Sunday, December 26, 2004

Found an interesting ¨lament¨in the Star today. In this season of excess, people might want to take a day off from eating food and do a little reading about it.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Found this very provocative review in today's Globe and Mail.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

It was pointed out to me that I was missing the gin in my post on the Corpse Reviver #2, which is embarassing, but only half as embarassing as the fact that when I made the drink for that very same person who noticed the missing gin, I omitted the lemon juice entirely.

The lemon juice, after all, is a fairly key ingredient. In my defense, we'd had three martinis beforehand. One was made with Hendrick's gin, one with Plymouth and another with a French gin called Citadelle which was imported specially for the martini experiment. Althought the Citadelle was lovely, light and spring-like, and made with 19 exotic botanicals, the Hendrick's still won out. It's very distinct juniper-lavender-with-a-cucumber-finish is just very lovely for those who like that kind of thing. Plymouth, it was declared, was very English. It makes for a very fine, crisp, classic martini.

So, we'd have liked to have had a Bombay Sapphire martini for one final comparison but I knew I only had one more cocktail in me and it had to be the Corpse Reviver #2. Now, without the lemon, it is not really a Corpse Reviver #2 at all, but strangely enough, my friend really enjoyed it. In fact, when I fixed it, she declared she preferred the earlier version. Next time, I will experiment with a half an ounce of lemon juice.

Since all this transpired, Dr. Cocktail has sent me some vaulable feedback and a new cocktail recipe for the Twentieth Century Cocktail. Last night I finally tried this new concoction and declared it to be quite lovely. Doc advises using half an ounce of Creme de Cacao rather than three quarters and says we might want to play around with a little less. I quite agree. At first, all I could taste was chocolate, although, it did have a strange way of dissapearing after the second or so sip. And, it was sort of chocolatey on the top with a different middle and finish. Quite interesting. Thank you, Doc.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Big Night

Well, a lot of people are surely going to want to know what the appropriate cocktail for the evening is. I hear there's a lot of NDPers planning to gather at Rowers to watch the election tonight, so we can count on there being a lot of water and the occasional bland and light microbrew being consumed down there.

But what about the rest of us? Well, this article claims that, in Washington, people are drinking either the W-tini or the Kerry Berry, both of which sound, frankly, disgusting. But, then again, I'm against flavoured vodkas. I mean, I'm pretty much opposed to vodka period, except in the occasional Bloody Caesar, so these new-fangled concoctions only make me harden my resolve. Vanilla, raspberry and mandarin, what's next, roast chicken?

Speaking of disgusting, check out the drink for the Democratic party at this site. Stoli Peach and Iced Tea? That's enough to make you switch parties.

If I were planning a party at home, I'd make Manhattans. They have a long history of being associated with close elections which I'd tell you about but I don't want to scoop myself in Mondo Cocktail. But as I'm going to be out at a friend's and don't want to carry around a bottle of bourbon, a bottle of sweet vermouth and Angostura Bitters all day long, I'm going to have to settle for some Maker's Mark. A truly American drink.

Another alternative is the Ward Eight. Essentially a modified Bourbon Sour, this drink was invented on the eve of an election. I read recently here that there is a sad irony connected with the Ward Eight, however:

Lomansey (the Democrat for whom the cocktail was invented) was an ardent prohibitionist, and when the drought hit, the owner of the Locke-Ober - who begrudgingly honored Prohibition - closed the bar area of the establishment until the early 1950s. Fortunately, the Ward Eight weathered Prohibition much better, and in 1934, the drink was deemed one of the 10 best cocktails of the year by Esquire.

That detail leaves a sour taste in my mouth and I admit I could not really enjoy a Ward Eight knowing all that. Plus, why mess up a perfectly good Bourbon Sour by adding grenadine?

Really, so long as it's not a Negroni, enjoy any cocktail you like to get into the spirit of the election. The cocktail is a uniquely American invention and a perfect way to celebrate this evening's excitement.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Saw a book review in the Sunday Star today and thought people might enjoy it.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Charm City

Very little point in updating this at all seeing as after three months I imagine both my readers have given up on me completely. However, after a very busy summer teaching and trying to get several projects back on track, I finally treated myself to a few days in Baltimore and thought I should report.

Charm City, as it is known, is one of the more underrated destinations in America (in my humble opinion). First off, it is the hometown of the ombibulous Mr. Mencken and so a good bit of time can be spent drinking with his ghost. The Mencken house is unfortunately closed, probably due to the fact that many Mencken fans go instead to his offices at the Baltimore Sun or, more likely, to the Owl bar at the Belvedere Hotel where Henry Louis and F. Scott Fitzgerald famously got drunk. The Owl Bar makes a pretty good bourbon sour -- i hadn't eaten enough that day to risk a martini -- but I witnessed a few being made and can fairly safely recommend them.

From there, a walk straight down Charles, will take you past the Baltimore Washington Monument and you can enjoy the sights in the lovely Mount Vernon neighborhood as you head towards Inner harbor. Good for a stroll through Inner harbor, which doesn't really have much in the way of culinary delights or fantastic beverages to recommend itself, although I highly recommend taking an afternoon to sit at the outdoor bar at J.Paul's to watch the boats and read a book, preferably the Vintage Mencken or Gina Mallet's Last Chance to Eat.

Once past Inner harbor, make your way down Light Street to Federal Hill, a fairly upscale neighborhood that's home to the Cross Street Market which has an excellent licensed raw bar. Nearby, you will find The Blue Agave, which has the best selection of tequilas I have ever seen -- even in Mexico. Actually there are more varieties of tequila in the United States than there are in Mexico right now, so that's not entirely surprising. We had a nice El Tesoro which isn't pictured on this website and a Blanco Corralejo which, frankly, we both thought was overrated and overpriced. The next day, at Cross Street Liquors, we picked up a bottle of the El Tesoro, a Don Eduardo Blanco and a Hussong's reposado. The Blue Agave also had an excellent Chile Relleno with Mole sauce and made one of the better Margaritas I've ever had in a restaurant.

We thought the most decent after dinner bar in the area was Thirsty Dog on Cross Street. I never asked my companion about the quality of the beer, but I can assure everybody that the quality of the Grand Marnier (they have about thirty bottles on display in the way of other booze) was very good. Dogs are welcome as patrons.

Why are there so many dog motifs, knicknacks and emblems in Baltimore? Well that's the very same question I asked the bartender at the Thirsty Dog. She couldn't say. I asked google. It said:

1886 - H. L. Mencken (1880-1956), newspaperman, book reviewer, and political commentator and writer, wrote:

"I devoured hot-dogs in Baltimore 'way back in 1886, and they were then very far from newfangled....The contained precisely the same rubber, indigestible pseudo-sausages that millions of Americans now eat, and they leaked the same flabby, puerile mustard. Their single point of difference lay in the fact that their covers were honest German Wecke made of wheat-flour baked to crispiness, and not the soggy rolls prevailing today, of ground acorns, plaster-of-Paris, flecks of bath-sponge, and atmospheric air all compact."

Now that's very interesting but not in any way shape or form an answer to my question. It's not just that there's entire stores in the tourist areas devoted to dogs in Baltimore, there's also bars like this, in what I consider one of the better drinking neighborhoods in America. Okay, people are going to say Chicago, but even Wicker Park has no real concentration of bars like Fell's Point in Baltimore. Boston? Not even close. I've never been to Seattle but I'd be shocked. San Francisco, sure, but you can only smoke in the dives or the high end places and there's a level of general pretension that doesn't exist in the Chesapeake Bay area. And then there's New York. Well, New York has better bars. Much better bars.

So if anybody knows the significance of dogs in Baltimore, please let me know.

That great drinking neighborhood is, of course, Fell's Point. I went to Canton too this time, in part because I hadn't really recognized John Waters in Fell's Point and thought his aesthetic would be more obvious in Canton. It wasn't. I had a decent enough time in a place called Speakeasy there but I'm going to have to go to Towson next time.

Fell's Point is not really famous for John Waters. If you're looking for literary ghosts, it's Edgar Allen Poe's you're looking for in Fell's Point, Baltimore. A lot of people don't realize it's Poe's town, despite the fact that the football team is called the Ravens and that they start celebrating Halloween in May.

You probably thought I wasn't ever going to mention crab, but of course I was getting to it. We passed up the famous Obryki's for Crabby Dick's whose name, unbelievably, actually makes people laugh.

I'm not going to tell you the name of my favorite bar in Fell's Point, because what I like about it is that it is actually a local bar and I seem to be one of the few tourists there, even when I take my water taxi from the door of my hotel almost right to its doorstep. What I will tell you is that if you have a chance to see a band called Patrick Alban and his twelve Cuban friends at the Cat's Eye pub or happen into The Horse You Rode In On, neither of them are it. But both are worth going to, as are the Full Moon Saloon and Bertha's Mussels. No, neither of those are my favorite bars either.

Well that's it for now. Apparently I had a lot pent up. If you're still interested, there's a little review in The Toronto Star I found last weekend I think people might enjoy. Writer had a nice touch I thought.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Unlike many past presidents, Ronald Reagan wasn't much of a drinker. However, it should be noted that despite his affiliation with California, his drink of choice was a cocktail rather than wine. Ronnie liked an Orange Blossom, a drink made from gin and orange juice, fallen out of fashion except with desperately hungover people who have run out of vodka.

Apparently he took it heavy on the orange juice.

Our sympathies to Nancy and the rest of the family.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Even aside from patella tendons and other domestic responsibilities, I have been rather busy on other fronts. I am now trying to put together two course outlines -- one beginning June 24th, the other in September -- alongside the usual freelance work, a new proofreading job and trying to whip Mondo Cocktail into shape.

So, I only have time for a brief post about the upcoming Belmont Stakes and what you should drink while you watch Smarty Jones win the Triple Crown this Saturday.

The traditional Belmont Stakes drink is the White Carnation and while, not nearly as good as a Mint Julep, definitely worth trying one if only to keep with tradition.

Get a highball glass and fill with crushed ice. Then fill a shaker with ice, add two ounces of vodka, one ounce of peach schnapps, two and a half ounces of fresh squeezed oj, and a splash of cream. Shake it up and strain into the highball, adding soda water to fill to the top. Garnish with a wedge of orange and serve with a nice tall stir stick.

Then, sit down and watch Smarty Jones, Rock Hard Ten and Master David come in first, second and third. That's where my money will be. Well, I might consider playing another ticket with Purge or Eddington.

Now, if you want to move away from tradition, you might consider drinking a Belmont Breeze, the new official cocktail of the Belmont. It was created by Dale de Groff in 1998, to whom we have to defer as the senior cocktail guru.

His creation involves an ounce and a half of blended whiskey, three quarters of an ounce sherry, 2 ounces of good fresh squeezed, sweetened sour mix, one and a half ounces fresh oj and one and a half ounces of cranberry. Shake, pour into highball and garnish with a fresh strawberry and a sprig of mint.

Either way, please enjoy the race responsibly. This means no beer, no white wine spritzers, and definitely nothing resembling a Smirnoff Ice. When you tell your grandchildren you watched Smarty Jones make history, you'll want all the details right.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Regrettably, thanks to my companion's ruptured patella tendon and the ensuing surgery and recovery time, I have not had time for either blogging or tequila tasting. Until last night, that is.

Imagine my surprise when I closely examined the bottle of Hacienda de Chihuahua Anejo I mentioned a couple of posts ago, and discovered the drink was not tequila at all, but rather, a Sotol.

Sotol, it turns out, is a new product made from a plant know as Desert Spoon -- in the agave family but not quite blue agave. It is being billed as an alternative to the very expensive tequilas, which as everybody should know, shot up in price a few years ago thanks to the combination of an agave shortage and a surge in popularity. More on Sotol and its invention can be found here.

I was quite concerned while opening the bottle that we had mistakenly bought a cheap tequila imitator and entirely prepared to be dissapointed but, instead was pleasantly surprised by a unique, smooth and very light tasting liquor. The article I linked to claims that some people actually prefer Sotol to tequila. Now, I wouldn't go quite that far, although it would be fair to say that I prefer it to some tequilas.

Perfectly enjoyable drink and, considering the price, bound to become a widely enjoyed alternative to tequila. Not available in Ontario, of course.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Chicago v. New York

Well, the answer's kinda obvious. And it's certainly unfair to compare any North American city to New York. They're going to fall short every time.

Now, don't get me wrong, I enjoyed myself in Chicago and would certainly go back. I would go back to eat the delicious high-end fast food at Chipotle and Big Bowl which, incidentally, had the best chichen potstickers I have ever had. I would go back for the best steak I have ever had, the corn-fed filet at the embarrassingly corporate Ruth's Chris Steak House, accompanied by a supoib creamed spinach. And I would definitely go back to shop at Nordstrom Rack, which was the best discount designer fashion store I've been to.

I would also return to Andy's Jazz Club, which was first rate. It came highly recommended by a friend who is quite the expert on bars around the world and what specific beer to drink in said bar. Wonderful jazz quintet that night and a decent bourbon sour.

Similarly I saw some good blues at Kingston Mines and Chicago B.L.U.E.S. across the street. The highlight was the guest star harmonica player that night, who provided a little variety from listening to those same damn 12 bars over and over again. Chicago Blue on Clark Street was a bit of a wash. There was a very good female vocalist at the end of the set but the bar was remarkable for having only three black people in the entire establishment and all of them on stage. A little unnerving for a blues club and certainly a different atmosphere from the North Halsted clubs we'd been to the night before.

I'm happy to report having had a very good mint julep (a rarity) at Redfish while I watched Smarty Jones win the Kentucky Derby, upsetting the favoured Lionheart. I had Smarty Jones and Imperialism in a boxed trifecta, but didn't have the foresight to put the obvious favoured Lionheart on the ticket, so therefore lost with Read the Footnotes coming in around sixth. What can I say, I like the longshots.

From there, I tore up my ticket and went over to the Mambo Grill. Now, the Mambo Grill is remarkable in that if you could go into my brain and extract the perfect bar, that would be it. 1940s Havana decor, a bowl of limes on the bar, a selection of tequilas that I've never seen collected together anywhere outside of Mexico, excellent service, a great ceviche and I'll admit it, a mojito ever so slightly better than my own. In fact, I have to revise chapter two of Mondo Cocktail, "The Mojito and the End of the World" to accomodate my new experience and a new technique. They also make a very good margarita (not quite as good as mine), and an excellent caipirinha.

The Clark Street Ale House was a very nice place for a civilized after dinner drink (also recommended by our beer expert)and Pippin's was a pretty good bar as well. Dubliner's, well, not so much. An Irish bar that primarily serves pizza is always suspect.

I would definitely return to re-visit The Lodge. It's an absolute must-see. I can only vouch for what goes on there on Thursday around three a.m. but, crap, that's either the worst bar I've ever been to or one of the best. Pure, unbridled insanity and I'm fairly certain Springer recruits directly from the place.

Captain George's Under the Sea bar at the Cass Hotel deserves a mention, in that it was one of the only normal bars I managed to find in the whole place. Smaller than my kitchen, it was just the sort of seedy respite we needed from all the high-end places.

Don't bother with Howl at the Moon, unless you happen to be an idiot. It's Marie's Crisis gone wrong. Really wrong.

At any rate, this all sounds extraordinarily fun and, don't get me wrong, a 38-bars-in-five-nights tour is always great. What was odd about the city was that practically every bar and restaurant occupied a corner, was huge, corporate and cost at least a million dollars to erect. There's no organic neighbourhood of small, unique joints to enjoy. Now, that would never bother me in Las Vegas, but in Chicago, with a few glaring exceptions, there's no row of bars to hop around amongst and, consequently, a stunning lack of people on the street.

As I travel primarily by myself, meeting up with my companions around midnight when they finish working, a big component of me liking a city is feeling free to wander around by myself, which just isn't quite as comfortable in Chicago as it is in Toronto, San Francisco, Boston, Baltimore even, and, of course, Manhattan.

So there you have it, the definitive answer.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Cinco de Mayo

Many believe this day is in celebration of Mexican independence, but they are mistaken. On this day in 1862, the Mexican armies beat off the invading French at The Battle of Puebla. The marauding French apparently also had designs on the Southern United States and were planning to work their way North, taking advantage of the turmoil the Americans were in (they were in the midst of a wee skirmish at the time).

Mondo Cocktail is full of interesting facts like these and connect more thoroughly how this event connects with the invention of the Margarita. So call your local publisher and demand that somebody publish my book if you want to read more.

So tonight for dinner we shall start with my own personal brand of Margarita and later indulge in fresh made salsa, guacamole, camarones in garlic, cilantro and shallots, and beef and chicken flautas. We shall hopefully have time to get flan for dessert, which will be followed by a flight of our new tequilas recently bought on our trip to Chicago.

We picked up a platinum El Tesoro, which is a very distinctive tequila that smells almost like cheese. Sounds disgusting but the flavour mellows as you get used to it. Also, Del Dueno, our most expensive foray this time, a very smooth reposado and another I'd never heard of called Hacienda del Chihuahua. Will report it's merits or lack thereof at another point.

We didn't need to pick up a bottle of our staple, Cazadores, as a bottle is arriving straight from Mexico on Friday, so we were free to buy some of the harder to find brands this trip.

We drink our tequila followed by sangrita, but much like the proper method of making a margarita, I cannot reveal the secrets on how to make these beverages for fear of scooping my own book.

Blogging will obviously be light tomorrow, but stay tuned for the definitive answer to the question of which is the better city, Toronto or Chicago. In the meantime, there was a nice little book review in The Star on Sunday which people might enjoy.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Found another review in the Sunday Star people might enjoy.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Dinner

For various reasons, I've been eating a lot of salsa, curries, and kim chi lately -- I find kim chi almost the perfect late morning breakfast snack food, which is sure to turn the stomach of most readers -- and had plenty of time to think about the nature of these foods yesterday while working on the near hour process of making a proper big batch of salsa.

First off, no matter how hard I work, my salsa will never be as good as the Platonic ideal of salsa in my head, because no matter how much I would be willing to pay for good tomatoes, they simply aren't available. In about two weeks, my partner and I will go to the garden centre, I will pick unrealistic white flowers that will die in four days and he will get tomato plants, hot pepper plants and something odd like corn. I will make fun of him but in four months I will have to retract everything when we have two weeks of tomatoes that actually taste like something.

Yesterday, I had a good conversation with a film guy (our neighbourhood is littered with them) in the produce section as we despaired over the avocados. I told him "It's that Canada problem," half expecting him to recoil and respond with some knee-jerk reaction about how we have the best produce in the world or some claptrap like that, but fortunately, he immediately seized on to my line of thought and began complaining about the utter tastelessness of practically any fruit available to us. "We used to just eat tomatoes, without even any salt, back in California". He left me trying to find 25 limes (margarita night) with any juice in them whatsoever, and summed up our conversation with the departing thought "We're perennially screwed, my dear."

Sometimes the film people are all right.

So, as I was preparing my cursed bland salsa, I thought of all the things I could be doing other than spending an hour making a bowl of salsa. Revising my book, for instance. Working on the Sisyphean task of getting somebody in publishing to read it. Pitching my story idea about food porn to some magazine. You get the picture. And I wondered if there was some relationship between cultures with really labour intensive staples and their advancement in other areas. Ever have to make hummus from scratch? Mojitos? Ceviche?

Still, there's something about properly made salsa that makes the whole efffort worthwhile. But it will be much, much better in August.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

He ain't heavy

The news that heavy social drinking may lead to long-term impaired skills may not be entirely surprising -- but what had me intrigued was what qualifies as "heavy" social drinking. Apparently a hundred drinks per month (80 for women) makes one a heavy social drinker. Sounds like a lot when put into a monthly consumption, but that works out to about, forgive me, it'll take a second here as my processing skills are permanently damaged, less than three drinks per day (for women), except in the month of February.

And, in February, we should all be allowed an extra ounce or so, it being such a depressing month.

At any rate, last I heard, two glasses of wine per day was considered medicinal, so clearly there is a problem somewhere in that last two-thirds or so of a glass that'll put you over the edge and drive you from clear arteries, good blood presure and reduced cancer to brain damage.

Standard tests of verbal intelligence, processing speed, balance, working memory, spatial function, executive function, and learning and memory were given to the volunteers.

"Our heavy drinkers sample was significantly impaired on measures of working memory, processing speed, attention, executive function, and balance," the researchers wrote.


It seems that the definition of moderate drinking is being continually re-defined and narrowed, much like the ever-reducing blood alcohol limit for drivers. MADD and other esssentially prohibitionist groups won't be happy until they have managed to criminalize the previously inoffensive practice of having two glasses of wine with dinner and proceeding to drive home. The brain damage study is interesting, alarming even, but it's the odd re-defining of what constsitutes a problematic consumption of alcohol that has me intrigued.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Saw a small review in last weekend's Star I thought people might enjoy.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

The Hendrick's is gone!

Well the gang came over to try a Hendrick's martini, blackened chicken livers and bacon-wrapped scallops. The martini was pronounced the finest they'd ever had, which made me very happy. When we ran out of Hendrick's we made Bombay Sapphire martinis, which to be fair, were made with ever-so slightly watery ice, which killed a bit of the bouquet. Even so, it was clear that the first was far, far, superior and a mere two weeks ago, I would have been perfectly satisfied with Bombay Sapphire (still my choice for second best).

What surprised me most was how impressed all (including the cat who made off with two) everybody was with the bacon-wrapped scallops. Truly the simplest thing to make, in fact, almost impossible to screw up, and a staple at Keg-like places. Siobhan (our martini connoisseur who initially introduced us to Hendrick's) called it 70s food and expressed surprise at the tenderness of the scallop. Instructions are as follows: do not overcook. Simple as toast. For a variation, try prosciutto-wrapped scallops or bacon-wrapped water chestnuts.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Mute approval

The question of music in restaurants and bars is always contentious. I like to think I hit it up the middle pretty well when I work on Friday nights -- jazz in the early hours, slowly getting louder and more modern as the night goes on -- but I'll admit that bu about midnight all bets are off and we'll get as loud as we need it to be to survive 'til last call. It's a bar, after all.

I've read critics who say that if the music's too loud you should ask the server to turn it down. I heartily disagree. You heard the music when you first came in and you still sat down. Music is part of how restaurants define themselves and who their clientele is going to be. if it's too loud for you (and the place is also pretty much full) they don't want you and your tea-drinking, deep, lingering conversation sort in there. If it's too loud, leave.

Some places, admittedly take the music thing too far. I was in a place in New York with about six specials that had to be delivered orally and the waitress had to come to each of us individually and shout in our ears. We all nodded politely and when she left we turned to each other and asked what the specials were. None of us knew. The music was that loud. Fortunately the food (off the menu) was very good. I always imagine and angry chef demanding to know why the waitstaff weren't pushing the specials.

Eric Asimov at the New York Times suggests that the trend is going the other way these days and that restaurants are finally turning off the music. I hope this isn't entirely true -- with some exceptions, I hate going to places without any music at all. The trick is finding the right level and the right mix, so that patrons aren't annoyed by the chatter from the table next to them but are also often barely aware of the specific song playing.

That's what we try to do. Until power hour at least.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Hendrick's -- It's Not for Everyone

There's a long standing debate about whether or not a vodka martini counts and I don't want to give too much away from my Martini chapter in my hopefully forthcoming Mondo Cocktail, but frankly, it doesn't. I'm not judging anybody, if drinking a chilled, tasteless, odourless beverage at $7 a glass turns you on, go right ahead -- but if you want to drink a real martini, gin is the only way to go.

Gin has a distinct flavour and even if you don't think you like the taste of gin, you're likely to enjoy it in a properly made martini, which should, by the way contain some vermouth.

Now, I am halfway through the best martini of my life as I write this and I think it only fair to indulge the secret. My friend Siobhan has been on me for a while to try out this new (to Ontario, at least) gin called Hendrick's and she was quite right.

Made in Scotland, Hendrick's calls itself an unusual gin, which it certainly is. I might be imagining it, but I do believe I can smell the cucumber. Also, I'm a sucker for packaging and it has a bottle I'm almost hesitant to hide away in the freezer (where gin should be stored for ideal martini purposes). Check out their website and you'll get an idea of how easy it is to fetishize.

Thank you Siobhan, you've changed our lives for the better.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Success!

I'm very happy to report that I mastered blackened chicken livers with lemon beurre blanc over the weekend. While one taster declared they were better than Southern Accent's (they make the uber blackened chicken livers), I think this is an exaggeration. You see, I ran out of cayenne and had to resort to an awful lot of black pepper as my seasoning, which made them a little too spicy.

I have made several attempts in the past with so-so results but this time several things came together which made it almost perfect. First, I got Rowe Farm chicken livers which seem much bigger, healthier and have a much nicer colour than normal livers. I had to cut them in halves or thirds, coated them and then got the cast iron pan ready to go.

Flea and I were discussing one of the problems I've had in the past, which is that to blacken properly, you have to get the pan so damn hot that it smokes up pretty much the entire house and sets off all the alarms. Flea had the stunningly simple solution of cooking it over a fire pit. Now, I don't have a fire pit, but I threw the pan on top of the barbecue until it reached premium temperature and put the livers in the pan out there.

From there, you sear the livers (sans oil, whatever they tell you) for a very brief length of time. The theory, my chef friend told me, is that the pan must be so hot that the livers don't actually touch the pan because the force of heat actually pushes them up a millimeter above the pan's surface, keeping them almost jumping up from the heat the entire time.

The lemon beurre blanc is dead easy. Minced shallots fried in white wine and lemon until they are almost a paste, then add cream, and butter. Pour on top of your livers and serve with some french stick or, if you have it, jalapeno cornbread.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

I wasn't entirely thrilled with my result, but it was better than my first go -- I was a Screaming Orgasm and I felt that was rather undignified. Flea got Martini, so I may go back and just try to duplicate his answers. What would Flea say?

You like it fast and strong and you drink for one reason: to get piss-ass drunk!
Congratulations!! You're a shot of some good old
hard liquor!


What Drink Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Monday, February 23, 2004

Call of the Mall

My roundup of several shopping and style books was in the Sunday Star this weekend. The layout was really beautiful in the paper.

Friday, February 20, 2004

My review of Jane Billinghurst's Temptress was in last weekend's Star.