One of the lucky perks about being an independent writer is that I can occasionally entertain invitations to exotic locales on someone else’s dime. Not long ago I was asked by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (institute! sounds academic, no? must be good for you) to visit Alaska. Several of the junkets were no longer available so I was clearly a last-minute fill-in invite. But this was not why I said no. It’s a busy summer is all (thus the 2 posts a week, and a repeat cocktail coming up). But the kind lady who invited me, one Christine Fanning, a senior communications specialist with Schiedermayer Alaska in Anchorage, asked if she could send me some of the finest fish coming off the Alaskan fishing boats. That, Christine, is good communications! Sister Carri had brought Read On »

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This has become my favorite of Donna’s cocktail shots because it so accurately reflects the experience of drinking it. And as she’s on the road, playing hooky from her camera, I’m reposting this perfect summer cocktail. It’s dry and hot here in Clevelandtown, and these are seriously refreshing. Tequila, lime juice, and grapefruit soda. Couldn’t be simpler. I love Tequila Ocho Reposado. Normally I save the good stuff for straight-up drinking, but it’s worth using in the Paloma because the lime and grapefruit flavors intermingle with and elevate, rather than obscure, the flavor of the tequila. And I make it strong, so I can taste it, goddammit. Izze is excellent soda (not too sweet, lots of carbonation) and it’s what my grocery store carries. Jarritos is the brand most often recommended. But half grapefruit juice and half soda Read On »

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  I’ve decided to go vegan. Yep. Vegan all the way. Not for ethical reasons, but for reasons of vanity. I’m getting fat. I’m getting old and the fat tends to stick around. And where diets are concerned, I know one thing for sure: it’s very hard to gain weight on a vegan diet. So vegan it is, at least until I drop twenty. For my first night as a vegan, I went for a wheat berry salad, because it satisfies like meat. I first tried wheat berries after looking through Heidi Swanson‘s book, Super Natural Cooking. You have to work your jaws. The whole wheat kernel has lots of fiber and nutrition. And it can carry all kinds of different flavors, so there’s no end to what kind of dishes you can create with Read On »

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Donna asked to shoot a cocktail. I said, “Go ahead.” She said, “I want to do a Sidecar.” I said, “It’s summertime and hot, how about something refreshing?” She remembered a bottle of limoncello that she’d bought in a moment of nostalgia, recalling a time when she’d enjoyed drinking it with my mom. “I want to shoot ice-cold shots of it,” she said. But then she tasted it straight. She found it cloyingly sweet and knew she’d never drink it like this (and wondered how she could have such fond memories of it). She did a little research and found a limoncello cocktail using gin. She tried it. The gin clashed with the limoncello. She found one calling for grilled thyme. I told her I didn’t like thyme in beverages, grilled or otherwise (grilled?!). She Read On »

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When I returned to the CIA in the fall of 1999, two years after the publication of Making of a Chef wherein I described the humiliating service experience on my first day at St. Andrew’s restaurant, and Chef Czack lofted an overly generous tip onto my table with a look of withering disdain for my shoddy performance, he himself hosted me at the Danny Kaye Theater for an interview. I had been provided a pink beverage, strangely, as one almost always is given water. Chef Czack held out his hand to the drink. “Can you tell us what this is?” he asked me. I looked blankly at it, took a sip, looked out at the audience as a deer into headlights. I had not been expecting a sucker punch and confessed ignorance. “A Sea Breeze,” said Chef Czack, Read On »

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