Food and drink are your love languages, vomFASS is your translator! In Mall of America's Culinary on North (N345), we delight in experiencing extraordinary olive oil, balsamic vinegar, spices, wine, whiskey, brandy, liqueurs and more. Free tastes daily. Cooking, wine and spirits classes weekly. Gifts of great taste, customized as desired. Only the best, always.
Viola’s Congratulations! Seasoned Sea Salt, to taste
1 tsp. garlic, minced
Calamansi Caper Butter Sauce:
1 T. vomFASS Calamansi Balsam vinegar
1/2 C. white wine (I used Chardonnay)
4 T. chilled butter, cut into small cubes or slices
2 T. capers, drained
Cut salmon into 4 equal pieces or leave the filet whole. Place salmon on aluminum foil, in a plastic zipper bag, or in a covered dish. Whisk the marinade ingredients together and drizzle onto salmon. Refrigerate 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.
Remove salmon from the marinade, or if you made a foil packet, leave in the foil and vent it.
Grill or broil for about 10 minutes, depending on the thickness. Remove any cover and finish grilling or broiling, to your preferred level of cooked.
While salmon is grilling, place the wine and Calamansi Balsam vinegar in a saucepan over medium high heat and allow it to come to a boil for 5-10 seconds. Keep your nose away from the vapor!
Reduce heat to lowest possible, whisk in the butter a few pieces at a time until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. The butter must never come to rest, or the sauce will separate and become oily.
Once the butter has completely incorporated, remove from heat and stir in capers.
Serve over the salmon.
Lemon Almond Rice
1 Pkg. Viola’s Lemon Almond Rice
1 T. vomFASS Basil Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or your favorite)
2 1/2 C. chicken or vegetable stock (more if needed)
Viola’s Congratulations! Seasoned Sea Salt, to taste
1 – 2 tsp. Calamansi Balsam vinegar
1 T. butter (optional)
Add olive oil to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add rice and stir until glossy and warm. Add broth and seasoned sea salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook about 20 minutes until al dente or your preferred texture, adding more liquid if needed. Add more seasoned salt, if needed, the splash of Calamansi vinegar and butter, if using. Stir and serve or cover and keep warm until serving, adding more liquid if needed prior to dishing up.
Last week we covered grape’s different roles in wines made from underripe and…let’s just say very overripe sates. Today we’re going to chat a bit about putting grapes on the hot seat so to speak. Intentionally heated wines that is.
Madeira and The Dutch: Out of the Fire and Into the Cask
There was a romanticized version of American history taught to me well throughout my public schooling. I think that’s probably true for a lot of people to be honest. It wasn’t until college American History that I learned the genuinely fun fact that our Founding Fathers were pleasantly buzzed during the drafting of the Declaration of Independence. And rightfully so. It was a scary thing they were doing committing all that treason and what not. A little liquid courage goes a long way when one needs to sign a document that could have you drawn and quartered. But what was it that they were drinking? Well the preferred drink at the time was Madeira, a lovely beverage from the region of the same name in Portugal.
Madeira has a history that begins during the age of exploration and like many stories from the book of booze it began as one thing and ended up as something entirely different. Much like the founding fathers bolstering their spirits with spirits, early explorers stocked their ships with alcohol for the voyages ahead. Intensely long stays on the ocean blue and the hot Sun’s continuous presence led to eventual spoilage of the wines they had picked up from ports of call in Portugal. After some time this style of heavily oxidized, nutty and straight up boiled wine became a flavor preference not only for the sailors but the people they brought it to at the ports they visited.
Making a trip around the world in just to cook and age your wine is not what we would call efficient, though I imagine it would be a mean marketing gimmick in 2019. Thus, the Estufagem (bless you!) process was created. Estufagem, or ‘stoving’, emulates a long sea voyage on the more tropical parts of the ocean. There are a few ways this environment is re created, from circulated hot water to barrels exposed to hot steam. The most time intensive and interesting involves barrels being stored high above the ground in hot rooms for up to a century. Should you find yourself looking to kickback and drink like a revolutionary, there are many available types and brands of Madeira out in the world waiting for you to discover.
Here at vomFASS MOA we have a very special Whisky produced outside the city of Mumbai in India. This Whisky is aged for 6 years in 98 degree heat giving it an uncommon maturity for other Whiskies of the same age. ‘Amrita’ has an alcohol of 45.6% and a decidedly maderized quality about it. It’s a deliciously different Whisky and we will be happy to give you a taste next time you find yourself in Bloomington, Minnesota!
A different approach to stocking ones vessel with valuable wine was employed (albeit anecdotally) by the Dutch. The Netherlands Natives had reservations concerning cooking/spoiling the wine on long journeys. To prevent the maderization of their precious cargo they would first distill the wine into what could be equated to concentrated wine. This wine spirit, called Brandewijn or ‘burnt wine’ was, for all intents and purposes, eau-du-vie or unaged brandy. They popped that hooch into barrels with machinations of reconstituting later on with water. Of course as you have no doubt guessed by now, people preferred this different alcohol and interests shifted in favor of brandy.
Cognac is said to be the wonderful outcome of forgetfulness and neglect much in the same way Tokaji MUST have been (nobody sets out with hopes and dreams of drinking mold wine, right?). Hundreds of years ago grapes from Cognac were cheap and they made cheap uninteresting still wine. That wine however sold well. Eventually after having been concentrated down through distillation, someone popped that hooch into a barrel and promptly forgot about it at the port. Upon returning some considerable amount of time later it was discovered that, hot dang, Cognac is delicious. The motif here is necessity breeding ingenuity and ingenuity leading to now long established traditions and products. Cognac is the most famous brandy in the world next to Armagnac and Calvados (made from apples) and we only stumbled upon it because we were trying to preserve our precious wine.
Whether cooked beyond recognition or distilled into something entirely different, grape based alcohols seem to be endlessly versatile. Grapes truly seem to be Homo Sapiens favorite fruit.
Satiate your thirst for brandy anytime at our vomFASS location in The Mall of America. We stock a plethora of world class Cognac from the Seguinot family, Armagnac from the DeLord family and other worldly brandies. We offer 10 year old, 25 year old and vintage 1973 Armagnac to a 12, 20 and 50 year old Cognac. Other options include a phenomenal 20 year old Italian brandy and 15 year old Spanish brandy from the Sherry Triangle in Jerez. You will also find a wonderful apple brandy from Madison, Wisconsin and a 20 and 25 year old Calvados from Normandy, France. If I still have your attention, you should also know about our Pear eau-du-vie and Kirsch eau-du-vie, both beautiful unaged brandies.
Stay tuned next week as we wrap up our journey with tales of Italian Grappa and a foray into the world of natural wines.
Will O’Reilly spends his days surrounded by brandy. Find him, and the brandy, at vomFASS in Bloomington, MN.
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 to the kid with cooties with relative swiftness. Fast forward through the popularity nose dive and it wasn’t until about the 1980s 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 it’s a product you can see more and more of on retail shelves not only in the states but all over the world.
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 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 U S 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.
Will O’Reilly likes to talk at length about the world of Alcohol. Come chat with him at vomFASS in The Mall of America.
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.
This week’s Mediterranean Lifestyle Cooking Class at vomFASS in Mall of America put the spotlight on Spain and their delightfully delicious tradition of tapas.
Tapas are a variety of small savory Spanish dishes, often served as a snack with drinks, or with other tapas as a meal. To “tapear,” going from bar to bar for drinks and tapas, is an essential part of the social culture of Spain, especially in the south. Learn more about tapas in this great guide to tapas bars and restaurants in Sevilla.
Tapas are perfect appetizers for your summer parties, or serve several for a “small plates” dinner party. Pair them with one or more of our Spanish wines currently in stock. I especially love Cava or Tempranillo with these dishes. These recipes were a huge hit in class this week (and vomFASS staff scarfed up the leftovers very quickly!). I hope you enjoy them as well! And I invite you to join us in a future cooking class. Check out our schedule. Call us at 952-426-3222 to order the vomFASS products included in these recipes.
Tater Tapas Serves 8 – 10
15-20 mini potatoes
¼ C. Manchego Cheese, finely shredded
¼ C. vomFASS Truffle Extra Virgin Olive Oil vomFASS Sea Salt & Pepper ¼ C. Sour cream or Plain Greek Yogurt
½ t. vomFASS Fried Potato Spice 3 green scallions, tops cut on a diagonal
Fill stock pot with enough water to cover potatoes, add a teaspoon of sea salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are fork tender, about 5 – 10 minutes, depending on the size of potatoes (do not overcook). Strain and cool enough to handle or refrigerate up to 4 days before using.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Using a paring knife, cut each potato with 3 to 4 slices halfway through. Place potatoes on baking sheet. Drizzle with Truffle oil. Sprinkle with cheese, salt & pepper. Roast until slightly brown and crispy, about 10 minutes. While roasting potatoes, combine Fried Potato Spice and sour cream or yogurt. Remove potatoes from oven and cool slightly. Top with a tiny dollop of sour cream/yogurt mixture and garnish with scallions before serving.
Tuna & Red Pepper ToastsServes 12
½ C. mayonnaise
½ C. vomFASS Don Carlos Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided; more for serving
1 T. minced garlic
3 t. vomFASS Calamansi Balsam Vinegar, divided
2 – 7 oz. cans tuna, drained
1 small shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
1 T. small brined capers
3 T. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, divided vomFASS Pyramid Sea Salt and freshly ground Peppercorn Mix, to taste
1 jar vomFASS Red Pepper Pesto ¼ C. Manchego Cheese, finely shredded
12 baguette slices, cut on a sharp biasBrush baguette slices with olive oil and lightly toast under a broiler or on a grill.
Combine mayo, ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, minced garlic, 1 t. Calamansi Balsam Vinegar and sea salt, to taste. Set mixture aside for a moment or make in advance and refrigerate up to 2 days.
Combine Red Pepper Pesto with Manchego cheese and set aside.
Place tuna in a medium mixing bowl and break it up with a fork. Add to tuna: ¼ cup of the aioli you just made, minced shallot, 2 teaspoons Calamansi Balsam Vinegar, capers, 2 tablespoons minced parsley, and ¼ cup of olive oil. Fold mixture gently to incorporate all ingredients. Adjust seasoning to taste with salt and pepper, adding more vinegar, olive oil, or aioli for flavor if desired.
Spread Red Pepper Pesto mixture in a thin layer onto toasted baguette slices. Arrange baguette slices on a serving board. Top them with a spoonful of tuna mixture, followed by a small dollop or drizzle of remaining aioli. Sprinkle with remaining parsley, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Serve immediately.
One 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained, or 1 1/2 C. fresh diced tomatoes
2 T. vomFASS Don Carlos Extra Virgin Olive Oil 1 T. vomFASS Forest Honey 1 T. vomFASS White Balsamic Vinegar 1 small shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 t. vomFASS Aglio Olio Pepperoncino spice blend vomFASS Sea Salt and freshly ground Peppercorn Mix ½ C. hummus (see recipe below)
4 pocketless pita breads
½ C. thinly sliced dry chorizo (2 ounces)
½ pound shelled and deveined cooked small shrimp
1 C. Manchego cheese, shredded vomFASS Aceto Balsamico Maletti, for garnish
Preheat oven to 425°. In a medium bowl, mix tomatoes with olive oil, honey, vinegar, shallot, garlic, spice blend, salt and pepper. Stir in shrimp.
Spread hummus on pita breads. Top with chorizo and Manchego. Bake directly on the oven rack for about 4 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Transfer flatbreads to work surface. Using slotted spoon, top with tomato mix. Quarter flatbreads, drizzle with Maletti and serve.
2 T. vomFASS Toasted Sesame Oil 2 T. vomFASS Garlic Extra Virgin Olive Oil (more, as needed)
1 T. vomFASS Calamansi Balsam Vinegar vomFASS Sea Salt, to taste
Using a food processor or blender, combine all ingredients. Slowly drizzle in more garlic olive oil while mixing, if needed, until desired consistency. Serve with corn chips, fresh veggies as a dip. Also good as a sandwich spread or pizza base sauce.
So maybe you wouldn’t trade that Cadbury Chocolate Egg for a Deviled Egg. But then again, maybe you haven’t tried a vomFASSified Deviled Egg! Here are two recipes for putting some zip in your app!
Curried Deviled Eggs
Serves 12 (2 each)
12 large eggs, hard boiled and peeled1/3 C. mayonnaise
2 t. vomFASS White Grape Balsamic Vinegar ½ t. vomFASS Madras Curry Powder, more for garnish
1 T. vomFASS Walla Walla Sweet Onion Mustard vomFASS Himilayan Sea Salt and Indian Green Pepper to taste vomFASS Calamansi Balsamic Pearls
cream or milk to moisten yolks, as needed
Slice eggs in two, lengthwise. Spoon out the yolks into a bowl and mash with fork until smooth. Add the mayonnaise, vinegar, curry powder, mustard, salt and pepper and mix well. Spoon the filling into the egg whites, or put the yolk mixture into plastic re-sealable bag. Cut one corner off and squeeze yolk mixture into egg whites. Garnish with Curry and Calamansi Balsamic Pearls before serving. Use a small spoon to create a little divot in each yolk mixture to keep the pearls in place. Enjoy!
Smokin’ Good Deviled Eggs
Serves 12 (2 each)
12 large eggs, hard boiled and peeled
1/3 C. real mayonnaise
2 T. bacon bits (optional)
1 T. vomFASS Spanish Red Wine Vinegar 1 T. vomFASS Walla Walla Sweet Onion Mustard
vomFASS Garlic Pepper Whole Blend and Danish Smoked Sea Salt, to taste Cream or milk, as needed, to make the filling easy to pipe. vomFASS Spicy Smoked Paprika and Raspberry or Calamansi Balsamic Pearls, for garnish
Slice eggs in two, lengthwise. Spoon out the yolks into a bowl and mash with fork until smooth. Add mayonnaise, vinegar, seasonings, and mustard, and mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings and vinegar, as needed. Add a teaspoon or two of cream if needed. Spoon the filling into the egg whites, or put the yolk mixture into plastic bag. Cut one corner off and squeeze yolk mixture into egg whites. Garnish with paprika by putting it in a fine strainer and tapping over eggs. Make a small divot in each yolk and add a few balsamic pearls. Enjoy!
Yes, I have made certain New Year’s resolutions that align better with salads than hot chocolate, but I believe that dolce decadence has a place in my definition of a quality lifestyle, more or less in moderation! And it incorporated one of our newest delicious liqueurs – Cara Mia Caramel Vodka! This recipe will go a long way toward inspiring gratitude for winter!
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup white sugar
1 pinch salt
1/3 cup boiling water
3 1/2 cups milk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 – 4 shots of vomFASS Cara Mia caramel liqueur, to taste
Whipped cream topping
¾ cup heavy whipping cream
2 T. powdered sugar
½ t. vanilla
vomFASS Cinnamon, ground, for garnish
Combine the cocoa, sugar and pinch of salt in a saucepan. Blend in the boiling water. Bring this mixture to an easy boil while you stir. Simmer and stir for about 2 minutes. Watch that it doesn’t scorch. Stir in 3 1/2 cups of milk and heat until very hot, but do not boil! Remove from heat and add vanilla. Whip cream with mixer until soft peaks form. Add sugar and vanilla. Divide hot chocolate between 4 mugs. Add Cara Mia liqueur. Top with whipped cream and garnish with cinnamon. Enjoy!