Entries in Category Vittles and Libations

Valentine's Day Cocktail: the Boulevardier

This month's drink is a variation on the classic Negroni, with whiskey in the place of gin to make it even more suitable for winter. It's a good cocktail to make on Valentine's Day: sophisticated, sexy, and, well, red. Here's what you'll need:

  • 1 oz. whiskey
  • 1 oz. Campari
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth

Stir all ingredients in a “mixing glass” or a shaker with ice, but do NOT shake it. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass—I keep them in the freezer, but you can fill a glass with some ice and water while you build the drink to get it cold quickly. Garnish with a twist of lemon or orange.

This month I used some Redemption Rye because it's good and reasonably priced and, whether they realize it or not, so many people have the dangerous practice of treating Saint Valentine's Day as an opportunity for redemption, don't they? Using bourbon instead would be perfectly traditional as well, and might result in a sweeter or richer-tasting drink, while rye will tend to emphasize the herbal character of the Campari and vermouth.

Some variations:

  • Use bourbon instead of rye
  • Increase the whiskey to 1.5 oz. This will further deemphasize the bitterness of this drink.
  • If you really don't like Campari, and many people don't, try Aperol instead. It might help you get into this class of cocktails.


A Cocktail for January: the Rye Maple Fizz

This January I've been enjoying the Rye Maple Fizz, a fun and impressive-in-the-home-bar cocktail invented by star bartender Erick Castro at Rickhouse in San Francisco. It combines wintry flavors of maple syrup and rye whiskey with the classic fizz technique, which in this drink means reinforcing the fizziness of soda water with a foam of shaken egg white.

If that frightens you, consider: you're drinking, which I'm going to presume means you're an adult. If you're making a cocktail like this one than you're a more sophisticated adult than most and obviously already comfortable dabbling with a romantic vice and a bit of risk. So go ahead and embrace it already. Adopt an air of unconcerned magnificence and knock back a raw egg white and two ounces of rye whiskey. Nothing will happen to you (at least, nothing has happened to me), particularly if you wash the outside of the eggshell before cracking it.

With the lightweights sufficiently scared away, locate:

  • 2 oz. rye whiskey (I used Sazerac brand)
  • 3/4 oz. lemon juice (squeezed fresh, of course)
  • 3/4 oz. egg white (After removing the yolk and chalaza one large egg should be enough)
  • 1/2 oz. maple syrup
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Ground cinnamon

Cast-Iron Tilapia

Nothing fancy, this; but that's okay: dinner was done and on in the table in exactly 15 minutes (disclaimer: I had to go to the supermarket, wash dishes, clean the cast-iron pan, etc—you didn't think it would really be 15 minutes, did you?). Take your tilapia fillets, add salt and pepper and squeeze out a lemon onto both sides. Meanwhile, get your well-seasoned cast iron skillet to medium-high temperature and coat the bottom with olive oil. Lay your fillets down in the pan, away from you to avoid splattering yourself with hot oil. Try to avoid flipping or moving it more than is strictly necessary as it will fall apart when it gets close to done; I'd recommend flipping with a spatula rather than tongs for the same reason.

Cook for three minutes per side, which should give it a golden-brown surface and just-barely-done center; the thinner parts of the fillet will get crispy, but that's part of the appeal. Serve with salad and rice or whatever you want. Some brown crispy bits will be left in the pan which just cry out for deglazing and making into a pan sauce, but I haven't experimented with that just yet.

I promise not to let this site become a recipe blog. I post things like this really more for my own reference (the three minutes per side number is something I tend to forget).

Are You Feeling Lucky? (Culinary Adventure Week 2)

Tonight was the first dinner of our second Culinary Adventure Week. The theme: Google recipes! Simply type two ingredients into google, plus the word “recipe”, like so: “chicken bacon recipe”. Then hit the “I'm Feeling Lucky” button and cook whatever comes up! You really place your stomach in the hands of fate with this one—but so far with good results. Even unusual test cases like “italian sausage mussels recipe” came up looking tasty.

Sheraz wasn't home tonight, so we feasted on forbidden fruit: pork and tomatoes. Google came up with Pork Chops with Fresh Tomato, Onion, Garlic, and Feta, which worried us somewhat but turned out to be really very good.

Culinary Adventure Month: Week One

My roommate Sheraz and I suffer from a certain indecision about what to eat; nothing seems good to us anymore, and this results in discussions of the “What do you want to eat? I dunno, what do YOU want to eat?” kind and in disastrous expeditions like today's, in which we drove around aimlessly for an hour looking for something that would hit the elusive "spot". I have no illusions; this is a mark of decadence, one more of the minor pyschological problems that comes of limitless opportunities and a complete lack of survival pressure. But to hell with that—we decided to solve our problem by turning it into an amusing adventure, applying our favorite tool for doing so: eccentric wagering.