BOTW–West Coast I.P.A.

I really like every beer I have tried so far from Green Flash Brewing.

Of those I am especially fond of, their Le Freak is a pretty cool beer.

However, their West Coast IPA is probably their flagship beer.  “Extravagently Hopped”, is how they describe it on the website, and I’d agree, though not to the extent of some, cough, other Southern California brewers.

Still smarting from last week’s stew disaster, I decided to revisit, but with things I am comfortable with.  Like Pork.

Yellow Indian Woman

And Rancho Gordo Yellow Indian Woman Beans. Soaked the beans for a couple hours and set them to cook with some garlic and herbs.

Groceries

Groceries for the stew.

Country Spare Ribs

Mmmm, Got some awesome country style spare ribs at Avedano’s.  Check out that marbling!

Braising Greens

And some kale and tatsoi from a friendly face at the Allemany Farmers’ Market.

Cooking.

Browned the pork, sauteed some aromatic vegetables, covered it with white wine, and put it in a 325 degree oven to simmer.

Chanterelles

Also got some nice Chanterelles from Far West Fungii at the Allemany Farmers’ Market. Roasted those off.

Chanterelles

When the meat was getting towards tender, I removed the meat from the bone, degreased the cooking liquids, and combined the now tender beans, braising greens, and roasted chanterelles. Covered again and returned to oven.

Stew.

Yep.

Dinner.

That turned out tasty.  Walnut Bread from the Noe Valley Bakery.

Dinner.

Oh wait, I seem to have forgotten to take a picture of the beer.  Navarro Zinfandel with dinner this time, instead of Cabernet Sauvingon.

BOTW–Foret

Groceries

With my new schedule, it’s kind of weird, I’m out of sync with what seems like the rest of the working world. Thursdays are the new “Fridays” and Fridays are the new “Saturdays”, and Sundays are the new “Monday”.

On Friday, I usually sleep in and spend my day doing errands, walking the dog, and then making dinner so I can have something ready for Mrs. Flannestad when she gets home from work.

On New Years, while at our friends’ house, we had worked together on making an excellent version of the Cook’s Illustrated recipe for Hungarian Beef Stew.

It was rainy and a bit cold last “Saturday”, so it seemed like a good day for Stew.  Why not revisit the success of the Hungarian Beef Stew?

Beef Paprika Stew

It turned out tasty, but a bit odd texturally. There was a gritty character I’ve never experienced with Paprika seasoned stews. Unpleasant. The only thing I can figure is that the Spicely Paprika, which I’ve never used before, is weird. Either that or the bottle was half sand.

Broccoli Rabe

Fortunately, the Broccoli Rabe from River Dog farms suffered no such textural problems. Sauteed/braised with chiles, anchovies, garlic, and raisins, it was quite delightful.

Foret Label

One of my favorite not too funky Saisons is Foret from Saison Dupont. It is truly a delightful beer.

To be honest, it has a double “nostalgia” factor which gives it extra resonance.

Back in the day, Slanted Door used to be on Church Street in San Francisco. One of Mrs. Flannestad and my favorite things was to go there and split a 750ml bottle of Saison Dupont (or two) with our dinner of shaking beef, spring rolls, etc.

Life has rolled on in the last decade or so. Slanted Door has moved (twice!) and gone on to tremendous success. Unfortunately, they no longer carry the 750ml bottles of Saison Dupont at Slanted Door, but we do carry the smaller bottles of Foret at Phan’s new Chinese Food and Cocktails venue Heaven’s Dog.

Foret in a Glass

But why buy a small bottle, when you can buy a large one?  As far as I can tell, the big difference between Foret and Saison Dupont is that Foret is organically produced.  Stylistically they are quite similar, with all the wonderful hallmarks of a good Saison.

Dinner

Not entirely a successful Friday Night Dinner, but the Foret from Saison Dupont and Cabernet Sauvingon from Navarro somewhat salved my failure with the stew.

Random Chatter: Old Square

On Sunday, a wait at Alembic asked what the name of the cocktail “Vieux Carre” meant.

I started to explain that it meant something like, “old quarter,” or, “old square” in French, and referred to the oldest section of the city of New Orleans.

Brandon pushed his glasses down his nose, hunched his back a bit and said, “Man, no, this is an ‘old square.'”

I laughed and said, “I am totally THE Old Square”.

He didn’t disagree.

Agave Nectar Controversy

[Thanks to drinksnob for the comment below.  I have attempted to correct any errors in my article.]

There has been a lot of talk recently by how bad or good for you Agave Nectar may be.

Agave Nectar: Good or Bad?

Madhava’s Craig Gerbore Responds to Agave Nectar Controversy

First, let’s get this out of the way: No matter how the producers attempt to frame their products, Agave Nectar is not a traditional Aztec sweetener.  It was, according to one producer, invented in the 1990s.

The Agave Juice may be harvested in a way that is relatively benign and favors small farmers or it may be a large industrial operation.

The Madhava Agave Nectars insist that they only buy from small farmers who run sustainable farming operations. Other companies may not be so benign.

The complex carbohydrates in Agave Pinas are indigestible to humans without being transformed into sugars.

There are currently three ways to do this.

First they can be heated, as is done for Tequila.

Second natural enzymes can be introduced, as in Pulque or Chicha.

Third chemical enzymes can be used, in a process similar to the manufacture of High Fructose Corn Syrup.

The sugars produced by this process are primarily Fructose and Glucose.

While the percentages of these sugars produced vary, in most brands, more Fructose is produced than Glucose. Some brands can be more than 90% Fructose. Fructose is perceived as sweeter than many other commonly used sugars, thus smaller volumes can be used to sweeten than other sugars. This is good for diabetics.

Agave Nectar is essentially an invert syrup, similar to Lyle’s Golden Syrup or Steen’s Cane Syrup.  Like other sugars, fructose needs to be processed primarily by the liver to be metabolized.

The queue (or metabolic pathway) for processing fructose is less efficient than the process by which other sugars can be broken down.  It thus enters the blood stream at a slower rate. This is good for diabetics.

However, it is also more costly to your body to process Fructose than it is to process other sugars.

Recent studies on High Fructose Corn Syrup indicate that it may be far worse for those who consume large quantities than even us HFCS scare mongers had previously thought.

Over consumption of Agave Nectar may have similar risks.

But all the conclusions on HFCS are based on its ubiquity in the American food stream. Agave nectar, while similar, is nowhere nearly as widely consumed.

With either, in terms of cocktails, the primary poison is always alcohol. However bad Agave nectar is for you, it is probably always dwarfed by how bad Alcohol is for you.

As always, I am not a scientist, and these conclusions are mine alone based on the research I have done.  Please feel free to draw your own conclusions and/or prove me wrong.

Madhava’s Craig Gerbore Responds to Agave Nectar Controversy

Sirop-de-Citron

One ingredient I’ve kind of put off making is Sirop-de-Citron.

Not because it is particularly or challenging to manufacture, but mostly because I have a bottle of Monin Lemon Syrup I’ve barely put a dent in.

However, I’ve never really been thrilled with the drinks I’ve made with the Monin Syrup.

Clayton's Kola Tonic.

With the recent arrival of Clayton’s Kola Tonic, an ingredient commonly combined with Sirop-de-Citron, it seemed like a good opportunity to revisit. Plus, it’s Lemon season.

Source recipes:

La Cuisine de Jardin

Pause Cuisine

Sirop-de-Citron

Ingredients:

5 Lemons
1kg Natural Sugar
Water

Method: Slice lemons, (note deadly ceramic Mandolin in foreground and cut resistant glove in background,) toss with sugar and place in a clean container.

Let stand for 2-3 days.

Add mixture to a sauce pan and bring to a simmer.

Strain through cheesecloth.

If you desire, save now candied peel, dehydrate and store in a sealed container.

Strain into clean 750ml bottle, fill with water.  Refrigerate, (though with this much sugar to liquid, I really doubt much is going to happen here,) and serve with soda water or where Sirop-de-Citron is called for.

Comparing the Monin and home-made, it is really apparent the Monin syrup has been pumped up with Ascorbic Acid.  It is pretty extreme in it’s lemon flavor.  The home made is more natural tasting, though with a bit of a bitter after taste from the inclusion of the pith in maceration.  For those very picky about bitterness, I did find some fancy pants, pastry chef type recipes which zest the lemon peel, juice the lemons, and use this to create the syrup.  Personally, I don’t mind the bitter after taste, and hope it lends some zip to drinks like the Big Boy, Clayton’s, Filmograph, Marvel, Pink Baby, and Re-Vigorator.

Boothby’s Ten Commandments: VIII. Keep the floor behind the bar as dry as possible.

Boothby

As I mentioned before, Anchor Distilling recently reprinted the 1891 edition of “Cocktail Boothby’s American Bar-Tender“.

As someone who is somewhat involved in the bartender trade, I always enjoy going through old books and reading the advice that appears. Usually, I am amazed at how little has changed. How valid pieces of advice contained in a book from 1891 can be 118 years later.

So I thought I would go through Boothby’s “Ten Commandments” for bartenders one by one and see which ones still make sense for the 21st Century.

VIII. Keep the floor behind the bar as dry as possible. It not only looks better, but you will find your health greatly improved by following this rule. Many bartenders contract rheumatism, neuralgia and many other serious complaints through carelessness in this report.

I don’t know if it is recent world disasters, or the topic, but I’ve been having a very hard time getting inspired to write about bar floors.

Keeping the floor dry is certainly a sensible thing to do, above all for safety reasons.

Most bars I’ve worked in either use a wood slat lattice over the floor or the kitchen mats pictured above.

Both help, to a certain extent, to prevent slips and help with fatigue. They also allow one to be less concerned about the inevitable spills.

I can’t speak to whether these cushions help prevent “rheumatism,” “neuralgia,” or “other serious complaints”. I really haven’t been bartending long, or serious, enough to develop any “serious complaints” as a result. I mean, I do have my shares of aches and pains, but most are related to back, shoulders, elbow, and wrists. Back from a lifting injury in High School. Shoulders from 10 years as a line cook. Elbow from a bike accident a few years ago. Wrists from 15 years in Information Technology.

Personally, I find a daily regimen of stretching and exercise does the most to keep these “complaints” from becoming more “serious”.

And Michele says donating to Partners in Health is a good way to help.

Stand With Haiti

Stand With Haiti

If You Show Me Yours…

While not an ice nerd, quite on Camper English’s scale, the  top shelf gets dedicated mostly to cold, cocktail related stuff.

Useless refrigerator ice on the left.  Tovolo cubes for long and shaken drinks.  Hockey puck size pieces from the silicon cupcake molds for cracking.  Chilled Yarai Mixing glasses for stirred drinks.  Frozen Jägermeister for whenever Jeffrey Morgenthaler decides to drop by.  Because you never know when to expect him.  Or wait, is that the Spanish Inquisition?

Jägermeister

Boothby’s Ten Commandments: VII. Wear a comfortable shoe with a heavy sole.

Boothby

As I mentioned before, Anchor Distilling recently reprinted the 1891 edition of “Cocktail Boothby’s American Bar-Tender“.

As someone who is somewhat involved in the bartender trade, I always enjoy going through old books and reading the advice that appears. Usually, I am amazed at how little has changed. How valid pieces of advice contained in a book from 1891 can be 118 years later.

So I thought I would go through Boothby’s “Ten Commandments” for bartenders one by one and see which ones still make sense for the 21st Century.

boots.

VII. If you are troubled with sore feet, bathe them regularly. Avoid patched or ragged hosiery, and wear a comfortable shoe with a heavy sole. Light soles, low cut shoes or slippers should never be worn behind a bar.

First let me stress one thing: Bartenders, like cooks and waitstaff, stand for almost the entire duration of their work day/night.  If you’re lucky, you might get to lean against a post out back for a while, or, maybe, if you’re especially fortunate, sit down for long enough to scarf some food.

You will be bending over grabbing bottles, lifting buckets of ice, carrying cases of liquor, kegs of beer, or reaching up to grab bottles from the back bar.

All of this is especially tough on your back, especially lower back.

One of the most important things you can do to help yourself, and your back’s future, is to invest in quality footwear.

Different bartenders seem to have different philosophies of footwear. Almost all service requirements say they should be black. Beyond that, important features include a no slip sole and some decent amount of arch support. Waterproof is also not a horrible idea, as you’ll probably spill some liquids on them during the course of the evening.

Some people wear clogs, some people athletic type shoes.  Others low work shoes.  I, thankfully, have never seen a bartender wearing Batali inspired Crocs. I would probably have to slap them upside the head.

Personally, I go with the Red Wing Gentleman Traveler Boot. Red Wing boots are well made and durable. If you keep them cleaned and oiled, they should last you more than a few years, if not decades.  As they don’t have the most super arch support, I have added some cushiony insoles I got from an athletic shoe store.

Not sure about the whole “hosiery” thing, but thick, black, cotton blend work socks from WigWam are my choice.

Same Drink, Different Name…

Same Drink, Different Name.  Different Drink, Same Name.

DJ Hawaiian Shirt has recently had a bit of a bug up his butt about how similar many of these Savoy Cocktails are, commenting,  “I’m peeved by the liberal naming of new cocktails when they’re almost 100% the same.”

I can’t say I’m that “peeved” exactly, having developed a certain fondness for drinks composed of 2/3 Gin, 1/3 Dry Vermouth.  But to explain the factors as I see them.

First, some have called “The Savoy Cocktail Book” the first example of cocktail “shovelware”.

That is to say, a bunch of different books compiled into a single book, with little or no editorial input.  Personally, I always imagine Harry Craddock’s involvement in the thing as walking into an office with a pile of his pre-prohibition cocktail books and maybe the Savoy “Black Book” of recipes.  Telling them to have at it, and then going back to running the bar without ever really peeking back in at the result.  How else to explain all the typos and misprints?

We know his sources included Robert Vermeire, Harry McElhone, Judge Jr., and Hugo Ensslin.  Undoubtedly there are others, the South African book with all the Caperitif recipes for example.  Or the home cocktail and entertaining manual with all the recipes for multiple guests.

So that’s one reason, there are a few different recipes with the same name, or different recipes with the same name.  There are, after all, only so many ingredients in the classic cocktail canon.

A recent experience at Heaven’s Dog, highlighted another possible explanation.

A customer asked me for a drink that Lane Ford, (now of Delarosa,) had been making for them.

I sent Lane a text, asking him for the recipe for his, “Derby Fizz”.

He texted back with the recipe adding, “It’s really just EA’s Whiskey Fizz, from our bar book.”

On one hand, you could get peeved.  On the other hand, he’d thought up a memorable new name for a tasty drink that had been languishing under an uninspired moniker.  Memorable enough, that customers requested that drink under its new name.  Kind of genius, really.

Drinks don’t get made for lots of reasons pretty independent of their ultimate tastiness.  If they are too complicated, techniques too difficult, or the ingredients too obscure.  Or if the names don’t inspire customers or bartenders.

Nothing wrong with thinking up a better name for the same cocktail.