Archive for June 2009

Thai Bliss

My cohort just sent me the article "Refreshing by definition" from last week's NYTimes. It's a great primer for someone who doesn't know that much about the art of the cocktail (which, I don't). In it there's a link to this cocktail that I just happened to have all the ingredients for. Ahhh, so summer.
Thai Basil Bliss

Adapted from "Mix Shake Stir" (Little Brown, 2009

5 Thai basil leaves
4 inch-wide cubes pineapple
1 tablespoon simple syrup
2 ounces blanco tequila
1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
Soda or seltzer.

In a cocktail shaker, crush 4 basil leaves and the pineapple to a pulp with a muddler or wooden spoon. Fill shaker about halfway with ice and add simple syrup, tequila and lime juice. Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass. Top with a splash of soda and float last basil leaf on surface.
Yield: One drink.

P.S. Without the "basil" in the title, it sounds like a popular massage parlor... if you know what I mean.

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Au Revoir Pierre Paulin

Although Pierre Paulin died last Saturday, I just found out today. My dad always had an interest in Modern or Mid-Century design, which meant that I also had that interest. I would look through his books, particularly the easily digestible ones like 1000 Chairs and pick out my favorite designers. Perhaps it's the alliteration, but Pierre Paulin was my penultimate.The tulip chairs have always been the ones I like the best.
He designed all the furniture for two French presidents! Above is from Georges Pompidou's.Scene from Deliverance with tongue chairs.
Not sure about what this one is called, but pretty cute.

So as we head into this Father's Day weekend, I just want to say thanks Dad for showing me all this cool stuff. I feel lucky I get to see you in a few short hours.

Yes, and goodbye to Pierre.

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The Corpse Reviver


Fortunately, or unfortunately(?), I'm not talking about Bruce LaBruce's zombie porn. It's just a cocktail that I happened to have the stuff to make, that's making the rounds in Chicago. It's kinda like a gin margarita. I'll stop myself right there before I try to wax poetic about the flavor composition of the drink considering my blog counter-part Alice is much better at this endeavor.

Corpse Reviver No. 2
  • 1 ounce gin
  • 1 ounce Lillet
  • 1 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1 ounce Cointreau
  • 1-2 drops absinthe
Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake well for 10 seconds, strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry, if you please.

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Like an Old Movie

It's romantic out there today. I like it. 

But enough of the weather posts... more cocktails coming. Oiu.

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Today is for walking

Today the weather is wonderful. I'd like to spend the day outside, but I'm only a person of ordinary means. Anyway, I had a small amount of time away from work to watch Pit er Pat in Millennium Park and then take a walk up the new bridge to the Modern Wing of the Art Institute.The photos lack character, or is that Chicago? Maybe one day I'll stop being so lazy and snap some pictures of my own because it seemed so much nicer.

If I had more time and was in New York I'd walk the newly-opened elevated High Line park.
It reminds me of the Promenade Plantée in Paris, which I just found out is was inspired by.
Full disclosure: I've never been to the park in Paris. I just saw it in the movie Before Sunrise and have wanted to walk it ever since.

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Hot Chocolate


Sometimes all it takes is a $6 cup of hot chocolate with a shot of espresso and a giant marshmallow to get me through these dreary rainy days. Since when did Chicago trade weather patterns with the Northwest? They are enjoying 80 degree perfect bbq evenings while I am hiding under umbrellas. Beautiful summer, I am waiting!

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Not Your Average Cuppa Joe










Today I spent 4 hours at the Intelligentsia coffee roasting works and training lab with five of my co-workers from the restaurant where I work. We were probably not your average group of barista trainees. We were more like a bunch of hung-over, sleep deprived, hungry, and uncharacteristically rowdy restaurant kids for that hour of the morning being 10 AM. However, our National award winning barista trainer Charles, managed to keep his cool with us, and even seem to enjoy himself from time to time. Mission: to pull the perfect espresso...not too bitter...not too sour...just right!

This past week at the restaurant, as our tables approached desert hour, we have all been making what we thought resembled cappuccinos, lattes, and other espresso drinks. We have been fiddling with buttons, various grinds, foaming techniques, and whatever knowledge we have retained from our past experience with home espresso machines and barista jobs. Not to our surprise, we have been doing a substandard job.

Charles, our instructor, is a barista at the Millennium park Intelligentsia location. He is in his mid 20's, tall, quiet, yet patient and thorough. He fields our questions and talks us through the process of making espresso, while also admitting that he wouldn't try this at home, as we probably don't have a machine expensive enough to make it worth our while. The cheapest being in the $1800.00 range. Instead he recommends sticking to coffee, preferably using the chemex method, similar to using a melitta cone, that consists of pouring hot water through a special cone filter which drips into a nonporous carafe. This method produces a glossy coffee without sediment and was easy to make and elegant in texture and flavor.

After 4 hours with Charles, a tour of the roasting facilities, 2 gallons of milk, and 3 lbs of coffee beans later, we left learning a little something more about coffee. We practiced detecting the preferred grind (per order); correct dosage, and the proper "N.S.E.W. sweep" to level out the portafilter basket prior to brewing. We learned the correct way to hold our wrists while tamping the pull and Alex taught us to bypass our machine's buttons by self-timing the desired pull, which is 23-28 seconds for a honey colored crema and full flavored espresso. We foamed all kinds of milk, perfecting our micro bubbles, silky textures, and accurate temperatures, a.k.a., not to scald the milk! Finally, we learned the importance of cleaning the espresso machine because who wants a drink that is contaminated with yesterdays stale espresso! All in all, we left holding our heads up high, confident that although we all need a little practice on our latte art, hearts and rosettes, we can at least pull a decent shot of espresso.

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