Weekly food and drink rail, this week with a feature on the return of absinthe.
In December, the long-banned and much-fabled absinthe made its return to the U.S. market. The potent alcoholic drink – also known as “The Green Fairy” – was rumored to cause hallucinations and psychotic behavior, mostly because of one of its ingredients – wormwood. However, studies have shown that the facts don’t live up to the legends (one has Vincent van Gogh cutting off his ear because of absinthe), and absinthe isn’t quite the drug supposed, although it does have a high alcoholic content: up to 70 percent. The U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau changed its laws in 2007, and St. George Spirits became the first American-made absinthe legally sold in the U.S. in almost a century. Several foreign brands also are sold in the U.S. If you’re looking to try some of the “forbidden” drink, it will cost you time and money -- distributors are selling out almost immediately, and a bottle of absinthe will cost you about $75. How to Prepare Absinthe 1. Fill the reservoir of the glass with absinthe (or about 1/3 to 1/5 absinthe of the volume). 2. Place an absinthe spoon and a sugar cube on top of the glass. 3. Slowly drip ice water through the sugar until it dissolves completely. This also dilutes the absinthe to about the strength of wine. 4. The drink louches (turns white) and new flavors come out. -- Sources: Wikipedia, wire reports Easy Recipe: Chicken Pesto Pizza 10 oz. of skinless, boneless chicken breasts Italian Dressing 12-inch baked pizza crust 6 oz. prepared pesto 4 oz. sliced black olives 1 1/2 cups shredded mild cheddar cheese Marinate chicken breasts in Italian dressing for 1 hour. Drain; discard marinade. Grill chicken breasts for 8 to 10 minutes per side (until juices run clear.) Slice chicken thinly. Preheat oven to 425. Spread pizza crust with pesto to cover. Sprinkle sliced black olives over pesto. Sprinkle chicken slices on pizza. Cover pizza with shredded cheddar cheese (more or less may be added as preferred). Bake pizza in oven on pizza stone for 10-12 minutes, just until cheese has melted over toppings. Number of servings: 4. -- http://www.betterrecipes.com Wine Tips The world of wine can seem a confusing place. Labels mention regions but not grapes, or grapes but not countries, or in some cases, nothing at all. How does someone just getting started in wine make a good purchase at the local wine shop? The first step, as in all purchases, is to know what you like. It won't matter if the wine shop owner finds you the best Pinot Noir on the market if you really like Beringer's White Zinfandel. Try a few wines in local restaurants, or attend a wine class at the local community college. Taste a wine or two from different types, and figure out what you like. Wine tasting has little to do with what "the perfect wine" is. It has everything to do with what pleases you. -- www.wineintro.com Critics Cupboard: Twinings Herbal Tea Blends The London tea company has introduced a line of all-natural, decaffeinated herbal teas in four flavors: Egyptian Camomile & Apple; South African Honeybush, Mandarin & Orange; Cherry & Madagascan Cinnamon; and Blackcurrent, Ginseng & Tahitian Vanilla. The testers tried the Cherry & Madagascan Cinnamon flavor and were impressed with the pretty red color and cherry aroma. “It’s tangier than I thought. Most people would want to sweeten it.” “I can taste the cherry and cinnamon.” “Just smelling it is soothing.” Would they buy it? Yes, they all said. -- State Journal-Register Number to Know: 380 Calories in KFC’s Original Recipe Chicken Breast. The Original Recipe Chicken Breast without skin or breading has only 140 calories. Wise to the Word: Queso Fresco Queso Fresco (KAY-soh FRAY-skoh) is a white, slightly salty, fresh Mexican cheese with a texture similar to that of farmer cheese. Queso fresco is available in cottage cheese-style tubs in Latin markets and many supermarkets. Also called queso blanco. -- www.epicurious.com GateHouse News Service