These are a few…

I know as grown up adults and non-shallow individuals we’re really not supposed to be all that attached to “things”. Still, being the person that I am, I do get attached to things. For example, at a recent event I didn’t get my exact stainless 28 oz weighted shaking tins back. How different are individual 28oz weighted mixing tins? Not very. (Well, to be honest the ones I got back seemed a bit flimsier than ones I brought to the event.) Still I was disappointed that I let it happen.

Other times I’m just particular, maybe obsessive, about brands. For example, I pretty much will only use DeCecco dried pasta. I started using it when I was cooking at an Italian restaurant. I like it. I see no reason to change.

(Vegetarians may want to stop reading now.)

One of my favorite steaks is the ribeye.


I prefer bone in ribeye, but tonight I was dining alone, so tough to justify a steak that big. And I like Niman Ranch’s steaks. Grass fed and corn finished seems to be the best of both worlds.

I grew up in the Midwest, where beef is king. My parents would often buy a “half a cow” and put it in the freezer.  We would eat cow parts for a long time. Summer sausage, steaks, you name it.  We ate a lot of beef. A few years back, when “grass fed” beef started being trendy, I had a grass fed steak in a restaurant. When I tasted it, I realized that this was the beef flavor that I had been missing. The flavor of pasture raised cattle, instead of the rich taste of corn fed, lot raised, beef.

But I still like the Niman-Ranch ribeyes a bit better than most of the purely grass fed steaks I’ve tried so far.  Mostly because they are easier to cook.  It is my understanding that the Niman Ranch cows eat grass or silage for most of their lives in pasture.  Which is good because cows have evolved to eat grass.  Then, shortly before their demise, they are plumped up for a month or two with feed to allow Niman Ranch to bring a fattier, richer, more marbled steak to market.  Compromise, I suppose.

Searing 1

Another thing I am fond of is cast iron. In particular this cast iron pan. When I was shipped off to college by my parents, the first two years I lived in the dorms and survived on cafeteria food and instant ramen made in my hot pot.

The third year, however, I moved out of the dorms and into an apartment.  I soon discovered that I had no cookware, the thermostat on our oven didn’t work (landlord never fixed), and that I only knew how to make one thing, scrambled eggs with potatoes and cheese.  Seeking to broaden my horizons and cookware selections, I headed down to the hardware store and purchased this cast iron pan.

Searing 2

“Why Erik,” you ask, “wouldn’t it have been better to get a non-stick pan, especially since you only knew how to cook scrambled eggs?”  To answer your question, yes, it would have been easier and a lot less messy.  I don’t think I got this thing well seasoned enough to cook eggs for about 5 years.  But that’s me, I didn’t give up and didn’t give in.  No non-stick frying pan for me.  Giving away a bit about my age, I’m gonna say that was about 1985.  So I’ve had this pan longer than I’ve known many of my best friends.  Not that friends aren’t great and all that.  But, if you take care of it well, you can always depend on a cast iron frying pan.

Three Valleys Front Label

I previously mentioned that I enjoy the beers, but another alcoholic beverage I enjoy is wine.  A long time ago, being a pretentious git, I figured the best way to learn about wine would be to read The Wine Spectator.  At the time, big California Zinfandels were all the rage.  Producers like Sky, Mayacamas, Heitz, and my particular favorite Ridge.  I read about one of their wines, Ridge Howell Mountain Zinfandel and it was the first wine I had to have.  It was described as big, difficult, and needing someone of discerning taste to appreciate.  Obviously, this was a wine for me.


I searched and searched the wine stores in town and finally found a bottle of the Ridge Howell Mountain Zinfandel.  Can’t remember the vintage, but I’m guessing I spent most of whatever meager weekly paycheck I received at the time on it.  Unfortunately, it was one of those things.  I carried it around from apartment to apartment, state to state, and city to city.  Finally a couple years ago Mrs. Flannestad and I cracked it open.  It wasn’t corked, but with all that travel and turmoil it had probably aged faster than it would have in a nice cool wine cellar.  We should have drunk it about 10 years earlier.

Three Valleys Label

I still really like Ridge’s wines, though they have bowed a bit to modern tastes and lightened many of their offerings.   The little blurb on the back of the bottle talking about making the wine and how long it will probably last in the bottle is always something I have enjoyed.  Three Valley’s is basically their table wine.


At around $20 a bottle, it’s a nice treat for those tough weeks at work.


Plus, it goes really well with a steak and a baked potato.

So anyway, there you go.  Things.  Things and memories accumulate over time.  It’s sad when either are lost.  But probably the memories are more important.

Dunlop Cocktail

Edit: Retranslated in honor of International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Dunlop Cocktail

1 Dash Angostura Bitters.
1/3 Sherry. (3/4 oz Don Nuno Dry Oloroso Sherry)
2/3 Rum. (1 1/2 oz Diplomatico Rum)

Stir well an’ strain into cocktail glass. (Squeeze lemon peel o’er glass)

Pretty wide open drink here on th’ ingredient fore. At least ‘t specifies which type o’ bitters!

I started by pickin’ th’ sherry, an’ then headed down t’ th’ garage t’ investigate th’ smells o’ th’ various rums I be havin’ stored down thar. I be thinkin’ dark an’ dry in combination wi’ th’ Sherry, an’ th’ Diplomatico stuck ou’ as an interestin’ combination.

Ended up quite tasty, but really needed th’ added aromatic zip o’ th’ peel t’ brin’ th’ drink t’ life.

This post be one in a series documentin’ me ongoin’ effort t’ make all o’ th’ cocktails in th’ Savoy Cocktail Book, startin’ at th’ first, Abbey, an’ endin’ at th’ last, Zed.


No, not the Steve Martin movie of the same name, (though “Tonight You Belong to Me” does bring back happy memories of the Flannestad wedding festivities,) instead we’re talking about the traditional Jamaican spice blend.

For some reason, I often see jars labeled “jerk” seasoning in grocery stores, not to mention, even more inexplicably, dry jerk seasoning.

Maybe I’m weird, but jerk seasoning really it is not all that hard to make, so to me, the idea of buying it seems crazy. Especially the dry stuff which must essentially taste like sawdust.

Main components of Jerk Seasoning.


The Spice is almost always provided by the dried fruit of the Allspice Tree (aka Jamaica pepper,”Kurundu” Myrtle pepper, pimento, or newspice) whose botanical name is “Pimenta dioica.” Like all spices, it is best to buy this whole and grind it yourself. Once spices are ground they have a shelf life that can be measured in days. Whole, they can keep for months or years.

The “Herb” is usually just Thyme (aka Thymus vulgaris).

The “Acid” is traditionally provided by vinegar.

The “Heat” is traditionally from Scotch Bonnet or Habanero chiles.

The “Savory” is from Green or white onions and garlic.

And lastly the “Sweet” is usually from sugar.

So let’s play:

1/2 tsp. whole Coriander Seed
2 tsp. whole Allspice
1 tsp. Dried Winter Savory
1 tsp. Dried Chile Flakes
1 tsp. Whole White Pepper
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. Fresh Thyme
1/2 White Onion, roughly chopped
1″ Piece Ginger, thinly sliced against the grain
2 Cloves Garlic, thinly sliced
Juice 1/2 Lime
Juice 1/2 Orange
Splash Flavorful Rum (In Jamaica THE Rum is Wray and Nephew White Overproof Rum)
2 tablespoons Brown Sugar
Drizzle Olive Oil

In a spice grinder (I use a bladed coffee mill) grind the dried spices until they are fine. Add the onion, ginger, garlic, lime juice, orange juice, and olive oil to the bowl of a blender or similar device (even a mortar and pestle). Add the ground spices and sugar. Process until it is a smooth paste.

Smear over your favorite meats or vegetables, allow to marinade for as much or as little time as you have, and grill or roast until cooked.


Jerk Marinated Roasted Chicken, Braised Soy Beans with Collard Greens, Flat Bread.

In regards ingredients, I don’t know why I started adding ginger. It’s been years (possibly decades) since I started making this recipe and can’t remember. Ginger is commonly used in Jamaica and the Caribbean, however I can find no traditional jerk recipes that call for it. I used Chile flakes instead of fresh peppers because that is what I had in the house this week. Using Citrus juice for the acid, instead of vinegar.

The best part, or maybe the worst part if you’re the sort of person who prefers the smell of hand sanitizer and cleaning solution to food, is that your house will smell like Christmas for several days after roasting jerk seasoned food. Beats the hell out of potpourri.

Dunhill’s Special Cocktail

Dunhill’s Special Cocktail
(6 People)

In a shaker filled with cracked Ice place a spoonful of Curacao (Dash Brizard Orange Curacao), 2 glasses of Gin (1 oz Beefeater Gin), 2 glasses of Sherry (1 oz Fino Sherry), 2 glasses of French Vermouth (1 oz Dolin Vermouth). Stir thoroughly with a spoon, shake, strain, and serve. Add an olive (uh, oops!) and 2 dashes of Absinthe (Verte de Fougerolles) to each glass.

As usual downsizing this to a single (slightly large) portion.

Aside from the puzzling directive to, “stir…shake, strain and serve,” this cocktail’s ingredients intrigued me. And indeed, served to illustrate another side to Absinthe’s flavors.

In this case, the combination highlighted the savory aspects of the ingredients, almost to the point where it tasted like an Aquavit cocktail instead of a Gin cocktail. I’d definitely swear there was some caraway in there somehow.

A very nice dry cocktail, that I could imagine going well with food of some sort.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Duke of Marlborough Cocktail

Duke of Marlborough Cocktail

1/2 Sherry. (Fino)
1/2 Italian Vermouth. (1 1/2 oz Punt e Mes)
3 Dashes Orange Bitters. (Dash or two of Fee’s, Dash or two of Regan’s)

Stir well and twist orange peel on top.

Cheating slightly here by using Punt e Mes instead of regular Sweet Vermouth and as always making the vermouth cocktails on cracked ice instead of up.

I guess the question is, which of the 10 (at the time) Dukes of Marlborough this was named after. It appears likely that they were a Spencer, Churchill, or Spencer-Churchill. The seventh, John Winston Spencer-Churchill, 1822–1883, was the paternal Grandfather of Sir Winston Churchill.

With Punt e Mes, this is quite tasty. Almost Americano-like. Still, I wouldn’t blame you if you chose to add an ounce or so of Gin. I have no doubt that Sir Winston would. Though, now that I think about it, he might just glance at the bottles of Sherry and Vermouth, shrug, and pour himself a big glass of plain gin.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Duchess Cocktail

Duchess Cocktail

1/3 French Vermouth. (3/4 oz Noilly Prat Dry)
1/3 Italian Vermouth. (3/4 oz Cinzano Rosso)
1/3 Absinthe. (3/4 oz Marteau Verte Classic)

Shake (or stir?) well and strain into cocktail glass.

Not the most wildly appealing looking cocktail. The combination of the louched Absinthe and Italian Vermouth gives it a murky brown tan color. Kind of like tea with milk in it.

Fairly tasty, however, if you enjoy Absinthe.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Dubonnet Cocktail

Dubonnet Cocktail

1/2 Dubonnet. (Generous 1 oz Dubonnet Rouge)
1/2 Dry Gin. (Generous 1 oz Tanqueray)

Stir well and strain into cocktail glass.

A fine, if somewhat plain, cocktail.

I can’t really think of anything to say about it other than that.

I’ve read the Dubonnet they have in Canada and Europe is different from the Dubonnet we get here, so perhaps this is a more interesting cocktail elsewhere.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

BOTW–Siamese Twin Ale

I was pretty skeptical when the manager of the liquor store told me about this month’s beer selection.

Another beer in a can, but this time it is a Belgian style double from the Santa Cruz brewers, Uncommon Brewers.

I mean sure, lagers in a can.  That seems fine.  But a Belgian style ale?  That just seems crazy.

And then he went on to tell me that they included such things as Lemongrass and Kaffir lime leaves.  I was afraid for the worst.  That this would be another Lienenkugel’s Sunset Wheat fruit-loops-in-a-bottle debacle.

I’m pleased to report that this beer is not a debacle at all.  It is on the sweet side, as is typical of the double sytle, but the spices are very subtely deployed.  If I had to pick a beer it reminded me most of, I’d say it is Chouffe’s Holiday beer, N’Ice Chouffe.  In addition, neither Mrs. Flannestad nor I could detect any significant alumininum note in the beer.

If you read up on Uncommon Brewers, you will discover that their brewery is carbon neutral, they only use organic whole spices, influenced by the Slow Food movement, etc.  You know, the typical California Hippy stuff.

But anyway, despite all that or perhaps because of it, the beer is very, very good!

Dinner tonight was meatless.  Pasta with a sauce made from Two Dogs Early Girl Tomatoes, Romano Beans, King Oyster Mushrooms, Zucchini, Squash Blossoms, Marjoram and Thyme.  Topped with some goat feta.  The Two Dogs tomatoes are so good!  We had to restrain ourselves from eating them like candy.

Quite tasty!:

Du Barry Cocktail

Du Barry Cocktail

1 Dash Angostura Bitters.
2 Dashes Absinthe. (Marteau Verte Classic)
1/3 French Vermouth. (3/4 oz Noilly Prat Dry)
2/3 Plymouth Gin. (1 1/2 oz Plymouth Gin)

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass. Add slice of orange.

Close, but no cigar?

If I hadn’t made my version of the Fourth Degree Cocktail recently, I would probably enjoy this more. It’s OK. But, splitting the vermouth between sweet and dry is waaaaaay better, at least to my taste. Though, I should try it with my spiffy new Dolin Vermouth. It’s possible, my Noilly Dry was getting a bit tired.

Googling DuBarry, one of the first things that comes up is Marie-Jeanne, Comtesse du Barry, professional courtesan and royal mistress to Louis XV.

Executed during the French Revolution, her last words to the executioner were reported to be, “Encore un moment, monsieur le bourreau, un petit moment,” (“Just a moment, executioner, just a brief moment”).

Even though I enjoyed the Fourth Degree a bit more, there are certainly worse ways to pass the time while waiting for the executioner, than the Du Barry Cocktail.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Dry Martini Cocktail

Dry Martini Cocktail

1/2 French Vermouth. (Generous 1 oz Dolin French Vermouth)
1/2 Gin. (Generous 1 oz Junipero Gin)
1 Dash Orange Bitters. (1 dash Fee’s Orange Bitters, 1 dash Regan’s Orange Bitters)

Shake (Stir, please) well and strain into cocktail glass. (Squeeze lemon peel over glass.)

As always, it’s fun to give a classic a spin with a new ingredient.

I’ve wanted to try Dolin Vermouth since hearing about it at a cocktail seminar at Absinthe Brasserie & Bar a couple years ago. Finally found some at a local liquor store. It’s quite tasty in a different way from the Vya Vermouth. It seems to use a dry white wine base closer to the Noilly Prat Dry in body and flavor, but is pumped up in the herbs and bitterness department. Further experimentation is assuredly required!

This is definitely one of the better “Fifty-Fifty” Dry Martini type combinations I’ve tried in recent memory. Quite possibly in the top 5 all time, at least to my current taste.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.