sparkling wine

10 Helpful Hints For Pairing Wine and Food

“Have you thrown up your hands in despair and confusion with too many choices? In that case, just remember one word: champagne.  It’s refreshing, relatively low in alcohol and sufficiently neutral to go with a myriad of foods.One minor tweak might be to have  a more full-bodied vintage champagne with red meats and non-vintage champagne with everything else.  That’s a lot easier to remember than what wine goes with yak.” ~ Sam Gugino, contributing editor to Wine Spectator and author of Cooking to Beat the Clock.

Be adventurous and have fun with wine/champagne and food pairings using these helpful hints:

1.Purchase the book “WHAT to DRINK with WHAT you EAT”, by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page. 

This easy to use reference book is our “Pairing Bible”. Our local wine shop keeps a copy so that we can refer to it when deciding which wine and food to purchase at their shop. Just look up the wine you want to pair and the book will tell you the foods to serve with that wine (includes other libations as well such as liquor and beer)  or look up the food you want to serve and it will suggest the wine/libation to serve. This book makes a thoughtful gift for your wine loving friends too.

pumpkin-pie-with-whipped-cream-on-top

2. Surprise your taste buds and experiment with the unexpected.  One of the best food and libation pairings I’ve tasted was single malt scotch and pumpkin pie.  If you are in the mood to splurge pair  Macallan 18 Year – Single Malt Scotch Whiskey with pumpkin pie. Otherwise Macallan 12 year old is a very nice pairing.    Notes of spice, dried apricots  and wood smoke enhance the autumn spice flavors in the pie.

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3.  Don’t force it.  If you truly do not like a food or wine ~  pairing it will not necessarily make it better.  I recently read in Milk Street Magazine that licorice and champagne make a delicious pairing.  Problem in that I can’t stand licorice. It might just be an old wives tale but I’ve heard that if you are born with a certain gene then you like licorice, if you don’t have that gene then you don’t like licorice. I definitely don’t have that gene.  But, I am a good sport so I tried this pairing a few weeks ago. My mouth is still puckering whenever I think about it…ick!

3. Start a conversation with someone you respect in the wine world.

One of my favorite wine blogs is Talkavino.com.  Anatoli is the author of this blog that chronicles his explorations in wine, food and life.  I recently asked Anatoli about his approach to wine and food pairing, especially champagne:

Overall, I find Champagne to be one of the most versatile pairing wines available, as there are plenty of different Champagne types which will support any kind of dinner. My typical approach to pairing is – let me know what the menu is, and I will come up with the pairing. If the occasion even a little bit formal, I always like to open with sparkling wine – it sets the mood. I find that Rosé sparklers perfectly compliment most of the appetizers and salad courses – the Rosé is typically playful enough with just a touch of a fruit to complement the widest array of flavors, and the acidity helps to cut through a variety of textures, from oysters to mushroom beignets to foie gras.

The vintage Champagne would typically work very well with the variety of entrée – I can perfectly see steak and vintage Champagne as a combination, as the mature flavors of Champagne would meld very well with the steak. I’m sure that there is a Champagne for every type of food you want to serve, and the inherent acidity, which is in Champagne’s DNA, makes it ultimately food friendly.

My only challenge would be with the dessert, as I’m not familiar with sweet Champagnes, so to be entirely honest, my typical choice for a dessert sparkler is Moscato d’Asti or Brachetto  d’Acqui, depending on the food. But – if my main course Champagne was Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill or Piper-Heidsieck Rare, you can keep the dessert, I will stay with Champagne.”

thewineraconteur.wordpress.com writes engaging and entertaining stories about wine.  One of my favorites posts about wine pairing is on his blog:  https://thewineraconteur.wordpress.com/2015/11/21/mwwc-21-pairing/

Here’s the wineaconteur’s thoughts on champagne and food pairing:

I usually like my bubbles at the beginning of the meal, and it doesn’t always have to be Champagne. Sparkling wines from Alsace, the Loire, California and even Michigan all work for me, it is more the moment, as I tend to shoot from the hip and not much of a control freak. I am honored that you asked my opinion. I find that Champagne makes any meal more festive and if I could have a steady diet of any one Champagne, I guess it would be Dom, as it seems to be the one that I have had the most, and the one I write about the most often.

Tonya, author of the blog Fourth Generation Farm Girl loves bubbly as much as I do…she is currently pursuing the WSET (Wine and Spirit Education Trust based in London) with her husband Scot, affectionately known on her blog as “Farmguy”.  She has lovely memories about champagne and food pairing:

fourthgenerationfarmgirl.com

As far as pairing food and Champagne goes, in my opinion, Champagne is incredibly versatile with food—that’s why I love it.  So, when in doubt, drink bubbly!  Ideally, the best pairings happen when the Champagne is chosen first, then paired with food.  This is because a recipe can be altered to perfectly match the characteristics of a wine. However, unless you’re a chef, that’s not always realistic. The wonderful thing about Champagne is it goes well with so many foods.  It’s excellent with Asian food, braised foods, eggs and egg dishes, all kinds of seafood (e.g. lobster, monkfish, salmon, oysters, shrimp, turbot, cod) chicken, turkey, quail, rabbit, pork, vegetarian dishes, truffles, cheeses, especially ones that are creamy and salty, pizza, French fries, popcorn, gingerbread, and the list goes on and on.  Basically, if your food has butter, cream, or salt in it or is fried, then Champagne is the answer. Think:  fried chicken, buttery popcorn, or triple cream brie cheese. My personal favorite Champagne pairing is with truffle popcorn.  I first had it while dining at The Inn at Little Washington.   Farmguy and I were celebrating an anniversary, and our amuse- bouche was truffle popcorn paired with Ruinart Blanc de Blancs.  It was heavenly! 🙂

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4. Do  not limit yourself to pairing only wine and champagne with food.  Include beer and hard cider on your menu.

per se

Meeting Thomas Keller and touring the Per Se kitchen was one of the highlights of our trip to New York City.

A favorite pairing at Per Se ~ Thomas Keller’s restaurant in New York City is: Olive oil ice cream with chocolate and sea salt; and Thyme ice cream with drizzle of warm extra virgin olive oil topped with a chocolate wafer disc.

Paired with Ale: La Choulette Blonde (a beautiful surprise — this traditional French ale is toasty, nutty, and creamy — yum)

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5. Get to know your local wine merchant and ask their opinion on wine and food pairings.  One of my favorite local wine shops in Roanoke, Virginia is Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar, owner Bill Phillips. We recently had a conversation about pairing and he recommends choosing the wine first.  “The chefs I’ve worked with always suggest identifying the wines first and then choosing foods to go with the wines.  You can always tweak the food selections but once you’ve chosen the wines you’ve made an investment and you won’t necessarily want to change them.”

6. Keep it simple.

prosecco and nuts pairing

Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad Cava pairs perfectly with simple roasted lightly salted almonds and walnuts.

EF Brie Cheese with bread

A triple creme cheese with a crusty baguette is always a good pairing with many sparkling wines and champagne. Quick and easy to serve last minute guests.

7. Find on-line resources you trust and read about pairings. Here’s a good one from Epicurious:

https://www.epicurious.com/archive/drinking/wine/champagne-sparkling-wine-food-pairings

And I always enjoy reading the advice of Ray Isle, Food and Wine Magazine’s Wine Editor:

http://www.foodandwine.com/articles/an-experts-pairing-advice

8. Practice makes perfect pairings.  You may find that some pairings do not work well for you and that’s OK.  Just keep pairing and keeping notes and soon you will have a wine and food pairing repertoire to share with family and friends.

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9.  Look to the experts:

“The Scent of Champagne,” by champagne expert Richard Juhlin is one of my favorite books. It addresses the thorny issue of pairing champagne with food. He explains what pairs well with champagne and what foods to avoid serving with champagne. He’s done all the “heavy lifting” for us in search of the perfect champagne and food pairings.

I encourage you to learn  more about champagne pairings and Juhlin’s fascinating background:
10.  Brown bag it.  A fun way to taste wine and champagne is to serve it in a brown bag without anyone knowing what’s in the bottle.  Your taste buds will begin to recognize flavors such as the citrus in champagne that is primarily chardonnay grapes, the peppery notes in Shiraz, grapefruit flavor in Pinot Grigio.  Using this method it is a good idea, at least at first, to taste wines/champagnes that have only one predominant grape so not to confuse your taste buds.
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Readers, what is your favorite wine/champagne food pairing? I would love to hear from you!

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Champagne Cocktails To Celebrate National Freshly Squeezed Juice Day!

January 15, 2018 is National Freshly Squeezed Juice Day.  My favorite juice this time of year is Blood Orange Juice.

Blood Oranges are in season (December through March). Blood orange juice brightens up even the most dreary winter day with it’s POP! of red-orange color.

Blood Orange Champagne Cocktail

For each cocktail:

2 ounces fresh blood orange juice

1 ounce triple sec

1 ounce blood orange liqueur (I like Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur)

Champagne

Frozen fresh clementine segments to use as ice cubes (Separate clementine segments, remove all white pith and any seeds and place in flat freezer container. Poke a couple of holes in each segment with a fork.  Pour blood orange juice liqueur over the segments, just to cover. Place in freezer for 24 hours.  Turn the container over after 12 hours.  The frozen clementine segments can be kept in the freezer for two weeks.)

Pour blood orange juice, triple sec and blood orange juice into a champagne flute. Stir gently.  Top with champagne.  Add two frozen blood orange soaked clementine segments.
chili oil on red carpet cocktailchili oil on red carpet cocktailchili oil on red carpet cocktail

Link to The London Bar, NYC: http://www.thelondonnyc.com/photos-en.html

Jean Carlos Parra, Bartender, The London Bar, NYC creates this fanciful cocktail: The Red CarpetI was intrigued by the Thai Chili Pepper-Infused Oil drizzled on the top of this fabulous raspberry blood orange cocktail. Here’s the original recipe and a couple of my twists – very easy to make and very sippable!

The Red Carpet

10 fresh raspberries (I did not have fresh raspberries so I used 4 tablespoons frozen raspberry puree that I had in the freezer – I made the raspberry puree by placing fresh raspberries in a saute pan, heating and smashing them with a fork until they are mushy and juicy. Strain the puree through a fine sieve. Discard seeds from sieve. Place juice in a freezer container and freeze until ready to use. )

2 ounces blood orange puree (I did not have blood oranges so I substituted 2 ounces of blood orange European soda – the soda has a little carbonation in it – this soda is sold locally at Fresh Market.)

1 ounce fresh lime juice

1 ounce agave nectar

3 ounces vodka (I used 1 ounce of Sunset Hills Virginia Gin…I did not want a strong drink so I used less than the 3 ounces the original recipe called for and I wanted to make a gin drink so I used the Sunset Hills. I like this particular gin because it does not have a strong juniper berry flavor or aroma.  https://sipologyblog.com/2012/04/24/sunset-hills-virginia-gin/ (Other types of gin may be too strong in juniper berry flavor for this drink.)

5 – 10 drops of Thai chili-infused oil (optional) (I found this oil at our local Asian market.)

In a cocktail shaker, muddle approximately 10 raspberries (if using raspberry puree place puree in cocktail shaker). Add blood orange puree (or blood orange soda), lime juice, agave nectar, and vodka (or gin) and shake vigorously. (I added a few ice cubes to the cocktail shaker to make sure the cocktail was icy cold.) Strain into a chilled martini glass. For an added kick, top with Thai chili-infused oil.

Here’s lots of fun blood orange cocktails to enjoy this winter:

http://chilledmagazine.com/drinks-detail/solerno-blood-orange-liqueur-cocktails

champagne sign

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Oh The Weather Outside Is Frightful But These Sparkling Winter Cocktails Are Delightful!

Fun times this week with WSLS Daytime Blue Ridge (Roanoke, Virginia) preparing Sparkling Winter Cocktails.  These cocktails will warm your heart during the cold winter months!  Here’s the video link…cheers!

https://www.wsls.com/daytime-blue-ridge/celebrate-2018-with-sparkling-winter-cocktails

Here’s the recipes…enjoy!

champagne shooters

Champagne Jello Shots

1 1/2 cup champagne or sparkling wine

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 cup sugar

3 envelopes (1/4 ounce each) plain gelatin

1/4 cup citrus flavored vodka

Yellow or champagne color decorative sugar

“Sugarfina” Brut and Rosé Champagne Gummy Bears

Place champagne (or sparkling wine) in a saucepan, add lemon juice and sugar. Stir to combine. Sprinkle gelatin over the champagne mixture and allow to “bloom” for 3 minutes. Heat the champagne gelatin mixture over medium low heat and whisk until the gelatin is dissolved.  Remove from heat and stir in vodka.

Pour champagne gelatin mixture into individual plastic champagne flutes.  Chill for several hours until firm.  Just before serving sprinkle the champagne Jello shots with decorative sugar and top each shot with a champagne gummy bear. Serve with chilled cocktail spoons.

Pear and Prosecco Cocktail

My bubbly friend Cindy treated me to lunch to celebrate the holidays. She served this lovely cocktail which was absolutely fabulous!  Instead of using the traditional Barlett pears, she substituted Asian pears. The fun thing about Asian pears is that they are always ripe. They are picked at the perfect stage of ripeness so they are ready to enjoy as soon as you pluck them from the market.

Cindy purchases Asian Pears from Virginia Gold Orchard which is a fun day trip from Roanoke, Virginia:  http://www.virginiagoldorchard.com

The original recipe for the Pear and Prosecco Cocktail is a Southern Living Christmas Cookbook recipe.

Serves 6

Pear simple syrup:

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup finely chopped peeled pear (or Asian Pear)

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup (2 ounces) pear liqueur

Ingredients to finish the cocktail:

6 thin pear slices (or Asian pear slices) Cindy put the pear slices in the pear simple syrup to keep them from turning brown while she prepared our cocktails.

1 (750-milliliter) bottle prosecco, chilled

Combine water, chopped pear, and sugar in a small saucepan; bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes.  Pour through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a measuring cup; discard solids.  Stir in liqueur. Divide evenly among 6 champagne flutes. Place 1 pear slice in each glass, and top with prosecco.

Prosecco Raspberry Christmas Punch

Serves 4

The citrus spice sugar mixture requires it to sit overnight to infuse the citrus spice flavors into the sugar.

6 tablespoons fine sugar

Peel of one Meyer lemon

Peel of two Mandarin oranges

1 cinnamon stick

2 star anise

6 ounces fresh raspberries + (reserve a few of the raspberries to use for garnish)

1/2 cup gin

1.5  ounces blood orange liqueur

1.5  ounces Cointreau

1/4 cup Meyer lemon juice

1 bottle Prosecco

Citrus peel twists for garnish

Ice

In a small container with a tight-fitting lid combine the sugar, lemon and Mandarin orange peels, cinnamon stick and star anise.  Seal the container and refrigerate overnight. Turn the container over several times while it is in the refrigerator to mix the sugar, spice and citrus.

Place raspberries in cocktail shaker. Muddle raspberries with the back of a wooden spoon.  Add gin and stir gently.  Add citrus sugar mixture, lemon juice, Cointreau and blood orange liqueur. Fill shaker with ice and shake to combine all ingredients.  Pour mixture through fine mesh strainer into a pitcher. Add prosecco and stir gently.  Chill in refrigerator until ready to serve. Serve in champagne flutes garnished with raspberries and citrus peel twists.

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Make Your Holidays Sparkle With These Cocktails ~ Pear Prosecco Cocktail+ Raspberry Prosecco Christmas Punch

During the holidays I spend an inordinate amount of time in the grocery stores…Most of that time is spent wrestling with plastic bags ~ trying to open them ~ in the fresh produce section!   Today I asked the lady that was working in the produce section how to open the bag. She told me a little trick. She said “Rub your fingers on a cucumber or some produce that has wax on it and then the wax on your fingers will help you open the bag easily.” I tried it and it works. Of course I would end up purchasing the cucumber,  but until I find a better solution…please let me know any tricks you all have up your sleeve to open these tenacious bags.

cork

blog cocktail

Pear and Prosecco Cocktail

My bubbly friend Cindy treated me to lunch to celebrate the holidays. She served this lovely cocktail which was absolutely fabulous!  Instead of using the traditional Barlett pears, she substituted Asian pears. The fun thing about Asian pears is that they are always ripe. They are picked at the perfect stage of ripeness so they are ready to enjoy as soon as you pluck them from the market.

Cindy purchases Asian Pears from Virginia Gold Orchard which is a fun day trip from Roanoke, Virginia:  http://www.virginiagoldorchard.com

The original recipe for the Pear and Prosecco Cocktail is a Southern Living Christmas Cookbook recipe.

Serves 6

Pear simple syrup:

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup finely chopped peeled pear (or Asian Pear)

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup (2 ounces) pear liqueur

Ingredients to finish the cocktail:

6 thin pear slices (or Asian pear slices) Cindy put the pear slices in the pear simple syrup to keep them from turning brown while she prepared our cocktails.

1 (750-milliliter) bottle prosecco, chilled

Combine water, chopped pear, and sugar in a small saucepan; bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes.  Pour through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a measuring cup; discard solids.  Stir in liqueur. Divide evenly among 6 champagne flutes. Place 1 pear slice in each glass, and top with prosecco.

december pear

water

Cindy also served sparkling water with fresh cranberries and rosemary ~ refreshing and delicious!

Prosecco Raspberry Christmas Punch

Serves 4

The citrus spice sugar mixture requires it to sit overnight to infuse the citrus spice flavors into the sugar.

6 tablespoons fine sugar

Peel of one Meyer lemon

Peel of two Mandarin oranges

1 cinnamon stick

2 star anise

6 ounces fresh raspberries + (reserve a few of the raspberries to use for garnish)

1/2 cup gin

1.5  ounces blood orange liqueur

1.5  ounces Cointreau

1/4 cup Meyer lemon juice

1 bottle Prosecco

Citrus peel twists for garnish

Ice

In a small container with a tight-fitting lid combine the sugar, lemon and Mandarin orange peels, cinnamon stick and star anise.  Seal the container and refrigerate overnight. Turn the container over several times while it is in the refrigerator to mix the sugar, spice and citrus.

Place raspberries in cocktail shaker. Muddle raspberries with the back of a wooden spoon.  Add gin and stir gently.  Add citrus sugar mixture, lemon juice, Cointreau and blood orange liqueur. Fill shaker with ice and shake to combine all ingredients.  Pour mixture through fine mesh strainer into a pitcher. Add prosecco and stir gently.  Chill in refrigerator until ready to serve. Serve in champagne flutes garnished with raspberries and citrus peel twists.

Christmas kittyChristmas kitty maxineChristmas kitty ziggy

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays And Best Wishes For A Bright New Year!

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Sparkling Wines For Holiday Celebrations ~ $30 Or Less

ginger

There are times when only the best will do and that’s the time for special pricey champagnes. Other times, when entertaining large groups of people or mixing bubbly drinks, less expensive sparkling wines are a better choice.  It is in that spirit that I present to you sparkling wines under $30 for the holidays…

…Best Sparkling For Sipping…

Perfectly lovely bubbly to have on hand for last-minute guests or a hostess gift.

Blend of 68% Chardonnay and 12% Pinot Noir. Soft and balanced with apple, pear and citrus flavors.  $20 – $25 range.

champagne toast

gloria

Gloria Ferrer has been my “house sparkling wine” forever. I can always count on her to be a bubbly delight.  91% Pinot Noir, 9% Chardonnay. Pear and green apple notes. $23 range.

Gloria will be the perfect choice to create these lovely sparkling cocktails featured in Food and Wine Magazine:  http://www.foodandwine.com/slideshows/sparkling-wine-cocktails#4  The Marasca Fizz  sounds especially delicious and festive. This Champagne cocktail is served with pitted sweet cherries soaked in an anise-infused syrup.

Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance.

Benjamin Franklin
Domaina Carneros was founded by the Taittinger family of Champagne, France. This lovely sparkling wine is made in the Méthode Traditionnelle.
Lots of tiny bubbles dancing in the glass. Notes of pear, Meyer lemon and brioche. $30 range.

…for Toasting…

A delightful sparkling wine from Oregon…Argyle 2014 Vintage Brut. Delightful sparkling brut produced in the Willamette Valley, Oregon.   65% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay, 5% Pinot Meunier. Notes of ripe pear, fig and roast hazelnut. Balanced with a long finish. $29 range.

Piper

60% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Noir and 25% Pinot Meunier. Notes of apple, toast, peach and crisp citrus flavors. $20 range.

willm sparkling wine

WillmCrémantd’Alsace Blanc de Noirs Brut.  Cremant d’Alsace is the appellation for the sparkling wines of the Alsace wine region of north-eastern France. The methodetraditionelle is used to make this bubbly.  100% pinot noir grapes. Nice and light (for a pinot noir) but has a good taste structure, apple and citrus notes.  $20 price range.

Rosé

Aimery

Aimery Crémant Brut Rosé!
‘Crémant’ sparkling wines are made using the same method as Champagne. Ribbons of bubbles and sparkling notes of berries just like your favorite champagne, without breaking the bank. Delicate, fresh with a long, mouth-filling finish. The color of this sparkling blushes just slightly and tiny bubbles consistently rise to the top of glass. Available locally at Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar: http://mrbillswinecellar.com/
This bubbly makes a lovely holiday hostess gift. $17 range.

McBride Sisters

NEW ZEALAND SPARKLING WINE!

McBride Sisters Brut Rosé

Notes of raspberry and toast with a creamy finish.  $25 range.

tazmanian-champagne

Jansz Tasmania is a pioneer of deluxe sparkling wine in Australia. Jansz is made by the méthode champenoise.   Jansz Rosé ~ pale salmon in color, with a fine bead, this wine has a rich floral bouquet of strawberries with a soft and creamy palate. Available locally at Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar: http://mrbillswinecellar.com  $26 range.

Best Bubbly for Mimosas, Punches and Cocktails 

mimosa strawberry

cristalino

When the occasion calls for “massive amounts of mimosas” ~ when every friend and relative converge on your house for holiday frivolity ~ a less expensive but reliable bubbly is the answer.  Jaume Serra Cristalino Cava.  $10 range.

freiznet

This bubbly Cava is produced by the same winery that gives us Gloria Ferrer, one of my favorite sparkling wines:  https://www.gloriaferrer.com/carneros-winery

The perfect casual sparkling sipper…from Catalonia, Spain. 100% Chardonnay grapes.  A bubbly value…$10 range.  Lots of fun bubbles. Notes of baked apple with just a touch of lemon. Available on-line. I also found this Cava locally at Tinnell’s in Roanoke, Virginia. http://tinnells.com

Happy Holidays!

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Make Your Holiday Sparkle With These Cocktails

Rum Rum Rudolph

This cocktail tastes like a boozy chocolate coconut milkshake!

For the cocktail glass rim:  Pour a little of the cherry juice from the jar of cherries onto a flat plate. Pour some flaked coconut onto a flat plate. Roll the rim of a martini glass in the cherry juice, then roll in coconut.  If the coconut does not stick in certain places on the rim, dip the rim in juice and coconut again.  Set aside until ready to pour the cocktail.

To make one cocktail:

1 ounce coconut rum

1 ounce Godiva Chocolate Liqueur

1 ounce Bailey’s Almond Milk Liqueur

Bourbon Flavored Cherry with stem and ground nutmeg for garnish

Place coconut rum, chocolate liqueur and  almond milk liqueur in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake to mix the cocktail.  Strain the cocktail carefully into the center of the cocktail glass rimmed in coconut. Sprinkle ground nutmeg over the top. Slice the cherry allowing the stem to stay in tact so that the cherry will slide onto the rim of the glass.

 

cherries

I like to use these Bourbon Flavored Cherries (with stems) for cocktail garnishes.  I purchase them in the cocktail mixer section of Walmart or they are available on-line.

Poinsettia

So pretty and sweet and fabulously delicious!

1/2 ounce Cointreau or Triple Sec

3 ounces Cranberry Juice

3 ounces Champagne

Sugared fresh cranberries for garnish (prepare the day ahead)

Place Cointreau and cranberry juice in a champagne flute, stir lightly and top with champagne. Garnish with sugared cranberries.

cranberries

Sugared Fresh Cranberries

1 1/2 cups extra fine sugar
1 cup water
1 cup fresh cranberries

Place 1 cup sugar and water in a saucepan over low heat. Stir and simmer until the sugar completely dissolves to create the simple syrup.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Place cranberries on small wooden skewers. Place the skewers flat in a shallow container.  Pour the simple syrup over the cranberries. Refrigerate overnight.

Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

Place 1/2 cup sugar on a plate. Roll the cranberry skewers in the sugar.  Place the skewers on the baking tray and the sugar to dry on the cranberries (approximately 1 hour).

River and Rail bloody mary

Red Snapper

Perfect Pick Me Up For Christmas Brunch!

Perfect for gin lovers!  Just replace vodka with gin in your favorite Bloody Mary recipe.  Or make your own Red Snapper Cocktail Mix…here’s a link to a fun recipe (plus a brief history of the Red Snapper) from Gin Foundry:

http://www.ginfoundry.com/cocktail/red-snapper-cocktail/

boots and champagne

New cowboy boots from Santa!

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A Taste Of Naples ~ Margherita Pizza And Negroni di Fortunato

 “People who love to eat are always the best people”… Julia Child knew that food brings people together in the best way possible.  Now we have a new fun and delicious way to bring people together in Roanoke, Virginia.   Tour Roanoke recently announced that they will add A Taste Of Naples at Fortunato in Roanoke, Virginia to their food experience repertoire .   Tempt your tastebuds with an afternoon filled with Neopolitan Pizza,  Negroni Cocktails, fun and intriguing conversation and wine.  Here’s  10 of the best  reasons to share this food experience with friends, family and colleagues:

fortunato sparkling fizz

  1. POP THE CORK! A glass of Frizzante (gently sparkling Italian wine) sets the stage for your Taste of Naples experience.

2. TEAM BONDING IN THE KITCHEN! Fortunato’s Chefs will show you all how to stretch and toss pizza dough, then top it with fresh aromatic ingredients to create magically delicious pizzas. You will enjoy noshing on the pizzas right after they come out of the 1000 degree wood-fired oven!

fortunato oven

fortunato pizza pizza

3.  GOURMAND GUIDES! Curious about Neapolitan pizza, Italian liqueurs and craft cocktails?  Your tour guides, chefs and bartender are bursting at the seams to share their knowledge of the history and lore of Italian food and how it fits into the Roanoke food scene. Thank you to Fortunato’s Chef Jeff Farmer for giving us a fabulous Naples Experience!

fortunato book

Fortunato BartendarFortunato cocktail fire

4. Fortunato’s Bar Manager and Bartender extraordinaire Jackie Gentry will teach you to mix a brilliante Negroni cocktail.

Jackie showed us how to flame an orange twist. Flaming releases the citrus oils from the fruit.   After the flame burns out, rub the peel around the rim of the glass and put a larger strip of peel into the cocktail to serve.

fortunato gin

fortunato cocktail shaker

Fortunato cocktail

Fortunato Amaro

5.  YOU MUST TASTE AMARO! In Italian Amaro is the word for “bitter” and it will get your taste buds attention! An syrupy Italian liqueur made from herbs (rhubarb, chamomile, cardamom, saffron, myrrh and orange peel to name a few). Amaro is often drunk as an after-dinner digestif.  It has an alcohol content between 16 and 40 percent!

6.  LOVIN’ LOCAL! Attending the Taste of Naples Food Experience supports two local businesses: Fortunato and Roanoke Food Tours.

fortunato wine

7. STELLINA! The coziest cocktail bar nestled up next to Fortunato. Open Wednesday – Saturday 5 p.m. until last call. After all that fun stroll over to Stellina and enjoy another Negroni di Fortunato or choose from the extensive list of craft cocktails.  As noted in a recent New York Post article… These 10 tiny bars will give you the world’s biggest buzzes: “The hallmark of a good bar is its ability to make us feel a little less lonely by the time we leave. The hallmark of a good bartender is to bring that feeling to a simmer before sips meets lips. This little Virginian star achieves both.”  (article by Perri Ormont Blumberg)

Fortunato sign

8. THE PEZZO FORTE!  You can come back on Wednesday evening for  half price pizza.

9.  It’s easy to book your reservation…here’s the link: https://www.roanokefoodtours.com

Phone:  540-309-1781 or 1-800-656-0713. A Taste of Naples will be available in early 2018.

10.  Remember…

sign-at-fortunatos1

Santé !

fortunato painting

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