Category Archives: Bar Food

When J. Lohr Chardonnay Met Lindt Chocolates

J. Lohr Estates Riverstone Chardonnay 431x1200 When J. Lohr Chardonnay Met Lindt ChocolatesChocolate and wine are a classic match — but which chocolate, and which wine? Chocolatier Lindt and California winemaker J. Lohr have been working on figuring that out, and they think they have it down, now.

Among the half-dozen pairings they have devised, the duo sent this one for me to try out for myself: 2013 J. Lohr Chardonnay Riverstone Arroyo Seco Monterey paired with Lindt Excellence Dark Chocolate with Pineapple.

At first I didn’t think these two were going to pair well together. Chardonnay is not a natural companion with chocolate, but many white wines do feature tropical notes that might pair well with pineapple. The J. Lohr, however is a more traditional California style Chardonnay, with notes focused on vanilla, wood, and fresh apples, with very little tropical character to it at all. But surprisingly the wine does do an admirable job of really enhancing the pineapple in the chocolate. I am not sure if it’s the acid and fruit in the wine, or merely the presence of a liquid to help separate the chocolate from the fruit embedded in it, but I did find the pineapple and other citrus notes were much more powerful — and longer-lasting on the finish — when taken together with the Chardonnay. Neat trick. Give it a whirl.

Tasting Report: When Sake Met Cheese

Sake is traditionally thought of as a pairing for Japanese cuisine… but how about cheese? SakeOne put together a little sampler in conjunction with the Marin French Cheese Company (plus friends) — an amazing producer that’s all of 8 miles from my house here in Northern California.

We’ve reviewed most of these sakes before, so today I’m just looking at the concept of pairing rice wine with rich cheese. Here are some case-by-case thoughts on a quartet of duos.

Momokawa Organic Junmai Ginjo ($14) with Marin French Petite Breakfast Brie – This is an interesting combination and great first exploration, coming across a lot like the way that melon and parmesan cheese can match up swimmingly. The brie is beautiful alone, and the sweeter sake does work as nice foil to the umami in the cheese.

Momokawa Organic (Unfiltered) Nigori ($14) with Laura Chenel’s Chévre – Fresh, moist, and creamy, this slightly grainy cheese pairs nicely with the cloudy, more savory sake. Overall it’s less of a counterpoint though, and more of a happy companion with the cheese.

Kasumi Tsuru Kimoto Extra Dry ($27) with Laura Chenel’s Ash-rinded Buchette – This very pungent cheese might have been a bit spoiled during shipment to me. That said, this sake is also more pungent than those preceding it here, balancing its melon notes with some deeper, funkier character — so I can see how the combo would work.

Yoshinogawa Winter Warrior Junmai Ginjo ($27) with Rogue River Blue Cheese – Sake + blue cheese? Another surprising winner. This recalls the first pairing — a little sweet meets salty/savory — but amps things up quite a bit. Winter Warrior is a lively and balanced sake on its own, but this is a wonderful example of how a big, punchy cheese can elevate a quality sake into new and exciting territory.

Dispatch from the 2014 Lake Tahoe Autumn Food and Wine Festival

Autumn wasn’t technically with us in late August, but that didn’t stop the folks at Northstar Resort in Lake Tahoe, California, from putting on a grandiose wine and food festival. Now in its 29th year, the Lake Tahoe Autumn Food and Wine Festival is a multi-day event that combines a walk-around tasting with focused events that let you dive into various topics.

A session that paired beer and cheese was a fun and unusual way to approach the dairy-driven topic. While a few of the pairings were a bust, all of the cheeses were great, and most of the beers — primarily offerings from Goose Island — were refreshing on a hot day on the mountain.

Later that evening, Charbay hosted a spirits and caviar event, pairing vodka and tequila and cocktails made from both with caviar samplings and various dishes from Tsar Nicoulai Caviar Company. A lengthy session — we started famished but finished full of fish eggs and Charbay spirits.

The final day of the festival focuses on the food and wine en masse, with 20-some booths each featuring a winery (or beer company) and a restaurant serving a small bite. I left that afternoon stuffed to the gills from bites both mundane (sliders) to exotic (rabbit, crudo, venison, and more). The wines here included a strange mix of stuff from all over the world, but my personal highlights were offerings from Pride, Mutt Lynch, Hahn, and Handley. The event is competitive. Full winners can be found here.

I took some photos over the two days I was there. Enjoy, and let’s all head to Tahoe for the event in 2015!

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Gelateria Naia Puts Frozen Whiskey on a Stick

photo 300x225 Gelateria Naia Puts Frozen Whiskey on a StickNow here’s a fun item I never thought I’d see in my local supermarket: A gelato popsicle flavored with St. George Spirits Single Malt Whiskey. Both companies are local to NorCal: Gelateria Naia is based in Hercules, St. George in Alameda, both in the East Bay.

This popsicle is quite a little delight, flavored with sugar, a touch of caramel, and real St. George Single Malt poured right into the pop. The texture is a bit icier than a non-alcohol-based pop from the company I tried, but still easy to munch on. The flavor is slightly nutty, and sweeter than I’d expected. The closest analogue I can suggest is a dulce de leche ice cream, swirled with caramel. The flavors linger with you, though, for quite a while after it’s all gone, and its there where some of the more whiskeylike notes — cereal and oak staves — start to emerge.

Fun. Would eat again. About $2.50 a pop.

Tasting Beers and Stout Ice Cream at Peter B’s, Monterey, California

A recent trip to Monterey, California took us to Peter B’s Brewpub, back behind the Portola Hotel. A rowdy place full of pool tables and TVs blasting sports, it’s also home to Monterey’s biggest brewpub operation, with about a dozen beers on tap at any one time.

This time we came in search of something special, a not-yet-released ice cream flavored with Peter B’s own stout. Made by local icecreamateur Butch Adams (pictured below), who runs a small operation just off of Cannery Row called Kai Lee Creamery, it’s quite a treat, very mild up front, with a modest chocolate and nutty character to it — not quite stout, but not coffee or chocolate either. Lovely and restrained, I can’t think of a better way to end a session of sampling craft beers — unless you maybe drop a scoop of this into an IPA. A-

While we were there, we naturally sampled the five “always on” brews that Peter B’s offers, plus a couple of barrel-aged seasonal releases. Some quick thoughts follow on each of the beers.

Belly Up Blonde – A classic blonde ale, quite rich and malty. Fresh and chewy, with a slight oatmeal character. 5% abv. B+

Fort Ord Wheat – Unfiltered wheat ale. A bit musty, this is missing the bracing citrus of good witbiers. A little muddy on the back end. 5.8% abv. B-

Inclusion Amber Ale – Nice body on this, a good bridge to Peter B’s stronger brews. Mocha notes are prominent here, with some decent hops, though it’s far from bitter at 35 IBUs. Dried fruit and mushroom notes on the finish add interest. 5.13% abv. B+

Legend of Laguna IPA – The big guy (60 to 80 IBUs, depending on where you look). Ample citrus all around, with a ton of bitterness behind it. Hang in there for the evergreen finish, plusa touch of rum raisin. 6.5% abv. B+

Stout Resistance – The stout used in the ice cream, you get big coffee and cream notes on this black brew. It’s mouth coating and rich, but a lot of mushiness in the body mars this otherwise capable stout. 5.7% abv. B

Scotch Ale (seasonal) – Nutty with roasted grains and a slug of raisins. Nice balance here, and it’s quite different and fun. A-

Port Barrel Aged Stout (seasonal) – A real change of pace. Extremely cherry-fueled from start to finish, with a smattering of plums and raisins. Big body with a bracing, bitter finish that works well with the lightly sour body. B+

Review: Lake Champlain Milk Chocolate Apple Cider Caramels

lake champlain happy valley orchard citizen cider caramels 300x257 Review: Lake Champlain Milk Chocolate Apple Cider CaramelsWhiskey chocolates? Been done. How about chocolates studded with caramel and apple cider?

Lake Champlain Chocolates’ latest concoction brings in apples from Happy Valley Orchard and cider from Citizen Cider to create an all-Vermont seasonal confection sensation.

These dense caramels start with silky milk chocolate and burst open to reveal intense apple pie flavor inside, rich with cinnamon/allspice notes and fresh apple puree. If anything’s missing it’s the “cider” element — though it seems impossible to get the real essence of tart, fresh cider into a package this small.

Delicious stuff, though perhaps a bit pricey….

A- / $15 per sleeve of 7 caramels (2.4 oz. total) /

Review: Lake Champlain BeBop Hop Chocolate Bar

hop chocolate bar 207x300 Review: Lake Champlain BeBop Hop Chocolate BarBut allow me to explain.

Lake Champlain Chocolates has made this oddity by wrapping a solidified blend of milk and dark chocolate around a molten core that’s made with hop-infused caramel, which is sweetened with malt that’s been reduced from Long Trail’s brewing operation. Hops, as in beer, that’s right. While “hop oil” is the last ingredient on the package (after salt, for God’s sake), there’s no mistaking who this chocolate’s target audience is.

Intense and initially off-putting, this is a confection that, surprisingly, grows on you. You better really like bitter beers. The initial rush of sweetness is misleading, because those hops come on quick and push all of that sugar aside. The hop infusion is long and lasting — not exactly bitter, but all-encompassing in the way that a good, big beer can be. There’s an aftertaste here that’s far longer than any beer I’ve ever tried. I’m detecting hops on the palate for at least 15 minutes, which is both intriguing and a little disconcerting. The chocolate is also very good, too, though nothing you’ll be able to recall with clarity considering the hop influence in that caramel center.

Really, really unique stuff. My wife, however, had to spit it out.

Available only through June 9!

B+ / $4 per 3.25 oz bar /

Recipe: Samuel Adams Boston Lager Pizza

With the Super Bowl happening today, kitchens around the nation will be busy preparing food for the big game. This one’s a bit off the beaten path, but if you’re looking for another way to involve alcohol consumption during the game, Mark Bello from Pizza School offers up these recipes for your consideration:

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Seminar and Pairing: German Wine + Asian Food = Love

When you eat sushi, Chinese food, or pad thai, what’s your drink of choice? If you’re like most: Beer, maybe sake, if you’re feeling adventurous. Why not wine? The general dearth of wine options on most Asian food beverage lists is a good reason, but a more common one is that consumers just have no idea what wines to drink with Asian food. This food runs from ultra-spicy (General Tso’s chicken) to ultra-delicate (toro sushi), with some cuisines giving a taste of each during the meal.

Master of Wine Jeannie Cho Lee recently came to San Francisco to show us that pairing wine with Asian flavors isn’t just possible, it can be fantastic. And she turned to the country that makes the most inspired, common, and – if you think about – strange natural pairing with Asian food: Germany.

Lee led our group through a four-course meal at SF’s Ame restaurant, each paired with two different (and often wildly contrasting) wines, to see what we thought worked and what didn’t. A snapper carpaccio with two gelees, umami soy and lemon sea salt, was a great dish – and the soy gelee worked surprisingly wonderfully with 2009 Friedrich Becker Pinot Noir from the Pfalz region of Germany. I was less enamored with a 2010 Castell Silvaner when paired with the lemon gelee, which handily overpowered the wine.

Up next was a tuna tartare with slow cocked egg, dashi broth, and a smattering of bitter greens. Here, the reds didn’t pan out – a 2006 Furst Pinot Noir was too earthy and shallow, unflattering with the bitter components of the dish. A 2003 Fritz Haag Auslese Riesling was however a phenomenal match. Sweet wine? Yes, but at age 9 it had mellowed and caramelized, offering enough acid to keep up with complex dish.

Finally, a lobster dish in coconut curry broth. Here both wines – a 2010 Spatlese Riesling from Selbach-Oster and a 2010 Riesling from Leitz – worked well, but for different reasons. The Spatlese, though young, didn’t bomb the dish with sugar, tempering the mild heat in the curry, while the crispness of the Leitz Riesling was a natural pairing with the dish. It didn’t have the acid I would have liked but any Riesling probably could have done the job. (Alas I had to skip the last dish due to time constraints.)

That leads us into Lee’s general pairing tips – which were presented in a booklet created with the Deutsches Weininstitut – which, as you might expect, are heavy on the use of Riesling. All German whites get a shout-out or two for almost every region from India to Japan, but Lee also recommends German reds with Northern Chinese food, Sekt (sparkling wine) with Singaporean food, and even Pinot Noir with sushi and Indian curry.

Of course, you can’t define an entire country by one style of food, and wine pairing recommendations can’t be pinned down based on a gastronomic stereotype, either. Lee’s book is a great reminder of that, and should serve as a reminder that one size doesn’t fit all in the wine and food world – and that one needn’t resort to Sapporo just because it’s sushi night.

Not that there’s anything wrong with Sapporo.

Update: Congrats to our five contest winners, who will each be getting a copy of the book!

Review: L.A. Burdick Robert Burns Collection

What do you give a whisky lover as a romantic gift? Well, you can give him whisky… or you can give him whisky-infused chocolates.

Recently it was suggested (or rather I was accused) of enjoying whisky confections more than the whisky itself (not true, I swear), and reader John Bratincevic turned me on to this collection of Scotch-infused chocolates released for Robert Burns’ birthday (January 25) from New Hampshire-based L.A. Burdick. The company was kind enough to send a sample box my way, and I’m going to tell you, if you can get them (they’re limited release confections), do it.

These aren’t those cheap, foil-wrapped Cointreau and Kahlua cordials your grandma used to give you once you were in your 30s. This is the real deal: A 1/2 pound box of truffles and bonbons flavored with Lagavulin, Macallan, Talisker, Springbank, Highland Park, and Glenfarclas — some of my favorite names in Scotch whisky.

The assortment spans 7 different items (only one is an unnamed “honey whiskey”), with about four to six pieces of each. Picking a favorite is tough. They are all wonderful. But if pressed, I’d go with the Highland Park (dark ganache with scent of grapefruit) and, surprisingly, the Talisker (currant-hazelnut ganache), both of which are complemented beautifully by the hints of fruit added to the ganache.

You can really taste the whisky in all of these confections — though the still let the chocolate shine through — and the bonbons are small enough to allow you to eat three or four without feeling disgusting afterward. All of these truffles are fabulous solo,  and are even better with whisky — either their namesakes or something else.

As I write this, the collection is only available as part of a combo with a Lunar New Year collection or as a set of two 1/2 lb. boxes. Do yourself a favor and pick one up either for yourself or for someone you love.

A / $31 /

burdick robert burns collection chocolates scotch Review: L.A. Burdick Robert Burns Collection

Oddity of the Week: Benny’s Bloody Mary Beef Straw

You love beef. You love straws. Now you can get the two together, in the form of Benny’s Bloody Mary Beef Straw.

As the name implies, this unique “straw” is designed to accompany Bloodies, but enterprising cocktail types will likely find myriad uses for it — not the least of which is simply consuming them plain. Essentially a Slim Jim with a hole drilled through it lengthwise (and yes, I know Slim Jims are made from chicken, but you get the idea), this all-beef stick is perhaps the most eye-catching garnish I’ve ever seen.

I tried it as intended — to sip a Bloody Mary — and found it didn’t impart any significant flavor as it zipped through the straw, but the real fun is, of course, in noshing on the garnish. The Beef Straw is big: This is far more substantial than a stick of celery in your glass, and if you’re a carnivore you’ll doubtlessly finish off the straw well before you consume the drink. The straw itself tastes pretty good: Meaty, but with a sausage-like texture, not tough and chewy like a Slim Jim is. Once a pack is open, it will last up to a week in the fridge.

The look may not lend itself to sophistication — particularly once you start chewing on the end — but it’s one of the biggest (and beefiest) cocktail conversation starters I’ve yet to encounter.

$34 for three 10-packs /

beef straw Oddity of the Week: Bennys Bloody Mary Beef Straw

Review: Lights Out Relaxation Products

Relaxation mania continues with Lights Out, a whole series of products designed to help you sleep more evenly, fight stress, anxiety, jet lag, and all that other bad stuff.

Lights Out contains chamomile, skullcap, rose hips, valerian root, L-theanine, and GABA, but it’s probably the 5mg of melatonin that really does the trick.

The 2-oz. shot comes in two sucralose-sweetened flavors — tropical and, oddly, cloud berry — and both tastes are fair enough. The cloud berry version is largely innocuous and vaguely citrus and apple in character. The tropical is stronger, primarily redolent of coconut.

Strangely, the product is unique in that it also comes in a solid form: a chocolate brownie and a chocolate chip cookie. Both were exceedingly dry and crumbly, and hardly the delicious dessert confection you might be expecting.

As for the effects, with both the shot and the dessert products, I found myself falling asleep relatively quickly, with vivid and rather intrusive dreams to follow. Both times I woke up around six in the morning and had difficulty getting back to sleep — though the six-hour release time of Lights Out may have something to do with that. Still not sure how effective these are, though I felt fine and productive the following day. That said, I’m not exactly clamoring for another brownie.

C+ / about $4 per product /

lights out Review: Lights Out Relaxation Products

Tasting Emanuel Andren Chocolate Truffles

We don’t review much high-end chocolate here at Drinkhacker. Or rather, some (namely myself) would say we don’t review enough.

While you’ve probably not heard the name, Emanuel Andrén is hardly a new brand.  Founded in a small town in Sweden in 1868, this family business is devoted to producing ultra-luxe confections, which it promptly makes very hard to get. (In the U.S., the only way to get one — unless you get one in your Grammy Awards goodie bag — is to order them online.)

Andrén stopped by the other day to give me a guided tour of his works of edible art, all handmade, hand-painted, and largely created with herbs, spices, and other ingredients from Andrén’s own backyard. At present, 20 varieties are available, in a variety of gift box assortments.

Andren tasted me on seven of the truffles, starting with the traditional — Champagne and Strawberries — and moving to the unexpected and delightful Elderberry, one of my favorite sweet truffles in his collection. Things took a turn for the unusual with a line of truffles that combine chocolates with cheese: The Strong Cheese and Cloudberry truffle puts together Vasterbotten cheese with the Nordic favorite berry, served here in marmalade form, though I enjoyed more fully the Monte Enebro truffle, which included raspberry, red pepper, spices, and a little Tabasco — a really complex and fun treat.

Andrén saved the best for last, with a pair of spirits-oriented truffles that included a Calvados offering (gushing with apple brandy) and the enigmatic and incredibly popular Zino Platinum Cigar truffle, made with dark rum, salt, dark chocolate, and the essence of a Davidoff Zino Platinum stogie. I can still feel that tobacco heat in the back of my throat, days later.

Incredibly fun stuff. While the $29-per-piece price tag may be stifling, some of these — especially that Cigar truffle — would make for perfect gifts… if you can avoid eating them yourself.

Book Review: Grands Crus Classes: The Great Wines of Bordeaux

grands crus classes Book Review: Grands Crus Classes: The Great Wines of BordeauxThis mammoth tome — nearly 400 pages and over six pounds in heft — is a tome in two parts. The two parts celebrate the companionship of food and wine: Each section offers information about a Grand Cru Bordeaux winery, its production, grape varietals, and a bit of history, plus copious, gorgeous photographs of that winery — generally one page of text and one page (or more) of pictures.

Then you flip the page and get… a recipe, usually from some megastar chef like Thomas Keller, Ferran Adria, or Joel Robuchon. Each recipe is paired with the wine it follows.

Now this is a drinking website and not a cooking site, so it’s not really my place to judge this tome as a cookbook. That said, I do cook a lot, and I can’t see myself putting many of these recipes into practice in the kitchen. As inspiration, though, they sure do look good.

As for the wines, remember these are, as the title suggests, Grand Cru wineries only. Only left-bank Medoc and Sauternes/Barsac wines are covered here, so you won’t get anything from the rest of Bordeaux, including wines like Petrus. That said, it is a comprehensive look at all of the Grands Crus, including more dessert wines than you might have realized existed. The information provided about each chateau is usually interesting, even if the writing is as dry as the font is small. The pictures tend to tell the stories far better.

Better for the coffee table than the library or the kitchen, Grands Crus Classes is an interesting experiment that, unfortunately, didn’t really pay off for my reading style.

B- / $47 / [BUY IT HERE]


Dispatches from Aspen Food & Wine Classic 2011

“Is this your first Classic?”

It was a question I’d hear more than once over the three days I spent in Aspen last month at what has become the pre-eminent annual food and wine event in America. Emphasis on food. In a single evening I encountered Mario Batali, Jacques Pepin, Jose Andres (who personally prepared the salt-crusted grilled prawn I ate while berating someone for disturbing his onions), and Andrew Zimmern (who heroically saved me from a deadly spider).

A few weeks later, so much of the Classic, hosted by Food & Wine magazine and an event of absurdly high expense to those who pay to attend it, is now but a blur. Is it the Aspen elevation? The long days of seminars and tasting sessions? Or simply the mountain of business cards I now have to follow up on that makes the whole thing seem so daunting in retrospect?

Structurally the Classic sounds like an easy-to-manage thing. For two and a half days, the schedule (basically) runs like this: Sessions (there are a dozen food, wine, or spirits-focused seminars to choose from) start at 10, then the grand tasting event (more on that later) is open for a couple of hours after that. The tent shuts down for a while to allow for more sessions, then it reopens in the afternoon, closing promptly around 6 o’clock so dinners can be had and the parties can begin. Depending on who you know there may be a half dozen to chose from each night.

Friday and Saturday are “full” days, and Sunday is a lighter one, as most people try to get home, fast (not an easy feat from remote Aspen, Colorado).

“The tent” — the grand tasting pavilion — is , for most people, the centerpiece of their experience here. Hundreds of exhibitors represent wineries around the world, spirits sellers, food merchants, kitchenware purveyors, restaurants, even countries hoping to get tourists, cruise ships, car companies, and just about anything else have a booth. Everyone is either pouring or cooking: A quick spin through a fraction of the tent will have you noshing on Korean noodles, sashimi, barbeque, chocolate, salad, root beer, and pork rinds — and probably in that order. While there’s plenty of supermarket brand stuff being poured here, a lot of it is upscale, sometimes extremely so. While there were many fabulous wines (including a whole sub-tent devoted to Spanish wine), I found the spirits purveyors to be the most rewarding: Casa Dragones tequila, private bottlings of all sorts of whisky from Samaroli (see pics), and Ron Cooper personally pouring just about all of his company’s Del Maguey mezcals, including the bizarre but fantastic Pechuga (which is made with a whole chicken breast), of which only 650 bottles were made. I probably looped back to Cooper’s table four times over the two days I was in the tent.

The seminars should not be underestimated. I attended two great ones: One tasting the audience members on old wines dating back to 1980, and another comparing Oregon and California Pinot Noirs of various vintages and regions. (Discovery: I liked southern California Pinot the best of these.) If you’re more into cooking, copious celebrity chef-led demonstrations are available, as are sessions dedicated to all levels of expertise.

Then there are the parties, and one finds that in the tiny town of Aspen, it’s easy to hop from a Macallan event to a tasting of two vintages of Penfolds Grange in a manner of minutes. (The 2006 Grange stands as my favorite wine tasted the entire weekend.) Everywhere you go, someone’s cooking a whole pig or three (as with the Wines of Spain party), or pouring something surprising (as with the “Magnum” party, where several dozen large-format bottles of wines are available to try — all self-serve).

I feel fatter just writing about it.

If you’re a gourmand and you have the means (all-access tickets are over $1,000, but tent-only consumer access runs under $400 for the weekend), this is worth an excursion once in your life. Some advice if you go: Stay as close to town as you can, over-prepare for the extreme altitude (various supplements were recommended to me), and get some rest before you arrive. You’ll need it!

Review: Cookies & Corks — Cookies for Wine Pairing

Pairing wine with different foods is always a fun way to experience wine. Now here’s an easy — and more fun — way to do just that: With cookies customized for different wine types.

Cookies & Corks produces small, boutique boxes of cookies, each bearing three different cookie types designed to pair with one of three wine types: red, white, or sparkling. In each box you’ll find two traditional, sweet cookies, and one savory one — usually something with herbs in it — all designed to pair with wine of a certain color. A legend on the side of the box tells you in more detail what kinds of cookies go with what kind of wine (Cab, Pinot, etc.).

Results are interesting? In tasting through these nine types of cookies I generally found that cookies taste a lot like cookies whether you’re eating them with wine or not — but there were indeed a few that enhanced the experience of the wine-drinking… generally the savory ones.

Some thoughts on each cookie collection follow.

White Wine Cookies & Corks - 13 total Apricot Sage, Peanut Butter Chocolate, and Ginger Molasses cookies. Apricot Sage is actually the least tasty cookie on its own (sage in cookie form is stronger than you’d think), but with a glass of Chardonnay it was a surprisingly good fit. I really liked the PB&Chocolate (two peanut butter cookies with chocolate sandwiched between them) cookies, but the whole affair was so huge it was a bit sloppy and crumbly for a dainty glass of wine. The touch of salt on that cookie: fantastic. Finally there’s Ginger Molasses: A solid and crumbly gingersnap, definitely worthwhile, and probably the best cookie here on its own merits. B+

Sparkling Wine Cookies & Corks – 15 total Zesty Lemon, Parmesan Thyme, and Sea Salt Chocolate Oatmeal cookies. A huge, tart Lemon cookie gets you started, and the Oatmeal cookie, while really salty, is quite delightful. The savory Parmesan Thyme, however, is less cookie than squishy biscuit. Unlike, say, the Apricot Sage cookie, it works less well with or without wine, coming across a bit like an old cheese cracker that’s gone soft. The sweet cookies, however, all seem to work pretty well with sparkling wine, though… and just as well on their own. B+

Red Wine Cookies & Corks - 15 total White Cheddar Rosemary, Shortbread, and Espresso Chocolate Peanut Butter cookies. Chocolate and red wine always work pretty well together, and the Espresso Chocolate Peanut Butter cookie, while a little busy, is a good counterpart to red wine — and better with some juice (which gives the dryish cookie a little moisture) than solo. The shortbread is quite sweet compared to your average Trefoil, with a slight citrus kick, maybe not perfect for red wine but pretty tasty in its own right. Finally there’s the Cheddar Rosemary: Unfortunately these cookies were mostly pulverized by the time they got to me, but the pieces, much like the Parmesan Thyme cookies, bring a big cheesy biscuit character to the party. Overwhelming on their own, they work well enough with wine but overall I preferred the sweeter cookies in this bunch compared to this savory one. A-

about $7 per box /

Cookies Corks with wine Review: Cookies & Corks    Cookies for Wine Pairing

Cocktails for National Sandwich Day

Did you know that tomorrow (November 3) is National Sandwich Day? Did you know there was such a thing National Sandwich Day?

Well, there is, and even if you don’t like eating sandwiches, our friends at Flor de Cana have devised a way to drink them.

Behold, three of the strangest cocktail recipes I’ve seen all year. Happy drinking! Er, dining?

PBJ Cocktail 199x300 Cocktails for National Sandwich DayPB&J
Created by Gianfranco, Tippling Bros.

1.5 oz. Flor de Caña 7 yr rum
.5 oz. Lustau Palo Cortado Vides
.25 oz. Strawberry jam
.25 oz. Peanut syrup*
1 Egg white
1 Yellow banana

Shake all ingredients in a boston shaker without ice, then add ice and shake vigorously again. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass that is rimmed with minced salted-peanuts.

Garnish: A banana slice.

*Peanut syrup
1) Combine 2 parts water with 2 parts sugar in a pot
2) Bring sugar water to a boil
3) Add 1 part minced peanuts
4) Simmer for 10 minutes
5) Strain to remove peanut particles

BLT Cocktail 199x300 Cocktails for National Sandwich DayBLT
Created by Niccole Trzaska

1.5 oz. of Bacon-infused Flor de Caña 7 yr rum
2 oz. Sacramento tomato juice
Dash Worcestershire sauce
Pinch celery salt
Pinch black pepper
Squeeze of lemon juice
Dollop of horseradish
Fresh Cilantro to taste

Pour all ingredients over ice shake and then strain over ice.

Garnish:One piece of bib lettuce wrapped around a thick piece of crispy apple wood smoked bacon and an avocado slice. Use a toothpick or skewer to secure with a cherry tomato.

Cheeseburger Cocktail 199x300 Cocktails for National Sandwich DayCheeseburger
Created by Trevor Burnett and Whitney Munro, Tipicular Fixin’s

1 oz. Flor de Caña 7 yr rum
2 muddled Roma tomatoes
1 oz. Iceberg lettuce water
1 oz. Beef (well reduced)
2 tbsp Toasted bread crumbs
1 tsp Dry mustard powder
2 tbsp Aged cheddar
1 large Kosher dill pickle
Salt and pepper to taste

Muddle tomatoes, add ice, and slowly poor lettuce water. Stir rum and beef jus together in stainless shaker. Float rum mixture over ice. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Garnish: Cheddar frico and pickle knot.

Garnish instructions: Heat pan to medium heat, sprinkle in cheddar and use sides of spoon to gather cheese into a circle. Brown and remove from pan to cool on plate. Mix bread crumbs with dry mustard. Wet rim of glass with pickle juice, dip glass in crumb mixture.

Recipe: Chocolate Chile Bohemia Ice Cream

I’m not one to spend hours making ice cream at home, but God this recipe from Mexican beer outfit Bohemia sounds good.

Chocolate Chile Bohemia Ice Cream

1 large pasilla negro chile, stemmed, seeded, deveined
1 1/3 cups half-and-half
2 ounces Mexican chocolate, chopped into small pieces
3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into ¼-inch pieces
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/3 cups heavy (whipping) cream
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla, preferably Mexican
1/4 cup Bohemia beer

1. In a small skillet heated over medium, toast the chile, pressing it flat against the skillet with a metal spatula until it is very aromatic—about 10 seconds per side. Place in a small saucepan and add the half-and-half, Mexican chocolate and the semi-sweet chocolate; heat over medium until steaming (but not boiling). Remove from heat. Cover and let steep for 10 minutes, then pour into a blender jar and process until the chile is completely pureed.

2. Set up a 4-quart saucepan, filled halfway with water, into which you can nestle a 3-quart stainless steel bowl. Bring the pot of water to a boil over high heat while you’re preparing the custard base. Reduce the temperature under the pot of boiling water to maintain a gentle simmer.

3. In the 3-quart stainless steel bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until thoroughly combined, then whisk in the chile-infused chocolate mixture. Set the bowl of custard base over the simmering water and whisk frequently, scraping down the sides of the bowl regularly with a rubber spatula, until the mixture thickens noticeably, about 5 minutes. The custard is sufficiently cooked when it reaches 180 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. (You can also test it by dipping a wooden spoon into the custard, then running your finger through the custard: if the line holds clearly, the custard has thickened sufficiently.) For the finest texture, strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a clean bowl.

4. Fill a large bowl halfway with ice. Nestle the bowl of strained custard in the ice bath. Whisk the mixture until it is completely cool. Refrigerate if not using immediately.

5. Stir the heavy cream, vanilla and Bohemia into the base. Freeze in an ice cream freezer according to the manufacturer’s directions. Scrape into a freezer container and freeze for several hours to firm.

Ice Cream Bohemia chocolate chili Recipe: Chocolate Chile Bohemia Ice Cream

Humphry Slocombe’s Ice Cream For Adults

It’s called a “Secret Breakfast,” but tens of thousands of people seem to know about it: Ice cream from San Francisco’s Humphry Slocombe, which operates a tiny Mission shop with about 10 daily concoctions ranging from Blue Bottle Vietnamese Coffee (better than actual Blue Bottle coffee, IMHO) to Peanut Butter Curry to Pumpkin 5-Spice.

But the real draw here, for many it would seem, is Secret Breakfast, flavored with real whiskey and cut with corn flakes. Get it? Creamy and sweet yet almost overloaded with bourbon flavor (Jim Beam, maybe?), this is the real deal. In fact, it’s so boozy that, unlike Humphry’s other offerings, this one remains a little slushy out of the freezer, since the alcohol stays liquid at that temperature.

But God it’s good. Although I might suggest Rice Krispies in lieu of the corn flakes (and perhaps more of them), this is a whiskey-drinker’s dessert through and through. I enjoyed all of the ice creams I tried (the staff will let you sample them all if you’d like), but this one clearly takes the cake. (I’ve also got a soft spot for the Chocolate Malted Milk, I have to admit.)

It’s also not the only boozy ice cream in the freezer: Slocombe has another confection made with wort, or “pre-beer,” which was unusual and delicious. Also on the menu: Tiny ice cream sandwiches made with foie gras ice cream. Decadent? You better believe it.

Worth the trip, especially if you don’t have to try to spell it!

humphry slocombe secret breakfast Humphry Slocombes Ice Cream For Adults

Review: Crispy Green Apples, Pears, Pineapples

Recently we looked at the new banana version of these tasty dried fruit snacks. Crispy Green was kind enough to send along the rest of the line for our consideration too. (Note: Peaches and Apricots have since been discontinued.)

Crispy Pineapple (A-) is everyone’s favorite, with fresh pineapple flavor and a solid crunch — though some of the pieces can get a bit fibrous and on the tough side. I’m also quite partial to Crispy Apple (A-), which is nicely tart and the most flavorful of the Crispy line; it’s also got the largest size pieces, if you care about that sort of thing. Crispy Pears (B+) aren’t bad, either, but as always the pear plays second fiddle to the apple. Here they are very mild but similar in texture to the Apple flavor.

$1.49 per 10-gram pack /

crispy green fruits apples pears pineapples Review: Crispy Green Apples, Pears, Pineapples