Monthly Archives: December 2012

Drink of the Week

Irish Coffee (Caifé Gaelach in Irish)Irish-Coffee

  • 2oz Irish Whiskey
  • 3/4oz Brown Sugar
  • 4oz Hot Black Coffee
  • 2oz Fresh thick cream

Serve in an 10 oz Glass Coffee Mug/Toddy glass

This may not be the most original drink recipe to post, but is certainly one of my favorites at this time of year.  When my boyfriend (FG) and I went to Ireland 2 years ago we had several of these delicious beverages and couldn’t believe how much better they were than the ones we’d ever had in the States.  The secret, we discovered, is in two major components of the drink. There is NO baileys in a true Irish Coffee and the cream topping is NOT whipped cream. This is a terrible misconception, for some reason everywhere I go in LA offers whip cream on top and Baileys Irish cream inside.

Thick cream is what you should actually use, and although to some extent it is slightly whipped with a fork, it is still very much a liquid. If you can dollop the cream on top you have whipped too much.

Pour the hot coffee into an Irish coffee mug then add the Whiskey and sugar, stir until fully dissolved. The sugar is essential for floating liquid cream on top. The cream is carefully poured over the back of a spoon initially held just above the surface of the coffee and gradually raised a little. The layer of cream will float on the coffee without mixing with it and looks amazing. You should then drink the coffee through the cool layer of cream.

Although different variations of coffee cocktails pre-date the now-classic Irish coffee by at least 100 years, the original Irish coffee is said to have been invented by Joe Sheridan, a chef at Foynes Port in the county of Limerick, in West Ireland.  Passengers arriving to Foynes were often tired, freezing and in a bad mood. One evening in the winter of 1942, a Pan Am plane took off from Foynes but had to turn back due to severe weather. The passengers on board were apparently terribly upset and tired after returning to the airbase, and Joe wanted to prepare something special for them and warm them up. He created the Irish coffee recipe on a whim and when the American travelers were immediately hooked, and when one guest asked, “Is this Brazilian coffee?” Joe responded with: “No, That’s Irish Coffee.”

Kind of a cool story (if it’s true, which i’m not able to verify) but even if it isn’t true, this is a great drink to heat you up on a cold winters day. Enjoy!

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A great night out at ‘Tar & Roses’

Tar and RosesTar & Roses

602 Santa Monica Blvd,
Santa Monica, CA

310 587 0700

FutureGreg (FG) and I hadn’t been on a date night in a while due to illness and busy schedules, so I was very excited to try this new place yesterday which FG had suggested after meeting the owner, Chef Andrew Kirschner.

We arrived without a reservation thinking it wouldn’t be a problem, mainly because it was a Monday night and we usually sit at the bar anyway.  We were shocked to see it was slammed. I couldn’t believe how busy it was and they were fully booked until 9.30pm (we were there at 7.30pm!) The bar area is very small (mainly because they only serve wine and beer,) so we opted to wait and see if there were any cancellations. Just our luck a table for two became available within 5 minutes. PERFECT!

Restaurant

We decided to start with the ‘Chicken Oysters on a stick’.  Our server told us that the oysters of a chicken are two small, round pieces of dark meat on the back of the bird near the thigh.  I love dark poultry meat so this was ideal for me, the pieces were very soft yet tender with a lot of flavor.

Chicken oysters

The sticks reminded me of a dark meat chicken satay and came with a tamarind sauce on the side, which had a slightly spicy kick to it but was sweet and tangy too. Nice little bite to begin with.

Chicken Oysters on a stick-tamarind sauce $7

Gnocchi

Next we tried the ‘Ricotta gnocchi’.  This dish was full of interesting flavors from all the elements like squash and Brussels sprouts. The balsamic sauce was delicious with ricotta cheese and gave a subtle sweetness that paired beautifully with the soft gnocchi pieces which were cooked perfectly. I ate the remaining sauce like a soup it was so creamy and delicious.

Ricotta Gnocchi- Winter squash, Brussels Sprouts, Balsamic $11

Our neighboring table (who by complete coincidence turned out to be the Chefs father) got the snapper and I admit I was astounded to see the fish whole on the table, complete with eyes and tail! They did tell us that it was fantastic, and I could see the fish literally fall off the bone it was cooked so beautifully. Not for the faint hearted, or the fussy ones though!!!

Whole fried Snapper for two- Cold soba noodles, dipping sauce $48

SNAPPER

I went for the hanger steak which was perfectly cooked medium rare and came with wood fired leek that gave a sort of charcoal toasty taste to the dish. The squash purée was like mash potato but less creamy so much easier to eat and the chanterelles mushrooms were surprisingly good.  As most of my readers know, I don’t like the texture of mushrooms usually but these went down nicely with the steak. They weren’t too firm or at all rubbery.

Hanger Steak

The whole dish was covered with some sort of sweet almost red wine type sauce that worked with all the components of the dish.  The overall result was heavenly and I wiped the plate clean.

Hanger Steak- sunchoke puree, wood fired leeks, chanterelles $25

FutureGreg had the Skate wing (the fin of a fish that looks like a sting ray) which was incredible too. It was a white fish that fell apart when you ate it but still had a nice texture to it. The salsa verde on top gave another dimension to the dish and the celery mash underneath worked beautifully with the other flavors on the plate.  Skate Wing

I love sting rays as an animal (my favorite sea creature) so I was sad when I realized what we were eating, but I must say this is a really incredible entree option that I highly recommend and very yummy.

Skate Wing- Wood roasted escarole, celery root puree, salsa verde $23

Brussels SproutsWe got a side of Brussels sprouts, which weren’t my favorite at first but certainly grew on me the more I ate.  I felt the mustard dominated all the other flavors on the plate and the sprouts were cooked a little too al dente for my liking but it was by no means a bad dish, and FG certainly enjoyed it.  I did love the chestnuts on the plate, which were soft and sweet.

Brussels Sprouts- Chestnuts, crisp Pancetta, mustard $9

Instead of dessert, we decided to end with a few options from the cheese section of the menu.  You can mix and match bruschetta, meats and cheeses for a very decent spread. 3 for $14 or 5 for $20.  We went for the Cane De Cabra Spanish Goats Cheese, Cabot clothbound Cheddar from vermont and the Duck Bruscetta with fig jam and arugula. The platter came complete with raison toast pieces, apple slices and quince paste.

Cheese board

The duck bruscetta was moist and a great size crostini, the date paste underneath it gave a tasty sweetness that complimented the braised meat.  The goats cheese was delightfully soft, very creamy and a great choice. The cheddar was amazing too and I highly recommend both those choices for cheese.

I am giving Tar & Roses a full 5 out of 5 platters!

5full (1)

This truly was a wonderful place for dinner. Chef Kirschner has put together a great restaurant with an excellent menu. We had an extremely delicious meal and didn’t really dislike any elements of the evening.  I felt that the dishes were all correctly sized and fairly priced for how great they were. The atmosphere was lovely too. A warm and inviting little restaurant with a lot of nice features and great lighting. Not too loud either, so we were able to hear each other across the table, which was nice for a change.

I wish they had a bar program with cocktail options, seeing as i’m not really a wine or beer drinker, but other than that this is a great great option for your next date night. Enjoy!

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Drink of the Week

Hot Whiskey Toddyzacapa-hot-toddy-290x290

  • 2oz Bourbon
  • 1/2oz Lemon
  • 3/4oz Honey
  • Boiling hot water
  • 3 Cloves

Garnish: Lemon Wedge

You must put in the spirits before the hot water, then stir with a spoon. Use a Toddy glass if you have one.

It is officially flu season, and sadly today I am writing this post from the comfort of my bed with a horrible sore throat and a stuffy nose! HOWEVER a silver lining can be found in the above drink which is great when you’re feeling a little under the weather.

Honey and lemon are very soothing for a sore throat, and the alcohol will kill some of those germs…even if I just made all that up, the drink tastes great and you will at least feel better from drinking it!

The original recipe of a toddy calls for Brandy as the base, however Bourbon has become a popular alternative and American standard for the recipe. It is a really old drink so the origins are complicated and a little unclear, however Jerry Thomas writes about the Brandy Toddy and Whiskey Toddy in his book “How to mix drinks or the Bon-Vivant’s companion”  1862.

The Brandy Toddy being the one described with hot water, the Whiskey toddy says to use ice. I personally like using Whiskey in a hot toddy, although it is unclear why Jerry Thomas favored Brandy as the base for the hot version.  A Whiskey toddy is mentioned in Charles Dickens first book ‘The pickwick papers” which was written in 1867, so we know the late 1800s saw it as a fairly popular drink for cold nights.

Just so you know, a Toddy glass is a heat resistant glass mug that is perfect for Irish coffees as well as Toddy’s.  It is always a good idea to warm the glass before pouring in the boiling liquid, to prevent any risk of cracking.   If you don’t have a toddy mug in your collection, I recommend getting one because they are always useful to have around for hot drinks.

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Repeal Day Drink

Cameron’s KickCameronsKick

  • 1 oz Blended Scotch
  • 1 oz Irish Whiskey
  • 3/4 oz Fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz Orgeat

Garnish: Lemon peel

Shake and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

(The image chosen shows this drink in a coupe, however the cocktail glass became particularly popular in the 30’s and is probably a more appropriate glass for this drink.)

Repeal Day

December 5th is known in the US as ‘Repeal Day’ and is a huge day for celebration (for those who enjoy a good drink anyway!)

Most people around the World know or have heard of Prohibition in the United States.  It was a national ban on the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol, in place from 1920 to 1933. The 18th Amendment to the Constitution and the Volstead Act were what set down the rules for enforcing the ban during this time, and defined the types of alcoholic beverages that were prohibited. Prohibition ended with the approval of the 21st Amendment, which repealed the 18th Amendment, on December 5, 1933…hence the name Repeal day!!!

nolips

The original thought process of banning alcohol was so that crime would go down and people would live a more ‘Christian life’, it was pushed mainly by the women at the time who felt that their men became ‘devils’ when they drank.  Banning alcohol altogether of course, did the exact opposite of what they had hoped for.  The thirteen years of Prohibition were a dark time for the United States, and led to the rise of highly organized crime, viscious mafia gangs and turf wars.

The cocktail community in particular likes to celebrate Repeal Day because December 5th marks a return of skills that might have been lost had Prohibition continued, like craft fermentation and distillation.  It also helped to legitimize the American bartender once again as a contributor to society and social customs.  Before Prohibition the term ‘Bartender’ was not frowned upon or seen as a ‘job on the side until you pick a career’, it was a career in itself and one that was respected as part of the culinary arts.

I chose this drink because I felt that  a Scotch drink  from the 1930’s seemed the most appropriate.  Scotch (in particular Dewar’s Scotch) was the first legal whisky to arrive in the States and hit New York’s South Street Seaport docks the moment the law was put into action. Joseph Kennedy, Sr. (JFK’s father) happened to be the US agent for the brand and for a company named Somerset Importers. Somerset owned the exclusive rights to import Dewar’s Scotch and Gordon’s Gin, and right before Repeal Day they stocked up. Once Prohibition was over, they sold the premium liquors for a huge profit!

The Cameron’s Kick is delicious!  The two types of whiskey compliment each other rather than compete and with the lemon juice and orgeat it kind of tastes like a whisky sour mixed with a marzipan flavor.  Orgeat is an almond syrup scented with orange blossoms and I think tastes like liquid marzipan!  The drink itself is refreshing though and very tasty.  I should mention that the orgeat you buy in stores tends to be way sweeter than ones made at home or in bars, if you don’t want to make your own (which I admit is a time consuming process) then use just 1/2oz of the store brand orgeat to keep the sweetness down.

1321983938-repeal-day2

There are a couple of exciting events going on in Los Angeles on Wednesday, many bars offering drinks at repeal day prices too.  Sassafras,  Thirsty CrowBigfoot Lodge,  and Oldfield’s Liquor Room are selling some cocktails for 50 cents, yep you heard me, 50 cents!!! So be sure to check them out.

Anyway, enough of the history lesson…get drinking this week and be glad we don’t live in 1920s America!!!

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