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Tee Many Martooni (Glasses)

As regular raincoaster readers know, we at the ol’ ManoloFood blog are of Catholic tastes, although quite happy to take a Protestant on a quiet night. We are well-pleased both with the offerings of one of the greatest chefs in the world and with the humble pierogies from a drag queen burger bar. We are on the record as 100% down with wine tumblers (red wines only). And so, this may come as something of a shock to you, but there are a few things on this Earth about which we are entirely, stone-cold orthodox.

And Martini (or, more properly, Cocktail) Glasses are one of those things.

It’s fun to have glassware of different shapes and sizes, or even different colours: in my house, you can have 63 consecutive beverages chez moi without ever having the same kind of glass. You cannot, however, drive home afterwards. I have at least one of everything, including a frosted plastic Martini glass that lights up in rotating primary colours like a 60’s Christmas tree, thanks to the miracles of fiberoptics and LEDs, but I generally save that for parties where even the dog wears a lampshade.

Now that is one deluxe cab service

Now that is one deluxe cab service, but which one do you tip?

Did you know it was legal to ride your horse when you’re drunk, as long as you do it in Montana? Sensible if you’re using a Western saddle, otherwise the risk of slippage is too great. You dressage artistes are out of luck. My grandfather used to have a draft horse that would take him and the wagon safely home from the pub without any input from him, but unfortunately it meant he could never sell that horse, as it would always end up taking whoever it was home to his farm. But I digress…

Anyhoodle, to steal an expression from Plumcake, I’m also going to steal Plumcake’s Yes/No/Maybe post style and apply it to glasses for the classic Martini. I don’t really care what you serve your FunTinis in, as long as you do it well away from me, but if you’re going to serve a proper Martini, even to yourself, you must, repeat MUST, do it in one of the following.

Yes:

Reidel Vinum Martini Glass
Riedel Vinum Martini Glass. I don’t care what else you own; if you drink proper Martinis, you need the proper glass. This is it. You don’t have to do Riedel specifically: you can make do with any very, very plain version in good-quality glass or crystal, and yes, quality matters. Buying a heavy, clumsy Martini glass with a thick rim and a stem like a redwood is just throwing good money after bad design. There are solid practical reasons that beverageware evolved the way it has, and it pays to use the right container if you care enough to make the drink well. Don’t stick yourself with a bunch of Martini glasses that aren’t a positive pleasure to hold, because if it’s not a gratifying sensual experience, why bother in the first place? Just get yourself a paper bag and two straws and you’re good to go, right? It’s not as if “Plymouth 6:1 with a Twist” is on your diet anyway.

Now on to the No’s:

These are the Martini glasses you cannot buy for Martinis. You can buy them for your FunTinis and your blended drinks or whatever godforsaken Jagermeister concoctions your roommate (it IS your roommate’s Jagermeister, right?) whips up, but you are not allowed to spend your hard-earned money on these until you have one set of perfect Martini Glasses as described above.

Sagaform Martini stubby
The Sagaform Martini glass. It’s pretty. It’s hand-blown. It is very well-made. But it’s shallow, which will warm your drink up in no time even if you keep the glass in the freezer (they don’t get dusty in there, and the solid knob is supposed to hold the cold) and it’s anything but graceful or sexy. Grownups should never drink anything, even juice from glasses that could be described as “stubby” (Old Fashioned glasses aren’t stubby; they’re just impressively broad for their height, like so many of their aficionados)!

Also No, the classic “Frat Bar “Martini Glass” even if it’s by Riedel, which it is in this case.

Riedel Martini Tumblers

and the stemless version, which looks about as dignified as a man in a Hugo Boss suit who has forgotten his pants.

What is this? I don't even...

What is this? I don’t even...

Now, you may think I’m just being arbitrary and contrarian (moi?) but the fact is a Martini must be cold, very cold, to be very good. And the only Martinis you should drink are those which have been made very well, and served in glasses that will not interfere with your experience. Any glass that forces you to hold it by the bowl interferes, by turning you into a big, handsy gin warming device. And don’t try to kid me. “I’ll only hold it up near the rim” is the drinker’s version of “I didn’t inhale.”

Now the Maybes.

Once you’ve got a set of those perfect glasses mentioned first, just one for each friend you positively treasure enough to have over for the good stuff, you can add these and serve real Martinis in them. Yes, they’re slightly bizarre. And no, you can’t get these first. But they are ingenious, charming, attractive, and very practical. I’d bring them out with some adventurous friends, or possibly some people in the cocktail industry because although they never get tired of perfection, after your five hundredth perfect cocktail in a perfect cocktail glass, you might want to go just a little crazy.

Nachtmann Dancing Stars Bossa Nova Martini GlassThe Nachtmann Dancing Stars Bossa Nova Martini Glass from, yes, Riedel. And no, they don’t pay me for this fetish of mine. This one is a Maybe because that stem is just sooooo thick. With these proportions it teeters on the edge of clumsy, but the beautiful cuts (click through and look at the zoomed pic) and the great quality of the crystal bring it back to the right side. It’s also nearly ten inches tall, so this is quite an imposing glass; singles will barely wet the bottom, so store these in the freezer and serve larger drinks in these. For all the “Dancing Stars” marketing, these are very macho glasses.

Libbey Swerve Martini GlassesLibbey Swerve Martini Glasses. Because, just, why not? Libbey is decent utilitarian glass and these are cocktails we’re talking about, not holy water: some things just go better with a twist.

Stemless Martini Glass setThe actually useful stemless Martini glass. Unlike the above-mentioned atrocity, it will actually keep your drink cold; the downside is that you must be sitting down in order to use it (or freeze your left hand while turning the ice into water) and that it best suits drinks that are sipped slowly, as otherwise it’s completely unnecessary. If you’re a slow drinker, it might be just the thing for you, as it will keep your Martini good and cold for a very long time indeed, but coasters are going to be an essential accoutrement with the condensation. And word to the wise: shaved or crushed ice works: cubes, no matter how small, do not. Snow works really well, actually.

And now, my absolute favorite of the New Wave of glassware (“New” here meaning post-Prohibition):

Starfrit Double Wall Martini GlassThe Starfrit Double Wall Martini Glass. It’s got a seven ounce capacity, which is just too big, but otherwise I love this little thing. That little pigtail at the bottom is just the right amount of crazy, even if cleaning this thing will drive you in that general direction. The clever double-walled design is not only useful for insulatory purposes, it’s also quite attractive. Just be sure to buy the extra-large olives and you’ll be all good.

To Market, to Market with Jean-Georges

Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Heather Watson

Chef-Owner Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Blogger Heather Watson

Actually, as you can see there were no hogs involved in the Winedown event at Market, the Vancouver outpost of the Jean-Georges empire (unless you count the people who tried to scarf more than their share of the truffle pizza). It’s a strange fact but a fact nonetheless that now that I’ve got a blog with “food” right there in the name (scroll up and confirm for me that I’m not just hallucinating this, okay?) I get dozens of invitations to cocktail events and none at all to foodie events.

Fortunately for my liver, Market changed my luck with their invitation to the Winedown event, at which actual food was served. It still counts, even if the invitation came through the bartender, right?

There were cocktails served, too, and very tasty they were although I have to say the Palaciosour was something I’d order again whereas the Basablanca comes across as just a too-tart, much more labour-intense Tom Collins.If the lemons in yours were sharper than the lemons in the test batch as mine were, you were hooped unless you wanted to go back and ask them to splash in some simple syrup or something, which is a bit like sending your food back to get some ketchup on it. I know it’s heresy, but sometimes making drinks in a pitcher and sampling the pitcher before pouring is more likely to result in consistent quality. At a posh event, people want them made individually; the problem is, there’s no time to test them this way. One must strike a balance between practicality and pizazz.

The Palaciosour was a nice sour (and not too) but the float of rich, hemoglobinesque red wine completely made the drink. The interplay between the bitters, the citrus, the refined whisky and the wine added an almost electric dimensionality to the experience that made it something special. It also looks pretty wicked, as the Rioja remains floating instead of mixing in with the rest of the drink.

UPDATE: added the decimals into the recipes. Darn proofreading!

Basablanca

.75 oz Telmo Rodriguez !Basa” Rueda.

.5 oz Victoria Gin.

.5 oz St.Germain.

.25 oz Fresh Lemon Juice.

2 dashes Fee Brothers West indian Orange Bitters

combine ingredients and shake with ice

double strain into a coupe

*garnish with zested lemon peel

Palaciosour

.5 oz Alvaro Palacios !La Vendimia” Rioja.

1.5 oz Centennial Rye Whisky

.75 oz Fresh Lemon Juice.

.25 oz Fresh Lime Juice.

.75 oz Sugar Syrup.

2 dashes Fee Brother Plum Bitters

2 dashes Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters

combine Rye, citrus juice, sugar and bitters and shake with ice

double strain into an old fashioned glass

top with ice

float wine on drink surface

*garnish with brandied cherry on rim

And, didn’t I say something about food? The food was (as should be the case at one of Jean-Georges’ places) marvelous. Truffles don’t really float my boat, and thank GOD I finally found something expensive that I don’t actually adore, but the first item out of the kitchen was truffle pizza, and it had me reconsidering my truffle position. The truffle gave the cheese pizza an edge, a savory interest that wasn’t as overwhelming as truffles can be.

I remain, however, deeply skeptical of their celebrated truffle burger. I am a devoutly orthodox burgerologist.

For the second item, let me put this as simply as I can: the scallop sashimi with warm crispy rice and chipotle emulsion may just be the nicest thing I’ve ever had in my mouth, including my ex.

The Steelhead salmon sashimi with green chili, crushed pistachios, and mint (whatever happened to giving foods names instead of entire recipes?) was equally marvelous. It’s not easy to do foods that retain their individual component flavours while working together perfectly, and while this sounds strong, it was in fact subtle and perfectly-balanced.

The raw tuna with wasabi cream cheese and pickled ginger pizza was fresh and, again, well-balanced, but it made me wonder why some foods were sashimis and some were just pedestrian old “raw.” I suspect the salmon and scallops slept with the chef. The dish was radical, but very successful.

Rice cracker crusted tuna with a citrus-sriracha emulsion was my second-favorite of the night, even though I am allergic to the word “emulsion” outside of physics class. I’m a big fan of contrasting, bold flavours, and so was pretty much in heaven all night.

It was a good reminder that there is more to wine cocktails than sangria (or that lame excuse for white sangria that’s really just cheap white zin watered down with some orange slices in it, and Yaletown, I AM LOOKING AT YOU) and that less-alcoholic cocktails pair better with food, particularly after the second round.

Put that in your pot still and smoke it!

Victoria Hempen Vodka

Victoria Hempen Vodka

Let me tell you a little tale of Twitter. WAIT, WAIT, don’t click away; there’s booze in the story!

There, now that I have your attention we can proceed.

So, one day I was on Twitter, nattering about gin as I do not-infrequently, and someone from Victoria asked what I thought of “the home team,” Victoria Gin. And, as is my wont, I went off on a rant, as I am all Team Hendricks, as we know, and while Victoria is a very floral gin, which I like, it is also light-bodied and volatile enough to be practically gaseous, which I do not like. And I said that, or words to that effect. I believe what I said was, “if you take the top off the bottle, the paint starts peeling from the walls,” or suchlike, for lo, I am way diplomatic and shizz.

The next thing I know, the rep for Victoria Gin is hitting me up on Twitter, saying “Sorry you didn’t like it, but we’ve changed the way we distill it and I’d like to give you a bottle to try the next time you’re in town.”

Truly, there is no better way to get my attention than to say “please may I give you a free bottle of gin,” and so a beautiful friendship was born. Sadly, while the gin has noticeably improved, it’s still a very light-bodied liquid and not as smooth as I’d like to see, particularly at a premium price point. I’ve also tried the Oaken Gin, and while it’s an interesting addition to blended drinks, it’s more a novelty product than anyone’s main choice of tipple.

HOWEVER

They have a new product, Hempen Vodka to wit, and let me just say that while I am so NOT all about the hemp products being perhaps the last person who ever worked for Greenpeace never to have touched pot (not even when I had cancer; the stuff just makes my toes curl with revulsion at that nauseating smell), and while I am so NOT all about the vodka, believing (along with all right-thinking people) that vodka is for people who want to get drunk but who don’t like, you know, drinking, I LOVE THIS HEMPEN VODKA.

The bumph from Victoria says:

On the nose there is a subtle organic sweetness. On tasting, a rich silky texture is elicited by the smooth oils of the hemp hearts. Notes of hazelnut and a hint of spice are also present. The finish is long, clean and refreshing.

Which is good as far as it goes, but I’d put it somewhat more pithily, and in fact am about to do so. I’d say:

Imagine you just had sex with the sexiest hippie you’ve ever seen. (If you can’t think of a sexy hippie, go watch Viggo in Walk on the Moon, or just some old Doors clips.) Okay, you’ve just had sex with that. Now, imagine putting your nose in the hollow of his throat and sniffing deeply. THAT is what Victoria Hempen Vodka tastes like.

Yes, please.

Yes, please.

Happy Valentine’s Day from ManoloFood!

Cheers!

Cheers!

I like their spirit(s)!

First Floor, going UP!

and going down, the hatch that is.

I know, I HAD to use it and I’m sorry already, okay?

Anyway, this is just a quickie cocktail post about my new favorite cocktail, which has actually usurped the place in my heart formerly held by my beloved Negroni.

As some of you may know, latterly my liver and I are barely on speaking terms, and I’m drinking less like a sailor than like a … I don’t know … I don’t actually have any cultural reference points for people who don’t drink like that. What can I say, I’m Irish! Anyway, I’m definitely preferring my cocktails on the lighter side lately, and this one has all the complexity and bittersweet charm of the Negroni, but without the vicious kick.

The Bon Marché cocktail was invented on a blustery night last week by my favorite bartender, Mr. Jay Jones, who’s newly installed as bar manager at Market by Jean-Georges in the Shangri-La hotel. Yes, in Canada we have our good restaurants in hotels. We just gotta be contrarian that way.

Anyway, it was invented specifically for me when I said I’d leave it up to him. “Sweet? Bitter? Creamy?” Bitter. Hey, I gotta be me. And so it was, and delicious it is, enough to make a whole blog post out of, trust me.

You make this just like a Martini, meaning you have to chill the glass, so do that first. I know you, you don’t store your glasses in the freezer, do you? Chuck some cubes into it and fill it with cold water while you putter around going “do we even HAVE orange bitters?” and it’ll be cold enough by the time the drink is mixed.

Bon Marché

  • 1.5 oz Beefeater 24
  • 0.5 oz Campari
  • 0.5 oz Giffard Abricot Du Roussillon
  • 2 dashes Fee Brothers’ West Indian Orange Bitters
  • lemon zest

Mix over ice, stir until chilled, strain into a cocktail glass, garnish with lemon zest and yes, you squeeze it over the drink before you plop it in and if you’re in the mood, wipe rim the glass with the zest as well. Since this is a hot pink stunner of a cocktail, a clear glass is essential for showing it off, but cut crystal will bring out the tones better than a classically minimalist one would. Keep the purist glass for purist Martinis, and try this gorgeous, po-mo Wood Grain Martini Glass from that very po-mo collective, Waterford.

Wood Grain Martini glass by Michael Aram for Waterford

Wonderful French Toast – First, buy the Challah

For this recipe I recommend an unseeded Challah.

I am a big fan of breakfasts, as is the rest of my family. I often skip it, but I love it. Lunch I can pretty much do without. Dinner is the best.

One of my favorites for breakfast is French Toast and a while back I cam across a recipe for for French Toast that I love. It is less eggy than many recipes which look like nothing more than a fried egg with bread in it. The recipe can be made with other breads but Challah (or Hallah), makes it an exceptional breakfast item, as good as virtually any you will find at a restaurant.

As an aside, Challah bread is a traditional Jewish bread generally eaten on the Sabbath and holidays. It is made generally with eggs, sugar, water and fine white flour. It is very rich and eggy which helps make it a perfect bread for this French Toast recipe which omits the egg whites. Another special ingredient makes this even better.

French Toast:

One loaf of good quality Challah

1-1/2 cups room temperature milk (2% or whole)
pinch of salt
a generous 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
0-2 tablespoons melted butter
3 egg yolks
3 tablespoons brown sugar

And, in order of awesomeness, one of the following:
One Tablespoon Pear Eau De Vie (Our present favorite is Kuchan™ Poire Williams / Bartlett Pear Eau De Vie from Old World Spirits . For the LiquorLocusts review of this product, click here.)
or
One Tablespoon Bourbon, of a kindler, gentler nature like Woodford Reserve or Makers Mark.
or
One Tablespoon vanilla.

The Pear Eau De Vie should be tried. It is great. A subtle but rich flavoring. Bourbon versus vanilla is more a matter of personal taste, but everyone should try the pear.

For the bread, preheat the oven to 280 degrees. Slice bread about 1-1/4″ thick. Put on a baking sheet and put in oven for 15 minutes, flipping bread once, half way through. Take it out and let it cool. Alternately, take your bread out of the wrapper and let it get stale for a few days. The baking works better though, but if your bread is already stale, there you are.

Mix milk, salt, cinnamon, egg yolks brown sugar and your choice of the eau de vie, bourbon or vanilla in a medium bowl. Add melted butter by preference. It is not necessary but does add a bit of richness to the flavor. If you use non-fat milk I would definitely add 2 tablespoons, one for 2% and personally I would still add one with whole milk. If you are not using Challah, which is a rich, buttery bread, I would perhaps add 3 tablespoons melted butter and definitely two,.

Pour the liquid in a 9×13 baking dish. Put slices of challah in and let soak 15-20 seconds per side (both sides) and move to another sheet to sit. Let the bread sit for 2-3 minutes before putting on griddle.

Cook the french toast on a griddle or non-stick pan until golden brown.

Serve with a simple

blueberry compote:

2 cups fresh blueberrys or 1-3/4 cups frozen Wyman’s Wild blueberries.
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon corn starch
3-4 tablespoons of Sugar in the Raw (Turbinado) or plain sugar

cook in heavy saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook approximately 10 minutes, until blueberries break down somewhat. Allow to cool to just warm.

Finally, a bit of ham, a half a grapefruit, and to kill your day,

Diamond Gin Fizzes.

Recipe is here at LiquorLocusts.

Anyway, I think you will find this an excellent and enjoyable recipe.

Christmas Cheers!

I'll be lucky if I don't wikileak in the cab

Oh, Julian, hold me back!

I’m sorry to say, I’m always that guy at the annual Manolosphere holiday party, especially since I got the below for Christmas. Oh well, what happens on Mustique stays on Mustique, right?
LED Martini Glasses

Cooking with Gin

Bombay Sapphire in Vancouver

Well, I promised it’d be different, didn’t I? Today we’re going to cover barbequeing with gin, just as winter’s setting in. Hey, brush the snow off the grill and fire it up; everybody loves playing with fire!

Todays foodie blog is a drinkie blog brought to you by the two times (so far, don’t be strangers, boys!) that Bombay Sapphire gin has invited me to their special tasting events with their global Gin Ambassador, Merlin Griffiths, a man who truly knows that the way to a blogger’s heart is through her liver.

Sure, Bombay makes a tasty cocktail, every discerning barfly knows that, and in fact it made three or four of them at the Spice Up the Summer event, but even more, it makes a pretty nifty ingredient in some surprising and creative dishes, courtesy of Rob Rainford, Canuckistan’s Guru of the Grill, author of License to Grill, and The Sister’s secret crush.

Like: Marinated, Grilled Tri-Tip Steak:

The gin replaces the vinegar and speeds up the marination process considerably, to say nothing of adding a savory herbal/floral bouquet of its own. The juniper in the gin goes amazingly well with grilled beef, particularly if you avoid the temptation to add those gimmicky and overwhelming mesquite chips to the grill. The result is a lighter impression, with delicate wafts of botanicals spiraling around the taste of the pure beef. Different, but definitely worthwhile

In Part 2 of the video, Rob gives the slickest secret of barbeque success I’ve ever seen. But I won’t spoil it for you: click and see what a man who’s good with his hands can do for your next meatfest.

And my favorite from the event, Leg of Lamb:

And the very bizarre, yet quite tasty, Smoked Honeydew Melon Soup, along with how to make a smoke pouch.

Round about the time they were serving the fourth cocktail, things got a little cross-talky, but hey, that’s how you know the party is a hit, right? At that point, Rob introduced the Bombay Sapphire Salsa Fresca that he’d made, and which I can highly recommend. Actually, a really good floral gin is not a bad substitute any time you’d use a high-end white tequila or even dry white Cuban rum. In this video, Merlin also goes over the critical ingredients for any successful cocktail.

And yes, of COURSE I have the cocktail recipes … coming soon.

All videos and image below courtesy of AHA Media. Top image courtesy Emme Rogers.

Bombay Sapphire in Vancouver

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