Category Archives: st germain

Anything but revolting

The Restaurant Wars episode is easily the most anticipated challenge of Top Chef. The judges said that this season was the best they’ve seen in TC history. I don’t think the caliber of the cheftestants has ever been higher. And, having said that, I was so glad they didn’t have to bother with the whole decor planning part this go round.

Here’s a much too lengthy recap (but it was such a good ep):

  • The Quickfire Challenge was a tag-team relay/cook-off (which may become the most anticipated Quickfire Challenge). It was super fun. The chefs were separated in teams of two, blindfolded, and had to cook one dish total — with each of them cooking for 10 minutes, one right after the other, not allowed to talk, and obviously not able to see what the chef ahead of them was doing. Yes, this is confusingly written, I know — let’s just say, it was much better watched.
  • The Blue Team (with Jennifer, Kevin, Mike Isabella and Laurine) won with Sablefish, Sauteed Mushrooms, Shitake Broth and Radish Salad. I thought the Read Team (with the Voltaggio Brothers, Eli and Robin) made a tactical error in having the two weakest chefs (Eli and Robin) start off. As opposed to the Blue Team, where perfect-planner-Jennifer started and perfect-closer-Kevin finished.
  • The Blue Team’s tactical mistakes came when their overconfidence let their $10,000 prize ride, and they chose not to make a dessert for the Restaurant Wars (RW) Elimination Challenge.
  • For the RW, the cheftestants took over guest judge, Chef Rick Moonen‘s restaurant, rm Seafood. The Blue Team became “Mission,” (think clean, San Francisco-style), and took over the white tablecloth section of rm. The Read Team became “REVolt,” (think rebellious and play on initials, rather than revolting and disgusting), and took over the more rustic-looking section.
  • REVolt won convincingly, and Michael Voltaggio won $10,000, for his Pressed Chicken with Calamari Noodles, Tomato Confit and Fennel Salad. He shared his earnings with his teammates.
  • I was shaking in my boots, thinking Jennifer would be sent home for her fish dishes. Instead, Laurine was given the boot, for her poor front-of-the-house performance, and not stepping in when Kevin didn’t properly cook her lamb.


Robin’s Pear Pithivier with Vanilla Ice Cream and Elderflower Syrup

For the drink pairing, it was hard not to use Robin’s pear pithivier dessert for inspiration, particularly because of the elderberry syrup. I found the Gigi, a pear elderberry cocktail over on, which sounds just about perfect (and slightly reminiscent of the S&C celebratory Elderberry Spritz). According to Chow, Jackie Patterson, former mixologist at Le Colonial in San Francisco, created this stiff cocktail, combining three French spirits. When I try at home, I will likely cut back on the liquor portions, and possibly substitute the pear vodka for pear simple syrup. Or, just find a way to add more pear.

Gigi Cocktail
Courtesy of Jackie Patterson, from

  • 2 parts Lillet Blanc
  • 1 1/2 parts St-Germain elderflower liqueur
  • 1 part Grey Goose La Poire vodka (or other pear-flavored vodka, if available)
  • Ice
  • 1 part brut rosé champagne
  • 1 pear slice, for garnish

Combine Lillet, St-Germain, and Grey Goose in a cocktail shaker and top with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Float champagne on top of Lillet mixture. Garnish with pear slice and serve.

posted by Ms. S&C

The S&C Celebration

A big thanks to everyone who came to the one year S&C anniversary celebration! We had a fabulous time at The Source. I do need to give a special shout-out to the restaurant, as they were super accommodating and great to work with — just all around nice people over there. They went out of their way to make sure we had a  memorable experience. Including, creating a specialty cocktail to commemorate the occasion. Ms. S&C told them ahead of time that she likes bubbly concoctions, and that’s just what they made. Cheers to the Elderberry Spritz!


Elderberry Spritz
serves one


  • 1 oz. Absolut Vodka
  • 1/3 oz. St. Germain Liqueur
  • 2/3 oz. Freshly Squeezed Grapefruit Juice
  • Henriot Champagne
  • Grapefruit wedges, for garnish

Combine the first three ingredients and shake over ice. Serve in chilled martini glasses. Top with Champagne, or other sparkling wine. Garnish with grapefruit wedge.

Note: There’s a little bit of guesswork on the ingredient proportions. The drink came across a little strong for some in the group, so we may need to go easy on the vodka and/or include an extra dash of St. Germain and grapefruit juice.

Thanks again for a great year!

posted by Ms. S&C

S&C diversion–favorite things

So, you’ve all likely seen, or at least heard about, Oprah’s Favorite Things segment. This is the annual show where she gives her studio guests her favorite products of the year. The gifts include anything from a high-definition TV to a book to a pair of shoes. And speaking of shoes, if you look at the list of products, since she started back in 2002, Oprah loves her some Ugg boots — they’ve made the list three times — and that’s with her skipping two years (in 2006, she gave everyone $1,000 cash to give-away; in 2008, she pared down the list considerably because of the sucky economy).

While hanging out at a friend’s birthday party over the weekend, this topic was much discussed. The question: if you could put together a basket of your ten favorite things, what would they be? A note: because you would be buying the products and giving them away, you may want to consider the item’s price tag (i.e. I love my iPod, but that’s not going in the basket).

Here’s my list:

  1. St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur (for a cocktail with champagne)
  2. Otis Redding album ( I would give fans Otis Blue, all others would get a “Best Of,” or maybe I’d make my own?)
  3. Lavender plant (my favorite scent in the world–for lotions, soaps, aromatherapy, and as a garnish in the St-Germain cocktail)
  4. Newman’s Own Olive Oil and Vinegar salad dressing (I’m really picky about salad dressing, and this is
  5. Joy of Cooking cookbook
  6. Yahtzee (discovered the fun of this game in college, and it continues)
  7. Silver bracelet from the Master Craftsman (love the handmade bracelets from this little shop in my college town)
  8. Pashmina (likely in black–that’s the one I wear around my office at least three days a week)
  9. Colgate battery-powered toothbrush (I’ve only had this for a few weeks, and it is my first experience with an electric toothbrush, but I don’t know how I could go back)
  10. Potbelly sandwich (seriously, I eat one a week, and you have to add the hot peppers)

Interesting that there are no shoes on my list. Maybe it is because I don’t own a pair of Uggs? Obviously, now that I’ve shared mine, Ms. S&C wants to know: What favorite things would you put in your basket?

posted by Ms. S&C

Love is in the air

Happy Valentine’s Day! The theme of love continues over here at S&C. Ms. S&C had two good friends marry a few weeks ago and thought now would be the time to share a few details.

Friends SB and LD were married in a courthouse ceremony, so they spent their wedding day with a small gathering of family and close friends — until an evening reception when many more of us joined them to celebrate. When I saw SB, she was stunning in a Tahari dress. The dress, knee length, had gorgeous silver detailing, a cut-out neckline, and was finished with a belted bow. I so wish there was a picture to share. It was very Jackie O/Audrey Hepburn-esque. SB said a courthouse wedding seemed a bit retro so she went with a vintage late 50s/early 60s look.

Naturally, I wanted to see what shoes she paired. And she really couldn’t have found a better match for the dress. The shoes were beautiful and elegant and had P-E-R-F-E-C-T bow detailing to compliment the belt on the dress. She picked up this ivory pair over at DSW, where there are more color choices. And with a price tag of $49.95, I’m very tempted to get the black ones.


SB’s perfect wedding shows with bow detail

Another fun retro-y detail — at the reception, instead of wedding cake, red velvet cupcakes were served. I’m not sure I’ve tasted a better cupcake. The baker has a blog where she shares the recipe, and she comments that “the intense red color of the cake has some sort of hypnotic effect, because people are always delighted just to lay eyes on the cake, and then absolutely smitten when they finally taste it.” Absolutely right, sista.


Delicious red velvet wedding cupcakes

To further celebrate this heart-filled holiday, here’s a romantic cocktail that fits the occasion. It was inspired by the Rose Royce Cocktail, courtesy of OVAL Vodka. One of the original ingredients in the recipe was rose syrup. I subbed St. Germain elderflower liqueur because it of its floral notes and because I already had it in my cabinet. I used grenadine instead of simple syrup so the drink would have a slight pink color. I also didn’t have any fresh thyme, but the rosemary in my garden has survived the winter (and it seemed a better fit, both in name and flavor). All in all, a lovely drink.

The Rose Cocktail
makes one drink

1 oz. Vodka (Oval recommended)
1/3 oz. St. Germain
1/3 oz. Grenadine
2/3 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
1 dash Angostura Bitters
½ glass Champagne

Shake all ingredients well over ice and pour into a flute half-filled with champagne. Garnish with a sprig of fresh rosemary.

S&C advice–what to drink for the Globes?

Ms. S&C,
After two weeks of drinking champagne over the holidays I need something new for the Golden Globes on Sunday night.  I’m not having a party, so I truly don’t need an entire punch (although, it would be a challenge I’d have to accept).  Any suggestions for a fancy pants drink while watching the Globes?

Many thanks,
Looking for a little fancy


Dear Looking for a little fancy,
I may have a cocktail for you.  While your bar might not be stocked with this spirit (mine isn’t, yet), St. Germain is definitely au courante.  A product of France, this tres stylish liqueur is made from handpicked elderflower blossoms.  I recently tasted it at EatBar, a place that serves of-the-moment cocktails with fine ingredients.  EatBar’s Alchemist Cocktail (I know the name makes it sound like a science experiment rather than a lavish cocktail) contained St. Germain, Sazerac rye and lemon, shaken thoroughly, strained into a martini glass and garnished with minced lavender.  It was aromatic and divine.  And, while I know you said you wanted a break from champagne, the signature St. Germain Cocktail contains champagne (or dry white wine, Prosecco or Cava) mixed and club soda.  Maybe you could think of it as a really fancy pants spritzer?

My second choice would be the Ritz Cocktail.  Aptly named for this occasion and another-fancy-pants-drink-because-its-French.  I really love it.

Hope this gives you some inspiration — let me know what you decide!

Happy watching (and drinking),golden-globes
Ms. S&C

P.S.  Which Best Actress Nominee do you think will wear the best knock-out shoes?  Anne Hathaway, Angelina, Meryl Streep, Kristin Scott Thomas, or Kate Winslet?  My money is on Kate.  After the show, we’ll have to dish about our fashion faves.  And more fun, the fashion faux pas.


St. Germain Cocktail


  • 2 parts Champagne (or dry white wine, Prosecco or Cava)
  • 1 ½ parts St. Germain
  • 2 parts sparkling water or club soda
  • Lemon (for garnish)

Stir ingredients in a tall ice-filled glass, mixing thoroughly. Garnish with a lemon twist.


Ritz Cocktail
This recipe is a variation from many I’ve seen, but I think it is much better (no need for orange juice).  Recipe by Dale DeGroff; presented by Phil Greene at the MOTAC Holiday Cocktails Seminar.


  • 1 oz. Martell’s Medallion VSOP Cognac
  • ½ oz. Cointreau
  • ¼ oz. Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
  • ¼ oz. fresh lemon juice
  • Champagne
  • Flamed orange peel for garnish

To make one, shake cognac, Cointreau, lemon juice and maraschino liqueur with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, then top with chilled champagne.  To make a batch, multiply first four ingredients by the number of drinks you’d like to make, stir well in a pitcher, then strain into chilled cocktail glasses, about one-third full each.  Top each with chilled champagne.

For the garnish:
The aroma and flavor in citrus fruits is concentrated in the oil cells of its peel.  By extracting the oil, you can add the essence of the fruit to drinks.  Large, thick-skinned navel oranges are recommended for flaming.  Slice a piece of the peel about the size of two quarters, light a lighter (no butane) over the drink, and squeeze the peel over the flame.  The oils will catch fire as they fall on the surface of the drink.

posted by Ms. S&C