Archive - Recipes RSS Feed

Vancouver Gin Society Launch

Vancouver Gin Society Launch

Wasn’t that a party?

Finally, finally, finally, just in time for me to leave town for at least a year, the Vancouver Gin Society (here they are on Twitter) has launched, ushering the Wet Coast metropolis into the realm of Cities That Can Hold Up Their Heads In Public.

Imagine my surprise to find out that the current gin Renaissance is a Cascadia-driven phenomenon. And here I thought I was the only gin fan in the world sometimes. If the 57+ gins at Killjoy hadn’t clued me in, perhaps I shall blame the 57+ gins for the fact that my brain clearly wasn’t working properly to pick up all the clues, including more new, local gins than this part of the world has seen since prohibition (technical question: is each bathtub designated a microdistillery?). BC alone has 12 microdistilleries at or near production. Washington State has 80 or so.

The society is the brainchild of James Lester, proprietor of the squeaky-new Sons of Vancouver distillery; they launched with just one vodka, but they have big plans for diversification in a teeny-tiny space. After meeting James at the Northern Voice blogging conference afterparty back in the Spring, I have no doubt that they will do whatever they DO do, well.

Vancouver Gin Society LaunchGene Shook was shaken and stirred by the turnout

The Vancouver Gin Society is (as can be guessed from their web page) inspired by the very active Seattle Gin Society (there’s also a branch in New York), and we had Gene Shook, the head of that illustrious organization with us for this launch party. Something close to 60 of us sat down in the dining area of the enormous Legacy Liquor store to get in the spirit of things by downing these spirits in spirited company.

That’s enough of that. This is what I get for blogging sober: cheap wordplay.

Vancouver Gin Society Launch
The table filled out later. And the bar was already full when we got there.

Vancouver Gin Society Launch

That’s Oxley, Schramm, Victoria Oaken Gin, plain old regular Victoria, Long Table Distillery, Sound Spirits, Big Gin, and Big Gin Bourbon Cask.

According to Gene and James, the Cascadia region is where it’s at for innovation in gin. First the craft beer revolution, then the renaissance of cocktail culture, now ginnovation. Is there any wonder nobody ever wants to leave??? He’s right, of course. Victoria, BC’s Oaken Gin has been around for years (and their Hemp Vodka), the product of a family business. They’ve also got a plain old regular gin, which is far over to the floral and volatile ends of the respective spectrums, and they just happened to go into production the year local bartenders were going wild for barrel-aged cocktails. What with bourbon casks being disposed of after one use, it wasn’t too hard to see what they’d do for their next product, and it’s been a strong seller ever since.

I started my tasting with a bit of the Ebb & Flow. It’s the first gin legally distilled in Washington State since Prohibition. I found it floral, with vegetal notes like cucumber poking through. Like a garden after a rain. Very smooth on the palate.

Bartender and Author (yes, both are capitalized in THIS blog!) Mark Sexauer, whose cocktail book Aphrodisiacs with a Twist was featured at the launch, mixed our drinks and in between spoke about the way an official appreciation society brings together the producers, bartenders, and the public, all of whom have a vested interest in supporting the spirit they love. Alcohol and good society enhance one another and if done right (and moderately), elevate the public discourse.

Spanking-new Long Table was the first official pour of the night. It took three years to bring the downtown distillery to fruition, although only 4 1/2 months to produce a decent gin. Their standard gin features 8 botanicals: it’s a London Dry style, juniper forward, with orange, lemon, coriander, and earthy afternotes and a bit of burn from the two different kinds of peppers. I bet these guys are no strangers to mescal! This summer they went a little crazy and produced a cucumber gin with cukes from Pender Harbour in the Gulf Islands. It’s cuke and pepper and only available at the distillery, so get your butt to Vangroover if you want some!

The Long Table was presented to us in a beautiful rosy-pink cocktail featuring a cordial made of blackberries, verbena and honey. It’s called a Blackberry Bramble, and it’s a perfect patio drink, although the dark and stormy winter night outside was NOT what we ordered.

Victoria Spirits Gin was released in 2008, and was Canada’s first premium gin. True to their vintage spirit, they use spring water from the property and a wood-fired still, leaving those of us with pervy minds with ample fantasy material (if you’re into sweaty blacksmith and fire-stoker fantasies, not that we’d know anyone like that! Ahem!). They do tours if you want to objectify observe them for yourself. This gin has 10 botanicals including roses, accounting for the bouquet-like aroma, and a secret ingredient that they assure us isn’t all that secret but I’m too lazy to dox a gin right now, so it shall remain secret. There. Don’t say I never did nuthin for ya. The botanicals steep overnight right in the pot, unlike some gins where the botanical essences are added after distillation. Once begun, distillation takes about six hours. The result is less juniper, more citrus, as could be predicted by anyone who’s ever left unpeeled lemon slices in a pitcher of water overnight.

Vancouver Gin Society Launch

They gave us a lovely, lemony cocktail called the Hartland, which I could happily quaff all night long, but that’s no surprise: Solomon Siegel is legendary. It’s refreshing, not too sweet, not too alcoholic, and on the other hand not too “your 17 year old cousin will be safe with this.” It’s a sophisticated cocktail at the same time as it is an approachable one.

Schramm gin, from the Pemberton Distillery up near Whistler, BC, is a potato-based gin. I’ll let you think about that for a minute. Potato. Based. Gin. We’ve already covered what potatoes do for vodka (wonderful things), and they do exactly the same things to gin. The result is a silky texture unlike any other gin I’ve ever tried. The volatility of the spirit seems evened out, as if someone put the handbrake on the evaporation, but only one notch. It lets the flavours of the liquid itself come forward and disclose a lovely, heavy-bodied, balanced gin with that distinctive texture. Most of the botanicals come from within 15 km of the distillery, and they include hops and rose hips. We also tried it in a Schrammbuie, a cocktail of 1 part Drambuie to 3 parts gin. Although I loathe Drambuie with a fervor that will never die, I quite liked this cocktail.

Big Gin is named after Big Jim, father of Ben Capdevielle, a third-generation booze producer and the man behind Captive Spirits in Seattle. I never knew the man, but I have known the gin for awhile now, having first tasted it at the aforementioned Killjoy on a juxtaposition-themed outing.

Capdevielle explains that although he is a third generation distiller, “This is our first TAX PAID distillery.” His family made whiskey during Prohibition, and his presentation style reminds me of Tom Bulleit of Bulleit Bourbon; it’s the same “oh, he’s a character” character that seems to go so well with fine spirits. “I swear to god, tonic is the reason people don’t like gin,” he says. “Ours is a gateway gin. It swings both ways.”

Big Gin is a London Dry style, very juniper-forward. “If you don’t like juniper,” he says, “you don’t like gin!” And the floral gin makers at the table didn’t DARE contradict him. He uses the peel of bitter orange to give it an elegant edge, and it has absolutely no florals. Like with good bourbon he hand-numbers each bottle just because he likes the old-fashionedness of it. It shows that real people are making this stuff; it’s not being churned out by robots in a factory.

Bourbon barrel Big Gin is self-explanatory, and extraordinary. It’s finished for six months in the oak, and it shows. It has a reaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaally savoury, oily aftertaste, and smells like a clean, wet dog. These are good things. God knows I’ll never be hired by a marketing department, but when you get this stuff in your glass you will know exactly what I mean and you will be glad you bought it.

Sound Spirits of Seattle are close to my heart if only for the octopus on the label. And they immediately take up the tonic challenge gauntlet; they have brought their own, home-made tonic water. It’s historically accurate; originally, tonic water wasn’t carbonated, and it certainly wasn’t clear. Most tonics today use powdered quinine, but this Kina Water uses the real chinchona bark and amply qualifies for the highest hipster accolade, “artisanal.” This leads to a discussion of the medical uses of tonic and alcohol, and a reminder that the reason cocktails and cordials came into being in the first place was to be used as medicines. Then certain clever ancients decided to be slightly ill all the time and thus an industry began.

Sounds Spirits are the producers of Ebb&Flow and their Old Tom gin, which is NOT a London Dry style. It is not a floral gin. It is, like I told you, an Old Tom gin, which is the kind of announcement that makes sixty slightly tipsy people put down their glasses and knit their eyebrows (have you tried that after tasting seven gins? It takes a lot of coordination, let me tell you). Their base spirit is made with local barley, and it’s given a “tiny” amount of barrel aging, which gives it a tinge of colour and some savory oils. It’s sweeter, smoother, denser, and spicier than a London gin, and in a truly radical moment that can only come after 7 other tasters, the presenter suggests we try it in a mint julep.

*clutches pearls*

Then everyone went off to the afterparty and I met my friend Cathy for a drink and a burger at the Tap & Barrel next door, since I’d never been. The service was terrific, but the burger was too dry. A deep fried pickle is a nice touch, but it needs to be thicker to stand up to the brutal frying process. The beer, however, was delicious and monumental. For some reason, my notes become illegible right about then…

The next event for the Vancouver Gin Society is a punch-off: gin punch fanciers vs rum punch fanciers: Vancouver gets Beefeater, and the Long Table distillery will be using their London Dry; they go up against the Seattle Rum Collective with Diplomatico Añejo Rum, and our hosts the Shameful Tiki Room will wield Panama Red Rum. Proceeds go to the Harvest Society, and may the best booze win. You can get your tickets on Eventbrite.

Created with flickr slideshow.

Aspirational Libations: The Rum Steak by Julien Escot at Papa Doble

We are not natural enthusiasts of novelty beverages; indeed, we (the royal we) may be called puritanical by some, but we generally prefer cocktails that were invented long before we were born. Let’s face it, a Martini or a Sazerac just outrank a Redbull and Vodka. I once saw a group of girls tossed out of one of my favorite bars for asking for tequila shots. The bartender leaned over and hoarsely stage-whispered, “This is a grown up bar. We do whiskey, and we do beer. If you want tequila shooters and Redbull, you want the Blarney Stone down the street. Come here when you’ve learned to drink like grown-ups.” And out they went, buzz deflated, to party with teens from the outskirts.

But thanks in part to knowing Shawn Soole of Little Jumbo, also known as Liquid Revolution, we are broadening our horizons somewhat. I mean, the last time I saw the man make a Martini he used liquid nitrogen, and water that he’d distilled himself. This is the bartender who invented the Grilled Cheese Washed Rum and the Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup Martini, which got so much media coverage that now he refers to it as “that bloody cocktail.” So, he is a horizon-broadener of the first rank, because it’s impossible to resist the tasty if deranged things he mixes up.

In any case, our good friend Bart Calendar, he who lives a lifestyle which literally embodies the word “aspirational,” has introduced us to a cocktail so crazy, yet so dazzlingly tasty-sounding, that we simply must try this at home. It is called the Rum Steak, it has rum and steak in it, and it comes from Papa Doble in Montpellier, France.

NSFVegans!

The Rum Steak from Papa Doble

The Rum Steak from Papa Doble

Ingredients:

  • 2oz aged rum
  • 0.2 oz absinthe (yes, it’s a fiddly recipe and everything’s better in ml but I figured you’d want the ounces)
  • 0.4 oz homemade vanilla & spice maple syrup
  • 4 drops Peychaud’s bitters
  • 0.2 oz acacia honey infusion
  • 1 slice fresh beef, cooked according to instructions below.

Stir all the ingredients with ice in the mixing glass and strain into a chilled old fashioned. Garnish with a baked slice of beef marinated in homemade acacia honey infusion.

Now, here’s the backstory, ie how to make the spiced maple syrup and acacia honey infusion…

Vanilla and Spice Maple Syrup:

To prepare 17oz: in a saucepan with maple syrup 17 oz, cajun spice 3 bar spoons and separated (ie seeded) vanilla 2 pods. Leave to simmer and fine strain.

Acacia Honey Infusion Beef Slices:

Mix acacia honey 3,5 oz and angostura bitter 5 dashes. Spread homemade acacia honey infusion over a slice of fresh beef. Bake it in the oven for 4 hours at temperature of 60°C.

Yes, it does sound like hella work, but it also sounds absolutely amazing. I’m going to ask Bart for a debrief after he has one (or quite possibly more) of these on his next visit to Papa Doble. By the way, it retails for $17.

Sunday Food Porn of a long weekend: Baked Potato Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Baked Potato Grilled Cheese sandwich

Baked Potato Grilled Cheese sandwich

For this incredible creation there can be only one word, and that word? Is OOGATZ!

There’s a recipe, too! Check it out and keep it handy for the next time you tumble headlong off the Atkins diet!

Phyllis Diller, what might have bean…

Phylli Dilli Chilli

Phylli Dilli Chilli

This was real. This was a real thing. The late, great Phyllis Diller had her own line of chili and apparently it wasn’t half bad.

Except for the puns.

You can judge for yourself what kind of a kook cook she was by playtesting her recipe for stuffed mushroom caps, from the Celebrity Cookbook byy Johna Blinn.

Phyllis Diller Stuffed Mushroom Caps

Phyllis Diller Stuffed Mushroom Caps

Warning: it comes from the days when salt, pepper, and parsley comprised the bulk of a cook’s spice repertoire. Click to enlarge, if you DARE! Can you imagine what Food Network would be like with a Phyllis Diller cooking show? It would be like a kegger at Auntie Mame’s, that’s what it would be like, and she would snap Giada like a twig.

Via CrazyDiscoMadness.

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!

The Remedy for Summer

That is what I call a Whiskey Bar!

That is what I call a Whiskey Bar!

Oh yes, that’s my idea of a whiskey bar all righty! And what’s more, it’s not just a figment of Tumblr’s imagination: you can really order these things. My own personal preference would be for rum, probably Mount Gay Eclipse Silver, which I had occasion to try recently and was impressed by, or Havana Club Anejo Blanco, which has tequla-like vegetal notes, and neither of which are very sweet.

In any case, it’s certainly worth trotting down to the dollar store (remember when they were five and dimes? No? Just me then? Everyone else this old is dead? Oh FINE!) and getting some molds and giving it a whack. Here’s a thumbnail recipe I’ve discovered online and haven’t tried yet, so if you do, let us know how it turns out.

each booze pop contains a full shot of liquor and a 3 to 1 ratio of mixer/juice.

Hmmm. Blackberry/tequila with mint? Mango/rum? Gin/blueberry? I may be busy quite awhile. When I moved to this godforsaken tundra, unrelenting heat was the last thing I was prepared for. Reporting back later this week; video of our latest Booze Swag Unboxing coming soon.

Beat the Heat With Simple Dishes

These are the symptoms of heat prostration. As the summer goes on, we’ll feel more and more like the poor dude in that illustration. And yet we will still need to provide food for ourselves and our families and friends.

The good news is that this is also the time of year when you can easily make flavorful dishes without a lot of standing over a hot stove (or barbeque). The even better news is that I’m here to give you simple instructions for two such dishes.

(more…)

I’m Not Beeton Around the Bush

Meet one of the most successful cookbook authors in history, Mrs. Isabella Beeton. Yes, that Mrs. Beeton.

Although she died in 1865, just about a month before her twenty-ninth birthday (of peritonitis and puerperal fever, following the birth of her fourth child), Mrs. Beeton remains a household name through much of the English-speaking world.

Her book, Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management has been reprinted, updated, and collected ever since it was first published in 1861.

In fact, I have two different versions in my own collection. One is my own copy of the 1992 edition that I bought shortly before I got married. The other is my mother’s long-cherished copy sans a publication date. My guess is that it dates back to somewhere between the late 1930’s and the fall of the British Raj. Why? Because of the sorts of recipes, the instructions included with them, the advertisements shown on the endpapers, and the fact that there is a significant section on cooking in India.

The recipes are, of course, a major reason for the long popularity of the franchise. Over time, old recipes that are no longer fashionable or practical have been dropped in favor of things more in line with modern tastes. The sheer range of recipes makes the volume a great choice if you only have room or interest for one or two cookbooks in your world. And despite the common wisdom, there have never been very many extravagant dishes, nor was anyone ever instructed to ‘first catch your hare.’ Mrs. Beeton didn’t worry about whether you found your meat at the market or in the local Lord’s woods. Her concern was making sure you cooked it in the tastiest, most healthful possible ways and carved it neatly so that every person at the table could get an equal and attractive share.

But there’s a great deal more to the Book of Household Management than just the recipes. After all, there’s a lot more to managing a household than cooking. From the first, the Book has included lots of information on cleaning, organizing finances, child care, and medical advice. My 1992 edition includes a rather fascinating section on legal issues, and the older one has a section to teach your servants how to wait at table properly.

Did Isabella know her stuff? Well, she was the oldest of four children. Her father, Benjamin Mayson, died quite early. Her mother then remarried a gentleman named Henry Dorling,  who was a widower with four children of his own. The Dorlings proceeded to have another thirteen children. That made Isabella the eldest of twenty-two offspring. I’m guessing her emphasis on practical matters and economical management was based strongly in her early life.

You can find the complete text of the original book at ExClassics.com, but I’m  going to go ahead and include one of the recipes here To Dress Carrots in the German Way:

TO DRESS CARROTS IN THE GERMAN WAY.

1101. INGREDIENTS.– 8 large carrots, 3 oz. of butter, salt to taste, a very little grated nutmeg, 1 tablespoonful of finely-minced parsley, 1 dessertspoonful of minced onion, rather more than 1 pint of weak stock or broth, 1 tablespoonful of flour.

Mode.– Wash and scrape the carrots, and cut them into rings of about 1/4 inch in thickness. Put the butter into a stewpan; when it is melted, lay in the carrots, with salt, nutmeg, parsley, and onion in the above proportions. Toss the stewpan over the fire for a few minutes, and when the carrots are well saturated with the butter, pour in the stock, and simmer gently until they are nearly tender. Then put into another stewpan a small piece of butter; dredge in about a tablespoonful of flour; stir this over the fire, and when of a nice brown colour, add the liquor that the carrots have been boiling in; let this just boil up, pour it over the carrots in the other stewpan, and let them finish simmering until quite tender. Serve very hot.

This vegetable, dressed as above, is a favourite accompaniment of roast pork, sausages, &c. &c.

Time.– About 3/4 hour. Average cost, 6d. to 8d. per bunch of 18.

Sufficient for 6 or 7 persons.

Seasonable.– Young carrots from April to June, old ones at any time.

 

 

See? No need whatsoever to catch your own hare. But you could cook that today, and it would still be nice with pork.

Page 1 of 3123»