Harpoon Chocolate Stout

When I was a kid making chocolate milk, sometimes I’d go a little heavy on the syrup. Like a solid layer of syrup stuck to the bottom of the glass kind of heavy.

Harpoon’s limited edition Chocolate Stout is that kind of heavy too. We’re talking pure chocolate smell, taste, finish, everything. I’ve already mentally prepared myself to make it my new #1 dessert beer.

I enjoyed this on tap, and it’s available until January in six packs and Harpoon’s mixed 12 packs. The chocolate stout poured out rich and creamy, with a fine frothy head that exuded chocolate scents.

The aromas matched the chocolate flavors exactly. This beer is smooth, with a fair balance of chocolaty sweetness and bitterness. It’s a tango between cocoa nibs and coffee really.

After the rich chocolate syrup flavors, there is a pleasant little toasted edge that lingers in the finish.

Harpoon Chocolate Stout is a great chocolate lover’s beer, with full chocolate that is enough without being too much. Full-flavored, with a medium body that doesn’t weight itself down.

This is a perfect nightcap beer. I’m leaving one of these out with some cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve. (Can you say new flat screen TV? I think this beer can seal the deal!)

Aruma Malbec 2010

The Malbec grape has a rich history, as do the joint producers of Aruma, Barons de Rothchild (Lafite) and Nicolas Catena.

Malbec was widely grown in France, particularly in Bordeaux, until 1956. That year there was a devastating frost that nearly wiped out the crop, and in the subsequent plantings the grape was passed over by growers in the region. While the French still use some Malbec, it is now famous as the “It” grape of Argentina.

Aruma is produced in Argentina’s Mendoza region, by Nicolas Catena of Bodega Catena Zapata fame, with Barons de Rothchild (Lafite). Catena is one of South America’s largest wineries, and was named New World Winery of the Year for 2010 by Wine Enthusiast. Not to be outdone with awards, Barons de Rothchild (Lafite) is by far one of the highest regarded winemakers in the world, producing Premier Crus in France since 1855.

A match-up of this magnitude would be similar to Superman and Batman working together to fight crime. The outcome, Aruma Malbec, is simply outstanding.

When first pouring Aruma, you cannot avoid the rich, aromatic scents of floral berries that envelope the glass. The scents are matched by luscious, deep flavors of blackberry and black cherry. The fruit is full, and accented by the lightest notes of cocoa.

Aruma’s finish sticks with you, leaving traces of ripe raspberry that draw you into another sip. Overall, it is an intense, satisfying Malbec, that is very graceful. If you have never experienced a Malbec, this is a pure expression of its fruit. Aruma is truly beautiful.

Malbecs are easy to cook with, pairing with anything that comes off the grill – steak, pork, and even barbeque. Cheers!

Smothered Onion Sauce

I know it’s been a really long time since I last posted. No excuse, really, just general laziness. Anyway, a few weeks ago, I made Marcella Hazan’s Smothered Onion Sauce. Ohhhh goodness, I didn’t know onions could be so deliciously sweet! This is an easy recipe, albeit a bit time consuming.

Ingredients:

1- 2 tablespoons butter, with
2- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3- 1 1/2 lbs onions, sliced very thin, about 6 cups
4- salt
5- black pepper, ground fresh from the mill
6- 1/2 cup dry white wine
7- 1/3 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
8- 1 -1 1/2 lb spaghetti or 1 -1 1/2 lb another pasta

Directions:

Put the butter and olive oil, and the onions with some salt in a large sauté pan. Cover and turn heat to very low. Cook for almost 45 minutes to an hour until the onions become very soft.

Uncover the pan, raise the heat to medium high, and cook the onions until they become colored a deep, dark gold. Any liquid the onions may have shed must now boil away.

Add liberal grindings of pepper. Taste and correct for salt. Bear in mind that onions become very sweet when cooked in this manner and need an adequate amount of seasoning. Add the wine, turn the heat up, and stir frequently while the wine bubbles away. Add the parsley, stir thoroughly, and take off heat.

Toss with cooked drained pasta, adding the grated Parmesan. As you toss, separate the onion strands somewhat to distribute them as much as possible throughout the pasta. Serve immediately.

Wolf Blass Yellow Label Riesling

One of the most exciting/frustrating times of year for the foodie is just about to start – the holiday season. It is again time to frantically make arrangements, set tables, make centerpieces or tablescapes, and to create balanced and well-paired menus.

Let’s assume that everything goes off without a hitch. How do you pair a wine with turkey, turducken, ham, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie?

You pick a wine that can spread itself out like a shotgun blast. You’re bound to hit something.

Enter Wolf Blass Yellow Label Riesling.

This Riesling is light and fresh, with lots of apple and pear flavors that can roll right over that big turkey. Little bits of sweetness with the lemon and lime accents match up with the glazed ham across the table. The finish has enough snap to clear your palate of stuffing, and to make room for dessert.

Another great feature that is worth mentioning is that Wolf Blass’ Yellow Label line is affordable. Pick up a few, and seize the opportunity to catch up on all the good gossip that your aunt from Virginia seems to know!

 

Carton 077XX Double IPA

Carton Brewing Company is one of the newest additions to the craft beer scene and hails from Atlantic Highlands, NJ. The Carton brothers, Chris and Augie, teamed up with a friend and brewer, Jesse Ferguson, to create exciting, boldly flavored beers that are full of Jersey Pride.

The 077XX is a Double India Pale Ale brewed with the West Coast style IPA’s in mind. 077XX is full of hop-forward flavors, while still being balanced by East Coast sensibility. Opening with a slightly herbal nose, this IPA gathers up flavors of gentle pine and lemon that build and build.

The body becomes more astringent and piney, with hints of soapy residue. The bitterness of the hops lingers for a long mouthfeel. A true East Coast IPA would have balanced the hops with a stronger malt frame, so a tip of the hat to the Carton Crew for sticking with the more forward West Coast verve.

Overall, the 077XX is a fine offering from the newly minted brewery. While the flavors may be lighter than those offered by other DIPA’s, this one carries a heavyweight punch on a welterweight frame.

Find out more about Carton Brewing, which opened in the summer of 2011, at their website.

Low Fat Fettuccine

I like fettuccine, but I don’t like how how in fat it is. This is a recipe I found online, but then tweaked a bit to make it my own. I will definitely be making this quite often.

Just as a note, I also added pancetta to the sauce to add a bit of natural saltiness. Instead of adding it directly to the sauce, I think I will saute it next time separately and then add it on top of the dish at the end. I would have liked it to keep its crunchiness.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp flour, plus 1 tsp, if needed
  • 2 1/3 cups low fat milk
  • about 2 cups grated Parmesan cheese (I used Pecorino Romano because I like the sharp taste of it)
  • 4 tablespoons low fat cream cheese
  • Small head of broccoli, cut into small pieces
  • 1 box fettuccine
  • pepper
Directions:
1- Cook pasta according to package directions.
2- Add about an inch of water to pan and steam broccoli for about 4 minutes. Take the broccoli out and set aside. Pour the water from the pan and dry with a cloth.
3- In the same pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic. Let the garlic flavor the oil for about three minutes. Add the broccoli.
4- Add the milk to the pan.
5- Slowly whisk in the flour.
6- Cook about 6 minutes or until thickened, stirring constantly. Add the additional tsp flour if needed.
7- Add the Parmesan and the cream cheese.
8- Toss with the pasta.

Cranberry Muffins

I normally don’t go for muffins, but I wanted to bake something today, but didn’t want to bake something too unhealthy, so muffins it was. Most muffins are actually pretty unhealthy, but I can honestly say these are healthy. They have dried fruit, they do not use sugar (honey or agave instead), and they use whole wheat flour. So you see, they are pretty healthy, and quite tasty at that!

Ingredients:
Oven: 350 degrees
3/4 cup whole wheat flour (If you do not have WW flour, you can use 1.5 cups white flour)
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup honey (or agave)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2/3 cup low fat or skim milk
2 tablespoons melted butter
3/4 cup dried cranberries
zest of 1/2 lemon
Directions:
Line a muffin pan with liners or spray with nonstick spray if you do not have liners.
1- Mix the flours, baking powder and salt in a medium-large bowl.
2- In another medium bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, honey, lemon zest, and butter until well combined.
3- Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and add the cranberries and lemon zest. Fold everything together until just combined.
4- Fill muffin cups 2/3 of the way and bake for about 15 mins minutes. Check after 10 mins.
Enjoy!