A couple months ago, I bought a bulb of fennel from the farmers market. It had the most gorgeous long stem, overflowing with feathery fronds.
This kind of fennel is harder and harder to come by. Not a chance at our local super markets. They like to chop off the beautiful tops to make the bulbs all tidy when stacked.
It always makes me feel like I’m getting ripped off when I have to purchase fennel like that. I do as much with the fronds as I do with the bulb. So whenever I spot it at the farmers market, I grab it.
Well, this time around I had loads of greenery left over after a project. I started to think about how its licorice-like flavors would pair with the Costco-size bottle of vodka sitting on the counter (don’t judge). I’d had fennel infused cocktails before, but it was as a flavor accent, in the syrup or as a garnish, versus the main attraction.
These sweet and savory holiday party snacks pair well with the 2013 Leaky Lake Cabernet Sauvignon I received from Cultivar Wine.
Tis the season for snacks and appetizers. At least that is what I’ve been telling myself as I’ve snacked my way through breakfast, lunch, and dinner the past week. I try to rotate a carrot or celery stick in every now and then, but who am I kidding.
At this point, it’s best to cast dietary caution to the wind and enjoy some holiday food. And drink a little wine.
This dark chocolate bark is studded with salted cashews, toasted coconut and dried currants. It makes a delicious dessert when paired with the Laphroaig 10 Year Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky I recently received for review.
If my Dad could total up the number of pounds of cashews he has received as Father’s Day gifts over the years, I have little doubt it could fill the back of a pick-up truck. There has always been something essential about a can of his favorite nuts being a part of his gifts.
I suspect my tendency to give food as a gift is rooted in this family practice. But these days, while my family tends to stick with things like cashews, our gift giving has expanded into the drink category.
Quick. If you make these cranberries right now they will be ready for your New Year’s Eve cocktails. And trust me. You are going to want them for your cocktails.
These tart little berries are sweetened with a syrup made of raw sugar, rich bourbon and aromatic whole spices. They take only minutes to prepare and they make a good destination for the half bag of cranberries left in the fridge that you can’t find a use for.
This warm winter drink uses local apple cider and white rum to recreate one of our favorite holiday punch, or punsch, drinks we enjoyed at Vienna’s Christmas Markets.
I never could have guessed it would be so hard to find apple cider around here. Apples are plentiful enough in the South Central Valley, but why so few people are turning those apples into delicious cider has surprised me.
Thinking back to my days in Kentucky and Indiana, the second apple season starts, the cider shows up on the shelves. Every store has at least a couple varieties both pasteurized and unpasteurized. It’s a fall and holiday staple in that part of the world.
Here I found one store with one cider and it was pasteurized. Others I’ve found have tried to pass apple juice as cider. Not a chance. I can tell the difference.
I find that beer temperatures vary by the location. When we lived in Brazil, the beer was so cold that ice was often inside the bottle. In Europe, it’s always been on the warmer side. Cold beer somewhere in between these two was the standard in the States for years. Then came the craft beer boom, and with it, the understanding that some beers are best served at warmer temperatures.
But until we made it Poland, I had never had hot beer.
After visiting our first Christmas market in Europe in 2013, I feared this might happen. Then we went again in 2014 and I knew there was no escaping it.
My brain has permanently redefined the holiday season.
Now, if you look up the definition of the holidays in my head, you will find Christmas markets in Vienna, Krakow and also Copenhagen and Berlin.
This is Christmas.
The lights, the jolly attitudes, the crowds, an evening standing in the freezing cold and actually enjoying it, and of course, the food and drink.
Now, nothing says Christmas to me like experiencing one of those markets.
My husband and I often celebrate Thanksgiving by ourselves a few days before we join our families for the big meal. This year I decided to share some recipes for those who might also be doing some Thanksgiving cooking for two. This is the first post in the series. Be sure to check out the side dishes that go with this main course.
I’ll be the first to admit that Thanksgiving isn’t my favorite holiday of the season. It doesn’t make much sense, though. I love fall and pumpkins and I love to cook. Seems like I’d be all over a holiday that has those things well covered.
I can offer no explanation other than my fondness of a winter wonderland, warm cocktails, cookies and cheesy Christmas movies. It simply beats out Thanksgiving every time.
Despite it not being my favorite, I still like to cook and I like to get creative. We typically travel to the homes of our families for Thanksgiving dinners. (Yes, dinners. As in two in one day.) There, the family has traditional covered. But it rarely satisfies my need to try some new and creative.
These savory snacks make a great start to holiday meals. Their rich, earthy flavors are an ideal match for the Cabernet Franc I received from Cultivar Wine.
The idea of snacks for Thanksgiving day seems a little absurd. It’s not like we really need to include more food in the celebration. And having snacks around certainly isn’t because we need to satisfy hunger. If you are like me, hungry won’t even be a part of your vocabulary for at least 36 hours.
Yet there is something about little bites to kick off the celebration that feels like a necessity. All that cooking makes you want to eat. Why not take things over the top? It is Thanksgiving after all.
This recipe takes an ordinary sandwich and makes it worthy of an excellent wine pairing! It comes from Chad Hendrickson, Executive Chef for The Hess Collection. A special thank you to The Hess Collection for sponsoring this post.
Sandwiches are casual. When we don’t want to have a fancy meal or invest too much time in the kitchen, we go for a sandwich.
They are convenient and familiar, but many lean a little towards boring and monotonous. That is, until you start considering whether the lowly sandwich could possibly pair with wine. Not just any wine, but a syrah that boasts black and blue fruits with a subtle touch of spiced vanilla and cedar. Before you know it, you have a duck breast sandwich on your hands that also happens to be layered with bacon and Cambozola cheese.