Thursday, November 19, 2009

Random Food Recipe and Beverage Review


One of the nicest things about having an anonymous personal blog with a financial slant is that I can write whenever I want to about whatever I want to. So I like interspersing the serious, near-macabre posts with some lighter ones, such as "The SWPL Portfolio."

I have not done a food review here, and I have done only one beverage write-up earlier this year (Wild Turkey Rare Breed Barrel Proof bourbon). I recommend this fine spirit to all, even to my regular readers in places like Vilnus or Liverpool, NSW (hi, guys!).

The food review/recipe is for cheese pie aka tyro-pita aka banitsa aka burek. There are two kinds of basic kinds of burek, rolled or layered, based on how the filo dough is folded. This one is layered, with eggs and feta cheese. I use about a pound of cheese, six eggs and a package of filo (roughly 20 14x18 sheets, or 1 pound- 454 g), oil and seltzer water. Soak the feta overnight in regular water to remove all the excess salt that they put in for some reason. It should not be saltier than ricotta or cottage cheese.

The recipe is harder than usual. So, start with a pan but do not oil it. Crumble the feta and set aside. Layer one filo sheet, brush lightly with oil, and sprinkle some of the feta. Go all the way with the filo sheets, not putting feta on top. Then cut the layers all the way through with a knife making squares about 1.5x1.5 inches in size. Beat the eggs with one glass of seltzer with a mixer and carefully pour the mix over the cuts you just made. Let it sit and soak for a few minutes, then bake until golden-brown. Once out, take two bowls, put them on the counter upside down, and flip the pan with the burek upside down on them so that the edges of the pan rest on the bowls. This way the burek will "hang" and become even fluffier after a few hours. It should be sticking to the pan which is why you should not have oiled it. Old school and delish.

Also, recently I came across a real "independent" brand French cognac. Most major brands of spirits are owned by a handful of multinationals and some people feel cheated when they find out that their "special" brand was owned by company X. I personally view "brand relationships" with a fair level of sarcasm, may be because I studied quite a bit of marketing as an undergrad, but most people to one level or another have an attachment to their favorite brands. This is why marketers describe brands as something people "love", "trust", "know", "rely on", etc. These are all "relationship" words. They even do studies to assess what % of the population remembers them in "unaided recall" and "aided recall", are we the top brand? Do we define the category? People wed to brands even more strongly when brands use personal brands as tie-ins: Lance Armstrong/Nike, Woods/Tag Heuer, and so on. Sadly, my pair of airmax shoes have failed to make me fly. Anyway, back on the topic.

So here a brand of cognac that you can have an honest relationship with: Jules Gautret. ("Maison Foundee en 1847"). Between cognac and wines, these guys have annual turnover of 18 mm euros. Definitely a nice small business. The cognac product range is here. "Jules Gautret's passion and attention to detail have been perpetuated to this day. The firm's cellar master is like an orchestra conductor, balancing sublime, subtle nuances to create a perfect harmony that reflects the heart and soul of the Cognac region." I am not a connoisseur but I liked what I tried. So stock up before some giant gobbles them up.

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