Mint-Julip-2

It’s the Derby weekend so herewith, again, my preferred method for making a great mint julep with a truly minty, clean taste and a color that announces what it is. You can use either a blender or a mortar and pestle (I prefer the latter for the mintiest flavor, pix and recipe here). Of course, I’m still fond of my first julep(s) made by still my dearest pal, Blake Bailey, and the story surrounding it. Blake was initially too mortified to be named at the time, but since he wrote about the event in his searing memoir, The Splendid Things We Planned, the story is out. Happy Derby Day, all! (And don’t forget to have a look at my newest book, How to Saute: Foolproof Techniques and Recipes For the Home Cook. And feel free to enter the Read On »

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greyhound

The grapefruit, as I’ve mentioned before, was my introduction to the notion of seasonal. It was 1989, I was not yet 26, and I’d moved into a little bungalow on the sweet island of Palm Beach to work on my novel. Deep into January and through February the trees in back of my hutch hung heavy with grapefruit. The best grapefruit I’d ever had. I don’t know what I was thinking before I actually saw grapefruit on trees, Cleveland boy, that I was. I suppose only that citrus grew in warm weather places pretty much year round, since I can buy them year-round. Well, no. They have a time of year when they naturally appear and this is when you should eat them (which is now). You should also know that if you buy grapefruit Read On »

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Derby cocktail. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

I’m on my annual foray to my beloved mom’s in West Palm Beach and enjoying blue sky, blue water, and lazy days, so here this repost from 10/4/13 of an overlooked but most excellent cocktail.—M.R. When I opened to the Cleveland Plain Dealer‘s wonderful and expanded food section, I was delighted to find a handful of bartenders offering cocktails. The Derby, offered by Lindsey Hawes, who mixes drinks at The Willeyville in the Cleveland Flats, caught my eye (here she is making another fave of mine, The Dark & Stormy). The Derby  caught my eye for its straightforwardness and lack of frou. I immediately thought of the Brown Derby, a restaurant chain that flourished here in the 1970s, where I first encountered what was called a salad bar, back in the pre-sneeze guard days (God, how Read On »

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Because I love the interconnectedness of all things, including cocktails, My Girl Friday suggested a Daisy, which was in fashion in the 19th century, then out, then back in in the 20th, and could be again in the 21st, but not in Ohio, where ordinary citizens such as myself are unable to purchase it due to Ohio’s crazy liquor laws. But it’s damned gloomy and wet here in Cleveland and I am loving the idea of more brandy after last week’s Gascon Sidecar, so today it is the Brandie Blazer, which is in effect—connection here—an old-fashioned made with brandy. I’m adding some lemon and orange zest along with brown sugar to balance the Bitters, Old Men (I used the smoke bitters, which gives it a hint of the Islay whiskys I love, but citrus bitters or Read On »

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