Use this to search the site!
Just type your request in the
blank and click on "Search"!
Custom Search


High Wine

From: Ray
Sent: Sunday, October 27, 2013 5:41 PM
Subject: Wine and Dine?

Dear Uncle Phaedrus:

An ancestor of mine was an entrepreneur and bush-league magnate in the far reaches of Northern New York (NW Adirondacks) in the mid-19th Century.  
One of his enterprises was a hotel.  I have a ledger, casually preserved in the family, not well organized, that includes on some pages a listing 
of "Expenses for the 'Empire Hotel'," for the spring to fall of 1856.  It was a struggle to read some of the entries and make some sense of them, 
but I more or less did so, except for one item that was mentioned more than once.  This was for "High Wines," or "Hiwines," at about 60-cents 
a half gallon.  There were later mentions of disbursements for brandy and gin and rum and "whis"[key], this at $2.50 for five gallons, so whatever 
"high wines" are, they are not inexpensive, yet this was the only thing that seemed "wine-y."   All that came to me was "Hock," which does mean 
"high," in German, but seems an odd tipple for a remote spot at that era, especially when bought in half-gallon amounts.  From local farmers and 
dairymen, eggs were bought at about a cent apiece; butter at about fifteen cents a pound, which seems cheap for them, but I'd say that's actually, 
prices adjusted, more expensive than today.

So, any thoughts on what might have been meant by "high wines"?


Hello Ray,

If you just research this by looking up “high wine”, it gets a bit confusing. I wandered from site to site until I found discussions of it in the context of whiskey-making. The terms “low wine” and “high wine” are associated with making whiskey (or rum) using a two-step distillation process:

1) You make a “mash” or “wort” with cooked grain and water.
2) You add yeast to this and allow it to ferment.
3) The fermentation liquid is strained out and is known as “distiller’s beer” or “wash”.
4) This liquid is then distilled twice.
5) The result of the first distillation is known as “low wine” and is usually around 40% alcohol. (Don’t hold me to these percentages, because they vary from distiller to distiller.)
6) This “low wine” is then distilled a second time to make “high wine”, which is usually around 60% alcohol. This is also called “new whiskey.”
7) For some whiskeys, this is the end of the distilling. It’s aged and water is added to bring it to the proper alcohol content for sale.
8) Some distillers distill the “high wine” a third time in a “spirit still” before aging and diluting and bottling.

Ray, I’m speculating that your hotel bought undiluted “high wine” and then diluted it themselves. Maybe it was more economical to do it that way; maybe they diluted it a bit more than whiskey that was finished at the distillery in order to make it go further. This product may have been their “house whiskey”.

See these sites for more detail:

High Plains Inc

"Handbook of Alcoholic Beverages: Technical, Analytical and Nutritional Aspects" edited by Alan J. Buglas


Chicago Style Thin Crust Pizza

From: Joe 
Sent: Monday, October 28, 2013 5:46 PM

Dear Unc,

Years ago in Chicago the Mom & Pop Pizza places would only a thin crust pizza, the crust, as I recall , was crispy like a cracker. 
Are you familiar with this. Do you think you could find a recipe for this. Any help would be appreciated. 


Leavenworth, KS

Hi Joe,

Try these:

Pizza Making 1 2

Also, there are a lot of links to Chicago style thin crust pizza on this message board:

Pizza Making Forum


Fresno French Burgers

From: dave 
Sent: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 1:25 PM
Subject: dear sir I"m looking the French burger from the 1960s French roll,single patty,American

cheese,chopped onion and the chili [style] sauce I've ever had.the bulldog drive in Fresno,CA. Blackstone Ave. across from Ratcliff stadium.
thank you dave

Hello Dave,

I found a few small mentions of The Bulldog Drive-In on Blackstone Ave in Fresno on message boards, but no mention of their French Burger. I also found mentions of Bulldog Donuts at the same or approximately the same location.

I did find several mentions of the French burger from Cafe Midi on Maroa in Fresno in 60s – 70s, and I found a description on a message board of the Cafe Midi French burger, but no recipe for the chili:

about l/4 lb. pattie (rectangular shape)
french roll..split
cheese (American or cheddar)
chili.....mustard..onions grilled optional...
grill pattie....toast roll on grill while cooking meat....
top meat with cheese to melt....dip toasted roll into chili-heated...
top roll with cooked meat w/melted cheese..add mustard...add a little extra with other half of roll also dipped in chili....


Oyster Stew with Tomatoes

From: Sondra
Sent: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 10:40 PM
Subject: You're my last hope....

In January 1980, we had a Super Bowl party, and prior to the buffet, I served everyone individual mugs of the most incredible oyster stew 
that had tomatoes in it.  It was your basic creamy oyster stew except that the tomatoes and probably other vegetables and/or herbs took it 
to another level.  I believe I got the recipe from Bon Appetit magazine (although it could have been Gourmet) about that time frame.

I have been searching archives of both magazines and continually google it but have not come up with anything that is close.  I still have 
the menu for that party, and my entry simply states "oyster stew".  It is so scrumptious; I hope you can locate it!!

Thank you,


Hi Sondra,

Sorry, I can’t find an oyster stew recipe connected to either magazine that has tomatoes as an ingredient. I did find some oyster stew recipes with tomatoes. See below and these sites:

Recipe Hub

Star News

WT Seafood

I’ll post this on my site in the hopes that a reader can help, but it will be several weeks before it appears.


Down Home Oyster Stew

1 lg. sliced onion
1 can tomatoes
1 1/2 sticks margarine
1 lg. can oysters
1 can evaporated milk
1/8 tsp. (dash) angostura
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper

  Heat water in a large pot.  Add potatoes and onions, tomatoes, and margarine.  Boil until tender, stirring all the time.  
Add oysters and milk, angostura, garlic salt, and black pepper. Let come to a rolling boil. Remove from heat. It is important 
to stir this stew constantly to prevent scorching.  Makes 5-6 servings. 
From: Sondra
Subject: re oyster stew with tomatoes
Date: Thursday, October 31, 2013 4:31 PM
At some point, I  discovered this recipe and saved it to my file...and just now came across  it. 
I haven't made it yet  but should.  Thought you might like it. 

Three Oyster  Stew 
Serves 6 as an  appetizer

The  three oysters in this stew refer to the shellfish, the oyster mushroom and salsify. 
The salsify we are referring to is actually called Scorzonera, but can  also be labeled 
Black Salsify, Black  Oyster Plant or Viper Grass. It is a regular-shaped, non-tapering 
root vegetable with a muddy-brown exterior that when peeled reveals a cream-colored, 
slightly  sticky interior. Salsify has a delicate flavor resembling artichoke hearts and  
coconut milk and is in the same plant family (Compsitae) as endive.

This  stew is fairly simple to make but has a complex and rich flavor. Use either Pacific 
or Atlantic freshly shucked oysters and, for our taste, the saltier the better. 
Add a salad and a light fruit dessert and you have a complete meal.

2 salsify
2 tablespoons butter
1 leek, white part  only, finely diced
1 shallot, finely diced
1 rib celery, finely  diced
1/4 pound oyster mushrooms
1/2 cup white wine
24 oysters,  shucked, liquor reserved
1 cup heavy cream
juice of 1 lemon
1 plum  tomato, peeled, seeded and diced
12 French baguette or sourdough baguette  toast rounds
fresh tarragon, chopped to taste
fresh chives, chopped to  taste 

We suggest wearing gloves when peeling salsify to prevent discoloring your hands.  
Peel the salsify and cut it into 1-1/2-inch to 2-inch long match stick pieces. 
To prevent the root from oxidizing and turning brown, place the cut pieces of  
salsify into a plastic or stainless steel container and cover with water that  
has the juice of one lemon added.

In a medium-sized sauté pan over medium  heat, melt the butter. Add the leeks, 
shallots, celery and mushrooms. Sauté  until tender but not colored, about 
8 minutes. Add the salsify, wine and oyster  liquor. Cook the mixture over 
medium heat until half the liquid remains. Add the  heavy cream and reduce 
the liquid until the sauce is slightly thickened. Add the  lemon juice, oysters 
and tomato and cook until just warm, 2 to 3 minutes. Do not let the liquid boil. 

To Serve:  
Spoon the stew into center of soup plate. Arrange toast around and  
sprinkle with chives and tarragon. 

Advance Preparation: 
You may  prepare each step of the stew recipe, except adding the lemon 
juice, oysters and  tomatoes, two to three days in advance. Just before serving, 
bring the stew base  to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and add the 
remaining ingredients. 

Substitutions And Options: 
You may  substitute other cultivated mushrooms or wild mushrooms for the 
oyster  mushrooms, but the texture will not be as chewy and the flavor will be 
more  earthy. Parsnips will make a good substitute for the salsify but the 
stew will  have a slight sweetness not found in the salsify. Clams or 
mussels in their shell will make a good alternative to the shucked oysters.  
Oyster Stew

5 cups hot water
1 cup dry white wine
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon chopped onion
1 sprig parsley
salt to taste
12 large oysters
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/4 tablespoons flour
1 medium-large tomato, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon parsley, finely chopped
juice of half a lemon
salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste

Mix the first seven ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower heat
and simmer 20 minutes. Add oysters and gently poach a few minutes until edges curl.
Remove oysters immediately and set aside. Strain the stock into a saucepan, bring 
to a boil and reduce by one-fourth. In another saucepan, combine butter and flour.
Add a little stock to butter mixtuire and and mix, then add to stock. Continue
cooking to slightly thicken stock.
Cut poached oysters into thirds and add to stock along with tomato, parsley and 
lemon juice. Correct seasoning. Serves 4.

Please read the Instructions before requesting a recipe.

Please sign your real first name to all recipe requests.

Please don't type in all capital letters.

If you have more than one request, please send them in separate e-mails.

Send Requests to

Copyright © 2012, 2013 Phaedrus