FROM PORTLAND, OREGON: VINN, AMERICA’S ONLY BAIJIU PRODUCER
What is the world’s largest selling spirit? An interesting question, isn’t it? The answer is BAIJIU, (pronounced BYE-joe) and it is produced and consumed almost entirely in China. It is basically a clear spirit, very high in proof, drunk usually ceremoniously at banquets and the like; highly collectable by the Chinese and known by several brand names, Maotai, being the most famous.
But, we have a production of BAIJIU, right in our backyard (well, almost!) The LY family, ethnic Chinese expelled from Viet Nam in 1978, and having finally settled in Portland, Oregon, make Baijiu there in a small distillery and also produce a rice based, wood aged whiskey, a vodka, and several flavored baijius. Originally the family came from southern China in Guandong province and had been several generations in Viet Nam. Using rice as a base grain, the family had traditionally distilled baijiu. When they arrived in Portland, they had to make it all legal.
BAIJIU itself is a distilled product like no other. Normally using a grain base, the distiller makes a sort of beer with water and then distills this beer, to make a spirit. With Baijiu, the distillation takes place using the almost dry grain where the fermentation has happened inside the grain itself. Roughly, it goes like this: water is used to soak/cook the grain; a fermentation starter called “qu” (chew) is added, something akin to “koji” in making sake, and fermentation takes place inside the grain itself. An analogy for westerners would be that of the traditional distilling of grappa or marc from solid matter left after pressing wine. But--this is just an analogy. Baijiu has begun to attract the attention of major western distilling companies, and some of the giants have invested in Chinese baijiu producers. Cereal based alcohols are extremely popular in China, where they are used for everything.
But what concerns us is the VINN Baijiu production from Portland, Oregon. The brand is called VINN since the five siblings who own the production all have Vinn as their middle name. The substrate for their production is Calrose rice from California. Their classic Baijiu bottled at 53%, the Family Reserve, is classified as a rice based baijiu. Normally baijiu is made with sorghum or blends of grains, sometimes up to five different ones. The name Baijiu means “white alcohol”--the jiu part of the name the generic alcohol name for all alcohol in Chinese. The character itself is added to alcohols like grape wine “putaojiu,” beer “pijiu,” or in the case of baijiu, “bai” white or clear and “jiu.” Well, you know what we are talking about!
The Vinn Distillery produces two baijiu: FAMILY RESERVE at 106 proof and a lower proof Baijiu at 80 proof. Since baijiu is similar, but not analogous, to vodka, they also produce a rice based VODKA at 80 proof. All three of these rice based alcohols have a family similarity, with a soft, nutty character, with a delicate, similar to puffed rice scent. Customers who are afraid of gluten based alcohols, here is your opportunity to enjoy absolutely gluten free alcohol.
The Vinn WHISKEY is the first rice whiskey produced in the U.S. Here rice is treated like any other grain used to make a whiskey and aged in char #4 American oak barrels. It is still made in small amounts yet, but is now available. It is a delicate whiskey, elegant and soft, showing its rice background. Similar to Japanese rice whiskies, there is a family resemblance, with a definite American accent.
The sweetish HONEY BAIJIU is blended with Oregon honey and is not apparently honey sweet, but gently soft with a distinctive honey aroma and flavor. It could be used as an after dinner drink or in a cocktail. The Vinn family suggests adding it to apple juice for an apple pie scented cocktail.
BIAJIU FAMILY RESERVE 106 proof, 750ml $73.49 (#4700)
BAIJIU, 80 proof, 750ml $43.59 (#4701)
VODKA, distilled from rice, 80 proof, 750ml $29.29 (#4702)
WHISKEY, 86 proof, 375ml $31.89 (#4703)
HONEY BAIJIU, 70 proof, 375ml $31.89 (#4704)
Note:The un-linked items in the newsletter are not available for purchase on our website. If you are interested in any of those items, please phone or email us your request. 916-736-3800 or 800-509-Food email@example.com
COLOMBA: THE EASTER DESSERT CAKE
Of a specifically uncertain date of origin, the COLOMBA is Italy’s Easter answer to the Christmas PANETTONE.
Formed in the shape of a flying dove, hence its name, the Easter or Spring cake is much like the Christmas one. It is made from a mother sponge, butter and eggs and has candied fruit in it; also almonds and is just slightly firmer textured than panettone. It is very fragrant and lightly sweet, with a delicate flavor and consistency that also makes it useful in making other desserts. While delicious by itself, it can be used to make a trifle, Zuppa Inglese, or used as the flavorful “shortcake” base for a fruit topping, especially with the first strawberries of the season. Here are this year’s selection from LOISON, our baker in the Veneto in Italy’s northeast.
There are also two other cakes: FOCACCIA with almonds and the VENEZIANA. The Focaccia is not the savory bread, but a dome-shaped, sponge/pound cake-like bread used for morning coffee in Venice; the Veneziana is similar to the Colomba, but in a half-dome shape. This also is the typical sweet of Venice, used at breakfast or, as in Venice, whenever. Unless specifically noted, all sizes are one kilo.
PESCA E NOCCIOLE: with dried peach bits and hazelnut topping, Easter egg box, 750g. $26.89 (#4705)
REGAL CIOCCOLATO: with chocolate bits and chocolate cream, boxed, $29.99 (#4706)
ALLO ZABAIONE: with zabaione cream filling, wrapped $29,99 (#4707)
AL LIMONE: with a lemon cream filling, wrapped $29.99 (#4708)
CLASSICA: the unfilled, classic Colomba, wrapped $27.39 (#4709)
SENZA CANDITI: without any candied fruit, just almonds and sugar topping, wrapped $24.99 (#4710)
ALL’ALPIANE: with Vignalta Alpiane PASSITO to plump the raisins, wrapped $27.99 (#4711)
AL MANDARINO DI CIACULLI: with the peel of Palermo’s mandarino, 550g boxed $16.99 (#4712)
AL PISTACCHIO DI BRONTE: with the Bronte pistachio cream filling, 550g boxed $19.99 (#4713)
AMARENA e CANELLA: with Amarena cherries and cinnamon, 550g boxed $16.99 (#4714)
FOCACCIA MANDORLATA: no candied fruit with almond topping, 750g, wrapped $19.89 (#4715)
COLOMBA CLASSICA: cellophane wrapped, ribbon.
5 kilo size $89.99 (#4717)
FOCACCIA MANDORLATA: cellophane wrapped, ribbon.
MONTNA CALIFORNIA GROWN SHORTGRAIN RICE
The Montna Farms short grain rice is a blend of two extremely famous Japanese short grain rice varieties: KOSHIHIKARI and YUMEGOKOCHI. They are both grown just north of Sacramento by the Montna family who have been farming in California since the middle of the 19th century. The great grandfather of the current owners, Pierre Montané, was once a worker for his fellow Frenchman Paul Masson, the early California viticulturalist, who created what was to become one of the first famous sparkling wines of California in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Montané changed his name to a more americanized Peri Montna. The following generation, then started to plant rice.
JAPONICA is the family of the short and medium grain rice grown in Japan. Most of California’s rice is of this type, but the Montna Farm varieties, are the most famous in Japan: KOSHIKIKARI and YUMEGOKOCHI. They are blended together to provide a slightly different and more scented flavor experience when cooked. The Montna rice should be cooked to be eaten in the Japanese way, by itself. It should be washed well, soaked for a few minutes, then cooked with just a bit more water than rice. A CAUTION: It is very difficult to cook a small amount of rice. It can be done, but it takes some care. Better would be to cook, say, two cups of rice than one, and use the leftover rice–if there is any--the next day. So for this, you would use two cups of rice and a bit more than two cups of water to cook the rice in. (If you have a rice cooker, follow the instructions.)
Corti Brothers has repacked the Montna rice for you. I find that the “normal” selling quantity of Asian rice to be a bit too much for westerners, thus we have packed bags of 24 ounces since it would be used up in a shorter time.
MONTNA FARMS SHORT GRAIN RICE Koshihikari & Yumegokochi $4.29 24oz bag (#4719)
TERMS OF SALE: This list supersedes all others. All taxable items, such as wine, beer, or spirits will be taxed at the rate of 8.75%. This is for all sales since we sell in California. Foodstuffs are not taxable. Shipping will be charged at prevailing rates. PLEASE NOTE: In extreme weather, either hot or cold, please give us a shipping address where your order may be properly received and stored. Corti Brothers cannot be responsible for items left without protection.
NEW TEAS: FROM LOCK CHA AND YOUNG MOUNTAIN
We have new teas from both Lock Cha, our Hong Kong Tea merchant and from Young Mountain Tea, our Indian and Nepali tea supplier. The Young Mountain teas have been repackaged in a new cylindrical paper tube, very elegant in design. These teas are from several areas in India. One particularly interesting area is KUMAON, which was the first location the British planted to tea in India in the 19th century. It unfortunately was in an area very difficult to bring out the tea and hence got forgotten about as other areas developed. It is coming back and produces a delicious black tea and now also a white tea, its diametrical opposite. Using Chinese traditional methodology, the bushes here produce a flavorful pale liquor which is lovely as a change of pace from the black version.
The Ruby Oolong Darjeeling, from north eastern India is unique both in color and flavor. The color is actually a pale ruby, and the scent--not as flowery as “muscatel” Darjeelings--is very satisfying and complete. It makes a lovely cup which does not need milk.
From a small country on India’s northern border, Nepal, the Nepali Golden Black from the Tinjure garden is very similar to classic Darjeeling, but with more delicacy and finesse. It is also a tea from a new area which makes it exciting. Green Nepali pearls are made using Chinese methology to produce small balls of tea, like those used to make Jasmine Pearls, but without the jasmine. A very satisfying cup of green tea indeed.
YOUNG MOUNTAIN TEA
Darjeeling Ruby Oolong, Victoria’s Peak 2.2oz $17.99 (#4720)
Kumaon Black, Chapawat 2oz $8.99 (#4721)
Kumaon White Tea, Champawat 0.5oz $8.99 (#4722)
Nepali Green Pearl, Tinjure 2.3oz $9.99 (#4723)
Nepali Golden Black, Tinjure 0.8oz $8.99 (#4724)
LOCK CHA TEAS FROM CHINA AND TAIWAN
Anhui Yellow Tea is a variant of green tea which is not often found. It is called yellow tea since the liquor is more yellowish in color than green tea due to the “smoothered” oxidation of green tea to produce yellow tea. It is a specialty of Anhui province. Dongting Bilochun is the production from central Taiwan of small leafed green tea. A very delicate flavor, it is flavory and scented. Alishan Oolong is another Taiwanese tea coming from the highest peak of Taiwan. Like most oolongs, it is rolled and has a full fragrance and rich liquor, again very satisfying. Premium Oriental Beauty is a specialty of Taiwan, where the best teas are made with the heaviest attack of a leafhopper which chews the leaf pagination, causing the production of sap which gives the tea a scented, peach- like character, which is very enticing. It is a unique tea. Sun Moon Red Jade is a “red” tea (we know it as “black tea) that is wiry and when brewed shows the ruddy color of the careful oxidation of the leaf tips. It is almost creamy in flavor with delicacy. Green Pu-er cake in container is a 100 g cake of this unique Yunnan, China, green tea which ages very well and produces a mellow liquor beloved by the Cantonese for drinking with dimsum. We have just a small amount of Mid Autumn Festival Green Pu-er cakes, molded in the shaped of a “moon cake” from 2011 each in a small container for further aging, should you like, or for drinking. Very fragrant and mellow.
Anhui Yellow Tea 75g $11.49 (#4725)
MONASTERY CREAMED HONEY from Redwoods Abbey, Sonoma Ca.
According to St. Benedict, the father of Western Monasticism, monks must live by the work of their hands. This goes for nuns also. All monastics are supposed to produce something to support their monastery. The Trappist nuns of Redwoods Abbey in Sonoma County have come up with the idea of using honey and flavoring it as their livelihood. These monastics bring in organic honey and then use organic flavorings to produce a “creamed” honey which is wonderful on anything you want to put it on. There are several flavors--plus the original, just creamed honey.
Creamed honey is liquid honey seeded with previously worked honey to give it a satin-like, homogeneous consistency that makes it more like a spread than liquid honey. Literally, it is the controlled granulation of honey. Some of MONASTERY CREAMED honeys are made with clover honey, others not. But in any case, all is organic honey, blended with organic everything else. They are very good honeys. Especially if you want something just slightly different for your breakfast toast. The velvety consistency of creamed honey is very attractive and does not further granulate, nor is it sticky as is liquid honey.
MONASTERY CREAMED HONEY $6.99 per 8oz jar. Available in:
CORTI BROTHERS CAPITAL VINTAGE MARMALADE AND THE FIVE CITRUS MARMALADE
Corti Brothers has made Seville Orange marmalade since 1981. It is made using the recipe in Mrs. Beaton’s Book of Household Management from oranges grown in Sacramento. Its name is a play on this idea: Sacramento is California’s capital and “capital” is a British term for “very fine”. It is left to mature in jar, so that it develops a rounder, softer, more mellow flavor from the usually bitter Seville oranges. The production year of the current stock is 2015.
In 2019, we had made for Corti Brothers by The Good Stuff folks, another marmalade using the citrus grown in my backyard here in Sacramento. It is a blend of five different citrus with their dominance in this order: Blood orange, bergamot, citron, Meyer lemon, and Chinotti. The result is exceptional, both as a marmalade for your toast or even as a hot drink. A spoon full of the marmalade in a cup filled with boiling water, makes a delicious drink. We do not have a lot of this marmalade, and I would like to limit purchases to six jars per customer in order to have it satisfy more customers. Both are exceptional marmalades that deserve your attention. Both are in 11oz jars.
CORTI BROTHERS CAPITAL VINTAGE MARMALADE production 2015
$86.00 cs/12 (#4739C)
MARMELLATA DEI CINQUE AGRUMI Five Citrus Marmalade 2019 $9.99 (#4740) Limit six per customer.
TRADITIONAL METHOD RED WINE VINEGAR
This very unassuming name is probably the oldest commercial vinegar available in California. It is produced by Brad Alderson, an old friend who was the first general manager of Robert Mondavi winery in Woodbridge, CA. I have known Brad since his school days at UC Davis. He has always had a interest in making “real” barrel aged, Orléans style, red wine vinegar and sells us a small amount from time to time.
Vinegar is a true project when viewed from a winemaking point of view. You have to begin with good wine and then acetify it, then age it. It takes a yeast fermentation and then a bacteriological fermentation to produce vinegar. It is not just spoiled wine! Traditional Method Red Wine Vinegar has been some 20 years in the making. It has 7.5% acidity, and should be used sparingly since it is pungent. But this is what aged vinegar should be like. When we ran out just before the holidays 2018, a customer was almost hysterical trying to get it. Her holidays would be ruined if she did not have her vinegar. It came back in. The holidays were saved. It is really good.
TRADITIONAL METHOD RED WINE VINEGAR 7.5% acid
CORTI BROTHERS 2018 HARVEST CORATINA EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
Again, this year Corti Brothers has a lovely CORATINA oil to offer from the 2018 growing season. Once again it was made by Pablo Voitzuk, which is why we call it “Pablo’s Oil.” The fruit comes from outside of Woodland, Ca., just as the two previous harvests have. It is a lovely example of the variety with a light green tomato skin scent, balanced pungency and bitterness, characteristic of Coratina which originates in Italy’s south, in Puglia. Our climate is much like Puglia and here the variety makes a lovely oil. We do not have much since 2018 harvest was a short one for quantity, but where successful, very good quality. It will be very handy with this summer’s bounty!
CORTI BROTHERS 2018 HARVEST CORATINA,“Pablo’s Oil”
$205.00 Cs/12 (#4742C)
ORTIZ “LA GRAN ANCHOA” SELECTION ANCHOVIES FROM SPAIN
These anchovies are quite something! For one thing they are very large in size. They are very expensive. They are the kind of anchovy that one would find on a restaurant menu where due to their quality they would be offered with some good bread, possibly some excellent butter, a couple of the anchovy fillets on a plate; and you would be excited to have them since they are so good. In this country, we don’t consider offering a prepared product as worthy of an excellent restaurant. But when the product is of such quality that it is truly different, why not? Restaurants don’t make their own caviar. Instead they offer the best procurable from the best caviar producer or selector. This is a similar case. In Italy, in May 2018, this was exactly how these anchovies were served to me as an antipasto.
Ortiz, has been preparing fish products in Vizcaya in Spain since 1891. The Gran Anchoa are large anchovies, from the spring catch, selected especially for barrel aging for a minimum of six months, then filleted by hand, one by one, and then packed in a tray with extra virgin olive oil. They are a semi-conserved product which should be kept refrigerated. Please allow them to come to room temperature before serving. The trays hold approximately 10 anchovy fillets, about 4-5 inches in length and about a half inch in width. As temperatures warm, shipping will have to be overnight.
ORTIZ “LA GRAN ANCHOA” SELECTION $15.99 67g tray (#4743)
ANTIMO CAPUTO “00" CHEF’S FLOUR
Quite often we get asked if we have “00" (double O, “doppio zero”) flour. Yes, we do. It is called for in most pizza dough and bread recipes and for making homemade pasta. Ours is from Antimo Caputo, from Naples, Italy and is in 2.2 pound (1 kilo) paper bags.
Caputo is probably the foremost flour mill in southern Italy and they have labeled their “00" flour as “Chef’s Flour,” a soft wheat flour, which produces a “strong elastic gluten for dough which requires a long fermentation.” This is the recommended flour for authentic bread, pizza dough, focaccia, and pasta making. You should not use it making American style cakes or pies, but for what it is very good at. Customers may say, “but flour is flour.” Yes, but all flours are not equal. Some do one thing, others do other things. This is your “go to” Italian flour.
ANTIMO CAPUTO “00" CHEF’S FLOUR 1 kilo bag $3.49 (#4744)
PIZZELLE are a wafer-like, waffle like, cookie traditionally made in the central-south of Italy, the Abruzzo and Molise. They are made using a type of waffle iron with a flavored batter. An Italo American family run bakery, Fogliani, using the site of a well known bakery in Sonoma County, has begun producing delicious pizzelle. They are more often seen on the east coast of the U.S. than the west.
In their homeland, pizzelle are also called “ferratelle” because they are made with the special iron plate, or “ferro” which gives them their typical flatness and usually round shape. Made with a batter and originally cooked over an open fire, pizzelle are just one of this type of cookie made in Italy. Pizzelle are usually made on the Adriatic coast, while “Cialde” are made on the Mediterranean side in Tuscany.Think of Chinese fortune cookies, another wafer-like cookie. It originated in the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park during the Panama-Pacific Exhibition which took place there in 1915. They have now become ubiquitous, but they are not Chinese.
There is a difference between the two types of wafer cookies made in Italy. The “Cialda” type is not “waffled.” It is smooth, but also has a design. This stems from the notion of wanting to “brand” the cookie. Original pizzelle had the coat of arms of whatever noble family was serving them. But you did not even have to be noble to make them. The ingredients were those commonly at hand--flour, eggs, oil, and simple flavorings. But they have always been well loved.
The Fogliani Pizzelle are made just slightly differently from the traditional recipe. They are made with butter rather than olive oil, giving them more of a crispy, friable character. There are two colors: the dark brown chocolate, and the golden of the vanilla and anise seed flavored ones. They also have two different designs to the pizzelle. The chocolate one looks “lace-like;” the other two have an arabesque design.
Pizzelle are wonderful with which to make other things. They can be used to make ice cream sandwiches. Two can be stacked together to make a chocolate cream sandwich with a chocolate mousse, for example. They can be spread with jams and sandwiched together. But rather than having to make your own pizzelle, with Fogliani Pizzelle, you have the major work already done. Just open the bag, use, and enjoy them. Five ounce bags: $6.99 each