Friday, October 31, 2008

Juniper Gin

Dating as far back as the early 1900s, making your own gin, as it turns out, was never really something that was hard to do. Perfect example, your average, everyday Prohibition Era bathtub gin.

Actually, there are several different methods and the simplest (also the one that does not include a complicated vapor infusion) is no more difficult than making iced tea: Soak juniper berries (available in the spice aisle of most major supermarkets and grocery stores) and a handful of other spices in a neutral spirit (vodka), then strain and enjoy. You’ll end up with an unclarified, rustic version of London’s finest.

Below is a recipe that a fellow blogger friend of mine is excited about. Its complexity rivals the finest gins on the market, some of which cost four times as much as a lowly bottle of vodka.

To find a recipe that works best for your taste, try adding different aromatics for different lengths of time. Just remember: It's not really gin... without the juniper.

1 (750ml) bottle of inexpensive vodka
2 Tbsp juniper berries
3/4 tsp coriander seed
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp fennel seed
3 green cardamom pods
2 black peppercorns
1 bay leaf, torn into pieces
1 (3-inch) sprig fresh rosemary
1 (2-inch-long) fresh lemon or lime peel
1 (1-inch) sprig fresh lavender

Infuse juniper in the vodka overnight. Add remaining spices and herbs in the morning and let infuse all day. When you get home from work, strain out the botanicals and start making your favorite gin cocktails

Finding juniper berries online can be even simpler. For example, try here for one of several online sites that sell them at reasonable prices.

And don't forget: They can also be a terrific spice compliment to roast porks and lambs.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Sushi Bullies

Chef Kazunori Nozawa at his flagship restaurant, Sushi Nozawa, in Studio City, Calif.

Talk about making Seinfeld's "Soup Nazi" look tame?

If you're seated at the sushi bar at Sasabune in New York, Sushi Nozawa in Los Angeles, or Sawa Sushi in Sunnyvale, Calif., a few words of advice:

Don't try to order -- the chef will decide what you eat. Use extra soy sauce at your own risk. And don't ask for a California roll. You might get kicked out.

Never fear, however. You've just entered a recent wacky parallel universe known as the domain of the "sushi bullies."

Basically, what we're talking about here, are top sushi chefs who serve only what they want, how they want it and to whom they want. Their rules are often posted on signs throughout their restaurants. And some of these chefs are notorious for ejecting patrons who annoy them.

On her first encounter with one of these raw-fish autocrats in San Francisco, a customer tried to add some soy sauce to her seaweed salad. Sound simple? Actually, it turned out to be a big mistake. The tyrannical chef immediately scolded her, telling her, "No, no, no. No soy sauce!" Then, she had the temerity to scrape some wasabi off a piece of sushi, because she doesn't like spicy food. The chef's response: "No! It needs the wasabi." Hence, she obeyed, and choked down the fish.

"I was so nervous, I spilled my miso soup," said the patron, whose meal for two, with no alcohol, cost $75 -- before tip.

Now in all fairness to this growing trend of hardcore sushi disciplinarians, I have had encounters in Italian restaurants, whereupon asking for some freshly grated parmesan cheese , the waiter would come back with a "request" from the chef, that I "try" eating my entree without it -- thereby, allowing the natural flavors to come through. However, in each of these instances, the chef was in the kitchen, and the "request" never came across as anything more than just that.

In any event, read more here to see how the familiar Seinfeld catch phrase: No Soup For You apparently still applies today.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Time To Bid


Tuesday, October 21The Metropolitan Pavilion 125 West 18th Street 7:00 - 10:00 pm (VIP hour: 6:00 - 7:00 pm)

Yes, it's that time of year again, to see some of the city's top chefs in action!

Bid Against Hunger is one of fall's most anticipated restaurant tastings, featuring over 70 restaurants preparing signature dishes.

Guests will have the opportunity to bid on exclusive prizes in both live and silent auctions, including exclusive dinners with top chefs, vacation packages, sports memorabilia and concert tickets.

The VIP Room will be featuring exclusive tastings of regional purveyors' foods, hors d'oeuvres, and high-end wines.

Bid Against Hunger sold out last year. So make sure you don't miss the chance to see some of the world's best chefs taking center stage.

See you there.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Breaking A Few Eggs

Omelets. Gotta love 'em (I know I do!) for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, from plain, to mushroom, to Western, to Omelet au Champignon.

And for me, the best instruction on exactly how to make these little egg concoctions as fluffy, airy, and light as they need to be, will always be from my personal culinary "goddess," the late, great, Julia Child.

So break out a bottle of your best Beaujolais Nouveau and enjoy some more "Classic Julia" in this video clip from one of her vintage French Chef episodes on how to make: The Perfect Omelet.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Desperately Seeking Moose Meat


What can you learn about Sarah Palin from eating a moose burger? Probably not much.

But how about a moose farm? There’s one in Russia that only sells moose dairy products.

Still, you'd be really hard pressed to find a moose farm in the United States. It seems that the demand here is low, due to the fact that it costs more to produce the meat (and to cut it), than you can actually sell it for. (As well as it being, well, just a wee bit illegal for sale here in the U.S.)

Anyway, read more here about a Washington, D.C. writer who, in desperation for a little "Big Mac" style moose flavor, placed an ad on Craigslist in Vermont. This was to barter for the meat, of course, instead of an exchange of money, i.e., an actual purchase or sale. (Clever, huh?)

In any event, pass the relish. Hmmm... I'm wondering...does garlic work as well on moose to get rid of that "gamey" taste?