A Taste of Her Own Medicine
I don’t watch the Food Network anymore.
I used to watch it all the time. The ability to watch Mario Batali every day? Damn right! Hometown chef Emeril Lagasse too. (His studio show “Essence of Emeril,” not the silly live show when they cheered every time he seasoned something.) And my weekly obsession, Iron Chef — the real one from Japan, not the American version, which despite the presence of Alton Brown and (for a while) Mario and Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto I never really cared for. Oh, how I miss わたしのきおくがたしかならば!
Now the network is mostly crap, with pretty much all the actual chefs swept away and Alton Brown being pretty much the only thing worth watching; I still do catch “Good Eats” on occasion. Worst of all, though, and what has brought Food Network down to its nadir, is the truly awful Sandra Lee of “Semi-Homemade” and mindbogglingly enough some other show as well in which she mixes together a lot of pre-packaged crap and calls it cooking.
The thousand injuries of watching her “cooking” I had borne as best as I could, but when she ventured upon insult — making what she called “cocktails” — I vowed revenge. (OK, not really, but I love quoting “The Cask of Amontillado.”) By “revenge” in this case I mean “intense public mocking.”
Yeah, I know, I don’t usually diss people in this forum — it’s a lot more fun to write about what I like — but I do enjoy see perpetrators of mediocrity (and worse) actually get a bit of comeuppance.
This video has been making the rounds of the bartender world during the past few days after being brought to everyone’s attention by Jeff Morgenthaler via his Twitter feed, where said he hated to pick on her (uh huh) yet invited everyone to “watch Sandra Lee’s face in slow-mo as she tries to choke down one of her own cocktails.”
Yeah sweetie … what did you think a mixture of lemonade, heavy cream and vodka would taste like? Mmm, cream curdling right in your mouth. That entirely involuntary reaction displayed upon your face is your nervous system telling you, “Hello! You’ve just consumed something that might kill you or make you really sick! It’s a pretty noxious stimulus, so I might just have to engage your emesis reflex. Heads up!” Whether or not she actually hurled I can’t say.
Jeff continued with an epic weblog post in which he links to the ten “cocktails” Sandra Lee came up with last week, one for each of the 10 films nominated for the Best Picture Oscar — “the ten sweetest, vanilla-flavored, blue curaçao’d, nastiest cocktails of 2010, and an “appalling affront to the craft that so many of us have worked hard trying to restore over the past fifteen-plus years.”
Let’s hope not too many people actually made one of those awful drinks. (To be fair, her “Inglourious Basterds” drink is basically just a Negroni with a splash of orange juice — highly unoriginal yet probably drinkable. But ugh.)
In the interest of full disclosure I have to say that I too made a blue cocktail for the Oscar party, where all the food or drink that’s brought in has to tie in to one of the films nominated in any category, even if only via a bad pun. Inglourious Custerds was one of my favorites (honorable mention to Steve’s “Inglourous Basturma”). We also had A Serious Man-icotti, some great BBQ ribs for “The Lovely Bones,” an apple cider-glazed turducken (because the Fantastic Mr. Fox stole chickens, ducks, turkeys and cider from Farmers Boggis, Bunce and Bean … brilliant!) and perhaps the best and most groanworthy pun of the night … the beers Diana brought that had Band-Aids stuck to the bottles. Why? “Hurt Lager!”
Cocktail-wise, rather than a flavored vodka sweet swill as Lee is always wont to dump into her cauldron of evil, I made a Daiquiri in one of the classic proportions of 4:2:1 and added a quarter ounce each of maraschino liqueur and blue curaçao, evening out the tart and sweet balance. I find that large general non-cocktailian crowds like this tend not to like citrus cocktails as tart as I like them.
The curaçao I used is Senior Curaçao of Curaçao as well — it’s a really good product, despite its intense blueness, and remains the only curaçao actually made on the island of Curaçao. I usually keep both their orange and blue versions around.
Plus, I was talking to Audrey Saunders the other day and she expressed her love of blue cocktails (”as long as they taste good”), so I consider that to be official permission.
The crowd seem to like them, for what it’s worth. I batched enough for about 24 small servings, and they were gone long before the end of that interminable Oscar broadcast.
I will confess, though, that I did not come up with a terribly clever pun to name the drink, though … lame lame lame.
2 ounces Cruzan light rum
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1/4 ounce Luxardo maraschino
1/4 ounce Senior Blue Curaçao of Curaçao
Combine with ice, shake for 15 seconds, strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a little sparkly airborne floating jellyfish-looking thing from Pandora, or a lime wedge.
Perfect for sipping on those balmy Pandora days while you’re lounging under your Home Tree, wearing 3-D glasses and a breathing mask, or while watching “Dances With Wolves.”