Thu Jul 31, 2008
Among my friends I’m considered a wine snob. But honest, I’m not! No, I don’t like Two Buck Chuck. But I don’t think wine needs to be expensive to be good, or that has to be red to be good. I don’t even think it has to come in a bottle to be good. Yes, I’m talking about box wine.
The bag-in-a-box concept is brilliant, portable and keeps your wine fresh much longer than in bottle. The problem with much of it has been the wine itself, but fortunately winemakers are embracing the box and filling it up with some delicious, characterful wine. At K&L, where I work as a writer and editor, we are importing three-liter boxes of Blason Pinot Grigio from Italy (it’s currently bobbing around the Atlantic somewhere), but already have three-liter boxes of the quintessential summer wine, the 2007 “Le Petite Frog” Picpoul de Pinet Hughes Bealieu ($29.99) in stock. That’s $30 for the equivalent of four bottles of wine and it will last up to six weeks in your fridge.
Picpoul, which means “lip-stinger,” is a high-acid white grape grown also called Folle Blanche; it’s a primary component in Cognac and Armagnac and is also a common grape in France’s Loire Valley. This Picpoul comes from Southern France’s Coteaux de Languedoc, where it manages to maintain its vibrant acidity despite the region’s blistering heat. Juicy peach and apricot aromas and flavors, stony minerality, tarragon notes and low levels of alcohol make it an ideal match for almost anything on your summer table. I’ve paired it with barbecued chicken, caprese salads, rosemary shrimp and grilled peaches all to great success.
Perfect for camping, picnicking, backyard pool parties, beach excursions and, frankly, any other excuse you can come up with to crack open a box of fresh, fun, delicious wine. You have to try this Picpoul, it’ll convert the snob in you, too.
Mon Jul 21, 2008
Homemade Cucumber Sorbet
I invented the root beer float when I was five or six years old. I was at a birthday party at the Ground Round, staring into my glass of soda, contemplating how to make my plain vanilla ice cream taste better. And then it dawned on me. And I dumped the ice cream in the cup, watched the fizz build and then started to suck down the creamy soda through my straw. My friends watched on in awe. Continue reading
Tue Jul 15, 2008
Growing up, my mother’s version of junk food was, well, limited. Unlike my friends, we didn’t have a pantry full of Kool-Aid and Marshmallow Fluff. Popsicles were made in Tupperware using real juice and the ice cream was Breyers (read: no preservatives). Fortunately, at least once a year, sometimes twice, my grandmother would bake rugelach. Even after my grandparents moved to Florida, the rugelach would come, packed into shoeboxes between layers of foil and wax paper. Even after my family moved from New York to Southern California, and after I left for college and subsequently moved a dozen or so times, I eagerly checked the mail around my birthday for the box of rugelach. When my grandparents would come out west to visit, my grandma would pack a second suitcase, filled with rugelach and mandel brot, and occasionally (and disastrously) my grandpa would sneak in some golf balls.
Tue Jul 8, 2008
Grandma Janette’s Mandel Brot
I’ve often joked that the only differences between Jews and Italians are red sauce and Jesus. The cultural similarities are countless, right down to the cookies. Jewish Mandel Brot (not to be confused with the trippy, mathematical fractal images called Mandelbrot) are a twice-baked, cinnamon and sugar dusted, nutty cookie perfect for dunking in a piping hot cup of coffee. It is almost identical to Italian biscotti, which literally means “twice-baked.” Biscotti are nutty and occasionally chocolate-dipped cookies perfect for dunking in a frothy cappuccino. Continue reading