fiddlehead definition

fid·dle·head [ fídd'l hèd ] (plural fid·dle·heads) noun
Definition: edible fern shoot: the coiled frond of a young fern, often cooked and eaten as a delicacy

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Hoppy Valentines Day

Need a last minute Valentine for your beer lover? Attach one of these adorable vintage-style beer- themed Valentines from (printing is permitted) to a craft beer or a selection of singles. Boom.
Maybe you were lucky enough to snag some Hopslam? Did you read this great piece on the hard to find goodness?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Vieux Carré

my nerdy notebook doodle
With Carnival season coming to an end today, why not celebrate Fat Tuesday with a New Orleans inspired cocktail? Nothing captures the essence of the French Quarter in a glass more than a Vieux Carré [view-ka-ray]. Vieux Carré, which translates as "old square," the official name of 4 by 11 block area neighborhood on the crescent bend of the Mississippi river known as The French Quarter. The now classic cocktail was concocted by head bartender, Walter Bergeron, at the Swan Bar in the Hotel Monteleone in 1938 (now home of the revolving Carousel Bar).
Vieux Carré at Sprig

The Vieux Carré is a spirituous cocktail, a kind of Louisiana cousin of a Manhattan. Like the city of New Orleans itself, the cocktail is emblematic of the extensive blending of traditions and cultures within the city. The early inhabitants of New Orleans were Native American, French, African and Caribbean. Perhaps Mr. Bergeron meant this to be a tribute to the extensive blending and borrowing that influenced the food, music, language, culture, and architecture of this distinct city- The rye for the American influence, the cognac and Benedictine for the influence of the French, sweet vermouth for the Italian (I am sure there are plenty of Italians), the Angostura bitters for the Caribbean, and Peychaud's bitters for a homegrown ingredient.
Seven Lamps

Cocktail books differ slightly on ratios but most agree that the Vieux Carré is a cocktail meant to be built over ice in the glass in which it will be served. I have been ordering the classic cocktail around Atlanta and find it delicious on a winter evening whether built in the glass or strained into it. What is important is the vermouth. Using a high quality, sweet vermouth like Carpano Antica will temper the strong base spirits and not allow the blend to become too sweet. The herbaceous Benedictine further rounds out the flavors.

Vieux Carré at Empire State South
 By tasting the same cocktail at many places, you really get to know the balance and see the bits of individuality mixologists put in the glass. I have learned that many bartenders do not know this drink and those who do smile when you order it. Marc Caballero of Sprig Restaurant and Bar in Decatur did. I like it in a Manhattan style coupe glass, just as Bradley at The Optimist served it in, best.  It doesn't matter if the glass is chilled or not. I prefer it "up," but those large chunks of ice are always nice. David Chapman of Empire State South served a perfect version over a giant cube that never seemed to melt. His lemon twist was pretty incredible too. Next time Nate Shuman of Proof and Provision makes me one, perhaps he could include on of his lapsang souchon infused cubes. I like it with a flamed orange peel as garnish very much. The oils released bring very nice aromatics. The best garnish is a brandied cherry. Arianne Fielder of Seven Lamps made me a play on a Vieux Carré with walnut bitters and it was astonishingly good. I haven't had one made by Thomas McGuire of Prohibition yet but I look forward to it. I always get a history lesson with each cocktail (and I like it). Hands down favorite on my quest was from Mike Satusky at The Family Dog. He served it with High West Rye, Carpano Antica vermouth, tasty Cognac (I know nothing of cognacs), Angostura & Peychaud's bitters, Benedictine, and a brandied cherry on a stick "up" and in a rocks glass, no ice. We talked about Casablanca. A Vieux Carré goes very well with Casablanca.

Monday, February 11, 2013

A Proper Valentine

This is how I send Valentine's love--with Pine Street Market Applewood Smoked Bacon.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Signs of Spring

I spotted this patch of blue on my run this morning. Veronica penduncularis or 'Georgia Blue' was growing on the side of the road, poking through dirt, rocks, and debris. Its presence made me ever aware of the signs all around me. Squirrels were chasing each other and searching for food buried before it grew cold. Birds were chirping and gathering bits and pieces for nest building. Daffodils were blooming and trees buds were beginning to swell.

This is the time of year I like to pick up Thoreau's Walden and read about how excited he was for things to start budding and blooming. "Walden was dead and is alive again" he wrote. The rebirth of our landscape ushers in a rebirth for our souls.

Soon, very soon, the landscape (and our dinner plates) will be augmented by ramps, morels, and fiddleheads, those harbingers of springtime.

Places and spaces I look forward to in early spring:

Empire State South-- foraged spring ingredients always sing on the spring menu.

Seven Lamps-- Drew Van Leuvan created the most spectacular spring menu while at One Midtown Kitchen. I had ramps, morels, and fiddleheads in one meal. I have no doubt early spring will be nothing shy of dazzling at Seven Lamps. The winter menu has thrilled me over and over.

100 Mile Dinner-- the next dinner is in March. I anticipate lots I local foraged early spring arrivals or some of Nick Melvin's pickled ramps from last spring.

No. 246-- Drew Belline is an accomplished forager which makes No. 246 extra dreamy in early spring.

Ecco-- Remember last spring when chef Craig Richards covered a pizza in wood violets? It was stunning and, I heard, delicious. Morels with fish; ramps with rabbit; a pasta with both?

Miller Union-- The menu at Miller Union always revolves around the week's harvest. Wasn't there a ramp sabayon on the menu one spring? I could see morels in chef Steven Satterfield's creamed rice dish. I swear I have ordered the dish 10 times.

Hot and Hot Fish Club-- Tasting some of chef Chris Hasting's food during early springtime is worthy of a road trip from Atlanta. He has a large network of foragers that make possible incredible plates like "A forager's walk"- a dish I saw him tweet about. Beautuiful. His foraging seminar at last year's Atlana Food & Wine Festival was the reason I purchased my pass. It is my favorite session since the festival's inception.