Serve hearty soup and rustic bread for St. Patrick’s Day

Serve hearty soup and rustic bread for St. Patrick’s Day

No corned beef and cabbage for us this year. As we were contemplating a lighter meal to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, we turned to two new cookbooks by great Irish chefs. We've written before about Darina Allen, the cookbook author and co-founder of the Ballymaloe Cookery School, which is located on an organic farm in County Cork. Her new book, Simply Delicious: The Classic Collection (2019, Kyle Books, $29.99), gathers some of her favorite recipes from her television cooking show and cookbook series of the same name. The 100 recipes illustrate Allen's love of traditional Irish cooking as well as her enthusiasm for cuisines around the world. They represent her straightforward approach to creating good, flavorful food. We have to admit that we were initially...Read More
Eat like a cowboy at Lubbock’s National Cowboy Symposium

Eat like a cowboy at Lubbock’s National Cowboy Symposium

To cut to the chase, "eating like a cowboy" means chicken-fried steak. It's practically the national dish of Texas. The state legislature even proclaimed October 26 as Texas Chicken-Fried Steak Day. I live in Massachusetts, where we claim, if somewhat dubiously, that we're the birthplace of America. We're very big on guys in buckle hats and long stockings, not to mention tea-dumping Sons of Liberty and midnight horsemen warning about Redcoats. Lubbock bases its identity on an equally powerful mythology. The city of a quarter million people claims ranch life and cowboy culture as its principal roots. Why not? It's the biggest place in the giant mesa known as Llano Estacado, or “Staked Plains,” that covers northwest Texas and a big piece of eastern New...Read More
Barbecue good enough for a Texas Tech tailgate

Barbecue good enough for a Texas Tech tailgate

I went to Lubbock, Texas, last fall for Buddy Holly's birthday (September 7) in his home town. I stayed a while to eat and drink, and the next batch of posts will hit a few of the highlights of this truly friendly West Texas city and center of the Texas High Plains American Viticultural Area. And since it was West Texas, the logical place to begin is a magnificent barbecue joint. Evie Mae's Pit Barbecue is ironic in a good way. The meats here are outsized and deeply … meaty. As a Texas pal once said, it's the kind of barbecue that puts hair on your chest. (She meant that figuratively, of course.) It's smoky and just fatty enough and so full of itself that...Read More
Los Vascos: Carménère and all that jazz

Los Vascos: Carménère and all that jazz

We've written before about some of the wines from Viña Los Vascos (www.lafite.com/en/the-domaines/vina-los-vascos/), the Domaines Barons de Rothschild property in Chile's Colchagua Valley. We tasted the whole portfolio recently at a luncheon at Les Zygomates (winebar129.com/) bistro and wine bar in Boston. It confirmed our previous impression that the wines offer tremendous value. Moreover, the values aren't just on the bargain end. The 1,581-acre estate also produces an ultra-premium wine, Le Dix, with a depth and complexity that belies its $65 list price. Claudio Naranjo (above), the amiable general manager of Los Vascos, took us through the wines.  Most of the Chilean wines that reach New England hail from the historic Maipo Valley, but the 22 wineries of Colchagua, about two hours south of Santiago,...Read More
Finding a sprightly pairing for Boizel Brut Réserve

Finding a sprightly pairing for Boizel Brut Réserve

Champagne is the acknowledged queen of sparkling wines, but every regal house has its signature. Boizel champagnes from Épernay show an elegance and finesse that stems from using hand-harvested grapes from the top crus and blending the still wines of each year with wines reserved from the previous two harvests. This produces a year-to-year consistency that makes the non-vintage bottles best representative of the house style. Three years of bottle aging on the lees adds additional complexity. So when we acquired a Brut Réserve that had been disgorged at the end of 2016, we weren't quite sure what to pair with it. This particular champagne gains its floral bouquet from 30 percent Chardonnay, its lean structure from 55 percent Pinot Noir, and a delicious fruitiness...Read More
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