Pat and David

Everything old is new again, especially in Limoux

Everything old is new again, especially in Limoux

The Benedictine monks at the St. Hilaire abbey in Languedoc definitely stole a march on Champagne. In 1531, an abbey scribe wrote about inducing a secondary fermentation in wine flasks stoppered with cork from forests in nearby Catalunya. That was more than a century before Dom Perignon went to work in the cellars of Champagne. Languedoc growers have been making sparkling wine for almost 500 years now. In accordance with the French regulations introduced in 1990, it's called Crémant de Limoux. And it's a bargain. Selling at $17–$20, the Crémant de Limoux Rosé Brut St. Hilaire from Côté Mas is great for simple sipping and even better paired with food. Winemaker Paul Mas pushes the limits of allowed grapes for the AOC. The wine contains...Read More
Cava continues the sparkling saga

Cava continues the sparkling saga

We've been buried in updating Frommer's Spain, which explains our online absence since the New Year. So in the continuing series on sparkling wines, most of which are not named Champagne, it seems only appropriate to write a bit about the truly excellent Lady of Spain Brut from the Paul Cheneau line. The parent company is Giró Ribot, one of the preeminent old families in the Penedès region, a largely white wine region between Barcelona and Tarragona. It's bounded on the north by the jagged massif of Montserrat, on the south by the coastal hills of the Mediterranean. Giró Ribot is located in Sant Fe del Penedès. It's an agricultural village about five miles southwest of Sant Sadurní d'Anoia, the center of Penedès sparkling wine....Read More
Ferrari Brut and noodles usher in 2019

Ferrari Brut and noodles usher in 2019

The very name “Ferrari” conjures up such adjectives as “sleek” or “sexy.” We're not talking about sports cars here. In Trentino, Ferrari is the name of a top producer of sparkling wines. The simple brut is the foundation wine of the Ferrari house, generally retailing under $25, but it tastes far richer and more elegant than its price tag. “Sleek” and “sexy” definitely apply. The tradition of sparkling wine on New Year's Eve is a laudable one. We like to combine it with the Chinese tradition of “long-life” noodles for the New Year. (That gives us the excuse to repeat the meal for the Chinese Lunar New Year, coming up February 5.) This year, we made a rather rich mushroom tagliatelle with heavy cream, sage,...Read More
Prosecco loves Parmigiano, prosciutto, and potato chips

Prosecco loves Parmigiano, prosciutto, and potato chips

Nothing quite catches the magic of candlelight like a glass of sparkling wine. Now that we're approaching the longest nights of the year, we're turning to a variety of sparkling wines after sundown. Of course, the fact that fizzy sips are associated with the holidays doesn't hurt—though we're not sure why anyone needs an excuse to drink sparklers. Prosecco is a natural for snack time. Made with Glera grapes in the Veneto near Treviso, it's probably the most accessible and affordable sparkling wine out there. The brut level of dryness happens to be perfect with some other northern Italian standbys—chunks of aged Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and rolls of thinly sliced prosciutto. Inspired by the caffès onVenice's Piazza San Marco, we've added some plain salted potato chips...Read More
El Hidalguense brings real pit barbecue to Mexico City

El Hidalguense brings real pit barbecue to Mexico City

On Sundays in Mexico City, it seems as if all roads lead to Chapultepec Park. We like nothing better than joining local families for a stroll through this green oasis in the middle of the city. Many of the city's best museums are also located in the park and as a bonus, most are free on Sunday. On our recent visit, we spent the morning tracing Mexico's history through the murals at Chapultepec Castle and then marveling at the work by some of the country's greatest artists in a special exhibition at the Modern Art Museum. Alas, it was too cool to spread out a blanket and enjoy a picnic in the park. Instead, we indulged in another local tradition—a late lunch of barbacoa at...Read More
Tacos al pastor lead to more exotic discoveries

Tacos al pastor lead to more exotic discoveries

We're fascinated by the origin stories of street food. The tale behind the ubiquitous tacos al pastor (ubiquitous in Mexico City anyway) sounds suspiciously like a lot of best guesses. But it's logical to think that a popular food grilled on a rotating vertical spit just might have something to do with Lebanese immigrants to Mexico in the early 20th century. Even though it's pork, meat cooked “al pastor” certainly looks like lamb shawarma from the Near East. Mexico City's taco shops are having a moment—inventing new combos and flashier ways to serve them. But among old-fashioned taquerías, tacos al pastor still reign supreme. The rotating spit—usually placed out front or in a window—lures hungry diners with aromas of roasting pork, pineapple, and onion. Pile...Read More
Global street food experts share tips

Global street food experts share tips

Wherever we travel, we're always amazed by how many of our favorite meals were served in a modest eatery—or even by a street food vendor. Before our recent trip to Mexico, we revisited an interview we conducted for the Boston Globe with street food experts Bruce Kraig and Colleen Taylor Sen. They're the editors of Street Food: Everything You Need to Know About Open-Air Stands, Carts & Food Trucks Around the Globe (Surrey Books, $24.95). If you're looking for the best food, they advised, pick the vendor with the biggest crowd of local people. Here's a condensed version of the interview with other tips about healthy outdoor dining around the world What are your favorite places for street food? Collen: I go to India all...Read More
Christmas lasagna with Brolio Chianti Classico

Christmas lasagna with Brolio Chianti Classico

As readers of our last post know, we've been exploring Chianti with dishes for the Christmas season. Our last post highlighted a Brolio Chianti Classico Riserva with roast pork. But we're also fond of Brolio's basic Chianti Classico, which sells for about two-thirds the price of the riserva. The wine is intensely ruby red, with a more open nose than the riserva. Floral notes of iris and violet mix with red fruits and woodsy aromas. With less barrel aging, the wine is more loosely structured and the tannins are very soft. Typical of Brolio wines, though, it shows a slightly flinty minerality that we quite enjoy. With apologies to Italy, we decided that this wine would drink well with a French-influenced version of lasagna. Our...Read More
Chianti Classico for Christmas: Brolio 2015 Riserva

Chianti Classico for Christmas: Brolio 2015 Riserva

Long ago, we used to buy a well-made Chianti Classico from an anonymous cooperative for a price low enough to make Charles Shaw blush. When we wanted to treat ourselves to a better wine, we would step up to a Brolio Chianti. We didn't have a lot of money and we never went wrong trusting the Ricasoli family to make an excellent Chianti at a fair price. Chianti has come a long way since Baron Bettino Ricasoli came up with the original formulation in 1872. That recipe called for a minimum of 70 percent Sangiovese and allowed a couple of white grapes in the blend. The rules have been rewritten extensively and now even allow 100 percent Sangiovese as well as blends with Bordeaux grape...Read More
Chiles en nogada: the taste of independence

Chiles en nogada: the taste of independence

Hurrah for the red, white, and green! Despite several changes in form of government over the years, the colors of the Mexican flag have stood since Mexico declared its independence from Spain in 1821. One of the most elaborate of Mexican dishes seems to date from the same year. Tradition says that the nuns of Puebla's Santa Monica convent created chiles en nogada to honor General Agustín de Iturbide when he visited the city after by signing the Treaty of Córdoba on August 28. (Puebla celebrates the Festival of Chile en Nogada on that day every year.) The dish echoes the colors of the flag in the green poblano chiles stuffed with picadillo, the white of the walnut cream sauce that enrobes it, and the...Read More