Saturday, April 19, 2014

New on Gastronomista

Perhaps you've noticed there have been a few changes going on here on Gastronomista.

I've been welcomed into the family at Kitchen Daily as part of their Contributor Network!  It's very exciting to be included in such a talented group of writers, and to have some of my boozy creations featured on Kitchen Daily!  Head on over there to peek at some of their yummy recipes, and to check out the Violet Fizzie, now featured for Spring!

I also wanted to thank everyone for all of your votes for the Saveur Best Cocktail Blog awards this year.  Sadly, I did not win, but it was a tremendous honor to be nominated.  This year was a group of blogs that I deeply respect and admire, and I was thrilled to be a part of such a great group of writers.

The outpouring of support from this community was truly heartwarming.  I thank each and every one of your for your tweets, shares on facebook, votes, and emails.  Gastronomista is a passion project, and it's really wonderful to hear that so many people appreciate it.  This community of impassioned imbibers make all the hard work worth it.

Thank you.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Opal Basil Gimlet

 I've had a major obsession with Basil for years now, and have tried to put it in pretty much everything edible.  Yogurt, Ice Cream (which is delicious), and of course spirit.  I tried a few failed attempts at making Basil Liqueur, which always ended badly and went down the drain.

Basil Gin was the first infusion I made with the Sous Vide, following the recipe from The Cocktail Lab by Tony Conigliaro, but of course I grabbed the gorgeous Opal Basil at the market!  It's quite simple: wash  basil, put basil in sous vide bag, add gin, squeeze out air, seal bag, throw in sous vide, strain.  Presto!  Basil Gin!

The gin picks up a yellowish green tint from the Basil, and if you're really hard core you'd throw that in a centrifuge to get all of the chlorophyll particles out of your spirit.  I'm still working on getting a centrifuge, so my Basil Gin stays green. 

Gimlets have become one of my favorite cocktails, mostly because when I get together with my girlfriends from architecture school we without fail start the evening off with gimlets.  The are one of those drinks that is a "happy place" for me.  If you use high quality, fresh ingredients, Gimlets are delicious: fresh, piquant, and just the right amount of boozy kick.

The Opal Basil Gin does very well in a Gimlet, the basil giving it just another layer of herbaceous flavor, and the fresh lime adding the citrus-y zip. Garnish with a clipping of the top of the basil plant, right where it begins to blossom, adding more of that sweet basil aroma to the cocktail. 


Opal Basil Gimlet

2 oz Opal Basil Gin
3/4 oz Simple Syrup
3/4 oz Fresh Lime Juice

Opal Basil to Garnish

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with a fresh clipping of Opal Basil.

Opal Basil Gin

2 g Fresh Opal Basil (around 10-15 leaves)
2 c Gin

Add ingredients to the vacuum bag, squeeze out as much air as possible, and seal.
Place in Sous Vide at 125 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour.
Strain with Cheese Cloth, and store in a non-reactive container.  (I like glass flip-top bottles).

Equipment: Sous Vide Supreme, vacuum sealer, & vacuum pouches.  Glass bottles for storing.

Pro Tip:
Use the seal function only, do not use the vacuum function when preparing liquids.

Basil Gin recipe modified from The Cocktail Lab by Tony Conigliaro

Monday, April 7, 2014

Artichoke Negroni

If you've been a reader of Gastronomista for a while, you probably know that I love the Negroni.  It's a modern classic and it has everything I'm looking for in a cocktail: sweet, bitter, and strong, not to discount that seductive red hue. 

But sometimes, a girl must build on the classics.  This spring I've been inspired by complex Amaros and all the gorgeous produce that has started to show up at the market.  I found these gorgeous little artichokes, and I thought that they would be not only fantastic garnishes, but a delicious addition to a cocktail.  The Italian bitter Cynar (CHEE-nar) is made predominantly from artichokes, but doesn't really taste like artichokes.  So naturally, I wanted to make my own artichoke infusion.

But here's the problem, all of the vegetal infusions I've done have turned out disgustingly bitter.  I've read into it a bit, and it can be blamed on oxidization.  Bah!

I recently received a Sous Vide Supreme, which is opening my mind and inspiring me in more ways than any appliance has ever inspired a lady!  I became interested in a Sous Vide after this summer's Tales of the Cocktail, where I was introduced to the method of Sous Vide for making "barrel aged" cocktails.  Instead of leaving the cocktail to age in a barrel for 6 months, the Sous Vide rapidly ages the cocktail and also eliminates any extra oxygen from the process.  Barrel aged cocktails that use vermouth should be aged in a Sous Vide instead of a barrel because the nature of the barrel aging process causes the vermouth to oxidize, thus making the cocktail extra bitter and slightly "off" tasting.  I figured the method could be used for vegetable infusions as well.  

Experiments in the Sous Vide
Baby Artichokes & Gin
Those sweet perfect baby artichokes got chopped up, and put in a vacuum bag with some gin, and I put it in the sous vide for 1 hour at 140 degrees Fahrenheit.  The result was a gorgeous bright green artichoke gin, that tasted perfectly of fresh artichokes and juniper!  Brilliant!

Artichoke Gin!
Naturally, I wanted to pair it up with Cynar, doubling down on the artichoke.  But as the handsome man in my life put it: "you've set yourself up for a Negroni".  Two spirits with artichoke flavor is a lot of bitterness, so I used Cocchi Bianco for the vermouth to add just a bit more sweetness.

So dear readers, behold: The Artichoke Negroni.

The Artichoke Negroni benefits from the trifecta of sweet, bitter, and strong, and a squeeze of grapefruit peel does a magnificent job of brightening up the vegetal flavors.  I garnished it with a quarter of a baby purple artichoke and a grapefruit peel flower, skewered together and rested on the surface of the cocktail.

I hope you enjoy this cocktail as much as I do.

Artichoke Gin

3 Mini Artichokes, Halved
2 c. Gin

Seal in a vacuum pouch and submerge in the Sous Vide for 1 hour at 140 degrees Ferenheit.

Equipment: Sous Vide Supreme, vacuum sealer, & vacuum pouches.

Pro Tip: Use the seal function only, do not use the vacuum function when preparing liquids. 

Artichoke Negroni

1.5 oz Artichoke Gin
1.5 oz Cocchi Americano Bianco
1 oz Cynar

Squeeze grapefruit peel over cocktail, and swipe the rim of the glass.  Fold into a petal, skewer with a quarter of a fresh baby artichoke, and float on the surface of the cocktail. 


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Gastronomista - Finalist for Saveur Best Cocktail Blog 2014!!

Devoted Drinkers & Epic Imbibers,

I'm thrilled to announce that for the second year, Gastronomista is a finalist for the Saveur Best Blog Awards for the BEST COCKTAIL BLOG 2014!

I'm incredibly humbled to be part of the amazing group of fellow cocktail writers, many of whom have websites that I admire and respect greatly. 

Now you, dear reader, you hold all the power.  Please take a moment to vote for Gastronomista:


Voting ends 4/9/2014

Please support Glass Backwards (Best Video), and The Year in Food (Best Cooking Blog)!

Millions of thanks for all of your support, and of course, your votes (wink wink). 


Monday, March 31, 2014

Avuá Cachaça - Pan Am Cocktail

I was recently introduced to Avuá Cachaça, a relatively new cachaça on the market.  After a boozy night out on the town touring some of New York City's best bars, including Sasha Petrosky's famed Milk & Honey, I'm convinced that this is a bottle I want to keep in my library of libations.

You might be wondering, what the *#&^ is cachaça, and how the *#&^ do I pronounce it? Cachaça (kah-SHAH-sah) is a Brazilian spirit that is distilled from Sugar Cane Juice.  It is also known as aguardente, pinga, caninha, and can be attributed to the Portuguese colonization of South America. 

While most people know cachaça as "Brazilian Rum", it in fact has a very different flavor profile.  Tasting Avuá (av-wah) was honestly one of my first experiences with cachaça, and I was pleasantly surprised.

Avuá is made by one of Brazil's only female distillers, and the brand invokes 1950's bossanova Brasil.  Think the golden age of travel, classic 50's cars, and the gorgeous beaches of Brasil...

Avuá Cachaça comes in two expressions, the Avuá Cachaça Prata (unaged), and Avuá Cachaça Amburana (aged).  This is where cachaça becomes really interesting: it is aged in 28 different kinds of wood native to South America!  And each wood has it's own flavors that come from the specific type of wood and the terroir of the land, all of which are imparted to the cachaça! 

Avuá Cachaça Prata is more grassy and floral on the nose, mixed with some of the expected tropical fruit flavors.  On the palate it has a dry creamy entry, which then blossoms into flavors of tropical fruits such as banana and mango with a hot peppery note, and a finishes with mint and a touch of salt.  Compared to Avuá Cachaça Amburana, aged 2 years in Amburana Cearensis wood, has a resin flavor on the nose, with tropical fruits, Jasmine, and a lot of brown sugar.  On the mouth it starts out clean and creamy, and then opens to flavors of pepper, a bite of tannin at the back of the palate, followed by a smooth, creamy finish reminiscent of flan. 

This is good stuff, people.  And mixed with cocktails, it's even better.

My favorite cocktail of the evening was the Pan-Am, a surprisingly simple yet dangerously strong cocktail made with the Amburana expression.  Word to the wise, be careful with these bad boys, after a few you'll be ready to book a flight to Brazil, perhaps never to return from the land of this água-benta.

Avuá Pan Am 
Created by Cervantes Ramirez - Little Branch

2oz. Avuá Cachaça Amburana
1/2 oz. Cointreau
1/4 oz. dry vermouth

Stir with ice, and strain onto a large ice cube in a low ball glass. Swipe rim of glass with orange peel, squeeze, and drop into the glass.

Note: This variation is different than the one listed on the Avuá website.  It's damn good none the less.





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