Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Notes From the Captain Lawrence Tasting Room: Going Out With a Bang

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It is the time of year for celebrating the United States’ great red, white and blue streak of independence, and all of the traditions and trapping that go with it. Nancy and Jamie Dressel of Chappaqua will be venturing to Chicago to visit Nancy’s sister Debbie and her daughter Angela. But for today, all four are happy to be in the Captain Lawrence tasting room. “We’re here almost every week,” says Nancy proudly.
Angela Alejandro has sampled Captain Lawrence when her aunt and uncle bring a growler or two to Chicago, but today she gets to try the Hop Commander fresh from the source. For Debbie, who tends bar back in Chi-town, Independence Day is about “lying on a blanket, watching fireworks with someone you like.”
Angela goes for a somewhat less quaint memory—she recalls watermelons being blown up by sticking “dynamite”, or maybe it’s M-80s, in them. Jamie chuckles at the memory too. “Before Captain Lawrence,” he says, “there was Michelob.”
Similar to the Dressel party’s, the fondest July 4 memories in the tasting room range from the sentimental to the eye-popping and ear-shattering. Joe Pepe of Elmsford, his tiny Yorkie Maximus at his feet, recalls visiting Westlake High School in Thornwood as a kid, where there was a bonfire, parade and fireworks show that lasted a full hour. “You don’t see that anymore,” he says.
Joe also recalls less sanctioned fireworks events down on Gun Hill Road in the Bronx—someone setting fire inside a garbage can and tossing fireworks inside.
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Out on the patio, it is gray, but the rain is holding off. Captain Lawrence alum Nick Schwartz of Croton enjoys a few beers with the woman he calls his “pirate wife,” Nina Gramaglia. “I always spend July 4th on my sailboat on the Hudson,” he says, true to pirate character. Nick’s pirate booty may include a growler of the Palate Shifter imperial IPA as the fireworks show goes off in Haverstraw. “That’s always a big part of my July 4th plans.”
Nina’s best Independence Day memories go back to childhood. “I always looked forward to my dad bringing home sparklers,” she recalls. “That’s the closest we would get to having fireworks.”
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Back in the tasting room, there’s a decidedly punky edge to the soundtrack—some Misfits, a little Flogging Molly. The beer flows—standbys like the Freshchester Pale Ale and Liquid Gold, a lively batch of pilot-system brews, such as the O.G. IPA and Ye Ol’ English dark ale. Beertender Rob Catalano proudly notes the pending arrival of his Knifey Moloko stout in the tasting room, this iteration aged in apple brandy barrels. When he thinks of July 4, he recalls dodging misfired projectiles, repeatedly, at a lakehouse up at Candlewood Lake. “Nonstop explosives,” he says. “Like being in a war zone—without actually being shot at.”
OK, time for more quaint memories. Zoe Seavey and Axel Hunnicutt of Greenwich hover over a few samples after their brewery tour; Zoe shares some of her learnings about the various forms that hops can take as she sips the Bigmouth, a piney and pleasant rye pale ale. “I love fireworks on the beach,” she says. “Maybe a hot dog.”
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Axel, sipping the Garnet & Gold, a summer ale with orange and hibiscus, is recently back from South Africa, where he studied wildlife, including the plight of the rhinoceros. It will be his first July 4th in the States in years. He recalls another July 4th, when he was in the Canadian Rockies, studying grizzly bears (it is entirely possible that Axel’s day job is more interesting than yours and mine). Some well intentioned Canadian colleagues, noting the significance of the day in America, picked up a six-pack of Budweiser for Axel..
Axel appreciated the gesture, he says, but “I just wish I’d had some craft beer.”
—Michael Malone (malone5a@yahoo.com)
Captain Lawrence Brewing, at 444 Saw Mill River Road in Elmsford, is open Wednesday through Friday (4-8 p.m.), Saturday (12-6 p.m.) and Sunday (12-5). The author is paid by Captain Lawrence, partially in India Pale Ale. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Taking One From Gus's Playbook

You are probably wondering who Gus is.  Gus is Paul's cousin and he is living down here in Cape May and is the Chef at Marie Nicole's in Wildwood Crest. (A great Chef too! Order the specials as they are his creations)

In the Spring we ate at Marie Nicole's and Paul had Striped Bass that was on a bed of thin cut sweet potatoes with Tasso and cooked in foil. There might of been some veggies in there too.  Paul didn't let me take a picture of it. Sometimes he gets annoyed with my picture taking and social media, but he really enjoyed the fish cooked this way.

The other day I came home with Flounder and Paul asked me how I was going to cook it.  I thought about sauteing it with Panko in lemon, butter and wine.  Kind of like my mom use to make (minus the wine). He didn't like that idea to much and had a different idea of what his dinner was going to be that night and it involved foil and the grill.

I relinquished my cooking duty for the evening and handed it off to him.  He took it right from Gus's playbook, but using ingredients that we had in our fridge: Flounder, Summer Squash, Chorizo, Vidalia Onion, White Wine, Olive Oil, Lemon and Parsley.

This dinner was very easy to prepare as I was supervising from the couch with my glass of wine.  The outcome - Delish!

Recipe for Paul's Flounder in Foil for Two

3/4 lb Fresh Flounder
1 Summer Squash (yellow) sliced very thin
1 Vidalia Onion sliced thin
1 Lemon sliced thin
1/4 cup chopped Parsley
2 links of Chorizo
Olive Oil
Splash of Chenin Blanc
Black Pepper

Grill the Chorizo until just about done. Slice it thin. Slice the Summer Squash and Vidalia Onion very thin and toss with some Olive Oil.

Cut two pieces of heavy duty foil, enough to wrap and seal the fish in.  Turn up the edges to create a pan on each. Lay two rows of thinly sliced Summer Squash on the foil.  Top with a piece of Flounder, onion, lemon slices, and Choirzo. Splash some Chenin Blanc on it along with the parsley and black pepper. Seal and throw on grill for 8 minutes.  Take off grill and let sit for 2 minutes.  Open and enjoy with a glass of Chenin Blanc

We cooked with and paired the fish with 2014 Chappellet Signature Chenin Blanc. The wine was nice and fresh with white flowers, hints of orange and lemongrass.  A perfect pairing.




Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Benefits of Joining a Wine Club

Thinking about joining a wine club. I know it's tempting, especially when you are out and about wine tasting.  

Read the below article I wrote for the Spring Edition of Hudson Valley Wine Magazine. I cover the do's, the don'ts, the shipping and getting in good with your FedEx or UPS driver.



Monday, June 22, 2015

South Jersey Slow Foods Brunch Launches Cape May Sea Salt

One of the things I miss most in Cape May is the Farm to Table movement.  It's been a tough transition, although I go up to the Hudson Valley once a month and usually bring back a bunch of grass fed meat, cheese and produce. I had joined a CSA when we first came down here, but that place went belly up and we lost half a season. The farmers markets down here are like flea markets. Adjusting has been difficult and I was discouraged.

Then I found Slow Foods South Jersey and got on their mailing list.  Through their email newsletter I found Windy Acres Farm and Stephanie and Derek have saved me.  They are a year round CSA and send weekly newsletters on what is in the box.  You have the choice to purchase or decline for the week. The produce we receive from them is on par with Sister's Hill CSA we belonged to in the Hudson Valley. So I'm happier.

Last week Slow Foods South Jersey held a brunch at Windy Acres Farm featuring regional cheeses with the meal prepared by Lucas, owner of The Red Store Restaurant.  This was also a soft launch for the Cape May Sea Salt Company which is a partnership between Derek and Stephanie of Windy Acres Farms and Lucas from The Red Store.

I wasn't quite sure what exactly Cape May Sea Salt Company was, but when Lucas got up and spoke about it, I was impressed. This 38 year old Chef is taking things to the next level.  Yes there was some trial and errors, quite humorous too, but he is onto something.

What is Cape May Sea Salt?  It is hand harvested using traditional methods with water gathered from the Atlantic Ocean in select locations in South Jersey.  The water is then delivered to Windy Acres Farm which has converted one of their greenhouses into a state of the art salt house. It is fully temperature controlled and hot! ( Yes it was 140 degrees in there and when I stepped out into 85 degrees it felt like air conditioning.)  The water evaporates in a multi stage process to the point of crystallization.

While at the brunch Lucas was smoking some of the Sea Salt.  He will be incorporating it in his restaurant, which I do need to go dine at.

We dined on a Leg of Lamb that was encrusted and roasted with the Cape May Sea Salt and it was delish!  Then if the lamb wasn't enough, they brought out some grilled fish.  Food was plentiful!

I was introduced the the art of juicing at this brunch.  I don't own a juicer and don't forsee one in my future.  We had a Red Juice which had beets, carrots and apple. It had a strong spice finish. Not my favorite.  The Green Juice was made with kale, spinach, fennel, apple, wheat grass, ginger and lemon. This was a favorite.  The Orange Juice that had carrots, ginger, orange and honey.  That was a close second.

The menu overall was great and I had to take home my strawberry shortcake which I had for breakfast the next morning.

I think there is hope for South Jersey after all!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Little Known Facts About The Oldest White Wine Brand Of Spain

Born in 1915, Monopole is the oldest white wine brand of Spain. It is a nice fresh white Rioja produced with the Viura grape.

Never heard of the Viura grape, it also goes by Macabeo which is one of the three grapes used to make Cava.

Comopania Vinicola del Norte de Espana (Cvne) the producers of Monopole was founded by two brothers Raimundo & Eusebio Real de Asua in 1879. Today it is still controlled by the direct descendants of the founding family.

Let's get down to the tasting of the wine.

It is a nice fresh summer wine. Aromas of pear, white flowers, fennel and hints of minerality escape from the glass.  On the palate this unoaked white is light and minerally. It's an exciting white to add to your summer wine list.

I would pair this with fresh seafood.  SRP $11.99