Tag Archives: Hudson Valley Wineries

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

  • 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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Pairing for chilly, chili nights; American flavor to fill your bowl and glass

A Hudson Valley gem!

A Hudson Valley gem!

Hudson Valley red wines have always held a place in my winter wine glass. Fall harvest festivals stock my larders full of decisions for chilly evening sipping, with Cabernet Franc the prominent grape variety among them . Made from locally sourced fruit  Hudson Valley Cabernet Franc can produce medium bodied, lush, dark berry filled wine with just the correct amount of acidity and tannin. Many exhibit a touch of earthy character that I like to call Hudson Valley funk, think crushed Autumn leaves and forest floor. Perfect food wines to serve with a variety of dishes including hearty soups and winter one pot meals.

Another stellar choice is the hybrid Baco Noir, a specialty for more than one vineyard in the Valley. While some have never heard of this hometown favorite is has a bit of a cult following. Hudson Chatham’s Baco (my personal favorite), featured in several NYC wine shops, has gained a loyal fan base and is changing the minds of many sceptical vinifera snobs. Its flavor and aromas of bright cherry, cooked strawberry, gravely stone, a hint of roasted walnut and juicy finish remind me a bit of a Cru Beaujolais.

Pick up a Hudson Valley red and conjure up a pot of my recipe for Chicken chili! The touch of savory, slightly spicy heat pairs well with the cooked berry flavors in the wine. Use a local cheese to garnish and experience a bit of American flavor, in your glass and belly filled with yummy winter warmth.

White Bean Chicken Chili

white bean and chicken chili

white bean and chicken chili

Ingredients, 4 dinner sized servings

2 tablespoons cooking oil

2 large boneless chicken breast, trimmed and cut into medium dice

2 celery ribs, 1 carrot, 2 medium onion, 1 large jalapeño pepper (ribs and seeds removed), 2 cloves garlic, 1 large green pepper-  all cut into small dice

2 cups Great Northern dried white beans, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon poultry seasoning

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon Cajun spice, I like Slap your Mama but your favorite will do

1 teaspoon kosher salt

white pepper to taste

5 cups chicken broth

1 cup peeled whole tomatoes, puree in blender or mash into pulp by hand

For garnish

2 cups shredded sharp cheese, I use Tumbleweed from 5 Spoke Creamery but you may sub your favorite local cheddar

1 cup sour cream

2 chopped scallions

1 sliced avocado (optional)

Add oil to large stockpot over medium heat. Add all veggies and cook till onion is translucent. Add chicken and cook for 10 minutes stirring often. Add all spices and stir to incorporate, cook for a few minutes to blend flavors. Add drained beans, chicken broth, tomatoes and bring to low simmer. Cook for 2 hours or till beans are soft and liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally . If you like a looser chili you may add a bit more broth or water.

Serve topped with shredded cheese, sour cream and chopped scallion.



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From funky to fresh; A tale of local love, NY wine and zucchini blossoms.

Farm fresh zucchini blossoms from the HV

Farm fresh zucchini blossoms from the HV

I have two loves, NYC and the Hudson Valley. For years I’ve lived with time split between the two, passing through the hell of Times Square and Port Authority on my way in or out of the city. My trip has changed a lot in the last twenty years, on both ends. On the way upstate, urban sprawl has turned a ride once filled with vast open spaces into a journey riddled with stops at commuter park and rides and bus shelters. I’m lucky to be a bit removed and closer to the green fields, farms and wineries. On my way out of the city, Times Square’s dens of iniquity have been replaced by Disney stores and public seating areas. Try as they might to erase all  signs of this once harsh, gritty section of old NYC there remains quite of bit of funkiness in Port Authority. Sure, its cleaner and smells a bit better, but it comes nowhere close to the transformation that has happened in the surrounding area.

Freshness in the 80s

Freshness in the 80s

Last week, I arrived at Port Authority looking forward to a brief escape planned with friends at Whitecliff Vineyard in Gardiner, NY. I suddenly found myself astonished by some goings on in the North lobby! Seriously, over the years I’ve witnessed a vast number of hair-raising, nose curling, mind-blowing scenes at Port Authority. Back in the 80s, it wasn’t uncommon to see or smell something that burned your retinas or olfactory senses for days after. It wasn’t exactly a place you associated with freshness. Unless of course you count a quick sitz bath amongst the bag ladies living in the loo.

Bringing some local, fresh, love to commuters!

Bringing some local love to commuters!

Well, to my surprise my current mind-blowing scene explored a whole new form of freshness available in Port Authority, a Thursday farm stand filled with local love from farms in Milton, NY, in the Hudson Valley! While this is no Union Square Farm Market or Smorgasburg you can find some tasty treats including seasonal finds like donut peaches, cider donuts, artisan granola and freshly baked breads. I was delighted to score a bag of zucchini blossoms, a rare find and perfect for pairing with a few of the deliciously, refreshing whites I planned on picking up at Whitecliff! As I stashed my booty in my bag I thought how odd it was that I’m bringing these goodies back to their home turf to be enjoyed. At least I’m using mass transit to help lower the carbon footprint.

After my bus ride I headed out toward Gardiner to spend the rest of my day with

Whitecliff Vineyard and Winery, just 1.5 hrs. from NYC

Whitecliff Vineyard and Winery, just 1.5 hrs. from NYC

friends at Whitecliff Vineyards. Nestled beneath the majestic wall of white stone cliffs of the Shawangunk Mountains Whitecliff offers not only great wine but one of the most breathtaking views of the Hudson Valley from the back deck of their tasting room. Husband and wife team of Yancey Stanford-Migliore and Michael Migliore started planting in 1979 to discover which varieties where best suited to withstand the harsh winters and often high humidity in summer. Today they grow over 20 different grapes including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Traminette and Seyval Blanc. Their passion, hard work and attention to detail have paid off, and it’s detected in every sip of their wine.  It’s a must visit for this city dweller when on a culinary journey through the rolling hills of the Hudson Valley.


Due to be released in September, North River Blanc de Blanc

I’m a big fan of their crisp whites and their locally grown Gamay, but was looking forward to tasting their current selection! Lucky for us that Yancey was in the tasting room to give us a sneak preview of their newest offering, North River, Blanc de Blanc, Hudson River Sparkling Wine. It’s made with 100% estate grown Chardonnay, produced using Méthode Traditionelle, a second fermentation in bottle developed in the Champagne region of France and spending 18 months on the lees (spent yeast cells) to gain a creamy complexity. Its bright acidity coupled with a kiss of toasted brioche won me over, and would be the perfect accompaniment to how I planned to prepare the blossoms I scored earlier in the day.

Later that evening I found myself in locavore heaven! North River’s tiny bubbles cut through the warm, silky cheese hiding within my golden brown zucchini flowers and paired well with the slightly salty batter.  It also complemented the array of local cheeses and jams I served along with our first course.

Although North River won’t be released until September I urge you to seek out a bottle of Whitecliff’s other offerings available in many shops in both the Hudson Valley and in NYC.

Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms

Golden brown and lovely!

Golden brown and lovely!

10 zucchini blossoms

1 cup sifted flour mixed with 1 teaspoon each kosher salt and white pepper

1 cup club soda

1/2 cup goat cheese blended with a pinch of fresh parsley, scallion and basil

2 cups vegetable oil

Step 1. Soak blossoms in ice water to keep fresh (up to two days). This will also help the flower to open.

Farm fresh zucchini blossoms from the HV

Farm fresh zucchini blossoms from the HV

Remove from ice bath, pat dry, make a small slit along 1 side to open and remove stamen (the little slender nub connected to inside of blossom). Stuff with just enough cheese to fill inside of blossom leaving room to twist and close seam.

Stuff that pretty baby!

Stuff that pretty baby!

After twisting lightly dust with sifted flour seasoned with a pinch of salt and white pepper. Mix remaining flour and club soda till smooth.

Do the twist!

Do the twist!

Heat canola oil in fry pan on medium heat till you see a slight bubble, around 250. Dip each blossom in batter to prepare for frying. Make sure you use enough oil, blossoms should float in pan, 1/2 inch deep works well. I test frying temperature by putting a small amount of batter in pan. If not hot enough you will end up with heavy, greasy blossoms. Turn when golden brown being careful when you flip them over.

Batter dip and sizzle

Batter dip and sizzle

Locavore heaven, piping hot

Locavore heaven


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Taking Sides, Pairing Wine and Gluttonous Monsters

Everyone has a side dish that is a must on the holiday table. What seems strange to one person is a yearly tradition to others. My sister-in-law makes a really bizarre apple sauce/colored marshmallow concoction that makes an appearance every year but I can’t bring myself to try it, for her it was one of her mom’s favorites, memories of past holidays with loved ones no longer with us. For me it just wouldn’t be a proper turkey dinner without my mom’s spicy sausage stuffing. Really it’s my own addiction to this spicy, savory dish that keeps it on the table every holiday. Not only for the main meal but late at night piled high on cold turkey sandwiches slathered with mayo and cranberry sauce. For many years my sister Bonnie and I would end the Thanksgiving evening with these, often fueled by late night munchies, dragging everything out of the fridge again to build huge sandwiches on glowing white pieces of wonder bread. These days I also add a veggie stuffing substituting the sausage for portobello and port wine soaked dried cherries, given a choice I pick the spicy dish but with a few vegetarians in the family it’s a must, damn good but just not connected to my past holiday memories.

For holiday beverage pairing traditions I’ve always thought of it as a time to drink luxury wines, the ones I’d been saving and longing for an excuse to open. This Thanksgiving I wanted to switch things up a bit and go American. In the past I’d bring a Champagne to start followed by a Grand Cru Burgundy, a selection of German Riesling and a Port or Sauterne for dessert. I’ve even converted a few non wine lovers with my array of luxury treats, one year my dad was thrilled that his lady friend finally found a wine she loved, until he went to buy it and later called me to ask if I was insane for drinking a wine priced at $125 for a half sized bottle. In the last few months I’ve sampled many different local wines and in support of local vintners I wanted to share my favorite picks for pairing, all under $20. I was happy to see a few of the other family members had the same idea so there was a vast array of different wineries and grapes represented.

Three or four Finger Lakes Rieslings, a Connecticut wine, four Hudson Valley offerings and a few local sparkling wines were tasted and compared. While I really liked the Rieslings my two favorites for pairing where both from the Hudson Valley, Millbrook’s Cabernet Franc, 2008 and Whitecliff Winery’s Traminette 2010. Traminette a cross of Gewurztraminer and the French-American varietal Johannes Seyve 23-416 was created by H.C. Barett, then of University of Illinois. Seeds were sent to Cornell’s grape research program in 1968 but not released till the mid nineties. This cold hardy, late ripening grape shows great promise in New York. It has all the intoxicating lychee, dried fruit and spice qualities from its German parentage with a crisp acidic apple finish. Whitecliff’s version was a great pair with both our spicy stuffing and other rich dishes.

Millbrook’s Cabernet Franc was also a wonderful pairing with aromas and flavors of raspberry, forest floor, olive and baked potato. Hailing from France this grape is making a name for itself in the colder regions of New York, from the Finger Lakes to the Hudson Valley. I’ve had some pretty tasty NY wines made from this grape, both old world in style with a bit of funky earthy aroma to a fresher fruity new world style. Millbrook’s Cabernet Franc paired best with both dark meat turkey and the portobello mushrooms in our veggie stuffing.

True to form after dessert, cleaning up, crazy family conversation, more wine and a catnap my niece and I dragged out the leftovers for sandwiches, all that was missing was my sister who was down South this year. Here’s to the start of the holiday season! Share your old traditions and create new ones! Food and wine always tastes better when shared with others. Enjoy!

Spicy Sausage Stuffing

1 1/2 12 oz bags dried seasoned bread cubes for stuffing
2 medium carrots, diced fine
2 celery stalks, diced fine
1 medium onion, diced fine
1 1/2 teaspoon bells poultry seasoning
1 package (tube) spicy breakfast sausage, I like Jimmy Dean hot/sage
1/2 stick butter
4 fresh sage leaves, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
4 cups chicken stock, warmed
salt/pepper to taste

Add sausage to large fry pan over medium heat. Break up into small crumbles with a heat safe spatula and cook till just done. Add onion, celery, carrots and bells seasoning to sausage and cook on low till onions are transparent, stirring often. Put bread cubes in large bowl and add sausage/veggy mixture, mix well. Warm chicken stock and butter over low heat till butter is melted. Slowly add in broth mixture to bread/sausage/veggy mix stirring to incorporate liquid. Finished mix should be a bit moist but not mushy. Mix in fresh herbs and transfer into baking pan or half size aluminum tray. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes in 375 degree preheated oven. Uncover and bake for 15 minutes more or until a bit browned on top.

When I owned my restaurant this was an employee favorite, made for many a staff meal. We had a few gluttons we called stuffing monsters who would gobble this side dish up in no time. Left overs can be made into sandwiches as suggested or used as a filling for stuffed pork chops or chicken breast with a pan gravy of your choice.

Wishing all a delicious holiday season!

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Truly a Vintage Tasting- A 60’s Wine Experience

Revisiting a hidden stack from my collection of vintage books I unearthed this little gem totally forgotten about. Published  in 1966 by the Wine Advisory Board in California it was written to give the average American the tools to host their very own tasting!

Illustrated with kitschy pink and white drawings as well as a few black/white photos the text of this mini book is a total blast from the past! The first step in your planning is easy, they suggest that you invite a dozen or so people on a Saturday making sure to clean your house and have the children nicely dressed and on their best behavior. Wow! This brought me back to my mom having her bouffant curls done before a party, then, getting my sister and I  dolled up in matching dresses, with strict instructions to be seen and not heard!

Suggested wines include a California Burgundy (made from a blend of red grapes having nothing to do with the elegant French wine made from Pinot Noir), a Rhine (California grapes made into a light, tart, Germanic style wine),  Rose (in the style of Portuguese Lancer’s but a bit sweeter ), a Muscatel and a dry Sherry (bearing no resemblance to the dry Fino style of Jerez, Spain). Although these labeling terms are used less and less it was normal at the time to adopt these European terms on American labels. The last few decades have given California time to develop individual style,  conduct viticulture research and implement site specific vine selection to produce quality wines.  The suggested list would be vastly different today, barely a mention was made of Chardonnay the most infamous California white wine.

As for glasses it says any clear vessel from a jelly glass to a 4 oz. plastic glass (the hostess may wash these for a second use!) will do. If you really want to splurge you can order some actual glassware from a hotel supply or upscale department store. Today you can get decent glassware in most any store with some great values in quantity at places like Bed, Bath and Beyond if you are hosting a larger tasting in your home.

Next prepare your home! Decorate with artificial grape bunches and empty wine bottles filled with colorful drip candles. Put out some fondue, canned baby shrimp and Vienna cocktail sausages for your guests. Keep the food to canapes and provide at least a half bottle of wine for each person. If you really want to go all out add a pecan cheese ball, bologna roll ups and some floating candles!

Plan some tasting games! The one pictured is “Blind Man No Bluff”. I guess in the age of Superman reruns people believed they could see through those paper bags holding the bottles. A dry and sweet Sauterne tasting is suggested for a sweetness level tasting. A range of California Port is suggested as well.

The best thing about this booklet is the advertisement on the back cover. For $1 you can send for their Wine Expert Study Course, when you finish the course you get a handsome diploma! I am tempted to send in my dollar to see what happens.

I love checking out these kind of vintage wine/food books. Thankfully things have come a long way from those large jugs of red, white and rose in America but I have to admit I occasionally crave pecan cheese balls and fondue!

Comte Fondue with Apples and Onion
serves 4-6

1 lb. shredded Aged Comte cheese
1 clove garlic cut in half
1 cup dry white table wine
2 tsp corn starch
1 tablespoon Brandy
Dash nutmeg and white pepper

For apple/ onion mixture-

1/2 cup yellow onion, fine dice
1/2 cup granny smith apples, cored and medium dice
1 tablespoon butter
2 dashes cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar

Melt butter in large fry pan and add onion. Cook over medium heat till translucent. Add apple and continue cooking for 10 minutes over low heat. Add vinegar, sugar and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, set aside till needed.

For Fondue prep-

Rub garlic inside of fondue pot, chafing dish or double boiler, discard. Add cheese, pour in wine and cook over low heat stirring constantly till mixture is smooth. Blend cornstarch with Brandy, nutmeg and pepper and add to pot. Stir 4-5 minutes longer till smooth and thickened. Add in apple, onion mixture and stir well. Serve immediately and keep warm with low sterno or candle warmer. Have each guest dip bread with fondue forks or toothpicks twirling in cheese mixture.

Enjoy this recipe with friends, weird party hats optional….

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Filed under Around the World with 80 Granny's, Wine and Cheese Pairings, Wine Education, Wine Pairing Recipes