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EVENT: Oyster Frenzy

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Belon oysters from Maine. Photo courtesy J.P.
Shellfish.

 

What’s shucking in your town?

In ours, New York City, we’re in the middle of New York Oyster Week—actually two weeks of oyster-centric events, from September 11th through September 28th.

Once, in the waters surrounding us, oysters were so plentiful that anyone could enjoy as much as he chose. Alas, as with the sturgeon that once swam the Hudson River, so plentiful that free caviar was served at pubs (the salty caviar made people drink more beer), we over-fished our bounty by the mid-nineteenth century.

Now, if you crave it—oysters or caviar—you pay dearly (a little less dearly in the case of oysters versus caviar).

You can indulge in oyster excitement on Saturday, September 27th, when the 12th Annual Grand Central Oyster Frenzy takes place at The Oyster Bar in Grand Central Terminal.

Admission is free to view:

  • A shucking competition among top professional oyster shuckers. Seven-time champion Luis “The Mexican Menace” Iglesius will try for yet another title.
  • The Slurp Off Competitive Eating Competition for the public, to see who can slurps 12 oysters in the fastest time.
  • The Beer Shucking competition, crowning the person who “shucks” a case of beer in fastest time—is sponsored by Blue Point Brewing Company.
  • Chef demonstrations of culinary wizardry.
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    There are also tastings, with oysters and beverages priced per item, including:

  • 16 Oyster Pairings! From 12 noon to 4 p.m., Oyster Frenzy will present 16 varieties of oysters—eight each from the East and West coasts—paired six championship wines. We can’t wait!
     
    For information call 1.212.490.6650 or email info@oysterbarnycom…or just show up!

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    OYSTER-WINE PAIRINGS & DUCK ISLAND OYSTERS

    We had never heard of Duck Island, a tiny spot on Long Island Sound (between Long Island, New York and Connecticut) that you can’t even see clearly on a map.

    But yesterday we were treated to Duck Island oysters, plus Kumamotos from Baja, California, along with 23 different wines under consideration for the Oyster Frenzy at the Oyster Bar.

    Our challenge was to select which of the wines went better with the very briny Kumamotos and which went better with the fruity, honeydew-note Duck Island oysters from Long Island Sound.

    Lest anyone think, “Oh boy, 23 different wines,” let us emphasize that this is very tough work! And without going into detail on the 23 wines (kudos to the sommeliers at the Oyster Bar for such an informative challenge), our philosophy is:

  • Go for a classic Chablis or Pinot Blanc with fruity oysters. You don’t want any fruit sweetness from the wine interfering with the subtle notes of the oyster.
  • For briny oysters, a touch of fruit in the wine can offset the salinity. In the blind taste test, we picked a Sauvignon Blanc, a Sauvignon Blanc-Chardonnay blend and a dry Riesling.
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    As for those Duck Island oysters, we couldn’t get enough of them. We’re heading back to The Oyster Bar this weekend for more!

     

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    Our favorite way to enjoy oysters—apart from naked, as absolutely plain oysters are called—is with salmon caviar. Photo courtesy The Sea Grill | NYC.

     

    HOW TO EAT OYSTERS

    When you’re eating fresh oysters on the half shell, the best way to eat them is naked. That’s how you’ll taste the different flavor notes in different varieties.

    Any addition—lemon juice, cocktail sauce, mignonette sauce, horseradish—just covers up those wonderful flavor notes.

    On the other hand, if the oyster is bland, you need those condiments to add flavor! But that should never be the case at a seafood restaurant or oyster bar.
     
    WHAT ABOUT OYSTER CRACKERS

    Oyster crackers are small, salted, soup crackers, typically hexagonal in shape and molded into two halves, roughy suggestive of an oyster shell. They were so-named because they were commonly served with oyster chowder, oyster stew and similar fish and seafood dishes.

    The best ones we’ve ever had—served at the Oyster Bar—are from Westminster Bakers. We can’t stop eating them!

     
    TYPES OF OYSTERS

    Check out the different types of oysters in our Oyster Glossary.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Rosé Wine & The Best Rosé Tasting Ever

    Quick: What’s a rosé wine?

  • It’s a type of wine that gets some of its rosy color from contact with red grape skins, but not enough to qualify it as a red wine.
  • It can be made anywhere in the world, from almost any grape (or a mix of different grapes); it can be made as a still, semi-still or sparkling wine.
  • Depending on the grape, terroir and winemaking techniques, the color can range from the palest pink to deep ruby red to hues of orange or violet; and in styles from bone dry Provençal rosé to sweet White Zinfandel and other blush wines from California.
  • It may be the oldest style of wine, as it is the most easiest to make with the skin contact method.
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    And it’s popular.

    According to Nielsen, premium imported rosés (those priced at $12 or more per bottle) grew by 39% in volume and 48% in dollar value in 2013, capping nine straight years of double-digit growth.

    In sum, a glass of chilled rosé is now hot.

    And soon, in celebration, the world’s first large-scale rosé tasting event, La Nuit En Rosé will be held in New York City—on June 13th and 14th.

    Before then, you can set a bottle or two on your Easter table. But La Nuit En Rosé is a rosé tasting with 50 wines you won’t want to miss.

     

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    Multiply times 50: That’s how many roses you’ll be able to taste at La Nuit En Rosé (if not more!). Photo courtesy Corks and Caftans.

     

    LA NUIT EN ROSÉ: ROSE WINÉ TASTING CRUISE UP THE HUDSON RIVER
    JUNE 13th & 14th, 2014

    La Nuit En Rosé, “The Pink Night,” marks the first time a large wine event has focused exclusively on rosé. It’s a celebration of rosés from around the globe, and your opportunity to taste the different grapes and styles all in one evening—on a yacht cruise!

    There will be more than 50 wines from the world’s great wine regions.

    This tasting event will take place during an elegant yacht cruise along the Hudson River that nestles Manhattan Island. There are not only wines, but live music, optional cuisine and some of the best views Manhattan has to offer.

    There are two four-hour sessions a day, an afternoon and an evening sailing, each featuring a 90-minute cruise. The yacht departs from Pier 40 (West Street and the Hudson River).

    Just pick your day and time on Friday, June 13th or Saturday, June 14th:

  • DAY TASTING & CRUISE, 1 PM to 5 PM: Take in the summertime sun during a daytime cruise. Sip on the world’s finest rosé wines while taking in the sights of downtown New York City from the water. You can board as early as 1 and start tasting. The cruise begins at 2 p.m. and sails until 3:30 p.m.; you can then remain on board until 5, tasting and enjoying the music.
  • NIGHT TASTING & CRUISE, 7 PM to 11 PM: Prepare for an evening of wine tasting, dancing and cruising around the city. Enjoy views of the lit-up Manhattan skyline. Boarding time is 7 p.m.; the cruise begins at 8 p.m. and sails until 9:30 p.m. You can remain on board until 11.
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    TICKETS

    Tickets are $60 per person and include all of the wines and the 90-minute cruise. Buy them at NuitRose.com.

    Food vendors on board will sell cheeses, charcuterie, fresh seafood, French pastries and other snacks to pair with the wines.

    The event also features a wine competition, where distinguished judges will confer honors upon the best of the wines, and you can cast your own vote for the audience award (“people’s choice”).

    If you taste something you really like, you’ll be able to order it on board from renowned wine merchant Zachys.

    Get together a group: It should be a memorable event!

     

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    We can’t wait to taste and cruise. Photo by
    Thor | Wikimedia.

     

    HOW IS ROSÉ MADE?

    Surprise: Most wine grapes have clear juice, regardless of the skin color. The pink color in rosé—and the color of red wines—is obtained through skin contact. This means letting the crushed grape skins and fresh juice (which is called the “must”) of black-skinned grapes (a.k.a. purple or red grapes) rest together in a vat.

    The longer that the juice is left in contact with the skins (typically one to three days for rosé), the more color is extracted and the more intense the color of the final wine. When the color is the right shade for the brand, the must is then pressed and and the skins are discarded.

    The winemaker drains the juice from the skins and proceeds to make the wine in the same way most whites are made (cool fermentation and, for rosé, no oak).

    Rosé Vs. Blush Wine

    In the 1980s, American winemakers began using the term “blush wine” to sell their pink wines. The reasons:

     

  • White Zinfandel had become enormously popular (at one point it was the largest-selling wine in America), and there weren’t enough Zinfandel grapes grown to meet demand. Winemakers needed to use other grape varieties, and could no longer call the product “White Zinfandel.”
  • No one was buying, or showing an interest in, rosé at the time, while blush wines flew off of the shelves.
  • American pink wines, whether White Zin or the generic “blush,” are typically sweeter and paler than French-style rosé.

    The styles and tasting profiles of each are as varied and complex as any varietal, and richly deserve their new popularity. Get to know fifty of them this June.

      

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    FREEBIE: Harvard “Science Of Cooking” Online Cooking Class

    What if you could study the science of cooking with some of the world’s best-known experts, in a Harvard online course? For free! You can, starting October 8th.

    One of the largest trends in education are MOOCs, Massive Open Online Courses. The concept is being led by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which founded edX, the not-for-profit online learning enterprise.

    Harvard’s popular Science & Cooking course, which brings some of the world’s top chefs into the science classroom, will start on October 8th at edX. “SPU27x: Science and Cooking—From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Physics,” is an online adaptation of an internationally recognized Harvard course that uses “deconstructivist” cooking techniques to illustrate the principles of science and engineering in the classroom.

    Top chefs and Harvard researchers explore how everyday cooking and haute cuisine can illuminate basic principles in physics and engineering, and vice versa.

     

    What makes gelatin go from powder to solid? It’s one of the many chemical reactions that will be explained in the course. Here’s the recipe. Photo courtesy Jelly Shot Test Kitchen.

     

    Chef instructors include some of the world’s most acclaimed modern chefs. A sampling:

  • Jose Andres, Chef and Restaurateur, Washington D.C.
  • Ferran Adrià, Chef, Barcelona
  • David Chang, Chef, Momofuku restaurants, Ma Peche and Milk Bar, New York
  • Wylie Dufresne, Chef, WD-50, New York
  • Harold McGee, Author, On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen
  • Nathan Myhrvold, Author, Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking and Modernist Cuisine At Home
  • Enrico Rovira, Chocolatier
  • Bill Yosses, White House Executive Pastry Chef
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    The syllabus. Image courtesy Harvard
    University.

     

    The original course grew out of collaboration between faculty at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the Alícia Foundation, led by groundbreaking Spanish chef Ferran Adrià. When Adrià gave a public lecture at Harvard SEAS in 2008, his talk drew an audience that spilled beyond the auditorium doors. Encouraged by the crowds, faculty in applied physics developed a four-month undergraduate course that now, in turn, has inspired this offering on edX.

    During each week of the course, Adrià and other top chefs will reveal the secrets of some of their most famous culinary creations—often right in their own restaurants. Alongside this exhibition of cooking mastery, the Harvard instructors will explain the science behind the recipe.

    You can:

  • Watch the weekly lecture at your leisure (everything is archived online)
  • Audit or commit to a certificate (which requires assignments and tests)
  • And do it at this time for NO FEE WHATSOEVER.
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    READY TO LEARN MORE?

    Head to edX.

      

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    EVENT: Bacon In The City

    Bacon cupcakes, bacon potato chips, bacon melon balls, candied bacon, bacon lattes—these were just some of the treats enjoyed by participants in last year’s iAdventure festival in New York City.

    On Sunday, June 23rd, iAdventure.com Bacon Bash II will take place at Bowlmor Times Square. Join the party to sample bacon-inspired libations and treats and bring home some baco-licious souvenirs. Your bacon cravings will be satisfied by Bare Burger, House of ‘Que, Baconery, Bacon Bites and others with bacon preparations from the sweet to the savory!

    Tickets are $35 for 1 draft beer and à la carte food; $45 for 5 Bacon Tastes and 1 draft beer, and $85 for two tickets with 10 Bacon Tastes and 2 draft beers!

    You must be 21+ to attend. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit iAdventure.com.

    Until then, check out our:

  • Favorite Bacon Chocolates
  • BLT Martini Recipe
  • Homemade Bacon Vodka & Bacon Bloody Mary Recipe
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    Candied bacon and bacon lattes from iAdventure.com Bacon Bash I.

     

      

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    EVENT: Coffee Cup Tasters Challenge

    How well do you know your coffee?

    Counter Culture Coffee wants you to get to know it better. You’re invited to take part in The Counter Culture Coffee Cup Tasters Challenge 2013, held on March 15 in:

  • Asheville
  • Atlanta
  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Durham
  • New York
  • Philadelphia
  • Washington, D.C.
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    Events in all regions start at 7 p.m. E.T., 6 p.m. C.T. in Chicago.

     

    Taste the coffee black to discover the differences. Photo courtesy Derby Pie.

     

    Known in the industry as “coffee cupping,” this is the process professionals use to assess different coffees—for example, to decide if and how to improve the roast or blend, or which beans should be served/sold by the establishment.

    The Counter Culture event, though, is a consumer contest for a regional title win. The overall winner gets a chance to go to the Specialty Coffee Association of America conference in Boston this April, to compete in the U.S. Cup Tasters Championship.

    For a $5.00 entry fee, participants get to taste delicious coffees: multiple sets (flights) of three cups each. To win, you’ve got to correctly identify which cup is different from the other two in each set.

    Ready to put your palate to the test? Registration information is at CounterCultureCoffee.com.

      

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