Thursday, October 31, 2013

Recipe Corner: The Bijou

The Bijou is one of the first cocktails I fell in love with. Bijou is French for jewel, and the ingredients refer to individual jewels. Gin symbolizes diamonds, the sweet vermouth symbolizes rubies, and the Chartreuse represents emeralds. I’m not sure what made me fall in love with this drink. It’s certainly strong and decidedly herbaceous…which I guess I lean towards. Try one out next time you’re at Fiola. It’s a perfect cool weather drink.  


1.5 oz Gin (I prefer Ransom’s Old Tom)
1 oz Sweet Vermouth (I prefer Carpano Antica)
1 oz Green Chartreuse
Healthy dash of orange bitters


Add all ingredients to mixing glass.
Add ice. 
Stir into your favorite cocktail glass. 
Garnish with an orange twist.


What Jeff's Drinking Now ... The Darker Spirits

It’s cooling down which means I’m heading back towards the darker spirits. This time of year is also the time when Buffalo Trace does its annual release of the George T Stagg and Thomas Handy Rye. If you’ve missed out on them in the past, they’re here now for you to try.

This year’s Stagg has been aged just shy of 16 years. It’s bottled at barrel proof which clocks in at a hefty 128.2. The amazing thing is, the proof doesn't overshadow the taste. Even with the high proof, you’ll still get beautiful notes of vanilla, fudge, and tobacco. It’s okay to add an ice cube or two to the mix if you’d like. Either neat or on the rocks, this beauty is meant to be sipped.

Thomas H. Handy Rye is another fine example of what rye whiskey can be. This one has been aged for a little over 6 years. It packs a punch with its 128.4 proof, but like the George Stagg, you can still pick up great flavors. The toffee, clove and allspice still shine through. I would recommend a cube or two with this to open the spirit and temper the heat from the higher proof. Unlike the Stagg, it’s not been aged as to smooth out the edges. Then again, that’s why rye lovers enjoy!


Ask the Bar Man

Q: Jeff, what is your least favorite drink? – Emmet, Annapolis

A: This is a pretty easy one for me. It has to be the Long Island Iced Tea. I’m not trying to be a liquor or drink snob here. I’ve actually enjoyed a LIT many times especially in my younger days. Through school, I  practically lived off the Tuesday night special of $7 PITCHERS of them at the local watering hole. As you can imagine, I may have overindulged a time or two with that price and a college student’s budget. Now, we’ve all been there. For some it was tequila, others it was gin. For me? Long Island Iced Tea. I can barely type the name of the drink without having fuzzy flashbacks of horrible mornings.

I thought I was over the college-era drinking until one night when I lived in Philly. As a 20 something, I found a dive of a bar that had a Long Island Iced Tea special on Sundays. Huge mistake. Over a couple of hours, friends and I drank the cheapest of the cheap spirits not caring what the next day held. Forget the 9am meeting, I thought. Full steam ahead. Never have I felt worse. 

See, there’s the thing. When you’re drinking a LIT, you get the poorest quality spirit in most bars. They’re not pouring from their back bar. They’re reaching for spirits that cost them about $.10 an ounce. You’re not getting high quality at that price, and you’re not going to feel great the next day. 

Obviously, we don’t have those cheap spirits here at Fiola, but you’re still taking in quite a bit of alcohol. Ask one of us behind the bar to make you something delicious. You’ll thank us the next day. 


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Anatomy of a Dish: Adriatic Seafood Brodetto

Brodetto is the fish soup or stew that is the symbol of the fish cuisine of the Italian Adriatic coast, from Venezia Giulia in the north to Molise in the south. Recipes vary in each community along the coast, but the dish originated among sailors who would cook their meals at sea from part of their catch. It was also the dish of fisherman and fishmongers, left with the little fish in their nets after they sold all the big ones at market.

In the middle Adriatic (such as Le Marche, where Chef Fabio is from), brodetti often include firm fleshed fish, cuttlefish, crustaceans, fresh tomato, onion and garlic, green peppers, chili and saffron giving the dish more "zing." So it is at Fiola. 

Adriatic Seafood Brodetto at Fiola
We start by marinating fish bones and crustacean shells overnight with aromatic herbs, garlic and citrus zests. The following day we start with a soffritto of onions, celery and garlic, which we sweat down in extra virgin olive oil until soft and translucent. Next we add green tomatoes, green peppers, finger chilies and saffron, and cook until those vegetables are tender.

We add the marinated fish bones and all of the aromatics, and cook them for approximately 10 minutes. We deglaze the pan with anise liqueur, and reduce by half, then add a dry white wine. Once the alcohol has cooked out, we cover the base with fish and shellfish stock, and simmer for approximately 1 hour. We blend the mixture, then strain it through a fine chinois, pressing the vegetables and bones well so that none of the precious flavorful liquid is wasted. 

We use this brodetto to open the mussels and clams for the stew, adding to its flavor, as well as poaching the fish, shrimp, calamari, and whatever else came from our fishmonger that day. Though the original brodetto recipe calls for 13 fish, one for each of those at the Last Supper, Chef Fabio's rule is that it must contain at least two different fin fish, two types of shellfish, and either calamari or octopus.

Buon Appetito!

When it Comes to Wine ... Fall for Amarone

Velvety and voluptuous, the Amarone della Valpolicella D.O.C. Classico Monte Sant'Urbano 2004 from Speri, one of a dozen or so noble family producers of Amarone producing wines only from their own grapes. For a special occasion, the 1990 vintage is exceptional, and showcases the true aging potential of Amarone.  

Speri, “Monte Sant’Urbano”, Amarone della Valpolicella,Classico 2004    

The key to the flavors of Amarone are in the production.  The grapes of Valpolicella are dried out to an almost raisin-like state.  This concentrates the sugars and other flavor components in the juice.  The final product can evoke a sensation of silken chocolate on the tongue with flavors of blackberries, figs, dates, and a touch of vanilla.  This rich wine is the perfect complement to the seasonal wild game dishes of the fall.  

Sweet Simplicity: Apple Panna Cotta with Chestnut Cream

Fall flavors are making their way onto our dessert menu!

Apple Panna cotta
Apple Panna Cotta

Our creamy local apple panna cotta is layered over a luscious chestnut cream. Topped with sweet and gooey candied chestnuts, tart apple granita, and crisp, raw apples tossed with finely chopped white pine needles and honey. 

Spoon in to this flavorful fall dolce!

Recipe Corner: Spit-Roasted Squab, or Piccione allo Spiedo

In the same way that a Cornish game hen is like a miniature chicken, a squab, or pigeon, is like rich wild game in a small package. The dark meat is so succulent that it is one of the few birds—wild or domestic—that doesn’t dry out quickly when grilled over hot coals. In Italy, there is a saying “En agosto, palombo rosto,” which translates as “In August, roast pigeon.” Actually, I like my squab to fatten up some more, as they will by the fall. Which makes them perfect this time of year!

Squab, getting ready for the grill ... 
Before grilling, season the squab with crushed juniper berries, sage, garlic, and prosciutto, then baste with olive oil infused with herbs and citrus zest. This herb oil would also be great on grilled meats such as lamb or steaks. If you don’t have a grill with a spit, don’t worry: The squab can also be roasted in a hot oven. 

This dish is even more splendid when washed down with a glass of brawny Le Marche Rosso Conero.

-- FT


2 tablespoons crushed juniper berries

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

6 squab, about 1 pound each

3⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing the birds
18 sage leaves
9 garlic cloves, skin left on, crushed
2⁄3 pound thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into 1⁄8-inch-wide strips
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
3 bay leaves, preferably fresh, chopped
A 1⁄2-inch-wide strip of orange zest
A 1⁄2-inch-wide strip of lemon zest
1⁄2 cup dry white wine, such as Verdicchio or Pinot Grigio

In a small bowl, combine the juniper berries, 1⁄4 cup salt, and 11⁄2 teaspoons pepper.

Wipe the inside of the birds dry with paper towels. Brush or rub the squab with olive oil, including the cavities. Season the birds inside and out with the juniper mixture. Place the squab on a baking sheet. Stuff the cavity of each bird with 3 sage leaves, a garlic clove, and one-sixth of the prosciutto.

Cover and let marinate at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Prepare a charcoal fire or gas grill with a spit, or preheat the oven to 400°F.

Place the 3⁄4 cup olive oil in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat just until warm. Remove from the heat, add the rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, orange and lemon zest, wine, and the remaining 3 garlic cloves, and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

If using a grill fitted with a spit, skewer the squab on the spit. Cook for about 20 minutes, using a pastry brush to baste the birds with the herb oil every 5 minutes. Or place the squab in a large roasting pan and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes, basting every 5 minutes with the oil. When the squab is done, its skin will be crispy and golden and the breast meat will be medium to medium-rare. Transfer to a platter, cover loosely, and let rest in a warm place for 10 minutes before serving.