Tag Archive for whiskey

Broadslab Legacy Reserve Hand-Crafted Liquor

Broadslab Legacy Reserve Hand-Crafted Liquor
Johnston County, North Carolina
45% BV
 

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This Broadslab liquor comes from a legacy of moonshiners according to the label. It’s corn heavy for a whiskey, but that moonshine history likely plays into that. Yellow corn is the coloring and it smells like corn, too, which either means that corn dominates its flavor profile or I’m not imaginative today. It also smells of root-vegetable starch or corn that has sat around for a while—which it has, ageing in charred oak barrels.

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That picture has rocks added, obviously. Its taste is by the book for a whiskey, by which I mean it’s both tasty and lacking in anything particularly unique. I want to call what I taste caramel corn, but it’s closer to buttered popcorn that’s stayed a bit too long in the popper—believe me, I know of what I speak. I used to work in a movie theater, and you haven’t lived until you’ve had popcorn smothered in nacho cheese when you’re a broke college student on a break. I don’t mean that snack is good, just that it’s something to experience.

Add in some pepper and stale popcorn hits the mark as a descriptor. There’s definitely a spice kick on the backwash. I know stale popcorn doesn’t sound appealing, but I honestly don’t think this is a bad whiskey. It’s plenty smooth and flavorful, but it doesn’t stand out for me.

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Bloggers’ Night at TOPO Distillery

Entrance to the distillery.

Back in the fall, I spent a few days at TOPO Distillery’s facilities as part of the Terra VITA Sustainable Classroom. It was a strange sort of torture being so close to their organic, 99.6% local (more on that later) array of spirits that includes white whiskey, vodka, and gin. So I asked Esteban McMahan, TOPO’s spirit guide, if he wouldn’t mind hosting a tour and tasting for food bloggers in the Triangle. And he said yes!

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The evening started with us bloggers slowly trickling in, a few having fallen prey to the oft-made mistake of going to Top of the Hill restaurant and brewery down the road first. That restaurant provided us with some delicious appetizers.

Salmon, cucumber, and herb cream cheese bites.

Salmon, cucumber, and herb cream cheese bites.

The pork banh mi on crostada was especially delicious.

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It’s also quite loud to crunch on when someone’s speaking. I may or may not know that from personal experience.

Esteban plied us with libations featuring their spirits as we filtered in, and I loved the blueberry cocktail.

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It was made with blueberries, simple syrup, lemon juice, and TOPO gin. The gin was a subtle undercurrent, which suits me quite well as I can often find gin overpowering in a drink. Other drinks which I did not sample were a vesper cocktail, heavy on the gin with a pretty curl of lemon—

Triangle Localista gives a vesper a try.

Triangle Localista gives a vesper a try.

–and martinis.

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Pizzeria Toro

Pizzeria Toro
105 E. Chapel Hill St.
Five Points, Durham
Website
$12 to 1$16
11 am to 11 pm daily

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Pizzeria Toro is an alluring and exciting gourmet pizza restaurant. I am jealous of downtown Durham residents who have this gem down the block.  At first look, the main dining room appears to be an office conference room with light brown, wooden, spinning chairs and a long, central table, which may be off-putting for some. But the cavernous, open-air pizza oven and kitchen dominate and bring a warm, casual vibe to the space. It’s a big city restaurant that successfully fosters a neighborhood feel. I want to spend whole nights there. I really do.

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Even the dish towels used as napkins contribute to that relaxed, welcoming atmosphere. And any restaurant playing independent rock instead of contemporary anything gets bonus points. There is a darker bar adjacent to the dining room space, but I never went in.

There are a few more cocktail combinations at Pizzeria Toro than there are appetizer or salad choices, which is a plus in my book. I decided on the Horsefeather made with rye whiskey, Blenheim’s “Old #3 Hot” ginger ale, and orange bitters served on the rocks in a tall glass.

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Going down like cinnamon candy, the drink had plenty of heat, great complexity from the bitters, and a touch of sweetness from the ale that made for a fabulous concoction. I nursed it throughout the meal, and it was good to the last drop, which is rare for an iced drink.

My husband and I shared a salad, pizza, and dessert. The salad was shaved chicory, fennel, Chapel Hill Creamery’s Calvander cheese, and truffle.

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This is when I again remark that I have no idea what truffle contributes to a dish. I have no idea if I tasted it at all. But the rest of the salad was crisp, intriguing, and fun to eat if too bitter overall. The Calvander gave the dish a fair bit of creaminess to dilute the bitter vegetables’ flavors, but it wasn’t entirely successful. I blame that on the tangy vinaigrette. Add a little cream to that, and this dish would soar.

I had no such concerns with the pizza.

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We chose the spicy lamb meatball pizza with rapini and Cacia di Roma sheep’s cheese. The thin crust was coated in something like semolina to give it grit, attractively bubbly all around, and charred on the edges. The whole pizza was shiny with that appetizing grease sheen. You know what I mean, when it’s enough to pull you in but not enough to gross you out. In other words, probably brushed with olive oil before baking. The meatballs fall apart at the slightest jostling and melt away fast in your mouth. Perhaps the roasted whole garlic cloves are a bit much, but that’s me pulling critique out of my ass. It’s a great pizza.

Dessert was just as satisfying. We had a pear crostada with clobber and caramel.

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Clobber, based on our devouring of the dessert, is that lemon curd and clotted cream hybrid dolloped on the side. The pastry was baked perfectly, and all the ingredients were top-notch. I especially liked the note of savoriness the basil sprinkle added.

Other than finding the salad a touch too bitter, our meal at Pizzeria Toro was amazing and I didn’t even try the antipasti or special ham charcuterie. I am now accepting invitations to be anyone’s dinner companion there in the future. I can’t think of a better way to while away the evening in Durham.

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Pizzeria Toro on Urbanspoon

Reviewed 6 Feb 13.

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