other drinks

Cherokee tomato gazpacho

by Heguiberto on July 16, 2012

I’m so excited! We just came back from the Alemany farmers market after a quick stop at our community garden plot. The garden’s doing great but the market was amazing! Goodbye to all those tiresome root vegetables—at least for now. Heirloom tomatoes are back! It isn’t quite mid-summer yet but they’re starting to look good. I was delighted with the selection. Plus we bumped into our friend John shopping at the same time. There’s a real community experience to be had at local farmers markets. Sure, it can happen at large supermarkets too, but somehow I always get so weighted down by the fluorescent lighting at places like that that I’m desperate to get in-and-out, so never consider socializing. This visit to Alemany almost felt like Brazil when we would meet several of our neighbors on market days.

Cherokee tomato gazpacho

Cherokee tomato gazpacho

There was a lot to choose from, and I indulged. This week we bought different types of tomatoes, fresh aromatic garlic that had just been harvested, stone fruits, cucumbers and more! I had my eyes on a stall where they were selling organic overripe heirloom purple Cherokee tomatoes. At just $1.50 a pound, what a bargain! These were a bit too soft for a salad but that’s what I wanted, as they looked perfect for gazpacho.

With this relatively warm weather (I realize that most of the Country is experiencing record-breaking heat, but in San Francisco, it’s only warm-ish) what could be better than a cool gazpacho soup for lunch made with exceptionally fresh ingredients?

I went for an international style here: California heirloom tomatoes, of course the soup idea comes from Spain, I added a tropical Brazilian touch with cashew nuts and garnished with refreshing Japanese cucumber, my favorite.

Cherokee tomato gazpacho

2½lbs ripe organic heirloom purple Cherokee tomatoes, quartered
1 clove of the freshest garlic, minced
½ cup Arbequina olive oil
½ Italian baguette, cut up coarsely
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
½ cup raw cashew nuts
Kosher salt to taste
Fresh black pepper
½ cup water
a few scallions, sliced thinly, both green and white parts
1 Japanese cucumber, sliced

Place bread, garlic, water, salt, cashew nuts, sherry vinegar, pepper, ¾ of the olive oil, ½ of the tomatoes in the food processor and whiz until smooth. Transfer to a bowl. Add rest of the tomatoes to the food processor and whiz again until smooth. Mix it with the first batch. Taste, adjust flavors. Add one or two ladles of soup to a cup or bowl, drizzle with olive oil and garnish with sliced scallion and cucumber. Chill the rest to eat later—if you have any left!

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the line builds for The Macallan tasting event

the line builds for The Macallan tasting event

Our friend, Valeria, became a US citizen last week. Congratulations! Not only is she intelligent, beautiful and easy company, she also adores Scotch, which is of course how I ended up at this promotional tasting for The Macallan the other day in San Francisco. Now I like Scotch too, though don’t really know much about this drink “invented by the Irish but perfected by the Scots” to paraphrase our MC at the event.

This was free but you had to be on a list. Valeria signed us up. She’d apparently been to a Dewars tasting and some sort of multi-Scotch event in the past few years so remains in the know.

my pic isn't perfect, but she can't be comfortable in that outfit, now can she

my pic isn't perfect, but she can't be comfortable in that outfit, now can she?

We met a bit early but already the line was forming. There were these over-the-top gorgeous young women reviewing everyone’s registration. It was a chilly day but these lovelies only sported ridiculously high black heels and extremely short black cocktail dresses. I wondered how some of them kept their elegant postures and hairstyles in place what with the Pacific wind and steep hill. It must be the magic of youth.

The other guests were a mixed bunch leaning heavily towards men. What is it about Scotch and men? And why haven’t more women discovered this elixir of the pagan gods? Perhaps The Macallan people could refocus their image a bit to attract American women (and other-than-straight guys)? We did keep wondering where the tall, amply muscled male hosts wearing absurd clothes with heads of shining golden or rich black hair were milling about, but alas, neither of us could locate them. Too bad. Most likely they were behind the scenes sampling The Macallan 18 year. Yum!

I also wonder about the capital “The” that always proceeds the name, Macallan. Have any of you ever considered that? It sort of reminds me of the all-caps, “JUSTIN,” from that celebrated Paso Robles winery of the same name. Maybe it’s just me, but I think that it looks a little pretentious.

But then what do I know?

congratulations Valeria

congratulations Valeria

The Macallan 1954 is even pricier, at $9K

The Macallan 1954 is even pricier, at $9K

the MC for The Macallan tasting event--I loved his kelly green patterned slacks

the MC for The Macallan tasting event--I loved his kelly green patterned slacks

Anyway, eventually we all got led into the hotel where we surrendered out The Macallan cards in exchange for our first sample of The Macallan 10 year. The room rapidly filled up. We couldn’t help sampling the various appetizers that floated around. I liked the little fried crab thingies quite a lot and had several. We had our pics taken behind the official Hollywood red carpet style screen by, you guessed it, one of the stunning hostesses in high heels. In a case to one side were “vintage” bottles of The Macallan on display. The 1967, the least expensive, had a list price of $4.5K. One in a Lalique bottle, which looked amazing, cost $15K. For just a moment there, I envied the rich.

our Macallan Hollywood moment

our Macallan Hollywood moment

Soon enough they ushered us into an adjoining room where tables were laid out to accommodate the entre thirsty horde. We chatted a bit with our neighbors then the show really began. Our delightful taste leader bounded on the stage to the crash of applause. He was chatty, informative and relatively funny. (I didn’t quite understand or appreciate his apparent joke, “We used to make an eight year old only for the Italians.” People did laugh though I thought it was sort of an insider Euro thing.) He answered his own question, “How do you drink your Scotch?” with the witty, “Neat, with water, ice, in a dark room…” That kind of thing. I didn’t know, for example, that “60 to 70% of the color, flavor and character comes from the wood” barrels in which Scotch gets aged. He went over other Scotch fundamentals: the who, what, where and how stuff. The why we were about to discover on our own.

We’d already enjoyed the 10 year though didn’t really take notes. As to the rest, Valeria and I had definite opinions, but found the taste sensations difficult to describe. I didn’t really identify the “chocolate” flavors for which The Macallan is rightfully so famous. Oh well. At the end, a surprise taste of the expensive 18 year (about $150/bottle in the US) was served. That was nice.

our Macallan tasting line-up

our Macallan tasting line-up

12 year Sherry Oak: This seemed “rugged” with a nose of freshly turned earth, alcohol and an enticing hard-to-pin-down perfume. It starts out minerally, becomes fruity and finishes spicy and hot.

15 year Fine Oak: We were warned that this “changes drastically” if you add a splash of water. Unfortunately, our samples were so tiny that the “splash” drowned the drink. I’ve no doubt that with a larger sample I would easily detect it opening up more fully. Even so, it was very different from the 12. This had a lighter more delicate nose, was smoother with lovely caramel notes and a much longer finish. The added water brought out a bit of vanilla and citrus.

17 year Fine Oak: This is made in an identical fashion as the 15 year. It had a pleasant smell, rich in vanilla and caramel. It was rich and smooth and more full-bodied that the 15.

18 year: This one was really citrusy with incredible cherry, vanilla and oak flavors. It was so rich and good that I immediately complained about my minuscule sample size. Boo-hoo! I want more.
This was super commercial but it didn’t really matter. The event was fun, and I’d probably never try all of these on my own, so it was a wonderful opportunity to learn and enjoy.

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Well, I’m a little out of my element here. We of the WC tasting crew braved the second annual Winter KraftBrew Beer Fest in San Jose this past weekend. Though we pride ourselves on being locavores, beer as they say, “is a whole different animal.” Frankly, I felt out of my depth.

welcome to the Winter KraftBrew Beer Fest 2012

welcome to the Winter KraftBrew Beer Fest 2012

Held at the San Jose Women’s Club, the location couldn’t have been more perfect. It’s on the same street with what looked like at least a dozen fraternities connected to San Jose State U. I was having flashbacks to my college days. As you can probably imagine, this “free” event was mobbed. We stood in line for admission for more than half an hour, followed by lines to buy tickets which you exchange for beer samples, lines for beer and lines for the limited food selection. I like people watching, so this didn’t really bother me all that much. Plus, a couple weeks ago I decided to grow a beard, so there was huge opportunity to look at various facial hair styles while waiting. Beer drinkers do seem to like whiskers.

We were part of a group of around six or eight—the numbers kept changing as people came and left. So between us we probably tried at least three dozen ales, porters and stouts. I didn’t keep close track of the tastes or the names. My first, was it the Brasserie de Saint-Sylvestre Gavrouche Biere de Garde, or did Hegui try that one? Whichever it was had the nickname “Terrible” which sounded right to me. At any rate, the young guy pouring, who happened to be sporting a crazy long blond Three Musketeers-style mustache, said it was sort of like a beer version of pinot noir. That sounded promising. And it was good: kind of grapey.

After a while they started to blend together: that’s really bitter, very chocolaty, smells like stale coffee, has no taste at all, sort of fizzy like fermented tomatoes, etc. You get the idea. I’m just not a beer person. I did like this Santa Cruz IPA though I didn’t write down the name, so will probably have trouble finding it again.

It was a gorgeous night with clear skies. The moon was this huge crescent shape and Venus was very bright. People were really schmoozing and flirting with one another. This was a kid-friendly event, which is sort of weird when you think about it, but we saw several. I was aghast to observe a very pregnant woman with one of the children. I think that she must have been the designated driver for the flushed bearded guy that was hanging around them, glass in hand. Just a guess.

They ran out of French fries, if you can believe it. Who goes to a beer fest without French fries? We ended up having pizza afterward, but with a local zinfandel instead of more of the brewed stuff. I know: I’m incorrigible.

Our Friends Wit and Amie sent us this link with pics from the site Metroactive. We show up in the in their page

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apricot liquor

by Stevie on September 14, 2011

apricot liquor

apricot liquor

This is the second recipe that I’ve ever tried from the great magazine, La Cucina Italiana. It came in the August 2011 edition as part of a round-up of apricot recipes. I love fruit-infused after-dinner liquors but have never tried to make my own. This one, at least, was really pretty straightforward. Unlike their limoncello recipe in an earlier section of the same volume, where you have to carefully remove the lemon rind while leaving as much of the pith behind (difficult!) as possible, here all that’s required is that you rinse and pit the fruit.

I doubled the recipe and have been giving small jars of this luscious drink to friends at work. The vanilla bean gives the apricots a powerfully rich flavor. I’m almost fooled into thinking that the drink was aged in new French oak barrels, like wine. This is strong, probably about 40 proof, so a little goes a long way.

apricot liquor

4½ cups 80-proof vodka
2 lbs fresh ripe apricots, pits removed and roughly chopped
1 vanilla bean
2 cups sugar
1 cups water

Pour vodka into a large bowl. Add vanilla bean and apricots. Cover and let sit at room temperature for up to three days. Strain through cheesecloth. Rinse vanilla bean and let dry, for reuse.

In a medium saucepan, heat sugar and water together until completely dissolved into a simple syrup. Remove from heat and let cool. Once at room temperature, mix with infused vodka. Pour liquor into glass jars or bottles. I used the original vodka bottle and for the extra, some small jars for canning. Let rest in the refrigerator for about two weeks. Serve chilled. Enjoy!

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Killepitsch

by Stevie on March 2, 2011

Killepitsch

Killepitsch

Killepitsch is a fairly obscure liquor made of ninety-plus herbs, fruits and nuts. We have not seen this drink for ages and ages, that is until last week. I took a suggestion from a student in my class and went to Cask, a small boutique wine and liquor shop in the South of Market neighborhood. While perusing the numerous varieties of bourbon, whiskey, scotch and tequila, I chanced on the last bottle of this drink of the gods. Wow.

Hegui and I became acquainted with this Düsseldorf speciality years ago in New York. At the time, we had a wonderful friend, Tina, who called that German city home. She was studying at a culinary school in the Big Apple when we met. As she traveled frequently back and forth, she would bring us tiny bottles of Killepitsch as treats. Sadly, we’ve lost touch over all these years. I wonder what she’s been up to lately?

After dinner drinks, or digestifs, particularly some of the brownish looking ones, aren’t always popular with dinner guests, as everyone always assumes that they’ll be quite bitter (think Cynar or Campari). Killepitsch is a pleasant surprise as it is not especially bitter but has loads of wonderful flavors! We sat sipping some the other night and came up with dozens of tastes. On the nose we noted dandelion, camphor, Angostura bitters and some intense alcohol. The top three flavors were clove, cinnamon and artichoke. But we also detected a lot of citrus like: orange peel and pith, Satsuma, blood orange and Grand Marnier. There was sage, nutmeg, thyme, molasses, wasabe, rosemary, garigue, coffee, fig, the skin of walnut and more. Really this tastes like a delightful garden poured into a glass.

Killepitsch is so aromatic and interesting that you’ll be transfixed as you ponder all of its subtle charms.

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fresh passion fruit margarita with Patrón silver

fresh passion fruit margarita with Patrón silver

The inspiration for this tropical cocktail comes from my friend and passion fruit source, Sandy. Get well and come back to work soon! This recipe is similar to the delicious tequila Meyer lemonade we made back in July. Here the fresh passion fruit (maracujá in Portuguese) adds a sweet, fruity and earthy flavor to the drink whereas the lemonade has more of a citrusy zing. It would be great to serve both kinds together in large pitchers at a Thanksgiving party! The yummy flavors would help all of your guests feel warm and summery as they sit down to the traditional autumn feast. Looking for other exciting cocktail ideas, visit Domestic Daddy for some great ideas.

I used Patrón silver as I’ve been told by Prof. T that it is the best of the tequilas. I must agree, as generally I’m not much of a fan for that type of spirit, yet Patrón always seems just right. The recipe is for an individual drink. Simply multiply everything to make more.

fresh passion fruit margarita with Patrón silver

1 pint sized highball glass or similar
Ice
3 fresh passion fruit (or more)
2 tsp sugar (or more)
1½ shots (or more if you’re really frisky) good silver tequila, like Patrón

muddling passion fruit seeds and pulp with sugar

muddling passion fruit seeds and pulp with sugar

Cut passion fruit in halves. Using a teaspoon, scoop pulp and seeds out of shells and into the glass. Add sugar. Using a pestle, muddle passion fruit and sugar together. Don’t over do it. A little mixing is really all that you need. Fill the cup with ice. Add tequila and give it another stir. Decorate with a slice of passion fruit shell and serve with a straw so that you can slurp up the seeds and everything while drinking the cocktail.

In Brazil there is a natural extract made from the seeds of the passion fruit (maracujina) that is supposed to have mild calming properties. Parents serve non-alcoholic maracujá drinks to hyperactive kids as a kind of folk remedy. So this drink, that contains both maracujina and tequila, should leave you very peaceful and mellow. Thinking about peace, you should sit back with a tall glass of fresh passion fruit margarita with Patrón silver and enjoy this relaxing video of the Hollies performing The Air that I Breathe:

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tequila Meyer lemonade

by Heguiberto on July 30, 2010

We’ve a lot of Meyer lemons right now after a visit to our friend, Kristen’s home in the East Bay to celebrate the Kev-star’s birthday last week. She has two dwarf trees in her backyard that are full of these delightful fruit.

Patrón tequlia Meyer cocktail

tequila Meyer lemonade

Meyer lemons have terrific flavor. Milder than regular lemons; the acidity level is very low and the fruit exudes smells redolent of clementines, tangerines, oranges and sweet limes. They’re very aromatic. To me the whole lemon tastes good. I can eat the pulp, skin and pith. The pith only tastes slightly bitter. The skin is thin, smooth and shiny. Meyer lemons are very versatile. I love to use them instead of or combined with vinegar in salad dressings, or just eat them like you would an orange or grapefruit.

The other day I came home from a not so fabulous day at work ready for a drink. Strangely, we didn’t have wine handy that I actually like: too much cheap red Bordeaux and one-note summer whites. I was feeling lazy and didn’t want to go to the storage unit to fetch some better stuff. So many stairs! Then I realized we did have a bottle of Patrón silver from a party a few weeks ago. Perfect! I was one step away from enjoying a cocktail!

Here’s my solution for turning a sour day into a sweet one:

tequila Meyer lemonade

1 pint size glass cup
Ice
2 large Meyer lemons (or more)
2 tsp sugar
1½ shots (or more if you’re really frisky) good silver tequila, like Patrón

Fill the cup with ice. Squeeze the juice of the lemons into glass. Add sugar and stir to dissolve. Add tequila and give it another stir. Decorate with a Meyer lemon slice. And there you have a delicious cocktail to sip and relax!

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I never really liked canned or bottled juices. They always seem to taste a bit too sweet for me. Orange juice is especially tricky: often it comes with additional, unwanted pith and peel flavors, which makes it bitter; and it either tastes like plastic or metal from the container. Not good.

freshly squeezed Texas and blood orange juice

So over the weekends I try to prepare fresh juice for our breakfasts. It’s a really nice treat. One of the many benefits of living in beautiful California is that fresh, flavorful and economical citrus is available most of the year. This time of the year is really exciting, as all of the fruits come to market. I’ve seen lots of different types of lemons, grapefruit, tangerines, oranges and so on. Sometimes we even have friendly neighbors delivering citrus to our door from their gardens or country homes.

Last Saturday I squeezed fifteen oranges to make this “true blood:” seven sweet Texas and eight Moro blood oranges. Moro oranges are the darkest of the blood oranges around here. Neither orange is very juicy, that’s why I used so many. I like them though because they’re the sweetest.

blood and Texas oranges on the half shell

Just like on that HBO program, this juice is loaded with life sustaining goodness: lots of anthocyanins and other antioxidants.

It’s a breeze to make though you may need to put some muscle into it. Simply squeeze the oranges and serve in tall glasses. Add ice if you like it cold.

I don’t remember if the Texas oranges come from Texas. Maybe they’re from here, or perhaps Louisiana?

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cachaça

February 18, 2010

Cachaça is best known in the U.S. as the fairly obscure Brazilian liquor that is mixed into caipirinhas, a cocktail that enjoyed a lot of success in New York about ten years ago (it came into fashion after the mojito). In Brazil, it´s quite another story. Cachaça is the second most popular alcoholic beverage there […]

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suco de abacate AKA avocado milkshake

February 16, 2010

We´d been traveling in Brazil for a week or so when I was confronted with one of the food-related things about the country that most alarms me: sweet avocado juice. I´m not completely naive and do realize that this is not that uncommon, at least in other places far from where I live. In fact, […]

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