Category Archives: wine and food culture

Brooklyn Blossom; The perfect cocktail to celebrate spring

It’s finally spring in NYC! The Brooklyn Botanical cherry blossom festival ushers in the season every year with a weekend long celebration followed by another weekend of frivolity on Randall’s Island.

Using a syrup created from cherry blossoms I marked my own ode to spring with this delicious cocktail using many locally sourced ingredients. Mix up a batch for your next picnic, or just sit back and sip into spring!

Brooklyn Blossom

Ingredients, makes two cocktails

3 ounces Industry City Distillery’s Industry Standard Vodka

3 ounces Hakutsuru Junmai Ginjo Sake

1 ounce cherry blossom elixir, available at Brooklyn Botanical gift shop, or on Amazon

2 dashes Bittermens Burlesque Bitters

Juice of 1 large lemon

Splash of Perrier

Pour all ingredients except Perrier over ice in large cocktail shaker. Shake briskly and strain into chilled martini glass. Top with splash of Perrier and stir. Garnish with orange peel and luxardo cherry. Enjoy!

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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!

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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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Mac and Cheese: A comforting, soul satisfying cheese and wine pairing

mac and cheese recipe

Creamy, dreamy, gooey goodness. The best mac and cheese recipe ever!

There are a millions ways to make mac and cheese, but for me there is nothing as tasty as my version made with an easy béchamel sauce, layered with a blend of cheeses and baked with a crispy parmesan/cracker topping. Based on an old family recipe this is no designer noodles tossed in lumpy cheese sauce or hipster variation studded with peas, bacon or kale chips. It’s the real deal, hearty Southern style with loads of divine shredded cheese oozing into every crevice of the elbow macaroni (the only pasta that should be used to make this) and baked till the top is crunchy and browned.

It’s a favorite dish I remember from childhood, a big food hug that makes me smile as I savor each fork-full  filled with down home goodness. No bells, whistles or fancy trappings, yet one of the most soul satisfying meals that makes an appearance again and again on my table. Also, it’s the dish I’m asked to bring to every family gathering or potluck.

For pairing try a lightly oaked Chardonnay with just a touch of spice and apple flavor, my favorites hail from the Burgundy region of France. The best ones have just enough acid to cut through the decadent richness of the dish while their rounded fruit flavors complement the notes in the cheeses. Think of apple pie and cheddar cheese, one of the best food pairings ever created!

My picks!

Maison B. Perraud Saint-Veran 2012, (Burgundy, France)

This is a Chardonnay for people who don’t like Chardonnay. It’s rich and round, but, without the excess vanilla and spice sometimes found in new world Chardonnay. Made from 50 year old vines grown in clay soil it has a medium body with just a touch of nutty flavors and baked apple notes.

Maison Champy Bourgogne Chardonnay 2012, (Burgundy, France)

Slightly creamy and buttery without over doing it. Food friendly, afforadle and incredibly delicious!

Best Mac and Cheese recipe –

Bake till browned and bubbly for best mac and cheese ever!

 

Serves 6 as main dish

6 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons flour

1 pint light cream

3 pints whole milk

10 oz. extra sharp white Cheddar shredded, if you want to use an artisan cheese try an English cloth bound cheddar

5 oz. Gruyère shredded

5 oz. aged Gouda shredded, Old Amsterdam or Beemster are best

1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan Reggiano

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1 cup crushed butter crackers, ritz or your favorite

1 teaspoon white pepper

salt to taste

2 teaspoons Coleman mustard

1 box elbow macaroni, cooked al dente

Cook elbow macaroni al dente, rinse in cold water, drain and set aside. In medium sauce pan melt 4 tablespoons of butter on low flame, add flour and stir till smooth. Slowly add milk and cream whisking to prevent lumps. Add white pepper, salt to taste and mustard to sauce and cook on low flame till thickened, whisking to keep lumps from forming so sauce is smooth. If sauce is to thick add a little additional milk. Set sauce aside, preheat oven to 375 and prepare for assembly.

Toss cheddar, Gruyère and gouda in large bowl. Ladel enough sauce into 9 by 13 inch pan to cover bottom well. Add a thin layer of macaroni, shredded cheese and repeat till you have a bit of room on top. Melt remaining 2 tablespoon of butter and add to breadcrumbs, crushed crackers and parmesan cheese in medium bowl. Spread breadcrumb mixture on top evenly and loosely tent pan with foil. Bake for 40 minutes in preheated oven, remove foil and bake for an additional 20 minutes or till browned and bubbly. Remove from oven, let cool for 5 minutes and enjoy!

 

 

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