Um, I’ll Have Vanilla, Thanks

Portland-based Salt & Straw Ice Cream Shop (with 27 locations in the US) has begun selling Fried Chicken Ice Cream according to a report by NPR. Combine it with a scoop of Salt & Straw’s Deviled Egg Ice Cream, and you’ve got yourself a cold summer picnic on a waffle cone. (This is a definite candidate for the American College of Cardiology’s “Don’t” list.)


Oyster Infused Vodka?

Oh, yes! As reported in Food & Wine magazine, a distillery in Rhode Island is now making oyster vodka—the first in the world. Named Ostreida, the spirit is made by distilling local oysters along with a neutral corn-based spirit. Manya Rubinstein, the distillery’s co-founder and CEO, states that the spirit, “reads like a dirty martini.” The idea of pairing something sealike with vodka is, of course, not new. As a pairing, vodka and caviar pairing go back thousands of years.


Is someone kidding? Vodka as a skin toner?

Recent claims maintain that vodka could be good for one’s complexion, thanks to its toning qualities. It’s true, that many skincare products contain alcohol, but there’s a huge difference between the type of alcohol you drink and the type you put on your skin.  Skincare products have very low levels of denatured alcohol. Denatured alcohol is not for drinking; in fact, it can be poisonous. But it won’t dry out your skin. Straight vodka will. Better to save your face by saving that vodka for a martini glass.


In the Name of Bubbles


According to Meininger’s Wine Business International, Russian President Vladimir Putin is now requiring Russian- made sparkling wines to carry the name “Champagne.” Wines actually imported from the Champagne region of France with the name Champagne on the label will no longer be allowed to be sold in Russia.


Love Makes People Do Strange Things

The Kraft Company is giving away 1,000 boxes of pink Candy Kraft Mac & Cheese for Valentine’s Day, in order “To show you how much we love you,” according to their website. All one need do for a chance to “Feel the Love” is submit a contest entry form on the Kraft website by February 8.  Winners will receive a box of the classic macaroni and cheese along with a candy flavor packet that turns the pasta pink and adds a “hint of sweetness.” Speaking personally, the only thing pink I want to enjoy on Valentine’s Day is Rosé Champagne.


Doing His Level Best

From Garçon Wines, an online wine club in the U.K., comes a new wine bottle that not only fits through a standard U.K. mailbox slot, it won’t shatter when it lands.  Made from 100% recycled PET plastic, the 750ml bottle weighs 2 ounces (63 grams), ⁠is environmentally friendly, and FLAT! Garçon CEO Santiago Navarro created the bottle (or, as we call it, the flottle) in a bid to engage more young consumers. Flottles are more space efficient than round bottles because they can be stacked, fitting more wine in shipping containers and on retail shelves. A hit in the Netherlands and Sweden as well as the U.K., the flat bottles may soon arrive in the U.S. Since last April, Garçon has been in talks with West Coast wine producers to use the new packaging.



Johnny McFadden, the landlord of the Star Inn in St Just, Cornwall, England, has installed an electric fence at the bar to help people adhere to social distancing: “Before the fence, people were doing as they pleased.” McFadden claims the fence is usually switched off but could be turned on as and when it was needed.


How’s Your French?

Here are some tips on pronouncing some (often mispronounced) Champagne brand names.

Moët et Chandon—Mo-ETTE ay Shan-DON. The “t” in Moët is indeed pronounced.

Pol Roger—Paul Roe-ZHAY. Winston Churchill reportedly drank a glass of this every morning.

Nicolas Feuillatte—NEE-co-la FOY-yat. Easy to say and easy to drink.

Taittinger—TET-taun-zhay. Although the British fondly pronounce it TAT-in-jer.

Mumm—MOOM. Not your mum; more like the sound a cow makes.

Pierre Gimonnet—Pee-AIR ZHEE-mon-ay. Known for their lacy fresh blanc de blancs. 

Perrier-Jouët—Pear-ee-AY zhoo-ETTE. Like Moët, the “t” is pronounced.

Billecart Salmon—BEE-ya-car Sal-MON. No “t” sound. Their rosé is especially well-known.

Marc Hébrart—Mark Hey-BRA. One of our favorite Grower Champagne wines for their consistently delicious wines.

Ruinart—Rue-NAR. Often mistakenly pronounced RUE-in-art.

Heidsieck—ED-seek. This French brand, whose name is German in origin, is not pronounced the German way.

Collet—COH-lay. No “t” sound we’re afraid.

Veuve Clicquot – Vuhv klee-KOH. Not pronounced “voov,” the word means “widow” in French.


Fake It ‘Till You Make It

As restaurants slowly reopen, owners are attempting to balance safety guidelines with hospitality, in a half-empty dining room. There are plans for masked servers, disposable menus, and transparent partitions made from shower curtains. But several enterprises have found an ingenious way to fill every seat while still meeting social-distancing requirements. The Inn at Little Washington, the D.C. area’s only restaurant with three Michelin stars, is placing 1940s-costumed mannequins at tables throughout the dining room. Chef Patrick O’Connell, a James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award Winner said, “We’re all craving to gather and see other people. They don’t all necessarily need to be real people.” And in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, neighborhood bistros and boutiques have teamed up to showcase and promote the talents of local brands and fashion designers, by dressing mannequins to sit at the outdoor tables that would otherwise remain empty (think: tank tops at the ten-top). Disturbing or inspired?


Laughably Litigious

We were heartened to hear that JaM Cellars invented butter. The first (and only) time we had one of their chardonnays, we said to ourselves, “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!”  But it WAS butter. And we have JaM Cellars to thank. What brilliance! What insight! The wine world should genuflect.  If it were not for JaM Cellars, we’d be sensorially deprived–driven to wander, butterless, in a linguistic wine desert. Butter, alas, was only the beginning. JaM has also given us jam. And god knows we need jam in our lives, especially right now. So, dear wine friends, a toast (with butter and jam) to JaM Cellars.

Napa-based JaM Cellars, maker of the wine brand Butter Chardonnay, has sued 6 wine producers for trademark infringement based on their use of the word “butter” to describe chardonnay. Just recently, they also sued Franzia for its use of “jammy.”


“Waiter, There’s a Person in My Soup!”

Billing itself as a “spa theme park,” the Yunessun Resort in Japan’s Hakone prefecture—an hour and a half bullet train ride from Tokyo—offers bathers the option of soaking in a pool filled with red wine.  Several times each day, the bath is replenished by a stream of red wine from a giant wine bottle suspended over the pool. Traditional bathhouses and hot springs (known as “onsen” in Japanese), are a centuries-old tradition in Japan, but the offerings at Yunessun are decidedly, gastronomically, modern. Additional bath choices include a Sake Spa, Coffee Spa, Green Tea Spa and a pepper-water filled Ramen Noodle Spa. More than just colored water, these baths are filled with the actual beverage or soup.


Nose Job

The Portuguese company Amorim—the leading supplier of cork stoppers in the world—has just come up with what we hesitate to call an innovation: scratch and sniff closures (yeah, no kidding). Part of the company’s new “Top Series,” the scratch/sniffer is supposed to expand consumers’ sensory experiences.  The top of the closure is coated with a special varnish impregnated with micro capsules of a fragrance that is released when the surface is scratched.  A transparent film laid over the top prevents the surface from being scratched accidentally.  Ah, can we just smell the wine, please?