swizzle

  In hot and humid NYC last week, we were invited downstairs to our neighbors Tobin (of Hella Bitters) and Jourdan for a cocktail. “I’m mixing swizzles,” he emailed. A perfect summer cocktail if ever there were one. Born centuries ago in the Caribbean, the swizzle is nothing more than booze, sugar, bitters, and soda, with plenty of crushed ice. Ideally you spin the crushed ice with an actual five-prong swizzle stick, made from a native plant, to help the sugar dissolve. (You can buy them at our go-to cocktail supply store, Cocktail Kingdom.) Tobin, a cocktail pro, used both Scotch and gin (in separate drinks; I requested gin, Donna had the scotch version below) along with a fiery Pasilla De Oaxaca bitters. But he noted that any spirit will work, and certainly rum would have been the spirit Read On »

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grinding meat

It’s summertime, for crying out loud! Nothing beats the smell of the smoke when hot fat hits hot coals. Grilling alone is a primal pleasure. Grilling among friends is a social pleasure. The flavor of a grilled burger is different from that of one fried in a cast iron pan–it takes on many complexities of the smoke, and if you’ve built a really hot fire, flames will lick the burger, adding even more complex Maillard flavors from all these differing heat levels. Grilled burgers have incomparable flavor for these reasons.   Why am I going on about the greatness, the inimitable deliciousness of the all-American summertime staple? Because my pal Michael Symon urged people, in the NYTimes of all places, to avoid using a grill because, “A grill is too difficult.”   Let me repeat Read On »

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The refreshing Paloma: tequila, lime, grapefruit soda. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

I’m in New York City this week and so must fall back on an old favorite cocktail and, more importantly, cocktail photograph. Gosh, did Donna nail this one. Regular readers may be tired of it, but new ones won’t, and it remains my favorite photograph of a cocktail my beloved has taken (my gross thumb notwithstanding). Looks like summer, with those vibrant colors and clear light, the obviously refreshing elixir, the promising and fine bottle, the season. It couldn’t be simpler or more delicious, especially if you get a good grapefruit soda. Tequila, soda, and lime, so refreshing on a summer evening. It can in fact be too refreshing—for instance, on your fifth Paloma you really aren’t becoming as refreshed as you think you are. So go easy. Just ask Garrett if you doubt me. Happy summertime Read On »

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I was asked on Twitter what I thought of the latest movie on the chef world, really the first authentic movie on the work of professional cooking since Ratatouille (one of the best on the subject). So here comes a formidable writer, director, and marquee cast (Scarlett, Dustin, Robert {D. Jr.}, Sofia V., the compelling Bobby Cannavale, and writer/director/lead Jon Favreau) to try to tell a story and also get right what really hasn’t been done well in American film ever, animation excepted: the life of the chef. Spanglish, and No Reservations being two hopefuls that did not get it right. As a narrative, Chef is predictable (I’d seen the previews, all you need to know), almost tired, father-son road movie, guilty hard-working dad, cute kid, likable (ex) wife—worked for Elf, right? My writing mentor said, “No Read On »

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The-Ben-Smith-cocktail-@102

I read about this impromptu cocktail in Molly Wizenberg’s new memoir, Delancey, about her and her husband’s opening of a restaurant in Seattle, one specializing in pizza, her Jersey-born husband’s culinary love. Wizenberg, author of A Homemade Life and the blog Orangette, is a felicitous writer, and her latest is a lovely memoir about love and food and the crazy decisions we make based on nothing reliable and the risks we take, and the really, really hard work of running a restaurant, even a casual pizzeria. Molly and Brandon’s good friend, Ben, offered this cocktail, which appealed to my inner skinflint, with its insistence on cheap gin. Love that. Wizenberg names it grandly: The Benjamin Wayne Smith. I am adding vermouth (because it benefits from it), which Wizenberg also suggests, and because of the modification Read On »

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