We continue our “Hosting for the Holidays” series with a complete, yet simple, guide to in-home holiday entertaining. Andrea Aretakis, Sales and Marketing Manager at Morton’s in Troy, shares her tips, ideas and no-fuss solutions!
Hosting at home for the holidays can always be challenging, but I try to make it fun and festive so everyone is comfortable and enjoying the occasion!
I always make my menu before I decide to host, then I post it by the phone! This is a great method, so when your guests call to RSVP and ask if they can bring anything, your list is in front of you as a reminder. I usually ask my guests to bring a dozen of their favorite cookie, along with a copy of the recipe to share with everyone, and a bottle of their favorite sparking wine, champagne or sparkling fruit juice. (I have a couple of guests who are the exception…my sisters Kristin makes her Four Layer Delight and Ellen makes the Jell-O Fluff.)
Having a limited menu and sticking to the plan helps streamline any stress. Making a pot of soup is always warm, inviting, easy to prepare…and everyone is always lifting the lid when they walk into the kitchen to see what’s cooking! We also serve the whole Beef Tenderloin, and I ask my local Butcher to trim the tenderloin so I don’t have to fuss with it. (I simply use Kosher Sea Salt, cracked black pepper, dried basil and chopped garlic. Then I mix the ingredients together, brush the tenderloin with olive oil, and coat the tenderloin with the mix. I layer the seasoning on thick.) When my brother Ned arrives, he becomes our “BBQ Guy” (everyone has one), and he’ll sear the tenderloin on the grill, put it in the oven for 15- 17 minutes and then rest it for a few minutes before slicing.
Here’s a look at a menu that I recommend:
Shrimp Cocktail ( I order the Colossal Shrimp Cocktail from Morton’s and pick it up at the restaurant. It’s a terrific appetizer, a ”Colossal” conversation piece and no fuss for me!)
Warm Artichoke Dip with Pita Bread
Vegetable Crudites and Dip
Mixed Field Green Salad with Pomegranate and Sunflower Seeds
Manhattan Clam Chowder
Basil and Pepper Encrusted Beef Tenderloin
Whole Grain Cracker Assortment
Rolls and Butter
Cherry Jell-O Fluff (a guest brings this)
Four Layer Delight (a guest brings this)
Assorted Cookies (one dozen of each guest’s favorite cookie)
Small Bottles of Soda
Champagne or Sparkling Wine (all guests bring a bottle)
Water Pitcher with Fresh Lemon
While the food and beverages are usually what guests think about first, you have to also consider the dinner table! I recommend getting out the China and setting your table a few days before the party. I use fresh garland in the center of the table, pine cones from the backyard sprayed with gold glitter paint, a few gold and red ornaments tied together and placed on the garland and a large gold bow in the center.
I also put a box of Godiva Chocolates at each place setting for my guests to take home, and the packaging of Godiva’s boxes adds to the table’s décor. I tie a special holiday tag on the ribbon of the box with their name and for “best wishes” in the coming year!
On the night of your party and before guests arrive, light some candles, such as apple cinnamon or Sugar Cookie, Have a small basket available for the cookie recipes, turn on the holiday music, fill the ice bucket and have the hors d’oeuvres out on the table, self-serve style, so you can enjoy the company of your friends and family!
After my party and the holidays are over, I like to thank my guests by sending a special note…along with copies of all the other guests’ cookie recipes.
I love hosting my friends and family anytime of the year, but the holidays are even more special! I hope my tips will help make your holiday hosting more manageable, less stressful and lots of fun!
Sales and Marketing Manager
Morton’s The Steakhouse – Troy
What are some of your holiday traditions when hosting friends and family? What makes your get-together stand apart during a season filled with holiday parties?
Like many of our business guests, I do my fair share of travel. Recently, I visited Asia for a two week period, at rapid speed, to see potential sites and (hopefully) some future Morton’s locations. I wanted to share some of my thoughts with you throughout my travels, city by city:
Tokyo: My first stop on this tour and my first ever trip to Japan. What an amazing metropolis of nearly 13 million people, filled with great restaurants, and high end shopping and fashion. I also traveled to wonderful areas like Roppongi Hills and Ginza. Tokyo might possibly be an exciting future destination for the Morton’s brand.
Beijing: Outstanding visit to Beijing! Being the capital of one of the fastest growing economies certainly makes this city enticing to open up a global restaurant and my expectations were high before my visit. I have seen and heard so much of this thriving city and now after this trip, I am even more convinced and excited about a potential Morton’s here. A top city in China, Beijing offers the perfect brand alignment for us. I can’t wait to find the perfect location and open our first Morton’s here.
Taipei: Another great potential city for a Morton’s steakhouse. “The Best Steak Anywhere” would make a real splash in this amazing city. As I talked to many folks and business travelers I discovered there was strong brand awareness already here in Taipei, even though we don’t have a Morton’s in this city. A good reminder to me of how prestigious our brand is in Asia and what great opportunities lie ahead for us in this part of the world.
Macau: Morton’s has been here for four years in the Venetian Hotel and Casino. One of the top 25 tourist destinations in the world, we continue to be a point of destination restaurant and a wonderful oasis for expats and travelers. Our management and staff at Morton’s in Macau truly make all the difference. Our business continues to get stronger here each year.
Hong Kong: This was our second Morton’s restaurant that we opened in Asia, back in 1999, and we’re located in the Sheraton Hotel. What a gorgeous view of Hong Kong, right from my table! We continue to win “Best of” Awards here every year! And we’re so involved in the community as well. We have a very tenured management team lead by our General Manager Steve McCrimmon, and he and his staff have created an American Steakhouse institution in Hong Kong….endless stories of local and expat “WOW” experiences! Recreating the Chicago steakhouse experience in Hong Kong! We are excited in our pursuit of a second Hong Kong Morton’s–more to come on that.
Singapore: Our first Morton’s in Asia, it’s hard to believe that we opened in the prestigious Mandarin Hotel way back in May of 1998! Every time I visit this wonderful city, I get more enamored with this incredible country and how the Morton’s brand has grown with it. Our Singapore location serves as our stepping stone for growth and expansion throughout Asia and has taken care of so many business travelers over our 13 successful years in this market. I am so proud of our people and our reputation here! I feel honored to represent our company and I had the chance to promote our brand and Asia expansion on a recent segment on Channel News Asia.
Shanghai: And now to visit our first restaurant we opened in Mainland China. Morton’s in the IFC celebrated its One Year Anniversary in October. Beautiful views, 11 private rooms, and alfresco patios looking right at the Pearl in Pudong. And of course the BEST STEAK money can buy, delivered by our highly trained and caring Morton’s staff! This is certainly our winning formula. I can’t wait for Morton’s Shanghai #2. One of my highlights was meeting Stacy Ohlsson and Randy Zinck, two Morton’s regular guests. Randy has made it his “Bucket List” to dine at every Morton’s location and had designed a visit to China around dining at three of our Asia Morton’s, in Hong Kong, Macau and Shanghai. [Read the recap of their Shanghai adventure below]
What an unforgettable trip for me. We have such a special brand and our success here is made possible by our dedicated and passionate people in each of these cities! I am so touched to see our unparalleled brand be so recognized amongst the finest brands throughout the world! I leave Asia, once again, humbled by the dedication of the Morton’s staff, which makes all the difference with our guests and in each of our local communities.
Great trip and I was so happy to return home to Chicago to see my family….yes, back to my “home” city and the place where it all started for Morton’s!
Hope you enjoyed some the notes I jotted down along the way on my junket throughout Asia. If you ever plan to visit one of our Morton’s overseas, please let us know so we can be ready to take great care of you…I believe you will be amazed as I was…how the American steakhouse experience really resonates in Asia…and why I am so excited about our future in that part of the world!
The Morton’s Tour: Shanghai Morton’s
After enjoying dinner at Morton’s in Hong Kong and Macau, we journeyed to Shanghai via train. The guide books said that we didn’t need reservations in advance but we played it safe and got our tickets two days ahead of time. Much to our dismay, there were no first or second-class seats available. We would be stuck in the top bunk of a 6-bunk room. Square footage was maybe 48”. And stuck is right as we couldn’t even sit up. It was quite an adventurous 20-hour ride.
The skyscrapers and lights in Shanghai were impressive. The subway system is extensive so it was really easy to get around. Morton’s is on the fourth floor of a trendy and expansive shopping mall. It was breathtaking, as there are 11 private rooms and many of them have views of the spectacular skyline. The bar is oversized and has a nice deck with heaters so guys like Randy can have a cigar. It’s the largest Morton’s in the world!
Once again, the Morton’s staff was stellar and we were treated like royalty. We had our own corner room with a beautiful view of the city. Many different employees greeted us and we were all on a first name basis by the end of the night. The menu was, of course, the same, but the beef was from New Zealand instead of the United States. It was delicious and we added lobster to the deal which was decadent and heavenly.
We had so much fun that we returned the next day for happy hour and a view of the sunset from the deck. The same employees were there (Managers Frederic, Stan, and Diego, and the wait staff) and they kept us entertained the whole time.
We were also delighted to run into Morton’s President and CEO, Christopher Artinian and Asia’s Director of Operations, David Martin once again. We chatted with both of them and were really impressed by their dedication to the company as a whole and specifically to valuing each team member.
We returned to the U.S. on November 22. Randy continued his Morton’s Tour, however, and dined in Las Vegas after Thanksgiving with friends from Wisconsin; it was his friend Larry’s first Morton’s experience along with his nephew’s 40th birthday. Next Morton’s stop for Randy is Honolulu!
By Stacy Ohlsson and Randy Zinck
For today’s issue of “Wine Wednesday,” I wanted to feature one of our ‘Wines by the Glass’ selections. It may not be familiar to you (outside of your Harry Poter books), but I encourage you to taste why this wine is so magical!
PROPRIETARY NAME VARIETAL, VINEYARD DESIGNATION
Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Grenache, Petite Verdot
Created by the same team behind Evening Land Vineyard’s acclaimed Pinot Noirs and Chadonnays, movie producer Mark Talov and winemaker Sashi Moorman take on Provence with this special Cabernet blend.
Modeled after the sun-drenched, spicy, full-bodied wines of Provence, the Sorcerer is predominately a Cabernet wine with Syrah, Grenache, and Petit Verdot blended in for complexity and distinction. The grapes were harvested from the Napa Valley and Central Coast. Silky tannins and flavors of ripe, dark colored fruits and toasted spices follow the bouquet of cassis, tobacco, grilled toast and crushed pepper.
A New York Strip steak with Au Poivre sauce. The soft tannins and full body will pair well with the richness of the meat and the heat of the sauce.
Click here to view our entire “Wines by the Glass” selection, available in most Morton’s locations. We invite you to try a glass or Sorcerer or anything else on our list in the comfort of Morton’s bar. We also offer specially-priced Bar Bites that pair perfectly with our wine and spirit selections.
We continue our “Hosting for the Holidays” series with the secrets of Chef Joe Raila’s Christmas Eve feast. Our Executive Chef from Morton’s in Brooklyn shares his family’s vault of recipes for a delicious traditional Italian-American meal.
Happy holidays to all!!! I love Christmas time! The countless hours at work, cold weather, long lines at the malls, extra heavy traffic and high balances on the credit cards…
Err, I mean, it’s the time for giving, family, and most of all, for cooking the special meals that are only prepared this time of the year.
Most of you know I am from an Italian American family. Well, Joe Raiola from Brooklyn…what else would I be?!?! OHHEHHOHH. Okay, enough fooling around. Let’s get to it.
My family always has a fish feast for Christmas Eve. Yes, “the seven fishes.” (This tradition started in southern Italy and is also known as the Vigil, representing the celebration of the wait for the birth of baby Jesus. The fish was eaten on this day because it’s a holy day, and most Roman Catholics don’t eat meat or dairy on some of the holy days.) So, after long conversation with my oldest Aunt Lucille, she finally broke down and gave me some of our old family tips, secrets and recipes. She is the oldest in our family and has been cooking Christmas dinner the longest, so who better to ask?
Truthfully, there aren’t really any “recipes” per se. Aunt Lucille instead uses the “pinch of this, pinch of that” method. The most important thing I learned from her was the techniques on how to cook this meal…not necessarily following an exact recipe. This is what separates the good food from the really good food. If you follow theses recipes, and tips!, you’ll give your guests some lasting, and delicious memories of your Christmas celebration. Here we go….
Christmas Eve at the Raiola’s
Shrimp Oreganata, Seafood Salad, Lobster FraDiavlo,
and Homemade Zeppolies with Madera and Chocolate
Yields 8 portions
8 oz. carrots, roughly chopped
8 oz. celery, roughly chopped
1 large onion, roughly chopped
6 cloves garlic
6 bay leaves
3 Tbsp. salt
1 1/2 lbs. conk meat
2 lbs. squid (calamari) tubes and tentacles, cleaned
1 ½ lbs. jumbo shrimp (16-20 count), peeled and deveined
1 octopus, 6 to 8 lbs.
10 cloves of garlic
2 cups celery, small dice
½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup “flavorful water”
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
4 lemons, juiced
- A day before you plan to serve this, add the first 6 ingredients to a gallon and a half of water and let simmer until the vegetables are soft (about an hour.)
- In the meantime, slice the squid into ¼ inch rings and pull the long tentacles off the heads. Separate the legs from the rings.
- After the veggies are soft, strain the liquid and return it back to the stove and bring it to a rolling boil. Drop the squid rings in and cook for anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes. You want them just cooked. (The only way to check is to taste a piece, and it shouldn’t be raw or too chewy.)
- When they’re ready, immediately put them into iced water to stop the cooking process. Do the same for the tentacles, although they might need to cook for another minute. TIP: Timing on this is everything!!! If you cook them too long, you will make squid gummy.
- Next add the shrimp. They are usually just about done when the water returns to a boil. Again you want them just cooked. Check to see that they’re white all the way through. Immediately put them in the ice water until cold. Same deal, overcooked = shrimp gum = no good.
- When the water comes back up to a boil, add the conk and the octopus. Bring it to a simmer and cook the conk about 45 minutes. Let it cool and slice it as thin as possible, because it can be very chewy if sliced too thick. The octopus is going to take a little longer. You’ll know it’s ready when it’s about 1/3rd of its original size and the legs are soft enough to pull apart.
- Save a cup of the boiling liquid, the “flavorful water.” (That’s what it’s called in my house. The French call it a “court bouillon.”)
- My aunt only uses the legs of the octopus, leaving the suction cups on, and throws the rest out. Slice the legs into ¼ inch thick rings.
- Put all the seafood in a bowl and toss with the celery, parsley, red pepper, flavorful water and olive oil.
- Refrigerate overnight and season it with lemon juice, salt and black pepper when you’re ready to serve it. Oh, and tell your guests to watch out for the whole garlic cloves!
Yields 8 portions
2 lbs. jumbo shrimp, (16/20 count), peeled and deveined
3 cups plain breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. fresh garlic, minced
1 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped fine
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. paprika
3 oz. extra virgin oil
¼ cup white wine (whatever you have is fine)
- In a bowl, mix all the ingredients but the shrimp. Make sure there are no garlic lumps. Set aside.
- Arrange the shrimp on a baking pan. TIP: My aunt says not to grease the pan, because they come out better that way.
- Pack the bread crumbs over the shrimp.
- Bake them in at 350F oven for 30 minutes or so.
- Serve with lemons.
Yields 8 portions
2 2 lb. lobsters
1 cup white onion, minced
12 cups canned crushed tomatoes (I like Red Pack brand)
2 bay leaves
1 cup broth
4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. fresh garlic, minced
2 dozen little neck clams, rinsed
12 dozen. Mussels, cleaned
1 ½ cups white wine (whatever you have)
1 Tbsp. crushed red pepper flakes
3 Tbsp. fresh basil leaves, sliced thin
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
2 oz. unsalted butter
2 lbs. linguine
- Put two cups of water in a really large pot and bring to a boil.
- Now add the two lobsters and cover them. Let them steam for 3 minutes.
- Set lobsters aside and save the broth.
- When the lobsters are cold, split them in half with a really sharp knife, right down the middle. Now clean out the cavity and crack the claws with the back of the knife. Set aside.
- In a medium pot, sauté the onions over medium heat, with the two tablespoons of oil, until soft. Then add the tomatoes and the steaming liquid and let it simmer for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring another large pot of salted water to a boil for the linguine.
- Now in your largest sauté pan, put the rest of the olive oil, garlic and clams on the stove over high heat to brown. When the garlic is browned, place the lobsters cut side up.
- De-glaze with the white wine and add the mussels, red pepper and tomato sauce. Cover and simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Let’s add the linguine to the boiling water, stirring often to prevent it from sticking. Let it boil for about 9 minutes for perfect al dente pasta.
- Pull the clams and mussels out of the pan as they start to open. The lobsters should be done when the last clam comes out.
- Strain the linguine, add it to the sauce and finish it with the basil, parsley, butter, salt and pepper.
- Arrange beautifully on a platter and indulge!!!
Homemade Zeppoles with Chocolate and Madera Sauce
Yields 8 portions
2 vanilla beans, split
2 cups water
½ cup sugar
8 oz. unsalted butter
½ tsp. salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups canola oil, for frying
8 oz. milk chocolate
¼ cup heavy cream
2 cups Madera wine
1 brown paper bag
- In a medium sauce pot, combine vanilla bean, water, salt and sugar over medium heat.
- When the butter is melted, add the flour and stir continuously until the mix forms a ball. Transfer the dough into a bowl and add 1 egg at a time. Don’t add the next egg until the first one is completely mixed in.
- In a medium sauce pot, add the oil over medium heat. I like to fry at 350F. TIP: If you don’t have a thermometer, you can test the oil by putting a small piece of the dough in it. It should start to fry right away.
- While you’re waiting for your oil to get hot, melt the chocolate, cream and Madera over a double boiler.
- When your oil is ready, carefully drop about 2 tablespoons of the dough into the oil. TIP: Don’t overcrowd the oil with too many zeppoles at once. This will cause the oil to drop in temperature.
- Fry for about 3 minutes on each side, and then put them in the brown bag.
- When they are all done, arrange them on a platter, drizzle the melted chocolate sauce over them and finish with lots of powdered sugar.
So if your traditional Christmas Eve dinner doesn’t include any fish, perhaps this is a great time to try a recipe or two. I want to thank my aunt for giving up some of our family tips and tricks. And I want to wish all of you a wonderful and safe holiday season. Thanks for your support and following. Enjoy!!!
Morton’s The Steakhouse in Brooklyn
Did you know today is Repeal Day? Do you know what Repeal Day celebrates? If this is a new term for you, allow me to explain!
As stated on RepealDay.org, it’s recognized every year on December 5th, “when the last state in the U.S. ratified the 21st Amendment, repealing Prohibition and restoring the American right to a celebratory drink.”
And because of this chapter of our history, there are 3 categories of classic cocktails: “Pre-Prohibition,” “Prohibition Era,” and “Post-Prohibition,” most of which have very interesting stories surrounding them, and many of which are very different from what we know them as today.
The super geeky thing that I find interesting is that the quality of the alcohol available during Prohibition was lower. So if you look at the pre-prohibition cocktails, they are pretty clean and stick to the classic cocktail recipe…which is any spirit mixed with water, bitters and sugar. During and after Prohibition, the recipes get a little sweeter. My theory for this is the alcohol had to be hidden a little more because of its poor quality. I also have a theory that Prohibition, combined with the subsequent war and depression (which all kind of overlapped), affected our palates as a culture. But that’s an argument for a different day…
For now, let’s focus on the different cocktails before, during and after Prohibiton, most of which are still very popular.
Gin Fizz 1870-1880
Mint Julep 1790-1800
Rob Roy 1890-1900
Whiskey Sour 1850-1860
The Daiquiri was the first classic straight-up cocktail to be invented outside of the U.S. It’s Cuban in origin and named after a coastal town. The version we are used to today is quite a stretch from the original.
1 1/2 oz Rum
3/4 oz Simple Syrup
3/4 oz Lime Juice
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
Dry Martini 1890-1900
The Dry Martini is not the version we know today. The term “Martini” in today’s culture has been morphed into a general term for anything served in a martini glass. (The shaken Martini didn’t come into play until James Bond coined the phrase “Shaken…not stirred.” Being such a cool guy, Bond had to be a little different, right?)
1 1/2 ounces Beefeater London Dry Gin
1 1/2 ounces French Dry Vermouth
1-2 dashes Orange Bitters
Stir (not shake) all ingredients with ice and twist orange or lemon peel over the top
Old Fashioned 1800-1810
The old-fashioned Old Fashioned marked the change in the traditional cocktail.
2 oz Bourbon or Rye
3 dashes bitters
1 tsp sugar
1 lemon peel
Splash water or soda
Muddle the sugar and bitters with the soda (or water) until the sugar dissolves. Add Bourbon and ice. Stir and garnish with a lemon peel
Old Fashioned (muddled) 1910-1920
This is the version we know today.
2 ounces Bourbon or Rye
3 dashes bitters
1 tsp sugar
2 orange slices
2 maraschino cherries
Splash water or soda
Muddle the bitters, sugar, one cherry, one orange and a splash soda. Remove orange rind. Add bourbon, ice and soda (or water). Garnish with orange slice and cherry.
Bloody Mary 1920-1930
Pisco Sour 1920-1930
Blood and Sand 1920-1930
This was created to help promote the 1922 Rudolph Valentino movie, “Blood and Sand.” To read the recipe makes you cringe a little, but I promise it is delicious and tastes like fruit punch.
3/4 oz Chivas
3/4 oz Cherry Herring (or cherry brandy)
3/4 oz Italian Sweet Vermouth
3/4 oz Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
Pour all ingredients into a shaker over ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange peel.
Irish Coffee 1940-1950
Mai Tai 1940-1950
Classic Extra Dry Martini 1950-1960
Created at Harry’s American Bar in Venice, this is a great summer drink that can be easily changed up.
1/12 ounces white peach puree
4 oz Champagne
Put peach puree in mixing glass without ice. Slowly pour in Champagne while gently stirring to incorporate puree. Strain into Champagne Flute and float 1/2 ounce peach liqueur on top.
RepealDay.org encourages us to recognize the holiday and reminds us, “There are no outfits to buy, costumes to rent, rivers to dye green. Simply celebrate the day by stopping by your local bar, tavern, saloon, winery, distillery, or brewhouse and having a drink. Pick up a six-pack on your way home from work. Split a bottle of wine with a loved one. Buy a shot for a stranger. Just do it because you can.”
You don’t have to ask me twice! I’ll gladly raise a glass to recognize Repeal Day!
One phone call three weeks ago from 93Q Country FM in Houston led to an incredible event at Morton’s the Steakhouse in Houston (Galleria) that even had a former US President wanting to attend: a private meet and greet with country legend and actress Reba McEntire.
On Wednesday, November 16th, fifty 93Q Country contest winners and media were given A-list access to a late afternoon lunch and interview with Reba McEntire. Lisa Olson, Sales and Marketing Manager at Morton’s, knew the exclusive event was going to be historic even before the official announcement on 93Q Country (and the phone lines went wild at Morton’s with guests calling about tickets). “We thought we might have some event crashers show up but fortunately everything ran very smoothly,” said Olson. “When Reba arrived, she was very gracious to our guests and staff. She has a tremendous sense of humor, just like she does in public and on her show. We really enjoyed working with her!”
Although running a few minutes late due to a flight delay (“They wanted to give us a tour of Houston, that’s all,” joked the singer), Reba arrived to a standing ovation from fans and radio press alike then proceeded to make everyone feel like family with her ebullient humor and wit.
The event featured an up-close-and-personal interview with 93Q Country personalities Tim Tuttle and Kevin Kline, who asked for highlights during her three-decade career. Engagingly, Reba talked about her famous friends, Faith Hill and #41 George Bush (who just so happened to be in the neighborhood minutes before she arrived!), that “Fancy” was her favorite song and her biggest regret was not singing “Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind” with George Strait. The former “Reba” star also revealed that comedy is still very much in her blood and is currently working on Malibu Country, a new ABC TV pilot about a recently single mother of three who moves her brood from Nashville to Malibu to relaunch her singing career.
Afterward, guests had their pictures taken with the “Queen of Country” and left with life time memories compliments of 93Q Country and Morton’s The Steakhouse.
Hungry for more Reba? Check out this CultureMap Houston story of the country star’s recent private meet-and-greet at Morton’s The Steakhouse.
Reported by Joe Pogge, Strike Marketing
Photos by J&D Productions
Are you ready for more celebrities? Throughout November, Morton’s welcomed…
|Atlanta – Buckhead
Musician Tori Amos
Carolina Panthers’ Jason Shirley, Mike Goodson, and Jonathan Stewart
Chicago Bears’ Charles Tillman
San Antonio Spurs’ Tim Duncan
New York Knicks’ Renaldo Balkman
Washington D.C. (Connecticut Ave.)
What celebrity would you like to have dinner with? We’d love to hear from you!
We are approaching the year anniversary of establishing our Sommelier Team. This group of talented and passionate employees from around the country assist in creating, enhancing and maintaining a strong and vibrant wine and spirits culture for their Morton’s colleagues and our guests. I’d like to introduce you to a member of this team in today’s ‘Sommelier Series.’
Meet Carla Monroe, Morton’s Sommelier and Sales and Marketing Manager of our Indianapolis location. She took the time (during her busiest time of year!) to answer five simple, but interesting, questions.
1. What’s your favorite Morton’s food/wine pairing?
The Bone In Ribeye with a glass of Ladera Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain …Yumalicious! (The Ladera Cabernet Sauvignon is available on our ‘Wines by the Glass’ list if you’d like to try a glass during your next visit!)
2. What are you drinking now?
Right now my wine cabinet is stocked with Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon, Orin Swift, The Prisoner, Newton Claret & King Estate Domaine Pinot Noir!! (We also offer the Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon on our ‘Wines by the Glass’ list.)
3. What’s your favorite wine that’s less than $20 a bottle?
A to Z Pinot Noir from Oregon
4. What’s the most common question about wine/beer/liquor that you get from your guests?
The most common lately has been, “What is Meritage?” I love telling them the story & history of Meritage!
5. What was your favorite ‘fun fact’ that you learned during your Sommelier training?
I loved learning about Terroir and how it affects the wine being produced in a particular region.
You can learn more about what Carla’s sipping on her personal blog, thewinesipper.com.
Stay tuned and meet another member of our Sommelier Team next month! Until then, you can ask the General Manager of your preferred Morton’s location whether they have a Morton’s Sommelier on staff. Most locations do, and they can help take your dinner experience to the next level. You can also visit our website to learn more about our wine and spirits program.
As you gear up for the holiday season and any in-home entertaining that you have planned, what kind of wine are you stocking up on? What’s your favorite wine find for under $20 a bottle? Do tell!
We continue our “Hosting for the Holidays” series with some tips from our Beverage Manager and Certified Sommelier/Mixologist, Sara Fasolino. Next Tuesday, we’ll feature another holiday recipe idea from Chef Joe Raiola.
For holiday libations, there are two things to keep in mind: cost and time.
I was talking to my sister the other day, and we were commiserating about how expensive it can be to entertain during the holidays…especially now. Both food and beverage costs have increased quite a bit, so I could talk for days about super high-end, expensive, hard-to-find “wow” items. Or I can dig a little deeper and talk about something accessible and easy to find, something that’s more of a budget-worthy “wow.” Aren’t those usually the best anyway? And when we’re talking time, who wants to man (or woman) a bar all night and be bartender…besides me, of course. The easiest thing to do is have something self-serve so you don’t have to keep an eye on peoples’ drinks all night. As the host, you have enough to worry about.
So, what can we do to make things inexpensive and easy? Plan and prep. With just a few ingredients, you can create several different cocktails…something for everyone…and make it a great party.
Punches are always a great option, because they are easy to make and are self-serve. Keep in mind when you are mixing alcohol with a bunch of other ingredients that you don’t necessarily have to use the super high-end stuff. Also keep in mind that you should prepare for 1-2 drinks per person, per hour.
This recipe serves 15 – 20, so you can adjust the quantities to suit your needs. If you want to make a non-alcoholic version for guests and kids, just omit the Bourbon…and make sure the punch bowls are labeled clearly!
1 gallon Apple Cider
6 Star Anise
6 cnnamon sticks (plus garnish)
1 zest of orange peel
32 ounces bourbon (such as Maker’s Mark)
- Combine cider, anise, cinnamon, clove and zest in a pot and simmer for 30-40 minutes.
- Strain into punch bowl, add bourbon and serve warm or over ice.
This recipe also serves about 15-20 and is meant to be used in one day. This is a cooked version, just in case you are nervous about eating raw eggs.
6 eggs, separated
3/4 cup sugar
1 quart milk
1 pint cream
16 ounces bourbon
- Beat the yolks until they are light in color and gradually mix in 1/2 cup of the sugar.
- Combine milk, cream and nutmeg in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and slowly add the yolks to the warm mixture, being careful to not add too quickly…or you’ll get scrambled eggs.
- Return to heat and bring to 160 F. Add bourbon and place in bowl in refrigerator to cool.
- While cooling, beat the egg whites with the remaining sugar until they form stiff peaks. Fold into the bourbon mixture, grate fresh nutmeg over the concoction and serve.
Pomegranate Prosecco Punch
This is a lighter option, in case your guests don’t want mixed cocktails or hard liquor. Prosecco is so popular right now, and you don’t need to spend very much to get a nice bottle. This recipe makes 12 drinks.
1 bottle Prosecco
2 cups orange juice
2 cups limeade
1 quart pomegranate juice
- Mix Prosecco, orange juice, limeade and pomegranate juice into a punch bowl.
- Add orange slices and pomegranate seeds for garnish.
- Serve in glasses over ice (don’t add ice to the punch bowl or you will water it down).
These three punches are all easy to make, and they won’t break your bank. And you may not even need to go out and buy each and every ingredient if you already have some of them for your holiday cooking. Not to mention the fact that no one goes to a party empty-handed these days, so you can ask your guests to bring locally-brewed seasonal beers or their favorite wine. The point is, you can mix it up AND not go over budget AND create cocktail “WOWs” for your guests!
For today’s issue of ”Wine Wednesday,” I thought I would focus on the upcoming holiday that’s one of the best opportunities to showcase great food and wine pairings…Thanksgiving!
I broke it down by the many, many courses of a Thanksgiving meal. Granted, everyone’s menu will be different, but hopefully I’ve touched on enough of the more common dishes.
If you’re getting the feast started with something like chips and dip, baked brie or stuffed mushrooms, consider a Prosecco or Cava. These are very popular and in the right price point. They make a nice aperitif to get the appetite going.
People typically make Chardonnay their wine of choice with salad, but a nice change of pace would be a Sauvignon Blanc. Cakebread is a nice treat for the holiday, or if you wanted something from New Zealand, try Kim Crawford or Villa Maria. If you are looking for a Sauvignon Blanc from France, look for the regions “Sancerre” or “Pouilly Fume.” These will guarantee you a quality Sauvignon Blanc with a variety of price points from which to choose.
For most people, the star attraction of your Thanksgiving meal will be the bird. The “B” List celebrities for your dinner will likely include stuffing and the beloved cranberry sauce. So we’re talking lean turkey, rich stuffing and acidic cranberry sauce…
One wine that quickly comes to mind is the Argyle Riesling. This wine makes me swoon a little when I taste it! It has bright acidity to highlight the lean flavors of the turkey but will elevate the flavors of the stuffing, too. It also has a hint of sweetness that will meld well with the tart cranberries. It is one of my favorite Rieslings for the price. If you would like to sample a glass before buying a bottle at your wine store, stop by Morton’s…it’s on our ‘Wines by the Glass’ list!
Another option is Georges Duboeuf, Moulin a Vent. It’s from a small region of Beaujolais, France and is made from the Gamay grape. It’s ripe and juicy with some nice acidity and a hint of herbs de provence. Beaujolais is highly underrated because of the whole “Beaujolais Nouveau” thing, but it really is great wine, especially from the smaller regions within Beaujolais. It’s light enough to go with Turkey and has enough backbone and fruit to marry well with the other side dishes.
Chances are, your dessert course may include a pumpkin pie, apple pie or gingerbread concoction. GE Massenez from Alsace, France makes liqueurs that are lower in alcohol and really have great flavor, because they are made from all natural products. There is one called Creme de Gingembre that can be used a thousand ways…you can mix it with a little with soda or even use it in place of Sweet Vermouth in a Manhattan. With dessert, we want something that is a digestif…especially after a big meal. You could even go with a sipping spirit like Zaya, Gran Reserva, Rum or one of my personal favorites, Tuaca - a vanilla and orange liqueur from Livorno, Italy. Don’t be afraid of these because of the alcohol – they are meant to be sipped slowly and in small portions, and will really help you digest and finish off the meal nicely.
The Final Round…Leftovers!
I would suggest a beer. Orval, Trappist Ale would be great, or you could try something seasonal. There are so many great locally-brewed beers that always have seasonal brews out for a limited time and in limited quantities. If you want wine, go with a Rose….still or sparkling would be fantastic. Charles Smith makes a great Rose that can be found easily. But if you want something different, look for a region on the label like Provence, France, and you should find quality at a decent price point.
As you can see, there are plenty of opportunities to pair an incredible wine with your Thanksgiving grub. I hope that I’ve provided enough ideas to make your wine shopping a little easier this holiday season. I wish you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving!
We continue our “Hosting for the Holidays” series with some personal decorating tips from Kim O’Donnell, Sales and Marketing Manager for Morton’s in White Plains.
If you’re hosting people in your home for the holidays, you’re all too familiar with the complexities and details behind a Turkey dinner or Christmas feast. But this time of year just begs for decorations, so here are some ideas that can help take the stress out of dressing up your home for friends and family.
Hosting a Thanksgiving get-together somehow seems more chaotic than any other holiday. Maybe that’s because there are several more courses than your standard meal! So to maintain your sanity, try to keep things simple for Thanksgiving decorating. Go with natural elements…such as a row of smaller pumpkins down the table as a centerpiece (providing there’s enough room!), or fill a tall vase with pine cones and small evergreen branches. And if you have children, they can help with the decorating, too! Get them the supplies they’ll need to make a simple banner (in glitter, markers or paints) that reads, “Give Thanks” or “Happy Thanksgiving.” It’s a sweet reminder that this holiday isn’t about the glitz or the glamour…it’s about spending quality time with the people you love and being appreciative of the things you have.
When it comes to Christmas, the decorating takes center stage and becomes something of an event in my family. I decorate the entire house for the holidays and truly enjoy the warmth in brings. Somehow a light in the window says, “May the peace of the season be with you.” I guess I get that from my mother, who truly loves Christmas. Growing up, we always had the most decorated house in town!
As a child, the excitement of the season started when the first red velvet bow hit the window and grew as the tree was adorned with our loving family memories in the form of decorations. Rather than making the decorating a task or another item on our “To Do” list, we made it a family affair…a time to bond and really enjoy the holiday season.
Some of those same tree decorations get hung on my family’s tree each year. Although we don’t get a huge tree, it takes hours to decorate it. We spend time going over each ornament and remembering how it came to us. And we add at least one new ornament each year, usually from a trip or an important occasion. This year’s ornament was given to us as a “congratulations” from my daughter’s high school when she was accepted last Spring. This year it will hang on our tree…and someday, she’ll tell her children the story behind that, and all the other, ornaments. And to me, that’s what holiday decorating is all about. Rather than it being a source of stress, it’s a source of memories.
Sales and Marketing Manager
Morton’s The Steakhouse – White Plains