Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Cocktail Wednesdays: Tipperary Cocktail (No. 1)

Tipperary Cocktail (No. 1)

The Tipperary Cocktail has several incarnations, with extremely wide variations.  I started out looking to confirm the ratios given on Intoxicology, and came across an entirely different cocktail, which sounded even more appealing.  Apparently, early cocktail books list one or the other, and the Savoy Cocktail Book lists both.  Apparently, I need a copy of this book as I find myself frequently using Harry Craddock's recipes.   Although I have seen different ratios for the drink listed by Craddock as Tipperary Cocktail (No. 1), I decided to first try the original recipe, which is also the easiest to make, since it calls for equal parts of all of the ingredients.  Still, I am intrigued by other ratios, and most especially by the inclusion of scotch per Erik of Savoy Stomp.

Tipperary Cocktail (No. 1)

1 oz Irish Whiskey
1 oz Green Chartreuse
1 oz Sweet Vermouth

Stir over ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

The verdict: We both liked this one.  Scott felt that it resembled something we had tried before, and I think that is because the Chartreuse is the primary flavor.  Still, it plays nicely with the Irish whiskey.  Scott says, "It's a good mix."  I found that the vermouth primarily provided sweetness, and rounded out the drink nicely.  Scott wasn't even sure he could identify the vermouth, just that there was something providing the sweetness.  I think this is a cooler weather drink, as it is warm and rich along with the herbal notes.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A trip for Architecture

LTU exhibit space.  Work by Steve Rost

Yesterday, I went downtown to an exhibit of LTU architecture thesis projects. They were all about different strategied for the revitalization if downtown Detroit. Pictured above is some of the work of Prof. Steve Rost that is displayed in the same space. Sorry about the blurry iPhone photo.

Dime Building

It was in the Dime Building, in a space called Detroit Shop. The Dime Building itself has some interesting old details, from the overblown painted entablature, to decorative medallions on the elevator doors. The lobby is a two story glass-roofed space with some shops and restaurants, that has great potential as an indoor courtyard or tiny mall in the center of the city, though its location on Griswald means that it is not as likely to be noticed as some other locations.

Wayne State University

On my way out of the building, I started to think about taking photos of famous places and beautiful buildings in Detroit to share with all of you. Not the gorgeous ruins that are often the images exported from Detroit, but of the beautiful places that are still in use or have been reclaimed. I had tucked my phone away in the wrong place while searching for my ticket for the parking garage, and I was having trouble finding it again, but I did manage to get one photo before leaving Midtown, thanks to digging in my purse extensively at every stop light. I promise that in the future, I'll make the trip purposely, with plenty of time to walk around and take photos with my real camera. In the mean time, here's one of the older buildings of Wayne State University.

Cocktail Wednesdays: The Arnaud

Arnaud Cocktail

 The Arnaud Cocktail is named after French born pianist, singer and actress Yvonne Arnaud.

Yvonne Arnaud,
Photo from Wikipedia

Germaine Yvonne Arnaud was born in 1890. She entered the Conservatoire de Paris at age 9, and at age 12, she began performing with orchestras throughout Europe and USA. In 1911, she moved to the theatre. According to the website of the theatre in Guildford, England named in her honor, "warmth, humour and talent gave her an unrivalled position on the English stage for nearly fifty years."

The Arnaud Cocktail:

1 oz Gin
1 oz Dry Vermouth
1 oz Crème de Cassis

Stir over ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a blackberry on a cocktail stick.

Crème de cassis, or black currant liqueur, is considered to be a particularly French ingredient. Cassis ice cream is a classic French treat, as is the Kir, a drink made with wine and crème de cassis. A Parisian Martini also involves crème de cassis. Gin, on the other hand, is a classically English ingredient, so the combination of the two makes perfect sense for a French actress who spent so much of her life in England.

The verdict: I was a little afraid that Scott wouldn't like it since he wasn't a fan of the last drink with cassis or the cassis ice cream, but I was pleasantly surprised by his reaction. Surprisingly, I think he liked it better than I did. He thought it was a little fruitier than he would have liked last night, that it was more of a summer drink. I thought that although the flavors were both identifiable individually and smeed to play well together, there was something harsh about it that bothered me. Maybe I would prefer a similar drink with a different ratio of the ingredients.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Flooding Update: Basement Bar Progress

Basement Bar Reconstruction

We discovered that the reason for the additional flooding in our basement is that the line from the drain tile at the exterior of our foundation was clogged, rather than draining as it should. While we have had trouble snaking it out, the good news is that we don't have to dig up our yarn to install one or break up the slab to install a sump pump.

It's finally time for me to start sharing some progress in the basement. Scott's work has finally eased up, so he doesn't have to be working every weekend anymore, and we can finally get work done on all of the things I can't do by myself. It really stinks, but I can't do all kinds of things by myself, without someone holding up the other end, etc., but Scott is able to do all of those things by himself. Makes me feel pretty useless. At least once we get the new drywall up, I can do all the mudding, taping and painting, as well as the finishing work on the cabinets.

Here's what he's done so far, with minimal help from me.

Basement Bar Reconstruction

He built a stud wall to support the long side of the bar.

Basement Bar Reconstruction

One of his coworkers generously gave us some used cabinets that he had sitting around in his garage, and I designed the new layout using a selection of these cabinets. We carried the cabinets down to the basement, and laid out the short side of the bar so that Scott could see exactly where the supporting stud-wall would go for that side. He hadn't looked at my drawing or dimension for the long side before installing the base plate, but that ended up working out ok because he put in an additional support wing wall between where he had ended it and where the other half wall will go.

Basement Bar Reconstruction

One unusual feature of our plan is that we are using former upper cabinets under the bar as storage for glassware. We have built up underneath them so that they have the same size toe kick as the other cabinets, and we will be building up on top of them so that they will help support the bar at standard bar height of 42". Yes, the upper cabinets are shallower than standard base cabinets, but I think they will be extremely useful, without intruding too far into the space on the other side. Plus, it's certainly better than the complete lack of cabinets we had on that side before. There will be two large upper cabinets with a shelf between.

Basement Bar Reconstruction

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Fiddlehead Fern Carbonara

Fiddlehead Fern Carbonara

In other taste-testing news, yesterday, I cooked up some fiddlehead carbonara, based on Closet Cooking's recipe. I had heard that fiddlehead ferns are considered a harbinger of spring, and are even celebrated in festivals as the first vegetable of the season. When I saw a man selling them at Eastern Market on Saturday, I just had to pick up a handful to try. When I asked him about them, he said they were a bit like asparagus, and he warned me not to overcook them.

Fiddlehead Carbonara
(2 servings)

1/2 pound pasta
4 slices bacon (cut into 1/2 inch slices)
1 cup (about 1/4 lb) fiddleheads (trimmed, well cleaned and boiled for 5 minutes)
1 ramp/wild leak or 2 cloves garlic (chopped)
pepper to taste
1 handful parsley (chopped)
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano

1. Start cooking the pasta as directed on the package.
2. Cook the bacon in a pan and set aside.
3. Drain all but a tablespoon of the bacon grease from the pan.
4. Add the fiddleheads, ramp and pepper, toss to coat and saute for a few minutes.
5. Mix the egg yolks, heavy cream and parmigiano reggiano in a large bowl.
6. Drain the cooked pasta reserving some of the water.
7. Add the pasta and parsley to the pan and toss.
8. Remove the pan from the heat, wait for the sizzling to stop and pour the pasta and bacon into the bowl with the egg mixture.
9. Add a bit of the pasta water and toss to coat.

This recipe as written above is almost identical to the directions by Kevin of Closet Cooking, but I noticed as I went to finished the dish, not only was it missing the bacon pictured in his photograph, but he also never instructed me on when to add the parsley. Though it provided nice visual contrast on top of my dish, I believe it would have been a more harmonious texture if it had been lightly cooked, as I added to the directions.

The fiddleheads themselves were rather similar to asparagus, but creamier, with a bit of unusual texture due to the way they are formed. Scott wasn't entirely keen on them, but he didn't dislike them, which I consider a win on the vegetable front when it comes to him. Still, we probably won't buy them again, since they were $20/lb. However, the individual ferns are light, and the 1/4 lb we bought was plenty for the two of us. Also, I planted ostrich ferns last year, which are one of the ferns from which fiddleheads can be harvested. As they become larger, stronger plants, we should be able to harvest them in the future. It's all part of my devious edible landscaping plan.

Cocktail Wednesdays: The Cuban Rose

The Cuban Rose

I chose this week's cocktail, the Cuban Rose, from's list of classic cocktails, because it seemed like it would be a good combination with both my beet gnocci and Scott's puerco pibil. Apparently, this drink is from the The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book, but the only place I could find the recipe online was on The recipe doesn't add up to the typical 3 oz pour, so I would recommend upping the quantities and keeping the proportions, if you would like to try it.

The Cuban Rose:

1 1/2 oz White Rum
3/4 oz Orange Juice
Dash of Grenadine

Shake ingredients over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

The verdict: The few references I saw had led me to believe that it would be a considerably fruity drink, whereas I found it to be very spirit forward. I felt that I didn't really get much of the grenadine. Scott liked it. He noted the nice balance of sweet and sour. He seemed to think it was fruitier than I thought, but that may be because I had expectations, and he had none. I don't know where the photo on came from; there's no way a dash of grenadine would make a drink with orange juice look like that.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Saturday in the City

Detroit Institute of Arts

This past weekend, Scott finally had the whole weekend off. On Saturday, we went to the Detroit Institute of Arts, where we saw the rest of the American art collection, as well as part of the Renaissance art collection, the Egyptian and ancient Babylonian artifacts, including a portion of the Ishtar gate.

Mural at Detroit Library

Afterward, we went across the street to the Detroit Library, which was open another hour after the DIA closed. We weren't there to see the above mural, or any of the other murals or stained glass in the building. We went to check out the records room for more clues in our recent search for Scott's ancestors. Even in the short space of an hour, we were able to pinpoint the link between the record we were certain was Scott's great-grandfather and other documents we had found but were uncertain belonged to him. We also found out that we were lucky enough to have started our search immediately before the 1940 census was released. Now, of course, we're trying to find the 1911 Scottish census, which is supposed to have already come out, but doesn't seem to be on

Cadieux Cafe

Afterward, we went to the Cadieux Café, a Belgian place on the east side, where we ate mussels, fries, and closed-face croque monsieur, drank beer, and speculated about feather bowling.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Cocktail Wednesdays: The Fiery Opal

The Fiery Opal

I have been wanting to try the Opal for a little while, since I was interested in the idea of a drink that included orange juice, orange liqueur, and orange flower water, and because we have plenty of the latter left over from making grenadine.  Additionally, it seemed a good drink for spring, which has definitively sprung here.  Rather foolishly, I forged ahead with the drink even though I only had one orange and therefor could only get half as much juice as I needed.  This is clearly the result of poor planning on my part.  I decided to give it a try anyway and adjust as needed.  Adjustment may have been needed anyhow, since I foolishly tried to dash a little orange flower water into the shaker from a bottle that has no restraint on the top.  I could have measured it out, but no, I got a small splash of orange flower water instead, for not taking the trouble.  I ended up adding more orange liqueur to help balance the drink, and brought it back up to a full 3 oz.  I call the resulting drink a Fiery Opal, because, frankly, that sounds a lot better than "I totally messed up this drink, what was I thinking?"

The Opal:

1.5 oz Gin
1 oz Orange Juice
1/2 oz Orange Liqueur
1/4 tsp Sugar
Small Dash Orange Flower Water

Shake ingredients over crushed ice and strain into a coupe.
Garnish with an orange of some sort.

The Fiery Opal:

1.5 oz Gin
1/2 oz Orange Juice
1 oz Orange Liqueur
Scant 1/4 tsp Sugar
Large Dash Orange Flower Water

Shake ingredients over crushed ice and strain into a coupe.
Garnish with an orange of some sort.

The verdict: At first, I thought it was just a little more flowery than I would have liked, but otherwise pretty decent.  Scott was surprised by the floral quality before I told him the ingredients, but he thought it was pretty good.  Over time, however, I found that the quantity of orange flower water made the drink unctuous in a way that I really couldn't handle.  Scott was drinking his slower than I drank mine, but after a while he felt it had become overwhelmingly flowery. I cut mine with mead (we already had an open bottle of Bells Brewery mead) after having drunk a third of the drink, and I found that much better.  Let's call that the Golden Fiery Opal.

The Golden Fiery Opal:

1 oz Gin
1 oz Mead
1/3 oz Orange Juice
2/3 Orange Liqueur
1/8 tsp Sugar
Small Dash Orange Flower Water

Shake ingredients over crushed ice and strain into a coupe.
Garnish with an orange of some sort.

This was a bit like a floral Mimosa, and seems like it would be best suited to a spring or summer outdoor brunch, with the sun shining down on ladies in wide-brimmed hats.