Thursday, October 30, 2014

Enjoying The Harvest Party at Millbrook Vineyards & Winery

If you saw my previous post leading up to Millbrook's Harvest Party, you will see that of all these years I wasn't able to attend due to scheduling conflicts.  Well this was the year, the year I had nothing on my calendar Saturday, October 18 so guess what I attended? I can't believe it took all these years to get me to this event.

What began as a cloudy and bit chilly day turned out to be beautiful afternoon dining on dishes prepared by the chefs of the Culinary Institute of America and paired with the great wine from Millbrook Vineyard & Winery.

Not knowing what to expect and having no expectations, I was floored!  I felt like I was attending a wedding, best was I didn't have to bring a gift and actually received one.

Every person or couple attending received an advance copy of WineWise by Steven Kolpan, Brian H. Smith and Michael A. Weiss.  I am privileged to personally know Steven, have known Brian (sadly he has passed) and got to listen to Michael address the crowd with his humor as he is a great speaker on wine.

The afternoon began with wine and appetizers by the pond.  Not knowing if I would know anyone attending, I ran into Jerry and Janet from The Valley Table. I have known Jerry and Janet for a long time and it was great to catch up with them.  Their publication is a great link to the farm to table movement in the Hudson Valley and they are the creators of Hudson Valley Restaurant Week. (Which begins November 3)
Jerry & Janet from The Valley Table
After an hour or so we were ushered over to the tent for the wine pairing.  When I say it was like a wedding, we all had table cards (assigned seats) there was even a table challenge to see if our table was "WineWise." A game to be played.
Paul & Paul chatting before entering the tent

The pressure was on for my table.  But I think we were disqualified because Paul is a winemaker, we sat with Paul Gatti, Millbrook's Cellar Manager, but Lydia, and MaryKay from Dutchess Tourism was insistent that we (I) fill out the quiz.  I did, everything but the Team Essay, Haiku.  That I deferred to them.  

The first course was prepared by the chefs at Bocuse Restaurant.  Smoked Trout with Horseradish Cream, Radishes, Shallots, Citrus Vinaigrette paired with Millbrook's 2013 Dry Riesling Proprietor's Special Reserve, Hudson River Region, Estate Bottled.  Yummy is all I can say!

Second course was prepared by Ristorante Caterina De' Medici, Cannelloni with Braised Beef & Lobster paired with 2012 Millbrook Chardonnay Proprietor's Special Reserve and 2014 Millbrook Pinot Noir.  This I have to say was my favorite.  Amazingly, each of the flavors from each of the Cannelloni's stayed within each other. The pairings fantastic! This was my favorite dish of the day.

I have to laugh for the third course pairing. If you ever followed my posts on the CIA Winter Dining Series, one year I attended 4 dinners and each of them we were served lamb.  The third course was prepared by the American Bounty Restaurant which paired Grapevine Grilled Rack of Lamb, Wild Mushroom Ragout, Brussel Sprouts with Chestnuts, Parsley Oil, Cabernet Jus with Millbrook's 2012 Cabernet Franc, Proprietor's Special Reserve. The lamb and pairing was great, but I have to ask what is the lamb connection and the Culinary?

Dessert was prepared by the Apple Pie Bakery Cafe.  If you are ever in Hyde Park, you can drop in at the Apple Pie Bakery and pick up a sweet, or lunch, no reservations required.  Dessert was Milk Chocolate Marquis with Apple Butter Center & Warm Local Pear Compote paired with Millbrook's first Ice Wine a 2013 Riesling.

When you go to these events, you wonder who you'll meet.  Well, after posting a picture on Instagram I saw that Veronique Deblois aka @foodwinechickie was also at the event.  One tweet over to her and she said was three tables away.  It was great to meet her in person! Hopefully I'll see her at other events. Oh social media, what did we do before you existed?

In all, the Harvest Party at Millbrook Vineyards & Winery is a must!  I just can't believe it took me so long to attend or should I say, clear my calendar.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Notes From the Captain Lawrence Tasting Room: All Hail All Hallows!

The “Halloween Apocalypse” party flyers are up at Captain Lawrence, and conversations about pale ales and kolsches in the tasting room mix with talk of candy and costumes. We may think of Halloween as a kid’s holiday, but the spirit remains very much alive in grown-ups too.

Dan Ash and Lorraine Zaranski of White Plains popped in after running errands. “We were in the neighborhood, and the cupboard was bare,” says Dan, nodding toward a fresh sixer of India Pale Ale on the table. “We keep our tokens in the car.”

The small batches are popular choices on this gusty Sunday; Dan samples the Gose Before Bros, a wheat beer with salt and coriander, while Lorraine sips newcomer Popo Zao—a fusion of English extra special bitter and German-style Kolsch. “It’s real intense, with a lemon/citrus thing,” says Dan, “and sort of a grain aftertaste.”

Lorraine’s Popo Zao is “very drinkable,” she says. And it tastes like? “Beer!” comes her reply.  

We discuss the pair’s fondest Halloween memories. Dan mentions turning up for work at IBM in pajamas, slippers and a silk bathrobe. “Very luxurious,” he says of his Hefnerian get-up.

Lorraine’s favorite costume she refers to as “My Own Date”—formal gown in the front, and a men’s suit and false mustachioed face in the back. The costume was a hit at the party she went to, though her entrance needs some work. “I walked in backwards,” says Lorraine, “and tripped on the couch.”

It’s chilly on the patio, newly fallen leaves swirling about. A foursome plays bocce. A threesome plays cornhole. A duo makes the pizzas. Pizza man Andrew Tomasulo of Peekskill’s fondest Halloween memory was either smashing pumpkins as a middle schooler, or dressing up as Blankman—the not so super superhero played by Damon Wayans in the ’94 film: a red onesie with “stupid stuff”, he says—an egg beater, other kitchen appliances—on his utility belt.

The bocce bunch heads inside, and a 3 ½ year old named Patrick steps into the rectangle and hurls the balls with aplomb. The City Island tot will dress up as Jake from “Jake and the Neverland Pirates” on Friday. (If you’re not familiar with Neverland Pirates, ask a 3 ½ year old boy.)

Back inside the tasting room, Bon Jovi’s “Living On a Prayer” cranks from the speakers.

Alas, not everyone is looking forward to Halloween. Katheryne Reyes and Maria Rodriguez, both of Elmsford, are enjoying a little Captain’s Reserve Imperial IPA. “We like the beer and we like the atmosphere,” says Katheryne. “Whenever we have the chance, we come here.”

A devout Christian, Katheryne avoids Halloween for religious reasons. “We’re taught to be open, not behind a mask,” she says. “We’re taught to be alive, not dead.”

She admits it’s a tough concept for her six-year-old to grasp, though their priest down in the Bronx gave a pretty good explanation earlier in the day.

Across the tasting room, Justin Wilcox and Win Giamportone of Brooklyn are fully immersed in the Halloween spirit. The two visited Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, in search of a certain headless Hessian, before venturing  over to Captain Lawrence. Win is digging the Smoked Porter. “Deep, smoky, rich flavors,” she says. “It’s for slow sipping.”

It’s only fitting that Justin is all over Gose Before Bros, seeing as it was created by Justin Sturges and Justin Perrone. “It reminds me of a sour ale,” he says.

Win calls Halloween her favorite holiday. She fondly recalls working in tandem with her dad to emotionally scar the children of her neighborhood; she’d hand out candy and charm the kids, then send them off the porch, where her father would spring from the bushes in full-on werewolf garb. “He’d scare the living daylights out them,” says Win.

Justin’s favorite Halloween memories also go back to childhood, when a section of his home city of Cincinnati was closed to traffic for the day, the streets filled with costumed revelers. Like that famous horseman in a perpetual search for his noggin, Justin remains on the hunt for a happier All Hallows. 

“Every Halloween,” he says, “I look for something to match that.” 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Trick-or-Treat Candy and Wine

OK, let's face it, it's a few days before Halloween..have you purchased your candy yet?  When you purchase your candy do you
  • Purchase candy you don't like so you won't eat it?
  • Purchase candy you like for leftovers?
I use to purchase candy I didn't like so I wouldn't be tempted, but that ended after my kids stopped trick-or-treating because then I didn't have their candy to pick at.

Yes, I purchase candy I like and hope for leftovers.  What do I usually purchase, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups or Snickers. Yum!

The next question is what wine should I pair with my candy? Vivino came up with a great infographic on pairing Halloween candy and wine.

This Halloween it looks like I will either open a Port or some sort of red wine.  What will you be pairing.   Don't go for the Sour Patch candy, they aren't any fun.

Let me know!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Bad Seed Hard Cider – Craft Hard Cider Production in the Hudson Valley

Devin Britton & Albert Wilklow
The Hudson Valley is exploding with cideries, wineries, distilleries and breweries.  In this podcast I visit with Devin Britton and Albert Wilklow, two guys in their early 30's who are turning a hobby into a full time business with Bad Seed Hard Cider.

Albert grew up in the local Hudson Valley apple farming industry.  In fact, I use to go apple picking with my kids at his family orchard in Highland, NY "Wilklow Orchards" and to this day still receive the newsletter his mom sends out.  That is where I got my first introduction to fresh cider donunts!  The best! What many people might not realize is the Hudson Valley is a large apple growing region. (If interested, this whitepaper will give you more on the history of apple farming in the Hudson Valley
Cider Sampling
Cider Sampling
Albert and Devin are childhood friends.  They've been experimenting with hard cider for many years. Devin is the brewer so to speak.  In 2011 they decided to take their hobby into production.

They received their license and began selling in the spring of 2012 at the Fort Greene Greenmarket in Brooklyn.  Now along with the Fort Greene Farmers Market, you can find them at Grand Army Plaza Market on Saturday and Union Square Farmers Market on Wednesday and Saturday.

One year into their venture Manhattan Distributors reached out to them.  That is a huge accomplishment as it is very difficult to get picked up by a distributor.  You can find their ciders throughout New York City distributed through Manhattan Distributors.

Fermentation Tanks
Fermentation Tanks
The base of their cider comes from three apples, Winesap, Ida Red and Empire.  They will then mix in some Northern Spy, Braeburn, Pink Lady as well as some others.

The apples that go into their cider can't be to high in sugar and have to have good tannin content.  If the sugar is to high, when fermented, you will loose all the flavor.
Blending Tank
Blending Tank

There are between 12 and 14 varieties that go into Bad Seed Hard Cider.  All blended when bottled.

For every 75 gallons of Bad Seed Cider, there are 800 pounds of apples in it. Cider takes approximately 5 months from press to bottle to consumer.

Bad Seed Cider produces three signature ciders, their Dry Cider, Belgian Abby Cider and their Bourbon Barrel Reserve Cider.

 The Dry Cider is dry and nicely balanced.

 The Belgian Abby Cider uses a Belgian beer yeast.  It's a cider for people who like Belgian Sours.  It's tart and tangy with sour tart apple tones.

Their Bourbon Barrel Cider is aged in Bourbon barrels for 8 weeks.  This cider is not carbonated.  By aging the cider in the barrels it balances out the acidity, gives it a full mouth feel and keeps more of the cider flavor.  They say "It's not your little sister's cider!"

Asked what is driving the cider explosion, they say it's the generation coming forward today.

Their parents generation is brand loyal. Their generation is NOT. Their generation wants to explore and try new things. They don't go to the store to buy the same thing twice. There is no brand loyalty!

People want to try something new and cider is the NEW and people are excited about it.

They will always have their three core ciders and begin to produce seasonal ciders so people can keep trying new.

When Devin and Albert began in 2012 they began with 2,000 gallons of cider. Today they are producing 20,000 gallons.

Asked about their future projection, they want to grow but keep it craft.  When they can't keep the standards that they want, that is where they will cap it.

Bad Seed Hard Cider is located at 43 Baileys Gap Road, Highland, New York.  The Tap Room is open Saturday from 12-8pm and Sunday 12-7pm. You can find them on the web at

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Notes From the Captain Lawrence Tasting Room: Enjoy Fall Before It Gose

Before fall was to take a sharp turn toward wintry temps, it was a great day for enjoying the autumnal charms on the Captain Lawrence patio. With a name that translates to “the beer garden”…well, minus the “beer”…Michelle Desjardin of White Plains is right where she belongs.

It’s Michelle’s birthday, so she’s got a healthy crowd out on the patio, including Amy Burger of Tarrytown and Kathy Miracolo of Plainview, along for the ride. “Since it’s my birthday, I said, this is what we’re going to do,” Michelle says with a smile.

Fall is Michelle’s favorite season for a variety of reasons. “You see the leaves change, it’s got the best races,” says the avid runner.

Kathy contributes to the fall pictorial. “Boots and scarves…pumpkin beer.”

Alas, the Pumpkin Ale is not flowing today, so the ladies make do with the Freshchester Pale Ale. “We’ll probably buy a six-pack of the Pumpkin,” says Michelle, about to get her first birthday present of the day.

The patio is jammed. Gleason’s serves up the brick oven pizzas; the smell of burning wood in the oven adds to the seasonal charm. My Morning Jacket tunes crank from the new outdoor speakers; it is indeed morning jacket weather, whatever the heck that might be, or no jacket at all.

Dylan Mabin and Michael Francisco-Mcguire of Brooklyn are celebrating as well. Both have infants back home, and both hard-working dads got the green light to have the day to themselves. So they put their bikes on Metro-North, trained it to Pleasantville, then biked it down the rail trail to the brewery in Elmsford.

“I called Dylan and said, wanna get out of Dodge?” says Michael.

Dylan’s answer came back a resounding yes. Their bikes leaning against the fence, the men enjoy the Gose Before Bros, brewed by Captain Lawrence’s JustinsSturges and Perrone. Gose is a top-fermented beer originating in Germany and featuring malted wheat. The Justins’ version is flavored with salt and coriander for a light, tart and unique concoction. “It’s real refreshing; salty, a lot of wheat to it,” says Dylan.

“Savory,” adds Michael.

Fall elicits a big batch of sensory images for Michael. “Colors, smells, renewal, friendship,” he says. He and Dylan, free men for the day, raise their cups of Gose to that.

Some prefer the heartier, hoppier beers when the leaves start to fall. Mike Rivisto of Yonkers sips the perennial favorite Captain’s Reserve Imperial IPA, a citrusy hop monster sporting a 9% alcohol level. To him, fall represents “Pumpkins. And beer…darker beers.”

Wife Regina quaffs the Limone Lupollo, a specialty wheat beer with brewed with lemon. “It’s just a nice fall day, and we wanted to get outside,” she says.   

Tucked into a picnic table with a grand view of the bocce court, Katherine Levene and Amethyst Chiasson of White Plains too are making the most of the stellar sweater weather. Katherine has the Liquid Gold, while Amethyst, ears still ringing from Judas Priest the night before, sips an India Pale Ale. “I’m going to the city tonight,” she says. “That’s why it’s not the imperial IPA.”

It will be a friend’s birthday party, at a club on the west side, some fancy bottle service. Katherine has different plans for the night. “Maybe sleep,” she says.

The two also have different takes on the season. “I love fall,” says Katherine. “To me it means pumpkin, anything pumpkin. And boots, and sweaters, leggings, Starbucks. Halloween…my favorite holiday.”

Amethyst—the name, translated from Greek, literally means “not intoxicated” (honest—look it up)—describes herself as a summer person. “Warm weather and beer,” she says.

She takes in the lively surroundings at Captain Lawrence—friends celebrating birthdays, old pals catching up over craft beers, roaming dogs, roaming children chased by parents—and reconsiders the proposition of fall. “I actually don’t mind hoodies,” Amethyst says, “and a bunch of beer drinking.”

—Michael Malone (

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, October 20, 2014

Your Sexy Ancestor

I've received a few Halter Ranch wines for review and have been really impressed.  So I had high expectations for their 2008 Ancestor Estate Reserve wine which is a red Bordeaux blend and it met the expections and was very sexy.

The blend consists of 25% Petit Verdot, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Syrah, 15% Merlot, 12% Malbec.  Aged in French oak for 18 months of which 50% were new oak.  The wine was bottled two years prior to release.  It's estate grown in Paso Robles, CA.

I have to admit, I received this wine for review as a media sample.  I didn't get to it right away and it did sit and age in my cellar for about 18 months. When I opened it I was quite impressed with what I found.

Aromas of cassis, boysenberry, cedar and hints of vanilla.  Sexy on the palate with lots of black fruit. It makes your eyes dance and puts a smile on your face.

I would share this bottle with a loved one over a nice dinner featuring filet mignon or roasted leg of lamb.

Price point for this wine is approximately $50.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

TasteCamp - Hudson Valley

The view from Millbrook's tasting room

This past weekend was the yearly event TasteCamp which is held in a wine region on the Eastern side of the United States every year.  I was thrilled when it was announced that they had chosen the Hudson Valley and the date was Columbus Day Weekend, the busiest weekend of the year.  

The organizers The New York Cork Report's Lenn Thompson and Drink Local's Michael Michael Wangbickler chose this weekend and at first I thought, the busiest weekend of the year, but then it truly highlighted the best, the Hudson Valley during harvest.

I attended the events on Friday and could only attend Saturday evenings dinner at Tousey. I will go into detail later about each winery and the new things I learned. In the meantime, here are some pictures of the weekend.

The gathering began at Noon in the vineyard at Millbrook Vineyards & Winery

Chardonnay grapes from Long Island at Millbrook

Processing the Chardonnay

Michael & Carlo tasting selections from Millbrook

Tasting Clinton Vineyards sparkling and Seyval

Kristop Brown, winemaker at Robibero Family Vineyards addressing the group

Robibero selections for tasting.

Bad Seed Cider at the grand tasting at Robibero

Benmarl selections at the grand tasting at Robibero

Clearview Vineyards at the grand tasting at Robibero

Frank from Clearview pouring Tiffany from Robibero a tasting
Dinner selections at Whitecliff Vineyards
Beautiful table arrangements at Tousey for dinner

The bloggers gather at Tousey

Tousey's Scarlet Tiger label (wait till you hear the story behind this!)

Bottled just for us
Great presentation of lamb for dinner

Remy and Katie having a great time

Evan presenting Carlo a gift of appreciation

Getting carried away and having fun

Many wines were tasted, new friendships formed and old friends visiting!