How to extend summer, although Autumn has just arrived:
How to extend summer, although Autumn has just arrived:
After the past week or so, I must say that I’m becoming a little concerned about the other gourmaniac. I mean, yesterday, I walked into the kitchen, and there she was hanging out with Georges Blanc again. I’ve found them together for lunch and I’ve discovered them cozied up together by the cutting board before dinner. No, not Georges in person, but his book Natural Cuisine. I discovered Georges Blanc back in the late 1970’s or early 80’s, when I purchased his book and cooked my way through a good portion of it. Back then some of the ingredients were either too exotic or too difficult to find in New England where I lived. But I loved the concept of cooking with fresh vegetables and an occasional fish, and no meat or even poultry. Seeing how Rosaria doesn’t eat mammals, Georges is a perfect fit for her. After her recent immersion in his cuisine, I googled Georges Blanc who has had a three star Michelin restaurant in Vonnas, France for years. Georges has done very well for himself, his local empire has expanded to a chateau which has ben converted into a hotel, spa, and conference center. Looking at his website, I must admit, I wouldn’t mind hanging out with Georges for a few days in Burgundy.
Anyway, I digress: the other gourmaniac and I are like bears waking up from winter’s hibernation. We’ re stretching and yawning, and of course we’re hungry. Yesterday, we made good on our mutual promise to move our butts and burn some calories. Afterwards, we had a late lunch of turkey burgers mixed with a little panko, chipotle, bird chiles and liquid smoke. As I grilled them, for some reason, instead of shrinking slightly they puffed up to almost softball proportions. When I brought them into the kitchen from the outside grill, Rosaria and I exchanged glances at the burgers and at each other. I can’t ever remember trying to wrap my lips around something that big sandwiched between a bun. Needless to say, after barely consuming these behemoths, we were ready to resume our winter hibernation.
Ah, I digress again; well not really. We were so full from our late lunch we couldn’t think about dinner until after nine o’clock, and even then it was with some reluctance that I gave into the other gourmaniac’s suggestion of some pan seared tuna and seaweed. Actually what precipitated that menu selection was Rosaria telling me that she was in the mood for some cold sake. We’ve had a beautiful bottle of sake on a shelf in the kitchen’s cookbook library for a while, and although it wasn’t chilled, we decided we’d open it up. But before we did, I wanted to photograph the bottle in a food setting. So with that in mind, Rosaria did the honors with the tuna* and I set up the shot at our kitchen island. Once I was pleased with the shot, I put away the camera and sat down to our late night light dinner. But first, we raised our sake cups to the brave people of Japan and to all those who’ve been tragically lost.
Afterwards, we yawned and stretched, and headed off to bed.
* The tuna log was briefly marinated in rice vinegar and ponzu sauce, then rolled in a combination of crushed black pepper and Japanese spices (Shichimi Togarashi) and quickly pan seared in sesame oil.
Several years ago, while visiting Punta Mita, Mexico, we stumbled upon some of the best Sangrita ever! Naturally we got the recipe and adapted it slightly to our palate (spicier, that is). We also replaced the grenadine with sweet agave nectar in our version. But the best addition to the recipe is by far our friend Dylan’s ultra smooth, organic Talero Tequila. Below are our recipes for the Sangrita and the Oyster Shooter: perfect together! Salud!
~ 1 liter Tomato juice (32 oz)
~ 4 oz Lime juice, fresh squeezed
~ 4 oz Orange juice, fresh squeezed
~ 2 Tbsp organic Blue Agave nectar (in sweetners section of store)
~ 1 Tbsp Liquid Smoke (in condiment section of store)
~ 1+ Tbsp Tabasco sauce (add in increments and taste)
~ 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
~ Salt & Pepper, freshly ground (± 10 grinds of each)
Mix ingredients in a glass pitcher, cover and chill in refrigerator. When ready to serve, add about 10-12 oz Talero Tequila (about a 1 to 3 tequila to sangrita ratio), mix well, and pour into shot glasses.
Alternatively, an oyster shot using this Sangrita-Tequila drink is a very pleasing and smooth treat. Simply pour the Sangrita-Tequila juice in a shot glass, drop a large shucked oyster into it, and top with any or several of the following: finely minced jalapeño or cucumber, chervil, a dusting of chili powder, white pepper or caviar. Whether you gulp it down or sip it slowly, be sure to enjoy it with a shot of pure, organic Talero Tequila! Salud!
The prestigious Louis XIII cognac is manufactured using grapes from the Grande Champagne territory of Cognac, France. It is blended from eaux-de-vie, some more than a century in age, then it is aged in tiercons, oak barrels that are several hundred years old, in its own cellar. A 750ml bottle of Louis XIII may be priced as high as $3,000(US) however average price range is between $1,800 to $2,500. The handblown crystal decanter alone (by Baccarat) sells for approximately $100. A 50ml ‘Petit Louis’ bottle can be had for $500. Fine Champagne Cognac is the only blend of two crus protected by the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC, the French law of 1938), which officially recognises the complementary qualities of Grande Champagne & Petite Champagne to provide a unique quality of cognac. [Ref: Wikipedia]
For us it’s a rare occasion that calls for a snifter of fine cognac, brandy or armagnac. However, when the moment is right, it’s nice to do it in style and share it with our friends, just as our good friend Dylan did when he gifted us with a beautiful bottle of Louis XIII several years ago, along with a stunning set of hand cut crystal snifters (all pictured above). Alla salute!
It all started with an email from our friend David during the week, informing us about a wine tasting event at Robert’s Restaurant in Water Mill Friday evening. David thought it would be fun if a group of friends went together. “Wine not?” I thought. An escape from our kitchen will be a welcomed change for one night. We’ve been frequenting Robert’s with many of our friends since it first opened, but this was our first wine tasting event there. So last night eight of us took over a table at Robert’s – some with pen in hand – eager to sample some new wines, ask questions, and take notes.
Once we were adequately surrounded by a sea of wine glasses, spittoons, water pitchers, and warm bread for palate cleansing, a comprehensive list of 12 wines was handed out to everyone and the sampling began! Coincidentally, it turns out that I knew Christopher, the sommelier in charge of the wine tasting event, from our mutual tennis club in Quogue.
Christopher Miller is not only an advanced sommelier, but he’s also a very talented restaurant consultant, a food and wine columnist for various publications, including Long Island Pulse, Dan’s Papers, Hamptons Magazine, New York Post. Chris is also a partner in Hamptons Wine Shoppe in West Hampton and the co-founder and co-director of Sommelier Wine Academy. With the myriad questions coming from the eight of us, we managed to have Chris spend a lot of time at our table and infuse us with his broad wine knowledge. Our friend Jeanne, a wonderful chef and food stylist, enthusiastically shared her excellent ideas for wine and food pairing while Claire, who loves reds, let the wines intoxicate her simply with their fragrant bouquet.
The very enjoyable evening unfolded as expected, with conversation becoming increasingly animated as more wine was happily sniffed and consumed, and lots of fun was had by all. In spite of the fact that each of us made an effort to pour off the wines after tasting, it was difficult to waste the ones we really liked. For example, the citrusy-fruity Italian Tocai, the nicely balanced, crisp New Zealand Sauvignon, as well as several delicious reds, such as the Lewelling, Napa Valley 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon or the Languedoc reds. Not surprisingly, before long we were somewhat tipsy. Well, lucky for us, we were at Robert’s restaurant. No sooner did the wine tasting end that we began ordering food from Robert’s extensive menu and, of course, more wine! Salute!