Mulled Wine and Food Culture

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Recently TJ posted A Recipe for Kale Chips on Bricolage, kicking off another layer of food culture here at Beams. The context for this push towards a post-postmodern food culture has been nicely articulated by Andrew Baxter in an underrated Beams article called The Case for Food. One of the points that food writers and activists such as Michael Pollan and Jamie Oliver often make is that in western culture, and North America in particular, we've lost the cultural transmission of food knowledge. As modernity set in, and we became busier and busier and food became more and more packaged and processed and the food supply became centralized and outside of society, we eventually stopped teaching our children how to cook. So the development of a post-industrial food culture- one that includes local, whole foods, traditional knowledge, and artisan hands on food creation as parts of its ken- is greatly hindered by many folks simply not mulled_winefranceknowing how to cook or make their way comfortably around the kitchen. To combat this Jamie Oliver has created a foundation called The Ministry of Food, which are centers he's set up in England, Australia, the US and now Canada, where local folks are offered free lessons about cooking basics. We here at Beams would like to jump into this fray, helping to enact this self-reliant food culture by sharing (and receiving) recipes, ideas and knowledge around food.

On that note, today's offering is a recipe for mulled wine. It's a hybrid of a recipe by Jamie Oliver and couple of others. I had it the other night and can attest to its full flavors and heavenly glow. One of the things about cooking from scratch, and about using fresh whole ingredients as this recipe does (I'd never seen a vanilla pod in all my years as a chef!), is the amazing aromas that fill the room. This is to be shared with company to be sure, a festive and rousing (and ancient) beverage to accompany the dark nights and the seasonal lights. Enjoy, and for those with contributions to add this burgeoning food culture, send us a note!

1/2 - 1 cup natural organic cane sugar (to taste, I prefer it not too sweet)mulled_wine
3-4 Cinnamon sticks
1 vanilla pod
5-8 whole cloves
2 medium mandarins (juiced) no peal
1 lime (juiced) - no peal
2 bottles of red (I like Italian or French)
1/2 - 1 cup of brandy.
Mix the first 6 ingredients and 1 cup of wine in a pot.  Bring to a boil (rolling boil for about 4-5 minuets) or until mix turns to syrup.  Reduce heat, slowly add the rest of the wine and the brandy.  Heat on lower temps, do not boil!!
Serve warm.

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  • Comment Link James H Sunday, 19 December 2010 05:22 posted by James H

    Interesting twist reducing a portion of the brew to intensify the flavors, and as you mention boiling the entire ensemble would be certain tragedy. I'd encourage a person to bring the heat up then immediately drop it to low, to discourage evaporation and maintain the presence of the "cheer" while avoiding cooking the wine. Think Sake.

    One last note, the worst tequila hangover you ever had pales in comparison to a mulled wine one. Oh, and substituting a few star anise for the cloves adds a nice round mid note.

  • Comment Link Trevor Malkinson Wednesday, 22 December 2010 23:40 posted by Trevor Malkinson

    Thanks for the great comments James (and for the heads up on the hangover!). I was tempted to let readers know in this short piece that we'll soon be linking into our Beams assemblage several great chef/foodie's to share their food knowledge, but thought it'd be too long an intro for that format. But then one of those future food friends showed up in the comment section unprompted!

    James, I see you are now tweeting under the name 'ModernOmnivore', and we've started following those tweets. Another like-minded chef and friend of Beams tweets as 'chefmystic', and you and others might like to follow his great work too. I know you've been passionate about the future of food and the establishment of an alternative food culture for many years James, and have been an active leader in several areas and initiatives, and I look forward to your future contributions and collaborations here at Beams!

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