About Lindsey McClave

Lindsey McClave

Lindsey McClave has a deep love for food, wine and travel. While she has no intentions of becoming a chef or a sommelier and doesn't consider herself an expert in any culinary area, she is obsessed with learning.

She says, "the one thing I've taken away from my wine travels is that wine is meant for everyone - rich, poor, and everywhere in-between.” Whatever cooking becomes to you, she encourages you to find that foodie place, embrace it and run with it.


Latest Posts by Lindsey McClave

Foodie Heaven Along Napa Valley’s Trail

April 21, 2014 by  

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Z and I set off on the hour long drive from San Francisco to Napa after a whirlwind 48 hour exploration of the city by the bay.  We reunited with Matt and Glynnis and, per my request, headed straight for Model Bakery, where they make the most phenomenal English muffins. 
There are two Model Bakery locations, one on Main Street in St Helena and the other situated just outside of Oxbow Market.  Oxbow Market is a beautiful example of a modern version of a historic tradition.  
A place for local food purveyors to sell their wares, fresh seafood, local meats, handmade pastries and breads are intertwined with a rainbow of bulk spices, a bevy of kitchen and dining accessories and an impressive selection of artisan cheese.  It is a must-stop for the makings of a picnic lunch, a quick breakfast prior to hitting the wine trail or for a simple stroll, taking in the sights, smells and sounds of this California bazaar.
 Happily fortified, we made our way to Plumpjack, our first winery stop of the day.  A sister winery to Cade (read about our previous visit to Cade here), Plumpjack is known for their expertly crafted Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot and Syrah.  
Matt had arranged for us to meet with Aaron Miller and Brett Brockmeyer, the Head Winemaker and Assistant Winemaker for Plumpjack, who he and Glynnis have the pleasure of calling their friends.  We got to know one another in the tasting room while sipping on their Chardonnay, a beautifully balanced and elegantly crafted wine, bringing out pear and green apple notes with an undercurrent of oak and lemony acid rounding out the palate.  
We tasted through their current offerings and then took a stroll into their barrel room, large oak vessels stacked in neat and high rows, a sight of which I will never tire.  Aaron and Brett were generous enough to give us samples of what they were working on, harvests from previous years yielding unique results based on the climate the grapes were subjected to during their growth.  
It will come as a surprise to no one that there are great things to come from Plumpjack.  We were grateful for a preview and for the generous hospitality shown to us by Aaron and Brett.
 Neyers Vineyard and Ehlers Estate were next on our tour of the Valley.  Neyers boasts an impressive variety of wine for their small, well regarded estate.  We sampled a multitude and found each bottle to be elegant, approachable and of excellent value for the price.  Ehlers also shines amid their limited production and this was ever apparent as they only had two bottles for us to taste upon arrival.  
Everything else had been bought up almost as soon as it was released.  Their One Twenty Over Eighty was a standout, the name paying homage to the proprietor’s dedication to cardiovascular research.  It is a beautiful example of a Bordeaux-inspired California Cabernet and Z and I were excited to pick up a bottle for our small but growing cellar.

As we departed Ehlers, the sun was beginning to drop and we were all feeling happily hungry.  A table was waiting for us at Torc, a newly opened downtown Napa hotspot that had received high praise from nearly the moment they opened their doors.

Lofted ceilings enclose an expansive space with a galley-style exposed kitchen lining the back wall.  A low hum emanates from the culinary crew as they fire dishes that have California roots and global inspiration.  Flavors of Morocco, Italy and India make themselves known in the spicy marinated olives, the creamy coconut rice and in the delicate perfection of their handmade pasta and gnocchi.  

The seasonal menu rotates but always boasts the signature roast chicken for two, which Matt was gracious enough to share with me.  Paired that evening with baby bok choy and the aforementioned creamy coconut rice, a thin layer of house-made brioche bread was placed carefully between the meat of the chicken and the skin, crisping under the hot flame, soaking up the juices from the bird all the while.  It took a couple of bites to grasp the full complexity of this creative genius.  

The sweetness of the rice was a wonderful offset to the umami nature of the bok choy, and the entire experience was highlighted by the perfectly roasted chicken, the rich brioche adding a stuffing-like quality to the meal.  Simply put, this is not your average restaurant chicken.  This dish, in fact, is not average in any way… an ideal fit for our not-so-average weekend in Napa.

We awoke the next morning to a vibrant and beautiful day, the temperature slowly climbing as the sun rose high into the sky.  Today would be dedicated entirely to Flora Springs and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.  Our friends Becca and Joe would be joining us for the day’s activities and I couldn’t wait to see them.  I was also happy to meet Kit and Eddie, Matt and Glynnis’s friends who arrived just in time to hop in the limo with us as we were whisked off to the sweeping vineyards of Flora Springs.

Wine release parties are a common occurrence and wineries never miss an opportunity to celebrate the love and labor that was poured into one particular, often signature, wine.

For Flora Springs that wine is Trilogy and they spare no expense when honoring this cabernet blend.  A long, vineyard-lined drive takes you to the Flora Springs estate, a must-stop for any Napa Valley itinerary in my opinion (by appointment only, so plan ahead).

You will be hard pressed to find a more open and kind crew than those who are a part of the Flora Springs Team and they have made us feel more than welcome, time after time.  We were quickly given a glass of Chardonnay as they directed us into their hillside caves.  A wide and open tunnel of sorts, we strolled past row upon row of barrels, snacking on freshly shucked oysters that were handed to us along the way.

 

Turning the corner, there was literally a light at the end of the tunnel.  The sun pouring in we emerged from the wine caves to a raucous crowd, a New Orleans inspired band jamming away as dozens of people buzzed about a beautiful and green courtyard that sat above the vineyards.  A beautiful view of the Napa horizon laid out before us and my senses were pulled in a hundred different directions.

I had no idea where to begin.  A massive paella pan was filled to the brim with clams, sausage, saffron and crispy, perfectly burnt rice.  From a steaming pot of water emerged a large ball of freshly crafted mozzarella cheese, a chef carefully drizzling California olive oil over top after laying the cheese on a crispy baguette and sprinkling it with large flakes of sea salt.

Tiny meatball sliders packed with rich tomato goodness were being swiped up almost as soon as they were set out.  In between it all, notes of peppery black fruit tugged at my nose, the 2011 Trilogy making itself known.

We traded out our Chardonnay for a healthy sample of the Trilogy and set off to immerse ourselves in this wine wonderland.  Amongst the paella, mozzarella and meatballs I immediately spotted thin, lightly charred slices of pizza, steam whispering off of the top of the just-melted cheese.  Now I knew exactly where to begin.

Over the next three hours we noshed on these offerings and many others all while savoring the flavorful and elegant craftsmanship of the 2011 Trilogy (and a variety of other Flora Springs creations).  Our dining was interrupted by a sudden flash mob performance and a surprise visit from the University of California marching band.

The energy of the day was ample and oh-so comfortable and I could have stayed for days on end, whiling away in this little piece of heaven.  Eventually it was time to journey on however, and we piled back into our limo, singing at the top of our lungs as we headed to Jessup Cellars to wind down while sampling their beautiful pinot noir.

Our perfect day was capped off with a cookout and – you guessed it – more wine by the fire pit back at Matt and Glynnis’s house.  It’s a luxury to feel that contented and I did not take any part of the experience for granted.

Day three is always my favorite during our Napa visits.  There is a sense of relaxation and calm in us all, two days of full-living having come to a head, setting the stage for a peaceful day of exploration and enjoyment.

Traces of a hangover pull at your senses but are quickly banished with more good food and even better wine.  I sort of float through our Sundays in Napa, wrapped in a happy state of contemplation and serenity.  Everything just feels right.  As we set out that Sunday morning there was a sense of relief and hopefulness in the air, a light mist dropping from the clouds.  In desperate need of rain, any precipitation, no matter how minimal, was welcome.

We planned to spend the day in Sonoma and made the scenic drive amidst the raindrops, arriving at Scribe after traversing a long road lined with tall, skinny palm trees.  A stone building set with strong wooden beams sits atop a hill overlooking the valley floor.

With pinot noir as their anchor, the golden-grape of Sonoma, Scribe has branched out beyond this beautifully structured red wine and is playing with a variety of lesser-known offerings for this region.  We sipped on their beyond-bone-dry riesling, the strong acidity tempered by a pleasant minerality.  Next up was their chardonnay, my favorite wine of the day and one of the best chardonnays I’ve had to date.  It was delicate on the palate, taking it’s time to open up and show it’s full complexity which is ripe with green apples, lemons and a delicate viscosity.

 

Scribe helped us shake off any adverse remnants from the previous days’ fun and we moved on to The Reserve Room at Mayo Family Winery.

Mayo takes a special interest in pairing their wine with food and they offer a seven course tasting experience that is without question the best value in the Sonoma Valley.  A mere $35 will buy you a dining experience where the food is crafted to fit the nuances of the wine, rather than the wine chosen to highlight the food.  A multitude of elements play a part in a wine’s end result, one of the biggest factors being the climate during the grapes growth.

These individual elements were picked apart in each wine we tasted, the flavors of the food put in place to specifically balance out any misgivings in the wine.

Chef Clayton Lewis walked us through the extensive thought process that went into every dish, telling us why, after tasting Mayo’s 2011 Viognier, he chose to top char-roasted cauliflower with a herbacious sauce of Moroccan Ras al Hanout spices and finely ground matcha tea.  His riff on the traditional Provencal bouillabaisse was an ideal companion for the boldness of the 2012 Mayo Reserve Chardonnay, the foamed broth of the fish stew just briny enough to cut through the viscosity of this creamy California Chardonnay.

The courses continued, each one creative and forward thinking, impressive on their own but truly meant to be enjoyed with their better half – the wine.  My favorite course was a decadent offering of braised beef tongue and cheek, the tender richness of these lush ingredients cut in half by the jam-like qualities of the 2010 Reserve Zinfandel.  What the Mayo Family Reserve Tasting room lacks in view and setting it makes up for in the bold flavors being brought forth from the kitchen and the vast variety of wine being poured.  It was a wonderful way to spend our Sonoma day.

 The rest of the afternoon lacked a schedule and we were free to wander and meander in between the precious raindrops that were falling upon the parched vineyards.  We toasted our last night and the end of yet another trip to remember over pizza and pasta at Oenotri, a casual and warm establishment in the heart of downtown Napa.  
Steaming pizza pies and hot bowls of handmade pasta filled our table and I cherished the far-too-rare feeling of total contentment.  When I tell people that some of our best friends live in Napa Valley their reaction is always the same – ‘Wow, lucky them!’  And while they will be the first to tell you that they are very lucky, I will emphasize that much of this luck is self-made.  
They realized a dream and saw it through, making a move that honors the adage ‘live life to the fullest.’  This inspiration is not lost on me and Z and we are doing everything possible to keep our sights set on fulfilling our dreams.  If part of that fulfillment is an annual pilgrimage to the valley then so be it.  We’ll see you next year. 

Farm Tacos with Pickled Vegetables, Goat Cheese & Microgreens

April 8, 2014 by  

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Tacos are so wonderfully adaptable, their malleability making them the perfect dish to experiment with in the kitchen.  With that spirit in mind, this recipe takes tacos down a slightly different path… a path paved with pure grass fed goodness from Foxhollow Farm.  Gone is the overly seasoned, overly processed, mass produced ground beef.

Here instead the natural flavors of Foxhollow’s beef are enhanced simply and richly with a homemade blend of cumin, garlic and cayenne.  Bourbon Barrel Worcestershire sauce and freshly squeezed lime keep the meat moist and the flavor complex.  Pickled red onion, peppers, carrots and cabbage take the place of the usual diced tomatoes and white onion while bagged shredded cheddar cheese is happily moved aside to make room for locally made, lightly creamy Capriole Farm’s goat cheese.  Newly harvested microgreens from Foxhollow’s greenhouse top everything off, their freshness a welcome note in this compilation of flavors.

If you aren’t already sold on Foxhollow’s grass fed ground beef, I am confident that this recipe will do the trick.  I am equally as confident that you will fall unabashedly in love with the technique of quick pickling.  Few things add such complexity and satisfaction to a dish and you will find yourself wanting to add your personal blend of veggies to nearly everything.  A classic meal with a welcome twist – consider this your new go-to for taco night!

 

Generally it takes me a solid hour to an hour and a half to test a recipe.  I stop to take notes along the way, rethink things, etc.  It takes me twice as long if I am taking photos of the final results.  This recipe took me less than 30 minutes, minus the additional time the veggies need to soak in the pickling juice.  If you pickle the veggies a day ahead of time this will be on the table in 20 minutes, tops.  That is my kind of weeknight meal!

I’ve played around with a few quick pickle recipes and especially liked the ratio I found on Instructables.com.  At it’s base, quick pickling is a simple combination of vinegar, water, sugar and salt.  Additional spices and such can be added to mix it up.  Here, I warm one half cup apple cider vinegar, one half cup water, one tsp sugar and one tsp kosher salt over medium heat.  Once the mixture comes to a boil, remove it from the heat and pour over your thinly sliced vegetables of choice.

I went for the colorful combination of thinly sliced carrots, red onion, red bell peppers and chopped cabbage.  Throw in a clove of garlic, quartered, and allow to sit at room temperature for thirty minutes.  Making the pickled veggies ahead of time?  No need to heat the liquid.  Just stir until the sugar and salt dissolve and then marinate in the refrigerator overnight.  These pickled vegetables should last for a week in the fridge.

Warm a large saute pan over medium high heat.  Pour one tsp of olive oil into the pan and add the ground beef, breaking it apart with a wooden spoon.  Add the following to the beef: one tsp ground cumin, one half tsp garlic powder, one quarter tsp cayenne, two tsp Worcestershire, the juice from one half of a lime, three quarters tsp kosher salt and one quarter tsp of freshly ground black pepper.  Toss to combine and lower the heat to medium, allowing the beef to break down and for the spices to sink in.  Cook for eight to ten minutes until the beef is brown and cooked through.  Add one tbs minced fresh cilantro.  Taste for seasoning.

While the beef is cooking wash the microgreens and toast the tortillas.  The microgreens are delicate so you want to use a light touch.  A quick rinse under cold water and then a light pat between two paper towels to dry should do the trick.  For the tortillas, I like to turn my burner on medium-high and to set them directly over the flame.  They won’t take more than 15 seconds per side to char and develop a wonderful crust.  Just be sure to keep a close eye as they will flame up quickly.

Using a slotted spoon, layer the beef on the warm tortilla and top with the pickled veggies, goat cheese and microgreens.  Enjoy!

Makes Six Tacos

Pickled Vegetables

  • one half cup apple cider vinegar
  • one half cup water
  • one tsp sugar
  • one tsp kosher salt
  • one garlic clove, quartered
  • one large carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • one half of a red bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • one half of a red onion, thinly sliced
  • one cup cabbage, chopped
Beef Tacos
  • one pound Foxhollow Farm ground beef
  • one tsp olive oil
  • one tsp ground cumin
  • one half tsp garlic powder
  • one quarter tsp cayenne
  • two tsp Worcestershire
  • the juice from one half of a lime
  • three quarters tsp kosher salt
  • one quarter tsp of freshly ground black pepper
  • one tbs freshly minced cilantro
  • Capriole Farm goat cheese
  • microgreens
Pickled Vegetables
Warm the apple cider vinegar, water, sugar and kosher salt over medium heat.  Once the mixture comes to a boil, remove it from the heat and pour over your thinly sliced vegetables of choice.  Throw in a clove of garlic, quartered, and allow to sit at room temperature for thirty minutes.  Making the pickled veggies ahead of time?  No need to heat the liquid.  Just stir until the sugar and salt dissolve and then marinate in the refrigerator overnight.  These pickled vegetables should last for a week in the fridge.
Beef Tacos
Warm a large saute pan over medium high heat.  Pour one tsp of olive oil into the pan and add the ground beef, breaking it apart with a wooden spoon.  Add the following to the beef: one tsp ground cumin, one half tsp garlic powder, one quarter tsp cayenne, two tsp Worcestershire, the juice from one half of a lime, three quarters tsp kosher salt and one quarter tsp of freshly ground black pepper.  Toss to combine and lower the heat to medium, allowing the beef to break down and for the spices to sink in.  Cook for eight to ten minutes until the beef is brown and cooked through.  Add one tbs minced fresh cilantro.  Taste for seasoning.
While the beef is cooking wash the microgreens and toast the tortillas.  The microgreens are delicate so you want to use a light touch.  A quick rinse under cold water and then a light pat between two paper towels to dry should do the trick.  For the tortillas, I like to turn my burner on medium-high and to set them directly over the flame.  They won’t take more than 15 seconds per side to char and develop a wonderful crust.  Just be sure to keep a close eye as they will flame up quickly. Using a slotted spoon, layer the beef on the warm tortilla and top with the pickled veggies, goat cheese and microgreens.  Enjoy!

Oh Those Blue Skies in San Francisco

March 7, 2014 by  

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“This is what the term ‘melting pot’ means” I muse to Z.  We are in the process of scaling one of San Francisco’s famously steep streets, lines of cars parked perpendicular to the sidewalk, a precarious sight.  A gust of wind thrown just the right way would surely send them toppling like dominos to the bottom of the hill.  But yet they make sense, all while seemingly defying the laws of gravity.

With a couple of tours of this city by the bay under my belt, I’m beginning to think that this is it’s shtick; San Francisco operates by it’s own set of rules and is individual in every sense of the word.  Layered with sophistication and grit, there is a place for everyone and every way in this city.

Z and I arrived on a Wednesday and had the impossible task of absorbing as much of San Francisco’s culture as possible in 48 hours.  We mapped out a list of ‘must-see’ (Golden Gate Park) and ‘must-eat’ (China Town) priorities and hit the pavement, traversing as many corners of the city as we could on this whirlwind of a trip.  Friday morning we would set off for Napa.  For now, the city would ensconce us.

Upon arrival we checked into The Hotel Des Arts (conveniently located a half block from the entrance to China Town) and set about walking to Swan’s Oyster Depot, a small restaurant that consists of one long bar and serves up some of the very best just-hauled seafood you will find.  Patrons have been known to wait for hours for a bar stool to vacate and for the chance to sample the freshly-shucked oysters and piping hot clam chowder.  A mist in the air and our early arrival (I recommend getting there as close to 11am as possible) were on our side and we were able to saddle right up to the counter, no wait at all.

A dozen oysters, a sashimi plate of the day’s fresh catch and the roe of one fresh sea urchin later and I was in vacation mode, my standard glass of sparkling the perfect accompaniment to the ocean goodness.  I am a big believer in small meals when on vacation in a large city, allowing for sampling throughout the day, maintaining a steady buzz of both the local swill and the region’s best food.

Our all-seafood brunch left us just short of full and we were more than ready to dig into an oven-fired pizza from Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, an award-winning spot located in North Beach, the Italian heart of San Francisco.  The ideal afternoon snack, this pit-stop would carry us into the evening, when we would be dining at Atelier Crenn.

Chef Dominique Crenn is French born and helms the small and warm Atelier Crenn restaurant.  This was a meal I had been dreaming of for several months.  The first female Chef in America to ever be awarded two Michelin Stars, Chef Crenn’s menu is dictated to the diner in the form of poems she has penned, poems that tell us of the season we are experiencing, the coolness of winter as felt perched by the sea.  Upon reading the poems my mouth instantly began to water and I felt a calm come over me.  As I have been developing recipes and writing about food, I find a similar comfort and release when I write as when I cook.  Chef Crenn was speaking to my foodie-heart before I had tasted a single bite of her food.

What followed was a dinner experience I will never forget.  We spent a leisurely three and a half hours at Atelier Crenn, a multitude of courses presented to us, each one at just the right time and just the right size to maintain our curiosity, to ensure that we did not become overly satiated.  With the menu presented as a poem we were unaware of how many courses we would be receiving and what, exactly, we would be eating.  We simply had to let go, to trust Chef Crenn and her team, and submit ourselves to this experience.

No foreshadowing, no expectations.  Just simple, culinary bliss.  The meal maintained a theme of seafood throughout many of the courses, serrano ham and a paper-thin slice of wagyu carpaccio peeking through here and there as the meal progressed, the dinner coming to a climax with a perfectly cooked guinea hen and then bringing us gently back down and into the welcoming arms of dessert.  We had the opportunity to meet Chef Crenn during our visit and she was so kind and unbelievably generous to us.  This meal will not be taken for granted.  It’s impression on me was indelible and I am so very grateful for the experience.
If you’ve read any of our past travel posts (find them all here) then you will know that walking is my and Z’s favorite way to absorb the world.  The following morning we set out on foot, winding our way through various pockets of San Francisco for an hour or so, finally finding ourselves at Golden Gate Park.  It was somewhat early and the streets remained quiet throughout our stroll, shop keepers greeting us as they swept off their stoops and readied their stores for the day.  Now there are many ways to take in the beauty of the Golden Gate Bridge but I challenge you to find one more refreshing than gazing from below, standing in the sand of the beach at it’s base.  We relaxed for a bit from our walk and watched dogs dart through the sand, watched the waves crash lightly on the beach.

Lunch time was near and we caught a cab back into town.  We had somehow missed the opportunity to dine in China Town during our previous visit to the city and had vowed not to make the same mistake twice.  We were  given several recommendations for go-to dim sum spots and, after much deliberation, settled on lunch at Lai Hong Lounge, located on Powell Street just off of Broadway.  It was clear upon arrival that we were the only tourists in the restaurant.  All eyes in the large, red dining room turned to look at us as we waited to be seated.

My first instinct was to turn around but I knew that this was a very good sign that we were somewhere authentic and that we would be sampling food that was blissfully un-Americanized.  Our waiter spoke very little English but wore a large and genuine smile, putting me at ease quickly as he poured us cups of piping hot tea.  We ordered dim sum from a large menu, marking our selections with a bit of trepidation as the bulk of the items were unfamiliar to us.  Standards were obvious – dumplings both fried and steamed – and fantastic.

The fried shrimp dumpling, while incredibly simple, packed a crunchy wonton full of plump and perfectly cooked shrimp.  It was a highlight for me along with the stuffed tofu skins.  Z became instantly addicted to the steamed pork buns and, since our return, declared them his best bite of the trip.  We ordered eight items and our eyes proved to be larger than our stomachs.  We left in a pleasant food-coma, strolling leisurely through the streets of China Town, our schedule open and the sky a beautiful blue.

We had visited our favorite bookstore, City Lights, the previous day however I had heard of a foodie-centric bookshop that I was anxious to peruse.  We made our way to the Mission neighborhood where Omnivore Books on Food resides.  It feels as if you are on the set of a movie when you enter, the small, neatly arranged store almost too perfect and too quaint to be true.  Thankfully it is very real and we took our time scouring the shelves that lined the walls and stretched toward the ceiling, small foot stools available for any books that were out of reach.  Intermixed with the current must-have-food-reads and classic tomes such as The Art of French Cooking and The Joy of Cooking, vintage copies of food and beverage related books can be found.  Tucked in the nooks and crannies you feel as if you are coming across something hidden, an item that was left behind many years ago by someone who loved the culinary world as much as you.  It was a lovely place to spend part of our afternoon.

One our way to Omnivore we had passed a large park set against a steep slope and complete with a wonderful view of San Francisco.  Called Mission Dolores Park, we took our new reads and spent some time in the sun, taking in the view and relaxing, soaking in the wonderfulness of not having to be anywhere, to do anything.  Later that evening we would find ourselves wine tasting at The Hidden Vine, a dark and loungy spot in the financial district.  Luck would be on our side for dinner and we would manage to score a table at State Bird Provisions, the highly acclaimed mixed-service establishment named 2013′s best new restaurant in America by James Beard.  For the moment however all that I sensed was the grass at Dolores Park tickling my arms, the pages of my book shuffling in the breeze.  A group of friends several feet away passed around a pet snake, reminding me that I wasn’t just anywhere.  I was in San Francisco where the beat of the drum is different.  It is a beautiful sound.

A Wine Buyer and Adventure Tour of France

February 4, 2014 by  

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I found myself reading Kermit Lynch’s “Adventures On The Wine Route: A Wine Buyer’s Tour of France” with Anthony Bourdain’s voice in my head.  Much like Bourdain, Lynch has been described as a curmudgeon-troubadour who doesn’t mince words.  
He’s opinionated, witty and pleasantly straightforward.  
Like Bourdain, he’s also open about his past experimentation with drugs: Bourdain’s ‘80’s SOHO sounds similar to Lynch’s ‘60’s Berkeley.  Richard Olney, the American foodie who traveled through Provence with Lynch, once described his friend as an old-fashioned bohemian with a remarkable nose and palate.

Lynch came out of the 1960’s San Francisco Bay revolution (he doesn’t call it a revolution by the way) with a relatively successful women’s handbag company. He was introduced to French wine during a transformative trip to Europe.  

He returned to California to open a small wine shop in 1972.  It quickly became a fixture in the next revolution (again, my words not his) happening in the Bay area: the Slow Food movement.  Lynch’s wine imports quickly became the house wines at Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse.  Lynch writes: “Alice Waters played a major role in creating the movement toward natural foods, and I like to think that I played a role in the natural wine movement.”  
Lynch returned from each trip to Europe with more undiscovered, small-batch wines.  He chose to sell wines made in an old-school traditional style centered on terroir – each vineyard’s unique combination of weather, soil and geography.  In other words, wine with a there-ness or a sense of place. He wrote and distributed very popular newsletters filled with anecdotes and stories of his travel.  
He called them little propaganda pieces.  He described his wine in a fresh way.  He introduced his customers to the characters behind the wineries.  He avoided the trite, flat string of adjectives wine critics used.  He gave many French wineries with unpronounceable names an American storyline.  He advertised the fact that he personally tasted each wine he sold in his shop.  He found, what we marketers call, a point-of-difference.

You may not know who Kermit Lynch is or what he looks like, but you’ve probably drank the wine he imports into your neighborhood wine shop.  

He’s been knighted in France, he has two James Beard awards and he’s a trend-setter in the wine world.  He’s probably the reason that people drink Bandol now and give two craps about Beaujolais – what he calls the most inspired invention in the history of wine.   

He told stories.  He purposefully curated.  Then in 1988, he wrote “Adventures On The Wine Route: A Wine Buyer’s Tour of France”.  It’s a small and delightful book filled with insights, stories and anecdotes from his travels through the familiar wine routes of France. It’s a book at the intersection of history, culture and leisure.  In 2007, the New York Times’ Eric Asimov called it “one of the finest American books on wine”.  I’d also put it alongside Jan Morriss’ “Trieste And The Meaning of Nowhere” as one of the best travelogues I’ve encountered.

In celebration of the book’s twenty-fifth anniversary this year, Lynch has re-released it with an epilogue and a list of some of his most memorable bottles of wine.  At its best it is a manifesto of a passionate man that knows a thing or two about how to enjoy wine.   Through our journey, Lynch returns to his simple, straightforward philosophy that wine is about pleasure and “those who make it ponderous make it dull.”   

Instead of letting others dictate what is deemed “good wine”, Lynch tells us to evaluate wine based on the environment in which it is served.  He writes: “Rejecting a wine because it is not big enough is like rejecting a book because it is not long enough, or a piece of music because it is not loud enough.”  Wine most certainly needs context, and to Lynch that context comes from food, friends, from whatever else is going on around the table.  It is a wine philosophy very similar to his friend Waters’ slow food philosophy.   

He devotes just enough space to describe the technical side of the wine business.  He’s a fan of the preservative sulfran dioxide despite his “natural” moniker and prefers subtle barrel-aging.  He also spills the secrets of a great Burgundy: “a low yield, grapes as healthy as possible, vinified in wood, the wine not put through wild gyrations of temperature or clarification, aged in barrel underground where it is moist and cold, bottled unfiltered when the moon says its time.  Above all, baby it along while following tradition.”  What a letdown.  I was expecting more.

He describes the issues, trends and fads that many 1980s French wineries went through in chase of modernization.  Many vintners started turning away from their heritage to embrace mechanical harvesters and testing chemical pesticides.  They started heavily filtering their wines.  Lynch stopped buying from those producers.  He championed traditional methods.  He wrote about it.  

On blind tastings, Lynch writes: “Blind Tastings…seemed such tomfoolery….Such tasting conditions have nothing to do with the conditions under which the wines will presumably be drunk, which is at a table, with food.  When a woman chooses a hat, she does not put it on a goat’s head to judge it; she puts it on her own.  There is a vast difference, an insurmountable difference, between the taste of a wine next to another wine, and the same wine’s taste with food.”

For years, my father has opined that wine never tastes as good at home as it did while tasting at the winery.  In his book, Lynch provides us an answer as to why this may be.  He writes: “But then of course Cassis tastes better at Cassis!  Debussy sounds better after a walk through the foggy, puddled streets of late-night Paris.  You are in the midst of the atmosphere that created it.  The wine is no different; the music is not different.  You are.”  To minimize this, Lynch has taken painstaking, not to mention more costly, measures to transport his wine from the cellar door in France to his wine shop in refrigerated crates to maintain the wine’s integrity.  

More recently, Kermit Lynch has been called a “California hater” after telling the New York Times last October that he had lost interest in California wines after vintners started making wines to please critic Robert Parker’s palate (oaky, intense, higher-alcohol).  Chasing high Parker scores, in Lynch’s mind, would lead to higher sales, yes, but less diversity in wines.  Less individuality.  Less uniqueness.  These words remind me of his critique of some French wineries in the 80’s.  

In the new epilogue Lynch writes “I’m hoping that the result of my experience – years of trial and error, searching the limits and the excesses- will be found in your next glass of wine.”  

Next time you’re in a wine shop, look for fellow shoppers checking out the back of the wine bottle instead of the producer on the front.  Very likely they’re searching for Lynch’s name.   It’s still a trusted indicator; a reassurance that our next taste will be, in Lynch’s words, “alive and intact.”

In future posts I’ll share my thoughts on a few of Lynch’s imports – that’s, of course, if Foodie-Girl lets me.  

While you wait, read his book.

A Traditional Overnight Roast, Farm Style

February 3, 2014 by  

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This dish hails from Foxhollow Farm’s Maggie Keith.  It is one of those fantastically flexible recipes which translates more as a concept rather than a strict, by the book process.  The main ingredient is slow, slow cooking.

I tucked my roast into the oven just before tucking myself in to bed on a recent evening, cloaking the sirloin in a blend of kosher salt, cayenne, ground mustard, red pepper flakes, paprika and garlic.  A gentle but lasting sear on all sides followed and the roast was joined by a multitude of aromatics and then covered with beef broth and red wine.

Seven hours later I woke to the soft and luring scent of comfort food, the roast tender and rich, the broth reduced and deeply flavored.  Served shredded over rice or pilled high on a crusty Blue Dog baguette, this roast lends itself to a variety of toppings and pairings, making quick friends with quinoa, pasta and potatoes alike.  The recipe is almost too simple to call a recipe and I feel a tinge of guilt writing it down.

A little of this, a little of that… it doesn’t take much when you are working with an ingredient of this quality and the classic cooking method of low and slow.  So sleep tight tonight.  Dinner will be ready in the morning.

 

This roast needs just a little love prior to it’s low and slow meeting with the oven.  I gave it a nice crust by rubbing a blend of spices on all sides of the roast.  To begin, combine the following in a small bowl: two tsp kosher salt, one half tsp red pepper flakes, one half tsp cayenne, one tsp mustard powder, two tsp paprika, two tsp granulated garlic and one half tsp freshly ground black pepper.  Pat the roast dry and rub the spice blend over all sides of the beef.

Warm a heavy-bottom pot (a dutch oven is ideal) over medium heat and add one tbs olive oil and one tbs unsalted butter.  Brown the roast on both sides for four minutes, creating a nice sear.  Next, add the aromatics – one onion, quartered, six cloves garlic, sliced in half, two large carrots, sliced in half, six sprigs of fresh thyme, three sprigs of fresh rosemary and one tsp of whole peppercorns.

Add one bottle of red wine (nothing expensive but something you like to drink – I used a bottle of 2011 Gabbiano Chianti) and four cups of unsalted beef broth.  Not a wine lover?  No worries.  The objective is to cover the roast entirely with liquid.  So double the broth, add juice, even a little water is ok (just not too much as you don’t want to dilute the flavor), just make sure the beef is covered.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and cook the roast for seven hours (my oven had an automatic cooking timer – who knew!).  Remove from the oven and transfer the roast to large dish.  Using two forks, pull the beef apart, shredding it into bite-sized pieces and set aside.  Make sure to taste as you go… :)

Turning back to the sauce, strain into a large bowl through a sieve, catching the onion, carrot, garlic and herbs.  Move the sauce back to the pot and bring to a boil, reducing at this heat for thirty minutes.  Add one tsp kosher salt along the way.

Once reduced, lower the heat and add four tbs of cold, unsalted butter, whisking to combine until glossy and smooth.  Taste for seasoning and add additional salt and pepper, if necessary.

Pour the sauce over the shredded beef and serve warm.  In the cover shot I have layered the beef over rice tossed with parsley and topped with pickled onions (I love the kick of vinegar these offer).  Use your imagination and let me know what you come up with – I am sure it will be delicious!

Serves Six to Eight

  • one beef sirloin tip roast – two and one half to three pounds
  • two tsp kosher salt
  • one half tsp red pepper flakes
  • one half tsp cayenne
  • one tsp mustard powder
  • two tsp paprika
  • two tsp granulated garlic
  • one half tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • one tbs olive oil
  • one tbs unsalted butter
  • one onion, quartered
  • six cloves garlic, sliced in half
  • two large carrots, sliced in half
  • six sprigs of fresh thyme
  • three sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • one tsp whole peppercorns
  • one bottle red wine
  • four cups unsalted beef broth
  • one tsp kosher salt
  • four tbs cold, unsalted butter

To begin, combine the kosher salt, red pepper flakes, cayenne, mustard powder, paprika, granulated garlic and black pepper together in a small bowl.  Pat the roast dry and rub the spice blend over all sides of the beef.
Warm a heavy-bottom pot (a dutch oven is ideal) over medium heat and add one tbs olive oil and one tbs unsalted butter.  Brown the roast on both sides for four minutes, creating a nice sear.  Next, add the onion, garlic cloves, carrots, thyme, rosemary and whole peppercorns to the pot.
Add one bottle of red wine (nothing expensive but something you like to drink – I used a bottle of 2011 Gabbiano Chianti) and four cups of unsalted beef broth.  Not a wine lover?  No worries.  The objective is to cover the roast entirely with liquid.  So double the broth, add juice, even a little water is ok (just not too much as you don’t want to dilute the flavor), just make sure the beef is covered.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and cook the roast for seven hours.  Remove from the oven and transfer the roast to large dish.  Using two forks, pull the beef apart, shredding it into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
Turning back to the sauce, strain into a large bowl through a sieve, catching the onion, carrot, garlic and herbs.  Move the sauce back to the pot and bring to a boil, reducing at this heat for thirty minutes.  Add one tsp kosher salt along the way.  Once reduced, lower the heat and add four tbs of cold, unsalted butter, whisking to combine until glossy and smooth.  Taste for seasoning and add additional salt and pepper, if necessary.
Pour the sauce over the shredded beef and serve warm.  In the cover shot I have layered the beef over rice tossed with parsley and topped with pickled onions (I love the kick of vinegar these offer).  Use your imagination and let me know what you come up with – I am sure it will be delicious!

Diving Into Arugula & Shrimp Spring Rolls

January 28, 2014 by  

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Perhaps my recent posts have been a bit off-theme for this time of year.  After all, Braised Chicken with Spinach and Couscous and Foxhollow Farm Shepherd’s Pie don’t exactly scream light and healthy which, come January one, is de rigueur.  Healthy eating can take on such an unhealthy dress however, and I find myself in rebellion January after January.
I refuse to eat rubbery, flavorless chicken breasts, to substitute real butter for something that I truly can’t believe or to eat dreaded ‘low-fat’ foods which are only made as such through the removal of all real ingredients and the replacement of at least ten foreign ‘substitutes.’  I view these spring rolls as my January compromise.
Decidedly light they pack in a healthy dose of flavor and brightness, delivering a punch of the spring and summer while the temperatures outside tell a different story.  Rice paper and rice noodles are at the heart of this dish, a blank canvas ready to wrap up an abundance of flavor.  Crunchy and colorful carrots are layered atop wild-caught shrimp, poached to a perfect crispness.
Spicy jalapeno, sriracha and green onion offer depth of flavor but are tempered, just so, by the cool, calming goodness of avocado and fresh sprigs of mint.  I can’t tell you what possessed me to add arugula to this role and I resisted the urge during the first test run.  The peppery crunch of this green kept nudging its way back into my mind and I finally gave in and was very pleased with the results.  Served with peanut sauce or all on their own, these rolls will check off all of the obligatory boxes for January’s fresh start mentality.

To begin, fill a medium pot with water and set over high heat, bringing to a boil.  While you are waiting for the water to boil prep the following: one cup of carrots, cut into very thin matchsticks, one jalapeño, sliced into matchsticks to match the carrots, two green onions, thinly sliced using both the white and green parts, one half of an avocado, thinly sliced, two cups of arugula and 16-20 fresh mint leaves.

When the water is at a boil add a tablespoon of kosher salt and then one half pound of raw, shell-on shrimp.  Make sure you have a large bowl of ice water ready.  Cook the shrimp for two to three minutes, at most, and then remove with a spider strainer or slotted spoon and place directly into the ice water to stop the cooking – do not drain the shrimp, you will want to reserve that water for the rice noodles.  Remove the shrimp from the ice water and peel, removing the tails and shells.  Slice each shrimp lengthwise and discarding the vein along the back.  Set aside.

Return the pot of water used to cook the shrimp back to a boil and add four ounces of rice noodles – half of an eight ounce box, uncooked.  Boil the noodles for three minutes and drain, running cold water overtop to stop the cooking.  Move to a shallow bowl and set aside.

Assembly time!  The rice paper is very thin and transparent and needs to be soaked in water in order for it to become pliable (discard any paper that has a hole).  I’ve found the easiest way to make this happen, as it can be a bit cumbersome, is to fill a sheet pan with water.  The rice paper can lay flat in the water and can be spun around gently.  Soak the paper until it is soft, but still intact, for approximately one and one half minutes.  Remove to a paper towel, making sure it is flat and not folded over on itself.

Working at the end of the paper that is closest to you, begin the roll with a layer of three shrimp halves. Top with several slices of carrot, two slices of jalapeño, a sprinkling of green onion, one slice of avocado and a strip of sriracha across the top.

Add rice noodles over the avocado and several sprigs of arugula.  Fold the end of the rice paper closest to you over the top of shrimp and veggies and carefully turn the roll away from you, adding gentle pressure and keeping the paper tight.

Once rolled half-way, add two sprigs of mint to the outside of the rice paper and then fold the sides of the roll in tightly, as if you were folding a burrito.  Fold the spring roll onto itself sealing the end of the rice paper over itself, creating a perfect little pouch of goodness.  The rolls may be made four hours ahead of serving.  Simply cover with a damp paper towel and refrigerate.  Serve with peanut sauce and enjoy!

Makes Eight Spring Rolls

  • one cup of carrots, cut into very thin matchsticks
  • one jalapeño, sliced into matchsticks to match the carrots
  • two green onions, thinly sliced using both the white and green parts
  • one half of an avocado, thinly sliced
  • sriracha
  • two cups of arugula
  • 16-20 fresh mint leaves
  • one half pound of shell-on, wild-caught shrimp
  • four ounces of uncooked rice noodles
  • rice paper

To begin, fill a medium pot with water and set over high heat, bringing to a boil.  While you are waiting for the water to boil prep the following: one cup of carrots, cut into very thin matchsticks, one jalapeño, sliced into matchsticks to match the carrots, two green onions, thinly sliced using both the white and green parts, one half of an avocado, thinly sliced, two cups of arugula and 16-20 fresh mint leaves.

When the water is at a boil add a tablespoon of kosher salt and then one half pound of raw, shell-on shrimp.  Make sure you have a large bowl of ice water ready.  Cook the shrimp for two to three minutes, at most, and then remove with a spider strainer or slotted spoon and place directly into the ice water to stop the cooking – do not drain the shrimp, you will want to reserve that water for the rice noodles.  Remove the shrimp from the ice water and peel, removing the tails and shells.  Slice each shrimp lengthwise and discard the vein along the back.  Set aside.

Return the pot of water used to cook the shrimp back to a boil and add four ounces of rice noodles – half of an eight ounce box, uncooked.  Boil the noodles for three minutes and drain, running cold water overtop to stop the cooking.  Move to a shallow bowl and set aside.
Assembly time!  The rice paper is very thin and transparent and needs to be soaked in water in order for it to become pliable (discard any paper that has a hole).  I’ve found the easiest way to make this happen, as it can be a bit cumbersome, is to fill a sheet pan with water.  The rice paper can lay flat in the water and can be spun around gently.  Soak the paper until it is soft, but still intact, for approximately one and one half minutes.  Remove to a paper towel, making sure it is flat and not folded over on itself.
Working at the end of the paper that is closest to you, begin the roll with a layer of three shrimp halves. Top with several slices of carrot, two slices of jalapeño, a sprinkling of green onion, one slice of avocado and a strip of sriracha across the top.  Add rice noodles over the avocado and several sprigs of arugula.  Fold the end of the rice paper closest to you over the top of shrimp and veggies and carefully turn the roll away from you, adding gentle pressure and keeping the paper tight.

Once rolled half-way, add two sprigs of mint to the outside of the rice paper and then fold the sides of the roll in tightly, as if you were folding a burrito.  Fold the spring roll onto itself sealing the end of the rice paper over itself, creating a perfect little pouch of goodness.  The rolls may be made four hours ahead of serving.  Simply cover with a damp paper towel and refrigerate.  Serve with peanut sauce and enjoy!

Couscous and Spinach Blended With Braised Chicken

January 22, 2014 by  

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As we’ve all just survived the polar vortex, I can think of no better way to rewarm our souls than with this meal.  Salty, crispy skin gives way to the rich and succulent meat of the chicken thigh.  It is swimming in a sauce of white wine, garlic, thyme and paper-thin onions with leafy green spinach sliding its way into each bite, wilted to that perfect texture where it is silky but still packed with flavor.  Tiny pearls of couscous pop onto the scene, these miniature orbs offering up a decidedly curious textural element that is hard to put into words and even harder to stop eating.  A long, slow simmer brings each element together into one harmonious dish.  Polar vortex or not, I strongly encourage you to give this recipe a try.

 

If you’ve had one chicken breast you’ve had 1,000.  Sure they can be pumped up with flavor but they are much more sensitive when it comes to cooking and can dry out in a matter of seconds.  Let me introduce you to the chicken thigh, foodie-friends.  If you aren’t already familiar you should be.  It is by far my favorite cut of the chicken.  And it responds particularly well to a long, slow simmer in an uber-flavorful broth, which is exactly what we are going to do in this particular recipe!

Select chicken thighs with the bone and skin still intact.  The bone will simply add a greater depth of flavor and we are going to give the skin a solid sear, leaving it crispy and crunchy.  Add a liberal amount of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to both sides of the chicken.  Heat a large skillet with tall sides over medium high heat.  Add one tbs olive oil and one tbs unsalted butter and then place the chicken thighs in the pan, skin-side down.  Sear for seven minutes and remove to plate and set aside.  Bring the heat on the pan down to medium-low.

Now to begin the flavor-enhancing!  Use a mandolin and shave one half of a large onion into very thin slices.  You may use a knife if you don’t have a mandolin handy but just make sure to keep the onion sliced very thinly.  They will reduce down and almost melt into the sauce.  Add the onions to the pan and toss with the chicken drippings, scrapping the bottom of the pot to bring up any seared items left behind.

Allow the onions to cook down for five minutes until they begin to sweat and are translucent.  Add two tsp of minced fresh thyme, one tbs of minced garlic, one eighth of a tsp red pepper flakes and the zest from one lemon.  Toss to combine and warm through for one minute.

Add one cup of dry white wine (something you enjoy drinking – make sure to pour yourself a glass while you cook) to the pan along with one and one half cups unsalted chicken broth, one bay leaf and one half tsp of kosher salt.

Bring the sauce to a boil and put the chicken back into the pan, skin-side up.  The sauce should cover most of the chicken but not the skin.  We want to make sure that remains crisp.

Bring the sauce down to a simmer and cook over medium heat for 50 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and a thermometer reads 150 degrees in the thickest part of the meat.  Keep an eye on the pot and adjust the heat, making the sure the sauce doesn’t reduce too quickly.  It will boil down and the flavors will concentrate and intensify.

During the last ten minutes of the chicken’s cooking time prepare the couscous.  I have a minor obsession with Israeli couscous (you will find evidence of this here and here) and love the way the sauce melts into these mini balls of pasta but rice, quinoa or another grain or noodle will yield the same, delicious, results.  Place one cup of couscous in a pot and add one and one quarter cups of boiling water.  Bring to a full boil and then cover, dropping the heat to medium-low and cooking for eight to ten minutes until the pasta is light and fluffy.  Add one quarter tsp of kosher salt and set aside.

When the chicken is cooked through, remove it from the pan, along with the bay leaf, and add three handfuls of fresh spinach, the juice of one lemon, one tbs of balsamic vinegar and one quarter tsp of kosher salt to the pan.  Toss until wilted – approximately three minutes – and taste for seasoning.  Add additional salt and pepper if necessary.  Plate the couscous and spoon the sauce over the bed of pasta.  Top with the chicken breasts and add additional sauce overtop (not too much – you don’t want the skin to become soggy).  Garnish with freshly chopped parsley and serve.

Serves Two

  • four chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper for seasoning
  • one tbs olive oil
  • one tbs unsalted butter
  • one half of a large onion, sliced very thinly (mandolin recommended)
  • two tsp of minced fresh thyme
  • one tbs of minced garlic
  • one eighth of a tsp red pepper flakes
  • the zest from one lemon
  • one cup of dry white wine
  • one and one half cups unsalted chicken broth
  • one bay leaf
  • three quarters tsp of kosher salt, divided
  • three handfuls of fresh spinach
  • the juice of one lemon
  • one tbs balsamic vinegar
  • freshly chopped parsley for garnish
  • one cup Israeli couscous
  • one quarter tsp kosher salt
Select chicken thighs with the bone and skin still intact.  The bone will simply add a greater depth of flavor and we are going to give the skin a solid sear, leaving it crispy and crunchy.  Add a liberal amount of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to both sides of the chicken.  Heat a large skillet with tall sides over medium high heat.  Add one tbs olive oil and one tbs unsalted butter and then place the chicken thighs in the pan, skin-side down.  Sear for seven minutes and remove to plate and set aside.  Bring the heat on the pan down to medium-low.
Use a mandolin and shave one half of a large onion into very thin slices.  You may use a knife if you don’t have a mandolin handy but just make sure to keep the onion sliced very thinly.  Add the onions to the pan and toss with the chicken drippings, scrapping the bottom of the pot to bring up any seared items left behind.
Allow the onions to cook down for five minutes until they begin to sweat and are translucent.  Add the thyme, garlic, red pepper flakes and lemon zest.  Toss to combine and warm through for one minute.
Add one cup of dry white wine (something you enjoy drinking – make sure to pour yourself a glass while you cook) to the pan along with the chicken broth, one bay leaf and one half tsp of kosher salt.  Bring the sauce to a boil and put the chicken back into the pan, skin-side up.  The sauce should cover most of the chicken but not the skin.  We want to make sure that remains crisp.
Bring the sauce down to a simmer and cook over medium heat for 50 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and a thermometer reads 150 degrees in the thickest part of the meat.  Keep an eye on the pot and adjust the heat, making the sure the sauce doesn’t reduce too quickly.  It will boil down and the flavors will concentrate and intensify.
During the last ten minutes of the chicken’s cooking time prepare the couscous.  Place one cup of couscous in a pot and add one and one quarter cups of boiling water.  Bring to a full boil and then cover, dropping the heat to medium-low and cooking for eight to ten minutes until the pasta is light and fluffy.  Add one quarter tsp of kosher salt and set aside.
When the chicken is cooked through, remove it from the pan, along with the bay leaf, and the spinach, the juice of one lemon, the balsamic vinegar and one quarter tsp of kosher salt to the pan.
Toss until wilted – approximately three minutes – and taste for seasoning.  Add additional salt and pepper if necessary.  Plate the couscous and spoon the sauce over the bed of pasta.  Top with the chicken breasts and add additional sauce overtop (not too much – you don’t want the skin to become soggy).  Garnish with freshly chopped parsley and serve.

Making Homemade Egg Nog For The Holidays!

December 15, 2013 by  

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Egg nog on Christmas Eve was as sure a thing as Santa Claus on Christmas morning.  As a child, few things were more challenging to the spirit than the excruciatingly long hours of the night before Christmas.  The concept of having to wait even the slightest moment longer for Santa’s arrival was beyond comprehension.  One had to dig deep down to find the strength and patience required to make it through the endless night.

The only thing that made this infinite evening bearable was the knowledge that Roger, our close, broad-smiled family friend, would soon arrive.  Roger’s tradition was to deliver gifts to his friends and family on Christmas Eve.  He and his dog Sport would pile into the car with toys and trinkets, bags of spiced nuts, and, most importantly, his homemade egg nog.

Roger and Sport would pull up to the curb at our house and Willie, Allison and I would race to the door, ecstatic and nearly shaking with anticipation, knowing he would have a gift for us, always smartly chosen, a token to entertain us until we would finally, finally, fall into a slumber.  As I’ve grown up, the simple visit from Roger has drawn far more meaning, a meaning that can only come from a better understanding of life and what really counts.  I’m also old enough to have the egg nog now – a perk that cannot be overstated!  Roger’s recipe is one that was handed down to him by the Van Meter family of Lexington.

It is old and simple, the trappings of many a classic recipe.  Eggs, cream, sugar and bourbon and frothed and folded, resulting in a thick and luscious cocktail most suitable for enjoying by the fire and a lit Christmas tree.  Choosing to pay Roger’s friendship forward, my family has since shared the tradition of Christmas Eve egg nog deliveries.  I can’t think of a better way to show love and thanks this Christmas than with this homemade treat.  Merry Christmas foodie-friends!

 

Begin by separating four eggs, reserving both the whites and the yolks.

In a large bowl, combine the egg yolks with three quarters of a cup of sugar.  Beat until fully combined, light, creamy and smooth.

Slowly add one cup of good bourbon to the eggs and sugar, beating until mixed thoroughly.

In a separate bowl, beat one pint (two cups) of whipping cream until light and airy, the cream forming stiff peaks.  Gently fold the whipped cream into the egg, sugar and bourbon, being careful not to deflate the cream.  Once the whipped cream is fully combined, beat the four egg whites in a clean bowl until they are also light and airy, forming stiff peaks.  Carefully fold the eggs whites into the egg nog, combining thoroughly but taking care not to over-mix.

Allow to chill in the refrigerator over-night, the ingredients blending and settling into one another.  The following day you will find that the liquids have settled to the bottom and the cream and egg whites are thick on the top.  Gently refold the mixture and serve, garnishing with freshly grated nutmeg overtop.  Merry Christmas!

Van Meter Family Egg Nog

  • four eggs, the whites and yolks separated
  • three quarters of a cup of sugar
  • one cup good bourbon
  • one pint (two cups) of whipping cream
  • freshly grated nutmeg for garnish
In a large bowl, combine the egg yolks with three quarters of a cup of sugar.  Beat until fully combined, light, creamy and smooth.
Slowly add one cup of good bourbon to the eggs and sugar, beating until mixed thoroughly.
In a separate bowl, beat one pint (two cups) of whipping cream until light and airy, the cream forming stiff peaks.  Gently fold the whipped cream into the egg, sugar and bourbon, being careful not to deflate the cream.
Once the whipped cream is fully combined, beat the egg whites in a separate bowl until they are also light and airy, forming stiff peaks.  Carefully fold the egg whites into the egg nog, combining thoroughly but taking care not to over-mix.
Allow to chill in the refrigerator over-night, the ingredients blending and settling into one another.  The following day you will find that the liquids have settled to the bottom and the cream and egg whites are thick on the top.  Gently refold the mixture and serve, garnishing with freshly grated nutmeg overtop.  Merry Christmas!

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