If you're in need of a quick warm-me-up amidst this frigid winter blast, pop over to NAHA and request a snifter of their private-label pear brandy. The spirit emerged from a collaboration between chef Carrie Nahabedian, Seedling Farms' Peter Klein and Koval Distillery.
Last winter, Klein asked Nahabedian if there was anything special she wanted; she asked if they could grow pears inside bottles, like they do with apples in Calvados, France. The experiment worked, and Nahabedian then approached Koval.
The Far North Side distiller added its already-crafted pear brandy to the bottles and allowed them to sit in the dark for three months to further macerate, gaining more flavor from the in-bottle pears. They added custom labels created by designer Tom Nahabedian, the chef's cousin, and are currently offering a 1.5- to 2-ounce pour in a cognac glass for $12.
"I just think it was fun to do," Nahabedian said. "We're not a place where we have a big vat of pineapple vodka with fruit flies [on the bar]. We sell a lot of after dinner drinks and brandies and cognacs and it seemed like something unique to do."
Clearly this wasn't the only creative spark because NAHA is also using its own honey in a number of recipes. Earlier this year Nahabedian adopted hives as part of the Heritage Prairie Farms chef apiary, which recently yielded the chef 150 pounds of honey.
She's currently using the sweet ingredient in a number of dishes, including as a glaze on a roasted aged Moulard duck breast as well as in a vinaigrette of honeycomb and saba for a salad of beets, Northern Spy apples, frisee, cracked hazelnuts and goat cheese. Soon the restaurant will start using the honey to sweeten its seasonal hot toddy. Just another way to keep us warm this winter.
Naha's pear brandy and honey [Photo: Paul Strabbing Photography]