Monthly Archives: April 2009

Cake and punch

The fun thing about going to a one year old’s birthday party is the party turns out to be one that’s really more for adults. Ms. S&C recently had the pleasure honor of fixing a punch for an adorable lad’s first birthday party. Said adorable lad also happens to be Miss Mojito’s nephew! While the pomegranate champagne punch was a crowd pleaser, the real hit of the party was this incredible rainbow-colored cake baked by the lad’s superstar mom, LC. LC tells me the rainbow cake was inspired by a number of blogs and recipe sites (Google rainbow cake and you’ll get oodles of results). But her cake and icing recipe came from Restaurant Eve’s Birthday Cake. Clever mom that she is, LC implemented the rainbow layering and colored coconut for the topping, rather than using plain old sprinkles.

bday-cakeSpectacular rainbow colored birthday cake

For the punch: when asked to help make a cocktail for the party, I wanted something equally colorful and festive. Since we were serving a large crowd of 20-30 people, I knew that punch was the only practical option. I found a pomegranate rum punch recipe from Bon Appetit on Epicurious. I’ve always been a fan of pomegranate juice – the color and tartness make it a perfect mixer for cocktails. Not to mention all the health benefits. But, I’m not so much a fan of rum (which could be good in a fall/winter version), so I subbed champagne and white wine, and made a few other tweaks. The result was a bright, cheerful, and sparkling beverage that parents, and friends and family of parents, can enjoy.

pom-champagne-punchPomegranate champagne punch with lime and mint

Pomegranate Champagne Punch

Ingredients:

  • Simple syrup
  • 5 bottles chilled brut Champagne
  • 2 bottles chilled white wine (Ms. S&C uses sauvignon blanc)
  • 1 cup triple sec
  • 3 cups pomegranate juice,  (Ms. S&C prefers POM Wonderful)
  • 4 limes, thinly sliced
  • Simple syrup, to taste
  • Pomegranate seeds (optional)
  • Fresh mint for garnish (optional)
  • 1 ice block

Directions:

For the simple syrup: bring 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar to boil in small saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves. Simmer 5 minutes. Cool syrup completely. Note: adding lime slices is always an option to infuse the syrup.

Combine Champagne, white wine, triple sec and pomegranate juice in punch bowl. Add syrup to sweeten to taste. Mix in lime slices, and pomegranate seeds. Add ice block to bowl. Garnish with mint.

posted by Ms. S&C

S&C spotted–vintage shoes

A friend visited New York City over the weekend and came home sharing pictures of a pretty awesome shoe display. These pictures inspired moi to start a new feature on the blog where readers can share their discoveries. Ala The Sartorialist‘s coverage of people-on-the-streets, but S&C-related. For now we’ll call it S&C Spotted.

So, the first edition of S&C Spotted brings you a window display of vintage shoes, including a spectacular pair of rhinestone peep-toes from Valentino. Don’t you love how the dominos are playfully scattered about? Makes you want to head to Monte Carlo, no? These shoes may be vintage, but you’ll be seeing more of this sparkly trend.

The display was spotted at one of the Housing Works Thrift Shops. Housing Works operates seven upscale shops in New York City, selling high-end vintage treasures for good causes. Even if you’re not in NYC, you can shop their shoes online. Choose from designers like Gucci, Marc Jacobs and Ferragamo at insanely low prices.

vintage-shoe-disply

vintage-shoes-1

Spotted! Vintage Gucci and Valentino Rhinestone Heels at a NYC Thrift Store.

Have you spotted something spectacular? Share it with S&C! Camera phones are ubiquitous these days, so if you are out and about and run across something awe-inspiring, inventive or delicious — email shoesandcocktails(at)yahoo(dot)com, or send us a TwitPic @shoescocktails. We’d love it!

posted by Ms. S&C

Imbibing in New Orleans

Miss Mojito just returned from a trip to Mississippi, but had the chance to take a quick detour to New Orleans. Tuesday nolaafternoon found me on the patio at Pat O’Brien’s beneath blue skies and enjoying a balmy breeze. The perfect locale was only enhanced by the perfect New Orleans beverage: the Mint Julep.

It may not be as indicative of New Orleans culture as the Hurricane or the Sazerac, but I think the Mint Julep is the perfect drink to enjoy while you’re visiting New Orleans: it packs a punch while remaining festive. I like to think of it as the mojito’s American cousin. They’re both classified in the same category of drink (perhaps Miss Mojito’s favorite category), the smash, in which ingredients are “smashed” and muddled together with alcohol and mixer.

mintThe Pat O’Brien version is assertive and fun. They pair plenty of bourbon with plenty of garnish for some fantastic results. So until you can make your way to Pat O’Brien’s and try their version for yourself, here’s a quick recipe to test out. And with the Kentucky Derby coming up on May 2, it’s the perfect time to hone your julep-making skills. Enjoy!

Mint Julep
Serves one

  • 2 ounces bourbon (Miss Mojito recommends Woodford Reserve)
  • 1 Tbl. simple syrup
  • Small handful mint leaves
  • Whole mint leaves, cherry and orange for garnish (optional)
  • Crushed ice

Muddle mint leaves in bottom of a glass. Fill with crushed ice. Add syrup and bourbon and stir. Garnish as desired.

Posted by Miss Mojito.

S&C reader mail–cream colored pumps for spring

Dear Ms. S&C,
I really want light beige or cream colored pumps for spring…I think they’re “in”? I just bought a navy blue dress, and I think this pair from Ralph Lauren will look good with it. I really want a pair of open-toe heels, but maybe I can save up for those later. What do you think?

jcrew-dressrl-platform

Many thanks,
KG

——————————————-

Dear KG,

I am so tempted to say look no further than these cream Ralph Lauren’s because I love the wooden platform and heel. And, I love that they are cream (very much “in” this spring). I also love the textured print (very sexy). I just love everything about them in general. They are great for work and great for the evening — great find all around! While I think they are the clear winner, here are a few other choices, just for kicks. Slingbacks, like these from Anne Klein, are a good choice for spring, if you can’t find a pair of open-toes. I also love neutral-toned patents. These from Endless have a stacked wooden heel, but no cool platform. Finally, an almost identical pair from Nine West. All très affordable.

ak-slingbackrestricted-pumpninewest-platforms

Happy spring!
Ms. S&C

P.S. Did I forget to mention how much I also love the cream shoes with the navy dress? That fun and flirty bow on the front — um, adorable. I have several items suited for navy shoes, but it is so hard to find attractive, stylish navy pumps. Perhaps I’ve found my alternative, n’est pas?

posted by Ms. S&C

One fine muddle

The nice folks over at Leblon recently shipped Ms. S&C a bottle of cachaça. Cachaça, as  you may already know, is the main spirit in latest and greatest muddled cocktail, the caipirinha. I’ve had cachaça, a sugar cane-derived spirit from Brazil, and caipirinhas before and really do find it a nice, less sweet, yet fun-because-it-is-muddled, alternative to the mojito. Especially if you are not in the mood for mint, and truth be told, I’m not always in the mood. (Of course, the mojito still reins supreme of muddled concoctions, Miss M!)

caiprihinas

Mr. and Ms. S&C’s blackberry and lime caipirinhas

Mr. and Ms. S&C found the perfect occasion to pop open their bottle of Leblon cachaça. After a gorgeous weekend of perfect Spring weather and back-breaking yardwork, I placed steaks marinated in chimichurri on the grill, and served up a his and her version of the caipirinha. His version was traditional with lime only; hers was bright and fruity with blackberries. Both were equally refreshing and delicious and highly recommended. As mentioned before, juicy limes and crushed ice go a long way in elevating cocktails. Additionally, you’ll want to shake the ingredients well to fully incorporate the sugar. Lastly, my second caipirinha is always better than the first because I use the leftover limes and blackberries from the first drink and just add more.

The Caipirinha
makes one cocktail

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon superfine granulated sugar
  • 1 lime quartered
  • Blackberries (optional, but recommend 6 or more)
  • 2 ounces cachaça, preferably Leblon
  • Seltzer water

Directions

  • In a mixing glass, sprinkle sugar over the limes (and blackberries)
  • Muddle together until sugar is dissolved and lime juice is released
  • Pour an almost-full old-fashioned glassful of crushed ice into the mixing glass
  • Add cachaça and shake well to incorporate
  • Pour mixture back into the old-fashioned glass
  • Top with seltzer water
  • Garnish with lime (and blackberries)

posted by Ms. S&C

Olive Love

I recently made a purchase that I’ve been pondering over for weeks: a big container of olives with fennel. I’m olivesembarrassed to admit that fennel—and the olive, for that matter—has only made its way on to my taste bud radar as of late. I started enjoying fennel about one year ago, and olives have made a comeback for me in just the last six months. As they say, better late than never, so thank goodness for maturing palates!

But back to the matter at hand: how will I use my new acquisition? Besides the obvious (snacking) and the more obvious (gin martinis), how can an olive with fennel be integrated into Miss Mojito’s cocktail repertoire? The problem with the martini is that it often packs a bit too much of a punch for my tastes. Still, I’m hoping that with the addition of this new and exciting olive, plus some first-rate Hendrick’s gin, my taste buds just might up their maturity a notch further. But as a back up, I’d like to have some other cocktail recipes ready as a substitute that will also make use of olives.

The Bloody Mary could easily benefit from the addition of the fennel olive. But it’s not exactly the evening cocktail I’m looking for. Miss Mojito wants to know: Are there any savory-style cocktails that would benefit from an olive that I’m missing out on? Help me brainstorm in the comments section below!

posted by Miss Mojito

Sapphire in the mud

After reading Garlic and Sapphires for my book club, I’ve been craving Asian food like something intense. Ruth Reichl’s exploration of Japanese, Korean and Chinese restaurants, while restaurant critic of the New York Times, was remarkable and mouth-watering. While at the NYT, she was criticized for her time spent reviewing small, ethnic establishments, but I admire her attitude toward food — especially her view that she didn’t have to review restaurants just for rich people.

Desperate to satisfy my craving, friends and I tried Yechon over the weekend. Located in the suburbs of Washington, DC, in an area engulfed by strip malls, I knew ahead of time that looks would be deceiving. It did, however, meet every expectation of deliciousness. Truly a sapphire in the mud, whether that was T. S. Eliot’s intention for the phrase or not. For dinner, we shared the bul kalbi, beef short ribs marinated in chef’s special sauce. The meat was a little sweet and a little salty, and grilled right at the table. Wrap it in crisp lettuce with fiery cabbage kimchi and you wonder why you haven’t been eating this food all along. The bowls of panchan were plentiful, and maybe next time I’ll get the nerve to ask which each of them are. Like the kimchi, they are the cold dishes Korean restaurants offer with every meal.

And, what do you drink with a feast like this? White wine and lagers are the most fitting accompaniments. The food is spicy and flavorful and you’ll be happier with a refreshing beverage. Most of us drank Hite and Kirin, beers of Korea and Japan that taste just like American lagers Budweiser and Miller. We also tried Soju, a traditional Korean liquor similar to vodka but sweeter as it is distilled from sweet potatoes. Soju is served chilled and in shot glasses, and should be consumed in one gulp, preferably after toasting to good friends around the table.

korean-bevs

Our beverages at Yechon: Soju, Korean beer Hite
and Japanese beer Kirin

posted by Ms. S&C