Category Archives: cocktails

Beach amusements

Parades of people, salty air, smells of ice cream and boardwalk fries — there are so many delights at the beach! (Ms. S&C wishes she was still at the beach.)

She has shared Rehoboth Beach experiences before (fortunately the weather was much more cooperating this time around). Favorite spots that were revisted during her recent stay included:

  • Dogfish Head – this brewery still has the most interesting beers around. Where else can you find Sah’tea (made with black tea, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and black pepper),  Festina Peche, Saison du BUFF (a collaboration with Victory and made with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme)?
  • Nicola Pizza – when carrying around the box, on local said to another: “she knows where to get pizza.”
  • FINS Fish House and Raw Bar – great oysters and fun bar staff, one of which we nicknamed Rehoboth’s Vinny Chase.

Ms. S&C also came across some new spots that will now be included in the rotation:

  • The Ice Cream Store – homemade ice cream with over 70 flavors, including: Bacon (more subtle than you think), Better Than Sex (almost), Lucky Charms (yes, the cereal), Mayan Chocolate Cinnamon (made spicy with cayenne).
  • Purple Parrot – modeled after bars in Key West, everyone’s welcome at this karaoke bar.
  • The Starboard – a super fun, high-energy bar in Dewey Beach, who’s motto is: Happy Hour Proudly Starts at 9 am! The Starboard is also famous for their Bloody Mary Smorgasbord which includes a wall of mixers, hot sauces, spices, and tons of garnishes. Ms. S&C made herself a liquid salad indeed!

In Bloody Mary heaven at The Starboard in Dewey Beach.

The Starboard is also famous for their “crushes,” a super refreshing mix of fresh juices (orange or grapefruit), vodka, and soda. Ms. S&C first heard about “crushes,” from Washington Post’s Going Out Gurus. And, she agrees with Fritz Hahn, crushes are a favorite beach drink (recipe to come, promise!).

Orange you glad you tried those crushes, Ms. S&C? Yes, she is.

As for other beach amusements, Ms. S&C tried surfing for the first time. She arranged lessons with Rehoboth Beach Boarding School and will never forget this call: Get Ready (waves coming), Paddle Hard, and Pop-up. The adrenaline rush was pretty incredible. Plus, there’s something great about paddling around on a surfboard in the ocean. (And, there’s something badass about coming home with bruised knees and sore ribs.)

PS) You better believe that a S&C surfer playlist is in the works. Stay tuned for that because it will go great with those “crushes.”

posted by Ms. S&C

The Bloody Mary smorgesbord at The Starboard in Dewey Beach.

Making (music) references

You may or may not know this: Ms. S&C likes music. All kinds of music. She particularly likes listening to music with a cocktail in hand.

Over on Facebook — both on the S&C fan page and my personal page — I often make reference to what I’m eating, what I’m drinking, and what I’m listening to. (When it comes to status updates, they are like my holy trinity.) A friend suggested that I incorporate more music selections/recommendations in my S&C blog posts. You know she’s a good friend when (a) she reads my blog, and (b) says she likes my taste in music (thanks, AV!)

What you also may or may not know: I fancy using a song title as a blog post title. Some of the references are more subtle than others, but here are a few faves:

  • Femme Fatalesnakeskin Louboutins are a perfect match for this song from the Velvet Underground & Nico album. The shoes are wicked cool and so is the song, the band, and Nico.
  • Paint it Black — the patent leather boots post was inspired by the Rolling Stones song (which Rolling Stone magazine lists as one of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.)
  • Dancing Queen — easy reference for a Project Runway blog post about drag queens, but the ABBA song is deserving.
  • Dry the Rain — when writing about rain boots, I couldn’t help but think about all the movie scenes with John Cusack in the rain, and also the scene from High Fidelity,when he tries to get customers to buy the Beta Band album by playing this song.
  • Such Great Heights — I love the original Postal Service song, but the Iron & Wine version is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard (like so beautiful it hurts beautiful). And, high heels = great heights, right?
  • Killing the Blues — things that go well together: purses and shoes, and Robert Plant and Alison Krauss.

Then, there’s an occasion when a song inspires a drink selection. Who wouldn’t want a sloe gin fizz after hearing Portland, Oregon, from Loretta Lynn and Jack White? Loretta Lynn is amazing. Jack White is amazing. This song is amazing. Too bad a sloe gin fizz isn’t quite as amazing (but worth trying).

Sloe Gin Fizz
(recipe courtesy of Esquire)

  • 2 ounces sloe gin
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon superfine sugar
  • club soda

Shake the gin, lemon juice and sugar with cracked ice in a chilled cocktail shaker. Strain into a small, chilled Collins glass and fizz to an inch or so from the top — splash the club soda or seltzer in rather carelessly, so that it foams.

“Well Portland Oregon and sloe gin fizz / If that ain’t love then tell me what is uh huh, uh huh.”

“Well sloe gin fizz works mighty fast / When you drink it by the pitcher and not by the glass uh huh, uh huh.”

posted by Ms. S&C

Top Chef DC: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Last week’s episode of Top Chef DC was focused on hotel food. The episode itself was a lot like hotel food: somewhat boring, pretty ordinary, nothing too memorable.

Here are a few highlights, or lowlights as the case may be:

  • The Quickfire Challenge was sorta interesting: chefs were charged with cooking an adult meal that could be suitable for a baby (apropos with Padma being a new mom and all). Tamesha and Kenny were the favorites with their veggie chowder and bulgar wheat dishes, respectively.
  • The Elimination Challenge was sponsored by Hilton, so the chefs were cooking meals suitable for hotels and hotel guests.
  • There was a tournament-style element to the challenge in which chefs, working in teams of two, had three chances (hence breakfast, lunch, dinner) to avoid elimination. The chefs who have been having a rough time of it shined during the breakfast rounds: Tim and Tiffany were winners with their “Creole Style” Crab Cake Eggs Benedict, and so were Amanda and Stephen with their Poached Egg, Pancetta, Potato Rosti dish.
  • When it came to the dinner cook-off, it almost looked too close to call. I couldn’t believe Kenny was in the bottom! When it came to decision time, the judges offed Lynn and Arnold (who won last week!) because their pasta was overcooked and their Pineapple Red Curry Mussels dish was just too damn interesting for hotel dining.
  • One of my favorite lines of the show came when Andrea was cooking short ribs and said short ribs need the “bizness,” as in an au jus. She knew her and Kelly’s dish would beat Kenny’s because his didn’t have enough of the “bizness.”

Top Chef Breakfast: “Creole Style” Crab Cake Eggs Benedict with Asparagus & Bacon Potato Hash in Hollandaise

Top Chef Dinner: Braised Beef Short Rib, Polenta, Shiitake Mushrooms & Gremolata (aka the “bizness”)

There’s an article that I can’t stop talking about: Frank Bruni, former restaurant critic for The New York Times, wrote a piece on the bloody mary. When I shared the article on Facebook, a friend replied, “It’s hard to imagine a better breakfast. Or dinner. Or lunch. Or snack.” So true! Because it is a drink that is good any time of the day, and because it could be a meal on its own, the Bloody Mary is our pick for the Top Chef Drink Pairing.

I think a farm-to-table brunch is in my near future. With fresh, ripe tomatoes on the horizon and a bountiful herb garden, I’ve got the makings for my own “liquid salad.” And, wondering what to do with those leftover Maryland blue crabs you couldn’t polish off the night before? Yes, crab eggs benedict, please.

posted by Ms. S&C

Reading material

Remember me? I’m Ms. Shoes & Cocktails. I used to blog more frequently about topics near and dear to my heart. While blogging inspiration inevitably ebbs and flows, I promise you this is just a small drought. It is summer after all.

If you are looking for some S&C-related reading material, can I recommend the following?

No longer preppy, the J.Crew look is now “a European in the United States.”

Here’s a great article from The New York Times Magazine about J.Crew’s new and improved transformation. It is now a brand that “twinkles with references to France and haute couture.” I also particularly enjoyed the description of their copywriting style as “distinctive J.Crew haikus.” A good example: these Raffia Rose Printed Peep Toes are described as, “Both sweet and sultry, these blushworthy peep toes ensure that summer romance isn’t just in the air but also on your feet.”

The Bloody Mary: nutritious and naughty, packed with vitamins and vice. A farm-to-table drink; a liquid salad.

The New York Times is the source of another fantastic article. This article by Frank Bruni, former restaurant critic for The Times, takes a look at how the Bloody Mary is changing for the better. How is it changing for the better? One restaurant in the East Village has a version called the “Chicago Matchbox,” and includes pickled Brussels sprouts, caper berries, white turnips, green beans and radishes. Also: some bartenders aren’t afraid to replace vodka as go-to spirit. Bruni goes on to say, “Tequila is perhaps vodka’s best bloody surrogate: its smokiness plays nicely with the flavor of tomato.”

I just want to go back to Paris.

Lastly, you want something that isn’t S&C related? Check out my new favorite blog, littlebrownpen. The author is a copywriter and photographer, and has the most beautiful photos of Paris I’ve ever seen. Seriously, I melt every time I look at them. I am so awestruck that I forget about all the places I’ve never visited, and I just want to go back to Paris. Check out this glorious sequence of Red and Green, and isn’t Violette a pretty word?

Mmm. Just what I needed. Now I’m inspired.

posted by Ms. S&C

Daiquiris with Tom

Anyone who knows Miss Mojito is well aware of her particular obsession with a certain Washington Post food critic. My sister introduced me to Tom Sietsema about 10 years ago, and ever since then I just can’t get enough of his writing. His thoughtful critiques are backed up by a truly excellent and imaginative writing style. Most days at noon find me sitting at my desk with my lunch, reading Tom’s reviews, travel stories or online chats. Like I said, something of an obsession.

So when Tom (we’re on a first-name basis, he just doesn’t know it) started coming out with a series of short videos, my spirits soared. Topics range from “what’s in Tom’s fridge” to easy dessert recipes. But recently, his video series touched on a subject near and dear to our hearts: the cocktail.

Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema has a series of videos on the WaPo website. Check out episode 9 where he shows how to make his favorite summer cocktail, a Hemingway Daiquiri.

Tom’s video about the Hemingway Daiquiri was certainly well timed. It’s a drink that I find irresistible when the weather turns hot and steamy. Check out how our fave food critic prepares his.

The history of the Hemingway Daiquiri has been debated every which way possible, but I’m not so much concerned with its origins as its flavor. Tart and a bit sweet, it’s the ultimate in refreshment.

The Hemingway Daiquiri
Serves one.

  • Juice from 1/2 a lime
  • 1/4 ounce maraschino liqueur
  • 3/4 ounce grapefruit juice
  • 1 1/2 ounces white rum

Add ingredients to cocktail shaker and shake well. Serve in chilled cocktail glasses, straight up. Enjoy!

Bonus Tip: This is one cocktail that can stand up well to being prepared a couple of hours in advance, if need be. Moreover, if you prepare a humongous batch and have some leftovers (a highly unlikely scenario), it stores well in a jar in the fridge for a couple of days. I love love LOVE to come home from work to a cold Hemingway Daiquiri waiting for me! I highly recommend you do the same!

Posted by Miss Mojito.

Back to School with Top Chef

For all of us Eric Ripert fans out there, the last episode of Top Chef DC was nothing to celebrate. The dreamboat French chef/semi-regular judge did not make a cameo. Still, this week’s show offered a few interesting twists, turns and snippets of drama.

  • It seems that the confidence level for this particular group of chefs is off the charts. I hope they take the advice of guest judge Sam Kass, White House assistant chef, to “leave your egos at the door and just get to work.”
  • Is anyone else already getting a bit tired of Padma’s DC puns? This week’s Quickfire, for example, is the Bipartisandwich. It is a silly name for a silly challenge, which ties two chefs together in one apron and gives them use of one hand each to create an exemplary sandwich. This week we see another win for Angelo who, partnered with Tracy, created a flounder sandwich with an herby salad.
  • The elimination challenge is very au current: create a school lunch with $130 for 50 kids, working in teams of four. The goal here is to bring awareness to the First Lady’s initiative to end childhood obesity in a generation.
  • Fun fact: Tom Collichio comes by his love for food honestly – his mom ran a school lunch program for 20 years!
  • In an episode twist, the losers get called into judges’ table first. I think everyone’s relieved to see that Angelo is on the bottom rung – but given his immunity, he’s safe from elimination. His team gets no love for their lack of veggies, while the other lowest scoring team garners criticism for a blah chicken breast with sherry jus and a sugar-full pudding. But the criticism isn’t coming just from the judges: The teams start slamming each other on the judges’ floor – bad form! Ultimately, Jacqueline – who was in the bottom two last week – loses for her unhealthy and grainy banana pudding with strawberries.
  • Kelly wins for her pork carnitas tacos, made all the healthier by homemade oatmeal tortillas. Her teammates helped her out with a black bean cake with crispy sweet potatoes; roasted corn salad, and caramelized sweet potatoes with chocolate sherbet. The judges loved the colorful plate and the creative use of veggies, not to mention the tasty tacos.

Kelly’s winning dish of Braised Pork Carnitas Tacos
with Pickled Onions & Cilantro

Considering the target audience for this particular challenge, I’m looking toward some alcohol-free options for our Top Chef Drink Pairing. And with this week’s Mexican inspired dish, I think some Agua Fresca is in order. AKA “fresh water” in Spanish, agua fresca is essentially water infused with a smooth fruit puree. Easy, refreshing and perfect for a summer day. Just puree any soft fruit — melon or mango are some good options — and push through a sieve until super-smooth. Mix with water (1.5 cups puree to 3 cups water), some lime juice and a smidge of agave nectar. Yum!

Posted by Miss Mojito.

Bourbon in the summertime

Ms. S&C’s recent love affair with bourbon has been well-documented: bourbon mojitos, bourbon with clementines and apricots, bourbon with grapefruit. (And with Miss Mojito’s help, the list goes on and on.)

When two of Ms. S&C’s favorite friends announce they are moving to Colorado — and throw one last goodbye bash — how does Ms. S&C celebrate? With bourbon cocktails!

Inspired by an abundance of mint growing in her friends’ backyard — and an earlier conversation about bourbon (specifically in regards to organizing a team for Bourbon Chase 2010) — Ms. S&C was on the hunt for a refreshing new cocktail containing these choice ingredients. She ran across the Bourbon & Peach Smash over at Imbibe Magazine. Reminiscent of a fancy bourbon and ginger, it incorporated fresh, seasonal ingredients (there’s really no excuse for anything else this time of the year). And it was perfect. She’s convinced bourbon can be enjoyed year-round: bourbon in the morning, bourbon in the evening, bourbon in the summertime.

Ms. S&C’s love affair with bourbon continues. A clementine old-fashioned during the winter, mojitos during the spring — and now, a peach ginger smash for the summer.

Bourbon & Peach Smash
adapted from Imbibe Magazine, serves one

Ingredients:

  • Ice
  • 2 slices fresh peach
  • 4 or 5 fresh mint leaves
  • 1 slice fresh ginger (pickled ginger is also okay)
  • 1 oz. infused simple syrup (see recipe below)
  • 1 1/2 oz. fine bourbon (such as Buffalo Trace)
  • Ginger ale (preferably a higher-quality brand that doesn’t contain sodium and added preservatives; think Whole Foods and the like)

Directions:

For the simple syrup: bring to a boil, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar, handful of mint leaves and peels from two peaches. Stir until sugar dissolves. Simmer 5 minutes. Cool completely and strain mint leaves and peach peels. You’ll be left with a syrup with a lovely pinkish hue.

Add slice peaches, mint, ginger and simple syrup in a cocktail glass and muddle vigorously. Add bourbon and fill glass with ice. Top with ginger ale.

posted by Ms. S&C