Posts Tagged ‘cognac’

Charlie Had A Little Lamb..

September 29th, 2010 • No Comments

Aleks over at Veranda on P on 11th and P St., NW in Washington, D.C. invited me to come over and try his spit-roasted lamb – this isn’t actually the photo, but it looked almost exactly the same sans lamb head. I showed up a bit on the late side at about 7:30 after the “good parts” according to Aleks had already been eaten – the leg thigh, and other meaty portions..I actually thought that was great because that meant the flavorful stuff was still available – kidneys, lungs, heart, liver and gut! Unfortunately, Aleks gave away the kidneys, it would have been my first lamb kidneys – I’ve had beef kidneys in the past. After having a few Hoegardens, fresh cooked stewed liver and lungs were served – a very simple preparation and very tasty, although there is that slightly gritty/muddy/meaty taste that I guess you have to acquire.

I was sharing this dish with an Ethiopian gentleman named Tesfera – he told me that eating the innards of a lamb is a ritual in his country. He mentioned that he occasionally cooks for himself some liver, heart and other good stuff with just a bit of sauteed onions and a little pepper, maybe 15 minutes of cooking. When I asked if heart didn’t stay a bit chewy with such a short cooking time, he said that was part of the pleasure! Interestingly, he was drinking Cognac during the whole process – he said that in Ethiopia there is a honey wine (I’ve had it), but that he much prepared Whiskey or Cognac. This is just another example of how customs cross borders. Italy had major influence on Ethiopia and Tesfera explained how the best Ethiopian coffee was prepared in Italian Espresso machines.

Call this another multi-cultural experience, but this is exactly why it’s fantastic living in an international city like Washington, D.C. – I get to meet people from all over the world and break bread with them. Now, if we could all stop fighting over mundane details and politics, and focus on learning and friendship..

I am – Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler

Consider Yourself Paired – “Yinzer Torte”!

February 21st, 2010 • No Comments

First of all, I want to mention that it’s really great that Daniel is using local resources as his ingredients.  It’s really sad that people are so urbanized and removed from nature that they don’t even trust the fruit that grows on their local trees!  Just like Daniel used the local quinces for this recipe, I have often thought about using the ginkgo “stinky” fruit that falls from the female trees that are common all over Washington, D.C. Stinky Gingko Fruit – unfortunately, it is SO stinky, that it will probably never happen!

The first point I want to make is that I am not a proponent of pairing dessert wines and dessert – the way I see it, there’s a missing synergy.  In my book (sorry for the blatant promo!) I Drink on the Job – I have a complete chapter on pairing wine and food, and the principle that comes to mind is “1+1=1/2”.  It seems weird, but when you put a sweet food in your mouth and then you drink a sweet beverage (it could be any beverage – fruit juice, cola, etc.), the sweetness is significantly reduced. The pairing rule I often learned was that the wine should be at least as sweet at the dessert, but I don’t see how it makes a difference – sweet and sweet mostly cancel each other out!

Another point is that the Yinzer torte is made with highly acidic quince fruit turned into a butter emulsion.  So now you have acidity – and yes, you do want to match a dishes acidity with the wine, or the wine will taste really flat!  You could easily pair this dish with a traditional dessert wine like a Sauternes or a Hungarian Tokaj, and that will do just fine.  But let me throw a curve ball.

1) I prefer to have contrast to a sweet dessert dish – just like many people really enjoy coffee with sweets because the tannin in coffee contrasts the sweetness of dessert on your palate, I would rather pair this with a spirit – and my spirit of choice for this dish is either a Cognac or a Calvados.  Cognac is distilled from grapes and has a nice fruit component.  Calvados is distilled from apples and has that fruit component as well.  You could have a whisky or a Scotch, but definitely avoid a really smoky/peaty version of the latter – there are no smoke components to this dessert (unless you’re puffing on a cigar at the time!),

2) Change the dish a bit to make it go better with wine – this is called a pairing “bridge”.  For example, you could put some chopped walnuts on top and maybe serve with a slice of blue cheese and now Ruby Port goes perfectly!  Crunchy nuts would also add texture which makes food more interesting on the palate. Add a caramel sauce, and now a Tawny port, which is port that has been pre-aged in barrel will work with those flavors.  You could even bridge this dessert by making a dessert wine reduction, and that would bring the flavors together.

3) Add fresh whipped cream with a little liqueur in it like Cointreau.  OK, it won’t match better with any wine, but certainly it will make the dish all the better, and isn’t pleasure what you’re really after?

Consider yourself paired!

Charlie Adler, Author, I Drink on the Job