Tuesday, November 30, 2010

You Was Robbed...Deliciously!

George drinks, too, you know. Especially when I can mix the concoction myself, since there's magic in the music of the cocktail shaker. Sure, there's the old Nick Charles' lines: "The important thing is the rhythm. Always have rhythm in your shaking. Now a Manhattan you shake to fox-trot time, a Bronx to two-step time, a dry martini you always shake to waltz time." But the problems with this elegant claim are multiple, as you run out of dances before you run out of drinks, plus no one, sadly, makes Bronxes anymore (not to mention, oranges in the Bronx? the drink should be called an Irvine or St. Augustine). Simply put, the cocktail isn't an invitation to dance, really, it's an invite to an entire evening, with so much before us. The shaker's ring of metal and ice is a call, it is, to a civility, a pleasance, a start. 

So here's what I'd recommend of late, my little twist (I make it a perfect, with both vermouths) on Dale DeGroff's little twist on the Rob Roy that he calls a Greenbriar but everyone else on the web thinks a drink with that nom de cock has sherry in it, so who the heck knows. If it needs its own new name, let's dub it a Scotch'd the Snake, and not beat it to death.

Scotch'd the Snake

5 oz. Scotch (Dewars is perfectly pleasant)
1 oz. Dry Vermouth
1 oz. Sweet Vermouth
several dashes Orange Bitters
several dashes Cointreau (may substitute Citronge)
2 twists of Lemon

Add all the ingredients except for the lemon twists into a shaker with ice. Shake. Pour into two cocktail glasses. Twist a slice of lemon peel over each and add to glass as garnish.

(per 2 cocktails, as two is the sweetest cocktail number and if you're drinking alone you'll need the second one for yourself)

I only wish I could make one for my dad, who was devoted to the Rob Roy late in his life. No doubt it'd be a subtle enough shift he'd rebel, but generational cocktail differences are a necessary part of growing up, aren't they. Have a drink and discuss.

Monday, November 29, 2010

You'd Be a Turkey to Pass the Pork in These Buns

Sure there was turkey this weekend, but then there were also delectable these, the steamed pork buns from The Neighborhood in San Diego. I promise they don't really glow red--that's just the odd lighting from the red ball on the table in the dark room--but they do leave the person who devours them with a pleasing glow, both from their rich deliciousness and the Sriracha. And then there's the stunning fact they bring out three of them, as if you'd eat three regular burgers, which is what they more appear to be than steamed buns. For while the dough is steamed-bun soft and chewy, it's sliced, not stuffed. So that means you might have a rogue wild mushroom, expertly cooked, sneak out of the sandwich on you. Or, preferably, on your plate. And you will pick it up and eat it, every last bit. As for the pork, it's perfectly tender and rich from it's soy and apple cider braising, perched on the exact spot you want the sweet/sour teeter-totter to be.

If you need more balance, of course, The Neighborhood offers more fine beer than one can drink in an evening, but you certainly can't go wrong enjoying a Russian River IPA with these buns--the hops sharpness playing off the pork richness in a magnificent sensual symphony.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


While grating Parmigiano the other night while setting up the mise en place for risotto, it hit me what a great invention the whole block of cheese was. I mean, it had to be invented in my lifetime, for until I escaped from home went to college I would have bet my life that parmesan only came in green cardboard cylinders. Which is one way to say, my god, I've lived through a food revolution, haven't I? Growing up I thought my mom was a killer cook, but it wasn't till I started cooking myself that it hit me she killed more than she cooked, too often--just ask any vegetable that tended to be served as if she were feeding a family of hockey players who couldn't afford dentures. And I won't even get into Slovak food, which answers the culinary question, how many carbohydrates can you fit in one dish?

But my mom did do Italian passably well, making meatballs and sauce from scratch, even. So it's telling when things needed to get cheesy, out came the Kraft's, so much like cheese it doesn't need refrigeration. I love the photo above and its claim "the original flavor enhancer," which is vague enough to mean nothing, beyond a possible lawsuit from Accent, which I also remember in our 1970s spice cabinet. At least our kitchen appliances weren't avocado green.

So we certainly took cheese for granted, or for grated, as the case may be. Now I'm too sophisticated for that, of course, doing my cheese shopping at a proper cheese shop and brandishing my MicroPlaner with abandon at the slightest need for cheese (or zest--what handy tools). The work seems to make the food even better, somehow, or that's what I hope to think. I'm sure it's nothing about the distance I hope to make with even the smallest of choices, my childhood and its expiration date cabineted-away, hidden, I can only hope, by my way with words like Parmigiano, mise en place, risotto.