Cocktail time, with Brighton Beach inspiration

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Green tea and tarragon cooler, A refreshing cocktail inspired by the flavors of Brighton Beach

Summer days off call for staycations for this New Yorker. Wandering unfamiliar neighborhoods often results in discovering strange exotic ingredients and specialties readily available to satisfy the cravings of home for the inhabitants who have immigrated from a far away land. Last weekends destination was Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach, aka Little Odessa, easily accessable on the B or Q train and filled with a taste of Russia’s flavorful culture.

Lucky for me I had A Russian friend to guide me on my journey through the mountains of sausage, tinned fish, dumplings,  savory pies, farmers cheeses and bizarre beverages tempting me at every market on the main drag.

sausage

Best Buy International

 

Best Buy International Food Company offered up the best selection of everything,  including more cured meats than I could count, an impressive amount of beer and other liquid refreshment, including Tarragon soda, a Georgian treat that my friend explained is Russia’s version of Mt. Dew. We left with bags filled spilling over with exotic treats, including two bottles of the herbal soda to experiment with later.

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Neon green herbal soda

Varenichnaya, our second stop, is a must visit for dumpling lovers! Specializing in succulent skewers of grilled meat and vareniki (a light Russian dumpling boiled and sautéed in butter) this spot filled our bellies with a generous helping of little pockets of paper-thin dough filled with sauerkraut and potato. Chicken and lamb served on red-hot slivers of metal were a delicious steal at under $5 a piece.

vareniki

A plate of Russian comfort

Vareniki and Pelmeni ( a meat stuffed dumpling) are both available to go frozen in bags of fifty for under ten dollars. If you choose to dine in this spot is byob only.

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Eight different selections of take away dumplings

Numerous other stops on the main drag offer up interesting visits including walls of Vodka, savory baked goods made by local ladies and a book store that stocks Russian nesting dolls featuring images of the band Queen and Elvis. Walk on the beach nearby to end a perfect day away, without ever leaving NYC.

Mix up one of my cocktails for a taste inspired by Brighton Beach! It’s a thirst quenching cooler perfect for summer nights in Brighton or the location of your choice.

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Mix and garnish with lemon twist

Brighton Beach Cooler

In large glass over ice build-

2 oz Green tea infused Gin, I used this recipe

juice of one lime

juice of half lemon

1/2 ounce simple syrup

3 ounces Tarragon soda, available online

Stir and top with splash of club soda or sparkling water

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under cocktail recipes, Cocktails and Spirits, NYC recipes culture, Travel, Wine Pairing Recipes

Pom Pomme Cider, a unique alternative for rose drinkers

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Last winter I had the privilege to write the forward for the Hudson Valley Cider Guide. From dry to sweet I sampled literally hundreds of different types, but my favorite by far is Descendant Cider’s Pom Pomme, infused with rose hips and pomegranate juice.

With a crisp dry finish and just a hint of a floral note this delicious tipple is fabulous as an aperitif and a stellar choice with fresh fruits and soft cheeses. It’s lighter alcohol also makes it a good choice for sweltering summer nights. Fans of sparkling  rose will love the light fresh berry flavor and the fine bubbles. This one’s a winner in my book!

Although Descendant is made in NYC the apples are sourced from the Hudson Valley. Currently they don’t have a tasting room, but, they are available in many NYC cidercentric locales including Murray’s Cheese on Bleeker Street. Pair with goat cheese crustini and strawberry jam or a fruit salad topped with fresh mint for a perfect summer treat.

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Hudson Valley Cider pairing with Maille mustard Rarebit

My fridge is often filled with remnants of current projects, tastings and swag scored from recent events I’ve attended. Often these ingredients come together to create a impromptu meal on those late nights after work when I’m just too tired to shop for dinner.

Bad Seed Bourbon Barrel Aged Cider

Bad Seed Bourbon Barrel Aged Cider

Having recently finished a cider project I’m still swimming in delicious offerings, my favorites being the barrel aged beauties from Bad Seed Cider in Highland, NY. Bad Seed’s Bourbon barrel aged cider has just enough of a whiskey edge to appeal to my spirit loving side while being a stellar choice in cider. A bit edgy, and full of flavor, yet dry with a fabulous long finish. Pouring myself a glass after a long night I pondered what I could come up with to accompany it. Well apples and cheddar are a natural right?

Using some English Cheddar left over from a recent tasting, and a bit of Maille mustard I’d acquired at an event to launch Maille’s new NYC location in the Flatiron in NYC, I whipped up one of my childhood favorites with a few updates, Rarebit.

Rarebit is often made with dark beer and dry mustard but this version uses cider and Maille Dijon for a tasty twist. Maille makes a number of different mustards that could work in this dish but I prefer the original. The apple flavors play well with the spicy Dijon and salty, savory cheddar.

Rarebit, a tasty, satisfying snack!

Rarebit, a tasty, satisfying snack!

I love Rarebit as a midnight snack especially when evening stretches into night and, usually, when overindulgence in alcohol has taken place. Rarebit is also good in the afternoon, as a light supper with a green salad and  is made in a jiffy as it can be made in advance, save for the final toasting. To get it just right, toast the bread on a baking sheet until each piece is evenly browned on top. Then turn the pieces over and toast them about half as much on the second side before adding the cheese.

Rarebit with Cider and Maille Dijon

Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Maille Dijon Mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
  • 1 1/2 cup Bad Seed Bourbon barrel aged cider
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, or to taste
  • 1 pound extra sharp white English Cheddar, Double Gloucester or other English cheese grated
  • 4 to 8 pieces lightly toasted bread
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped scallions

 

  • 1. Put butter in a saucepan over medium heat and, as it melts, stir in flour. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and very fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in mustard and cayenne, then whisk in cider and Worcestershire sauce.
  • 2. When mixture is uniform, turn heat to low and stir in cheese and scallions, again stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and pour into a heatproof container to set (you can refrigerate for up to a day at this point).
  • 3. Spread mixture thickly on toast and put under broiler until bubbly and edges of toast are crisp. Serve immediately.
  • Enjoy

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Filed under cheese pairings, cocktail recipes, Food and Wine Porn, irish cheese, NYC recipes culture, whiskey pairings, wine and food culture, Wine Pairing Recipes

Tunworth, a guilty English pleasure

It’s a good idea to cheat on your regular cheesemonger from time to time. Some cheeses are imported in very small quantities and may just be available at one or two small specialty shops, or not in your usual haunt. This is how I discovered one of my new favorite cheeses, Tunworth, an English guilty pleasure! Available at Brooklyn Larder in Park Slope (a dangerous place for any gourmet), Tunworth’s bloomy rind encases a delicious runny paste with a mushroomy savory note. Similar to Camembert it has a slightly sweet finish and nutty undertones.

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Tunworth is made by Hampshire Cheeses, founded in 2005 and owned by Stacey Hedges and Charlotte Spruce.

Stacey, originally from Sydney Australia, had worked in a cheese shop long before she and  her English husband settled with their three young children in rural Hampshire. She found herself thinking fondly of her cheese shop days, missing the inspiration that the little store gave her, before long Stacy began making her own cheese at home.

It soon became clear that she would need a purpose-built creamery to fulfil her dream. With encouragement from the owner of Neil’s Yard Dairy she was soon making this cheese from pasteurized cow’s milk dream that has won a world cheese award and  in 2006 was voted Britain’s Supreme Champion Cheese at the British Cheese Awards beating more than 800 other cheeses. No small accomplishment for sure!

ridge

I’d suggest pairing with one of England’s best fizzy wines, Ridgeview Estate Cavendish, a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. A sparkling wine from England, you ask? Partly an effect of global warming and the chalky terroir of Southeast England, this stellar bubbly shines next to others outside of Champagne. The vineyards are located in the South Downs of Sussex, part of a region that shares the same limestone ridge with Champagne.

 

 

 

 

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Boozy Brooklyn Egg Cream; A childhood favorite for adults only

Sammy's Romanian table side egg cream!

Sammy’s Romanian table side egg cream!

I love egg creams! Whether crafted from vanilla (Manhattan style) or made with Fox’s U-Bet chocolate syrup (Brooklyn style) they are a favorite treat with a long history. Traditionally they contain no egg or cream, just the perfect ratio of frosty cold milk, bubbly seltzer and sweet syrup. The inventor of this NY iconic beverage remains a mystery but mentions date back to the 1880s, with one possibly theory that it was based on a try at recreating a favorite French drink enjoyed by Yiddish theatre poineer Boris Thomashevsky in Paris. Another popular theory is it was created on accident by Louis Auster. In the 1890s Brooklyn candy shop owner Louis Auster sold hundreds of egg creams a day, he even had his own secret recipe for chocolate syrup that he took to the grave.

Today, Sammy’s Romanian, my favorite NYC kitsch palace, turns this simple classic into a table side presentation, ending with a drizzle of Fox’s U-Bet swirled on your table. Eisenberg’s, one of NYC’s oldest deli counters serves countless egg creams paired with their deli sandwiches to happy customers daily. Down in the East Village Gem Spa newsstand is a stop on more than one food tour searching for the perfect egg cream!

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Boozy delicious egg cream!

When I first tasted Kings County Distillery’s chocolate corn whiskey I immediately though of trying my hand at egg cream greatness, but, with a boozy twist. This unusual whiskey, made in Brooklyn, is crafted from a blend of 80% NY state organic corn and 20% malt barley. After distillation it is infused with ground cacao bean husks from Mast Brothers Chocolate factory, also in Brooklyn. Smooth and rich it tastes like a bitter, silky, dark chocolate, without any sweetness. I honestly didn’t think I’d ever have a need for chocolate whiskey, but, this is truly a phenomenal tipple that is perfect on its own or for mixing. Combining the rich chocolate flavor with vanilla I found adult egg cream heaven! Serve the traditional way with a salty pretzel on the side and enjoy a classic with a twist!

Boozy Egg Cream

4 ounces ice cold whole milk

1.5 ounces Kings County chocolate whisky

4 ounces chilled seltzer

2 tablespoons vanilla syrup

Blend milk, whiskey and 1 tablespoon syrup in fountain glass. Pour in seltzer, stir and drizzle additional syrup on top.

King's County Chocolate Whisky

Kings County Chocolate Whisky

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Filed under Cocktails and Spirits, NYC recipes culture, Travel, whiskey pairings, wine and food culture, Wine Pairing Recipes