Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Notes From the Captain Lawrence Tasting Room: May Prohibition Be Perpetually Prohibited

“This next song is appropriate for a brewery,” says the bow-tied singer. “It’s about Prohibition.”

The Dixieland band—upright bass, banjo, clarinet, trumpet, drums, lots of bow ties—kicks into a ragtime number on the Captain Lawrence patio that features the frightful phrase “No more beer.”

In fact, there’s plenty of beer in the garden—summer favorites like the Kolsch and the Liquid Gold, good-any-timers like the India Pale Ale, special small batches like Scott Tobin’s Whole Hop imperial IPA, brewed with whole warrior hops.

Curt and Sally Schade of Irvington popped in after a stop at ANS Seafood in Elmsford. Curt is from Dusseldorf, Germany—“where dark beer comes from,” he says proudly, and Sally is from England. She’s not a big beer drinker, but finds the India Pale Ale “quite tasty.”

Curt, on the other hand, is all in. He flashes a stash of chips that a Vegas gambler would envy. “There’s more in the car,” he says. “I could have a party.”

They’re enjoying a few beers, and the timeless tones of the aptly named band, Bottoms Up. “It’s nice to see so many families here,” says Sally.

Singer Buddy Griffith, of Carmel, introduces a new tune while leaning on his upright bass. “That’s a huge guitar!” comments a young girl.

“Here’s another beer song,” says Buddy. “We like the beer songs.”

The band kicks in. It’s Mumford meets O Brother Where Art Thou? It’s the perfect accompaniment to an otherwise gray Saturday.

Jamie Scheurich and Sean McDermott of Tarrytown have their hound Pip in tow. Elmsford will always hold a special place in their hearts; they adopted Pip, and all the great expectations that come from rescue dogs, from Pets Alive down the road on Rte 9A. They already had a rescue cat named Oliver, and stuck with the Dickensian theme for the name.

“We come here pretty frequently,” says Sean. “First off, it’s the quality of the beer.”

“And it’s dog-friendly,” adds Jamie as Pip nods.

They also came for the music. Turns out Sean’s sister is married to Buddy Griffith, who’s a fan of local Westchester beer. “All of his Christmas gifts are Captain Lawrence-related,” says Sean.

The expanded patio fills up as the sun tries to break through the clouds. The 2 p.m. tour starts. Pizzas fly out of the oven. Bocce balls buzz by. The band plays on.

Curt Schade goes inside to fill up his growler; the choice is the Captain’s Reserve Imperial IPA, weighing in at a big and bold 9% ABV. “The one with the good stuff in it,” he says happily.

For Kate and Allen Beers of Rye, the good stuff is pumpkin. “I’m absolutely happy about it being available,” says Kate of the Pumpkin Ale.

Some bemoan the presence of Pumpkin Ale, brewed with natural pumpkin puree and spices, with a chunk of summer still remaining. But Kate notes that the fickle east coast weather—there’s a peculiarly autumnal bite to the air today—makes the Pumpkin right for most any season.

Plus, Allen notes, the Captain Lawrence Pumpkin isn’t quite as pumpkin-y as other pumpkin brews.
The Beers’s dig their beers’s—and the offbeat music. “It’s a lot better than a singer-songwriter playing the same old covers,” says Allen.

As the song chugs to a close, it’s time for Bottoms Up to take a break; all these songs about beer presumably have made the musicians thirsty for one. Buddy says much of the band met at SUNY Fredonia, where he studied classical bass. “I was introduced to people playing this style of music,” he says. “I got into it, and just love playing it.”

His Captain Lawrence brew of choice is the crisp, German-style Kolsch, which he describes as “nice, easy, can’t go wrong.”

Sort of sums up a lazy Saturday at the brewery.

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.

The “Notes From the Tasting Room” book is available at the brewery and on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Notes-Captain-Lawrence-Tasting-Room/dp/0985632844/

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Farm-To-Table Dinner on Bannerman's Island with Chefs' Consortium

Bannerman's Island (as I know it) is a tiny island in the Hudson River just off  Route 9D outside Cold Spring, NY.  Driving by the island as a child it looked scary but I always wanted to know what the history of it was and why it was vacant and falling apart.

The island's actual name is Pollepel Island.  Legend has it that young girl named Polly Pell was rescued from the river landed on the shores of the island and the island was named after her.

There have been 5 owners of the island before it was donated to the people of the State of New York.  The third owner Francis Bannerman is where the real story begins of the castle and what the island was used for.

The Bannerman's purchased the island from the Taft family in 1900 as a storage facility for their weapon supply business. They were a munitions dealer and the weapons were brought to the island until sold.
Being Scottish they built the Scottish castle in 1901 as their residence.

In 1969 there was a huge fire on the island which left it in ruins. Today they are trying to restore the island and offer tours on selected dates via boat or kayak.  You can check the website for specific tour information

The Chefs' Consortium is hosting a fundraising Farm-To-Table dinner for Bannerman's Island on the island Saturday, September 13, 2014.  Consortium chefs will be preparing you a five course farm to table dinner with locally and regionally sourced ingredients in the Helen Bannerman's garden.

Since the chefs don't like to commit to a dish when dealing with locally sourced ingredients as they want to wait to see what is in the height of the season, I can tell you the following chefs will be responsible for creating these wonderful courses.

Chilled summer soup course - Robert Turner – Omega Institute for Holistic Studies
Brazilian inspired salad course - Ellie Markovitch – Story Cooking
Main course - Michael Lapi – SUNY Cobleskill
Local cheese course - Josh Coletto – Local 111
Historic artisanal molasses beer tasting and dessert pairing - Tyler LaCorata and Justin Markham – Devil’s Run Brewing Company 
Locally inspired beverages - Jillian Naveh – 9 Miles East Farm

In it's 5th year, the dinner will have two seatings and cost is $125.  To purchase tickets and more info on the dinner visit http://www.chefsconsortium.com/event/dinner-bannermans-island

The Chefs' Consortium is comprised of New York chefs who are committed to promoting locally grown farm fresh food. They bring farm products to audiences through out the Hudson Valley and Capital Region of Albany.  As Consortium chefs, they travel around New York State and share their love of local food and farm fresh cooking.

Here's a video of previous Chefs' Consortium dinner in Bannerman's Castle.  Looks like a amazing experience.

Monday, August 18, 2014

New Wines and a Cider from Glorie Farm Winery

I'm just traveling all over the Hudson Valley this summer in between caring for my mother.  This post brings me to Glorie Farm Winery in Marlboro, New York.  I haven't been there in a while and not only have they come out with some new wines and a cider but they expanded their tasting room.
Photo from Glorie Farm Winery

Their tasting room located above the winery was nice and quaint.  It you ever visited there during a wine trail event you tasted in a roped off section of the winery below.  Now you can taste in style in their enlarged tasting room pictured above.  This room is also used for large group tastings.

Two new wines on the sweet side Blackjack and Jibber Jabber.  Blackjack is 100% Chambourcin and filled with flavors of ripe blackberry. Jibber Jabber will remind you a little of a port. It's jammy with hints of figs and is made with 100% Leon Millot. Both sell at the tasting room for $15

Glorie is getting into the cider market with Mutiny.  This cider isn't to sweet or heavily carbonated.  The aromas of fresh apple just fills the air. Very enjoyable! The majority of the apples in the cider are estate grown.  For the ones that aren't, they will be soon, as they plan on some new apple plantings.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Millbrook Vineyard & Winery's First Estate Riesling

I stopped by Millbrook Winery the other day to pick up some information for the Hudson Valley Wine & Spirits Competition and I got treated to a taste of their first estate Riesling.

Keeping in mind these are very young vines I was looking forward to the taste.

WOW! The aroma coming from the glass, such strong scents of apricot, peach and nectarine got me excited. Serious ripe stone fruit filled my mouth with a hint of honey.  I did detect a bit of sweetness, but wasn't sure if it was because this was a bit fruit forward.  It does have 0.7% residual sugar.  I think the reason it tasted a bit sweet to me (I'm very sensitive to that) is because it lacked on the acidity side.

This wine would pair very well with Asian food with a hint of spice.

It sells in the tasting room for $20.

Monday, August 11, 2014

What Exit Are You?

Located in North New Jersey Old York Cellars, "What Exit Wines" were featured on a Virtual Vines tasting I participated in.  What Exit Wines is their secondary label that they created around the time Sandy hit New Jersey.  They were actually processing the grapes for these wines (with generators) during Sandy and faced many challenges. They decided that this was the label that was going to give back and they now donate a portion of proceeds from this wine to New Jersey Charities.  This tasting benefited Hometown Hero of which they raised I believe (don't quote me on it) $300 that evening.

What Exit White is a blend of Chenin Blanc and Cayuga White. Aromas of melon, peach a hint of barnyard (that did dissipate) lead the way to flavors of grapefruit and honey with a slight bitter taste on the finish.  We did pair this with New Jersey Blue Claw Crabs, but as we were cleaning up the appetizers which was a Cilantro-Jalapeno dip the wine really brought out the spiciness of the dip. SRP $18

What Exit Blush - A Rose blend of Chenin Blanc, Cayuga and Cabernet Sauvignon with 1% residual sugar. Hints of berry on the nose with slight strawberry, berry and honey on the palate with some minerality. SRP $18

What Exit Red, a blend of 60% Barbera and 40% Merlot and aged in American oak.  It showed aromas of blackberry and plum.  It had a very smooth mouth feel with hardly any tannins.  It showed flavors of black currant with hints of prunes.  We paired this selection with lamb burgers. SRP $18

If you are wondering, I'm Exit 0.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

LIOCO - A New World Negociante

What happens when a wine director of a restaurant meets a nations sales director for a wine import company?  A friendship that takes Matt Licklider and Kevin O'Connor on a journey to follow their palates and become a New World Negociant and the creation of LIOCO Wines.

What is a negociant and what makes them different.  The term negociant is a French term for wine merchant who assembles the produce of smaller independent growers and  performs all the winemaking and sell the wine under their own name.

Matt and Kevin search for unique vineyards throughout California that show great expression of terrior. They currently source fruit and produce wine from vineyards in Sonoma, Mendocino and Santa Cruz.  They focus on Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Carignan but don't be surprised when they have an unexpected great find in an unsuspecting vineyard and add a new wine to their portfolio.

The wines I tasted are true to their philosophy. The 2012 "Estero" Russian River Valley Chardonnay, 2012 Saveria Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir and 2012 "Laguna" Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir.  Before I get into the tasting notes, I will tell you that Pinot Noirs are not all the same.  The expression of terrior in each of them put them on two ends of the Pinot Noir scale (fruity vs. earthy) and were both very good.

2012 "Estero" Russian River Valley Chardonnay - This selection, sourced from choice blocks, ones with the oldest vines, preferred clones and unique soil,  from four of their Russian River sites are blended to produce this wine.  The wine is assigned to their most expressive barrels, all neutral oak and primarily 500 litre barrels.

This Chardonnay is expressive of the terrior, bright with aromas of citrus, pear and a hint of stone fruit. The wine had a medium body and slightly creamy with a nice mineral hint on the finish.  As the wine warmed up a little you get a hint of toasty oak.

SRP $35

2012 "Laguna" Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir - Grapes for this selection come from individual blocks from the Sonoma coast located near the Laguna de Santa Rosa watershed. Bright fruit expression from this wine with aromas of blackberry, raspberry and cedar.  Flavors of black raspberry, pomegranate and tangy acidity make this an exciting selection that you can drink now of put down for a year or two.

SRP $38

2012 Saveria Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir - This Pinot Noir is a bit more serious than the selection above. The Pinot Noir is grown approximately six miles from the Pacific Ocean.  A pattern of fog, sun and fog ensures proper vine respiration and even ripening.

Aromas of plum with a hint of earth and ginger lead the way to sour berry. drenched strawberries and some spice on the finish. This would pair very will with a serious dinner of duck or grilled or smoked pork.

SRP $50

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Notes From the Captain Lawrence Tasting Room: Brewery’s Beertender-Slash-Filmmaker

Rob Catalano, Captain Lawrence’s bartender extraordinaire, threw some of his creative energies into the Knifey Moloko milk stout, which won Captain Lawrence’s clash-of-the-small-batches “Hop Bowl” back in February. The rest of it goes into his film work—including a fresh entry in the summer camp slasher flick genre titled Whispering Pines.

Shot all over Westchester County, including Pleasantville and South Salem, Rob directed and produced the feature-length film, which should be ready for public consumption in time for Halloween. It centers on a creep named Gideon who may or may not be alive—and if he is, he may be lurking in the woods, having something to do with the campers who start disappearing.

“I’m paying homage to all the movies I love,” says Rob, who has worked as a grip and makeup artist on a handful of Hollywood pictures, including training a spotlight on Michael Myers in Halloween 2.

Rob had his wrap party at the brewery, and Captain Lawrence makes a few cameos. “If you have a keen eye, you’ll see some Captain Lawrence bottles,” he says: Freshchester Pale Ale, Pumpkin Ale, Liquid Gold.

Raised in Hawthorne and residing in Pleasantville, Rob is a self described “horror nerd.” Asked his favorite horror film, he breaks it down by genre: Jaws for all-time horror, Dawn of the Dead for zombie flicks, Black Christmas and Friday the 13th Part 2 among slasher movies. Like many, he took in Sharknado last week—viewing both 1 and 2 of the fish-way-out-of-water cheesefest at Lucy’s in Pleasantville. “In a bar, drinking beer with friends, it’s hysterical--they definitely had their tongue planted firmly in shark mouth,” he says. “I was pleasantly surprised by how horrible it was.”

We share a few samples on the expanded Captain Lawrence patio. There’s a new food vendor in Gleason’s and Birdsall House of Peekskill, whose pizza oven-fired “Plain Jane” pie is perfect with an Illy Perilly Belgian IPA, a wild rice/white wine yeast concoction called Sake Bomb, or any of the standards. Rob’s favorite in the greater Captain Lawrence lineup is the specialty ale Nor’easter, brewed with elderberries and aged in bourbon barrels.

He’s not the only Captain Lawrence staffer whose creativities go beyond brewing. Jack Reilly is a virtuoso drummer, Doug Roberts a gifted singer and guitarist, alumnus Evan Watson a professional singer/songwriter, while Dennis Vaccaro, no relation to brewery owner Scott, is a filmmaker too. Dennis’s work includes a Mario Bros. reimagining, with video game siblings Mario and Luigi as World War II vets, and scenes, including a bare knuckle bout involving Mario, shot at the brewery. Rob credits Dennis for inspiring him to take on his own project.

Seated nearby, Lisa Morrissey of White Plains is intrigued by Rob’s film, and offers up a contact who’s a producer. “I love scary movies, but I’m scared of scary movies—the blood and gore scare the crap out of me,” she says. “But the way he described it, as kind of old school horror, really interests me.”

Elsewhere on the patio, Steven Derosa, author of Writing With Hitchcock, discusses film with Joe Pepe of Elmsford and their dogs, Bogey and Maximus. Joe happily recalls a few homespun high school film efforts: an homage to the thriller Cobra called Garden Snake, a demented Cabbage Patch Girl short called Doreen’s Revenge.

Steven—who pitched in on the Whispering Pines screenplay (Matt Shoemaker wrote the bulk of it)--calls Rob a “true connoisseur of horror,” likening him to Tarantino and his taste for ‘70s B-movies. “He’s digesting and reworking the various forms of the horror genre,” says Steven. “It’s Rob’s vision to create them for a new audience.”

The two are now at work at a stylized murder mystery, of the pulpy Italian genre known as “Giallo”. Rob aims to screen Whispering Pines at the Jacob Burns in October; he hopes it’s a “springboard” to bigger, better, likelier bloodier things. “It’s, let’s see what I can do with nothing,” he says.   

Indeed, the Whispering Pines budget was mostly nonexistent. “I told the guys, I’ll feed ya, I’ll give you Captain Lawrence beer,” the bar man says. “They were thrilled.”

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.