with whiskey. As for Big Blue, there were a few who enjoyed it, but it was a bit too bubble gum-like for me.


Nothing like a good marinade…
Moore’s had sent me their buffalo marinade a few months ago and it was delicious on chicken. They followed up with a bottle of Zesty Garden Herb. I marinated boneless pork chops in it, then brushed more on during grilling. It was delicious. I could also see this on chicken, or even a grilled Portobello if you are looking for a vegetarian meal.


Monday, July 24, 2017

National Tequila Day and More

I’m known for the fact that I like variety. I eat and drink different things every day, at every meal. There’s only two things you can always count on: I’ll have some form of yogurt each day, and I’ll always celebrate National Tequila Day.

The reason for the latter goes beyond my obvious love of spirits. July 24th also happens to be my birthday.

My latest tequila…
Given these two facts colliding on one day, I usually receive quite a bit of tequila just before today. This year, three arrived, and they are all quite special.

Casamigos Tequila is the brand created by George Clooney and Rande Gerber. The two celebrities were not looking for a money-making scheme. Instead, they were looking for a great tequila to drink while the friends vacationed in Mexico.

They say some people have the power to turn everything they touch into gold and these two are proof. Their little project was recently sold for nearly a billion dollars to spirits giant Diageo.

According to Clooney and Gerber, who signed the bottle, “Our idea was to make the best-tasting, smoothest tequila whose taste didn’t have to be covered up with salt or lime. So, we did.”

I love the suggestion to try cucumber with the Casamigos Tequila since I have a citrus allergy. It’s delicious.

I must agree. You can immediately smell the sweet agave when you pour a glass and the taste doesn’t let you down. It’s smooth and floral, for me, loaded with honeysuckle and a touch of vanilla. At around $40 a bottle, the Casamigos Tequila Blanco is also reasonably priced.

The other tequila of the day is quite different from any I have tasted. Viva XXXII Tequila Joven is a blend of unaged silver and three-year-old anejo tequilas, made in small batches. The blend is then put in oak.

The result is Joven Tequila, a spirit which is super smooth and very easy-drinking. I get more sweet, butterscotch undertones here than floral, and even a bit of pepper. It’s quite delicious and also priced at around $40. In addition, 10% of the net proceeds are donated to animal abuse prevention.

Tequila Corralejo Reposado is yet another tequila that’s deliciously different. 

Corralejo has been making tequila for nearly 300 years. The use handpicked 100% Blue Weber agave, from Guanajuato, Mexico, slow cooked in stone clay ovens. This reposado is aged for four months, in French, Encino, and American oak.

The resulting Corralejo Reposado Tequila has a gentle cinnamon spice, with lots of vanilla, and a touch of caramel.


Don’t like your tequila plain? Try these cocktails:   
                        
Casa Chilled Coffee
2 oz Casamigos Blanco (or Reposado if like it more oaky)
2 oz Bailey’s Liqueur
1 Espresso Shot
.5 oz Agave Nectar
2 Dashes Orange Bitters

Combine all ingredients into tin shaker with ice.
Shake vigorously for 8-10 seconds.
Use a fine strainer to strain into coupe glass.
Garnish with one-star anise.

Blondie
1 oz Casamigos Blanco Tequila
4 oz Prosecco
.25 oz Vanilla Bean Simple Syrup*
2 Dashes Lavender Bitters

Combine all ingredients into tin shaker.
Dry shake without ice.
Pour into champagne flute.
Top off with chilled Prosecco.
Garnish with an edible flower.

*Vanilla Bean Simple Syrup
Make a standard simple syrup. Break open and stir in whole vanilla beans. Let simmer over very low heat for an hour and strain.

VIVA Crisp
2 oz VIVA XXXII Joven Tequila
3 fresh slices of Cucumber
2-3 fresh slices of Jalapeno (deseed to control spice factor)
.75 oz Agave Syrup

Place all in a tin and lightly muddle.
Do not crush ingredients, just press to express oils and flavors.
Add ice and give a short and soft shake.
Pour all into a Double Old-Fashioned Glass.
Garnish with some something fresh and fragrant.
Use a lime peel and cucumber wheel, or a large basil sprig.

VIVA Tourist  
2 oz VIVA XXXII Joven Tequila
.25 oz Mezcal
.75 oz Fresh Lime Juice
.5 oz Fresh Pineapple
.75 oz Fresh Orgeat (Almond Syrup)
2-3 fresh Jalapeño Slices

Place all in a tin and add ice.
Give a long hard shake.
Double strain the cocktail into a single Old-Fashioned Glass.
Garnish with a Jalapeño slice.

Note: VIVA recipes created by Chris Kramer of 
The Larchmont (5750 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038)

Viper's Fang
2 oz of Tequila Corralejo Reposado
.25 oz Laapsang watermelon syrup
2 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters
1 dash of aromatic bitters

Stir ingredients together.

Serve on the rocks with a lemon twist.


The SirtFood Diet by Aidan Goggins and Glen Matten…
The word “diet” is not in my vocabulary. When I feel I’m putting on a few pounds, I’ll cut back a little on sweets, add a little more exercise, and change my way of life. This book had me curious, though, so I thought I’d give it a read.

The premise is, “Eat your way to rapid weight lost and a longer life by trigger the metabolic super powers of the The Sirtfood Diet” and lose “7 pounds in 7 days.” To back up these claims, a 5-year study on 7,400 people is introduced

I was immediately turned off by the start of this diet, which has you living on 1,000 calories the first three days, before going on two phases that bring you to three Sirtfood rich meals, one sirtfood green juice, and 1-2 sirtfood bites.

The thing is, while I’m not going to endorse the specific diet, a lot of what is in the book makes sense.  Most of the 20 foods that belong to a group of plant foods called “sirtfoods” and are said to activate genes called sirtuin have been shown in various studies to help with weight loss:


Walnuts
Extra virgin olive oil
Strawberries
Red wine
Chilies
Turmeric
Cocoa
Red onions
Garlic
Coffee
Green tea
Soy
Kale
Capers
Parsley
Medjool dates
Arugula
Red Endive
Buckwheat
Celery

A lot in The Sirtfood Diet reminds me of the Flat Belly Diet! as well as the nutritionally known diets in India and the Mediterranean. While I don’t personally believe anyone should be on a restrictive diet unless advised specifically to do so by a doctor, I do think this book is worthwhile to learn more about some of the best foods to add to your daily meals.