The Girl Drinks **

R.G. 2011

“You know, you have a rather masculine taste in cocktails.”

The happy hour confession made by a girlfriend of mine had initially caught me off-guard. It’s true that my Negroni stood in rather stark contrast to the lightly-spiked iced jasmin-tea that she was drinking, but until the words left her mouth my understanding had always been that my taste in cocktails couldn’t really be commonly considered as anything but “good” remaining otherwise un-marked by gender or any such irrelevant detail.


Medicinal liquids : Gin and Thai tonic water

While I tried everything to will myself to make 2011 the summer of the mint julep, I find the cocktail falling into my hands more often than not is the irreverent gin and tonic.

I've been trying to load this post up with talk about gin and history and bark of the fever tree, but it's taking forever for me post it. That said, update promised soon.

Bring the perfect balance of bitter, sweet and citrus back to your happy hour by making your own tonic water. It looks complicated -- don't sweat though. The work you put in comes back ten fold. Guarenteed.


Grappa balsamica

Ok, hiatus over.

I had to go back to New York in April to (finally !) finalize the process for a French work visa. I came back to Paris on a Sunday only to start working the following morning at 9am. Breaks this month have been few and far between, but I've racked up A LOT of new info on spirits and a bunch of new cocktail recipes. My posts are probably going to be a lot more bar oriented from here and contain information about spirits and cocktails as I learn it -- a refined notebook, if you like.

Though, lots of work means little time to spend on complicated cooking projects. Moreover, use of the kitchen has been compromised by (1) lack of motivation for doing dishes and (2) the subsequent return of unwanted vistors. As negotiations with the ant population continue, I'm going to keep to cocktails and try to catch up on a couple old projects not yet posted.


Hungry for Democracy ?

I realize that this is a food blog -- not a political blog. But for me, food is unmistakably political. The food industry's political weight is determined by every consumer's level of food-conscience -- or compliant lack thereof. What we eat, where we get if from, who sells it to us, along with the chain of what, where and who's that come before our contact with stuff on our plate, holds huge power in economic, social, and environmental realms. Discrimination, however, is another story. And maybe that's where this post is a little out of place. But still ...

Yesterday a law came into effect in France which places a restriction on anyone wearing a burqa from doing so in a public place. From the Wikipedia page :

                                             From 11 April 2011, the full-face veil is illegal to wear in public places – such as on the street, in stores, in museums, on public transportation and in parks (the wearing of all conspicuous religious symbols in public schools, including the Islamic veil, was previously banned in 2004). As a result, the only exceptions to a woman wearing a niqab in public will be if she is traveling in a private car or worshiping in a religious place.[5] The law also pertains to all citizens, including men and non-Muslims, who may not cover their face fully in public except during established occasional events such as some carnivals or where specifically provided by law (such as safety workers).


"Para todo mal, mezcal, y para todo bien, también" : Mezcal sour

Spicy Mezcal Sour with Fee Brother's Aztec Chocolate Bitters
R.G. 2011
I reposted this with a lot more information than I had the first time around. Enjoy. -s

The front display window of the Maison du Whisky's new spirits shop is loaded for the moment with a unmatched selection of tequilas and mezcals (well, unmatched in Europe, anyway). Pretending that I'm going to one day work there afforded me, not only several dégustations of Del Maguey's Single Village delights (and a chance to meet founder Ron Cooper (and a chance to chow down on some roasted agave heart)), but also the chance to work out a new drink behind the bar.

In and around the Oaxaca region of Mexico, villages create mezcals (like tequila) from the piña (heart) of an agave cactus. Produced in small batches with still much manual labor, mezcal is endowed with a rich, smoky flavor and typically contains more subtleties and complexity than most tequilas (no, not of course not all tequilas). It's often less refined than tequila which, in this case, has nothing to do with quality -- in fact there's a myth that mezcal is only distilled one time whereas tequila is always distilled twice. Technically this isn't true, though if you ask a maker of mezcal they'll typically affirm that "yes, we only distill it once, but then we refine it after."


Petit déj' des marmottes : Granola

R.G. 2011
 No one can debate how rewarding it is to enjoy something you've worked hard on. What's even more rewarding, however, is enjoying something you've worked hard on a day or two ago but which required almost no prep work the morning of (because rewarding or not, your breakfast shouldn't cost the price of your morning to sleep in). 

Seeds and flattened super-foods
Granola is heavenly -- but it gets a bad rap because it can so quickly go from something well-meaning on the health front, to metabolic poison in homemade (and, more frequently, commercial) recipes that load up on sugar and fat. It's hard for a granola-muncher to live up to their name these days -- but this has yet to shake me from the cause. This recipe goes light on the sugar, allowing most of the flavor to come from other ingredients, and it uses coconut oil, which is infinitely better for you than vegetable oil or canola oil. The rolled adzuki beans also add a punch of low-on-the-glycemic-index sweet and ups the protein and other nutrients. If you can't find rolled adzuki beans, try to get your hands on some other flattened super food, like millet, quinoa, spelt or chickpeas. (If you live in France try La Vie Claire -- they typically have all of these.)



goose, chicken and tiny quail egg

Lots of egg talk because late last week I learned that it is currently egg season. In the spirit of local, seasonal and animal friendly (check out that article) Rémi and I headed out to the market Saturday morning to take advantage of what we'd learned. Not only was it an occasion for trying the enormous goose eggs sold by the cheese-people (the fromager, but whatever), but 18 tiny quail eggs, a 1/2 lb. of fresh butter with sea salt, one rich creamy cheese (whose name I've forgotten but who cares), some blood oranges, and a fresh loaf of crusty sourdough bread later, we had exhausted our brunch food fantasy list for the week. (Oh, and there was a melon. Mmmm, fresh, ripe melon.)

I spent a summer in Portugal not very long ago where I ate my fair share of quail eggs. I had first seen them in a restaurant served on a plate piled high with flor do sal and when I later found them in the grocery store it was hard boiled egg heaven for three months.


What to do with too many ... 3 recipes for chickpeas

Chickpeas soaked over-night

Soaking beans takes so freaking long. You're lucky to manage the successful execution of a plot to buy, soak and prepare beans in a 48-hour period. So, it's never a question of not soaking enough beans (could you imagine how frustrating that would be ??), but frequently of having soaked too many. Such was the case the morning after a kilo of dry chickpeas had been sitting under water on my kitchen counter.

Though preparation might be time consuming, it shouldn't be too much of an effort to figure out what to do with freshly cooked beans. Especially chickpeas -- hot, just-cooked chickpeas are so light and nutty, they don't need more than some olive oil, crunchy sea-salt and a fork and it's magic in a bowl.

(In case you missed it, that was recipe idea number one.)

Crunchy Falafel
The recipe this is based on the one from The Hummus Blog, though I doubled it, added some extra seasoning and omitted the bread crumbs. I think the falafel mix came out softer than it might with the bread, but for me this wasn't a problem because I found small patties easier to cook (with less oil) than balls (hehe "balls" ...). I listed a few examples of garnishes from all over but anyone with other ideas is more than welcome to comment.


Amaranth and blue cheese "risotto"

Amaranth "risotto"

I wanted the first recipe I posted to be a show-stopper.

But true to life and Murphy's law the recipe I had been dreaming about for almost a week never quite came to fruition. I mean, it was still good (really good ...) and definitely got points for being interesting, but we're aiming for incredible and this one didn't 100% make that mark. But there's so much potential ! Which is why this flawed recette is still totally post-worthy.* And who knows ? Any personal touch could be the one that changes a mediocre to recipe into a phenomenal one -- I'm including a list of notes and ideas for improvements. This is when thoughts are most appreciated by anyone compelled to try this premature recipe out !

Pan-glazed tempeh
Amaranth is super hearty, happy little seed that your body enjoys as much as your taste buds do and that jumps out all over the stove when you go to pour it into pot (fun, fun). When it cooks down it creates a super-velvety texture between the seeds, which is why it seemed perfect for a risotto-style dish.** We had it for lunch the other day with sauteed onions and mushrooms, a poached egg and heavy hand of Valentina.

Trying to figure out how I could up-grade a one-grain wonder to a hearty and sophisticated dish, I imagined finding something to enhance the creamy texture surrounding each seed and complementing the richness of the mushrooms and onions. Blue cheese came to mind -- well, because in the hamburger school of
thought, carmalized onions and mushrooms needs blue cheese ...


Testing, testing ....

Chocolate-Guiness Ice cream
I am apprehensive about this blog because :

(1) It would appear that the vast majority of persons owning both a computer and a fork now also has a food blog.

(2) Most blogs/writings about American ex-pats in Paris worry me, in that :
                  - Writing about my life might be too cliché;
                  - Even if I bring my own spice (if you will) to my writing I will still be thought of as being cliché;
                  - Cliché or not, most Anglo-ex-pat blogs in Paris cause me to re-experience my last meal in the reverse direction which is not an experience I would wish upon readers (especially obligated readers). (Hi, Mom.)

(3.i) Following up on the second point, it would appear the only way this might be a successful experiment would be if my name were David -- like him. Or him.

(3.ii) I am in no way committed enough to this blog thing to change my name to David.

(4) My life seemed much more romantic a year ago when I was an art student, sharing a shitty one bedroom apartment, chronically heartbroken over the charming boy-next-door, piss poor, mostly drunk and only sometimes motivated enough to chronicled it here. Now that I'm (somewhat) more adjusted, (somewhat) less drunk and in a happy and successful relationship with boy-next-door-turned-roommate+, my writing needs to evolve beyond what might be commonly consider "bitching."