THE EPICUREAN FORAGER – FOOD AND SPIRITS-HALLOWED WATERS JOURNAL
Story and Images by Matthew Supinski
My pasta love affair took hold at a young age and just continues to blossom. An obsession and passion almost as severe as the one I have for trout, steelhead and Atlantic salmon. Luckily for parentally bestowed genetics and my ectomorphic physique and athleticism, my waistline doesn’t blossom with my carbohydrate craze. The desire to be a student of the art of the noodle went to full blown compulsion during my gallivanting cooking apprenticeships traveling around Europe in my early 20’s as a young “giovanotto”. While in Italy my desire to master that durum semolina golden gift that the Roman Gods bestowed on us mere mortals became something that no culinary school could foster.
My amore with Italy and the Italians started in my youth growing up in an upstate New York Italian neighborhood. Here the pasta decadence of Fellini’s Roman orgies were akin to me eating plates piled high with rigatoni and ravioli, slopped away with garlic bread and root beer, and dished out by chubby Italian immigrant ladies always wearing black like a casting call for “The Godfather”. It was at the iconic local Sicilian ristorante buffet called the Como, where men in black Mafia types played bocce ball in the fake grass between the concrete alleys and sold bookie tickets on horse races and any sport they could. Picture James Gandolfini’s neighborhood in the “Sopranos” and you get the picture- everyone looked the same except for a skinny, white as a ghost blonde Polish kid – your humble author.
Furthermore my lust for the tomato sauce and cheese dope was fueled by scarfing down day old pizza slices for 5 cents at the corner pizzeria. They seemed to taste better leftover from the previous night, as the party animals nursing hangovers well know of this epicurean deliciousness of the previous night’s delivery pizza left in the box on the coffee table with ashtrays and beer bottles. Our delicacy was a lunch break culinary escape down the street from the horrid nun penguins at the Catholic elementary school prison to scarf on the cheese pizzas left out from the night before by the pizza maker Vincenzo. He spoke very broken English and wore a white tank top t-shirt with a hole in it and sauce stains. Vinny always had a cigar butt in his mouth and had an Italian radio station from across the lake in Toronto blaring Mario Lanza over the huge fans that cooled his pizza shop sauna inferno. Today the pizza and pasta obsession has come full circle and still is evolving, now that Laurie and I have our own hearthstone pizza oven- all like my obsession for collecting fly rods and reels .
Out of all my travels my favorite time was spent in Roma, the heart and soul of Italia. Here no matter where you walked you smelled the intoxicating aromas of marinara and ragù sauces, garlic, hearthstone brick pizza ovens and wild game and meats roasting. Soppressata salamis and Parma hams hung from every gastronomia deli window. Outdoor markets of fresh fish, seafood of all varieties, and the insane colorful cornucopias of heirloom vegetable displays added to the bombardment of the senses. It was those travels and tutelage that molded my hotel restaurant career which started in the Big Apple, then on to Washington D.C. and all over North America. Out of all the culinary countries the Italians had an almost supernatural possession and influence on your soul. One need only watch Stanley Tucci’s “Searching for Italy” to know the complexities of this amazing country and its passionate people. And nothing was more sacred and creative than the erotica of making pasta dishes.
Roma beckoned me by default to explore its inevitable charm. Since my late sister Christine taught psychology at Loyola University in Rome- her husband an architect at the American Embassy on Via Veneto, a standing invitation of comfort and security was close by. Back in the early 80’s thieves, kidnappers and all kinds of Cosa Nostra crime ran rampant in southern Italy. Thus I had a roof over my head any time I needed it and home cooked pasta and other delights like Osso Buco in my belly whenever my “on-the cheap” culinary travels wore me out and broke , thus needing a respite and repair. Sleeping on a Eurail trains, scarfing on würstel on a bun with delicious mustards, and way too much Gösser beer at Austrian train stations were my staple diet on the road. I practically lived on herring over pumpernickel- Euro fast food for weeks in Scandinavia. All this eventually hit a bump-in-the-road low fiber diet crash . Beer, delicious breads and rich butter cream decadent European desserts; along with high fat content meats, started to put on the pounds. Top that off with the Polish Kielbasa and pierogi when visiting my motherland to the north, just added more insult to injury. But thank God for cigarettes’, which all the Europeans smoked and handed out freely to keep off the pounds- amongst other things they smoked freely in public. All this unhealthiness and imbalance was before adding in the rich pasta dishes celebrated sometimes twice a day, but always at least once daily.
Yet my true American vagabond hobo lifestyle, which seems exciting at first when you experience “country du jour” by the quick hopping on a train with backpack via the unlimited travel of the Eurail, I still yearned for the sweet smell of domicile stability, comfort home cooking and my need to refuel. Embarrassingly that yearning caused me to come begging at my sister’s Borghese Gardens Villa like a dog pawing at the door to get out of the rain. Older sisters were great to have since they had a maternal instinct and always felt sorry for their younger prodigal son type brothers. However she loved to scold and preach to me about my rogue and gigolo lifestyle, which happened to be the gig back in the early disco 80’s – especially for young Americans in Europe traveling through the cities of the Gods. Hence we all remember the tune David Bowie once sang, “she wants the young American”. Cruising “La Dolce Vita” was the best way to describe my Euro trash exploits.
But a traveling intern’s life was rough and not all glitz. You would work the worst jobs in restaurants for cash under the table and all the food you could scarf out of the bus table bins destined for the trash. Often the work had gotten scarce especially after all the tourists left- thus thank God for the Eurail pass my parents bought me, which I used as my home at night sleeping on trains. There were no cell phones to text momma and daddy to let them know how junior was doing like college kids do today on What’s App and FB. Staying in touch to let them know you were still alive was only by the occasional postcards and Western Unions when you were really in trouble and downright destitute. Like the time I got thrown in a jail cell by the Communistic Czech border guards on the Chopin Express train which went through the Alps from Rome to Poland. On a train inspection checking for transit visas, which had to be purchased on each venture into the Soviet Bloc, they saw I was reading a Penthouse magazine, that true bastion of literature from my frat house days which I bought in Vienna (btw- they had very good writers and articles in those magazines in case you didnt know!- which is why I read them of course) When the guards armed with AK’s asked to see my magazine (porn was contraband material in the Soviet Bloc nations), I told the guy to F-off and get your own magazine, naively not realizing they understood the F bomb. That was a big mistake as I was viewed in their eyes as a capitalistic pig and young cocky American that had no business being in a Soviet Bloc Country. A few minutes later I was thrown in a jail cell at the train station for insubordination and possessing contraband materials, as the guards then took turn relishing and turning each page of the magazine, giggling like school boys as I watched from the cell. Thank God I still had a few American Dollars and gave them the last of my Marlboros and a pair of jeans, or I would be still rotting away in that Czech hell-hole, tourist trap. Coincidently I never liked the Czechs much since that experience-sorry Bohemians! I was thus soon back on the Chopin Express heading south eating a plastic bowl of pasta – life was good.
The passion for pasta by Italians is indescribable. They ate it for lunch and dinner as primi piatti. It was an insatiable dope that they couldn’t get enough of. Many Italian men had girlfriends in Poland. The love for cute Polish blonde girls that knew how to cook was akin to the worship of the Pope and genetically instilled by the Roman goddess of food and feasting: Edesia. In Italy, where there are more blondes than in Sweden, hair coloring products were literally on every commercial on Italian TV. Even as a boy growing up in an Italian section of Niagara Falls, the older brothers of my boyhood pals couldn’t wait for my Polish teenaged girl cousins we would sponsor to come and visit us, since we would get them jobs as nannies and maids to make American dollars to take back to Poland. Mario, Jimmy, Tony, Frankie were all hanging around our place on a daily basis trying to get in good with my mom to court the blonde Polish cousin harem. They bore gifts from their mammas of manicotti, cannelloni and tiramisu coming in like fruit baskets leaving Harry and David’s on UPS trucks.
The “spaghetti express” , which my cousin and I named the Chopin Express train, either had Italians on their way to visit their blonde Polish mistresses and girlfriends; or ones going back to Italy from their amore filled sojourns’. The train made a killing on selling paper bowls of spaghetti in garlic/wine/fresh herbs, with a dollop of rich Marinara, topped with grated parmesan. The train stunk like the old Spaghetti Factory I worked at in college- coincidently that restaurant had an antique train dining car in the center of the restaurant, which was an old abandoned warehouse. The price they charged for the pasta on the Express was insane, yet every Italian had a bowl and fork/spoon in their mouths- dont forget the spoon! Seeing non-Italians eating pasta today without the spoon is downright dishonorable to the noodle. A successful love making visit and a bowl of pasta on the return was pure panacea for a noble Roman male of centurion lineage .
Since you worked 7 days a week, your days off were the after work hours. Healing was in the form of those many nights of Scheherazade of long party gigs at discos. Killing the day before you went in for afternoon /evening diner service would often see us on Mediterranean beaches from Portugal to the Amalfi coast trying to get the attention of cute, sunning Euro girls as us dudes tried to show off our barefoot soccer skills in the sand, plus flaunt our abs and guns! (Editor’s Note: Please excuse the machismo here in this family column, but “scusi” we are in Italy! – everything from food, to cars, to clothes is sexy and macho there)
My true culinary appreciation and passion was cultivated at a good Italian cucina eatery -the cute little Al Picchio Ristorante near the Trevi Fountain. It was a tiny grotto style place built near Roman times -very charming. Everything about Italy is structured in the old Roman class system. All eateries are either finely or loosely defined as ristorante/osteria/trattoria etc.- and to be honest you couldn’t really tell one from the other. It all depended on the ego of the owner and there were egos – a- plenty in the Italian kitchens. I was just the Americano “ragazzo” kid, and I was trampled over by the egos in the kitchen not to mention dodging pots, pans and knives being tossed around like dead chickens when the chef was having a bad day. That usually happened when the Chef’s wife would storm into the kitchen when she found out the chef was having an affair with a cute waitress. But no matter where I worked in the old or new world Italian kitchens, they always gave me the shittiest jobs like cleaning fish and animal intestines, cleaning up kitchen floors/ovens, washing dishes and unclogging kitchen drains in the old Roman aqueduct plumbing systems from hell. Real glamour shit-stuff that Chef Ramsay and his “Kitchen Nightmares” would have been proud of. But just occasionally the Italian kitchen deity would let me make and cook the pasta al dente- another artform unto itself. To this day I make love to it while cooking and making it with my hands, even if I’m just cooking a box of dried Barilla.
Italy is like the U.S. in that there is a distinct class/culture boundary between the north and the south. In the north the Italians are basically Swiss and Germans in mentality and appearance. Everyone is blonde, handsome and well dressed in Armani, Zegna and Versace. Their food is very Alpine in style with lots of white mushroom/truffle cream sauces, rabbit, duck, veal, wild game casseroles, ragus and hearty northern eats. As soon as you get closer to Umbria and things north of Rome things start to get Napolitano and Roman – southern, lower-class as some up north might say. The red sauces replace the white sauces of the Germans to the north, pasta is God, and people in both parts still drive like maniacs. Their cavalcade is the great Italian automobiles like Ferrari , Lamborghini and so many others that are still made by hand as much as possible as assembly lines are still disdained. The hand made artisan is still god in Italy and the spirit of Da Vinci lives everywhere.
But from Rome down to Sicily the Italians are basically southern “classe inferior” They are friendly and happy- go- lucky, unlike the stiff and reserved blonde Germans up north – I liked the southern Italians better! I finally got my first taste of Roma “sugo di bianca”white sauce, when I was on my first date in Rome. I met this cute Italian young lady who came for cappuccino to my barista cafe that spoke English very well. She did a year in college studying in England and had a good command of the language – I practiced my Italian and she her English. I had my new olive (the hip cool Italian color then) Corduroy Zegna jacket for young men/l’uomo . It was the cheap young male line, not the prestigious haute couture one. There we were, strolling down by Saint Peter’s square…me the l’uomo practicing my Italian as she tutored me on our way to a cute little trattoria that made a killer Linguine in a Chanterelle Funghi and Pancetta Parmesan Cream sauce- sinfully decadent. When low and behold I felt and heard a big splat on my new haircut. Yup! -a pigeon shit all over my head! If any of you have ever been to St. Pietro’s place, it is a pigeon fest shit show! To say I was embarrassed was an understatement. To say my date was laughing uncontrollably was a correct deduction. To this day I still have a slight aversion to pigeons and anything avian flying -I feel for poor Tippi Hedren in Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds”.
The Pasta Dishes
Nevertheless I got over my phobia of white sauces that fall from the sky by the sheer deliciousness of the creamy pasta dishes. Enjoying simplicity in garlic/herb/wine/Evo sauce pastas, and also fusing the cream, tomatoes, pesto and red pepper Fra Diavalo based sauces are still my culinary loves to this day. Be creative and experiment with ingredients. It is there you will find joy an glory in your noodle sensei journey.
PENNE PASTA CARBONARA WITH SCOTTISH STYLE SMOKED SALMON
The combination of flavors here is simply perfection if you are a pasta and seafood lover like I am. Wolfgang Puck made the pasta and smoked salmon dishes popular at his Spago. Adding either scallops, shrimp, crab and smoked salmon are made for the smokiness of pancetta bacon as you can top this pasta dish with either or – or all three if you want the ultra Italian ” Frutti di mare” decadence.
In my ” Brown Trout- Atlantic Salmon Nexus ” book, I detail the appreciation for Atlantic salmon as civilization’s founding fish through the ascent of man dating back to the Neanderthals. By 70 A.D. the Roman Legions under Julius Caesar reached the northern part of Britannia as far as Scotland. The local Caledonians there cured and smoked their salmon to preserve this delicacy all winter. And in 50 B.C., the Roman conquest of Gaulish Aquitania ( now Gascony, France) found the locals absolutely worshiping Atlantic salmon- they called them Salmo. Thus the Romans and Pliny named them “salar” the leaper. The Roman’s fascination for this fish extended to the culinary world. When Roman Legions returned to Italy, the salt and smoked pelts of salmon traded equally with gold on open markets. Only the finest stores in Italy carry it and it is truly the “delizioso” delight of the Roman Gods and wealthy.
Adding the smokiness of the Porcini mushrooms just adds to the seafood. You could also add peas as any Italian ristorante use. By far the finest “Scottish-style smoked salmon” I have ever had ironically is from California and the Santa Barbara Smokehouse. Its“Balmoral” brand is simply amazing! This is serious pelt hanging, open kiln oven Scottish style smoked salmon house here, and the Balmoral eats like delicate candy- I simply can’t get enough of it. Save some for Lox and Bagels with dill the next morning!
1 lb fresh made or dried penne pasta, 10 oz of Pancetta and combination Applewood smoked bacon, 4-5 cloves of garlic, 8-10 ounces porcini mushrooms, 4 cups heavy cream, 4 egg yokes, 3 cups grated Italian cheese, if desired-2 cups frozen peas, fresh cracked black pepper. As for the smoked salmon , shrimp, crab, scallops, choose as much as you think appropriate when blending the above or singularly serving one ingredient like just smoked salmon
Directions: With pot of sea salted water, bring fresh penne pasta to a 3-5 minute boil until they float- dried penne about 9-10 minutes- taste for al dente. Next: Add the bacon and pancetta ( pancetta last since it is air dried and ready to eat so just a little browning- or if desired straight cured flavor add to bacon once bacon is cooked) to a skillet and sauté over medium heat until crisp -Transfer to a holding dish with slotted spoon.
Next: Sauté mushrooms and garlic in pan using the leftover bacon /pancetta grease Add the heavy cream to that skillet and simmer reduce to desired creaminess, more reduction adds more concentrated flavor – Next whisk in the egg yolks and grated Italian cheeses ( mixes can usually be bought in packets). Add peas and let sit as they should already be defrosted. Flavor with ample crushed black pepper/seas salt. Add the cooked pasta and fold and toss it in to evenly coat all the noodles. Add the fresh parsley. You can also top with dried or fresh basil.
Finally, shrimp and scallops should be pan seared in olive oil and butter, 2 minutes or less on each side on very hot iron skillet- dont over cook!, seasoned with Paprika , sea salt and pepper. Add julienne slices of smoked salmon on top, or florets nicely garnished. Crab meat bought already pasteurized in a can or jar can be sprinkled on top and is ready to eat. If crab meat is raw and not cooked, 5-8 minutes to boil.
HARD TIMES LINGUINE WITH CLAMS
This classic dish is best when you have fresh clams from the North Atlantic coast, like cherrystones, to give you the real taste and feel of the broth and deliciousness of this prized mollusk. But living in the Midwest fresh clams are next to impossible to get super fresh like you would off of Cape Cod or Long Island. So my “Hard Times” was inspired during the Covid lockdowns/provisions and it is a super delicious white pasta dish you could make from your local lower tier corner grocery store.
Ingredients: (image shows all ingredients)
1 lb. pasta linguine. Pasta is preferred fresh made or store bought in birds nest rolls. As for dried and boxed, Barilla is my favorite.
½ bottle buttery Chardonnay. Try using the really buttery/oaky ones that are high quality but not super expensive.
3 large cloves garlic
½ stick of unsalted butter
1 bulb of chopped shallots
4-6 cans of chopped clams. Snow’s or Bumble Bee ( fresh clams and clam broth optional if you are gifted to have them)
4 tablespoons of dried oregano and thyme, or fresh chopped 1/2 pack of oregano and thyme
good amount of cracked pepper to taste
1 bunch of fresh Italian parsley
1 cup of shaved Parmesan
* ( in Italy it is forbidden to add cheese, but I like mine “Americano” and add lots of Parmesan please !
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
In a large deep dish sauté pan add chopped garlic, shallots, thyme, and oregano with Clams. Empty the chopped clams and juices into it as well. Pour in a cup of Chardonnay, add some fresh parsley – start the first steaming reduction.
Once the juices start to reduce, add another cup of wine reduction to even give it more flavor and further steam reduction – super wine flavor is delish!…then add a half stick of unsalted butter in the final reduction at the end.
Add pasta to the sauce adding more butter to your preference and taste. Now is time for more parsley and oregano to taste, lots of cracked pepper to taste, stir pasta and sauce with tongs gently so as not to crack noodles. Add Parmesan cheese if you desire ( Again: if you have fresh clams you are lucky and use them on top or in the pasta removed from shell along with adding the clam broth into the reduction sauce)
Pappardelle Ala Vodka Sauce and Scallops
Here is perhaps the richest tasting sauce that truly brings out the vibrancy of the tomato with a creamy cheesy taste. Here is the very simple version you can make in 30 minutes if you are not a big chopper of tomatoes, since tomato paste equally does the job of the rich tomato flavor and is delish and to die for! It has that comfort ” Chef Boyardee” smooth, rich, cheesy tomato taste we fell in love with as kids. But here the rich enhancement of concentrated tomato paste and Vodka, red wine, cream, fresh herbs and garlic/shallots takes it to new heights.
Ingredients: Fresh Oregano, Basil Italian Parsley…shallots and garlic, red wine, 1 small can tomato paste ( Trader Joe’s brand or any paste made with San Marzano tomatoes – Contadina or Hunts is fine, Half Pint Heavy Cream, Vodka -2 shots ( I prefer Belvedere 176 -Rye Vodka- very rich flavor) Grated Reggiano Parmesan, Culinary Tours Pappardelle ( or better yet your own homemade pasta) Fresh or Frozen Sea Scallops ( Sam’s Club has been carrying an amazing wild caught sea scallop brand)
In a large deep sauté/ skillet: On top of a little bit of virgin olive oil in center of pan, add chopped shallots ( small bulb) chopped garlic ( 2 medium sized cloves) 1/2 cup of good red wine, chopped oregano, chopped basil and Italian parsley. Reduce the wine and ingredients.
Next add the can of Tomato Paste- put in dollops of paste around pan and work the paste into the wine reduction while you add the half pint of heavy cream ( or 3/4 of a half pint if you want less creaminess)- and also add the 2 shots of vodka- stir all the ingredients well over low heat as the cream reduces, here the vodka enhances the flavor of the tomatoes and cream
Finally fold in the Reggiano Parmesan – as cheesy as you want to your taste –Sprinkle with cracked black pepper and add more chopped basil and parsley
In another pot boil in sea salted water the Culinary Tours Pappardelle pasta for about 10 minutes- drain and add to sauce immediately as you work the sauce into the noodles
Sea Scallops- Sauté in Olive oil and quarter stick of butter, season with Paprika and cracked pepper
Serve with the Toso Wine featured below
TROUT FISHING IN ITALY
If you go to Italy, whether for a family vacation, honeymoon or special event or business travel, make sure you pack your fly rods! Italy has some amazing trout streams from the northern Alpine region through Tuscany and Umbria in the middle south. The Apennine mountain range has a distinct northern, middle and southern range that nestles stunning rivers and streams in its valleys and gently rolling hillside. This is stunning pastoral land as sheep and cattle graze through vineyards and farms. It is here that one of the most beautiful brown trout strains in the world exists with a red spotting bold color arrangement like I have never witnessed. Their red spotting is striking and bold in the Salmo macrostigma and Salmo ghigii strains, which extend all the way to Sicily, Corsica and Sardinia, also including the Adriatic range.
The north is true Alpine/Rocky Mountain type freestone water with stunning vistas. Here you can ski and trout fish on the same day in the rivers near Torino and Milan. The Alto Chiese and Alto Sarca are where the World Fly Fishing Championships were held and have grayling, browns, bookies and marble trout on occasion. This stonefly and caddis water with few Danica and Stenonema hatches coming off. Brescia is one of the hubs with amazing streams and aqua blue lakes like Como and Trentino having wild browns and stocked and wild rainbows. The rivers there like the Ogliolo, Val Brandet and Campovecchio are stunning cascading rivers with trophy trout areas. Stonefly hatches are strong here along with the larger mayflies.
Further towards the middle of the country is the spring creek/chalk stream country of Umbria and Tuscany freestone gems. The tailwater Tevera has a trophy trout section and very cold water. In Umbria wine country I had the pleasure of fishing the Nera limestone spring creek waters. It has had fly fishing water since the end of world war two in 1944 that catered to Allied officers when they pushed the Germans out of the country. It is teeming with wild browns of the most spectacular red coloration and marbling I’ve ever witnessed. You can find fly fishing all the way to Sicily and beyond in this truly amazing country. Everyone must visit Italy in their lifetime!
SPIRITS OF THE ATLANTIC SALMON, TROUT AND STEELHEAD WORLD
When you go fly fishing we all love to carry along special spirits (for those of us who like and can have a wee dram of the spirits wine or beer). We have all bought bottles that have cool labels on them, maybe a fly or a fish on them etc…. and all fly fishers love the sentimental spirits that worship their passion.
Here are some super fine spirits that are from the magnificent Atlantic salmon, Trout and Steelhead country that are a must-have to sample for the true connoisseur experience.
MACALLAN’S FINAL EDITION NO_6- RIVER SPEY-SCOTLAND
I recall the time I spent in the hotel industry as a corporate food and beverage director and touring famous distilleries, breweries and vineyards. I had won a trip to Scotland courtesy of Macallan Scotch and stayed at their estate on the River Spey. I got to fish one of the beats one day with a ghillie in the traditional kilt and Wellington boots .- what an experience! Though this was in the 90’s and a salmon was hard to come by, we of course didn’t get even a tug. So we drank some amazing vintage/reserve whiskey my friend!
All of the five distinct casks types used to create Edition No. 6 have been hand-picked by The Macallan Whisky Maker Steven Bremner. He drew inspiration from unique stories related to the river and surrounding landscape. The American and European oak casks have been selected to create a flavor profile that will deliver a multifaceted experience; from the appealing rich brass natural color, to the layers of aroma, followed by the deep and rewarding flavor.
The legendary River Spey flows through the Estate and is globally renowned as a home to the mighty Atlantic salmon. The Macallan Ghillie is a custodian of the River Spey and advocates for sustaining the wildlife in and around it. On their one-and-three-quarter mile stretch of river, a fortunate few can test their skills in the hope of catching – and releasing – wild Atlantic salmon using Hardy’s incomparable tackle.
Wild Atlantic salmon are at risk of becoming an endangered species. Therefore The Macallan are working with the Atlantic Salmon Trust to help raise awareness of this, and to support vital conservation work on the River Spey and beyond.
“Whereas most of the Macallan’s are very sherry cask oriented and deep sherry in color this is a lighter, almost Dalwhinie in color antique/brass bed color. Lots of vanilla and toffee/caramel flavor in this one with rich herbaceous and citric fruity/apricot flavors with a tint of the orient and ginger and nutmeg. Creamy finish with chocolate/ light oaky/oatmeal like aroma overtones.” Editor’s notes
REYKA VODKA – ICELAND
Every time I go to Reykjavik to fish the hallowed Icelandic waters of Salmo salar and trutta I stock up at the duty free on my favorite luxury vodka ever! Though being Polish I’m sure many of my countrymen are saying that man has sold his soul since the Poles invented the “clear water” spirit, there are many very fine Polish vodkas for sure, but there is something special about this one.
If you have ever been to Iceland you are surrounded by the cleanest purest water in the world. Their supply is from glaciers and springs and is filtered through giant volcanic rock charcoal style which surrounds everything in this island country to trap even the tiniest impurities. To say this vodka is super smooth is an understatement.
TASTING NOTES: “Super clean and I smell the crispness of those glacial waters and volcanic rock springs…has a lemon/ citric nose with a dash of lavender/rose scent, lots of our grain/peppery taste, can’t emphasize the purity of this one – one ice is simply an Arctic paradise!” Editor
TOSO ESTATE – MALBEC-MENDOZA ARGENTINA
When you travel to Argentina for the amazing trout fishing and Sea-run browns of Tierra del Fuego, at least now we can dream about them as we sit back and enjoy this extremely affordable and delightful Malbec from the Mendoza wine district of Argentina. A massive amount of Italians settled Argentina and their wine making skills came with them.
TASTING NOTES: “Full oak body with apple/pear/quince fruity overtones garnished with a smooth vanilla, and loaded with blackberry and licorice body in the elegant oaky finish” Editor.
MAD RIVER STEELHEAD STOUT – CALIFORNIA
This absolutely stunning canyon lined river and brewery/tap room near the iconic steelhead river of Humboldt County produces several steelhead ales and stouts and this is the perfect beer for winter steelheading.
TASTING NOTES: “Initial sweetness, followed quickly by sharp roast and chocolate flavors that emerge nicely as it warms. Moderate hops bitterness and moderate astringency in the finish. Hops bitterness is mild with hints of citrus but carries through in the finish with a slight sweetness.” Editor