Food and Drink

Seemingly a cross between a safari trophy and an enormous stuffed animal, a giant giraffe hung at the entrance welcomed some five hundred attendees to a piece of South Africa on Saturday at Pine Plains Fine Wines & Spirits's second annual "Braai" and Wine Tasting. South African chef, Hugo Uys and his brigade offered  exotic dishes such as grilled ostrich, chicken braised in peanut sauce, sweet grilled cheese, and Boerewors (sausage) rolls with pineapple chutney to the accompaniment of festive African music played by Rafael Figueroa and Vincent and Stacia French. There were about a dozen wines to taste including many excellent examples of South African whites, notably Sauvignon Blancs, Chenin Blanc, and Chardonnay. Kanonkop also presented a very interesting Rosé wine made from the famous South African grape Pinotage.
More than 150 patrons gathered at Stissing House, in Pine Plains, on Sunday for their annual Bastille Day celebration. The main attraction was Michel Jean's Aioli, a dish that hails from Provence (as does Michel). It is comprised of boiled fish and a variety of boiled vegetables served with a delicious garlic-infused mayonnaise. For the carnivores a grill was added, with chicken, flank steak, and Merguez sausages. Rosé wine (also hailing from Provence), which goes equally well with fish and with meat, accompanied the meal. Elaine Raichlena, a French songstress, serenaded us with selections from Edith Piaf and other French classics, including the very patriotic Marseillaise, which brought the crowd to its feet.
Some like it hot, I know, but I was glad to have been given the mild version of these fresh onions marinated in hot sauce. The brainchild of Richard Romano (right) and Angelo Occhicone (left), they are sold at Marona's and also at their Flip and Slice stand on Route 44.  
Incontestably the best tasting butter in America, Plugrá is made with 82 percent butterfat instead of the usual 80 percent. And that 2 percent makes all the difference in flavor. The 82 percent variety (typical in France) is the Holy Grail for the butter lover and especially for the pastry chef. The less water in the butter, the richer it tastes, the faster it will sear foods in the pan and the crisper it will make the pastry. It takes its name from the French "plus gras," which means "more fat." For years I have been driving to Adams to stock my freezer with this butter, but now a short hop to Marona's will do. The silver package is salted, the sweet butter is in gold. Quite fitting.
If you are looking for a family-friendly restaurant with copious portions of home-cooked food, you will now find it on Old Route 22 in Wingdale. But if you are thinking of Friday or Saturday night—better reserve. It was packed when we were there. Owner Joe Ceci greets customers with a welcoming smile, as if we were his personal guests, not paying customers. It must be due to his long and successful background in country-club management, where every customer is a part owner of the club. The eclectic menu includes Italian American dishes (especially the meatballs—a delicious family recipe that even Gerard loved!), burgers, steaks, and more European dishes, such as the incredible pork shank served with sauerkraut, which I had.
Let me start by complimenting you on the book. It is very entertaining and filled with humor, recipes and practical advice.  What is your connection to Millbrook? I grew up in Millbrook. I went to Dutchess Day School. My mother, Maris Van Alen still lives here. How did you end up in Charleston? I married Pierre Manigault (since divorced) and moved there in 1994. What makes Charleston such a great place? It’s one of the few cities that Sherman did not burn down., so it still has ante bellum architecture. There is the "Old and Historic District" which is very walkable. Many great restaurants, lots of festivals to bring in tourists yet you can be deep in the country within 30 minutes.
Very trendy in great bars and restaurants around the world, the infused ice cube is ready for home use.  It simply consists of freezing herbs, spices, fruits, vegetables, purees or juices with water in your ice cube tray.  Such cubes are a creative addition to cocktails for as they melt they impart more and more of their flavors into the drink.  For example, King & Duke in Atlanta created the "Bloody Buck", which uses venison broth ice cubes to impart a rich, meaty flavor into a cocktail of vodka and house-made Bloody Mary mix that's garnished with house-aged Angus beef jerky. More simply many bars and restaurants are making bloody Mary ice cubes and blood orange ice cubes to cool down Bloody Marys and Mimosas without watering down the drinks. There is no limit to the possible combinations, but here are a few that are easy to make at home with or with or without vodka, tequila or gin. They can be used to add excitement to an afternoon's ice tea, lemonade or plain water. - coconut water with pieces of fresh pineapple - water with pieces of apple and jalapeno
I can easily grate cheese (also chocolate and vegetables) and toss the grater into the dishwasher with this handy $10 grater from OXO. Its bi-directional, sharp stainless steel blades makes for fast, easy grating Its soft, comfortable, non-slip grip gives me better control while grating than old fashioned graters
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