MAY 2009 – PINEAU DES CHARENTES – Cocktails at Storm King Art Center

Di Suvero at Storm King Art Center


Memorial Day weekend was perfect weather for our outdoor cocktail party at
Storm King Art Center.   About one and a half hours up the Hudson river from
the Big Apple, Storm King is a sprawling property filled with awesome
contemporary sculpture.  In particular, we went to see the new Maya Lin
³Wave Field² earth sculpture that was recently finished this spring.  The
fifty waves in eight rows are sculpted into the ground and can be viewed
from the hill above and experienced, as well, by walking through the paths
that go up and between the rows.  Up to 12 feet high and covering 11 acres
of land, their scale is hard to comprehend from the viewer¹s perspective.Waves from above
Unfortunately the park closes at 5:30, so we missed the early evening
shadows, which must be dramatic.  Maya Lin really knows what to do with an
empty lot!   As Martha  would say, “Repetition is a good thing²……..


We were feeling oh so French carrying the wicker basket with our goodies as
Billy, Aldo and I set out to find a shady spot by the large pond adjacent to
the “Waves” and set up our Pineau des Charentes cocktail picnic.  I broughtCheese and Farro Crackers
radishes  and homemade rosemary-and-thyme farro crackers with sea salt and a
Belgian-style cheese, Bridgid¹s Abbey from Cato Corner.  This local producer
from Connecticut uses  raw milk from Jersey cows and has a booth at the
Union Square farmers market.  Here is my recipe for the farro crackers,

which I adapted from an old rye cracker recipe:

Cartlita’s Farro, Rosemary, Thyme and Sea Salt Crackers

1 cup Farro or Spelt flour
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 teas. Salt
2 teas. Finely chopped rosemary and thyme
4 T. Fruity extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup cold water, plus more if needed
Thyme leaves to sprinkle on top
Course sea salt to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 425F.  Mix first 4 ingredients in a bowl and stir in 4 T. Of
the olive oil.  Work the mixture with your fingers until it has the
consistency of cornmeal.  Stir in the milk and water, add more water if the
dough is too stiff.  Be sure to not overwork the dough.

Roll out the dough and place it on a cookie sheet, 16² x 12² lined with
parchment paper.  With a pastry wheel or ravioli cutter cut the  dough into
squares, 24 or so.  Brush the dough with the remaining olive oil and
sprinkle course sea salt and thyme leaves.  I run the rolling pin lightly on
top to secure the salt.

Bake at 425 for 15-18 minutes.  Cool on rack, store up to 1 week in airtight

Cheers Billy!

Billy Vivos introduced me to the pleasure of Pineau des Charentes, which I had for the first time this year.  There are some recipes for cocktail versions but Billy buys the best, so I certainly wouldn¹t dilute this with anything.  With a less expensive Pineau I might mix in sparkling water or soda, ice and a slice of lemon.  In The Cooking of Southwest France, Paula Wolfert gives several recipes for dishes prepared with Pineau des Charentes‹a great way to use up the leftovers.  Just yesterday I read about Pineau des Charentes vinegar in the New York Times Dining section.  It is made by Francoise Fleuriet’s company in Rouillac.  The vinegar comes in a white or a fruitier rose and is aged four years in oak barrels.
Here are Billy¹s notes on the Pineau:

Cocktail Hour
A Note on the Wine . . .

Pineau des Charentes is a vin de liqueur of the Cognac Region.
Typically, the alcohol level is 17 to 18 percent. It is made by adding
year-old Cognac straight from the cask to grape juice just at
fermentation, then by maturing the cuvée in a cask until the July
following the harvest. The wine is derived from the ugni blanc grape.  In the
case of Jean-Luc Pasquet, this Pineau des Charentes – the ugni blanc
is organically grown – is a blend of two or three different Cognac
vintages. The result is a light, refreshing aperitif. Carlita, Billy and
Aldo assessed this wine while staring out at the monuments of art at
Storm King:

Time to pack up........

Billy:  This wine has a lot of fruit and concentration, yes?

Aldo:   I don’t know if I love it. It’s a distraction from the beauté of my surrounding.

Billy:  Who invited this Puritan?

Carlita:  I think it would pair better with a saltier cheese – a
Morbier, for instance.

Aldo:   I also think it would benefit from greater chilling.

Billy:  Well, throw some ice in your glass, Aldo.  It’s great on the
rocks.  What are we tasting here?

Aldo:   I’ll throw some ice at you!  I get pear and ginger.

Carlita:  Starfruit, apricot, ripe peaches.

Billy:  And I think there is a little spiciness to it.

Carlita:  Aldo, do you get ginger on the finish too?

Aldo.   Yes, Carlita. It’s like you, just the right amount of spiciness.

Billy:  Yawn.

Carlita:  Pineau des Charentes definitely works better with ice. But I
wouldn’t add anything else. Why adulterate a perfectly good drink?

Billy:  Exactly my thought. Like converting a delicious Guy
Charlemagne Champagne into a Mimosa. Aren’t people silly?

Aldo (with strange,  inexplicable irony). Yes—aren’t they?

Carlita:  Without ice, I can see how this drink cuts through the
sweetness of a dessert.

Aldo:   Carlita, I love these crackers. They’re as perfect as the day!

Lichtenstein Sculpture

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