31. July 2009 05:08
South Carolina is unique in its barbeque culture. Spread across the state, there are four very distinct styles of barbeque mainly defined by the barbeque sauce. Starting in the East, you get a vinegar and pepper sauce which is really a southward extension of the North Carolina vinegar sauce. This sauce is thin but hot and tart. On the northern and western side of the state, you have a tomato sauce that is similar to the vinegar and pepper sauce but with the addition of tomatoes. This is an extension of the North Carolina or Piedmont type sauce. In the southwest of South Carolina, you get a ketchup based sauce. This is very similar to what you can buy in the stores, and is an extension of the types of sauces you can get in Georgia.
Then, smack dab in the middle of the state from around Columbia, running back to the Atlantic Ocean from Georgia to around Charleston is the barbeque that belongs to South Carolina; that is their mustard based barbeque sauce. For those that have never tried it, it is slightly sweet, slightly hot and all the way delicious. Here is my take on this unique sauce. I use it on pulled pork and chicken and it makes a great change from your everyday mustard on burgers and hotdogs.
1 1/2 cups prepared yellow mustard
1 small can tomato paste
7 Tbs brown sugar
5 Tbs cider vinegar
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce
Whisk all the ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil then simmer until the sugar is dissolved, about 10 minutes. Refrigerate between uses.
29. July 2009 08:19
Some of you have noticed, some have not. For those that haven't seen it yet, there are some really nice deals to be had on the wines coming out of Argentina these days. The area of Argentina producing the largest quantity of wine is the Mendoza district with over 60% of the country's wine being produced there. One of these wines is the 2007 Gestos from Finca Flichman.
This wine is made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes however, it is sourced from two different areas located at different elevations above sea level. The first is Tupungato which is located at 3,600 feet (1,100 meters) and the second is Barrancas which is located at 2,300 feet (700 meters). The differing elevations (and perhaps differing soil makeup) causes the cabernet sauvignon graps grown in each place to be distinctly different from one another. The juice from these areas are blended 50/50 to creates the Gestos Cabernet Sauvignon wine. The resulting blend is aged for eight months in new American and French oak barrels and then rested again for four months after bottling.
What you get from this exercise is an easily approachable wine that isn't too heavy yet has a fair bit of complexity to it. At first there is a scent of smoke and cigars followed quickly by black cherries. On the palate the black cherries dominates but there is a lingering taste of tobacco there as well.
Overall, this is a finely executed wine which should be able to be found for around $12 retail.
28. July 2009 06:05
Bridgeport, Connecticut has a couple of claims to fame. It was at one time home to the Frisbie Pie Company and therefore, arguably the birthplace of the Frisbee. It was home to that famous circus man, P.T Barnum. In fact, there is a museum dedicated to him right in downtown Bridgeport. It had the ignomy of having the University of Bridgeport purchased by the Reverend Doctor Sun Myung Moon. In his defense, the University never became the training center for his disciples that everyone feared and it is still a place to get a quality education. Recently though, the City of Bridgeport has become associated with something else entirely. That something else is the Gathering of the Vibes (GOTV because I don't want to type the whole thing anymore).
24. July 2009 13:44
Summer is a great time. It is a time for picnics, whether that's for a whole host of folks showing up at your place or a romantic little gathering for two. I know that my buddy Lucas likes to throw what he calls Smoke Offs. That's where those of us with smoking skills lay down somthing from our smoker and others bring the sides. It is always a good day of food, fun (I'm killer at Cornhole) and friends. Unfortunately, I have to miss one this weekend because I'm traveling to the Gathering of the Vibes. For those of you that enjoy music festivals, this is definitely one worth catching. More to come in the future, suffice it to say that this definitely fills a months FUN quota.
We were talking about picnics before I got sidetracked. One constant at almost every picnic is a pasta salad. Everyone has one in their repitoire, even if it was the tuna salad that your mom used to make (more on that in a coming episode as well). What I've done is to give a little twist to an old favorite. If you haven't guessed, I love grilling. There's just something about the flavors imparted by grilling food that can't be matched any other way. So here is my twist on the summer picnic stalwart, the pasta salad.
23. July 2009 14:05
The second in my continuing series of videos of me playing guitar. Each time I put one of these together I learn a little bit more about the technical aspects of video and audio recording, editing and display. This time I learned how to get a tru HD picture captured and uploaded. I changed the lighting, this time I used more fill lighting and no overhead lighting. It's better, but there are still some awkward shadows. This is what happens when I resort to borrowed and repurposed house lighting rather than breaking down and investing in a light kit. I'm also a bit pissed about the title card being a touch messed up; I have no idea what happened there.
20. July 2009 09:37
It's a gorgeous day out, the temperature is in the mid-eighties, the humidity is slightly higher than 40%, the sun is out, the wine is flowing, the music is playing...Hey! we're at a party! Ms Cocktail and I along with one of our good friends decided that the best way to spend our Saturday afternoon was with wine, music and sun the the Annual Key West Fest hosted by Breaux Vineyards located in Purcellville, VA.
This is not a day for serious tasting of wines though, it is simply a great day to be outside enjoying the beautiful weather and great music. We of course, have to at least attempt a tasting, how else are we supposed to know what to drink? Poor Betty has already done this about fifty times though and is already starting ot lose her voice. The people are packed three deep behind us so we kind of have to move quickly to help keep things moving along. Here are my tasting notes from this frenzied experience under the tent:
16. July 2009 11:47
I've been trying to taste something other than Zins because they seem to be the only wines I'm tasting these days. So imagine my surprise when Ms Cocktail comes back from a baby shower last weekend and exclaimed, "They had the most wonderful wine there, you just have to taste it!" I figured that since it was a baby shower that a) a mojority of the women wouldn't be drinking, and b) if they were drinking it was hot out so it would most likely be some chilled Chardonnay or Reisling. Wellthose wines were represented at the gathering however, those were not the wine Ms Cocktail was referring to.
Ms Cocktail was refering to the 2007 Twisted Wine Cellars Old Vine Zinfandel. I discovered this when we were once again at our trusty Wegmans. Ms Cocktail points out a magnum (equivalent to two standard bottles of wine doncha know) on the shelf and identified it as the wine that she had at the baby shower, I should taste it, and didn't the mother-to-be just look wonderful? I had all kinds of antenna pop out at that statement for various reason, not the least of which was a magnum of Zinfandel for under $12. Of course that meant that I was guilty of ignoring my own advice (Let's talk about the wine) and of course, that would be the time that I should have listened to myself. This just goes to prove that we are conditioned to equate quality with price and that we need to fight against this all the time.
14. July 2009 12:04
I like to think that I'm this cool and groovy guy that just gets it when it comes to food and wine. For the most part, I am. However, a lot of things that I do aren't the product of this idea that leaps unbidden into my brain in the middle of the night, startling me awake, not allowing me to sleep until I either act upon it or visciouisly strangle that idea into submission. No, most of what I do is just the product of good old fashioned research and then some trial and error along with an occasional conversation with Ms Cocktail. The Magic Dust comes from the research portion of our program.
One of the very first cookbooks I ever bought myself was the highly recommended primer on barbeque titled Peace, Love and Barbecue by Mike Mills. You'll notice that he spells barbeque incorrectly (I'm a traditionalist, what can I say?) but it is something I can easily forgive him on because this book really does give you everything you need to know about barbeque. For those that aren't quite sure what barbeque is, that means meats and other things that were slow cooked over wood charcoal, preferable at a temperature less than 250 degrees fahrenheit. This does not mean grilling food. Grilling is grilling and barbeque is...well...barbeque.
11. July 2009 04:47
What do you do with a bottle of red wine that just didn't quite measure up to your expectations? You make Sangria, of course!
Actually, I do this as a matter of course because I'll go out of my way to buy a cheap, not so good bottle of red wine, knowing that it will end up in this heavenly concotion. The beauty of Sangria is that you can drink it by the pitcher and not feel the intoxicating effects of the wine as it is quite thinned out (at least in my version). That being said, I would be remiss in not mentioning that you shouldn't consume Sangria and operate motor vehicles or heavy machinery regardless of how much or little of the effect you feel.
Now Sangria is a wonderful way to just relax a lazy afternoon away and it is something I try to take advantage of whenever I can. There is a place in Northern Virginia called The Winery at La Grange (I can't help but think of the ZZ Top tune whever I hear that name) that makes just a wonderful Sangria. This winery is located in a beautiful country setting but is only a hop, skip and a jump away from DC proper. They cheerfully share their Sangria recipe and it is so wonderful that I've adopted it as my my go-to version of this crowd pleaser.
8. July 2009 03:48
Every weekend my local wine retailer does tastings. I'm not always available for these, but I try to catch as many as I can. A couple of weeks back they were tasting the Brassfield Estate Winery Volcano Ridge Eruption. My first thought was that they need to come up with a better name because that is quite the mouthful. My second thought was, who am I to say anything, I would call a wine "Stanky but Tasty". As you can tell, I'm not a marketing genius by any stretch of the imagination.
This wine is a 2005 vintage and is a blend of 69% Syrah, 18% Mourvedre, 5% Grenache, 5% Petite Sirah, and 3% Other. This wine is a beautiful deep purple in color with just a touch of transparency. When you first take a smell of this wine there is a strong odor of alcohol which isn't totally surprising as it is listed as 14.3%. The next smell let's you sneak a peek behind the curtain to the plum and black cherries that linger there. On the palate you can taste those black cherries with a hint of green pepper and a touch of lingering smoke.
This wine was very tight when first opened, it needed to be decanted and let sit for at least an hour before it opened up. The results were worth the wait though as this medium bodied wine was a delight to drink after that point.