Friday, August 21, 2009

Vin de Noix

I should NOT read The Kitchn over my lunchbreak. It just may be my downfall. It gets the creative juices flowing and then I just cannot shut my brain up. I'm editing 30 posts to add new info, I'm creating another 30 drafts to finish later, and hell, even posting a few right away.
I ONLY HAVE AN HOUR AT BEST, THE KITCHN. I do not have time for you to distract me with your incredibly fantastic ideas like this. I think we need to take a break. Now, come on, don't cry. It's just for a little bit. Like maybe until lunch tomorrow. Fine; I'll write ONE quick post. Thank God I eat fast.

My friends think I'm some sort of culinary goddess. It's a trick (well, I am pretty goddessy, but I don't know if I reign over the culinary arts quite like they imagine). They think I whip up these meals for them using nothing more than a whif of something at the farmer's market and the Muse of flavor ingenuity. Lies. I AM A COPYCAT. Okay fine, sometimes I tweak things to my own specific tastes, or manage to understand which flavors work well together, or piece together how some other chef may have made a dish and recreate it at home; but does that make me creative? An inventor? I think not. The person who invented post it notes, vs. the person that decided to make them in different colors and shapes. Different wavelengths, people.

Well, I'm up to my old tricks again, but Christmas 2010 will no doubt see everyone clamoring over how clever and magical I am when I can gift them with some lovely Vin de Noix which I've cleverly packaged with bottles from the interwebs or local restaurant supply shops, and stuck Avery labels on in some lovely font that I've downloaded for free and drawn over with sparkly pens.
(also, if you follow all of my links and do the same thing, I will CUT YOU, IDEA STEALER)

I missed the window this year, only learning of this elixir today; so boo. I am just over a month too late and this pains me so. So much that I'm determined to maybe find some green walnuts anyway, even though I know better.
The Kitchn has tons of great resources linked to their blogs for your perusal.
Look, I found a local vendor! Clary Ridge Ranch near Sacramento; and they'll even deliver so I don't have to cut the local Francophiles at the Alemany Farmer's Market next June.
Look, I found a fantastic blog and recipe from someone who clearly knows what she is doing! Lucy's Kitchen; which, let's face it, is golden. Otherwise I'd be doing this. Sorry Amelia.
Forums are another great spot for advice and pointers.

Version 1:
Liqueur de Noix

38 green walnuts, quartered
1 vanilla bean
2 star anise
2 long peppercorns
2 thick slices of lemon
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup grade B maple syrup
500ml or 2 cups Noilly Pratt Original Dry
1 bottle of vodka
Mix in a large bowl and cover; let it sit for a few months. At the two month mark it will probably still be bitter and medicinal, but go ahead and bottle and put away for several more months. Check in on it regularly to familiarize yourself with the process and the phases it goes through, and well, I guess it's ready when it tastes good!
GAH I wish she had clearer directions; covered the bowl with what?! You let it SIT OUT? Contaminatey! So many questions. . . luckily, she seems willing to answer them, at least in her comments!

Version 2:
Vin de Noix

Per 1.5 liter jar:

About 8 nuts each jar
500ml vodka
1/2 cup grade B maple syrup
1/3 vanilla bean
2 cloves
1 t. szchuan peppercorns
2 slices of an orange
top off with a full bodied white burgundy (Bourgogne) wine (used 5 bottles to fill all 6 of the jars to the top).

Vin de noix, in order to turn it's beautiful deep dark color, needs contact with some air. This is why mason jars are perfect for this - because you can close them without using the rubber gasket and they'll have enough air circulating to allow the liquid to turn black. Once 2 months have gone by, filter and bottle your vin de noix. Seal the bottles tightly then, and allow it to mature for another month or two before giving it away. By all means, taste it at every step, to understand how it develops and what to expect. You'll be suprised at the many different stages it goes through. I'll report back when this is ready to bottle.

Regarding finishing and bottling:
Cover the strainer on a French press with a coffee filter to help remove as much sediment as possible.

I am also curious to try my hand at:
Vin d'orange (from Epicurious or Sunset)
Limoncello (from Vox or Giada if you're skurred)
Plum wine (Umeshu), or maybe apricot wine, or maybe something with pear or apple. My Dad has an Albanian friend that makes apricot brandy that is like woah.

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