Tuesday, September 22, 2009

MxMo Dairy: Any Hour Sour, Breakfast of Champions, and PnPBnJ on Rye

Once again it's time for Mixology Monday. The theme this year is Dizzy Dairy hosted over at eGullet. In this case dairy includes anything you'd find in the dairy case, so eggs, cheese, yogurt, etc are fair game.

At first I was not at all sure where to go with this theme since I've never before concocted a new libation with such ingredients, but after a little research and thinking about the couple drinks I have enjoyed that utilize egg white, inspiration struck. In fact, it struck thrice. I did stay away from the cheese and stuck to eggs and milk though.

I first began by thinking about the classic and excellent Pisco Sour, my current favorite egg white drink, and how I could turn that recipe on it's head. That led me to my first drink:

Any Hour Sour
Shake and double strain all but Peruvian bitters, add a dash or two of those to foam on top after straining into wine glass.
*These bitters go great on the pisco sour so I used them here just to tie the ideas together, you can get them over at Cocktail Kingdom. You can sub more angostura otherwise.

Continuing further along this line of thought, and after reading about how the Brandy Milk Punch can be transformed into a simplified egg nog in Dale DeGroff's The Essential Cocktail (recommended), I came up with this:

Breakfast of Champions
  • 2 oz Bacon-infused bourbon
  • 4 oz cereal-infused milk*
  • 1 whole large egg (~ 2 oz)
  • ¼ oz maple syrup
  • 2 dashes Fee’s Whiskey Barrel-aged bitters (2008) **
Dry shake, shake with ice, double strain.
Prob makes 2 servings but more satisfying to drop in entire egg.

*I stole the cereal-infused milk idea from Momofuku (soon to be released Momofuku cookbook here, I'm excited.) Don't know how they do it, but I steeped corn flakes in milk in the fridge for 45 minutes before straining through cheesecloth and that worked. Their recipe will be in the book I hear. Feel free to sub your favorite cereal. (UPDATE: just noticed that the name they use for the milk was apparently recently trademarked, perhaps due to it's inclusion in the upcoming cookbook, so I switched that term for the new descriptive one above, even though I made up the procedure and credited them with the concept, just to make sure to avoid running afoul of anything.)

**These bitters add a solid dose of cinnamon, you can sub angostura or even dust with cinnamon in a pinch.

This was the first time I've tried drink like a flip or a nog containing a whole egg, let alone made one, let alone from my own recipe. I was fully expecting an epic fail, but I do have to admit I was quite pleased with the results. Smooth, rich, and delicious. And no, I didn't have it for breakfast.

Don't know where I got the idea for this next one, just came to me when I remembered I had this bottle of Castries peanut creme liquor sitting untried in the fridge which I had bought on a lark just because I'd never seen it. I give you the PnPBnJ on Rye, aka Pecan and Peanut Butter and Jelly on Rye.

PnPBnJ on Rye
Shake and strain.

Very dessert-y, but fun, like a cross between a PBnJ and an admittedly adult milkshake. Fine, try Welch's grape if that's your thing.

P vs NP, heh, just read an interesting article about the current state of that problem. Damn, apperas to require registration now, sorry. HT: MR

Monday, September 7, 2009

Bizarre Foods With Me: Japan

Speaking of bizarre foods, here's some from my trip to Japan several years ago.

First, an entire meal of Fugu, the dreaded and deadly poisonous blowfish, which nearly claimed the life of Homer Simpson. We started with a flaming glass of sake with a blowfish fin soaking in it:

Btw, don't try to pick up the fin and nibble on it after you finish the sake. I learned this was verboten when every employee of the restaurant ran to the table yelling at me to stop as soon as I tried.

Then Fugu sashimi, both flesh and skin:
The meal was definitely a great experience but the Fugu itself is pretty boring. In fact, it's prized for having a very delicate taste, and that it does; it is very very bland. The fried Fugu is my favorite:

We also had a dish where we cooked the fugu at the table in a hot pot of miso:

I had Horse Sashimi at an Izakaya, surprisingly tender and flavorful, but I apparently neglected to properly document it.

And Kobe Beef in Kobe, mmmm the real stuff is tasty. Never had any as good here in the US:

Oh yeah, and little tiny dried fishes gave great flavor and texture to the rice. Look at the little eyeballs:

Viking Oar-Shearer

Last Thursday was the first anniversary of Thursday Drink Night, and the theme chosen was TDN Tiki. I was not very familiar with this genre, so I set out on a bit of research.

I settled on this recipe for the classic Zombie to use as a jumping off point, and then started swapping ingredients with abandon, using stuff I like, had on hand, and thought would work well. So here I present the Viking Oar-Shearer, in all its 12 ingredient glory.

Viking Oar-Shearer
  • 1 ½ oz Rhum Clement VSOP
  • 1 oz Ron Zacapa 23
  • 1 oz Brennivín (or aquavit)
  • 1 oz lime
  • ½ oz pineapple juice
  • ½ velvet falernum
  • ½ oz green chartreuse
  • ½ oz cherry heering
  • ¼ oz orgeat
  • ½ tsp allspice dram
  • ½ tsp absinthe
  • 3 dashes fee's whiskey barrel bitters
Shake and strain over crushed ice, garnish with mint sprig

Preferably, the mint will be freshly picked from the lush plant in your new herb garden. It will make the drink better, trust me.

I used Brennivín I brought back from my recent trip to Iceland, but any aquavit will do. I imagine a gin would work nicely as well, but the name will be less apropos.

HT to Rick at kaiser penguin for his photo tips; I think this is easily my best drink pic yet.

Iceland IV: Bizarre Foods With Me

This was a great trip for tasting new foods, one of my favorite activities. I supped on no less than five new creatures, some more than once. Count 'em, five! I got Greenland shark, puffin, reindeer, whale, and zebra. Zebra! I'll stark with the shark, since it's the most interesting and requires explanation.

This is not your run of the mill shark, it is in fact the infamous Hákarl, which nearly got the better of both Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern.
When fresh, this particular shark is poisonous due to high uric acid and trimethylamine oxide content. How does one remedy this situation you ask? Obviously you simply bury it for a few months to let it rot, then dig it up and hang it to let it dry for a few more. Easy. Apparently this stuff is supposed to be awful. The absolute worst. This was going to be great!
I took the advice of my book and came prepared with the traditional chaser, Brennivín, which is the national drink of Iceland, similar to an aquavit. (The drink itself is nicknamed "the black death", but I quite enjoy it. Brought some back in fact.)

Hákarl has a reputation of smelling worse than it tastes. This turned out to be true. In fact it doesn't taste that bad at all. Not great, but not horrific, just fishy with a very chewy texture. So for several seconds I was chewing away, proud of myself for taking it like a man, when I became acquainted with the other thing you hear about this stuff: it's the aftertaste that really gets you. This also is true. After chewing for a bit the aftertaste built up while I thought I was still regular tasting, and, while I managed not to puke in my mouth, I did experience an inadvertent gag reflex from the ammonia and other flavors that come with fermented (read rotten) fish. So I swallowed the still resilient cube and chased it with my Brennivín and came away no worse for wear. I was right, it was great! Not that I went back for more.

The most surprising new creature I got to devour was the zebra. Actual zebra.

This was at Sjávarkjallarinn (The Seafood Cellar). We saw it on the menu but all assumed it was either some type of fish or some play on words and the dish would be presented with stripes or something like that. We ordered the chef's surprise menu and it was one of the item presented. They called it "zebra horse" when they served it but with the accents we still all assumed we were misunderstanding, but we clarified several times. Apparently they had been serving antelope (sweeter meat we were told), but had recently switched to zebra imported from Africa. We were also told that earlier that week some diners did not believe them and made the chef prove it, so he brought out a frozen zebra leg to show them. (We decided against demanding the same proof.) In any case is was really good. Barely seared on the edge so almost raw, it was great alone or with a bit of the goat cheese and fruit sauce it was served with.

The puffin on the other hand is something I knew I would be seeking out. We found a steakhouse that had an advertised puffin menu, so we tried it there. We had smoked puffin as well as grilled puffin breast.


The smoked puffin was quite good. Smokey, obviously, texture similar to but a bit softer than duck, but it had a distinct flavor from it's diet of small oily sea fish. Calling it "fishy" isn't quite right because that connotes more than would be correct. Perhaps "oceany"? How about the good aspects of fishy, without the bad? Certainly very distinctive and well worth trying.


The seared breast was fine, but lost some of the more interesting tastes of the smoked preparation, as well as having a tougher texture.

At this restaurant we also got a whale steak which was sorely disappointing. It tasted like a mediocre beef steak, but with a very slightly different texture. We all would have thought it was beef if not told otherwise. I suspect part of the problem was that it came well done. They didn't ask so I assumed they would do the proper thing. The regular beef steaks that were ordered at the table were cooked to the proper temp and were perfectly nice steaks.

Whale steak:

The next night we revisited the puffin and whale, and added Rudolph, at a tapas place that uses local ingredients. Tapas Barrin is in fact the only tapas place in the country, it's website is simply www.tapas.is.

The reindeer was grilled simply on a kabob, and everyone liked it (others even more so than me), tasted similar to venison or elk, but lighter:

The puffin was again smoked, and this one was my favorite, although the others preferred the smoked prep from the night before. I liked this one more because it had a softer more liver like texture, and a more pronounced but cleaner ocean aspect (both reasons I'm sure contributed to others preferring the previous version):

The whale at this dinner was great. Almost raw and very delicate and I'm at a loss to remember well enough to describe it. Also contributing was that I only got a bite or two because it was a small tapas portion and very popular at the table so I had to share, unlike the puffin where I got the lion's share for myself.

This dinner continued well into the night, closing the place down. We were enjoying our revelry, as were the four visitors from the south of Norway. We discovered this when they bought our table a round of Brennivín to do with them.

Naturally we returned the favor, and this may have repeated a couple times. Later the waiter appeared with the chef and a full tray of shots which we all used to join in a Skål. All in all a great end to our last night in Reykjavik.

(I did mine moments later, I promise.)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Iceland III: Dog Parade

Sat afternoon we grabbed lunch at a little cafe on the main street. Practically the only street of note in fact, Reykjavik is surprisingly small for the capital of such a well known European country. But it turns out there are only a few hundred thousand people in the entire country, and 60% live in Reykjavik, so it ends up making sense.
Anyway, we're having lunch then a high school marching band goes by outside, followed by a parade of hundreds of dogs, arranged by breed. It was pretty cool. Our favorite was this little chihuahua that seemed very proud and was prancing like a tiny Lipizzaner stallion. (note this is not a general endorsement of tiny dogs. ) Here's just a little bit:

Iceland II: Gullfoss in Action

It was very windy most the time. Here's some crazy spray blowing off a waterfall we found while driving down from the glacier Snæfellsjökull after snowmobiling to its peak. Awesome btw, even though we were trapped in a rare haze that robbed us of a usually spectacular view.

Iceland Post I: Geysir and Gullfoss

This is the first of several posts about our recent trip to Reykjavik, Iceland.

Geysir is the biggest geyser in Iceland, unfortunately it is currently dormant, but we did see his little brother Strokkur go off nearby.

Fun fact: All geysers in the world are namesakes of Geysir, the oldest known.

The wife got these pics:

And here's the double level Gullfoss (foss = falls) just down the road a bit:

Also note if renting a car here get a 4WD, nearly half the roads on the way to major destinations are unpaved.