Extractions of Seasonal Citrus Fruits in Cocktails

Happy New Year all!  I’ve been experimenting with citrus as of late- but instead of the usual juice it and forget it- the cast iron pan (over there) has made a new dimension to my drinks.

What?  A cast iron pan?  How do you mean?

I like the charred flavor of citrus fruits.  But how?

Clementines are seasonal.  As are blood oranges.  Grapefruits are gorgeous at this time of year.  Sure, they are great juiced, but why not heat up your cast iron pan to almost smoking, peel your citrus and throw it into the pan.  Char the citrus and set aside to cool.

Use your juicer.  What?  You don’t have a juicer?  Run down to Williams-Sonoma and buy one! 

Photo: Warren Bobrow (Leica M8-Summicron 50mm F2)

Tequila is one of my favorite mediums to work with.  As is the new wave of “Botanical” Gin.

My first cocktail- named aptly the “Essence of Simplicity” cocktail is just that.

Ingredients:

2-3 grapefruit peeled

sprig of mint

Bitter End Moroccan Bitters

4 shots of Casa Noble Tequila

Preparation:

Heat your cast iron pan to sizzling hot

Char the grapefruit segments until nicely browned on all sides

Juice the segments and strain

Add Casa Noble Tequila to a cocktail shaker filled 1/2 with ice

Add one medicine dropper of Bitter End Moroccan Bitters to the shaker

Add the juice of the charred grapefruit

Shake!!! Shake!!! Shake!!!

Strain into a short rocks glass with a sprig of mint as garnish…  Slurp and enjoy!

The next cocktail combines blood oranges juice, lime juice, and clementine juice in a punch-like concoction that includes Cava from Spain, Conjure Cognac and Ron de Jeremy Rum.  “The Long, Smooth Rum”

It’s aptly called the “Hedgehog’s Revenge”

Ingredients:

Blood Oranges

Limes

Clementines

Preparation:

Take about three each, peel away the bitter pith and char in your cast iron pan. Set aside to cool.

Juice the citrus fruits

To a cocktail shaker, add 1/2 with ice

Add 2 shots of Conjure Cognac

Add 4 shots of Ron de Jeremy Rum

Splash of Cava (Spanish Sparking Wine)

Add about 6 oz of the charred juices

Shake and strain into two Champagne flutes

Top with a splash of Cava

Sip carefully!

This Cocktail uses Botanical-style Gin.  What is Botanical Gin?  Quite simply, it’s Gin that tastes like something!  Most of the Gin on the market today has very little flavor.  If it said Vodka on the label- you’d be 1/2 way to a hangover by now!  My friend Laura Baddish sent me some samples of a lovely Botanical Gin named Bulldog.

This is Gin with GUTS!  It stands up to citrus faster than you can say “Gin with juice”  which is the basis of this little drink.  It’s more of a long drink than a mere shot.

You can also use- if you can find it… The new Gin named FEW from the mid-western part of the USA.  It’s remarkable stuff and it reminds me of White Whiskey in the nose… (More to follow on this one)

The More to Follow Cocktail is just that.  You want more- to follow!

Ingredients:

Blood Oranges- Charred in the cast iron pan

Home cured cocktail cherries

Fresh Mint

2 Shots of Bulldog or Few Gin

1 Shot of Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth (or your choice)

1 Medicine Dropper of Bitter End Jamaican Jerk Bitters

Preparation:

Muddle the cherries and mint together in a cocktail shaker

Add some ice- how much?  Not much.

Add the Blood Orange juice

Add the Gin

Add the Carpano Antica

Add the Jamaican Jerk Bitters

Shake and strain into a tall Collins glass with a couple cubes of ice and one of your home-cured cherries.

 

 

 

 

cocktail cherries

sterilize some Ball jars

pit out some nice black cherries

fill jars and add a couple sprigs of lemon thyme

add a pinch of cardamom

top with brandy

seal and refrigerate for a week or so- no peeking!

enjoy in a cocktail or over ice cream!

Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer- Modenus-Friday Cocktails!

Warren Bobrow’s Cocktail Hour: The Green Fairies Ear

 

 Absinthe posterAbsinthe 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

Ingredients:

  • 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

Preparation:

  • 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!The Green Fairies Ear - made with Absinthe

Just the Weekly Round-up of articles on Williams-Sonoma..

Thanksgiving Cocktails and a Punch

By: Warren Bobrow
Reprinted from Williams-Sonoma Blender Blog

I love the idea of a blazing fire, accompanied by friends and family gathered together at the table to share a Thanksgiving meal.

 

 

Redline Cocktail

This important holiday evening is started nicely with cheery glass of Cava, or Spanish sparkling wine. I then add a fire-roasted fruit puree. I’ve taken organic strawberries, charred them in a dry, yet sizzling hot, cast iron pan, let them cool, then run them through the food processor. I adjust the sweetness to taste with agave syrup, I then add a dollop or two of this smoky-sweet puree into each glass. Use two pints of strawberries and two 750 ml bottles of Cava for 8 people.

 

The tangy-sweet-tart quality of the strawberries when added to a mineral-tasting Cava just says a welcoming celebration in your spirited glass. You don’t need very much of this drink to say greetings and please join us at our bountiful table.

 

Dyed in the Wool

Another easy and exotic drink is a spin-off on the classic Rob Roy cocktail. In this case blended, (not single malt) scotch whiskey is added to a short rocks glass. I then add some freshly squeezed lemon juice and  some cool, rustic apple cider. A small splash of sweet vermouth finishes the drink.

 

The earthy, richly scented cider melts into the deeper tastes of scotch and the sweetness of the cider. Scotch and apple cider is a very sophisticated and a slightly under-the-radar combination.

 

2 shots blended scotch

1 shot sweet vermouth

1/4 cup apple cider (preferably unpasteurized, unfiltered)

2 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Angostura Bitters

Lemon twist for garnish

 

To a cocktail shaker add the blended scotch, sweet vermouth, apple cider and the freshly squeezed lemon juice with ice.

 

Shake and strain into a short rocks glass with a lemon twist and a shake or two of Angostura Bitters to finish. Serves 1.

 

Apple Betty Punch

For all of you wine lovers out there, may I recommend instead a perfectly lovely, crisp punch to go along with your dinner? Hard apple cider is marvelous when combined with sparkling, non-alcoholic cherry juice and some lemon and lime juices for spark. The flavors of hard cider with the citrus juices are marvelous with turkey and all of your fixings!

 

1 bottle of hard cider

1/2 bottle of non-alcoholic cherry cider

1/2 bottle of seltzer water

1/4 cup each of lemon and lime juices

2 cups ice

 

Mix all ingredients together, pour over ice and serve with round slices of lemon and lime. Makes 20 four-ounce portions.

 

If you don’t want an alcoholic beverage, please substitute non-alcoholic sparkling apple cider for the hard variety and use a bit of seltzer water for that celebratory fizz.

 

Spiced Scotty Toddy

Dessert also calls for a deeply warming hot toddy. I’m especially fond of the classic Hot Buttered Rum. The extra warmth a toddy offers is the perfect send-off to your friends.

 

This drink is an exotic approach to the classic boiling hot water-based toddy, with the addition of sweet butter. You can also use freshly whipped cardamom and ginger-sweetened cream on top of the mug instead of butter; it’s your choice. I like to use dark spiced rum or a home-spiced whiskey for this hot drink.

 

After Dinner

For an interesting after-dinner drink, I suggest something a rich glass of Pedro Ximenez Sherry or an older vintage of Madeira — it’s rich and thick, a dessert in a glass! Ask your local wine store what they carry. Use this rule of thumb: dry sherry for appetizers, sweet juicy sherry with dessert.

4 to 5 shots spiced rum or good blended whiskey that you have spiced a few weeks in advance (see note below)

1 quart or more hot chai tea or strong black tea

1 pat sweet butter per drink (if you use whipped cream, eliminate the butter)

 

Pour a shot rum or whiskey into 4 or 5 preheated mugs, then distribute the chai tea among the mugs. Top with butter pats or spiced, sweetened whipped cream.  Serves 4 to 5.

 

*How do I spice whiskey? Add apple pie spices with a split vanilla bean to a cheesecloth bag. Submerge into a bottle of whiskey for a couple of weeks before using. Use the spiced whiskey for all your whiskey-based cocktails.

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Rediscovering Gin

Rediscovering Gin

Reprinted from “Foodista Magazine

November 6, 2011

Rediscovering Gin by: Warren Bobrow cocktail whisperer

Gin is suddenly hot again.  I didn’t forget Bourbon, nor have I forgotten Vodka.  I still take a sip of Absinthe now and again.  But for a slurp of flavor, packed with botanicals and dare I say juniper, nothing comes close to Gin for sensual aromatics and freshly cut herbal flavors.  Gin also is a powerful beverage-countries have made Gin their national drink- 80 proof and above are the normal dosage of palate warming alcohol.

Sure Rum is my usual go/to in a snifter.  But recently I’ve found that Gin has certain magical qualities on the rocks or straight from your freezer to your tongue.  Sure, you may want to pour some into a glass first, your lips will stick to the glass bottle!  No matter how attractive the packaging, pour some Gin into your glass first to fully appreciate the flavor packed into every glistening sip.

Caorunn Gin

Crisp and lively in a snifter- I’m charmed by the Celtic Botanicals and slightly salty nose.  Try a couple slices of Granny Smith apple in your glass along with a cube or two of distilled water ice.  This is very sophisticated Gin, meant for sipping. The apple is not just there for color- it’s there for flavor!

 

Bulldog Gin

The first tastes I get are from lavender, citrus oils and juniper berries.  This Gin will surprise your sense of flavor with an 80 proof alcohol level that tastes like some of the more powerful offerings.  I love this gin with a chunk of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice infused ice.  Nothing more is necessary!  It’s a bold Gin and you’ll know it immediately.

 

Hendrick’s Gin

My first impression of Hendrick’s drives the complex flavors of cucumber and Turkish Rose oil wrapping around and coating my tongue.  I’ve taken chunks of a peeled, European cucumber, muddled it with freshly squeezed lime juice, Royal Rose (Rose) Simple Syrup and a couple cubes of Rosewater infused ice cubes.  Then add a three shots of 90 proof Hendrick’s Gin to your glass.  Finish with Q-Tonic Water to taste.  That’s it!

 

Tanqueray Rangpur

The lime is already in the bottle with the Tanqueray Rangpur Gin.  My favorite way of enjoying this highly aromatic Gin is with a slice or two of cucumber and freshly drawn seltzer water.  The citrus elements are quite pronounced so the addition of extra citrus is just not necessary.  Sure you can mix this Gin with simple syrup, some Bitter End Thai Bitters and tonic water- it makes a finely twisted cocktail.   Less is more with Rangpur!

 

Nolet’s Dry Gin

Roses, freshly cut in the garden is the initial flavor of Nolet’s Dry Gin.  It’s almost fruity in nature- with the heady aromatics of sweet cream and Asian spices.  I don’t recommend mixing this Gin, there is so much going on in there- cutting it with a bit of well water may be all that is necessary.  I fully believe that even a drop of Vermouth would be overpowering.  This Gin rolls in at a hefty 95.2 proof, but it doesn’t taste hot in the glass.  Quite the opposite in fact.  It’s quite remarkable stuff!   Take a snifter, add one cube of ice.  Add a couple shots of Nolet’s and read a good book.

 

Beefeater Gin

Suddenly Beefeater is exciting again.  This staple of the cocktail lounge is making a comeback in creative cocktails the world over.  I’ve tasted it in a Martini and straight (without vermouth) but with the addition of a lemon zest.  My preference is the latter.  Beefeater Gin is dry, crisp – not like the Nolet’s or the Caorunn- certainly not as aromatic as the Bulldog, nor the Rangpur- but for the drinker who seeks something a bit more Vodka-like and merely scented, may I recommend Beefeater.  A drink that says- I’m cool… Here’s one for you- this should be called a Lemon Peel Cocktail.  Zest a Myer Lemon into a long thin strip.  Chill down a couple of shots of Beefeater Gin. Pour into a pre-chilled Martini glass. Garnish with the lemon zest and sip your way to England.  Elegant in a mixed drink and it should be at just under 100 proof.

 

Cocktails for Thanksgiving from Cocktail Whisperer: Warren Bobrow

Non-traditional/new traditional Thanksgiving drinks.

I love the idea of a blazing fire- friends and family gathered together to share a meal.  A celebratory evening is started nicely with cheery glass of cava and to it, the addition of a fruit puree.  I’ve taken organic strawberries, charred them in a cast iron pan, run them through the food processor *adjusting the sweetness to taste* then added a dollop or two of the puree into each glass.  The tangy-sweet quality of the strawberries when added to a chalky tasting Cava just says celebration in a glass.  You don’t need very much of this drink to say welcome to our table.

 

Another easy and exotic drink is a take off on the classic Rob Roy. In this case Blended Scotch Whiskey, instead of expensive Single Malt- is added to a short rocks glass with a tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice and topped with cool, rustic apple cider.  A small splash of sweet vermouth finishes the drink.  The cider melts into the deeper tastes of whiskey,  the sweetness of the cider and the herbaceous tinge of sweet Vermouth.

It is a very sophisticated drink.

Of course I recommend instead of a usual bottle of wine, a perfectly lovely, tangy punch to go along with dinner.

Hard apple cider is marvelous when combined with sparkling cherry juice and some lemon/lime juice for spark. The flavors of hard cider with the citrus juices are marvelous with turkey and the all your fixings!  You can drive up the alcohol level with some dark rum. 

Dessert calls for the classic and deeply warming-  Hot Toddy.

I’m especially fond of a hot buttered rum to go with a pumpkin or apple pie.  It’s a classic and the extra warmth it gives to the body (and spirit) is the perfect send-off to your friends!

The Chai Tea Toddy is an exotic approach to the classic water based Toddy with a bit of sweet butter.  You may also use freshly whipped sweetened cream on top instead of butter- your choice.

  I like to use dark spiced rum or a spiced whiskey for this hot drink.

  • 1 quart hot Chai tea or black tea.  If you want to make the drink sweeter, use some ginger/cardamom simple syrup
  • 4-5 shots Spiced Rum or good blended Whiskey that you have spiced a few weeks in advance. (save that expensive single malt for another day)
  • 1 pat sweet butter- per drink

If you use whipped cream, eliminate the butter.

How do I spice whiskey? Add apple pie spices with a vanilla bean (split) to a cheesecloth bag. Submerge into a bottle of whiskey for a couple of weeks before using.  Use the spiced whiskey for all your Whiskey based cocktails.

Friday Cocktails with Warren Bobrow

TGIF: Warren Bobrow’s cocktail hour – Rhuby Friday Martini

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.

Ingredients:

  • 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

Preparation:

  • 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!

The Five Questions- Tamara Kaufman Food Stylist for Photography

The Five Questions- Tamara Kaufman Food Stylist for Photography

Cocktail Olive Splash Chris Elinchev Small Pond Productions Photography

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.

Foot-tall “Dagwood” sandwich Chris Elinchev Small Pond Productions Photography

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.

 

Pancakes with blueberries John Cizmas Photography

 

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.

Potions

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.

 

John Cizmas Photography

 

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.

 

John Cizmas Photography

 


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!

 

Chocolate swirl with berries Chris Hynes Photography