Posts Tagged ‘Bourbon’
American Whiskey is Hot right now..but Whisky (the spelling in the UK .. ) is also on the comeback run – especially Scotch!
Whisky Live is coming back to New York and Washington, D.C. -the Whisky Live DC Event has special $99 priced Tickets Here and it’s on Saturday, March 5th, 2016. If it’s close to last year’s quality, it’s a steal..On the other hand, if money is no object, or you really want to step up your game, if you’re in Washington, D.C. the same week, you could also attend the 1st Year for Washington, D.C. WhiskyFest on Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016 put on by the Wine Spectator/Malt Advocate people. This event Sells Out every year in other markets (in Chicago it sells out in less than 1 day!), because it’s frankly worth it! Yes, the ticket is $245 (which says Early Bird – but I think that price will remain until it’s Sold Out..), but you truly get what you pay for!
Some more interesting whisk(e)y events coming up in March 2016 include a Distillery University 5 Day Hands-On Workshop in Spokane, Washington. It’s priced at $1,999 (the price goes up to $2,499 on February 22nd) which is actually very reasonable – I’ve seen some of these workshops sell for $5K and above..and if you figure in that they have alot of great experts teaching the class – Plus you get hands-on at an actual Distillery – Tinbender Craft Distillery – what a great way to become part of the Craft Spirit Revolution!
On Saturday, March 12, 2016, the Washington Distillers Guild presents the South Sound Spirits Gathering at the Olympic Flight Museum in Tumwater, WA.
Looking around the rest of the U.S. for craft spirit events and festivals: NYC will have both the Whiskies and Spirits Conference and Whisky Live – New York the same week – February 23rd and 24th, respectively at Chelsea Piers. The Week after on March 3rd is the 7th Annual Good Spirits which is also chefs and cocktails.
The Illinois Craft Distiller’s Guild is holding Distillinois at the Logan Square Auditorium in Chicago on March 1, 2016 – it will feature almost exclusively craft distillers from Illinois. WhiskeyFest Chicago sold out in a matter of minutes, but it’s being held March 18th at the Hyatt Regency.
Friday, March 4, 2016 hop in your private jet and head over to Las Vegas for the Nth Ultimate Whiskey Experience at the Encore at the Wynn – truly a high-roller event with tickets starting at $525 – but you can spend way more if you add on some more unique experiences offered!
Heading to California, San Jose has the Whiskies of the World on Thursday, March 24th at the San Pedro Square Market and Whiskies of the World San Francisco on Saturday, March 26th at Pier 3 on the Embarcardero.
April has a few more Spirits events – but that will be a future posting – Cheers to the recognition of a major shift in America’s drinking habits!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
Filson Bourbon Academy received Rave Reviews from attendees last year – how do I know? I run DC Whiskey Drinkers on Facebook and many of our members attended!
The All-Day (well, it’s 6 hours with lunch!) startst at 10 am on Saturday, September 6th at Jack Rose Dining Saloon – For complete details on this event, go to TasteUSA – Filson Bourbon Academy
Mike Veach teaches the class and he has quite a Bio:
The Bourbon Academy™ Faculty:
Academy programs and events are led by Michael Veach, Filson Bourbon Historian. Since 1997, Michael has served on the staff of The Filson as a Special Collections Assistant, later moving to Associate Curator of Special Collections. In the past 20 years he has dedicated his time studying the distilling industry. In 2006 Michael was inducted into the Bourbon Hall of Fame. Michael is the author of Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey: An American Heritage (2013), which was praised by The Wall Street Journal, Courier-Journal, and other national media. He is currently completing a second book on bourbon tasting with former Courier-Journal columnist Susan Reigler.
We’re also promoting whiskey events in New York, so take a look at Whiskey 101 at the Flatiron Room (and check the TasteUSA Schedule by Filtering any city with Whiskey/Spirits/Cocktails – you’ll definitely learn and taste some wonderful whiskies!)
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
I attended a great craft experience – Meet the Distillers at Ris Restaurant in our Nation’s Capital on Wednesday, September 11th, 2013 – a chance to meet and identify with 4 of America’s most innovative craft distillers.
Here are the Distillers: Barry Young who, together with his partner C. Prentiss Orr at Boyd & Blair, distills what is arguably the world’s greatest potato vodka in Glenshaw, PA, John Little, co-founder of Smooth Ambler Spirits in rural Greenbrier Valley, WV and Clay Smith, distillery manager at Corsair Distillery in Bowling Green, KY.
I had a chance to taste 9 spirits and various cocktails produced by Dan Searing who is actually the Rep for American Still Life Spirits who promotes the most diverse American portfolio of craft distilled spirits.
Each speaker had time to open up and discuss their respective perspective and products.
Boyd & Blair (Pennsylvania):
I had met Barry Young from Boyd & Blair a few years ago at a crafts spirits tasting in NYC when the whole movement was early, but building steam. His specialty is producing potato distilled vodka using exclusively Pennsylvania potatoes. Pennsylvania farmers were only receiving about 8 cents per pound for their potatoes which didn’t make much sense as an agricultural incentive. Boyd & Blair took this low-priced resource and turned it into a vodka that has won many rewards. We also tried the Vodka 151 Proof but it was in a cocktail made by Dan Searing. Interesting note: Boyd & Blair only throws out the heads and tails of distillation and only uses the “sweet spot” heart of distillation in their products..
Smooth Ambler (West Virginia):
The next up was John Little of Smooth Ambler – he was quite a character and spoke a mile a minute with his exuberance and excitement! First up we tried the Greenbrier Gin which had a nice citrusy refreshing taste that enlivened my palate! Smooth Ambler is relatively new to the distillation process, so brown spirits have to be purchased. John took us through the process of choosing the right barrels of pre-aged Bourbons and how he chose their specific products (which in a roundabout way came from the US, was orderd and planned to be sold in Australia, but due to market conditions there, remained in U.S. stocks). Being a Rye fan, I really loved their Old Scout Rye (7-year old) and also enjoyed their Old Scout Bourbon (10-year old). John brought up the point or concept about whiskey and aging: does whiskey get better with age? He joked that some people are born “beautiful Adonis”, but most people feel we get better with age! He also brought up that Smooth Ambler doesn’t cold filter their products – fatty acids, which some people might consider gross, actually add interesting flavor and aromatics, and cold-filtering takes this away – Cheers to that!
Clay Smith of Corsair Whiskey was the 3rd Presenter and showcased 4 spirits: Corsair Barrel-Aged Gin, Spiced Rum, Old Punk Whiskey and Corsair Triple Smoke Whiskey. The most unique product was their Triple Smoke: their malted barley is smoked with Cherrywood, Beechwood and Peat giving it some Scotch/peat overtones but also some American wood smoke aromatics. This kind of creativity is what makes American craft spirits so much fun – Cheers!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
P.S. – Below is some cut and paste from the Arrowine email – if you’re truly interested in learning more, read on!
What are craft spirits and why we love them…
The days where distilled spirits were peddled by a handful of gigantic multi-national corporations have come to an end. In less than a decade the number of craft, or micro-distilleries, has mushroomed from a mere 50 to over 300 operational distilleries across the U.S. Craft spirits are the product of an independently owned distillery with maximum annual sales of 52,500 cases where the product is physically distilled and bottled on site.
Craft distillers focus on quality rather than quantity (often producing less in a year than multi-national brand distilleries bottle in one hour) and strive to educate consumers rather than supply them with cheap alcohol. Unlike the large spirits conglomerates that use continuous distillation to produce large volumes of the same product over and over, craft distillers employ pot stills that they often design themselves and distill in small batches using their senses to make cuts to achieve the desired results.
Most use locally sourced grains and fruits and trace their recipes, especially for whiskey, back to the days long before prohibition when America was a land of small distillers. Much like the craft beer movement that started in the late 1990s, micro-distilleries are making excellent products that pay homage to the authenticity and cultural heritage of their communities.
What we will be tasting…
We will taste a selection of Vodka, Gin and Whiskey (Bourbon & Rye), first in their pure spirit form, and then in a cocktail application that will showcase the wide range of flavors that these spirits can be expressed in.
About Barry Young and Boyd & Blair…
Barry Young and partner C. Prentiss Orr didn’t set out to make the world’s best vodka. They set out to make a really great vodka distilled only from local produce. They started with the best Pennsylvania potatoes and a hand hammered copper pot still and added passion for perfecting a recipe that includes only the ‘hearts’ of the spirit, not the extraneous stuff you’ll find in mass-produced, continuous-still vodka. They named their vodka after two family patriarchs, James Boyd Rafferty and Dr. William Blair.
The vodka is triple distilled by batch in the 1,200 liter pot still without the use of any automated controls, and the heads, hearts and tails are cut by taste alone. The result is an exceptionally smooth tasting potato vodka with a slight natural sweetness and viscosity that is unmatched by any other vodka. Every bottle is filled, corked and dipped in wax by hand, and personally signed by Still Master Barry Young.
About John Little and Smooth Ambler Spirits…
In 2009, John Little and TAG Galyean founded Smooth Ambler to produce fine artisan spirits by combining patient Appalachian know-how with the finest of American ingredients. Located in the rural Greenbrier Valley of West Virginia, Smooth Ambler uses state-of-the-art distillery equipment in conjunction with natural resources of the region: high-valley mountain air, natural waters, ideal temperature variations and friendly folks. These elements combined with a hands-on, grain-to-glass distilling, cutting and filtering process create a truly remarkable drink best enjoyed one slow sip at a time. It is a fact that Smooth Ambler Spirits are now produced at the highest and purest level possible anywhere in the world.
About Clay Smith and Corsair…
Friends Darek Bell, a dedicated home-brewer, and Andrew Webber, a self-described underground urban moonshiner, founded Corsair in 2007 and today, no other craft distillery in the U.S. better epitomizes the creative element of the craft spirit movement. From Quinoa Whiskey, Spiced Rum, Vanilla Bean Vodka, to Gin, Absinth, Pumpkin Spice Moonshine, the celebrated Triple Smoke Whiskey and over a dozen of seasonal and experimental spirits, the guys at Corsair don’t shy away from anything. And over 40 medals at international spirit competitions are a testament to the consistently high quality of Corsair’s innovative spirits, and it has been named 2013 Craft Distillery of the Year by Whisky Magazine.
Corsair operates out of two distilleries, one in Bowling Green, Kentucky, the other in Nashville, Tennessee. Our guest presenter Clay Smith is master distiller and distillery manager at the Bowling Green facility, where he oversees the production of Corsair’s various whiskeys and gins as well as the extensive renovation of the distillery’s new space.
About the tasting location…
Restaurant RIS is located in Washington DC, at 2275 L Street NW, Washington, DC 20037, right around the corner from Arrowine & Spirits, our new shop in DC. Restaurant RIS is open late each night. We expect the event to conclude by 9pm and should you wish to stay at Ris and have a late dinner, they would be happy to serve you. For more about this excellent restaurant, please see their website.
Arlington, VA and our new DC location
Best Deal in an Artisanal Spirit Tasting with an Entertaining Speaker..
Mondays are always tough to get to a whiskey tasting, but I really enjoyed the 6th and I’s Summer Spirits: A Whiskey Tasting held on July 1st, 2013. It was a sell out crowd of about 150 Whiskey lovers and novices. The tasting was of Leopold Brothers Classic Spirits which are distributed by Leopold family member Lindsay Marsh (Lindsay’s brother in law is a Leopold) of Speakeasy Spirits in Washington, D.C. Lindsay employed quite a bit of family story telling and humor to introduce Leopold’s whiskies and spirits – and a few curious facts including that Mormons who don’t drink alcohol, actually were the first investors in their family brewery in Michigan, prior to their starting a distillery. Family and high real estate costs in Michigan helped the family decide to move to Colorado to expand the distillery.
We tasted through four of their products and then had a Gin and Tonic for the final taste and drink. Below are the whiskies and spirits with some basic tasting notes. If you’re new to artisanal hand-crafted spirits, Leopold is one of the originals. Lindsay, who spends much of her time at tastings and in stores in the District promoting and telling the story of Leopold Bros., said that credit for the explosion of American’s interest in small spirits producers should be given to the craft beer industry and home brewing which exploded on the scene a few decades ago with Boston Beer’s Sam Adams, and hasn’t let up. A key point is passion – one of the founding brothers, Todd Leopold, got his start in distilling after he received his Diploma in Malting and Brewing from the Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago in 1996. He and his brother (who is a an Engineer specializing in environmentally sustainable manufacturing processes) do everything from hand and with small production methods: they try to use local ingredients when possible including malting their own grains, fruit from American producers, and even a cyprus wood fermenter which can never be truly cleaned like a stainless steel one – so the character of each fermentation is carried over to the next – this is American Terroir!
American Small Batch Whiskey – This is aged less than a year in new American oak barrels, but has a surprisingly good flavor from the touch of rye and barley added to the 65% corn mash blend. Could drink neat or in cocktails, this spirit isn’t aged the 2 years minimum for a Straight Bourbon, which gives it more flexibility as a mixer in cocktails.
New York Apple Flavored Whiskey – the Apple juice is actually added to the Whiskey and then aged in bourbon barrels. Some sweetness is left over which makes this a great aperitif or a good mixer in a cocktail like a liqueur – it is 80 Proof though!
Rocky Mountain Blackberry Flavored Whiskey – although Lindsey said this was sweeter than the New York Apple, it seemed drier to me, but this may because of the intensity of the dark blackberry fruit which added also a slight tannic almost red wine characteristic.
Rocky Mountain Peach Flavored Whiskey – the juice of peaches blended with whiskey and aged in used Bourbon barrels. Although this had peach aromatics, because of the intensity and concentration of the fruit it was more varied to me in aromas – maybe even some ripe pear and mango..spirits and fruits always bring out nuances in aroma that are unexpected!
American Small Batch Gin – made small batch from a still (vs. industrial style column still), this is more citrus and less piney juniper. This also has an interesting story: unlike 99% of gin makers, Leopold Bros. distills each botanical (like juniper, coriander, etc.) separately to keep their respective characters in the final cut – again, all about craftsmanship – what “artisanal” really means!
Of course at the end of the class, because I was hanging out with Catoctin Creek Distilling‘s own Emily Landsman, we had to try a few more spirits including the Absinthe, French Press Style Coffee Liqueur, Three Pins Alpine Herbal Liqueur, and quite a few others including a Maraschino Cherry flavored whiskey. Definitely seek these spirits out – they are part of America’s culture. American terroir definitely exists!
Upcoming Whiskey Events in DC:
Whiskey, Swine and Wine (Sperryville, VA) – July 13th at Wasmund’s
Rum Tasting Class at Ceiba – July 20th in Washington, D.C.
Beer, Bourbon & BBQ -VIP Whole Hog Pig Pickin and Tasting Glass – September 21st in Reston Town Center, VA
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
I Got My Piggy On..
Cochon 555 in DC..This event is not just about the Pig..it’s also about the drink, the chef, and the Foodie..maybe even the Foodie Groupie (did I make that up??)..
I attended my first Cochon 555 on Sunday, April 7th, 2013 and it was all that I expected and even more..More pig combinations,
Cochon 555 is a celebration of life – just as everyone must eat, some of us eat to fulfill our passion or maybe it IS our passion. If I was going to explain this event to someone from outer space, I would say that man was once a primitive animal that lived primarily in caves or on the savannah. Over a period of thousands of years, he formed civilization and started culture (she too!)..but the need to satisfy those primitive urges never disappeared – thus Cochon 555!
Heritage Pigs – well, ever since modern industry took over the majority of our food system, food has been “designed” to fit consumer lifestyles – thus was created the modern pig – it gets fat fast, needs little space to roam (or it may need it, but it doesn’t get it!) and it has lean meat..Why lean? We food consumers (actually, I should change that to “industrial pig consumers” – forgive me if you’re Vegan..) read a study in the 70’s that suggested that eating too much fat, especially animal fat, caused heart disease and will shorten your life..it seems to make sense right.. I mean ever since the times of Henry VIII, only the wealthy could afford meat on a regular basis, and all of them were rotund and had gout – so obviously the study is right – I mean, surely if you eat Fat, you get fat, the fat becomes fat around your belly and thighs and of course there’s cholesterol in the fat, and that fills your arteries and you die young.. right??
No way – bad study, bad logic, but smart companies taking advantage of the reality of modern life: sell the benefit, not the product..it’s easy to convince people that fat = fat = fat..it’s total nonsense, but hey, who has time to even thing about such stuff??
Conclusion: these Heritage pigs with their thick covering of serious fat are actually healthier for the environment, healthier for the pig, but most of all – THEY WILL MAKE YOU HEALTHY – Eat Them!
Chefs competing for Prince of Pork in Washington, D.C. are Mike Isabella (Graffiato), Haidar Karoum (Proof / Estadio), Kyle Bailey (Birch & Barley), Jeffrey Buben (Vidalia), and Bryan Voltaggio [Volt, Range, Family Meal].
2013 marks a culinary milestone: The fifth anniversary of Cochon 555, a one-of-a-kind traveling culinary competition and tasting event created to promote sustainable farming of heritage breed pigs. Arriving in the nation’s capital on Sunday, April 7 at The Newseum, the pork-centric tour gathers together five chefs, five pigs and five wineries at each event – ultimately touching down in 10 cities across the country and bringing its message of nose-to-tail cooking, breed diversity and family farming to food enthusiasts nationwide.
Each Cochon 555 event challenges five local chefs to prepare a menu created from the entirety of heritage breed pigs for an audience of pork-loving epicureans and celebrated judges. Chefs competing for Prince of Pork in Washington, D.C. are Mike Isabella (Graffiato), Haidar Karoum (Proof / Estadio), Kyle Bailey (Birch & Barley), Jeffrey Buben (Vidalia), and Bryan Voltaggio [Volt, Range, Family Meal].
Guests will be treated to an epic pork feast alongside wines from five small family-owned wineries including Sandhi Wines, Scholium Project, Elk Cove Vineyards, Westport Rivers, and Silver Oak plus special tastings from Rhone Valley Wines, Anchor Brewing, Crispin Ciders, Illegal Mezcal, and Blue Coat Gin. Twenty judges and 400 guests help decide the winning chef, who is crowned the Prince of Pork and will compete against other regional winners at the finale Grand Cochon event at the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen on Sunday, June 16.
Also included in the evening is a preview of the new Heritage BBQ event in which John Critchley of Bourbon Steak will roll out family meal – an additional whole hog cooked barbecue-style immediately preceding the awards.
VIP guests receive early access to the event and special offerings including a special tasting with three competing chefs. The VIP hour is filled with experiences that will not be found on the main floor such as access to “Punch Kings” – a new cocktail competition featuring Breckenridge Bourbon and six local bartenders, a VIP-only gift bag, the all-new Tartare Bar, Rappanhannock River Oysters, and reserve wines and spirits. Guests can enter for a chance to win a roundtrip ticket from Southwest Airlines, Official Airline for the “Cochon US Tour”.
In addition, to celebrate five years of Heritage Breeds, Cochon added five bourbons to the lineup! All attendees will get samples of Breckenridge Bourbon, Eagle Rare, Templeton Rye, High West, Buffalo Trace and Four Roses in addition to the Perfect Manhattan Bar showcasing Luxardo and Eagle Rare. New to 2013 is also the Chupito/Mezcal Bar, a tasting experience featuring Mezcales de Leyenda, Pierde Almas and Fidencio. The infamous Craft Cheese Bar sees a facelift featuring a local cheesemonger, Cypress Grove Chevre, Vermont Butter & Cheese, Spring Brook Farm with an exclusive tasting of blues from Rogue Creamery, and favorites from Kerrygold. Everyone can commemorate the experience by visiting the City Eats photo booth and voting for the best bite of the day.
The fun continues with a butcher demonstration presented by Zwilling / MIyabi with Chris Fuller from Alleghany Meats and a raffle to benefit the student volunteers, ice-cold brews, Fernet Branca digestifs, Taza Chocolate pork-spiked desserts, Champagne toast, award ceremony, and of course, the after party will immediately follow.
Sunday, April 7, 2013
4 p.m. (VIP); 5 p.m. (general admission)
555 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20001
Cochon 555 Tickets: $125 (general admission) and $200 (VIP); to purchase tickets, visit www.cochon555.com
ADDITIONAL EVENT: CHEFS COURSE DINNER
To kick-off the 5th Anniversary Weekend Celebration, Cochon 555 will curate an intimate “Chef’s Course” Guest Chef Dinner on Friday, April 5 at The Source by Wolfgang Puck hosted by Scott Drewno, two-time Cochon winner. The 5-course dinner will feature great chefs, including past participants, friends and judges paired with a winemaker, distiller or brewer. Go behind the scenes with Team Cochon for this amazing dinner and meet the folks driving the flavor train. Tickets to this dinner are $110, all inclusive and reservations can be made by calling the restaurant at (202) 637-6100 and please reference Cochon555.
Guests can enter for a chance to win a roundtrip ticket from Southwest Airlines, Official Airline for the “Cochon US Tour”.
Please invite your facebook friends to this event. Invite over 75 friends, show us screenshot proof, and get a $25 discount code for being a partner to responsible agriculture.
Enjoyed a fantastic tour of Catoctin Creek Distillery on Saturday, August 20th, 2011 when the DC Whiskey Drinkers (Facebook) had our private tour with Scott Harris and his team. Let me just say first, that for a City Slicker (I live in Georgetown) the area around Purcellville, VA is so relaxing and bucolic that I could feel all my tension fading away even before I came to the Distillery’s door. Catoctin Creek is located in an industrial park, but it’s a pretty quaint low-industrial area, and it’s pretty much smack in the middle of the woods! Also, I was relieved to find that my GPS took right to the front door, something that rarely happens this far out.
I didn’t realize it until I got there, but the Distillery is a pretty popular place on weekends, and the fact that we nabbed a private tour through the owner made a big difference – after our group of about 15 left, a mob of 50 or more thirsty whiskey lovers filled the tasting room and warehouse and we felt lucky to have had the privilege! Here’s a photo of the whiskey’s we tasted – note that there is already a plan to change the labels.
Catoctin Creek Distillery is currently producing 3 spirits – Mosby’s Spirits, Roundstone Rye and Watershed Gin – as well as Pearousia Pear Brandy. Mosby’s is an organic (actually, all of Catoctin Creek’s spirits are organic – this is why Scott is constantly forced to search for organic rye growers throughout the U.S.) unaged white spirit – but the rye definitely comes through with both a sweet and almost earthy best I can describe it as hot pepper and clay flavor that really awakens the senses – THIS is what Vodka only hopes to be! The Roundstone Rye is ages 4 month in new oak and is a mellower more rounded version of the Mosby, with just enough caramel/brown sugar from the oak to make this a great sipping whiskey. The Gin is botanical with more of a citrus, orange fruit component and less herby than many, which lends well to mixing with more fruit concentrated drinks to match. I didn’t try the Pearousia – oh well, there’s always another day..
Without going into too much detail about the process of making whiskey (Distilling 101 – another class, another day..) Scott takes the rye and turns it into a beer of sorts, also called the “Wort” – basically beer without hops and a Distiller’s Yeast vs Brewer’s Yeast fermented to approximately 10% alcohol before it’s put into the still and converted into spirit. The middle photo is the Wort in the still, the photo to the right of that is actually before that during the fermentation into beer. Some interesting side notes: Virginia doesn’t produce much organic rye grain, so Scott has to go elsewhere to get it (he wants to be truly local, but alas..)..while distilling the Wort, a percentage of the first distillation called the “heads” is unusable because it’s poisonous – the ratios Scott gave are 100 gallons of beer distill into 10 gallons of spirit of which about 1/2 gallon of that is lost as the undrinkable “heads”. Scott distills to about 170 Proof (85% alcohol) and cuts it to around 90 Proof. When he makes the brown rye aged spirit, he ages in new charred oak barrels for 4 months – 10 lbs. of spirit is absorbed by the wood and is lost (spirits are about 7 lbs. to a gallon, so he loses another 1 gallon and change – rather than throw out these barrels, he sells them to breweries (like DCBrau – DC’s first Brewery in almost 60 years!)
On the left is the Kothe Still – it’s sort of a combo pot and continuous still, and is one of the reasons that American Micro-Distilling is growing at such a rapid pace. Our group really enjoyed the tour – so much so, that one of our group purchased 2 cases..I’ll need to visit them soon! If you’re interested in tasting Catoctin Creek’s products, definitely take the weekend tour – but you can also find many of their spirits in stores throughout the Washington, D.C. region. Catoctin Creek is also the only distillery we have pouring with 34 breweries at MAC Brew Fest – DC’s Own Beer Festival on Saturday, October 15th, 2011 – if you’re planning to visit DC, check it out – Cheers!
It’s now the time of the year for squash’s and Fall veggies. I recently found a recipe from Mango Tomato for Curry butternut squash soup with coconut milk and decided it was time for my first delicious Fall soup. I have one rule about cooking from a recipe: I never EVER do it exactly the same, even the first time, I always add at least one or two “personal” ingredients. What I mean by “personal” is either I made it myself from an older recipe or something I add for zing or flair – in other words, I always try to make the recipe my own. The “personal” ingredient was homemade vegetable broth, but the zing item was peanut butter – actually crunchy peanut butter from Mackey’s Ferry in North Carolina – I actually picked it up on a road trip when I saw a sign on the highway for “boiled peanuts” – another treat that you’ve gotta try, a very addictive food!
I’ll keep my conclusions short, but I wanted to thicken the original recipe a bit, and normally that would mean adding cream or half and half to the mixture – I didn’t have any. Once I began to smell the coconut milk, the curry (which I make myself “based” on a Mark Bittman recipe, but I spice it up with cayenne), the sugar (I store left over vanilla pods in a sugar container) and the squashes cooking, I kept thinking..hmm, peanut butter is so natural in Thai food, why wouldn’t it work here with all these Asian flavors? I only had chunky peanut butter – of course you could use smooth, but I’ll tell you what – the little pieces of chunky peanuts at the bottom of each bowl of soup I served to myself was decadently good! You could adjust this recipe in so many ways such as using brown sugar instead of vanilla sugar, or even skipping the sugar – there was no sugar in the original recipe. I think the secret to this recipe is to keep it simple and make it your own, but don’t forget to thicken it with something to create a little contrast to the squash – creme fraiche or cream would do the job nicely, but peanut butter was fantastic. Also, did you ever notice how once you open a container of peanut butter, it generally just sits around..I say make peanut butter the new secret ingredient, maybe it can even give bacon a run for the money?
And what would I drink with this? Well, I always drink wine with the meal, I immediately think of an off-dry riesling, but a rustic red like Sangiovese does just fine. You could also go with Scotch – but here’s an additional thought – if you want to make the dish “smokier”, you could add a smoked chipotle pepper and this would make the dish work better with Bourbon or other “smoky” spirits..
Another By the Way..don’t forget to roast the squash seeds with a little salt and spices – I through on some of the curry powder for a treat later..
This recipe is adjusted from Mango & Tomato –
1 butternut squash (small to medium)
1/2 an acorn squash
1/2 a large vidalia onion cut in 4 pieces
1 cup coconut milk
4 cups vegetable broth
salt & pepper to taste
1 1/2 Tablespoons curry powder
1/2 cup vanilla sugar
1/2 cup of chunky peanut butter
blue cheese for garnish
1. Scoop out the seeds from butternut squash and acorn squash and roast at 400 degrees for an hour.
2. Meanwhile, either together or separately (I have a smaller toaster oven as well) roast the onions with a little oil at around 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes until they start to caramelize.
3. Once the butternut squash and acorn squash are tender, scoop it out from the skin and drop it into a blender. Add the caramelized onion to the blender as well.
4. Pour all the ingredients from the blender into a pot and add coconut milk and vegetable broth and season with spices, salt & pepper. Heat at medium and when bubbles begin to form, swirl peanut butter into the soup.
5. Adjust the seasonings, and cook on medium-low for 15-20 minutes – it’s ready.
6. Either serve just like this or garnish each soup bowl with blue cheese.
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler