Traditional recipes

Grüner Around the Globe

Grüner Around the Globe

Grüner veltliner, arguably the original hipster wine, has grown up and become a standard in the classical pantheon of top white wines. Along the way it was revealed that in Austria, grüner is often a simple table wine, served in crown-capped liter bottles and not the subject of fawning terms of endearment. Yes, grüner veltliner is capable of remarkable things, but it’s also a table top stalwart, and frankly therein lies its beauty. It has a flexibility few grapes can match.

It’s not surprising, then, that producers outside of Austria want to cash in on the grüner phenomenon. Having worked hard to establish grüner veltliner as a grape for everyone, the Austrians must now be a little concerned, as wineries from as far away as New Zealand and California try to capitalize on these renowned grapes. While the wines I tasted were pretty good, again attesting to the brilliance and potential of grüner veltliner the grape, I would say that for the most part the Austrians have little to fear as of yet.

What New World winemakers are able to produce are wines that certainly capture the essence of the grape, but they also reveal their warmer climates and perhaps richer soils with their rounded textures and riper fruit profiles. They are attractive wines for sure, but they will generally appeal to a different audience than the typical Austrian grüner veltliner, which shows a leaner, tauter style with bright fruit flavors and often the profound minerality the grape can exhibit.

Still, that’s not to say that disruptive forces are not at work. Consider for example, that grüner veltliner represents 50 percent of the new varieties planted in New Zealand in 2010 and 2011, and while plantings in California remain tiny, about 50 acres, the growth from the first planting of a third of an acre back in 2006 at the Von Strasser winery in Napa Valley’s Diamond Mountain up through today has been swift and has attracted lots of attention. One can only imagine what might happen in places like Oregon and New York’s Finger Lakes districts, where the climate seems ideally suited for grüner.

It’s an exciting time to be a fan of grüner with so many developments on the horizon, but at least for the time being Austria has little to be concerned about. If you want to learn more about Austrian grüner veltliner, make sure you check out the reports published last week by our friends who attended Snooth’s PVA Wine Writer’s Symposium this past March. We had an amazing tasting hosted and led by Aldo Sohm, who brought the terroir and styles of Austrian grüner to life and inspired some exceptional articles.

Click here to learn more about grüner veltliner from around the world.


The World Cookbook: The Greatest Recipes from Around the Globe, 2nd Edition [4 Volumes] : The Greatest Recipes from Around the Globe

This is the only world cookbook in print that explores the foods of every nation-state across the globe, providing information on special ingredients, cooking methods, and commonalities that link certain dishes across different geographical areas.

Increasing globalization, modern communication, and economic development have impacted every aspect of daily life, including the manner by which food is produced and distributed. While these trends have increased the likelihood and expansion of food influences, variations of the same popular dishes have been found in regions all over the world long before now. This book is an ecological, historical, and cultural examination of why certain foods are eaten, and how these foods are prepared by different social groups within the same—and different—geographical region. The authors cover more than 200 countries and cultural groups, featuring each nation's food culture and traditions, and providing overviews on foodstuffs, typical dishes, and styles of eating. This revised edition features in excess of 400 new recipes, several new countries, and additional sidebars with fun facts explaining unique foods and unfamiliar ingredients. More than 1,600 recipes for popular appetizers, main courses, desserts, snack foods, and celebration dishes are provided, allowing readers to construct full menus from every country of the world.


10 Winning Party Recipes from Around the Globe

The winter sports competitions are a great excuse to cozy up around the TV with friends for a marathon viewing party. Here, we’re sharing 10 snack and dessert recipes inspired by some of the countries competing this month. All together, it’s an ambitious menu. You can make the whole thing (props to you!), get your friends involved and go potluck style, or just pick and choose a few elements you like (ahem, teams you’re rooting for). Let the games begin!

Beaufort, Chive and Black Pepper Gougères

The airy golden cheese puffs — a beloved appetizer in France — are great for snacking. Pile them on a platter and pass around the room.

6 Tbs. (3 oz./90 g.) unsalted butter

1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

1 cup (5 oz./155 g.) all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups (6 oz./185 g.) shredded Beaufort cheese

2 Tbs. minced fresh chives or fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml.) water and the butter, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Continue to cook until the butter has melted completely, 3-4 minutes. Add the flour all at once and mix vigorously with a wooden spoon until a thick paste forms and pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and make a well in the center. Crack 1 egg into the well and beat it, with the wooden spoon or a handheld mixer, into the hot mixture. Repeat with 3 more eggs, beating each egg into the hot mixture before adding the next egg you should have 1 egg remaining. Add 1 cup (4 oz./125 g.) of the cheese and the chives and mix well.

Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. To form each gougère, dip a teaspoon into cold water, then scoop up a generous teaspoon of the batter and push it onto the baking sheet with your fingertips. Repeat, dipping the spoon in the water each time to prevent sticking and spacing the mounds 3 inches (7.5 cm.) apart. Lightly beat the remaining egg and brush the tops of the mounds with it, being careful none drips onto the pan, which can inhibit puffing. Sprinkle the tops evenly with the remaining 1/2 cup (2 oz./60 g.) cheese.

Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350°F (180°C) and bake until golden and crunchy, about 15 minutes longer. Pierce each puff with a skewer to release the steam, turn off the oven, and leave the puffs in the oven for 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes about 30 gougères.

Blini with Caviar & Sour Cream

These little pancakes topped with luxurious caviar will add a fancy touch to your get-together. Basic black is always appropriate, but you can also mix it up with different flavors and color of caviar, too.

1 tsp. quick-rise active dry yeast

1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml.) warmed whole milk (105°-115°F/40°-46°C)

1/2 cup (4 oz./125 g.) sour cream

4 oz. (125 g.) domestic or imported caviar

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the yeast, warm milk, flour, salt, and egg yolk. Stir together to blend and then whisk until smooth. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let the batter rise in a warm place until it has doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.

In a perfectly clean bowl, beat the egg white with a balloon whisk until stiff, pointed peaks form when the whisk is lifted. Using a rubber spatula, fold into the batter gently but thoroughly.

Melt about 2 teaspoons of the butter in a large nonstick frying pan over medium-low heat. (Alternatively, use a nonstick griddle, brushing lightly with melted butter.) Ladle 1 rounded tablespoon of the fluffy batter onto the pan for each blini, being careful not to crowd the pan. Cook until the bottoms are lightly browned and bubbles have formed on the top, about 3 minutes. Flip the blini over and cook until browned on the second side, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a platter, cover with aluminum foil, and place in a low (200°F/95°C) oven to keep warm. Cook the remaining blini in the same way, adding butter to the pan as needed. You should have 18-20 small blini. (At this point, the blini can remain in the warm oven for up to 30 minutes before topping and serving.)

To serve, spread about 1 teaspoon sour cream over the top of each blini. Top each with a generous 1/2 teaspoon caviar. Arrange on a platter and serve at once. Serves 6-8.

Artichoke & Lemon Fritto Misto

Begin your meal in the Italian style with crispy morsels known as fritto misto, and serve with a garlicky aioli for dipping.

4 artichokes, each about 1 lb.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more, to taste

Working with 1 artichoke at a time, remove the tough outer leaves to expose the light yellow core. Using a knife, trim off the top. Using a spoon, remove the choke. Trim the stem end and cut the artichoke lengthwise into slices 1/4 inch thick. Place in a bowl and add half of the buttermilk to coat. Place the lemon slices in another bowl and coat with the remaining buttermilk.

In a large bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, semolina flour and the 2 tsp. salt. In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, pour in oil to a depth of 2 inches and heat to 375°F on a deep-frying thermometer. Line a baking sheet with paper towels.

Working in batches, drain the artichokes well. Coat with the flour mixture, shaking off the excess. Fry the artichokes until golden and crispy, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and season with salt. Repeat with the lemons, frying them for 1 to 3 minutes.

Arrange the artichokes and lemons on a warmed platter and serve with aioli. Serves 4 to 6.

UNITED STATES

Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs are iconic American fare for barbecues, potlucks, and any kind of casual party. You can spice them up with flavors and seasonings if you like, but this version is as fresh and simple as they come.

1 tsp. minced fresh chives, plus more for garnish

1 tsp. minced fresh tarragon, plus more for garnish

1 tsp. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish

Finely grated lemon zest of 1 lemon

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

To hard-cook the eggs, place them in a saucepan just large enough to hold them. Add cold water to cover by 1 inch and bring just to a boil over high heat. Remove the pan from the heat and cover. Let stand for 15 minutes. Drain the eggs, then transfer to a bowl of ice water and let cool completely.

Peel the eggs. Using a sharp, thin-bladed knife, cut each egg in half lengthwise. Remove the yolks, and set the egg white halves aside. Rub the yolks through a coarse-mesh sieve into a bowl. Add the mayonnaise, chives, tarragon, parsley and lemon zest and whisk together until light and fluffy. Season with salt and pepper and whisk again.

Spoon the yolk mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a medium plain tip. Arrange the egg halves, hollow sides up, on a platter. Pipe the yolk mixture into the egg white halves. (Alternatively, use a teaspoon to fill the egg halves.) Cover lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour. (The eggs can be refrigerated for up to 8 hours before serving.)

Sprinkle with additional herbs and serve chilled. Makes 16 deviled eggs.

Smoked Salmon on Toast Points

Norwegian smoked salmon is famous for a reason: it’s creamy, slightly sweet, rich and buttery. Serve it on toasts with an herbed cream cheese, capers and hard-boiled egg.

For the herbed cream cheese:

4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature

1 1/2 Tbs. chopped fresh chives

6 slices white or wheat sandwich bread, crusts removed, each cut into 4 triangles

2 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted

6 oz. smoked salmon, thinly sliced

1/2 cup finely chopped red onion

1/2 cup capers, finely chopped

3 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and grated

To prepare the herbed cream cheese, in a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice, chives and dill. Stir with a wooden spoon until well blended. Transfer to a serving bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Brush the bread on both sides with the melted butter. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet and transfer to the oven. Bake until the toast points are golden and slightly crispy, about 15 minutes. Let cool completely.

To assemble, spread the herbed cream cheese on the toast points and place 1/2 to 1 whole slice of salmon on top. Garnish with the onion, capers, hard-cooked eggs and dill sprigs. Arrange on a platter.

Alternatively, arrange the toast points and smoked salmon on platters. Place the herbed cream cheese, onion, capers, hard-cooked eggs and dill sprigs in separate serving bowls and let guests assemble their own hors d’oeuvres. Serves 8 to 10.

Vegetable Sushi Rolls

Sushi is great for sharing, and it’s easier to make than you may think. Better yet, get guests involved in the rolling and make it a party activity.

1 cup (7 oz./220 g.) short-grain rice, rinsed under cold running water

1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml.) plus 1 Tbs. rice vinegar

4 dried shiitake mushrooms, rinsed, stemmed, soaked in boiling water for 30 minutes, drained and cut into thin slivers

Pinch of granulated dashi mixed with 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml.) hot water

2 Tbs. light soy sauce, plus extra for serving

3 sheets toasted nori seaweed, each trimmed into a 7-inch (18-cm.) square

1 tsp. prepared wasabi paste

2 strips cucumber, each 5 inches long by 1/4 inch (6 mm.) wide

2 strips pickled daikon, each 5 inches long by 1/4 inch (6 mm.) wide

Pickled ginger for serving

Place the rice in a saucepan and add 1 1/3 cups (11 fl. oz./340 ml.) water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stir the rice, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until all the water has been absorbed, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat, uncover, and place a kitchen towel over the pan. Re-cover the pan and let stand for 15 minutes.

Combine the 1/4 cup vinegar, the 3 tablespoons sugar, and 1 tablespoon salt in a small saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt, for 2 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. Transfer the rice to a wide, shallow nonreactive bowl and use a spatula to spread the edges of the bowl. Slowly pour in the vinegar mixture while slicing the spatula through the rice do not stir. Cover the rice with a damp kitchen towel do not refrigerate.

Place the mushrooms in the saucepan and add the dashi, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, mirin, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Bring to a simmer over low heat and cook, stirring occasionally to blend the flavors, about 10 minutes. Drain the mushrooms.

In a small bowl, stir the 1 tablespoon vinegar into 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml.) water. Set a bamboo rolling mat on the work surface with a long side facing you. Place a sheet of nori on the mat. Dampen your fingers in the vinegar water, scoop up about 1/2 cup (2 1/2 oz./75 g.) of the sushi rice, and spread in a band 7 inches (18 cm.) long and about 2 inches (5 cm.) wide across the middle of the nori. Press a groove about 1/2 inch (12 mm.) wide and 1/4 inch (6 mm.) deep centered along the length of the band of rice. Smear a thin trace of wasabi along the groove. Lay the cucumber strips in the groove. Starting at the edge closest to you, use the mat to roll up the sushi into a tight cylinder about 1 inch (2.5 cm.) in diameter. Lightly moisten the outer edge of the nori to seal the roll. Repeat to make a second roll with the daikon. Then make a third roll the same way with the mushroom strips. Use a sharp knife to cut each roll of sushi into 8 pieces. Serve at once with the pickled ginger and soy sauce. Makes 24 pieces.

Soft Homemade Pretzels

Bring out the beer and mustard! These homemade snacks are soft and salty — and infinitely better than anything you can buy prepared.

1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml.) warm water (110°F/43°C)

1 package (2 1/4 tsp.) active dry yeast

3 Tbs. olive oil, plus more if needed

3 1/4 cups (16 1/2 oz./515 g.) all-purpose flour

1/3 cup (2 1/2 oz./75 g.) baking soda

Coarse salt for sprinkling

Grainy mustard for serving

In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the warm water, yeast and sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add the 3 tablespoons oil, the flour, and kosher salt. Attach the dough hook and knead the dough on medium-low speed until smooth, about 10 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled, about 1 hour.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and brush the parchment with oil. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, then cut it into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a long rope about 18 inches (45 cm.) long. With each rope positioned horizontally, bring the 2 ends up and toward the center as if forming an oval, cross one end over the other, and press each end into the bottom of the oval to create a pretzel shape. Place the pretzels on the prepared pan, spacing them evenly.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Fill a large, wide saucepan with 7 cups (56 fl. oz./1.75 l.) water, stir in the baking soda, and bring to a boil. Gently drop 2 or 3 pretzels at a time into the boiling water (be careful not to overcrowd them). Boil for just under 1 minute, turning once with a large slotted spoon or spatula. Return the boiled pretzels to the baking sheet, top side up.

Sprinkle the pretzels with coarse salt. Bake until beautifully browned, about 10 minutes, rotating the pans about halfway through. Serve warm with big spoonfuls of grainy mustard. Makes 12 pretzels.

SWITZERLAND

Cheese Fondue

What’s better than a pot of warm fondue in the winter? Cut yesterday’s baguette into cubes for decadent dipping.

2 cups (16 fl. oz./500 ml.) dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc

1 3/4 lb. (875 g.) Gruyere cheese, shredded

3/4 lb. (375 g.) Emmentaler cheese, shredded

1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp. freshly ground white pepper

1 1/2 day-old baguettes or equivalent amount of artisanal nut, herb or whole-grain bread, cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm.) cubes

If using a ceramic fondue pot , set the oven to 250°F (120°C) and put the fondue pot in the oven to warm. If using a metal fondue pot, skip this step. Fill the burner of the fondue pot with denatured alcohol.

Crush the garlic with a garlic press or grate with a grater and put into a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan or directly into the metal fondue pot. Add the wine and place the pan over high heat. As soon as bubbles form around the edges, after about 2 minutes, reduce the heat to medium-low and add the cheeses, a little at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the cheese melts completely into a smooth, creamy mass. Stir in the kirsch, nutmeg and pepper.

To serve, light the burner of the fondue pot and place it on the table. Pour the hot fondue from the saucepan into the warmed ceramic pot, or transfer the metal fondue pot directly to the burner. Set out fondue forks and pass the bread cubes. Serves 4 to 6.

Apple Strudel

Flaky layered strudel pastries are one of the most traditional foods of Austria. Cut this apple version into slices and serve as dessert.

For the filling:
6 large tart apples, peeled, cored and very thinly sliced
1/2 cup (4 oz./125 g.) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (2 oz./60 g.) golden raisins or dried currants
1/3 cup (1 1/2 oz./45 g.) slivered blanched almonds
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 1/2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice, strained

6 sheets filo dough, thawed in the refrigerator if frozen
6 Tbs. (3 oz./90 g.) clarified unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Position a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat to 375°F (190°C). Butter a half-sheet pan.

To make the filling, in a bowl, toss together the apples, granulated sugar, raisins, almonds, lemon zest and lemon juice until evenly mixed.

Place a sheet of parchment paper on a large, dry work surface. Unroll the filo sheets, lay them on the parchment, and cover them with a kitchen towel to prevent them from drying out. Lay out 1 filo sheet on a separate piece of parchment, brush with a little of the clarified butter, and repeat with the remaining filo sheets, brushing each one with butter. Spoon the apple mixture in a strip along the length of one side, leaving a 2-inch (5-cm.) border. Fold in the short sides and, starting from the border, roll up into a log. Place, seam side down, on the prepared pan.

Bake the strudel until the apples are tender when pierced with a toothpick and the filo is golden brown, 30-35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let the strudel cool slightly in the pan.

Using a fine-mesh sieve, dust lightly with confectioners’ sugar. Serve warm, cut into thick slices. Serves 8.

Maple Pecan Squares

Canadian maple trees yield the sweet, sticky syrup we all love — the maple leaf is even on the country’s flag! These toffeelike pecan bars are easy to serve and perfect for a party.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup firmly packed golden brown sugar

8 Tbs. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 3/4-inch pieces

6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter

2/3 cup firmly packed golden brown sugar

2 cups coarsely chopped pecans

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Carefully line a 9-inch square baking pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil, letting the foil extend up the sides and over the edges of the pan. Butter the foil liner.

To make the crust by hand, in a large bowl, stir together the flour, brown sugar and salt until blended. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until large, coarse crumbs the size of small peas form.

To make the crust with a food processor, in the bowl of the processor, combine the flour, brown sugar and salt and pulse 2 or 3 times to blend. Add the butter and pulse 8 to 10 times until large, coarse crumbs the size of small peas form.

Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake the crust until the edges are lightly browned and the top feels firm when lightly touched, 12 to 17 minutes. Set aside.

To make the filling, in a saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter, maple syrup and brown sugar and stir together until the butter melts and the brown sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and immediately stir in the cream. Then stir in the pecans. Pour the hot filling over the partially baked crust, spreading it evenly to the edges with an icing spatula.

Bake until the filling is set when you give the pan a gentle shake, 22 to 25 minutes. During baking, the filling will bubble vigorously, then the bubbles will subside and become smaller toward the end of baking. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool until the filling is firm, about 1 1/2 hours.

Using the ends of the foil liner, carefully lift the maple-pecan square in its liner from the baking pan. Run a small knife around the edges of the square to loosen it from the foil. Using a large, sharp knife, cut into 25 small squares. The squares will slide easily off the foil. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Makes 25 squares.


15 Bartenders Share Their Favorite Cocktails From Around The Globe

Today is International Cocktail Day in which the industry recognizes the same day in 1806 when the term “cocktail” was first published. The Balance and Columbian Repository originally printed the term to describe an alcoholic beverage as a “stimulating liquor with a wide variety of sweets, waters, and bitters.”

While many globally-curious imbibers regularly experiment with different spirits, liqueurs and recipes, some of us may require a gentle nudge out of our cocktail rut. Today, provides an exceptional excuse.

Below, 15 bartenders, mixologists and spirits experts share their favorite international cocktails, from South Korea to Spain, including recipes, and what makes them so special.

Blackberry Chu-Hai made with iichiko

Chu-Hai, Japan

“Chu-Hai is short for shochu highball and is born in Japan. My favorite place to drink Chu-Hai in Japan is Bar High Five in Tokyo, The SG Club in Tokyo, and Ben Fiddich Bar in Tokyo.” — Natasha Sofia, cocktail expert

Recipe: Shochu (my preference is iichiko), sparkling water and fruit juice. Add all ingredients into a highball glass with ice and give a quick stir. For the fruit juice, I’ve been in a love affair with yuzu and I think you can never go wrong with it, but think it’s a good way to explore different flavors like plum, peach, or melon.

The French 75, Paris

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“The wonderful thing about this drink is its versatility by changing up your gin, switching out your citrus of choice, or varying the dryness of your bubbly. It's truly customizable to your unique tastes. And best of all, because it only calls for four ingredients, it's an approachable and easy drink for the home bartender to make.” — Alan Dietrich, mixologist and CEO of Crater Lake Spirits,

Recipe: 2 oz gin, 1 oz lemon juice, 1 oz simple syrup, and 2 oz champagne. Shake the gin, lemon, and simple syrup, then strain into a sugar rimmed glass (coupe, martini, or flute). Top with champagne and garnish with a lemon twist. Of course, fresh lemon juice is best. You can also muddle a sugar cube instead of simple syrup for a similar take.

Pimm’s Cup, London

“When I lived in London, on Sunday afternoons my flatmates and I would scout a picnic table at our local pub in South Kensington for day-drinking that glided into long, slow dinners fueled by great conversation and endless pitchers of Pimm’s.” — Hilary Pereira, mixologist and founder of SPLASH Cocktail Mixers

Recipe: 2 oz Pimm’s No. 1., 3 oz cold ginger ale, 0.5 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1 thin cucumber slice (cut length wise), 2 lemon slices (in round shape), 1 orange slice (in round shape), mint leaves. Fill a tall glass with ice. Press one long cucumber slice to one side of glass. Drop in the two lemon slices and one orange slice. Add Pimm’s No. 1 and fresh squeezed lemon juice, top with ginger ale and stir well. Garnish with fresh mint leaves on top.

Soju Bomb, South Korea

“I add a twist to the traditional soju shots and make it Mexican style using YaVe Tequila and beer at my home bar. I love the stronger and flavored Mango YaVe tequila because it adds more complexity to the simple drink.” — Fiona Lee, mixologist

Recipe: 1 shot of Soju (or in this case, tequila), 1 pint of beer. Pour the beer into a pint glass. Pour the tequila, into the shot glass. When you are ready, drop the shot into the beer, then drink.

Spanish Style Gin and Tonic, Spain

“What I love about a Gin and Tonic is its versatility. You can change the flavors of this drink to fit your mood, what season it is, and even the type of event you're attending. The Spanish have perfected and elevated what was a casual and boring drink.” — Andrew Erickson, lead bartender at Fable Lounge in Nashville, TN

Recipe: A Spanish Gin & Tonic is served in a Copa de Balon or balloon glass. You begin with picking the gin and deciding what flavors pair well with the spirit. My fiancé enjoys Gin Mare, and I frequently make this exact recipe for her at home. I start with filling the glass with ice and add 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, 1 sliced strawberry, 4 sage leaves, 3 basil leaves, and 3 thyme sprigs. I then pour 3 oz of Gin Mare over the botanicals and ice. The next step is for show, but it makes for a good experience and fun party trick. I sink a bar spoon into the glass and pour Fever Tree Indian tonic water down the bar spoon. I then float 1 oz of Earl Grey Tea and finish with an expression of orange peel.

Irish Coffee, Dublin

“When crafted to perfection, there are few cocktails better than the Irish Coffee. The contrast in temperature between the cool cream and hot coffee as you take a sip is just delightful but the flavor of the freshly whipped cream paired with the sweetened coffee and Irish whiskey is something you need to experience and taste for yourself to understand its raw beauty.” — Tyler Zielinski, bartender, consultant and drinks writer.

Recipe: Making an Irish Coffee is fairly simple, but every detail matters if you want to make an excellent one. All that's required is an Irish whiskey (Bushmills, Redbreast, Green Spot, and Glendalough are some of my favorites), demerara syrup, coffee, freshly whipped heavy cream, and nutmeg (optional). You might notice that there isn't any Bailey's in there — and that's no mistake. To make a proper Irish Coffee, add boiling water to your Irish Coffee glass to heat the glass. While the glass is heating, whip your heavy cream. (You can hand-whip the cream, or add it to a cocktail or protein shaker and shake until it's lightly whipped and viscous enough to be layered on top.) Once your cream is ready, dump the boiling water from your Irish Coffee glass and add 1.25 oz Irish whiskey, 0.5 oz demerara syrup and 3.5 oz hot coffee to the glass, leaving about an index finger’s worth of space at the top of the glass for the cream. Layer with freshly whipped cream (pour over the back of the bar spoon), and garnish with a dusting of nutmeg.

Amerciano Shandy, Italy

“This cocktail is an interpretation of the classic Italian Americano drink using beer instead of soda to give the drink a creamier taste.” — Alberto Fedeli, General Manager at The Chastain in Atlanta, GA

Recipe: Campari, sweet Vermouth and a lager beer. Combine 10 oz Campari, 1 oz sweet Vermouth (we use Carpano Classico at The Chastain) and top the mixture with a splash of any choice of lager beer.

Mezcal Sour, Todo Santos, Baja California, Mexico

“Mezcal has a very smoky flavor, paired with a tropical fruit it gives a sweet BBQ flavor and the egg gives a textured finish. I love egg whites in cocktails because of the almost leathery tongue feel it adds to any refreshing cocktail.” — Shaneal Wynter, mixologist at The Equinox Golf Resort & Spa in Manchester, VT

Recipe: 2 oz mezcal, 0.75 oz lime juice, 1 oz pineapple simple syrup, 1 oz egg whites, smoked then roasted pineapple garnish. Shake hard with ice, strain into rocks glass, cover with fresh ice and garnish with the pineapple wedge.

Rum Old Fashioned, Louisville and the Caribbean

“This drink is inspired by blending the official cocktail of Louisville, the Old Fashioned, and the tropical, aromatic qualities of Caribbean-made rum. This signature cocktail was inspired by the post-prohibition cocktail boom in Cuba and America. During prohibition times, American bartenders headed south to Cuba and other Caribbean islands for work. This migration brought about many new techniques and a large surge in tiki-style cocktails.” — Frances Leary, bartender at Swizzle Dinner and Drinks at The Galt House Hotel in Louisville, KY

Recipe: The base of the drink, Plantation O.F.T.D (Old Fashioned Traditional Dark) rum, is an overproof rum aged in barrels which adds an intense dark color and heavy notes of brown sugar and tropical fruits. To accent this, we add a spoon-full of our demerara sugar syrup, which is a variety of sugar made from raw cane sugar and molasses. This syrup is a key component in a well made Old Fashioned because instead of hiding many of the big characteristics of an over-proof rum or bourbon, it accents the existing flavor notes. Next, fresh lime juice is added to brighten up the drink and add refreshing acidity. Finally, both aromatic and orange bitters bring further complexity to the drink making it both well-rounded and an easy sipper. All of these fine ingredients are combined in a mixing glass with crushed ice, then stirred until well combined and thoroughly chilled. To finish it off, we strain our cocktail into a tiki mug, filled to brim with fresh nugget ice. I like to garnish with a pineapple wedge to complement the tropical fruit notes in the rum and a cherry to pay homage to the Old Fashioned.

Singapore Sling, Raffles Hotel, Singapore

“My first time being introduced to the Sling was in Jupiter, FL at a restaurant called U-Tiki Beach, by a bartender named Carl. The guest experience had a lot to do with my affinity for this beverage. Carl gave me the whole spiel of the drink, including a short history and his personal reason for choosing to prepare it for me. The hospitality he displayed that night has inspired me during many moments in my hospitality career, which have led to having many of my guests also try the Singapore Sling. This drink was originally geared towards women, but it became highly renowned in the Raffles Hotels by all guests and travelers.” — Jared Uy, beverage specialist at Makers & Finders in Las Vegas, NV

Recipe: 1.5 oz of gin, 0.5 oz cherry heering (or any cherry liqueur), 0.25 oz Cointreau, 0.25 oz Benedictine, 0.25 oz grenadine, 0.5 oz lime juice. Build all ingredients in shaker, shake with ice. Pour into a hurricane glass with one full scoop of ice. Garnish with a cherry and pineapple slice. Personally, I like to use the Benedictine as a float (like a Cadillac). That is how I was introduced to it in my first experience, and it left a lasting impression.

Smoke and Bitters cocktail

Smoke and Bitters, Italy and Mexico

This cocktail is so special because its three ingredients represent two very distinct countries and cultures [Italy and Mexico], both of which joyfully celebrate life, and both of which produce ancient spirits that are very much rooted to the earth, simplicity and quality of the raw materials.” — Tad Carducci, in-house tasting expert for Amaro Montenegro and Select Aperitivo

Recipe: 1 oz Amaro Montenegro, 1 oz Select Aperitivo, and 1 oz mezcal. Stir all the ingredients with ice until they are devastatingly cold, luxuriously smooth, and until the beautiful cultures which are represented in the bottles are so thoroughly blended together that they become one. Serve with an orange twist.

Jungle Bird, Malaysia

“My interpretation of this classic is inspired specifically by the island of Saint Lucia. My pivot to spiced rum from the called-for Blackstrap variety increases the fun factor of the ‘Jungle Bird’. While it is typically revered by bartenders for its dark and mysterious qualities, it can be a stretch for some guests to enjoy. The tropical fruit and spices are still balanced against the bitterness of the Campari, but this way the cocktail celebrates the laid back beach vibes of the tropical Windward Island.” — James Letendre, beverage manager for Marcel, The Optimist & JCT. Kitchen

Recipe: 1.5 oz Chairman’s Reserve spiced rum, 0.75 oz Campari, 1 oz fresh pineapple juice, 0.5 oz fresh lime juice. Combine all ingredients with ice in a mixing tin. Shake vigorously and strain over fresh ice in a tiki glass. Garnish with a pineapple wedge.

Fino Sherry & Gin, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Spain

“On a hot summer day, sometimes a full proof cocktail seems exhausting, so having a low proof option is the perfect decision. The other beautiful thing about this cocktail is that you can dress it up however you like for example, add some elderflower liqueur, cucumber and mint for something extra refreshing or take a more fruity approach by shaking it with some strawberries, lime and a little Aperol to create something more dynamic. Either way, this is an exciting base for your summer cocktail program.” — Zack Musick, beverage director at Merriman’s Hawaii

Recipe: 2 oz gin, 2 oz Fino Sherry, Mediterranean tonic, 1 Lime wedge. It is a riff on a classic gin and tonic, but you split the gin portion with an equal part of Fino Sherry and then use a local Mediterranean tonic and lime wedge to finish the cocktail.

La Charreada, Jalisco, Mexico

“It’s a rich cocktail and it represents one of the most traditional Mexican sports in the highlands of Jalisco, which combines the game of charros and tacos al pastor which are very popular in that region.” — Oskar Murillo, head bartender at the Copper Bar at La Casona, Hacienda Patrón

Recipe: La Charreada is created with Patrón reposado, lemon, achiote syrup and orange juice. It can be considered a variant of the margarita (using same portions) but it’s a unique twist as it is served in a rocks glass with the rim covered in baked corn and a slice of lemon and lime.

La Española, Spain

“I picture myself sipping on this Spanish-inspired cocktail for hours watching the sunset in the Sant Martí district of Barcelona, at Platja del Bogatell. Enjoying fantastically earthy and vibrant cocktails, in the beautiful sun, what more could one ask for?” — Veronica Lopez, lead bartender at Causwells, San Francisco

Recipe: 1.5 oz gin, 0.5 oz Ambrato vermouth, 0.5 oz beet juice, 1 oz lemon, and 0.5 oz agave syrup. All to be shaken hard and poured over in a king cube in a rocks glass. And what would a cocktail be without a gorgeous garnish? It's finished off with a beet ribbon and smacked mint. What I love most about this is the use of fresh juices, I always feel that they are the simplest way to elevate a drink.


Recommended Producers

“An ideal eiswein is like a diamond,” says Rowald Hepp, managing director of Schloss Vollrads in the Rheingau. “Crystal clear, pure, pristine, cool and with very fresh acidity.”

German eiswein— renowned for its purity, complexity and balance—is the benchmark by which all other ice wines are compared.

The first documented eiswein occurred in the 19th century, developed serendipitously by winemakers who came upon grapes left on vines through the winter to feed livestock. Commercial eiswein production only began in the 1960s, when such modern equipment as protective netting and grape presses able to efficiently handle frozen grapes proliferated.

Eiswein is distinct from other German dessert wines—beerenauslese and trockenbeerenauslese—which are made from shriveled late-harvest grapes affected by noble rot, or botrytis. Eiswein is made only from pristine frozen fruit, resulting in a flavor profile that’s fresher, more delicate and more primary.

German wine laws forbid using any sort of artificial freezing in the production of eiswein. Not every German winter guarantees a deep freeze, though. In many years, most recently 2006 and 2011, almost no eiswein was produced.

According to the German Wine Institute, ultimately only five to ten percent of grapes designated for eiswein make it into finished wine. The remaining crop falls prey to birds and beasts, gets blown away by rain, wind or hail, or removed for quality.

According to Hepp, despite all its liabilities, eiswein is characterized by its closeness to nature.

While he says that commercial freezers yield more consistent results, German eisweins “show more variation in taste due to the vintage character—the different picking dates, conditions and the varied temperatures (and fruit concentration) from year to year.”

This individuality also produces an expressiveness that spans a lifetime.

“When made from aromatic grapes like Riesling, the concentration in fruit and aromatics make eisweins very attractive in their early years,” says Hepp.

As they mature, Hepp says, “…the fruit and aroma goes into the background and ripe—yet pronounced—acidity in combination with more mineral flavors start to dominate.” —ALI

Recommended Producers

Although several parts of the U.S. are capable of producing ice wine, as a cool-climate wine region with an affinity for growing Riesling and long links to German winemaking, New York’s Finger Lakes region is the most notable.

Yet unlike Canada, where climactic conditions almost always guarantee a traditional harvest, or Germany, where wine laws and legacy demand adherence to traditional methods, New York wineries don’t always wait for the grapes to freeze on the vine.

There are roughly 20 producers in the Finger Lakes of ice wine or iced wine (frozen after harvest), and in classic American style, no one agrees on the right method or grapes to use.

But it’s produced democratization in a sense—there’s an ice wine for every preference, and with prices generally between $20–65, they’re supremely affordable in the pricey world of ice wine.

Sheldrake Point, one of the leading producers of ice wine in the Finger Lakes, employs only traditional methods, using Riesling, and sometimes Cabernet Franc. According to co-owner Bob Madill, ice wine from the Finger Lakes can be “laser-like in their precision—like a beautiful, clean note, and backed with enormous amounts of acidity.”

Of his 2010 Riesling Ice Wine, “I can take that wine anywhere in the world,” he says. “But we couldn’t have made that wine if we made it in a more calculated fashion. It’s a reflection of the vineyard, and what’s going on there.”

Martha Macinski, the owner and winemaker at Standing Stone, prefers to harvest superripe, unfrozen grapes. She says freezing harvested grapes to –5˚F and then pressing them slowly results in less water and ice in the grape must.

Macinski says it produces a wine that’s intensely sweet, bright with acidity and concentrated with fruit. Honeyed on the palate, with notes of spice and earth, Standing Stone wines are unique among ice or iced wines, but they don’t lack complexity.

“We pick the grapes late-harvest, so leaves are gone and the grapes are raisining—which changes the flavor profile in the wine to give us the nutty, hazelnut flavor that many folks seem to like,” says Macinski.

“We think the yield loss in freezing grapes on the vine is what drives the price so high,” says Macinski. “By avoiding the losses, our wines are much more affordable.” —ALI

Recommended Producers

Icewine (one word!) and Canada are a perfect match.

No other country can boast enough warmth in the summer to perfectly ripen a variety of grapes, yet offer the consistently frigid (but not deadly cold) winter temperatures required to create icewine .

Canada’s ability to produce high-quality icewine almost every vintage is unsurpassed—part of the reason it’s the world’s largest producer.

Ontario is the center of icewine production, where it makes up 15 percent of the province’s annual grape harvest, though only four percent of its total wine output.

The Niagara Peninsula and its 10 subappellations, where much of Ontario’s icewine is made, benefit from Lake Ontario’s warming effect, which prevents vine-killing winter temperatures.

Requirements are strict: temperature at harvest through press must be colder than minus 8˚C (17.6˚F) and brix—a measure of sugar levels in the grape—must be over 35˚, both of which contribute to sweet, rich, concentrated wines.

Vidal Blanc—a particularly winter-hardy hybrid grape variety—accounts for nearly two-thirds of Ontario’s production, while most of the rest is made from Cabernet Franc and Riesling.

However, both Ontario and British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, which also produces a substantial amount of icewine , work with a relatively wide range of red and white varieties.

Ingo Grady, Mission Hill Family Estate’s director of wine education, says that Vidal’s lower natural acidity creates considerable differences when compared to Riesling.

“Vidal is more lush in structure, with more tropical fruit aromas and flavors, such as mango and pineapple,” says Grady. “Vidal icewines, therefore, seem to be sweeter and richer in flavor and, with some age, can show caramel and maple flavors, dramatically different from European ice wines.”

Icewine is particularly coveted in the Far East. More than half of Canada’s icewine exports went to China, while the other top four importers are also in Asia.

In 2012, the U.S. imported fewer than 1,000 cases of icewine , less than one-sixth the amount it received a just few years earlier. Think about that the next time you are sipping on a glass of Canada’s sugary nectar, and it will seem even more precious. —Sean Sullivan

Recommended Producers

Using technology to mimic what nature does so precariously makes a lot of sense. Commercial freezers operating at extremely low temperatures allow winemakers to freeze grapes at their most pristine, protecting the fruit’s cellular structure.

Known as cryogenic extraction, it saves time waiting for the fruit to freeze naturally, and it protects the fruit from freezing and thawing repeatedly, as it might on the vine.

Freezing harvested grapes allows the winemaker, not Mother Nature, to be in full control of grape’s quality before, during and after freezing.

In the United States, Canada and Austria, wines made by freezing grapes after harvest cannot be labeled ice wine. It’s lead to a host of derivative designations (Iced or icebox wines, or in the case of California producer Bonny Doon, Vin de Glacière) with labels specifying that grapes were frozen after harvest.

These iced wines can be made every year, regardless of vintage, climactic conditions or the threat of animals. With decreased labor and production cost, the wines can be delivered less expensively and more consistently to consumers.

Proponents say that cryogenic extraction produces a cleaner, more consistently flavored product. Fans of traditional ice wines insist that it’s the variability, and liability, in nature that makes those products so unique, so rare and so good. —ALI


16 Meatball Recipes from Around the Globe

Ariana Lindquist

From classic Italian meatballs to cream-sauced Swedish meatballs, these hearty recipes are perfect comfort food.

In Sweden meatballs are served plain, as a snack on a sandwich with beet salad or as they are here, with mashed potatoes, creamy gravy, and tart lingonberry preserves. Get the recipe for Swedish Meatballs with Mashed Potatoes (Køttbullar mit Potatismos) » Full-flavored chicken meatballs smothered in a sweet and salty glaze. Get the recipe for Japanese Grilled Chicken Meatballs (Tsukune) »

Moroccan Meatballs with Arugula

These lamb meatballs are simmered in a harissa-spiked tomato sauce, served over peppery arugula, and drizzled with bright yogurt-thickened aïoli. Get the recipe for Moroccan Meatballs with Arugula »

Beef and Lamb Koftas with Mustard

Beef and Lamb Koftas with Mustard

Welsh-Style Pork Meatballs with Onion Gravy (Faggots with Onion Gravy)

These liver-enriched pork meatballs, named for the old northern British term for uncased sausage, are delicious doused in a buttery onion gravy. Get the recipe for Welsh-Style Pork Meatballs with Onion Gravy (Faggots with Onion Gravy) »

Frikadelki in Broth with Fermented Herbs

Frikadelki in Broth with Fermented Herbs

Cheddar and Sausage Balls

Sharp Cheddar and Pork Sausage Balls

Classic Meatballs

The key to making these meatballs is to brown them first in a skillet and then braise them in a sauce of red wine and tomatoes. Serve them with crusty bread or spaghetti to sop up the sauce. Get the recipe for Classic Meatballs »

Beet Stew with Lamb Meatballs

For this traditional Iraqi-Jewish dish, ground-lamb meatballs are braised in a vibrant beet stew. Get the recipe for Beet Stew with Lamb Meatballs »

Kibbeh (Beef and Bulgur Wheat Meatballs)

Middle Eastern kibbeh is a finely ground paste of bulgur, onions, and lamb or beef, which is formed into patties or balls, filled with coarsely ground, sweetly spiced meat, onions, and pine nuts, and deep-fried. Get the recipe for Kibbeh (Beef and Bulgur Wheat Meatballs) »

Sardine Miso Ball Soup

“Sardines” and “miso soup” probably don’t go in the same sentence very often, but here they make a great pair. Get the recipe for Sardine Miso Ball Soup »

Meatballs in Tomato Sauce (Keftedes me Saltsa Domata)

Get the recipe for Keftedes »

Tangcu Muli Rouwan (Sweet and Sour Pork Meatballs)

These succulent Sichuan meatballs are fried until crisp, then coated with a sweet and sour sauce. Get the recipe for Tangcu Muli Rouwan (Sweet and Sour Pork Meatballs) »

New Jersey Pork Roll Meatball Sub

Two great New Jersey tastes that taste great together: juicy meatballs fortified with New Jersey pork roll (a.k.a. Taylor ham). Get the recipe for New Jersey Pork Roll Meatball Sub »

Kefta Tagine (Lamb Meatball and Egg Tagine)

Cumin- and paprika-spiced kefta (lamb meatballs), baked eggs, and kalamata olives are the hallmarks of this elegant tagine from the Moroccan restaurant Le Timgad in Paris. Get the recipe for Kefta Tagine (Lamb Meatball and Egg Tagine) »

Fish Balls in Tomato Sauce

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On Pastry-Making and the Punk Rock Appeal of Pop-ups

In the lead-up to their first culinary collab, Natasha Pickowicz and Doris Hồ-Kane sit down to talk about staying scrappy.


Around the Globe in 80 Meals – Kid Friendly Recipes from Around the World

Get ready to travel on a culinary adventure through the globe with these easy, healthy, and totally kid friendly recipes from around the world that are designed to help you navigate through new cuisines, ingredients and flavors.

These recipes are not intended to be 100% authentic recreations. They are intended to be easy, healthy, and kid friendly meals from around the world that can be enjoyed by the whole family. They are meant to serve as a way to open the door to more adventurous eating, to place an emphasis on varied diets and to empower parents and children alike with the courage and inspiration to become a foodie family.

*Note: Basically, there are hundreds of different regional cuisines, and it would be a ridiculous task to break them down into ALL their individual categories &ndash because there are a lot.

For the purposes of this blog, which is to help your family experience and explore the world of food in an easy and stress-free way, I&rsquom going to keep it super, super basic.


12 Amazing Christmas Recipes From Around The World

Ho ho ho! The biggest holiday of the year is approaching really fast so I decided to throw together a round-up of all the Christmas recipes posted this year on the blog. It's interesting that I found exactly 12 recipes - that's the number of dishes traditionally served on the Christmas Eve supper in my (Lithuania) and some other Eastern European countries - Poland and Ukraine. Awesome! I hope that this tradition of posting a Christmas round-up will live long and I will do that for many years to come. Let's go!

No, it's not a piece of sausage stuffed with chocolate. I wouldn't want that on my Christmas table (sorry in advance if some of you would / will). In fact, it's a heavenly delicious Italian dessert and it's so easy to make you won't even believe! Perfect for adding to your Christmas gift baskets!

This month before Christmas it's the most popular recipe on the blog. I think it says it all. These cream cheese cookies, stuffed with apricot or any jam you like, are a Christmas tradition in Poland and they are splendid! Perfect holiday cookies.

This moist and flavorful cake is made on all possible occasions, especially weddings and Christmas. Dried fruit + rum + brown sugar + Christmassy spices = A heaven in your mouth!

Butter Tart to Canadians is like Tiramisu to Italians or apple pie to Americans. They even have the annual festival dedicated to these sweet beauties! Not surprising at all, keeping in mind how GOOD these tarts are!

A time-tested French classic, this stew is a perfect fit for any holiday table. The beef is cooked together with bacon, veggies, wine, and is complimented with brown-braised onions and butter sauteed mushrooms!

There is no Christmas in Sicily without these buttery cookies filled with walnuts, figs, raisins, honey, rum, and cinnamon. Their fantastic aroma bring holiday spirit to your home!

Another great beef recipe for your holiday table. This signature German dish features fork-tender beef served with sweet & sour gravy, made with gingersnap cookies, and some boiled potatoes on the side. This pot roast can be found on every single Christmas table in Germany!

Looking for some mulled wine alternatives? Check out this rich, sweet, creamy, and boozy eggnog, which is a long-lasting Christmas tradition in Puerto Rico! It is guaranteed to warm you from you from the inside out!

There is never enough cookies on Christmas! These melt-in-your-mouth tender & buttery cookies are coming from a sunny Greece where they are served on all possible occasions. Stuffed with pistachios!

Talking about unusual choices for your Christmas table. Swedes have a tradition of serving a creamy potato & sprat (little fish similar to anchovies) casserole. Sometimes you need to broaden your horizons and try something new!

The most important food-related Russian holiday tradition. Tons of this salad are made for every occasion, in fact, sometimes they don't even need an occasion to have it! Potatoes, carrots, ham, cucumber, pickles, red onion, chives, sweet peas, all mixed with sour cream and mayo. Heavenly!

A traditional Greek soup enjoyed any time of the year but especially at Christmas Eve dinner. Super easy to make and requires only a few ingredients. That lemon-y taste is amazing! Leave some for the next day because it's also known to be a great hangover cure!

Happy holidays, my dear readers! I hope you liked this round-up and will use some ideas for your Christmas table!


The World’s First Winery

Hobbs and his partners are taking a break from their vines to explore one of the world’s oldest known winemaking operations. It’s in a cave. In Armenia. And not just any cave: a massive, primordial, bat-infested, Transcaucasian caveman cave. The Areni-1 complex, uncovered in 2007, contains a 6,100-year-old winery replete with fermenting vats, a grape press, and subterranean clay storage vessels. Altogether, it’s the best-preserved archeological site in the ongoing search for winemaking’s birthplace. And it’s only 60 miles from Mount Ararat, where Noah is said to have parked his ark after the flood and planted the earth’s first vineyard.

When you’re inside the cave, where the National Geographic Society and UCLA are continually excavating, you can’t help wondering what life must have been like back then. It’s quite cool—“temperature controlled,” as Hobbs puts it, meaning wine-friendly. Like a sandy beach, the floor is soft and springy, covered in a layer of fine dirt. Hobbs rests his hand on a guano-encrusted wall and gazes down at the gray-white earthenware jugs sunk into the powdery floor. “These have been sitting here for thousands of years,” he says. “It’s hard to fathom. We don’t have words for this feeling it’s something mystical, something ethereal.”

Few people outside the former Soviet Union have ever tasted Armenian wine, but Hobbs and his team are part of a growing movement here hoping to change that. In addition to his own winery in Sebastapol, California, Hobbs consults on dozens of projects around the globe, from Uruguay to Ontario. And the 62-year-old vintner played a pivotal role in shaping the modern Argentinean wine industry two decades ago. His Armenian venture is a partnership with two Los Angeles-based Armenian brothers, Viken and Vahe Yacoubian. The first releases from Yacoubian-Hobbs Wines—made in the vineyards of Rind, a short drive from the Areni-1 archeological site—will launch next year.

Visiting Areni-1, it’s easy to share Hobbs’ enthusiasm for the chance to make wine at the cradle of viticulture. The cave is situated at the conjunction of an ancient canyon and a steep, narrow valley. From the fertile base of this X-shaped gorge, sweeping green hillsides give way to immense jagged red stone formations seemingly erupting from the earth’s core. These cliffside spires must have been just as awe-inspiring to the people who began cultivating grapes here millennia ago.

Mother Armenia presides over the country’s capital, Yerevan. Designed by Armenian sculptor Ara Harutyunyan, the monument replaced a World War II-era statue of Joseph Stalin in the early 1960s. William Hereford

Imagine a band of hunter-gatherers standing on a ridge across the Arpa River, surveying these craggy rifts as a place they might find shelter and protection from the leopards and jackals competing for survival here in the Armenian highlands. Areni-1 was inhabited during the early Copper Age, a transitional epoch between the Stone Age and the Bronze Age also known as the Chalcolithic period. At that point, we were still pretty much cartoon cavemen who hadn’t yet invented writing or wheels. The advent of alcoholic beverages would help kick-start those breakthroughs.

Consider: Only by domesticating animals and tending crops did we evolve away from pure survival and into a mode of life where division of labor and increased specialization developed into critical thinking. This cave is a key locus in that development.

Over the past decade, archeological excavations at Areni-1 have uncovered not just the first-ever winery, but also the oldest known leather shoe and a human skull containing the most ancient fragment of brain tissue in existence. It’s been suggested the skulls and wine were linked in ceremony, and in its earliest days, the mystery of fermentation and inebriation was considered a gift of the gods—something to be ritualized. That’s why, as organized religions arose, wine became linked to divinities like Teshub, Osiris, Dionysus, and Jesus.

Early forms of booze included broken-rice grogs, grain mashed with fruit, and other proto-beers. But wine’s centrality in human history is due to the simplicity with which grape juice transforms itself into alcohol. As soon as grapes release their juices, the yeasts living on their skins break down the sugars, producing alcohol and carbon dioxide. A pile of grapes, left to their own devices, will start to ferment automatically. “Other fruits don’t generate the same amount of alcohol as grapes, nor do other fruits turn into juice as easily,” Hobbs says.

The discovery of wine would have been an alluring reason for nomadic humans to give sedentary existence a go. As the pomologist Edward Bunyard once wrote: “We can picture the Father of our civilization, genial and complacent amid the stir of camp-breaking, answering those who urged him to his packing, ‘No! I stay here until this grape juice is finished. It gets more tasty every day.’”

Of course it wouldn’t have been the only reason we settled, but wine’s nascence is a key moment in the Neolithic revolution, when humans gave up nomadism for agriculture. Armenia is adjacent to the Fertile Crescent, where founder crops like emmer and einkorn wheat, barley, flax, and lentils were tamed and developed. This particular region is also the place of origin for the wild grapevine.

It’s uncertain where, exactly, viticulture began, but the strongest theories suggest that it arose between the Black and Caspian Seas in Transcaucasia (which includes Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan), as well as in eastern Turkey, the Levant, and northern Iran. The earliest evidence for grape domestication, in the form of 8,000-year-old grape seeds, was found just north of Armenia at Shulaveri gorge in Georgia. The oldest example of wine—7,400-year-old residue on clay pots—was discovered just south of Armenia at Hajji Firuz Tepe in Iran. Across the Black Sea in northern Greece, findings from a settlement called Dikili Tash suggest that grapes were being crushed into wine there 6,300 years ago. But Areni-1, at 6,100 years old, is the first place where grapes and winemaking tools have been discovered together. To put things in perspective, it’s not until a millennium or so later that wine shows up in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs.

How the first prehistoric wines were made remains a matter of speculation. One hypothesis entails nomadic humans collecting wild grapes, which, left aside, accidentally fermented, and presto: vino. “When our prehistoric ancestors first drank wine, they felt its euphoric effects,” Hobbs says, “which certainly made them want to keep at it.”

Hobbs and the Yacoubian brothers have also had to keep at it. They’ve been working on this ambitious project since 2008, and they still haven’t actually released any wines. But things are getting closer: Their areni vines are healthy, their nursery with Hobbs’ California varietals is in the ground, and the first batch of their wines is imminent. “This is the longest cycle of any project I’ve ever worked on,” notes Hobbs, who also accepts that things take as long as they need to in a place this remote.

Paul Hobbs with a vineyard worker. William Hereford

A certain level of tenacity and dedication is required just to access the Areni-1 site. Traveling to Armenia from North America is a multitransfer slog, and the drive to the cave from the capital city, Yerevan, takes a couple of hours along bumpy mountain roads. Throughout the journey, Mount Ararat’s snowcapped peak dominates the biblically epic view. The road to Areni is lined with farm stands selling fresh red cherries and plastic gallons of homemade, semisweet, rustic red wine. “Many of them are riddled with microbial sanitation problems, oxidation, or overextraction,” Hobbs laments. “It’s a shame, as more and more people are making pilgrimages here to taste great wine in its birthplace.”

Ancient wines have little in common with the roadside plonk available around Areni. Given the relentless global demand for wines with a true sense of place, there are opportunities here. Take the amber wines of nearby Georgia, made as they always have been in underground qvevri amphorae. Unsung until recently, they’re increasingly praised in the international wine scene. Armenia, too, is ground zero for wine culture, yet it’s still to be seen how it will reconcile the past with the present.

The indigenous areni grape, for example, seems ideally suited for lighter-bodied wines, yet many winemakers use it in saccharine Soviet-style wines or in brawny oak bombs. There’s little consensus about what would make for a “typical” Armenian wine because nobody can say with authority what the wines used to be like. Part of the thrill is the desire to try and find out—even though the country’s ancient wine culture nearly died over the past couple of centuries.

There’s a simple reason why Armenia is simultaneously one of the oldest and the youngest wine-producing nations in the world: It was decreed a brandy-producing country during the 19th-century czarist era. As a result, most grapes here have ultimately ended up being distilled. The emphasis on brandy only deepened during Soviet years, and to this day, 95 percent of the grapes grown on a commercial level are used for spirits.

The rebirth of Armenian wines began only around a decade ago—barely enough time for newly planted vines to come to fruition. The producers moving things forward include Zorah, which ages a Karasì cuvée in reclaimed amphorae Voskeni of the Ararat Valley and Kataro, a family-run winery in the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region. Irina Ghaplanyan, a political science professor and driving force in the revival, makes an excellent red called Zabel. “Armenia’s wines aren’t yet at their full potential,” she explains, knowingly. “We’re still discovering what they can truly offer.”

This is a nation where the tradition of simply drinking wine was broken. Annual consumption of vodka per capita is 5.6 liters, for example, to wine’s 1.6 liters. Compare that with Georgia, where the average citizen consumes upwards of 21 liters a year. Granted, Georgia was deemed a “country of wine” in the Soviet-dominated 20th century, supplying Stalin with his favorites, and the tradition of making wine in qvevris was never interrupted. If Armenia can find a way to leverage its own historical position into a vibrant new wine culture, however, its mountainous reds may soon be drunk side by side with Georgia’s skin-contact amber wines.

Since the discovery of Areni-1 nine years ago, seismic changes have already taken place in Armenia. The first-ever wine bars in Yerevan opened just a few years ago. The clientele still skews female and young, but it’s a significant step in a place where most men consider wine drinking unmasculine. The sense that a new generation is coaxing things forward is palpable. Post-Soviet-style wine (read: dry) is being exported by domaines like ArmAs Estate, Hin Areni Vineyards, and Van Ardi, and there is an increasing uptick in quality. “That’s where we come in,” says Hobbs, who is conscious of the need to retain the wines’ connection to the land. “The soul of a wine is when it speaks to a place. If you don’t have that, then you’ve missed everything. And that quest is why we’re so fired up to be here.”

A vineyard grows beneath grows beneath Mount Ararat and the monastery. William Hereford

The quest to bring world-class wine back to Armenia would be a lot more complicated without Vahe Keushguerian, the winery manager for Yacoubian-Hobbs. Born into the diaspora and educated in the United States, he started making wine in Tuscany and Puglia in the 1990s. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, he bought land in the Areni region, relocated in 2009, and began working with the country’s winemakers. These days, he runs a company called Semina Consulting that helps with everything from harvesting to bottling to sales to shipping. “The ringleader of the Armenian wine mafia” is what the media here have dubbed Keushguerian. That may be true, but he’s also a nature lover who spends his free time tagging and propagating wild grapevines.

Not far from the cave, Keushguerian walks over to some tangled, overgrown grape bushes. These grapevines haven’t been here for millennia, but they’ve overlooked these cliffs for at least a few generations. The varietals translate to names like “foxtail,” “the shah’s empress,” and “a Kurd’s forehead.”

“Whenever I come out here it makes me realize the total insignificance of our own lives,” Keushguerian says to Hobbs as they gaze up at the cliffs. As much as Keushguerian is entranced with Armenia’s ancestral grapes and Areni-1, it’s his opinion that it doesn’t matter which country actually came to make wine first. “Being the birthplace of wine is something the countries around here all share,” he contends. “In fact, it’s one of the few things we all have in common.”

Relations between Armenia and its neighbors are highly fraught. The borders to Turkey and Azerbaijan are closed. The only land routes in or out pass through either Georgia or Iran, making it logistically difficult to export wines. There have long been disputes over the Azeri exclave of Nakhchivan as well as the mountainous independent territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, which shares a currency, legislation, and much of its population with Armenia—but which Azerbaijan claims belongs to it. Perhaps the ultimate symbol for how complex the geopolitical situation is in this region is Mount Ararat itself, which lies in a part of Turkey primarily inhabited by Kurds who consider it part of the as-yet-unrecognized nation of Kurdistan.

Areni-1 is located near Ararat in Vayots Dzor, a province whose name translates as the “Valley of Sorrows.” So many wars have been fought here, and the painful memory of the Armenian genocide a century ago remains fresh. Cross-cultural tension and lingering wounds are part of the country’s DNA.

As Keushguerian, Viken Yacoubian, and Hobbs leave the cave site, a picnicking group of older men waves them over. They’re drinking homemade white wine and vodka from plastic water bottles. When they learn that Hobbs is American, they kiss him on the cheek and hold forth in Russian about Armenia’s tragic past. Keushguerian tries to translate, but the men speak over one another with increasing urgency. Pretty soon, they are crying and hugging as Hobbs attempts to console them. He can’t grasp a word they’re saying. Still, he’s in a land capable of expressing its emotions in ways that transcend language.

Keushguerian’s wine cellar in Yerevan. William Hereford

To encounter grown men crying here is not atypical. In fact, souvenir stores often sell small figurines of a doleful, bulbous-nosed, dark-haired, flower-bearing man with tears running down his face. Armenians are a deeply emotional and empathetic people it’s part of the reason they’ve been able to survive in such a harsh environment, but also why their communities have flourished around the world. The global Armenian diaspora is estimated to be between 7 million to 8 million people the country’s population is itself only 3 million.

William Saroyan, the legendary Armenian-American writer, felt that the secrets to life were to breathe deeply, laugh like hell, and really “taste food when you eat.” Meals here are so incredibly flavorful and abundant that it’s impossible to not follow his advice. After bidding the tipsy, now laughing picnickers dasvidaniya, the group heads to an outdoor grill restaurant near the base of the cave. (Part of the cave itself was damaged when someone tried to build a restaurant inside its western gallery.)

Lunch begins with platters of brightly flavored pickles, thick Caucasian yogurt, savory pan-seared apricot patties, carrots with dill, thin slices of eggplant wrapped around creamy walnuts, and local cold cuts like basturma and dried soujouk, as well as a briny, subterranean-aged cheese and heaping plates of fresh herbs: chervil, chives, cilantro, purple basil, mustardy arugula, and tarragon. And no Armenian meal would be complete without dolmas, whether cabbage-wrapped rice and meat, or forest-green vine leaves swaddling crayfish. The main course is a parade of grilled sturgeon, trout, pork chops, lamb, and potatoes.

The other tables fill with raven-haired women and muscular men with pale blue eyes wearing Adidas tracksuits. The impression of being in 1970s U.S.S.R. is amplified when Hobbs and the others depart for their nearby vineyards, jostling past blue-smoke-spewing Ladas, donkey-pulled chariots, and a rumbling bulldozer slowly dragging boulders on chains behind it.

“Most of the vineyard practices here are archaic,” Hobbs says, strolling through his vines in Rind. “We’ve worked to revamp growing methods, slashing yields, and harvesting later to achieve ripeness.”

Viken Yacoubian is a rugged force to Hobbs’ Hollywood good looks. He recalls that when Hobbs arrived there was no infrastructure for modern winemaking. “Everything was ancient and dilapidated, left over from the Soviet period,” Yacoubian says. “It really felt formidable to attempt this.”

A crowd gathers at Areni-1. William Hereford

But now, eight years later, it’s coming together. The final blends for their first release will be chosen tomorrow. Everyone takes a moment to inhale deeply. A shepherd pauses with his flock on a ravine in the distance. Purple wildflowers and blood-red poppies dance among the vines. “What I love about this place is the purity,” Hobbs says. “In the air, in the plants, in everything.”

Born in upstate New York, Hobbs notes the similarity between his homeland and Armenia. “The winters here are as cold as the Finger Lakes,” he says. “The flowers and soil and manure and leaves—it smells like my childhood on the farm. Every time I visit the cave, I end up feeling like a kid. I feel like I am my three-year-old daughter here. Everything is so new and marvelous for her, so fresh.”

The next afternoon, Hobbs, Yacoubian, and Irina Ghaplanyan from Zabel gather at Chateau Qvartel, Keushguerian’s offices and winery. The “chateau” is an immense, rusting Soviet hangar located in Yerevan’s derelict 16th quarter. A number of the buildings around here have collapsed, some are in a permanent state of incompletion, and many are windowless. It’s a reminder of post-Soviet dissolution, when supply chains crumbled and the ruble was replaced with the still-precarious dram. Electricity was barely available at night from 1991 until around 2005. During those years, hotels here would give guests a wake-up call if hot water happened to become available for showering. “This part of town is kind of the projects,” Keushguerian says.

Unlikely though it may seem, this urban-bunker facility is central command for the new wines of Armenia—eight or so winemakers all operate under this one roof. Keushguerian makes his own wines here, as do Ghaplanyan, Yacoubian-Hobbs, and a handful of other idealists. There are the usual stainless-steel fermenting tanks and oak barrels for aging, but there’s also a large map on the wall to help explain how all these Greater Caucasian and Near East countries fit next to one another.

“The grapes for my Keush Origins sparkling wine come from there,” Keushguerian says, pointing at the region of Khachik. It’s right up against the border of Azerbaijan, close to the trenches in a militarized zone. “To make sense of wine in Armenia, we need to accept that it is a combination of history, geography, resilience, and defiance—plus a sense of duty to our ancestors,” he continues. “Wine is a way to introduce people to Armenia. You see its reality through its wine.”

Yacoubian chimes in: “The fact is these wines allow us to discuss identity. I am an Armenian, and I am making wine, but who am I? I was born in Lebanon and grew up in Los Angeles, and I came here searching for a way of defining my Armenian-ness.” Wine is helping him, and his country, define their voice.

On that note, they taste the final blend of their first vintage. The Yacoubian-Hobbs take on the areni grape smooths out its rough tannins, placing it somewhere between a mondeuse from Savoie, a Chianti riserva, and a volcanic red from Etna. It’s definitely a mountain wine, but with a velvety, new-world, Hobbsian signature—and it adds density without any of the clunkiness found in other local wines.

Vahe Keushguerian, Yacoubian-Hobb’s winery manager. William Hereford

Keushguerian and Ghaplanyan recently coauthored a paper on what they call wines from the “historical world,” distinguishing that term from “Old World” and “New World.” They wanted to identify this region—Armenia and Georgia, but also Jordan, Israel, and Lebanon—differently from the ancient world. “The ancient world is a sexy idea,” Ghaplanyan explains, “but it is something that has ceased to exist—as opposed to history, which is constantly evolving.”

Keushguerian interjects: “The ancient world is a fossil, and nobody wants to be a fossil.” Their notion that this part of the world is distinct from old-world and new-world labels allows for historical-world wines to be made with a new-world palate, as Yacoubian-Hobbs is doing, or in an old-world style, emulating European cuvées, or in a historical-world way, as are Georgia’s amber wines. “There is room for all preferences and tastes with this framework,” he says.

Ghaplanyan insists that Armenian wine should be in no rush to define itself—or to limit itself. “Our people first lost our statehood in 1045 c.e.—and we only finally became a sovereign republic again in 1991,” she points out. “Twenty-five years to find ourselves again after almost a thousand is a very short time.” Armenia is an in-between place, not exactly European, Asian, or Middle Eastern. “A liminal place,” Ghaplanyan says. “That has to be the source of our strength.”

Armenians have long used wine as a way of maintaining their Armenian-ness. In 2013, the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology published a paper about the spread of early Transcaucasian culture (ETC) across the Near East in the third millennium b.c.e. The Areni-1 site was a prime ETC settlement, and as the Transcaucasians wandered, they brought wine culture with them. The archeological record suggests that winemaking is what enabled them to retain their social identity wherever they settled.

Returning from exile, Yacoubian, Ghaplanyan, and Keushguerian are essentially following their predecessors in a quest to discover themselves through wine. There’s a beautiful symmetry to the idea that modern-day Armenians would define themselves in such a way. This is a place where a wine-drinking civilization learned to thrive 6,000 years ago, and where people are once again using grapes to help them find their identity—even as they search for the true nature of their wines.

The Armenian Grapes

Cultivated in Armenia’s rich, volcanic soil at high altitudes, these grape varietals are entirely indigenous and vital to the tradition of winemaking in the cradle of viticulture.

Areni
The best known of Armenia’s varietals, areni is a thick-skinned, late-ripening grape. It’s considered one of the country’s finest, and produces fresh, bright red wines with soft, elegant red fruit flavors.

Kakhet
This late-ripening varietal is thinner-skinned than areni, and deep violet-purple in color, with small berries that make for sweet, fresh, floral juice.

Sireni
Originally from Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory in South Caucasus, sireni is a thick-skinned red grape with tannic structure. It ages and develops reliably well in barrel.

Tchilar
Rare and nearly extinct until recently, tchilar is a grape to watch in the coming years. It’s mildly floral with a distinct structure, and falls somewhere between a sauvignon blanc and a grüner veltliner.


16 Delicious Casserole Recipes from Around the World

Cook one of these 16 delicious casserole recipes from around the world and you will be all set for a cosy night in. Each one of these comforting one-pot wonders is packed with flavor and excitement. 16 delicious dishes that bring the world to your table!

Exploring the world through food is one of my favorite things to do. Whether I&rsquom traveling or virtually traveling by researching and testing recipes in my own kitchen, I never cease to be awed by what I discover.

I thought it would be interesting (and yummy) to put together a roundup of DELICIOUS Panning The Globe casserole recipes from around the world. It&rsquos an exciting colorful bunch of recipes that I hope will amaze and delight you and warm you from the inside, as comforting casseroles do so well.

(The images below are clickable)

Italian No Noodle Eggplant Lasagna German Spaetzle with Caramelized Onions, Wilted Greens and Gruyere Indian Lamb Biryani Jollof Rice with Chicken from Ghana
Boboti from South Africa Healthy Spicy Shepherds Pie from the UK Israeli Shakshuka Swiss Rosti
Mexican Chicken Enchiladas Verdes My Favorite Lasagna Persian Layered Chicken and Rice with Yogurt Chicken Plov from Uzbekistan
Plov No-Fry Eggplant Parmesan Stuffed Onions from Afghanistan Tex-Mex Tortilla Casserole

Here&rsquos more about each recipe:

No Noodle Eggplant Lasagna: Everything you love about lasagna but vegetarian and gluten free with a rich thick tomato sauce made with carrots, mushrooms and shaved broccoli. The noodles are made from thinly sliced baked eggplant.

Spaetzle with Caramelized Onions, Wilted Greens and Gruyere: A German version of macaroni and cheese with homemade spaetzle (dumplings), kale and swiss chard. If you don&rsquot have time to make homemade spaetzle, substitute orzo or even brown rice.

Indian Lamb Biryani: This is one of my favorite casseroles to make for company &ndash a sumptuous casserole of tender lamb curry layered with saffron spiced rice and cucumber-mint raita to serve on the side. Always a huge hit.

Jollof Rice with Chicken from Ghana: Chicken and rice casserole with vegetables in a mild tomato curry. Family friendly and delicious.

Boboti: South African Boboti resembles British Shepherd&rsquos Pie and Greek Moussaka. What sets bobotie apart from the others is the richly flavored meat and custard topping.

Healthy Spicy Shepherds Pie: Shepherds pie is a savory meat pie with a mashed potato crust. This one has lots of veggies, a delicious spicy kick and is topped with healthy olive oil mashed potatoes. Guilt free comfort food.

Shakshuka: Eggs poached in spicy tomato sauce. This amazingly delicious casserole recipe was given to me by renowned Israeli chef Einat Admony. Serve this for brunch.

RÖSTI: Shredded Potato Casserole with Ham and Eggs: Imagine a giant potato pancake &ndash crisp on the outside, tender on the inside &ndash with onions, ham and melting cheese mixed in, and soft-cooked eggs baked on top. Sounds amazing right? It is! It&rsquos one of my favorite brunch casserole recipes.

Chicken Enchiladas Verdes: Tender shredded chicken, roasted tomatillo salsa, corn tortillas for wrapping, two kinds of cheese. This dish is totally irresistible.

My Favorite Lasagna: Lasagna is one of my favorite foods in the world. Here&rsquos my favorite lasagna recipe. It&rsquos saucy, meaty and cheesy &ndash just the way classic lasagna is supposed to be.

Tachin Joojeh &ndash Persian Layered Chicken and Rice with Yogurt: This casserole is cooked upside down. When you flip it over onto a platter, you&rsquoll see a beautiful yogurt saffron rice crust on top and juicy chicken, onions and steamed rice layers beneath it. There&rsquos a tasty yogurt sauce to serve alongside. The whole family will love this one.

Chicken Plov: A comforting casserole of chicken and rice with carrots, onions, herbs and spices and a whole head of roasted garlic on top. This casserole is simultaneously exotic and familiar.

Lam Plov: The first recipe I ever posted and still one of my favorites &ndash lamb stew meets rice pilaf.

No Fry Eggplant Parmesan: A healthier version of classic Italian eggplant parmesan. The eggplant is baked and layered with a thick delicious tomato sauce, two cheeses and spinach. Feel free to go back for seconds!

Stuffed Onions from Afghanistan: This recipe is something different and exotic. A savory filling of lamb, rice, Feta, prunes and spices is wrapped with onion and oven-baked. Serve as an appetizer or main dish.

Tex-Mex Tortilla Casserole: One of my weeknight family favorites. Extremely quick and easy to make. You probably have most of the ingredients in house. Vegetarian and delicious. Top with tomato salsa and sour cream or yogurt.

I hope you enjoy cooking around the world with these 16 comforting and delicious casserole recipes.

You probably already know how much I love to hear from you. If you cook one of these casseroles please come back to leave a comment and let me know what you think. Happy cooking!


Watch the video: The Toxic Avenger - Around the Globe (January 2022).