March 2012

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play with your food Simple Sips Stocking the wine rack By Karen Eigenberger Don't miss Eigenberger's selec- tion of the month in The Cue, BRAVA's monthly e-newsletter. Register at to receive yours! We all want to be the consummate hosts, having everything we need for an impromptu gathering on hand and pulling it off with ease. Whether it's a last minute potluck with the neighbors, friends popping in from out of town, or a romantic dinner, there are fi ve basic wines to keep on hand for every occasion. Brocach Irish Pub True Tastes of the Auld Sod From the Irish homeland to your plate By Michael and Jean Muckian Fans of true Irish cuisine—and, yes, there are a few—often turn up their noses at peo- ple who celebrate St. Patrick's Day every March 17 with corned beef and cabbage. Not authentic, they sneer, in the same way chop suey is an unnecessary American concession to traditional Chinese food. Th ey're right, but they're also wrong. Th e corned beef we know today prob- ably never appeared on Irish menus before gaining favor on this side of the pond. But it does have its roots in the Auld Sod, which makes sneering a wee bit daft. Corned beef describes meat that has been grown in the family's own garden. Th e bacon was then sliced and the dish served with some of its own boil and, occasion- ally, a white sauce made of fl our, milk, butter and parsley. Try some this St. Patrick's Day, along with other traditional dishes such as blaa (a doughy white roll), crubeens (also known as "pig's trotters," or boiled pigs feet), colcannon (potatoes mashed with cabbage or kale), or disheen (a "black pudding" of milk, salt, fat and breadcrumbs boiled with animal's blood). If you want to get really authentic, pre- cured with "corns" of salt. Th ere are sever- al styles of salt-cured beef, but the one we associate with Ireland's most famous holi- day is made from brisket or round steak "wet-cured" in a brine of salt and spices. Th e Irish were one of many groups who salt-cured meats before refrigeration in order to keep them over the long, wet win- ters. Cabbage and root vegetables were plentiful, of course, and the dish we know today most likely began as traditional Irish bacon and cabbage. A salt-cured slab of unsliced back bacon was boiled with cabbage, potatoes, and sometimes carrots, onions and turnips 70 BRAVA Magazine March 2012 1. Sparkling wine: A fresh, dry sparkling wine is a must. Keep a few bottles of a moderately priced sparkling wine such as Prosecco in your wine rack and maybe add a few bottles of French Champagne, too. This is a great aperitif for a dinner party, can be made into sparkling cocktails, or is great to toast any occasion with. 2. Lightly fruity white wine: Whether a neighbor pops over for a glass of wine or you choose spicy Thai takeout for dinner, a fruity white is the ticket! Some good choices are Vouvray or Riesling. 3. Dry white wine: Think fresh and crisp for any light appetizer, cocktail party, or fi sh and poultry meal. Bottles of Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay are great staples for any household. 4. Light red wine: A light-bodied red wine is the perfect chameleon, changing notes and tastes to match a variety of foods and occasions. If people pop over and you're not sure what you will do for food, opt for a Pinot Noir or Beaujolais. pare fulacht fi adh, which refers to veni- son boiled in a hole in the ground in water heated by hot stones. (Th is one takes a while to prepare.) You can also get your Irish on at Brocach Irish Pub and Claddagh Irish Pub. Th e restaurants' choices are many. Just don't expect any fulacht fi adh. Michael and Jean Muckian have covered the local food and arts scenes for over 25 and 15 years, respectively. Find their blog, Culturosity, at 5. Big red wine: Think big, bold and rich. Whether you decide to pop steaks on the grill or get into a late night chat with friends, big red wines need a place in your wine rack. Stock up on a Cabernet, Bordeaux or rich red blends. Be sure to vary the price range to have some for everyday sips as well as a few "treats" for special occasions. Fill those empty slots in your wine rack with a few bottles from the above, and you're ready for anything. Cheers! Karen Eigenberger is partner at STEVE'S Wine-Beer-Spirits on Mineral Point Road. Visit Photo by Shanna Wolf

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