Among brew fans Suzanne Wolcott is in an enviable position. As head of education at Goose Island Beer Company in Chicago, Wolcott is in charge of conducting beer classes and pairings for new hires, industry professionals, and the public, as well as offering menu consultations for restaurants across the country. As far as she knows, she’s the only person at present to hold this particular position, but she knows she won’t be alone for long.
“People are hungry for knowledge about craft beer. When Greg Hall, Goose Island’s brewmaster (and son of founder John Hall), created my position two years ago (2010), it was because he knew early on how important education is within the industry,” she remarks, adding, “As one of the oldest and largest craft breweries in the country, we wanted to help elevate beer’s status as a beverage that pairs beautifully with fine food, including cheese...it belongs on the table as much as wine.”
Sauvignon blanc is back. Not that it really ever disappeared, but in California it hasn’t been much of anything to write home about since Robert Mondavi stuck some of his into oak barrels and anointed it “Fumé Blanc.” That was in the late 1960s, and that bigger, richer style—an echo of the classic sauvignon blancs from Pouilly- Fumé in France’s Loire Valley—inspired a planting craze that didn’t end until the mid-1980s.
By then the damage had been done: Sauvignon had been planted in all sorts of places, including many it never should have been. And when sauvignon isn’t done well, it can taste more like bell pepper juice than wine.
Now, after a decade of smarter planting and a covey of winemakers dedicated to the grape, as well as the long, cool 2010 vintage, California sauvignon blanc is ready to return to the spotlight. And summertime is the perfect time to crack a few bottles.
Chef Estes was a vegetarian for more than 20 years. She and John may have earned the title “King & Queen of Porc” at the Aspen Food & Wine Grand Cochon last year, but she says this meatless sandwich is still “one of my all-time favorites.” Use a skillet without a wood or plastic handle. If the bread browns before the cheese is thoroughly melted, the chef suggests transferring the pan into the oven for a few minutes to finish.
Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Add the rapini, simmer 2 minutes, and drain. In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high, and sauté the rapini with the garlic and chili flakes. Season to taste with salt.
Julie Diers never dreamed of becoming a hop farmer. She was content being a schoolteacher in the mountain community of Palisade, in Western Colorado, where she’d recently moved onto a small plot of land.
“I’d found this beautiful Norman Rockwell farm with a house, but I had no intention of growing anything,” she explains. “Then my pension plan started going downhill, and a neighbor suggested that I cultivate hops. He said, ‘You should see how high they’re trading on the stock market.’ And I said, What the hell is a hop?’”
Diers did some research and discovered that hops are the female flower clusters of a perennial climbing plant, Humulus lupulus. Hop cones—fresh, dried, or, most often, in pelletized form—are used in the production of beer for their bittering quality, unique flavoring, and aromatic properties.
An old favorite meets sweet fruit and a soft core of tangy blue cheese.
Heat oil and butter in skillet over medium-high heat. add onion and cook 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook 10 minutes or until onions are golden brown. set aside.
Divide sirloin into 4 round balls. Make an indentation in center of each ball and fill with a heaping tbsp of blue cheese. Shape meat to cover cheese and make a patty. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat grill to medium-high heat. Grill burgers to desired doneness—about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare, or 145°F on an instant-read thermometer.
Artisan cheesemaking was an early herald of today’s emerging fermentation revival. Raw-milk cheeses in particular are especially delicious, and also supportive of good health, precisely because of the biological complexity that they embody.
Even though bacteria produce sublime delicacies and we need them to live, we have been taught to fear and to kill them. This bias is reflected in regulatory frameworks that assume that bacteria beyond specific strains chosen for utilitarian purposes pose a danger. Raw-milk cheesemakers—along with wild-yeast brewers; sauerkraut, salami, and kombucha makers; sourdough bakers; and other fermenters—value and celebrate microbial biodiversity. These artisans and do-it-yourselfers are feeding live-culture probiotic delicacies to a population literally starving for bacterial stimulation.
Esquites is a wonderful Mexican street-food snack. There are many variations, but the main ingredient in all of them is fresh corn. I like grilling the corn first to add a smoky layer of flavor. (When I don’t want to fire up the grill but still want that great charred flavor, I quickly roast the corn directly over a burner of my stove.) If farm-fresh sweet corn is available, you can just grill the corn right out of the husk. If not, I recommend blanching the corn briefly in boiling water before grilling.
Once upon a time you could judge a beer based on its looks alone. Cheap, mass-market suds were sold in aluminum cylinders that, when empty, could be flattened beneath your bare feet.
Craft beer, on the other hand, was capped inside comparatively elegant 12- or 22-ounce bottles or champagne carafes sealed with a cork and cage.
A pasta machine is required to make this recipe. An alternative is to buy fresh, premade pasta sheets. Before serving, the chef gently tosses the ravioli in a little pasta water and melted butter with roasted chard stems and roasted garlic. To plate she leans slices of grilled flat iron steak against a mound of sautéed chard, puts ravioli on top, and drizzles with aged balsamic.