Tag Archives: Drinks


I spent Christmas in Germany a few years ago and found this amazing drink called Glühwein (pron: glue-vine) that’s served in all the Christmas markets and restaurants the entire holiday season.  It’s basically a hot spiced mulled red wine that tastes and smells just like Christmas.  I fell in love with it and have been making it every Christmas ever since then to remind me of the fun time we had in Germany.  With a bit of trial and error, I’ve perfected the simple recipe to suit my tastes, which is not to sweet with a hint of citrus and a burst of cinnamon and cloves.


  • ½ – ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 orange
  • 1 lemon
  • 20 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1-2 bottles of red wine (I use 2 buck chuck from Trader Joes)


Bring the sugar and water  to a rolling boil.

Cut the lemon and orange in half and squeeze the juices from both halves of both fruits into the pot with the sugar and water.  Add the cinnamon stick.

Stick 10 cloves in each half of the orange and place in the pot (clove side down) along with the lemon halves and simmer the mixture on low for 30 minutes.  Your house will start to smell like Christmas at this point….

Pour in the first bottle of red wine and heat on low.  Taste the mixture, and if it is too sweet for your liking then add some of the 2nd bottle of wine.  I typically use 1.5 bottles of red but sometimes use 2 full bottles when I have more people coming over.

It’s important to heat the wine but never let it come to a boil because the alcohol will cook out of it!

Serve in mugs with optional cinnamon sticks for straws.

Here’s a picture of the Christmas market in Köln, Germany, at the base of the Dom Cathedral (Kölner Dom), which was one of my favorites:


The Perfect Cup of Coffee

Coffee from Stumptown Coffee Roasters in Portland, OR

Some of you have asked me how to make the perfect cup of coffee.  I’m here to tell you that it’s not rocket science, but it does involve a few key factors.  Thanks to my friends Anton & Luke who founded Smoltz Roasters in Mississippi I learned the best way to get the best home brew possible.

Anton & Luke of Smotlz Roasters (This photo: http://www.smoltzroasters.info)


First, you should always buy whole beans.  The BA Foodist in this month’s Bon Appetit recommends buying ethically sourced and artisanal roasted beans with a ‘roasted on’ date and only buying what you will use during the week.


Second, you should NOT store your beans in the freezer.  Anton & Luke informed me when they saw my cheap $10 3lb bag of Costco ground coffee in the freezer that this was exactly the opposite of what I should be doing.  Beans or grinds stored in the freezer can absorb flavors of the various foods in your freezer, which in my case included fish (eek!), beef, chicken, and indian masala veggie patties.  Gross.


Third, you should always grind your coffee with a burr grinder just before use.  Anton & Luke informed me of the ‘Rule of the 15’s’, which is that green coffee lasts 15 months, roasted coffee lasts 15 days, and ground coffee goes stale after 15 minutes!  This was a rude awakening for my sad bag of pre-ground coffee that had been sitting in my freezer for 3 months.  It also made me realize that even grinding coffee before bed and setting the auto-drip maker on a timer for the morning was always going to produce stale coffee.


My burr grinder

The other piece to this is that in order to get the most even grind in your coffee beans and thus the most even taste you should use a burr grinder.  Anyone who has watched a blade grinder has seen the way the beans jump around before they hit the blade, which results in an uneven grind.  I use the Cuisinart DBM-8 Supreme Grinder.


For the best results you should use a French press.  Unlike a drip coffee maker, the French press allows the flavor and oils of the beans to stay in direct contact with the brewing water rather than be trapped in a paper filter. Also, unless you are making over 8 cups of coffee, an autodrip coffee maker is not going to have time to heat up the water enough to properly extract the flavors from the beans.


Lastly, the water that you use should always be filtered for the most pure taste.


This is stated on most bags of coffee but for the best taste I use 2 tbsp of ground coffee per 6 oz of water.

Sounds a little more involved than it actually is, but once you have it down you’ll be on your way to a great home brew.