So-called “dry” January offers enough nonalcoholic liquid these days to float Noah’s Ark. Add to the list another cheeky entry from Louis and Matt Catizone, the alchemists behind St. Agrestis in Brooklyn. Joining their alcohol-free Phony Negroni is the new Amaro Falso. It offers the same blend of herbs, botanicals and citrus as their regular Amaro, making it as seriously bitter but with no alcohol. It comes in individual 200 milliliter (6.8 ounce) bottles with a smidgen of added carbonation; serve it before or after dinner chilled or over ice. Another splash of seltzer tamps down its aggressive impulses a bit.
Amaro Falso, $59.99 for 12 bottles, stagrestis.com.
A Napa Valley Wine Memoir
Serious viticulture started in the Napa Valley in the 19th Century, but as the winemaker Tor Kenward explains in his memoir, “Reflections of a Vintner,” its meteoric rise happened mostly during the past 50 years. Mr. Kenward, who worked at Beringer Vineyards for decades and since 2001 has co-owned the esteemed Tor Wines, has organized the book almanac-style, month by month. January is the perfect time to crack it open. What makes it so compelling is the roster of landmark names and events in wine and food, woven into an account of winemaking and history. You’ll meet Joe Heitz, the Mondavis, Belle and Barney Rhodes, Karen MacNeil, Jeremiah Tower, Julia Child, Madeleine Kamman, Thomas Keller, Steven Spurrier and even R.W. “Johnny” Apple of The New York Times. Mr. Kenward’s wife, Susan Costner Kenward, was a founder of the Loaves & Fishes shop in the Hamptons. Alas, there is no index.
“Reflections of a Vintner: Stories and Seasonal Wisdom from a Lifetime in Napa Valley” by Tor Kenward (Cameron + Company, $26).
A Bakeshop Born From the Pandemic
It’s another pandemic story: Lucie Franc de Ferriere, who grew up on a farm in Southwest France where her parents run a bed-and-breakfast and a bakery, got a degree in art history and worked in galleries. She lost her job when the pandemic hit and began freelance baking using what she learned at home from her mother. Now, the 27-year old has her own compact shop with a few seats at a window counter, opening Saturday in the East Village, where the specialty is Instagrammable layer cakes in various sizes lavishly decorated with fresh flowers. “It’s what my family was known for,” she said. Home-style, often rustic loaf cakes, cookies and tarts are on their way.
From Lucie, 263 East 10th Street (First Avenue), 917-409-0771, fromlucie.com.
Prepared Meals from Top Chefs
There have long been high-end meal delivery services for those seeking dinner party-style prepared food. A new one, Moveable Feast, featuring menus designed by the chefs of Michelin-starred restaurants, serves parties of four or more. It’s now up and ready with the chef Amanda Cohen’s Dirt Candy in New York for January. The vegetarian menu offers Cheddar and parsley Chex nibbles, seaweed “caviar” sandwiches, cauliflower schnitzel with grits, chopped salad, pickled cabbage, gigante beans, a baguette with amba (pickled mango) and labneh butter, and popcorn pudding. Prepared dishes and other ingredients are well packaged, instructions (printed, QR code and video) are clear and efficient, and quantities are generous. February brings Ernest in San Francisco followed by such restaurants as Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder, Colo., and Compère Lapin in New Orleans. Dinner for four is $385, for eight, $770, and for 12, $1,155, including shipping; there is availability in 10 states. (Nationwide shipping will begin in March.) It is the work of John Stubbs, an owner of Jewel of the South; Jon Sybert of Tail Up Goat and Revelers Hour in Washington, D.C.; and Ricardo Reyes, a marketing specialist.
Oui, FreshDirect Has Escargots
In some corner of FreshDirect’s vast warehouse in the Bronx, along with the Cheerios, ketchup and heads of fresh broccoli, the online to-your-door grocer has now sequestered a supply of escargots. Oui, plump French snails in their shells packed with regulation parsley and garlic butter, come frozen and imported from Nomade des Jardins, a snail cultivator in Adriers in western France. They’re in a foil tray ready to be popped into the oven and placed on the table sizzling hot in less than 10 minutes. At a little more than a buck apiece they’re cheaper than oysters that you have to shuck yourself. If your arsenal is equipped with the proper clamps and skinny forks, so much the better. But with a napkin you can hold the hot shell and use an hors d’oeuvre pick to extract the luscious morsels. Crusty bread for mop-up is a must.
Escargots, $12.99 for 12, freshdirect.com.
Kalustyan’s Gets Into the Sauce Game
Maya Kaimal, the cookbook author and creator of Indian food products, introduced her Simmer Sauces nearly 20 years ago. Kalustyan’s, the encyclopedic spice emporium in Murray Hill, was among the first to sell them, and now the store has brought out a line of its own shelf-stable simmer sauces. They offer five of them: Malabar Coconut Curry, Khorma Curry, Vindaloo Spicy Curry, Makhni Tikka Masala, and Kadai Tomato Masala. The Khorma, Malabar and Tikka Masala are thick, smooth and lightly spiced. The Kadai is chunkier and more forceful in flavor, and the Vindaloo is oily, ruddy and the most fiery. At their most basic, you can simply heat them with added shrimp, meat, fish, chicken, vegetables, tofu or paneer, and serve them over rice.
Kalustyan’s Indian Simmer Sauces, 12 ounces, $7.99, foodsofnations.com.