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January 2013

Posts from December 2012

Winding Down


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L to R from top left: Xmas ornament at my aunt's; King Crab legs on my bday; cuddling w/Moxie on the couch; dim sum overload at Nom Wah; eggnog at the NoMad; Xmas eve in Washington Square Park

The last week and a half of 2012 has been a whirlwind, but it reminds me of how lucky I am. I've got amazing, thoughtful and caring family and friends with which to celebrate birthdays, holidays, or just gather over food and drink and I've got a cute and loveable pooch who keeps me company when they're not around. Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy 2013.


Holiday Gift Guide o' Mine

I know, I know. It's a bit late in the game for a holiday gift guide, but hey -- you can always save it for next year.

- If you are in NYC and haven't been to Hearth or Terroir, you should. If you live elsewhere, make sure they are on your list for when you come to town.  Marco Canora, Paul Greico and their amazing team have created a mini-empire of high caliber but not high falutin' wine bars with food that's as high quality as the dishes they create at their mother ship restaurant. Whomever is the recipient of one of their gift certificates will be a happy camper. I guarantee it.

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- I am not a big fan of heavily peated Scotches. I continue to taste them as I'm learning about Scotch generally, and I appreciate why others may like them, but they are not for me. My kind of Scotch is the Bowmore 15 Years Old "Darkest", balanced with a hint of smoke and prominent rich chocolate notes. It's finished in Oloroso sherry casks -- probably another reason I like it. It retails for approximately $70.

- On the complete opposite end of the booze spectrum, Lillet's newest iteration,  Lillet Rosé, is a perfect apéritif on it's own or serves as a lively fruity, floral and bright addition to a cocktail recipe. It retails for about $17.

- Avuá Cachaça Amburana: This newly launched, small-batch cachaça is made by one of Brazil's few female distillers and is aged in Amburana wood (hence the name). The end result is a smooth spirit with sugarcane and vegetal notes, with a touch of spice, suitable for cocktails or sipping neat. It won't be available for a few more months, but it will retail for about $45.

- And while you're shopping for cocktail ingredients, make sure you visit The Liquid Chef Junior Merino's newly launched online store, which is chock-full of bitters, aromatics, syrups, tools, and more. Having had the opportunity to test them out in the Liquid Lab, I'm a huge fan of his salts/sugars designed to rim cocktail glasses, adding a level of unique flavor to your personal libation creations -- pasilla chile & cinnamon, hibiscus & rose, Hawaiian salt & saffron and more.

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- For those more food-driven, I'd suggest two new books from bloggers that I've known for years: The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook & The Amateur Gourmet's Secrets of the Best Chefs. Trust these people. I do.

- For the pinot noir drinkers on your list, check out the David Family Wine Black List. This exclusive club gives you access to their  limited-release Black Label pinot noirs a full six to twelve months before anyone else (at a 20-30% discount, no less) plus a discount code that you can use for their full portfolio. Sounds like my kind of club.  There are limited slots available, and although there's no cost for membership, you must purchase three bottles per year to keep your place.

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- Last, but by no means least, for your friends of the canine persuasion, Bocce's Bakery Biscuits uses organic local ingredients to create dog treats that sound so tempting you might try to steal them. Who wouldn't drool over truffle mac & cheese, beef bourignon, or the Elvis (peanut butter, bananas & bacon)? I know Moxie would. Although sometimes I feel like she deserves some lumps of coal (they've got those, too).


Panic Mode

I spent a great deal of time this weekend relaxing -- reading, walking with Mox, cooking -- with no fixed agenda. It was lovely. Now I am back in the grind and realizing that I have less than a week to get my act together for the holidays. I'm not even going to mention the fact that I totally missed Chanukah (luckily my family is fairly lax about on-time gift-giving), but the timing means that this week/weekend is going to be a bit crazed with making toffee and granola, tips, donations, and gifts. Why did I relax so much this weekend!?!

Booze You Can Use: Have The Last Word

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Photo courtesy of Oh Gosh

Last night I dined with my friend Sarah at the bar at Minetta Tavern. We each started with a cocktail -- Sarah a Manhattan, and I The Last Word. Although I often trend towards brown spirits in the colder weather, for some reason, the combination of gin, lime, green Chartreuse and Maraschino hit the spot last night -- refreshing, calming after a busy day, and a light prelude to our dinner.

The Last Word
equal parts:
Gin
Fresh lime juice
Green Chartreuse
Maraschino liqueur
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled coupe.


Booze You Can Use: Have Some Glögg

The first time I learned about Glögg was in college. Someone had introduced it to my college a cappella group and it quickly became part of our annual holiday tradition. It still lives on, umpteen million years later. I don't know if they're still lighting it on fire (inevitably scorching someone's eyebrows off) or drinking it out of a stolen trophy, but I'm sure they've come up with their own traditions by now.

I stole this recipe from NPR, who got it from the Norwegian embassy. They know their Glögg.

Glögg
Aquavit (or brandy or vodka)
Burgundy or pinot noir wine
Port wine
Raisins
White sugar
Cinnamon sticks
Cloves
Cardamom seeds
One orange
One piece of ginger
Blanched almonds

Step 1: Soak 1/2 cup of raisins in one cup of aquavit; Brandy or vodka can be used instead. Soak for 30 minutes before Step 2.

Step 2: Put a large pot on the stove, over high heat. Add one cup of water and 1/2 cup sugar to the pot, and stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar is completely dissolved.

Step 3: Lower the heat to medium and add your spices - two sticks of cinnamon (each broken in half); four whole cloves; six whole cardamom seeds, crushed by hand; a thinly shaved orange peel; and one small piece of ginger, peeled and cut in half. Stir again with wooden spoon. Do not allow the mix to come to a boil from this point on.

Step 4: Add the aquavit-raisin mixture, two cups of burgundy or pinot noir wine and two cups of port wine.

Step 5: Sweeten and spice to taste.

Step 6: Strain, garnish with raisins and slices of blanched almond — and serve hot off the stove.

Note: The drink can be made a day ahead and kept covered, on the stove, at room temperature. Just reheat before serving.