Drinking Local: All Things Minnesota

Pictured: Minnesota in June

Ah, the North. Home to hot dish, Spam sandwiches and sub zero temperatures for 13 months out of the year. It’s like Winterfell but the locals have a different accent, dontcha know. Yes the food is weird and the weather feels like it should be spelled in all capitals but there’s a lot more happening here beyond those two talking points! For one, (and the focus of this weeks post) Minnesota is home to a healthy amount of distilleries, breweries and scenic wineries. after all we need something to warm us up in the winter and to keep us cool in the summer!

Outside of the high quality, small batch and craft distilled products under the vomFASS label, we also stock quite a few MN products!

Vino:

Carlos Creek winery in Alexandria, Minnesota (easy to find, hard to leave) has been producing wine since 1999. Here at vomFASS in the Mall of America you can track down a number of their products available for purchase. Minnescato is an inspired homage to the much loved Moscato. It sparkles, shes sweet and any hot dish would be lucky to pair with this wine made from local Minnesota grown grapes. For red wine lovers who don’t have that sweet tooth, Carlos Creek produces a Marquette from the grape of the same name which was developed by the University of Minnesota…It really doesn’t get more Minnesotan than that.

Also on our shelves you can find Round Lake Vineyards Frontenac Gris and Brianna. Two semi sweet options made for those long summer nights up at the cabin. Brianna has a decidedly tropical personality while the Frontenac Gris is packed with explosive notes of cranberry. Round Lake Vineyards is located just North of the Iowa border but that doesn’t stop them from frequently visiting us to drop off a sample bottle or two, come on in and give their wine a try!

Beer & Cider:

Beer is my first love. I’ve never met a brew I didn’t like. Okay maybe not that habanero IPA I had in Manhattan but that’s neither here nor there. A local Minneapolis Brewery, Boom Island, stole our hearts here at vomFASS Twin Cities. We carry their Dubbel, Tripel, Quad and Saison Belgian style ales as well as their Russian imperial stout, ‘Kollusion’ which is made with Dunn Bros. coffee and aged in Tennessee Whiskey barrels. Seriously consider picking some of this up, I don’t know where else this is still in stock other than our shelves.

Our Ciders are from Milk & Honey out of Cold Springs. ‘Alchemy’, an ice cider made from MN’s own Chestnut crab, is mellowed in bourbon barrels and sports a hearty, sweet and smooth personality. We also carry 4 other drier sparkling ciders also from Milk & Honey. If you’re on the lookout for ciders with a bit more depth and less of that alcoholic apple juice quality, be sure to check out the Milk & Honey products in our store!

The Hard Stuff:

Far North Spirits, Panther Distillery, Vikre Distillery and Rockfilter Distillery. All hand picked by us to stand tall on our shelves here at MOA in Bloomington.

Far North Spirits you will find…well far north up in Hallock, MN. Basically put your toes in Canada and fall backwards and you’ll land in Hallock. We carry their Nordic style spiced rum, ‘Allander’ and it would seem like the distillers unlocked the secret of distilling holidays because this tastes just like Christmas. Also on our shelves is ‘Rokknar’ a rye whiskey from Far North (which we will be discussing more in next weeks post all about rye) that was bottled specifically for vomFASS after we tasted through their single barrels and picked our favorite! Panther Distillery from Osakis, MN in near the dead center of the state is well represented on our shelves. We carry ‘Saint Paul’, a three year old straight Bourbon, ‘Pike Street’ which is another three year old bourbon as well as ‘Spiked Apple’ and ‘Minnesota 14 Maple’ which are both sweeter and flavored two year old corn whiskeys. Vikre up in Duluth utilizes water from the mighty Lake Superior to produce their alcohol. If you are a fan of gin or absinthe or just happen to be a curious drinker, come in for a sample of ‘Ovrevann’. Meaning Lake Superior or Upper Lake in Norwegian, ‘Ovrevann’ is Vikre’s Aquavit. Definitely worth a taste. Finally from as far south and as far east as you can go here in the North Star state you’ll find Rockfilter Distillery in Spring Grove, MN. We carry their two year old bourbon, ‘Giants of the Earth’ which has a mash bill made up of corn, winter rye and sorghum. This one is for the fans of the bolder bourbons.

Minnesota is home to hard working bunch. Here at vomFASS MOA we stock the fruits of all that labor. I find that Rockfilter’s mission statement says it best,

“Our Norwegian ancestors fled a cold, hard place for a colder, harder place. It didn’t make them bitter, just busy. Like them, we continue to make the best of it. We farm. We make bourbon. Happily ever after”

Whichever Minnesota beverage you choose to enjoy this Summer take a moment to appreciate who and where it came from. Happy drinking everyone. Skol!

Will O’Reilly is a Minnesota native who enjoys Minnesota spirits, wines and beers. Find him at vomFASS Twin Cities.

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Oh What a World…of Whisk(e)y! Pt. 3

Our final foray into the wold of whisk(e)y takes us home. So don your reds whites and blues and tell Johnny to strike up the band because baby it’s time to talk about America!

Corn, barley, rye and wheat. The usual suspects of whisk(e)y production across the globe. The United States is to be thanked for taking those ingredients and birthing a few of her own original spirits. Namely, Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey. Like Scotland and Ireland we have our own set of regulations to follow when producing America’s finest. Though you will notice they are…shall we say, more relaxed? This is a reoccurring theme with alcohol production here in the states. Comparing Americas craft beer market, responsible for IPAs incorporating habanero peppers as well as Rocky Mountain Oyster Stouts (if you are unaware of what this means, do yourself a favor and keep it that way), to brewers in Germany, you will notice QUITE the difference. The Purity Law of 1516 firmly regulates beer production in Germany. It declares that that the only ingredients to be used are water, barley and hops (yeast as well but no one knew what the heck that was in 1516).

This is all to say, we do things our way and tend to let innovation and ingenuity run a little wild!

Bourbon! Originally crafted in Kentucky and now made as far and wide as Minnesota, is a spirit whose mash bill (or recipe) must be comprised of at least 51% corn and can be distilled to a proof no higher than 160. The remaining 49% is up to the distiller and can vary dramatically from producer to producer. Upon entering the ageing stage, this spirit must be no stronger than 125 proof Bourbon must be aged in new, charred oak barrels. New barrels. Every. Single. Time. The luckiest of those bourbon barrels make their way to Scotland to be used in Scotch Whisky production. It is important to note that there is no minimum age requirement for Bourbon. Many enter the market at no older than just a few months. More often than not you will find Bourbon to be a fuller feeling, sweeter spirit on the palate with kisses of char, smoke and vanilla. We currently carry several different Bourbons at our MOA location. Panther Distillery in Osakis Minnesota produces ‘Pike Street’ and ‘Saint Paul’, both 3 year old Bourbons. A personal favorite of mine is made as far South and as far East as one can travel in Minnesota. ‘Giants of the Earth’ is a 2 year old Bourbon distilled by Rockfilter all the way down Spring Grove, MN. Produced for vomFASS are ‘Two Georges High Corn’ and ‘Northern Plains’ Bourbons. The former being produced from 81% corn and the latter being a blend of Kentucky and Wisconsin Bourbon.

Tennessee Whiskey! Decidedly NOT bourbon in the way Cremant is not Champagne. Varying by a small margin technically but worlds apart in history, these two spirits have one key difference: Charcoal. Here we go with the weird America stuff again. Tennessee Whisky is produced the same way bourbon is but just before barreling the clear corn spirit is filtered through sugar maple charcoal. Some people make their own charcoal by burning whiskey soaked sugar maple while others simply soak the charcoal with the soon to be whiskey. Tennessee Whiskey will have a smoother personality, a taste similar to bourbon and of course a rather distinct charcoal presence. Tennessee Whiskey is also a killer song by Chris Stapleton.

To be covered in a future entry you can also find Rye and Wheat based whiskey here in the USA. More specifically you can find them on our shelves at vomFASS Mall of America! Next time you find yourself in our neck of the woods be sure to ask about our, ‘Two Georges’ line of whiskey. We can get you a taste of the Bourbon, Rye and an exceptionally unique Wheat Whiskey.

Indeed, whisk(e)y has many faces. Some of which are specific to the land in which they were first born. Others are finding new homes across the world as people strive to satisfy the thirst for high quality spirits we all seem to share. Whichever expression you are to enjoy next we hope you’ll do so with a bit deeper of an understanding and appreciation for the history and labor behind each Whisk(e)y.

Will O’Reilly continues to talk about the world of alcohol long after you stop even listening. Find him at vomFASS Mall of America!

Oh What a World…Of Whisk(e)y Pt. 2

Sláinte!

Welcome back to week two of breaking down the many faces of Whisk(e)y. Today’s focus: Ireland!

With the discovery of perfume distillation 500 some odd years ago, you, me and everyone we know have the Irish monks to thank for turning their noses up at perfume and eyeballing instead those yummy looking ferment hungry grains. The Emerald Isles’ traditional spirit experienced some serious ups and downs in the years between 1890 and 1990. Between an increasing appetite for scotch across the board and effectively being cut off from major markets due to a less than friendly relationship with England, Irish whiskey went from the hot ticket the kid with cooties with relative swiftness. Fast forward through the popularity nose dive and it wasn’t until about the 1980’s that attention turned back to Éire and her beautiful Uisce Beatha (again meaning ‘Water of Life’, only this time in Irish). Indeed, the increased interest in this Irish beauty is certainly palpable. Nowadays t’s a product you can see more and more of on retail shelves not only in the states but all over the world.

Irish Whiskies available exclusively at vomFASS
Photo Cred: My wonderful coworker Lynn!

Commonly triple distilled, generally unpeated (but not always!) and made from malted and unmalted barley and other grains. For Whiskey producers unmalted barley and grains like corn offer a nice price break considering both are less expensive than malted barley. Like Scotch, Irish Whiskey must be aged for a minimum of three years in oak barrels. When enjoying a nice glass of Irish Whiskey, you’ll more often than not find it to be on the lighter side than others. With notes of cereal grain, honey and flowers Ireland offers a strikingly different spirit when compared to Scotch, especially Scotch from the Islay region. The key noticeable difference for my palate when comparing Irish Whiskey and Scotch comes from the triple distillation process which creates a lighter distillate with much more subtlety. Irish Whiskey on the whole is more liquid poetry than anything. Light, friendly, approachable, it does not demand that you acquire a taste for it but rather it asks for you to just simply listen and enjoy the song it has to sing.

Here at vomFASS MOA we carry four expressions of Irish Whiskey from one producer in Dublin as well as their Single Malt Moonshine. ‘Against the Grain’ is a corn mash Irish Whiskey aged 5 years in Bourbon barrels and Cabernet Sauvignon barrels. This is a beautiful expression of a Single Grain Irish Whiskey, one of the most approachable spirits in the store and a personal favorite. ‘Stephen’s Choice’ and ‘Jack’s Choice’ are 5 and 11 year old old Single Malt Irish Whiskies, respectively. The former being a more traditional approach and the latter actually being finished in Sauternes casks, ‘Stephen’s Choice’ and ‘Jack’s Choice’ are not to be missed. At 14 years, ‘Brother’s In Arms’ is the oldest Irish Whiskey in our store. This expression shows off a wonderfully complex Sherry cask influence through notes of fruit, spice and more gourmand hits of toffee and caramel. While not technically a Whiskey but rather an unaged Irish spirit, our Single Malt Irish ‘Moonshine’ shows an array of explosive herbs, pepper and a rich, crisp backbone. Surprisingly easy going for it’s 55.5% abv. Drop on in sometime and let us pour you a sample or two!

Before you go, let us discuss Whiskey v. Whisky. What is the deal with that seemingly complicated parenthetical ‘e’? The Irish call it whiskey and the Scots call it whisky and stateside we mostly call it Whiskey with the exception of some (I’m looking at you Maker’s Mark). It seems to be a remnant of translation and here in the US of A, it stems from the melding of cultures. That little ‘e’ seems to have been brought over by the Irish during their influx into the great American melting pot. It also found wide spread use in American spirits due to the shrewd attempt at associating American spirits with the, at that time, more expensive and exotic Irish spirits. Today, the ‘e’ finds it’s home in Irish and most American whiskies. Whisky sans ‘e’ can be found of course in Scotland (as it is the law) but also in Japan, Australia and literally every other Whisky producing region in the world.

Next time you’re in have a taste of this 6 year old Indian Whisky.
Photo Credit: Lynn again!

Will O’Reilly likes to talk at length about the world of Alcohol. Come chat with him at vomFASS in The Mall of America.

Oh What a World…Of Whisk(e)y!

Alcohol! With many different cultural expressions all over the globe its often easy to confuse one expression with another. Take Whisk(e)y for example; Whisk(e)y itself isn’t so much a product as it is a process. Or rather a product that is defined by a process. And that process has different rules and regulations depending on the dirt your standing on. Some of us prefer Bourbon to Rye or Irish Whiskey to Scotch Whisky. But do you know the core differences between them? The answer is more than just geography. Breaking down the different faces of Whisk(e)y and what the deal is with this seemingly silly parenthetical ‘e’ will be the goal of the coming weeks blog entries. So stay tuned!

As a general rule of thumb I don’t like to generalize about the vast world of alcohol too much. Lumping things together in one category and slapping a label on it does a disservice to the nuances and creative mold breaking that takes place at, say, different Scotch distilleries. That said, for ease of conversation, I’ll be speaking a bit generally today. So take this with a grain of salt and understand that the alcohol rabbit hole goes deep. There’s always something more to be learned about each one of these products and the people (heroes?) making them. Conveniently, after your thirst for quality Whisk(e)y has been stirred up you will be able to find some excellent expressions of Scotch, Irish and American Whisk(e)y available at the vomFASS Mall of America location.

This week we are going to focus on Scotch. What is single malt Scotch? Single malt Scotch Whisky is a product that comes from one single distillery as opposed to a Scotch blend which is a product containing the Whisky from multiple distilleries. Historically produced using malted barley, and only malted barley for single malts, Scotch begins it’s journey being double distilled in large copper pot stills. Scotch, by law, must be aged for a minimum of three years in Oak barrels. These Oak barrels are primarily former Bourbon barrels (which by law in the US can only be used for Bourbon ageing once) or former Sherry casks. Only produced and aged in Scotland you will find this Whisky being distilled and aged in a few different regions, five of which are officially recognized.

The Lowlands, Highlands, Speyside, Islay (pronounced, “eye-la”) and Campbeltown make up Scotland’s main Scotch producing regions. Here at vomFASS Twin Cities inside the Mall of America we carry a healthy supply of world class single malt Scotches from almost every region (even the not so officially recognized parts. Cool!). Our selection includes, but is by no means limited to, a 17 year old offering from Auchentoshan in the Lowlands. This is one of the outlying triple distilled scotches. The dram is smooth, warm and delightfully complex. From the Highlands we offer a bold but refined 20 year old Glengoyne. Appropriately, Speyside takes up the most real estate here at vomFASS MOA as it is home to the highest density of distilleries in Scotland. A personal favorite of mine is the dark and mysterious 19 year old Inchgower. I love to pour this for guests looking for a Speyside Scotch that thinks a little outside of the Speyside box. Bunnahabain 26 is our one and only single malt offering from Islay. Next to it’s other Islay brethren, Bunnahabain 26 does not cloud the drinker in a plume of peat smoke. Rather, this unpeated offering showcases notes of the ocean that surrounds the Islay region while caramel and soft vanilla permeate the drinking experience. Should you wish to get to know these beauties better than I can describe them, we not only offer in store samples but we regularly hold Scotch classes as well as wine tastings and Mediterranean cooking classes too!

Aside from being a geographically specific spirit (similar to Champagne, Cognac or Tennessee Whiskey) Scotch is produced under strict regulations established long ago that are still practiced today. True, practices have changed and expanded since the first Scot discovered how to make Uisge Beatha, or The Water of Life, such as the incorporation of Wheat and Rye grains and triple distillation practices at a few distilleries. But at its core, Scotch remains a liquid tip of the hat to the wonder of tradition and the inexorable push of alcohol based ingenuity. All the while instilling in it’s drinker a true sense of place. Cheers!

Check back next week as we continue our journey down the winding Whisk(e)y road to Ireland.

Will O’Reilly studies all things alcohol. You can find him at vomFASS inside the Mall of America.

Delicious + Nutritious Tuscan Bean Soup

It’s January and its Minnesota. A healthy, delicious soup is just the comfort food your fitness goals and the weather call for! This Tuscan White Bean, Sausage and Veggie Soup will feed a family or provide a few meals for one or two! Skip to the end to read my “quick and easy” note, which was the path I chose for our Mediterranean Lifestyle cooking class tonight! This soup pairs beautifully with a Chardonnay (sparkling or still) or Pinot Noir.

Ingredients

2 T vomFASS San Domenico Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 pound Italian sweet or spicy sausage, casing removed

1 medium onion, chopped

2 large carrots, diced small

2 large potatoes, diced small

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Viola’s bay leaf

2 (15 ounce) cans white cannelini beans

2 small bunches of kale, ribs removed and roughly chopped

8 C. low-sodium chicken stock (read the label to find one that doesn’t have sugar and a bunch of other stuff you don’t want in your soup!)

Violas Feta Seasoning, to taste (at least a couple teaspoons!)

vomFASS Herb Vinegar, to taste

Directions

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add sausage and brown, stirring occasionally to break into smaller pieces, approximately 10 minutes.

Add onion, carrots, potato, and bay leaves salt and pepper. Cook until vegetables begin to soften, stirring occasionally, approximately 10 minutes. Add garlic and beans; cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add kale and cook until slightly wilted. Add chicken stock, season and cover with lid.

Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat and keep at a simmer for about 45 minutes, although a bit longer is completely fine. The soup will thicken as the potatoes begin to release their starch into the soup. Serve with a splash of Herb Vinegar.

Vegetarian option: eliminate sausage; replace San Domenico EVOO with vomFASS Smoky BBQ EVOO.

Fast and easy: Use pre-cooked Italian sausage (I used Chicken Italian sausage from Fresh Thyme Market), and pre-minced garlic. Add all ingredients, including olive oil, to crock pot or pressure cooker and cook as appropriate to appliance type. I used an Instant Pot on High Pressure setting for 6 minutes. Don’t forget that pop of Herb Vinegar right before eating!

Even Skinnier: Replace potatoes and carrots with a variety of other veggies, such as chopped or spiralized zucchini, cauliflower, shredded cabbage, celery, fresh fennel, or tomatoes.  Reduce cooking time to adjust for higher water content veggies.

Fig Chili Balsamic, How Do I Love Thee?

I recently got some family members hooked on vomFASS Fig Chili Balsamic Vinegar, and now they are clamoring for more ideas and recipes for using it!

My first love is to use Fig Chili as a seasoning for burgers – beef, bison, turkey – namefig-chili burger2 your protein! Mix your burger meat as usual, and add about 2 tablespoons of Fig Chili Balsamic per pound of meat. It adds great flavor and a little bit of kick to your burger.

Then, make some balsamic glazed onions with Fig Chili Balsamic to top the burger, add some bleu or gorgonzola cheese, (and bacon, if you’re feeling really decadent!) and you just made the best burger in town!

Balsamic Glazed Onions

1 large sweet onion thinly sliced
2 T. vomFASS Garlic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 T. vomFASS Aceto Balsamico Platinum
vomFASS Himalayn Salt and Peppercorn Mix
to tasteonions caramelized glazed balsamic vomFASS Mall of America Minnesota Food

In medium sauté pan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onions, salt and pepper and toss to coat. Sauté until onions are soft and semi translucent – about 10 minutes. Add Aceto Balsamico Platinum.  Stir to coat onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and caramelized.

I recommend doubling this recipe, as these are great on salads, sandwiches, pizza, in mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs – chime in with your own ideas for using them!

Other quick and easy ideas: 

  • Drizzle Fig Chili Balsamic on tomato soup – homemade or purchased. One of my go-to convenience foods is the Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup from Costco – its gluten free and organic, and with a pop of extra flavor from Fig Chili Balsamic, it’s delicious! (Don’t forget to dip your grilled cheese sandwich in it!)

  • Use Fig Chili Balsamic as your “secret sauce,” to season roasted meats, steaks and poultry. 
  • My favorite olive oil to pair with Fig Chili Balsamic is vomFASS Orange Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Lemon EVOO is a good alternative to Orange. Use as a marinade for grilled chicken or shrimp, or as a vinaigrette for a Southwest salad, or quinoa salad.
  • Drizzle on pizza, roasted veggies, caprese salad, fish tacos, and yes – even ice cream! Wow, yum!

Here are some more recipes. Let me know what YOU make with this sweet + heat all-star balsamic!

Grilled Fish with Balsamic Marinade

¼ cup vomFASS Madonia or Don Carlos Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¼ cup vomFASS Avocado Oil
¼ cup vomFASS Fig-Chili Balsamic Vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp dried parsley (or 1 Tbsp fresh, chopped)
1/8 tsp vomFASS Sea Salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground vomFASS Peppercorn Mix
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard

In small mixing bowl, whisk together all ingredients until well mixed and emulsified.  Place fish fillets into large zip-lock bag.  Pour marinade over fish, distributing well.  Refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.  Remove fish from marinade when ready to cook.  Discard any remaining marinade.  Grill according to package directions.

Fig Chili Shrimp or Chicken  Serves 4

1 lb. raw shrimp or cubed chickenvomfass15-2521
3 T. vomFASS Orange Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 T. vomFASS Fig Chili Balsamic
1 clove minced garlic
½ t. vomFASS Danish Smoked Sea Salt, divided
Freshly ground vomFASS Peppercorn Mix, to taste 

Combine oil, vinegar, garlic, half the salt and a few cranks of ground pepper in a glass bowl with cover or plastic zip bag. Add shrimp or chicken and marinate 15 – 20 minutes. Do not marinate shrimp longer; chicken may be marinated up to two hours. Empty contents of bag or bowl into a hot stir-fry pan. Toss just until cooked through. Finish with Smoked Sea Salt and Peppercorn Mix to taste. Serve immediately.

Black-Eyed Peas and Walnut Lettuce Wraps Serves 6-8

2 cans black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed or 3 cups cookedBlack Eyed Pea Lettuce Wraps Mediterranean Diet Cooking Class vomFASS Mall of America
1 onion, chopped
1 can water chestnuts, chopped
1 medium carrot, roughly grated
½ C. chopped walnuts
1 red bell pepper, chopped
¼ C. fresh parsley, chopped
2 T. vomFASS Orange Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¼ C. vomFASS Fig Chili Balsamic
1 t. vomFASS African Rub spice blend
vomFASS Sea Salt and Peppercorn Mix, to taste
16 leaves iceberg or butter lettuce

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion, pepper, carrots and water chestnuts. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low, cover pan and continue cooking until veggies are tender crisp, 5-7 minutes.  Stir in walnuts, black-eyed peas, balsamic and parsley.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cool slightly. Spoon about ¼ cup of the mixture into each lettuce leaf.  Fold the leaves in half and eat taco-style. vomFASSified from Oldwayspt.org

Fig-Chili BBQ Sauce

Makes approximately 1 cup sauce

4 Tbsp vomFASS San Gimignano Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¼ medium-sized onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup ketchup
½ cup vomFASS Fig Chili Balsamic Vinegar (for less spicy, see NOTE)
1/3 cup honey
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 cup water
¼ tsp vomFASS  Sea Salt
¼ tsp vomFASS  Black Peppercorn Mix

NOTE: For a less spicy version, use ¼ cup Fig Chili Balsamic + ¼ cup Star Fig Balsamic.

In medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and sauté until soft, about 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and sauté one minute more.

Whisk in the ketchup, vinegar(s), honey, mustard, water, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat to a low simmer.  Cook the sauce until it has thickened enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 10 – 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool.  Refrigerate until ready to use, or for up to two weeks.

Black Bean Salsa  Serves 4 – 8

1 – 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsedBlack Bean Salsa vomFASS Cooking Class Mall of America Minnesota Food
1 cup chopped cherry or grape tomatoes
½ small red onion, minced
1 cup corn kernels (fresh, canned or frozen and thawed)
2 T. cilantro, chopped
1 tsp vomFASS Chili con Carne spice blend
1 T. vomFASS Fig Chili Balsamic Star Vinegar
1 ½ T. vomFASS Agora Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 t. vomFASS Calamansi Balsam Vinegar
¼ t. vomFASS Sea Salt
¼ t. vomFASS Peppercorn Mix

*For a spicier version, replace Agora Extra Virgin Olive Oil with Red Pepper or Jalapeno Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Place all ingredients into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Stir gently until well combined.  Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.  Stir again just prior to serving. Serve with tortilla chips as a dip, serve as a condiment for tacos, or add to a green salad or grilled entrée of fish or chicken.

Fig Chili Chocolate Truffles

6 oz. heavy cream
2 T sugar
2 T vomFASS Fig Chili Balsamic Vinegar
8 oz. chopped bittersweet chocolate
1 T butter
4 oz. Apricot Grappa
1 T Honey

Bring cream, sugar and vinegar to almost a boil.  Add chopped chocolate, cover and let sit for 5 min. Stir in grappa and butter.  Emulsification starts in the middle, continue stirring until grappa is incorporated and ganache is shiny.  Taste, add honey if necessary.  Let cool.  Form  ½ in balls and roll in cocoa.  Look, Taste, Enjoy!

I hope you’re feeling inspired! 

Let me know if you create something wonderful – take a picture and share your recipe by tagging our Facebook page!

Summer + Sangria = Sensational!

Summers in the Midwest are short, and therefore incredibly sweet. We savor every moment of sunlight. We come out of our homes and reconnect with neighbors. We play hard. We party like snow and ice are just around the corner, because they are. Sangria Summer Cocktails vomFASS Mall of America Tam

With the Summer Solstice already in the rear view mirror, it’s time to celebrate summer with your favorite people, patio food and refreshing drinks. Sangria fits the bill to a T.

Sangria philosophy

Sangria is originally a Spanish concept that we have embraced and embellished to basically be a light and enjoyable alcoholic fruit punch that you can make with a wide variety of ingredients. The basic recipe includes some combination of these ingredients, with the proportions tweaked to please your preferences:

1 bottle of wine (red, rosé, white)Sangria
1 Cup of bubbly (sparkling wine, club soda, sparkling water, etc.)
1/4 Cup Liqueur and/or 1/4 Cup Spirit (or 1/2 cup of one)
1/4 Cup Fruit juice
1 – 2 Cups Fruit

Preparation

Combine all ingredients except the bubbly in a pitcher. Refrigerate for at least a couple of hours, and as long as 24 hours. Add the bubbly right before serving, either by adding all at once to the pitcher or topping off each serving with a splash of bubbly. Adding to individual servings allows you to make the sangria as light in alcohol content as the drinker prefers.

The sangria I made for my daughter’s birthday this week included these ingredients:

Bobbie’s Birthday Sangria

1 bottle of rosé wine (Paul Blisson from vomFASS)
1 Cup of sparkling pink lemonade (Trader Joe’s)
1/2 Cup vomFASS Elderflower Liqueur
1 1/2 Cups (approximate) of fruit, including apples, orange slices, blueberries and watermelon (great way to use whatever you have in the frig!)

Prepare as indicated above, using the sparkling pink lemonade as the bubbly. If you want a lighter sangria, just add more sparkling lemonade.

For more delicious, Sangria Recipes click here.Sangria

Enjoy!