An excellent post from Wine Folly about tannins. Just had this discussion the other night with my youngest son. We were talking about the wine we were drinking as “having nice tannins” and he asked what they were. The way I always describe them is that feeling you get on the middle sides of your tongue when you drink plain black tea. Most people can relate to that.
Two spirit oriented events coming up fast:
Friday May 3rd: Bourbon 101. A tasting featuring small-batch bourbons. This is part of the Frederick First Friday celebration. I had no idea this existed. If you check out their web page you can see they have a whole series of spirits tastings lined up for 2013. I’d love to try the Bourbon one, but can’t make it on such short notice. But scotch in September and rum in October? I’m there.
Saturday May 4th is the 2013 Cigar and Whiskey Night to benefit Pry House Museum and the National Museum of Civil War Medicine. More information HERE
As of the time I write this there is a bill waiting to be signed by the Governor that would allow Maryland’s breweries to allow customers who come for tours to purchase beer at the brewery. It is my understanding that this would include growlers. To be more specific this new law, which if signed, goes into effect July 1st would allow holders of Class 5 brewer licenses to sell beer for on-site consumption. As the law stands now these licensees can only offer six 3-ounce samples to tour participants. They can also currently sell beer for off-site drinking.
This is a great development and sure to help the craft brewing industry in Maryland. I knew if I waited long enough the legislature would finally pass something good. After this session I need a drink.
I know I’ve been MIA around here. I’ve been out of the country for a stretch and have returned rested and ready to resume blogging. I have a new cocktail that I grew fond of while I was abroad: The Paloma. Anyone guess where I was? In my exhaustive research I noticed a wide variation in the making of this cocktail. I always asked the bartender how they made it. Not sure I can remember all the answers though. I have been experimenting with my own recipe and as soon as I perfect it I will post it here. Anyone care to share their favorite recipe? It’s certainly in the running for pool drink 2013.
Also of note the Drink Local Wine’s Fifth Annual Conference is going to be in Baltimore this weekend. You can find more information HERE. The grand finale taste-off looks especially intriguing. The list of participants is exciting. At $40 it seems like a really good deal as well and a unique opportunity to taste all these fine Maryland wines in one place. This conferene moves around the country so this may be your one chance to go when it is close by.
Just had a delightful lunch at Acacia courtesy of Frederick restaurant week. For those of you whose experience with this establishment has been limited to looking at the small area visible from the sidewalk on Market Street you should know that Acacia is truly a lovely space. You will also be surprised by how large it is. Tastefully decorated in muted, contemporary tones, the space continues back through two more separate dining areas and culminates in a beautiful courtyard. The food is contemporary American mixed with Asian influences. I know the term fusion has become a clichéd term in food circles, but Acacia does it well and does it authentically. I also really liked that they try to use all local and natural meats. Their menu states they use all natural pork products from Dorsey’s Meats of Woodsboro and local grass fed beef from Hedgeapple Farm of Buckeystown. There was also at least one vegetarian option for each course of the restaurant week menu.
Since this was restaurant week the worst part of the meal was having to choose only two courses out of appetizer, entrée and dessert. I opted for the appetizer/entrée option and started with the seared brussels sprouts. Wonderfully charred with just the right amount of salt and oil they were spectacular. I would have been satisfied to stop right there. Bravely, however I soldiered on with the Kung Pao chicken. The menu describes this dish as :”natural raised chicken stir fry, spicy hoisin glaze, peanuts, jasmine rice, black sesame-pea shoot salad.” It was perfectly spicy with delicious bits of chicken in a savory brown sauce. I also sampled the Jagerschnitzel- wonderfully crispy breaded pork tenderloin. The red cabbage marmalade was a terrific accompaniment to this dish.
I would also be remiss without mentioning that they had an excellent and varied wine list. Also available were nearly two dozen wines by the glass. I had a the top-notch Dr Loosen Reisling. It was great with the appetizer, but completely overpowered by the spice in the chicken. The negatives? First I thought the service was a trifle slow. The only complaint with the food was the pre-appetizer bread they served. Both I and my companion thought that it was not as fresh as it should be.
Overall I give Acacia high marks. It certainly is in the top tier of dining in Frederick . The ambiance is quite romantic and it would be a wonderful place to take a date. I plan on going back and enjoying the patio area once the weather warms up. I would also like to visit the bar one afternoon- their collection of scotches looks excellent.
Just a reminder in honor of Frederick’s restaurant week that the master list of my restaurant reviews can be found on FredList HERE. Please feel free to leave feedback!
Is nearly upon us! It will be March 4th through 10th. 22 local restaurants are offering prix fixe, multi course lunch and dinner menus. Full details HERE. I plan on hitting a couple, how about you?
I have to admit that I am such a geek that I regularly read the liquor board minutes. Having attended a few hearings in my other capacity I am always stunned by how antiquated the laws and procedures are. It offends the libertarian in me how controlled the process is (and that other owners can get up there and protest the issuance of a new license because there are already other stores in the area). However as an avid beer wine and liquor consumer you can find some interesting tidbits in the minutes. From the most recent hearing on February 11th, 2013 besides the usual transfer requests I did note the following items:
A store called Spin the Bottle was granted a conditional license for 220 East Patrick Street. Another store called Viniculture put their license application on hold because they could not come to terms with the landlord at their proposed 57 East Patrick Street location. If memory serves that was the location of the old Deli?
Lastly a conditional license was issued for a new store down in Urbana in the Fingerboard Plaza shopping center (same place where Mangie e Bevi is located). The name on the application is Orion Wine and Spirits.
Well apparently the 22nd was National Margarita Day. I’m not sure how I could have missed such a momentous milestone, but I did. Not sure who’s behind it, but probably a bunch of tequila marketers! Honestly seems wrong to me to have it in February. I drink my fair share of margaritas, just not in the middle of winter.
I’ve been meaning to review this place for a long time. There’s something about Firestone’s that seems to slide under my radar, and it really shouldn’t and I can’t give no good reason why it does. Perhaps its just my radar is off? It has certainly had its’ share of accolades: Firestone’s is one of the few Frederick area restaurants to hold a Wine Spectator Magazine Award of Excellence. Not only that but they’ve done it for eight consecutive years! It is consistently mentioned in the top restaurants in Frederick Magazine’s annual awards. Anyway on a recent afternoon I went there with two friends for lunch. The first thing that strikes you is the space: it has a beautiful old feel. Lots of dark wood and brick. Large two-story windows overlooking Market street prevent the space from feeling too dark. The bar is a masterpiece of woodwork. There are tables on the bar level and on a mezzanine level that overlooks the bar level. The whole effect is making the place feel cozy and inviting in an old-fashioned way without the slightest hint of cliché or kitsch.
The food is what I’d call classic American. On the day I visited I sampled the pulled smoked pork shoulder sandwich, the grilled free range chicken breast sandwich and the smokey grilled cheese sandwich with bacon and tomato. They were all quite good. If I had to pick my least favorite it would have been the chicken. I was a trifle bland and overcooked. The accompanying sides were excellent. You had the option of fries, but also a pasta (orzo) salad (really good) and a cucumber-vidalia onion salad (also excellent). Unfortunately after two Flying Dog K-9 Cruiser Winter Ales I was too full to sample anything else, and also completely useless for the remainder of the afternoon.
And speaking of drinks the drink selection was top-notch: They have something like eighty beers and a constantly rotating selection of drafts. Also as expected from a Wine Spectator Magazine Award of Excellence winner a great wine list. About 20 of those wines are available by the glass. I was also happy to see that nestled amongst the world spanning list they have a Maryland wine or two. Wine prices were decent.
Overall a place I have been to before and will continue to visit in the future. A great place to take guests since there really is something for everyone on the menu (vegetarian options as well). Next time I think I’d like to go back and sit at the bar and sample some of their wines and appetizers.
Firestone’s Culinary Tavern. 105 North Market Street, Frederick, Maryland
The direct shipping laws can be confusing. Here is a great article that lists some of the clubs that will ship to Maryland. I’m surprised that there are 32 of them. Way more than I expected as I had researched this some time ago and not found any. Wish I had seen this in time for Christmas! Oh well there is always next year.
Wine Clubs That Ship to Maryland
Just saw that Moxie, the lovely bakery way up on North Market Street has closed. Their location so far away from the downtown center had to hurt it.
It has been a little over a year since I reviewed the Wine Kitchen in Frederick. I am happy to report that having eaten lunch there this week they are as strong as ever. I sampled the beet salad, butternut soup, fish and chips and curry chicken salad sandwich. All were very good. On the drinking front their flights of wine have changed, they’ve added flights of whiskey and bourbon and their cocktails are delicious. I especially liked the Sparkling Good Time (cava, lillet rose and orange bitters). My companion had two Vida Locas -their version of a margarita .
Last week I was wondering how the 2012 Beaujolais Nouveau turned out so last night I sought some answers along with the help of a 2012 Georges Duboef Beauljolais Village Nouveau 2012. I spent an extra $2 to get the villages (a second-tier classification and usually a step up from the broader Beaujolais AOC). Overall I was very happy with the wine. Anyone looking for a profound, moving wine in BN is barking up the wrong tree. But if you are looking for a fruity, dry wine with lots of acidity at a great price then this is your bottle. I felt that this vintage was one of the best that I tasted in the last decade or so. Gamay has a very distinctive nose to me- think banana laffy taffy and this bottle was no exception. Some people call Beaujolais the red that drinks like a white. This makes it ideal for Thanksgiving and I find a quick hour in the fridge, or out on the deck, to chill it really enhances the wine. Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving everybody!
Georges Duboef Beaujolais Villages Nouveau 2012. $11.99 at Frederick Wine House. 87 points
A had a nice value sparkling wine, the other day that I wanted to pass on: it was the 2010 Georges et Roger Antech Blanquette de Limoux Réserve Brut. Blanquette de Limoux is a French appellation from the south of France that dates back to 1938. The wines are made using Mauzac grapes with up to 10% combined total of Chardonnay and/or Chenin Blanc thrown in. The wines are made in the methode champenoise and aged on the lees for a minimum of nine months. The results are a pale golden wine with plenty of bubbles and light, fresh taste. Lots of flavors of lemon and grapefruit and bracing acidity. Not particularly complex but a terrific wine for pre-meal drinks or as an accompaniment to a white-wine meal. At $14.99 a bottle from Frederick Wine House its affordable enough to serve for a multi-bottle holiday celebration.
There have been lots of reviews and accolades for Bryan Voltaggio’s take on a diner, Family Meal. And tons has been written about the beautiful space and wonderfully appointed touches that make Family Meal not your average diner. But I’ve seen very little about their breakfast, so in the interest of thoroughness I just had to check it out. While I am a pretty adventurous eater, when it comes to breakfast I have to admit I am somewhat of a traditionalist. I purposefully did not look at the menu beforehand so I was not sure what to expect. Was I in for deconstructed french toast? Nitrogen grits? As it turns out, no. I am happy to report that the touches you expect from Chef Voltaggio are where they should be- on the periphery of wonderfully cooked and executed breakfasts. For example my omelet was perfectly cooked and filled with ham, cheese, onions, peppers and tomatoes. The accompanying rosemary home fries were absolutely scrumptious; big rough cut hunks of potatoes dusted with just the right amount of salt and rosemary. The eggs florentine was likewise excellent and the homemade tomato relish and crunchy (hominy?) topping really elevated the dish. I also have to say the bourbon sticky bun rocked. Just the right amount of sweetness with balanced with the undercurrents of bourbon and made for a treat. My companion who claimed she was too full and “only wanted a bite” ended up eating more than half of the bun. I should have got two. There are lots of other items on the menu I would like to try, so it’s definitely worth a return visit. When I was there the restuarant was not crowded so breakfast might be an excellent way for a quick bite there without the hassle of crowds.
Website is HERE
Yup it’s that time of year again and I feel compelled to say something about it. Not sure why, but I guess that is the insidious nature of a compulsion. What more is there to be said besides what I said in 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, more 2008, and 2007? Not much.
While you cannot dispute the effect that the nouveau phenomenon has had on Beaujolais (and Georges DuBoef!) sometimes it is all that people think about when Beaujolais is mentioned. However, this might be a good opportunity to consider taking a look at some other Beaujolais besides the nouveau. The Beaujolais Villages and Beaujolais Cru appelations are worth seeking out. Robert Parker has rated the 2009 vintage 97 points and the 2010 88 points. The consensus on 2011 is that its better than 2010 but not as good as 2009. Find some and try them. If all you have ever had is BN then you will be in for a pleasant surprise.
A few odds and ends:
An nice article about Maryland’s own Robert Parker in WSJ Market Watch. I especially like the description of his wine cellar and the factoid that his daughter prefers tequila over wine. I am available for adoption.
And lastly Amazon is reentering the wine selling business. They had some issues the first time they did it. Of course no shipping to Maryland. Bear that in mind when the legislative session starts in January! Here is the official press release.