This week's list of new and returning products follows a few words about vine ripened tomatoes, an invasion of chipmunks and a trio of hawks
Preamble by Steve Siciliano
I’m not sure it’s true but it seems that vine ripened tomatoes are showing up in west Michigan early this year. Maybe it has something to do with the prolonged heat wave we endured back in early July. Whatever the reason Barb and I were pleasantly surprised to see bushels of the lovely, beefy red, naturally ripened fruit when we dropped in to Nelson’s Farm Market on the way up to the cottage a few weeks ago. Since then we’ve been gorging on one of our favorite summertime side dishes—tomato, cucumber and onion salad.
You could make this simple salad when local vine ripened tomatoes aren't available but why bother. The only tomatoes you can find in our state during the off seasons are probably grown in Florida, Texas or California. They are picked before they are ripe and transported when they are still green. Before they hit the market they are dosed with ethylene gas which turns them red but adds zilch to their flavor.
The vine ripened tomatoes may be the stars of this culinary show but the cukes and onions probably deserve equal billing. We like using the small pickling cucumbers and sweet Vidalia onions. Sprinkle on some garlic salt and dress with light olive oil and red wine vinegar. Mix in a big handful of chopped fresh basil. Sop up the tasty juice with hunks of crusty bread.
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Barb and I have never had much luck growing tomatoes so we rely on the farm markets to supply us with our fix. We probably have lousy soil but what the hell do I know, I'm a merchant not a gardener. On the few times our backyard tomatoes matured they were tasteless and mealy. One year a promising crop was damaged by chipmunks. Since then my animal loving wife has had a simmering disdain for these small critters. In the early days of summer this year the simmer ratcheted up to a boil.
Now I have a live and let live attitude when it comes to chipmunks unless they start invading the house and if that happens the gloves are off. My wife, however, was not happy about the brood that were constantly scurrying across and under the deck and digging holes in her flower garden. She suggested that it was my duty as the man of the house to eliminate them. "And how do you propose I do that?" I asked. "Drown them," she answered.
She was, of course, referring to a simple but highly effective and time tested technique of chipmunk eradication: Fill a bucket slightly past the half way point with water then float a layer of sunflower seeds on the surface. Place a ramp up to the lip of the bucket. Check periodically and dispose of the carcasses. I used this death trap once prior and vowed that I would never employ it again. I stalled for time. "When are you going to get rid of those chipmunks," my wife would periodically ask. "Soon dear,," I would always answer.
Then something magical occurred. One evening we were sitting on the deck after an extended stay at the cottage when we suddenly realized that the chipmunks had disappeared. That was about four weeks ago and we haven't seen hide nor hair of them since. My attempt to take credit for their absence elicited an eye roll from Barb. We ticked off the possibilities--a hawk (I had spotted one lurking by the edge of a bush last spring), a fox (I thought I saw one slinking into the stand of bamboo one evening), divine intervention (I suggested a squadron of chipmunk loving angels swooped down one night and transported the critters to a safe place. This elicited another eye roll).
This past week the mystery of the disappearing chipmunks was solved when we began spotting a trio of hawks patrolling the backyard. They zoom out from their roost in the stand of woods behind the house and scan the landscape from a variety of perches--the high branches of a dead tree, the peak of the garage roof, the top of the trellis.
I'm grateful that those hawks solved my dilemma but I still feel kind of bad for the chippies. But that's the way it is in Nature--robins eat worms, hawks eat chipmunks, lions eat zebras, etc., etc. We humans are fortunate to be at the top of the food chain but we have to remain vigilant because we can still fall prey to all types of dangers. I guess the best we can do is be cautious, live in the moment and hope for the best.
Featured Wines of the Week
Blanc De Blancs, Stellar Organics, White Blend, South Africa, $11.39/750ml- Pineapple- yellow in color. Slight creaminess on the nose with soft flavors of lemon butter and stone fruit. A juicy finish and crisp acidity make this a very enjoyable wine. (Source)
Teleda, Dahlia, rose, Georgia(country),2018 $14.39/750ml-This wine is barely pink in color with just a hint of blush; if not for the labeling one might miss the fact that it is a rosé. It offers aromas of peach, rose petal and baking spice. It is refreshing on the palate while offering sophisticated flavors of peach, apple and nutmeg with a hint of rose petal and a touch of coffee bean on the finish. (Source)
The Velvet Devil, Merlot, Charles Smith, Washington, $12.79/750ml- As advertised, this smooth Merlot offers pure velvet, deep and delicious black fruit, cedar, tobacco and cassis. It conveys concentrated richness and yet purity and focus. It’s so good that it appears the devil made me do it. (Source)
Buy three or more bottles of wine get 10 % off.
"It's our mission at Siciliano's to sell quality wine at affordable prices."
Featured Spirits of the Week
Hotel Tango, Bourbon, Indiana, $31.59/750ml-$17.89/375ml- aged 2 years this bourbon contains Aromas of caramel, balanced by rye. (Source)
Southern Tier Distilling Co, Straight Bourbon, $45.19/750ml- Our award-winning Straight Bourbon is deep golden brown in color and exhibits beautiful aromas of vanilla and leather. Smooth caramel and oak, lingering like the last light of day on the waters of nearby Lake Chautauqua. We love our Straight Bourbon and we bet you will too. Made in small batches with 100% New York State grains and perfectly aged for over two years in open-air-seasoned premium white oak barrels. (Source)
Southern Tier Distilling co, Straight Rye, $45.19/750ml- Rye never became trendy in Western New York. It’s always been beloved here. We start with New York State corn and rye and then age this whiskey in open-air-seasoned Canton Spirit white oak barrels with a #4 char. The result is a smooth butterscotch and oak flavor with a spicy, pepper nose and a classic NY rye peppery finish. (Source)
New and Returning Products
Brewery Vivant Farmer's Hat, $4.69/16oz - This New England style IPA brewed w/ Citra, Amarillo and Huell Melon hops promises a lush mouthful of grassy, bright hops worthy of a hard day’s thirst. (Source)
Drafting Table Super Love, $2.99/16oz - This gose, a German-style salted wheat ale, is brewed with passion fruit. It’s tart, salty, and has very little bitterness making it very crushable especially on a hot summer day. (Source)
Fat Orange Car Remove the Beer from the Bottom of the Ocean, $5.49/16oz - EUREKA and MOSAIC hops create a complex cornucopia of stone fruit and berry flavors but also very earthy and dank. (Source)
Hofbrau Oktoberfest, $2.19/12oz - Hofbräu Oktoberfest beer is a full-bodied, bottom-fermented specialty beer. With its fine hoppy aroma, it’s perfect alongside a classic Oktoberfest roasted chicken. (Source)
Hoof Hearted Fitness Freak, $7.59/12oz - Imperial Stout with Coffee, Vanilla & Maple Syrup Added. (Source)
Keweenaw Red Ridge, $1.00/12oz - No commercial description
Revolution Sun Crusher, $1.99/12oz - A crushable ale to celebrate the end of winter and rejoice the coming of warm weather! This Hoppy Wheat Ale is brewed with Apollo and Amarillo hops, with a dry-hop blend of Crystal, Amarillo, and Mosaic, resulting in a mellow bitterness and pronounced flowery and citrus aromas. (Source)
Short Throw Resting My Greatness, $7.59/16oz - Imperial stout with coffee
Shorts S'more Stout, $2.59/12oz - A complex stout brewed with graham cracker, chocolate, marshmallow, and smoked malt. The rich hearty flavors seem to take their turn as the subtle graham aromas lead pleasantly into sweet flavors of marshmallow cream covered in chocolate. All is followed by a slight lingering flavor of smoke. A flaming marshmallow garnish is strongly encouraged. (Source)
Untitled Art Key Lime Ginger Sour, $4.69/16oz - Weiss brewed with key limes and ginger
Untitled Art/3 Chiefs West Coast Rice IPA, $4.69/16oz -India Pale Ale brewed with rice.
Wild Minds Screaming Dawn, $5.49/16oz - Hazy IPA
Wild Minds Ultra Wires, $4.89/16oz - West Coast IPA hopped with Cascade, Amarillo and Centennial.
Witch's Hat Demon Cleaner, $3.59/12oz - Brewed with candy sugar and an authentic Trappist yeast strain, this golden ale is the perfect elixir to wash away any demons you may possess. (Source)
Witch's Hat Figgie Smalls, $3.59/12oz - Belgian quad brewed with figs
Stay safe. Please wear a face covering in indoor public spaces. Spread kindness not germs!