In the last gasps of cold weather, my favorite brew to drink is porter. The lean ancestor to stout, swarthy porter has plenty of rich flavor and creaminess to go with the final crop of root vegetables and last spoonfuls of hearty cold-weather stew, but in its lighter, livelier character, it presupposes the warm days to come. A superb version is Deschutes Black Butte Porter, an ale of such layered deliciousness, I had to stop mid-sip, to tell the truth, and write this little paean to it right away. Brewed amid its namesake evergreen-clad peaks in Bend, Oregon, it's a porter made with a rainbow of malts, from pale to wheat to chocolate and more, all of which add their own flavors: nutty, roasted, toasted, grassy, and with just a hint of zingy hop bitterness to prop it all up. There's even a yeasty, funky Bourdeaux-like note to it. All this at only 5.2 percent alcohol? It's the middle of the day in March. Is it time for a porter? Yep.
Growing up, there was always a giant box of black licorice sitting on my grandmother's living room table. For me, this box was an evil temptation: I hated those rubbery, black cords of supposed candy, but every visit, I'd try again hoping that the sweet offer of "candy" would reward my tongue. Yeah, right. It might as well have been a stalk of fennel. Keep reading »
From the exuberant libations that came out of Paris in the roaring twenties (or les années folles as they are known in France) to refined modern drinks such as a raspberry-cognac sparkler, we're in love with cocktails inspired by the City of Light.
This story starts not so long ago, when I was living the carefree life of a young expatriate in France. (Or we could put it another way: This story starts not so long ago, when I was mired in existential crisis whilst trying to extricate myself from work visa complications in France.) I was spending many a two-hour lunch break mulling over my future, the edge of which was approaching with alarming swiftness. At the time, two options presented themselves: Fight against the bureaucracy to stay in Grenoble, the charming Alpine town where I was living, or throw up my hands and move to Paris, the City of Light, the hip, canal-crossed Paname. Keep reading »
Sonoma doesn't get the recognition for cabernet sauvignon that its chic neighbor Napa Valley receives, perhaps because Napa so defines the flavor and body of the typical California red. Sonoma, closer to the ocean, has a slightly milder climate, which lends itself to creating a more elegant cab in certain areas like the Alexander Valley and Sonoma Valley. These leaner, less robust wines have a hint of softness amidst their bright fruit and higher acidity. Some even have a hint of spice, bringing their complexity forward as you sip on the wine, and a great deal of structure that makes these wines great for aging. Keep reading »
I've always loved a classic bee's knees—a simple but vivifying cocktail of gin, honey, and lemon juice—and when making them at home, I've often played around with using chile-infused honey for a drink that delivers a stronger kick. But on a recent visit to Miami Beach, my at-home efforts were completely outdone when I tried a Killer Bee: a spicy elixir of gin, lemon juice, and house-made Thai bird chile-white peppercorn simple syrup—at Khong River House, a new northern Thai restaurant from the same folks behind Miami's perpetually packed fried chicken and bourbon joint, Yard Bird. Keep reading »
In 1997, beer enthusiast Don Feinberg wrangled some Belgian yeast from overseas pals and opened Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, New York. The Belgian-style brewery is now owned by Flanders-based Duvel Moortgat, and its seasonal release, Art of Darkness ($12.99/750 ml), is made with enough barley, wheat, and oats to put any Belgian tripel to shame. But despite its 8.9 percent alcohol content, it's a buoyant brew. A dose of dextrose helps the yeast carbonate the beer, and two fermentations—one in the tank and a second in the bottle—add even more effervescence. Light on the tongue and boasting malty bread, earth, and fennel flavors, which are balanced by herbal hops and black cherry-flavored yeast, it's a big but lithe companion for chocolate, cheesecake, and other rich sweets.
An advance copy of Matt Lee and Ted Lee's latest cookbook, The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen, landed on my desk a few weeks ago, and I was so charmed by its clever, minimalist cover that rather than tossing it atop the teetering pile of new releases that regularly threatens to take over my desk, I kicked my heels up and gave it a thorough browse. Or at least, that was the plan; instead, I found myself stopped in my tracks on page 34, where the genius Lees present a recipe for kumquat-infused gin—and a selection of inspired cocktails in which to use it. Keep reading »
Credit: Michael Kraus, Mondavi Drawing by Magrit Mondavi
From SAVEUR Issue #153When my husband opened the Robert Mondavi Winery in 1966, the Napa Valley was still depressed from Prohibition. You could buy land for $1,000 an acre. So with Napa's first new winery, Bob injected hope. He was so positive and generous. The other vintners came to him for advice. Or maybe they needed a truck, a few tons of grapes, or even money. He helped them all. He always said that the more good wine that came out of Napa Valley, the better it was for him. Today some vineyards go for $300,000 an acre. Keep reading »