wine, beer & spirits

Dad deserves The Dalmore 1263 King Alexander III

D is for Dad and Dalmore

The Dalmore 1263 King Alexander III, matured to perfection, is a sublime fusion of malt where the whole is greater than its parts - kind of like Dad.

This whisky is the result of artistry and experimentation by Dalmore master distiller, Richard Paterson, who spent the 70s, 80s and 90s perfecting the fledgling spirit.

Paterson filled French cabernet sauvignon wine barriques, Mediterranean Madeira drums, Matusalem Sherry butts from Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, Marsala barrels from Sicily, Port pipes from the Douro and sweet Bourbon barrels from Kentucky to start the artistic process of creating The Dalmore King Alexander III.

Commemorating the Mackenzie Clan founder’s selfless and heroic act of saving King Alexander III in 1263, the resulting whisky is a deep rich, mahogany color with a complex aroma of freshly cut flowers and exotic fruits.

The bold, smooth flavor can be attributed to one element - wood.  The six different styles of casks especially selected and meticulously combined to produce this Royal Dram all combine to provide backbone and structure for this elegant whisky.

Aged Oloroso and Madeira provide display the warm flavors of crushed almonds and rich citrus fruits while the heavy Port and Marsala casks add hints of wild berries and fleshy ripe plums. Warm whispers of vanilla and creamy caramel from Bourbon barrels combine perfectly with the sensual elegance of the Cabernet Sauvignon.

Suggested retail for a 750ml bottle of The Dalmore 1263 King Alexander III is $200.

Cheers to Dad.

Cantine Aperte features over 800 wine growers

Explore the wines of Italy this weekend

Wine enthusiasts can look forward to a weekend of sampling fabulous Italian wines from vintners large and small, well known and lesser known, during Cantine Aperte

Taste your way through the vineyards of Italy, May 30-31st, as wine growers all over the country open their cellars during the annual spring festival celebrating the nation's wines.

Over 800 vintners will hold tastings for the public to try wines as divergent as Chianti, Barolo, Brunello di Montalcino, or the lesser known Sagrantino of Montefalco. (Italian Notebook).

Beer, beer, beer!  It makes me want to cheer!

Apparently, the Pilgrims felt the same way.

According to Mayflower's log, the ship might not have landed at Plymouth Rock if there ahd been plenty of beer on hand. 

Party on Pilgrims!  We have beer to thank for the birth of the colonies and ultimately the birth of beer-drinking nation, right. 

The popularity of brew has hardly waned. At the 2008 Great American Beer Festival in Denver, CO, more than 1,900 different beers from 400 U.S. breweries were featured.  That's a whole lot of brew.

With so many varieties available,  Americans are pairing beers with more foods and desserts then ever before. Doug Miller of the Culinary Institute offers some handy guidelines for pairing beer and food - and it's a lot more sophisticated than a frank and a brew.

 "When pairing food and beer, the first thing you want to think about is what types of beer you like and what kinds of foods would taste good with them," says Miller. "There are some basic rules that apply when it comes to pairings. One is you don't want the beer to outshine the food or the food to outshine the beer. Ideally both should harmoniously elevate each other."

Ales and lagers are the two primary beer types and each comprises many different styles of beers.

Beers that are crisp and refreshing, such as pilsners, light ales, and wheat beers, pair well with pizza, pasta, grilled chicken, and grilled fish. A hoppier beer such as an Indian Pale Ale is delicious with spicy cuisines such as Cajun, Mexican, and Thai food.

Belgium farmhouse-style ales that are slightly fruity and light have become popular in the U.S. Whether produced here or imported, they complement duck, pork chops, roasted chicken, turkey, and sausage.

Serve full-bodied stouts that have burnt malt flavors at clambakes, with oysters, shell fish, and crab boil. Stouts can also be a great beverage for desserts. An oatmeal or chocolate stout can be very tasty with oatmeal cookies or chocolate ice cream.

Pair heavier dishes like BBQ or smoked meats with dark brown Porter's smoky roasted flavor. You can even add some to your favorite barbeque sauce.

Miller reminds us that these are only some suggestions and encourages you to experiment with your own pairings, as long as you responsibly enjoy what you drink.


Green solutions from Three Thieves and Bandit

Bandit There are times when glass is not the best idea - like at the beach, in your backpack, picnics in the park. 

Have your wine and  reduce "the packaging waste associated with bottled wine by 90 percent... saving fuel and emissions as 26 trucks filled with empty wine bottles equals just one truck filled with empty Tetra Pak cartons."

Three Thieves wine enthusiasts have a box any Californian (or eco-friendly oenophile) would be willing to sip from. Wine lovers, meet the new Terta Pak wine containers from the Bandit brand of wines. (Reuters)

If I can save the environment by drinking wine, I say, "Cin-cin!"

Secrets of the French kitchen with Chef Jean-Stephane Poinard

Behind the scenes at Bistro de Leon

The French have a reputation for creating gastronomic delights from the simplest ingredients.  

Think pot au feu, a hearty beef stew whose literal name means pot on fire, or cassoulet, a slow-cooked white bean stew with various meat from sausage to duck or mutton.  

The traditional French kitchen always has been stocked with the freshest ingredients, locally grown and produced.  But, while most of us associate a typical French kitchen with savory and sweet delicacies, we usually don't recognize it for the place of economy and thrift that it is.

Generally, we think of luxury and expensive ingredients when we think of French cuisine. However, eating well shouldn't be a luxury and the French kitchen is the perfect place to learn this lesson.

In a recent conversation with Bistro de Leon restaurateur Jean-Stephane Poinard, the Paul Bocuse-mentored chef generously shared secrets of his kitchen - many learned in the kitchens of his Maman and Grand-mère, masters of French comfort food or la cuisine de nos mères.  

Chef Poinard is a native of Lyon and a member of the elite Les Toques Blanches Lyonnaise.  He currently is collaborating on a book about absinthe (including 18 of his recipes).

The French are reknowned for their inventive cuisine and for very little waste in the kitchen. What are some smart ways for home cooks to make the most of their food budget?

People used to cook whatever they wanted.  They didn't worry much about its cost, where it came from or how it made them feel.  Now people are beginning to realize that if they eat crappy food, they feel bad. They are interested in the long term plan.

Feeding yourself is a pleasure. We can do small things that make food more flavorful and more interesting and we can save too.

A baguette, if it is made with good quality flour and yeast, you have to see all the little bubbles inside like Swiss cheese, can be frozen if you are not using it all right away.  Save half in the freezer and reheat it in the oven at 350º.

You recommend re-purposing day-old baguettes as well.

Don't throw away dry bread. There are many ways you can use bread.  A plain salad is not very fun - even for kids.  Make little croutons, add egg, a little lardon (thick bits of slab bacon).  It's a little appetizer with lots of tasty treats.

You can dry the bread all the way through and process in the food processor to make bread crumbs.  Mashed potatoes with cheese and bread crumbs make a nice gratin.

French toast is a good way to use the baguette.  When the bread soaks in the milk and egg, it's very rich, very filling.  

Just with the baguette, we can do a lot of stuff.  Goat cheese melted on a crispy baguette makes a nice appetizer or crouton for a salad.

There are so many ways we can economize and make healthy flavorful foods, reducing waste.
Chicken stock is very flavorful when its made from the carcass of a roasted chicken. Don't throw out the bones. Why buy chicken stock when you can make your own? It's very cheap.

Add the carcass, garlic, celery, onions, thyme and carrots to water in a stockpot. Boil for 15-20 minutes, then strain through cheesecloth.   Believe me, it will be delicious.

You can make a Bouillon aux petites pâtes to give people when they are sick and the kids like it.  You add alphabet pasta or little stars to the chicken stock to make it even healthier.

Freeze the stock as well or reduce it a lot to make a glaze or base to flavor a lot of dishes.

We all would love to eat fantastic flavorful meals every evening, but the reality is that busy days and long commutes can cut into our time for cooking. 

Cooking a big meal on Sunday, you have many ways to use the leftovers during the week.  This saves time and money by using seasonal ingredients.

What is your favorite, quick meal that is simple to prepare, nourishing and fabulous? 

Pot au Feu is a wonderful Sunday dinner.  It's flavorful and healthy.  Leeks, chard and celery are all very juicy vegetables. You make a little extra and you can make many nice meals during the week.  

You can take the leeks and use a vinaigrette.  Leeks are a great detox. The celery cleanses your liver. 

You can make a Pistou or Pesto soup with the leftover vegetables and meat. Pistou is so easy to make and very inexpensive.

What are some inexpensive cuts of meat that can be prepared elegantly and simply?

London Broil is the cheapest cut of meat. It's pretty tough, but we cook it in the pressure cooker to make it very tender with stock, potatoes, turnips and carrots. 

You can use the leftover meat for stuffed tomatoes or to make a dish like Shepherd's pie.  You grind the meat to stuff the tomatoes, to use in a gratin with mashed potatoes.  It's very nice.

Do you have a favorite recipe you would share? 

Pistou. Compare the price in the store. Basil in season costs nothing.  You make 4-5 times more for the same cost and you can store extra in the freezer.  

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts 
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup good olive oil 
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 fresh ground black pepper 
  Process until smooth in a food processor or blender.  Seal with a thin layer of olive oil.

Can you recommend some value wines and some menu items that pair well with them? 

Don't buy wine according to the label.  You pay for the label.  Sometimes you get a very nice tasting wine for a very good value.  In Lyon many people go to the domaine to buy the wine the winemakers declassify.  They can't sell more than a certain number of AOC or appellation d'origine contrôlée bottles so they sell it as vins de pays or table wine.  You get the same wine at a much lower price.

What are some wines you recommend?

I love Cote du Rhone.  You can buy a Ville Fleurie for $6-7 a bottle.  Another is the southwestern French Rosé, Costières de Nîmes. Viognier - this wine is amazing.  It's very tasty, very floral. 

Don't be afraid of the box. If you find a good value, you can buy three liters for about $19.  Black Box is nice, the sauvignon blanc and the Merlot, a little more forte or strong.

People are focused on the label. It's not the label. It's what's inside the bottle. You serve it in the carafe. People love the carafe and it's good for the wine. It's oxygenated.

What are some exciting food combinations that home cooks can use to liven up their meals?

Strawberries, basil and balsamic vinegar make a nice salad.  An avocado mousse with shrimp and cumin mayonnaise.

Sparkling Pointe brings tiny bubbles & Méthode Champenoise to Long Island

Sparkling Pointe is packed with tiny bubbles Sparkling Pointe, a North Fork producer dedicated solely to sparkling wines, will be featured at Brooklyn Uncorked 2009 May 13, from 4-8 pm at Brooklyn Academy of Music.

 The French Méthode Champenois wines will be featured in the Union Square Greenmarket May 15 as well. The first two editions of its collection – the 2004 Brut ($29) and the award-winning 2004 Topaz Imperial.($33) from wine maker Gilles Martin are the fruits of a labor of love.

Long Island vintners Tom and Cynthia Rosicki produce nothing but sparkling wines on their estate whose French Manor styled winery building and grounds welcomes guests this summer for tastings, private parties, corporate events and weddings.

The 2004 Brut is elegant with rich Gala apple and Comice pear flavors and an aroma of Brioche. Full of exuberant tiny bubbles, it's full, balanced and complex with a soft, creamy texture and a lingering finish. 

Earning its name from its delicate salmon pink coloring, the 2004 Topaz Imperial Rosé is fruity with the bright, fresh flavors of strawberry, red cherry and just a hint of cassis. The finish is long, delicate and buttery.

Cellar6 opens in St. Augustine

Cellar6 Owners Craig Colee and Valerie Shubert

Tucked away on brick-paved Aviles Street, where the arched wooden entry to the narrow boulevard is named after the town of Aviles, Spain, is St. Augustine's newest lounge, Cellar6 (6 Aviles St
Saint AugustineFL, 904.827.9055).

With its dazzling yellow glass wine cellar - one tiered story above the bar - the wine bar is cool, intimate and relaxing.  

Owners Craig Colee and Valerie Shubert offer a broad selection of fine wines and small plates.

“We enjoy offering an impeccable first-class experience for friends to meet or for a romantic evening," says Colee, a seasoned hospitality/restaurant entrepreneur, former tennis pro and St. Augustine native. 

According to Shubert, a Jacksonville native and mother of two who also spent years in the hospitality industry at upscale private resorts and clubs, Cellar6 features affordable prices, especially for high end presentations focused on smaller plates. 

“The Cellar6 wines are a global collection that we’re excited to pour, along with Wolfgang Puck coffees, beautiful hand-crafted desserts and familiar dishes prepared with surprising flair,” she adds.

The ambiance is seductive, warm and features chic vintage living room furnishings rescued from a legendary Palm Beach hotel, sharing space with modern black tables surrounded by comfy barstools.

Contemporary jazz artists make up the nightly playlist.  There's also a schedule of live acts which capture the feel of the speakeasy era.

Brooklyn Uncorked 2009 at BAM

Edible Brooklyn presents Brooklyn Uncorked

Raise your glass in a toast to locally grown and produced wines at Edible Brooklyn's annual local-tasting soiree.

Stroll the halls of the Brooklyn Academy of Music while sipping on Long Island wines and nibbling on samples from your favorite Brooklyn restaurants.

There will be austere steel-fermented whites, robust reds  and varietal roses--all without getting on the L.I.E.

And this year Brooklyn Uncorked will spill over into the lobby of BAM, making way for much more food, from barbecue to cheese, from oysters to carnitas.

That means a whole evening of food and wine for just $40 (or half price if you subscribe to Edible).

Last year's event sold out, so reserve your spot now.

The event runs from 4-8 p.m. and tickets to the general public are $40 or buy a subscription and get your ticket at half price ($20).

NY state wines featured in the Greenmarkets

These Reidel Magnum wine glasses are perfect for your NY state wines

(photo by Jon Sullivan)

Supporting the local economy means opting to buy and support the vintners and vineyards in your home state. In the past, this hasn't always been the best or most viable option.

Not so now New Yorkers (and I'll be reporting on other options outside of the tri-state area in weeks to come).

If you live in the city, a visit to the Greenmarkets  offers shoppers a chance to try the different wines being produced throughout New York State. Look for the Winestand on Fridays from 9-5 at Union Square Park and on Saturdays from 9-4, and explore the best wines New York has to offer.