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Spirit Animal

This man is my hero (with a few caveats).

According to the guy who twitpic’d him, this blithe cheese fiend was digging into the wheel of Brie with his fingers and then putting it on crackers. Okay, gross. Dude clearly needs to upgrade to crackers with decent cutting ability; you use the cracker edge like a knife to cut off a piece of cheese and then, coincidentally, the cheese is on the cracker already! How convenient is that? From long experience, I would recommend your quotidian saltines, or a Wasa crispbread, perhaps the rye; although it is not sharp, it has a tensile strength that is truly gasp-inducing. When the apocalypse comes, you’ll be able to build fallout shelters from this stuff. Carr’s are, although lovely, easily shattered by the cheese-cutting operation, and are to be steered clear of in subway picnicking situations.

Also, Miss Manners will certainly back me up on this: stinky cheese should not be shared in enclosed spaces without the consent of those enclosed in the spaces. Also, if your Brie is stinky there’s something wrong with it, so this probably wasn’t Brie but something in the family. God knows I loves me some Chaumes, but the fumes will dissolve window glass. If in fact it was Brie, then he’s probably paying the karmic price for stinking up the subway car, spending the weekend on the bathroom floor, groaning.

To get your transit picnic right, remember these key things: No stinky cheeses! Or you’ll get mocked all over the blogosphere! And either a knife (really, who does not carry cutlery with them at all times? It is for such emergencies the Swiss Army gadget was invented! Get the one with the corkscrew, of course) or crackers of sufficient strength to both cleave and provide a satisfying textural contrast with the creamy cheese. Bonus points: an actual cloth napkin, because you’ll never get the grease stains out of your $300 leather satchel.

Happy Birthday to Moi: essential pressie

Yes, it’s a Milestone birthday for raincoaster today, and you know what that means: GUILT! You didn’t get me anything, did you? Oh well, it’s not too late to get me something I want. As a friend said, “You’re the easiest person in the world to shop for because given the funds, there is nothing you would not buy for yourself.” Here is the perfect example.

Silver Monkey Straw

Silver Monkey Straw

This solid silver monkey highball straw would be a fine start to the birthday haul. Yes, it is solid sterling silver from Tiffany. Yes, it is utterly ridiculous. The latter is why I covet it.

 

The Wisdom of the Interwebz

Matcha bubble tea

Matcha bubble tea

Bubble tea is one of those culinary miracles like unicorn foam that you’d swear required the technology of NASA to create and couldn’t be made at home, but astonishingly this is false (provided you can find tapioca pearls, and if you’re the kind of person who drinks bubble tea without pearls I DO NOT WANT TO KNOW YOU). It is permissible to make it with booze, and if I can prevail upon a chef pal we shall have a recipe forthcoming. There’s a recipe for matcha bubble tea here.

And we’ve also locally-sourced a quiz which tells you which kind of bubble tea you are. I prefer mango, myself, but if almond I must be, so be it.


You Are Almond Bubble Tea


You are an ideas person, and you are always thinking of new ways to change the world.

Your taste is somewhat unconventional, although you don’t like anything too far out.You have a reputation for being quirky, and at times, you make sure to fuel it.

You’re definitely adverse to following the crowd. You want to do things your way!

If you are, as yet, unaware of what bubble tea is, it’s basically a fruit-flavoured, ultra-fine milkshake with tapioca pearls added after blending (jujube-like bubbles you need a pinkie-thick straw to slurp up) and it’s a cup full of fun. How many Dr Who references can you get out of a quotidian beverage, after all?

Serve in a tall, clear novelty glass so people can see, and play with, the pearls. Here are some suggestions, also good for any tall, iced drink, particularly those like the tequila sunrise (no hate!) that have interesting colour/ingredient gradients. You can also use these for plain old highballs, but you will risk accusations of frivolity. Then again, vodka soda drinkers deserve all the scorn they get if you axe me.

Le Cadeaux Break Resistant Drinkware Highball or Ice Tea Glass

Fun and retro. The colour WILL get in the way of certain fruit bubble teas, but for others it’ll be an enhancement.

IMPULSE! Abstract Highball Glasses, Green, Set of 4

My favorite. Just crazy enough.

Nachtmann Aspen Crystal Tall Highball/Beer Tumblers, Set of 6

Fun optical games to be played here with this many faceted surfaces.

RCR Crystal Melodia Collection High Ball Glass Set

Very old-school. Maximum irony points for serving bubble tea, or boozy bubble tea, therein.

Nachtmann Vivendi Set of 6 Highball Glasses, 14-Ounce

Clean, clear, lets the beauty of the drink shine through.

Starfrit Gourmet 14-Ounce Double Wall Highball Soda Glass

Thermal double-walled glass is maybe better for drinks made with crushed ice, but still shows off a good-looking beverage without letting it get tepid.

Godinger Set of 4 Crystal Palm Highballs

More retro, tiki fun.

Impulse Crackle Highball, Clear, Set of 6

We luv us some texture in a good quality glass, and this has all that plus a pleasingly hedonistic shape.

Nambe Tilt Highball/Beverage Glasses, Set of 4

Because who wants to go through the day totally straight? I ask yez.

TGIF Cocktail: the Whistleblower

Whistleblower Cocktail

Whistleblower Cocktail created by Jay Jones, photographed by Cathy Browne

Cheers! We’ve a spotty track records when it comes to regular weekly features, but who can’t get behind this: A cocktail for Friday! This is the Whistleblower Cocktail, which was created to celebrate the 40th birthday of My Future Boyfriend, Julian Assange. It was created by Jay Jones at Market by Jean-Georges at the Shangri La hotel in Vangroover, and it is every bit as tasty as the man himself. Which man? Well, that would be telling.

Judge for yourself.

Jay Jones

Jay Jones

Julian Assange

Julian Assange

In related news, when did I start fancying facial hair? News to me.


And here’s the recipe for the cocktail. For the recipes for the two men I’ve shamelessly objectified above, I refer you to their respective parents.

1.5 oz Imperia (Russian Premium Vodka, made from Winter Wheat)

.25 oz Giffard Banane du Bresil (French liqueur, made by maceration of Brazilian bananas)

.5 oz Renegade Rum Company, Limited Edition Panama Rum 1995
-distilled in Panama (in honour of Julian’s escape to Ecuadorian sanctuary, if only in the embassy; there wasn’t any Ecuadorian rum at the bar)
-aged 13 years in Bourbon casks
-enhanced in Chateau Margaux casks
-bottled at Bruichladdich Distillery, Islay, Scotland in 2008
-limited release of 1080 bottles
-46% ABV

4 dashes Fee Brothers Gin-Barrel Aged Orange Bitters
-classic orange bitters aged in cask which had formerly aged Old Tom Gin (well, who wouldn’t be bitter after all he’s gone through, eh?)

1 Fresh Lime Peel Zest

-stir, strain, add the zest – serve it all in a beautiful coupe.

This is a lovely, citrusy cocktail that is smoothed out by the rum in approximately the way your favorite diva is mellowed by sitting next to a stoner and absorbing herbs by osmosis.

Coupe glasses are my new favorite thing. They may not be the greatest for Champagne, but they are lovely for cocktails that are not Martinis, and there are some beautiful shapes in amazing crystal available now. Here’s a selection.

My favorite is this Orrefors Crystal Divine Coupe. Doesn’t as far as I know come with the wedding rings, alas. It has beautiful lines, and will concentrate the scent of an aromatic cocktail like this at least somewhat thanks to the inward curve. Mostly aesthetic, though. If you want glasses engineered for optimal drinking, you want the Difference line.

This Schott Zwiesel Tritan Crystal Champagne Saucer, which comes in a set of six, is more old-fashioned, but some people prefer its lines. Some people.

I’m quite fond of the Chef & Sommelier Cabernet Coupe but possibly that’s just because I’m so used to seeing it everywhere. It IS ubiquitous, but it is nonetheless lovely, with its modern, angular dash.

Oh, Karl. Karl, Karl, Karl, what will we ever do with you? This is the Orrefors By Karl Lagerfeld Coupe and, god help us, it apparently comes in different COLOURS. Let me repeat: COLOURS. I can only think that Uncle Karl is trying to see what the public will swallow at $150 a stem. Whatever they’re drinking, it’s pretty strong, because I have candleholders from China that look exactly like this and cost me about $5 for four.

In any case, enjoy your Whistleblower cocktail. Now go out and leak something. Paris Hilton, put your underwear back on: we were not talking to you!

Alcoholism: the sad truth

vodka vs wine

vodka vs wine

Just something to keep in mind as you build your Wine Cellar/Boozeteria.

Lego Ice Cubes!

Lego Ice Cubes

Lego Ice Cubes

Sumer is icumen in indeed, and it will be much more enjoyable once I have these geek chic Lego-Inspired Ice Bricks Tray. Wintery drinks are anything but whimsical, while summer is just the time for something light, pretty, and a little bit more ridiculous than anything you’d allow yourself to enjoy during the dark months. Think of summer drinks as the Britney Spears to your usual Cure cocktail.

[GOD I’M OLD]

Here’s a simple, pretty, easy drink that I have never known anyone to turn down: the Gimlet. It’s still a classic, and will still empower you to look down your nose at all the vodka tonic drinkers; vodka tonic is just another way of saying “I like to get drunk, but I don’t like to drink.” If you like the taste of tonic water (and we do, God knows, love the taste of tonic water) then drink tonic water and shut up about it. Save sixty calories a pop, minimum.

Where was I? Right, Gimlet. You can do these with Rose’s Lime Cordial and we won’t make you sit in the corner, but they’re better with fresh limes. Fresh limes that must be juiced for every drink have a way of telling you when you’ve had enough, too, which is a quality to be prized.

2 oz gin, preferably Plymouth or Bulldog. Something balanced or slightly on the vegetal side. Tanqueray would work. Beefeater would work. Bombay and Hendrick’s are too floral#

1/2 oz fresh lime juice*

1/4 oz simple syrup. You won’t be able to use sugar for this, even if you shake it*

#can be replaced with vodka. It’s vodka, it doesn’t matter what kind as long as it isn’t flavoured and isn’t so bad it takes the roof of your mouth off. Iceberg is what I use for blended drinks. If you use rum, this is a Daiquiri. Put the blender DOWN!

*can be replaced with 1/2 to 1/3 oz Rose’s

Put them all in a shaker filled with ice and shake it. Strain into cocktail glass. If you’re sitting in direct sunlight, it is permissible to leave the ice cubes in, and even top with soda. Garnishing a drink this colour is overkill, but if you must, you can add lime. I like a thin wheel floating on the surface.

Do not use the 4 oz or “stick it in a freezer overnight” recipes from Wikipedia. They are abominations. If you need a drink with 4 oz of alcohol in it, you need a defibrilator. Either it’ll get warm before you finish it or you will fall off your barstool, and then we will laugh at you.

Nuts! It’s what’s for Christmas!

That's Nuts

That's Nuts

Would you put that thing in your mouth? Well, I hardly think so: the nutmeg (and the red, lacy mace) is truly one of the least attractive foods of all time, and that’s before you know how it used to be harvested.

Nutmegs are native to one small archipelago, the Bandas in eastern Indonesia, and having been there myself I can say that getting anyone or anything off the Bandas and onto your dinner plate back home is one of the labours of Hercules, although Mercury would have come in a good deal handier.

But I can also tell you that when you are approaching these islands, you smell them before you see them, and the scent is nutmeg, cinnamon, and clove. And when your boat brings you in over the reef to land on Run, the small island that the English traded to the Dutch in exchange for Manhattan, you step out and it’s as if the island exists on its own plane, halfway between 1600 and the 21st Century. There’s a generator powering a ghetto blaster with music that sounds a bit like Kanye, only in Bahasa Indonesia instead of English. But there is also, outside of every tiny house, a blanket spread, on which are drying freshly-picked spices; cloves, mostly, but also cinnamon, nutmeg, and a couple of things I couldn’t quite identify.

Run is where I learned how nutmeg was harvested for centuries. The Bandas are not only home to the nutmeg fruit, something about the size and shape of a small, malformed apple or possibly a large quince with a skin problem. They are also the home of the nutmeg dove, which looks exactly like a regular dove, only an awful lot closer to the size of a bald eagle.

Nutmeg dove

Nutmeg dove

Perhaps I exaggerate. A large cat. Yes, this is a dove the size of a very large cat, which can unhinge its lower jaw like a snake’s, in order to swallow the nutmeg fruit whole. The pit, including the mace covering, is indigestible to the dove, and passes through.

You see where I’m going with this, don’t you?

Well, it’s a lot easier than climbing trees.

Speaking of admissions, I must admit that having possessed myself of this kernel of knowledge, I had suddenly lost all desire to find out how they harvested it nowadays, because if my stay in Indonesia taught me anything, it’s that they will do things the cheap and easy way because why wouldn’t you do it that way? And nutmeg doves are free.

The Guardian, incidentally, has done a fine writeup on the sociopolitical history of the nutmeg, and you should go read it. There may be a quiz later.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the hunt for nutmeg helped build the modern commercial world. In 1453, the Ottoman Turks conquered Constantinople (modern Istanbul), embargoing trade across the sole sliver of land through which a few merchants had evaded the Arab-Venetian spice monopoly and forcing Europeans to find new eastern trade routes. Columbus sailed the blue Atlantic looking for a passage to India; and Vasco da Gama rounded the Cape of Good Hope in 1497, his men charging on to the shores of Kerala crying, “For Christ and spices!” The Portuguese military genius Afonso de Albuquerque annexed the Indonesian Molucca islands, of which the Bandas form part, in 1511. The fortresses he built there established and then consolidated a Portuguese monopoly over the world’s nutmeg that lasted almost a whole cushy century.

I have been in the fortresses he built there, and have snorkled through the ruins of Fort Elizabeth, which the English built to guard Run from the Dutch. The Dutch and Portugese, one island over, built a fort they called Revenge, of which little remains, but what little does remain is more than enough to chill your flesh on a day when even the trees are sweating.

Fort Revenge on Pulau Ai

Fort Revenge on Pulau Ai by wildstylz

I assure you, my skin starts crawling just to look at the image, even if the place has apparently been turned into a cassava farm. But where was I? Yes, going to talk about breakfast next, now that we’ve covered death, war, politics, third world poverty, and the digestive tracts of grossly swollen pigeons.

Indonesia is that kind of a place.

Oh, and the nutmeg will get you high, apparently. That explains a great deal of the local government.

One thing they do right there, having been conquered by the Dutch every few years for a couple of centuries, is pancakes. And one of the things they do with them is put a little spice in them, pretty much always nutmeg, because their tastes are subtle there and the sharper snap of cinnamon is not so much to their taste in the morning. Nutmeg is a spice that rewards cooking, richens and deepens, becoming much more interesting if it’s actually baked into something rather than sprinkled on top by a smiling barista. And one of the things it’s best in is pancakes, although it also adds a great deal to a savory stew, particularly if beer is one of the liquids in it.

Try it, you’ll like it. Trust me, I’ve spent several decades telling everyone I don’t like nutmeg, when really I just didn’t like nutmeg sitting on top of things. Nutmeg should be in things. Like pancakes.

Musical interlude via the DailyDot:

But am I going to let you settle for powdered nutmeg? No, I am not. I wouldn’t do that to you. Once you’ve had the real thing freshly ground, the stuff that comes in packages reveals itself as bearing the same relationship to the original that Nosferatu did to Ryan Reynolds after the sun came up.

Great.

Exactly.

You need a grater, and you can waste your time and money and skin off your knuckles playing around with several fancy items that look like they belong in a dominatrix’s toolkit, but we here at the ol’ Manolofood blog will take better care of you, and we will recommend only what we’d use ourselves, if we hadn’t spent all our money on martini olives this week.

Cuisipro Nutmeg/Cinnamon Grater (and yes, you will wash it with soap EVERY TIME if you use it for more than one kind of spice. Promise me, now.

This one is nice and practical; it knows if you only use it for nutmeg, you’re not going to wash it out every time, so it has a lid that keeps your leftovers fresh, and it’s easy to handle, so there will be very little knuckle skin mixed in with your pancakes. Yay!

My personal favorite, because it’s just so cute and the perfect size for a singleton, is the Gra-Mini mini grater. It’s also around five dollars, so it’s perfect for a stocking stuffer they’ll think is useless and end up using every single day. Major smug points for you.

I happened to pick one of these up at the hardware store while buying a box of rat poison (what can I say, it was a bad breakup) and the Italian man behind the counter nearly infarcted from laughter. With tears in his eyes he picked up the grater and mimed freshening a dish of rat poison with some parmesan. Oh god, that moment really lightened his life, I can tell you.

There are some words of power in the Productosphere, and “Peugeot” is one of those words. Therefor, we present the Peugeot PM19488 Amboine Nutmeg Grinder which is extravagant, tasteful, gloriously indestructable, and perfect for rich fussbudgets who don’t like to actually touch their food with anything but the inside of their digestive tract. You know the type. Excited about molecular gastronomy so they can eat steak foam and save on the calories. But they are generally important and must be placated with extravagant gifts, like ancient gods. So, here. It’ll probably be the most useful item in their kitchen and they will never touch it, because they eat out every night anyway.

But when I win the lottery, I’m buying one. And then renting a cleaner, to wash it out for me all the damn time (I’m two-timing nutmeg with cinnamon; yes, I am THAT GIRL).

This is the kind you don’t want. Seriously, 7.5 inches? Wasn’t that thing on an episode of Law and Order, Special Victims Unit?

Anyway, you’ll be a Special Victim if you try to use this with your bare hands.

I have a confession to make. I’m only including this one because of its name: The Nut Twister. Yes, I am twelve.

But at less than half the price, it’s not a bad riff on the Peugeot, even if that chrome case will not be as durable as the wooden one (trust me on this!).

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is about 1437 words more than I ever thought I would write about nutmeg. Pay heed!

Oh, they do also make nutmeg jam, out of the fruit itself. You don’t want it; it’s like apple butter, only mealier.

Always Be Prepared!

Isn’t that what they tell you in Boy Scouts and Girl Guides? Well, now you can be! No more lying awake at night wondering if you have enough corkscrews to host an alcoholic convention: with this ingenious lighting fixture, your problems are solved and your sleep assured (especially if you “practice” a lot).

Corkscrew chandelier

Corkscrew chandelier

That's a corker!

That's a corker!

Spotted at the Bute and Alberni liquor store in Vangroover. I wonder what plans they have for them after the display changes…hmmm…does anyone have some wirecutters I can borrow? I have a screwy idea