Archive for the ‘Wine and spirits’ Category

Meet ‘n’ Greet a Celebrity ‘Shiner

Friday, September 5, 2014
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Don’t expect free-flowing samples to be passed around, but here’s your chance to meet and greet celebrity moonshiner Jim Tom Hedrick …

Jim Tom HedrickThe TV personality will be in Marmet and Beckley this Wednesday to promote the release of his signature unaged rye, the first in series of “Legends” moonshines to be produced by Sugarlands Distilling Company in Gatlinburg, Tenn. The partnership with Sugarlands marks Jim Tom’s pursuit of going “legal” to make his brand of ‘shine available to the public for the first time.

Jim Tom with be on hand to sign autographs at King Cut Rate Liquor (9913 MacCorkle Ave.) in Marmet from noon to 2 p.m. Sept. 10, then at CJ’s Liquor (2152 Harper Rd.) in Beckley from 3-5 p.m. later that same day.

Both events are free and open to the public.

 

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark … Beer, That Is!

Monday, March 17, 2014
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Many people steer clear of drinking “dark” beers like stouts, porters or black ales because of their ominous color, fearing they are too heavy or strong..

But there’s no reason to be afraid of the dark. A beer’s color is not necessarily an indicator of its body, calorie content, alcohol level – even taste.

So if you plan to hoist a pint for St. Patrick’s Day tonight, keep in mind these three commonly held myths surrounding dark beer – as debunked by Julia Herz, publisher of CraftBeer.com and craft beer program director at the Brewers Association

 

Myth 1: All dark beers are rich and heavy.

Dark beer color comes from the barley and rising temperatures of heat. Color is not an indicator of weight or body of a beer.

Myth 2: Dark beers have more calories than paler beers.

The toasting is the reason that the beer is darker. The color of the beer has nothing to do with the calories it contains.

Myth 3: All dark beers are higher in alcohol.

Many dark beers are the same alcohol level of paler beers – some event lower. Color is not an indicator of alcohol levels of any beers, of any style.

 

If you’re looking for some Happy Hour inspiration, CraftBeer.com has also put together a list of local, American Craft Beer to help celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

And if you’re in need of some St. Patrick’s Day recipes (I’ve got the Corned Beef and Cabbage simmering on the stove as we speak), CraftBeer.com also offers more than 70 recipes that call for Stout to help you out.

Parkersburg’s North End Brews Now in Charleston

Thursday, September 12, 2013
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After stopping by several times, I finally wrote a pretty nice review of the new B&D Gastropub in Kanawha City, a bar-and-grill kinda’ place that set up shop in the old Murad’s location.

In addition to some pretty good pub grub, one of the coolest discoveries I made was stumbling upon the fine microbrews crafted at the North End Tavern & Brewery in Parkersburg.

Although I’ve heard of the place, I’m much more familiar with the likes of Bridge Brew Works and Mountain State Brewing Co. and just haven’t had the opportunity to sample North End’s fine creations. That all changed with the opening of B&D, currently the only place in Charleston to carry them.

All North End beers are hand-crafted on site from all-natural ingredients, including the finest barley malts, cereal grains, hops, yeast – and pure West Virginia spring water. Styles range from Belgian ales and Czech pilsners to British porters and light American lagers.

On the dark side, there’s a rich and frothy porter with roasted chocolate and black patent malts, or you can lighten things up with a crisp golden ale. There’s also a berry wheat (with West Virginia blackberries) and an aggressively hopped IPA bringing five select American malts and five unique American hops together in a bold blend.

But the best by far is Roedy’s Red. North End’s flagship brew is a classic American amber with bold hop and malt characteristics. Traditional two-row and caramel malts create its unique body while Warrior and Amarillo hops give personality to its aroma and finish. This amber ale (think a “hoppy” Killian’s) has won statewide competitions, including several People’s Choice Awards.

I can see why. It’s a beauty!

Chef Brown … You’ve Been Chopped!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013
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If you read my column in today’s Daily Mail, you know I spent last night enjoying a fantastic night of wine, food, music and friends at Edgewood Country Club.

It was everything I expected in a nice evening out and more – and yet another feather in Festivall’s cap.

But what you don’t know is who won Charleston’s first-ever Edgewood Become a Work of Art “Chopped”-style culinary throwdown, in which two amateur chefs (and their teams) competed against one another to prepare two different dishes for four judges using a “mystery box” of ingredients revealed just 15 minutes before the stoves were fired up.

So who won? Oh, we’ll get to that.

First things first. What an AWESOME evening!

Held on Edgewood Country Club’s patio overlooking the city of Charleston, more than a hundred guests mingled – listening to the awesome “Fort Hillbillies” band, socializing with friends, sipping wine – while two culinary teams battled it out over a hot grill. Local “Wine Boy” John Brown and Charleston doctor Stefan Maxwell led their teams to create a menu featuring at least three ingredients from the mystery box (actually a coffin-sized cooler) presented to them right as the competition began.

Among their choices … sea bass, ahi tuna, ribeye and a selection of fresh produce, herbs, grains and full use of Chef Jeremy Still’s Edgewood Country Club pantry.

I immediately started plotting what I would make under the circumstances, but my ideas differed from what these fast-thinkers came up with on the fly. Chef Maxwell crafted a menu of a fire-grilled Caribbean Angus rib-eye roast with a rum-infused jerk reduction over warm potato salad. He paired that with a cored curried apple stuffed with goat cheese, figs and warm berry compote.

I loved the interplay of heat and sweat in his dish, but my steak was definitely overcooked compared to the plates I saw fellow judges enjoying on the left and right. Ah, consistency. But that sweet-savory-fruity apple dessert was one of the most ingenious, delicious I’ve had.

Chef Brown’s team offered a summer salad medley – a single plate featuring small tastes of crab Louis, grilled asparagus and a Caprese salad of sliced tomatoes, Buffalo mozzarella and julienned basil. Those are three dishes I love individually, but never would’ve thought to pair them together on the same plate. But why not?

The Brown team’s main course featured a Southwest-seared rib-eye, grilled broccolini and a farrow-stuffed grilled pepper. I dream of broccolini and farrow, so this was a winner in my book. The steak was cooked nicely, too, so there was little to find fault with here.

But that’s what judges do, so we filled out our scorecards to name an ultimate winner. And in the spirit of the show that inspired it … “Chef Brown, you’ve been Chopped!”

Chef Maxwell’s Caribbean-inspired menu won by the narrowest of margins, just 1.3 points out of a possible 60. So very close.

No matter, it was an awesome night – and yet another reason why West Virginia, Charleston and Festivall will forever hold a special place in my heart. (And belly.)

Enjoy a Gourmet Feast in a Gorgeous Farm Setting

Thursday, May 30, 2013
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If you love great locally sourced food, fine wine and good company – all enjoyed against a backdrop of sweeping views of West Virginia’s rolling farmland – have I got an event for you!

Tickets are still available for the June 10 “Friends of Food” gourmet farm feast at beautiful Swift Level Farm in Lewisburg. Join other diehard “foodies” (and me!) as we celebrate West Virginia’s culinary heritage and local farm products for an unforgettable evening at one of the most beautiful and idyllic settings in the state.

Some of our region’s finest chefs will team up to serve a “New Appalachian” feast paired with featured wines from the Wine Shop at Capitol Market.

Cocktails will start at 6:30 pm, with dinner served at 7:30 pm. Seating will be in tables of eight, and tickets are $100 per person.

You can order yours now – and take a look at the entire mouthwatering menu – here:

http://castironcookoff.com/Friends-of-Food-at-Swift-Level-fof.htm

Juleps & Bourbon: Talk Derby to Me!

Thursday, May 2, 2013
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Mint Julep

The classic Mint Julep

Pour yourself a Mint Julep and put on your fanciest hat. “The most exciting two minutes in sports” is less than two days away!Much more than a horse race, the Kentucky Derby is a social EVENT — one of the most watched and celebrated sporting events of the year.

And since food and drink play a starring role at any such gathering, here are a few tasty Derby-inspired treats to dazzle guests at your soiree. A not-so-simple cocktail of ice, bourbon, sugar and mint, the iconic Mint Julep is a must. For a sweeter treat, mix up a homemade cream liqueur “sipping cream” with bourbon, coffee and chocolate. Or how about some Boozy Butter-Bourbon Cupcakes?

Yes please!

Boozy Butter-Bourbon Cupcakes

8 pre-made vanilla-frosted cupcakes
1/4 stick of salted butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup of Marker’s Mark Bourbon
1/2 tsp. salt

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter. Add the powdered sugar, salt and then bourbon. Stir well. Using a turkey baster or icing pump, inject filling into bottom of each cupcake and serve.

Dessert Sipping Cream 

1 3/4 cups Makers Mark bourbon
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 – 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
1 Tbsp. instant coffee granules
2 Tbsp. quality chocolate syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Add all ingredients to a blender, mix and serve.

The Perfect Mint Julep

1 liter Maker’s Mark bourbon
Lots of fresh mint
Distilled water
Granulated sugar
Powdered sugar

  1. To prepare the mint extract, remove about 40 small mint leaves – wash and place in a small mixing bowl. Cover with 3 ounces of Maker’s Mark and soak 15 minutes. Gather the leaves in a clean, soap-free piece of cotton cloth and vigorously wring the mint bundle over the bowl of whisky. Dip the bundle again and repeat the process several times. Then set aside.
  2. To prepare the simple syrup, mix 1 cup of granulated sugar and one cup of water in a cooking pot. Heat to dissolve the sugar. Stir constantly so the sugar does not burn. Set aside to cool.
  3. To prepare the mint julep mixture, pour 3 ½ cups of Maker’s Mark into a large glass bowl or glass pitcher. (Pour the remaining whisky from the liter bottle into another container and save it for another purpose). Add 1 cup of the simple syrup to the Maker’s Mark.
  4. Now begin adding the mint extract a tablespoon at a time to the julep mixture. Each batch of mint extract is different, so you must taste and smell after each tablespoon is added. You may have to leave the room a time or two to clear your nose. The tendency is to use too much mint. You are looking for a soft mint aroma and taste – generally about 3 tablespoons. When you think it’s right, pour the whole mixture back into the empty liter bottle and refrigerate it for at least 24 hours to “marry” the flavors.
  5. To serve the mint julep, fill each glass (preferably a silver julep cup) half full with shaved ice. Insert a sprig of mint and then pack in more ice to about an inch over the top of the cup. Then, insert a straw that has been cut to one inch above the top of the cup so the nose is forced close to the mint when sipping the julep.
  6. When frost forms on the cup, pour the refrigerated julep mixture over the ice and add a sprinkle of powdered sugar to the top of the ice, then serve.

Stout Mac & Cheese. Yes, Yes & Please!

Friday, March 15, 2013
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With just two more days until “The Wearin’, Eatin’ and Drinkin’ o’ the Green” (also known as St. Patrick’s Day) I’m still mining cookbooks, magazines and ye’ ol’ internet for some tasty Irish recipes.
Stout Mac & Cheese

Stout Mac & Cheese

Yesterday, I shared one for a Green Apple, Cheesy Guinness Melt.

Today, it’s Stout Mac & Cheese, a recipe that comes from – wait for it – Cooking Light?

Yep.

By using reduced-fat cheese and turkey sausage, it’s a decadent dish that won’t cause as much cosmetic damage as it could.

So get to cookin’, eatin’ and enjoyin’ this tasty o’ dish!

 

STOUT MAC & CHEESE

7 ounces uncooked rotini pasta
2 teaspoons canola oil
4 ounces hot turkey Italian sausage
3/4 cup diced onion
2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup Guinness Stout beer
1/3 cup whole milk
2.5 ounces reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 ounces light processed cheese, shredded (such as Velveeta Light)
Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 450°.

2. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.

3. While pasta cooks, heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Remove casing from sausage. Add sausage and onion to pan; cook 6 minutes, stirring to crumble sausage. Add flour, pepper, and salt; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in beer; bring to a boil.

4. Cook 3 minutes or until thick and bubbly, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add milk and cheeses, stirring until smooth. Stir in pasta. Divide mixture evenly among 4 ceramic gratin dishes coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450° for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Recipe courtesy Cooking Light

A Green Apple, Cheesy Guinness Melt? Yes Please!

Thursday, March 14, 2013
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Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day this weekend, my friends at the U.S. Apple Association sent along a crazy-good sounding recipe to help mark the occasion.

Green Apple Guinness Melt

Not only are the flavors Irish inspired, but the recipe also features a little GREEN, thanks to the apples, and GUINNESS, so you can eat and toast at the same time.

Slainte!

The rich, rustic “Green Apple Guinness Melt” combines sweet and tangy Granny Smith apples, savory cheddar cheese and creamy stout beer, all buried in a butter-filled baguette.

Doesn’t that sound amazing? And if you’re still not convinced, take a look at that photo below. Count me in!

Green Apple Guinness Melt

1 baguette, cut into thirds, then each piece cut lengthwise in half (6 pieces total)
2 1/2 tablespoons salted butter
2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 ounces dry stout, such as Guinness
14 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Kosher or sea salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper
1 Granny Smith apple, unpeeled, cored and cut crosswise into 1/8-inch thick slices

  1. Turn broiler to high and set a rack about 6 inches from the heating element. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, shiny side up. Arrange the baguette pieces, cut side down, on the sheet and broil until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Remove from oven, turn the pieces over, and use your fingers to scoop out enough bread to make a channel in the center of each piece. Set baguette pieces aside, still on the tray.
  2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook until bubbling and golden brown. Add flour and whisk it in until the mixture is smooth and chestnut brown. Add the beer and whisk until smooth, then reduce heat to medium and continue stirring until thickened and smooth. Reduce heat to low and add cheese, mustard and Worcestershire, stirring continuously until melted and smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Spoon a generous amount of cheese sauce into each baguette piece. Lay a few overlapping apple slices over the cheese, then transfer to the oven and broil until browned and bubbling, 2 to 4 minutes. Serve hot.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

West Virginia Gin Comes Up Short at ‘Food Oscars’

Saturday, January 26, 2013
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You may have read earlier this month that an up-and-coming West Virginia distillery was nominated as a national finalist in the prestigious Good Food Awards.

Considered the Oscars of the industry, the Good Food Awards reviewed nearly 1,400 entries before selecting Lewisburg’s Smooth Ambler Greenbrier Gin as one of only 184 finalists from 31 states to make the cut for this year’s ceremony.

The awards were handed out last week and, alas, Smooth Ambler didn’t win. But as they say at the Oscars, it really is an honor just to be nominated among such great company.

Smooth Ambler’s gin was nominated based on product quality (as judged through blind tastings) and their approach to environmental and social responsibility. It was West Virginia’s only finalist, although 14 honorees come from a Washington, D.C.-anchored “food shed” that covers West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland.

Although I’m not a gin aficionado by any means, I have sampled Smooth Ambler and have to say it’s pretty special. Earning a score of 91 (and comments like “it really sings” and “it’s perfect”) by American Craft Spirits, Greenbrier Gin blends its juniper base with citrus and black-pepper spice to create a crisp, smooth and luxurious finish.

To learn more, visit www.smoothambler.com and www.goodfoodawards.org.

Top-Shelf Recipes Raise the Bar

Wednesday, July 18, 2012
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So my friends at Maker’s Mark called to ask if I’d like them to send me a big ol’ bottle of their premium Kentucky bourbon.

Duh!

“To use in some of our recipes,” they say.

Really? Can’t I just sip and savor this liquid gold as one should? But if I’m going to agree to accept the sample, I need to play by the rules and give their recipes due diligence.

So it was with great pain that I poured four precious cups of Maker’s Mark into a pitcher of lemon and orange peels, sugar, fruit juice, nutmeg and Champagne to stir up a creation called “Fancy Bourbon Punch.”

And it was with baited breath that I blended two tablespoons of top shelf bourbon into a brick of cream cheese for a “Blueberry Bourbon Cream Cheese Pie.”

My first thought as I was mixing up both creations was … SACRILEGE!

Would you use Kobe beef to make Hamburger Helper? Would you break open a $100 bottle of wine to make a pitcher of sangria? Well, maybe. I guess it would be better than using lesser-quality ingredients.

But when bias gave way to objectivity, I’ll have to say both treats were pretty tasty – especially after their respective flavors had a chance to meld overnight.

The cocktail still had the depth and punch of bourbon, but with a sweetened, fruity, spiced twist. (The nutmeg did wonders!) And the dessert was like a traditional blueberry pie atop a thin cheesecake base, with a hint of bourbon laced through both layers.

Well played, Maker’s Mark. Not a waste after all!

 

x   x   x

 

The folks at www.delish.com recently compiled a list of “All-American Eats: Must-Try Foods from the 50 States” featuring the ingredients or dish they felt best represented each place.

Some interesting items showed up, including white barbecue sauce fromAlabama, prickly pear cactus from Arizona, buffalo burgers from Montana, knoephla (a German potato and dumpling soup) from North Dakota, and fried chicken and waffles from Georgia.

There were some pretty unusual entries, too. Chocolate gravy and biscuits from Arkansas, a horseshoe sandwich from Illinois (an open-faced meat sandwich covered with fries and cheese sauce) and cashew chicken from Missouri. Who knew Missouri was so … oriental?

But there were no such surprised when it came to West Virginia. Ramps, baby!

“Garlicky, pungent ramps are a rare green with a short growing season, but they are ample in the Appalachian region, and seem to thrive in the cool mountains of West Virginia,” the article said.

“Also known as wild leeks, these strongly flavored greens are highly sought after when available. They are used in all types of dishes, from roasts to pastas to egg breakfasts. But their unique flavor might be best savored in a quick, simple sauté with a quality olive oil, salt, and pepper.”

The site also suggested where to get you some good ones.

“Richwood is the capital of the wild ramp. The town is home to the National Ramp Association and the Annual Feast of the Ramson, which takes place every April. Because ramps are such a seasonal food, it can be difficult to find them on restaurant menus, even in the heart of ramp country,” it said.

“But at the peak of the season, in very early spring, check out the Bluegrass Kitchen in Charleston. The restaurant focuses on making fresh, local food packed with regional vegetables and other West Virginia specialties.”

Pretty cool.

The feature also included an elegant recipe, courtesy of Oprah Magazine, for flash-sautéed ramps with sugar snap peas and pattypan squash with toasted walnuts and fresh pea tendrils. We’re a little late in the year for fresh ramps, but clip this idea in case you saved any in the freezer or to tuck away for next spring.

Have your own ideas about what dish should represent the Mountain State? Share your suggestions socially at www.facebook.com/delish.

 

Blueberry Bourbon Cream Cheese Pie

4 cups fresh blueberries
¾ cup sugar
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
4 Tbsp. Maker’s Mark bourbon
½ cup cream cheese, at room temperature
1 pre-baked pie shell 

  1. Mash 2 cups of the blueberries with the sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of bourbon. Place the berry mixture in a medium pan and place it over medium heat. Bring the filling to a boil, stirring, and boil it until it is thickened and clear, about 3 minutes. Let the filling cool to room temperature.
  2. Beat together the cream cheese and the remaining 2 tablespoons bourbon. Spread the cream cheese over the bottom of the pie crust.
  3. Stir the remaining blueberries into the cooled berry filling. Spread the berry filling over the cream cheese layer. Chill the pie at least 2 hours, or until it is cold. Serve with lightly whipped cream. 

Recipe by Ian Knauer, Food Writer and Cookbook Author

 

Sauteed Ramps with Squash

Sauteed Ramps with Squash

Sauteed Ramps, Sugar Snap Peas & Pattypan Squash

1 bunch ramps or scallions
1 pound sugar snap peas
2 Tbsp. walnut oil or olive oil
½ pound baby yellow pattypan squash or 2 medium yellow squash, chopped
1 Tbsp. orange zest, finely grated
salt and pepper
½ cup pea tendrils
¼ cup walnuts, chopped 

  1. Trim roots from ramps and finely chop white bulbs. Slice green leaves into 1/4-inch strips. String sugar snap peas, cut off stem ends and leave whole.
  2. Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add white part of ramps and cook 1 minute. Add peas and pattypan squash. Sauté until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in zest, salt and pepper to taste and ramp greens.
  3. Remove from heat and stir until greens slightly wilt. Add pea tendrils and walnuts before serving.

Recipe from O, The Oprah Winfrey Magazine