cooking with grappa!

January 8, 2008


me and my grappa!

first off … grappa? no, it’s not a hypocorism for my grandfather. it’s a drink that, as a recent article in the New York Times Magazine described, is “not for the mild of heart or palate.” of grappa, the writer Italo Calvino wrote: “suitable only for defrocked priests, unemployed bookkeepers and husbands who have been cuckolded.” it’s a brandy-like beverage distilled from the bits of grape (peel, stems, and other remains) leftover from the process of making wine. it is a clear, un-aged liquid, the quality of which, like wine, depends on the fruit and process used to make it.

now to my first experience with the stuff. out of that same New York Times Magazine article i discovered a recipe for fish poached in a tomato and grappa sauce! i had never even tried grappa before, but the adventurous soul i am, went out and bought a bottle to experiment with. i found a great bottle of pinot gris grappa made by a British Columbia distillery, Okanagan Spirits. because of its high alcohol content (ranging from 30 – 80%, although the Ok Springs brew is 40%) the key to cooking with grappa is to burn off a lot of the pure alcohol. what your left with is its (if you’ve chosen a quality grappa) good taste.

the sauce i made was super simple: some olive oil, garlic and canned plum tomatoes all simmered together, with a pinch of salt, pepper and saffron! then the fish (i used basa fillets, but i think any white fish would do) is poached in the sauce, and at the last minute the grappa is added and allowed to simmer for a time, until as much of the alcohol is burned off as you prefer. we ate the fish with the sauce over top. it was delicious.

thanks to the New York Times Mag for this bit of culinary delight, and to Aleksandra Crapanzano who wrote the article, and whose mother is the inspiration for the recipe.


4 Responses to “cooking with grappa!”

  1. webdiva Says:

    Grappa is definitely not for the faint of heart (for drinking it, that is!)

  2. nathanz Says:

    yes, it’s strong stuff! a great way to experience grappa (and not get knocked out!) is to rub a tiny bit of it onto the back of your hand and smell it. if it’s good, you’ll be able to discern its more subtle qualities, like its fruit tones, etc.

  3. Ville Says:

    Grappa! I was really into it a couple of years ago. Still have a bottle in Sweden, it’s great! I can’t say I have had too many different kinds, but did have a few one night in Milan, woke up the next morning feeling really great. I did end up afterpartying with it sometimes when I was into that in high school, but the next morning experiences weren’t as good, as were the grappa I had. I think Grappa is great, but to me, it comes in periods when I feel more for it more than other times. To me the best time to have it is after a very nice meal. Cooking with it sounds like a great idea! I might try it with the rest of the bottle I have back in Sweden. Nice post!

  4. I want some grappa! I want some grappa!

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