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Clutching your Wine the Proper Way

Specific rules come into play when you hold your drink.

If anything, just remember:

Always hold by the stem.

Clutching your cocktail correctly might be an often overlooked, but whether you’re a guest at a summer dinner party or the Cocktail Concierge at Happy Hour, these essential-yet-simple tips will remind you to grasp your glass the proper way. Read more

Roasted Leg of Lamb with North-African Spices, Lemon, and Fried Onions By Aglaia Kremezi

In one word. . .

Greece is magnificent.

I base that on many things: the culture; the history; the language; the people; the places; the food.

All countries have the same elements of course.  But to me, the way these elements are combined in Greece makes the country unique in a wonderful way. Visiting Greece is definitely worth adding to your bucket list.

I lived in Athens for one month while studying at Denison University for my Art History major.  Athens is one of the most beautiful and unique cities. Paris, London, Barcelona, Prague and Berlin are beautiful too no doubt, but truth is that none of those cities has the unique spots or ruins that is found in Athens — the Acropolis, Plaka, Sounio and Thiseio.  Athens is a one of a kind city with incredible food.  Fresh is paramount.  Greek food is seasonal.  Olive oil, fresh-baked crusty breads, Greek cheeses and wines, fresh fruits and vegetables become infused with notes of  oregano, dill, garlic, and lemon.

I have never posted a Fork recipe from another blog or website, however a new Twitter follower named @DrinkGreekWine caught my attention.  I checked out their website,  New Wines of Greece.  Perusing the Eat & Drink section, I came across a lamb recipe bringing back memories of dining in the Plaka.  Aglaia Kremezi From Mediterranean Hot and Spicy  posts Roasted Leg of Lamb with North-African Spices, Lemon, and Fried Onions.  Cork pairing by New Wines of Greece: The spicy, aromatic Nemea Agriorgitiko wine, matured in an oak barrel while retaining a dense aroma of plums, is an ideal companion for the unique character of this lamb infused with spices. The combination offers a flavour where the round but sturdy tannins of the wine are tamed by the protein and fattiness of the meat, leaving a fruity, long aftertaste. Read more

Red Wines for Summer BBQ

Is red wine a refreshing beverage for summer?

Sure it is!

When summer comes around, drinking red wine may not be at the top of your list for refreshing beverages like sparkling white wines, crisp citrus notes of a Sauvignon Blanc or sweet floral notes in Riesling.   Summer 2011 was all about Rosé.  I couldn’t get into it.  I stayed with the traditional libations for the warm summer months of white wine and mixed cocktails.  However, there are red wines that do make great summer wines.

When choosing a red wine for the summer season, think drinkability, refreshing and your grill. Read more

Refreshing Summer 2012 Whites

Swirl. . .

Sip. . .


Whole Foods Market once again complied their Top 10 Summer Wines for these warm-weather days.  I was impressed with their collection last year highlighting an Italian sparkling wine called Presto Moscato Dolce.   This Italian bottling isn’t nearly as sweet, but greets you with a light perfume of honeyed stone fruits and lots of effervescence. The off-dry finish makes the Presto Mosacto Dolce a perfect picnic wine or the base for a Peach Bellini.

The wines selected for Summer 2012 range from crisp, citrus overlaid floral white wines to spicy, sexy earthy reds.  Whole Foods recommendations range from $7.99 to $14.99 making wine affordable.  Uncork any of these recommendations for your summer 2012 everyday wine while relaxing on the patio or pair the classic, bold reds with your grilled T-bone steaks.  For more wine and food pairing ideas with recipes, view the Whole Foods Market Newsroom. Read more

Norpie’s Convertible (Sidecar) – The Cocktail Concierge

The Myth of The Sidecar: It was invented in a bar in Paris, France during World War I and was named after the motorcycle sidecar in which the good captain customarily was driven to and from the little bistro where the drink was born and christened. The Sidecar is a classic sour drink. Sours were quite popular during the golden age of cocktails in the early 1900’s and were a simple mix of base spirit, sour (primarily lemon), and a touch of sweetness.  The first recipes for the Sidecar appear in 1922 with equal parts Cointreau, Cognac and fresh lemon juice shaken and strained into a sugar rimmed cocktail glass.

Like all my Classy Concoctions, you need to try the original to figure out why is not as popular today.  Toes became my taste tester to reinvent these classic cocktails.

“Toes, try this one.”

“Ugh!” Toes gasped while his eyes started to water.

“Too strong!  No wonder its forgotten Norps.”

Round two. . . I substituted Triple Sec for the Cointreau; Vsop Brandy for the Cognac and fresh lemon juice.  I rimmed a vintage tumbler with granulated sugar and strained the shaken cocktail into the prepared glass.  I slide the newly crafted Sidecar over to Toes. Read more

Lemon Flip – The Cocktail Concierge

A flip is a class of mixed drinks dating back to 1695 as described to be a mixture of beer, rum and sugar, heated with a red-hot iron.  The iron caused the drink to froth and this frothing (or “flipping”) coined the name.  The ‘modern’ flip has evolved into a cocktail featuring a spirit, egg, sugar and spice.

The first bar guide to feature a flip with eggs was Jerry Thomas’s 1862 How to Mix Drinks; or, The Bon-Vivant’s Companion. In this work, Thomas declares that,

“. . . essential in flips of all sorts is to produce the smoothness by repeated pouring back and forward between two vessels and beating up the eggs well . . . “

When Toes and I were at Deleece between movies for the Architectural Film Fest at the Music Box Theater in Chicago, he order the Deleece Lemonade Cocktail.

“Oh this is refreshing Norps,” Toes said after his first sip.  “Try this one.” Read more

Aqua Net – The Cocktail Concierge

Hair spray was first developed and manufactured in the 1940’s by the Chase Products Company by a Lebanese immigrant, Tanios Chakchay.  Historic beauty titan, Helene Curtis, coined the name “hair spray” in 1950 with the release of her product Spray Net, which, along with a slew of quickly accumulated competitors such as Aqua Net, became wildly successful in conjunction with the Jackie Kennedy bouffant, beehives, pin-up dos, and pillbox hat hairstyles that personified the 1950’s and ‘60s.

Norpie’s Classy Concoction called the Aqua Net features North Shore Distillery’s Aquavit, a vibrant and stimulating liquor that has aromas of pink peppercorns; cardamom; lemongrass; medicinal root; herbs with a touch of a spicy fade.

Follow The Cocktail Concierge this week on Norps Forks & Corks for the recipe to be posted on Wednesday, May 9, 2012.

Pimms Cup – The Cocktail Concierge

A Pimm’s No. 1 Cup is a fizzy, refreshing cocktail that is underappreciated.  Pimm’s was first produced in 1823 by James Pimm inEngland.  Pimm developed this gin-based tonic containing quinine and a secret mixture of herbs.  By 1851, production increased by 1859 Pimm’s No. 1 was selling commercially.

Pimm’s is usually the dusty bottle lurking in the back of the bar.  Many are unfamiliar with the liquor, but once you try a Pimm’s Cup, you have found the perfect antidote for a summer cocktail party.

Fresh cucumber, strawberry and orange are muddled with Pimm’s No. 1 and topped off with Ginger Ale.  Follow The Cocktail Concierge this week on Norps Forks & Corks for the full recipe posted on Wednesday, May 10, 2012.

Norpie’s B L T

What is the second-most popular sandwich in the United States?

Here is a hint . . . the simple ham sandwich is first.

The BLT (Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato) sandwich is the second-most popular sandwich dating back to the late Victorian-era tea sandwiches.  The earliest recipes beginning to approximate the BLT were printed in the 1920’s.  The abbreviation ‘BLT’ first appeared in print during the early 1950’s, but had already entered into common usage during the late 1940’s.

I met up with Toes and his work peeps one evening at Sable Kitchen and Bar in Chicago.  Their table was adorned with Sable’s well crafted cocktails and a potpourri of their small plate offerings.  My eyes were drawn to a white, ceramic ramekin steaming with freshly baked melted brie cheese on top of a rich, gooey mixture.  Without acknowledgement, I snatched a toast point and scooped up a dollop of this goodness.  I popped the whole thing in my mouth . . . sweet, salty, smoky, on the smooth side, but with a somewhat dense texture.  I had to have more.  Another toast point in hand, I used a spoon to get a larger portion.


“Do I get a hello?” Toes said.

“Or you just want your own table with Bacon Jam?”

Recipes are not invented, they evolve.  For one of our impromptu cocktail parties, I served my version of a BLT sandwich – Bacon Jam, Arugula and Cherry Tomato on a toasted baguette. Read more

RedWineDiva’s Sangria Recipes 2 Ways

Sangria is on everyone’s mind it seems. Why not? It involves wine.

One my Tweeps, @RedWineDiva, was luckily enough to receive a bottle of homemade wine, Seville Orange Sangria. The RedWineDiva asked,

“What suggestions do you have for what I might want to add to this to make true Sangria?”

RedWineDiva, this post is for you!

First off, what is a Seville orange? Although “tangy” or “bitter” is not a quality typically preferred in a juice or snacking orange, the Seville oranges are described this way. They are the best for making marmalades because they are extremely juicy with a strong orange taste. Using the Seville orange as a base for the homemade wine will most likely impart those same strong notes and aromas of orange marmalade.

I would try two different versions of Sangria with your wine.

  • RedWineDiva’s Sangria
    Traditional Sangria that highlights fresh citrus notes to pair with the Seville Orange Sangria. Pair this lighter, fruity Sangria with soft cheese or pungent cheeses. Example of cheese pairing with fruity cheese may be Pere Joseph, Dill Havarti, Blue Castello, Gorgonzola, or Tallegio.
  • Sassy ‘n Spicy RedWineDiva Sangria
    Notes of brown spice from clove and cinnamon become infused in Blood Orange Sangria. The addition of the Blood oranges will enhance the ruby red color; add an orange-raspberry sweetness to the cocktail, while helping to balance the bitter bite of the Seville orange. Pair this spicy Sangria with Chimichurri Grilled Steak or Beef Empanadas for a Tapas flare for dinner one night.
    Read more