Shake It, Honey

22 Feb

Some days are all work and no play days. Some days are all play and no work days. Some are selfless, others selfish. Some are rainy. Or sunshiney. Some are a glass of excellent wine, white table cloths and little black dress days. Today was a margaritas-at-noon type of day.

Honey Lime Margarita

IMG_6372Ingredients

1 oz lime juice

1 oz silver tequila (I used Patrón, but whatever you have is fine)

1/2 oz Triple Sec

1/2 oz honey

1/2 oz water, club soda, lemon-lime soda, etc.

IMG_6395Method

Look, it’s a margaritas-at-noon type of day, throw the stuff (minus any fizzy component unless you want this to be a clean-up-the-kitchen type day too) in a shaker and shake. It’s not complicated, that’s the whole point, so don’t be too picky with the measurements. If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, rim the glass with lime and coarse sea salt. I am of the half-rim persuasion, thanks to Earls, but do as you see fit. Fill that glass with crushed ice and strain in the deliciousness. Top with a splash of water or soda. Down the hatch, friend.

Tip: Do yourself a favour and make sure your honey is runny before putting it in the shaker and really shake, I mean, like shake what yo’momma gave ya, otherwise you’ll just end up with a blob of honey stuck to some ice cubes, which is not nearly as satisfying.

Cue Spring…

21 Feb

The wind has picked up again. Another cold snap is supposed to kick in tonight. I’m out of cute sweater dresses and I’m tired of boots.

It’s time for winter to be over. And since it appears it’s sticking around (much like #SochiProblems on Twitter), instead, I’ll be pretending the sun is setting over a beach instead of a snowdrift.

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I purchased this wine as part of the Joie de Vin promotion at the LCBO this month. The Lorentz family has been making wine since 1836 in Alsace, a region in the northeast of France along the Rhine river, near the German and Swiss border. Six generations of Lorentz have run the business and throughout the years their focus has been on creating refreshing, well-balanced and mostly dry wines that fit in seamlessly from apéritifs to the dinner table.

One of the first things that drew me to this particular bottle was the traditional label with a pretty yellow colour. Like I said, I’m hungry for spring and this wine symbolized just that. The next thing that drew my attention wasn’t traditional — the closure. Turns out Gustave Lorentz were one of the first producers in the region to adapt to screw cap. I’m all for the ease, resealability and freshness that screw caps provide, especially when it that ease and freshness carries through on the palate as this does.

IMG_6360The Gustave Lorentz 2012 Riesling Amethyste is light and clear in the glass, with citrus peel, honey, stone and floral aromas. It has serious acidity on the palate, but with enough lush and flavourful fruit to back it up. It channels images of enjoying a tarte flambée alsacienne (think the yummiest thin crust pizza ever topped with bacon and onion) while sitting on the patio in a quaint café while wearing a black and white stripped tank and cropped linen pants. That’s the joy of wine, it can transplant you to a completely different place with just a sip. Try it and see where you end up.

The Bill: $14.30 until March 2, $15.30 regularly

The Food: I’d love to try it with oysters. Thin crust pizza, paté, fish, goat cheese, sausages and sauerkraut would all work. 

The Verdict: I’d definitely buy it again, not only when I’m trying to force warmer weather.  I can see it being a riesling that even non-riesling lovers will enjoy, because of it’s acidity and austere quality. Plus, it presents good value.

The Case for More Loire…

12 Nov

I am always a big proponent of drinking something new. Life is too short to only drink the same cheap pinot grigio your drunk best friend keeps buying for girls night or the interchangeable bottles of cabernet you’ve been buying since you were listening to the Barenaked Ladies’ latest release on cassette. I feel that with every bottle you buy, you have a real opportunity to explore something, or somewhere new. And if you’re going to explore, you might as well ‘by-the-glass’ visit one of my most yearned for travel destinations — the Loire Valley.

It’s really no surprise that I love the Loire. From Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé to cabernet franc-based reds, this region produces the effervescent and expressive wines that I covet. One of the best descriptions I’ve read about Loire wines is that they “become quite fragile with age, decaying gently, like leaves in the rain.” That’s some pretty The Notebook-worthy adoration. If lovely whites and delicate reds (including my beloved gamay) weren’t enough, I’m seriously falling for their fizz. Crémant de Loire is made in the heartland of the valley in the méthode traditionelle. It’s an affordable alternative to Capital-C Champagne and is the perfect sparkling aperitif with hors d’oeuvres, like smoked salmon and cream cheese pinwheels.

So it’s perhaps not shocking that when I unloaded a bottle of Chateau du Cleray 2012 Cleray Muscadet Sevre et Maine from the box Madre brought home recently, I immediately locked it in my sights, like a hunter’s laser on a target.

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Melon de Bourgogne, was of little interest in mighty Burgundy, but growers in the Loire saw the over-productive variety as a cold-resistant answer to their struggles (which I can relate to, being Canadian). This isn’t a very expressive variety, so it does need special care in the vineyard and attentive winemaking to make it stand out. Luckily, some wineries still see the value in producing it correctly, like the Sauvion family. Château du Cléray has been run by the Sauvion’s since 1935 (that’s longer than superheros have worn a skin-tight costumes or the Hoover Dam or Life Magazine have been in existence, FYI). Today, winemaker Pierre Jean Sauvion is in charge, the 4th generation of family to run the vineyards.

Because of its proximity to the ocean, the region sees more vintage variation than in other areas. Luckily though, 2012 was an excellent vintage for Muscadet, in large part due to sacrifices made by growers. Just ask Richard Hemming, who explains in an article from January on JancisRobinson.com that the main reason for the concentration of flavours was shockingly low yields. “The culprit was the same grim weather conditions that have tainted 2012 as a write-off across Europe, despite the fact that many regions are delighted with the quality,” he writes.

This is definitely one of the top Muscadets available at the LCBO, even if there’s only 14 on the list. It took home bronze at both the Decanter and International Wine Challenge awards, if you’re the type that needs medals to validate success. But even without them, this is downright enjoyable…kinda like listening to this on repeat.

It’s a classy, high acidity wine with great citrus, stone fruit and wet, salty rock aromas. It’s dry and focused on the palate, with fresh green apple flavours, decent length and tons of freshness on the finish. It’ll go down just as easy as that pinot grigio, but with a heck more flavour and appeal. Try it with anything from under the sea, like oysters, mussels in a classic white wine sauce or flaky fish with a brown butter and capers.

Just remember, friends don’t let friends drink crappy pinot grigio. Life’s too short.

12 Drummers Drumming

17 Jan

Ah! You thought I had forgotten about you, didn’t you? Alas, I have not. I did get sidelined by a wonderful case of pneumonia, but things are looking up this week. Besides, Ukrainian New Years was this past weekend, so we aren’t that far out of the holiday shuffle.

I find this time of year, the post-holiday blues time, to be really difficult. I live to host and entertain and amuse, so once that’s peaked, my attitude kind of goes downhill and things become rather bleak.

Apparently, I’m not alone in the seasonal depression. Today is known as the most depressing day of the year. What a better day then to release our final holiday bevvie – appropriately named for today and easypeasy to whip up. It’ll have you dreaming of the beach in no time.

Blue Monday

2 oz. vodka (use whatever your tastebuds favour, I’m liking Skyy for the price and flavour, $25, LCBO #410415)

1/4 oz. triple sec (I’m a fan of McGuinness brand, $18.95, LCBO#631176)

1/4 oz. blue curacao (You gotta go with Bols – it’s great stuff, $16.45, LCBO #306076)

Shake all the ingredients over ice in a cocktail shaker. Strain into a martini glass and serve with a cherry. Umbrella optional, but highly encouraged.

11 Pipers Piping…

29 Dec

What’s that noise? It’s bells ringing in New Years, it’s annoying pipers tooting out a tune, it’s Auld Lang Syne being belted out in bars across the country as girls in tiaras fall over boys in plastic top hats.

If you’re celebrating in a much more reserved fashion this year, how about some capital C, Champagne for the festivities? In my mind, and those who promoted it to its gold medal status at the 2010 Intervin International Wine Awards, look no further than Piper Heidsieck Brut (LCBO#462432, $49.95).

It’s reasonably priced for legit Champagne and offers a ton of flavour and mouthfeel for that price. Creamy, delicious bubbly with nutty and stone fruit notes, this baby is the perfect thing to cheers with when the clock strikes 12 and you’re trying to avoid watching the robot-version of Dick Clark and squeezey Ryan Seacrest press the button to drop the glittery ball.

10 Lords a Leaping

26 Dec

If tequila makes the ladies dance, then beer makes the lords leap. And for this festive season, I’ve gotta recommend something a bit more tasty than whatever light beer you find in the corner of your uncle’s basement.

One of my favourites is Young’s Double Chocolate Stout (LCBO#103267, $3.50).

It’s like a tall, broody man that just sauntered on into the bar. With dark chocolate from start to finish – colour, aromas and taste, and throw in some wood – you’ve got a great bottle to cheers with. It’s also mighty good with my favourite Cottage Pie recipe by Anthony Sedlak.

Another recommended pick is Big Rock Breweries McNally’s Winter Spice Ale.

Only a few select Beer Stores carry it, but if you happen to live nearby one of such lucky locales – it’s worth the trip ($12.95/6 pack). This is a traditional amber ale blended with both pale and caramel malts that equals a round flavour profile. And it’s got bang for its buck at 6% alcohol and is jammed packed full of wintery spices – cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. Just open wide, okay?

There ya go, boys.

9 Ladies Dancing

24 Dec

What makes ladies dance? Tequila.

The sixth drink of Christmas comes to us from the good folks at Riazul Tequila (who the LCBO unfortunately does not carry, so we’ve subbed in other tequila). I present to you, the Razzelberry Dressing Margarita.

1 oz. of Leyenda Del Milagro silver tequila ($43.95, LCBO#83444, in replacement of Riazul Premium silver tequila, but most brands will do)

1/2 oz. of cranberry juice

1/2 oz. of blackberry juice (check by the other refrigerated juices in the grocery section)

1 oz. of Cointreau ($19.95, LCBO #10322)

1 oz. of lime juice

3 cranberries

3 blackberries

Muddle 2 cranberries and 2 blackberries in a cocktail shaker. Add some ice, the Riazul, the Cointreau and all the juices. Shake until your hand freezes and strain into a margarita glass (or an old-fashioned Champagne glass). Garnish with the last cranberry and blackberry stuck onto a toothpick or swizzle stick. Commence jazz hands and singing of ‘All the Single Ladies’.

Eight Maids a Milking…

21 Dec

Of all of the days of Christmas, this one seems the weirdest for me. And what’s more weird than a drink with an egg in it?

There are plenty of recipes online for eggnog, most in a punch bowl type form, dosed up with bourbon, whiskey or pretty much any booze smuggled in from Jamaica. But around my place, not too many people love the ‘nog – so I sought out a ‘per the glass’ recipe to make things merry and bright for those chosen few.

2 oz. light rum (I’m dreaming of the islands, man, so I’m recommending one of the Dominican’s most popular rums – Brugal Gold Label, $23, VINTAGES#600502)

6 oz. milk
1 tsp powdered sugar
1 whole egg
sprinkle of nutmeg
Shake up everything but the nutmeg with a good handful of ice and strain into a tall glass. Sprinkle the nutmeg over top and enjoy.

Seven Swans a Swimmin’…

20 Dec

When I think about swans, I think about beauty, grace and, well, squawking. So, this drink is for the night girlfriends all gather, gossip and gift (and of course, braid each others hair and have a pillow fights).

I love sangria for girls night because its fruity, without necessarily being rot-your-teeth-out sweet and it makes more drinks than just serving a bottle of wine. This recipe is merely suggestive – you can swap in different fruits (this one uses red and green fruits, oh so festive), fruit juices and liquors as you please.

Holiday Sangria

2 green apples, cut into thin slices

1 c. of frozen raspberries

1/2 c. of pomegrantate liquor (My mom and I are semi-obsessed with Pama Pomegranate Liquor, $39.95, LCBO #414)

1 c. raspberry, pomegranate or strawberry juice (whatever you find first)

1 bottle of rosé (I will not make any specific winery mad at me by suggesting one you should pour a crap load of other stuff into, because that’s like saying someone’s lasagna recipe needs more cheese, and frankly I’m not out to hurt feelings – but pick one of your favourites, that’s inexpensive and preferably drier in style)

Drop the fruit, the liquor and juice of your choosing into a pitcher, glug the rosé in. Stir. Refrigerate. Pour into the glasses you and your girlfriends will be toasting with (don’t forget the fruit!). Commence hair braiding.

Six Geese a Laying…

16 Dec

Geese eh? How ’bout a turkey instead?

There’s only one place to go with that – to America’s best selling premium bourbon and Hunter S. Thompson’s first love. It can quite literally make you lay an egg. Say howdy to Wild Turkey Bourbon ($27.95, LCBO#198184).

Now, some will say the only way to drink the stuff is straight outta the bottle. On the rocks is considered mixing with tradition. But, if you’re looking to keep your pants on this Christmas, maybe a cocktail is the way to go.

Cherry Gobbler

2 oz. of Wild Turkey bourbon

3/4 oz. of grenadine

4 oz. of Sprite or Mountain Dew

Shake the bourbon and grenadine in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Pour into a glass (with or without ice) and top it up with the lemon-lime sugary concoction of your choosing.

Rinse and repeat until you start saying things like, “It’s hotter than an hootenanny,” or calling your grandma meaner than chickens.

 

 

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