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TIP OF THE DAY: King Cake & Milk Punch For Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras 2017 falls on Tuesday, February 28. It always falls on the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.

Celebrating the Carnival season, Mardi Gras (French for Fat Tuesday) has been a state holiday in Louisiana since the 19th century.

WHAT’S MARDI GRAS?

The Carnival season begins on or after the Epiphany or Kings Day (January 6th), and culminates on the day before Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday refers to the practice of eating richer, fatty foods the last night before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season begins on Ash Wednesday.

Mardi Gras is sometimes referred to as Shrove Tuesday, from the word shrive, meaning “confess.” But the idea of rich foods is far more appealing.

Why “Carnival?”

Centuries ago, Catholics in Italy started the tradition of holding a wild costume festival right before the first day of Lent. It stuck, engendering huge Carnival events elsewhere, including New Orleans and Rio de Janiero.

In New Orleans, parades and other celebrations begin the extended weekend before, starting Friday, February 24th.

You don’t have to go all-out to celebrate, or even prepare a Jambalaya Bar for friends and family.

Instead, invite them to drop by for a slice of King Cake, a glass of milk punch, or both.

You can buy a King Cake—the traditional Mardi Gras buttery yeasted sweet cake, or make one with the excellent mix kit from King Arthur Flour. It includes the yeast cake mix, almond paste, white icing mix and decorating sugars.

BYO plastic baby: Per, tradition the person who gets the piece of cake with the baby (or coin, or other token) gets good luck all year!

IMPORTANT: Never bake anything plastic in a cake; it will melt and render the cake inedible (and for all we know, it can catch fire). The technique is: after the cake is baked and still warm (and more pliable), insert the good luck token into the cake from the underside, before icing.

Here’s more on the history of King Cake.

TO DRINK: MILK PUNCH

Milk punch is in the category of drinks made with milk or cream: Brandy Alexander, Classic Ramos Gin Fizz, Grasshopper, Irish Coffee, Mudslide, Pink Squirrel, White Russian, and many others (hey—another idea for a themed cocktail party: cream-based cocktails).

   

King Cake Mardi Gras

King Cake Kit

King Cake

[1] [2] [3] These King Cakes were made from a mix kit from King Arthur Flour. The rectangular shape isn’t traditional, but you can be as creative as you like.

 
Milk punch combines brandy or bourbon* with milk, sugar and vanilla extract, typically garnished with grated nutmeg. It is served cold and usually has nutmeg sprinkled on top.

FOOD TRIVIA: sugar was added to cocktails to cover up the taste of the alcohol, as was milk.

 

Milk Punch

Nutmeg and Microplane

[4] You can serve milk punch in whatever glasses you have (photo Michelle Banovic | Atwood Hotel | Chicago. [5] Don’t forget the nutmeg. We have a special nutmeg grater (like a peppermill for nutmeg); but you can use your Microplane (photo courtesy McCormick).

 

It was popularized in the 17th century by Aphra Behn, one of the first English women to earn her living by her writing. At the time, all types of punch were served from a punch bowl.

The milk punch of the era was made with cream curdled with lemon juice. Those recipes gave way to milk punches that use(d) fresh milk or cream, like egg nog—which is a milk punch enriched with eggs.

Milk punches—egg nog or other—became holiday and celebratory traditions (for example, Mardi Gras).

In modern-day New Orleans, milk punches vie as brunch drinks with the Bloody Mary, created in 1940 in New York City Bloody Mary history.

There are as many recipes for milk punch as for anything else, but for Mardi Gras we serve up the recipe from Brennan’s, a favorite New Orleans restaurant since 1946.

For a 17th-century-type recipe, try Benjamin Franklin’s recipe. He used brandy and included lots of lemon juice (which curdled the milk).

MILK PUNCH RECIPES

This, and other cognac-based milk punches, often use Napoleon brandy, a designation for a brandy or cognac aged at least five years. Feel free to use VSOP; with all the cream and sugar, the nuances of the Napoleon will be covered up.

If you don’t like or don’t have brandy, you can substitute bourbon, rum, whiskey and even tequila.

RECIPE #1: BRENNAN’S BRANDY MILK PUNCH

Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces/4 tablespoons brandy or cognac
  • 4 ounces/1/2 cup half & half
  • 1 ounce/2 tablespoons simple syrup† (recipe)
  • 1/4 ounce/1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Garnish: freshly grated nutmeg
  •  
    Plus

  • Cocktail shaker and ice
  • Preparation

    1. COMBINE the ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.

    2. SHAKE vigorously and pour into a chilled old-fashioned glass. Garnish with nutmeg.

    RECIPE #2: BRANDY MILK PUNCH

    Here’s a recipe from New Orleans Online that uses more milk and less sugar.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 oz brandy or bourbon
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon powdered sugar
  • 3 ice cubes
  • Cracked ice
  • Garnish: freshly grated nutmeg
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the brandy, milk, and sugar with the ice cubes in a cocktail shaker, and shake until frothy (about 1 minute).

    2. STRAIN into a double-old fashioned glass filled with cracked ice. Sprinkle with nutmeg and serve.
    ________________

    *Some people prefer gin, tequila or other spirit.

    †We prefer less sweetness, so reduce the simple syrup.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Eat Something Presidential

    Presidents Day is Monday, February 20, a mashup* of the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln (February 12th) and George Washington (February 22nd).

    You can’t, of course, sit down to a meal with a president; but you can have some of his favorite foods. You can find the favorite foods of each president here; plus some highlights below.

    George Washington said about food: “My manner of living is plain, and I do not mean to be put out by it. A glass of wine and a bit on mutton are always welcome. Those who expect more will be disappointed.” He enjoyed meats, including steak and kidney pie (also a favorite of Ronald Reagan), fish and a wide variety of fruits and nuts; and beer was brewed at Mount Vernon.

    However, at a Presidential dinner guests would find roast beef, veal, turkey, ducks, fowls, hams, and other meats, along with puddings, jellies, oranges, apples, nuts, almonds, figs, raisins, and a variety of wines and punch. Martha Washington’s recipes include fruit cakes, sugar cakes (like cookies), carraway cakes, spice cakes, marzipan cakes, cheesecakes, lady fingers, macaroons, gingerbread, custards, pies and tarts [source]

    Breakfast was simple: eggs, hoe cakes and rice waffles, along with coffee and tea, breads and toast. What about cherries? He did, indeed, love them; and no doubt enjoyed them in preserves, jellies and pies. [source]

    Thomas Jefferson may be our most epicurean president. He developed a passion for French cuisine while Minister to France, and became fond of pasta and other foods while traveling through Europe. Yet, Jefferson retained his liking of local specialties: baked shad, crab, green peas, sweet potatoes, turnip greens and Virginia ham, among others. Asparagus became widely available during Colonial times, and was a particular favorite. He is also known for his wine cellar.

    He brought back to America a French-trained cook (James Hemmings), the first pasta machines, Parmegiano-Reggiano cheese and waffle irons; recipes for ice cream (not yet popular in the U.S.) and served the first julienned fried potatoes (e.g., French fries). He popularized foods from the humble (macaroni and cheese) to the elegant (Champagne). When Jefferson took the Oath of Office in 1801, one of his first priorities was finding a French chef for his kitchen.

    Abraham Lincoln ate what was put in front of him. During the day, he grazed on coffee, apples and other fresh fruit. He could make a dinner of bread and cheese. A teetotaler, no alcohol was served in the White House (which drew private grumbles from guests).

    He did have two favorite dishes: chicken fricassee with biscuits, and oyster stew or oysters any style; and enjoyed a dessert of apple pie. He was also fond of bacon. Here’s more about his food preferences.

    Skipping ahead to more recent times:

    Dwight Eisenhower enjoyed stews and was a staunch meat eater, which was typical for his time. He knew how to cook, and liked to make his own beef soup. One of his favorite desserts was prune whip (here’s a recipe), along with the more ubiquitous apple pie and rice pudding.

    John Kennedy was not a big eater, but he liked the standards of the day—lamb chops, steak, baked chicken, turkey (white meat) and mashed potatoes. He also was fond of seafood, baked beans and corn muffins; when he ate dessert, it was something chocolate. Lunch was often soup, a sandwich and fruit; his favorite soup was fish chowder. Like Lincoln, Kennedy was a small eater and often had to be reminded that it was dinner time.

    Lyndon Johnson favored Southwestern, Mexican and especially barbecue cuisine—not unusual for a Texan. He also loved a meal of chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes. He despised fish. His beverage of choice: Fresca. Breakfast often consisted of creamed chipped beef on toast and a cup of tea. For dessert: banana pudding, tapioca pudding or German chocolate cake. Johnson was also fond of canned peas and sweet potatoes topped with toasted marshmallows. Here’s a recipe.

    LBJ was a big man who often ate ravenously. Texas Governor John Connally said: “Most of the time he had no manners. He’d eat off the plate of either person on either side of him. If he ate something that he liked and they hadn’t finished theirs, he’d reach over with his fork and eat off of their plate.” [source]

    Richard Nixon, a weight watcher, often had cottage cheese and fruit for lunch; he is famous for snacking on cottage cheese and ketchup. He started each day with a breakfast of fresh orange juice, half a grapefruit, cold cereal with skim milk and coffee. He loved meat loaf for dinner—a fact that engendered so many requests that the White House had the recipe printed on the back of the letterhead they sent to consumers. Here’s a recipe. [source]

    Gerald Ford was a hearty eater who preferred American staples: bacon burgers, casseroles, liver and onions, pot roast, spaghetti and meatballs and spare ribs. He rarely ate dessert, but when he did, lemon pudding and butter pecan ice cream were favorites.

       

    Steak & Kidney Pie

    Spaghetti With Asparagus & Parma Ham

    Oysters On The Half Shell

    Prune Whip

    [1] Enjoy a steak and kidney pie in honor of George Washington. Here’s a recipe from Gordon Ramsay. [2] Jefferson was an epicure but without the pasta he brought back from Europe, it would have taken us that much longer to enjoy this American favorite. He also loved asparagus. Here’s a the recipe that combines both, from Umami Info. [3] Oyster stew or oysters on the half shell would please Lincoln (photo courtesy Whole Foods Market). [4] Ever had a prune whip, an LBJ favorite? Here’s a recipe from Taste Of Home.

     

    Corn Muffin

    Sweet Potato Casserole

    Monkey Bread

    [5] JFK enjoyed a corn muffin at breakfast—although he never saw a corn muffin “surprise” like this. Here’s the recipe from Betty Crocker. [6] Sweet potato casserole was a favorite of Clinton, Johnson and Kennedy. Johnson liked his topped with toasted marshmallows. Here’s a recipe. [6] Ronald Reagan liked monkey bread. Here’s a recipe from Dishmaps.

     

    Jimmy Carter was not a big eater, but he enjoyed down home, southern-style dishes such as pork chops with corn bread stuffing, grits, baked and fried chicken. His favorite vegetable was eggplant; he also liked butternut squash, collards, kale and okra. It’s not a surprise that the former peanut farmer enjoyed snacking on peanuts.

    Ronald Reagan liked chicken and beef dishes and hearty bowls of soup. Although the nutrition-conscious First Lady focused on fiber-rich foods and dishes with a minimum of fat and cholesterol, Reagan shared George Washington’s enjoyment of steak and kidney pie. He loved macaroni and cheese, too (here’s his personal recipe).

    For breakfast, he might be treated to monkey bread, a Hungarian sticky coffee cake so-called because one pulls apart the pieces as a monkey would (it’s original Hungarian name is aranygaluska, which literally means golden dumplings). Here’s a recipe.

    For dessert, Regan liked brownies, chocolate cake, chocolate mousse, ice cream and pumpkin pecan pie. He liked snacking on jelly beans—especially the licorice ones (he had Jelly Belly make up a red, white and blue mix for the White House—in fact, the blue jelly bean color was created for this purpose!). Chocolate chip cookies were another favorite snack.

    George H. W. Bush loved snacking on pork rinds and popcorn. He adored hot sauce. But he is better known for what he didn’t like: broccoli, which his mother served every day. He also refused to other crucifers, such as Brussels sprouts and cauliflower.

    Bill Clinton loved to eat, from fast food to Tex Mex (chicken enchiladas, tacos, to ribs cheeseburgers, fried chicken and roast beef. For sides, he prized his mother’s sweet potato casserole and corn pudding. He put jalapeños on his cheeseburgers.

    For dessert, carrot cake, ice cream, lemon chess pie and peach pie were often on the menu. After leaving office, Clinton became a vegetarian for health reasons and became a vegan. (And he looks great!)

    George W. Bush liked Tex-Mex and beef tenderloin—not surprising for a Texan—plus comfort foods like warm biscuits and chicken pot pie. He and Mrs. Bush liked spicy foods, and wanted Southwestern and Tex-Mex as often as possible, with huevos rancheros for breakfast on Sundays; and deviled eggs for snacking. For lunch, George W. liked a BLT, grilled cheese sandwiches made with Kraft Singles and white bread, peanut butter and honey sandwiches, and occasionally, a burger.

    Barack Obama cites pizza as his #1 favorite food; his go-to in D.C. is the deep dish cornmeal crust pizza at Pi Pizzeria (with original locations in St. Louis). He is also a chili fan, a dish that Michelle Obama converted to turkey instead of beef. He likes salmon for dinner and snacks on almonds or trail mix. Also a burger buff, he has been known to bring foreign guests to Ray’s Hell Burger in Arlington, Virginia.

    ________________

    *Initially two individual holidays were for celebrated in government offices in the District of Columbia, on the actual birthdays, February 12th and 22nd. It was expanded to include all federal offices in 1885. State government offices, including schools, followed suit, followed by banks and other businesses. In 1971, the Washington’s Birthday holiday was shifted to the third Monday in February and combined with the Lincoln’s Birthday celebration to allow federal employees a three-day weekend.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: DIY Jambalaya Bar

    For Mardi Gras—February 28—try a new take on food bars (a.k.a. buffets): DIY Jambalaya.

    Jambalaya is a delicious, spicy, main course consisting of rice and practically everything else in the refrigerator! It’s a great way to use favorite meats and veggies (shrimp, peas, carrots, bell peppers). You can start from scratch; for a family night, using leftovers is more than acceptable.

    Jambalaya is also an economical and easy way to feed a large group—Super Bowl Sunday, Oscar parties, even outdoor fêtes.

    But, as a creation of New Orleans, we like it best for Mardi gras.

    JAMBALAYA HISTORY

    Jambalaya originated in Louisiana. Creole jambalaya, called red jambalaya by the Cajuns to differentiate it from their take—sprang from the French Quarter of New Orleans, the sector originally inhabited by Europeans.

    Jambalaya was an adaptation of paella by the Spaniards, most of whom could not afford saffron (an essential paella ingredient) due to high import costs. Tomatoes were substituted to color and flavor the dish.

    French Creoles introduced jambalaya to the Cajuns of southern Louisiana, who rarely used tomatoes (it’s swamp country). Instead, they browned the meat for color and smoky flavor and referred to their recipe as brown jambalaya.

    The word “jambalaya” is a combination of the Spanish jamón or the French jambon, meaning ham, and another word; however, what word that is can be controversial.

  • You may read that the word is “aya, African for rice.” But there are no rice varietals in Africa with names like “yaya,” “aya,” or “ya.” “Ya” in Mambila (the language of Cameroon and Nigeria), and “y?” or “yala” (among the Grusi and Lyela peoples of Burkina Faso) refer to another grain, sorghum.
  • A better explanation may be the combination of jamón/jambon and paella: It doesn’t take too close a look to notice that jambalaya is an adaptation of paella, using white rice instead of saffron rice. Jam-paella or jamb-paella = jambalaya.
  •  
    While there are different recipes for each dish, both paella and jambalaya incorporate chicken, ham, sausage and seafood.

    Since jambalaya could be made economically in big black cast iron pots for crowds*, it became popular for large events, including church suppers, weddings and political rallies.

    The recipe evolved to seafood-only versions, meat-only versions, and vegetarian/vegan recipes. One of the benefits of a jambalaya bar is that each person can customize the dish as he/she wishes.

    The easiest way to make the rice is to use Zatarain’s Jambalaya Mix. Alternatively, use plain white rice with cajun seasoning from McCormick, or other brands.

    Thanks to Olivia Manning and Zatarain’s for the suggestion!

    RECIPE: JAMBALAYA BAR

    This recipe makes five dinner-size portions. Multiply it for a larger crowd. Don’t worry about leftovers: leftover Jambalaya is delicious (even cold!).

    Ingredients For 5 Servings

    Cooked Proteins (Total 1.5 Cups)

  • Andouille or other smoked sausage, sliced
  • Ham, cubed
  • Chicken, cubed or sliced
  • Shrimp, peeled and deveined shrimp
  • For an all-shellfish jambalaya: scallops, mussels, oysters, shrimp
  •  
    Vegetables

  • Green bell peppers, cubed or sliced, cooked
  • Heat: hot sauce, red chile flakes, sliced jalapeños
  • Onions: sliced cooked onions, raw green onions (scallions)
  • Red bell peppers, cubed or sliced, cooked
  •  
    Rice

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 package Zatrain’s Jambalaya Mix, Original
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MIX the water and rice mix in a large saucepan until well blended. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low; cover and simmer for 25 minutes or until most of the water is absorbed and the rice is tender

    2. REMOVE from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving and place on a platter or individual serving plates. Bring to the table with the add-ins.

       

    Jambalaya

    Jambalaya Bar

    Zatarain's Jambalaya Mix

    Cajun Seasoning

    King Cake

    [1] A pot of Jambalaya, served at the table (here’s the recipe from Gimme Some Oven). [2] Deconstruct the ingredients for a Jambalaya Bar (photo courtesy Olivia Manning | Zatarain’s). [3] Zatarain’s Jambalaya Mix. [4] You can use Cajun seasoning to flavor plain white rice (photo courtesy McCormick). [5] Yes, please! It’s easy to make a King Cake with the mix kit from King Arthur Flour.

    ________________

    *One of the charms of paella is the crispy rice crust that develops at the bottom of the pan, called soccorat. You can’t get soccorat from cooking in a large kettle. Paella is cooked in a wide, shallow pan with a layer of rice on the bottom. At the end of cooking, the heat is turned up to create the crust. Socorrat derives from the Spanish verb socarrar, to singe.

     

    Sazerac Cocktail

    Sazerac de Forge 1811 Cognac

    [6] The Sazerac Cocktail, a New Orleans specialty (photo courtesy Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse). [7] A bottle of the original Sazerac cognac, currently for sale for €12,500 at Old Liquors.

     

    WHAT TO DRINK? A SAZERAC!

    Beer and Jambalaya are natural companions, but you might like to start the event with a round of one of New Orlean’s signature cocktails, the Sazerac.

    Developed in the 1830s, the Sazerac is a New Orleans variation of a cognac or whiskey cocktail, named for the Sazerac de Forge et Fils house of cognac with which it was originally made, plus rye.

    As the story goes, the cocktail was first mixed at Antoine Amédée Peychaud’s apothecary on Royal Street. With his own bitters—still called for in the recipe— Peychaud’s bitters, served friends a cognac cocktail made with his own bitters (you can make your own too—here’s more about bitters). It was then popularized at Sazerac Coffee House, a saloon on Exchange Place in the French Quarter.

    The primary ingredient in the cocktail was switched from cognac to rye in 1870 and an absinthe rinse added, due to changing tastes; the recipe remains so today, but you can go back to the original—or make both recipes to see which you prefer.

    It is one of many descendants of the Old Fashione. The absinthe and Peychaud’s bitters make it unique to New Orleans.

    Bartenders of today use rich simple syrup (2:1 sugar:water ratio instead of 1:1) instead of the sugar cube.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1/4 ounce absinthe (herbsaint)
  • Crushed ice
  • 1 sugar cube
  • 1-1/2 ounce rye or cognac
  • 3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters (you can substitute Angostura—both are made from gentian)
  • Garnish: lemon peel
  •  
    Preparation

    1. RINSE a chilled old-fashioned (rocks) glass with the absinthe, add crushed ice and set it aside.

    2. STIR the remaining ingredients in a shaker over ice and set it aside.

    3. DISCARD the ice and any excess absinthe from the prepared glass, and strain the drink into the glass. Garnish and serve. Optionally, you can serve the drink straight up.

     
    MORE MARDI GRAS RECIPES

    Cocktails

  • Purple, Gold & Green Cocktails—the colors of Mardi Gras
  •  
    Mains

  • Easy Gumbo Recipe
  • Gumbalaya—a cross between gumbo and jambalaya
  • Shrimp & Grits
  •  
    Desserts

  • Beignets
  • King Cake Mix
  •   

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Aged Coffee & Nespresso Limited Edition Selection Vintage 2014

    Conventional coffee advice tells you to buy the freshest roasted beans, and grind them as you need to make coffee. Don’t buy more than you need for the week: Fresh is everything.

    But now, there’s aged coffee, a growing trend.

    Aged coffee is not analogous to old, stale, flat coffee. It comprises specially selected beans, that are aged using techniques that bring out the best aged qualities.

    While the marketing message compares aged coffee to aged balsamic vinegar, whiskey, wine, etc., that’s an apples-to-oranges comparison. Still, aged coffee isn’t exactly new. The first coffee drunk by Europeans was aged.

    THE HISTORY OF AGED COFFEE

    Venetian traders first brought coffee to Europe in 1615, but it wasn’t a “quick trip” from Venice.

    At the time, all imported coffee beans came from the port of Mocha, in what is now Yemen. It traveled south by ship around the Cape of Good Hope, then all the way up the west coast of Africa, continuing northward to England.

    By the time the coffee arrived, exposure to salt air over time significantly changed the taste of the coffee. When coffee was subsequently grown in Indonesia, the voyage was even longer.

    Europeans came to prefer the flavor over “fresh” coffee. In fact, when the Suez Canal opened in 1869, greatly shortening the voyage, Europeans still preferred the aged coffee to the fresher beans.

    And so it came to be that some coffee was intentionally aged for six months or longer in large, open-sided warehouses in shipping ports—plenty of salty ocean air to transform the beans.

    Over time, preferences changed. Fresh coffee beans became the preferred type of coffee in Europe, the U.S. and elsewhere.

    However, everything old is new again, and aged coffee has become the old new style to try.

    Here’s more history of coffee.

    AGED COFFEE HAS BEEN IN THE U.S. FOR A WHILE

    Starbucks has been aging coffee for certain single-origin coffees and for signature blends, such as Anniversary Blend and Christmas Blend.

    At Peet’s, you can find Aged Sumatra Coffee.

    Boutique producers also have introduced customers to the joys of aged coffee.

    Ceremony Coffee in Annapolis has a Barrel Aged Coffee Series.

    Water Avenue Coffee in Portland, Oregon sells Oak Barrel Aged Sumatra Coffee and Pinot Noir Barrel Aged El Salvador Coffee.

    So is aged coffee a connoisseur product, or a marketing throwback to the past?

    It is definitely the former! Everyone who savors a full-bodied cup of coffee black should try it. Why black? Well…add too much milk and sugar and you won’t taste the marvelous nuances.

    What To Know About Aged Coffee

       

    Nespresso Aged Coffee 2014

    Sumatra Coffee Beans

    Espresso Beans

    [1] A glass of Nespresso aged coffee from the 2014 vintage (photo courtesy Nespresso). [2] Sumatra coffee beans: aged (top) versus unaged (photo courtesy Starbucks Melody). [3] Roasted and ready to grind (photo © Nebojsa Rozgic).

  • Only certain types of green (unroasted) coffee bean varieties age well; but there’s no single formula. Indonesian beans that are full-bodied and low in acidity, particularly Sumatra and Sulawesi beans that are semi-dry processed, can develop a spicy, complex flavor as they age.
  • On the other hand, some bright, acidic wet-processed Latin American coffees (which mellow as they age).
  • The beans must be aged under the right circumstances, including humidity, or their oils will evaporate, taking with them much of the aroma and flavor. Depending on the bean and the terroir, the aging technique can vary.
  • As with wine, each vintage has its own characteristics, and must be aged accordingly to create a unique, complex taste profile.
  • Unlike with some wines and whiskeys, ongoing aging does not improve the coffee: It simply loses more of its flavor.
  •  

    Nespresso Aged Coffee 2014

    Nespresso Aged Coffee 2014

    [4] and [5] Nespresso Limited Edition Selection Vintage 2014 contains three sleeves.

     

    HOW TO CREATE AGED COFFEE

    Beans with the promise to age well are carefully aged under conditions that are best for the particular type of bean and vintage. As with many agricultural products, the “terroir” of the bean—the type of land, climate, seasonal weather and other environmental factors—produces different flavors and aromas in the finished product.

    After harvesting, the beans are bagged in burlap and regularly rotated to distribute moisture and prevent mold and rot. Some roasters prefer to age the beans in wine or whiskey barrels to impart still more flavors and aromas to the finished beans.

    The beans are usually aged at their origin, often at a higher altitude, where the temperature and humidity are more stable.

    Aging time ranges from six months to three years. Samples are roasted and brewed several times a year during the aging process and when the desired flavors have been achieved, are roasted after they are finished aging.

    A dark roast is best, as it evens out the flavor and accentuates the body of the coffee. Sometimes they are blended with other aged beans.

    However, some connoisseurs prefer a light roast on single-origin aged coffees, which better emphasizes the single-origin qualities.

     
    As more people embrace aged coffee, no doubt, there will be options to everyone’s taste.

    INTRODUCING NESPRESSO’S FIRST AGED COFFEE:
    THE LIMITED EDITION SELECTION VINTAGE 2014

    For the first time, super-premium coffee brand Nespresso now offers coffee lovers the chance to taste aged coffee.

    After years of development and expertise, Nespresso experts selected Arabica beans from the highlands of Colombia, which promised to age well. These beans, from the 2014 harvest, were then stored under controlled conditions for two years.

    They were then ready to roast. The experts selected a sophisticated split roasting technique: One part of the beans was roasted lighter to protect the elegant aromas specific to these beans; the other part was roasted darker to reveal the maturity of the taste and enhance the richness of the texture.

    The result: a cup of espresso that is rich in body, mellow in flavor and velvety-smooth in texture. An elegant woodiness is layered with fruity notes.

    The goal—to create a new sensory experience for coffee aficionados—has been achieved! The aged coffee is a real treat—and a great gift idea.

    Don’t let this limited edition slip through your fingers. Get yours now, in either original or Vertuo capsules.

    Then, we can both look forward to the next aged vintage!
     
     
    HOW MANY COFFEE REGIONS CAN YOU NAME?

    More than 40 countries around the world grow coffee.

    How many can you name? (The answer.)

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: A Hard Cider Party For Halloween

    Still looking for a Halloween activity?

    How about a hard cider party? It’s adult, it’s fun, and it’s an opportunity to taste and compare more hard ciders than most of us get to do.

    While in the U.S. and parts of Canada, the term “apple cider” is interchangeable with apple juice, in Europe a glass of cider is not kid stuff. It’s an alcoholic drink that that many prefer to beer—and if you look at the explosive sales figures, Americans are also discovering its charms: It’s the fastest-growing alcohol category.
     
    WHAT IS HARD CIDER

    When apples are pressed and bottled, you have apple juice—also called apple cider in the U.S., although in other countries apple cider refers to hard cider.

    Hard cider is made from fermented apple juice; over a few months, the sugars in the juice turn into alcohol. As with craft beer, each brand has a distinct flavor profile and alcoholic content, generally from 3% ABV (alcohol by volume) or less to 8.5% or more.

  • Hard cider uses a different blend of apples than apple juice. In fact, many more apple varieties are used to create a fine cider. The import Magners Irish Cider is made from 17 varieties of apples!
  • Pears are also turned into cider, called perry in the U.K.
  • The juice ferments for eight weeks after the apples are pressed. The cider then matures or several months, and afterward is blended, filtered and carbonated. The result is a drink with the carbonation and alcohol of beer and the flavor of apples.
  • Many cider apples are sour, and can’t substitute for eating apples.
  • Like wine, cider it has a relatively high concentration of antioxidants; it’s naturally gluten-free and is less filling than beer.
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    PLANNING YOUR CIDER PARTY

    Beyond Halloween, you can also have a cider tasting during Thanksgiving cocktail hour, for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and other celebrations.

    1. INVITE friends today: Halloween is eight days away.

    2. PLAN the number of ciders based on the number of people. If you’re serving 8 or more different ciders, estimate one bottle per four proper.

    3. PARE the list. There are many different styles of cider, and ciders from different countries (England, France, Ireland, Spain and others). Each country has its own preferred style, as you’ll see in the Top Artisan Ciders section below. You can’t try them all in one night—but you can have subsequent tastings to try the rest.

  • We recommend sticking with American cider brands for the first event. You want to try a good representation of artisan ciders. There are so many different types of local cider: dry , sweet, barrel-aged, At the next event, you can taste the winners against the Europeans.
  • Similarly, save the barrel-aged, flavored ciders (apple pie, cherry, honey, raspberry, orange, etc.), ice cider (like ice wine, it’s pressed from naturally frozen fruit), perry and spiced ciders for next time.
  • Look for Angry Orchard, Crispin, Strongbow and Woodchuck, for starters; they’re national brands. You can create an entire tasting just by gathering up the different expressions of each brand. For example, Angry Orchard features Apple Ginger, Crisp Apple, Green Apple, Hop’n Mad Apple, Stone Dry, plus a fall seasonal cider, Cinn-Full Apple.
  • Artisan ciders tend to be distributed in the limited area where they are produced—not just because small companies lack sales and marketing heft, but because each brand needs to go through approval of each state liquor authority. It’s daunting, but we’ve listed some highly-rated ciders below.
  • Do not mistakenly pick up a flavored apple beer, like Redd’s Apple Cider. These beverages are artificially flavored, and don’t belong on the same table as cider, an all-natural drink.
  • Do have some apple cider (apple juice) for designated drivers. If you buy a few different kinds, they can have their own “tasting.”
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    4. PLAN the eats. You can serve hard cider with any snack or food you’d serve with beer, but the sweetness of cider allows you to serve it with desserts, too.

  • For snacks: charcuterie and hearty cheeses.
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    Angry Orchard Cider

    Crispin Cider

    Woodchuck Hard Cider

    Strongbow Cider

    [1] Angry Orchard, owned by Boston Brewing Company (parent of Samuel Adams beer), is the nation’s #1 cider brand (photo courtesy Boston Brewing). [2] Crispin makes a variety of styles, as well as perry (pear cider) under the Fox Barrel brand (photo courtesy Crispin Hard Cider Co.). [3] Woodchuck, another popular national brand (photo courtesy Fletcher6 | Wikipedia). [4] Strongbow cider is produced by Heineken (photo courtesy Heineken USA).

  • For main courses: chicken, pork, sausages, soups, stews, fondue (you can substitute hard cider for wine in most recipes and drink rest of the cider along with the meal).
  • For dessert: Apple desserts pair beautifully. We like bread pudding, cobbler or crisp (the difference), pie and apple-topped cheesecake.
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    TOP ARTISAN CIDERS

    Here are some of the nation’s top-rated artisan ciders: Brand, variety and style. “Crisp/Dry” is the most common style. “Funky” refers to a style popular in France, with [what we really enjoy] barnardy aromas. They can also be crisp and dry. Off Dry/Semi-Dry is the classic English style: sweetness of fruit followed by a dry finish.

    Dessert ciders are sweet, like dessert wine; although off dry/semi-dry and crisp ciders can also be paired with desserts.

  • CALIFORNIA: Bonny Doon, Querry (sweet)
  • MASSACHUSETTS: Bantam, Wunderkind (off dry/semi-dry)
  • MICHIGAN: Virtue Cider, Lapinette (funky style)
  • NEW HAMPSHIRE: Farnum Hill, Extra Dry (crisp/dry style)
  • NEW YORK: Bellwether Hard Cider, King Baldwin (crisp/dry style), Doc’s Draft, Original Hard Apple Cider (off dry/semi-dry), Eve’s Cidery, Darling Creek (off dry/semi-dry), Redbyrd Orchard, Starblossom (funky style), Wölffer Estate, 139 Dry Rosé Cider (off dry/semi-dry)(
  • OREGON: E.Z. Orchards, Cidre Dry (funky style), Reverend Nat’s, Revival Hard Apple (crisp/dry), Traditions Ciderworks, Riverwood (off dry/semi-dry)
  • TEXAS: Argus Cidery, 2013 Perennial (funky style), Austin Eastciders, Gold Top (funky style)
  • VERMONT: Eden, Sparkling Cider, Dry (off dry/semi-dry
  • VIRGINIA: Foggy Ridge Cider, First Fruit (crisp/dry style)
  • WASHINGTON: Snowdrift Cider Co., Orchard Select (crisp/dry style)
  • WISCONSIN: AeppelTreow, Appely Brut; Bellwether Hard Cider, King Baldwin (crisp/dry style)
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