Monthly Archives: August 2008

Making history

Tonight, history is being made. On the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, the first African American candidate, Barack Obama, accepts the nomination for president. What cocktail will you have in hand to celebrate? If you’re in Denver, CO, the city of the Democratic National Convention (or, damn nice cocktails), you’re taking advantage of a receptive audience with the “Obamapolitan” and the “Rodham Sockem.” Wherever you are, “Cheers!”

S&C alerts–men’s sneakers, meat cocktails

We might as well call this edition the gentleman’s quarters. Below are some of my more masculine finds in shoes, cocktails, and things related.

  • Stylish sneakers are shoes you’ll be seeing a lot more of. The sneakers I like to call hipster sneakers are no longer just for hipsters. They have a place in every man’s closet. It is no coincidence that while promoting Kung Fu Panda at the Cannes Film Festival, Jack Black had a foot prominent in every photo. Yeah, it’s a kung fu move, but he’s also endorsing Ben Sherman’s Compton shoe.
  • Our carnivorous friends, Julie & Jerry, recently subscribed to a meat newsletter and passed on an article about meat cocktails. I’m not surprised to find that Chicago’s mixologists are also taking a shine to meat jus as a cocktail ingredient. There’s a Ham and Cheese with Hennessey, a Baconcello with granny smith apple, and naturally, a Bacon Bloody Mary. Looks like a contender for the S&C test kitchen. Maybe during football season.

No end in sight

Our love affair with fantastic prints is showing no signs of letting up. Especially when we get emails from fave neighborhood boutique, The Shoe Hive, alerting us to new arrivals from Tibi’s fall collection. The bold graphic print, the patent leather heel — all I can think is — I.must.have.these.

S&C test kitchen–bloody mary tomato mousse

This past weekend, friends LC and CA invited us over for a round of Texas hold ‘em. Given they appreciate a good cocktail as much as we do, it was a perfect opportunity for me to test the Bloody Mary Tomato Mousse cocktail recently featured in “Summer in a cup.”

There are many things to like about this drink: the colors are impressive, its innovative, and I love the use of fresh, seasonal ingredients. I thought the flavor of the multiple, ripe tomatoes would make my mouth explode, but that didn’t quite happen. While I would make this cocktail again, I would continue to experiment with the ingredients, the portions (notice how I had a lot more of the red mixture), and the layering technique (not quite as beautiful as the original picture).

The original recipe comes from Washington Post Food Section Gastronomer columnist Andreas Viestad. I didn’t alter the recipe much – I added fesh basil, more Worcestershire and hot pepper sauce. I recommend when making, you taste each batch of puree and alter spices accordingly. The S&C modified recipe is the one below.

Ingredients:

· 3 small yellow tomatoes, cored and cut into quarters
· 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
· Freshly squeezed lemon juice
· 5 medium red tomatoes, cored and cut into quarters
· 2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
· Several dashes hot pepper sauce (to taste)
· 5 to 6 tablespoons vodka, plus more to taste (preferably from the freezer)
· 3 small green tomatoes, cored and cut into quarters
· 2 ribs celery, washed, trimmed and cut into chunks
· Handful of fresh basil
· Celery salt (kosher salt mixed with celery seed)

Directions:

I made the pureed tomato batches several hours before serving, so I stored each in separate plastic containers.

Original recipe calls for pureeing in a blender for 5 minutes. Fearing my blender couldn’t handle it, I opted for a food processor, and didn’t need the full 5 minutes. The tomatoes were ripe and juicy, so my tomato purees were very liquidy. I put the containers in the freezer, rather than the refrigerator, hoping to thicken the mixture.

1. Place the yellow tomato pieces in a food processor and puree for 3-5 minutes until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the blender jar as needed. Add lemon zest and lemon juice to taste. Pour mixture in plastic container and store in freezer for a few hours to thicken.

2. Rinse out the food processor and place the red tomato pieces inside; puree for 3-5 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the jar as needed. Add the Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce and vodka to taste; puree for a few seconds just to combine. Pour mixture in plastic container and store in freezer for a few hours to thicken.

3. Rinse out the food processor, then add the green tomato pieces, chunks of celery, and basil. Puree for 3-5 minutes, or until completely smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the jar as needed. Pour mixture in plastic container and store in freezer for a few hours to thicken. (For next time: I will try adding a roasted poblano pepper to the green mixture.)

4. Remove puree mixtures about a half-hour before serving. The mixtures should not be frozen (only slightly crystalized along the edge of the containers). In the meantime, make the celery salt.

5. When ready to serve – I had a lot more of the red mixture, so I placed the red layer on the bottom of the glass. Then, carefully pour the yellow mixture on top (pouring it over the back of a spoon will cause less agitation). Add a splash of well-chilled vodka. Then, pour the green mixture on top of the yellow mixture. Sprinkle with celery salt.

Overall rating: 3 out of 4 stars

Dancing queen

I loved the Project Runway drag queen challenge. I loved the queens, who are so much more entertaining and so much more fun than the usual models (yawn). I loved the return of the beloved Chris March. And, I loved the much-talked-about, everybody’s-new-favorite-Tim-Gunn-line, said to the increasingly annoying Blayne, “It looks like a pterodactyl from a gay Jurassic Park.” Holla!

It was très difficult to find shoes spectacular enough to pair with these over-the-top designs. My favorite design of the night was Terri. Girl has a bit of an attitude and it shows in her clothes. Her designs always have many interesting elements, and her creation for Acid Betty was no exception. These multi-color gladiators definitely have some edge, but nothing can beat those platform boots (I love how one ties in with the stripes on the kimono-brilliant).

Joe’s Elvis-turns-Sailor outfit was the winning design. It may have been a little safe, but there’s no question Varla Jean Merman was loving it. I chose these round-toe platforms for her naughty nautical look.

As far as cocktails – definitely something with wasabi for Acid Betty (bloody mary, martini), and maraschino cherries for Varla.

Love story

Oh la la. More exotic prints. More colors. More fabrics. More textures. More, more, more.

These heels are Missoni, a company famous for its unique knitwear. Founded by Ottavio and Rosita Missoni in 1953, after a romance that began at the 1948 Olympics in London. Rosita was studying there and decided to take in some track and field events. Ottavio was a hurdles runner who also happened to design his team’s track uniforms. Fast forward to now – and a great selection of their patterned footwear over at Zappos. Keep a watchful eye because you can find these same multicolor pumps for less at one of my neighborhood boutiques, The Shoe Hive.

Another great thing about multicolor prints – they pretty much go with everything. Kind-of like champagne. I’m in love too.

Like a fine wine

S&C is becoming a fan of Jason Wilson’s Spirits column in the Washington Post’s Food Section. This week, he gives us the low-down on misunderstood Tequila – and, as a bonus, we get some excellent drink recipes.

I’m sharing it here, because it is better than any research I could do on the liquor. Jason Wilson went on an agave pilgrimage, to see first-hand the life cycle of tequila’s base ingredient. He visited distilleries, sampled agave pulp – all to understand tequila’s complex characteristics. But, he also wants to refine tastes, and change drinkers’ perceptions of the spirit (i.e. those that think tequila is only good for the 21st birthday shot, it’s a low-quality liquor, and it should only be mixed with pre-made, sickly sweet bottled mixers).

Tequila isn’t quite as complex as wine, but there are geographical areas (Jalisco highlands and lowlands) to note, and there are three basic types to understand: blanco (pure), reposado (rested), and añejo (aged).

I’m far from an aficionado, but I whole heartedly support the notion that if you have good ingredients available, (a) use them, if resources allow, and (b) if you use them, do not, under any circumstances, drown them with overpowering, artificial mixers. I’m actually a bit of a snob when it comes this point. I promise you – you can make a better cocktail without those bottled mixers. And by better, I still mean easy, simple, and affordable. Take a look at these recipes: Paloma is more popular in Mexico than a margarita (grapefruit tastes better with tequila than lime); Sangrita is a spicy drink that literally translates “little blood,” and, the Tamarind Margarita is a sweet and spicy frozen drink. Sounds delicioso!

posted by Ms. S&C

S&C alerts–shoe icons, shrubs

Below are some of my latest finds in shoes, cocktails, and things related.

  • S&C is a big fan of lists, rankings, critics’ picks, recaps, etc. Footwear News has another great slideshow highlighting the top 50 styles that have stood the test of time. We’re talking about shoes that are timeless. Classics. Icons. Make sure you check out the photo captions and find out a little more about Converse All Stars, Dr. Martens, Timberlands, and Manolo Blahniks, of course.
  • Be on the lookout for shrubs the next time you are ordering specialty cocktails. They are all over the cocktail/mixology blogs these days. Everyone is realizing that fresh, local produce (in this case, fruit) has a place in drinks too. Shrub is a vinegary fruit syrup that was commonly prepared and drunk during the colonial times. To make your own homemade shrub, bring 1 cup white or champagne vinegar, 1 cup sugar, 2 pints fresh berries, and up to a half cup of water to a boil. Stir. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain and bottle. My good friend, JD, just gave me a bottle of raspberry shrub prepared locally in PA — glad that I now have some good uses for it. Here are a few recipes worth checking out:
    • A Dash of Bitters recently made a Cabana Shrub using Cabana Cachaça and raspberry shrub syrup, and blueberry-gooseberry syrup.
    • The Cocktail Chronicles made Apple Bramble Buck with blackberry shrub.

Shoes & Cocktails wants to know: What shoes/cocktails do you consider iconic? Post a comment below.

Feeling inspired

The Drink: Sangria blanca

There were several inspirations for this cocktail. Friends Jason and Amy recently introduced us to frozen grapes – a delightful and refreshing snack for the dogs days of summer. I knew immediately after trying those frozen nuggets that I would put them in a Sangria. Not only did I love the sweetness, I loved that they could be used as flavored ice cubes for a cocktail.

Then, my high school friend, Emily, emailed asking for a drink recommendation to serve adults at her one year old’s birthday barbeque. She said she would like to serve wine, or maybe champagne. Bingo.

I’ve been playing with variations of white wine sprizters all summer long, but surprisingly, I’ve never made Sangria. Sangria, a popular “wine punch” from Spain and Portugal, offers a lot of versatility. You can adjust for your own taste and use a variety of fruit, depending on what’s in season. Knowing that my farmers markets has the most incredible peaches and nectarines right now, they were given in this cocktail.

The Ingredients/Recipe:

This version of Sangria blanca is a Shoes & Cocktails exclusive!

(Recipe is for two bottles of wine)

  • Prepare night before – frozen grapes (freeze 2 large handfuls of seedless, white grapes)
  • Prepare at least 3 hours in advance (can be up to 24 hours in advance) – slice 2 peaches and/or nectarines in wedges
  • Slice 1 lemon in whole slices, then quarter
  • Place peaches and lemons in pitcher or carafe, add 2 bottles of white wine (preferably a Spanish white or another dry white wine)
  • Refrigerate for several hours, to allow time for the fruit flavors to blend with wine
  • Add frozen grapes to carafe, and stir
  • Add raspberries, and any remaining grapes, to individual glasses
  • Pour white wine and top with seltzer water (note: it can be very tricky to pour and get an adequate mixture of fruit in each glass; recommend that you pour the wine first and then spoon in fruit mixture)

The Occasion:

Attention supper club friends! I am totally making this sangria for the next dinner party. Let’s hold it soon, while peaches are in their prime.

Whether you are planning your one year old’s birthday party, supper club, or you need to use the left-overs from your trip to the farmers market, look no further than Sangria blanca. This cocktail is light, refreshing, and quite a show-stopper. Which is why I plan on pairing it with these striking paisley print pumps.

The Shoes: My Paisley Peep-toe Pumps

I’ve had these Nine West pumps for almost three years, and I continue to get compliments. Strangers literally stop me on the street. The peep-toe pump is a tried and true design. And though I haven’t highlighted them yet, Nine West, continues to be my go-to brand for everyday shoes. They are affordable, decently well-made, and there’s always a good selection. The hint of raspberry goes perfectly with the Sangria, no?

posted by Ms. S&C

Animal instinct

The latest Project Runway episode challenged the designers to dress Brooke Shields for her role in the TV show, Lipstick Jungle. I’ve never watched the show, but I kinda wanted to roll my eyes (again) at the shameless NBC cross-marketing machine. But, it turns out, I like Brooke Shields. She came off warm, down-to-earth, and I think I want to be friends with her. The designers, on the other hand, are ego-maniacs!

Despite their inflated opinions of themselves, there were some good designs. Korto does it again, along with partner Joe, on her ethnic-bohemian getup. Unfortunately, the dress couldn’t carry itself alone. Unless paired with some funky animal print shoes, like these from Dolce & Gabanna? Roar. I so wanted to pair the dress with the Christian Louboutin leopard haircalf platforms, but I resisted.

While I really like Jerrell’s use of textures, I wish I could take this outfit down a notch. I think Tim calls it “using your editing eye?” Get rid of the over-sized bag, sunglasses, and tone down that zebra-gold-trimmed belt (keep the zebra, save the gold accents for the shoes). The shoes in the gallery photo work, but I’d also consider these Tory Burch crocodile embossed slingbacks. Love the stacked heel and soft, patent leather peep-toe.

Finally, the winning design. I would love Keith and Kenley’s creation for myself. The layered, high-waisted skirt and flowy, floral top — I’m a big fan. I’d get rid of the scarf, and maybe all the dark accessories. That way, I can pop into my own pink Ferragamos.

Shoes and Cocktails would love to hear what you think about the designs, shoe pairings, and of course, what to drink! I think I see a martini in our future.