Champagne

Labor Day with the family

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Batten down the hatches!!!  My parents and my brother are driving up from Florida to visit me for Labor Day.  Plus I got some other cousins and aunts and uncles coming in from about an hour away.  Lord help!  It’s not that I don’t want them to visit — it’s the planning that can be tricky.  And figuring out a menu isn’t going to be easy.  Maybe I can talk my cousin into bringing something to help with the menu.  What would be nice is having a whole roast pig, but since that ain’t gonna happen I’m going to have to improvise.  And too bad my grill just busted.  Good thing there’s still the trusty Smokey Joe. . . and as a side note, here’s what the Department of Labor says about Labor Day.

Luckily, another aunt and uncle (also from Florida) came in for a visit a few weeks ago so the meal they had here was essentially a trial run.  But since there’s gonna be more people, I’m going to need to expand a bit.  I do want to make some stuff focused on local goods and made in Michigan things, but I also want to make some things that I know they’ll like.  I did find some Labor Day ideas at Grilling.com, Martha, and Yum Sugar.  So here’s what I might end up doing (which I hope to post on these new ones soon):

Roast pork shoulder

Sautéed green beans with mushrooms

Ratatouille

Grilled corn

Fresh Lumpia

Bibingka

Zucchini Ribbons with Garlic Confit

Empanadas

Steamed Mussels with Glass noodle

Koegel’s viennas

Something with Rhubarb (probably a Raspberry and Rhubarb tart)

San Miguel

Oberon

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Of course all this planning might just go out the window, so I’m going to wait until the last minute to do any shopping.  There’ll probably be a trip to Windsor in the making.  Or maybe a quick jaunt to Toronto (if I’m lucky)!

Champagne cocktails, part 2 — Peter Venkman, Camilla Parker Bowles, and a Tic-Tac

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Peter Venkman, Camilla Parker Bowles, and a Tic-Tac.  Sounds like the punchline to a bad joke.  It could be, but it’s not.  This is round 2 of my experimenting with my liquor cabinet and some sparkling wine.  By this time in the “trials”, I am starting to get tipsy, so the names of these drinks might be a little weird, but I swear they made sense at the time.  Now these names are not original, so hopefully they won’t cause any troubles.  I’m not making any money off these things, so I guess it should be okay.

For the Peter Venkman:

  • 5 oz. sparkling wine
  • 1 oz. Midori

Pour the Midori into a flute.  Top off with the sparkling or champers.  Now this one isn’t all that difficult to explain how we got to this name.  Originally, I was going to call it a Romulan Ale (and yes I’m a big Star Trek nerd).  Problem was that Romulan Ale is blue (if you follow any of the Trekkie lore).  There is another Star Trek drink that is green called Aldebaran Whiskey, but that didn’t seem to fit at all.  So what’s the next thing that popped into my head — Ghostbusters!  The color is definitely that of Slimer, but I couldn’t call it Slime, so Peter Venkman seemed like the next logical choice.

For Camilla Parker Bowles:

  • 5 oz. sparkling wine
  • 1 oz. raspberry liquor
  • dash of bitters

There was all that buzz about the royal wedding, I thought to myself that maybe I should make something that reflected all the hub-bub.  Plus there was all that rioting in London, I think over an increase in fees for students and they attacked the car that was carrying Prince Charles and Camilla.  Personally I don’t get the big deal over the hike in fees.  Maybe it’s because tuition in this country is redonk — I gots $50,000 in student loans after 2 years of school.  But I digress. . . the recipe is simple enough, but I added a dash of bitters. . . because I think Camilla has a dash of bitters herself.

For the Tic-Tac:

  • 4 oz. sparkling wine
  • 1 oz. mint syrup
  • 1 drop peppermint oil

This recipe packs a wallop.  All because of the oil.  I recommend closing your eyes when you drink this one.  Or try it with your eyes open, then you’ll know what I mean.

Champagne Cocktails, part 1 — a Classic and Nelson’s Blood

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I hosted a wine tasting recently with a focus on whites and sparkling wines.  So I thought it might be nice to see what recipes are out there for drinks that use sparkling wines (champagne, cava, prosecco, spumante, etc. . . ) as a base.  Probably most everyone knows about mimosas and bellinis.  But I am looking for something a little bit different from even a sparkling sangria (which will probably be my fall back).

Now my booze cabinet isn’t the most well-stocked, but I do have a couple of mixers that I could use, plus there are some things that I have already stocked in the refrigerator.  So here’s what I have:

Mixers, liqueurs, syrups, etc:  Midori, raspberry liqueur, cranberry mix, sour apple mix, Angostura bitters, rhubarb syrup, mint syrup, Apple Pie liqueur (luv this stuff.  it really does taste like boozy apple pie!), and sugar cubes.

Booze:  Appleton VX, Appleton 12-year-old, Pisco, Cachaca (actually two types), Bison Grass vodka, Apple Jack, Yukon Jack, Bulleit Rye, and Woodford’s Reserve.

I am not using my good Appleton rum (If you are ever lucky enough to try some 30-year-old Appleton, by all means get it.  Exquisite stuff!  Too bad the oldest available in Michigan is the 12-year-old.), the vodka, or my bourbon.  No sense in wasting those on something that may or may not work.  Plus, no sense in using a bottle of Krug in making champagne cocktails.  I am using prosecco from Cupcake Vineyards.  Not a bad wine, especially for the price — about $8!

So for this first post I did find some recipes for a couple of traditional cocktails.  I apologize for the picture; the cocktails looked a little ominous for some reason.  One of them is just a Classic Champagne Cocktail.  I guess it’s been around forever.  The other one is called Nelson’s Blood.  Now if you don’t know the story behind the name, it’s not a pretty one, but more on that later. . .

For the Classic Cocktail:

  • 1 sugar cube
  • bitters
  • 5 oz. champagne

On a plate, place the sugar cube and splash on a couple of dashes of the bitters in order to soak the cube.  Now transfer the cube to a champagne flute and top off with the champagne or sparkling wine.  The sugar cube has lots of nucleation points for the sparkling so this will be extra bubbly (think about sodas and Mentos, but not as violent. . . if you don’t know what I’m taking about, click on this).

For the Nelson’s Blood:

  • 1 oz. Tawny Port
  • 5 oz. champagne

In a champagne flute, pour in your Port.  Now top it off with the champagne.  I do confess though — the pic does not have port in it, but some of the Appleton VX instead.  Although most recipes I found just have the port and sparkling in it, there are some which have rum.  These are more complex and have better ties to the provenance of the drink.  So here’s a cultural nugget and a little bit of history. . .

Picture it — Trafalgar, 1805. . . The British fleet has just scored another victory against the rival French, but the victory would cost Admiral Horatio Nelson his life.  Admiral Nelson was a war hero beloved all over England and a burial at sea would just not sit well with folks back at home.  The problem was that getting him home could take possibly months.  So to keep his body, er. . . fresh. . . it was preserved in a casket of brandy where it was essentially pickled.

It has been reported that since he was so beloved by the people and admired by his crew, some of the sailors aboard Nelson’s ship secretly stole a sip of the pickling brandy to hopefully take in some of his qualities.  So this has given life to numerous concoctions paying homage to him.  Check out this one which has brandy (to symbolize his “preserves”), tawny port (to symbolize his spilt blood), rum (because he was a sailor), and blood orange juice (since he died just off the coast of Spain).  Tasty!

Michigan Wines in Food & Wine

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Michigan: In Defense of B-List Wine Country | Food & Wine.

Happy June everyone!  I’ve been out of commission for a couple of weeks cuz my computer had the flu (stupid spy ware, & thanx to Jeremy with a “y” for fixing my laptop).  But I came across this and I thought I’d share this great article about Michigan’s Wine Country.  Not too shabs to get a right up in Food & Wine magazine!  Much in the same way that California wines proved that great wine doesn’t have to be made in France, Michigan wines show that great American wines don’t need to be made in California.  I actually made it up to some of the wineries that they mention in the article like L. Mawby and Black Star Farms.  Hope to make it up to the Old Mission soon and check out some of those wineries.

This is an aside, but if you want to learn more about the whole uprising of the California wines against the European elite, check out the movie Bottleshock.  Sure, you can learn about it in books and stuff, but you know what I like about the movie? — no reading!!!  It stars Alan Rickman, who most people will recognize as Professor Snape of Harry Potter fame. . . or the bad guy from the first Die Hard movie.  Bill Pullman’s in it, too, plus the new Captain Kirk himself, Chris Pine.