not exactly sure when it happened, but I've
sorta lost my love for beer. For those that
don't know me very well, this might not seem
like a big deal. For those that've hung out
with me or partied with me, this is akin to
Gourmet, you see, grew up on brewskis. Quite
I got my first
taste of beer as a pretty young kid, thanks
to a pair of older brothers that bought my silence
at parties with a Schlitz Tall Boy, some McDonald's
cheeseburgers, and a chance to play in their
party poker games. Toss in a little cigar every
now and then and I'm mute.
beer became the beverage of choice after a tennis
match, a game of water polo, or a swim meet.
A round of golf or a game of one-on-one.
So, when college
rolled around, I gravitated towards beer, beer,
and more beer. Liquor -- rum, vodka, gin, etc.
-- was only for those situations where we needed
a quick drunk before a show. Wine only showed
up in the form of Mad Dog 20/20 or the occasional
bottle of Thunderbird.
What was I
thinking? And, more importantly, what do my
insides look like?
and this has become The Summer I Fell Out of
Love with Beer.
Part of this
can be attributed to moving to Pennsylvania
a few years ago. Instead of being a normal state
-- where beer can be purchased in six packs
-- PA insists that beer be purchased in case
packs. And, unless you're gonna buy the more
expensive sample cases you end up with a fridge
full of the same beer for a week or two. This,
for the true gourmet, becomes a real drag.
This is where
wine comes in.
liquor stores SUCK (state run, bad selection,
helpless staff), wine made a nice break from
the beer blitz. Each bottle -- cheap or expensive
-- was a new taste experience, and made for
a nice relaxing way to end a work week, spend
a cool Sunday afternoon, or accompany you during
recently moved close to the PA/NJ border and
made a fine discovery -- Phillips' Fine
Wines & Liquors in Stockton,
NJ. Run by Richard Phillips, the small, charming
storefront houses several rooms with floor to
ceiling racks of wines from around the world.
In fact, a run to the store last weekend scored
us 11 bottles of fine wine from California (David
Bruce Zinfandel), Australia (Wyndham Estate
Bin 444 Cabernet Sauvignon), France (Cuvee de
Pena Vin de Pays de Pyrenees Orientales), and
Chile (San Francisco de Mostaxal Cabernet Sauvignon).
The cost? A mere $88!
knowledgeable staff makes recommendations, can
help you put together a case, and just plain
knows their stuff.
I, on the
other hand, don't know my stuff. I like red
wine, but I'm not a fan of white. That's about
the extent of my wine knowledge. If you're like
me, and you don't want to pour through stuffy
wine mags, try out the new magazine Wine
X. Published by
California "wine brats," the mag is
filled with articles on the hows and whys of
wine without the pretentiousness of Wine
Spectator or Food & Wine.
It's a little
cool and rainy today, making me feel like Fall
-- my favorite season -- is right around the
corner. The following is one of my favorite
wine-based recipes, and makes a great dish for
a cool Fall-like day. It's from the Fannie
Farmer Cookbook, an
1 lb. salt
1 large onion, chopped
3 tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
2 lbs. stewing beef plus bones
1/2 tsp. marjoram, crumbled
1 tsp. thyme, crumbled
1 cup Burgundy or other red wine
1 cup beef broth
12 small white onions, trimmed and peeled
1/2 lb. mushrooms
Melt the salt
pork over medium heat in a heavy Dutch oven
or covered casserole. When crisp and golden,
remove and drain on paper towels. Add the chopped
onions to the melted fat in the pan, slowly
cook them to a light golden brown, remove, and
set aside. Mix the flour, salt, and pepper on
a dinner plate and roll the meat in the mixture.
Brown the beef, a few pieces at a time, and
add the marjoram, thyme, wine, and beef broth.
Return the pork and onions to the pot, cover,
and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Add the small onions
and cook 20 minutes, then add the mushrooms
and cook 10 minutes more. Correct seasoning.
When the onions are fork-tender, the stew is
Makes 4 servings.