Summer 2013 Newsletter
Cocchi Americano is a product that is the last of its type. I have written about it before. It is the Italian aperitif that is the result of an acoustical mutation of its name. Originally the name was “amaricante” meaning a bitters-like product used in drinks. This became the “Americano.” Currently, the “Americano” is a cocktail made of equal parts Campari and vermouth. This was then transformed into the “Negroni” in the 1920s, with a float of gin.
The Bava family of Cocconato d’Asti, who own the Cocchi brand, recreated the blonde Americano and have offered it for several years. Now they have produced an even more Piemontese version, the Cocchi Americano Rosa, made with the base of the blond Americano and the addition of two local red wines, both from aromatic varieties, with a distinct rose-like scent: Brachetto and Malvasia di Schierano (or Castelnuovo Don Bosco.) The addition of these two wines--the Americano is wine based--gives the Americano Rosa a very pretty red color, an aromatic softness with a delicate hint of rose, and a delicious flavor that must be tasted to be believed.
The blonde Cocchi Americano is drunk either in a cocktail or by itself with ice, a slice of orange, and a topping of sparkling water. The Cocchi Americano Rosa, should be drunk with ice, a slice of lemon, and a topping of sparkling water. These are must drinks for the summer and for those occasions when wine just won’t do. For summer drinking, they make the perfect “spritzer.”
Cocchi Americano Rosa 16.5% $20.99 750ml (#3200)
Cocchi Americano 16.5% $22.99 750ml (#3201)
A very special wine, but not for everyone, this is Lambrusco Di Sorbara 2011. It is produced, as is the very traditional style, so that it referments in bottle. The bottles are heavy and the driven cork is tied down with a string. Since it has a slight deposit in the bottle, you might want to decant it. It is really, really good! Sorbara is just one of the varieties found in the Lambrusco area of the Emilia-Romagna. There are several others.
Chiarli Riserva del Fondatore is the epitome of a summer wine. It has a pale red color and bubbles, together with a delicious berry fruit flavor and should be served chilled. This is a very dangerous wine. A bottle will disappear in a flash. Once chilled, then decanted, just keep the decanter on ice. Of course it doesn’t need to be decanted. Just pour carefully, but the last part of the bottle will be cloudy.
Chiarli Riserva del Fondatore 2011 will accompany anything you want to put with it. I cannot imagine a more perfect wine for drinking outdoors or when you want a delicious, satisfying mouthful of dry wine, neither heavy nor frivolous. It is serious wine, but it also demands a bit of confidence to serve and expertise in offering it. With anything off a grill, it would be superb and with anything that is juicy and fatty, a must.
Chiarli Lambrusco Di Sorbara Riserva 2011 11.5% $17.99 750ml (#3202)
Simply Divine Cookies are the handiwork of a monastery of Benedictine nuns in Ferdinand, Indiana, founded in 1867. Like all monastics, they follow to the fullest, the rule of St. Benedict: “Then they are truly monastics when they live by the labor of their hands.”
At Christmas, Corti Brothers sold the Springerle cookies baked by the Sisters, and now I think it is time to offer the Sisters’ cookies to you on our newsletter. The Sisters were originally from Germany, and the flavors of their cookies are decidedly German. Springerle are an anise flavored, thick Christmas cookie, firm on the outside and soft inside, and you will see them at that time. Right now, there is a variation called Almerle, which is an almond flavored “Springerle” cookie. The Ginger Snaps, nice and thick, are a year-round favorite and are perfect with an icy cold glass of milk.
Then there are the Hildegard Cookies, from a recipe of that remarkable woman from the Middle Ages, Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179), a Benedictine nun--an abbess--who was expert at almost everything. Her recipe for these cookies was recommended by her for “slowing the aging process, creating a cheerful countenance, lightening a heavy heart and releasing intelligence.” If this is not a recommendation worthy of note, I do not know what is. Hildegard cookies are a rectangular, crisp cookie made from flour, brown sugar, almonds, butter, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves..Simply Divine Almerle Cookies Four thick cookies, bagged $9.29 (#3203)
Simply Divine Ginger Snap Cookies 8oz bag $9.29 (#3204)
Simply Divine Hildegard Cookies 8oz bag $9.29 (#3205)
Much like Tequila takes its name from the town of Tequila in Mexico’s Jalisco State, Bacanora takes its name from the town of the same name in the state of Sonora, on Mexico’s northwest coast. Bacanoira is another clear distillate produced from the agave family, this time from the Agave pacifica or Agave yaquiana (Agave angustifolia, also known as “espadín.”) There are also several other wild growing agaves that are used.
Until 1992, it was clandestinely produced and prepared “curado,” flavored with dry almonds, walnuts or pine nuts (piñones.) In 2000, Bacanora was given an appellation of origin by the Mexican government as coming only from Sonora. State. Cielo Rojo Bacanora is the first legal Bacanora to be imported. The distiller is Roberto Contreras Mayoral, from Rancho Tepúa in Hermosillo.
At 6 to 7 years of age, the agave plants are harvested, and much like the process which makes Mezcal in Oaxaca State, the hearts of the plant are cooked in pits lined with rocks and mesquite fired. Unlike Mezcal, they are not quartered, but cook whole. Once cooked, the hearts are crushed, the juice fermented with wild yeast, then directly distilled. It can be double distilled. Meant to be drunk neat, I would recommend it with food-- really well prepared Mexican cuisine. Bacanora is refreshing rather than just alcoholic. Its tastiness will surprise you.Cielo Rojo Bacanora 42% $51.99 750ml(#3206)
Bardolino is one of the trio of famous wines made near the city of Verona in Italy’s Veneto region. It is the lighter of the two red wines. The other red is Valpolicella and the white is Soave. Bardolino is not meant to be a full bodied wine, nor a heavy wine, nor a long lived wine. It could be called a “Moment Wine,” since it is best drunk “in the moment,” while young and fresh. (Although couple of years in bottle is no bad thing for this wine.)
The best producer of Bardolino is Gianni Piccoli. He makes a lovely Bardolino called “Le Fontane” and a lovely rosé or Bardolino Chiaretto (meaning light in color) from the same grapes.
Both of these wines have a lovely fragrancy and zippy flavor which make them essential to summer drinking. They can both be served chilled, the red Bardolino perhaps a bit less than the Chiaretto. But their “more-ish” quality is really amazing and delightful. It gives another dimension to “refreshing” as a wine description.
Corte Gardoni Bardolino Le Fontane Wine 2012 12.5% $12.99 750ml (#3207)Corte Gardoni Bardolino Chiaretto Wine 2012 12% $12.99 750ml (#3208)
This is the second bottling of the Gonzalez Byass Fino Sherry Tío Pepe, bottled just as it comes from cask. Without filtering or any preparation, “en Rama” sherry is as close as we can get to sherry drunk in its own bodega or cellar. This is a special wine; it does not like bottle aging and should be bought to be drunk, not kept.
During the summer, this style is wonderful, kept in ice in the ‘fridge and consumed as a chilled aperitif with Doug's Nuts, Tuerca de Maiz, slices of chorizo and other Spanish meats. It is a fine accompaniment to summer dishes like tomatoes and tuna, deep fried things, especially southern fried chicken.
We do not have a lot of Tío Pepe “en Rama,” since very little is bottled. Please buy what you think you will use in the next 3-5 months. There will be another bottling.Gonzalez Byass Tío Pepe “en Rama” 15.5% $22.99 500ml (#3209)
Palma is a type of fino sherry rarely seen on its own. Corti Brothers offered some of these wines from Gonzalez Byass a long time ago and they are now again being bottled for limited released. PALMA, meaning “palm” as in the palm tree, is one of the cellar markings used to discriminate between Fino wines in a sherry bodega. The symbols are Palma, Dos Palmas, Tres Palmas, and Cuatro Palmas
and indicate the intensity of the “fino-ness” of a wine. As the number of palmas (dos-2; tres-3) goes up, the older the wine and the more intense it is. A Cuatro Palmas wine is not considered Fino any longer, but another style known as Amontillado, an intense old fino with a nutty character that should be absolutely dry.
Intensity and “flor” character, from the peculiar aging under the surface yeast film called “flor,” are the hallmarks of a Palma wine. Palma wines are always going to be rare because of their age and the vagaries of how sherry ages in wood. That Gonzalez Byass has decided to again release some of these wines from their oldest soleras is a tribute to the firm and its desire to show wines of outstanding character and composition. All bottled in 500ml.
Gonzalez Byass Palma (An intense Fino) 15.5% $34.99 (#3210)
Gonzalez Byass Dos Palmas (A more intense Fino) 15.5% $45.49 (#3211)
Gonzalez Byass Tres Palmas (The most intense Fino)16% $72.99 (#3212)
Gonzalez Byass Cuatro Palmas (Amontillado) 21% $112.99 (#3213)
Tuerca de Maiz is our packaging of toasted corn kernels which are very well liked by our customers. Salted and crunchy, they really are addictive. Put a bowl out and just see how fast you must replenish it.
Parched and toasted corn has antecedents in our culinary history. This was the way of being able to use corn while on a march or when cooking was not possible. It has a very satisfying flavor. Our Tuerca is tender, crispy, and easy on teeth. But if you have delicate teeth, I do not recommend your enjoying our Tuerca. The fame of Corti Brothers Tuerca has also reached Washington D.C. where we sell a nice quantity of it.
Since we started selling Tuerca, we have packaged several tons of it. I cannot imagine a simpler treat for an aperitif, with a chilled fino sherry or a gin and tonic.
Doug's Nuts Original Blend is a blend of various nuts and a seed were created by Doug Furlong, an Oregonian food scientist who, upon retiring from the food creation business, decided to create a wonderful blend of nuts. He succeeded. A specialist in food product development, Doug has created a natural tasting nut blend, lightly glazed with a delicious combination of sugar cane juice, natural vanilla and maple flavors, a bit of salt and the help of oatmeal stout to bind everything together. This is a product Eugene, Oregon, can be proud of.
The combination of almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, pumpkin seeds, and pecans, with the special glaze Doug has invented, produces a lovely aperitif mix that marries with practically everything to drink. Although made with a sugarcane base the individual flavors of the nuts come through and are enhanced by the glaze. There should be more “nuts” like this.Doug's Nuts Original Blend $4.99 each 4 oz bag (#3214)
Tuerca de Maiz $3.99 one pound bag (#3215)
Cinsault is a grape variety with a name problem. The variant spelling of its name is Cinsault. In California for a very long time it was called Black Malvoisie. In Catalunya, it is called Samsó, and in Italy’s Puglia it is Ottavianello. The Turley Cinsault 2012, however, is perfect (just as it is named.)
Turley Cinsault is produced from the Bechtholdt vineyard, planted in 1886, on its own roots, grown organically, and dry farmed. Its area is in the Lodi appellation, specifically in the tokay fine sandy loam of the Mokuleme River AVA, the largest in Lodi.
You might be wondering about the planting date of 1886. About 85% of the vineyard is still the original vines, with about 5% recent in fills. Whole cluster fermented with native yeast in open tanks and aged in neutral French oak barrels and then bottled, this is a refreshing, vibrant wine. On the label there is a small symbol of a Spanish “porrón” the traditional wine pouring vessel used in Catalunya and northern Spain for “open” wine.
The actual alcohol of Turley Cinsault is 12.76% rather than the 13.5% on the label. (The labels were printed in advance of winemaking!) Not a lot is produced. Please take advantage of this wine while we have it.
Turley Cinsault 2012 Bechtholdt Vineyard 12.76% $17.99 750ml (#3216)
Jamaica is the source for these two sauces. Pickapeppa Sauce is a darkish colored, thick sauce that should be a staple in your pantry. Produced since 1921, it is a lovely amalgam of spices and tropical fruit, aged in oak barrels.
Pickapeppa Hot Pepper Sauce, has just returned to the market after an absence of three years due to production problems. It is produced from red peppers, sugar, cane vinegar, sea salt, annatto, and pimento (allspice).
Thickish, it is a hot sauce that builds up in flavor and then lingers with a pleasant fruity character. For summer dishes and cooking, this is a wonderful ingredient to have handy. Both of the Pickapeppa sauces are perfect for spicing summer dishes. Originally, the Hot Sauce came in a smaller bottle, but now both products are in the same bottle size, 5 fl.oz, with the parrot on the label. They have that bright flavor to pick up jaded appetites.
My old friend, Jeremiah Tower has a lovely recipe for that summer favorite, DEVILED EGGS using both of the Pickapeppa sauces, and here we reproduce it for you. It is simplicity itself to do and really delicious.
From: Jeremiah Tower Cooks: 250 Recipes from an American Master: Steward, Tabori & Chang, NY, 2002.
|I use Pickapeppa mayonnaise here, but you could use any of the mayonnaises mentioned in the Sauces chapter (see pages 234-257). I just happen to love Pickapeppa sauce, and putting some of it in mayonnaise is easy, as would be adding Indian lime pickle, or mango chutney, plus hot sauce for a bit of heat, or even beet horseradish.
For a more surprising visual effect and a more complex dish, instead of halving the eggs, cut off the tops and bottoms, scoop out the yolks without damaging the whites, make the deviled yolk mix, then put in a pastry bag and fill the eggs by piping the egg mixture back into the hollowed-out whites. Serve them standing up with the mayonnaise spooned over.
A whole platter of these eggs for a buffet will pleasantly surprise everyone.
|English powdered mustard|
|mayonnaise (see page 247)|
Put the eggs in a heavy saucepan that will just hold them in one layer, cover them with cold water by 1 inch, and bring to a boil over high heat. The moment the water boils, remove the pan from the heat, cover it, and let stand 10 minutes. Then immediately cool the eggs under cold running water. If the water is not cold, add some ice.
Peel the eggs, slice them lengthwise, and scoop out the yolk. Put the yolks in a bowl and mix with the sour cream, powdered mustard, Dijon mustard, and hot sauce until smooth. Taste for salt.
Put the mixture back in the egg whites and put the egg halves on plates with the flat side down.
Mix the mayonnaise and the Pickapeppa sauce together, and spoon over the eggs to "nap" them. Garnish the eggs and plates with the chives.
Once again, Corti Brothers has selected a limited production, single estate coffee roasted for us by Jeremiah Pick, a noted South San Francisco roaster. This Arabica coffee is from Malawi, a land locked nation in East Africa once called Nyasaland and then a British Protectorate until the1960s. Surrounded by Tanzania and Mozambique on the east and Zambia on the west, Malawi has only recently started growing coffee. It has become a great success story.
High grown at about 3,000 feet and all arabica of different clones and origins, the Sable Estate Malawi beans are traditionally processed and yield a cup with good acidity and sweetness highlighting definite cocoa notes. It can be very easily drunk black and it takes very well to milk The coffee’s body would make a lovely style of cappuccino or caffe latte.Corti Brothers Sable Estate Malawi AA Arabica Beans $11.99 12oz bag (#3219)
Summer is synonymous with barbeque of all types. Nothing is easier than using a dry rub seasoning on a piece of meat in the morning, refrigerating it, and taking it out on coming home, By the time the barbeque fire is going, the meat is at room temperature, ready to fire.
One of our favorite rubs at Corti Brothers is Chocotal BBQ Rub produced by the noted coffee company Jeremiah's Pick. It is based on blend of arabica coffee and cocoa nibs, two little thought of ingredients for barbeque. But both are used in barbeque–whether American as brewed coffee in some sauces–or Mexican with cocoa used in “mole.” Just rub on Chocotal, and you are ready to BBQ.Chocotal BBQ Rub, Jeremiah’s Pick Co. $6.49 4oz tin (#3220)
Tillen Farms are famous for their Pacific Northwest pickled vegetables and cherries, like maraschino cherries. They are the producers of a unique, stem-on, cherry product which is the Rainier Reserve. Made from the rosy tinged, white Rainier cherry variety, the Rainier Reserve is very pretty to look at, delicately flavored and not sugary. Left with their stems, these cherries are perfect for adding to summer drinks (or anytime for that matter) and for using where you want a special finishing touch. You’ll probably become addicted to them.Tillen Farms Rainier Reserve Cherries $7.99 13.5oz jar (#3221)
Butter Caramel Decadence
Narsai David is an old friend who is a Bay Area ex-restaurateur, a food personality, vineyard owner, and recipe creator. I have offered his wine before, but now you should know about his Decadences. These are two dessert sauces, dessert ingredients and “out-of-the-jar-with-a-spoon” delights that he created as ice cream toppings, fondue bases for fruits, and for turning into outrageous truffles.
Made in very small batches using only natural ingredients, these are remarkable for topping summer ice cream or sundaes. They only require refrigeration after opening and are more than handy as pantry staples. The Chocolate Decadence is for serious chocolate lovers. The name “Chocolate Decadence” comes from the most famous dessert at Narsai’s restaurant in Kensington, CA., which was a flourless chocolate “cake” served with a raspberry purèe. The Butter Caramel Decadence is unique, especially for caramel afficionados--and there are a lot of you out there.
Once tasted, you’ll probably wonder why you never had them before. Once known, they are not easily forgotten!
Narsai's Chocolate Decadence $8.99 9oz jar (#3222)Narsai's Butter Caramel Decadence $8.99 9.5oz jar (#3223)
Jongieux, which looks difficult to pronounce is pronounced “zhon gee erh.” Not difficult at all! I would like to point out to you this wine from Savoie because it is possibly the quintessential summer white. The French region of Savoie (Savoy), from where the Royal House of Italy takes its name, is a region which borders the western side of Switzerland and, at its east side, Italy’s Piemonte. In fact, the Rhone river begins in this part of France.
Savoie, normally not considered as an important wine growing area, is gaining stature due to the very high quality of its white wines and its main red variety, Mondeuse. Jongieux, a village name and the heart of the viticultural area, is produced from a white variety called Jacquère, which produces well in clay- limestone soil and with some heat. The area of Jongieux is at 400-500 meters in altitude and benefits from the climate mitigating Lake Bourget and the Rhone river. The whites wines of the area and in particular Jongieux, exemplify Hugh Johnson’s comment “you are drinking bottled mountain air.”
The Jongieux 2012 of Eugene Carrell & Fils is a marvelous wine that is the perfect introduction to customers looking for a refreshing glass of white that is also tasty and not just fresh, clean, and simple. The aroma is very specific, like “mountain air” and the flavor is like tasting the aroma of “mountain flowers.” Crisply dry, yet full, it is a most satisfying white with a nice lingering flavor, delicate yet mineral-ly. The wines from this area are low in alcohol. The Jongieux of Carrell is only 11.5%. The effect of climate change is improving the wines from high grown areas such as Savoie. The variety Jacquère might even do well in certain areas of California. Jongieux 2012 from Carrell is the most intriguing white I can think of for enjoying this summer, particularly at its low alcohol level and the sheer pleasure it offers. It may not be famous but it is damn good!Jongieux 2012 Wine Eugene Carrell & Fils, 11.5% $10.79 750ml (#3224)