Local Liquor & A New Classic Manhattan

Buying local makes a huge impact in reducing our footprint on the planet.  We know our resources aren’t infinite and we know shipping from across the world uses more resources than shipping from our backyards.  So, no need to argue this point. Right? Right.

Why then has this not translated to the wonderful world of alcohol?  At a recent tradeshow, I was discussing the importance of buying local liquor with a colleague.  He wasn’t much older than me and believed that imported = better; a perspective passed down from his father. And I get it, maybe this has been proven true for cars or other products, but for alcohol?  In the film Bottleshock, America did beat France at their game with a blind wine tasting.  So let the record show, local has nothing to do with a better or worse flavor. Rather, it’s the quality and expertise we need to look at here.

If you search a little, you’re bound to find great liquors, wines, and beers local to your region.  In New York, we’re fortunate enough to have the Finger Lakes, a climate similar to Boudreaux, producing top of the line vino, many sustainably so, and at affordable prices—Wolffer Estate and Sherwood House being two of my very favorites. You can find both at Candle 79 in the Upper East Side, but if you are feeling adventurous head over to Long Island for a tour of the estates.  Wine takes on many new dimensions when you have the grapes and growers by your side.

 

Not only does Long Island have great wine, but if you are in the neighborhood, check out Long Island Spirits for a smooth shot of vodka produced using locally grown potatoes, and learn about Long Island’s rich potato growing history.

One of my favorite distilleries is Berkshire Mountain Distillers.  Located on a revived apple farm in Massachusetts, BMD is making top of the line liquors.  The Ragged Mountain Rum is a treat on the rocks, and the Greylock gin is pristine as a martini. Also try their vodka, corn whiskey, and bourbon.  Many of the ingredients are grown locally, however, the more exotic ones like sugar cane, are imported.  When purchasing the rum, you still reduce your carbon footprint because of the resources spared not having had the heavy contents traveling overseas.

 

NEW CLASSIC MANHATTAN
I love the Ragged Mountain Rum alone, but add a little depth with the following recipe:

  • • Start with a local rum like Ragged Mountain
  • • ½ oz of your favorite rich liqueur ( I used a Noccino, a walnut liqueur from Napa)
  • • A dash of bitters ( I used local bitters called Elemakule Tiki from Bittermans)
  • • Finish with a lemon twist and you have a great substitute for the classic Manhattan.

 

Vegan Vine Paired Dinner at Candle 79

Fig Napoleon: cashew cream, vanilla ice cream, fig compote, and a cabernet reduction

Last night I was invited to attend a dinner hosted by  The Vegan Vine – a sustainable-certified California winery making three types of wine specifically for vegans. I had no idea that labeling regulations were so strict with alcohol that the winery was not allowed to put “free of animal products” or “suitable for vegans” on the back of their label. Instead, they had to include the V-word in the name, and create an informative “necker” label that fits around the bottle-neck (their bottles are made from 25% less glass than conventional wine bottle which mean lighter transport and less resources) describing why their wine is vegan:

The Vegan Vine Wines are made entirely without any animal products. The Vegan Vine

Animal products can be utilized as fining or filtration aids in the wine making process. They assist by removing solids. Although typically filtered out of the wine prior to bottling, the use of these animal ingredients can make many wines unsuitable for vegans. The most common animal ingredients used in making wine are:

  • Isinglass: a very pure form of gelatin from sturgeon fish bladders
  • Gelatin: extract from boiled cow’s or pig’s hooves and sinews
  • Albumin: egg whites
  • Caseins: a protein from milk

Above, Top: Whole Wheat Ravioli: sautéed summer vegetables in a sauvignon blanc wine sauce with cashew cheese
Above:
Walnut Crusted Seitan: wild mushrooms, haricots verts, celeriac puree, red wine reduction

The wines featured were :

  • Sauvignon Blanc, Central Coast, California, 2010: aromas of bright citrus fruit, wet grass, and lemon rind with full flavors of grapefruit and fresh herbs,
  • Red Wine, Central Coast, California, 2009:dark red cherries and ripe berries complimented by hints of warm vanilla, cedar, and balanced tannins
  • Cabernet Sauvignon, Central Coast, California, 2008: rich ripe plums and floral undertones combine with blueberries, dried cherries, and a hint of anise spice

Three cheers to the three Vegan Vine wines! And thanks for the awesome company from Team Super-Vegan, Fabrice Penot of Le Labo, nutritionist Jennifer Medley, Cheryl and The Vegan Vine trio, Chef Terry Romero,  Choreographer James Koroni, and PINNACLE cover-girl Emily Wilson and model Todd Litzinger.

(PS – James does not have a twin brother with the same outfit, he just likes to play musical-chairs)

Gala Gallery

March 24, 2009, Vegan Food and Wine Tasting at The Max Studio

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Come meet Yours Truly: Joshua Katcher, and Chloé Jo, as well as Golden Girl: Rue McClanahan, Moby, Morgan Spurlock, and Dan Pirraro as “Celebrity Guest Wine Pourers” at a special evening to benefit PCRM. Hosted by Mary and Peter Max and PCRM president Neal Barnard, M.D., Featuring food and wine from Bonobo’s, Candle 79, Dessert Diva – Fran Costigan, 4 Course Vegan, and Organic Vintages. Register NOW as tickets are going fast!

Please Mary and Peter Max and PCRM President Dr. Neal Barnard for a special evening to benefit PCRM

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March 14, 2009, ARFF 20th Anniversary Gala
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Gala

Bob Barker, of The Price is Right fame, will host the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) 20th Anniversary Gala on Saturday, March 14, 2009, at 7 p.m., at the Broward County Convention Center. Pamela Anderson is the guest of honor. The black-tie-optional affair will provide members and supporters the opportunity to meet, mingle and relax while enjoying an exciting, eventful evening. Highlights of the gala will include a gourmet vegan dinner, an open bar, silent and live auctions featuring items from actress Kim Basinger and basketball player Yao Ming, and book signings by PETA’s Ingrid Newkirk and PCRM’s Dr. Neal Barnard. All proceeds from the gala will be used to fund ARFF’s Humane Education program, which has educated thousands of schoolchildren in Florida on veganism, companion animals and wildlife. Tickets for the gala are $250 and can be purchased by calling (954) 727-ARFF or visiting www.arff.org <http://www.arff.org>

Candle 79 Redux

I wrote this response to the New York Times review of Candle 79 today:

Candle 79 is truly an amazing experience! Mr.Bruni approached his review of Candle 79 as if he were a Broadway critic reviewing a school play. Better yet, as if he were an insecure straight man reviewing a gay bar. Manliness and meat-eating are inseparable in our culture, after all.

Was it a good review? Maybe. He seemed more intent on reminding everyone he likes meat the entire time while giving 79 a somewhat patronizing pat-on-the-back.

Frank Bruni, like most other ‘food experts’ base their entire system like so: animal products are primary, and vegetation is complimentary or secondary – as he admits. This stereotype of vegan food as being a bland pile of grass clippings has been nearly overturned in the last decade. Places like Candle 79 are largely responsible. And unlike Mr. Bruni, I think the Seitan Chimichuris are delicious!

So why is there such a huge surge in vegan cuisine? Certainly there isn’t some mass of martyrdom. An uprising of grassroots and DIY restaurants, cookbooks, bakeries, and other food products has proven that vegan cuisine can be so delicious, successful and lucrative in the last 10 years that the old-school has finally recognized it. Just yesterday Oprah did a special on factory farming and Proposition 2 in California that would ban cruel confinement conditions on animal farms. Ellen Degeneres and Portia are both newly vegan. New York Times best selling book “Skinny Bitch” is still selling like mad. There is a huge demand for conscientious hedonism! The Farm Sanctuary Gala and Genesis Awards are as star-studded as any Hollywood party.

The lamb, the calf, the aged udder secretions (cheese) and chickens’ menstruations (eggs) and diseased goose & duck livers (foie gras) of animals confined and put through hell for their entire lives are, of course, not things we want to consider while eating them… much less something that would carry weight in a food critique. Infantile self-gratification at any cost, including convenient illusions of Utopian farm life for these animals is crucial to mainstream food reviewing. It’s much easier to call it a burger or cheese or veal or Foie gras, and not let the reality remove pleasure from the illusions. You eat ‘pork’. You don’t eat ‘a pig’.

That being said, I consider myself a vegan, a foodie and a conscientious hedonist. Silence your gasps! It is possible to lose pleasure when certain truths are uncovered, and it is possible to gain pleasure knowing you can have your cake and eat it too – and in this case, it’s an amazing vegan cake with cinnamon ice cream (made from coconut cream, of course).

For people wanting to experience some of the BEST vegan food out there, go eat at Candle 79, or go to Whole Foods and try Field Roast’s Apple Sage ‘Grain Sausage’ (www.fieldroast.com), Dr Cow’s Tree Nut Cheese (www.Dr-Cow.com), Purely Decadent Coconut Cream Ice Creams (www.turtlemountain.com/products/purely_decadent_Coconut_Milk_CookieDough.html), or just come over to Brooklyn and I’ll make you a batch of cinnamon, chocolate  pistachio, vegan rugelach that even my very picky, non-vegan, Jewish mother told me ‘put all other rugelachs to shame’ including her own. (I’ll be posting the recipe tomorrow!)

Mainstream food criticism insists it owns certain terminology – but ‘meat’ is not defined as animal flesh, and ‘milk’ does not mean ‘cows milk’. These terms have been taken by the dominant culture, but meat can be the meat of an apple, and milk can be coconut milk. The idea of veganism being only a one way street; taking OUT certain ingredients, is only half true. We also put IN delicious ingredients most non-vegans wouldn’t typically use like coconut oil, cashew cream, flax, sea vegetables, and nutritional yeast. Most chefs wouldn’t know what to do with these ingredients, like how to turn flax into a whipped egg-substitute in baking, or combining cashew cream with nutritional yeast and black truffle oil for a creamy, cheesy sauce – which is why Vegan cuisine has been so DIY!

The only place Candle 79 falls short is in having to accommodate people like Frank Bruni by referencing animal products in their menus for fear of being overlooked in a meat-obsessed culture. Critics who have trouble experiencing food made without animal products fear a loss of identity. But they are no less into food than those who are vegan. Psychologically, there are many more things going on with defiant ties to a zealous affiliation with animal products (but that’s a whole other article).

Veganism can taste amazing! Go enjoy the hundreds of veg restaurant NYC has to offer.

Joshua Katcher
TheDiscerningBrute.com
Fashion, Food & Etiquette for the Ethically Handsome Man

Help Deaf Highschoolers Meet Their Meat

Rescue, Education, Advocacy

Dine at Candle 79 and Make Dreams Come True for Compassionate Kids!

Emergency Rescue FundIt’s always a beautiful experience when city kids (some of whom have never seen a farm animal in person) can visit Farm Sanctuary. Students from the Lexington School for the Deaf in New York City are trying to raise funds to make their dream to meet the animals come true with a Fundraiser for Deaf Students at Candle 79 on Wednesday, April 30 from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. Simply make reservations for that evening at Candle 79, and a portion of your bill will go directly toward the children’s visit to Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, New York. Additional donations for the kids can also be made at the restaurant.seitan chimichurri

Where: Candle 79, 154 East 79th St.(near Lexington Avenue), New York, NY 10021
Directions: Take the 6 train to 77th Street and Lexington Avenue.
Reservations: Call Candle 79 at 212-537-7179, or visit their Web site at candlecafe.com and select “Click here” to make your reservation. Be sure to indicate, “for Lexington Fundraiser,” when making your reservation.

For more information on the fundraiser, please contact Alyssa Banner at 718-350-3275 or abanner@lexnyc.org. If you can’t attend the fundraiser, donations for the kid’s trip can be sent directly to the school. Please make checks payable to Lexington School for the Deaf CORE Class of 2009 and mail to the address below.

Attention: Alyssa Banner
Lexington School for the Deaf
30th Avenue and 75th Street
Jackson Heights, NY 11370

Come to Candle 79 with friends, family and loved ones and support the students’ trip to the farm. A compassionate world begins with you!