Showing posts from June, 2010

Desserts & Wine Makes Tasty City Food Tours Offering

It’s no secret that travel writers receive more than their fare share of offers. They vary from meals to 10 day all-inclusive tours.  It all sounds great, but there’s just no way anyone can do it all and have time to write.  I pick and choose carefully.  Sometimes, however, it is a no-brainer. That was the case when I was approached to take a Chocolate, Desserts and Wine Tour in New York City. Joyce Weinberg, a former professional foodie and always a native New Yorker, is the owner of City Food Tours . Though she employees a staff of well-trained tour guides, I was lucky enough to have her in charge on this warm and muggy Sunday. The tour begins at Verdi Park on the Upper Westside with Joyce’s very descriptive explanation of the neighborhood’s resemblance to Paris. Within a few minutes she has the group of 15 almost believing we are in the City of Light as we head off on a gastronomical trek. The first stop on the tour is Acker Merrall & Condit , the oldest wine store in the

Ciao to Distilleria Bottega

I’m a few months away from a trip to Italy, for an array of wine and spirits (not to mention pasta). Distilleria Bottega gave me a taste of Italia this past week in the form of grappa and liquors. While I didn’t get to enjoy the landscape of Northern Italy where the spirits are made, the drinks went down smoothly. There was also an unusual surprise in this box of liquor – Grappa sprays. The sprays were too unique to let sit in the wrapper for long. They look like spray perfume bottles, but Alexander’s Spray Grappa is a flavoring, best used for food and coffee. I tried the plain grappa on chips, fruit and a cookie. It added a unique taste – definitely clear on the 38% alcohol content. The red pepper was especially tasty on tortilla chips. It was even suggested to use the spray on cigars and, though I’m not a smoker, I could see the appeal. After the sprays came the bottles (which are quite beautiful, by the way) to pour. Grappa Alexander is a blend of Italian grapes. It

What’s Mixing in Chicago

The word “bartender” has taken on a new meaning this century. The bartenders are the ones spending their days mixing gin and tonics and serving beers in local restaurants and corner bars.  The creative ones, who go that extra step in creating drinks, are the mixologists. I’ve only been living in the Midwest for a year and a half. I wouldn’t begin to call myself an expert on bars in Chicago , having only visited the Windy City a half dozen times. I needed to call for some help and I got it from one of the city’s experts. My friend Theresa Carter (a.k.a. The Local Tourist ) took me around Chicago to check out some of the city’s most known mixologists in different neighborhoods. Our first stop was in the Bucktown-Wicker Park area. This was my first experience going to a hidden bar. Like a Speakeasy during prohibition, The Violet Hour has no fancy door or sign posted outside. It is dark, but cozy – a perfect date spot, or a place for two gals to chat and enjoy the drinks. Robert is

Navigating the Wines at Vintage Indiana

It was my first Vintage Indiana , but it certainly won’t be my last as I got to experience more wineries than I could possibly taste at Indianapolis' Military Park. The weather was certainly not cooperating for the 11 th Vintage Indiana.   It actually started to downpour as I made the (scenic when there isn’t showers) short walk from the Hilton Downtown Indianapolis where I was staying.   The day continued to be an odd mix of pouring rain and sun-filled humidity, but that didn’t deter thousands from checking out the wine tents filled with more choices than anyone could make. I’ve wanted to make a trip to French Lick Winery --which I hear is a quaint area full of accommodations-- before and now I’m even more sold after tasting a few of their offerings.   Though the Cayuga White was a bit too sweet for even my sweet tooth, the Norton was a tasty semi-sweet blend of black currant and cherry flavors.   Wildcat Creek Winery is fairly new, but they seem to have gotten it right wi

The Latest Spirits on my Doorstop

One of the perks of my job is that I’m often getting “presents” delivered in the form of wine and spirits. The FedEx delivery guy thought I was a closet alcoholic until I led him to my blog. Everything that does arrive gets tasted, though sometimes it takes awhile if I've been traveling.  Here’s the latest from the wine and spirits world that I’ve had a chance to try…. The bottle of Smirnoff Pineapple Vodka arrived broken for my Vodka Tasting Party and the Smirnoff clan was kind enough to send another.  It was well worth the wait.  The flavor is clear and great.  I could think of a lot of things to do with this, but the first thing that comes to mind is a Piňa Colada Martini with Ciroc Coconut Vodka and maybe a splash of pineapple juice.  And it’s a safe mix since Diageo owns both Smirnoff and Ciroc. Vermont Spirits also sent me some vodka and these two definitely win the most unusual award.  The first is Vermont White, made from 100% milk (yes, the stuff that comes