Monday, July 31, 2006

Made a rare venture out of the house in the daytime today to discover that Toronto bars can no longer allow dogs on patios. It's actually provincial legislation and it will take some time before people actually start paying attention to this absurd law but, with health inspectors out enforcing the law in full force, this is the beginning of the end of the dog days of summer.

I'm not a dog person. I am a bar person, though. And. of the few thousand times I've shared a patio with dogs, I have never witnessed a problem. They are generally welcomed and fawned over by the customers and, in many bars, waitstaff bring out a dish of water.

For many customers, it's a nice civilized ritual to take the dog out fo a stroll and grab a quick pint. And, since we're in the outdoors, where a pigeon could easily crap on your food, I think it's more than a little bizarre to start worrying about the bacteria brought in by puppy.

In fact, I am in support of bar cats, like the kind you find in Belgium or France or, (used to be) the Rivoli on Queen. In New York, a particularly lovely bar called Chumley's has three very fat labradors who visit every evening and are late night fixtures.

But, then again, there's little hope for a sane approach at assessing real public risk these days, as evidenced by the news today that the USDA is hassling the Hemingway Home and Museum about getting rid of the sixty cats that roam the property. They are descendents of a multi-toed cat given to Hemingway in 1935 and are vaccinated, fed and well looked after. And a menace to Key West, obviously.

Regulate the beef industry to clean up the e.coli problem? Not today, thanks. Right now we're dealing with the cat problem in Florida.

Second link found at Bookslut.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

If you've read Mondo Cocktail you already know that the Mojito and the Daiquiri were earth-shatteringly important drinks in world history. For those of you who want to know more about the Mai Tai, the Flip, Punch and Grog and the impact they had on the new world, you might want to read Wayne Curtis' And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails.

It's reviewed here.

Update: The good folks at Appleton have just written to mention that it was quite a coincidence that my article ran on the 35th anniversary of Black Tot Day - when the Royal Navy stopped providing a ration of rum to its sailors.
Those who know me will know that I'm no fan of vodka. Still, this is a good recommendation for both candidates.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Vancouver Sun has an interesting article about mojitos.

In Cuba, where the mojito originates, it is apparently made with a kind of spearmint called yerba buena. In her book, Mondo Cocktail, Christine Sismondo makes a good case for an early version of the mojito being the first cocktail ever made. It was based on a sugarcane liqueur and mixed up by Sir Francis Drake in the 1570s.

The author traces Drake's mixed drink, called El Draque, up to the 1900s, when a Spanish immigrant to Cuba called Jose Abeal apparently "perfected" a rum version. It was called the mojito and was served at his grocery-store-cum-rumba-club, a place so decrepit it was eventually re-named Sloppy Joe's.


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Doctor Cocktail (Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails) was "disgracefully unaware" of a new "literary" cocktail book on the market. Read his review at Martini republic here.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Julie Powell on reading for the stomach at the London Times:

No Tuscan hills and love among the foie gras for me. Just as a day at the beach isn’t complete without sand in uncomfortable places, I like food writing with grit.

Nora Ephron’s Heartburn (Virago) is a classic in the post-divorce revenge genre — try her linguine alla cecca for a simple summer meal.

Judith Moore’s wry Never Eat Your Heart Out (Profile) examines heartbreaks through the prism of apple pie and mashed potatoes. Or take a refreshing dive into Christine Sismondo’s Mondo Cocktail: A Shaken and Stirred History (McArthur). Chock-full of boozy facts and tart observations, with chapter headings such as “The Bloody Mary and the Communist Threat”, this goes down like a perfect margarita. If you’re in the mood for horror, try The Omnivore’s Dilemma (Penguin) by Michael Pollan — a sobering look at commercial agriculture with gallows humour and only the barest glimmer of hope.

Julie Powell is the author of Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen (Fig Tree) Stomach