T.G.I.F. – Autumn Elixir

We continue our autumnal theme with this week’s T.G.I.F. cocktail choice. The Autumn Elixir, as we’re calling it, is just what the cocktail doctor ordered; refreshing, yet made with warming ingredients to help battle those chillier nights. Enjoy!

Autumn Elixir
1 Lime
1/2 oz. of honey
1 1/2 oz. of Hennessy (or other preferred cognac)
Splash of ginger ale

Slice a whole lime into 4 sections and place it in a shaker. Add  the honey and muddle these two ingredients together. Then add the Hennessy and ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a Collins glass over ice and top with ginger ale. Garnish with lime and enjoy!

 

Roasted Maple Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta and Chestnuts

*This recipe appeared in the November, 2012 issue of House Beautiful Magazine as part of an article entitled, “The New American Holiday Table.”

Wine Weekly – Sagrantino di Montefalco Pozzo del Curato

While rummaging through the Gigi Trattoria wine room, we noticed that one amazing wine doesn’t seem to be getting the attention it deserves.  We want to introduce this delicious wine in hopes that you will come try it and like it as much as we do!

Three hundred and seventy one meters above sea level in Bevagna is the beautiful Villa Mongalli.  At this Villa in Umbria, the powerful Sagrantino di Montefalco Pozzo del Curato was created.  At Villa Mongalli, wines are produced only with grapes grown in the company.  At the first stage of wine-making, each grape variety is vinified separately.  The 2004 Sagrantino di Montefalco is organic and made with 100% Sagrantino grapes.  With flavors of blackberry and licorice, this red wine is elegant and energetic.  Hints of floral and strong tannins make this wine elaborate and flavorful. It holds up to many different dishes.  We recommend it with our Mama Skizza (20% off if you check in on Yelp, Facebook or Foursquare) or our very popular Pork Scalloppine served with Lacinato Kale & Shaved Parmesan.

This wine is truly not one to miss.  We feel so strongly about this that if you come into Gigi Trattoria from now through this weekend and inquire with your server or bartender about the Villa Mongalli Sagrantino you will get 10% off your bottle!  And if you come in on Wednesday, all of our bottle wines are 30% off!  Not only should you not miss any of these great deals at Gigi but you really should not miss trying this exceptional wine.

T.G.I.F. Cocktail – Annandale Atomic Hard Cider

Normally we present you with a cocktail recipe each Friday to celebrate the weekend.  However, in honor of Cider Week (last weekend!), this week we present you with a little bit of info on Gigi’s favorite cider, Annadale Atomic Hard Cider from Montgomery Farms.  This semi-dry cider is served at Gigi Market by the jar or on draft at Gigi Trattoria.  It has 7% alcohol and is unfiltered and unsulfited.

At Montgomery Farms, they use about 60 varieties of antique and commercial apples for Annadale Cider.  All these apples are grown on the land that Jane Livingston Montgomery, the original owner, cultivated apples on over 200 years ago.  Annadale Atomic cider uses about 6 different varieties and is their signature cider.  Unfortunately it is sold out for the season.  Luckily Gigi Trattoria snagged one of the last kegs so you have to stop by to try it!

We are such fans of Montgomery Farms and their Atomic Cider that we couldn’t pass up an opportunity to share it with all of you!  But we don’t want to leave you stranded this weekend without a great recipe.  So you will find our TGIF recipe below:

1 part Annadale Atomic Cider
1 part Gigi Trattoria or Gigi Market
1 part delicious food (try it with our Pollo!)
Mix together and enjoy!  🙂

Learn more about Montgomery Farms and their cider here.

And find out more about Cider week here.

 

Wine Weekly – Best Wines to Pair With Our Skizzas!

As many of you may know, Gigi has won the Best of the Hudson Valley award for Best Pizza!  We are so thrilled with this honor that we are offering 20% off our Skizzas Monday-Thursday for the next two weeks if you check-in at Gigi Trattoria on Facebook, Yelp or Foursquare.  Gigi not only wants to give you a great deal but we also want you to get the most from your Skizza experience.  So for this week’s Wine Weekly blog, we are going to let you know just what wines go best with our award-winning Skizzas!

Whether you take our word for one of these delicious pairings, or chose your own, be sure to check in on Yelp, Facebook or Foursquare to get 20% off our Skizzas, Monday-Thursday.  If you come in on Wednesday, all our or bottles of wine are 30% off!  Now that is quite a pairing!

Let’s begin with the Margherita Skizza.  Simple yet satisfying.  Our infamous thin crust is topped with Gigi Tomato Sauce, a blend of mozzarella, swiss & provolone cheese and finished with fragrant fresh basil and a touch of dried oregano.  A wine to pair with such perfect simplicity must be bold yet refreshing.  The Evodia Grenache from Cataluyd, Spain is just that.  The minerality enhances the earthiness of the herbs while hints of black cherry and raspberry add a new depth of sweetness to tomato sauce.  For only $8 a glass and $25 a bottle, you will be making the Evodia-Margherita pairing your new “go-to” in no time!

For meat lover’s there is no Skizza better than the Mamma.  Tangy Gigi Tomato Sauce topped with plenty of cheese and thin slices of robust fennel salami and Tuscan-style porchetta make for a fulfilling 10” of flavor.  To hold up to such a powerful Skizza, you need a wine that delivers.  The Altos de la Hoya Monastrell is just that.  Firm tannins, minerality and a hint of spice in this Spanish wine make it strong enough to pair with the heartiness of the Mama while hints of dark berry and red fruit make the Monastrell well-balanced.  This 92% Monastrell and 8% Garnacha is $10 a glass and $26 a bottle, an affordable pairing for an irresistible Skizza.

Seasonality is important at Gigi Trattoria and we are showcasing the flavors of fall with our Zucca Skizza.  Creamy Delicata squash “pesto” is topped with Coach Farm Fig Goat Cheese, thinly sliced coppa and crispy fried sage leaves.  This Skizza is a delicate balance of sweet and savory with a hint of spice from the coppa.  Either of the red wines mentioned above pair nicely with this Skizza but we believe the best pairing for the Zucca is the admired Lugana Limne.  The refined bouquet compliments the crispy sage while the subtle fruit accents bring out the flavor of the squash and hint of fig.  The Lugana can be paired with any Skizza or sipped on its own for just $10 a glass and $33 a bottle.

Last but not least is one of our most popular pairings, the Bianca Skizza with the Gavi.  Loved by staff and customers alike, nothing beats a warm Bianca with a crisp glass of Gavi.  If you are not familiar with the Bianca, it is our traditional crust topped with Gigi Fig Jam, creamy Coach Farm Goat Cheese, shaved pear, Sky Farm arugula and finished with white truffle oil.  To go with such a complex Skizza, you need a quality wine.  The Stefano Massone’s Vigneto Masera Gavi made from 100% Cortese grapes brings out the flavor of pear and fig.  The citrus notes of the Gavi cut the richness of the goat cheese resulting in a clean palate.  If you don’t already know the Gavi is $10 a glass and $30 a bottle, a steal for such an excellent wine.

Whether you take our word for one of these delicious pairings, or chose your own, be sure to check in on Yelp, Facebook or Foursquare to get 20% off our Skizzas, Monday-Thursday.  If you come in on Wednesday, all our or bottles of wine are 30% off!  Now that is quite a pairing!

 

Staff Spotlight – Brandon Cole

Brandon Cole is the guy who does it all at Gigi Hudson Valley, he’s truly among our MVPs. He bounces between the Trattoria, the Market and catered events, sometimes all within a given day! He began his Gigi ‘career’ 6 years ago at the age of 15 when he started bussing tables at the Trattoria. From that position he moved up to food runner, learning the ins and outs of kitchen timing and etiquette from Chef Wilson Costa. Today, Brandon is skilled in just about every position at every one of our businesses, both front and back of house.

I travel from site to site and inevitably I see Brandon. He is kind of like “Where’s Waldo?”  First I see him at Gigi Market making 600 Skizza shells. Then I head to the Trattoria, and there he is! He is crisp, tailored, and professional,  bringing your favorite dish to the table. Rounding out his skills, as a certified “gear head” he’s one of the few that is entrusted with driving our 40 foot catering/food truck and trailer from location to location. So how does a guy that does all this relax? By biking 75-100 miles a week and hunting and fishing with boyhood friends.

Brandon was born and raised in Red Hook, NY, and his passion for Italian cooking goes deep.  His grandfather Frank Chiarella, who emigrated to NY from northern Italy as a young boy, owned a restaurant named Frank’s in Valatie, NY during the mid-70s. During our conversations Brandon told me that he, “always wanted to be chef.” It’s not really fair to interview Mom, but since I know her…(sorry Brandon 🙂 ) she offered up that baked cookies would be waiting for her at home when Brandon had a snow day from school. When I asked Brandon if he likes to cook at home now he said, “Yes, but I’m around food so much, I don’t cook that much at home anymore.”  Yet, he says when he purchases his first home, the kitchen will be a top priority. He definitely has the passion. But that passion is shared with one for law enforcement. Brandon’s father spent much of his career on the local police force and Brandon plans to follow in his footsteps – becoming a NYS Trooper.

Whatever his future plans are, those of us who have watched him grow, learn, and mature know that he will be a successful and valuable asset to any who are lucky enough to work with him.

T.G.I.F. Cocktail – Cranberry Cobbler

We finally noticed this week  that all the leaves are turning color. It always seems to sneak up on us. We’re never sure if we weren’t paying attention or it really did happen overnight? All of the great and vibrant oranges and reds we’re seeing around us inspired our delicious cocktail this week, the cranberry cobbler. Perfect for a fall weekend!

Cranberry Cobbler

Place about a dozen cranberries in a shaker and muddle thoroughly with about a teaspoon of cane sugar. Then add:

1 1/2 oz Bourbon (we use Bulleit)
1 oz Carpana Antica sweet vermouth
1 oz blood orange juice

Shake all the ingredients in a shaker with ice. Strain into martini glass or enjoy on the rocks. Leave the cranberries in the drink for a festive look. Enjoy!

Wine Weekly – Côtes du Gascogne

One of the captivating things about Gigi Trattoria’s wine list is that it is forever changing. Last week we introduced a Primitivo from Italy.This week we take a trip to France to feature a Côtes du Gascogne.

Côtes du Gascogne is a wine growing district in Gascony, the South West region of France.  This region is best known as the Armagnac producing region or the Pays Basque.The climate of the Basque Region of France is influenced by not only the Mediterranean but the Atlantic as well. This results in a wet spring but generally a sunny rest of the year making for alluvial soil with some clay and sand. Mostly white wines, like the Côtes du Gascogne are produced here.

This 50% Colombard and 40% Uni Blanc is rounded out by 10% Gros Manseng. Colombard and Uni Blanc were traditionally used to make Cognac.Colombard had become less popular in France during the 1970’s but when Californians started using it, it came back into fashion. It has an off-dry characteristic that pairs nicely with the floral notes of the Gros Manseng and the high acidity of the Ugni Blanc or Trebbiano. This wine has notes of pineapple and a bit of a grassy undertone that pairs well with salads and lighter greens. We recommend trying it with the Mela salad.  The fruit of the wine brings out the sweetness of the Mead Orchard apples while the acidity compliments the fattiness of the bacon and creaminess of Ewe’s Blue Cheese dressing.

We have a limited supply of this treasure of Gascony so you must stop by Gigi Trattoria and try it soon!  For only $8 a glass or $28 this delicious white blend is sure to please.  If you come by on Wednesday, all our bottles of wine are 30% off!  If you happen to miss the Côtes du Gascogne at Gigi Trattoria you can also try it Gigi Market by the ½ Carafe!  Wherever you sip it, it will surely take you on a trip to France.

Maple Pumpkin Polenta

Yesterday, Gigi Hudson Valley participated in a great event in support of Olana, the historic estate just outside Hudson. The fundraiser was entitled “Eat for Art’s Sake.” Each participating Hudson Valley eatery who volunteered their services, created a dish to be sampled at the gala, inspired by one of Frederick Church’s paintings (the artist who also built Olana in 1870.)

Gigi’s owner, Laura Pensiero,  chose “Clouds Over Olana”.

Inspired by the painting, Gigi Hudson Valley presented a Vegetable Hash over Maple Pumpkin Polenta. While the dish was not a literal interpretation of the painting, it served as inspiration, and it allowed Gigi HV to take advantage of great local and seasonal ingredients! As Laura noted, “It’s a very colorful plate that went with the back drop of the setting and  looked like a fall day. What we were trying to do was grab the season and bring that into the food, which this painting seemed to represent best.  We used Hudson Valley ingredients: New York State maple syrup and polenta from Wild Hive Farm and Store, in Clinton Corners,  with pumpkin from Mead Orchards, in Tivoli, as well as carrots, turnips. squash, and celery.”

We thought we would share the recipe for the Maple Pumpkin Polenta, enjoy!

Maple Pumpkin Polenta

This is among the most popular side dishes during the fall and winter months at Gigi Trattoria. The addition of pumpkin and maple syrup adds a seasonal and a festive hue to polenta. We buy ground cornmeal from Wild Hive Farm in nearby Clinton Corners. Any coarse grain cornmeal can substitute. Enjoy the slightly sweet notes balanced by a little spice from cayenne pepper.

Serves 4

1½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 ¼ cups finely ground yellow cornmeal
1½ cups pumpkin puree (boiled,drained,and pureed or 100 percent natural canned pumpkin)
⅓ cup pure maple syrup
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1 tablespoon butter

Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the salt and the olive oil, reduce the heat to simmer, and gradually whisk in the cornmeal, a small amount at a time, to prevent clumping. Reduce the heat to low and cook the polenta, stirring often, until tender and it is pulling away from the sides of the pan, about 25 minutes. Stir in the pumpkin puree, maple syrup, and cayenne and cook another minute or two, then remove from the heat and stir in the Parmigiano Reggiano and the butter. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve warm.

Nutrition: Polenta (cornmeal) is a whole grain. The pumpkin contributes enough beta-carotene to supply about 25 percent of your daily needs of vitamin A.

Note: This recipe can be found in the Gigi Good Food Cookbook, Hudson Valley Mediterranean.

T.G.I.F. Cocktail – The Hudson Valley Pear Martini

Thank goodness another Friday is upon us, and for many, the start of a long weekend with Columbus Day on the horizon. We love long weekends, especially because it gives us more time to try one of the super delicious cocktails on our fall menu; the Hudson Valley Pear Martini!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 oz. House Infused Pear Vodka
2 oz. Pear Nectar
1 tsp Orgeat Syrup *
1/2 oz. fresh lime juice

Combine all ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with a sprinkle of fresh nutmeg and a slice of pear. Enjoy!

 

*Orgeat Syrup is an almond flavored syrup.

Wine Weekly – La Corte Primitivo

Exciting news from the Gigi Trattoria wine list!  Starting this week the delicious and affordable La Corte Primitivo will be featured as one of our wines availble by the glass or by the bottle.  If you are not familiar with this Italian red, keep reading.  And if you are, you will be a La Corte Primitivo expert by the next time you order a glass.

In the heel of Italy’s boot, not far from Lecce is the La Corte estate.  La Corte focuses on old vine versions of Primitivo and Negroamaro producing 328,000 bottles a year.  The winemaker Giuseppe Caragnulo has been producing wine at La Corte for over 20 years but the estate did not become popular until 1998.

Both wines from La Corte are fruit-driven.  The La Corte Primitivo is aged more than a year in oak, has refined tannins and a balanced structure.  It has notes of blackberry, strawberry and peppercorn but finishes like raw cherry.  The balance of the Primitivo  makes it a beautiful wine to drink on its own.

We recommend sampling the Primitivo with our Verdure or Margarita Skizza.  The fruit characteristics of the La Corte Primitivo and the light tannins pair nicely with the simplicity of the Skizza.  And for only $10 a glass or $24 a bottle, this will quickly become one of your go-to wines.  Don’t forget that if you come in on Wednesday, all our bottles of wine are 30% off!  Come in and try our newest edition to our glass wine list and sip a taste of Puglia.