I love me Lucky Charms.
Pink Hearts, Orange Stars, Yellow Moons, Green Clovers, Blue Diamonds, and Purple Horse Shoes! And I can’t get enough of Coco Puffs and Cookie Crisp. And for that matter, keep the Frankenberry coming. Fruity Pebbles , Honey Combs, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, I don’t think there is a Sugar cereal i dislike. But if I had to choose one cereal to eat for the rest of my days, it would be a toss up between Peanut Butter Crunch and Golden Grahams. I can put away that PB Crunch until the roof of my mouth is battered and scarred from those spiked balls of peanut joy. And, Oh those Golden Grahams. Golden Grahams have no mascot. Nor do they have technicolor marshmallows. But on the addictive meter they rate at the top. Just pure honey goodness and a catchy jingle i hum over crunches and gulps.
Rocking side to side in my chair, my spoon waving, my cheeks stuffed and jaw working, milk dribbling down my chin, a glow in my eyes and a song in my head.
Have a golden day!
My apologies for the harsh vision i have conjured but this is what sugar cereal can do to people.
You might be saying to yourself that this guy’s kitchen must look like the set from Seinfeld. The cupboards crowded with colorful boxes from end to end like on overstuffed library shelf.
No cereal to be found in our kitchen. It has been decided the home is a happier place without the Count, the Cap’n or silly Rabbit. You see, I have come to terms with the notion that i might have a slight problem with sugar cereal. When I reach for the spoon and bowl, its done with a frantic haste. The cabinet and drawers are left open, the fridge is slammed and the box tops are ripped off. This is because the decision has been made and there is no stopping me. Its all or nothing and i’m going for it. I feel like the cookie monster unleashed on a pile chocolate chips. There is a frenzy of pouring, clanking, scooping, smacking.
Pouring, clinking, shoveling, slurping.
More pouring and more crunching!!
Complete reckless abandon upon the sugar coated hills of cereal land. And a few minutes later, its over. The empty boxes lay scattered around like fallen soldiers. Pools of splattered milk coat the counter top. A few random pink marshmallows pasted to the floor. A ring of cereal dust is all that remains crusted around the rim of the battered bowl.
And now my belly is in turmoil and my head is on the verge of spontaneous sugar combustion.
So the kitchen is a more peaceful room without the temptation of Sugar Cereals. They remain a special occasion or you could say "preplanned indulgence".
I partly blame my barbaric binges on a constant craving for morning nostalgia. I find a small oasis of comfort in spooning blue dye number 66 into my face while transfixed on the back of the box.
I also take a defensive stance behind my breakfast cereal theorem.
Its called “The infinite cycle of disproportionate milk to cereal ratio....theorem”.
Things start out with the right intentions.
Pour a little Trix, add some milk, eat up and you’re on your way.
I wish it worked that way but this is how you get caught in the loop.
You’re down to your last spoonful and feeling content, but wait, there’s some milk still left in the bowl. Can’t waste that. Better pour a little more cereal in there to take care of the situation. Woops. Now there’s not enough milk soaking those poor little nuggets. Got to wet them down with a little more milk. Ahh, now we have a healthy looking bowl of cereal. Scoop your way back down to the bottom and its time feed the bowl again. And so goes the infinite cycle.
So if i put aside the nostalgic aspect, and control the effects of my theorem, there remains the most important reason why I, along with millions of other American, have come to crave cereal.
It’s a perfect pairing.
Stop and think about that.
Cereal and milk is one the earliest food pairings we have come to love.
Its a classic.
Cool creamy milk and crunchy sweet cereal.
From Coffee and Doughnuts to Champagne and Caviar.
A perfect match can be bliss.
I very seldom have dinner without wine. They need each other.Wether its a slice of pizza with with glass of Grenache or olive crusted rack of lamb with a bottle of older Priorat.
The flavors in the dishes can be accentuated by the wine and the wine can be elevated by a great dish.
Everything just tastes better when there is harmony between food and beverage.
And fortunately for myself and those arround me, i do have better temperence with wine and dinner than milk and cereal.
Riesling is sweet.
It comes from Germany and it’s sweet like Country Time Lemonade.
Rosés are sweet too. Mostly because they are pink.
But forget about them cause you only drink them in the summer anyway.
Merlot is no good.
Sherry is for cooking.
And Grappa is jet fuel.
I can’t remember if it was something I saw on tv or the theater about Merlot sucking. Maybe someone told me.
They sell sherry at Albertsons for chrissakes. Well, if you're not going to cook with it, give it to your Grand Ma to sip with her tea cakes.
Grappa? I was at this restaurant in Italy and the guy brings out this bottle at the end our meal. Whooowee! Never touching that stuff again. Besides, it’s made with the leftover trash of wine making.
Oh, and one more thing. Beaujolais is that fresh grape juice wine with the flowers on the label, that you see everywhere in November.
There is some partial truth to all the above statements. But that’s exactly it. Partial truth. Very partial.
Sure, there are many semi-sweet and very sweet Rieslings. Some of these are grand wines and among the most respected in Germany.
But there are just as many wonderfully dry versions with searing acidity, brisk minerality, and angular stone fruit.
From Germany, from Alsace, from Australia, from Santa Barbara, from Washington, they are dry, dryer and driest.
We have a New Zealand Riesling here so dry it will strip every last ounce of spit off your tongue,
suck the life force out of your mouth, and turn your face inside out like a Hoover wet vac from hell.
Don’t get me started on Rosé cause I won’t stop.
To put it briefly, here at Divino we have about 60 Roses on the shelf. And 2 of them are off dry. And it is November mind you.
And I plan to drink the living Pink out of them no matter how much snow i'm shoveling.
Give me a Washington Merlot over a California Cab any day.
I’ll drink a right bank Bordeaux up, down, and Sideways , long before I touch a steroid-jacked, secret Syrah infused, over-extracted Santa Barbara Pinot Noir.
Is there any more type of drink more diverse and intriguing than Sherry?
From the enticing slate and saltiness of a Manzanilla, to the layered nuts and toffee of an Oloroso, to the pure rich decadence of a dessert PX.
Is there anything that won’t pair with it? Hell no.
And I’ll cook with it all right.
Here’s my recipe:
1 bottle of good Sherry
Pour in glass and drink.
Eat food for further pleasure.
On to Grappa my friends.
Many of you know we have one of the largest Grappa selections on this side of the country.
Over 100 Grappas. Mainly from Italy but also Bulgaria, Colorado, Florida, and Switzerland to name a few.
We don’t have these just because the bottles are pretty.
Grappas can have the beauty and complexity that can far exceed any distillate.
The aromas can range from delicate nuances to heady tropical perfume. Some aged Grappas can bring shame to many of the fine Cognacs.
There is, of course, crappy Grappa out there.
And I am sorry if you had to experience it.
But there is also crappy vodka, crappy whiskey and crappy wine out there.
And it’s too bad your first taste came from some cafe owner on a Tuscan backstreet who broke out his home made hooch.
Here’s a gentle comparison.
Your Italian cousin Giovanni comes for his first tour through The States.
A quick detour to Kentucky.
Y‘all stop by Bubba’s back-wood shit shack for a bit of burgoo and hush puppies.
After a generous helping of “Cucina Americana”, out comes the jug-o-shine.
Take a pull and pass it around.
After Giovanni is done wheezing and replacing his eyeballs back into their sockets, he politely declines a second round.
Your cousin gets home and lets everyone know: that was the first and last time he ever tries this American rocket fuel called “Bourbon”.
This brings us to Beaujolais.
There is a fresh and fruity wine that comes out the third Thursday in November.
It is from the region of Beaujolais and it is the first wine of the vintage. But it is called “Beaujolais Nouveau”.
This is not to be confused with “Beaujolais”,” Beaujolais-Villages” or “Cru Beaujolais”.
Nouveau is a simple, youthful beverage and is meant more as a symbolic celebration of the harvest.
Beaujolais is an important wine producing region in France with many serious wines.
Here’s another analogy since I am just chock full of them today.
There is Jazz.
There are many subcategories or styles within this very important genre of music. Big Band, Dixie Land, Bebop, Hardbop … and so on.
How unfortunate it would be to have never heard the greats. No Count or Duke. No Louis or Miles.
But…. Once a year in November, everywhere you go, the insipid snortings of Mr. Kenneth Gorlick are wafting through the air.
And this is the only “Jazz” you know and hear. A shame, no?
So that is why we present to you this month a Beaujolais.
The side you may not be familiar with, but need to be.
Our wine of the month. A delight and beyond the partial truth.
The bartender placed the fifth and final to-go box on top of the counter and told me to wait a minute; she had forgotten the chocolate sauce.
Already feeling a bit excessive, i told her not to worry about it.
“But you can’t have the deep fried Oreo cookies without the chocolate sauce” she explained.
Well..so be it.
She returned and stuffed the sauce into the teetering stack of containers.
Peering over the top she quipped “Hungry crowd, huh?”
I should have just said yes but i was in an honest mood and confessed that it was all for me.
“Oh... i see” with a raised eyebrow.
Her aloof response was perfectly justifiable.
For she was unaware of the crucial undertaking that lay ahead in the privacy of my dining room.
The undertaking being the final face off for the Divino Wine of the month.
2 wines put to the test for November’s Supreme Food Wine.
As much as i wanted to explain this to her, i did realized the severe magnitude of this trial was better left covert until a resolution had surfaced.
So i left quietly with my bags.
Like every month, the search for wine involves tasting buckets of wine.
Then the retasting, analyzing, pondering, comparing and contrasting.
Usually, there is a clear and dominant candidate, the deal is made, and up goes the “chosen one” onto the pedestals in the front of the store. Then you all hear from me via email a little about the history, region, flavors and so on.
But this month was different.
I had hit a wall of indecision. It had come down to two excellent wines and i just could not make up my mind.
They both had everything needed for a feasting wine.
-Bright and light in body but rich in aromatics and character.
-High toned red fruits.
-Low tannis and zippy acidity.
Both could easily be the one to withstand or accentuate the barrage of dishes that manifest in November.
And although it will be presented as the ultimate “wine to feast with”,
not everyone who grabs this bottle off the shelf has a food pairing vision in mind. Some folks like to just pop the cork and kick back.
So it also needed to be pleasurable on its own.
So with all these things in mind, here i was late at night in the Divino back office with a Gamay in one hand and a Pinot Noir in the other.
Endless tasting back and forth. Both seemed equal. I was tired, and i was tired of my faltering.
So i threw the 2 bottles in my bag and headed home.
Somewhere on Broadway it came to me. Why not put them in action and see which one prevails? A simple solution.
So i took a quick pit stop at my neighborhood bar, Sputnik, and unleashed the ordering.
Arépas with avocado and Guava jam
Hearts of Palm salad with Dijon vinaigrette
Sweet Potato fries with wasabi mayo and harissa sauce.
And of course, deep-fried Oreo cookies.
I rushed home and spread the culinary schizophrenia out before me. (And i should mention i did grab 2 slices of turkey from the fridge for the sake of tradition). The 2 glasses were poured and so began the unruly yet thorough assault on the palate.
Bite, sip, bite, sip, break. Bite, sip, bite sip.
On and on it went until the glasses were empty and my belly was protesting.
As the dust settled there was indeed an indisputable champion.
There was actually no contest. This wine danced and played with every dish from cilantro to chocolate.
Alas! The supreme wine for Holiday feasting decadence.
So this November we present to you, after excessive inquisition, the Divino Wine of the Month.....
Its the 9th annual "Wines to Feast With"
You will be feasting these next two months and we at Divino have what you need to complete all your meals.
Food happy wines.
Low tannins, bright acidity and soft fruit.
No need to fret about pairing up your dishes.
Use those ingredients you've always wanted.
Flex your turkey muscles.
this is the year, and every year, we have you covered.
So do not hesitate to make that Dr. Pepper Roast Turkey you've been talking up all year
we have just the Southern Rhone that will work splendidly.
HAH! Sous-Vide Turducken.
Magicians and chemists need only apply? Hogwash i say.
Yes, it is challenging, and you do need an immersion circulator and 100g of Activa RM transglutaminase
but let us provide you with a hearty 12 yr Armagnac to bolster your courage and perk your panache.
And perhaps a 2008 Verdelho from Central Valley California is the jewel on the crown.
And who doesn't like hot wings?
And lots of them.
Some of you count. i know this.
Instead of feeling those pangs of gluttony about the sheer number of stripped wing bones piled high like a mass grave,
why not just super size?
no counting when you have just one Deep Fried Whole Buffalo Turkey.
Let us suggest a sparkling Rosé of Pinot Noir from the Rheingau to elevate the culinary consecration of Tom, Frank and you.
I know some of you have held back in past years from the infamous Turdunkin.
thats turdunkin' folks, not turducken.
(turkey brined in Dunkin' Donuts coolattas, stuffed with Munchkins and served with coffee gravy)
Yes, I know. You restrain yourself. A severe case of pairing intimidation.
How can you supersede the established Americana standard of coffee and doughnuts?
Furthermore, throw in the festive fowl factor. Do you even want to try?
Divino to the rescue.
We eagerly equip you with a Red Mountain Lemberger with its juicy blackberries, cloves and mocha.
It will more than suffice.
We have you covered.
whether you are clanking about the kitchen, guesting at friends and family or getting take out.
Come in and do one or all of the following.....