Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Lovage Cocktail

The first time that I ever heard of lovage, I was dining at Dano’s Heuriger on Seneca Lake; Dano was growing lovage in his restaurant’s herb garden. I had no idea what the heck lovage was, besides tall and green. Later that spring, someone brought a bunch of lovage stalks to Felicia’s with the suggestion that we use them as Bloody Mary straws, since they are hollow and taste like celery. And we did. That same generous person delivered a large amount of lovage to the lounge again this year. This time, we decided to infuse this perennial herb.

Because vodka is flavorless, we chose it as the base for our infusion. I added a pound of chopped lovage minus the leaves to two bottles of vodka and let it sit for about five days. The result is a clean, mild, celery-flavored vodka. Now we have to figure out what to do with it. Suggestions?

Besides lovage’s obvious use as a base for a Bloody Mary, Leah created a less labor intensive drink, the Lovage Spritzer. Light and refreshing, the Lovage Spritzer is a fizzy drink that tastes like a springtime garden, though not like my garden, which only tastes like mint. And bunnies.

Lovage Spritzer

1 ½ ounce lovage-infused vodka
Lime wedge*

Fill a rocks glass with ice. Add lovage-infused vodka and top with Sprite. Garnish with lime wedge.*

*Note the absence of the lime wedge in the photo above. That's because we sacrificed 1, 287 limes this past weekend to the making of mojitos and caipirinhas. Curse you, labor intensive drinks!

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Rhubarb Martini Update

As promised, I am updating our Felicia's Rhubarb Martini recipe.

When I was a kid, each Spring my mom would cook down rhubarb with a little bit of water and sugar. This became our dessert, eaten by the spoonful with puckered lips and squeaky teeth.

Mom's cooked-down rhubarb has become the base for this year's Rhubarb Martini at the Lounge. Here's my recipe:

Rhubarb Reduction Mush

8 cups chopped rhubarb
4 cups water
2.5 cups sugar

Cook the rhubarb and water til it turns to a tart mush. Stir in sugar. Let cool.

Now, eat it with a spoon, eat it over vanilla ice cream, use it as a pancake topping, or shake it up with vodka for the most luscious Rhubarb Martini ever. THIS IS NOT A TRICK. This is actually kind of the same recipe that I posted a year ago, except now we don't strain the rhubarb out. The more rhubarb, the tastier (and possibly, the drunker).

Rhubarb Martini

1.5 ounces vodka
3 ounces sweetened rhubarb reduction mush

Shake it, strain it, drink it. (With ice. Shake it with ice.)

Tart is the new black. You heard it here first.

No, you can't have my mom's rhubarb pie recipe, so stop asking.


Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, May 25, 2009

Locavore Cocktails

No, that is not a photo of Felicia's new baby in the picture above. It is a magical, poisonous mandrake root that hides under our kitchen refrigerator and occasionally drinks a bowl of milk, all the while conniving to bring fertility to Felicia staff. Curse you, mandrake root!

Just kidding, it's a parsnip. A huge parsnip. As a matter of fact, I don't ever want to eat another parsnip for as long as I live. I ate way too many from our farm cooperative last year, and frankly, they taste funny. Curse you, parsnip!

The good news is that the mint is in full bloom though the four-lined plant bug lurks and threatens. Our Mojitos are selling like, well, Mojitos. All of the staff have Popeye biceps from muddling and we can't seem to keep enough limes it the house, thanks to Caipirinhas as well.The lemon balm is also out of control, so please order a Lemon Coco Martini so I can cut this overgrown herb kingdoms back. Why, just six weeks ago our little mint family was barely poking its green heads above the ground.Just planted: baby basil for your pizzas and cucumber plants destined to become your cucumber gin and tonic.Next blog post: A revised recipe for the Rhubarb Martini!

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Chicken BBQ Phenomenon - Week 4

Like Ithaca, Burdett is only 15 minutes from Trumansburg, but being in Schuyler County, it is worlds away. Going to Burdett is sort like falling backwards in time into 1950's small town America where there isn't even the need for a traffic light, unless you count the flashing one. I spent about five minutes taking pictures of the Chicken BBQ at the Burdett Fire Station last Saturday, wandering amongst the firemen, taking photos of them drinking their 10am beers. Oddly, not one of them acknowledged my presence. I was strangely invisible to them, a visitor from a future, more progressive world.
The women at the Grist Mill Cafe could relate to my alien experience. Directly across the street from the Burdett Fire Station, the Grist Mill is one of Ithaca's best kept secrets, probably because it is not in Ithaca. The Grist Mill is a wonderful little cafe with their own fresh-baked bread and the best hazelnut coffee in the world. They serve breakfast and lunch Tuesday-Saturday with a bunch of vegetarian options; I recommend the apple reuben and a side of their cous-cous salad. The croc-wearing Grist Mill gals told me that in the few years they have been open, only one fireman has dared to venture across the street and into their amazing cafe. And you thought firemen were brave.
The Grist Mill Cafe sure beats redneck chicken BBQ. The Grist Mill is so good that I want to share it with you, and so good that I don't want to share it with you so I can keep it all to myself.'ll be our little secret.
One final note: the fresh local rhubarb for Felicia's Rhubarb Martini came from Deb, the owner of the Grist Mill. Thanks, Deb!

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Felicia has a baby!

Felicia is a grandma! Our bartender Danielle gave birth to a healthy and happy baby boy named Cooper on May 14. Congratulations, Danielle and Glenn! Cooper will be drinking dirty martinis before you know it.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Chicken BBQ Phenomenon - Week 3

As I drove out of Trumansburg last Saturday morning, I left the smell of at least three chicken BBQs behind me. Eager to explore the Chicken BBQ Phenomenon on the road, I did not pause to take pictures.

On the outskirts of Ithaca, I passed one Chicken BBQ, in Richford. Then, oddly, there was nothing. The small towns we drove through on Routes 79 and 206 were strangely devoid of greasy-fingered townies with greasy smiling faces. Apparently the BBQ Phenomenon had not reached these here country parts.

And then we arrived in Bainbridge, where a big truck was grilling a BBQ outside of a church. I did not venture inside where the grub was being served up on aluminum-wrapped paper plates. I asked the acne-clad boy at the grill, where did the Chicken BBQ Phenomenon come from? "It's an upstate thing," he said. When asked who the fundraiser was for, he said, "Some church thing." A young man of few words, yet so poignant.

The cute young girls who look to be about 14 years old in the picture below? Um, those are the moms. Apparently country girls look more youthful than the rest of us. Must be the water in Bainbridge.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Chicken BBQ Phenomenon - Week 2

This post is one in a weekly series on The Chicken BBQ Phenomenon: the abrupt sprouting up of chicken BBQ fundraisers in small town parking lots every Saturday from April through September.

Last week's chicken BBQ in Trumansburg was at Ron Don's restaurant to raise money for Reynold's Racing. Lots of guys were standing around looking at cars when I drove past. When I returned with my camera, the food was already gone, but I still got to stand around and stare at totally awesome testosterone-laced cars with a bunch of old men.
They laughed when I told them I was writing about The Chicken BBQ Phenomenon. One said that he once traveled on a dirt road to a remote village in Hawaii where he found, surprise-surprise, a chicken BBQ fundraiser.

"See you next Saturday," the old guys said as I left. They knew what I knew: another chicken BBQ would magically appear in town.

Since I am going out of town this weekend, it looks like I will be missing the BBQ's in these here parts. I will take photos of the Phenomenon on the road this weekend.All chicken BBQ photos were taken by Amelia on her glorious iPhone.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Update on Finger Lakes Distilling

Felicia has a new boyfriend:

And he lets her drink his hooch. A match made in heaven! Together they shall make beautiful cocktails. Oh, F.L., I love you and I can't wait to be with you...

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

PBR Ashtrays

Since you all can't seem to stop stealing the ashtrays from the outdoor benches, galldarnit,we discovered a solution for these financially frugal times. For just five cents, we can make our ashtrays out of empty PBR cans, endlessly supplied by our $1 PBR Recession Wednesdays.

My design is the PBR pinwheel, taking a mere one minute and eight seconds to make, and requiring no skill or power tools, thank goodness, because I would probably cut off one of my fingers. A pair of dull scissors does the trick. (For the ashtray, not to cut off a finger.)

Leah, not to be outdone by my brief and rare display of craftiness, took much longer to design her PBR ashtray which resulted in a more classic retro look. After her initial creative time investment, she, too, was able to complete each ashtray in under two minutes.

Now if you steal an ashtray, at least it will be a fashionably cool one.

You owe me five cents.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Ramps in a Cocktail

Who puts ramps in a cocktail? Leah does. What else are you going to do with them? Well, yes, you can pickle some. She did that, too. Since she can't cook with them at home due to my stupidly useless onion allergy, ramp cocktails is a creative solution to five pounds of wild ramps sitting in the fridge.
What are ramps? A North American wild onion-like thing that one finds by foraging like a hippie on the forest floor in mid-Spring.

Try ramp-infused vodka in a bloody mary - minus horseradish which will over power it. I will post a recipe next week.

BEWARE: ramps will give you dragon breath. Unless your lover eats (drinks) them, too, be prepared to sleep alone tonight.
ramp_vodka_2wild_rampspickled ramps

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Chicken BBQ Phenomenon

The signs in late April all pointed to the fact that spring is well underway: flip-flops, shorts, pansies, black fly bites, lawnmowers rumbling to life, and the start of the mythical chicken BBQ season.
In the Village of Trumansburg, you will find at least one chicken BBQ fundraiser in somebody's parking lot every Saturday from April through September. I do not know who eats chicken BBQ; I know I don't. It feels weird to me to pull into a parking lot to eat, kind of like an impromptu drive-thru that sprouts up and disappears within hours. I have always assumed that if the chicken BBQ is a fundraiser for the school band, all the band students' parents are the only ones who show up to eat.
This summer, I am going to do a full-fledged investigation of the Chicken BBQ Phenomenon. I began my research on Saturday, April 25th:
There was one BBQ in Trumansburg that weekend, a fundraiser for the Rotary Club. I don't even know what the Rotary Club is. I think they do community stuff. Like sell chicken BBQ. Where did they buy their chickens? The Rotary man looked at me as if I asked a strange question. "At the Shur-Save," he said. Like, duh, it's Trumansburg. Where else would we buy them? "We use the Cornell recipe," the man continued, like I knew what that meant. "They are marinated for three days," he continued. "It's the best way EVER to barbecue a chicken." Or 200 of them.
Less common is an Ithaca chicken BBQ sighting, but I found one that same day at the Agway. It was a fundraiser for Ithaca's alternative high school, and they were making a killing. Must have been the organic, free-range chickens from..."Wegmans," a mom told me. "The local chicken farmer we were hoping to use did not work out."
Ok, I tried one. The free-range thing always makes me feel like I am doing something nice for the happy chickens who gave their little organic lives so I can eat. It tasted like...chicken. Chicken BBQ, to be exact.

I already have one to look forward to next week:

Comment on this blog post! Do you have The Chicken BBQ Phenomenon on your town? I want to hear from you.

Stumble Upon Toolbar