Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Last Word

Friends of mine have the PDT Cocktail Book, a veritable treasure trove of cocktail recipes, and they introduced me to this drink just last week in Philadelphia. One sip and I was hooked.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Sushi Yasuda

I've never been to Tokyo. I can't claim to have knowledge or experience eating sushi in Japan. I can't tell you what is traditional or proper or authentic. But I have eaten sushi, lots of it in fact, across the United States. I know what I like. I know what I love. And I know that hands-down, without a doubt, the very best sushi I've ever eaten has been during two meals at Sushi Yasuda in New York City.

Monday, July 28, 2014

2009 Le Baron de Brane, Margaux

Let's talk for a second about Bordeaux. Some of the most expensive, highly demanded wines in the world come from this region. Unlike the rest of France where the vineyard is king, in Bordeaux, the Chateau that makes the wine is often the driving factor regarding price. Names like Mouton, Petrus, and Lafite go for top dollar, but at hundreds (to thousands) of dollars in price, these wines are out of the price range of many wine drinkers.

What are we to do?

Lucky for us, these same top producers make a second label wine. They reserve their top grapes in any given vintage for their top wines, but use the rest of the grapes, often from newer vines or less-choice blocks for these second labels.

Which is exactly the case with tonight's Baron de Brane, the second wine of Château Brane-Cantenac in Margaux.  Château Brane-Cantenac is a Second-Growth Bordeaux that usually runs around $100 a bottle (more or less depending on the quality of the vintage and the age of the wine) while a bottle of Baron de Brane can be gotten for about a third the price. This is good news to fans of Bordeaux who can't spring for top bottles.

The wine itself is very nice, black currants, cherries and plums are on the nose with quite a lot of minerality, cloves, green tobacco and a just a hint of earthy barnyard. There's firm tannin, nice acid, and a decent finish. The wine is well-made and balanced, if lacking in the power and complexity I'm sure would be in a Château Brane-Cantenac. It was quite tasty with dinner tonight, and if you are looking to understand what the fuss is about when it comes to Bordeaux, the Baron de Brane is a good entry-level wine to get you started.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Brussels Sprout Salad

Sometimes, a dish is so stinkin' simple you don't know how you didn't think of it yourself. For me, vegetable slaws and simple salads are where it's at. Broccoli slaw, coleslaw, and asparagus salad are all variations on the same delicious theme. Slice a crunchy vegetable thin, dress it with something salty and acidic, and you've got a delicious, easy, healthy, side. So why then, was I unable to think of a shaved brussels sprout salad?

Homemade Grenadine

Grenadine. The ubiquitous red syrup in bars everywhere. Originally made from pomegranate juice, most grenadines in the store today are made up of high fructose corn syrup and red food coloring. When I started making cocktails at home I figured, why not make my own?

You simply take equal parts 100% pomegranate juice and sugar and bring to a boil to make a simple syrup. I did 1 cup of each. Once the syrup has thickened a bit, I added a tsp of pomegranate molasses and a few dashes of angostura bitters. Put it in an airtight container, pop it in your fridge and voila, grenadine. I hear it'll last up to a month in the fridge, but I didn't make a huge quantity so I haven't tested that theory.

This recipe makes a very tasty grenadine, but unfortunately, you lose that brilliant red color of the commercial stuff. I'll take the sacrifice on color for flavor, but it does bum me out a bit. I've seen this recipe by Jeffrey Morganthaler which seems to make a more vibrant grenadine. The next time I see some nice pomegranates in the grocery store, I'll definitely give it a try.

Have you made grenadine? What's your favorite cocktail that uses it?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Mimosa Pops

Oh no, leftover Champagne! That totally sounds like a made-up problem, but in a household of two, can happen. Unlike still wine, sparkling does not hold up. Once the bubbles are gone, it just isn't appealing.

So what do you do when you've got half a bottle of leftover bubbly?

Make Mimosa Pops! Fill your popsicle molds with 50% sparkling wine (Champagne, Prosecco, Cava, anything will do) and 50% orange juice, freeze it, and you've got a super delicious, refreshing summertime treat. The only trick is making sure you don't fill the molds all the way to the top since these babies will definitely expand when they freeze. The alcohol content and air bubbles keep the pops from freezing into hard bricks, they are just shy of a snow cone in texture, and because it is only 50% juice they aren't too sweet. And it doesn't end with orange juice. Any juice will work, you just can't call them mimosa pops.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Bazaar by José Andrés

Embutidos Platter: Pan Con Tomate, Iberico Ham, Iberico Loin, Chorizo
I've seen José Andrés on tv, in magazines, and all over the internet. His food not only looks delicious, but a sincere attempt to capture the essence of Spanish cuisine. So when I spent a mini-vacation in Miami, I absolutely had to eat at the Bazaar.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Caorunn Martini

I've only recently become a serious gin drinker. For years I was turned off by the artificial Christmas tree odor that I associated with gin and wouldn't even touch the stuff.

But over the past year, as I've fallen down the rabbit hole of cocktails, I knew that I'd need to give gin another try. The variation in styles and flavors was intriguing and the more I tried, the more I saw how very different each gin was, and I fell in love.

More than just about any other spirit, I find specific gins are made for certain drinks. My general go-to gin at home is Hendricks. It is mild, aromatic, and has a lovely base flavor that I like in many drinks, but not a Martini.

The Martini is somehow the ubiquitous cocktail, but in my experience, it isn't one cocktail. With so few ingredients, one change in spirit or proportions seems to make a very different drink. I make and drink Martinis using several different gin/vermouth combinations (no vodka martinis for me) but each one is different.

So this is not my Martini recipe. I have no singular recipe for all Martinis. This is simply my Caorunn Martini recipe.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Easy Roasted Cauliflower

I was watching tv last week and saw a show extolling the virtues of cauliflower. It's an anti-inflammatory, it's high in anti-oxidants, it increases blood flow. All that is well and good. I am a huge proponent of eating healthily, and I am certain that vegetables are good for me, but honestly, I eat cauliflower because it's freakin' delicious.