I’m more a wine or cider girl, but I’m smitten with Amaro, an Italian liqueur. There’s something about this herbaceous, syrupy elixir that I really enjoy when I’m looking for a nightcap of just few sips of something alcoholic. I picked up a bottle of it last winter when I was coming home from Rome and every so often it’s exactly what I’m looking for at the end of a night.
Flipping through the November issue of Bon Appetit last week, I came across a super simple (2 ingredients and a citrus garnish) cocktail using Amaro and just knew it would be the perfect cocktail to offer my guests at our family Thanksgiving dinner – the Fall Spritz. It’s four parts of dry, hard cider to one part Amaro. Talk about two of my favorite things! As I finished the food preparations, I handed the magazine and the task to my trusty neighbor and he mixed us up a batch.
It was a delicious way to start a festive night – fairly low in alcohol, not overly sweet and with a bit of effervescence from the cider. Yummy! It was a unanimous verdict and that round of drinks, I expect, will not be the last time we enjoy that particular libation together.
I stopped downtown the other night at dp’s, intending to indulge in one of their well crafted cocktails from the current list, however, I stopped in my tracks when I read the ingredients of an appealing cocktail. There was one made with Amaro! I cheekily asked the bartender if he would go off menu and make me a fall spritz. As ever, he accommodated my request and made two versions using different styles of Amaro. It seems there are many varieties and they range in color (and taste, I imagine) from light to dark amber.
My preference is the darker version and that was the cocktail I selected – and thoroughly enjoyed. I may need more Amaro.
When I carried a two pound loaf of Genovese style pannetone and a dozen bagels in a bag topped with a single bialy around the city, I knew I had to acknowledge how much I sincerely love bread. It might just be my favorite food group and it definitely would be my desert island wish. Truth be told, the thought of being sensitive to gluten makes me sick to my stomach. Yes, I love bread.
Let me counts the ways…
Italian holiday breads such as panettone at Christmas and pane di Pasqua at Easter. I love a bread that marks a holiday, what can I say?
Irish breads like soda bread and whole wheat brown bread lightly dusted with oats. With rough cut orange marmalade, please.
Croissants, particularly those that leave a petite souvenir of their presence in the form of scattered flaky crumbs and a glisten of butter on one’s fingertips.
Bagels and bialys, with whipped cream cheese to smear on, for the win.
Focaccia like the one you get in Genoa, tasting salty like the ocean and herbaceous from rosemary as you tear into it.
Challah, yellow with eggs and used in every single bread pudding and French toast recipe forever and ever.
Naan, stuffed with slightly bitter garlic and a tad oily.
German fruit stollen, the city cousin to the more well-known, country style dark fruit bread that is the perpetual butt of jokes.
My own version of no-knead bread in which I tweak the recipe a tad by increasing both the salt and the yeast.
Summer at my house is a very different beast this year. A big part of it, of course, is Lark + Lily and the related demands of owning a business. But, there’s more. My two teenaged sons, perhaps in an attempt to make up for lost time, are each working two jobs. With our combined three schedules, family time has become increasingly rare and I’m trying to adjust to catching mere glimpses of my boys as they fulfill their responsibilities. It’s definitely different.
Yesterday evening, as I was preparing dinner, I asked my oldest son to text his brother to let him know that family dinner was at 5:00 and that he would be disinherited if he failed to join us. In response, middle son asked what was on the menu.* Upon being apprised of my dinner plan (pasta with grilled vegetables and sausage), he decided that he would prefer to eat with his friends at Bombers. I jokingly told him to change his name now that he was no longer in our family. Not one to miss a trick, he introduced himself as Griffin Bomber. Congratulations, Matt! It’s a boy!
Ingredients: 1 medium summer squash, 1 medium zucchini, 10-12 oz sliced mushrooms, 1 Vidalia or other sweet onion, 8-10 Italian sausages (hot, sweet or combination), fresh basil or spinach, Pellegrino Italian seasoning, 8oz cooked al dente pasta – reserve 1/2-3/4 c pasta cooking water.
Slice squash and zucchini lengthwise into 1/4″ pieces. Season with salt, olive oil and Pellegrino seasoning. Slice onion into 1/4″ rounds. Grill vegetables (other than mushrooms and spinach) along with sausages over medium heat. Sauté mushrooms in a combination of butter and olive oil until soft. When sausage are at a temperature to be handled, slice into 1″ rounds. Place sausage and all vegetables, including any remaining liquid from the mushroom pan, in a large bowl with pasta, spinach and/or basil, and reserved pasta cooking water and toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with grated cheese. Super delicious, seasonal and way easier than parenting.
*This is the kind of bs one faces when they expose their children to the world of restaurants from a young age.
Sundays in the DelSo tend to be quiet. Newspapers are delivered, coffee is sipped, spontaneous meals are shared, bottles of wine are uncorked. This past Sunday was no exception to this lovely routine. As a matter of fact, the only exception to the DelSo Sunday rule, was how truly exceptionally well my neighbors and I honored the Sunday tradition with simply perfect food and wine.
Like many things, the evening evolved from an offer to share. I had some mussels and some wine, the artists next door had some magical beans that went from being fuzzy and purple to green and tender when cooked. That’s really where we started from.
For the mussels, I softened a diced Vidalia onion and a generous amount of minced garlic in some olive oil. After about 10 minutes, I seasoned the vegetables with salt to taste and added 2 chopped tomatoes, a chipotle pepper, about a cup and a half of white wine and two pounds of mussels. I covered the pot and let the mussels pop open. To finish, I tossed in about a third of a cup of basil, (a combination of both Thai and Italian) and warmed up some crusty bread. I can’t believe I didn’t grab a picture of the mussels, but here’s one of the tomatoes I used.
This German striped heirloom was incredibly sweet.
Once you see the next series of photos, however, you might get an inkling of how I lost my mind got distracted. Here’s the evening in wine…We opened with a lovely, dry riesling from Alsace which cut right through the fire of the mussel’s chili pepper scented broth. I love Alsatian wines and was very happy to share this souvenir from the neighbor’s recent trip abroad. C’est bon!
Our next stop was Domaine Bila Haut Cote du Roussillon, 2010. I think I must have picked this up from Empire. I believe it was really inexpensive and I know I am happy to have another bottle of this still around. Next up was this Cote du Rhone. This was another bargain that Ken probably picked up at Capital and it was nicely balanced and managed to be smooth, yet a little peppery. Tasty. At this point we probably could have stopped, but, it was barely 9:00 and we wanted one last bottle so I closed my eyes and reached into the wine rack.
Let me tell you something – they say you should open with your best bottle and work your way down in quality as your taste buds become desensitized. That was not our method at all! The final bottle was transcendent.
It was meaty and mushroomy and velvety and absolutely delicious. I read some of these notes and, honestly, I don’t know what they were drinking but it wasn’t the same experience we had with this bottle At all. It was a very fine bottle of wine and I couldn’t have been happier than to have shared it with my awesome neighbors on a summer Sunday.