29 September, 2017

It's National Coffee Day 9 /29/2017

Wicked Joe believes Coffee should be black s hell, strong as death and sweet as Love
A day without coffee quite literally feels to me like a day without sunshine.  I mean, before that first cup kicks in, I don't really even see color.  Then that magic brew gets everything started. 

This Friday, September 29th, is National Coffee Day.  Several participating retailers throughout the US have put together offers; more on that later.

I was given samples of a new delicious coffee from Wicked Joe Coffee.  Located in Topsham, Maine, Wicked Joe is a family owned company committed to producing exceptional coffees using sustainable business practices from crop-to-cup.  100 percent of Wicked Joe Coffee is certified organic and is roasted in their state of the art and energy efficient facility.  To complement their sustainable business practices, all of Wicked Joe's coffee beans are purchased directly from farmers and cooperatives across the globe.
Lessons in cold brew

Having found myself haunting the new Sprouts Markets that have bloomed around me, Wicked Joe Coffee is something I noticed over a tasty pistachio Sprouts muffin.  Over the summer, all 247 Sprouts stores started carrying this Maine product.   It inspired me to shake up my ordinary coffee routine.  I learned how to cold brew coffee and had delicious concentrated coffee elixir in my fridge just in time for yet another heat wave,

First, you add cold water to the coffee blend in about an 8:1 water to coffee ratio.  You let is steep in the fridge overnight.  Strain to remove the grounds and place in nice serving jar.

I tried two Wicked Joe varieties,  The first was the Sumatra which is a single origin varietal.  Wicked Joe imports Sumatran coffee from Sumatra and does not blend with other coffees.  The taste was smooth with a smoky notes.

Layer coffee, coffee&cream, and cream
The other sample was The Wicked French.  It is also fair trade but blended form several sources and put together to be dark as midnight with nice smokey flavors.  Not only was the cold brew delicious, but it inspired us to do some other coffee experiments.

Because the coffee tasted special, I wanted to see if we could make it into a cocktail for National Coffee day.  Of course with my Game of thrones obsession, I ended up concocting The Lady Melisandre.  Because the night is dark as this coffee and when dealing with things that are full of terrors, the natural inclination is to add over proof Bourbon and fire.
It was powerful, pretty and full of Bourbon.  It had a great kick.  It needs more work but I loved how the ice cube came out.

Coffee, over proof flaming liquor and a fancy ice cube made from layering coffee, coffee and cream, and cream into a large frozen cube. What could go wrong?
We tore up my kitchen but had the best time doing it.

Coffee brings people together.  It's nice to find an affordable, delicious product that is organic and focuses on making the world a better place.  With distribution in 2200 stores across the US or online, it's a cool product to try.

Back to the National Coffee Day offers.  Refinery 29 put together a nice list , if you want to see what's free near you.  I hope you have as much fun as we did conjuring up "The Lady Melisandre"

The night is dark and full of terrors, but in the morning, coffee will see you through!
Enjoy National Coffee Day! Thanks to Wicked Joe for the samples, and to BrixChick Janesta and Wine Harlot, Nannette Eaton for the production assistance.

25 September, 2017

How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Live Blogging - For #IFBC17

Charge your devices Find a WiFi Backup
Sacramento is once again the host of the 2017 International Food Blogger Conference.  This little blogger is so excited to get to see, taste, explore and lucubrate all the bounty the conference organizers have gathered.

The agenda item I am most excited about is the Live Food Blogging.  With nine years of past attendance at the Wine Bloggers Conference, I have learned to love that portion of the event.  It wasn't always the case.

How I learned to stop worrying and love Live Blogging...
Keuka Springs Gewurtz has a fun evangelist

Here are some quick Live Blogging Survival Tips:
1, First, make sure you have your devices with you and they are charged.  A handy thing to have is a device with cell service or Mifi in case the conference center infrastructure gets hit with too many tweets flying out at once.

2, Second make sure you have a stack of business cards handy.  Since the time with the producers is so limited, it's great to have an easy way to make a connection.

3. IFBC put the names of confirmed presenters on the website at this handy link. Take a sec and follow them now, and as a bonus you can get a sense of what they are doing currently.  It also makes it easier to tweet/Instagram/Facebook later.

4. Fifty minutes. Ten presenters.  Five minutes per visit means it will go by superfast.  Some presenters are naturally good at this format.  They come with signs
Life goes by fast.  Live blogging is supersonic!
imprinted with their soc media info and offer hashtags they would love for you to amplify.  Others need some coaxing .  They are experts in their field, but today, they are running the gauntlet of all our splendid blogger diversity.  Others know exactly what they want to present and have fun doing it.

5. Get a table rhythm going.  Hopefully one that doesn't savage the presenters.  No one likes a "MeanGirl". I mean unless that's your thing...no judgment... #judgment,  For the record I sometimes buy Bandit Wine after seeing the Bandit rep expertly handle some drunk, obnoxious wine bloggers. She knew her stuff!

Post like the smartest person you know

6, It can be hard to know what to post.  Some of the presenters may be focused in areas not of interest to your audience.  Whether you are a promoter or a critic, a nice picture and a snappy update are usually easy to find. After all, these passionate producers invested in connecting with us and our audiences. Find something new or fun or interesting. take a snap and post.

7, With live wine blogging, tasting lineups might range from dessert wine to a Pinotage to a cult Cabernet; this has given me vinous whiplash.   No hours at home to sip, swish and repeat. Just a few minutes to listen, experience, learn and comment.  It challenged me to quickly sample and comment even more quickly.  Be prepared to move fast.

I am very curious to see if live blogging wine and food together is easier or harder.  Mostly I am looking forward to seeing all the tweets/grams/posts. And also to seeing all the attendees.  See you in SMF!
If you're doing it right, it gets messy

19 September, 2017

Happy 5778! Celebrate with Kosher Rosé from Baron Herzog

Baron Herzog Rosé of Cab Sauv $10 Kosher Wine
 Shana Tova! Or Happy New Year.   Wednesday 9/20/17 at sundown marks the start of the Jewish New Year celebration known as Rosh Hashana.   Jewish people throughout the world celebrate the new year with sweet foods, a visit to the synagogue and hearing the shofar.  The Shofar is a horn that is blown with a dramatic and somewhat plaintive call during High Holiday service.

As  gentiles and Jews alike,  we ring in the  new calendar year with one evening of drunken revels and the regret of a (sometimes painful) hangover the very next day.

The Jewish religion also celebrates Rosh Hashana. This opening of the New Year chased ten days later with Yom Kippur, an official day of atonement, gives celebrants a goodly slice of time to consider their year and how to make 5778 their best year ever.

Knowing how I run around on December 30th, I wanted to offer a short cut to a delicious Kosher wine and a wonderful salad to help you if you are doing the same on Rosh Hashana Eve, or if you are just curious about a great rosé.

Rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon, Baron Herzog Wines, California - 2016 ($11) Made from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, this wine is a watermelon pink, my favorite for celebrations.  With aromas of red fruit and and subtle strawberry notes in both aromas and flavors.  The wine has a freshness with an enlivening tartness that I enjoyed both as an aperitif as well as with charcuterie. This time of year, when in the SF Bay Area we never know if it's going to be rainy, foggy, or broasting hot, rosé is a great choice both to welcome guests and to pair with food.   We agreed the the wine would have both held up to more substantial fare, as well as had the freshness to pair with salad.  I love a versatile, pretty wine for less than $10!

 Herzog Cellars currently located in Oxnard, CA, makes only  Kosher wines.  They have an amazing story of tenacity and survival spanning  six centuries and many countries.  Having escaped the Nazis, the Herzog family landed in New York in the late '40's.  Initially Baron Philip produced  both Kosher as well as non-Kosher wines.  With dedication and investment, the Herzog family worked together to shape Royal Wines into production of European style wines, .  Eventually they gravitated to California in the mid '80's, where they currently produce delicious wines that are also Kosher.  I throw around the phrase "history in a bottle" like a punchline, but in this case, the interesting, sometimes poignant, story flavored the wine for me.  I hope you get a chance to try some.

I recently had a life changingly good salad when Nancy Silverton took over the kitchen in San Francisco's Cotogna.  If you have seen the Netflix series, "Chef's Table" featuring Nancy, you cannot help but crave an opportunity to try her food.  Her new cookbook "The Mozza CookBook" features recipes that enable the home cook to recreate these delectable dishes in the context of Nancy's experiences in SoCal and Italy.  Lots of yummy, deceptively simple dishes where what you invest in prep time and pursuit of the best ingredients pays off in ease-filled entertaining.

 While the full recipe for the salad is only in the book, the ingredients for the salad dressing are online here.

Find and arrange the freshest, tender squashes you can and marinate them in the ingredients.  One tip from the book, add fresh oregano right before serving. Since honey is the flavor enabler to coax out the sweetness of the squashes, it's a perfect dish for Rosh Hashana.

Part of the Rosh Hashana celebration involves eating apple slices dipped in honey to symbolize wishing your fellow celebrants sweetness in the upcoming year.  Honey is an ancient food and consuming it connects us with the past as it wishes us good things to come in the future.  We can all use a great salad, a fun, sub-$10 rosé, and a wish for sweet blessings in the year to come.
Shana tova!

I received this wine as a sample