Monthly Archives: August 2009

The brothers Voltaggio

The second episode of Top Chef was typical Vegas – dice rolling, shots, bachelor and bachelorette parties. They even threw in a battle of the sexes. Though the episode focused on men vs. women, it looks like the season is shaping up to be Voltaggio vs. Voltaggio.

TC-ep2Todd English appears the second episode of Top Chef as a guest judge

The show started with the Quickfire Challenge, where the cheftestants rolled the dice and had to create a dish with the same number of ingredients (as shown on the dice). Michael V won with a nitro [liquid nitrogen] gazpacho, compressed cucumbers and toast point.

Both Voltaggio bros end up preparing the top two dishes of the Elimination Challenge. In the Elimination Challenge, it was men vs. women, and the chefs created dishes for a joint bachelor/bachelorette party, with the food complementing one of three shots: the Moscow Mule, tequila, and something called the Golden Delicious (which one chef described as sweet, gooey, and disgusting).

Michael V reworked the ingredients (fresh ingredients, of course) from the Golden Delicious, and made an apple and ginger sorbet with a goat cheese cookie. The judges loved it, but his big bro Bryan V won with his sweet and sour macaroon, filled with guacamole, corn nuts and corn puree, which he paired with tequila. His dish was a modern version of the all-time favorite Mexican appetizer — chips and guacamole.

TC-macBryan Voltaggio’s sweet and sour macaroon, with guacamole
and corn puree, paired with tequila

For the drink pairing, S&C is hot-to-trot over tequila lately. Recent blog posts have highlighted watermelon margaritas and a modified cantarito. We’ve also shared recipes for cranberry margaritas, the pink panther, and a Q-cumber fizz. Using the categories on the right-hand side, you can search for all blog posts featuring tequila.

Because Ms. S&C recently drank a great Paloma at Bar Pilar in DC, she’ll share a new tequila drink, to go with Bryan’s macaroon (otherwise, she may have picked Miss Mojito’s cantarito). The traditional Paloma drink is made with grapefruit soda (same as the one at Bar Pilar — and similar to the cantarito), but the below recipe uses freshly squeezed white grapefruit juice and club soda, to add fizz. It was featured in a great article on tequila, from the Washington Post’s spirits columnist, which was recapped by S&C last year.

Paloma
serves one

Ingredients: paloma_wapo

  • Ice
  • 2 ounces blanco or silver tequila
  • 3 ounces freshly squeezed white grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce agave nectar
  • Sea salt, to rim the glass
  • 1 lime wheel, for garnish
  • Club soda

Directions:

Fill a cocktail shaker two-thirds full with ice and add the tequila, grapefruit juice, lime juice and agave nectar. Shake well and strain into an ice-filled collins glass rimmed with sea salt. Garnish with the lime wheel and top with a splash of club soda.

Recipe Source: The Washington Post, from Apothecary in Philadelphia. Photo: Julia Ewan for The Washington Post.

posted by Ms. S&C

A Citrusy Celebration

Miss Mojito’s good college pal just started medical school in Norfolk, and a trip east was in order to help her friend explore a new town. We chatted over champagne, enjoyed a few tapas and indulged in the kind of reminiscing that old friends do so well.

Of course, a weekend of good times isn’t complete without a signature cocktail. To celebrate our friend’s accomplishments, tequila was the drink of choice. As August comes to an end, my goal is to make the most of summery drinks while I still can! I’ve been reading about the Cantarito, aIMG_0160 citrus and tequila drink that uses grapefruit soda, and decided that this weekend was as good as any to give the delectable mix a test run.

Unfortunately, grapefruit soda proved harder to come by than I had hoped. (I hear a Mexican market might be my best bet for finding this particular beverage, so I’ll report back on grapefruit soda cocktails once I’ve put my hands on a bottle.) I improvised with grapefruit juice for flavor and agave nectar syrup for sweetness. What this drink lacks in fizz it makes up for in flavor.

Since our friend just moved into her (stellar) apartment only a week ago, she was a bit short in the housewares department. So, as you can see from the photo, plastic cups came to the rescue!

A Modified Cantarito
Serves two.

  • 1 oz. fresh lime juice (about 1 small lime)
  • 1 oz. lemon juice (about 3/4 medium lemon)
  • 1 oz. orange juice (about 1/2 orange)
  • 1 oz grapefruit juice (Miss Mojito recommends Simply Grapefruit)
  • 1 teaspoon agave syrup
  • 4 oz. tequila
  • Orange slices, for garnish
  • Ice

Pour all of the ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake well. Pour over ice and serve with orange slices.

IMG_0195What shoes did I wear while Cantarito-concocting, you might ask? Well, it’s a pair that has absolutely nothing to do with the Cantarito, but I’m so utterly obsessed with them that I had to share. I got these brown leather peep-toes at Target for a steal at $30. But, lucky you, they’re now available on Target.com for $14.98! I promise you’ll find yourself creating excuses to wear these Frye-inspired, Mossimo sandals. Plus, they’re a stellar transitional shoe as we head into September: the peep-toe sandal styling screams “summer” while the brown leather nods to fall. And despite the 3.75-inch heel, they were just comfortable enough for some nightlife exploring in Norfolk.

Posted by Miss Mojito.

Roll out the red carpet

The TV-show-drink-and-shoe-pairings are in full swing over here at S&C. Project Runway is finally back from its hiatus, and the Project Runway Shoe Pairing has been resurrected. If you are new to S&C, the Project Runway Shoe Pairing is a reoccurring feature on the blog, where we recap the previous week’s episode and then pair spectacular shoes with the winning design. (Yes, S&C has an embarrassment of riches, in fresh content, right now.)

PR

Project Runway is back and on Lifetime

The new season of Project Runway premiered last week. The show has not only moved from its home at Bravo to Lifetime, but from New York City to L.A. Fortunately, the PR family members are still in tact, with the delightful Tim Gunn, smashing Heidi Klum, snarky Michael Kors and under-appreciated Nina Garcia. Here are a few thoughts on episode one, also known as the Red Carpet Challenge:

  • Was it me, or was the first episode a bit over-the-top in the drama department? I mean, it is way too early for a designer breakdown, isn’t it? And, a breakdown over the Red Carpet Challenge? Every designer should come already prepared for one evening gown look. It is a gimme.
  • So glad that Tim Gunn and Michael Kors have not lost their sense of humor, and continue to deliver the best lines of the night. Faves include: Gunn describing one dress as “cruise-line cocktail,” and another as a “halter-diaper.” Kors describing Mitchell’s disaster as “a nightgown to wear at home with a glass of brandy.”
  • Biggest surprise may have been a calm, stable Lindsay Lohan, serving as guest judge, and contributing intelligent and thoughtful remarks.
  • There wasn’t a lot of time spent on the final runway designs (too many contestants), but Christopher wins (which seems about right), with his elegant yet sharp, hard on top and soft on bottom, perfect balance of edgy and pretty dress. I like it.
  • Off-the-wall Ari is out. Actually, I’m kind-of surprised they didn’t keep her around longer just to see more of her unconventional, highly-conceptual design methods. (That sounds a lot better than it actually is.)

pr6-ep1-rr-chris-katie-fNow, for the shoe pairing. Borrowing heavily from the judges’ comments (they described it better than I ever would), the dress is edgy and soft. Modern and classic. Pairing it with booties is the way to go.gucci-booties

With the high-style and contrasting textures, the dress feels like it was practically made to wear with hard-to-wear booties. If on the red carpet, a premium footwear designer is not out of the question. So,  these satiny Gucci’s are my picks. I like how the shiny texture complements the upper material of the dress. Other top options include these asymmetric patent booties from Dolce and Gabbana and these caged open-toe ankle boots from Giuseppe Zanotti. Shoes, I can’t afford — oh, how I’ve missed you.

posted by Ms. S&C

Vices that inspire

We’re excited as all get out that Top Chef is back. The show premiered last week — and you know what that means? It is time for the Top Chef Drink Pairing! The Top Chef Drink Pairing is a reoccurring feature on the S&C blog, where we recap the previous week’s episode and then pair the winning dish with a cocktail, or other suitable alcoholic beverage.

252px-TopChef-logo

Season six of Top Chef is taking place in the city of extreme indulgence — Las Vegas, and we’ve been promised high-stakes play. I’m assuming when Tom and Padma repeatedly mention high-stakes, they are referring to the cooking, competition, and drama — where there’s a lot to be won, and a lot to be lost. Highlights from episode one:

  • There are two DC-area cheftestants: Michael Isabella from Zaytinya and Bryan Voltaggio from Volt Restaurant (whose younger bro is also a contestant on the show). First impression: The cute Voltaggio bros are easy to like. Isabella has an overbearing and slightly annoying personality, and let’s hope he reigns it in soon so he doesn’t go the way of Teddy ala The Next Food Network Star.
  • The Quickfire Challenge is the relay challenge, where the chefs work in teams to shuck clams, clean prawns, crack lobsters, and French-cut a prime rib. There’s one team who spent the entire challenge shucking clams, and it was painful to watch.
  • Winning relay team members square off for a challenge amongst themselves, with Jennifer (I’ve made men cry in the kitchen) Carroll‘s clam ceviche winning.
  • The Elimination Challenge has the chefs creating a dish based on their personal vices, and we know a little something about vices as inspiration. :) It comes as no surprise that drinking, scotch, bourbon, beer, and the overindulgence of spirits are the primary vices of our cheftestants.
  • Wolfgang Puck is guest judge for the Elimination Challenge, and he is funny. I like him and his Austrian accent.
  • Kevin Gillespie, who reminds me a little of Zach Galifianakis, wins with his procrastination-inspired Arctic Char with Salsa Verde of Turnips.

TC_arctic-char

Kevin Gillespie’s winning dish, Arctic Char with Salsa Verde of Turnips

Since the prevalent flavors in this dish include fennel and star anise, I recommend a French pastis, or anise-flavored liqueur, for the drink pairing. Pernod, whose distinct licorice flavor is often used as a cooking ingredient, as well as before-dinner beverage to stimulate the appetite, is a good choice. Pernod has a crisp, sweet flavor that makes it a favorite in the summer (a French favorite that is). Purists prefer the traditional French aperitif, the Pernod Classic. But, you know me — bring on the champagne and the French Fizz. Recipes courtesy of Pernod Richard USA. À votre santé!

Classic Pernod

  • 1 part Pernodpernod_bottle
  • 5 parts water
  • Ice

Pour 1 part Pernod in a glass. Add 5 parts water. Add ice to fill glass. Serve in a highball glass.

French Fizz

  • 1 part Pernod
  • 5 parts champagne
  • Lots of ice

Pour Pernod and all of the other ingredients into a tall glass over lots of ice. Mix well. Serve in a white wine glass.

Shoes & Cocktails wants to know: What personal vice inspires you?

posted by Ms. S&C

Lakebound

One of Ms. S&C’s favorite escapes of the year is just days away. Every August, (for the past six years or so), Ms. S&C joins some of her best friends in the world for an extended weekend getaway at Seneca Lake, Ny. Activities include: canoeing, horseshoes, lots of cooking, daytime drinking, nighttime drinking, trashy magazines, laughing, party games (Celebrity and Apples to Apples are faves), bonfires, plenty of shenanigans. Hell, it is just a lot of fun sitting on the dock or on the porch (both overlook the water).

Seneca-Lake-Bench.002

As you may expect, there is always a well-stocked bar at the lake. Last year, popular cocktails included Pimm’s Cup and S&C’s Watermelon Lemonade. Surprisingly, Ms. S&C has yet to drink a watermelon cocktail this season (though she did have a great watermelon agua fresca at Oyamel recently). So, she is going to bring back the-fruit-that-was-destined-for-cocktails (plus, a great option when serving a crowd of 10 or more), and make Watermelon Margaritas and Tequila-Soaked Watermelon Wedges.

Watermelon Margaritas
adapted from the Food Network recipe, serves four

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups seedless watermelon, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 4 ounces tequila
  • 2 ounces Cointreau or Triple Sec (orange flavored liqueur)
  • 1 1/2 cups ice
  • Lime wheel or watermelon wedge, for garnish

Directions:

Combine all ingredients into a blender and puree until smooth. Garnish rim of glass with a lime wheel or a watermelon wedge and serve immediately.

Optional: For frozen margaritas, place cut watermelon in a plastic bag and freeze for a minimum of 2 hours.

Tequila-Soaked Watermelon Wedges
courtesy of Martha Stewart, serves four

Ingredients:

  • 1 small seedless watermelon, red or yellow, quartered and cut into 1-inch-thick wedges
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup tequila
  • 1/4 cup Cointreau or Triple Sec
  • 2 limes, halved or cut into wedges
  • Flaked sea salt or coarse salt

Directions:

Arrange watermelon in a single layer in two 9-by-13-inch baking dishes. Bring sugar, water, tequila, and Triple Sec to a boil in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves, about 1 minute. Let cool slightly. Pour syrup over watermelon wedges, and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes.

Remove watermelon from syrup, and arrange on a platter. Squeeze limes over melon, and season with salt.

Note: The longer the watermelon soaks, the more flavorful it becomes — one reason to save any leftover slices. Yeah right, leftover slices.

posted by Ms. S&C

New Acquisitions, New Outlook

Miss Mojito has reason to celebrate. For months, she’s been pining after two things: a pair of nude platform pumps and a new digital camera. Well, within the past week I’ve acquired both, and am too eager to show them off!

For the camera, I took my sister’s recommendation and went with a Canon Digital Elph (SD1200 IS). It’s super-compact (almost too compact in Miss Mojito’s opinion – it’s definitely bound to get lost in this season’s roomy hobo bags and oversized clutches), pretty speedy and seems to be fairly idiot-proof. I’m something of a clutz when it comes to photography, but so far I haven’t been able to mess up a test shot. Miss Mojito promises her future posts to be photo-full!

I’ve put the camera to the test to photograph that latest, greatest addition to my shoe shelves. Ms. S&C highlighted neutral-colored pumps in a post a few months back. The nude pump is a wardrobe staple that Miss Mojito has gone far too long without. It’s a “new” neutral, it elongates the leg, it can go with anything. And the platform seems to be the way to go – as long as I’m trying to elongate the leg, I might as well add a half inch or two.

For an upcoming outdoor wedding, I was in search of heel with enough heft that it won’t sink into the grass beneath. I nude_sandalsthink this strappy, four-inch number by Calvin Klein fits the bill. I picked them up for a steal at perennial fave DSW (for $30 less than they’re offered on Zappos.com right now).  Since that day, I’ve been in shoe heaven. A quick test run proved the sandals to be pretty comfortable, but only a night of dancing under the stars will tell for sure.

There’s nothing like a new pair of shoes and a snazzy new camera to give a girl a new outlook on life!

Posted by Miss Mojito.

Mad about the classics

This Sunday, Mad Men, the sexy sophisticated 1960’s drama, returns to television — and, I can’t wait. If you haven’t watched: the show follows the lives of Madison Avenue advertising executives. And the show is as much about 1960’s culture as it is about the drama-filled lives of colleagues at Sterling Cooper. Episodes have highlighted events surrounding JFK’s presidency (the election, Jackie O, the Cuban Missile Crisis), portrayed scenes from the traditional 1960’s family life, and it has certainly emphasized the drink and fashion trends of the time.

It would surprise few that First Lady, Jackie Kennedy, epitomized 1960’s fashion, especially during the early part of the decade. It was a time when women were very elegant, with their pillbox hats, suits, dresses with close-fitting waists, and purses that match shoes. Speaking of shoes, stiletto heels were widely popular during this period (then come the Go-Go boots). For a better glimpse of early 60’s fashion, check out the awesome images below, courtesy of AMC’s Mad Men photo gallery.

madmen1

The stars of Sterling Cooper Advertising Agency

madmen2

The beautiful, yet troubled, Betty Draper

madmen3

The boys of Sterling Cooper

In addition to its focus on fashion, cocktail culture is also an important element on the show. Martini lunches and afternoon scotches are practically obligatory. The office and the home are filled with booze. There is so much drinking, you could seriously get a buzz from just watching. The great (okay, maybe scary) part is, it seems to be an accurate depiction. The New York Times published a recent article praising the authenticity of the drinking culture on the show. And, AMC has an extensive cocktail guide of popular 60’s drinks that you see the characters imbibing.

While Mr. and Mrs. S&C are worlds away from Don and Betty Draper, our tastes in cocktails happen to be similar. So, I’m thinking we should have these classics as we toast the show’s return: Old Fashioned for him; Tom Collins for her (it’s really quite refreshing). Both recipes serve one, and contain ingredients that are considered staples in any home bar.

Old Fashioned

Ingredients:drink_oldFashioned

  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 1½ oz bourbon
  • 1 maraschino cherry
  • 1 orange slice
  • 1 lemon wedge

Instructions:

Dissolve sugar with bitters and about a tsp of water in an old fashioned or rocks glass. Add cherry, orange slice, and lemon wedge and muddle (use back of spoon if no muddler is available). Fill with ice. Pour in bourbon and stir well. Garnish with extra orange slice and cherry, if extra are available.

Tom Collins

Ingredients:drink_tomCollins

  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp sugar (superfine or simple syrup)
  • 1½ oz gin
  • Seltzer water or club soda
  • Lemon slices and a maraschino cherry

Instructions:

Dissolve sugar with lemon juice, if needed. Shake together with gin over ice. Strain and pour into a collins glass filled with ice. Top with club soda and garnish with lemon slices and a cherry.

Fun Fact:

The Tom Collins is in the fizz category of drinks (almost a twin sister of the drink gin fizz). TC is referred to as a plain fizz, and recommended as an “eye opener” for the “morning after the night before.” – from “Cocktail Bill” Boothby’s World Drinks and How to Mix Them

posted by Ms. S&C