I’m judging the Iron Mixology Competition down in Charleston. Cheers! wb
Absinthe stirs the imagination. All those paintings from France in the 1800’s exemplifying the mystical aspects of this misunderstood liquor makes me want to delve deeply into measured sips. But how does Absinthe work? It does because of the mystique surrounding the clear liquid that somehow turns cloudy after dripping scant drops of water over the surface. Magic happens! Sure there are the botanical herbs, of course there is the ever-present alcohol- you cannot miss that with many varieties exceeding 120 proof!
Absinthe is powerful stuff indeed!
I love Absinthe because of the bad boy (bad girl) element. From a flavor perspective, Absinthe is every bit as delicious as botanical Gin, but it is thicker somehow. On the first taste, you can feel the creamy texture against your lips and tongue- then- coming quickly into view is the anise elements- then suddenly as if a monster awakened- the brooding depth of the alcohol. Sweet, savory, tart and herbal elements differ from brand to brand. The European varieties are known to contain certain long banned ingredients, but the American ones are no less potent. The rumor of a brand of Absinthe that may have plied Van Gogh to cut off his ear is known as the Green Fairy- good luck finding it! (No, not his ear) La Fee Verte.
This week’s cocktail is woven of Absinthe, freshly squeezed, charred grapefruit juice and a splash of Q-Tonic water. Q-Tonic water is available in nearly every Williams-Sonoma store and also in Whole Foods. It’s worth the extra expense for a hand-made product!
I’ve taken a small producer Absinthe from St. George in California- certainly available around the country- although you can use your choice of Absinthe- and added freshly squeezed grapefruit juice. I char the grapefruit segments in a cast iron pan before juicing to reveal a deeper personality and a hint of mystery!
The Green Fairies Ear
- 2 shots of St. George Absinthe
- 1 grapefruit, peeled and segmented, charred in a cast iron pan, then juiced/strained
- Coconut water ice cubes (freeze un-sweetened coconut water in an ice cube tray)
- Q-Tonic water
- To a small rocks glass, add two or three coconut water cubes, then the Absinthe, mix a bit to cool.
- Add about three tablespoons of the charred grapefruit juice
- Top with Q-Tonic water and sip (carefully) to the Belle Epoque!
Warren Bobrow, Mixology Guru extraordinaire, tells us that he is on a serious Gin kick. Apparently, it’s got him working in all sorts of ways. Yesterday he received a bottle of a new and unique spirit from his friends at Art in the Age located in Philadelphia. They are the inventors of USDA Certified Root-Snap-Hendrick’s Gin, Sailor Jerry Rum and now Rhuby.
What is Rhuby? It is a unique USDA Certified Organic Liquor distributed by William Grant. It’s a combination of neutral spirits with Rhubarb, beets, carrots, lemons, petigrain, cardamom, and pure cane sugar. It’s 80 proof so it is no slouch when it comes to heat in the glass.
And this, good people, is Warren’s Friday cocktail using Hendrick’s Gin (available almost everywhere) and Rhuby.
Rhuby Friday Martini
First you will need to purchase a bottle of Rhuby. If you live in Pennsylvania this is easy, just go to the high end State Store. Outside of the northeast part of the country, you’ll need to point your Internet browser here. Trust me. This is a gorgeous product. Drinking it is like stepping through a Colonial vegetable garden, completely twisted.
- 2 Shots Hendrick’s Gin or other good botanical gin
- ½ Shot Rhuby (USDA Certified Organic Rhubarb “tea”)
- 3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 shakes Angostura Bitters
- Dry Vermouth
- Rhubarb stalk for garnish
- Fill a plant misting tool with dry vermouth
- Mist the inside of a pre-chilled Martini glass with the dry vermouth
- Keep cool
- Fill a cocktail mixing glass ½ with ice
- Add the Hendrick’s Gin and Rhuby (USDA Certified Organic)
- Add a few shakes of the Angostura Bitters
- Add the lemon juice (fresh squeezed is essential!)
- Stir, don’t shake!
- Strain into your misted Martini glass and sip through to a successful conclusion to your week. Stir with Rhubarb stalk.
We love Warren. Every truly stylish web site should have one!
I met Tamara Kaufman on Facebook. I’m not really sure how interesting and accomplished people find me, but they do. Tamara is a very creative person.
I’ve always been fascinated by food stylists for television or print work. Many years ago, when I was a teenager, I worked (liberal use of the word) for EUE/Screen Gems in NYC. They did television commercials. My degree from Emerson College is in Film. As a budding cinematographer, (this helped to translate my keen appreciation for photography) I worked on dozens of television commercials. One in particular was for the product: Cool Whip.
I’ll never forget this commercial because the food just looked so darned good. Almost too good.
Color corrected does not necessarily mean safe to eat. So what did I learn? Don’t ever eat color corrected food.
Tamara Kaufman: The Five Questions.
1. Who taught you about food?
My early memories of food are very vivid—both visually and in flavor. My parents nurtured a real sense of exploration, as did my grandmother.
My Grandmother was a great cook and made delicious pies. She taught me the joy of making pie crust from scratch. My favorite treat was to eat the raw pie dough and to cook off the leftovers with cinnamon and sugar.
There so are many things that I remember my grandmother making — an amazing lamb and spinach stew, liver and onion sandwiches with butter, watermelon rind pickles (a favorite) and plum jam.
Many of my favorite snacks come from my childhood – I love mangos, sharp cheddar, braunschweiger and simple avocado sandwiches with salt.
Of course I had my moments of unsophistication… and loved ketchup, sour cream and butter slathered on baked potatoes and ketchup and white bread sandwiches.
I was born in Colorado where my Dad was attending CSU. We moved back to Iowa when I was five where my parents built a house on a 140 acre century farm, meaning it has been in our family for 100 years.
We always had interesting things going on and a variety of animals including a small herd of beef cows, chickens, a turkey that followed us on walks, guinea hens, a horse and a pony. Most animals acquired names and when they ended up on the dinner table it was a bit traumatic but gave me a true sense of where our food came from.
We had a garden every year. My dad would encourage eating turnips, tomatoes and carrots right from the garden, washed under the hose. I avoided weeding the garden at all costs. My first and only attempt at a garden as an adult had a plethora of weeds. We have one of the best farmers markets in the world here in Madison, Wisconsin, and many CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture programs) and so I leave produce growing up to the professionals and enjoy the fruits of their labor.
My mom canned and froze the garden vegetables and so we had garden grown tomatoes all year long and rhubarb sauce over vanilla ice cream in the middle of winter.
I learned how to hunt morel mushrooms on our property and I can tell the difference between the morel and its toxic lookalikes.
On our property we had apple, mulberry, pear and plum trees, wild black raspberries and black berries. My dad hunted for wild asparagus and a local bee-keeper gave us honey in return for keeping his hives on our property. My father went elk hunting in Colorado every winter for 30 years and so elk meat was a staple at our table.
Everything I experienced gave me such an appreciation of how the land plays a role in bringing food to the table. We never had junk food or sugary sweet sugary cereals…but I confess that I do have a ferocious sweet tooth.
As a child, I vacationed with my parents in a VW camper van, never staying in one place long, which meant that before graduating from college I saw all but two of the lower 48 states, all the lower provinces of Canada and parts of Mexico. We always sought out the local cuisine. I remember a great bbq served in a back yard shack in Florida, dim sum during a wedding in Toronto’s China Town and fresh lobster and crawdads cooked on the beach. Dad sought out the local BBQ sauces wherever we went.
Friends of the Family
A close family friend had a monthly tradition of gathering in a local park with a giant frying pan and a selection of ingredients were he made omelets for everyone who came. I also remember him at our house cooking late night meals with crepes and “stinky” soft cheeses while speaking in a silly French accent.
I was offered many unusual things at the dinner table including Rocky Mountain oysters. There isn’t much I don’t like. I adore every ethnicity of food. There are a few exceptions such as beef tongue and sea urchin.
Cheese, Food Advocacy and the Creative Arts
My serious interest in cooking and healthy eating began many years ago at a local natural grocery store where I acquired a position as Cheese buyer. Cracking open a 80 pound wheel of Parmigiano – Reggiano is an amazing experience. I dream of owning a cheese cave. I also worked for Whole Foods as a cheese buyer where my job description included teaching classes to the public.
I surrounded myself with people passionate about good food and grew to understand the importance of cooking seasonally, with whole foods …and became passionate about the politics of food and food safety.
Through the years I have done everything from stocking groceries and delivering pizza to making large beautiful batches of puff pastry, decadent chocolate cakes with chocolate ganache, custards and pots de crème. I had my own small catering business for three years and then decided to pursue food styling.
Food styling is primarily a free-lance career, however I was fortunate to work for Readers Digest/Reiman Publications as a staff food stylist for two years.
As far as the artistic side of my work, creativity runs in the family.
My mom and dad built their house in 1973 and were DIY’ers back when there wasn’t a TV network dedicated to this lifestyle. My mom is a watercolor artist and my grandfather conducted an orchestra in Latvia. I have always been very visual and acquired a BA in Art and Design from Iowa State University with an emphasis in Psychology and Advertising. I believe it’s my art degree that gives me a different perspective on food styling than many who come in to the career from cooking school. A great photo-composition is very important to me. Three dimensional design skills come in very handy with building things such as sandwiches and cakes, as they require structure inside to stay in place on set for long periods of time.
2. What is in your refrigerator right now? Do you keep your props for your food photography at home? Where do you shoot your work?
My fridge/pantry is usually filled with pretty basic ingredients. I always have sharp cheddar, Spanish Manchego or a fresh chevre. I stock lemons, limes, edamame in the shell, unsalted butter, half and half creamer for my coffee, toasted sesame oil and endless condiments. Beans and grains are a staple.
Right now I have my home made port-wine-fig compound butter, waiting to be delivered to friends as a gift.
And then there are the mystery potions that I use in my work…Glycerin, Mallose (a browning agent) and the many items that I use to keep food looking beautiful on camera.
Food dies quickly and stylists use some tricks to help the food stay fresh looking on set. I strive for a balance between real food/recipes and adding final touches that make for a beautiful composition. I don’t want it to look overly styled, unapproachable or overly promised.
I do use special effects and faux foods such as ice cream and milk as these remain stable and help save on an advertising budget.
Powdered sugar and Crisco make the perfect fake ice cream, Wild Root hair tonic makes a perfect “milk” that won’t turn the cereal soggy in minutes. Kitchen Bouquet makes a perfect chardonnay, tea or coffee. I use fake bubbles, fake ice cubes, fake droplets of “water”…and I always have tweezers and other strange tools on hand.
The photos are taken anywhere from my dining room to sets across the country. This summer I was invited to participate on a cookbook project in Maui. Moorish Fusion Cuisine will be my first cookbook credit and I hope it to be the beginning of many more.
3. Do you miss film photography? I find that digital is more computer than eye. What you think about computer manipulation of images?
I love film photography and mourn the loss of it. I learned to shoot on film in high school and college and only just recently acquired a digital camera. I loved developing my own black and whites and miss the connection you feel to the photos when you process your own film and photos in a dark room. There is also the excitement of not knowing what you actually captured until the film is developed.
In my profession digital image manipulation can save the day. Many hours are often spent on just one photo. For instance, on one shoot, the lighting and composition were perfectly set after many hours of work. The two eggs and bacon no longer looked like a smiley face and the lighting was perfect. Lo and behold the egg yolk broke. It had already taken us several dozen eggs before the perfect sunny side up egg was achieved. It would have been no easy task to replace it with a new perfect egg, making a typical 12-hour day even longer. This is where Photoshop and modern photography keep people on the job sane. With all of the magic of digital photography, it is still truly an art to capture food well. Technical lighting skills are one of the key elements that help the food come alive. The working relationship between the photographer and food stylist is crucial. We work together on every detail, as you don’t get a second chance to give the client what they want. The food has to appeal to the five senses, yet it must be translated into a single visual image.
Many think that a food stylist’s job must be zany and fun all of the time…but it is actually a very high-stress job. Food has a life of its own, and its life expectancy is short, therefore photo shoots are labor intensive. Keeping calm and a sense of humor is key!
Commercials and advertisements are often the collaboration of an entire team of creative people including magazine editors, art directors, photographers, prop stylists, soft goods stylists (clothing), models and food stylists.
I am the shopper, prep cook, baker, builder and creator of a beautiful composition.
4. If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would that be? Doing what? Eating/Drinking what?
SO hard to choose one!
On the ocean having fresh lobster, scallops and fried clams.
In New York exploring some interesting restaurant. Casual and hidden little gems are usually the most fun! I have never had a bad meal in N.Y.
At Sweet Revenge in NY having the best cupcake on earth pared with a glass of wine or cup of coffee. I wish they shipped.
In Boston’s North End Italian district for a day of total indulgence, beginning at Pizzeria Regina and then moving on from there for gelato, a cappuccino, cannoli and Italian tri colored cookies!
Traveling in Italy, Spain or any country with a rich food culture.
Seeing cheese made, anywhere in the world. If there is anything I would be likely to smuggle in to my luggage…it would be cheese!!
On a rooftop garden overlooking Brooklyn with a glass of red wine and a piece of cake from the Chocolate Room.
At Random in Milwaukee, WI eating a genuine retro ice cream drink with Frank Sinatra playing in the background.
At Conejito’s in Milwaukee, WI for the best Mole I have ever had.
I love my job!
In the Ironbound section of Newark, an ebullient, down-to-earth crowd rolls up its sleeves for heaps of the freshest fare of the sea, Portuguese style.
Reviewed by Warren M. Bobrow
Originally posted June 16, 2010
The bar area by the front door brims with displays of iced lobster, cockles, clams, whelks, snails, and bright pink prawns, their glaring black eyes and antennae intact. Freshly charred sardines and grilled white anchovies touched with sweet red peppers and olive oil come into view along with ceramic dishes of steamed clams dotted with fiery green sauce (garlic, puréed with olive oil, hot chilies, and parsley). The bar is clearly not just a great place to sip a lip-smacking caipirinha. It’s just as much about feasting on sparkling seafood.
Located in the Ironbound section of Newark, just off bustling Ferry Street, Seabra’s Marisqueira was founded in 1989 by the former owner of what is now the A&J Seabra Supermarket corporation of Fall River, Massachusetts. In 2000, three Newark businessmen—Jack Fernandes, Antonio Sousa, and Manuel Cerqueira—banded together to buy the popular restaurant. They work in the restaurant, too—Fernandes running the kitchen, Sousa and Cerqueira the front of the house. Their supportive attitude has fostered a strong esprit de corps.
“We are our own bosses now,” says manager Mario Martins, who, like most of the staff, has been at Seabra’s (See-AH-bra’s) since the start. “We wanted to control our own fate. We can decide the future of our passion.”
As even a single meal at the Marisquiera makes clear, that passion is for freshness and faithfulness to Portuguese culinary tradition. Pointing to a patron eating fish soup at the bar, Martins says, “Everything we serve is prepared fresh daily. We make fish soup from scratch. That is a bowl of our culinary history. ”
Cheerful, efficient waiters in black pants and crisp white shirts lead diners past the perennially packed bar and the bustling glassed-in kitchen to the blue-and-white tiled dining room. Seductive aromas of sautéed garlic shrimp accompany them on the journey. Hardly a word of English is heard among the patrons.
A good way to start is to order garlic shrimp and sop up the garlicky, saffron-laced, white wine sauce with the warm, locally baked, crusty bread. Don’t be put off by the need to peel the shells. It’s part of the fun of eating Portuguese. The aforementioned caipirinha (which is Brazilian, but never mind) goes well with fish and shellfish, thanks to its large hit of lime juice and its fuel of cachaça, which is Brazilian sugar cane rum.
Fresh North Atlantic sardines, charred and smoky from the charcoal grill, come with hunks of fresh lemon. If you’ve only had canned sardines, you’re in for a discovery. Eat them with your hands; they’re gone in two quick bites. Fresh grilled white anchovies also take you far from their oil-cured cousins. Served in a cazuela (ceramic bowl) with sweet onion and red vinegar, they are not at all salty and are in fact reminiscent of fresh brook trout. For a hearty and heady meal in a bowl, try sopa do mar, heaped with whole Jonah crab claws, whitefish, hake, and several head-on giant shrimp peering over the steaming surface of tomato-and-fish stock.
Most entrées come with thinly sliced, pan-fried, Portuguese-style crispy potatoes, another perfect soaker-up of broths and sauces. Sautéed green beans and sliced carrots in green garlic sauce complete the presentation of delicious charcoal-grilled grouper. Two split, grilled Nova Scotia lobsters come doused with a tasty butter sauce. Seabra’s staff honors requests for no sauce or sauce on the side not with rolling eyes, but with a warm reply: “Sure, no problem.” The waitstaff is also adept at finding the right Portuguese wine or sangria to complement the food. The best Portuguese wines, little known here, are great values—high in quality, low in price.
A fine entrée is pescada cozida com todos—white potatoes, hard-boiled egg slices, and sweet onion simmered with hake, a sweet, white-fleshed fish served in seaside towns along Portugal’s coast. Another entrée, bacalhau (dried, salted codfish) is served roasted with olive oil, garlic, green peppers, and onions, in a deep bowl. To extract most of the saltiness, Seabra’s soaks the crusty slabs of bacalhau for several days before cooking.
The kitchen staff turns out more-than-respectable meat dishes, like luscious, spit-roasted suckling pig with baby clams, and zesty pork tenderloin pounded into scallopini, pan-fried till crisp. Grilled short ribs smeared with a sweetly perfumed, caramelized garlic paste, make irresistible finger food. Same for baby lamb chops served with garlic flan.
For dessert, the dense, creamy, sweet house-made flan is even better with pulls of Seabra’s smoky, thick espresso. Caveat: The noise level can be high. Best defense: Bring a bunch of fun-loving friends and create a joyful noise of your own.
Featured writer: Warren Bobrow
Mark your calendar – Wednesday, Oct. 19 is the next Drink.Think reading event!
Once again, we’ve got a great line-up of writers slated to read from their work — and over the next few weeks, I’ll entice you with mini-biographies, starting this week with Warren Bobrow.
Now, if you’re out and about in the NY food and drink scene, surely you’ve run across this chap. Somehow, the man seems to be everywhere — He’s at spirits launch parties. He moderated a panel on food writing I attended at the IACP regional conference. He was front and center at a rum seminar I attended at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans (he’s a rum judge for the Ministry of Rum, so that makes perfect sense). And all the while, Warren manages to tweet up a storm like it’s an Olympic sporting event–go ahead, follow him @WarrenBobrow1. I dare you.
Warren is a prolific writer off Twitter, too: he’s the Food and Drink Editor of the 501c3 non profit Wild Table on Wild River Review; he is a cocktail writer for William-Sonoma’s Blender Blog, Foodista and Serious Eats; and his research on Biodynamic and Organic Wine and Food will appear in the 2012 Oxford Encyclopedia of Food/Drink in America, Ed. 2.
Whew! Come on out to Lolita Bar on Oct. 19 and hear what he has to say.