This great drink shows the versatility of whiskey in cocktails and the spicy appeal of rye. The Algonquin is proof positivethat you don’t have to have a dozen ingredients to have a dozen flavors in a cocktail. It makes a great aperitif. The Algonquin was named for the New York Hotel of the same name. The Algonquin Hotel is best known as the host establishment for the Algonquin Round Table, a group of prominent writers, actors, and playwrights who met daily for lunch in the 1920s. The core group included Robert Benchley, Heywood Broun, Marc Connelly, Jane Grant, Ruth Hale, George S. Kaufman, Neysa McMein, Dorothy Parker, Harold Ross, Robert E. Sherwood and Alexander Woollcott among others. It is not speculated that this group sipped this concoction of rye, Vermouth, and pineapple juice but it’s hard to imagine them turning it down.
Read more: Sweet rye whiskey cocktail recipe: Algonquin
I’ve become a strident evangelist for the oddest thing: a little, leafy vegetable called kale. It has become a darling of many a yuppie (if that word still exists) and added depth to many a “green” drink. But its mere humbleness is what makes it endearing. A few years ago, kale wasn’t nearing the top of the veggie pile but things have turned in the garden. And I’m following this trend like a Miley Cyrus groupie (post twerking). Two or three years ago, kale arrived into my life through my Community Supported Agricultural (CSA) box. When strange vegetables are thrust upon me, I have to cook them… my sense of waste takes over like a wave of guilt. And so it began.
Read more: Best potato chip substitute ever: Roasted Kale Recipe
The request arrived like manna from wine heaven — three days post mortem of my 70+ bottle wine fridge. “I’d like to discuss the possibility of sending one of our products for you to review… the NewAir AWC-330E 33 bottle compressor wine cooler,” the nice lady wrote to inquire. She asked that I share “my actual experience with the product… both pros and cons honestly.” Whoa… I must’ve been sending out some serious mojo to the universe to have my cooler problem solved this quickly. Alas, three days later as promised, I welcomed the shiny, NewAir into my home. And, whether she knew it or not, she certainly came to the right place since — as my best friends know — I don’t hold nuthin’ back.
Read more: Wine cooler review: NewAir AWC-330E fridge
There might be a turf war in our midst. For many years, Argentina has hung its wine hat on Malbec, a red wine so smooth, so drinkable and food friendly that Americans fell hard and fast for this grape. But enter one of their neighbors… Chile. Bastion of Carmenere, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, they’re taking the Malbec leap. Successfully, I might add. Casillero de Diablo Malbec hails interestingly from Chile’s Rapel Valley. Warm and dry, Rapel is known for Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere, its climate is very similar to Napa Valley where the north-south mountain ranges shelter it from the Pacific Ocean and trap warmth over the grapes. One of the newest arrivals varietals in this region is Malbec.
Read more: Wine review: Casillero de Diablo 2011 Malbec (Chile)
Much has happened in the last few months at Coppertail Brewing Co. Progress seems to move so slowly at times but after looking back (since the last update) it is frankly surprising how much has taken place. Back then we had a name, a building, and little else. Now, plans have been set, equipment has been ordered, and we’re starting to gain, well… a little momentum anyway. Ironically, last weekend was Wazoo which is where my compadre and fellow co-founder Kent originally pitched the idea to me last year (2012).
Read more: The adventures of opening a brewery: The wheels start to roll
During the summer in northern California, I try to maximize any and all time outdoors. Cooking food on the grill gives me an excuse to sit outside, sip wine, eat snacks and chill while the deliciousness finishes grilling. This recipe for grilled chicken takes about 45 minutes to marinate and an hour to cook so it lends itself more to weekend fare rather than weekday. Unless it’s vacation, and that’s even better. The marinade, since it contains acid from the lemon juice to penetrate the chicken’s meaty fibers, really soaks in, so the flavor seeps all the way through. If you skip the long marinade time, it will lose some of that flavor so stick with the recipe. Best if you use bone in chicken but if you choose boneless, reduce the marinade time to 30 minutes.
Read more: Low and slow recipe: Lemon and herb marinated grilled chicken
With over 7,000 U.S. wineries to choose from, figuring out where to visit in wine country can be a herculean vacation task. But it starts with one question: What do you to like to drink? Crazy about Cabernet? Napa Valley is your destination. Passionate for Pinot Noir? Sonoma County or Oregon’s Willamette Valley should be on the short list. Once you’ve figured that out, then the real fun begins: What wineries to visit? I receive innumerable inquiries into this question (got another one today – and I love it) and I’ve revealed some of my favorite destinations in a few posts. But wait… there are more decisions! Not all wineries are “open to the public” and have a tasting room where you can casually walk in and do the wine tasting boogie. Some locales require an appointment. Occasionally this is an intentional “scarcity” gimmick but mostly they’re appointment-only because the winery couldn’t get a permit. Not because they’re not hanging with the cool kids — reasons are myriad and mostly involve the government: bathroom ADA requirements, not enough square footage, or the wine region police feel there are enough tasting rooms already. Horrors, huh? A lot of hoops are jumped through to allow wine fans to taste a few sips of fermented juice. So like making sure you get a seat at the restaurant you’ve been drooling over, some forethought may be required when planning your day- or week-long wine country trip. There are pros and cons to walk-in tasting rooms versus appointment-only. And many wineries who are open to walk-in traffic offer reservations so you can look into those as well. Yes, lots to wade through but make sense of the options and walk proudly and confidently into this decision with these tips:
Read more: Wine Tasting Room Confessional: Reservations vs Walk ins
Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand’s white wine darling, was born in France’s Bordeaux region. But New Zealand put this grape on the American map, no matter what people say. And Matua Valley figured out how to bottle the New Zealand Sauv Blanc essence for less than $10. Impressive. This wine isn’t going to shock you or deliver anything super innovative. But it’s one helluva summer pool wine for the money (screwcap too). It is, by definition, the typical NZSB: tart grapefruit, lime rind, zippy acidity and loads of citrus. It has a refreshing fizziness on the tongue and a long, clean finish. Despite the hefty acids, it drinks pretty smooth, especially for a wine in this price range.
Read more: Wine review: Matua Valley 2012 Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand)
I know… meatloaf ain’t sexy. But this hunk of ground beef, cooked to-juicy-perfection comfort food wins any and all races to the heart. Nestle it next to a fluffy scoop of mashed potatoes and green beans and you experience a little piece of heaven. And there have been some technological advances in the heavenly art of meatloaf making. This recipe is on the plate within 20 minutes because it makes use of a machine we normally use for reheating leftovers — the microwave. In 40 minutes faster than the traditional oven.
Read more: Recipe: Easy meatloaf, comfort food goodness in 20 minutes
This is a tale of three wine stories — an up-and-coming California wine appellation, a growing business model in the wine biz, and an under-appreciated-yet-slowly-gaining-a-rep grape, Chenin Blanc. This wine review highlights all three in one, 5-minute post. Who says service is dead? The Clarksburg appellation in northeast California enfolds 59,000 acres of warm-climate land, encompassing Sacramento and bordering on the Sacramento River. About 10,000 acres of heat-loving grapevines are planted here but it’s not particularly recognized as an appellation. This is mostly because the majority of the fruit is sent outside the area for crushing not to mention the best grapes grown here remain a mystery to the majority of wine drinkers — Chenin Blanc and Petite Sirah. Clarksburg Wine Company hopes to change that. Naming their wine label after an unknown region borders on ballsy but they’re also exploring a relatively new business model — “custom crush”. Imagine calling up a winemaker and asking them to make a wine specifically to your tastes? “I’d like it to taste slightly sweet but not syrupy; high acid yet full-bodied”… that’s what custom crush companies do for you (as well as commercial entities). So, in addition to making wine under the Clarksburg Wine Company label they also make wine for others. Something for everyone, you might say.
Read more: Wine review: Clarksburg Wine Company Chenin Blancs