Showing posts with label the table set. Show all posts
Showing posts with label the table set. Show all posts

Monday, February 18, 2013

Mixology Monday: The Tigress

It blows my mind that it has taken my this long this participate in the renowned Mixology Monday. However, in light of the kooky cocktail hijinks I have been up to lately, I am happy that my first is this month's theme dreamt up by Stewart Putney of Putney Farm: "Inverted."
Inspired by Julia Child's upside-down or "inverted" Martini preference, Stewart wrote "What does 'inverted' really mean? Well, here is the definition, 'To turn inside out or upside down; to reverse the position, order, or condition of.' Hmm... It seems that 'inverted' really just means something 'flipped on its head'. And that can mean almost anything, and leaves plenty of room for creativity... You can invert the ratios of spirits, liqueurs or bitters in a cocktail, but we suggest you go beyond that and 'invert' whatever you want."


Refined. Elegant. Subtle.
Not words generally associated with what we lovingly call tiki.
But why not? Tiki's fine aged rums, specialty liqueurs and complex flavor profiles are every bit considered as a perfectly balanced Martinez or Sazerac, and in their heyday, just as glamorous. As winter tiki has been on my mind a lot lately (and not just because it was 82 degrees this February day), my task was plain. So I looked to the boozy classics, the Mai Tai, Zombie, Scorpion, Planter's Punch, Test Pilot, Sunakora and Three Dots and a Dash to cull a deeply flavorful aromatic tiki cocktail. That's right - no fruit, no juice, no freaky garnish. And by golly, it was easier than I expected.

The Tigress

1 oz Smith & Cross Jamaican rum
3/4 oz Lemon Hart Demerara rum
1/2 oz pineapple cordial*
1/4 oz St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
2 dashes Bittercube blackstrap bitters

Combine ingredients in a mixing glass over ice and stir well.
Strain into a chilled coupe and express oils from an orange peel over top, adding it to the glass as a garnish.

*For the pineapple cordial:
Fill a pint canning jar with freshly cut pineapple pieces. Pour in an ounce of Amaretto, and fill the remaining space with gold Barbados rum (such as Mount Gay). Seal and keep in a cool dark place for at least a week, agitating every day or so. Strain through a fine mesh sieve to extract any and all fruit pulp before use.

Fruity and rummy on the nose, smooth drinking, with a mellow spicy aftertaste. It's totally tiki, but fit for a speakeasy. Of course, as with all tiki recipes, the ingredients are key. Substituting rums will yield considerably different results, and in this case, the bold flavors of the Smith & Cross and Lemon Hart carry more than their weight (especially considering this cocktail is 100% liquor). So enjoy! And thank you Stewart for a fun and inviting first Mixology Monday!

Visit the original announcement post here, and the full Mixology Monday LXX Roundup: Inverted here! So many awesome and creative submissions I will be trying out...


For further inversion of winter tiki, check out my Hot Grog recipe from the Winter Warmer episode of my podcast, The Table Set. (Hot tiki? You bet!)

Monday, December 31, 2012

Gala Parfait: Feast of the Seven Fishes


You know what they say, Italians do it better.
Christmas is no exception. I had heard of the Feast of the Seven Fishes, a coursed Christmas Eve tradition to count down the hours to Christ's midnight birth, but never have I experienced it. Until this year.
On the Table Set's holiday episode this year we decided to shake up tradition and go intimate dinner party instead of all-out Xmas bonanza like last year. Add my co-host Greg's recent collaborators Alaska Seafood graciously sharing some of their top-of-the-line sustainable seafood and our Buone Feste was heartily underway.



AND the table is set (no pun intended). In fact, Greg is such a pro I believe it was set a full day in advance.


As per usual, we had too many cooks in the kitchen — That's because some of our most talented friends were in attendance. Seven courses for seven wonderful cooks. And for extra credit, seven beverage pairings. No lazy bloggers 'round here!


To serve as guests arrived, I thought Philadelphia Fish House punch seemed a fitting choice.


Course #1: The Cuisinerd and her main squeeze are no amateurs when it comes to sea bugs, and they knocked us flat with their Grilled Alaskan Oysters and Mignonette Trio: Spicy Chipotle, Cilantro Lime, and Classic Cocktail Sauce. (Seriously, these sauces should be sold in jars.)


Their offbeat pairing choice of Cantine Elvio Tintero Grangia frizzante (90% Favorita and 10% Moscato) created a wonderfully dry and fizzy bridge to the next course.


Course #2: I volunteered for the amuse bouche. Starting with salmon roe, I got inspired by dishes from LA's Son of a Gun restaurant and in the sexy NOMA cookbook. For added depth I first cured the roe in a beer brine. I used Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel's sweet and spicy Route Des Épices rye beer brewed with black and green peppercorns.


The finished amuse comprised of a Rye Crisp with Maple Cream, Beer-cured Salmon Roe, Green Chile Sugar and Fennel Top.


Course #3: Jackie the Beeroness (also behind Domestic Fits) wowed us all with her comforting Seared Alaskan Scallops wtih Smoked Sweet Corn Puree and Stout Balsamic Reduction. A sparkling wine cocktail with fresh basil and elderflower liqueur was an elegant brace.


Course #4: Chef, artist, and former Table Set guest Brian wove a tapestry of a "soup course" with his Seared Halibut over Forbidden Rice with Miso Pork Broth. For a cleansing respite, fresh lavender-infused spa water was paired.


Course #5: It wouldn't be a Table Set supper without something showy from Andy. His "Surf 'n' Turf" entree was no exception. Here, oceany Uni Capellini with Scallop, Bonito and Nori Crumble met earthy Rye Toast with Pine Nut Porcini Butter for a unique twist on the concept.
It was paired with Kabaj Rebula, a full-bodied Slavic white wine (100% Ribolla) capable of standing up to the intense flavors of the dish.


Course #6: Salad after entree? Why not?! Salad with crab? Hit me! Joy the Baker made magic with her crisp and refreshing Alaska Crab, Apple and Pomegranate Salad — a new Insalata di Mare classic. Get her recipe here.


Six courses in, I can hardly recall what we were drinking anymore... but my blurry photo shows that it was bubbly, and that we were having fun!


Course #7: And boy, the fun wasn't over yet. Greg built a mountain of it with his festive Caffè e Frittelle Dolci (Coffee & Donuts) — Glorious rosemary glazed donuts studded with gummy Swedish Fish, a highbrow/lowbrow win. I think I had seven.

In all, a beautiful night of subtlety, skill, festivity, and togetherness. Thank you to Alaska Seafood and all of our lovely guests!


Video and additional photography courtesy of Ted Houser

Friday, November 16, 2012

Buvare: Sidedish


Thanksgiving and cocktail are seldom synonymous words. The holiday is one for wine, and plenty of it. But on the current episode of The Table Set we challenged ourselves to think outside of the wine box and come up with food friendly alternatives to unoaked Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
While craft beer and hard cider make great cases for themselves, I decided to also come up with a pre-dinner cocktail. As I would be spending the holiday in the Russian River Valley this year, miles from Iron Horse and Korbel, I considered a sparkling wine element, but instead dusted off a bottle of Korbel brandy as the base spirit.
A longtime fan of a Brandy Sidecar, I tinkered with the classic ratio, introducing fresh cranberry syrup and black walnut bitters, with Dry Curacao in for the orange liqueur. The result is a lively holiday drink that can last through the season, Turkey Day 'til New Year's Eve.


Listen to The Table Set: Not Talking Turkey

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Dining with Doug and Karen


A few months back, my Table Set co-host Andy Windak was invited to join TJ Miller as guest chef on the Nerdist podcast Dining with Doug and Karen. They were so impressed with Andy's whimsical and heartfelt spread that they invited him back for another round. And this time, Andy asked me to join him and create a beverage program to be paired with his Breakfast for Dinner menu.


The guest co-host on our episode was Tim Heidecker of Tim & Eric fame and most recently his film The Comedy, making the total three wisecracking comedy folk to please.
No pressure.


We were given Meltdown Comics' green room to stage, where I set up a makeshift bar (which seemed to elicit excitement from the podcast's cocktail-loving producer).


I was most excited to serve the first drink, a shot to be served alongside Andy's amuse bouche. It was the first idea I experimented with once I knew the theme was breakfast, elevated: A Bloodless Mary. The concept is pretty simple, really: Infuse the spirit with tomato rather than clog the glass with thick juice. I picked cherry tomatoes from my garden and steeped them in gin for a week. The resulting liquor was golden and heady with a sun-kissed tomato cologne, bright and familiar on the palate with a lasting umami quality. I mixed the gin with lemon juice, bacon bitters, a dash of Crystal hot sauce, black pepper and celery salt, then served in frosty lemon-pepper ice shot glasses. Instant breakfast party!


Andy's amuse was a delicious Benedict Bite of homemade English muffin, fried speck, poached quail egg, and scratch hollandaise.


For round two I knew Andy was injecting some Latin love, so I mixed up a Dirty Horchata cocktail. Here I infused smoky Mezcal with Stumptown Guatemalan coffee beans, shaken with horchata and cocoa mole bitters until frothy, garnished with freshly shaved cinnamon.


The horchata was served alongside Andy's Chicken & "Waffles" -or- Coq Au Vin Chilaquiles, a composition of duck-fat-fried corn chips, braised chicken, salsa, queso fresco, cilantro, and a waffle fried egg.


What breakfast menu would be complete without the iconic Mimosa? For a seasonal twist I used dry French brut hard sparkling apple cider in place of bubbly. For the juice element I froze popsicles of fresh orange and brown sugar with a rosemary sprig "stick." The brut cider nibbled away at the ice pops slowly releasing and blending the flavors.


The corresponding course was Andy's fish course. He served Shrimp and Grits Poutine - Fish fumet gravy, butter-poached shrimp, grits "waffle fries," and bacon fat rouille.


For dessert I went with a coffee-replacing Breakfast Beer. Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast (oatmeal stout brewed with coffee) enhanced lightly with Amontillado and Pedro Jiminez Sherry, garnished with a Stumptown coffee bean and freshly grated nutmeg.
Andy matched the robustness with his Hallowaffle - A pumpkin waffle, Count Chocula ice cream, maple bourbon syrup, chocolate whipped cream, and maple bacon crumble. As a bonus round he also brought out Booberry and Frankenberry ice creams. Nuts!

Overall I think our creativity was appreciated, though pushing the envelope always results in a few confounding reactions. Listen for yourself and imagine what it all must taste like while listening to other people sip, chew and slurp. (*wink*)

Listen to our episode of Dining with Doug and Karen


Photos by Ted Houser

Friday, October 26, 2012

Buvare: Dark and Stormy Night


Halloween! Not only my favorite holiday, but increasingly my favorite time of year to concoct potent potables, with a decidedly sinister edge. Last year's Witching Hour cocktail was brainy and elegant, but this year for our annual Table Set Halloween podcast I decided to brew something more approachable and thirst-quenching.

The Dark and Stormy is one of the simplest and most delightful cocktails, period. For my adaptation I introduced The Kraken, a black spiced rum of epic proportions, a spicy Jamaican ginger brew and several additional autumnal highlights. Leaving out the eye of newt, this time...


Listen to The Table Set: Dark and Stormy Night

Last year with the glut of pumpkin bourbon I infused for the Witching Hour, I made this impromptu punch for my friends. It was consumed within minutes. Highly recommended for your own gathering of ghouls, named for the Halloween party held in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow before Ichabod Crane's infamous ride home. Beware!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Gala Parfait: Cruising the Cheese Highway


On the Table Set podcast this week, Greg and I get our single on and help Andy brainstorm non-lame ways for parties of one to socialize in today's isolating, media-driven world.

Two words: FOOD PARTY! (duh.)

With interactive subjects like cheese and wine tasting (or even rooftop crustacean cracking), breaking the ice is a breeze. We also get spoiled by a special guest, Barrie Lynn the Cheese Impresario who takes us on a curated cruise down the CHEESE HIGHWAY.


Listen to The Table Set: Single Mingle in the City

And try Barrie Lynn's mouth-watering dessert recommendation below! SUPERCHARGE.



Thursday, May 31, 2012

Gala Parfait: Home Bar 101


Interventions are not just for people. Sometimes they are for home bars too.

Disemboweling my home bar
I realized last week that my home bar was getting gnarly. A hot mess of a booze-fest, really. Over-crowded bottles spilled off of my bar cart and onto the floor, some almost empty, lightly dusted and despondent. And so Spring cleaning came late, and my cart got a desperately needed makeover.

I have a problem. In this cocktilian age, when most drink lists contain spirits most people have never heard of, much less own a bottle of, to me it spells "challenge." I browse specialty liquor stores like I'm flipping through records. Next thing I know I have a top-heavy bar chock-full of liqueurs like Strega and Becherovka keeping a much-needed bottle of Old Overholt Rye off the farm.

So in renovating my home bar, I decided to approach things from a fresh perspective. Namely, someone putting together their first home bar, with entertaining and flexibility on their mind. Let's be clear, setting up a home bar is better not taken on all at once. Build up your spirit and bar tool collection gradually, starting with the necessities for one or two cocktails. Expand on a need-based philosophy.


The Overview. Let's list it out:

Hardware. Cocktail shaker (I prefer a two-piece Boston shaker), strainer, jigger, fine mesh strainer, muddler, citrus juicer or reamer, barspoon, vegetable peeler, ice cube trays (I use Tovolos).

Glassware. There are four major categories as far as I am concerned that aptly cover most cocktail needs: Old Fashioned or Rocks glass, chimney-style Highball glass, Cocktail or Coupe stemmed glass, and Champagne flute.

Spirits. Bourbon Whiskey, Rye Whiskey, Scotch Whisky, White Rum, Dark Rum, London Dry Gin, Cognac, Reposado Tequila, Vodka.

Mixers & Liqueurs. Dry Vermouth, Rosso Vermouth, Cointreau or Triple Sec, Herbsaint, Maraschino Liqueur, Angostura Bitters, Peychaud’s Bitters, Orange Bitters.

Setting it up. For starters, I cleared off the main work surface of my bar cart, reserving it for my "well." I installed a shelf just above this surface for my "top shelf" selections, special bottles collected over time like small-batch bourbons and smuggled Czech Absinth. Below I stowed my mixers, specialty liqueurs, exotic bitters, and spirit varietals. While liquor will keep for a long time in a cool place away from direct sunlight, remember vermouth is a wine product and should be kept in the refrigerator for a longer life.

Sazerac by Dave Stolte
For further reading, a wonderful asset is Dave Stolte's new book Home Bar Basics (And Not-So-Basics). Visit his website which covers the broad strokes, priming home bar virgins with what he considers to be the accoutrements required for making the "12 basic drinks."

But Rule #1 - Don't be daunted. Start small. After all, this is supposed to be fun!

Speaking of fun, check out the latest episode of
the Table Set podcast in which Greg, Andy and I discuss stocking your home bar, pantry, spice rack, and fridge for impressing impromptu guests. And introduce our new co-host - The Little Gay Record Player!

Listen to The Table Set: Shumai On The Fly!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Buvare: Green Leaf

One year and 25 episodes later, The Table Set and HomeFries Media are celebrating our first anniversary! It's been an exciting and challenging road, fraught with liquid courage, dinner parties, blog neglect (xo..) and plenty of recording bloopers. But hey, we're just getting started!

On our 25th episode, we received a call from a pregnant cocktail lover asking how she can make a mean "mocktail" (pardon the term) that lives up to the meticulous craft concoctions on your local speakeasy counter. Andy, Greg and I all tried our hands at the task with enlightening results. Check out the full episode, and my liver-friendly cocktail recipe below (hint: it's good with kumquat-infused London Dry Gin too!).

Listen to The Table Set: Where's the Party?





Friday, March 16, 2012

Buvare: Black Velvet


We drink from time to time on-air while we record The Table Set podcast, but our St. Patty's day episode was next level (is Andy.. drunk?). Irish stout bottles littered the table between our microphones like the aftermath of a long night at Tom Bergin's Tavern. But what's that? A Prosecco bottle? Why that's because Andy brought over a sampling of stouts and porters to try in one of my favorite beer cocktails - The Black Velvet. A sensuous marriage of sparkling wine and stout, this year trade in your green beer for an elegant moussey treat.

Listen to The Table Set: Green Beer

Black Velvet

1 part Guinness Irish Stout
1 part dry Prosecco or brut Champagne

Fill a flute or Collins glass halfway with Guinness.
Top slowly with bubbly (over the back of a spoon carefully for the layered effect).
Enjoy, you're classy!


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!