Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tasting Time

My friendly FedEx delivery man has been at my house again recently and he’s left some goodies. Here’s a sampling of what I’ve been sampling lately…

Voga Italia Wine
First, let me say that I love these bottles. They have re-sealable caps, but no one is going to accuse these of cheapening the wine’s look.  I wish I had room to store these bottles and urge other winemakers to check them out because I am a believer in the screw cap and Voga Italia has proven that it can be done with class.

The Voga Italia Premium Sparkling, a bland of 80% chardonnay and 20% pinot grigio, was delicious. It was full of citrus and tropical fruit and would be easy drinking with any food. I wasn’t a huge fan of the Pinot Grigio. I do like light white wines, but felt that this one needed a bit more flavor. Voga also makes a rose, a merlot and blend, which I have not tried yet. All of the wines sell for under $20.

Angel’s Envy Bourbon
Angel’s Envy is the only Kentucky bourbon that is finished in barrels that have been used for port wine. The result is a bit more fruit flavor mixed in with the vanilla and oak you usually get with bourbon. The mash bill – 72% corn, 18% rye and 10% malt – also allows for a slightly sweeter whiskey.

Since I’m not generally a big whiskey drinker, I brought in some “experts,” who agreed that Angel’s Envy was good stuff.

Bitter Truth Liqueurs
I enjoy tasting new (and especially unusual) liqueurs so I was excited about receiving Bitter Truth Liquers. They offer a selection, all of which are made to use for mixing or stand on their own:

Ice Mint-When I first saw this I was thinking Peppermint Schnapps, but it was nothing like that. It’s not thick or sticky, but it does have a strong mint flavor which holds its own on ice or with club soda.

Apple Pie-This does taste like your grandmother’s homemade apple pie, but with an alcohol kick. It’s fine by itself, but sounds even better pictured in an iced tea.

Grape-This one is lacking grown up taste and is a bit of a cross between grape bubblegum and cough syrup. It’s also tough to think of what to mix with this.

Apricot-This liqueur is a good mixer in sweet drinks. It has a very strong, almost jam-like flavor so it needs to be mixed with soda or into a cocktail.

Every once in a while I also receive products without alcohol! The new Kraft MilkBite bars fit into that category. When I first was asked to try them, my thought was “oh, another granola bar,” but this product is very different. It’s a milk and granola bar that’s available in chocolate, oatmeal raisin, mixed berry, peanut butter and strawberry.

I received the chocolate and strawberry. The good news is they were both very good, with more substance than regular granola bars. I would definitely recommend them, but since they contain milk, you need to refrigerate them so you won’t be leaving them in your pocketbook. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

St. Patrick’s Celebrations

What more could a reveler ask for? St. Patrick’s Day – the official day of partying – takes place on a weekend this year. I’m going to have to take it easy because I have a morning flight on the 18th to Phoenix, where I’ll be celebrating food and spa treatments for a week. In the meantime, I’ve been collecting some ideas of how everyone else may want to celebrate (and some drink recipes in case you’d like to just party at home).

If you are in Chicago, head to the Markethouse Restaurant and Bar tonight for Executive Chef Scott Walton’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration, which will include corned beef with potatoes and green cocktails. The fun will continue on Saturday as Chef Wilton will offer small bite sandwich specials (fish po’boy, hot pastrami and corned beef) as well as Irish Drink specials.

CitySights NY is ready to take you to their top 10 locations to spend St. Patrick’s Day, which include McSorley’s Old Ale House, Manhattan’s oldest Irish pub; the Irish Arts Center; Fifth Avenue, site of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade; and, of course, St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

In Wisconsin, the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa is celebrating St. Patrick’s Day during the entire month of March. Each Friday the resort will host an Irish Coffee Experience in the lobby bar at 4:30 pm. Guests can enjoy a $5 drink of freshly brewed coffee mixed with Jameson Irish Whiskey and topped with homemade whip cream.

If you are celebrating at home, her are some cocktail suggestion for you that sound deliciously right for the day of green.

Scarlet Petticoat
1 ½ parts Hendrick's Gin
¾ parts fresh Blood Orange juice
 ½ part Lillet Rouge
¼ part Creme de Cassis
1 slice of Cucumber

Muddle one slice cucumber.
Combine remaining ingredients.
Add ice and shake vigorously.
Double strain into cocktail glass and garnish with blood orange peel and cucumber slice.

The Irish Italian
1 part Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur
1 part Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey
1 part Earl Grey Tea
1 part simple syrup
¾ part fresh lemon juice
1 part dry, sparkling white wine

Combine ingredients in a large punch bowl with block ice.
Stir to chill and incorporate.
Garnish with lemon wheels.

El Verde
1 part Milagro Silver
1 part Fernet Branca Menta
1 part Green Chartreause
1 part Lime Juice

Shake all ingredients well with ice.
Strain into rock's glass with ice.
Garnish with a lime wheel.

Did you know? According to Irish legend, Leap Years (and Leap Day) have a curious history of being associated with the act of women proposing to men, guided by the Celtic legend of St. Patrick, when he struck a deal with St. Bridget to allow women to propose to men every four years.