BOO! Autumn and Halloween Fun Facts.

Row of fun lit Halloween Jack o Lanterns isolated on a white background

Come October, carving pumpkins, running through corn mazes and eating lots of candy are all traditions that everyone is familiar with. However, we thought we would look at some other Halloween and autumn traditions and how they got their start, as well as some Fun Facts about the season.

Orange and Black.  This striking color combination was established because orange is symbolic of fall and black represents darkness and death.

Halloween.  It first came to North America via immigrants from Europe who would celebrate the harvest around a bonfire, share ghost stories, sing, dance and tell fortunes.

Masks & Costumes.  Thank the ancient Celts who literally thought that spirits and ghosts roamed the countryside on Halloween night. They began wearing masks and costumes to avoid being recognized as human. Clever!

Trick or Treating.  The custom of trick or treating evolved in Ireland centuries ago. In preparation for All Hollow’s Eve, the poor would call upon the rich folks and request money, gifts and food. The food was gathered for a huge feast and celebration.

Bobbing for Apples.  Believed to have originated from the Roman Harvest Festival that honors Pamona, the goddess of fruit trees.

Halloween = Big Money.  It’s the second most commercially successful holiday, with Christmas being the first.

Dollarphotoclub_91115876Halloween Candy.  Sales average about 2 billion dollars annually in the United States.

Chocolate Candy Bars.  The most popular candy among trick-or-treaters with Snickers at Number 1.

Tootsie Rolls.  The very first wrapped penny candy in America.

Pumpkins.  Not just orange, they also come in white, blue and green.

Jack o’ Lanterns.  Concept originated from Ireland where people placed candles in hollowed-out turnips – not pumpkins – to keep away spirits and ghosts on the Samhain holiday.

Black Cats. Once believed to be witch’s familiars (animal-shaped spirit or minor demon believed to serve a witch or magician as domestic servant, spy and companion, in addition to helping to bewitch enemies or to divine information.)

Samhainopobia. Defined as the fear of Halloween.

halloween-treats

 

Come in to check out our incredible Fall Offerings that will get you in the spirit, as well as some special surprises just for the young and young at heart! From all of us here at Alpine, we wish you a wonderful October and Halloween. Taste the Chocolate and Pumpkin! Taste the Love!

Introducing our SNICKERDOODLE MARTINI

Snickerdoodle

 

Tastes Like Fall.

Introducing our SNICKERDOODLE MARTINI

Premium ABSOLUT®  Vodka, Butterscotch Schnapps and Cream Shaken and poured in to a layered glass of drizzled caramel, garnished with our infamous Snickerdoodle Cookie. Taste the Snickerdoodle. Taste the Love.

Apples, Pumpkins and Other Homey Fall Ingredients

DOM-Apple Pie-blogAhh… it’s finally that time of year when the blazing Atlanta sun at last gives us a break and the temperatures start to drop. Now, we can all begin to contemplate the homey flavors of fall.

At Alpine, our fall dessert preparations are in full swing. Our fall favorites include our Rustic Apple Pie, Pumpkin Cheesecake, Classic Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Swiss Roll, and our wildly authentic German Apple Strudel. Our Bakery hums with activity as the aroma of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and ginger infuse the air. Here’s what’s baking in greater detail.

pumpkin cheesecakeOur Rustic Apple Pie, which NOT coincidently is our October Dessert of the Month is at once simple and majestic. Boasting a full two pounds of apples, we’re not messing around. We’ve perfected our techniques to ensure that this TWO crust beauty is baked to perfection with flaky crust and amazing flavors.

Pumpkin Cheesecake… what a lovely combination. Our creamy New York style cheesecake with graham cracker crust, combined with pumpkin and traditional fall spice (cinnamon, cloves, and ginger) topped with fresh, natural whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon.

fall-1Our Innovative Pumpkin Swiss Roll is equally representative of great fall flavors. We begin with our pumpkin spice cake rolled filled and covered with our signature cream cheese frosting then we decorated with whole pecans.

Authentic Apple Strudel is surprisingly hard to find and we have stuck to the preparation that screams German Style authenticity and will have you wondering why you chose to have it any other way. Layers of buttered phyllo dough rolled and filled with fresh cut and cooked Granny Smith Apples and raisins before baking to perfection. We can serve it you your at room temperature or heated. Dreaming about Vanilla Bean Ice Cream to go with? Just wake up and ask, and we will bring out the Häagen-Dazs.

fall grouping

 

We could offer you all kinds of tips on how to pick the perfect apples, whether to go with canned pumpkin or not, but seriously, why not just come in and enjoy our fall lineup. We promise we have it figured out and you won’t be disappointed. Taste the Fall Flavors. Taste the Love.

Traveling somewhere this season? We get all sorts of disappointed folks who would love to spread the Alpine Love to friends and family who don’t reside in the Atlanta Area. We have some proven trade secrets on how to transport our bakery creations. We would be happy to share, so please just ask.

Ragu vs Bolognese: The subtle but powerful difference.

Ragu is not Bolognese. It’s true that both are Italian favorites, both are sauces made with meat, but’s it’s also true that they are different.

Ragu is also a meat-based Italian sauce and stay with me here, is a distinct variation of Ragu. Most people think of Ragu as a tomato sauce, but it’s actually a meat-based (veal, beef, lamb, pork, fish or poultry) sauce with a small amount of tomato sauce added to it. Ragu sauce has more meat and minced elements, specifically minced carrot, celery and pancetta…also known as soffritto, and is made with wine, beef broth, and usually a little bit of heavy cream or milk poured in it to lighten the color and enrich the flavor.

Ragu alla Bolognese or Bolognese is a variation of Ragu and the most popular version of Ragu. Bolognese sauce originated in Bologna, Italy and dates all the way back to the 15th century.

It uses white wine and less tomatoes. Beef, soffritto, pancetta, onions, tomato paste, meat broth, white wine, and cream or milk. Like many Italian preparations, Bolognese sauce has different variations primarily when it comes to the meat of choice. Pork, chicken, veal, rabbit, goose, and others are all candidates.

Which Sauce With Which Pasta?

Bolognese sauce for spaghetti and other pastaTypically Ragu sauces are used with spaghetti pasta, while Bolognese is used for wider-shaped pasta like lasagna. The thinking is that the thick sauce blends better with wider-shaped pasta.

When we look at Italian Cuisine, we can see that there are multiple incidents where virtually the same simple ingredients are manipulated multiple ways- often using different ratios of ingredients or methods.

For instance, a wide variety of Pasta is made with the same ingredients, but truly transformed with an endless array of shapes, sizes, widths, and textures. Some are better with certain sauces…as their shape makes a perfect vehicle for a particular sauce.

So when it comes to Ragu vs Bolognese, the differences may be primarily ratios, but nonetheless the end results are impactful.

Come in and try both to see which you prefer. Gnocchi with Veal Ragu, Baked Fusilli Bolognese, or Spaghetti with Bolognese or Ragu should give you plenty of “research” options! Taste the Ragu and Bolognese. Taste the Love.

A menu and knife and fork cutlery laid on a restaurant table

Sept 13-20: Celebratory Prix Fixe Dinner

A menu and knife and fork cutlery laid on a restaurant table

Join us as our Month Long Anniversary Celebration Continues  With A Week Long Prix Fixe 2 Course Dinner!  Beginning September 13-20, we will be offering a $25 prix fixe dinner menu as follows:

$25 Dinner Menu

Course 1 (Appetizer)

Calamari
or
Mozzarella Sticks
or
Rice Balls with Italian Sausage

Course 2 (Entrée)

Parmigiana with angelhair pasta (Chicken or Eggplant)
or
Housemade Lasagna
or
Baked Ziti with Italian sausage

Course 3 (Dessert)

Peanut Butter Bar
or
Keylime Bar
or
Rocky Road Bar

Alpine 5 Year Anniversary Logo

Happy Anniversary…. to Us!

Alpine 5 Year Anniversary LogoHere at Alpine, we help couples celebrate their anniversaries all the time. They come to Alpine to enjoy a great bottle of wine, a fantastic dinner and their favorite desserts to celebrate what is a very significant occasion…their anniversary!

We are thrilled when they spend their special day with us! And now, we’d like to invite each and every one of them, and YOU to help us celebrate our anniversary! Beginning September 1st, and continuing through the entire month, we are celebrating the five year anniversary of Alpine Bakery and Trattoria. Five glorious years that have proven to be more successful, and satisfying than we had ever imagined. Opening Trattoria was one of our very best ideas in the twenty years since Alpine Bakery was born!

A Look Back.

AlpineCalzoneIn 2005, less than a mile from our current location, we first opened our storefront to serve our bakery offerings, as well as our pizzas, calzones, and breads to the general public. People liked what we did, and liked our food. That success led to a groundswell among our customers for us to offer more food, and a dynamic dining experience. That led to Alpine Bakery and Trattoria’s opening five years ago, and since then we’ve served a full lunch and dinner menu, as well as a robust wine list featuring wines from regions all around the world. Today, after five years, our trattoria is humming with regulars that keep returning for their favorites, as well as new diners that come in to see what the fuss is all about, and to try our creative, and delicious spins on fresh, local ingredients for themselves. Our award winning bakery continues to provide cakes, pastries and breads to over 80 restaurants in Georgia and beyond.

A Look Further Back.

Creative Team and Owners William Clementi and Stephen Bishop began the wholesale bakery 20 years ago. Today, joined by managing partner Anthony DeTommaso, Alpine Bakery and Trattoria is flourishing along with the wholesale business, and the ongoing success of both is dependent upon keeping our primary commitment front and center.

Create everything with high quality, fresh ingredients, a relentless imagination, and lots of love; and always provide our customers with an experience that is exceptional.

What’s Ahead?

alpine-cheesecakeWe are excited to announce our expanded bakery with counter currently under construction in Woodstock. We plan to open sometime in early 2016. Thank you for making Alpine Bakery & Trattoria the success that it’s been over these five years. We value you and your business, and hope you’ll join us in September to help us celebrate!

 

Like us on Facebook to keep up with all the details of our Anniversary Celebration September. We have giveaways galore – gift cards, cupcakes and limited edition cakes. Enjoy our week long Prix Fixe 3 course dinner, and a mayoral ribbon cutting followed by a reception celebration. Taste the fun! Taste the Love.

The Magnificent SEVEN: Seasonal Fruits & Vegetables (3 of 3)

The final three members of the Magnificent Seven are chard, peaches and corn. The bright and sunny possibilities are endless and once summer’s gone, it’s just not the same. So get busy now, or come in and find them popping up in our weekly chef’s features!

Chard

Beet leaves in sunlightTender, young chard is most often used raw in salads while the more mature chard leaves and stalks are typically cooked or sautéed, mainly because they can have a bitter quality that mellows and becomes more delicate. Chard is a classified as a biennial and harvesting is a continuous process, as most species of chard produce three or more crops.

Nutritionally chard is packed with vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, and protein.

 

Peaches

Ripe sweet peach fruits growing on a peach tree branchWith dozens of varieties to choose from, peaches vary radically in color, flavor and size. But when it comes to classifications there are just two- freestone and clingstone. Freestone is when the stone or pit pulls easily away from the flesh. Clingstone, just like the name implies, is when the stone clings stubbornly to the flesh. Mainly, the Freestones are considered your garden variety and what is most commonly purchased in stores.

Lucky for us, peaches have a long growing season and are readily available from May-October. When buying them for yourself, look for peaches that give slightly to palm pressure and smell fragrant. They are sensitive and bruise easily so handle with care when you are testing them out.

Great in pies, as a fresh chutney topping for pork (exactly how we did it last weekend) or fish or incorporated into salads, peaches are a seasonal, juicy and healthy ingredient.

Corn

Summer is synonymous with corn and Americans love it!

White corn is typically smaller and sweeter while yellow is bigger and more favorable. But corn also comes in colorful red, blue, brown and purple.

Look for bright green tight husks and milky plump kernels and wait till just before cooking to separate the silk and husk.

Cooking methods run the gamut, including boiling, (with much debate on as to precisely how long), grilling, roasting, sautéing, and simmering.

At Alpine we would love to help you explore some creative uses of summer fruits and vegetables. We recently created an 8oz. Bone in Pork Chop topped with a beautiful Peach Chutney. Delicious. Taste the Summer Seasonal Ingredients. Taste the Love. Follow us on Facebook to see what we’re preparing just for you!

The Magnificent SEVEN: Bring on the Berries (2 of 3)

Beautiful, Bountiful Berries. While it’s borderline criminal to not include the beautiful and virtuous raspberries and blackberries in this blog post, we are going to focus on the two most consumed berries in summer months, blueberries and strawberries.

Blueberries

alpine-cheesecakeHolding the title of “The World’s Healthiest Food”, blueberries rank second to only strawberries in popularity according to U.S. fruit consumption numbers. The little blues pack a punch with flavor, but also have one of the highest antioxidant capacities among all fruits, vegetables, spices and seasonings.

The antioxidant properties of blueberries have been well documented, but for those that are unaware, blueberries contribute to optimized health by combating the free radicals that can damage cellular structures, as well as DNA. Recently, there has been even more exciting news regarding the little health warriors… a growing body of evidence that blueberries can improve memory. Who knew? Who can remember?

But back to the taste. Raw blueberries are, in a word, exceptional… and provide the greatest nutritional benefits consumed raw. That does not, however, stop us from stuffing them in our Cheesecake, or baking them into our Blueberry Crumb Pie. Take a look at our Fresh Fruit and Custard Pie, and the beautiful way fresh blueberries crown the top of that creation!

We get inventive with seasonal specials, and incorporate them into salads, and dressings. We recently served a Summertime Blues Salad created with blueberries, blue cheese crumbles, and sliced walnuts… finished with a Creamy Strawberry-Dijon dressing.

Strawberries

paris brest 2The fragrantly sweet, and “most popular” strawberries are abundant right now at the peak of their season (April through July). While becoming increasingly available year round, they are the most delicious now. So, we encourage you to consume mass quantities!

Strawberries possess a unique combination of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients, and are known for their health benefits in three major areas. (1) cardiovascular support and prevention (2) improved regulation of blood sugar, and (3) prevention of at least five major cancers.

Ironically, while the health benefits of strawberries are powerful, they are very sensitive and perish quickly and easily. Here are some tips.

  • Do not remove their caps and stems until after you have gently washed the berries under cold running water, and patted them dry.
  • Do not, however, wash them until right before eating or using in a recipe. This will prevent them from absorbing excess water, which can degrade the texture and flavor of the strawberry.
  • To remove the stems, caps and white hull, simply pinch these off with your fingers or use a paring knife.

Take a look at our bakery menu and check out desserts like our Strawberry Swiss Roll, and Fresh Fruit Chocolate Cheescake. We LOVE serving the unexpected… we recently served Fettuccini in a sauce made from strawberries and finished with parmesan. Surprising, very fresh, and innovative executions with beautiful strawberries. Taste the Freshness. Taste the Love.

The Magnificent SEVEN: Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables (1 of 3)

Summer is the season for cooking fresh and fabulous feasts. Here at Alpine, we take full advantage of nature’s summer bounty and incorporate the juicy produce that these prime harvest months afford us. Just check out the local Farmers Markets who are now in their glory days with colorful displays and an abundance of choices.

There are many, many fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables to enjoy, but we are going to focus on The Magnificent Seven.

Tomatoes

Delicious and versatile the tomato which is actually a fruit not a vegetable packs a punch with its flavor, versatility and health benefits. Tomatoes are high in lycopene, a carotenoid that has antioxidant properties and has shown to help prevent cancer and heart disease. Combining the tomatoes with a fat, like olive oil increases your body’s ability to absorb the lycopene. Also, tomatoes are rich in Vitamin C, folate, riboflavin and chromium.

There’s no doubt, fresh from the vine tomatoes are tastier and healthier. Unfortunately, the flavor and texture of your “garden variety’ supermarket tomatoes doesn’t remotely compare to those that are freshly picked. However, many grocery stores now stock some local farms offerings and refer to them as “ugly tomatoes”. Select tomatoes with a deep rich color and smooth skin and store them on the countertop, where they’ll keep for a few days. Do not refrigerate tomatoes as it changes the flavor and texture.

Look for tomatoes EVERYWHERE in our appetizers and main courses! From fresh applications like our Caprese Salad to our sublime sauces.

Watermelon

watermelon & arugula saladA quintessential summer favorite, watermelon is the lycopene leader among fruits and vegetables—even surpassing the amount of lycopene in our beloved tomatoes. It’s low in saturated fat, total fat and cholesterol making it heart healthy as well.

Easy to serve and enjoy sliced, cubed, or creatively re-imagined, which is what we’ve been doing (see below), watermelon is a superb summer fruit to enjoy. This time of year, it’s affordable and rarely do you get one that’s not perfectly sweet!

Last week we served a balsamic glazed compressed watermelon, fresh mozzarella & arugula salad with balsamic reduction, basil oil, black pepper & red sea salt.

 

 

watermelon feta salad

 

 

Or another chef featured salad…Arugula, watermelon and feta salad with fresh mint & orange-honey vinaigrette.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Alpine we would love to help you explore some creative uses of summer fruits and vegetables. Please try one of our standards or specially created Chef’s Features starring fresh seasonal finds! Follow us on Facebook to see what we’ve prepared just for you!

Bottles of wine in a winery. Red and white wine.

White or Red? Navigating the Wine List Waters – Part 2

Part Two: From Grape to Glass

Bottles of wine in a winery. Red and white wine.In our last blog post, we explored grapes and their color schemes, and encouraged exploration on your part. Now let’s understand the science of fermentation and cover Rose, Sparkling (Champagne), Dessert Wines, Port and Sherry.

The Science: The Yeasts and Fermentation

Harvested grapes become crushed grapes which contain yeasts. Yeasts exist naturally in the vineyard and collect on the grape skins. Once the grapes have been crushed, these yeasts and/or artificial yeasts added by the winemaker, interact with the sugar in the grape juice to produce alcohol, otherwise known as fermentation.

Fermentation is all a matter of time and is dependent on the style of wine the winemaker is after. Fermentation can be a brief as one week or three years.

Storage Matters

Where wine is also stored is a huge factor. Historically, there’s been a great deal of experimentation on this front, but today, Oak and stainless steel barrels are the most popular choices. The container’s unique properties literally impart different factors into the wine’s maturation. Hence the description “oakey”!

Rosé: Pretty in Pink

Three Colors of WineRosé, pink or blush wines characterized by their pretty pink shaded color are made from black grapes. They don’t have an opportunity to turn red because the grape skins are removed from the juice very quickly (hours) after contact.

This momentary brush with the black grape skins gives the wine its pink color. Rosés can also made by blending together white and red wines. This limited contact with skins also translates to a very minimum amount of tannins entering the wine. Rosés like White Merlot and White Zinfandel are sweet. However, traditionally and classically the best European rosés are very dry.

Sparkling Wines: Not Necessarily Champagne

Sparkling Wines are made from nearly any variety of grape and contain carbon dioxide bubbles. Carbon dioxide occurs naturally during fermentation, and winemakers have all sorts of techniques for literally trapping the carbon dioxide in the wine.

A widely held misconception is that Sparkling Wines are synonymous with Champagne. Not true! While Champagne is a type of sparkling wine, there is a distinct difference between the two.

Champagne is actually a region located in northeast France. Strict laws allow only wines made with grapes grown there to be called Champagne.

Some of the more popular sparkling wines include Cava, Champagne, Crémant d’Alsace, Moscato d’Asti and Prosecco.

Desert Wines: The Sweet Side.

glass with white wine , focus on foregroundSure you can drink your dessert… of course we are partial to your ordering something from our bakery. But as an accompaniment, a Dessert wine is a fine choice! Dessert wines have a notoriously high sugar content.

Fortified wines have Brandy or other spirits added to the juice during fermentation to stop the fermentation process which leaves a high amount of sugar in the wine. Some fortified wines, including Port and Sherry, were originally designed to ensure the wine survived long voyages on 17th century ships. Popular dessert wines include ice wines, late harvest Rieslings, Madeira, Port, Sherry and Sauternes

We are proud of our wine list and would love to help you navigate your way through it.  Come in and order one tonight. We promise you can’t go wrong. Taste the Wine. Taste the Love.