Monday, August 31, 2015

The Balsamic Vinegar Craze

Being a home cook, and foodie I am not afraid to try anything. I adore cooking and many of the recipes I prepare for me, my family and friends can be pretty standard fare or something new. A twist on the traditional is using balsamic vinegar in cooking. These often tasty, saucy, tart, yet sweet concoctions can be used on anything from seafood, to ice cream. The flavors can be anything from traditional to chocolate with every combination in between. At the Monument Market, we carry Texas Hill Country brand olive oils and balsamic, all made in Dripping Springs, Texas.
For those who are new to balsamic vinegar, essentially it is vinegar made from the skin’s of red or white grapes that have been cooked down or their juice reduced and then aged in barrels much like wine or hard liquor. In the US most balsamic are aged at least three years to be labeled as such, though in Italy the vinegars are aged 12 years in wooden casks. The addition of fruit flavorings is fairly new and has made balsamic even MORE versatile in their use. This is simply done by infusing the balsamic with fresh fruit or herbs and allowing steeping for a week or until desired strength then draining off the vinegar, leaving the fruit/herbs behind.
 Enhancing flavor, accompanying or complimenting flavors or even showcasing a single flavor profile or theme can be accomplished easily. Below are just some tips and even a mixology list for experimentation.
To make dressing: Simply mix equal parts balsamic and olive oil (plain or infused). Season if needed or desired with salt, pepper, herbs, pepper flake, or honey. Great combinations are:
·       Fig Balsamic and Lime Infused olive oil
·       Traditional Balsamic and Plain Olive oil
·       Blueberry Balsamic and Lemon Olive oil
·       Peach Balsamic and jalapeno olive oil
·       Balsamic can be made into a glaze just by pouring over meat or vegetables and applying heat through, baking, broiling or grilling. My favorite is taking a larger filet of salmon, placing it in a shallow pan, allowing salmon to cook 6-8 minutes at 400 degrees, removing it and pouring an even coat of any citrus infused balsamic, brushing it on slightly to ensure even coverage, placing back in oven for remaining cooking time. The balsamic will make its own glaze over the fish.
·       Same can be done with pork loin, ribs or chops (fig or berry flavors, even apple), chicken breast, shrimp. Just adjust the cooking times.
·       Pour pineapple or wild cherry over a head of cauliflower and roast at 425 degrees.
·       For desserts: reduce 1 C balsamic to half by gently boiling it in a small sauce pan. Pour over sliced fruit, or ice cream. My favorite is watermelon cubes with strawberry or pineapple balsamic.
·       Add 1tsp to drinks like tea, cocktails or Italian sodas making them tart yet sweet.
Finally, balsamic vinegar has been linked to stabilizing blood sugars and is a great way to cut sugar intake. Let alone balsamic has antioxidants, and metabolism increasing enzymes. Plus, it just tastes good.
Thanks for reading! Comments or ideas can be shared here or on Facebook, like us while there, please. Come by the Market any time, any day from 8am-8pm located at 500 S Austin Ave, Georgetown, Texas just beside the Monument Café. Sign up for our events email to stay up to date with the fun we are having!!!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Back to School Meal Worries? We got you covered!

Now that school is back in session (Welcome back everybody), everyone and anyone who is a parent, grandparent, step-parent, aunt, uncle, etc…have “what to feed the family” on their minds. Most want a nutritious, yet quick and easy way to get dinner on the table but lack the time to prepare meals each and every night. Parents of college students living away from home, probably worry about the same thing when it comes to their budding adult children. Well, I am here to tell you, in my best Super Hero pose possible, "Put those worries to rest, right now!"
The Monument Market can and will help! We serve homemade, good for you foods that are made with ingredients we stock fresh each and every day, with breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner in mind. Our deli is full of variety when it comes to salads both seasonal and fan favorites from the Monument Café’s menu, and there are no preservatives in anything other than the occasional vinegar or salt that just adds flavor. The ingredients can be pronounced and understood, nothing hidden, nothing added and we pride ourselves on that fact, let alone that some of the produce that rests on our tables came out of our very own organic gardens! 

Worried about allergies and sensitivities to foods? We serve gluten free options even when making our fresh deli sandwiches. Gluten free treats can be found all over the Market, up to and including breads, brownies, pasta, mixes, sauces and salad and don’t forget our Nationally recognized as one of the top 16 pies to eat in the US (, the Monument Chocolate Pie. Again, ingredients like chocolate, cream, pecans, nothing but pure and simple food; rich yes, but also so simple oh and GLUTEN FREE. Our jams and jellies are gluten free as well and can be enjoyed on just about anything! Local honey is offered and helps with seasonal pollen allergies that it seems only Texas has. If there are concerns about other food allergies, just let us know, we are happy to help find the food that is right for you!
Low pasteurized milk, local USDA organic eggs, pure butter, uncured bacon, organic and pasture raised meats line our cooler and freezer shelves. We also offer sea food, and chicken breast both of which have never been frozen.  For the animal conscious, we even offer house made veggie burgers. 

  Tart and tangy Kombucha, fresh smoothies from real fruit (not powder), freshly brewed, hot fair trade coffee, and luxurious local teas top the list for anyone looking to quench their thirst. If you are looking for local and good, we are here to serve it, sell it, offer it, and all with a smile. 

Now, you might be thinking that shopping with us might be hard to fit into the budget, after all, getting back to school may have almost wiped out the bank account. Well, we do offer specials on our frozen entrees, and rotisserie chickens. Buy one main course and two large deli sides for $19.95, each and every day! It’s enough to feed 2-4 people! And if that wasn't enough, buying any dozen of either our classic chocolate chip, vintage oatmeal, or decadent cranberry orange cookies, baked fresh, gets you two of those babies free, and buy 4 veggie burger patties and  get your 5th free…how is that? Smiling with relief yet? I thought you might be.
So, come to our Market, any day from 8am-8pm. We are located beside the Monument Café at 500 South Austin Avenue (where great food is also served), and leave your worries at the door; we are here to save the day!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Journey to Becoming a Beer Connoisseur

Anyone who has ever been out with me and watched me order a drink will tell you that there was a time when I only ordered a mild mixed drink or one of the standard beers found in eateries across the country.  However, lately I have found myself more and more curious about the beer movement in Texas that seems to incase more than Shiner Bock or Lone Star, but a wider, more varied pallet of flavors that include agave nectar, honey, apples, citrus, chocolate, and pecans. I have seen and continue to see the types expand as well; everything from wheat Belgian styled beers to personal IPA’s to stouts that can run against some the oldest most renowned brands out there. Is it any wonder though? Texas is BIG and so are the legacies that reside here. The rich ethnic diversity makes beer and its production a natural thing to happen, almost as natural as raising cattle for big juicy steak (which goes great with a red Texas lager like the one by Pedernales Brewing’s, Lobo). After all, Texas prides itself on being unique and what is coming out of local breweries is that and then some. 

In my journey to understand and build my taste for flavor profiles, I have found that personally I do not care for heavy malts like the ones in stouts but I also do not care for the hoppy bite of some of the paler or blonde ales. My beers of choice usually are lagers which for me are rich but also refreshing and are a great middle ground because they go with most foods. Just like wines, examining, tasting, asking advice of a knowledgeable beer professional and looking for a profile that not only will go well with certain foods or personal tastes can be challenging since so many breweries are now putting their spins on time honored recipes. However, if trying new things is not an issue, the choices can be easy and finding that beer that is similar to one’s favorite from Germany or even an American standard can be a pleasant surprise.

Below is a list of some of the beers I have tried and a short description of the flavor notes as well as recommended pairings. Try one, or all, or even some I have yet to; the choices are almost as endless as the Texas sky!

·        Lobo’s Red Texas Lager by Pedernales Brewing, Fredericksburg, Texas: Yellow verging on red in color, This flavor profile consists of light airy crisp citrus notes, followed by sweet grassy, fruity undertones from the malt to help ease the bite of the hops and  citrus. Can appear dense when pouring but overall refreshing. Goes great with Steak, cat-fish and sea food.

·        Prickly Pear by Shiner Bock, Spoetzl Brewery, Shiner, Texas: Yellow to green in color, pear comes through first and then the citrus hops and the malt taste evens out the flavors. Refreshing, seasonal beer would go great with lighter summer fare such as salads and grilled seafood as well as lightly fried items like onion rings.

·        Blood and Honey by Revolver Brewery, Granbury, Texas: Thick yellow pour with hints of allspice and blood orange zest sweetened slightly by honey. A surprisingly light beer despite the honey notes with the spices. Would pair well with Bbq-ed, grilled or smoked meats fresh off a Texas pit.

·        Rio Blanco by Real Ale Brewing Company, Blanco, Texas: A buttery English style, unfiltered pale ale with soft grassy notes, which ends refreshingly with a crisp citrus undertone. Would pair well with heavier dinner fare like roast beef or bison burgers or a rich cheese platter.

·        Longhorn Blonde- Hill Country Golden Ale, Bull Creek Brewing, Liberty Hill, Texas:  Coming on board recently, this ale is mildly malty, with a gentle hop aroma making it a smooth and delicate ale. Would fair great with pork, chicken, shrimp, salads, or light cheese platter featuring goat cheese and fruit. 

The variety of beer at the Monument Market is wide and detailed. Samplings of these and many more items happen often and anyone is welcome to join us. To find out what a fun time we are having, visit our Facebook page, check the board in the Monument Café,  or stop in anytime, any day from 8am-8pm and pick up an events calendar or sign up for emails from us. Hope to see you soon! Thanks for reading!