Sunday, April 22, 2007

Cheasapeake Wine Company

Cat, Dog, D and I went to the Chesapeake Wine Company in Canton on Friday to celebrate the end of a long week for all of us. When we got there at about 6:30-ish, it wasn't too croweded, and we were able to get a table inside with no problem. It took a bit for our waitress, the only one for the room full of tables, and, it seemed, the outside tables, to get to us.

We talked a bit about what to get and Cat and I ordered a bottle of prosecco to split and Dog ordered a bottle of special beer. D ordered a glass of red wine. We also ordered two pizzas, one with chiorizo and one with veggies, and a cheese and bread plate. We probably waited about 15 minutes for the drinks, a half an hour for the pizzas and TWO HOURS for the cheese plate. The food was good, but by the time we got it, and we had to ask for the cheese tray numerous times, we were so famished that it didn't really matter how it tasted.

The most un-nerving thing about the whole evening was the sheer number of things that hit the floor! The waitress dropped a couple of glasses from a box marked Riedel (ca-ching), someone else dropped a six pack when the bottom fell out of the holder, and on and on... You just kept hearing glass shattering. In a place that has lots and lots of glass being used, you would think that a cement floor might not be the best option.

The total bill for all of us was about $70, which included the corkage fees for Dog's beers, even though he went and selected them from the cooler and had to chase down the waitress to get him a bottle opener.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Dinner With Friends

Ordinarily, I wouldn't blog about dinner with friends, but these friends, Cat & Dog, are very special - they are both chefs! It had been a long couple of days with us, with one of our friends' dog getting attacked by a pit bull and then running off. He finally re-appeared on his owner's doorstep, much worse for the wear, but back.

So, we needed time to unwind a bit after this emotional upheaval, so Cat & Dog had another neighbour and me to dinner. I had been to Trader Joe's in Pikesville earlier in the afternoon, and had gotten 10 oz. of fresh sliced mushrooms for $1.79, so I volunteered them to Dog to use in the dinner. He sauteed them in port, and then let them cook off, and then added a knob of butter to finish them. Yuuuummm!
Cat & Dog has visited the Wine Market in Locust Point to pick out a red and white that would hold up to the dinner. I know the red was a grenache, but haven't a clue what the white was. I had attended a big fundraiser the night before, so I wasn't drinking much. (More on that in a later post - suffice to say that one of the sponsors was Ketel One vodka.) Cat had put out a selection of olives and some bread and salami for starters. The olives were brilliant and so beautiful.
Cat & Dog had picked up some steaks earlier in the day, so Dog "striped" them on the grill before we all got there. He took new potatoes and sliced them and roasted them with onions and basil. Later, he added cherry and yellow tomatoes and arugula to make a sort of potato salad that was both over and under the steaks, which he had finished cooking in the oven.

For dessert, Cat had made strawberries, macerated in sugar, over a lemon curd, over langues de chat (cat's tongue) cookies that she'd made earlier in the afternoon. Did I mention that she's a pastry chef? Between the dinner and dessert, we took a break and took our three dogs for a walk, both for their benefit and ours. Dog, the chef, stayed home and smoked a cigar! Good Dog!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Peeps: The Preferred Easter Treat

I gave up sweeties for Lent, and that was tough. My sisters were both aghast that my first selection wasn't a chocolate bunny, but a bright yellow Peep. In honour of the end of Lent, I made myself one of my Easter faves: Peeps BruleƩ. This simple but elegant fare is such fun for all!

1. Take one box of Peeps (yellow chicks preferred, but any colour and shape will do)
2. Stick a fork into one Peep.
3. Roast over gas flame.
4. Wait until sugar is carmelized and marshmallow is gooey.
5. Eat.
The alternative method is to use your little blow torch for this. Beware of the molten sugar though.

There are two camps of Peeps people: those who like them fresh from the box and those who prefer to let them sit and age a bit and become crusty. You can stick them into the microwave and let them melt, which is good for a few seconds of entertainment. Or you can try this:
There are also lots of recipes for Peeps, including a scary salad with Raman noodles and cabbage. If you look around, you can find some pix of people Peeping their ride. I haven't tried that one yet.
Happy Easter to all my Peeps!

Monday, April 2, 2007

Summer Drinks Recipes

If you're like me, you're gearing up for the summer drinking season. Even though it was early, I started two weeks ago with a mojito on the patio of our favourite Cuban restaurant on the water (see below posting). You have to have the right glass for the right drink, and I found some fun glasses that would enhance a mojito (although this looks suspiciously like Lemonade!).

The Kentucky Derby is in a few weeks, so I am encouraging my mint plants to start growing and putting out leaves so I can snip them off to be used for the traditional mint juleps. HRH Elizabeth II will be attending this year, and I wonder if she'll try a mint julep or two.

Of course, you must use a silver mint julep cup, and I just don't know what I will do this year, since the ones I had were stolen in December. They were presents from my cousin, with whom I shared a multi-great grandfather who was the Commissary General of the Confederate Army.

Another favourite summer drink, which is similar to the two above, is the Southside, somewhat indiginous to Long Island and the suburbs of Baltimore, and most often found in the WASPiest of country club settings. This is best served in a long, tall glass. The glass below is from Williams-Sonoma and is made from DuraClear, which looks and feels like glass, but is unbreakable, a must when you've had too many of these delicious drinks... they tend to sneak up on you!

1 teaspoon powdered sugarJuice from 1 lime (2 ounces)
4 mint leaves
1 sprig of mint Havana Club white Rum (2 ounces)
2 ounces club soda

There are countless recipes for the Mojito (prounced moh-HEE-toh), but this version is for the one Hemingway himself enjoyed at the Mojito's place of birth: La Bodeguita del Medio in Havana, Cuba. Place the mint leaves into a long mojito glass (often called a "collins" glass) and squeeze the juice from a cut lime over it. You'll want about two ounces of lime juice, so it may not require all of the juice from a single lime. Add the powdered sugar, then gently smash the mint into the lime juice and sugar with a muddler (a long wooden device, though you can also use the back of a fork or spoon if one isn't available). Add ice (preferably crushed) then add the rum and stir, and top off with the club soda. Garnish with a mint sprig.

2 cups sugar
2 cups water
Sprigs of fresh mint
Crushed ice
Silver Julep Cups

Make a simple syrup by boiling sugar and water together for five minutes. Cool and place in a covered container with six or eight sprigs of fresh mint, then refrigerate overnight. Make one julep at a time by filling a julep cup with crushed ice, adding one tablespoon mint syrup and two ounces of Bourbon. Stir rapidly with a spoon to frost the outside of the cup. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.

1-2 oz Vodka and/or white rum
1/2 oz Triple sec
2 oz Lime juice or lemon-lime juice
Some Mint leaves
1-2 oz Soda water

Mixing instructions: Add all ingredients to blender including one mint leaf as it will be blended up and leave little specks at top of drink. After drink is complete add other whole mint leaves. A lime wedge can also be added. Amount of soda water should be added according to how strong the lemon-lime solution is.