Saturday, October 27, 2012

I can’t resist fall flavors.

When I read David Tanis’ article, A Taste of Fall in a Bottle of Hard Cider, I knew I would be making the accompanying recipe, (more or less,) Pork Chops with Apples and Cider.

“But now, with piles of new-crop apples at the greenmarket and a stand selling local handmade cider, too, dinner seems practically predestined. I’ll pan-fry boneless pork chops and serve them with butter-browned apples and a Normandy-style sauce made with cider and cream. And to drink, a chilled bottle of sparkling New York hard cider.”

Sutton Cellars Gravenstein Cider

Sutton Cellars Gravenstein Cider

Since we’re on the West Coast, I am using Sutton Cellars delicious Gravenstein Sonoma Apple Cider for this dish!

Rub the chops with the spice mix and allow to stand at room temperature.

Saute apples until tender.

Flour chops and brown on both sides.

Remove chopes and drain excess oil from pan. Add cider to deglaze pan. Reduce until syrupy. Add Chicken Stock and thicken slightly using corn, potato, or arrowroot starch. Check seasoning and strain out any undesirable solids. Return sauce to pan and add (IMHO not optional) Calvados. Cook off excess alcohol then add apples, chops, and fresh sage (I left out the cream in the original) and place in a hot oven until desired degree of doneness is achieved. I served the chops with some roasted winter squash and a braise of dino kale and abalone mushrooms.

You’re not going to make me get up, are you?

Bonus Monty picture!

Lillet Vermouth

In the previous Lillet Post, Kina Lillet, 2012, we talked a bit about David Embury.

His two quotes which contributed to the discussion were as follows:

“My own favorite French vermouth today is Lillet (pronounced lee’lay) made by Lillet Freres of Podensac, France. Do not confuse it with the Lillet aperitif made by the same company and originally sold under the name of Kina Lillet.”

“In commenting on Lillet vermouth, I warned not to confuse this brand of vermouth with the aperitif wine, originally known as Kina Lillet but now called simply Lillet. If, by accident, you get a bottle of the wine instead of the vermouth, what do you do with it? Well, here are a few of the old-time recipes using Kina Lillet. I definitely do not recommend any of them.”

It now appears that the Lillet company DID produce a vermouth during the middle part of the 20th Century.

Frogprincesse, again, in the eGullet.org forums:

Page 207 it explains that, at some point after 1945, there was indeed another type of Lillet, “Lillet dry type canadien” at 18°. The bottle had a green label similar to Martini extra dry. It was an aperitif based on French vermouths such as Noilly Prat. So clearly David Embury was referring to this French vermouth-style Lillet in the Fine Art of Mixing Drinks (1948).

So, what does that mean?

Well, first, and most practical, if there are any recipes where Embury calls for Lillet other than in those “old-time recipes”, you should instead use Noilly Prat vermouth.

On the other hand, it means those comments from Embury are of no consequence regarding any inferences about the nature of Kina Lillet, Lillet Blanc, or Lillet in the US before prohibition, the UK during prohibition, or the US after prohibition.

However, the main question remains:

What version of Lillet would have been available in America before prohibition and in England during prohibition? And, ultimately, does the current product reflect the Lillet that might have been available at either of those times?

Previous Lillet Posts:

The Quest for Kina Lillet

Kina Quest 2: Necromancing the Stone

Kina Quest 3: Compare and Contrast

Kina Quest IV: Enuff Iz Enuff

Kina Lillet Clone

Kina Lillet, 2012

Savoy Cocktail Book Night, Oct-Nov 2012

So, um, there’s this thing where the San Francisco Giants are playing in the World Series.

The fourth game of the series falls on the last Sunday of the month.

Because Alembic doesn’t have a TV, and I figure pretty much every San Franciscan will be watching the game, we’re going to move it to the first Sunday, November 4th.

However, to make up for this move, we are planning a special event with Appleton Rum.

Appleton Reserve Rum

We will be featuring specials on 7 delicious Savoy Cocktails and a punch all made with Appleton Reserve Rum.

Baltimore Egg Nog,
Knickerbocker,
Mary Pickford,
Millionaire #1,
Nevada,
Palmetto,
and Sevilla #2.

Pretty awesome list, no? Not a cocktail on there I wouldn’t gladly drink!

Hope to see on November 4!

Entertainment!

One of the first comments I got regarding my playlist post was the following from SFPaul.

I’m always surprised when it appears that music falls low on the priority list for a restaurant. Don’t they understand the roll of music is to the human experience and how it has accompanied us for thousands and thousands of years.
To have it be an afterthought tells me a lot about the management and how little they care about the dining experience as a whole.

As far as I can tell, the combination of music and intoxicating substances goes back as far as both have existed in human history. However, since many animals have been known to consume spontaneously fermented or naturally intoxicating substances, maybe longer. Who knows what those drunk Cedar Waxwings in the berry tree are saying to each other?

Music in bars would have first started, I presume, as spontaneous communal entertainment and drinking games.

Soon after, someone who was better at performing or singing than average probably received a drink, (or chicken,) for their stellar efforts and realized there were some goods or services which could be received for their efforts.

A couple centuries pass and soon the technology for performing songs without actual human musicians becomes possible. First clockwork bands and player pianos, then audio recording and playback. The iconic Jukebox of the 1950s diner and eventually the iPod.

Restaurants are trickier. I really am not sure when music started to become as ubiquitous as it currently is, as background music for dining. I tend to think, rather recently.

All the same, here we are, and restaurants, along with bars, are very nearly required, unless they are very, very fancy, to have some sort of background music for dining.

The Playlist Dilemma

Lately, I have almost become more obsessed with creating the ultimate playlist for our restaurant, than I have with cocktail recipes.

Some points:

  1. Almost all restaurants (and bars) have some sort of background music.
  2. The music has two audiences, primarily those who dine in the restaurant, but also those who work in the restaurant.

To the first point, the selection of music is important for the mood and feel of the restaurant. The management typically makes the call on what sort of music they want to hear in their restaurant.

A lot of restaurants these days are choosing to leave this choice to services like Muzak or Pandora.

As a music nerd, I prefer, and hope, that someone in the restaurant has enough vested interest that they have gone to the trouble to choose the music. One of my pet peeves is when you hear an awesome song in a restaurant, ask a server what it is, and they say, “I dunno, it’s the Morrisey Pandora Station.”

Or even worse, when you hear an awful song you never wanted to hear again in your life, and they say, “Eh, it’s the Flock of Seagulls Pandora Station, sorry about that.”

The question is, “How do you please the management, the staff, and the customers?”

Cocktail Experiments, September 28, 2012

Some successful experiments from this Week at Heaven’s Dog.

For the first one, I was thinking of the Delicious Sour, circa late 1800s by William Schmidt, via the excellent Cocktails in Cardiff.

The Delicious Sour

A goblet with the juice of one lime,
a squirt of seltzer,
a spoonful of sugar,
1/2 of apple-jack,
1/2 of peach brandy,
the white of one egg.

Fill your glass with ice, shake well, strain, and serve.

However, for some reason I misremembered and substituted Beefeater Gin for the Apple Brandy Schmidt calls for. Well, it is a very “Savoy Cocktail Book” thing to do, combine Brandy and Gin.

Delicious Sour, London Style

1 oz London Dry Gin
1 oz Kuchan Indian Blood Peach Eau-de-Vie
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Simple
1/2 oz Egg White

Dry Shake, Shake with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass, twist lemon peel over and discard.

Turns out it is still delicious, though I think it might be even better with Genever than with Dry Gin.

A customer asked for an after dinner cocktail and I thought of the Fox River from the Savoy Cocktail Book.

Fox River Cocktail, Adapted from Savoy Cocktail Book

1 1/2 oz Bonded Rye
scant 1/4 oz Tempus Fugit Creme de Cacao
1/4 oz Punt e Mes
2 dash Miracle Mile Peach Bitters #3

Stir briefly and strain over a big rock. Grate over fresh nutmeg.

He enjoyed enough to ask for another.

My friend Louis Anderman makes Miracle Mile Bitters in Los Angeles. He recently completed some barrel aged Forbidden Bitters as a side project from bottled cocktails which he is briefly aging in barrels which have been seasoned with his bitters.

They are forbidden because they include tonka bean which is not considered GRAS by the FDA. Tonka bean has the substance Coumarin, a blood thinner.

They are an old fashioned Boker’s or Abbot’s Clone, great in Old Fashioneds or Improved Holland Gin Cocktails. Also, f-ing awesome in the new car, I believe this may be the platonic ideal for this cocktail:

New Car

1 oz Oro Torontel Pisco
1 oz Ransom Whippersnapper Whiskey
1 oz Dolin Blanc
Barspoon Benedictine
2 dash Miracle Mile Barrel Aged Forbidden Bitters (Or regular MM Forbidden Bitters. If not forbidden, something like the Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas Bitters.)

Stir briefly and strain over a big rock. Squeeze lemon peel over and discard.