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10 Food & Beverage Brands to Support on Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday was created back in 2012 to encourage people from all around the world to do good by giving back in some way. Volunteering in your local soup kitchen or donating a basket of canned goods to the shelter is a great way to give. But, it's important to take giving into consideration all year round. There are many mission-driven brands who make doing good a part of their foundation. Now you've arrived to the VIP (very important point)... your purchases can and do have an effect on the world we live in. You can eat and drink while doing good by purchasing from this curated selection of food and beverage brands, all of which we love. Each of these companies gives back to their communities in a big way so you can feel good about purchasing, consuming, and spread the word about their missions. Brewtality From bold flavors to kickass packaging, this is coffee we never tire of having in our mugs. Heart & Soul, of course, is a perfect fit for giving. The founders at Brewtality make it their mission to support Save The Music, a program that believes in the power of music for students. Shop the brews HERE. Tune into the podcast with Brewtality on Apple Podcasts. Ehlers Estate This Napa Valley vineyard and winery has a notable portfolio of both red and white wines. Jean and Sylviane established the Leducq Foundation to support research around cardiovascular disease and stroke, bringing great wine and a great cause together for the long haul. Find their wines HERE. Endangered Species Chocolate Do you have a soft spot for animals? Endangered Species Chocolate partners with National Forest Foundation and The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund to support wildlife around the globe. Plus, their chocolate is tasty and is beautifully packaged (hello, holidays!). Shop the spirit HERE. High West Distillery This Park City distillery makes American Prairie, a flavorful whiskey that supports the American Prairie Reserve. 10% of after tax profits from each bottle of American Prairie go towards protecting and preserving natural resources across the United States. Shop the spirit HERE. King Arthur Baking Company With all of the bread baking we've been doing, we had to include King Arthur on this list. Their Bake For Good program supports students from grades four through 12 with essential lessons in math, science, and giving. Traditionally the students would donate the bread to support hunger relief programs. Shop their products HERE. Maine Beer Company In tune with the states motto of "The way life should be" Maine Beer Company cares about sustainability and their environmental footprint. In addition to 1% For The Planet, they support several other charities and non-profit programs that are making change across the state. Shop their hops HERE. Proud Pour The team at Proud Pour was one of our first podcast guests so they have a special spot on this list. Not to mention their charitable contributions that 5x the typical give back company. Their wines and cider plant bee habitats, restore oyster beds, feed sea turtles, and grow and plant coral. Shop the wines HERE. Tune into the podcast with Proud Pour on Apple Podcasts. Purple Heart Wines Our grandfather, Thomas Luciano, has a Purple Heart from his time in the US Army so this red wine means something to us (he's one of the bravest men we know!). Purple Heart Wines donates to the Purple Heart Foundation supporting military men, women and families every year. Shop their wine HERE. Vermont Creamery Companies give back in many ways and Vermont Creamery is one of them. This New England company has fantastic cheese and shares an annual mission report highlighting their charitable efforts. From paid volunteer time to product and monetary donations, they make giving a part of their overall strategy. Explore their cheeses HERE. Victory Coffees The Founder of this veteran owned and operated company, Cade, knows how important our soldiers are because he was one. To continue giving back, Cade donates coffee to veterans homes and hospitals and participates in events supporting vets throughout the year. Shop the brews HERE. Tune into the podcast with Victory Coffees on Apple Podcasts. We look forward to another year of giving with charitable brands!

4 Spooky Halloween-Themed Cocktails

Thanks to our friend and podcast guest Julia Halina Hadas, Founder and Mixologist at Witchcraft Cocktails, for creating these for the show. Although the world may be shut down this Halloween, you can still celebrate this spooky holiday with these boo-sy drinks from Julia at Witchcraft Cocktails. This blog coincides with our most recent podcast that featured Julia to discuss these cocktails, some food and candy pairings, and even a live demo from Julia making us one of these delicious cocktails. With ingredients many of us have stocked on our home bars, these cocktails were concocted with the home cocktail-artist in mind. If you find you're missing some ingredients, we recommend stocking up on the essentials as they would make great staples to add to your bar. These will expand the array of cocktails that you have access to you in your own home! If you are looking for more cocktail recipes, Julia’s blog and her book “Witchcraft Cocktails” are a great resource. You can pick up the book HERE. Black Sun a Spicy Margarita with Ghost Tequila The Recipe: 1.5 Oz. of Ghost Tequila 1 Oz. of Lime Juice (Fresh Squeezed is best) .5 Oz. of Agave Syrup 1 Oz. of Blood Orange Juice Black Salt for the rim of the glass Pinch of Cayenne Pepper This one is simple! Combine all of the ingredients in a shaker with some ice, shake, and strain it into a glass. For the rim, cut a notch in a quarter-slice of lime, slide it around the glass until it is coated with lime juice, then dip the glass into a shallow dish filled with the salt. This is optional but will definitely add some Halloween color to your cocktail. We recommend pouring this recipe into a margarita glass, if available. But, you can always enjoy in a traditional highball glass. Candy Pairing: Atomic Fireballs, Starburst, Dark Chocolate with Chili Pepper Witch's Wand an Appletini with a Twist The Recipe: .75 Oz. Bourbon 1 Oz. Sour Apple Schnapps .5 Oz. Lemon Juice .5 Oz. Vanilla Simple Syrup 2 Dashes Walnut Bitters 2-4 Dashes Rosewater (optional) .25 Oz. Elderflower Liqueur You can pull this one together by combining all of your ingredients in a shaker with ice, and strain into a glass. We recommend using a martini glass or coupe glass if you have any on hand. You can also replace the walnut bitters and vanilla syrup with Proof Black Walnut Cocktail Syrup to mix up the flavor. Candy Pairing: Sour Patch Kids, Sour Apple Jolly Ranchers, Caramel/Candy Apples Basic Witch a Pumpkin Spice Martini The Recipe: 2 Oz. Vodka .5 Oz. Amaretto .5 Oz. Proof Pumpkin Spice Syrup .5 Oz. Cinnamon Schnapps .5 Oz. Half and Half Combine all of the ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake, and strain into your glass. We recommend straining into a martini glass or coupe glass. You can use either plain or vanilla vodka to sweeten the flavor in your glass. Candy Pairing: Reese’s Cups, Pumpkin Bread, Pumpkin Pie, Cinnamon Sugar Donut Coffee Ouija an Espresso Martini with some additions The Recipe: 1/8 Oz. Absinthe 2 Oz. Gin 4 Dashes of Walnut Bitters 1 Oz.Coffee Liqueur .5 Oz. of Vanilla Simple Syrup .75 Oz. of Coffee or Espresso This recipe requires a couple of extra steps but is worth the effort. It starts with making some real coffee. Drip or French press are fine but espresso will kick the coffee flavor up a notch. Expect more coffee flavor and less gin if this is the approach you take. Drip coffee will be the most mild and most gin-heavy. Rinse your Martini glass with some absinthe if you have it, this step can be skipped but definitely adds a twist of flavor and a slight green hue to the glass. Add the absinth to your glass and swirl it around, then tilt the glass until the absinthe reaches the rim and spin the glass slowly for a full coat. Once coated, shake the excess out to discard it. Combine the remaining ingredients in a shaker with ice (ice is most important in this cocktail to cool off the hot, fresh coffee). Shake the cocktail and strain it into your absinthe rinsed glass. Top it off with three coffee beans for garnish! Candy Pairing: Heath Bar, Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans, Tootsie Roll, Root Beer Barrels, Nonni’s Biscottis, Kit Kat Some of these cocktails were designed to be compatible with Proof Cocktail Syrups. These syrups are a great way to reduce the total number of ingredients but still achieve a great cocktail. For the walnut in vanilla in these recipes, we highly recommend trying the Black Walnut Proof Cocktail Syrup. If you want to give the podcast a listen, you can find it on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and many other podcast platforms. Alternatively, find the video here on YouTube. Happy Halloween and CHEERS!

Pork Shank | Eataly Challenge

Here's a taste of something you don't see very often and that you can't find just anywhere: Pork Shanks. I must have called five butchers before finally being referred back to a local farm that raises and sells their meat. Pork Shanks are apparently not a hot commodity at our local butcher shops or grocery stores. It's really no surprise though because if you weren't raised eating it why would you think to buy and bake the forearm of a pig? The dish was not difficult to make once you got past the preparation stage. If you are purchasing the shanks from a farm or butcher you might find they still have a few stray hairs and skin that are really quite tough to remove (I made Paul do this part). Once that's done you add the marinade and let is sit overnight. Then all you have to do with the meat portion is add it to the roasting pan and set your sites on potatoes. Another thing I didn't mention was the cavolo nero... and the fact that I was unable find it at the store. Instead of this Tuscan Black Cabbage we went with the easier to come by Green Chard. It cooks about the same and tasted great with a bite of the pork shank, semi-mashed potatoes and sautéed yellow onion. The flavor was very satisfying in the final dish. The meat fell apart easily, the veggies had a great complimentary flavor, and the bottle of Saracosa Toscana made for a wonderful meal. I will say that our dish looks nothing like the immaculate plating we tried to recreate from the book because the shank just wasn't shaped the same! I look forward to making pork shanks again in the traditional Oktoberfest style. You can find this and the other recipes in Eataly: Contemporary Italian Cooking.

Zucchini Soup with Croutons | Eataly Challenge

We had a big lunch and wanted something light for dinner so we picked the Eataly: Contemporary Italian Cooking Zucchini Soup with Croutons. This is going to be a very short blog because it was a very quick recipe! As you may have expected from the title, our primary ingredient here was zucchini. The only other things you needed were onion, olive oil, grated parmesan, fresh thyme, and the bread for croutons. These ingredients are always available at the local grocery store and are very affordable so you can add that check to your list as well. Unlike other soups we made this in a shallow pan, per the recipes instructions. It only had to cook for 20 minutes (about 30 total) which was crazy to me for a soup! You really needed the time to let the zucchini and onion soften in the hot water and it makes it's own broth from the vegetable juices. I definitely felt this could use more flavor so, in retrospect, I'd play around with the spices to give it that flare. Because the soup was so light we made our own garlic bread using cheese bread from Tendercrop Farm. To make this we took bread slices and layered them with a rub from the garlic clove, a sprinkle of shredded parmesan, and butter. The bread alone is mouthwatering so it worked as a fresh garlic bread!

Poached Egg & Pepper Chicken | Eataly Challenge

Poached eggs, red bell pepper, and... CHICKEN? Not a combination I would have thought to put together. I'm used to whisking my eggs up for a cake or cracking them into an omelette not using them poached with chicken. But, I am always up for a challenge and that's the point of us following Eataly: Contemporary Italian Cooking after all. Paul has poached eggs on several occasions so I got the lesson on egg poaching. Now that I am an expert I could maybe recreate this dish without his help. That being said, this recipe had a page full of steps so I'd rather have the extra hand! On top of cooking an entire chicken in the roasting pan and using it for stock and breasts, we had to poach the eggs and make the red pepper sauce. You have to give yourself plenty of time for this recipe because the chicken stock alone takes two hours before you get anywhere near the rest of the recipe. For those of you who work during the day, I'd highly recommend either preparing stock ahead of time or giving yourself at least a half a day to get this recipe where it needs to be for dinner. Once every step of the recipe is complete and you wind up with a plate full of red pepper, you're ready to eat... and only then do you realize the poached egg is too cold. We followed the recipe to a T so I'm not sure why it cooled off so quickly. Though the sauce and chicken was still very tasty, I would have loved for it to be warmer. The salad we paired it with was the Cannellini Bean and Pecorino Cheese Salad with Balsamic Vinegar and I have to say I was not a big fan. The texture was a bit too soft for a salad and the beans didn't come out the way I'd hoped. I loved the idea of combining these ingredients I just didn't love how it turned out having them all together.

Crostini with Sausage | Eataly Challenge

Add this to your next dinner party list because it's crowd-worthy. I love a crostini with any topping but the combination of soft cheese and sausage was way more of a savory bite than one might expect. In fact, it's pretty filling! If I was to go back and make this recipe again I would thin the bread slice and make more crostinis instead of trying to fit everything onto the ones we had. The recipe in Eataly: Contemporary Italian Cooking called for creamy soft cheese so we decided to go with our favorite packaged mozzarella: BELGIOISO. And for sausage we went with New England's own Bianco & Sons Italian Sausage Meat. For those who are unfamiliar they are a company based out of Medford, MA that makes marinated meats and sausages in addition to their retail store menu. What's especially great about this recipe is it's versatility. You can swap out the cheese or the sausage flavor and add some spices to make it a different way every time and it's sure to come out delicious. This is definitely one of those that would be hard to mess up unless you completely overcooked the crostinis (even then I'd probably eat them). As I'm writing this Paul said "oh yeah, I loved those sausage crostinis" and said we should make them again. I'm telling you all these are a must; even more-so when you have them accompanied by a chilled glass of Pinot Grigio. We love the Santa Margherita white wines for summer sips and pairings.

Mezzi Paccheri Pasta | Eataly Challenge

This is a dish worth making if you are a pasta lover like myself (and likely many of the Eataly book owners). Eataly: Contemporary Italian Cooking has sections for both fresh and dried pasta so you can choose based on what's available to you. It also features recipes with a great mix of ingredients so there are dishes for everyone. The artichoke in this recipe was my hurdle... I had no idea what to do with them. My experience with artichokes is buying a can of Pastene artichoke hearts and that's about it. Having to discard the chokes, leaves, and tips was a foreign process. I still don't know if I did it right as the artichoke turned out too firm in the final dish. My favorite part of the Mezzi Paccheri Pasta recipe was, unsurprisingly, the cheese sauce. This delectable sauce is made with whipping cream, fossa cheese, and butter. The cheese was an unusual one that I called our local The Cheese Shop of Salem for. It turns out you can't purchase it many places so they recommended an alternative that was just as delicious when melted down with the other ingredients. I LOVE this pasta for a cream sauce. The large opening in the noodles gets more soaked into each bite and they had such a great appearance on the plate. We actually ended up picking up a few extra bags of the Schiaffoni because we don't see Garofalo often. After a little extra research I found out they have gluten free options as well. The recommended wine pairing was Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi, a white-wine from central Italy. Normally I do follow the rules of food and wine pairing but we were just in the mood for a solid pinot noir and Mark West was it. Next time we make this dish I promise to follow the recommendation and see if it's a better fit!

Hitting High Notes with Smith Devereux Wines

In Episode 3 of The Uncorked Corner Podcast we welcomed co-founder of Smith Devereux Wines, wine director at San Francisco magazine, and musician: Ian Devereux White. During this episode, we discuss what makes Smith Devereux Wines and it’s co-founder strike a chord with their audience. From creative partnerships with artists to the passion to make great wine accessible to everyone, Ian gave us an insider look at Smith Devereux Wines award-winning quality and individuality. Ian embodied the positive spirit and character of the wines they share, spending close to an hour answering all of our questions with enthusiasm. It was one of the most dynamic interviews we've had yet! Their story is an unusual one that peaked both of our interest. As non-professional wine drinkers, it is refreshing to see a modern approach to the wine-making process. Their focus on building authenticity by partnering with carefully selected artists is an effort to admire. It is also something we could all take notes from as we plan our own brand positioning amidst the ever-changing space that is social media. With an affordable range of wines, their Wine Club is worth looking into. Members of the club get discounted pricing, special access to swag and events, and complimentary tastings and vineyard tours when the property is open. Listen to the full podcast:

Osso Buco & Onion Soup | Eataly Challenge

What really got me was the texture of the meat. It was very tough to eat. Paul disagreed on that point but didn't love the flavor. One of his all-time favorite dishes is a traditional Osso Buco so he is a pretty harsh judge. And, like I've told you all before, Paul is quite the home chef himself so I was surprised to hear this. Unfortunately, I make him follow the book when he wants to steer off and into the world of kitchen creativity; it's impressive how he's able to veer off a recipe and make something even better. The soup was easily the most disappointing part of this dish. Should we have made it in the heat? Definitely not. Was it still just not tasty? You bet. There was WAY too much onion in this recipe. We both love french onion soup and extra onion of everything but every bite of this bowl was a mouth full of watery onion. I caution anyone who does not like onions in excess to stay very far away from making this recipe. This bottle of vino was a fair pairing. The Pedra Do Cribo from Albarino between light and medium bottle with with a very dry, acidic mouthfeel. It was easy to drink but, like the dish, the bottle was not on the top of our list. Though I've had many Albarino wines I've liked, I would not reach for this particular bottle again soon.

History & Heritage with Hyde Estate Winery

I was first introduced to Hyde Estate Winery when Paul and I visited Napa Valley last spring. We had stopped into their incredible tasting room where we had the pleasure of meeting Larry Hyde and his trusty sidekick Micha. It was one of the most peaceful and beautiful wineries that we visited during our time there. My co-host had never tried their wines before so when they sent us two bottles of their newer vintages we split them up accordingly. Paul and I had spent prior dinner dates enjoying the 2012 Pinot Noir and Syrah so I chose this podcast to uncork their Merlot and it was absolutely delightful! Nick had very positive things to say about the Pinot Noir and his poke bowl pairing, of which I was very jealous of. Chris Hyde, President & Managing Partner of both Hyde Estate and Hyde Vineyards, walked us through their estate-grown wines and explained the unique make-up of their tasting room. Hyde Vineyards was founded by Chris's father Larry Hyde in 1979 and it has remained within the family since. If you ever have the chance to spend a day in the heart of Carneros, Hyde Estate Vineyards should be one of the first on your list. And, if you are unable to visit any time soon but want a taste of their incredible wines, you can can join their Wine Club for access to new releases, discounts, and ongoing shipments. Listen to the full podcast:

Sirloin Steak with Herbs | Eataly Challenge

I'd label this recipe as... not my favorite. WOMP! I know that was not a great start to this recipe from Eataly: Contemporary Italian Cooking but I, and Paul, are honest about the foods we try and the recipes we take on. Despite our following the directions, this dish just didn't come out the way it was supposed to. First, we couldn't find the right onions. These ones did just fine but they were white; not red or purple. They still came out juicy but didn't have as much of a flavor burst as expected. Then the steak (which looks incredible in our original photo) was too thick to cook the way we wanted to. And, I do have to admit, I am NOT a fan of fatty steaks or steaks with any sort of chewiness to them. These cuts definitely had some of that so be conscious of what you're buying when you're at the market. The steak itself had a decent flavor but the potato did not. The consistency was too thin and didn't have your desired 'potato fluff' like a mashed. It does look it in this photo but we piled it pretty high to make it appear this way. The wine definitely brought my feelings about the steak up as it was a truly tasty vintage. A bordeaux was a smart pairing for the mix of sirloin, onion, and spice in the dish. Unlike the Fillet of Beef with Pistachios I could probably go without making this dish again. It just didn't have enough complex/vibrant flavors for us. Given we are not professional chefs, it could be that we just made something wrong. But, we wanted to try these as home cooks and this was our experience... I'd give it a 6 out of 10. Shop for more specialty wines on Vinovations!

Keeping the Spirit at Nashoba Valley Winery

ANNOUNCEMENT: The Uncorked Corner podcast is now LIVE everywhere you listen to podcasts. Listen to our first episode HERE. Justin Pelletier, COO of Nashoba Valley Winery, joined us for a second interview to cover their line of Nashoba Valley Spirits which they have been crafting and perfecting since back in 2004. Having undergone major renovations in the past few years, the distillery will be a destination of it's own for guests. As our guest Justin explains in this episode, their distillery is at the forefront of innovation here in New England. In fact, Nashoba Valley Sprits received the very first farmer-distiller license in the state of Massachusetts. And, during the pandemic, they stepped it up by partnering with local breweries on the creation of hand sanitizer to benefit frontline workers and members of their community. Whether you prefer beer, wine, or whiskey, this is a prime location for friends and families who just can't agree on booze because they have everything! We picked up samples of their Northern Comfort and Stimulus Whiskey to try during the podcast and we were not disappointed. The Nashoba Valley Spirits lines also include brandy, vodka, gin, and mixed cocktails from one of their very creative team members. We had a great conversation with Justin who is passionate about making their spirits stand out and introducing Nashoba Valley Spirits to a wider audience. If you are located in New England, this distillery is worth the day trip! Listen to the full podcast:

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