Category: Swill Food and Grog
No wonder I particularly like the French stuff…
Champagne widows stamped grand legacy on wine
REIMS, France – For Champagne to become the tipple it is today — popped at weddings, quaffed in casinos, sprayed by racing drivers and smashed against ships — a few men had to die.
Not just any old men. Young ones married to clever young women.
Without the widows of Champagne, mankind’s most seductive fizz might well not be what it is now. One of the world’s most famous Champagnes — Veuve (“Widow”) Clicquot — explicitly evokes the rather grim tradition. But other legendary houses — Bollinger, Laurent-Perrier and Pommery — also got their starts from tragedy-tinged widows. Then there are the many lesser-known names that still carry the widow tag, such as Veuve Fourny and Veuve Doussot.
From its bottle shape to its taste, color, labeling and even marketing, Champagne owes its uniqueness to a series of widows from the early 19th century who used the sometimes mysterious deaths of their husbands to enter the male-dominated business world. The widows became so successful that dozens of Champagnes added “Veuve” to their names even though no widow ran the house — just for its mystique and marketing value.
“Champagne is the story of widows,” said Francois Godard, scion of Veuve Godard et Fils Champagne house. “Women who lost their husbands, and then outshone the men.”
Widowhood gave these figures an independent social status in France. Unlike other women — who were the property of a father or a husband — only a widow could become a CEO.
“In the 19th century … if you’re not married you’re dependent on your father, you can’t have a bank account and you can’t pay staff. If you are married you are reliant on your husbands,” explained Fabienne Moreau, Veuve Clicquot’s archivist. “Only a widow can take this position as head of a company.”
…Widow Lilly Bollinger sealed the industry’s feminist reputation in 1941, when she took the reins from her deceased husband and rapidly expanded Bollinger internationally over three decades to the prominence it enjoys.
Bollinger was known for her bubbly wit.
“I drink it when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it,” she once said, “unless I’m thirsty.“
Actually, I decided to start cooking in cast iron
A little story about that pan. It’s a 12″ Lodge pan (which, btw, gives you a hint of just how ginormous the strips from Costco are) that I got pre-seasoned a few years ago. About 3 years ago Daughter had a few friends over for an ethnic food project in High School and they decided to make churros, and as of course they needed a decent frying pan they used the cast iron. No worries, and the churros came out damn good for a batch made by a gringa, a philippina and a hindu. But I digress. Anywho, I came home from work and Daughter, bless her wonderful sweet caring heart, had cleaned up after she and her friends had cooked in the kitchen. She had wiped off the stove, cleaned off the counter, put away all the ingredients, and had PUT THE CAST IRON PAN TO SOAK IN HOT SOAPY WATER IN THE SINK.
I do love her, I really do.
But needless to say this pan has had a tough childhood as you can see by the first photo. But what the hey, I wiped it out, added a little oil and got her cranking. The new york strip I generously seasoned with salt and pepper and let come to room temperature. You may not be able to tell but she was almost 2″ thick.
Once the oil got hot enough I plopped her down and she just sizzled away. 5 minutes on one side, then flipped for another 5, and then really I flipped her again for nearly another 5. Lots of smoke produced, but oh my god, the saltypeppery crust was crispily divine.
It may well be one of the finest steaks I’ve ever cooked, and I have cooked a lot of steaks.
The pan, well I stripped her a bit and she is in the oven being re-seasoned as we speak, as I reckon she is going to be getting a lot of use from now on.
Diligent Gentle Readers will recall that this past January we took a wonderful trip to Brazil. You will also recall that in the midst of afore-mentioned gastronomic excess we had a wonderful lunch in Rio with some very neat and creative food, most notably a cheese/shrimp mixture inside a pumpkin
At the time it struck me that how cool would that be back here in Gringolandia for Thanksgiving?
Well, since we have some Outlaws and Relations coming, I thought it best if I gave it a trial run this weekend.
Of course, I also decided that I’d best subject myself and my poor Bride to a trial run of wine as well, as I just simply could not inflict untested wine upon our Dear Guests
This wine, at $28, ain’t cheap, and it had a 93 or so rating from Parker. It just didn’t do a lot for me, frankly. My Beloved Bride liked the faint smoky character it has, but to me it was rather tepid and plain. Oh well, it still contained alcohol.
Anyhoo, I bought me a few mini pumpkins, which are surprisingly hard to find post-Halloween,
and hollowed the suckers out
and put them in a 325º oven to roast for, oh, 25 minutes or so.
I then took my Costco brie
and cut off the outer rind and placed it, along with some diced red bell pepper, two shakes of dehydrated onion and cracked black pepper in a double boiler (my Bride’s idea)
and let that gently meld and merge and then I glopped it into the pumpkins, added a few pre-cooked shrimp and some more black pepper
and then back into the oven for another 20-25 minutes of cooking while I made the saltimboca
At this stage the first bottle gave up the ghost and I moved to the next potential Turkey Day wine
This was another Not Cheap wine ($30) and I was again underwhelmed. Yes, it had a more pronounced butterscotch and ripe melon character than the previous wine, but dang it still to me was not worth this kind of money. Oh well, back to the drawing board.
I have to say the timing worked out pretty well, as the time it took, all of 20 minutes really, to prepare the saltimboca was just the right amount of time for the pumpkins to get all bubbly cheesey in their goodness
and the flavor was quite tasty, especially when topped with fresh cilantro and you scraped some of the rich pumpkin flesh onto your spoon with the cheese.
As far as the wine goes, well I’ll just have to buy a few more different bottle and keep experimenting.
Since the weather was getting cool and wonderfully Autumnally I decided to make short ribs. Since that is a two day project I had my Special Helper assist me for a few hours Saturday during the preparations
Once they were done and cooling down to go into the fridge to yummify over night I made some curried butternut squash soup for Saturday’s dinner
My Bride made some deee-lish grilled cheeses to round things out.
Man, I tell you, I spent at least 6 hours on my feet in the kitchen Saturday…must have cost me at least 4 bottles of wine.
But it was all worth it because the short ribs we polished off on Sunday night were exceedingly yum
on a bed of tarragon-flavored brown rice with some roasted brussel sprouts.
And lots of wine.
My friend of the same name is quite real
or was rather…
But lo! What red through yonder greenness breaks!
Yummy stuff. I decided I wanted to go a little malolactic-buttery chardonnay tonight so I picked up a few bottle of this La Crema for $15ish. Decent buttery cantaloupe fruit with a softer acidity than I expected. A nice full bodied wine.
A sure sign that Daughter is home for the weekend and I am making pah.
I truly give my thanks
Some mornings you just have to go all in.
Raise a glass of chianti, my Friends; a Dear One has left us
There are heavy hearts in the culinary world today upon hearing the news that famed cookbook author Marcella Hazan passed at the age of 89.
I cannot count the number of meals I have made using her book.
God, she was this kind of awesome
She begged home cooks to use more salt and once wrote that if readers were concerned about salt affecting one’s life expectancy, to “not read any further.”
And I say Oyster
Yum yum: 6 fresh oysters on the half shell for $10 yesterday at the Guinness and Oyster Festival in Red Bank.
Also fried oysters were consumed
As were lobster rolls
And lots of tasty Guinness.
And that means we need to glutinate ourselves now on yums like grilled scallops and swordfish
and also on vitamin-packed beverages
Fear the marmot, my friends
Health officials fear an outbreak of bubonic plague in central Asia after a teenage boy died from the disease and three more were admitted to hospital in Kyrgyzstan.
Temirbek Isakunov, a 15-year-old from a mountain village near the border with Kazakhstan, reportedly died from the disease last week after eating an infected barbecued marmot. Kyrgyzstan’s emergency ministry said a young woman and two children from a different village who came into contact with Isakunov were hospitalised on Tuesday with the high fever and swelling around the neck and armpits characteristic of bubonic plague, local news outlets reported.
A total of 131 people, including 33 medical personnel, have been quarantined, although none of them have yet exhibited symptoms of the disease, the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda in Kyrgyzstan reported. The health ministry continues to find and quarantine people who came into contact with the teenager, according to its director.
Judging by the picture that headlines the article
I’d say it was actually Caddyshackistan…
Kind of an odd duality running through this. The nose is full and sweet but also hot and these all show up in the sipping: full caramel sweetness tempered with a forward hot alcohol that cleans off the palate for the next sip. Yum. And I think it was only $28 or so…
…is pulled pork lasagna night!
Been at this airport bar for a few hours.
And my flight just got delayed 3 hours…
Just doing my part to revive the economy.
A short video about the Obama administration’s #WarOnCheese
Yes. You heard that right.
The short ribs turned out pretty darned yummy.
after they sat all night in the fridge to congealulate I took the pot out and gently skimmed off the fat chunks then put it on the stove on medium to simmer and reduce some more
while that was enthickalating I made some unctuous mashed spuds and my Bride oven roasted some brussel sprouts
nom nom de nom nom nom
I need to buy bigger plates.
They’re what’s for dinner
with some sauteed kale on the side
Of course a CERTAIN SOMEONE was far more interested in the short ribs I started tonight for Sunday’s dinner
and then he became all Mr. Sulky Pants when he felt short-changed on the short rib scraps
quick, call the ASPCA
Why look who just came in!
Got up a tad earlier than I cared to this morning to get the 12lbs of pork butt on the smoker
The knockout roses are looking quite neony
and it was exceedingly pleasant sitting on the deck working my way through a pot of coffee
(gratuitous multi-grill pr0n)
…in freakin’ May.
Thanks Al. Tons.
Like many folks on the East Coast my plans of summeresque grilling evaporated, strike that, were washed out by this cold drizzly rain were under. May 24th and it’s in the low 40s. Global Warming my left shoe.
Anyhoo, so I needed to dig into the Warm Me Up Scottie bin:
Firstly, of course, was red wine
I picked this up the other night whilst the Bingleys were enjoyng some burgers with kcruella. It’s about $13 and is a very smooth velvety wine with soft tannins. A few glasses put me in the mood to brown about 1lb of italian sausage and 2 Pamelas (cut into bite-sized strips) in large straight-sided pan
I must herewith confess that I used turkey sausage; with the addition of a couple of teaspoons of fennel seed it worked perfectly fine, plus there’s no grease to drain off.
Once it’s reasonably browned add 3/4 cup each of wild rice and brown rice and a healthy amount of red pepper flakes
and 2 cups chicken stock, 1 1/2 cups white wine and 1/2 cup of water
and 3 cloves of chopped garlic
bring it to a boil then reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 45 minutes or so until the rice is mostly done (remember this is brown rice which takes a lot longer than white rice) during which time you will be studiously ignored by someone who in fact DID get a lot of chicken
a fact which he conveniently forgets
Once the rice is mostly done toss in a pound or so of fresh chopped asparagus
and cover and cook for 10 minutes or so until the asparagus is done but still crisp and eat
with more wine as appropriate, of course.
Taste pretty darn good, actually.
(although I admit it really is rather…nasty looking)
flatten the bugger out and merrily salt before grilling
oh and don’t forget the oven-roasted brussel sprouts!