cocktail

Perfect Pairings For Your Thanksgiving Dinner ~ Virginia Wines and Spiced Pear Cocktail

mr bills VA wine sign

mr bills VA wines

These are the wines that our neighbors make.

Virginia Wine Class ~ Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar ~ Roanoke, Virginia

mr bills VA wine 2mr Bills VA rose

 

Ox-Eye Winery Riesling and Shy Ox Rosé  and were my favorite of the wines we tasted in the Virginia Wine Class.    $20 range.  The Riesling  was smooth, clean and bright with crisp apple notes. The Shy Ox Rosé has a lovely pink color and tasty crisp apple notes that seem to  give the wine a bit of effervesce.

 

The Ox-Eye Riesling will be a lovely pairing for Thanksgiving turkey.

mr bills apple 2mr bills apple 1mr bills apple

A yummy pairing to begin a holiday meal ~  Ox-Eye Riesling or Shy Ox Rosé served with this little nosh ~ Cabot Clothbound Cheddar (balanced sharpness, slight nuttiness, caramel sweetness), Murray’s Heirloom Apple Butter on Firehook Cinnamon Baked Crackers.

champange Shenandoah Club

Grande Réserve Brut, Héritage Familial NV

66% Pinot Noir
33% Chardonnay

Smooth mousse with rich pear, brioche and spice notes.  A delightful aperitif leading into Thanksgiving dinner.

http://www.champagne-barnaut.com

Here’s my favorite recipe for green beans ~ always on my Thanksgiving table…enjoy!

Parmesan Prosciutto Green Beans

A family favorite! You’ll find this dish on my holiday table often.  Easy to prepare and full of flavor. Here’s the recipe:

1.5 pounds fresh green beans
3 oz prosciutto (I use the packaged Boar’s Head brand.  Prosciutto sliced in the deli may not fry very well)
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup shaved Parmesan
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/2 stick butter, cut into small pats

Wash green beans and remove stems. Place in large pot of boiling water (no need to add salt since this recipe has lots of salty ingredients).  Cook beans until they are just tender.  Drain and set aside.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place olive oil in a frying pan and place over medium-high heat. When oil is hot place prosciutto slices in the pan and fry, turning once, until prosciutto is crispy. Remove slices from pan and place on a plate lined with paper towels.

In a bowl combine parmesan and panko bread crumbs.  Place green beans in a baking dish and sprinkle with panko bread crumb mixture, toss to combine.  Dot the green beans with the butter pats.  Crumble the prosciutto and sprinkle it over the green beans. Place green beans in oven and bake for 30 minutes.

And a lovely cocktail to sip as all of the Thanksgiving frivolity has begun to curtail…

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Spiced Orchard Pear

Recipe from the Culinary Institute of America ~ as published in the October 18, 2017 issue of The Roanoke Times

Scotch is the star in this crisp Fall cocktail recipe!

Servings 1

2 ounces blended scotch

1/4 ounce pear puree

1/2 ounce orange liqueur

1/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 ounce Winter Syrup (recipe below)

1 cinnamon stick for garnish

In a cocktail shaker, combine the scotch, pear puree, orange liqueur, and syrup.  Add ice, then shake until well-combined.  Strain into a rocks glass, over fresh ice, and garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Chef’s note:  If desired, lightly burn on end of the cinnamon stick with a torch.  Invert the rocks glass over the cinnamon stick on a heat-safe surface or plate while you prepare the cocktail.)

Bubblybee note:  This will envelop the interior of the glass in cinnamon smoke which will give a cinnamon spicy note to the cocktail.

Chef’s note:   You can find pear puree in the freezer section of some grocery stores, but if not, just put 3 to 4 pears in a saucepan with about 1/4 cup of water. Cook until the pears are soft, then blend them to a smooth puree.

Bubblybee note:  To make pear puree I put the peeled and cored ripe pear in my blender with the other ingredients and pureed the mixture until very smooth.  Then I put the mixture in my cocktail shaker with ice to complete the recipe.

Winter Syrup

Makes about 3 cups syrup

2 cups water

2 cups sugar

the peel of 1 orange, white pith removed (I used the peel of 2 clementines. Then I used the clementine segments as a garnish for the cocktail.)

1 star anise (note: star anise and cardamom pods can be quite expensive when purchased by the jar.   I purchased mine by the ounce at our local natural foods co-op, purchasing only what I needed, which was much less expensive.)

3 whole cloves

2 cinnamon sticks

5 cardamom pods

Combine water, sugar, orange peel, anise, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Cook until mixture is simmering and the sugar has dissolved. Set aside until cool, then strain.  Refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.

Happy Thanksgiving Y’all!

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To Every Season There Is Champagne

pumpkin

Welcome Fall!  Cooler temperatures, colorful leaves…let’s toast this beautiful season with champagne!  Pumpkin can be a bit overdone this time of year (just ask any coffee shop barista about pumpkin lattes!) but champagne is perfect for any occasion, any season.

pumpkin

Fleutau champagnechampagne

Fluteau 2006 Cuvée Symbiose Champagne  

Champagne Fluteau, founded in 1935, is a family owned winery located in the southern part of the Champagne growing region of France. The grapes are all hand harvested and sorted to ensure that the grapes arrive at the press in pristine condition.  Artisan crafted grower champagne.  Crisp with apple and lemon notes. Lovely pairing with seafood.   Lots of lovely little bubbles dancing in the flute.   $50 range.

champagne and pumpkinchampagne toast

White pumpkins are my favorite…I love creating tablescapes with white pumpkins.

Voirin-Jumel Blanc de Blanc Grand Cru Champagne

100 % chardonnay.  Small producer located in Cramant, France.  Lovely pairing with oysters. $40 range. Light lemon notes.

Truly a very special treat…one of my favorite champagnes… 1998 Cuveé R. Lalou Champagne Cuveé Prestige.  Lemon, crushed granite, honey,  toast – and nice finish.  Beautiful radiant gold with effervescent bubbles.

René Lalou was the Chairman of the prestigious Champagne house of G.H. Mumm during the 20th century.    In tribute to him, a special cuvée bearing his name was produced  from 1966 to 1985.  Luckily for us,  in 2007, G.H.MUMM decided to revive this legendary cuvée.  The Cellar Master devised a champagne de terroir bred from the best of the House vineyards and named it R. Lalou.  $200 range.

Champagne…if you are seeking the truth, is better than a lie detector.  It encourages a man to be expansive, even reckless, while lie detectors are only a challenge to tell lies successfully.  ~ Graham Greene

cocktail mixercrackers

Sometimes I enjoy mixing a cocktail without all the fuss of sourcing and measuring the ingredients, so I was happy to find Cocktail Crate Craft Mixers at Fresh Market…”Born in Queens, NYC”.  Bubblybee chose “Ginger Bee”, mixed it with vodka, served it in a frozen “Copper Mule Mug” with lots and lots of fresh lime.  Rich honey sweetness, fresh ginger and subtle clove.  Just add one part spirit to one part mixer in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake, shake, shake!

I served Dewey’s Sharp Aged Cheddar Crackers with my cocktail. Delicious crisp little crackers that disappeared quickly! A southern favorite, Dewey’s Crackers are also available in these flavors Low Country Boil,  Chipotle Cheddar Cornbread, and Carolina Style Barbeque.

If you’d like to sign up for the Fresh Market newsletter (to find out about new products and promotions),  here’s the link:  https://www.thefreshmarket.com

toast-1

CHEERS!

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The Valencia Champagne Cocktail

I love to find Cocktail Cookbooks with cocktail recipes from the “golden age of libation”.  I found this fabulous Valencia Champagne Cocktail recipe in Cocktail Hour by Susan Waggoner and Robert Markel:

naan cocktail

Valencia

This delightful champagne cocktail was an international favorite.  It cast its golden glow on Europe between the wars, and was a popular specialty of the house at the Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles. One sip and you’ll understand why.

2 ounces Apricot Brandy

1 ounce chilled Orange Juice

4 dashes Orange Bitters

3 ounces ice cold Champagne

Pour brandy, orange juice, and orange bitters into a cocktail shaker with cracked ice.  Shake and strain into a chilled champagne flute or wineglass. Immediately top with cold champagne.

bitters

Orange bitters are a cocktail flavoring made from the peels of Seville oranges,  cardamom,  caraway seed, coriander and burnt sugar in an alcohol base. These bitters have a definite orange flavor with a bit of an evergreen taste to me. Pungent but pleasant, adds the perfect “pop” of orange to orange based cocktails.

And here’s a yummy, easy to prepare appetizer to pair with your Valencia Champagne Cocktail…I’ve fallen in love with these Naan Dippers. I call them “Baby Naan” because they are so cute.

naan bacon

Bacon, Avocado and Tomato Baby Naans

Toast the baby naans lightly and allow to cool to room temperature.  Spread mayonnaise on each baby naan. Spread each baby naan with fresh ripe avocado.  Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.  Top with crumbled crisp bacon and one thin slice of Roma tomato.  Cheers!

naan strawberry

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naan kitty

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The Bee Sting Cocktail ~ Oh Honey!

light

September Is National Honey Month!

A new mead and honey tasting room recently opened in our city. After tasting their delicious honey I want to put it in everything from hot tea to cocktails! OH HONEY! The Bee Sting Cocktail is my new favorite!

Bee Sting Cocktail new one

Bee Sting Cocktail

…honey makes this cocktail sweet and jalapeno gives it the sting!

Honey simple syrup (enough syrup for 3 cocktails)

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup water

Combine honey and water in a small saucepan.  Heat over medium heat, stirring until the honey dissolves. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Bee Sting Cocktail:

Makes one cocktail.

1  jalapeño slice (about 1/2 inch thick slice)

1 ounce gin

3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 ounce honey simple syrup

Jalapeno strip  or lemon twist garnish

Gently muddle the  jalapeño slice in cocktail shaker, add remaining ingredients and shake with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with  jalapeño strip or lemon twist (or both!).

gin

Sunset Hills Gin, made in Virginia, is my favorite gin of the moment.  Light and delightful, it does not have a strong juniper taste.

Here’s the 411 about the Mead and Honey Tasting Room:

Blacksnake Meadery…from bee to bottle

https://www.blacksnakemead.com

The Hive (1116 A Main Street SW, Roanoke, VA) – Open year-round
(540) 597-8739
Thursday & Friday 5:00-8:00
Saturday  1:00-8:00
Sunday  1:00-6:00

mead bee hive

honey samples

Honey Flight

samples:  top left: Orange Blossom, top right Avocado

middle left:  Raspberry, middle right:  Buckwheat

bottom left:  Thistle, bottom right:  Wildflower

Orange Blossom and Wildflower honey are my traditional favorites to add to hot tea, so it was fun to taste some different honey made from some surprising nectar.

The most pleasant surprise was the avocado honey….YUM! Avocado honey is made by the bees from the nectar of the avocado blossom.  Rich, soft, creamy honey.  Perfect to drizzle over cheese as an hors d’oeuvre. Raspberry honey would also be a good choice for the drizzle.

Buckwheat honey is dark and delicious with molasses undertones. Buckwheat is not wheat, it is a fruit related to rhubarb. I would use this honey  for cooking and baking.

Thistles have prickly stems and leaves with a rounded head of purple flowers.  The thistle is the national symbol of Scotland. The flavor of this honey can vary depending on the variety of thistle blossoms that are the source of the nectar. It can be light and sweet or more earthy with cinnamon or anise undertones. Thistle honey is my new favorite to add to my hot tea.

honey drip

mead samples

My husband and I enjoyed a Mead and Cider tasting at The Hive. Our flight included:

Hoppy Bee Brew ~ tastes like a fizzy light beer, lots of Cascades hoppy flavor. The Hive recommends pairing this brew with burgers, earthy foods such as pasta with porcini as well as pizza.

Lime Bee Brew ~ Light, dry and carbonated made with lime puree.  The Hive recommends pairing this brew with Thai or Mexican dishes or other spicy fare.

Foggy Ridge First Fruit Cider ~ Crisp, fruity cider made from early season heirloom apples. Tart apple aromas and flavors.

Foggy Ridge Serious Cider ~ Dry cider with floral and apple aromas made with high tannin heirloom apples.

(Blacksnake Mead and Foggy Ridge Cider are both made in Dugspur, Virginia. https://foggyridgecider.com)

Meloluna ~ Blacksnake calls this their “honeymoon” mead (Latin, mel = honey; luna = moon). This sweet dessert mead has aromas and flavors of honey with hints of caramel. The Hive recommends pairing the Meloluna with your favorite dessert or a good cigar.

Ziggy Elman

This little 4 month old kitty just joined us in his new forever home. His name is Ziggy Elman (American Jazz Trumpeter). I will include a photo of his brother Artie Shaw in future blogs…he has not decided to come out from under the bed yet, a little shy.

Bee happy

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Gin Glorious Gin And Pimiento Cheese & Lobster Potato Chips!

http://riverandrailrestaurant.com

I have a new appreciation for gin. Shane Lumpp, Bar Manager, River and Rail Restaurant introduced us to the nuances of gin in his Cocktails 101 Class earlier this month. Here’s some fun facts about gin from class:

The word Gin comes from the word Genever which in Dutch means juniper.  The English shortened it Geneva which lead to the term “Gin”. 

Gin was first produced by the Dutch in Holland where the term “Dutch Courage” comes from.   Dutch mercenaries hired out by the English would consume vast amounts of Gin which made them more aggressive in battle.

I usually prefer vodka in my martinis, but I found Plymouth Gin to be delightful in this River and Rail Martini.  It was made with Plymouth Gin. Plymouth Gin is produced at a single distillery in Plymouth, England at the Blackfriars Distillery. It has somewhat more earthy flavors and typically not as juniper flavor.  (That is probably why I liked it so much. I appreciate the juniper in Gin, but it is a bit “flowery” for my taste.)

Plymouth Gin

gin martini

Shane rubbed lemon peel around the rim of the martini glass and then he rubbed the peel on the stem of the glass.  He explained that the scent of the lemon will adhere to your fingers. People naturally wave their fingers in front of their face when they are talking and having a good time so the lemon will permeate the air and enhance the lemony cocktail experience.   Love this!

The River and Rail Martini is very simply gin, vermouth and orange bitters, with a lemon peel garnish.  Shane explained that the garnishes he puts on cocktails always have a purpose, they are not just there for looks.

Shane explained to us that when olives are served in a martini they should have an odd number – one or three. Having an even number of garnishes in a cocktail is considered bad luck.

Shane invented the “Pink Panther” cocktail that is served at River and Rail.  Broker’s Gin, Capalletti Aperitivo, Lillet Blanc, Lemon, Peychaud’s Bitters. Peychaud’s is a key ingredient in the Sazerac® Cocktail, with light notes of cherry, nutmeg, and clove.

bitters r and rbitters hell firebitters

We had fun asking Shane questions about the bitters that were lined up on the bar.  One that was completely new to me was the ‘Elemakule Tiki” bitters.  Here’s what Bitterman’s says about these bitters on its website:  A taste of the islands. We recommend adding a dash to libations served in shrunken heads, volcanoes and miniature ceramic Moai.  Cinnamon and Allspice with a strong cast of supporting spice flavors.

Shane said that they use the Hellfire Bitters  (Habanero Shrub) in their Michelada Spicy Margarita and when a guest wants a spicy Bloody Mary.

Pimiento Chips

Lillie’s Q Pimiento Cheese Potato Chips

Seriously GOOD kettle cooked potato chips.  Jalapeno powder and paprika add a zesty zing to the pimiento cheese flavor in these chips.  The Lillie’s Q chips are based on Lillie’s Q sauces and rubs:  Carolina Dirt, Sea Salt and Black Pepper, Hot Pepper Vinegar, and Original.  I found these at our local Fresh Market.

lobster chips

Here’s some fun chips that I found at Tinnell’s Finer Foods in Roanoke, Virginia (also available on-line for a limited time).  They do have a subtle lobster taste and here’s a link to a fun review of these chips from the Junk Food Guy:

http://www.junkfoodguy.com/2017/08/14/lobsterutz/#sthash.s2rZ5qQR.dpbs

Happy Friday!

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Bartender My Drink Is On Fire! Fun Facts About Vodka

Shane Lumpp, Bar Manager, River and Rail Restaurant, Roanoke, VA, presented “Cocktails 101” on Sunday evening.

r and r shane lightr and r char citrus

One of my favorite parts of the class was when Shane set the citrus peel garnish for the Cosmopolitan on fire. He explained that he always has a purpose for the garnish, it is not just for looks.  Lighting the citrus peel caramelized the citrus oil and gave the drink a tiny bit of a smokey aroma.

Celebrity Mixologist Cheryl Cook invented the Cosmopolitan Cocktail in 1985 at the Strand Restaurant in South Beach.

cosmo r and r

The River and Rail Cosmopolitan

For each cocktail:

1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice

3/4 ounce Cointreau

3/4 ounce cranberry juice

1 1/2 ounce vodka

Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Garnish:  Caramelized citrus strip

vodka

Deep Eddy is River and Rail Restaurant’s house vodka. Corn based vodka from Austin Texas. Any infused vodkas that River and Rail serves will be infused in-house at the River and Rail bar…such as their basil infused Luksusowa vodka in their Something About Mary Lennox cocktail.

http://riverandrailrestaurant.com/menus

Some fun facts about vodka from Shane’s class:

Shane recommends starting with the least expensive ingredient in a cocktail first. If you mess up at the beginning you can throw it out and start again without throwing out expensive ingredients.

Vodka, the word, appears to be a Russian diminutive of a Polish phrase, woda zycia, which means “water of life”.

Vodka really gained its momentum with the marketing strategy from John Martin of Smirnoff with the slogan “Smirnoff…it’ll leave you breathless”. 

By the 1950’s vodka was roaring into popularity with the addition of Bloody Mary’s, Screwdrivers and of course the Three Martini Lunch.

By 1967 vodka surpassed Gin as the highest seller of white spirits in the US and by 1976 vodka was the number one purchased spirit overall. Vodka still remains the most popularly consumed and purchased spirit in the US.

Match these vodka slogans to the vodka they represent: (answers at the bottom of this post)

Slogans:

  1. The world’s best tasting vodka.
  2. The greatest name in Vodka.
  3. As you like it.
  4. Pure Perfection.
  5. Unleash the Raspberry!
  6. The Purest Expression of Vodka
  7. Outrageously Smooth

Vodkas:

A.  Blavod black vodka  B.Boru  C. Romanov  D.   Smirnoff  E.  Absolut Raspberri  F. Grey Goose  G. Stolichnaya

ham biscuit river and railsnack plate r and r

We always know the bar snacks will be delicious at River and Rail (country ham biscuit with whole grain mustard, Gryere cheese, house-made Asiago crackers, homemade pickled green beans and carrots.  I am especially partial to the country ham biscuits with whole grain mustard.

blood orange liquer

I have a new favorite liqueur:  Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur… made with Sicilian Sanguinello blood oranges. Add a splash or two to sparkling wine or try these lovely cocktials:

chilledmagazine.com/solerno-blood-orange-liqueur-cocktails

Eclipse

On Monday, August 21, 2017 we celebrated the Eclipse of the Sun in style!

Answers to quiz:  1. F. – 2. D.-  3. C. – 4. D. – 5. E. 6. B. – 7. A.

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The Sparkling Maraschino Cherry “Cobbler” ~ The Drink of 1928!

The Sparkling Maraschino Cherry “Cobbler”

One of my favorite books is “The Bon Vivant’s Companion or How To Mix Drinks” by Professor Jerry Thomas, Formerly Principal Bartender at the Metropolitan Hotel, New York, and at the Planters’ House, St. Louis. This book was published in 1928.

This book bubbles over with fun…lovely cocktails that have all but disappeared from our 21st century cocktail lexicon as well as our palates…juleps, flips, fizzes, shrubs, daisies, toddies and YES COBBLERS!!!

As the weather gets warmer and Spring is getting ready to SPRING…I am falling in love with Cobblers:

Like the julep, this delicious potation is an American invention, although it is now a favorite in all warm climates.  The cobbler does not require much skill in compounding, but to make it acceptable to the eye, as well as to the palate, it is necessary to display some taste in ornamenting the glass after the beverage is made. (source:  “The Bon Vivant’s Companion”)

 Champagne Cobbler!

Up to 2 or 3 days prior to making the cobbler:  Place 12 frozen dark sweet cherries in 1/4 cup Maraschino Cherry Liqueur in a covered container in the refrigerator.  (Use pitted fresh sweet cherries when in season.)

For the cocktail:

In a martini glass combine 1 teaspoon Maraschino Cherry Liqueur and 1/2 teaspoon Triple Sec. Stir lightly to combine.  Add a few crushed ice cubes. Pour sparkling wine (or champagne) over the liqueur. Garnish with Maraschino Liqueur soaked cherries and a few fresh blackberries.  

Traditionally the Cobbler is served in a tumbler with shaved ice and sipped through a straw. Here’s “The Bon Vivant’s Companion” recipe for Champagne Cobbler:

Champagne Cobbler

One bottle of wine to four large bar glasses

 One tablespoon of sugar

One piece each of orange and lemon peel

Fill the tumbler one-third full with shaved ice, and fill balance with wine; ornament in a tasty manner with berries in season.  This beverage should be sipped through a straw.

 

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