Archive for the ‘Gastronomy’ Category

New….well, uh, news!

December 14, 2008

Hi everyone!

Thanks for all the comments and emails about the UKTV appearance on ‘Market Kitchen’ this Friday! To be honest, they meant a ton because I was where I belong whilst the show aired–behind the stick mixing drinks–so I never saw it! Here’s hoping one of my more techno-savvy colleagues TIVO-ed it and either way I believe the good folks at ‘Market Kitchen‘ will continue airing it, so maybe 25 years from now when I’m all settled down I can watch a re-run right after an ‘Obama: The Greatest President Who Ever Lived’ special starring one of Will Smith’s kids.

In the meantime I’m traveling a bit right now and just wanted to keep you up to date.

I’m heading to Istanbul this week for an amazing event:

Gap and Apple have teamed up to present fashion that matches each Ipod Nano Chromatic–and I’ve been fortunate enough to get the exciting chance to create a cocktail to match each Ipod as well! I’ve never worked solely on a colour-basis for cocktails so this is quite a fun challenge. I’ll be posting the cocktails I’ve created in the next few weeks, but in the meantime check out the website here to see the campaign.

One more quick news item was a wonderful feature from Danny Ronen and Jenn Faringdon of the Tasting Panel magazine that just was forwarded on to me. The Tasting Panel is by far the top industry magazine for all-things-bar and I’m humbled for a feature in their Trends:London issue. Best of all, half way through the interview Danny and I realised we attended the same high school! Nice one! Check it out here.

Following this, I’ll be in the US and San Francisco–one of my favorite bar towns–and up to the lovely (and confirmed spiritual vortex of) Mt. Shasta, California. No, not to find myself…but to mix up some drinks for a very special group of folks in the wild-er-ness of Northern Cal. Should be quite a time!

More to come but just wanted to check in on a chilly London day. Cheers and happy pre-holiday madness to all!!

Egg (less) Nog?

October 11, 2008

“How the hell do you make eggnog without the eggs?!” my incredulous bar manager asked me in our discussion for revamping our Saf London bar list to include some good ol’ standby Christmas cocktails.
I don’t blame him at all. One of the biggest challenges I face in our Vegan/Vegetarian spot here in the heart of London’s ethically (and alcoholically)- minded Shoreditch is recapturing the taste and even more so the texture of eggs which bring so much to the classic cocktails.
Imagine a Ramos Gin Fizz without the frothiness from the egg whites? How about a Brandy Flip without the flip!?
Originally introduced to take the edge of some of the questionable spirits floating around the early 1900s, eggs were used to smooth out and brighten up cocktails. Fizzes quickly caught on and became a bit of a global phenomena– even referenced in songs, books and movies of the time.
But no where was an egg used best than in the winter-warming Christmas cocktail category–which is crowned by one of the most delicious mixes of the bunch: the Tom & Jerry. The blend of eggs, sugar, brandy, rum and boiling hot water pretty much equates to happiness and holiday cheer in a glass–or mug rather. The T&J isn’t called too much at bars these days and, with but a few exceptions, if it was called most bar men would stare blankly or not have the necessary components to make it–mine included. But Egg Nog is a seasonal mix that comes out every year right around November and for all intents and purposes is pretty similar depending on who makes it. The packaged stuff is rubbish, but with some a little searching there are hundreds of great takes on a ‘Nog’ recipe that is as rich and rounded as can be. There’s even an entire website dedicated to the subject.

Sadly the few ‘Vegan Egg Nog’ recipes that pop up on the google-sphere I find to be a bit lacking to say the least. That is until now with my ‘Eggless Nog’ recipe below. Why is mine better than the rest?

The first thing to know is that a good nog must be thick enough to balance the brandy, bourbon, or whatever hooch you want to throw in (Georgia Moon Corn Whiskey has been a surprising favourite of mine lately–especially since it comes in a mason jar!). To get the richness I use a Brazil Nut Milk. Easy to make–the nut milk actually adds another element of flavour that regular cream misses out on. A touch of Soy Lecithin acts as the froth-forming ‘egg’ and using a rich Demerara Sugar rounds out the batter in an amazingly lovely way. So, for all those who don’t think that utilizing yokes is an appropriate yuletide use–give the Vegan Nog a go!

Eggless Nog

4 parts Batter**
2 parts Heaven Hill Bourbon
1/2 part Skipper Demerara Rum

**The night before soak 2 cups of Organic Brazil Nuts in water with 1 vanilla pod cut open to release the black seeds. The next day strain out the water and remove the vanilla pod but keep as many of the seeds as possible. Next, blend the soaked nuts with a about 1 1/2 cups of water very finely. Strain through a cheesecloth and reserve.
In a pan over med. heat caramelize 1 cup of Demerara sugar with a little water. Add in the Brazil Nut milk softly so that it doesn’t curdle. Sprinkle in some fresh nutmeg and cinnamon and slowly add the Bourbon and Rum. Heat a little further and serve garnished with a cinnamon stick and some more fresh nutmeg ground directly on top. Serve in a mug or if you’re a fan of Chevy Chase’s Christmas Vacation serve in holiday Reindeer-head glasses whose handles are the antlers! Enjoy!

A Sunday Roast

October 5, 2008

Sabbath. Rest. Recuperation.
It’s called many things in many cultures–but all the same concept: you can’t go on forever, and maybe, just maybe taking a break will make the rest of your week all the better. Apparently Sabbath comes from the Hebrew word Shabbat or “to cease” and hence we get the words like “sabbatical” or even the Greek “hottub“. Our wise ancestors even made it part of the religious tradition to assure that people upheld the importance of rest, family, discussion, etc.

Today I’m enjoying my Sabbath at a local restaurant watching all the rain-soaked (yes, the London weather we all know and love has come back) Brits fill themselves with their Sunday Roast–a meat-roast-brunch-type meal that’s the traditional family gathering on a Sunday in the UK. As I sit in the corner of a buzzing establishment, shamefully eating my ‘Veggie Roast’ (an albeit thoughtful but unsuccessful attempt of the restaurant to cater to vegetarians by supplementing the beef roast for some type of soy-and-cardboard-based meat ‘nuggets’ helplessly drowning in HP Sauce like tennis balls in a waterfall) i watch as the smells and sights of a Sunday rest surround me.

But, sitting alone as I’m unexpectedly drawn into the conversations of Denny, who Margie yells at to get attention, on his cell about some football match– I can’t help but think that this concept of Sabbath or ‘stopping’ is slowly getting more and more lost.

I was lucky enough to grow up with parents that demanded the family to sit every night together–TVs and cell phones off–to discuss what was taking place in the world– or on the plate. It was here that I first really was drawn into food–learning about the ever richer list of authentic sauces, ingredients, processes and combinations that gastronomy had to offer. Moles, Rouxs, Pestos, etc. would be combined with various pasta shapes/names, fish, meats or veggies to create an ever-enticing array of dishes that either my Mom or Dad would prepare.

Finally, the discussion would wrap around the beverages that they-and sadly only they–were allowed to drink. I would sit like a sponge absorbing descriptors like ‘tannic’, ‘dry,’ ‘creamy’, ‘lees-y’ and ‘hot’ before I had any clue what sensations those words were actually in relationship to. In fact, it was probably for this reason that on finally sipping my first sip of red wine I commented not ‘interesting’ or ‘yuck’ but ‘wow..that’s a well structured though slightly tight expression of Pinot Noir, not unlike the earthy but fruit-forward wines of Marsannay. Can you tell me the vintage?’. And here my cousin thought he was being ‘cool’ by letting me have a taste.

Apart from learning how to be annoyingly pretentious with my wine descriptors, this demand of my parents (and many nights it had to be demanded) that we all rest, if only for a moment and discuss/share made me realize how important a meal really is–and how often it can be taken for granted. Food and wine are catalysts for conversation, but a certain amount of awareness has to be involved in order to realize that. That awareness best occurs in the moments we put aside for a little relaxation, rest, and time with those around us. So whilst poor Marg sits peering into her potatoes waiting for Denny’s overly loud conversation to finish, I can’t help wondering if discussing the finer points of a well done roast might not only make Denny a little more well received by his fellow diners, but ultimately might save a fledgling relationship.

Hell, I’m alone right now and I’m even having a conversation about my meal!

Cheers and Happy Sabbath.