The holidays bring out so many fine foods and inspire so many annual do’s it can be a little overwhelming. Thus, in my considered opinion, I feel one should focus more on drinking. It helps everything go down, after all, from in-law-induced palpitations to your company’s nondenominational holiday party slash not-so-secret Santa exchange.
Not that it’s all about the alcohol, it’s also about comfort. These days, as a seasonal alternative to my morning mint tea, I might toss a cinnamon stick or a coin of ginger into a pan of The Milk Pail’s apple cider, warmed gently, and savor it. Though…later in the day, at least…it’s even better with a splash of Wölffer Estate Vineyard Cuvée Gold Rush Cider thrown in. This sparkling elixir is also made from Milk Pail apples.
Okay, so it’s largely about the alcohol, but it’s less about the drunk and more about the camaraderie, the feeling of breaking bread or draining a bottle together, in community.
With so much food-friendly wine at hand, one might become inured, or at least spoiled. Maybe you want something with a little more kick sometimes. I found the recently released North Fork Absenthe from Duck Walk Vineyards interesting—since I’m friends with the flavor of black licorice, but I fell head-over-heels for the good-stuff-they-can’t-actually-call-“Port” from Sannino Vineyards in Peconic. Now I get to complete my locally sourced meals with sips of fine, local not-Port. If the traditional fortified red dessert wine is called Port because it’s from Portugal, let’s call this good stuff from the North Fork “Nort.” Bottoms up!
Speaking of the foreign at home on the North Fork, I never pass through Mattituck without a stop at Agora the Little Greek Market on Pike Street. As usual, I picked up some Greek feta, olives, lentils and herbs. Unusually, I indulged in a sample of that pure, Greek feta while I was there. Opa! I was momentarily transported to a warm, grassy hillside…
A double: the final course in the recent Macari Vineyards dinner at The Maidstone Hotel in East Hampton was truly the piece de resistance: lavender panna cotta topped with honey poached pears, paired with Macari’s Block E Dessert Wine. I state for the record, once again, that I’m not generally a fan of eating lavender. BUT the intensity and slight bitterness of the lavender blossoms strewn about the plate were both the perfect foil to this gloriously unctuous pudding and the ideal counterweight to the concentrated tropical fruit flavors in this heady wine. Delizioso!
You can follow Stacy’s informed and opinionated foodie adventures on Twitter @hamptonsepicure.