March 31, 2012

Dark Chocolate Key Lime Mousse

Dark Chocolate~Key Lime Mousse

Another classic from GGM chocolatier, Ingo Wullaert. A taste of the tropics and little bit of Key West, captured in this easy to make recipe.
Makes about 10 - 8 oz dessert glasses

Dark chocolate mousse:
Ingredients:
20 oz. of Callebaut semi sweet dark chocolate drops
27 oz. of heavy whipping cream
9 oz .of whole milk
*(optional: 1 oz. Midori, or any fruit schnapps)

 Method
Combine milk and chocolate drops in a microwave safe bowl. Heat in the microwave for 3 to 4 minutes. Take out and stir the mixture until smooth. Whip the heavy cream into soft peaks. Fold the heavy cream into the chocolate mixture and refrigerate mousse until  firm in texture.
  
Key lime cream:
Ingredients
14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
6 oz. heavy whipping cream
½ cup of key lime juice

Mix condensed milk and heavy cream until blended. Add key lime juice and blend well.

To Plate
Remove mousse from refrigerator and place into a pastry bag. Fill the dessert glass (standard wine glasses, but be as creative as you want.) 1/3 full with chocolate mousse using the bag. Add a layer of key lime cream using a spoon. Add a second layer of chocolate mousse using a pastry bag. Top off with key lime cream and tap dessert glass gently to make surface smooth. Refrigerate to firm texture.
To Serve

Decorate with whipped cream, fruit or chocolate shavings. This is such a simple dish but remembering it's all in the presentation, you can serve this dessert at at casual dinner parties or elegant dinners. *To raise this recipe to the sophisticated adult level, simply add 1 oz. of your favorite fruit liquor, or schnapps into the chocolate mixture.

Bon Appetit,

Lou

March 29, 2012

Ringling: The Big Top! Clowns! Elephants! Cotton Candy and...the Museum of Art?

 
Ringling...the mere mention of the word conjures up images of clowns, the big top, the midway, cotton candy and elephants, always the elephants. Most, with the exception of those who have done some research into the name Ringling, would be surprised to associate the name with fine art as well.

Located in beautiful Sarasota, Florida, The John and Mable Ringling Museum is a remarkable place of grand architecture and landscaped grounds that comprise an odd combination of Renaissance art and circus whimsy. Somehow these two contrasting philosophies are mingled together to form a unique and alluring combination here. But, we all know that eclectic is the legacy of the showman that was John Ringling. He was born in McGregor, Iowa, on May 31, 1866, the sixth of seven surviving sons and daughters born to August and Marie Salomé (Juliar) Ringling. Five of the brothers joined together and started the Ringling Bros. Circus in 1884. The art museum which was his legacy to the public, and his devotion to his wife and her vision of Cà d'Zan, their private residence, created an experience that will have you stepping back in time. From strolling past calliopes long silent, to the bedrooms of the main house, preserved like snapshots of a bygone era, guests and visitors, with this a glimpse into the past are transported to a simpler time. Then taking in the priceless art and architecture of the museum of art, you are whisked on a journey to John and Mable's love of the Italian Renaissance. Very few households could boast their own gondola, but theirs was moored to the Venetian style boat landing built at the rear of Cà d'Zan. Such was Mable's obsession with all things Italian. Sarasota, with its surrounding islands and keys has much to offer visitors and vacationers, from the warm sandy beaches, or St. Armands, a dining and shopping mecca also developed by Ringling and set amidst the tropical waters of the Gulf of Mexico, to art, culture and old world Florida elegance.

Ringling Museum History

John Ringling, one of the five original circus kings of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, was blessed with entrepreneurial genius and through his success with the circus and other investments, became quite wealthy. In 1911, John (1866-1936) and his wife, Mable (1875-1929) purchased 20 acres of waterfront property in Sarasota, Florida. In 1912 the couple began spending winters in Sarasota and later decided to build a home there. Their property included a house built by one of Buffalo Bill’s circus managers, Charles Thompson. The Ringlings dreamed of helping Sarasota develop into a metropolitan boom town and they became involved in the community, bought real estate, and eventually owned approximately 25 percent of Sarasota’s total area.

The couple’s first project in Sarasota was the splendid Venetian Gothic mansion Cà d’Zan, built between 1924 and 1926 for a then staggering sum of $1.5 million. Mable had developed an affection for Venetian buildings on their travels and collected sketches and photos to incorporate into the design of the house which reflects both her and John’s taste and passion for opulence. She supervised the construction of the house with architect Dwight James Baum, designer of several New York mansions.

In the spirit of America's wealthiest Gilded Age industrialists, John Ringling gradually acquired a significant art collection, including paintings by Peter Paul Rubens, Velàzquez, Poussin, van Dyck and other Baroque masters, as well as rare antiquities from Cyprus. He built a palace for his treasures in a 21-gallery Museum of Art on his Sarasota property.

The Florentine style building emulates the Uffizi Gallery and was specifically designed to house his collection of European paintings and art objects. The Ringlings had accumulated a treasure trove of objects, the result of many trips to Europe while searching for new circus acts. For years they acquired columns, architectural details and many fine art pieces. The result is a museum with a courtyard filled with bronze replicas of Greek and Roman sculpture, including a bronze cast of Michelangelo’s David.

John Ringling bequeathed his art collection, mansion and estate to the people of the State of Florida at the time of his death in 1936.

For nearly ten years after John Ringling’s death, the Ringling Museum was opened irregularly and not professionally maintained. Cà d’Zan was used privately and remained closed to the public, while the State of Florida fought with creditors over the fate of the estate. By 1946, the State prevailed, and title was transferred to the people of Florida.


In 2000, Ringling’s original $1.2 million endowment had hardly grown to $2 million. Governance was transferred from the State of Florida’s Department of State to Florida State University establishing the Ringling estate as one of the largest museum/university complexes in the nation. As part of the University, the Museum has experienced a rebirth. In 2002, when $42.9 million was provided through the State for new buildings, it came with a condition that the Ringling board raise $50 million in endowment within five years. Impossible as the task then seemed, more than $55 million was donated or pledged by 2007. The transformation that culminated in 2007 restored all the existing buildings and expanded the Estate with four new buildings on the Museum’s Master Plan: the Tibbals Learning Center, the John M. McKay Visitors Pavilion – housing the Historic Asolo Theater, the Education/Conservation Building and The Ulla R. and Arthur F. Searing Wing. The Museum’s financial footing was also secured with the beginnings of a healthy endowment.

Cà d’Zan
The Ringlings' dazzling palatial mansion is a tribute to the American Dream and reflects the splendor and romance of Italy. Described as “the last of the Gilded Age mansions” to be built in America, Cà d’Zan has 56 incredible rooms filled with art and original furnishings. With its Venetian Gothic architecture, the mansion is a combination of the grandeur of Venice’s Doge’s Palace, combined with the Gothic grace of Cà d’Oro, with Sarasota Bay serving as its Grand Canal.

In 1924, construction began on Cà d’Zan, which means “House of John” in Venetian dialect. The house was completed just before Christmas 1925, at a cost of $1.5 million.



John and Mable Ringling greatly admired the unique architectural style of the Danieli and the Bauer-Grunwald hotels in Venice, as well as the palaces that face the Venetian canals. This architectural style, called "Venetian Gothic," greatly influenced the Cà d'Zan's design, which architect Dwight James Baum and builder Owen Burns helped bring to Sarasota for the Ringlings.

Mable Ringling had an oilskin portfolio filled with postcards, sketches, photos and other materials that she gathered on her travels to aid the architect with his design.

Cà d’Zan is 200-foot long encompassing approximately 36,000 square feet with 41 rooms and 15 bathrooms. The structure is five stories and has a full basement. The pinnacle of the structure is the 81-foot Belvedere tower with an open-air overlook and a high domed ceiling.

Cà d’Zan is constructed from terracotta “T” blocks, concrete, and brick, covered with stucco and terracotta, and embellished with glazed tile. The original roof was made from 16th century Spanish tiles imported by the builder Owen Burns. The bay front terrace is made of domestic and imported marble. In April 2002, comprehensive restoration and conservation was completed on Cà d'Zan. The six year, $15 million initiative restored the mansion to the era of Mable Ringling.

The Circus Museum
The Circus Museum celebrates the American circus, its history and unique relationship to Sarasota. Established in 1948, the museum was the first in the county to document the rich history of the circus. View colossal parade and baggage wagons, sequined costumes, and a sideshow banner line that document the circus of the past and of today. See memorabilia and artifacts documenting the history of The Ringling family circus, John Ringling as the Circus King, and the greatest circus movie, The Greatest Show on Earth, which was filmed in Sarasota. Enter the Circus Museum’s Tibbals Learning Center and see an exhibition of circus posters. Ranging in size from window to barn sized, these colorful posters were plastered on buildings, walls and fences all across America and broadcasted in no uncertain terms that the circus was coming to town.

About the Ringlings

Mable Ringling
Mable Ringling, wife of the well-known circus man, was born Armilda Burton. Little of a personal nature is known about her and she has been described as a non-flamboyant woman because she did not seek the spotlight in either society or show business, yet one visit to Cà d'Zan, the magnificent house perched at the waters edge, and you might wonder if Mable was perhaps a closet flamboyant. Opulence and ornate don't begin to describe the decor of this unique and historic house. Born in Moons, Ohio on March 4, 1875, she had four sisters and one brother. She had strong ties with her family, who visited Sarasota often or moved to the area. Although Mable had a less direct hand in the formation of the Art Museum than she did with Cà d'Zan, she was listed on the Art Museum's charter as a Director and the Vice President of the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art Corporation in 1927. Mable died on June 8, 1929, at the age of fifty-four. Her marriage to John was one of strong affection and loyalty. They shared a love of things Italian, and Sarasota is fortunate they chose to build here two monuments to their fascination and interests: the Cà d'Zan ("House of John") and The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.

John Ringling
Although John began his career at 16 performing as a song and dance man, he moved to overseeing the circus route. After he persuaded his brothers to convert the show from wagons to rail in 1890, The New York Times observed, "he became a human encyclopedia on road and local conditions." It was a driving ambition that propelled the Ringling Bros. Circus into a world-class show crossing the country in nearly 100 rail-cars each season. In the 1920s, Ringling joined the Florida land boom, buying and developing land on the Sarasota Keys. He attempted to make Sarasota a fashionable metro-resort to rival those on Florida's popular East Coast.

With his wife, Mable, Ringling began accumulating a collection of Old Master paintings that they displayed in their homes in New York City; Alpine, New Jersey; and Sarasota. In New York's crowded auction rooms, they found a rich source of furnishings, tapestries, and paintings from the homes of wealthy and prominent families. In the 1920s, the Ringlings traveled annually to Europe to locate new circus acts, while also making purchases of art objects. An imposing figure, John Ringling stood more than six feet tall. One journalist wrote, "John Ringling is not your chatty type of man...It is no wonder that he is the least-known element in his minutely publicized business." In dress, he was elegant and preferred tailored English-made suits. He enjoyed fine Cuban cigars and his own private-label whiskey.

~
Pretty cool stuff huh? And you thought it was all about the elephants...Ok in my best Ringmaster voice: "Ladieeees aaaaand gentleman of aaaaaall ages! The most stupendous....The most colossal.....the most death defying act under the big top...I direct your attention to the trapeze high above the circus floor......" cue circus music............

As always, Bon Appetit,

Lou

To learn more about the Ringling Museum of Art , Ca d'Zan and the Circus Museum visit their website : www.ringling.org

March 27, 2012

Triple Coffee Sensation: The Ultimate Decadence...

This is simple recipe and chocolate lovers, I promise, once you make and taste these your whole notion of chocolate will transformed. These are some of the richest, most decadent chocolate truffles you will ever enjoy and better yet, they are so easy to make at home in your very own kitchen. Just be patient and follow the directions carefully. Your friends and family will go crazy for them. Great for the Holidays. Enjoy!

Triple Coffee Sensation

Ingredients
10 oz Callebaut semi sweet dark chocolate drops
5 oz heavy whipping cream
½ oz Irish coffee liqueur
½ oz Cognac
½ oz Whiskey
2/3 oz instant coffee
Cocoa powder
Powdered sugar

Method
In heavy bottomed saucepan heat heavy cream on low-medium heat. Add instant coffee and mix well. Place chocolate in a bowl and add the hot heavy cream/coffee mixture. Stir until smooth. Divide mixture into 3 equal portions in separate bowls. Add a different liqueur to each bowl and mix well. Cover each bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate (minimum 4 hours)

Remove from refrigerator. Use a teaspoon and make round balls (about 2/3 oz each) by rolling between the palms of your hands. Roll immediately in the powder. Roll whiskey flavored in powdered sugar, cognac in cocoa powder and Irish cream in a 50/50 blend of powdered sugar and cocoa powder.


Bon Appetit!

Lou

March 26, 2012

A tale of two Chefs...The honors & pressures of cooking at The James Beard House...


Gordon Ramsay at The London NYC's Chef de Cuisine Markus Glocker and Pastry Chef Ron Paprocki made their their second appearance at the James Beard Foundation’s (JBF) iconic townhouse. The chefs have truly been making their mark on New York City’s culinary scene since 2006, garnering a two star Michelin rating in 2007, then maintaining and solidifying their and the restaurants reputation as one of Manhattan’s top restaurants receiving the coveted stars again for a fifth straight year in 2012. The evening at the Beard House will feature multiple courses with wine pairings and include innovative, French-inspired dishes. We'll take a look at the menu served at the Beard House below, but first, let's take a look at the Chefs themselves.

I've had the pleasure of dining at the restaurant and I have first-hand knowledge of their culinary acumen, so it was no surprise when I heard they were on their way back for a second appearance at Beard. In our recent sit down, we spoke of my first visit to the restaurant; after sending the menu back to them, along with my allergies (walnuts and uncooked apples). I ordered, "Surprise me." They then took me on an eight (8) course tasting that is one my top three dining experiences. Seriously. When I teased though, as is my way, that my meal with them that night was number two on the list, my number one being an eleven course tasting I enjoyed on the beach of an undisclosed island in Southwest Florida, Chef Paprocki quipped, "Well that's because everything tastes better on the beach, so now you have to come in so we can rectify that. Number two just isn't acceptable", he laughed!" It is this kind of drive and enthusiasm that has enabled these two chefs to climb to the heights in NYC's dining scene.

As the Chef de Cuisine, Markus Glocker continues to demonstrate his culinary expertise and creative talents. He oversees all dining, from restaurant to rooms and has successfully created one of the most consistent  hotel culinary experiences in Manhattan. Whether in the restaurants, Maze and Gordon Ramsay at the London, or guests at The London NYC,  the kitchen provides all the food at the hotel for guests and diners alike. At any one time there can be as many as 45 people in one of the most immaculate kitchens I personally have ever seen. Markus began working with Gordon Ramsay at his celebrated Gordon Ramsay at the Claridge in London in 2001, something that has allowed him to make a significant contribution to Gordon Ramsay at the London NYC since the restaurant first opened in November 2006. He told me an anecdote about a certain Sunday that stands out to him about when he worked with Chef Ramsay at the Claridge.

"When we opened Claridge, I think it was one of the hardest things in my life. I remember though, it was an afternoon where we only had 120 covers (individual diners) on the books, usually, we would have 165 plus," he said. "We decided at lunch time, around 12:30, we were exhausted, we decided, the whole kitchen, to go around the corner to the park for a half an hour. We were working, working, and one guy had a radio with him. Funny enough, we were listening to a station and we heard Chef Ramsay. They asked him, What song do you want to play for your chefs back at the restaurant? " He played Brian Adams, "Everything I do I do for you." He was trying to be funny and we all laughed, cus it had been crazy. He wanted to, you know, let us know." Then," he laughed, "when we got back to the kitchen, we learned that we now had 165 covers. We started to scramble and, you know, everything went crazy!"

The next several years of his career found Glocker leap-frogging from country to country, going from London back to Germany, where he worked at the three Michelin-starred Restaurant Eckart Witzigmann in Berlin. From there, he went all the way to Chicago to work for two years in the kitchen of Charlie Trotter’s, before returning to Austria to work at the two Michelin-starred Restaurant Steirereck Vienna.

With a serious culinary résumé, having worked under numerous Michelin stars, he returned back to the Gordon Ramsay group, where he brings sophistication and imagination to the menu as Chef de Cuisine at the New York City Restaurant. Markus was invited to prepare dinner at the Beard House last year in March and this next appearance will mark his second in as many years. I asked about his creative license at Ramsey and he explained, "Each restaurant is to a certain point, chef-centric. He described, having worked side by side with Chef Ramsay, "I am familiar and understand his flavor profile, so it's always there. At the same time, when a person like yourself comes in and you ask me to give you 8 courses and ask me to chose, as you did, I have to create. Of course, what is in stock and what we have in fresh, for the day's specials may dictate what we serve, but it is a challenge we like in the kitchen. To create on the fly." He explained about the upcoming dinner at Beard, "When you prepare for a Beard or outside event, it's not so much pressure as much as excitement. Of course you want it to be successful, but the meals are all planned ahead of time, we work together on a basic theme. For me there are the restaurants as well. They still have to run and you are doing an event outside of the restaurant that you want to be the same quality as if you were inside the restaurant. We have to very exacting, Ron and I. He is very good at what he does, so we two chefs have to get together to come up with a plan."

When I asked Pastry Chef Ron Paprocki about his first recollections of what sparked his interest in cookery and specifically, the call to become a pastry chef, he expounded on his varied and unlikely journey to a Michelin starred kitchen. His sense of humor was quite present when we talked, exposing a man who seems to be happy where he is. "My love for cooking started when I was a kid in Rochester, NY.," he states, "my sisters and I, my mom gave us free reign in the kitchen and I liked getting into the ingredients with my hands. I liked that you could put all these ingredients together and come up with a dish that tasted good. I was really good at the cooking, but not so good at the cleaning up part. He laughs, "We didn't have a dishwasher, so I spent a lot of time trying to get out of cleaning up when my mom would come home to a sink full of dishes." He went on further, "I was really into the outdoors though. We had a good tract of land, and I liked working with the tools, growing vegetables and fruit, digging in the dirt. I actually wanted to be a Forrester," he chuckles, "I always liked the outdoors, so I took a different route to pastry than most."

I'll say. You see, Ron was a professional landscape designer who traded in his garden tools for pastry tools. Despite his late arrival, at 31 he went to Germany for training at  Elisabeth-Knipping Schule in Kassel and completed his formal apprenticeship at Café Alheit. There, he learned  all the old world traditions, techniques and the classic practices of the pastry arts.

When Paprocki moved to New York he became head baker and assistant pastry chef at the celebrated Financier Patisserie. With a personality that hungers for new knowledge and challenges, he attended a chocolate sculpture seminar the following year at The French Pastry School under master chocolatier, Jean-Francois Castagne. “Learn everything you can, be exposed to everything you can,” Paprocki advises. “The older you get, the older you get.” Ron's next move was to pastry sous chef in 2005, to help develop and open the Sascha Bakery/Restaurant in the NYC's Meatpacking District. When the opportunity came to join the opening team of Gordon Ramsay at The London NYC in fall 2006, Paprocki jumped at the chance.

In 2010, he was one of the StarChefs.com New York Rising Stars and was the first winner of the StarChefs.com International Pastry Competition that same year. He was named one of the Top 10 Pastry Chefs in America by Dessert Professionals Magazine in 2011. This will be his second Beard appearance alongside Glocker.

I asked both chefs about the marriage of Glocker's entrees and Paprocki's desserts; "What was the process for a tasting like mine, when I asked you to choose the dishes?" and especially, "Is it the same designing a menu for a meal at the Beard house?"

"For me, it's understanding what Markus is doing with the entrees and his flow," replied Paprocki, "then, just  making sure I keep that certain profile. Say if he is serving truffle, I'll eliminate it. Make it a cohesive theme, not oppose what he's doing. Instead, compliment it. That's what, I think, makes good teams," he added, "when the chefs are comfortable with each other they develop a cohesiveness."

"That's right,"  adds Glocker, "but it takes time to develop that. It's a long road to get to that. I think this is where we get to show the most creativity and when the best dishes come out of the kitchen. We get together and say. "Ok, we need some chocolate, some fruit, but, I never really have to worry because I know what Ron' is about and exactly what he can do. It is like a marriage. Then it's easy."

"I definitely think that it's harder to come up with desserts on the fly," explained Paprocki, "especially in a tasting like yours, because certain things in pastry have to be prepared hours and hours in advance; molds, ice cream, cakes. When Pastry gets a request like yours, it's really a quickfire challenge to show yourself, and your staff, what you can do. With the Beard House, we prepare what we're serving well in advance. The same creativity still applies, but it then becomes a matter of execution."

I must digress here and mention that this one of the most immaculate kitchens I have ever seen firsthand. Each station set up perfectly and all stations are working in concert with each other. Room service here, Maze here, the Ramsay dining room here, etc., all the fare in the hotel coming from the well oiled, pristine kitchen. Paprocki put it in perspective, "As Chef de Cuisine, yes, Markus sets a certain standard, but we as chefs are proud of our kitchen and what we do. We all have that standard ourselves and we take pride in keeping our stations clean and where we are and that is reflected in the state of the kitchen." "Well," I interrupted, "it's the cleanest kitchen I've ever seen." He replied, "One of the cleanest in NYC and we take pride in that." Glockus rejoined, "It's important to us. We encourage and welcome tours of the kitchen during service when we can accommodate them. We take pride in the kitchen and that also helps in the way it runs."

It is relationships like this, as much as it is the actual food, that are the reasons for success in some of the best known kitchens in the world. High on my list, is kitchen chemistry and in my humble opinion, it can make or break a restaurant, especially in NYC. Consistency wins the race here and it solidifies your reputation with the city's fine dining crowd.

As for me, I'll have to take the chefs up on their invite to make me my number one dining experience. I admit, sometimes, it is good to be me. Of course with pictures and my writing about it, you'll all be invited along for the ride if not the actual dinner, so stay tuned. Below, is the menu the chefs served at the Beard House Thursday, March, 29th 2012.

~Menu~
The James Beard House, March 29, 2012 
  
Hors d’ oeuvre
~Foie Gras on Brioche with Whipped Sauternes
~Baked Polenta with Black Truffles
~Poached Ocean Trout with Yuzu and Blood Oranges
~Rabbit Confit with Brown Butter and Sweet Garlic
~Champagne Paul Goerg 1er Cru Brut Rosé NV

Dinner
Kobe Short Rib Salad with Preserved Red Peppers, Cauliflower Florets, and Arugula Mas De Daumas
 Gassac Blanc 2007
Sautéed Pacific Langoustine with Basil Tortellini and Fennel–Lobster Consommé Val De Sil Sobre
  Lias Godello 2009
Braised Halibut with Charred Leeks, Parsley, Crispy Wild Rice, and Smoked Chicken Jus 
Domaine
 Costal Les Truffières Chablis 2009
Roasted Veal Tenderloin with Horseradish Gnocchi, Sweetbreads, and Savory Broth Bruno Colin 
Vieilles Vignes Chassagne-Montrachet 2006

Dessert
Mango Parfait with Coconut Dacquoise, Passion Fruit Crème, and Compressed Palm Seeds
Andrew Rich Vintner Gewürztraminer Icewine 2008


Here, also, is a bit more info about the restaurant and the hotel.

Fine Dining by Gordon Ramsay

This luxurious fine dining experience, set within The London NYC, artfully serves French inspired cuisine with impeccable sophistication. Consistently awarded two Michelin stars, guests savor the culinary talent of chef de cuisine Markus Glocker complimented by an unprecedented wine list. Offering only forty-five seats, designer David Collins has created the perfect intimate ambiance for any special moment or occasion. Fortunate guests also have preferential access to the inner sanctum of this bustling multi-million dollar kitchen when confirming the exclusive Chef’s Table. This unforgettable backdrop accommodates dinner for up to eight guests for an eight course tasting menu and wine pairing. Gordon Ramsay at the London NYC redefines the ultimate culinary experience.Reservations can be made by Clicking Here, dialing 212-468-8888 or via email.

The dress code for Gordon Ramsay at The London NYC is smart, with jackets preferred for gentlemen, but not required. Please refrain from jeans and tennis shoes. 

About The London NYC
Boundless service, luxury amenities
Experience an unrivaled concept of luxury at The London NYC. Providing unique services and amenities that anticipate every need, our luxury hotel is the ideal place to stay in Midtown Manhattan. Relax in the epitome of comfort in their spacious suite accommodations. Dine on sumptuous cuisine from the renowned culinary team of Gordon Ramsay. Indulge in the exquisite features of the midtown property and explore all that this dynamic city has to offer.

A unique blend of sophisticated style and incomparable energy, The London Hotels are wholly original and effortlessly livable. The London Hotel NYC  is heralding a new era in cosmopolitan hotels – where comfort and glamour seamlessly unite. The hotel in Midtown Manhattan (151 W. 54th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues) is at the center of New York’s cosmopolitan hub – just steps away from Fifth Avenue shops, MOMA, Broadway Shows and Central Park. The London NYC affords rare and stirring vista views of Central Park and the city skyline. Gordon Ramsay’s team manages all culinary options onsite from restaurant to room, including the two Michelin starred restaurant Gordon Ramsay at The London NYC , MAZE by Gordon Ramsay, the exclusive Chef’s Table and The London Bar. The London NYC is recognized as one of Travel + Leisure Magazine's 2011 World's Best Hotels. For more information on The London NYC, click their name.

Bon Appetit, 

Lou
All photos courtesy of The London NYC, Gordon Ramsay at the London NYC

March 25, 2012

Recipe: Red Thai Shrimp w/ Coconut-Lime-Dulce de Leche Dipping Sauce

This dish is so simple and easy to make, yet it's packed with tons of flavor. The use of the heat of the curry vs the savory/sweet dipping sauce is sure to be a winner next time you make this for your friends. Enjoy!

Easy Red Thai Shrimp with Coconut~Lime~Dulce de Leche Dipping Sauce.


  
 The Shrimp
Ingredients
18 (21-25 count) white shrimp
1 Tbsp. grapeseed oil
1 Tbsp Red Thai Curry paste
Red pepper flakes
1/2  tsp lime juice


Dipping Sauce
Ingredients
3 Tbsp. Dulce de leche
1 tsp. lime juice
5 tsp. coconut milk
1 Tbsp. toasted coconut

Method
Clean and de-vein the shrimp removing the shells but leaving on the tails.Whisk together the oil , lime juice and curry paste. Add red pepper flakes to your desired level of heat. Marinade the shrimp for 15-20 minutes. Heat a skillet until very hot. Place the shrimp in the pan making sure to cook 30-45 seconds on each side. Remove. Combine dipping sauce ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly, unti creamy.

To Plate
Stand Shrimp on plate, place dipping sauce in a small bowl or ramekin beside shrimp. Garnish with toasted coconut and a lime wedge or you can use a dish with compartments (pictured is Villeroy & Boch's, New Wave)

 Bon Appetit!

Lou

March 22, 2012

Green Apple Delight


Green Apple Delight

Cinnamon Apple Mousse
Ingredients
1 oz. sugar
2 c cream
4 oz. apple juice
2 oz egg whites
3 oz sugar
3 T cinnamon
3 sheets (2oz) gelatin

Method
Whip together the cream, 1 oz sugar and set aside. Next prepare meringue by whipping together the egg whites and sugar. Melt the gelatin in the apple juice. Add the meringue and cinnamon mixture to the cream. Fill molds and freeze.

Sour Apple Coulis
Ingredients
1/2 c sour apple juice or sour apple liqueur
neon green food coloring




Method
Add 1 drop of food coloring to the apple juice and stir until blended


Apple Gelee with Apple Chunks
Ingredients
1 Granny Smith apple, chopped
1 oz butter
1/3 c sugar
1/2 c sour apple juice or apple liqueur
1/4 oz gelatin

Method
In a medium pan, melt butter and add the chopped apple. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until apple is cooked through but not mushy. Add the sugar and cook an additional 2 minutes. Add the juice and gelatin, mixing until the gelatin dissolves completely. Pour mixture into a square or rectangular mold and place in the refrigerator until set.

Wafer
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Ingredients
1/2 oz butter
1 3/4 oz sugar
1/4 pastry flour
1 oz egg white

Method
In a medium pan, melt the butter. Add, in this order, the sugar, flour and then the egg white, making sure to mix after each ingredient is added. Drop teaspoonfuls of the mixture on a baking sheet or silpat, leaving space as they will spread, between each one. Bake for approximately 5 minutes or until they begin to turn golden. Remove from oven, cool for 2 minutes, then roll into thin tube.

Plating
Unmold the apple mousse and center on plate. Remove the apple gelee and cut into matchsticks. Place the wafer on top of the mousse. Drizzle the coulis around the plate. For additional color add berries.

Though this recipe looks hard, it is actually doable by the at home cook. Just set up your mise en place and go for it. Though I and my chefs, in this case GGM Pastry Chef Paw Mikkelsen, plated this for publication, but you can do this at home. Just be patient, creative and enjoy!

Bon Appetit!

Lou

March 21, 2012

Tequila; A Comprehensive Look...

Now, those who know me are well aware of my love for tequila. I do not drink tequila often, but when out socializing, it is my drink of choice and I probably drink it more than most. That is, of course, unless you are still in Mr. or Ms. Party Mode and are the "Hey let's do shots!" type. Been there...done that. You'll get over it. Fortunately for me, I have developed a resistance to tequila's inebriation effects and seem to be able to consume it without damaging brain cells. Well, ok, that is at least a factual statement ever since I decided to start acting like a grown up in public. Look, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

At this stage in my life I have become a fan of the taste of tequila and the only true way (for me) to enjoy that aspect of tequila is to sip it, in the same way one might sip a brandy, or a cognac. Shots, on the other hand are for enjoying the effects of tequila. Far be it from me to tell you what you should or should not derive from your personal interaction with this ancient elixir. To each his own. If you see me out, please don't challenge me to a shot contest. I said, "acting like a grown up, it doesn't mean I am one.

Whatever your fascination with tequila, I will explore every angle, from the agave plant, its history, cultivation and processing, all the way through to the finished distilled product. I will even give you step by step instructions on doing your own tequila tasting. Tomas Estes suggests that a champagne flute or any wine glass that is closed ended, or fluted at the top, will work. Not a shot glass!!! So without further ado, let's begin.

Agave
Say the word agave and most people automatically think, tequila. While technically correct, there are actually three distinct types of a plant named agave. The most familiar to all is the acclaimed Agave Azul, or Blue Agave, which, yes folks, indeed makes tequila and is the variety we will be focusing on today.

Chiefly Mexican, agaves occur also in the southern and western United States and in central and tropical South America. The plants have a large rosette of thick fleshy leaves, each ending generally in a sharp point and with a spiny margin; the stout stem is usually short, the leaves apparently springing from the root. Along with plants from the related genus Yucca, various agave species are popular ornamental plants. Each rosette is monocarpic and grows slowly to flower only once. During flowering, a tall stem or "mast" grows from the center of the leaf rosette and bears a large number of short tubular flowers. After development of fruit the original plant dies, but suckers are frequently produced from the base of the stem which become new plants (pups). It is a common misconception that agaves are cacti. They are actually closely related to the lily and amaryllis families, and are not related to cacti at all.

The agave plant plays a much larger role than just being the source of an alcoholic drink. Its leaves are harvested for a hemp-like fiber that is used for mats, clothing, rope and paper. It was also the source of the nutrient and vitamin rich brew, pulque. The plant was aptly described as "el arbol de las maravillas" - the tree of marvels - in a 1596 history of the Indians of Central America. The agave plant has been part of human culture almost since the continent was first colonized and is still used for its fiber. Human remains dating back at least 9,000 years (some ethnobotanists say 11,000) show the early uses of agave. Here is a brief snapshot of three types so you can amaze your friends with your knowledge of obscure facts.

Agave Americana
One of the most familiar species is Agave Americana, a native of tropical America. Common names include Century Plant, Maguey (in Mexico), or American Aloe (it is not, however, related to the genus Aloe). The name "Century Plant" refers to the long time the plant takes to flower, although the number of years before flowering occurs depends on the vigor of the individual plant, as well as the richness of the soil and climate. During these years the plant is storing in its fleshy leaves the nourishment it will need for the effort of flowering.

Agave Attenuata
A native of central Mexico, it is uncommon in its natural habitat. Unlike most species of agave, it has a a curved flower spike from which it derives one of its numerous common names - the Foxtail Agave. It is also commonly grown as a garden plant. Unlike many agaves, it has no teeth or terminal spines making it an ideal plant for areas adjacent to footpaths. Like all agaves it is a succulent and requires little water or maintenance once established.

Agave Azul
It has a lifespan of 8-14 years, depending on soil, climate and cultivation methods, and will be harvested at between 8 and 10 years.That's about 3,000 days before the harvest, a long time to wait. A farmer who plants a one-year-old shoot (hijuelo) today, in 2012, won't even harvest it for tequila until at least 2021, and maybe as late as 2022. Then, if it's aged at all, it could take another one to five years before it appears on the shelf - 2023 to 2027. An agave is a one-time use. It's not like a grape where you can plant a vine and have grapes every year. Archeologists say agaves have been cultivated for at least 9,000 years, and used as food for even longer.

The tequila agave grows natively in Jalisco, favoring the high altitudes and sandy soil. Commercial and wild agaves have very different life cycles. Both start as a large succulent, with spiky fleshy leaves, which can grow to over 6 feet to 7 feet in length. Wild agaves sprout a shoot when about five years old which grows into a stem up to 13 ft. and is topped with yellow flowers.

The flowers are pollinated by a native bat (Leptonycteris nivalis) and produce several thousand seeds per plant. The plant then dies. The shoots are removed when about a year old from commercial plants to allow the heart to grow larger. The plants are then reproduced by planting these shoots; this has led to a considerable loss of genetic diversity in cultivated blue agave. It is rare for one kept as a houseplant to flower; nevertheless, a fifty year old blue agave in Boston grew a 30 ft. stalk, requiring a hole in the greenhouse roof and it flowered sometime during the summer of 2006.

Tequila is produced by removing the heart of the plant in its twelfth year, normally weighing between 77–198 lb. This heart is stripped of leaves and heated to remove the sap, which is fermented and distilled. Other beverages like mezcal and pulque are also produced from blue and other agaves by different methods (though still using the sap) and are regarded as more traditional.

Over 200 million blue agave plants are grown in several regions of Mexico, but in recent years the ability of farmers to meet demand has been in question. Through poor breeding practices, blue agave has lost resistance to fusarium fungus and several other diseases which currently render 25%-30% of the plants unusable for consumption. Researchers from Mexico's University of Guadalajara believe blue agave contains compounds that may be useful in carrying drugs to the intestines to treat diseases such as Crohn's disease and colitis.

Important fact: When dealing with agave it is important to remember that the juice from many species of agave can cause acute contact dermatitis. It will produce reddening and blistering lasting one to two weeks. Episodes of itching may recur up to a year thereafter, even though there is no longer a visible rash. Irritation is, in part, caused by calcium oxalate raphides. Dried parts of the plants can be handled with bare hands with little or no effect. If the skin is pierced deeply enough by the needle-like ends of the leaf from a vigorously growing plant, this can also cause blood vessels in the surrounding area to erupt and an area some 63-64 inches across can appear to be bruised. This may last up to two to three weeks. And you thought Agave just hurt you when you drank too much of it. Ha!

Tequila

History
Tequila was first produced in the 16th century near the location of the city of Tequila, although the city was not officially established until 1656. The Aztec people had previously made a fermented beverage from the agave plant, which they called octli (also called pulque), long before the Spanish arrived in 1521. When the Spanish conquistadors ran out of their own brandy, they began to distill this agave drink to produce North America's first indigenous distilled spirit.

Some 80 years later, around 1600, Don Pedro Sánchez de Tagle, the Marquis of Altamira, began mass-producing tequila at the first factory in the territory of modern-day Jalisco. By 1608, the colonial governor of Nueva Galicia had begun to tax his products.The tequila that is popular today was first mass-produced in the early 1800s in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Don Cenobio Sauza, (right) founder of Sauza Tequila and Municipal President of the Village of Tequila from 1884-1885, was the first to export tequila to the United States. Don Cenobio's grandson Don Francisco Javier gained international attention for insisting that "there cannot be tequila where there are no agaves!" His efforts led to the practice that real tequila can only come from the State of Jalisco.

Culture

"Tequila is Mexico," said Carmelita Roman, widow of the late tequila producer Jesus Lopez Roman. "It's the only product that identifies us as a culture."

To understand tequila, you have to first appreciate its importance to the overall culture of Mexico and tequila's place in its history. Say the word tequila and it immediately brings to mind images of Pancho Villa, Cinco de Mayo, men riding the dusty roads of the old 'west' and of brightly-dressed señoritas spinning around the fountains marking the center of most Mexican towns, whirling in traditional dance. But, it also suggests images of pop stars, margaritas and endless parties. For some, as I stated in my introduction, it also conjures up images of lampshades and nights better left conveniently forgotten.

Tequila is not simply a drink, it is a culture, an emblem, and a rallying call for Mexican identity. It is a tradition and heritage. It is about families and feuds, about land, politics, and it is an economic force. For all the marketing and the hype, the advertising and the promotion, tequila still retains its magic after its 400-plus year journey to get to this point.

The primary location for Tequila production is the Jalisco state around the towns of Tequila and Arandas, using only one species of plant, the blue agave. Tequila is an androgynous word, being written as both el tequila and la tequila in Spanish; masculine and feminine (although the masculine form is more commonly used). Technically, all tequila is a mezcal, as are all agave spirits, but like cognac is a brandy from a specific region of France, tequila is a mezcal from a specific region of Mexico.

In Tequila: Panegyric and Emblem, the Mexican poet Alvaro Mutis wrote: "Tequila has no history; there are no anecdotes confirming its birth. This is how it’s been since the beginning of time, for tequila is a gift from the gods and they don’t tend to offer fables when bestowing favors. That is the job of mortals, the children of panic and tradition." (issue 27, Artes de México Magazine.)

 Mezcal wine, tequila's grandparent, was first produced only a few decades after the conquest that brought the Spaniards to the New World in 1521. No one has ever come up with an exact date, but it was likely around 1535. It was variously called mezcal brandy, agave wine, mezcal tequila and finally, after a couple of centuries, one variety was simply called tequila.

The word tequila itself is also filled with mystery. It is said to be an ancient Nahuatl term. The Nahuatl were the original people who lived in the area. The word means (depending on the authority) "the place of harvesting plants," "the place of wild herbs," "place where they cut," "the place of work" or even "the place of tricks." According to Jose Maria, tequila comes form the Nahuatl words tequitl (work, duty, job or task) and tlan (place). Other sources say it means "the rock that cuts," most likely a reference to the volcanic obsidian that is common in the area. Obsidian was important for natives in making arrowheads, axes, cutting and scraping tools. It litters many fields and has even been incorporated into sidewalks in the town of Tequila. Cascahuin says the word is a corruption of "tetilla" because the volcano looked like a woman's small breast (somewhat dubious if you've seen the volcano)

The agave is planted, tended, and harvested by hand. The men who harvest it, the Jimadors, contain generations of knowledge about the plants and the ways in which they need to be harvested. The Jimadors must be able to work swiftly in the tight rows, pull out the pups without damaging the mother plant, clear the piñas (Spanish word for pineapple), and decide when and if each plant is ready to be harvested. Too soon and there are not enough sugars, too late and the plant will have used its sugars to grow a quiote 20-40 foot high stem or it will start to rot. The piñas, weighing 40 to 70 pounds, are cut away with a special knife called a
coa. They are then shredded, their juices pressed out and put into fermentation tanks and vats. Some tequila companies still use the traditional method (artisan tequila) in which the piñas are crushed with a stone wheel. The final process is to add a yeast to the vats to convert the sugars into alcohol. Each company keeps their own yeast a tight secret.

There is a clear difference in taste between tequila that is made from lowland or highland agave plants. Agave plants that are grown in the highlands often have more fruit tastes due to the growing process. The plants are grown on the western side of the hills, allowing the plants to receive the most amount of sunlight throughout the day. These plants are taller, wider, and juicier. Agave that are grown in the lowlands have more earth tastes, and are typically on the smaller side.

It takes at least eight years to make a bottle of tequila, sometimes as long as 20. That's because tequila is not made from the typical grains or fruits most alcoholic beverages are made from. It is distilled from the roasted center (piña) of the blue agave (maguey) plant - the agave tequilana weber azul - one of 136 species of agave that grow in Mexico. Imagine having to plan - and budget - for a product you won't see for perhaps another decade. Imagine having to care for and nurture those agaves from their planting to their harvesting, many years later, without knowing how the market will unfold in the interim, but still having to hire farm workers to weed, prune and maintain the fields.

A one-liter bottle of limited-edition premium tequila was sold for $225,000 in July 2006 in Tequila, Jalisco, by the company Tequila Ley .925. The bottle which contains the tequila is a two-kilo display of platinum and gold. The manufacturer has received the Certificate from Guinness World Records for the most expensive bottle of spirit ever sold. While the bottle is impressive, my immediate thoughts were, "How does the tequila taste?" I'll use our favorite restaurant line here and embellish, "You can't eat the decor, nor can a fancy bottle make its contents quality."


In 2008, Mexican scientists discovered a method to transform 80 proof tequila into diamonds. This process involves heating the tequila to over 1,400 degrees F to vaporize the tequila. The tequila particles are cooled, and settle upon steel or silicon trays in an even, pure layer. The results are hoped to have numerous commercial and industrial applications, but are far too small for use in jewelry.

It is also a common misconception that all tequilas contain a 'worm' in the bottle. Only certain mezcals, usually from the state of Oaxaca, are ever sold con gusano. Renown tequila expert Tomas Estes suggests that the practice may have first been practiced as a way for tequila makers to show the quality and proof of their product, in that a larvae could be sustained by the proper alcohol content. Recent use of this practice probably began, or was resumed, as a marketing gimmick in the 1940s. The worm is actually the larval form of the moth Hypopta agavis that lives on the agave plant. Finding one in the plant during processing indicates an infestation and, correspondingly, probably a lower quality product.

Types of Tequila

Blanco (white) or plata (silver): White spirit, un-aged and bottled or stored immediately after distillation, or aged less than two months in oak barrels;

Joven (young) or oro (gold): Un-aged "blanco" tequila, blended with rested or aged tequilas, and often with caramel coloring, sugar-based syrup, glycerin, and/or oak extract added so as to resemble aged tequila;

Reposado (rested): Aged a minimum of two months, but less than a year in oak barrels; Reposado may be rested in barrels or casks allowing for richer and more complex flavors. The preferred oak comes from the US, France or Canada, and while they are usually white oak, some companies choose to char the wood for a smokey flavor, or use barrels that were previously used to hold a different kind of alcohol ( i.e. whiskey, scotch, or wine in the case of Asombroso). Some reposados can also be aged in new wood barrels to achieve the same wood flavor and smoothness, but in less time.

Añejo (aged or vintage): Aged a minimum of one year, but less than 3 years, in oak barrels; Añejos are often rested in barrels that have been previously used to rest reposados. Many of the barrels used are from whiskey or bourbon distilleries in the US, France, or Canada (the most popular being Jack Daniels), resulting in the dark color and more complex flavors of the añejo tequila. Since most people agree that after 4 years of aging the tequila is at its best, the añejo can be removed from the wood barrels and placed in stainless steel tanks to reduce the amount of evaporation that can occur in the barrels.

Extra Añejo (extra aged or ultra aged): Aged a minimum of three years in oak barrels. This category was established in March 2006.

Drinking Tequila

When I drink tequila, I no longer do shots. I also do not add salt or lime. I began drinking silver (plata), but since its introduction in 2006, Extra Añejo (extra aged) has been my tequila of choice, though I still enjoy plata, as it is the most bold of all tequila types in its pure agavaceousness. As I have matured, my palate has changed and while many can tell stories of my days as a musician accompanied by wild nights and yes, shots, my consumption of this fine spirit has become a bit more refined.

In Mexico, tequila is drunk straight, without salt and lime. Yes, that's right, lime. It is popular in some regions to drink fine tequila with a side of sangrita—a sweet, sour and spicy drink typically made from orange juice, grenadine (or tomato juice) and hot chilies. Equal-sized shots of tequila and sangrita are sipped alternately, without salt or lime.

Outside Mexico, a single shot of tequila is often served with salt and a slice of lime. This is called "tequila cruda" and is sometimes referred to as "training wheels," "lick-sip-suck," or "lick-shoot-suck" (referring to the way in which the combination of ingredients is imbibed). The drinker moistens the back of their hand below the index finger (usually by licking) and pours on the salt. Then the salt is licked off the hand, the tequila is then drunk and the fruit slice is quickly bitten. It is common for groups of drinkers to do this simultaneously. Drinking tequila in this way is often erroneously called a Tequila Slammer, but this is a mixed tequila and carbonated drink.

Though the traditional Mexican shot is straight tequila, lime is the fruit of choice when a chaser must be used. It is believed that the salt lessens the "burn" of the tequila and the sour fruit balances and enhances the flavor. In Germany and some other countries, tequila oro (gold) is often consumed with cinnamon before and slices of orange after, while tequila blanco (silver in Europe) is consumed with salt and lime. It should be noted that drinking higher-quality, 100% agave tequila with salt and lime is likely to remove much of the flavor.

What's that you say? You thought tequila shots were done with lemon? Unfortunately, we have a habit here in America of bastardizing anything we think we like, and the lime tradition with regard to tequila is no exception. When your taste buds grow up and you begin to drink it properly...all will be forgotten and forgiven.

A Tequila Tasting

Most would not realize a tasting of tequila in the same way as we taste wines, but in fact that is exactly the process and tradition I will now explain here. It is truly the only way to know if you are dealing with a quality product.

Tips for selecting a quality tequila

The first and most important rule is to analyze the label carefully to make sure that what you will taste or purchase is real tequila. This comment is meant to point out the fact that recently, store shelves have been stocked with products that can confuse consumers. Some producers have started bottling distilled beverages made of different types of agave, cultivated in areas outside the Appellation of Origin, Tequila. They normally use attractive bottles and labels that, by their shapes and tones, suggest that what they contain is tequila. For this reason, when purchasing take into account the following:
  • The word tequila should clearly stand out.
  • Make sure that the NOM (Official Mexican Standard) and CRT (Tequila Regulatory Council) are printed on the label. This guarantees the certification of these institutions.
  • For the tequilas that have been produced with only Tequilana Weber Blue Agave sugars, the description 100% Agave must be printed. When this description does not appear, assume it is a tequila that guarantees that at least 51% of its composition was processed with sugars from Tequilana Weber Blue Agave.
Select a type of Tequila according to your personal liking: silver, gold, aged or extra-aged. These descriptions should be clearly printed on the label.

Be skeptical of the products that contain descriptions such as: 100% agave distilled, 100% natural, distilled of agave, etc. With this we do not mean to insinuate that they are products of bad quality, simply that they are not pure tequilas. Once you have ensured the recommendations mentioned above and selected your preferred brand and type of tequila, it is time for the tasting, so you can enjoy it with all your senses.

Note: Try not to experiment with distilled products other than tequila when your are living this experience. For the moment, concentrate on the tequila you have selected; taste it, appreciate it, indulge in it, but above all, consider the effects of the following day. Always try to drink only the good tequila that you find on your way, but never allow tequila to drink you.

Visual Test.

Tilt the glass forward with a white tablecloth as background and observe the color of the aged and extra-aged tequilas. In most cases, silver tequilas, with some exceptions, are crystal clear. Aged tequilas have a coloring that is a hay yellow with different intensities and their sparkles or glitters are gold. Extra-aged tequilas tend to have an amber color with different intensities and with copper sparkles.

At eye level, observe the brilliance, transparency and limpidness. Now gently swirl the glass and observe how it spreads on the walls of the glass, indicating the body of the tequila. From the top of the spreaded surface, a few drops should start to slowly slide down, indicating the quality of the body.

Olfactory Test

Draw your nose to the glass and inhale deeply, to perceive the primary aromas. Then, rotate the glass and sniff again to appreciate the secondary scents that are released after the the movement.

Considering the subtleness of the sense of smell, which according to the limits of each person allows us to identify known and unknown odors, we can appreciate the harmony and balance that tequila presents in its wide array of scents. The most common aromas are:
  • Silver Tequila: Herbal, citric, agavaceous, fresh fruit and floral
  • Aged Tequila: Agavaceous, ripe fruit, wood and spices
  • Extra-aged Tequila: Dried fruit, wood, honey, vanilla, olives and spices
Taste Test

When we refer to the term taste, not just as it applies to tequila, but also with regard to anything we taste, we should consider that only four basic flavors exist and can be detected by our taste buds.

Sweet on the tip of our tongue, salty on the lower sides; acid or sour on the upper sides and bitter in the back part. Besides these four flavors, we sense stimuli on the algid or tactile, parts of the mouth, which are stimulated by sensations of heat, cold, astringent and burning (like alcohol).

What is important in this case is to sense good harmony of the components and an acceptable aftertaste with prolonged and pleasant persistence. Sip a small amount of tequila, swish and retain in your mouth for a few seconds and expel (just like wine). With your mouth closed, exhale the air through the nose and you will still sense the aromas with a few changes caused by the chemistry of the inside of your mouth.

Tequila Pairing

Maridaje: The term maridaje, may refer to two things:
  1. In production processes, it is the art of mixing or marrying tequilas of different barrels and different ages, to grant the tequila specific character which, at the same time, will appeal to consumers.
  2.  When enjoying tequila with foods, it refers to the appreciation of the different flavors that various dishes offer when combining them with different types of tequila.
Strong flavors, which are especially hot and spicy in Mexican cuisine, should be accompanied by a fine, silver 100% agave tequila. When flavors are more mellow, gold/oro, 100% agave tequilas are our suggestion.

In the case of extra-aged tequilas, these are best when accompanying fine beef cuts, or strong earthy flavors, such as lamb, boar, etc. It is especially good as a digestive, at the end of a delicious meal accompanied by an Espresso, or a fine cigar if that is your preference. The best way to match a tequila with a certain dish is to trial test, memorizing those tequila types and brands which most appeal to your senses. It is convenient to follow the recommendations of the experts, but no one knows your likes and preferences better than you do. If you fully enjoy your tequila during the tasting and the following day you wake up optimistic and willing to repeat your selection, then you can be sure it was the appropriate choice.

Do not forget that when drinking an alcoholic beverage, it is advisable to moderate the intake, so that you may better enjoy it and also have a better chance of remembering it the next day as well...!

I hope you have enjoyed this quite thorough look at Tequila. With the list of new high-end varieties, drinking tequila has grown up from an adolescent repast to get us all snockered, into a refined mature adult worthy of our attention and respect.

As always, Bon Appetit!

Lou

Sources:  Juan Gnecco / FreeDigitalPhotos.net Wikpedia; National Chamber of the Tequila Industry, Tomas Estes