Pickled Rhubarb and spruce tips with fresh Sorrel makes a light and bright summer palate cleanser.

The rhubarb and spruce tip pickles in the photo above (and post below) by Carri Thurman, baker and chef at Two Sisters Bakery in Homer, Alaska, make, she says, a refreshing palate cleanser. I knew you could pickle rhubarb. I didn’t know you could eat pine needles for pleasure. Below, how a chance phone call and a culinary curiosity resulted in an intriguing preparation (and a solid all-purpose vinegar-based pickling ratio).—M.R. by Carri Thurman It has been unsettlingly sunny and warm this spring here in Alaska, but thanks to the still cool nights the season is lingering a little later here than down south—or “Outside,” as we like to call it. This gives us a little more time to capture nature’s emerging bounty before it fades into the true heat of summer. One recent sunny day I arrived Read On »

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Another glass of gin and tonic please. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

Last night, Donna and I sat out on the front porch and had a gin and tonic. It was perfect. The air was perfect. It was quiet, no lawnmowers buzzing. The air had that lovely early evening haze. It was so lovely in fact that neither of us said anything. We just sat. We’d planned this. To have a cocktail at six before I went in to make dinner. And we didn’t say anything. We just sat and enjoyed the air, the perfect temperature. The towering oaks across the street. The lushness all around us. And we enjoyed a gin and tonic, in the above glass, a glass we’d received more 24 years earlier as a wedding gift. It’s the perfect gin and tonic glass, not so small that the gin over powers the tonic, not so large that the Read On »

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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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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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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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