Sunday, July 22, 2012

Let's Start With the Plane

I don't know how I got so lucky and I don't think I am likely to ever be lucky in this way again. But I sure did appreciate it. I flew to Berlin on frequent flier miles and for some reason, they put me in business class all the way to Paris. The reclining seat/bed alone was enough to make my trans-Atlantic journey pretty special but the MENU! Wow. The flight boarded at 11pm so I wasn't expecting much of anything but how wrong I was! First up, serrano ham and a terrine of poisson. I was already pretty pleased with that when the sommelier came by and poured me a glass of Henriot Brut Souverain. A sommelier on board! For my entree I had scallops in a green curry sauce with snap peas with a glass of Graves Chateau Villa Bel Air 2007. I don't really know what any of that means but it was lovely with the scallops. I finished with a dessert trio of a citron bouchee, triple chocolate cake and raspberry macarons. And a glass of tawny Port. Why not, right? After that, I knocked out and woke up refreshed and in Paris. Best flight ever.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Rhubarb Bonanza

Yikes. It's been a long time. But I got married and went to Europe for two weeks so I've had my hands quite full! Whilst in Europe, I was lucky to find myself encountering rhubarb kuchen, rhubarb cocktails and even rhubarb yogurt. I love rhubarb but it's not really a Louisiana crop, you know? Recently however, I spied some rhubarb at Rouse's. I'm embarrassed to say how expensive it was but I bought about five pounds and made rhubarb simple syrup, rhubarb crumble cake and three kinds of rhubarb compote. The rhubarb simple syrup was for a drink recipe I saw in the NY Times a while back. I have to say, I don't think the syrup really screamed rhubarb at me in this drink but I still liked it, not enough to swoon over though. It's when I made a rye whiskey-rhubarb Manhattan that I thought I really hit on something. Anyway, here's the original drink recipe, known by the intriguing name, Emperor's Garden. Ingredients 1 cup thinly sliced rhubarb 1 cup sugar 5 Thai basil leaves; more for garnish 1 teaspoon seasoned rice wine vinegar 1 1/2 ounces gin 3/4 ounce lemon juice. Preparation 1. Make rhubarb simple syrup: Bring 1 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add rhubarb and sugar, and stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour. Reserve a selection of rhubarb slices as cocktail garnishes, then strain syrup and store chilled for up to 7 days. 2. In a mixing glass, muddle the Thai basil leaves with the seasoned rice wine vinegar. Add gin, 1 ounce rhubarb simple syrup and lemon juice. Fill mixing glass 2/3 full of ice and shake vigorously. Using a fine mesh strainer, pour into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a Thai basil leaf and a slice of reserved rhubarb. YIELD 1 serving On the 4th, I made dessert for a cookout we were invited to. It was fine, don't get me wrong, but I wouldn't make it again. Too cake-y, not enough lush, tart, jammy rhubarb for my taste. I thought this recipe was better when I made it last summer, albeit with peaches but why not rhubarb? Finally, I made various compotes but the one I liked the best was the one with wine (I used white since I didn't have any red) and some citrus. I really loved the one with balsamic but in a way, I felt like it didn't let the rhubarb really shine. But the best part is with all this stewing and canning, I will have rhubarb to last me until next spring!