Beverage

Mezcal Paloma

The majority of the time, I'm the one who prepares dinner.  It makes sense. I'm home before Eric, I can often get to the store... plus, I enjoy doing it. It's not that he can't cook or that he's not good at it (he's actually very good), it's just become a task that I've taken over. But why not find some time to cook together? The idea has been lingering in my mind ever since I read Ashley's Date Night In, a cookbook featuring recipes and stories from the evenings she and her husband spend preparing dishes. I found the whole thing truly inspiring and at one point even suggested it... but over a year went by gone and we never followed through. A few weeks ago, however, after a particularly hectic week, Eric suggested that we spend our Saturday night at home. The lightbulb flickered on. "Hey, we have all of these cookbooks around. Why don't we make something from one of them?" We pulled out a recent addition to our collection that features authentic Chinese recipes, made a list, went to the store, and cooked up a storm. The food was incredible. Probably the best we've ever made. And we did it together (all while sipping on palomas). This past weekend we did it again, this time going in a more Mediterranean direction: braised octopus, roasted eggplant, whipped goat cheese, and homemade pita (that evening we went with martinis).

The paloma, featured here, is an easy, refreshing drink. Typically it includes tequila, but I like the slightly smoky notes the mezcal provides. A simpler version of the recipe can be made by using grapefruit soda instead of the fresh grapefruit juice, sugar and soda water, but if you have grapefruits on hand, I prefer this method. 

MEZCAL PALOMA

GLASSWARE
Highball or rocks glass

YIELD
1 drink

INGREDIENTS
Kosher salt
1 lime wedge
1/4 ounce lime juice
2 ounces grapefruit juice
2 ounces mezcal (or tequila)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 ounces soda water
1 grapefruit wedge, for garnish

DIRECTIONS
1. To rim the glass, pour salt onto a plate. Rub the rim of the glass with the lime wedge and then dip the rim into the salt, spin slowly until rim is lightly coated in salt.

2. Pour lime juice, grapefruit juice, mezcal and sugar into a glass. Using a spoon, stir until sugar has dissolved. Fill glass with ice cubes and top with soda water. 

Raspberry Vermouth Cobbler

We have a lot going on right now, and many of these things are tough to wrap our heads around. One is the Cape house. I haven't mentioned it here, but in October, we bought the house next to Eric's family's property. It was a joint purchase with his brother and his wife, and their mom. Yes, it's exciting, but there is much that needs to be done and it's hard to accomplish anything from such a distance. With that said, we're in the beginning stages of some work... making lists, getting quotes, and lots of time browsing through websites figuring out how to best proceed with these projects. I have been given the task of getting things in order with the kitchen, which makes sense since I spend as much time cooking down there as I do in the lake or reading in the hammock. 

When we left the house at the beginning of November, we had done as much as we could. Rooms were cleaned and we even got a bit of painting done (ok, it was a giant amount of painting... 21 kitchen cabinets and a large living room, to be exact). I think we were all a bit burnt out by the end of that. I had little desire to think about any of it, but seeing that we're already in February, I think the time has come to stop procrastinating.  Before we know it, April will be here and we'll be on our way to open the house(s).  

Last week, I needed my spirits lifted and there are few things that do that better than a vibrant boozy beverage garnished with a ridiculous amount of fresh mint. A cobbler came to mind and I worked a little spin in there by muddling raspberries, which provided some nice color and sweetness (most cobbler recipes call for some sugar, but I didn't think that was necessary here). 

RASPBERRY VERMOUTH COBBLER

SERVINGS
1 drink

INGREDIENTS
1/4 ounce lime juice
1/4 ounce fresh orange juice
3 raspberries, plus more for garnish
3 ounces sweet vermouth
Soda water
Ice
Fresh mint

DIRECTIONS
1. In the base of a cocktail shaker, muddle together raspberries, lime juice, orange juice and vermouth. Using a fine-mesh sieve, strain mixture into a highball glass filled with ice cubes.

2. Top drink with soda water and garnish with fresh mint. Serve with a straw. 


Bufala Negra

Humanity is a privilege, we can't give in
When they build walls, we'll build bridges
This is resistance, we're resilient
When they spread hate, we shine brilliant.

-Wednesday Morning, Macklemore

Deep down inside, I thought we wouldn't get here. I thought, hoped, that maybe it was just a bad dream. But it's not. It's our reality. And now we have to figure out how to deal with all of it. Protesting makes a statement, but I think that only does so much. I hope to do more this year, get involved with our community, to provide in some way to those in need. It requires putting ourselves out there, which, I'll admit, is something I struggle with.  But each day, it feels as if our world gets smaller and smaller and I know that each of us will be impacted by what occurs over these next four years.

I was touched by the farewell speech given by President Obama a few weeks ago.  If you didn't get a chance to watch it, I highly recommend taking some time to hear his words. This passage struck me the most.

"Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift. But it's really just a piece of parchment. It has no power on its own. We, the people, give it power. We, the people, give it meaning. With our participation, and with the choices that we make, and the alliances that we forge. Whether or not we stand up for our freedoms. Whether or not we respect and enforce the rule of law. That's up to us. America is no fragile thing. But the gains of our long journey to freedom are not assured."

I'm not sure if that's leaving things on a hopeful note or not, but I figured I should at least write a little bit about why I made this cocktail. I realized that it'd been quite a while since I'd featured a drink here, so I spent a bit of time looking for inspiration online. For me, it's whiskey season (not that there's ever an end to that season), so I knew it had to include some form of that spirit. And I wanted to use vinegar. Now, I've done shrubs before (like this, this, and this) with balsamic or cider vinegar. But I thought using straight up vinegar would be unique. After a little research, I came across this Bufala Negra on The New York Times. I must admit, I was slightly skeptical of the addition of basil leaves. I shouldn't have been, because this turned out to be one spectacular and complex cocktail. It's perfectly balanced, with the balsamic to cut through any sweetness (plus, the ginger beer adds a slight kick which I loved).  I hope you all enjoy. 

Bufala Negra

SOURCE
The New York Times, adapted from a recipe by Jerry Slater of H. Harper Station in Atlanta

SERVINGS
1 Drink

INGREDIENTS
1/2 teaspoon turbinado sugar
1 teaspoon good aged balsamic vinegar
5 fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 ounces bourbon
2 ounces ginger beer

DIRECTIONS
Add sugar, vinegar and 4 basil leaves in a cocktail shaker. Muddle for 10 seconds. Add bourbon and shake to dissolve sugar.

Strain over ice into old-fashioned glass, top with ginger beer and garnish with basil.