My first memory of Mexico isn't one of lying out on a beach, margarita in hand; instead, it's quite the opposite: On my first visit to the country, I spent time in Nogales, a bustling Sonoran city that shares a border with the city of the same name in Arizona. I remember crowded, frantic streets full of cheap souvenirs, radiant colors, and beautifully authentic street food: homemade tamales sold on every corner, fragrant grilled corn, and savory skewered meat. But most popular of all was fresh, perfect fruit, dressed with lime juice and a dusting of spicy chile powder. Keep reading »
Asheville, North Carolina, sure has its charms: great beer, awesome farmer's markets and farm tours, a thriving local arts scene, and now, an exemplary tapas bar, Curaté, helmed by elBulli alumni. Chef Katie Button's canelones de carne, meat-stuffed, rolled pasta dressed decadently in béchamel sauce, and her bocadillos, little sandwiches stuffed with Catalán sausage and piquillo peppers, or fried squid and arbequina olive oil mayonnaise, are pretty darned addictive. But the most extraordinary thing I consumed at this Spanish restaurant was actually an English colonial drink: a gin and tonic. Keep reading »
Late-season produce always put me in a fruit frenzy. At the market last week, in a tableau straight from a Manet still-life, golden peaches sat beside a pile of fragrant melons, pints of blackberries laid out alongside. They're each lovely to eat on their own, but paired with spirits they rise to a new level of indulgence: to sip a fruity cocktail while watching the shadows lengthen is to know why Henry James believed "summer afternoon" were the two most beautiful words in the English language. Keep reading »
From SAVEUR Issue #149
Mexico's wine industry is the oldest in the Americas: In 1524, after conquering the Aztecs, the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés ordered colonists to plant grape vines. Ships sailing from Spain brought cuttings to the New World, where they thrived. Today, Mexico's biggest wine region is the Baja peninsula, on the country's northwest coast. Keep reading »
When I was in my early 20s, the whiskey sour was my favorite thing to drink. In the context of the college bar scene in Western Massachusetts, sours were candy-like cocktails of equal parts whiskey and sour mix—a cloying formula that I eventually tired of. By the time I stopped in at the restaurant Mélisse, the two-Michelin-starred restaurant of chef Josiah Citrin, in Santa Monica, California, last weekend, I hadn't had one for nearly a decade. Keep reading »
To make a zesty margarita or paloma, or just to sip neat as a smooth after-dinner drink, there's nothing better than really, really good tequila. The great tequilas of Mexico are a world away from the harsh shots you may have done in college, which were likely not even tequila at all, but a hybrid of just 51% agave spirit, aptly called "mixto." But 100 percent Blue Weber agave tequila — blue for the hue and Weber for the botanist who identified it; "true" tequila, if you will — is a spirit worth savoring and appreciating. Depending on what sort of drinker you are, find your true tequila here. See the gallery »
With cooler nights setting in on New York City after some of the most humid hot summer days, all I can think of is getting my hands on a glass of sauvignon gris. Originally from France, few places actually still grow the grape now, but vines were brought over to Chile in the 1800s, and the Cousińo family in Santiago is still producing gorgeous wines from it. A relative of sauvignon blanc, this pink-skinned grape produces a wine with a sweet, acidic nose, reminiscent of dried oranges and tangerines, fuller on the palate than its zippy brother—all around, this bottle is perfect for sipping on a cool late-summer evening, and goes great with oysters, mussels, and other richer seafoods.
Cousiño-Macul, Sauvignon Gris 2011, $14
When I visited central Oaxaca this summer, I was most excited to learn more about the region's prized spirit, mezcal, and so once in Oaxaca, I was delighted to land a crash course in a tiny, warmly lit mezcaleria just a few blocks from my hotel. Keep reading »
Living where I do in northern New Jersey, I'm afforded the luxury of radically differing environments depending on which direction I face. To the east, there's bustling New York City; to the west, sprawling mountains and forests. But there's no place I'd rather be than near the ocean, the lapping waves and soft sand of the Jersey shore transporting me to a perfect state of relaxation. On summer days when I can't make it to the beach, a simple tropical cocktail in my kitchen can have the same effect. Keep reading »
Hailing from the sky-high Valle de Cafayate in the region of Salta in northwest Argentina — where the cool nights do wonders for the lip-smacking acid in the fragrant torrontés grapes — this is one great summer white. With its orange blossom and lychee bouquet and its balance of tart, fresh, and tropical flavors, it's a great wine for a spicy Asian meal, particularly one enjoyed outdoors. Grab some Thai takeout and go have a picnic; this bottle's screw-top makes it easy to deal with, and it offers a whole lot of enjoyment for the price.
Dońa Paula Estate Torrontés 2011, $15