Welcome to issue no. 8 of Foodstuff

February 22, 1998

In this issue:

GRAPPA

The next trendy drink? Just possibly it will be GRAPPA; a very old and earthy alcoholic beverage made from the remnants of wine-grape pressings. (In other words, whatever was leftover, including stems, seeds, skins, and pips were used.) Grappa has been made in Italy since at least the sixteenth century. The first grappa-makers were probably frugal farmers seeking a way to use up the leftovers from the winemaking process. But now grappa is becoming popular with the crowd that drinks single-malt scotch and Armagnac, reports various publications. In the last 30 years, grappa has evolved from a "peasant" spirit to one of international renown and quality. The average cost for a bottle of grappa is approximately $18, although some brands can be very pricey, up to $100. Like balsamic vinegar and wine, the price goes up depending on the vineyard, and the aging process.

Although grappa is a thoroughly Italian beverage, similar concoctions are produced in other nations, including the United States. In Spain it is "aguardiente," the French call it "marc," and the Greeks have their "raki."

Grappa can be used as a substitute for brandy. Perhaps the simplest way to enjoy grappa is to splash a little in a cup of espresso for caffe corretto, or spoon it over lemon granita, sherbet, or fresh strawberries. Chocolate, dried fruit, apples, pears, citrus fruit, honey, and fennel are just a few of the foods that marry well with grappa, smoothing its harshness and taming its potency.

CHOCOLATE GRAPPA TRUFFLES

8 ounces good-quality bittersweet chocolate
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup strong brewed espresso
1/4 cup grappa
about 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder for coating the truffles

In a metal bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, melt the chocolate with the butter, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat and stir in the espresso and the grappa. Let the mixture cool for 5 minutes and chill it, covered, for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Form rounded teaspoons of the mixture into balls. Roll the balls in the cocoa powder, coating them completely, and transfer the truffles as they are coated, to paper candy cups or a wax paper-lined container. The truffles will keep for about 2 weeks if keep covered and chilled. (The grappa flavor will become stronger as the truffles stand.) Makes about 3 dozen truffles.


COOKBOOKS


KITCHEN TIPS

*Did you know that keeping plastic wrap chilled makes it easier to work with? It's true!
*Lettuce loves fat: Fat can be removed from hot soup by floating a large lettuce leaf on the surface. Remove and add more leaves if necessary.


KITCHEN TRIVIA


RADIO INTERVIEWS

I'll be talking about my new cookbook on Radio station WAPF with Carl Lazenby on Monday February 23rd, at 9:00 am. If you get Carl's program, please tune in. On Tuesday, February 24th at 12:30 pm, I'll be on the "Wine, Dine, and Travel Show" with Vera Gold on station KMNY in Pomona California. For a full list of my promotional plans, please see my webpage.


1998, 2003 Debbie Puente
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