Aside

It wasn’t me!

(Alas.)

Apparently, someone stole $26,000 worth of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon.

Yes, I WAS in Kentucky last weekend. And yes, of course, I visited Buffalo Trace Distillery – the makers of Pappy Van Winkle. But I’m sad to report that I am not the proud owner of nearly 200 bottles of the bourbon. :(

What is Pappy Van Winkle, you ask? It’s a most excellent aged bourbon! Pat and I first came across it a few years ago in Pittsburgh when we went to the local Whiskey Fest. We were lucky enough to snag a bottle soon after from the local state store – at the time, we didn’t realize HOW lucky we were! It’s nearly impossible to get from stores – you have to sign up on waiting lists ages in advance to even have a hope of getting a bottle – and can cost over $1,000 from some resellers. Eep!

Any employee or others found in warehouse tampering with barrels will be subject to dismissal.

Any employee or others found in warehouse tampering with barrels will be subject to dismissal.

The dire warning on the “secret” library entrance to one of Buffalo Trace’s warehouses (see above) was obviously ineffective in preventing the theft. Le sigh.

An experimental cask at Buffalo Trace.

An experimental cask at Buffalo Trace.

So now, my chances of getting a new bottle of Pappy Van Winkle are ever so slightly smaller than the slim chance I had before.

Which means now I’ve got to go drown my sorrows in a glass of Eagle Rare. Neat.

[All photos by me.]

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Le Fabuleux Monde de la Maison Cointreau

Take one part delicious orange liqueur, one part glamourous style icon, and a hearty dash of marvelous personalities. Stir (or shake, if you prefer!) and voilà! You’ve got yourself a taste of La Maison Cointreau.

Last week, Cointreau debuted La Maison Cointreau at Big Daddy’s Antiques in San Francisco: a fabulous world filled with decadence, glamour, music, and cocktails. As the evening opened, Dita von Teese made an appearance, posing for photographs and chatting with reporters. (Oh, for the record: she’s even more gorgeous in person!)

Dita von Teese poses for photos against a backdrop of Cointreau bottles.

Dita von Teese poses for photos against a backdrop of Cointreau bottles.

Dita von Teese chats with a reporter.

Dita von Teese chats with a reporter.

Throughout the evening, bartenders kept guests’ glasses full with Cointreau-based cocktails. My favorite of the evening was the classic Sidecar:
1 1/2 oz Remy VSOP
3/4 oz Cointreau
3/4 oz lemon juice
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled glass rimmed with sugar.

Preparing Cointreau cocktails.

Preparing Cointreau cocktails.

One of the things I enjoyed about the event was eyeing the fabulous style of the guests.

Guests posing for the camera.

Guests posing for the camera.

I was lucky to run into Meghan of Voilà!, who has a chic, ladylike style that I admire…

With Meghan of Voilà! (Photo courtesy of Meghan.)

With Meghan of Voilà! (Photo courtesy of Meghan.)

And I met Danielle the Dressmaker, who rocked a vibrant, flirty dress of her own creation:

Danielle the Dressmaker, wearing one of her own creations.

Danielle the Dressmaker, wearing one of her own creations.

But the highlight of the evening was the mini cabaret, which started off with a glass performance by Johnny Rodgers and kicked into high gear with a dynamic, retro vocal set by chanteuse Lady Rizo. Nicole Renaud added a fun French flair with her accordion.

A glimpse of Lady Rizo's energizing performance.

A glimpse of Lady Rizo’s energizing performance.

Enfin, Dita von Teese took over the stage with a playful and seductive burlesque performance set in a tropical Hawaiian scene. Alas, the audience was asked not to take photos, but Haute Living has a few shots online if you’re truly curious. :)

To be honest, I didn’t need much convincing to like Cointreau – it was already in my liquor cabinet since it’s a necessary component in Singapore Slings, and I use it in my version of the Boston Bog (recipes below). But I enjoyed the opportunity to try out new cocktails and soak in the divine atmosphere!

Cheers!

Cheers! (Photo courtesy of Meghan.)

What I wore:
Dress: vintage 1950s LBD via Eons Fashion Antique in Pittsburgh, PA
Earrings: Magicicada Earrings, Erica Weiner via ModCloth
Bracelet: Victorian mourning bracelet
Shoes: Giuseppe Zanotti via The Outnet
Purse: Cole Haan Valise Archer leather satchel via Rue La La

Also check out Meghan’s post!

Singapore Sling:
1 oz gin
1/2 oz cherry brandy
4 oz pineapple juice
1/2 oz lime juice
1/4 oz Cointreau
1/4 oz Benedictine
1/3 oz grenadine (I make mine from scratch – details in this post)
1 dash Angostura bitters
Shake with ice and strain into a Collins Glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry and a pineapple wedge.

Boston Bog (my variation on the original recipe by Misty Kalkofen; click here for the full recipe):
6 fresh cranberries (+ 1 for garnish)
1 1/2 oz aged or reserve rum
1/2 oz ginger syrup (a dash of Benedictine & simple syrup make for a good substitute)
2 tsp lemon juice (or 1/2 oz if using fresh lemons)
2 tsp Cointreau
Muddle cranberries, add remaining ingredients, shake with ice, and double strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cranberry.

[Photos by me except where otherwise noted.]

Cranberry-Ginger-Rum Goodness

Last Christmas I gave my husband The American Cocktail by the editors of Imbibe Magazine (Chronicle Books, 2011). (It also came with the implicit promise that I’d be making him cocktails from the book. In our household, he tends to do more of the cooking while I mix up the drinks!)

It’s an awesome cocktail book – we haven’t gotten to all the cocktails yet, but every one we’ve tried so far has been delicious. My recent fave is called “Boston Bog,” a recipe from Boston bartender Misty Kalkofen.

I didn’t quite have *exactly* the ingredients called for in the recipe, so what follows is a variation based on what I had in my kitchen & liquor cabinet.

In addition to cranberries and ginger syrup (both of which I had/could make), the original recipe calls for Appleton Estate Reserve Jamaica rum, fresh lemon juice, and Rothman & Winter apricot liqueur. I substituted my favorite 7-year old rum, pre-squeezed lemon juice (though it is better with fresh lemons – since I used bottled juice this time, I reduced the amount originally called for in the recipe), and Cointreau (less than the amount of apricot liqueur called for – the Cointreau also helped temper the acidity of the bottled lemon juice). If you want the original recipe, check out The American Cocktail!

Cocktail ingredients: fresh cranberries, Cointreau, lemon juice, aged rum, and ginger syrup.

Cocktail ingredients: fresh cranberries, Cointreau, lemon juice, aged rum, and ginger syrup.

Ingredients
6 fresh cranberries (+ 1 for garnish)
1 1/2 oz aged or reserve rum
1/2 oz ginger syrup
2 tsp lemon juice (or 1/2 oz if using fresh lemons)
2 tsp Cointreau

To make the ginger syrup: combine 1 part water and 1 part sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat & let cool. Combine with 1 part diced ginger in a food processor or blender and purée. Strain.

Muddle the cranberries in a cocktail shaker. Add the rum, ginger syrup, lemon juice, and Cointreau. Shake well with ice. Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a fresh cranberry.

For the record, the ginger syrup is definitely worth making. I’ve made ginger syrup in the past by just simmering the simple syrup mixture with sliced ginger – but this method of blending in the ginger and then straining it makes it so much richer!

Tip: If you’re like me & don’t have a proper bartender’s fine-mesh strainer, a tea ball works beautifully! And the wooden end of a spatula or wooden spoon doubles up nicely as a muddler.

The finished cocktail: Cranberry-Ginger-Rum Goodness!

The finished cocktail: Cranberry-Ginger-Rum Goodness!

Cheers!

Do you have a favorite cocktail recipe?

Hoover’s Beef Palace: The Best Darn Breakfast in California

Earlier I blogged about my trip south to San Luis Obispo for wine tasting with Threadless peeps. My husband, Pat, and I had driven down for a brief weekend trip — on Sunday we drove back up to San Francisco. And since it was a Sunday, we decided we should get brunch on the way back home. We ended up at a place just off 101, in Templeton, called Hoover’s Beef Palace.

Presenting Hoover's Beef Palace! (Photo by Pat Zimmerman.)

Presenting Hoover’s Beef Palace! (Photo by Pat Zimmerman.)

Now, the place is called a “Beef Palace” – but it only serves breakfast and lunch. So you better believe breakfast there is hardcore. And AMAZING.

Pat ordered the green chile omelet, and added sausage to it. What he hadn’t realized was that the green chile already had shredded pork in it — and it was awesome. Savory, hearty, and absolutely delicious (I know, because I stole a bite or two)! The home fries that came with it were perfectly cooked — tender with crispy edges.

Hoover's green chile omelet

Hoover’s Green Chile Omelet

I ordered the corned beef hash with eggs over medium and a biscuit with gravy. Everything was scrumptious – the corned beef hash was tender and flavorful, the eggs were beautifully cooked with runny yolks but fried whites, and the gravy was rich and meaty. I love biscuits and gravy, but too often it tastes just like a whole bunch of flour with a little broth & some sausage thrown it. This one was creamy and tasted like it had been made with meat drippings. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

Hoover's corned beef hash and biscuit with gravy

Hoover’s corned beef hash and biscuit with gravy

The food alone is worth the detour to Hoover’s if you’re in the area. But I enjoyed the atmosphere — not just for the cattle brands on the wall, but also for what I can only describe as a ranch-does-diner feel. And I also loved the fact that most of the clientele clearly knew the staff, and vice versa. So there may be a few random passers-by coming through (like my husband and me), but this is a local favorite.

And I only wish I lived a bit closer! I’m not kidding when I say it was the best breakfast I’ve had in California. It definitely ranks among my fave breakfasts ever.

What can I say? Hoover's is the best! (Photo by Pat Zimmerman.)

What can I say? Hoover’s is the best! (Photo by Pat Zimmerman.)

Hoover’s Beef Palace Restaurant
401 N Main St
Templeton, CA 93465
(805) 434-2114

What I wore:
Dress: Blogging Molly Dress, Effie’s Heart via ModCloth
Cardigan: Trusted Essential Cardigan via ModCloth
Belt: Calderon, thrifted
Shoes: Hot for Hemlock Heel in Crimson, Chelsea Crew via ModCloth
Tights: Hue
Sunglasses: Kate Spade

A Lovely Valentine’s

This morning I was greeted with a sweet start to Valentine’s Day. My husband, Pat, made me a cappuccino — with a heart.

Cappuccino, with love

Cappuccino, with love

After work, I came home to some lovely roses, and Pat and I had cocktails. I whipped up a new cocktail recipe that was absolutely delicious — if I do say so myself. :) I’ve decided to call it the Briar Rose.

The Briar Rose, a cocktail by kate à la mode

The Briar Rose, a cocktail by kate à la mode

Briar Rose
2 tbsp honey syrup
1 tsp berry jam
2 oz vodka
3/4 oz crème de cassis
1/2 oz rose-water
1 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice

To make the honey syrup, mix 1 part honey with 1 part hot water; stir until blended.
Mix berry jam into honey syrup until smooth (if necessary, heat briefly — about 10 seconds in the microwave).
Pour all ingredients into a shaker with ice. Shake thoroughly and strain into an Old Fashioned glass filled with ice.

After cocktails, we headed out to Fringale for dinner, where we had a scrumptious dinner.

And the best part? I got to take some balloons home!

Les ballons. Photo by Pat Zimmerman.

Les ballons. Photo by Pat Zimmerman.

Okay, maybe not the best part — the food was awfully good — but certainly a fun way to wrap up the evening. I asked the waiter if I could take a balloon home, and he gave me a whole bunch. Win!

Photo by Pat Zimmerman.

Photo by Pat Zimmerman.

I hope you had a lovely Valentine’s too!

Dress: Most Memorable Dress, Stop Staring via ModCloth
Shoes: Hot for Hemlock Heel in Crimson, Chelsea Crew via ModCloth
Coat: Burberry
Purse: Cole Haan

Year of the Dragon – The Feast

Earlier I posted about the outfit I wore for Lunar New Year’s Eve, but I’m just now getting to the real New Year’s Eve story: the feast.

My husband and I joined several of our friends at his parents’ place for an absolutely amazing 12-course, all-day feast.

We started out with 4 courses of appetizers:

  • Gow Choi Gau Zi (shrimp and chives dumplings)
  • Lo bak go (daikon cake)
  • Trio appetizer platter: 5-spice beef, jellyfish, BBQ pork
  • Minced chicken in lettuce wrap
Clockwise from upper left: gow choi gau, lo bak go, trio appetizer platter, and minced chicken with lettuce wraps

Clockwise from upper left: gow choi gau, lo bak go, trio appetizer platter, and minced chicken with lettuce wraps

Then moved on to the main courses:

  • Dried scallop soup with chives and crab meat
  • Sautéed prawns and scallops in XO sauce
  • Beef and broccoli florets in oyster sauce
  • Stir-fried crab with green onions & ginger
  • Steamed whole fish
  • Pea sprouts in garlic sauce
This picture is just dying for a funny caption - any suggestions?

Clockwise from upper left: dried scallop soup with chives and crab meat, sautéed prawn and scallops in XO sauce, beef and broccoli florets in oyster sauce, and roasted crab with green onions & ginger

And finished up with 2 courses for dessert:

  • Don tats
  • Fortune cookies and orange slices
Fortune cookies and orange slices

Fortune cookies and orange slices

Keep reading for the recipes!
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A toast in front of a Twin Peaks sunset

Football, Gumbo, and Hurricanes FTMFW

The Saints played the Niners in a playoff game in San Francisco, so as denizens of this city & people who appreciate New Orleans food and culture, there was only one thing to do: invite friends over to watch the game, eat gumbo, and drink hurricanes. My husband, Pat, made the gumbo (all from scratch: homemade andouille, seafood broth, roux, okra, crabs, chicken, shrimp – the works!) and I mixed up the cocktails. Because that’s how we roll.

For the record, I found this really awesome hurricane recipe on DrinksMixer.com. It’s not the original recipe, but it’s damn tasty. And insanely strong – almost 6 ounces of alcohol. This is one drink that should last awhile! Good thing we had a few hours to spare. :)

Hurricane Recipe (from DrinksMixer.com)
1 oz vodka
1/4 oz grenadine syrup
1 oz gin
1 oz light rum
1/2 oz Bacardi® 151 rum
1 oz amaretto almond liqueur
1 oz triple sec
grapefruit juice
pineapple juice

Pour all but the juices, in order listed, into a hurricane glass three-quarters filled with ice. Fill with equal parts of grapefruit and pineapple juice, and serve.

The slight layering effect looks pretty when served, but it ends up mixing fairly well because the alcohol floats up to the top (since it’s got a lower density than the juices). Oh, and I recommend making up your own grenadine, rather than using the fake corn syrup stuff. It’s easy and so much tastier!

Homemade Grenadine
2 parts pomegranate juice
1.5-2 parts sugar (depending on how sweet you want it!)

Mix the pomegranate juice and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a low simmer, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. That’s it!

I usually make up a bunch and store it in a sealed glass container in the fridge. The shelf life is comparable to simple syrup.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get any shots of the gumbo or hurricanes – we were too busy being social & watching the game – but after the Niners’s victory, we headed to the roof to celebrate & take some photos. I snagged a couple of shots of my friends Jenny and Carolyn goofing around:

… and Pat took this photo of me:

I was wearing a comfy jersey red dress and golden necklace & bracelet in honor of the Niners, of course. :)

Then Jenny decided to make her directorial debut and posed me for this shot:

Basically, we had a great time fooling around while we enjoyed the gorgeous sunset behind Twin Peaks. Cheers to that!

Dress: The Way You Look Tonight Dress, BB Dakota via ModCloth
Cardigan: Keep it Simple Cardigan in Black via ModCloth
Shoes: Hot for Hemlock Heel in Crimson, Chelsea Crew via ModCloth
Tights: Hue
Necklace: Kate Spade