Tuesday, January 20, 2015

In the Nuthouse

No, no, I may be mad, but I'm not nuts.

Although I'm a little crazy for a particular Pinot Noir from one of my favorite producers in Oregon, Argyle. Housed in an old hazelnut processing plant, Argyle has been making delectable Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Riesling, as well as some excellent sparkling wines (ah, for the days when they were the dirt-cheap bubbly, but they've won a few too many awards, and the price just keeps going up!).

The Nuthouse Pinot Noir has always been one of my favorites, and although I miss their more humorous labels, the current label reflects their quality and dedication to the grape. I fell in love with it in 1997 when I was the sommelier at POP in Union Square, and this is their 20th anniversary vintage.

Has it really been that long? I wish I had stored a few cases back then.

Total Wine & More may still have a few bottles lying around, although their website may not reflect actual store inventory.

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Bitter Truth

OK, I just tested my batch of Amaro. The herbs have been soaking in grain alcohol for about a month now. After filtering, the color is an odd sort of greenish brown, it smells like jet fuel, and has an acrid, bitter taste that causes your nostrils to flare and tastes like you just licked fresh, hot asphalt.

In other words: It's perfect.

My sevilla orange peels arrived this afternoon, and I added about 8 grams of fresh chocolate-mint from my garden, and 16 grams of peels. I will most likely need to cut the bitterness by diluting with brandy. I'm shooting for something close to Amaro Nardini, with licorice, mint, orange, and a chocolatey finish. I'm using Iris root instead of actual licorice root, as there are several potential health issues from real licorice. And I believe they're using a dark caramel syrup base, probably with black-strap molasses instead of corn syrup.

 I think I'll call it Amaro Nonrico.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Like most good Mad Scientists, you need an island in the middle of the ocean. Mine grows grapes.

Still job hunting in Miami, so after waiting for the workmen to come fix my leaky closet, I headed up to Total Wine and More to drop off a resume. It is a goal of mine to eventually own my own wine shop, preferably on a beach somewhere, and I can think of no better place to learn the retail business end of the wine world than from them. I send people there frequently in various cities by pulling up their store inventory from their website and telling them on which aisle to find the wine they want. Their selection is amazing, rivaling the better restaurants in Miami. And their prices are quite good. Now they need one somewhere closer to Midtown Miami, if not for my OWN commute, for my own shopping. The best wine selection in THIS area is Publix (with second place going to Buena Vista Chocolate and Wine....tiny, but they sell wine AND chocolate! Need I say more?)

Total Wine in North Miami 
Buena Vista Chocolate and Wine, just north of the Design District

Speaking of which, today's purchase was a bottle of Argiolas Costera, which could almost be described as Sardegna's answer to Côtes du Rhône: Mostly Cannonau (Grenache) with a little Carignano (Carignane) and Bovale Sardo (a Cinsault-like wine grape....I'm assuming the sub-varietal is Sardo, since Bovale Grande is usually accepted to be Carignane anyways.). I'm a big fan of Sardinian wines for their spice and mineral, and of  Côtes du Rhône for it's usually humble versions of some of the greatest wines in France. Remember when everyone had a CdR on their winelist instead of the now required Malbec or Merlot? I used one on several of my lists in NYC, and found the placement quite welcome by the true wine lovers. 

Oh, by the way,  Aisle 5, on the right, bottom row.  

Saturday, July 12, 2014

I've started running a bit low on my homemade Black Cherry Amaro, and with the recent loss of a gall bladder, I find the potent herbal qualities of the Gentian and Wormwood REALLY help my stomach. I still have quite a bit of my Blueberry Mirto (Gentian and Rosemary) but I find the effects of the more traditional style a better curative. Amazingly so. And that IS what they used it for originally.

Well, that and arthritis, depression, whooping cough, parasites, syphilis, and the plague. 

I also find it quite useful for Manhattans, although those weren't invented until the late 19th Century. 

I based the original batch on a 14th-century Italian monk's recipe, which I dug out of a scanned latin tome on Google Books, doing my best to translate as I went. I ran up to Total Wine & More for a bottle of grain alcohol (although last time I used Kirschwasser, TW&M didn't carry my brand) to start another proper batch.

And because a proper batch of amaro takes at LEAST 3 months to produce, I bought a bottle of a classic, Ramazzotti, to hold me over until then.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Well, here it goes.

Time to go back south for sure now.

4 weeks ago, I gave my notice at Esca Restaurant for multiple reasons. They needed me far more as a waiter more than a sommelier, as I tended to deal well with their lunch regulars and VIP's. Plus, the company's recent restructuring of sommelier pay would put me behind my last such position, and they say you shouldn't move backwards.

Add to those, a recurrent seasonal Vitamin D deficiency, and Florida looks better and better. And then SLAP! Who knew Vitamin D deficiencies cause gallstones?!? Last Thursday at about 1 AM, I had my gall bladder removed rather abruptly. Awww...no more Fritto Misto's! My olive oil use is still OK, but butter is going to be greatly curtailed. I've never eaten a lot of red meat or anything.

As it turns out, Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, and to stay in New York, I'm going to have to take prescription strength doses. I love NYC, but I don't think I love it enough to have to take pills to live here.

Between 3030 Ocean, Michael's Genuine (and associated restaurants, who I ALMOST worked for in 2001), Michy's, MC Kitchen, and a handful of other places, I think they're about ready for me. And I could use the sunshine.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Oh, I LOVE these! What better birthday present for The Mad Scientist Sommelier! ThinkGeek is one of my favorite online shopping sites!


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Mirto Mirtillo

 OK, I have to admit, this year's Christmas Liqueur came out DAMNED good, even if I do say so myself! This is my take on a traditional Sardinian "Mirto," a traditional myrtle berry amaro flavored with rosemary. Due to the lack of available myrtle berries in NYC, I used wild Maine blueberries, blueberry honey, and blueberry syrup instead of simple syrup. The flavors expand with each sip!

This could top my Dark Sweet Cherry Amaro from a few years ago.