The Reason for the SeasonPosted: December 7, 2009
After a long stretch of mild weather, it’s finally starting to feel like winter around NYC. This means that we can plunge headlong into our cold weather cooking repertoire. For breakfast this morning, I’ve got some steel-cut oatmeal with a little maple and brown sugar, a few slivered almonds, flax seeds, and a pinch of dried cranberries. Also, we’re eyeing a mushroom and barley risotto to share with friends for dinner tonight (results to follow tomorrow).
This weekend, we ushered in the scarves and gloves by taking a (not frugal) day trip upstate to visit the Tuthilltown distillery and see how a grain becomes a booze. Besides being very nice people and purveyor of a range of fine spirits, Tuthilltown is an intensely localized operation, both in terms of labor and materials. With only two exceptions (molasses and malted barley), all of their ingredients originate from farms located within ten miles from the distillery itself. The whole production operation, from distillation to aging to bottling, takes place in two small buildings and is done entirely by hand. See some pictures here. In addition, they reuse steam from the distillation process to heat their tasting room and they’re in the process of creating a system whereby leftover grain mash will be converted into ethanol to power their vehicles. Of course, if you really want to measure the environmental imact, you’d also have to note that distribution of their products is becoming less and less local all the time, but you can’t really fault a small business for seeking out that kind of result.
The spirits are by no means cheap – about $40 for 375ml of whiskey, bourbon, or rye bought on premesis – but I’m not upset to spend a few extra dollars for both a quality product and to support some folks who are encouraging local agriculture in a material way.
Oh, and Tuthilltown’s vodkas are made from apples grown at Jenkins and Lueken Orchard, where we stopped after our distillery tour to pick up some hot cider and cider donuts before driving back downstate in a full-on blizzard. Let winter commence!