Boulevardier

Boulevardier Cocktail

This variation on the classic, pungent, and beautiful Negroni is made with whiskey instead of gin. This one was beautiful with a rich, smooth Split Rock white whiskey. The clear whiskey lets the outrageous reds shine through, and the "hearts only" Split Rock has none of the harshness that you find in other white whiskeys. 

I also made this with Martini & Rossi Sweet Vermouth that had been aged for four weeks in a charred oak cask. I think Carpano Antica is the closest substitute. It's pricey, and it's not right for every cocktail, but every serious cocktailian should keep a bottle of Carpano Antica in the fridge. 

Vichyssoise

Vichyssoise

This classic chilled summer soup is simple to make and full of delicate summer flavors. The recipe is simple, but it allows for infinite artistic expression. 

This is one of those recipes that can be made vegetarian or not (you can use chicken stock, or top it with crumbled bacon), but the vegetarian version is in no way inferior.  

Bronx Cocktail

A Bronx CocktailThis is a Perfect Martini (that is, equal parts sweet vermouth and dry vermouth instead of all dry vermouth) with orange juice for sweetness and complexity.

I enjoy the Bronx Cocktail in the summer, or anytime during a Yankees game!

Because of the sweet vermouth and the orange juice, this works well with a wide variety of gins, including some of the more daring new American gins. 

Mojito

Mojito Cocktail

This is a very old drink that has gained new celebrity. The inspired combination of white rum (or aguardiente), lime, mint, and sugar has been traced to a 16th century drink borrowed from indigenous Cubans. At that time it was intended to cure scurvy and dysentery. Today it is made with finer versions of the same refreshing combination of ingredients, and its uses are more recreational than medicinal!

 

Dining in Ireland

Type of Post: 
Beyond New England
Black Sole at the Fish Kitchen in Bantry

Lorna and I spent 15 days in Ireland, dining out every night. We learned a few things that you might want to know if you are planning a vacation to Ireland.

To dispense with old stereotypes, there is plenty of good food in Ireland, including many excellent preparations of traditional old dishes. We never did see corned beef and cabbage on the menu, or any corned beef at all, for that matter.  There is mediocre food to be found, of course, but if you plan ahead, you can do very well indeed.

Mountain Man Brewing Hairy Goat IPA

Guinness is everywhere, of course, and they have a new hoppy lager offering called Hop House 13. It is not clearly marked on the tap handles as a Guinness product, so you may think that you are giving support to the local craft beer scene when you're actually supporting their common rival!

Beyond that, though, there is a thriving craft beer culture. In every part of Ireland we found local offerings. The Irish craft beer scene is not as established as the US craft beer scene, and it has to work extra hard against that constant Guinness headwind, but with some research you can find some exciting new Irish brews. Perhaps if American tourists get into the habit of asking for something other than Guinness, some restaurants and pubs will open new taps for the local products. 

Driving in Ireland

Type of Post: 
Beyond New England
Inishowen Vista

Regular readers know that we drive quite a lot. Our favorite Saturdays are spent in the car, exploring scenic locales and discovering foodie goodness.

In June of 2016, we took a long-anticipated vacation in Ireland. Naturally we spent most of it driving through some of the most sublime scenery we had ever explored. Of course we also found lots of foodie goodness, which is documented elsewhere in this blog. This post is for those who are considering a vacation that involves driving in Ireland.

Coastal Drive along the Ring of Kerry

The first thing to know is that it's expensive to drive in Ireland. Gas is expensive, of course, as it is in most of Europe. But the car rental is pricey, too. We rented from Avis at Dublin airport, and were disappointed to learn that they do not honor the CDW (collision damage waiver) insurance that many credit cards provide automatically when you use them to rent a car. The CDW cost nearly as much as the car rental, and it has a thousand-Euro deductible! They also had a super-CDW with no deductible.

Irish Pancakes

Irish Pancakes

Irish pancakes are not like American pancakes. They are thinner, closer to a crepe than to a big fluffy American pancake, with no baking powder. They are typically served with honey or jam, or brushed with lemon juice and dusted with sugar.

Pancakes figure prominently in the Irish celebration of Shrove Tuesday, or Mardi Gras, which they also call Pancake Tuesday. This is the day to use up all the eggs and fat in the house to prepare for the Lenten fast. My mother's side of our family still makes pancakes on Shrove Tuesday!

Lemon-Butter Cod

Lemon-Butter Cod

This was one of those inventions born of necessity. Lorna had bought a lovely piece of cod, but I did not have the ingredients for my usual preparation.

I remembered a wonderful light fish dish that I had had in Xrisohorafa, a lakeside village in remote northern Greece on a similarly hot night many years ago, a simple preparation of fish with olive oil and lemon juice, with some parsley and sea salt. I had some butter on the table so I used that instead of olive oil; it was a fortuitous substitution. 

Coffee in Ireland

Type of Post: 
Beyond New England

Coffee in IrelandTravelers from New England soon learn that Ireland has a very different coffee culture. While Americans consume on average .931 cups of coffee per day, the Irish consume only .215, or less than one quarter of the coffee their American counterparts consume.

We explored the countryside and also the biggest cities, Dublin and Belfast, and of course I was on the lookout for good coffee. Here's what I discovered: 

Svíčková na smetaně

Czech Svickova

Svíčková na smetaně (hereafter simply svickova) is classic Czech home cooking, but it is often made for fine dining events as well.

It's a braised sirloin of beef with a sauce of pureed vegetables and cream, traditionally served with fluffy knedlicky (bread dumplings sliced with a thread).

I made this with my Czech friend Jana in November of 2015, when the coming winter mader her think of her father's Svickova back home in Prague! 

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