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What spirit were the Three Musketeers drinking back in the 17th century? Armagnac! On this episode of A Taste of the Past, Linda Pelaccio is joined in the studio by David Lincoln Ross, a food writer and armagnac expert. Learn about the ancient roots of the spirit in Egypt, and the differences between cognac and armagnac. Learn about the regional grapes used to make traditional armagnacs, and the importance of oak from the Mon Lunzon forest in the aging process. How does one choose a bottle of armagnac? Learn about the different characteristics of armagnac that can be used to determine what quality spirit to buy. How does armagnac pair with food? Learn about the culinary landscape of Gascony, France, and how armagnac plays a significant role in its food culture. This program has been brought to you by Cain Vineyard & Winery.

"Cognac, in the most simple terms, is distilled twice. It yields a more refined spirit with a higher level of alcohol when it comes out of the still. It's called double distillation. Armagnac has a simpler or continuous distillation process so the spirit that comes out after the distillation process is at a lower proof, but because it has only been distilled once, it has a more fragrant and flavorful result." [6:40]

-- David Lincoln Ross on A Taste of the Past


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What's more American than apple pie? Answer: apple cider! On this week's episode of A Taste of the Past, Linda Pelaccio is talking with "apple evangelist" and author of Cider, Hard and Sweet, Ben Watson. Where did the tradition of American cider originate? Hear about how grafting has caused the amount of apple varieties to diminish, and learn about the role of the Industrial Revolution in cider's popularity. Find out how cider stacks up against beer and wine in terms of alcohol content, and learn what varieties of apples make the best cider. Also, learn what differentiates hard cider from apple jack. Also, Sara Grady calls in from Glynwood to talk about their new initiative, The Apple Project. Learn about the importance of hard cider and apple spirits to the regional economy! This program has been brought to you by Cain Vineyard & Winery.

"Almost any apple makes decent cider because when you press it, you get different qualities. Is it sour? It's going to have bitterness and astringency to it that adds body- just like wine."

"Apples provided another way to create a beverage that was plentiful and easy to produce."

-- Ben Watson on A Taste of the Past


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On this week's episode of A Taste of the Past, Linda Pelaccio is talking about ancient and whole grains with Maria Speck, IACP award winning author of the NYTimes notable book Ancient Grains for Modern Meals. Topics include Maria's upbringing with whole grains, the health benefits of eating grains, and why ancient grains have become fashionable in the food world. Quinoa has been back on the scene for a while, but learn about some lesser known grains such as emmer, kamut- and the most ancient of them all- einkorn. Maria's book includes grain dishes for all of your courses- appetizers, meals, and deserts! Listen to this episode, and you will be an ancient grain expert. This episode is sponsored by Cain Vineyard and Winery.

"The key and my passion is to tell people that whole grains can taste really good."

"In average supermarkets, grain selections are becoming bigger and bigger."

"A big trend in baking is that bakers are looking for local grains and freshly-milled flour."

-- Maria Speck on A Taste of the Past


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