Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Buvare: Trader Sam's

How is it that I still haven't written about Trader Sam's?? No stranger to drinking at Disney Parks, when this Enchanted Tiki Room —that's actually a full-functioning tiki bar— opened poolside at the Disneyland Hotel last year one boy's dream literally came true. (Hint: Mine.)

Repeat visits have proven the drink menu, nosh offerings, interactive space, and jubilant staff exceedingly strong. And tonight, for Disneyland's One More Day 24 hour Leap Year event, I plan to kick off my evening in barkeep Rhonda's able hands. Another HippopotoMai Tai, please!

My favorite on the list, the Shrunken Zombie Head is a potent potable of reserve and aged rums, tropical juices, Falernum, and cinnamon. It packs a pleasant punch, and leads to conversation with the Disneyphiles next to you at the bar (who you will probably end up on Tower of Terror with an hour later).

For snacking, the tasty and reasonably-priced appetizers at Trader Sam's are some of the best values in Disneyland. I always order the panko-crusted Chinese long beans with sriracha mayonnaise and Ahi Poke — a wasabi-yuzu-marinated ahi tuna served with avocado, green onion and crispy wontons.

Rhonda summons the gods

If you want to amp it up for round two, I suggest the Uh Oa!, a tiki god-sized grail of light and dark rums, orange, passion fruit, guava, and grapefruit juices, Falernum, cinnamon, and fresh squeezed lime juice. Recommended for two or more guests, this cocktail event includes a ritual... flashing lights, tambourines, chanting, volcanic eruptions, and pyrotechnics. Yes, this is serious, folks.

Whether you crave a respite from the sun and crowds, stiff drink, or simply a cultural bear hug, on behalf of adult Disney and tiki fans everywhere, I thank you Trader Sam's. I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Trader Sam's
Disneyland Hotel
1150 Magic Way, Anaheim, CA 92802; 714.778.6600

Friday, February 24, 2012

Gala Parfait: Mardi Gras

Let's break it down: New Orleans is my jam.
Always has been since the first day I stepped foot on its swampy foundation. Funny then that I've never really been one to celebrate its most iconic holiday - Mardi Gras.
I attribute this mostly to the fact that I have never been in NOLA for the festivities and thus fostered an affinity for it. I know about the plastic beads (and naughty things done to procure said beads), parade floats, excessive liver pickling, Bourbon Street crowds, and garish color schemes... Though for all I love about NOLA, these marks generally excite me the least. But then this year was different. Maybe I miss the dank scent of the Quarter, that high octane slushy daiquiri, and a little night music.

So this past weekend I celebrated the Angeleno way, at the Original Farmer's Market under the shade of the Gumbo Pot where locals claim tables as early as breakfast time on Sunday to have prime seats once the bands start playing and the afternoon beer starts flowing. I joined annual ringleader Lisa early for coffee and beignets, and heavy bead sorting. I stayed until the Zydeco dance floor picked up as the sun went down.

Spotted: Neighborly accoutrement competition.
One fancy kazoo.
Noon = Abita Amber.
The royal Zulu coconut bead.
Spicy Food. Cool Jazz.
King Cake, delivered to your doorstep.
Step 1.
Step 2.
Step 3.
The King Cake baby is found! And thus next year's host selected.

For more on Mardi Gras, and my general love of New Orleans...

Listen to The Table Set: Gimme Some Beads!

Friday, February 17, 2012

A City Thought (+Momofuku Milk Bar)

I woke up today thinking about the city.
Maybe it was the winter wind rushing through my coat walking to dinner last night, or the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook finally arriving on my doorstep earlier this week (long overdue). Perhaps it is because it's almost been one year since my unforgettable trip upstate to the Salvato Mill with a handful of the best friends I could ask for...
By happenstance a Big Chill weekend, quietly somber under the snow clouds of my matriarch grandmother's sudden passing. But the timing was serendipitous.
It's what saved me.

One of the most memorable moments from that trip however was after our return to Brooklyn from the country, rested, warm from each other's company, and reflective in our last visit together before parting ways. We made some tea as it flurried outside, and unwrapped a bag full of Momofuku Milk Bar cookies and cake truffles we somehow neglected the entire weekend. Crumbs from heaven, shared amongst family.

I went to the store last night and bought a bunch of things I never normally purchase: Potato chips, bagged pretzels, dry milk, butterscotch morsels... It was time to break in my new cookbook. Comfort comes in many forms, and if I can't have the Williamsburg Bridge, East River, and New York Breakfast Tea, then damn it I'm having Momofuku's Compost Cookies. And you can too. While I strongly recommend purchasing Christina Tosi's recipe collection, you can sample this delightfully trashy mélange of a cookie recipe via my friend Adam —yes, you know him, New York's own the Amateur Gourmet— here.

I ♥ NY

Friday, February 10, 2012

Buvare: Ruby Sipper

Love is in the air.
Sure, so maybe Valentine's has never been a favorite holiday of mine, but this year I can't help but blush. On the Table Set this week we discuss the stigmas of the holiday, avoiding amateur night at your favorite bistro, growing out of "anti-", and settling for a little bourbon and glitter.

Listen to The Table Set: Pink Paper Hearts

I rarely need an excuse to fiddle with my top shelf, but figured Vday is an especially good one. Here's a specialty cocktail I whipped up for you and your sweetheart. It's pretty in pink, though not too sweet, with added depth thanks to a kiss of ruby port. Of course what makes the spectacle is the unique garnish, a candied Wild Hibiscus Blossom in syrup. Gorgeous, and delicious.

Ruby Sipper

1 1/2 oz gin
1 oz fresh-squeezed red grapefruit
1/2 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth
1/2 oz Ruby Port
Dash of Peychauds bitters

Build in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass.
Garnish with a Wild Hibiscus Blossom.