Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.
Among the great divides in the world - red states vs. blue states, vegetarians vs. carnivores, the Yankees vs., well, pretty much the world - there is also the great split amongst wine with bubbles. Essentially: There is Champagne, and then there is everything else.
Champagne is the victim of its own success when it comes to names, much like Xerox or Kleenex. You can say, for instance, “I need to blow my nose, please pass me a Kleenex,” and people will no more bat an eye than if you’d asked for a glass of water. Say, “I need to blow my nose, please pass me a nasal tissue,” and they’ll say something like, “Ew!”
Ditto Champagne. Ask for Champagne, and people will happily pass you a glass of whatever kind of wine with bubbles is at hand. Ask for a glass of sparkling wine, and you sound odd. They will say, “Um, perhaps you’d like a nasal tissue to go with that?”
Just in case you still have eggnog to spike or plums to sugar before the gang arrives, consider us Santa's little helpers.
We're sharing our time-tested Christmas tips and recipes, as well as plenty from chefs, hospitality experts, celebrities, hosts and home cooks we love. Our goal – sending you into Christmas with a jolly smile on your face, and seeing you emerge on December 26 with your sanity intact.
Here are a few helpful holiday posts that may make your holiday bright.
America's Test Kitchen is a real 2,500 square foot test kitchen located just outside of Boston that is home to more than three dozen full-time cooks and product testers. Our mission is simple: to develop the absolute best recipes for all of your favorite foods. To do this, we test each recipe 30, 40, sometimes as many as 70 times, until we arrive at the combination of ingredients, technique, temperature, cooking time, and equipment that yields the best, most-foolproof recipe. America’s Test Kitchen's online cooking school is based on nearly 20 years of test kitchen work in our own facility, on the recipes created for Cook’s Illustrated magazine, and on our two public television cooking shows.
Pop up flavor, not fat, with this resolution-friendly snack. String it on your Christmas tree, Festivus pole or right into your belly.
The Feast of Seven Fishes, or the Festa dei Sette Pesci, is the traditional dinner that many southern Italian and Italian-American families will sit down to this Christmas Eve. (It is also one of the few appropriate times to pluralize fish as fishes.)
The significance of the number seven reels in many different theories: Some families say it's for the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church, others say it's for the seven hills of Rome, and still others say it represents the days of creation or stands as a reminder of the seven deadly sins. Other families' traditions even allow for 10 or even 14 different aquatic dishes.
And just as the numeric explanations are allowed loose translations, so are the types of seafood served. The true meaning isn't in the number or kind you choose, but with whom you decide to share your feast.
This Christmas Eve, Alex Guarnaschelli, chef of Butter in New York City and Food Network star, encourages you to serve the humble sardine atop lightly fried cauliflower, an ode to her mother's Sicilian roots.
Fresh sardines - not the pungent, little canned guys - are delicious, inexpensive and sustainable, three wise choices for this holiday season.
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