Archives for category: Hoilday

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY
13 May 2012

omelet bar
eggs any style
vermont ham, lobster, smoked mussels, mock duck, chorizo
vermont cheeses (chevre, cheddar, pepper jack)
peppers & onions, mushrooms

waffle bar
classic / whole wheat waffles
blueberry syrup, vermont maple syrup, bananas foster sauce
whipped cream, chocolate sprinkles, chocolate-covered nuts, assorted candies

selection of local and domestic cheeses, including baked brie

fruit & crudité platters, charcuterie, house made rillette, duck confit

salads
classic mixed greens with aged sherry vinaigrette
grilled asparagus salad with hard-boiled egg and lardons
roasted beet salad with vermont goat cheese and maple balsamic

raw bar
smoked mussels, house gravlax, peel-and-eat shrimp, jonah crab claws

hot items
vermont bacon & sausage
home fries with peppers & onions
tuscan eggs benedict
(polenta cake with wilted arugula and tomato-basil hollandaise)
roasted red pepper soup
hungarian-brasied chicken
broiled tilapia with fine herb beurre blanc

assorted housemade desserts

Seatings available Sunday, May 13, from 10a-3p.

$35 for adults
$18.95 for children aged 6-12
Free for children aged 5 and under

Call 800-727-4295 for reservations.

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Written by Chris Benjamin, director of food and beverage at the Essex Resort and Spa.

With the birth of the year, comes the beginning of a new decade as well. In the past decade, the trends in the beverages and liquor included micro-mixology (the beverage side of micro-gastronomy), pomegranate and other exotic fruit liqueurs, and the rebirth of classic cocktails such as the Sloe Gin Fizz, Sidecar, and Brandy Alexander. This coming decade will prove to be, I think, a continuation of these themes.

We also will see significantly different cocktails that explore flavors as they relate to texture and mouth feel. The classics will continue to be replicated and improved upon with different twists. And we know that the abundance of flavors found in the world will only increase — perhaps a smoked salmon vodka served with Frangelico and Bailey’s to duplicate the classic bagel and lox? (Although I sincerely hope no one tries to do this!)

Whatever the future holds for us, I hope we will continue to rely on the classic cocktails that bring full circle the tradition and memories we enjoy. In addition to Bloody Mary, one of the most classic cocktails served on New Year’s Day is the mimosa. The name is derived from the mimosa plant, whose flowers are very yellow and appear frothy at a distance.

The standard mimosa, of course, is served with one part champagne or sparkling wine and two parts orange juice. But, as you know, I enjoy putting a little twist on things. There are many different classic ways to improve the mimosa, and all involve a little help from the spirit land. Try adding a floater of Grand Marnier, which ratchets up the alcohol content, flavor, and texture of the mimosa. Or try making a Kir, which classically is done by adding some Chambord to the top of the drink. Or you can try another rendition of the mimosa (and some say the original that was later plagiarized) called the Buck Fizz — add a little grenadine for a slight cherry flavor and a lot of color.

Or you can go completely different and prepare the following recipe, the St. Germaine Sparkling Cocktail, which I have recently fell in love with. It goes great with Sunday brunch (we recently started serving these at The Essex, and they’re a hit).

So have a safe and happy holiday, and the best to you for a wonderful 2010. Happy New Year!!

St. Germaine Sparkling Cocktail

1 part dry sparkling wine
1 part soda water
1 part St. Germaine liqueur

Combine ingredients slowly and serve in a champagne flute. Great for parties and goes well in pitchers.

Serves 6-8

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 ¾ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1 orange, zested
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 cup pure maple syrup (preferably Grade B or dark amber)
2 cups water
1-2 apples, sliced
Whipped cream

Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, zest, and nutmeg in a bowl. Blend in butter with pastry blender or your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk and stir with a fork just until dough is evenly moistened. Do not over mix.

Bring syrup and water to a boil in a 4-quart pot at least 10 inches wide and lower to a simmer. Add sliced apples.

Using an ice cream scoop drop dough into syrup mixture, leaving space for dumplings to expand. Gently simmer over moderately low heat, covered, until tops of dumplings are dry to touch (15-20 minutes). Serve warm.

Garnish with whipped cream.

Written by Chris Benjamin, food and beverage director at The Essex.

Of all the holidays we celebrate, Thanksgiving is perhaps my favorite. It’s the one holiday that isn’t over- marketed. It doesn’t require spending gobs of money, and it still holds it original purpose– taking time to reflect on the year and giving thanks for the many blessings we receive in our life.

It’s amazing how difficult it is to find the time to appreciate all the good things that happen in our lives, especially when the concerns of the world, economy, war and everyday struggles bare their full weight on our shoulders.

At Thanksgiving, appreciate not only the bountiful food and beverages that laden the table but the friends and family that you love and hold dear.

Every year just before dinner, we stand in a circle as a family and say one thing for which we are grateful. This year I would have to say that I’m grateful for not only my wonderful wife and two kids, but for the opportunity to share my recipe and thoughts with all of my loyal readers. I appreciate the encouragement, the compliments, and the questions that I receive from all of you, and look forward to continuing to bring you trendy concoctions.

In the meantime– for this week’s selection, I wanted to find something with mass appeal, that works as an aperitif before dinner, and is seasonally appropriate, and while I’m sure there’s a pumpkin martini recipe out there somewhere, the other fruit that comes to mind this time of year is the cranberry.

Sweet, tart and easy-to-come-by, these little flavor bombs are just the thing to drink before dinner. It will awaken the palate and get you ready for a sumptuous feast.

My best wishes for a very safe and satisfying Thanksgiving to you and all of your loved ones.

Cranberry Margarita

2 oz. tequila (try Patron Silver)
½ oz. Cointreau
⅛ cup frozen cranberries, rinsed
2 tablespoons sugar
Splash of lime juice
2-3 oz. cranberry juice
Ice

Combine ingredients in a blender and puree. In a shallow bread plate, mound some sugar. Using a lime, rim the edge of a cocktail glass or Collins glass and dip glass into the sugar. Fill with cranberry margarita, garnish with lime wedge. Sip and enjoy!

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By Chris Benjamin. Benjamin, director of food and beverage, The Essex Resort & Spa

The holiday season is right around the corner, so here are some tips on stocking the home bar if you’re entertaining family and friends this year. If you’ve been creating the recipes in my recent columns, you’re certainly on the right track to building the perfect entertainment bar. There are certainly some things that every bar should have, so you can cater to most folks’ tastes:

1) Have the liquor basics.

Basic white liquors:

  • Vodka
  • Gin
  • Rum
  • Tequila
  • Triple sec

(You can also add dry and sweet vermouth for the martini and Manhattan drinkers).

With these base liquors and the right mixers, you can pretty much accomplish anything you need and most of the regular drinks friends will request.

Brown liquors:

  • Scotch
  • Bourbon
  • Whiskey

This should satisfy the requests of those pesky uncles or father-in-laws (my father-in-law is a big fan of Old-Fashioneds).

In terms of liqueurs, look for flavoring agents that also will serve as an after-dinner drink. Cream cordials, like Baileys, and chocolate-flavored liqueurs, such as Kahlua, are good mixes to have as they allow versatility for sweeter, cream-based drinks. They’re also are excellent flavoring agents for the after-dinner coffee or digestif.

2) “Well” vs. “Call”

I’m frequently asked which liquors are must-have (“call”) and which you can skimp on (“well”). Truth is, it really depends on the crowd, with a couple of exceptions.

Rum and tequila are almost exclusively used in blended drinks, so you can almost always go bottom-of-the-barrel with them.

Vodka and gin drinkers, on the other hand, tend to be very particular. If you’re making a basic punch, use the “well” version. For martinis, go with something better like Absolut, Ketel One, or the crème de la crème, Grey Goose.

Gin is very similar as most people like it with tonic. Use Bombay, Beefeater, or my personal favorite, Tanqueray.

Triple sec is mostly used as blending, so “well” is fine. Vermouth, too.

When it comes to Bourbon, Whiskey and Scotch, every person has a different taste. Jack Daniels and Jim Beam are safe Bourbon choices; it helps to have some Canadian LTD or Canadian Club around for anyone who has relatives from the north, eh?

For the Scotch drinker, it’s best to get a middle-of-the-road line like a Glenfiddich or Glenlivet, but be warned that Scotch drinkers are the hardest to please because the brands are so varied.

When it comes to cordials, you can get away with the lower-end stuff such as Kamora (for Kahlua). I’d stick with Baileys or Frangelico, though, if possible– the imitations are pretty poor.

3) Mixers

Some basic things will take care of your entertainment needs. Coke, Sprite and ginger ale are good soda choices. Grab some orange juice and cranberry juice (and pineapple, if you’re going all out), some half and half for cream drinks, and a few lemons and limes for garnish.

Keep in mind that you probably have some great garnishes in your kitchen already– chocolate syrup is great in White Russians and Mudslides, maple syrup can be used in tons of coffee drinks drizzled over whipped cream, sugar is great for rimming martini glasses and for muddling, salt is crucial for margaritas, and maraschino cherries work well for Manhattans and as garnishes on tropical drinks.

4) The tools of the trade

You don’t need a whole array of different tools here. A good pint glass and plastic keg cup work well for shaken drinks. A strainer is important for martinis. (If you’re more advanced, you can just hold the keg cup and pint glass horizontally to your drink glass, and make a small gap between the two to allow the drink to come out).

Use a channel knife for twists, but a paring knife can work, too. In terms of glassware, martini glasses are a must-have. Any sized tumbler should work for mixed drinks, and you should have at least a few small rocks glass on hand.

5) Have fun.

Bartending isn’t just about mixing the drinks, it’s also about the show that you put on. When shaking a drink, hold it high. Flip some glasses around if you can, and remember to interact with your guests. Cocktails taste a lot better when served with flourish, fun and a smile. I’ve included a recipe this week that’s pretty tasty, easy to make, and will appeal to a broad audience.

Enjoy!

S’MORETINI

Ingredients:

1 ¼ ounces vodka (the better the vodka the better the drink)
¾ ounces Dark Chocolate Godiva Liqueur (or any dark-chocolate flavored agent)
¾  ounces Navan Vanilla flavored Cognac
¾ ounces Toasted Marshmallow Syrup (you can find this in many coffee shops)
Chocolate syrup
Crushed graham crackers
Mini marshmallows

Directions:

Combine vodka, Godiva, Navan and syrup in a pint glass filled with ice. Shake vigorously. Rim a martini glass with chocolate syrup. Add the graham cracker crumbles to a small plate and dunk the rim of your glass into the crumbles. Strain the drink into the glass and garnish with mini marshmallows. Sip and enjoy.

BolsRemyDrink

by Chris Benjamin, Food & Beverage Director, The Essex Resort & Spa

“All Cognac is brandy, but not all brandy is Cognac!” These were the inaugural words spoken to me on my first of many adventures with Cognac, one of the finest brandies available on the market.

One of my greatest friends introduced me to this wonderful liquor after a round of golf. “Yak”, as it is sometimes nicknamed, is a fitting beverage after a great meal or after some time spent outdoors, as it warms the insides and is also a great way to promote digestion. Cognac, named for a small, French town near Bordeaux, is the crème de la crème of brandies (and is derived from the Dutch word brandewijn, meaning “burnt wine”). It is made from distilling grape juice, and it is classified as an eau-de-vie (“water of life”), since it is processed through the primary fermentation of grape juice and then through the distillation of the byproduct.

The secret is in the soil, which requires rich deposits of chalk– the more the better. The region around Cognac, and around its neighbor Armagnac to the south, has this key ingredient. The finest brandies are classified based on the region in which the grapes are grown, and the center of the region around Cognac — Grande Champagne — is the best.

They say that Cognac is the finest brandy, but those who appreciate a glass will fall in love with Armagnac. In my opinion, Cognac is smoother and more majestic, but Armagnac has the soul of the beverage with heftier smoke, more aggressive flavors, and a ruggedness that Cognac lacks.

The second secret to success is the amount of time spent in oak. The longer the aging time, the richer and more complex the flavors. Very Superior (VS) Cognacs spend a minimum of two years in oak (though most average four to five years) while Very Superior Old Pale (VSOP) is the next level up, with greater depth of flavors and smokiness, spending a minimum of four years in wood (though industry average is between 10-15).

Extra Old (XO) will probably break most people’s banks, but it is certainly worth the experience. These brandies age for over six years (though industry average is 20 years) and tend to be the most elegant and noteworthy. For those of you who remember the movie Cocktail, when Tom Cruise’s character and his buddy make a bet over a girl, the prize is a bottle of Louis XIII, one of the most expensive Cognacs produced today (complete with a $100 Baccarat Crystal bottle!)

Cognac can be an acquired taste. So to cut down the “burn”, and to make it more accessible to a wider audience, bartenders created the Brandy Alexander. I certainly wouldn’t waste a good XO on this, but the better the Cognac the smoother the flavor.

Brandy Alexanders incorporate crème de cacao (chocolate liqueur), which is a timeless flavor combination. During the holidays, it was a tradition to make truffles containing brandy and a cherry (these have degenerated into “chocolate-covered cherries”). The Brandy Alexander is making a strong comeback — as are many classic cocktails these days — and this one has a slight twist. Just remember the nickname “Yak” when imbibing– this is a drink truly enjoyed in moderation.

The Tavern Brandy Alexander
1 1/2 oz. Cognac
1/2 oz. crème de cacao
6 oz. heavy cream
1/4 oz. Navan Vanilla Cognac

Mix and enjoy.

fantasy_tennis_package1

Great news that we’ve confirmed our tennis stars again for summer 2009! For the fourth time, we will have Mats Wilander and Mikael Pernfors join us for a Fantasy Tennis Camp hosted by New England Tennis Holidays.  The weekend is slated for August 27-30, 2009 with package details found here.

For those that don’t know….From 1982 through 1988, Mats Wilander won seven Grand Slam singles titles (three at the French Open, three at the Australian Open, and one at the US Open), and one Grand Slam men’s doubles title (at Wimbledon). He won three of the four Grand Slam singles events in 1988 and finished that year ranked World No. 1. Although he never won the singles title at Wimbledon, Wilander twice won the Australian Open when that tournament was still played on grass courts. This makes Wilander one of only four men (along with Jimmy Connors, Andre Agassi, and Rafael Nadal) to have won Grand Slam singles titles on grass, hard, and clay courts. He now resides in Sun Valley Idaho with his family, captains the Swedish Davis Cup Team and coaches Paul-Henri Mathieu, who finished in the top 35 in the world last year. Mikael Pernfors was the only player in the history of NCAA tennis to win back-to-back singles championships. The titles came in 1984 and ’85 and in that second year he led his Georgia squad to the team championship as well. Pernfors was a finalist at the French Open in 1986, losing to Ivan Lendl. He played Davis Cup for his native Sweden in 1986, ’87 and ’89, helping his team reach the final in 1986. Mikael achieved this highest rank in singles – No. 10 – in 1986. His pinnacle in doubles came when he ranked No. 32 in 1988. During the course of his career, Pernfors had wins over Stefan Edberg, Boris Becker, Pete Sampras, Jim Courier, Mats Wilander and John McEnroe. Today, Mikael resides in Vero Beach Florida and Atlanta and is a consistent threat on the Champions Outback Tour which travels the globe. We are thrilled to have these two great champions back and look to have another fantastic weekend! It’s always fun to say that you took a point off a Grand Slam Finalist….but trick is….you actually have to do it to say it – and this weekend gives you that chance!

Although it was a few weekends back, Valentine’s  weekend was full of love and fun cooking! We loaded up on rich and decadent dark chocolate Fondue in our Fondue Demo that was open to the public on Saturday! We dipped hazelnut wafers, ginger molasses cookies, and soft chocolate chunk cookies! Later in the day I taught a class how to make Fettuccine Alla Carabonara in “Ticket To Rome”. On Sunday, I taught a brunch class where we prepared poached eggs, made herb hollandaise sauce, and the best ever fennel & pork breakfast sausage!


Enjoy the recipe and let me know how it comes out for you.

Fennel & Pork Breakfast Sausage

Makes 16- 2 inch patties

2 pounds fine ground pork
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 ∏ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 ∏ teaspoons fennel seed
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
∏ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

Mix all ingredients well. Form into 1 inch rounds. Refrigerate and use within one week or freeze for up to 3 months.  To cook, heat a cast iron pan or similar heavy pan to medium low. Cook about 10-15 minutes or until brown on both sides and cooked through.

We have classes almost every week, incorporating local and seasonal foods and creating our own spins on the tastiest international and traditional foods.

See you in the kitchen!

By Chef Courtney

Traditional rehearsal dinners have evolved from sit down restaurant affairs to so much more!  We are finding brides and grooms are becoming more creative with their offerings and at Vermont’s culinary resort why not take advantage of all we have to offer.

One popular choice is action stations with the students of the New England Culinary Institute preparing the food right in front of the guests.   Hand rolled Sushi stations or pasta stations with freshly made pastas and gnocchi’s, risotto stations with a variety of fresh ingredients are all popular choices.  For something more “informative” one of our Instructors would be happy to do a cooking demo, wine class or beer tasting!   Enjoying delicious, freshly prepared and local product is a fun and interesting start to a wonderful wedding weekend.

No matter the season, we can work with you to create a personalized theme that can accommodate groups of any size.  An outdoor barbecue amid our beautiful gardens, a bonfire and New England Clambake or a pool side picnic are great ways to include a larger group of wedding guests.

For the more active and adventurous couples,  we can customize a menu and set up a wonderful event at our golf course or ropes, rock and ice course.

There are so many fun,  fabulous and exhilarating events to experience at the Essex Resort and Spa!


By Mimi Overman

Did you know that the average American wedding produces 800 pounds of garbage?

That’s right 800 pounds! As of lately, the sales team at the Inn has decided to draw their attention to the evolving trend of green weddings. As a team we would like to offer our wedding clientele responsible choices that make a statement. Not only can you make your wedding day a beautiful and romantic ceremony, but you can also take the chance to make the wedding reflect yourself and your concerns for the environment.

New England Culinary Institute is a founding member of the Vermont Fresh Network, as well as the Inn at Essex being a member of the Green Hotel Association, and prides itself on taking care of the environment and bettering the long-term value of our property and staff.  Here at the Inn at Essex we focus on social responsibility. Not only do we recycle and compost all excess food, we make a point of using energy efficient light bulbs in all our facilities. We also offer our guests the opportunity to share our social responsibility with our towel re-use program as a water conserving method.

There are many ways to go green on your wedding day, and the Inn at Essex has already started to make your special day socially responsible. Here at the Inn our food products come from local, seasonal and sustainable farms and vendors.  Recently, we have begun to research ways to make your event even greener. For example, using soy candles, reducing plastic and paper usage, and purchasing green cleaning products that contain natural ingredients.

By Mimi Overman