Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Fine Cooking Cook the Issue Challenge - The Martinez, stirred

I'm still not sure if the cocktails in this issue are technically part of the Cook the Issue Challenge, but I’m always open to tasting a new cocktail! However, I’ve never been fond of gin.

The Martinez caught my attention for a variety of reasons:

  • I normally request my occasional martini shaken, not stirred. Therefore, I felt the urge to taste the anti-James Bond version (side note: John and I drive matching Atlanta Blue BMW Z3s, Bond’s car in Golden Eye);
  • I appreciated the opportunity to make use of the Beefeater gin, which has been sitting in the back of my liquor cabinet for a few years;
  • I love cherries and the thought of “Maraschino liqueur” intrigued me;
  • I was not familiar with sweet vermouth or orange bitters; and
  • I wanted to shoot cool photos of the Martinez in a martini glass.

First, I did my internet research on Maraschino liqueur. I initially wondered if my Kirschwasser cherry brandy would be an acceptable substitute (since I only used about 2 tablespoons for a recipe I tried last year and this bottle also sits in the back of my liquor cabinet). Nope, I learned it’s not the same.

During my lunch hour, I went to Bev Mo and found Maraschino liqueur by Luxardo. It was a bit pricy for my “experimental” cocktail, made with gin, ugh, but, after seeing the interesting bottle, finding out it’s produced in Italy, and already knowing it’s made from cherries, it was an easy sell.

Orange bitters was another story…BevMo does carry orange bitters (actually, blood orange bitters), but they were all out. I waited while they called two other stores, and they were all out. I called several liquor stores and they were “all out.” Although I did see the Angostura bitters, and learned about the interesting packaging for those bottles, I really wanted to find the orange bitters, which are also made by Angostura. I gave up for tonight, stopped by my favorite Italian restaurant on the way home for a little pasta, and asked my bartender friend Johnny for a couple dashes of bitters, in a to-go-cup, so I could come home and make this cocktail!

And the verdict is….I liked it, but didn’t love it. The good news is that it made the gin bearable and I have an expensive, cool bottle of Maraschino liqueur.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Fine Cooking Cook the Issue Challenge - Roasted Potato and Mushroom Salad with Mascarpone

With an Irish lad in the household, this is a definite keeper!

Roasted Yukon Gold potatoes, mushrooms, mascarpone dressing, and green onions mingle together for this amazing combination. Now I have two favorite warm potato salad recipes, one from Fine Cooking and one by Bobby Flay!