Archive for the ‘Alcohol’ Category

Kai-pee-reen-yah

Caipirinha

Don’t call it a mojito. Cause it’s not. It may look a bit similar, but if you use the authentic ingredients you’ll see (and taste) why this drink stands on its own.

It’s a caipirinha and it’s the perfect summer drink AND it might be the easiest drink you’ll ever make.

You can use vodka (known as a caipiruska) or rum, but it’s not authentic if you don’t have a bottle of Cachaça (ka-SHA-sa). I just picked up my first bottle…it’s a totally different taste than rum or vodka, hard-hitting, but lite and delicious. It’s strong enough for a man, but sweet enough for a woman.

I went to my local liquor store and picked up a bottle of Leblon. It’s a clear, nice looking bottle, with lime green mountain silhouettes (symbolic of the Leblon, Brazil mountains). Mine came with a muddle, which I was in need of, so I was sold.

Here’s some background info on the caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail.

The national drink of Brazil, the Caipirinha gained its popularity in the 1950s and 1960s on the beaches of Rio and Sao Paulo State during the days of Jobim and Bossa Nova. To the non-Brazilian, the Caipirinha has similarities to its muddled cousin the Mojito and the lime-based Margarita. To us, the Caipirinhas have become a whole new cocktail platform for muddling fruits and other ingredients into exciting creations. (from Leblon)

The city of Paraty gave its name to the drink: parati is a synonym for cachaça. Other words for it include: pinga, caninha, branquinha, malvada. There are tours of distillers in the state of Minas Gerais, much in the same way as you’d tour vineyards in Sonoma Valley or in France, with the added bonus of their famous regional cuisine. Cachaça is also notorious for brands with pornographic labels…they’re hilarious!

You can also make a pitcher of caipirinha. Figure out how many people and multiply amounts. If you can’t find cachaça where you live, use a good vodka. The drink will then be called caipiroshka. No vodka? Use white rum and you will have a caipiríssima. Caipirinhas made with sake are all the rage in Rio now!

You can use cachaça to flambé bananas and other food; add it to hot chocolate and even to coffee; marinate pork loin and pork chops, etc. (from Maria’s Cookbook)

It might be tough for you to find a bottle of Cachaça, but if your liquor store carries it, I highly recommend picking up a bottle of the Leblon brand. If your store doesn’t carry it, try bevmo.com. I didn’t know much about it before buying the bottle, but after tasting it and taking a look at their site, turns out the stuff is pretty legit.

Leblon Cachaça was awarded a Double Gold Medal at the 7th Annual San Francisco World Spirits Competition. It was one of only two spirits in its category to receive the Double Gold Medal, and Leblon was also named “Top Cachaca” by a judging panel of the most influential spirits industry professionals in the U.S. The category with the largest growth was Cachaca – which went from three entries in 2006 (when it was introduced as a new category) to 16 entries in 2007 – making it equal to the Gin category for number of entries.

The recipe is simple enough:

  • 2 oz Cachaça (or vodka or rum or sake…)
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 lime
  • crushed ice
  • muddle

And the directions are super quick:

  1. Rinse your lime, then dice it (roll it a bit to release the juices first). Once diced, toss in the sugar. Then, using a muddle, smush the sugar and lime til it turns into a sweet syrup. If you don’t have a muddle, a wooden spoon should work.
  2. Next, fill the remaining space in the glass with crushed ice.
  3. Finally, pour in the liquor. A shot or two will do.

Still confused? Here’s a step by step lesson in caipirinha-ing (I made that word up by the way…) and there’s also a video that can help.

Be sure to snoop around their site (liveloveleblon.com) for Leblon party invites, Brazilian music downloads and streaming radio, recipes and a ton of other interactive features.

Although this drink is good all year long, it’s especially refreshing in the summer, so get out those muddles and get to work. You don’t have much longer.

Photo from Flickr.

Tofu’s Perfect Match

Tofu Fest

This is probably one of those “only in LA” festivals but it’s a yearly thing here on the west coast.

I’ve seen posters all over town and it’s finally embedded in my head. Their posters and the whole Tofu Fest campaign is pretty clever. Head over to tofufest.org to help find tofu’s perfect match.

As for the festival itself, here’s what you need to know.

The 12th Annual Los Angeles Tofu Festival will take place on August 18, 12pm – 8 pm and August 19, 12 pm – 6 pm. General admission is $5, kids and seniors are free, and there’s a $2 off coupon here. Proceeds go to charity.

Festival Grounds are located at 237 S. San Pedro Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013 on San Pedro and 2nd.

Attractions include:

Beer, Wine & Sake Garden: A selection of sake and beer is served in a sectioned off portion of Tofu Fest, supplementing Little Tokyo’s own beer gardens and Nisei Week’s attractions. The sale of alcohol was under debate by the festival’s committee in 1994 in regards to making the festival more family friendly.

Celebrity Chefs: Famous chefs exhibit their craft on a cooking platform, with fair goers getting the chance to taste dishes from the demonstrations. Masaharu Morimoto of Iron Chef is a recurring guest, appearing in last year’s 2006 festival.

Children’s Pavilion: Children were previously given an additional area to enjoy the festival, as parts of the festival, like the alcohol garden, were unsuitable. However, as of 2006, Children’s Pavilion is no longer a featured event.

Entertainment Stage: Bands and artists appear live at the festival, ranging from instrumental groups, such as taiko and orchestra, to hip hop groups like Blackalicious.

Tofu Eating Contest: The tofu eating contest is a race to eat a 14-ounce block of tofu in the shortest amount of time. Several elimination rounds are held before the final battle and winner’s ceremony, where a prize is given to the winner on the entertainment stage.

And if you’re interested in the Tofu Eating Contest it will be held on Saturday, August 18th at 4pm. Here are the rules:

  • Contestants will be required to eat a 14 ounce block of House Foods Medium Firm Tofu.
  • Festival Judges will be judging the Tofu Eating contest. Contestants agree to abide by the Festival Judges’ decision. Festival Judges’ decisions are final.
  • Contestants will not be able to use their hands during the contest to eat the tofu.
  • There will be 10 contestants competing in each round with a total of 5 preliminary rounds. The first 2 contestants to eat the entire block of tofu will advance to the Final Round.
  • The first contestant to eat the entire block of tofu in the Final Round will win the Grand Prize
  • The second and third place winners of the Final Round will receive also receive prizes
  • In order for a contestant to completely finish the block of tofu, he/she must have swallowed the last mouth full of tofu as decided by the Festival Judges.
  • Contestants must be at least 18 years old.
  • Contest Rules are subject to change without notice.

Info seen here was collect from the Tofu Festival site as well as Wikipedia.

Taix French Restaurant

Taix

Taix French Restaurant

by Anthony Vargas from The Rockit News 

My last trip to France was a drunken blur. After drinking heavily on the Eurostar from London and de-training at Gare du Nord, all I remember is the urine soaked Paris Metro and a near death experience in a Mercedes taxi cab. I do, however, recall some great food and, luckily, one does not have to drive far to experience the same.

Amongst the hipster dives, old cop hangouts and paisa clubs of Echo Park lays the pride of France. Taix Restaurant has been serving hearty French fare since the days of de Gaulle and not much has changed since the Fourth Republic. The pronunciation of Taix can vary depending on who one asks. The restaurant itself refers to itself as “Tex” while my Francophile cronies beg me to say “Tays.” Darlene tells me the reason aix in aix-en -provence is pronounced “eks” is because of the vowel that follows the x so that Taix is pronounced “Tays” by itself and one pronounces the “X” only if it is followed by a vowel. Confused? Let’s eat!

Looking for a suitable restaurant to take a date before a show at Spaceland or the Echoplex? This is the place to go. Flying solo since you couldn’t even give away that extra Keane ticket? Go anyway. You might just meet a lonely French ex-pat who won’t know any better.

Parking can be tricky in Echo Park so just go ahead and valet the Citroën before heading into this rambling restaurant. Past the entrance, to one’s right is the 321 Lounge, which often hosts live bands and the occasional Tiki Extravaganza. Continue past the lounge and go to the podium, where you might wait a minute before a host arrives.

After being seated, just lean back and take a look around. The dining rooms are, in my opinion, reminiscent of Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion and others seem to share this view. There have been numerous times where I sat within sight of several well-heeled gothic couples whose ghostly visages fit in perfectly with the décor.

One can order dinner either à la carte or, for a few dollars more, a complete Taix dinner, which adds soup, salad and sherbet to your entrée. It is quite a bit of food for one person to handle.

Start with the escargots de bourgogne (1/2 Dozen for $9.95). These are served with the proper utensils and are warm and buttery. Plus, it’s great way to make your dinner companions cringe. Who would have ever thought of escargots in Echo Park? If you opt for the Taix dinner, try the famous clam chowder. They give you enough for an invading army, so don’t fill-up just yet.

Our waiter, Bernard, was a most amicable and proper fellow. He is a fond reminder of a more civilized time where waiters were highly trained individuals who did their job expertly and were not seeking a Hollywood movie contract. If Bernard isn’t too busy, he’ll spend some time chatting. A great guy!

The côte de porc grillé or grilled pork chops were amazing. They were so large I thought they had served me a New York steak or Porterhouse by accident. The caramelized onions and wine sauce were just right and the miniature carrots went well with the almost too tender pork chops. The chicken dinner with its lemon butter sauce is the specialty. They also did a great job with pâtes aux fruits de mer, which were scallops, shrimp, clams and fish on a bed of linguini. The wine selection is very affordable and well worth buying by the bottle. The martinis are cold and the size of a pond.

In Los Angeles, food, like clothing and vocabulary goes in and out of style. With the closing of L’Orangerie in Los Angeles and the bulldozing of Marcel and Jean-Claude’s in Montebello, French food must be out of fashion for the time being. Readers of The Rockit are above all that, so I’ll see you at Taix Friday night before we hit Underground at the Echo across the street.

Taix French Restaurant
1911 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90026
(213) 484-1265
www.taixfrench.com

The Color of Beer

Color of Beer

Designers get inspiration from anything. Art, nature, literally anything.

Even when they’re drunk. Or at least drinking.

And to prove this the folks at Colourlovers have a blog post on various beers and the color palettes of their accompanying hops & barely.

Beer is the world’s oldest and most popular alcoholic beverage. It is produced by the fermentation of sugars derived from starch-based material—the most common being malted barley; however wheat, corn, and rice are also widely used, usually in conjunction with the barley.

We chose several beers of different types and found colors that were warm browns and golden yellows, even some amber reds and oranges… while even serving some deep, rich browns in the darker beers.

Above is one for your viewing pleasure, and click here for the rest.

But that’s just a sample. Apparently scientific research has been done on the color of beer. I present the Lovibond Tintometer Readings for Various Beers.

Readings were recorded in CMY, rather than sample luminance and 2 primaries (the traditional Tintometer technique) to allow a more intuitive interpretation of the results. All measurements made with a 1 cm path length using a Lovibond Tintometer Model E.

Whatever that means…

And speaking of beer, if you’re in need of some new beer glasses, pick these up. These cool tumblers are recycled in Wisconsin from classic Mexican ‘Sol’ beer bottles. Set of 4 for $26.

Margaritas in Bulk

Margies

I saw this on Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s bartending blog and had to repost it.

Summer is the time when margaritas are consumed the most (there’s no research behind that but I’m sure of it) and why not bring a gallon of margies to your next party? Don’t want to do the math and figure out how much of what you’ll need? Just follow his recipe.

When I can’t find a gallon jug lying around, I just buy a gallon of distilled water from the grocery store for 88 cents and use the water to feed the plants.

  • 6 cups gold tequila (you’ll need two fifths for this)
  • 2.5 cups triple sec (just a fifth, please)
  • 2.5 cups fresh lime juice
  • 2.5 cups fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups simple syrup

Mix ingredients together in gallon container. Don’t forget to refrigerate! When ready to serve, pour mixture into a 16-ounce glass filled with ice. Salted rim is optional.

Makes 21 margaritas.

Photo from Flickr.

The Courtyard

The Courtyard

by Anthony Vargas
As seen in the newest edition of The Rockit News

About five or so years ago, California experienced a tapas invasion. Everywhere one looked, there was a restaurant serving this Spanish specialty. Even existing restaurants added tapas to their traditional American menus, which made about as much sense as burlap socks. I was up to my knees in tapas. Now, in 2007, the invasion is over and only the best have survived.

The Courtyard, right on the outskirts of Boy’s Town, is my first choice for a pre-concert meal. The Roxy, Key Club and Troubadour are only a three to five minute drive away and parking is surprisingly easy to find. Santa Monica Blvd. was not impossible at all and there is a small free lot in the rear.

Our lovely red-headed host seated us immediately. One can be seated in the small dining room or out in, surprisingly, the courtyard. Normally I do not care for outdoor dining, especially on a tree-lined sidewalk with chirping birds overhead, but this courtyard was too inviting, with balconies on three sides and a quaint fountain in the middle. On a beautiful Southern California evening I cannot think of a nicer place to dine before marching into a dark and stuffy club.

The whole idea with tapas is communal dining so bring your friends along. Everyone simply takes what they want from a variety of small plates. Friends who eat together, mosh together. Entrée sized dishes are also available for those with larger appetites.

The Dates in Bacon ($8) are my new favorite. I thought it was an odd combination at first, like cola with bacon, but it works wonderfully. The Baby Spanish Sausages were sautéed in apple cider ($8). Those too were good, but just a bit too much vinegar for my taste. The Mozzarella Marinara ($9) was another highlight, crunchy and brown on the outside and white and creamy on the inside, much like my dinner companions.

For the meat-eaters, take a nibble at the Steak a los Pobres. This is a culotte steak served on a bed of potatoes. I did learn a secret– one can also order it on a bed of spinach topped with a little Cabrales (Spanish blue cheese).

The sangría at the Courtyard is reason enough to visit. We started with sangría by the glass but ended up ordering by the carafe. Save some money and just start with a carafe. The Sangría Royale was a lovely red wine with chopped fruit and some spices for good measure. The Peach Sangría is heaven, especially for anyone who enjoys a good Bellini. Another winner was the Cucumber Martini, which uses soju. Cucumbers go incredibly well with a martini. Oliver’s in Seattle is the only other place I know of who offers this drink.

The model-like staff was as friendly as they were attractive. It isn’t uncommon for the owner/chef to come out and talk to guests. With Basque and Catalan influences and even Salvadoran pupusas on the menu, the Courtyard is more than simply a tapas restaurant. It is these touches that make every visit a great way to start the evening.

Also be sure to check out their daily specials:

  • $5.00 Martini Mondays – Cosmos, apple martinis, cucumber martinis, all only $5 each!
  • Tapa Tuesdays – Buy one tapa at menu price, get the second at 1/2 price!
  • Wine Lovers Wednesdays – All Bottles on our menu 1/2 price with dinner.
  • Enjoy happy hour at The Courtyard twice daily from 4:30pm-6:30pm and again from 10pm – close.

The Courtyard
8543 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 358-0301
www.dinecourtyard.com

Mousey Marketing

Rat Wine

I’ll admit that Ratatouille is one of the best movies I’ve seen all summer, hell, all year. It’s a really enjoyable film, even more so if you actually are into cooking, food or wine.

On that note, Serious Eats has discovered that Disney is about to launch a line of wines based on the movie.

Disney’s consumer products division has to easily double the size of its creative department. In accordance with the studio’s aim to squeeze every possible dollar out of a film, it will release wines based on the movie Ratatouille: “For the first time, Disney will offer red and white wines to complement the film’s backdrop, a five-star Parisian restaurant, as well as cheese platters, both from Costco Wholesale Corp.”

And according to A Passionate Foodie

Forbes is reporting that Disney is going to market a wine, called “Ratatouille” and bearing the likeness of Remy on the label, through Costco. The wine will be a French Chardonnay from the Burgundy region and will retail for $12.99.

Oh, and speaking of wine, Ratatouille is filled with easter eggs relating to previous Pixar movies and the movie’s crew. Here are some of the food related things to look for from ComingSoon.net

  • There were 372 graphics created that appear on food labels, boxes, street signs, posters, and businesses. Many of these graphics are named after Ratatouille crew members.
  • Lasseter Cabernet Sauvignon is named for executive producer John Lasseter
  • Chateau-Bird Champagne named for director Brad Bird
  • Chateau-Jessup Pauillac Medoc named for production designer Harley Jessup
  • Colette rides a “Calahan” branded motorcycle, named after Sharon Calahan, the director of photography/lighting.
  • The “Bouchiba” brand spaghetti Linguini cooks with in his apartment is named for animator Bolhem Bouchiba.
  • The “Bradford” mixer in the kitchen is named for producer Brad Lewis
  • The “Susman” brand olive oil is named for associate producer Galyn Susman.
  • “Bar Des 7 Chanceux” is a storefront seen on the streets of Paris. It is named for the “Lucky 7 Lounge,” a homemade secret lounge inside Pixar Animation Studios.

Photo from Flickr.

Do Mojito, Don’t Mojito

Mojito

I found this on Tastespotting via Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s blog, and it’s a pretty spot on review of how to and how to not drink Mojitos.

Growing up in Miami Beach, mojitos are probably my favorite mixed drink and his rules are ones that should be followed.

Here’s his list.

Do use crushed ice in your mojitos. Crushed ice will melt faster, which is a good thing in a drink with such strong flavors. The extra surface area of crushed ice also means a colder drink.

Do not use a pre-made mojito mix out of a bottle. This is one drink you want to do right.

Do use this recipe to make yourself a mojito at home.

Do not over-muddle the mint, or muddle the lime with the ice cubes. These are strictly amateur moves.

Do try Bacardi rum in your mojitos. For many of us, it is the closest thing we can get to real Cuban rum.

Do not use dark or gold rum in your mojitos. They can muddy the flavor tremendously.

Do use bottled mineral water in place of seltzer water. Remember, garbage in, garbage out.

Do not order a mojito when there is a line at the bar. Your bartender is probably not going to put a lot of love into it. In fact, you might get just the opposite.

Do order a mojito when the bar is slow. Your bartender will appreciate having an intricate cocktail to make. And if he/she doesn’t? Fuck ‘em.

Do not have ten mojitos tonight. At around 150 calories each, that’s like 1500 calories, there, fatty.

Do order a mojito from a reputable bartender at a reputable bar.

Do not order a mojito at a dance club, sports bar, drink stand, airport bar, OTB saloon, chain restaurant or fraternity house. You’re just going to end up being disappointed.

Do order a mojito on a warm summer evening.

Do not order a mojito when the weather is below 70°F. This is almost as bad as ordering a Bloody Mary after the sun has gone down.

Do slowly sip a mojito and enjoy the way the flavors meld over time.

Do not slurp down a mojito in less time than it took your bartender to make it. You’re probably already on the back burner for ordering it in the first place, and it’s going to be a while before you’re allowed another.

Photo from Flickr.

The Foundry

Foundry

The Foundry on Melrose in Los Angeles has been around for a month or so now, and I still haven’t been.

But I really want to go. The Foundry seems to be a little more lively than your average restaurant. When you visit the website, you’ll notice that although the menu sounds good, there’s more to this place than just the food. There’s nightly music by bands and DJs and surprise musical guests.

What’s livelier than that is the fact that they have a live webcam broadcasting their finished dishes. It’s like Hell’s Kitchen but less British and not fake. Head to their homepage and click on the live webcam link.

From what I hear, the food is pretty good, but a bit pricey. That’s ok though. Head to the bar area and order off the bar menu. Bar items range from $8-$15 and you can order chicken croquettes, crab & spinach dip, chopped salad, short rib grilled cheeses, bay scallop ragout, and a selection of artisan cheeses.

Reviews are mixed but the place is still fairly new. And if your meal isn’t all that great, at least they’re trying a bit harder than most other places…

After a downright bad meal at The Foundry on Melrose, I was speeding away to the nearest In-N-Out for a Double-Double, Animal Style fix when I noticed a little white box resting on the parking break. Inside was a note from The Foundry (pictured) as well as three chocolate truffles. It was a small touch that left a big impression for all the right reasons. (from the Bon Appétit Blog)

Decent prices at the bar, live music in an upscale atmosphere, and truffles in your car? Sounds like it’s worth trying out if you ask me.

7463 Melrose Ave.
West Hollywood, CA
323.651.0915

Father’s Office: The Sequel

Father’s Office

Father’s Office, the famous no reservation hamburger restaurant room/bar in Santa Monica, appears to be expanding with a second restaurant, that we can only hope holds more people than it does now.

The burgers here rank in numerous lists as one of the best in the country, and it’s definitely worth the wait. Here’s one of those lists, featuring a recipe for the famous burger itself.

As for the new location…

Looks like lovers of all things burger and beer will have a large bar to belly up to at the new Father’s Office taking root at the Helms Bakery building next to H.D. Buttercup.

A few months ago we chatted with owner Sang Yoon who told us that, yes, the burger will still be on the menu, but expect a lot more. He sounds so over that burger actually, but says he’d “be lynched” if he ever stopped serving it. Agreed.

Two things that won’t change at the new FO: The strict no-reservations policy, just like the original in Santa Monica, and please, never EVER call it a restaurant. The space is much bigger with a patio out front, and hopefully everyone will play nice. (from Eater LA)

Rumors say it could open in July, but according to the update on Eater LA, it looks like it’ll be a fall opening. For now you’ll have to settle for waiting in line on the streets of Santa Monica.

Photo from Flickr.

1018 Montana Ave
Santa Monica, California
310.323.BEER (2337)

And if you want to do it yourself at home…

DO-IT-YOURSELF FATHER’S OFFICE BURGER

Caramelized onions

  • 4 slices applewood-smoked bacon
  • 2 onions, sliced (about 4 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ketchup
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2-3 drops liquid smoke
  • 1/4teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions

  1. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the bacon until crisp, 5 to 6 minutes, then remove to paper towels to drain. Crumble 1 slice and set aside; reserve the rest of the bacon for another use. Measure 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat into a medium heavy skillet.
  2. Add the onions to the skillet and sprinkle with the sugar. Cook until the onions are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Halfway through, stir in the crumbled bacon. At the end of the 20 minutes, stir in the balsamic vinegar, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, salt and pepper. Cook for 2 more minutes. Set aside.

Burgers

  • 1 1/2pounds strip steak (preferably dry-aged), ground
  • 1/2 pound rib-eye steak (preferably dry-aged), ground
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 ounce blue cheese
  • 4 ounces Gruyere cheese
  • 4 French demi-baguettes, halved and toasted
  • 1 cup baby arugula

Directions

  1. Combine the strip and rib-eye steaks and mix in the salt. Shape the meat into 4 (7-inch) oval patties, about three-fourths-inch thick.
  2. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet, preferably cast-iron, over medium-high heat. Fry the burgers, 2 at a time, for 3 minutes, then flip. Top each burger with one-fourth of the blue and Gruyere cheeses.
  3. Cook the burgers 3 more minutes for medium.
  4. Remove and keep warm; melt the remaining butter in the skillet and repeat with the remaining 2 patties and cheeses.
  5. To assemble, place the burgers on the baguettes and top with the onions and arugula, dividing evenly.
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