With the fourth of July weekend (week?) here, summer time on Cape Cod is in full swing. The roads are jammed, the air is hazy, hot and humid and everybody is sporting a suntan or worse.
Here in Harwich Port, Route 28 becomes its own little version of Disney World’s Main Street USA; people walking, jogging, pushing strollers, eating and drinking and otherwise savoring the day.
As my customers make their way into the store, there is usually an audible sigh as they feel the refreshing coolness of air conditioning.
If they are fortunate enough to make it into the walk-in beer cooler, a total recharge of energy and spirit awaits. Otherwise, wandering the aisles, perusing wine and other spirits is a great way to take the edge off a hot day. As is purchasing said beer, wine and spirits.
It never ceases to amaze me how people come into the store and load up for a week, a weekend or just an evening. Cranberry Liquors has everything you expect and a few unexpected surprises as well. If you haven’t stopped by, please do. We’ll leave the air conditioning on.
During my regular trip to the TD Bank in Harwich Port, I was pleasantly surprised by the recipe below. Maureen prepared this tasty spread for sampling today and it was great (Okay, I tried it four times). Prepare and chill this 2-3 hours before serving. Throw in a bottle of sauvignon blanc, and I think you’re done!
2 Red Roasted Peppers
1/2 cup green olives with pimiento
8 oz. cream cheese
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic
4 dashes cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. black pepper
Pulse peppers & olives in food processor just until chunky – put in mixing bowl. Place remaining ingredients (except cheddar cheese) in food processor and blend until smooth. Combine all ingredients and chill. Serve with crackers or baguette slices. And don’t forget that sauvignon blanc!
Thanks to Jeff at Norabella’s and Dominic from Bertani Wines and Sterling from Ruby Wines, our distributor and coordinator for the wine dinner. At $65 a head, I firmly maintain this is the best gourmet dining on the Cape made better by the price.
The food and wine were outstanding and paired very nicely. Dominic, in addition to talking us through wines from the northeast of Italy, brought an extra treat: A 31 year old bottle of Bertani Amarone for us all to taste and it was delicious! But I’m getting ahead of myself…
We started with a fun white wines fun blend of Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc, called Due Uve (Two Grapes). Very pleasant and fun wine to go with our first course of Ribolita, a comfort food soup of beans, pancetta and potatoes served with homemade croutons. The wine had good structure and a bit of a honeyed flavor to it – perfect for an aperitif! The Due Uve White retails for $18.99.
The second course was two jumbo shrimp, generously stuffed with crabmeat and served with the Velante Pinot Grigio. This is a serious food wine, excellent minerality and a great buy at $14.99 per bottle.
The third course consisted of sausage pepper and spinach risotto croquettes served with Bertani’s Due Uve Rosso, a blend of Pinot Noir and Corvino. Bertani, with their Due Uve blends is hoping to appeal to the American palate with something a bit brighter and fruitier than your basic Italian wine. An excellent effort and $18.99 per bottle.
The fourth course brought us right into the heart of fine cuisine. The Roasted Veal with spiced cabbage, fresh horseradish and smokey bacon was accompanied by the Bertani Amarone Villa Arvedi. At $59.99 per bottle, you expect something exceptional and this wine was definitely a fine example of Amarone. But it gets better…
Dominic brought along a 1980 vintage Amarone to share with all of us. What a pleasant surprise! The nose on this wine let you know you were about to taste something very special — and it was excellent. Elegance and complexity are the trademarks of an older, fine wine which has stood the test of time. Not sure what the price of this one is or if it’s even available but it was phenomenal.
Finally, desert brought us right back to Cape Cod in November: A delicate Pumpkin Bread Pudding paired with Bertani’s Recioto della Valpolicella. The Recioto is a sweet red. Dessert wine in the spirit of a Sauterne. A 500 mL bottle retails for $14.99 and it’s worth every penny.
Which leads me to a final note: Why don’t we dress up our dining with dessert wines? It’s such a nice way to finish a meal. Maybe worth your consideration as we come into the holiday season.
We are undertaking a bit of an experiment here in sleepy little Harwich Port: I had the pleasure of visiting The Family Pantry here in Harwich. After a complete tour courtesy of Mary Anderson, the Executive Director, I felt compelled to contribute in some way.
Knowing I was not going to donate alcoholic beverages to the Pantry, I settled for the next best thing I could think of. From now through October, we are running our Closeouts for a Cause. Not only are prices reduced, we are donating the proceeds from our closeout section to the Family Pantry.
Now, hopefully, this is going to work for everyone’s benefit. Think Win-Win-Win! Please stop by Cranberry Liquors and see if there are any items on our closeout table that interest you. If you ask me, I’ll tell you which are the really good deals!
The weather last night was threatening enough that I wasn’t sure I would make it to this event. Joselle and I, along with 18 other intrepid food and wine lovers, made our way to a wonderful wine dinner on Wednesday, January 26.
Norabella, located at 702 Main Street (Route 28), West Dennis, featured a 5 course meal with wines from Marchesi di Barolo paired with each course. The wines, provided by Ruby Wines and selected by Lori Larsen, were the perfect pairings for chef Jeff Wilson’s creations. They are available at Cranberry Liquors and represent some excellent italian wines for aperitif, dinner or dessert. Let me tell you how I enjoyed them:
First Course: Clams Foriana, little necks served on the halfshell with pine nuts, walnuts, raisins and spices. Delicious starter paired with a Gavi – a crisp white wine that would go well with any seafood or alone as an aperitif.
Second Course: Smoked chicken ravioli served with a Dolcetto. Tasting the wine before eating the ravioli, the Dolcetto is a bright, fruity wine and would be fine solo as an aperitif. With the ravioli, you not only appreciate the subtle structure of the wine but a definite cherry flavor comes forth!
Third Course: Scarola, Grilled Italian sausage with escarole and beans. This is my kind of food and the Barbera “Maraia” was the perfect food wine to accompany this dish. More structure and dryness complemented the comfort food quality of the dish and I’m sure I could have had two more helpings of the dish and the wine. My favorite combination of the evening.
Fourth Course: Italian style beef stew with butternut squash dumplings served with a Barolo. How can you go wrong with this type of food and wine on a snowy night in January? The stew was delicious and the wine was the clear favorite among our party of diners this evening.
Dessert: As if to ensure our return to Norabella, the Zabaglione served over pears, apples and plums, was paired with a delicious moscato which exhibited its own pear and apple flavors. Such a nice change of pace that brought forth the richness of a simple dessert that was just the right way to finish this lovely meal!
This Wine dinner cost $65 per person. Given the friendly nature of the group, the expertise of our wine rep Lori and the delicious creations of chef Jeff, this meal was clearly a bargain! I look forward to the next wine dinner Norabella chooses to host and I look forward to telling you about it.
Okay, so probably not so secret anymore. Diane cuts hair at Jim’s Barber Shop in the plaza next to Cranberry Liquors. She kept coming in this summer and purchasing an odd assortment of ingredients — enough so I asked her exactly what she was doing with them.
Diane explained herself by describing several friends-and-family events where she made this awesome sangria. Here now, submitted for your approval, is the heretofore unpublished recipe for Diane’s Secret Sangria.
2 oranges, sliced 2 lemons, sliced 2 limes, sliced 1 small jar, maraschino cherries 1 4-liter jug of Carlo Rossi Burgundy (Red) 1 4-liter jug of Carlo Rossi Chablis (White) 1 cup fresh lemon juice 1-1/3 cups orange juice 1/2 cup sugar 2 cups Triple Sec 2 cups Gran Gala Orange Liqueur 1 liter Polar Orange Dry Soda
Mix all of the ingredients above (except for the orange soda) and put in the fridge overnight.
Just before serving, add the liter of Polar Soda. Serve in a festive punch bowl or pitcher and have a pair of tongs at the ready to retrieve fruit for individual servings. Enjoy!