OH HOLY NIGHT, IT’S NOT TOO LATE

Last minute holiday gifts that still say “I care”
By Francine Cohen

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People, do not despair.

Yes, Christmas is just 48 hours away, and yes that means that unless you have an in with the big guy in the red suit you’ve probably blown it in terms of getting something shipped to you to give to your loved ones this holiday. But there’s still a couple of great options for holiday gifts you can find locally as long as you get yourself to a liquor store or a book store before they close tomorrow evening.

First up (because we know you probably need a drink if you’re still out there looking for Christmas presents), the Ford’s Gin Lewis Bag. It’s snazzy, it’s handy, it’s functional, it’s a great educational gift to give and share your love of gin (and other spirits) with family and friends, AND it can be used over and over and over again for making great cocktails or just getting out some aggression.

The Lewis bag, a canvas ice crushing vessel that had a long history of use and was revived and popularized in the 1990s by the Lewis Company, is more than just a thoughtful and useful gift for the bartender in your life. It’s also good for the planet. Simon Ford shares, ” Something that upsets me is the amount of un-necesscary packaging there is in the spirits industry, especially during the holidays, so I wanted to make a VAP that was an example of something that could be reused rather than one that will most likely end up in the trash once it is opened. I have worked in liquor stores and about half of the boxes that housed bottles would end up in the trash before they had even left the store and almost every gift box that is delivered to a bar will end up in the trash. I do understand that they look nice and make for nice packaging for gifts at this time of year especially for the luxury spirits but for The 86 Co I will always try and push ourselves to come up with packaging ideas that can be reused and failing that recycled whenever possible and our first attempt at a VAP is to put Fords Gin in a Lewis bag/Canvas Wick Ice Bag.”

He continues, “The copy on the bag reads… “The Lewis Bag was a staple of 19th century bartending and remains one of the most effective ways to crush ice for your drinks at home. Simply fill the bag halfway with cubes and smash them with a wooden mallet or even a rolling pin. The canvas wicks away moisture , resulting in colder ice pieces that are less apt to water down your drink. Perfect for Juleps and Smashes.” We have also placed the recipe for a Gin Julep on the bag (and in Chicago we have had a local bartender give us a recipe for the bags that will be distributed there.)”

A Lewis bag…what a smashing gift idea!

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Next, for the readers (and eaters) in your life: Savoring Gotham: A Food Lover’s Companion to New York City. This encyclopedic history of all things food and drink that make NYC the culinary destination that it is, Savoring Gotham came together in 568 entries across 760 pages written by 174 authors (including yours truly). Want to explore the history of restaurants like Delmonico, 21 Club, and Barney Greengrass? Need to delve further into the history of bars and cocktails, charities like Citymeals on Wheels, and people like Ruth Reichl, Bob Lape, and others who have been an integral part of the city’s food & restaurant scene so that you’re the smartest foodie at your next pop-up dinner?

Take a walk to your favorite bookstore (or order here at a 30% discount if you don’t need it immediately–use code ADFLYK2 at https://global.oup.com/academic/product/savoring-gotham-9780199397020?cc=us&lang=en& ) for this delicious read.

And, for five lucky www.insidefandb.com readers, we’ve got copies of this to give away. Be the first five people to email us with the answers to the following questions: How many entries in the book? How many authors contributed? Can you name one of the authors? Where is Barney Greengrass located? Whom does Citymeals on Wheels support/what do they do? Send your answers to: francinecohen@insidefandb.com and books will be on their way to you shortly.

Best wishes for a delicious holiday season and a wonderful new year!

REPEAL DAY – A CAPITAL IDEA IN DC

Celebrating 82 Years of the Repeal of the 21st Amendment
By Francine Cohen

Photo by Elizabeth Parker

Photo by Elizabeth Parker

If you’re going to make an effort to celebrate Repeal Day in the most historically accurate way it sort of makes sense to celebrate in Washington, DC where the legislation for Prohibition was first enacted and then repealed, 13 years later. If you want to pair your geographic accuracy with a swellegant time, you’ll do it in the company of the DC Craft Bartenders’ Guild at their 8th Annual Repeal Day Ball being held on Friday, December 4th at the historic Carnegie Library.

This celebration of the 82nd Anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition comes together for the eighth time in recognition of this dry time coming to an end from coast to coast. In that spirit the town’s most respected and sought out bartenders will be slinging drinks side by side with fellow bartenders from other cities, truly making the party a celebration of what the US enjoyed all at the same time, eighty two years ago– the ability to get a good drink from their favorite friendly neighborhood bartender.

Guild President, Jamie MacBain (who also serves as the Beverage Director of Daikaya), notes, “We extend invitations to bartenders in other cities because ours is a close-knit, global community. Bartenders tend to move around a lot so most of us have worked in other markets and know other people [there]. A national bartending line-up presents a unique opportunity for DC residents to see and taste how other bartenders around the country approach our craft.”
The event will showcase numerous bartenders from New York, as well as such as Lindsay Matteson of Amor y Amargo who shares, “This is THE Repeal Day event, and It’s a great opportunity to work with friends and bartenders from around the country.”

Matteson joins her fellow bartenders from DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Livermore, CA and Sean Kenyon and his crew from Williams & Graham, the bar in Denver, Colorado that won the coveted Best American Bar 2015 at Tales of the Cocktails’ Spirited Awards. She adds, ” It’s also a way for us to give back to the community,” Matteson added. “If it weren’t for Repeal Day, I wouldn’t have a job.”

Photo by Elizabeth Parker

Photo by Elizabeth Parker

Thankfully, she does. And all the pouring that she and the other presenting bartenders do at the party go to a good cause; actually, a few of them. A portion of all tickets sales will be donated to The Museum of the American Cocktail, a nonprofit organization dedicated to education in mixology, and preservation of the rich history of the American cocktail. And the proceeds from the event’s first ever silent auction will go to sending one member of the DC Craft Bartenders Guild to NYC in the fall of 2016 to attend the BAR 5-Day program. MacBain explains, “This is our first year holding a silent auction and I could not be more proud of all the work and support we’ve received…from organizing support to donations…it’s been a massive undertaking. The reason for the silent is auction is simple: We wanted to do something different this year and to provide an opportunity for at least one Guild member to attend BAR 5-Day in NYC. Attending BAR 5-Day is prestigious, in and of itself. By having one of our own sit with masters of the bartending community…Dale DeGroff, Doug Frost, Steve Olson, F. Paul Pacult, Andy Seymour, Dave Wondrich…he or she will gain knowledge and experience that’s unrivaled in the profession.”
This annual party is unrivaled in its popularity and the Roaring Twenties inspired-theme event just keeps getting bigger and better as Guild founding member, Gina Chersevani, concludes, “It’s amazing to see the growth of this event over the years in the nation’s capital considering it started and ended here.”

ALL PINK ON THE INSIDE
Gina Chersevani (Buffalo & Bergen, Suburbia)
1 oz. Macchu Pisco
1 oz. Grapefruit Juice
1 oz. Cranberry Juice
Grapefruit spiced syrup
Shake with ice, pour into flute, fill with sparkling wine

2015 Repeal Day Ball tickets are available at
Date / Time: Friday, December 4, 2015; 9-11PM (doors open at 8PM for VIPs)

Location: Carnegie Library 801 K Street NW, Washington, DC

Tickets: Start at $80 for general admission; purchase at Eventbrite

Attire: Creative cocktail with a nod to the Roaring Twenties

Photo by Elizabeth Parker

Photo by Elizabeth Parker

POST-THANKSGIVING THINGS TO GIVE THANKS FOR: TASTES OF PERU

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With Thanksgiving just 72 hours away the media is filled with stories focused on how to avoid family strife, solutions for ensuring the perfect turkey preparation, and 150 beloved and fool-proof side dish and pie recipes you’ll be happy you made.

But nobody is talking about the days after. You know, those days when the house is still full of guests and they need to be fed but there’s sure to be an uproar if you suggest Thanksgiving dinner leftovers…again.
Keep your guests, and your taste buds, happy and warm up your holiday season right with the bright flavors of Peru. With the enticing flavors and cooking techniques inspired by Peru’s multi-cultural heritage it’s no wonder that three of the world’s best restaurants can be found in Peru and that the country’s cuisine is the hottest thing on the culinary map since well, the aji pepper.

Photo by Katie Burnet

Photo by Katie Burnett

PISCO SOURS
Even French-born chefs are getting into the South American spirit of things! Chef Laurent Tourondel, who just opened two establishments at Kimpton’s Eventi Hotel in New York City — L’Amico (www.lamiconyc.com) and The Vine (www.eventihotel.com/nyc-restaurants/the-vine.html), is a huge fan of Peru’s classic cocktail, the Pisco Sour. Bartenders expecting to land a spot on his team first are put through their paces executing the perfect Pisco Sour for Chef’s discerning palate. Below he shares his current favorite recipe.

CEVICHE

Chef Marita Lynn of Runa (https://www.facebook.com/RUNAperuviancuisine) created a winning dish when she combined the aji pepper in a ceviche with some of Peru’s most popular exports; artichokes and shrimp. Her ceviche, hailed as New York City’s best in 2014, resonates with a savory tang infused by the shrimp and lemon that then chills to the lush earthiness of the artichoke. It’s a complete 180 from the turkey, gravy, and stuffing trio that’s dominated your last few days; offering a great flavor on your palate but little weight in your belly. It might even inspire you to gather the gang for a walk!

Ceviche Summer event 7-31-14 Runa

ALFAJORES
And lest all that pumpkin pie be the only dessert you enjoy this week, you’ll want to try some classic Alfajores. Make them yourself with Chef Lynn’s recipe below, or let Alvaro Omeño of Limanjar Dulceria put his family recipe to good use at his bakery and you can have them shipped directly to you.
Or send them to your departed guests. To thank them for coming. (www.limanjar.com).

RECIPES
ARTICHOKE AND SHRIMP CEVICHE by Chef Marita Lynn of Runa
Yield: 4 people
1 lb large shrimp, cleaned and deveined, tails off
8 cups of water
2 Bay leaves
14 oz Artichokes (canned or fresh)
1 lemon
Juice of 10 limes
½ stalk celery
¼ cup chopped leeks
3tbs Aji Amarillo Paste
2 garlic cloves
¼ cup vegetable oil
Salt to taste

To garnish:
Roasted Sweet Potato
Peruvian Corn Kernels (available at Latin Grocery Stores)
Chopped Cilantro

Method:
1) Fill a medium pot with water, add 8 cups of water and bay leaf. Place on stove on high heat and let water boil. Add the shrimp and let cook for 5 minutes or until color changes.
2) Take shrimp out of stove and strain, remove bay leaf and let cool.
3) For fresh artichoke hearts: Quarter the artichoke hearts, place in bowl, leave aside. Mix with cool shrimp and refrigerate.
4) For canned artichoke hearts: Drain liquid from can, rinse, and quarter the artichoke hearts, place in bowl, leave aside. Mix with cool shrimp and refrigerate.
5) In a blender, place lime juice, celery, leeks, Aji Amarillo paste and garlic cloves. Blend for 1 minute at medium speed. Then, with the motor running, add the vegetable oil in a slow, steady stream, as making a dressing. The mixture should be creamy. Set aside and chill.
6) Mix the shrimp and artichoke mix with the Aji Amarillo sauce. Season to taste.
Preparing fresh artichokes:
Fill a pot with boiling water that includes 1 bay leave and juice of half a lemon
Submerge the artichoke, flower side down, for 10 minutes
Remove from pot with slotted spoon, dry and cool on paper towel or baking rack
Peel leaves off, leaving the heart, which should be quartered.

Serve immediately garnish with cilantro on top, sweet potatoes and corn.

PISCO SOUR
From the cocktail menu of Chef Laurent Tourondel’s L’Amico

Ingredients:
2 oz. Campo Encanto Pisco
¼ oz. Lemon Juice
½ oz. Simple Syrup
½ oz. Egg White
1 dash Cocoa Nib & Chipotle Tincture
3 drops Cocoa Nib & Chipotle Tincture (to finish)

Method:
• Combine the Campo Encanto Pisco, lemon juice, simple syrup, egg white and cocoa nib & chipotle tincture in a cocktail shaker
• Dry shake (no ice) for 30 seconds to emulsify egg whites
• Add ice and hard shake for another 30 seconds
• Strain the mixture into a cocktail coupe glass
• Float three drops of the cocoa nib & chipotle tincture to finish

ALFAJORES
By Chef Marita Lynn

Yield: 50 Alfajores
2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
¾ cup butter, room temperature
4 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 cup dulce de leche
Cookie Preparation :
In a bowl, mix together, the flour, butter and sugar. Once mixed, use your hands to create a uniform dough. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
On a floured surface, making sure to flour your roller, roll the dough to ½- inch thickness. Using a 2 inch round cutter, cut out Alfajores and place on baking sheet.
Bake for 20 minutes, let the Alfajores cool on a wire rack.
Filling Preparation:
Filling Preparation:
Combine evaporated milk and condensed milk in a pan with cinnamon stick and simmer for two hours until it changes color and obtains a thick consistency.
*Manjar Blanco/Dulce de Leche can also be bought at any store, jarred or in a can.

Filled the Alfajores with dulce de leche sandwich style. Dust with powdered sugar.

FOOD AND WINE IN THE PALM OF YOUR HAND

Digital Technology in the Restaurant Industry
By Sara Kay

NoWait app icon

The inner workings of a restaurant extend far past the menu, and streamlined and responsive tools and systems are crucial for successfully running the business instead of running it into the ground. Thankfully, as we forge ahead into the future of digital technology, restaurant employees, as well as diners, are reaping the benefits of apps that hope to solve a lot of these issues, making a night out less about the planning, and more about the experience.

Until recently, the daily experience of managing that menu, managing inventory, hiring a solid staff on the floor and in the kitchen, keeping staff schedules in check (and that’s just scratching the surface) tended to be handled on a desktop computer, or if the manager and owner are old school, in a notebook or on a bulletin board. With these seemingly outdated methods, things get lost in the shuffle, and what may have started out as a simple schedule change has turned into a scheduling fiasco.

And the absence of technology doesn’t just cause problems on the staff side; diners who wish to see a menu ahead of time, or make a reservation at a restaurant last minute are brutally rebuffed by outdated pieces of technology or the total absence of technology in the restaurant, essentially being punished with extra-long wait times for not thinking to make a reservation weeks ahead of time.

Planning ahead is something that’s not always ingrained in restaurant employees as they are, for the most part, hourly workers; meaning that they don’t have corporate emails to check in order to keep up with internal communications. As a result, many messages regarding hours, staff changes, menu changes, meetings, etc., tend to only spread via word of mouth or bulletin board postings, which can prove to be fairly unreliable, turning into a game of broken telephone. Jonathan Erwin, CEO of Red e App, realized this internal issue and did something about it by developing an app that employees can use in order to access messaging, documents and scheduling in real-time. Employees can receive notifications about weather delays, meeting announcements and menu specials, and can even access their schedules in order to swap shifts with co-workers, all from their mobile device.

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“The benefit to the company is a stronger affiliation with the employee, which means the company sees improvements in retention, customer satisfaction and revenue,” says Erwin. “For the first time, companies are able to measure and delegate their employee communications.”

Red e App currently has a strong restaurant subscriber base of 35,000 out of the 92,000 total Red e App subscribers, showing that technology like this isn’t only seen as a major positive for the industry, it’s a necessity. Having instant access to Red e App makes communication between management and employees fast and simple, and greatly decreases the possibility of the ever-popular excuse “Oh, I didn’t know I was working today, it wasn’t on the bulletin board!” Companies can also update Red e App with operation manuals, training information and restaurant policies to make sure that employees have access to these important documents, even after the doors of the restaurant have closed for the night.

So what about those who are going to enjoy the fruits of a restaurant’s labor? Several years ago, the founder of NoWait, a guest app that gives diners the opportunity to check wait times at restaurants and put themselves on waiting lists before showing up, found himself trying to get a table for brunch, only to realize that each restaurant he went to had unreasonably long waits. While it’s only too easy to book a reservation at reservation-only restaurants, he realized there was no OpenTable-equivalent to casual dining outposts that don’t have reservation policies. When Ware Sykes joined the NoWait team in 2013, he embraced the opportunity to carry out the founders’ vision of giving people back an undervalued gift; their own time.

“Guests love being able to wait where they want, especially with small children,” says Sykes. “NoWait keeps customers informed about their status, so there is transparency and reassurance; this information, in turn, increases the likelihood that they will stay and dine.”

NoWait’s accessibility to customers is a huge factor to its success. Being accessible from smartphones makes the app something that can be used at any time, from an hour before leaving for dinner to sitting in 20 minutes of traffic on the way there. As the first and only mobile network for casual-dining restaurants, NoWait is combining the ease of finding a favorite casual restaurant with eliminating the wait time, making for a free and relevant piece of technology that users benefit from right away.

While Red e App appeals to the restaurant employees and NoWait to the consumers, Tipsi serves both fairly equally. To give this app one definition wouldn’t be doing it true justice; it acts as a sommelier, a review site, a resource for up-to-date restaurant wine lists, a wine wish list, a food and wine pairing resource, among many other uses. Inspired by a night out during a bachelor party, Mike Bell developed an iPhone app that makes restaurant owners and diners the ‘users’ equally, by providing a consumer-facing app as well as a more industry-driven app.

“Tipsi is an easy way to communicate wine lists to consumers, giving them the opportunity to come into a restaurant armed and ready with the sort of wine they want, or the right questions to ask,” says Bell. As an avid wine drinker and enthusiast, it became obvious to him that the one challenge that restaurants as well as wine-drinkers faced was the ability to reference an up-to-date wine list that wasn’t in PDF form online. By developing Tipsi, Bell has given consumers the necessary wine knowledge ahead of time, and sommeliers the ability to update their wine lists and provide food pairing suggestions through the app with a few simple button clicks. Additionally, Tipsi makes the job of the sommelier a more versatile one, giving them the opportunity to not just work 30 tables in one night, but to work 30 restaurants in one night as well. Currently, the app is fully up-and-running at the Chelsea location of Pierre Loti, but is accessible from hundreds of restaurants around New York City.

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Digital technology and mobile access is a crucial piece of a restaurant’s everyday functionality, whether they choose to accept it or not. By employing apps like NoWait, Red e App and Tipsi, something extraordinary is happening in the restaurant industry; A night out with no complications, no waiting drama, and maybe even a bottle of wine on the table when you arrive. Have we achieved restaurant perfection? Maybe not, but we’re well on our way there.

EAT HERE NOW – THE NEW NEW ORLEANS

The New New Orleans
By Abigail Gullo

Photo by Chris Granger

Photo by Chris Granger

Welcome back to reality, my boozy companions. Now that it’s time to begin thinking about Tales of the Cocktail 2016 (you know you’re already contemplating that seminar you want to submit) and joining 25,000 of my closest friends who come to New Orleans to celebrate my birthday every year I figured I’d highlight some of the newest places you may have explored a few weeks back or bring them to your attention so you don’t miss out next July!

Here is your yearly roundup of places to check out while you are here in the Crescent City.

First though, let us not bury the lede…I am in a new place! I’m settling in nicely to life on the other side of Canal; my barspoons and I have have taken up residency at Compere Lapin in the Warehouse District (Compere Lapin 535 Tchoupitoulas, New Orleans, LA 70130
504 599 2119 www.comperelapin.com). Compere Lapin is the title of a West African folk tale that became Briar Rabbit; like the rabbit (more on that later) the restaurant’s menu is a food journey to New Orleans that begins from the Caribbean, where our chef is from. Chef Nina Compton was a finalist on Top Chef New Orleans and won fan favorite.

Photo by Sara Essex Bradley

Photo by Sara Essex Bradley

Originally from St Lucia, with a stop in the kitchen of Miami’s Scarpetta, Chef brings all the French Creole influences of her island mixed with exquisite Italian technique and of course local Louisiana flavor. Crispy pig ears, conch croquettes and curried goat with plantain gnocchi have been stand out dishes; but it is all so very delicious.

Of course it couldn’t be New Orleans without a world class cocktail program…and we have literally World Class bartender Ricky Gomez running the good ship Lapin. Ricky is native Nola and was on the opening staff at Cure before heading to Portland and becoming America’s first Diageo World Class Bartender. The bar program is exciting and inventive; there’s carbonated coconut water on tap for the Jerez Highball with sherry and absinthe, Martini inspired sippers like the Noontide with celery and pear brandy, and a King-worthy TCB Sour. All the cocktails pair so well with our fresh raw bar, crudo and the dishes coming from our extremely talented kitchen. And our pastry chef does our breakfast goodies too, so stop my Old No. 77 hotel for a key lime pie donut or blueberry hand-pie with some of the best coffee in New Orleans from Tout La, our lobby coffee shop. It is just the jump start you need to get going to those morning seminars!

Working in a new neighborhood means exploring more neighbors! We are home to the classic Swizzle Stick bar at Cafe Adalaide, Cochon and Butcher (best Muffaletta in town!) and of course, Mother’s and the World’s Best Baked Ham is right across the street.

Cochon by Chris Granger

But we have some new comers too. Mexican is hot right now and the John Besh and Aaron Sanchez collaboration Johnny Sanchez has all your agave needs along with tacos galore! Besh restaurants are famous for their happy hour programs and Johnny Sanchez is no exceptions with great deals of tacos and pitchers of margaritas. Save room for dessert as pastry chefs Kelly Fields and Lisa White are some of the best in the business.

As a matter of fact, just after you left town they opened a new pastry shop called Willa Jean in the Warehouse Districts’s new sub-neighborhood, The Paramount. Wood fired pizza, a Company Burger with boozy milkshakes and the Rouses are all located here so when you pick up supplies at our local super market chain, you can fuel your day with the best food Nola has to offer.

Speaking of one stop shopping, back in the new Marigny or St Roch neighborhood, we have a Nola foot court to end all food courts. The St Roch Market opened this year to great fanfare and some controversy this year. This traditionally poor neighborhood was a food desert for some time post-Katrina. Now with the rapid gentrification of this neighborhood, the St Roch Market became a beacon, and a bit of a target. Putting politics and gentrification theory aside, get to St Roch and go hungry (2381 St Claude Ave, New Orleans, LA 70117 (504) 609-3813 www.strochmarket.com).

Photo courtesy New Orleans CVB

Photo courtesy New Orleans CVB

Inside the breezy bright turn-of-the-20th century warehouse are local vendors offering coffee, fresh juice, oysters, Creole, Korean and African cuisine. Go to the Mayhew Bar for a cocktail, and get a dozen bivalves from the Curious Oyster stand next door then pick up some local made products like Cocktail & Son’s Syrups from Max Messier (www.cocktailandsons.com) and Tonic and Bitters from El Guapo’s Scot Maddox (www.elguapobitters.com), both bartenders turned entrepreneurs!

If you are keeping in the French Quarter, we have some great new spots that have opened up in the last year. Salon by Sucre is an upstairs lounge with Storyville inspired cocktails and full tea menu. Downstairs at Sucre is a candyland of color and taste for a quick pick me up of gelato and coffee…and maybe some signature macaroons thrown in a box too (622 Conti, www.shopsucre.com/store-locations/).

Next door to Sucre, we finally have our famous Vietnamese cuisine in the Quarter with the 9 Roses Cafe. An extension of the famous West Bank spot, come here for restorative Pho, and bright Bun and summer rolls with local pork and shrimp (620 Conti www.ninerosesrestaurant.com).

Chef Alex Harrell left Sylvain to open Angeline in the old Stella space on Chartres street. And homage to his mother, Angeline has the comfort food you crave after a long day of tasting and drinking, all in a refined setting with perfect technique.

Photo courtesy of Angeline

Photo courtesy of Angeline

The bar program is sherry and mezcal heavy, so it’s a cocktail nerd’s delight! This is a great place to stop for dinner before making your way to dance and jive on Frenchmen street (1032 Chartres St. www.angelinenola.com)!

Photo courtesy of Angeline

Photo courtesy of Angeline

Good coffee is a must and why not do some vintage barware shopping while you are at it? Arrow Cafe on North Rampart street is also a bike repair and vintage shop (628 N Rampart St.). Jane pulls the best espressos in the Quarter, hands down. And she pairs shots of espresso with lime cordial, tonic syrup and good Topo Chico for refreshing pick me ups that fuel my trips to the gym and work. You can rent a bike next door, and pick up some cool Bike Nola t-shirts from Dashing Nola and some vintage martini pitchers from Nola Drift. (Full disclosure, my dog Ronnie Magic is the mayor here and these ladies have been kind enough to do doggie day care while I run errands in this hot Nola sun.) The sense of community here in Nola is what makes it so very special. And I am so lucky to have this community in my life looking after me and my little dog too.

Marin Tockman (right) with her friend Julia and her new Public Bike at arrow cafe

On the next block, at 700 Rampart st, is a new bar called the Black Penny. They have an extensive selection of beers and some great spirits. The bar wraps between two spaces and the white leather banquets make this a cool place to sip on some suds right across from Louis Armstrong park and the legendary Congo Square.

And or course there is the long awaited Latitude 29 from Beachbum Berry. Believe the hype (and order the Tiki room service if you can). I pretty much have my own stool at the bar here and worked my way through the extensive tiki drink and food menu within a month of their opening. Luckily, the talented rooster of bartenders create their own drinks for Happy Hour, so I have always have something new to try (321 N. Peters Street www.latitude29nola.com)!

Next time you’re in town please come and visit me at the Rabbit (open a week and we already have a term of endearment for our Compere Lapin) and I will toast to good friends and good cocktails here in the city of New Orleans!

Photo by Chris Granger

Photo by Chris Granger

PPX – AESTUS by KEVIN O’CONNOR

Santa Monica Meets France at aestus
Dynamic Culinary Duo Team up for New Venture
By Kristen Oliveri

Aestus carrots smaller

When Spago alum Kevin O’Connor realized that there was a great hole in the Santa Monica food scene, he began looking for a location to hang a shingle on his first restaurant venture. It became abundantly clear to him that the ultra-West side of Santa Monica was seriously lacking restaurants of substance. Fast forward to present day where O’Connor is currently operating aestus a California restaurant with French and Italian accents that focuses on seasonal, sustainable, creative and simplistic cuisine.

If there would be one word that O’Connor would use to describe his restaurant, it is simply “terroir.” “The concept of terroir carries the assumption that the land or site from which the grapes are grown imparts a unique character or quality specific to that growing region, area or site,” he began. “The concept of terroir is not exclusive to the wine program at aestus. Our culinary point of view is the same. We remove the notion of style and process in order to celebrate the raw and natural ingredients of every plate so our guests can experience food with definition and balance.”

With that philosophy in mind, the cocktail program followed suit. The restaurant avoids all temptation to interpret and fuse various spirits, which otherwise is all the rage in other restaurants. Instead, the program honors the classic cocktails as originally conceived and source spirits from artisanal producers who use natural ingredients with minimal processing.

Aestus Kevin smaller

While still paying homage to the cocktail renaissance (don’t miss an opportunity for a tipple at the bar), the restaurant is devoted to its wine program, after all that is what O’Connor knows best. The idea for aestus was born after O’Connor spoke with his partners at his LIOCO Wine Company who were looking to create a companion brand to the winery and capitalize on Californians’ love of wine.

Given that California is now the largest wine market in the US, the imports are “flowing like water”, explained O’Connor. “People don’t just want what their parents or grandparents drank. They are curious and willing to try anything from Gruner Veltliner grown in Santa Barbara to Refosco from Friuli, Italy.”

O’Connor has also appointed a rockstar chef hailing from the Vendee region of France to be at the helm of his kitchen. Alex Ageneau started his culinary career at the tender age of 15 as an apprentice charcutier in France. Since then he’s worked under celebrated chefs including Pierre Gagnaire of Sketch in London, Joachim Splichal of Patina in Los Angeles and David Feau at the Langham Hotel’s The Royce.

The menu changes as frequently as Ageneau makes it to the farmers market in town. His main goal of the kitchen is to create dishes that are light, clean, bright and most importantly, approachable. “I think the menu screams California but there is also an evident French sensibility to it. We also use a lot of vegetables, fruits and grains,” said Ageneau.

Aestus Alex smaller

Most of the fruits and vegetables served in dishes like roasted carrots with apricots, vadouvan curry and whipped goat cheese is sourced from local farmers. For their meats, they use grass fed beef from Strauss and the lamb comes straight from Colorado. “We only use top ingredients, which are the foundation of our cuisine,” he explained.

As for what’s next for the restaurant that is quickly becoming a local hotspot, the culinary duo of O’Connor and Ageneau are hoping to expand their daily specials and monthly themed dinners throughout the seasons with special wine offerings for all.

“Kevin and I love to collaborate on food and wine pairings,” confessed Ageneau. “That’s when you get the whole aestus experience.”

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WIND OF CHANGE

Time marches on and sweeps liquor industry events along
By Francine Cohen

Photo by Charlotte Otto-Bruc

Photo by Charlotte Otto-Bruc

Earlier than normal today I was up, and so ready to take my morning walk. Though my timing this morning wasn’t the only change I experienced, it definitely was a harbinger of what was to come and a reflection of what was behind us. Rummaging through my middle drawer, in search of a tank top to throw under my limited edition Louis649 (RIP) hoodie, I came across three branded tank tops; two from past Pig & Punch (http://www.bonvivants.com/pig-n-punch/) events and one from Perfect Puree (www.perfectpuree.com/). All three got tucked back into the drawer for various reasons; Pig & Punch because I generally don’t like to wear branded merchandise – whatever the cause – though I bought them to support something I believe in (plus, let’s be honest, a men’s XL is probably not the most flattering cut on me); and the Perfect Puree one went back in too because though it fits nicely it says “Perfect to Play With” on it and my experience having worn that out in public before is that it results in uncalled for funny looks, comments and knowing smiles from strangers. So best to leave that, and the Pig & Punch ones, aside and just remember to pack them for yoga class at Tales (talesofthecocktail.com/).

Wait, what?! Did I just say “yoga class at Tales?” When did this become a thing? And how? And why? What happened to it being just about learning about spirits, drinking spirits, talking about spirits and doing that all over again all week long?

Well, the answer to the first part of that question is easy; it became a thing three years ago when Perfect Puree hosted pool-side yoga sessions led by Kitty Amman (www.shakestir.com/kirstenamann). And it became an even bigger thing last year when Dushan Zaric and Natalie Bovis and Patricia Richards banded together to create the healthy mind & body sessions that included yoga and meditation. It became an even bigger thing when Novo Fogo (www.novofogo.com/) did their take on exercise at Tales and sponsored a run and when Bols (www.bols.com/splash.php?u=/) sponsored a bike ride years back.

But this wasn’t the only thing we’ve seen changing at Tales. Nor in the industry itself. First it was the shock of stalwart attendees finding that they couldn’t be there one year, and then the next and then the next because they had other business elsewhere keeping them busy. And now more than ever bartenders and brand reps are focused on their health, wealth, and well being. Years ago at Tales you’d see a group of cocktail professionals go from late, late, late night carousing in New Orleans and operating on little to no sleep to attending seminars and crisscrossing the city en masse; like one giant school of fish. Back then it was easy to make plans with friends and colleagues from other cities because you all had to be in pretty much the same place at the same time.

Photo by Jeff Anding

Photo by Jeff Anding

As Tales has expanded more and more of these bartenders who were sitting in the seminars are now leading them. And the marketing and PR professionals who work with them are finding more and more opportunities for their clients to sponsor these seminars, events and local dining and drinking experiences so they too are running off in disparate directions. Scheduling a catch up has, in many cases, been reduced to promises of a fly-by hug in the doorway of SoBou (www.sobounola.com/), scheduling a 2 AM beer at The Chart Room or a 4:30 AM sing-along at Alibi (www.alibineworleans.com/). Knowing full well that the best laid plans of mice and men…

This is a far cry from six or so years ago when Lesley Townsend and I were first introduced in the lobby of the Monteleone (hotelmonteleone.com/) as she landed at her first Tales of the Cocktail, ready to explore what Ann Tuennerman had created and figure out how to adapt that to what would eventually become the beloved Manhattan Cocktail Classic (www.manhattancocktailclassic.com/). But, now that the MCC is, in the words of Gothamist, “…effectively dead…” and Tales marches on, it will be most interesting to be part of it all in year 12 and see what happens next.

Change keeps a-coming.

Photo by Chris Granger

Photo by Chris Granger

PPX – CHEF JONATON GOMEZ-LUNA TORRES

The Next Food Revolution Begins In Riviera Maya
By Kristen Oliveri

All Photos Courtesy Karisma Hotels

Azul Sensatori

Mexico is poised to be the country that starts the next food revolution. So believes award-winning Chef Jonatan Gomez-Luna Torres; and he is simply unafraid to say it, “Mexico is the new wave of culinary innovation. Chefs want to come here because we have over 400 years of history. America doesn’t have the culinary history that Mexico has.”

And if Mexico is the next big thing, so is Chef Gomez-Luna Torres. Just 32 years old he’ll be leading that charge from his role at the helm of critically acclaimed restaurant Le Chique in Riviera Maya. Already noted by many critics as running one of the best restaurants in all of the country the Mexico-City born chef graduated from the Ambrosia Culinary Center and spent years working in some of the best restaurants in the world, including a short stint in a three-star Michelin restaurant in Valencia to gigs at El Bulli in Spain and Noma in Copenhagen. Altogether an undeniable all-star resume.

In 2008, he teamed up with Food and Beverage manager Jeroen Hanlo at Karisma Hotels & Resorts (www.karismahotels.com) to open Le Chique in its Azul Sensatori Hotel property located in the Riviera Maya. While many food and wine snobs might dismiss a restaurant located in an all-inclusive hotel, Chef Jonatan has shattered those preconceived notions by receiving award after award for his work; for instance, the coveted Five Diamond Award bestowed by AAA.

Azul Sensatori

Many locals now opt to spend a weekend at the hotel simply to dine at Le Chique (www.lechiquerestaurant.com), says Gomez-Luna Torres. As part of a guest’s all-inclusive culinary package, they can make a reservation at the restaurant and feast on a special menu with many of the restaurant’s popular dishes presented in a passed, family style setting. To experience the entire degustation menu, hotel guests can upgrade for the full monty. (Eater beware: even if you’re a guest you should book weeks ahead of your vacation to ensure a table) Outside reservations are also available by calling the restaurant directly or booking on OpenTable (www.opentable.com).

While many of Chef’s followers would characterize the cuisine at Le Chique as “molecular”, Gomez-Luna Torres certainly doesn’t. In fact, he quite dislikes the term “molecular” itself. Rather, he believes his cuisine to be innovative, thought provoking and, most importantly, delicious.

The roots of the cuisine are all grounded in Mexican culture—or perhaps it is best characterized as a recharged interpretation of the food of his youth—as taught to him by his grandmother. The 24 to 25 course menu showcases the fusing of regional cuisine, local food and international flavors, all crafted to heighten the customer’s experience from start to finish.

“Everything has a story and a reason for why things are a certain way,” he noted. “At Le Chique, there are some items that make references to grandma’s dishes using different techniques. The key is to maintain a balance between that technique, with tradition, presentation, research and flavor.”

Food

He spends a significant amount of time traveling throughout the country, looking to work with local purveyors and learn more about the cuisine he loves so much. Within Mexican culinary culture, he has a deep appreciation for basic dishes such as adobos, molés, black bean soups and anything with pork belly confit, he confessed. All of his key, all-star ingredients like chocolate, water, truffles and foie gras, come exclusively from Mexican purveyors.

The menu at Le Chique might not appear to serve those traditional dishes, but the concept and the flavors are ever-present. He often melds his past cooking experiences, making subtle nods to his time at Noma. His restaurant has both a juice and water menu, which are quite popular with guests abstaining from alcohol. The juice menu he is particularly proud of. On any given day, juices such as fermented plum, banana with vanilla, pineapple mint or jicama with blood orange will be featured on the menu.

One of the more interesting food and beverage trends Chef Gomez-Luna has spotted recently is the resurgence of the popularity of mezcal in his restaurant and countless others throughout Mexico. Once a spirit that was made in an uncle’s backyard, similar to moonshine, mezcal today has progressed to being a leading spirit that will complete a dining experience. “Due to its growing popularity and demand, mezcal is now consumed almost as much as tequila. As the mezcal trend is still young, it is in the development process,” he says. “Personally, it is one of the drinks that I enjoy the most and always look forward to.”

While the chef enjoys bucking food trends and creating dishes unlike any others, what he loves about being a chef is the freedom. “I’ve never felt so free as I do in a kitchen. I love creating a story and telling our philosophy of how we see, appreciate and cook Mexican cuisine,” he says. “I am a Mexican chef and I plan to make my own history.”

Food

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For two of the chef’s most dynamic recipes, read on. These will not disappoint.

The Egg That Wanted To Be A Panucho

Ingredients for The Egg

150ml beans soup
2.5 gelatin sheets previously hydrated
5g Gluconolactate
4 egg yolks
Egg mold

Directions

Melt the gelatin with the soup and add the gluconolactate, once it is dissolved pour the jelly beans into the mold; Carefully add the egg and let it curdle completely a few minutes; refrigerate until gelatin has curdled perfectly.

Once the jelly is curd, unmold and dip the eggs in the alginate bath for 25 min., rotate every 5 min. for uniform cooking.

Once the egg has finished its process in the alginate bath, rinse thoroughly in water and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Cook the eggs at 85°C with a thermocirculator for 6 min.

For the solution of algin

1L of water
15g of alginate
10 drops of water soluble dye White

For the beans soup
100g Black beans
100g onion threaded
10g sliced serrano chile

Directions

Cook the beans in water until soft, mix in a blender with a little cooking broth, to a consistency of light cream, strain and reserve. In a skillet, sauté onion and chile, until very soft, add the bean soup and season with salt, drain and set aside.

For the avocado cream

250g of avocado
25 ml of water
10 ml of lemon juice
.05 g de Salt

Grind all ingredients in blender to acquire a smooth, “creamy”, consistency and set aside.

For pickled red onion

1 small piece of onion
2 pieces of lime
3g of salt

Cut the onion into quarters, slice the onion using a slicer, for very thin strips; Blanch the onion strips, keep the onions in a container, add the lemon juice and salt, keep refrigerated.

For the tomato sauce and habanero chile

100g chopped onion brunoise
1 piece of tomato chopped in brunoise
1/2 piece of roasted habanero Chili, seeded

Sauté onion in oil followed by tomatoes, cook until slightly caramelized, add the chile and smash into the sauce, season and set aside.

To assemble:

100 g avocado cream
50 g marinated red onion with lemon juice
150 ml of tomato and habanero sauce
100 g fried tortillas into strips
Coriander Sprouts
Coriander Flower
Wild coriander

With the help of a bottle, draw a circle with the avocado cream in the plate, then put the strips of pickled onion on top of the avocado and cover. Then place the julienned onion tortilla over, building a nest. Afterwards, put hot tomato sauce with habanero in the center of the nest, then place the egg previously cooked 6 minutes at 85 ° C , over the tomato sauce. Finish with coriander sprouts and coriander flower.

-AND-

Hamachi Aguachile + Green Apple + sea sprouts

5kg de Hamachi (yellowtail)

For the aguachile

30g of coriander
38g of White onion
12g of salt
350g of cucumber
95ml of lemon juice
1.5g of sodium citrate
3g of serrano chili

Grind all the ingredients, when liquefied, strain to drain excess fluid. Keep both parts of aguachile

For the Aguachile Juice

250ml of aguachile (juice)
1g de xanthan gum

Grind the xanthan gum in the broth using immersion blender until desired texture. Preserve.

For the Green Apple

1pz cut into sheets

Remove the center of the green apple using a corer and cut into wedges.
Using a slicer, cut the apple with measure no. 6 and reserve in cold water.

For the Avocado

2pz of firm avocado to make rugs

Peel the avocado and using a slingshot peeler, prepare thin films; using a round mold cutting mats 1cm in diameter. Hold on a plate with vitafilm. (Do not cut with an advance of more than 15 min)

For the cucumber
1pz cut into sheets

For the tostadas
10pz of corn tortillas (cut with a ring of 10cm diameter)

For Foam Green Apple

4 pcs of apple (for juicing)
1 sheet of gelatin
5Lt Liquid Nitrogen

Cut and core apples, extract the juice and strain. Separate some of the juice and melt the gelatin, previously hydrated, add a siphon cream 1/2 liter capacity. Place two cartridges cream and stir, pour the foam in liquid nitrogen until frozen completely and grind using a Thermomix or a processor with stainless steel vessel. Keep in a metal bowl on a nitrogen bath.

For the lemon caviar

25 ml lemon juice
60 ml water
1 gr of citras
2g agar
Salt 2 g
100 ml of oil

Mix all the ingredients in a pot with the exception of agar and bring to heat until it boils. Mix the agar using a balloon whisk, pouring it slowly. Already incorporated, allowing the mixture to a boil for the 2nd time and using a Pasteur pipette, drip into the cold oil well. Once solidified shaped caviar, remove all of the oil with a strainer and reserve.

For the avocado cream

300 gr Avocado
8 grams salt
3 g of citras
30 ml lemon juice

Grind all ingredients in blender to acquire a smooth, “creamy”, consistency and set aside.

To assemble:

Place a strip of marinated hamachi in aguachile. Around it, make dots with avocado cream slices of green apple, sprouts, leaves and edible flowers. Add the juice of aguachile in the center and finish the green apple powder made with liquid nitrogen. Accompany with toast.