Food, Wine, Good (and Evil) Spirits

roseglassesWhich foods pair best with rosés? The question is almost beside the point. Rosés are made for warm summer evenings, dinners outdoors with friends and laughter. Serve dishes that fit with that kind of setting and you're on the right road.

Think of summer foods, like tomato salads, olives, salumi, vegetables right off the grill. Rosés love brash flavors: salty, a little spicy, redolent of summer herbs like basil and oregano, and, of course, garlic.

Olives, cured with cumin and garlic or baked with herbs? Of course. Prosciutto and melon? Perfect. Toasts with tapenade? Even better.

Pork sausages right off the grill are terrific with rosés, and so are grilled vegetables, such as peppers, zucchini and eggplant, seasoned with handfuls of basil and moistened with good olive oil. 

To my mind, there is no single better match for a dry rosé than a good aioli. Mash garlic and a little salt in a mortar and pestle. Beat in a couple of egg yolks, stirring until they're lemon-colored. Very slowly, a drop at a time at the start, stir in olive oil and maybe a little lemon juice, depending on your preference (I think it helps match the wine better). It should be the consistency of soft mayonnaise.

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cocktail fznlemonade vodkaI am not a big drinker. It’s rare that I finish a glass a wine at dinner and I rarely order a “cocktail”. With that said, when I do invite friends over for dinner, I like to have a little cocktail on hand for those that simply want one.

Seeing a lot of fruit infused vodka on Pinterest sparked my interest to create a red, white, and blue cocktail for the 4th of July. Seeping the blueberries in the vodka for 36 hours, creates the most amazing scent. For lack of a better word, the smell was intoxicating.

When I do indulge in a cocktail (I much prefer to eat my calories), it’s generally something slushy, fruity, and not overly alcoholic. Grabbing the last of the Meyer lemons from my tree, I made a huge batch of Molly’s raw honey lemonade. Making something slushy was what I was craving. Tossing the lemonade and some ice in the blender, this frozen lemonade and blueberry cocktail was created.

I wanted to use the blueberries as garnish, but didn’t want them simply floating in the glass. Grabbing a handful of small wooden sticks, I skewered them and then put them in the freezer for about an hour. After the fact, I thought how yummy these would have been if I would have sugar coated them.

Freezing fresh, organic, summer berries and fruit from the farmers market is my newest obsession. I see many more fruit and vodka combos in my future.

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ImageBecause our holiday parties tend to revolve around themes and menus of yesterday (I blame my house, it’s terribly 1950s to the extreme, and no, I wouldn’t change a thing), I wanted to experiment with a category of drinks that are probably better suited to Patagonia rather than Sunny Southern California: hot cocktails.

Regardless of the outside temperature though, sipping a hot cocktail accomplishes two things: it warms your hands and tummy and makes you incredibly drunk. What’s not to enjoy about that? Besides, we can all sit around sipping cider or cocoa all the time, can we?

Here are 4 hot cocktails that will definitely be featured at my next shindig, no matter what the weather’s like. The suntan lotion, however, will be strictly optional.

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mintcocktailMojitos make a great summer cocktail – refreshing citrus and mint hit the spot on a hot summer day. I always have a ton of mint growing in pots (it spreads like crazy), and this is a perfect way to use it up.

The best version involves a little advance prep and there are no shortcuts for a delicious, authentic Mojito. It’s important to muddle the mint to release its full flavor, and I like to use mint infused simple syrup to further intensify the flavor.

Many recipes call for lots of mint in the glass, but I find it makes it messy to drink, just a sprig for garnish is all that’s needed.

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altThe quest for health and wellness continues. Kombucha is an acquired taste. A few years back, I picked some up at my local health food store. I was totally tuned off. This past year, I tasted homemade Kombucha at my friend, Carrie’s. I was hooked.

I loved it so much that when I left her house, I was gifted a little glass jar filled with my very own Kombucha culture. The 93 mile drive home was done with a big smile on my face.

My little jar sat in the passenger seat; I had company. The next day I purchased the few ingredients I needed to concoct my own black tea, fizzy cocktail. I was in business.

After my visit to Carrie’s I made it endlessly.  There was always a batch brewing. I had to ration out the kombucha in the fridge so it would last the entire week. I lost weight, my sweet tooth subsided, and I was addicted.

Then I took a break. You ask why? I cannot answer that.

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