Friday, October 3, 2008

Taking The Bitter With The Sweet


I am, for all intent and purposes, a wine guy. It’s what I enjoy drinking most. Big luscious reds, crisp dry whites and effervescent sparkling wines have taken their place among the cocktail crowd. At the dining table, when properly paired, wine can elevate a meal to a whole new level of pleasure and add a heightened element of sophistication to the occasion. Beer has also taken a place of honor at the dining table, adding its own distinctive flavor profile, enhancing the meal.

That is not to say that cocktails have taken a back seat. Designer liquors have given rise to endless choices on martini bar menus, and everyone has their favorite drink. My choice - the classic Negroni.


Fill a rock glass with plenty of ice, then add;
1 part gin
1 part red vermouth
1 part Campari
garnish with an orange twist

Campari, a type of bitters, is an aperitif made from a blend of alcohol and distilled water that have been infused with bitter and aromatic herbs, plants and fruits. The result is a liquor with an addictive flavor that is slightly bitter.

To complement this refreshing cocktail I serve these spiced nuts which have a slight hint of sweetness, creating the perfect balance of flavors. (adapted from Nigella Lawson)


2 1/2 cups assorted unsalted nuts
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the nuts on a sheet pan and roast until lightly golden brown, about 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients.
Add the warm nuts and lightly toss to coat.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

By the way, these nuts are also addictive.

Cin cin!

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