20. May 2013 09:10
I can still remember the very first wine tasting I ever participated in. It was at a winery in the Finger Lakes region of New York near Canandaigua Lake. It was during a family vacation to Niagara Falls and we were returning to our home in Connecticut. My mom and dad weren’t really wine drinkers, but they thought they should stop and experience what this wine thing was all about.
I was 13 at the time so while I couldn’t actually taste the wine, the tasting associate made the effort to get some grape juice so that I could participate in the experience. He could tell that my parents didn’t really enjoy the wines but he went out of his way to entertain them, my sister and myself. I didn’t know it then, but that was my first bit of research into the functioning of a tasting room.
7. May 2013 06:22
It has been my observation that tasting rooms fall into one of two categories, they were either built specifically as a tasting room or they were a pre-existing building on the property that was repurposed to function as a tasting room. No matter which category the room is in, many suffer from the exact same disease. The traffic flow through the room wasn’t properly thought out and/or implemented and things back up.
This article really should be part and parcel with the next one I’m going to write about the types of tasting being offered at wineries. The design of the room can either greatly influence the style of tasting offered, or the room design can work hand in hand with the style of tasting to generate a miserable experience for a winery’s customers.
3. May 2013 05:45
I am frequently asked what it’s like to work in a tasting room at a winery or just as often, how does one become a person that does this. The easy answer is usually a bit of desire and the willingness to give up your weekends. However, it is way more involved than that and I wanted to begin to let people know what it really takes to do this.
First of all, there are very few of us that can do this for a living. The vast majority of people do this as a side job one or two weekends a month. This is mostly because it is a free time driven hobby. Not for the people working but for the people visiting. A winery that sees 200, 300 or even 500 people per day on a weekend may only see a handful on any given weekday. And therein lies the first of several rubs, there just aren’t that many front of the house winery positions out there.
23. April 2013 08:34
For those of you that don’t know, I recently became a Certified Barbeque Judge (CBJ) for the Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS). This means that I can go to barbeque contests around the country (and even around the world) and judge the quality of the meat being prepared and submitted as part of a sanctioned KCBS barbeque competition. This makes me VERY happy.
However, for those that aren’t part of the competition circuit, I do have a problem and one that bothers me in the extreme. Just throwing a hunk of meat on the grill and incinerating it is not barbeque. That is grilling, something that I am intimately familiar with as well. Barbeque is the art of taking specific cuts of meat and cooking them in a low heat environment for a long period of time to gain a very particular quality to that meat. So please stop calling your backyard cook out a barbeque!
16. February 2013 05:31
I think I have a problem. After realizing that I have four separate containers of dill weed in my spice cabinet, I decided that it was time to do a complete inventory of everything lurking in there. After over an hour of pulling jars, containers, tins, and baggies out of there, I believe that I now have a complete picture of what Ms. Cocktail and I have collected over the years. Quite frankly, it isn’t pretty.
Hiding in the depths of this cabinet are spices that were given to Ms. Cocktail by her mother prior to us being married. For those of you keeping score at home, that means they are at least 25 years old. Who knows how long Mother Cocktail had them before passing them on. I’m pretty sure that whatever magic they had has long since been extracted by the spice gods.
The thing that astounds me the most though is the sheer number of different items in that cabinet. I found a total of 99 unique items (not counting duplicates) in that one cabinet alone. That doesn’t count the other drawers, cabinets and closets holding cooking stuff in my house. After the jump you’ll find the complete list of things I found in there (some of which have been given a proper burial). I’d love to hear about the denizens lurking in your spice cabinet so go ahead and drop me a line.
2. November 2012 05:33
Every month I develop a new recipe for pairing with the featured wine at Fabbioli Cellars. Sometimes the recipe has the wine in it, but mostly it is about the pairing and how the food and wine best works together. For the month of October, the featured wine was a port styled wine called Royalty.
Royalty is very much in the style of a Late Bottled Vintage port wine rather than your sweeter Ruby style ports. It has just enough sweetness to balance off the higher alcohol content of a fortified wine. So I went back to the classic items that pair with ports to create this delectable cheese ball.
30. October 2012 10:15
In spite of my lack of posting recently, I am most definitely still here. However, it was yesterday’s activities that got me thinking about putting up another recipe. You see yesterday, Hurricane Sandy blew through the area. You may be asking yourself what Hurricane Sandy has to do with anything, especially anything cooking related. I’m here to tell you that it has a lot to do with this recipe.
You see, Ms Cocktail and I wanted a dinner recipe that we could make even if we lost power and while I do own a butane burner I am also very partial to grilling. I’m sure you can see where this is going already, yes I was grilling during a hurricane.
19. June 2012 07:05
It’s good to have a day off every once in a while. It gives me the luxury of going down to my local Wegmans and spending time just browsing the aisles to see if I can find anything interesting. If your area doesn’t have a Wegmans then you are truly missing out. It is a supermarket chain that started in upstate New York and I was turned on to them at the same time that I was turned on to the joys of visiting wineries. About five years ago they made their way here to Virginia and I pretty much don’t shop anywhere else. Sorry, I digress.
As I was wandering about the store, I was pleasantly surprised to find that they now carry foie gras. Foie gras is the fattened liver of a duck or a goose and it is truly a delicacy unlike any other that I’ve had before.
22. May 2012 05:24
Those of you that have been following my writings over the last four years, I would like to thank you. There are now over 1750 of you and I find that pretty amazing. If you’ve read any of my articles here you know that I do like to share my knowledge and to help all of you become better at the things we like to do, which let’s face it, is to eat and drink.
So to that end, I would like to introduce you to the Piedmont Epicurean Arts Center (PEAC). PEAC is an educational institution focused on providing training in those endeavors that support a rural agricultural economy. In addition to this, it also provides educational opportunities for those people that want to expand their knowledge of the epicurean arts, and yes this does mean food and drink.
14. May 2012 14:40
My mother is down visiting for Mother’s Day, it is her annual trip down here to visit us and she is a huge fan of lamb. It had just so happened that a friend of ours had given us some lamb chops recently and I was trying to figure out what to do with them. I had made this black olive tapenade as a condiment for a grilled portabella mushroom burger I was making at the insistence of Ms Cocktail, I was struck by a sudden inspiration. This tapenade would be fantastic on lamb chops.