Archive for September, 2015

10 food and wine trends from the 1970s

September 18th, 2015

10 food and wine trends from the 70s

By Joseph Temple

Over this past summer, CNN aired The Seventies, an eight-part documentary series that dissected some of the most important events from this tumultuous decade.  Unfortunately, with Watergate, disco, the ERA, stagflation and a host of other topics placed under the microscope, the subject of food and wine was completely overlooked. Like, didn’t people eat anything before watching All in the Family and MASH? Did the staggering crime rates keep everyone from going out to a restaurant and having a glass of wine with dinner? Tom Hanks, one of the series’ executive producers really missed the boat by not highlighting some of the major culinary trends of this era. So as an addendum, here’s the skinny on ten food and wine crazes that helped to shape the “Me Decade.”

And if you have any fond memories from this era, please share them in the comments section below.

Catch you on the flip side!


Fondu 1970s party
1. Fondue

If you were a foodie in the 70s, then you’ll definitely remember the time you invited all your friends and family over for a far out fondue party! Before it became a staple on the garage sale circuit, fondue makers experienced an explosion in popularity and quickly became the must-have gift for millions of brides-to-be. Whether it was cheese or chocolate, cookbook author Rhonda Lauret Parkinson explains its appeal then and now: “There is something infinitely satisfying about gathering together around a communal dish to enjoy a meal. Not to mention the fact that everyone can cook the food according to his or her own preference.”

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Mateus Rose during the 1970s
2. Mateus Rosé

One of Portugal’s most popular exports, Mateus Rosé, with it’s instantly recognizable squat bottle design became the preferred wine for millions of Americans throughout the 70s. Along with lava lamps and shag rugs, a house party wasn’t complete until someone opened a bottle of this sweet tasting libation. Describing the brilliant marketing campaign conducted by Fernando van Zeller Guedes, wine writers Michael Bywater and Kathleen Burk explain, “He [Guedes] was, in a sense, trying to scoop up the beer drinkers from one side and the soda drinkers from the other. And he succeeded. Mateus Rosé achieved an almost unheard-of brand recognition, and this before the days of sophisticated demographics, computerized market research, or any of the other tricks of twenty-first century branding.”

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Quiche 1970s
3. Quiche

In 1963, culinary goddess Julia Child showed viewers how to make a standard Quiche Lorraine on an episode of her iconic show The French Chef. Less than a decade later, variations of the dish would flourish in kitchens across America. Symbolizing the freewheeling spirit of the 70s, nothing was off limits when it came to quiche. “Standard Quiche Lorraine became boring, as restaurants and cooks experimented with every type of quiche, from leek and anchovy to moussaka quiche with eggplant, tomatoes, onion, and lamb,” wrote Sherri Liberman.

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1970s White Zinfandel
4. White Zinfandel

Today, many oenophiles scoff at the idea of drinking White Zinfandel. But back in the 70s, there was no denying its phenomenal success, especially the blend accidentally created by Bob Trinchero at the Sutter Home Winery in St. Helena. According to the winemaker, in 1975, nearly “1,000 gallons of red Zinfandel refused to ferment to dryness, “sticking” with a substantial amount of sugar left in it … Two weeks later, I tasted that wine and it was sweet, had a pink color … We bottled it, and the rest is history.” And by 1987, the first year that varietal wines outsold jug products in America, white Zinfandel had the largest market share with 28 percent and over 2.5 million cases sold.

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1970s Crockpots and Microwaves
5. Crock-pots & Microwaves

As more women entered the labor force in the 1970s, just to keep up with the increased cost of living, it was estimated that a wife with kids worked approximately fifteen more hours per week than her husband. To ease this enormous burden, new labor-saving appliances were beginning to phase out the traditional home-cooked meals across suburbia. One of these inventions, known as the crock-pot allowed families to enjoy a tender and tasty meal from something they quickly put together before heading out in the morning. And in addition to this slow cooker, the microwave became mainstream, giving people the option of nuking their leftovers and TV dinners in mere seconds. Overworked and stressed out from all the decade’s troubles, convenience now reigned supreme.

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Sunday Brunch in the 1970s
6. Sunday Brunch

“You do not eat brunch. You do brunch,” wrote Ira Krasnow in the Chicago Tribune. A cherished ritual symbolizing how much Americans valued their free time, “doing” brunch on a late Sunday morning was one of the most rewarding activities to engage in after a chaotic work week. Whether it was orange juice or a Bloody Mary you drank with your Eggs Benedict, the casual and stress-free atmosphere became almost therapeutic for millions of families struggling with the uncertainty synonymous with the 70s. Explaining how the “anything-goes” meal became a metaphor, Krasnow writes, “With the loosening of Sunday’s rigid schedule of church and dinner, a relaxed and informal brunch is a reflection of this freedom … And maybe because anything goes, people adore it.”

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7. Salad Bars

With a greater demand for convenience, it was no surprise that fast-food chains expanded rapidly during the 1970s. But as they grew in size, many health advocates worried about the kinds of food being served at these restaurants, which usually contained high amounts of cholesterol. So to show the public that they too were concerned about growing waistlines, a new concept was unveiled—the salad bar! Originally invented in 1971 at R.J. Grunt’s in Chicago, these bars, usually featuring dark wood paneling and brass fixtures, offered what appeared to be a nutritious alternative to greasy hamburgers and french fries. Unfortunately, with toppings that included artificial bacon bits and ranch salad dressing, the health benefits could be few and far between.

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Pasta primavera 1970s
8. Pasta Primavera

Making its debut at the uber-trendy Le Cirque restaurant in New York City, pasta primavera, consisting of noodles mixed with an assortment of vegetables quickly became one of the decades most ordered meals. Described by one food critic as a “death match between French and Italian cuisine,” what was originally intended as a seasonal dish (Primavera means springtime) had a revolutionary effect on the way Americans viewed Italian food. David Kamp in his book The United States of Arugula states, “The very fact that a pasta dish could get attention at a French restaurant, and that Americans were willing to veer away from their old red-sauce preconceptions of spaghetti, augured well for Italian cooking in the United States.”

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Sauces and dressings in the 1970s
9. Sauces & Dressings

Whether it was steak, fish or salad on the dinner table, you could always count on one thing: a steady stream of sauces and dressings for you to smother on top of your food. With so many health-conscious Americans these days, it’s easy to forget just how fashionable it once was to drench your salad with Hidden Valley Original Ranch dressing before pouring Hollandaise on your Eggs Benedict. Of course, with all these rich and heavy foods that certainly clogged up plenty of arteries by the end of the decade, it was only logical that a counter-movement, emphasizing “low-fat” and nutritious alternatives would gain steam with consumers as the 1980s began.

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Judgment of Paris 1976
10. Judgment of Paris

To celebrate America’s Bicentennial, a blind tasting was organized in the city of Paris by British wine merchant Steven Spurrier. With the best wines from France and California squaring off, it was assumed that the latter, known for producing mostly “cooked” bottles that were extremely high in alcohol, would easily go down in defeat. But just as Rocky Balboa that year shocked the world in his fight against Apollo Creed, America would score a huge upset by beating the French in a tasting that became a watershed event, known as the Judgment of Paris. From that moment on, California became a major player in wine circles around the world.

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Sources:

Bywater, Michael & Burk, Kathleen. Is This Bottle Corked?: The Secret Life of Wine. New York: Harmony Books, 2008.
Hesser, Amanda. The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2010.
Kamp, David. The United States of Arugula: How We Became a Gourmet Nation. New York: Broadway Books, 2006.
Liberman, Sherri. American Food by the Decades. Santa Barbara: Greenwood Publishing, 2011.
Murphy, Linda. (2003, July 3). White Zinfandel, now 30, once ruled the U.S. wine world / The wine snobs won’t touch it, but that’s their loss. San Francisco Gate. Retrieved from http://sfgate.com.
Parkinson, Rhonda Lauret. The Everything Fondue Cookbook: 300 Creative Ideas for Any Occasion. Avon: F&W Publications, 2004.
Patterson, James T. Restless Giant: The United States from Watergate to Bush v. Gore. New York: Oxford University Press Inc., 2005.
Ternikar, Fahra. Brunch: A History. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014.


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Ask Sid: Champagne Sweetness?

September 16th, 2015
Ask your question here The International Wine & Food Society

Ask Sid: Champagne sweet or dry terms

Question: How can I tell the sweetness level from reading the label on a bottle of wine – especially Champagne?

Answer: Yes knowing the sweetness levels of wines is becoming an increasing problem without a compulsory ingredient labeling. Many labelled dry red table wines can actually be quite sweet. Riesling is a good example where the sugar level can be quite high but it seems less sweet because of the high levels of balanced acidity. Champagne is a bit easier because they usually help describe the level of sweetness by using code words:

Very Dry: Look for Brut or Natur

Dry: Usually say Extra Dry, Extra Sec, or Tres Sec

Medium Dry: Dry or Sec

Medium Sweet: Demi-Sec

Sweet: Doux, Demi-Doux, or Rich


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Hello world!

September 16th, 2015

Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start writing!

A Marvellous Chocolate Chip Cookie!

September 14th, 2015

A Marvellous Chocolate Chip Cookie

What makes a marvellous chocolate chip cookie? Lots of commercial products out there to try – many of them far too sweet for my taste. My wife Joan has whipped up several recipes this past week. She made different ones depending on who her audience was likely to be. Difficult to generalize but the younger demographics seem to prefer white & milk chocolate or a mix of the two. Us old-timers (me included) often like more dark chocolate in our cookie having that distinctive bitterness. Texture can also be important with chewy and soft a popular choice but for others crispy and crunchy works best. Several brands out there list ingredients only as semi-sweet chocolate chips but often have an addition of milk and soy lecithin to them. A better choice might be a bar with a listed amount of cocoa butter (say around 70%)  and to chip them yourself for the cookie recipe. With not too much butter and sugar in them you can convince yourself that chocolate cookies are actually healthy – particularly if you add in some oatmeal and walnuts. Check out dried cherries or dried cranberries as an excellent addition or substitution for raisins.

Joan’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe – according to Sid:

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cups lightly packed dark brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups all purpose unbleached flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 1/3 rolled oats (don’t use instant or quick)

12 ounces (or 1 1/2 cups) semi sweet chocolate chips (a higher quality chocolate gives a better result)

1 1/2 cups chopped nuts (using walnuts or pecans preferred)

Beat butter & brown sugar until fluffy and then add eggs & vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda and salt. Blend dry into butter mixture gradually. Add oats, chocolate, and nuts and combine well.

Using about 1 tablespoon of dough, form into balls and place 2″ apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Dip fork tines into water and flatten the tops a little.

Bake at 350 F for 12 -15 minutes depending on the size of the cookie until the edges are golden.  Yields around 60+ 2″ cookies. Eat hot immediately or cool a while on racks.

Enjoy this delicious chocolate chip cookie!

Please let’s hear back from you below in the comments section with your preferred recipe as a challenge so we can try it out.


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10 things you need to know about German Sekt

September 11th, 2015

10 things you need to know about German Sekt wine
By gernhaex (Flickr: Sekt) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
By fdecomite (German flagUploaded by tm) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Joseph Temple

Step aside beer—sparkling wine is taking over in a big way! While sales of suds are falling flat, shipments of bubbly increased by 8% in 2014, according to the Wine Institute. Fueled largely by Prosecco, which saw an astonishing 30% increase over the past several years, sparkling is no longer for weddings and anniversaries as more and more millennials are uncorking it at their dinner tables with no special event in mind.

But besides Champagne, Prosecco and Cava, there is another sparkling wine you should definitely know about. German Sekt, much like its Spanish counterpart has suffered from a reputation for being cheap and lacking in quality—considered by many to be nothing more than carbonated fruit juice. However, these erroneous assumptions don’t tell the entire story about Sekt, which if purchased correctly, can be a real treat. And below are ten facts you need to know before buying this wine.


What does Sekt sparkling wine taste like?
By crosseye Marketing – Tourismus Marketing Online (Flickr: Uhudlersekt vom Weingut Bernhart) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

1. Sekt is usually sweeter and lower in alcohol than Champagne and other sparkling wines. It can contain aromas of apples, pears and white flowers with alcohol levels as low as 6%.

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 Sekt wine and the Treaty of Versailles

2. After the Treaty of Versailles was signed in 1919, Germany was forbidden from using the name “Champagne.” The generic term “sekt” was used instead.

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Germans consume the majority of sekt

3. In 2011, of the 420 million liters of Sekt that was produced, Germans drank nearly 80% of it.

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Grapes used to make sekt
By Rob & Lisa Meehan [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

4. Less expensive Sekt imports bulk wine and grapes from countries such as France, Spain and Italy. These bottles constitute approximately 95% of all sekt.

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fermentation process for sekt

5. Most Sekt uses the Charmat method for secondary fermentation, similar to Prosecco.

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cheap sekt won't show a vintage
By Ralf Roletschek (User:Marcela) (Own work) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

6. Cheap Sekt will not show the vintage or vineyard on the label.

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Deutscher Sekt

7. Deutscher Sekt means the wine was made using only German grapes such as Riesling. These are considered by many to be some of the best bottles to purchase.

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sekt b.a.
By SPBer (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

8. Sekt b.A. or Winzersekt (wine grower’s sekt) means it was made from grapes from one of Germany’s thirteen quality regions. Quantities are modest and usually made by smaller estates.

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Premium sekt
By Lumu (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

9. Premium sekt often uses Pinot blanc, Pinot gris and Pinot noir grapes. It is also very hard to find in the United States.

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cheeses to pair sekt with

10. Some cheeses to pair Sekt with are ones with soft interior and mild notes such as Brie.

 

Sources:

Centamore, Adam. Tasting Wine and Cheese: An Insider’s Guide to Mastering the Principles of Pairing. Beverly: Quarry Books, 2015.
LaVilla, Joseph. The Wine, Beer, and Spirits Handbook: A Guide to Styles and Service. Hoboken: John Wiley and Sons, 2009.
Rathburn, A.J. Champagne Cocktails: 50 Cork-Popping Concoctions and Scintillating Sparklers. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010.
Simon, Joanna. Discovering Wine. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003.
Consumers are in the Mood for Sekt. Wines of Germany. Retrieved from http://germanwinesusa.com.


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