The Spritz: It’s All Built on Bubbles

Spritz culture is rooted in the cities and towns of Northern Italy.  The drink can be found at restaurants, cafes and even at the airport.

The Spritz is a wine-based cocktail commonly served as an aperitif (an alcoholic beverage served before the meal to stimulate appetite) in Northeast Italy. The drink is prepared with prosecco (Italian white) wine, a dash of some bitter liqueur such as Aperol, CampariCynar, or, especially in Venice, with Select. The glass is then topped off with sparkling mineral water. It is usually served over ice in a lowball glass and garnished with a slice of orange, or sometimes an olive, depending on the liqueur.

Thanks to the recent publication of a light-hearted book named “Spritz”, these drinks have become popular and American bars will serve them this summer.

American bartenders have taken the liberty of creating their own spritz concoctions.

At the Llama Inn in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the bartender mixes gin, fino sherry, strawberry shrub, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, Peychaud’s bitters, Spanish sparkling wine and Perrier for the Señorita Spritz, a pretty pink concoction.

At Montana’s Trail House in Bushwick, Brooklyn, the owner piles Aperol, grapefruit juice and sparkling white wine atop a base of Mezcal with agave syrup.

Summertime is the perfect time for something light, refreshing and bubbly.  One bartender on the Lower East Side is quoted as saying, “Who doesn’t like something that feels like its dancing on your tongue?”

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Seeking Gold in Cuban Soil

According to the United States Chamber of Commerce, American exports could reap more than $1.2 billion a year in sales if the U.S. ends its trade restrictions against Cuba.  Cuba imports 60 percent to 80 percent of its food.  New trade lines would also provide a supply of sugar, coffee and tropical produce to America.

An alliance of organic industry leaders, chefs and investors travelled to Cuba this past May, with a mission of persuading the Cubans to protect and extend the small-scale, organic practices that have become a part of their lives.  These practices came into play during the rule of President Fidel Castro, when the communist Soviet Bloc fell apart, and Cuba was unable to trade for agricultural equipment, chemicals and gasoline.  Farmers were forced to replace tractors with oxen, and cooperative farms emerged.

The country has almost 400,000 urban farms, among them 10,000 small organic ones.  Organic supporters would like Cuba to continue employing a sustainable agriculture that rejects chemicals and genetic modification.  The incentive is that the American market is willing to pay a premium for organic produce.  Organic sales in the U.S. grew three times as fast as the overall food market last year.

Efforts to lift trade sanctions between the U.S. and Cuba are moving slowly, due in large part to the upcoming Presidential election.  In the meantime, Cuban officials are being encouraged to build on the country’s extensive research and the cultural desire for local food.

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