* You are viewing the archive for January, 2010

New cocktail index in progress

By the way, y’all … Happy New Year! I know, January’s almost over by now, but rather than doing a special brief Happy-New-Year-post on the 1st I thought I’d just dive right in to regular posting and spit out some content. (Yes, I’m aware I didn’t get around to it until the 18th. Gimme a break.)

Now that we’ve had our break, Wesly and I hope to charge into 2010 (or “oh-ten,” as we’ve heard some people say, to our mocking delight). With Marleigh’s help I’ve gotten started on another new feature. Note that there’s a new link up in the header that says Cocktails — it’s a work in progress at the moment, and when complete will be a compendium of every cocktail recipe I’ve ever posted on Looka!, going back to 1999.

I’ll be importing the old cocktail recipe posts into WordPress and backdating them so that the index can add them, and for the most part I’ll be leaving them more or less intact. This means that I’ll be keeping in the embarrassing shit like “I’m not a big fan of gin” and “I don’t like vermouth” in posts from 10+ years ago, plus embarrassing drinks like the Velvet Hammer. I will be updating recipes for clarity and accuracy, however, plus fixing dead URLs as I can and throwing in an annotation here and there. All original posts (plus the rest of the old content) will still be there in the stone-knives-and-bearskins section of the archive.

So far I’m about halfway into 2002, and I’ve got along way to go. It’ll likely take a couple of weeks, but by the time I’m done importing we’ll have a very handy and convenient index of cocktail recipes here on the ol’ blawg, and future cocktail recipe posts will be automatically added to the index.

Whoever of y’all that have been nagging me to do this for years (Barry? Chris?) … good things come to those who wait!

WHO DAT!!!

Oh my God. The Saints are in the Super Bowl.

WHO DAT!!

I never thought I’d live to say those words.

Thing is, I don’t give a half a crap about football. I don’t follow sports. I couldn’t be any less interested. But the Saints are different. They’re not just a sports team — they’re part of the soul of the city.

We’ve been through a lot. Losing seasons in which we only won a single game all year, the “Aints” and paper bags, contentious team owners, threats to move the team out of the city, then a glancing blow from a hurricane, the failure of the levees and all that came after. Now the Saints are in the Super Bowl. It’s been such a long road, and will be so great for the city no matter what. I’m in tears here, and I don’t even give half a crap about football. :)

You want to see some unbridled joy? Have a look at the moment the game was won, and the reaction from one of my favorite writers and her husband, one of my favorite chefs.

Pessimists said they’d believe the Saints would get into the Super Bowl when pigs could fly. I think I just say a pig fly by my window … on its way to be turned into cochon de lait and fed to a WHO DAT NATION!

Here’s a great piece about the city and its team that ran on ESPN — you’ll have to click to watch it in another window, since for some reason they won’t let us embed it.

The Saints are in the Super Bowl. Yes, these are strange and beautiful days.

Cocktail of the Day: The Robert (Bobby) Burns

Happy Rabbie Burns Day!

Or specifically, “Burns Nicht” if you’re going to be holding the traditional celebration for the Bard of Scotland tonight, in honor of his 214th birthday.

Robert Burns

(Quite a handsome bloke, wasn’t he?)

If you were hoping for that most traditional of Scottish dishes, always served on Burns Night by those celebrating the poet’s life, prepare to unleash a joyous shout of “Gie her a Haggis!” The USDA is going to relax its ban on the importation of the real MacCoy, made of the heart, lungs and liver of a sheep, mixed with beef suet, onions, oats, black pepper and stuffed into the stomach of the animal. (Mmm.)

Gie her a Haggis!

This is great news! See, thing is, though … haggis is good. I’ve had it, in Edinburgh, Scotland, no less. If you’re a Louisianian or a lover of Louisiana food who’s eaten and enjoyed boudin, then you’re pretty much there — it’s a very small leap from boudin to haggis. Think sheep instead of pork, oats instead of rice, stomach instead of intestinal casing (and the stomach is just that, a casing — you don’t eat that bit). It’s a big fat sausage, basically, no big deal, and as a waiter in a Scottish restaurant in New York said, “If you can eat a New York hot dog and not ask what’s in it, you can eat haggis.” It’s particularly good when served with the traditional accompaniments of “neeps and tatties” (mashed turnips and potatoes), some strong Scots ale, a wee dram (or four) of whisky … and, um, in my case in Scotland, a few dashes of Tabasco that I snuck out of my bag and applied when no one was looking. Untraditional but yummy nonetheless.

Of course, you’ll be needing plenty of guid Scots whisky tonight, whether you’re having haggis or not. There’s a huge world of it that I’m still only just beginning to explore, but these days I’m enjoying the maritime flavors of Islay whiskys — the wonderfully smoky Laphroaig 10-year (“like drinking bacon”), the intense “Band-Aids, sweat, leather and iodine bouquet” of Lagavulin 16-year (seen below) or the delightfully earthy, smoky, spicy, almost chocolatey Ardbeg Supernova, if you can still find it. Find a good blend too — don’t discount blended whisky, as there are many superb blends. Compass Box Asyla is a favorite, Famous Grouse is our regular mixing Scotch, and I loved the complex, nutty, spicy, fruit-and-toffee flavors of the Chivas Regal 18-year I tried recently.

Lagavulin

If you’re a cocktailian, though, how about something (presumably) named after the Bard himself?

Continue reading …

Eating in Shropshire

There’s a persistent myth that the food in England is bad.

Well … years ago, such assertions might have had a basis in truth, such as the joke my friend Peter told me upon returning from having spent his junior year of college in London: “How does every English recipe begin? ‘First you bring the water to a rolling boil …’” Boiled meats, yeah, not so much.

A lot has changed since then. Over the past few decades many British cooks and chefs have been training in Europe and learning how to better use the wealth of wonderful ingredients that they’ve always had — beef, lamb, cheese and more. Sure, it’s possible to get bad food in England, but it’s possible to get bad food in Paris (and New Orleans, for that matter).

The myth reared its head quite frequently upon our return from Europe last month when I told friends how wonderful all the food was, not only in Paris and Barcelona but in England as well. I’m happy to continue to dispel that myth today.

A while back we went over the fab food we had in London, and it only got better when we left after a day and a half in London to drive out to the rural west with John and Fiona to their home in Shropshire near the Welsh border.

Shropshire arrival

At breakfast time Fiona didn’t mess around. She knew who she had in their house.

Three kinds of Welsh bacon!

Not one, not two but THREE kinds of Welsh bacon! Dry cured back bacon and streaky bacon from Llandinham, and smoked streaky bacon from Neuadd Fach Baconry in Hyssington, about 20 minutes up the road into Wales. (I just want to keep saying the word “baconry.” In fact, I want a baconry for my birthday.) The back bacon was some of the best I’d ever had, meaty and tender, and the streaky was very much like some of the artisanal bacons we get over here. Wonderful stuff.

Continue reading …