Fair Quinoa Vodka: That’s Fair

Ward III hosted a delectable cocktail tasting featuring the spirits from Fair, a company that truly believes in fair trade—and fabulous tasting products. From the Andes, the award-winning Fair Vodka takes the knowledge passed down from Incas from the past 5000 years, plus French distillers, to create its unique taste. Fair also produces a Goji Berry Liqueur, which tastes great on its own, or in cocktails, with berries from the Himilayas, and a Café Liqueur from Mexican coffee. Stock up for the holidays! Photo shows the TIBETAN SPRITZER made with Fair Goji Liqueur, Lillet Blanc, Lemon Juice, Angostura Bitters, Marquis de la Tour Sparkling Wine and topped with some Goji Berries. See more photos from the tasting here.

Test your WINE knowledge

The Juice, the newsletter from LocalWineEvents.com will be featuring a wine quiz every week. Wine expert Kevin Zraly will be brain-teasing your knowledge on all aspects of wine making and history. Here’s how it works: Clicking on a question brings you to a multiple choice response area, then clicking on a response let’s you immediately know if you were correct. For instance: Where are some of the oldest vineyards in France? A. Burgundy B. Bordeaux C. Rhone Valley D. Loire Valley E. Champagne. My answer of Burgundy was incorrect...head to the site to see how you do!

October Dine Around: DGBG, Recette, La Fonda del Sol

Fall dining hits and misses: My first foray from the bar to dining room at DBGB was a mixed bag. Sadly, the server did not go out of his way to make the dining experience a positive one. What was learned: 1. When your order a pumpkin cupcake at DBGB, this is what appears (photo, top) so there’s no need to order two, like we did. 2. Be sure to ask the price of oysters, or pay! We had the specials, which cost $42 for a half dozen, as opposed to $18. Boy, were we surprised when the bill came. On the up side—all the food was memorably and fantastically good. More photos from the dinner can be seen at this link. Recette, in the west village (my old ’hood) had a very interesting menu, that calls for another exporatory trip. The sweetbreads, prepared to taste like buffalo wings were my favorite pick of the night. The cachaca cocktail was also a taste treat: prepared with Leblon Cachaça, apple juice, beet juice and fresh ginger. See more photos here. La Fonda del Sol’s side dish of Crispy Eggplant comes with a tomato, raisin, and pine nut chutney. It’s a unique dish, and makes for a great bar snack as well as a side. We just had a few bites before having to run off to the a capella contest we were attending that night. See more photos from our dinner here.


Pretty Stuffed Pumpkins

It’s the time of year when squashes and pumpkins abound. What to do? Refer to The Earthbound Cook by Myra Goodman—a book that is packed not only with recipes, but also with tips on living an über-green lifestyle. You will definitely learn something about the planet, including: the pros and cons of the farming of fish, how to read eco labels, how to eat organically for health, and much more. This recipe not only makes for a gorgeous presentation, it’s ranks 10+ on the health scale.

An excerpt from the book:

Pumpkins Stuffed with Quinoa, Butternut, and Cranberries
3 tablespoons olive oil
About 1 cup diced yellow onion
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 cup quinoa, rinsed in cold water and drained
2 cups Vegetable Stock, or store-bought low-sodium vegetable broth
1/2 cup dried unsweetened cranberries
4 small edible pumpkins, Sweet Dumpling squash, or small acorn squash (1 1/2 to 2 pounds each)
1 1/2 cups diced butternut squash
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, or chopped walnuts, toasted
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Place 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven, and heat over medium heat. Add the onion and ground cumin and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and golden brown, about 10 minutes.
2. Add the quinoa to the saucepan and stir to coat the grains. Add the stock and raise the heat to high. When the liquid comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low, add the cranberries, and cover the pan. Cook at a slow simmer until the liquid has been absorbed, 15 to 25 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, cut the top off each pumpkin, reserving the tops, if desired, for decorative effect. Scoop out and discard the seeds and fibers. If the pumpkins do not sit flat, trim a small slice off the bottom to create a flat base. Place the pumpkins on a rimmed baking sheet and set it aside.
4. Place the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet, preferably nonstick, and heat it over medium-high heat. When it is hot, add the cubed butternut squash and cook without stirring until the squash is browned on the bottom, 2 minutes. Toss to turn the pieces (or use a spatula to accomplish this) and cook, stirring frequently, until the squash is just tender, about 2 minutes more. Set aside.
5. When the quinoa is cooked, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the toasted pumpkin seeds, cinnamon, and lemon juice. Add the butternut squash, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F.
7. Divide the quinoa filling among the pumpkin shells; do not pack the mixture. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and roast until the quinoa is hot and the flesh of the pumpkins is tender when pierced with a skewer or fork, 45 to 60 minutes. Avoid overcooking, because the pumpkins may collapse. If you intend to use the pumpkin tops, add these to the oven during the last 15 minutes of cooking.
8. Serve immediately, with the tops (if using) leaning against the stuffed pumpkins. Serves 4.

Ty Ku cocktails: Halloween Sweets for Adults

Boo! Ty Ku came up with some super sweet concoctions that harken back to the days of trick or treating. From left to right: The Sweet Tart takes Ty Ku Liqueur and Soju and mixes with pineapple juice. The Tootsie Roll is a blend of Ty Ku Soju, coffee liqueur, and a splash of orange juice and raspberry liqueur. A Pumpkin Martini may be on your menu. Mix Ty Ku Sake with vanilla rum, sugar free pumpkin syrup, and top with whipped cream.

Halloween Brights

Happy-colored tableware from French Bull is available for your Halloween entertaining needs. Choose from the large Orange/Pink bowl ($24), small bowls ($7) in orange or black, or round black-and-white tray ($24). Best of all, it’s on sale! To receive the 20% discount on anything in the store (except sale items) enter the term: FBSPOOKY in all caps.

Sca-wey Cookie Cutters

Kids will enjoy baking with you more when they have their very own cookie cutters. Curious Chef has designed a set for halloween which includes a cat, pumpkin, ghost and leaf. Order online now for only $6.49 with auto coupon.

Agua Dulce: Ceviche Heaven

A few Fridays back, we had a very happy and lively dinner in Hell’s Kitchen's Agua Dulce. Not being able to resist the descriptions, we tried nearly all of the ceviches offered, which is a benefit of going out with more than 2 people. Pictured is the Laughing Bird Shrimp Tacos with cucumber and scallion salsa. What a nice little surprise to get the ceviche served this way. The guacamole was so good, and devoured so quickly that I did not even get a photo. The staff was lovely, friendly, and accomodating. Definitely want to go back. See more pics of our meal and the space here.

Junoon: Indian Cuisine In-depth

Get ready for Junoon, an18,000-square-foot, palace-like restaurant coming to the Flatiron area. I was able to sneak a peek into the construction zone last week, while meeting with Chef Vikas Khanna to talk about his upcoming cookbook. The restaurant will feature an sleek open kitchen which will also showcase the five traditional styles of Indian cooking: curries and sauces, a tandoor oven, a cast iron griddle, and a stone for searing meats and char broiling. Downstairs, a special Spice Room will be creating fresh blends for the kitchen, and to sell to the public. The dramatic, sophisticated decor features an entrance with reflecting pool, leading to another one—which spans from front to back. The lounge and private dining areas come adorned with ancient, intricately-carved Indian artifacts, that emit a nice warm vibe. I can’t wait to try the food. Opening in mid November.

Bar Henry: Underground Eatery with Simple Good Eats

If I had walked past this place before hearing about it I would have never walked down the steep set of stairs to enter Bar Henry. But who knew what simple pleasures lurked beyond. Everything we ordered was fantastic, and the back dining room was not crowded, though the bar in front was, when we were leaving. I highly recommend! More photos here.