Cocktail Recipes, Drinks, Travel

Cocktails from Chicago: The 13 Degrees at The Gage

May 7, 2013
chicago_skyline
The 13 Degrees cocktail from the Gage is by barman Thomas Mooneyham.

The 13 Degrees cocktail — with prosecco, sage, velvet falernum and gin — was created by Chicago barman Thomas Mooneyham at The Gage.

I just came back from visiting my family in Chicagoland. I mostly hung out in the ‘burbs, but I did foray into the city one afternoon. I saw the Picasso exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago . It was great seeing the genesis of his famous Chicago woman/bird sculpture as well as a series of pen-and-ink drawings.

Looking at art made me thirsty and hungry, so I went across Michigan Avenue to The Gage, a lively new American restaurant and tavern.  It was a warm day at the 13 Degrees was perfectly smooth and refreshing, with lots of wonderful herbal flavors from the Velvet Falernum and the Death’s Door Gin, which is made in the Midwest.

Creator Thomas Mooneyham, who was kind enough to share his recipe, makes the drink unique with his pear-sage syrup. But flavored syrups like this one are actually quite easy to make at home following the instructions below.

13 Degrees

3/4 ounce Velvet Falernum
3/4 ounce Death’s Door Gin
1/2 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce pear-sage syrup (see note)
Prosecco float
sage leaf

Add the Velvet Falernum, gin, lime juice and pear-sage syrup to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until well chilled. Strain into a cocktail coupe. Add prosecco float. For the garnish, slap or spank the sage leaf between your hands and place on top of the drink.
Makes 1 cocktail

Note: To make your own pear-sage syrup, boil 2 cups pear nectar or juice with 1 cup sugar and 2 sage leaves in a 2-quart pot. Once it boils, turn it down to simmer for 10 minutes then turn off and let the syrup steep. Once it’s cool, strain it, then bottle it and refrigerate for up to a week.

Design, Pop Culture, Shopping

Like I Said … Keep Calm and Drink Bubbly

April 22, 2013
keep calm drink bubbly

keep calm champagne

This really doesn’t need much text; the sentiment expressed is quite self-explanatory. In fact, I’m a bit chagrined I didn’t think of this myself. Bubbly is an instant mood tonic, and I’ve been encouraging everyone to enjoy the Bubbly 365 lifestyle for a while now.

This adorable poster from the Keep Calm Shop on Etsy is pretty in pink, as well as a range of other vivid shades like gold, turquoise and emerald, because they want you to be happy. The poster is just $16 retail, which is the same price as a decent bottle of domestic U.S. sparkling wine, cava, or prosecco, but alas just a glass of champagne.

Celebrity Chefs, Food + Recipes

Drew Barrymore Has a Wine Brand… But Did You Know She’s a Foodie?

April 18, 2013
drew_barrymore_eric_ripert
Actress Drew Barrymore is the latest celebrity to go into the kitchen with culinary legend Eric Ripert and share a dish. - Photo by Eric Damassa

Actress Drew Barrymore is the latest celebrity to go into the kitchen with culinary legend Eric Ripert in his Reserve Channel show and dish on cooking, work and life. – Photo by Eric Damassa

 

We all know Drew Barrymore as the actress who’s grown up on screen, from E.T. to He’s Just Not That Into You, which also earned her an executive producer credit. But did you know she’s also emerging as a bonafide foodie?

I had the chance to meet the lovely Barrymore, 37, a couple weeks ago when she popped into Pebble Beach Food & Wine festival to talk about her Barrymore Wines and her love of cooking. In case you haven’t tasted it, Barrymore’s pinot grigio is a light and refreshing wine she says is “feminine” sourced from the Tre Veniezie in Italy. But now she’s turning up the heat when it comes to her status as a culinary trend-setter.

In a special webisode that appears today, Barrymore cooks and has a great time cooking and chatting with dreamy French chef Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin restaurant fame. They explore her family history, knife skills and how the shape of the wine glass changes the flavor of a wine. Here’s the link if you want to watch Drew Barrymore in On the Table with Eric Ripert or you can watch it below.

Her dish? Clams Montecito, a buttery mix of clams, garlic, parsley and Barrymore pinot grigio that’s served over crusty French bread. It’s the dish she loves to make when she’s having a girls’ weekend at her estate home in the tony enclave of Montecito near Santa Barbara, where Oprah Winfrey also has a home.  She loves cooking for friends and it really became important when Barrymore and husband Will Kopelman were expecting their daughter, Olive. Keep reading to the end to try her recipe.

Drew Barrymore signs a chalkboard with her recipe in an On the Table With Eric tradition. Photo by Eric Damassa

Drew Barrymore signs a chalkboard with her recipe in an On the Table With Eric tradition. Photo by Eric Damassa

Drew Barrymore is just one of of the stars that has appeared on the show with Ripert, which is fun to watch because the guests like Roger Waters, supermodel Chrissy Teigen, Tom Colicchio and Elizabeth Olson get to share their thoughts on anything from food to politics to life and goof off a bit too.

This isn’t the first time the actress from a legendary Hollywood family has cooked on air: Drew made an Indian-spiced pasta dish in on The Ellen Degeneres Show and paired it surprisingly with her pinot grigio. And it appears it won’t be the last. When we talked at Pebble Beach, Drew told me she adores cooking shows. And now she’s executive producer through her company Flower Films on the new show called Knife Fight , which debuts on April 23 on the Esquire Channel. In the meantime, here’s her dish Clams Montecito:

Drew Barrymore’s Clams Montecito 
1 stick of butter
5 cloves of chopped garlic
1 large jalapeño (with a few seeds)
1 cup of Barrymore Wines Pinot Grigio
1 lemon
1 Bag of Manila clams – the smaller the better.

Melt butter and add garlic and jalapeño.  Cook for 3-4 minutes on medium heat in a saucepan and add Barrymore Wines Pinot Grigio.  Cook down for about 5 minutes. Remove from stove and squeeze lemon into butter mixture. Set aside.

Turn on grill to medium high and spread clams on cookie sheet and spread around until they open.

Warm butter up if need be and toss onto clams and coat. Serve with warm baguette for an appetizer, or pair with pan-seared cod fish to create an entree.

Recipe serves two

 

Champagne, Drinks, Sparkling Wine

5 Amazing Organic Sparklers for Earth Day

April 17, 2013
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Isn’t that a pretty picture? It’s from the 100% pesticide and herbicide-free vineyards of Cavas Recaredo in Spain. Earth Day is approaching, and I’m looking forward to celebrating at the Iron Horse Vineyards’ Green Valley Earth Day Party.  Since I last wrote about organic champagne or sparkling wine for Earth Day, there has been a large increase in the number of organic wines on the market, and that applies to bubbly as well.

While some people aren’t convinced that wines made from organically raised grapes taste any different, I swear I always pick up an extraordinary level of clarity in these wines. It feels like drinking a liquid crystal, if that makes any sense. And of course, the fact that the grapes aren’t sprayed with chemical fertilizers or pesticides means that it’s better for the workers who have to tend those grapes as well as Mother Earth.  Here are some great organic champagnes and sparkling wines to uncork this weekend or anytime:

recaredo brut nature 2006 label

Cavas Recaredo  – One of the most distinctive wineries I visited in the Penedes region of Spain was Recaredo, which has produced cava since 1924. Ton Mata, the lead winemaker and owner, took me on a tour of the lovely natural vineyards with rusty red soil studded with mineral deposits where he grows the xarello, parellada and macabeo grapes according to biodynamic methods. Biodynamic is a more exacting standard than certified organic, meaning that the growers work in harmony with nature and their practices help nourish the soil. He’s also a believer in long-aging of his xarello-dominant wines and the brut nature style, in which no sugary dosage is added at the end. It doesn’t get much more biutiful than this when it comes to Catalan sparkling wine.  About $38.

mionetto kind cocktails

Mionetto Prosecco Organic D.O.C. – Just like the other high-quality proseccos it makes, Mionetto’s organic brut  has floral aromas and bright, fresh flavors of golden apple and citrus. It’s made from organically grown grapes, and vinified separately in the winery. The materials that go into the bottle, label and shipping package are all recycled. Click here for a recipe for my Kind Cocktail from Alicia Silverstone’s San Diego book party with Mionetto Organic.  About $15.

Fleury Brut Rose

Fleury Organic Champagne – While you’re toasting Mother Earth, be sure to raise a glass Fleury, the first producer in Champagne, France to plant organic vineyards. Actually, the Fleury vineyards have been 100% biodynamic since 1992. Whether you like lean blanc de blancs, juicy rosé or richer blanc de noirs, Fleury makes it it in a crisp, pure and organic champagne. I’m sure they’d appreciate a like on the Fleury Champagne Facebook page.  About $40 to $50, depending on the wine.

 

Korbel OrganicBrutLarge1

Korbel Organic Brut Non-Vintage – When the largest producer of sparkling wine in the U.S. starts making an organic cuvée, you know it’s much more than a niche trend. Korbel’s Organic Brut is clean and tastes of bright citrus, green apple and white peaches. The blend of French colombard, chardonnay and sangiovese grapes was made with the same method used in Champagne, France. About $12.

tarantas sparkling rose

Tarantas Sparkling Rosé – While Spain is known as the land of cava, there are other styles of sparkling wine made there. This sparkling rosé from family-owned Tarantas fits the latter category, since it’s made from certified organic bobal grapes that were grown in the hills near Valencia, Spain. While this wine isn’t sweet at all, it has flavors and aromas of strawberry and red currant. It pairs with all sorts of Spanish foods from jamon to paella, and apparently the bobal grape (aka carignane d’espagne) has super-high levels of the antioxidant resveratrol, as if you needed another reason to try a bottle.  About $15

 

Food + Recipes, Shopping

Delicious Chocolate & Champagne Candies for Valentine’s Day

February 1, 2013
socola_valentine_chocolates

Words of love are screen-printed on champagne ganache chocolates filled with raspberry pâte de fruits. Sea salt caramels topped with red salt complete the box from Socola Chocolates.

Probably because they’re both foods associated with indulgence and pleasure, people love to talk about eating chocolate while sipping champagne for Valentine’s Day. Know what that combo makes me think? Yuck!

A typical brut champagne is far too acidic to pair with a sweet food like chocolate, so even your favorite champagne will taste tart and thin. And the wine does nothing to improve the flavor of the chocolate. It’s really a waste of both.

Here’s how we can stop the madness: with chocolate truffles that are made with champagne! This way, the champagne lends brightness, fruit and a hint of luxury to the chocolate.

If you’re feeling ambitious, it’s easy to make Chocolate-Champagne Truffles yourself with this recipe from Martha. She rolls hers in white sparkling sugar, but it would be fun to use different colors.

But if you don’t fancy cleaning chocolate and sugar off your kitchen cabinets and floor, here are some great champagne and chocolate truffles to buy for your sweetie or yourself for Valentine’s Day:

Socola Chocolatier’s Aphrodite’s Delight: This chocolate gift starts with raspberry pâtes de fruits enrobed in champagne ganache; each one is topped with the word love in a different language. The other half of the box is filled with grey sea salt chocolate caramels topped with red Hawaiian salt. Super-cute sisters Wendy and Susan, who are based in San Francisco, just became the featured chocolatiers for Zaarly, a cool site that curates all sorts of services. New members can go to Zaarly and snag the 12-piece Aphrodite’s Delight box for just $15; shipping is free in San Francisco and $5 elsewhere.

 

Recchiuti Champagne Truffles: Chocolatier Michael Recchiuti adds the deeply toasty and fruity Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs to super creamy dark chocolate. They’re rolled in powered sugar as the final step. Pick them up at the Recchiuti shop in the Ferry Building, at the new Chocolate Lab Café in Dogpatch or online.

 

Moonstruck Chocolate Pink Champagne Truffle Heart: I met a sweet lady from Seattle’s Moonstruck Chocolates at the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco and was eyeing these cute pink hearts. A candied raspberry is at the center, surrounded by a white chocolate ganache flavored with champagne and raspberries and finally a white chocolate shell. Like all of their confections, it’s hand painted.

 

 

Teuscher Champagne Truffles: While I’ve not tried these yet, the website for the Palo Alto-based confectionery makes a compelling claim: company founder Dolf Teuscher Sr. invented the chocolate truffle back in 1946 in Switzerland.  A buttercream center infused with Dom Perignon Champagne is wrapped in either dark or milk chocolate. The milk chocolate original is dusted in confectioner’s sugar for a juicy sensation, while the dark chocolate is rolled in bittersweet cocoa powder for a drier, deeply flavored bite.

 

Vosges Haut Chocolat Champagne Truffles: These truffles and I go way back: We’re both from Chicago. The stylish chocolatiere Katrina Markoff mixes Krug Champagne Grande Cuvée with 85% chocolate and a splash of rosewater. The truffle is finished with a dusting of cocoa powder before being popped in a purple box.  You should know that the Vosges website has a range of other Krug and chocolate gifts, just please promise you won’t drink the champagne and the chocolate together.