"A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch." - James Beard


Sunday, March 3, 2019

Captain Marvel: The HFF (Higher, Further, Faster) Cocktail

Post by Matt

As is tradition around here, when I’m really excited about an upcoming super hero movie, I tend to celebrate by creating a cocktail to celebrate the character. I think my most successful cocktails have been for Wonder Woman and Doctor Strange, but I had the most fun trying to figure out a worthy cocktail for Black Panther.

We’ve had our tickets to Captain Marvel since January 7, so to say I’m excited for the movie is a bit of an understatement. When I asked the Clockwatching Tart about what cocktail she thought we should make to celebrate Ms. Danvers, I told her her main colours were red, blue and gold and that the movie’s tagline was “Higher, Further, Faster”. Her immediate response was “Champagne and Cognac” because “it has a nice gold colour and is strong as heck, straight forward, and classy”. Who am I to argue against that logic?

To make things interesting, we decided to try three variations of a French 75, which is Champagne and Cognac with simple syrup and lemon juice. For the first version, we went with the classic and just added a cherry for a splash of red in honour of Captain Marvel.

Add the following into a cocktail shaker with ice:

¼ ounce (1 ½ teaspoons) lemon juice
¼ ounce (1 ½ teaspoons) simple syrup
1 ounce (30 ml / two tablespoons) Cognac (we used Remy Martin VSOP)

Shake and then pour the liquid into a chilled Champagne flute and top with:

4 ounces of Champagne (we substituted French sparkling wine from just outside the Champagne region, because… money)

Garnish with a lemon twist and a cherry and enjoy! The Clockwatching Tart and I found the cocktail dangerously easy to enjoy with a nice balance between the brighter notes of the lemon and the depth and complexity of the cognac. We agreed that if you ordered it at a fancy cocktail bar, you wouldn’t be disappointed.

The Clockwatching Tart loves cider and recently came across a beautiful bottle of Calvados, which is French Apple Brandy. My favourite Ontario winery is Cave Springs from the Jordan area near Niagara. Their Dolomite has a beautiful limestone minerality to it that I absolutely love, so we decided to see if they would make a successful variation of a French 75. We prepared it the exact same way, but substituted Calvados for Cognac and Cave Springs for the previous Brut. While it would be great on a summer day and was nicely aromatic, it lacked the depth of the original and wasn’t quite as good.

Our final variation substituted Dillon’s cherry gin for both the lemon juice and the simple syrup. While it was a valiant effort, there was just too much going on with everything the gin brought to the table and it wasn’t worthy of Captain Marvel (or our palettes).

In the end, there was only one drink worthy of the Higher, Further, Faster name (and inclusion in our regular cocktail rotation): the original French 75 with a cherry. Cheers to Brie Larson and her fight for underrepresented voices and to Captain Marvel laying waste to the box office and all the trolls.


Friday, January 4, 2019

Cheese Fondue for Two

cheese fondue

When Matt and I got married we asked for, and received, a fondue pot.  I really wanted one, but it's not the most practical gift. I can't say we've used it regularly over the years, but we broke it out for Christmas Eve dinner and had a wonderful cheese fondue. 

Melty, tangy cheese on all manner of fruits, vegetables and bread is about the best meal there is.  We watched Die Hard while enjoying our fondue, and it may just be a new Christmas Eve tradition!

I don't know what Matt enjoyed more, eating the fondue, or arranging the fruit, veggies and bread on the tray.  

Here's the recipe for Fondue for Two.  This is enough for a meal for two hungry people or an appetizer or snack for four.  Double the recipe and add more hearty dippers like salami and pretzels to feed a crowd. 

1 garlic clove
1 cup dry white wine
250g Emmental cheese, shredded
250g Gruyere cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon cornstarch
juice of half a lemon
black pepper to taste

Things to dip:
  • slices of baguette
  • pretzels or pretzel bread
  • toasted bread cubes
  • grapes
  • apple slices
  • chunks of salami or cooked sausage
  • boiled mini potatoes
  • blanched vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, etc.
Cut the garlic clove in half and rub both halves all over the inside of the fondue pot. 

Add the wine to the fondue pot and heat slowly until hot but not boiling.  

Toss the cheeses with cornstarch. Over low heat, add the cheese slowly to the wine, stirring to melt after each addition. Don't let the mixture come to a boil, just keep it warm and stir until it becomes glossy and starts to thicken. 

Add lemon juice and pepper. 

The cheese may still be thin at this point, but it will thicken up as it sits.  

If you have a proper fondue pot with a heating device, keep the cheese warm over the heat source while you eat, reducing the heat as the level of the cheese goes down as it's eaten.  If you're using a regular pot, you can warm it up on the stove periodically if it gets too cool. 

Use long forks to dip into the cheese.  Be careful!  It's hot!