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:
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)

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:
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,


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,


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

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

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

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!


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 New York Rising Stars and was the first winner of the 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.

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

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 
 Costal Les Truffières Chablis 2009
Roasted Veal Tenderloin with Horseradish Gnocchi, Sweetbreads, and Savory Broth Bruno Colin 
Vieilles Vignes Chassagne-Montrachet 2006

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, 

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

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!


March 22, 2012

Green Apple Delight

Green Apple Delight

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

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
1/2 c sour apple juice or sour apple liqueur
neon green food coloring

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

Apple Gelee with Apple Chunks
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

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.

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

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.

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!


March 20, 2012

Bruce Cohn, founder and proprietor of B.R. Cohn Winery

Bruce Cohn, founder and proprietor of B.R. Cohn Winery, has embraced a lifelong passion for Northern California’s wine country and its bounty. An equally strong passion for music led to a parallel career in the music industry as the manager for one of rock ‘n’ roll’s perennially favorite American bands, The Doobie Brothers. His down-to-earth attitude, focus and dedication coupled with the fact that he is a truly 'nice guy' have made both careers flourishing successes to this day.

Serendipity? The right place at the right time? You bet! All of the above! Yet talk with Bruce and he'll tell you it has been and continues to be no small task. His spotting the opportunities that came his way, capitalizing on them and maintaining the level of quality and performance that he espouses for himself did not just fall in his lap and he has worked hard. It's hard to believe that he has served as band manger for the Doobies for 42+ years, and though most wine enthusiasts now know about his award winning wines, many would be surprised to realize that he has has owned Olive Hill Estate Vineyards and has been producing quality grapes for almost 37 years. This is a man who, unheard of in the music industry, started a pension plan for he and the members of the Doobie Brothers as they rose to success in the late 70's. Such is the foresight of this enigmatic man.

Bruce’s roots in Sonoma County agriculture run deep. He became familiar with ranch and vineyard operations at an early age, when his family left Chicago for Sonoma’s Russian River Valley to open Northern California’s first grade-A goat dairy farm.

When Bruce was 10 years old, he spent his free time milking goats, picking grapes and playing in old wine vats. Another move to San Francisco during high school exposed Bruce to the vibrant Bay Area music scene of the 1960s. After graduating from high school, Bruce went on to the College of San Mateo, majoring in broadcasting & communications. He later finished his studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Bruce returned to San Francisco in 1968 for a job working nights as a television engineer for two years while running a music rehearsal studio by day. In 1969, Bruce began managing the then local band, The Doobie Brothers, and the rest, as they say, is history. Bruce continues to manage the now-legendary band to this day.

Entertainment world success notwithstanding, Bruce was eventually drawn back to the beauty of wine country. To keep some sanity and preserve quality of life, he purchased an old dairy in Glen Ellen in 1974 that evolved into Olive Hill Estate Vineyard, so-named for the property’s grove of 140-year-old French Picholine olive trees. Bruce purchased books on viticulture and read them during long periods of traveling with the band. He soon became intensely involved with all aspects of growing grapes, from planting and pruning to grafting and trellising techniques. A decade after taking ownership of the land and having great success selling grapes to other wineries, Bruce started B.R. Cohn Winery at Olive Hill in 1984.

Bruce and his family live in the Sonoma Valley where he runs both the winery and his music business from the property. He has made the Olive Hill Estate Vineyard a true family wine estate. 

The Interview

Lou: You grew up on a dairy farm.

Bruce: A goat dairy, which was a little different than most dairies in Sonoma County. We had the first, grade A, goat dairy in this area in 1957. We made feta goat's cheese in those days which nobody even knew about, pretty much.

You were way ahead of the curve.

My parents were way ahead of the curve. So, I milked goats from 3:30 in the morning to 4:30 in the afternoon, seven days a week most of my childhood. We milked 115 of them by hand. It was quite a work ethic learned.

Quite an upbringing. Looking at some of the things you've done in your career, foresight seems to run in the family. Your mom and dad with goat cheese, you with other things you've done with food, wine and music. I understand that when you were growing up you wanted to be a veterinarian.

My first love was working with animals and from childhood that was my goal, to be a veterinarian, but it didn't pan out. My entrance to UC Davis, here in California, was very stringent and in those days they only took 27 applicants a year from the whole state. It was very difficult to get in. You had to have a stellar 4.0 grade-point to get in and I didn't, of course. (Laughter) We moved back to San Francisco, and my folks were both musicians....

So music has always been the backstage of your life....

They met singing in Chicago professionally, before we moved to California. My dad sang Italian arias and he went to Julliard School of Music.

Being artists they went to California and of course the logical thing would be: a goat farm.

(Laughing) Basically, their son, my brother, had really bad asthma and they moved to California, San Francisco specifically, because the doctor said it was better for asthmatics, lower pollen count. That's how we got to the west coast from Chicago. It was a fluke that my dad bought this ranch in the Russian River Valley in 1957 and we ended up there. We moved back to San Francisco after some time here (he's currently in the Valley) ranching. I got involved after getting a degree in radio and television. I went to work in college in a TV station.

Your brother was running a rehearsal studio at the time, correct?

We both ran a rehearsal studio, but my brother worked as an engineer at a recording studio, and I met the Doobie Brothers where he was recording in San Mateo, California. I just happened to be down there one day, I worked the swing shift at the TV station, 4 to midnight. I worked the rehearsal hall and the TV station at night. One day I went down to the studio and the drummer and the lead guitar player happened to be there looking for a record deal. They wanted somebody to find them a record contract.

We understand they were dressed more appropriately for the Hells' Angels.

Well, they looked like bikers for sure. They hung out with the Hells' Angels. The Doobie Brothers were the Hells' Angels' favorite band in the South Bay and Santa Fe area at that time. They played clubs all over the place and we ended up getting a record deal.

You got them heard at a pizzeria gig.

Yeah, Ricardo's Pizza Parlor. They were discovered by a Warner Brothers' talent scout. He went back to Warner and told them to sign them up. We got a record contract from that pizza parlor date.

That turned into a very interesting tour, The Mothers' Brothers Tour?

That was the time of Rowan & Martin and Laugh-In shows. It was kind of a take off on a spoof of the Mothers Brothers.....

It didn't do to well.

It was a total disaster. By the time that we got off the road, the CD they had put out, well LP back in those days, vinyl, was in the recycle bin at Tower Records. We were back in the clubs and I was collecting guns and knives from the Hells Angels and trying to get two bucks out of them per show.

All this while you still have a love of food.

Basically I had a love of music and a love of eating. I loved to eat and I still do. We went to a lot of great restaurants in Chicago when I was a little guy. Food was always the main focus for our family. The wine kind of came from left field. When the Doobie Brothers hit on the second LP,Toulou Street, we went from 8,000 copies of sales on the first LP to 2.7 million on the second one, and that changed our lives drastically, as you can imagine.
150 cities a year internationally all over the world all of sudden and I was on the road managing them and mixing their sound for seven years.

So you had a dual role. Did you have a family at this point?

I had four children and the reason I bought the ranch, which I named Olive Hill....

In '74 correct?

Yeah, right after the Doobies hit in '72, I started looking to move back up into the wine country where I was raised on the dairy.

Just to keep a level head because it is a crazy business. I'm an ex-musician myself, not to the level we're talking here, in terms of the tours.

You know how hard it is to be on the road, do 150 cities....

...and have a family life...

...yes and keep a family. I wanted to raise a family out in the country where I was raised. I spent good time with them. I had an office in my home, so when I was home, I was with family a lot. When I was gone though, I was gone. We had long tours in those days, we don't do that any more, they're down to 80 shows a year and we break it up to two weeks segments as much as possible. Those days we could be out 5,6,7 weeks at a time.

That can take its toll. I do understand.

Very difficult. I bought the ranch to chill out and rejuvenate myself from touring.

Speaking of foresight when we started talking, was wine in your vision at that point? I understand one of the things about the ranch that was attractive to you were the Picholene trees.

What happened when I bought this property, it was 46 acres and was a dairy. It had an olive grove planted around the dairy buildings, prior to the dairy buildings when the home was built in 1920. The trees were planted in 1870 and are 140 years old. When I bought property they were about 100 years old. We didn't really do anything with the olives, we ignored them. The dairy had been closed and the owner had started to plant grapes instead of hay. There were 14 acres of grapes on the 46 acres, so I inherited a vineyard when I purchased it, but I didn't know anything about the vineyard. I had picked grapes growing up out in the Russian River Valley.

I understand you started a study course for yourself on the road.

I started by doing it. I had started a pension plan and profit sharing plan for the band in 1974.

Which was unheard of at that time.

It's not part of rock-n-roll to have a pension plan. I had grown up with the guys in Santana and some of the other bands around the Bay Area, and they had great careers and sold millions of records and ended up broke because they didn't' have good management and they didn't save their money. I didn't want that to happen to The Doobies and myself, because we are all equal partners, and I wanted us all to come out with something at the end. I didn't know it was going to go 39 years.

That's a great pension plan.

I was preparing for the worst, hoping for the best. The administrator of the pension plan happened to be a wine collector. In those days, when I started, there were only about 35 wineries in northern California and they were mostly jug wines like Inglenook, Christian Brothers and Sebstiani.

Somewhere along here you met Charlie Wagner.

The pension plan administrator, Stan Bernie, took me and introduced me to him. Stan was collecting wines, even back in 1974, and Charlie had grown up with his father farming grapes in Napa Valley. Stan asked him if he would help me. Charlie was kind of a redneck farmer. I had hair out to my shoulders.

You were a rock-n-roller

(chuckles) Yeah, snakeskin pants and leather boots. I didn't look like a farmer, I can tell you that. I talked to him and told him I was raised on a dairy and was in Future Farmers of America and all that stuff. He said if you're a friend of Stan's I'll help you. We ended up hitting it off and Charlie ended up mentoring me for four years. It was really invaluable to have that mentoring from a guy that had been in it (wine) all his life.

You already had a history with 'working with the dirt/land'. Did he work with you out in the field, looking at the grapes?

That's what he did. He taught root stocks, cloning, how to graft, trellising techniques, how to do irrigation, which was new at that time. I took those things home, and when I was planting vineyards, and fixing up vineyards I had that weren't in good shape, I used what he told me. It really helped me. I read books as well, Winkler's book on viticulture for instance. ("General Viticulture" by A. J. Winkler). When the band found out, they were just shaking their heads saying, "What are you doing reading viticulture books?"
I explained that I had this vineyard on my property and the pictures in the book didn't look like my vineyard. I was trying to figure out what was wrong. I educated myself through Charlie's help and ended up now, knowing a lot about vineyards. You can't make good wine unless you have good grapes. I don't care how good your winemaker is and what the reputation is, I've had Helen Turley and Mary Edwards....

Well, let's stop here a minute before we get ahead of ourselves. I have a little anecdote, something a little bird whispered in my ear and I want to talk to you about it with regard to grapes. You originally started growing grapes and selling them to other vineyards?

Yes, my first contract was with August Sebstiani, because he was the big buyer in Sonoma and bought most all the grapes.

What kind of grapes were you primarily planting at that time?

I had inherited some Cabernet and some Pinot Noir, 14 acres worth.

Which turned out to be very, very good grapes.

The cab did, the pinot was not. It was not a good climate. I'm in a little town called Glen Ellen, and where we are is a very unique, very small micro-climate in the valley.

Let's put that aside for a minute, we'll get back to the climate. You were growing grapes and selling to Sebastiani, however, I was told I needed to speak with you about "late night, bumpy roads, smuggling grapes past August."

(He is laughing quite a bit here.) Wow, I don't know where you are getting all this info....

I've been accused of doing our homework...

(chuckles)...Charlie Wagner told me he was upset that August was taking my grapes and throwing them in with all this other stuff he bought from the central valley and making a blended decent wine, but nothing great. He told me I didn't realize the quality of grapes I had. He told me to bring him some grapes and he'd make the wine separate and he'd tell me how good it is. I said,"I think it's good because I keep getting a bonus from August,so it must be good." I told him I'd love to bring him some grapes, except that August, when I harvested, I'm on the highway here between Sonoma and Glen Ellen, would drive up and down the highway and watch the harvesting. Your grapes didn't go to his winery if you took your grapes somewhere else as well. He'd cut you off from your contract and in those days, it was very hard to get grape contracts because there were more grapes then there were wineries. Charlie said, "August is like me, we go to bed at 7 and get up at 4." He said, "You just wait until 8, he'll be in bed and you drive them over, he'll never know. (Laughing)

Were you driving hot-rods at this time still?

I had switched from hot-rods to Harleys.

So basically this was the moonshine of Sonoma County.

Yeah. I had an old '48 Dodge that I used to bring grapes to August with, it held 6 tons, two, 3-ton bins on it. I loaded one with 3 tons of cab and one with 3 tons of pinot and decided to take them over, what we call, The Oakville Grade, which is treacherous even in a Ferrari. It's a mountain road that's a shortcut. If you go around the long way it's a flat road and easy. I was afraid that August might be out, having dinner and he'd see my truck. I ended up burning up the brakes coming down into Oakville. Ending up at Charlie's two hours late, he was upset because he wanted to be in bed. He was waiting in the driveway when I got there and asked "Where the hell have you been?"
I told him I went over the grade and he told me, "You're out of your mind. Look, your brakes are on fire, there's smoke. You go back that way you're going to kill yourself." (Laughing)
I dumped the grapes and went home. He called me about six months later and said, "Bruce, get over here you have to try this wine I made."
So I went over, knowing absolutely nothing about wine. The Doobies and I were drinking mostly Cuervo. We didn't know fine wine, we were drinking Lancers and Matuse. I faked it and told him the wine tasted great. He said it was great, it was the best cab he'd ever had from Sonoma County. He said I was missing the boat and had to get my name on a label. That was in '78.
Six years later after again selling grapes to August, I started selling to Ravenswood and Kenwood and they all start winning gold medals with my grapes. I was taking 'night loads' to them. (More laughing) Olive Hill started showing up on all the vineyard designated wines. Luckily he (August) didn't look at anybody else's winery or he would have known. I was selling him the same amount of grapes, but I was planting more each year.

You have close to 100 acres now?

Now we're at 90 acres. I've bought land over the years and it's all Cabernet. I found out that because of the micro-climate here...

Yes, let's talk about your special micro-climate.

It's what makes us stand apart from the other Cabernet growers in Sonoma. This micro-climate, which is about a half a mile radius around my property is unique.

You have the subterranean springs, correct?

We have geothermal hot-springs under the property which warms the ground and forms a frost-free zone on our property and creates a longer growing season.

You also get less winds because of the mountain break.

Well, we get less fog and more sunlight hours because the Sonoma Mountains are directly behind my property and that backdrop creates more sunlight hours. When the fog circumvents our ranch and goes around into Sonoma and Kenwood up the road, we are sitting in sunlight. We found out recently that our heat grid, which is calculated by different counties and state agencies to make your zones, is almost identical to Charlie Wagner's vineyard in Caymus, a Rutherford Bench. That's why Charlie loved my grapes.  
They were very familiar to him.

The flavor profile and the ripening patterns of my grapes were similar to what happens over there. So we're, hence, a Cabernet producer. When Helen Turley started in 1983....

I was going to bring her up next...

...we started with 93, 94 ratings. We had these great ratings right out of the box and no one in Sonoma was doing that and we rivaled Napa in the consistent Cabernet production.

Your award list is very impressive.

Yes, it is because of this micro-climate, that's what does it.

How did you land Helen?

At the time she was a 'cellar rat' at Bundschu Winery. When I decided to start my winery I called Jim Bundschu's winemaker at the time, Lance Cutler, and told him I wanted to make wine. After we had a discussion about still selling grapes to them, he told me about this girl that was working there in the cellar that wanted to make wine and I could try her out, if she wants to. I had her come over and we struck up a deal and she made my wine for four years and built the little winery that we started with. She put us on the map with Cabernet. She was an excellent winemaker and still is to this day.

Now you have Tom Montgomery.

Mary Edwards came after Helen, she did the 90s B.R. Cohn. Then Steven Croft was here a for a short time and then I brought in Tom, he was a Napa 25 year veteran from Constantino Winery and Conn Creek, he's a really great guy. He's been making our wine now for six years and I think probably the best consistent wines we've had across the board. Between Chardonnay, Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, he makes every variety of wine really well.

Mary Edwards is now specializing in Pinot Noir, Helen makes Chardonnay and I believe Zinfandel. Tom makes everything great, which is very hard to find, a winemaker who knows how to deal with each grape. I'm happy to have Tom here and he's doing a great job.

We buy a lot of grapes now. We have our estate production but that is just a portion of what we make now. We can't grow Chardonnay or Pinot Noir here, it is just too hot, so we have to purchase some of those grapes. He goes out to those growers and works with them proactively.

You've come full circle from the story that we started with. You were just starting to grow some grapes, and planting some and selling them. Now you are the winemaker, purchasing the grapes. It's been an interesting road you've taken.

We went from grower, to winery and now we are purchasing from growers, but I'm still a grower as well.

Through all of this you maintained your tremendous love of food and all things culinary.
You are very exacting in terms of your standards.

My name's on the bottle. I learned a long time ago, that it doesn't feel good when somebody comes up to you on the street and says, "I had your wine and it was really lousy." It doesn't make your day. You know, The Doobie Brothers have been consistently making great music for 39 years. I've been making wine for 34-35 years. I'm trying to do the same thing, make consistently high quality products, whether it is olive oil, wine, vinegars, tapenade. Whatever it is I want it to be as good as it can be.

Let's talk about that a bit. You started with your wine and the focus has been on B.R. Cohn Wines. As a food, wine and lifestyle magazine, we feel you encompass all those things. Lifestyle being the music that you bring to the world. The food end, you have started to expand that quite a bit. You've been working on it for a long time, it's not something new to you. You discovered that those olive trees you have are pretty special.

We ignored them for many, many years because we were so busy with the band and the winery. Ironically, as things happened to me, a lot of my life has not been planned.

It just happens to you.

It's kind of like John Lennon said, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." So life is what is happening to me. These opportunities arise and I have been able to take advantage of it, work hard and make something out of it.

That says a lot about your character and getting behind who you are and the things that you do. Getting back to the family side, do you still live on property?

Yes. I live here and my four kids live and work here as well.

You've kept yourself surrounded and grounded by family and people who live their lives based upon good values. Most people associate rock n roll with a wild lifestyle, but usually good things come to good people. I would have to assume that you've been doing the right thing by the people that surround you, as it is evidenced by what God has put around you.

I've worked very hard, we've had some very hard times. Starting a winery is not a cakewalk. It is very difficult, very cash intensive. It's still hugely expensive to be in this business. You have to cellar wines for 3 years before you can sell them. That's unbelievable when you have millions of dollars tied up in inventory.

I say I'm an overnight success and it only took 34 years. It looks great from the outside and it is a great lifestyle. I have to say, knock on wood, I can live this life and eat good food and drink good wine and hear good music. But, it's not that easy. You have to work hard at it like anything else.

I'm a firm believer and say it often, "Life is 10 percent what it gives you and 90 percent what you do with it." The onus being that..the 90 percent is on you to get it done.

We've done a lot of charity and I try to become part of the community. Because I was absent so much, on the road with the bands I managed, I was not involved with the community as much as I would like to have been. So for the last 23 years I've done this concert to support local charities, which is my way of giving back to the community that I live in.

Let's talk about the olive oil and then talk more about your charitable endeavors.

I got an ultimatum from my now ex-wife. Pick up the olives, because the kids were tracking in all these stains on the carpet in the house, or buy her new carpet. I didn't want to buy her new carpet, so I picked up the olives and sent them to a friend of mine in Modesta, California, who was the only one producing extra virgin olive oil in California 1990.
They pressed my olives, very similar story to Charlie Wagner's in Caymus, called me and said "This is special olive oil. This is French Picholene olives, which we hardly ever see in California." California grows Spanish or Italian varieties, they were planted here when the missionaries came in or by the Italian immigrants.
It was a fluke that I have 8 acres of French Picholene olives planted here. It turned out to be very rare. We bottled it and it was a big hit. We put it out and it got number one in the country. No one was making estate grown virgin olive oil in California, I was the first.

You are expanding that into other products now, correct?

We make three tapenades, three mustards, three herb and spice rubs. Food stores want more than one of each. We are doing 3 different flavor profiles of each. We're making chocolate sauces with Merlot, Cabernet and chardonnay.

Your vinegars are very unique, you do them 'Orleans' style.

No one does that anymore. Everything is commercially made in large quantities. We make classic vinegars, we ship French oak barrels down to our maker, and they take Cabernet, Chardonnay and Champagne, and they make these great handcrafted vinegars for us. No one is doing that either, it is very rare. We came out with raspberry champagne vinegar, pear vinegar, Cabernet vinegars.

You are a busy guy.

I like food and do a lot of wine dinners. To me wine is to be paired with food. B.R.Cohn wines are 80% in restaurants and 20% in stores. We are mostly a restaurant wine and we craft them to be paired with foods. I also add, "or television if you like to have a glass with television" (laughing.) We try to make them accessible. Soft tannins and fruit forward wines that make them really great whether you pop a cork in a restaurant or at home, so you can drink it right away with your dinner. You don't have to cellar it for 5 years and wait for it to get ready.

Are you a fan of the aeration products on the market?

We have huge pump-over of our wine, 24 hours a day, over and over. That really softens the wine, it not only makes it a better color and full flavor, it aerates the wine and makes it ready to drink.

The majority of the times we have your wine it is with food. Stellar flavors. It is fun that it comes from a 'foodie.' What's refreshing, is your passion, including the music. Then, you take all these elements and include it in your charity work. You're in your 25 year of the Fall Music Festival?

Thank you. Years ago I did a golf tournament with The Doobie Brothers in L.A. for the United Way. From that, I decided to bring the event up to my winery and try to do a golf tournament, but you don't make a lot of money on golf alone. We decided to combine the food, the wine, do a concert and a golf tournament in the same weekend. It worked. We started in 1986 or 87 and we've been doing it ever since. Now we do two concerts and the golf tournament with dinner parties, it is a four day event. We've raised millions and millions of dollars for charities, mostly children's charities, and veterans charities as well. It really is a marrying of music, food and wine all in the same weekend.

It's become such a success. Have you finished work yet on the new amphitheater?

No, we've got the permits all done and we're trying to break ground this fall after this concert in October. We have an amphitheater that seats about 2500 now and we've had great acts. I thank all the artists for coming. They play for their expenses and that's how we've made all this money for charity. We've had Graham Nash, Steve Miller, Jackson Brown, Bonnie Raitt, The Doobies. It's just wonderful to be able to put on these shows in an intimate setting. We're sold out every year.

This year you have three charities your event is supporting.

A friend of mine is a trauma surgeon in Mendocino County and they needed help financially. He and I have been working on getting Journey to come and perform for several years. Finally this year, their schedule opened up to where they could do it. They agreed to come and play, so now I'm also giving to trauma centers as well as the children's charities I normally give to. We've spread it out because of Journey being able to come. They'll headline one day and The Doobie Brothers are headlining the other day, to spread the charity money out.

You've been doing this a long time.

This is a great event, we have great food and of course the wine is B.R. Cohn. We serve beer and have a great weekend. We have a dinner party and auction on Friday night. Bradley Austin, a great chef , well known in California who has a restaurant in Las Vegas, is cheffing the dinner for us. It's our first celebrity chef dinner.

You also have a wine expert coming in Narsia David.

Yes, he's also going to be talking about food. He's a foodie and a wine critic. We're really having a great time with this. On Monday, after the concerts and the food, we play some golf.

Sounds like a fantastic weekend. So what's on the horizon? You have so many things going, are you content, or do you have other things in mind to do?

We're actually starting two new lines of wines. I'm a car buff and I've been restoring cars since I was 16 years old, racing them too. I've been called a 'gear head.' We make Roadster Red Wine (for my Woodie Wagon), Panel Wagon Pinot (for my panel truck), Boater's Barbera (for my boat). We have all these car wines we sell at the winery. We're trying to work on a national program for those wines.

You do a charity car show as well.

On Fourth of July, we did it for Hospice, it was our inaugural this year, we'll do it again. We had 80 cars here, all classics, with music and wine again. That's a line of wines I'm really happy to be working on. The other line that we are coming out with is a Silver Label. We have a Silver cab' which as become extremely popular, so we are going to have a Silver chardonnay, possibly a Merlot. We're going to do some new labeling with the high end wines and have three tiers of wine instead of two for all of B.R.Cohn.

The wine business on a whole, with regard to the economy, has been reducing their price points on some of the higher end wines.

Many raised their prices considerably when we had that great economy and they got over zealous. When the rug got pulled out from under the economy last year, everything in the high end stopped selling. People went to the mid-priced wines. B.R. Cohn hasn't raised its prices in 7 years, we didn't get caught up in the 'bubble.'

So, your high end prices are right in line with what they should be.

We're right where we were 7 years ago when everyone was saying we were crazy, that we should have raised our prices. I believe in giving good quality wine to people at a good price. A lot of the guys in Napa went crazy and raised their prices to $100 and $150 per bottle, even upwards of that. Now they are having a lot of trouble and they have to reduce their prices. B.R. Cohn's most expensive Cabernet is $55.00 retail. That's a long way from $150.

It sure is.

Our Silver Label Cabernet retails at $20.00 and that's a great value. We put French oak on that wine. Nobody does that with a $20 cab. People are not asking us to reduce our prices because we are already fairly priced.

Have you thought about making a rose?

We do make a rose but you won't see it anywhere but at the winery. We make 12 different wines, but only 5 of them are shipped out nationally. The other 7 are only sold direct to our wine clubs and here in our tasting room. We make Syrah and Port, a Cabernet Port, but you'll only see those here.

My focus is to de-mystify what is happening with wine on a gourmet level and bring it to people in a way that makes it accessible to them.

We're starting a culinary event center with guest chef dinner series. We're doing cheese and wine pairings.

I am about relationships. People are drinking B.R. Cohn wines across the country and the world, but sitting down and having this intimate chat with you really resonates with our readers. It personifies what you are about, sitting down with good friends, hanging out, drinking wine, chatting about food and wine.

I do wine dinners in my home. I'm cheffing on some TV shows a little bit.

I saw you do the stir-fry on TV.

I'm big on stir-fry's, do risottos and things of that nature. I'm not a full blown chef but I do have my fun dishes I like to make and people enjoy. I was very lucky to get this property. I'm only the third owner since the Spanish Land Grant. I know you were thinking about coming out for the event and that would be great but I'd like you guys to come outside of that event and we'll pair some wines with some of my food. I'll show you around the property, it really is a beautiful spot here.

I haven't taken Bruce up on his invite yet, but I will soon and of course,  you'll get the scoop right here...on the winery AND his stir fry..*-)

Bon Appetit!

Photos used with permission and courtesy of  B.R. Cohn Winery, Bruce Cohn and the Doobie Brothers. All rights reserved.

March 18, 2012

Banana Mousse Cake with Bananas Foster Sauce

The dish was created in 1951 by Paul Blangé at Brennan's Restaurant in New Orleans, Louisiana. It was named for Richard Foster, a friend of Owen Brennan who was then New Orleans Crime Commission chairman. It is still served at a number of restaurants in New Orleans and elsewhere. It is one of my all time favorite desserts
Makes seven (7) individual desserts.
Banana Cake
2 eggs
8 oz sugar
6 oz oil

1/8 oz baking powder
1/8 oz baking soda
1/8 oz ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt

9 oz bread flour
14 oz banana puree
Mix egg, sugar and oil together. Add Baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and flour. Add banana puree. Put some mix on a ½ sheet pan and bake for 18 minutes at 380 f. and the rest of the mix you can use for banana bread or banana muffins.

Banana Foster Sauce
6 oz brown sugar
2 oz butter
Pinch of salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
3 oz banana liqueur
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 large bananas sliced
4 oz spiced rum

Melt butter. Add sugar, vanilla extract, salt and cinnamon. Add banana liqueur. Add banana and caramelize Add rum and cook for 3 minutes more. Use this for your sauce either cold or warm.

Banana Mousse

3 sheet gelatin
3 large banana
2 oz milk chocolate
Juice of 1 lemon
7 oz heavy cream
3 oz heavy cream

Soak gelatin in gold water. Warm egg whites and sugar together. {Swiss Meringue.} Puree the banana with the lemon juice. Make a genache with the 2 oz of milk chocolate and 3 oz of heavy cream. Whip the 7 oz of heavy cream to soft peak. Mix the banana puree with the genache and fold it into the cream. Mix the meringue. Melt the gelatin and fold it into the meringue the fold it into the cream. Put into prepared molds, layered with 2 layers of banana cake. Freeze desserts so the can be unmolded.

How to assemble the dessert
Makes 7 individual desserts.

Start a few days before, take a few bananas and sliced them very thin. Dip them in lemon juice and then dry them on a paper towel. When dry, place them on a baking sheet and place in an oven for a day or 2. The dried bananas are used for the garnish and to be put around the dessert mold. We started by putting a strip of acetate plastic around the dessert mold and then we took some of the dried banana and lined them around the edge. We then took the banana bread and cut some cake circles to put inside the dessert, we used 1 piece for the bottom and 1 for the middle. After you put 1 piece of banana bread in the bottom of the mold, take some of the banana mousse and fill the dessert mold about 1/3 of the way up. Place another piece of banana bread on top, add more of the mousse and fill the rest of the mold leaving about a quarter inch from the top of the mold. Freeze the dessert until it is ready to be unmolded for the plate up.

To Plate
Place the dessert in the middle of the plate put some of your banana foster sauce around the dessert, place some of the dried bananas on top and around the dessert and add some chocolate sauce for a extra touch.

Bon Appetit!