the liquid side

Edible Cocktails – From Garden to Glass

So, I was lucky enough to receive an copy of  Natalie Bovis’ (aka The Liquid Muse aka the person responsible for getting me into blogging) new cookbook Edible Cocktails: From Garden to Glass – Seasonal Cocktails with a Fresh Twist and am I impressed.  I’m not much of a mixologist, in fact most of my at-home mixed drink making involves a one second pour of vokda or gin and filling my glass with soda, but I know a good cookbook when I see one.

And when I see Edible Cocktails, I see one.

What’s the Book About?

The premise behind Edible Cocktails is simple: take everything that’s great about farm-to-table dining and apply it to mixology.  Organic produce, Slow Food (er Cocktails), growing your own ingredients, it’s all in there, but for cocktails.

It’s not something I had thought of, but it makes so much sense.  If I want only the best, freshest, most-carefully-raised produce in my dinner, why not in my drinks as well?  If I care about the tomatoes that go into my marinara, why not the tomatoes in my bloody mary?  If I care about the herbs on my roast chicken, why am I not striving for the same in my mojito?

To make this vision reality, Edible Cocktails gives you a wealth of information about what you can grow at home, basics on how to grow them, and a full rundown of the different types of liquor and tools you will use to make excellent drinks.

Oh, and there are recipes.  Lots of recipes!  They range from classic martinis to sours to pizza slice cocktails to bacon cherry creek cocktails…and that’s just the drink recipes.  There are syrup recipes, mezcal recipes (chorizo mezcal anyone???), garnishes, and instructions on making your own liqueurs, like homemade Irish cream–all of which keep the focus on farm to table cooking and mixing.  That’s pretty sweet.

Fun Fact(s) I Learned Reading It

One, whisky and whiskey are both proper spellings of the hard alcohol. In case that you don’t want to go out get alcohol delivery to your door instead of making a line on a liquor store.  However, whisky applies mainly to Scotch and whiskey to everything else, including American bourbon.

Two, a cocktail and a mixed drink are not the same thing.  Cocktails only refer to a subset of mixed drinks!  This means Americans have been using the term wrong (including me in the paragraphs above… d’oh!)

What’s Well Done

Edible Cocktails is filled with information, but it’s not a textbook.  The photos are gorgeous and the layout makes absorbing all of Natalie’s information easy.  It never feels like this book is an info dump.  It’s more like a conversation with a good friend who just happens to know how to mix a fantastic drink.

What’s A Little Rare

No pun intended, but I wish there had been more conversation around using meat and raw eggs in cocktails.

I have this feeling that Natalie is perfectly fine drinking an infused liquor that has had meat in it or a drink with a raw egg, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that a lot of American audiences (myself included) are not.  We need to be warmed on the subject, given reassurances, and given more tips on how to avoid foodbourne illness.


With that said, this is a great cookbook.  Edible Cocktails is very clever idea whose time has come and who better to help us through it than bar industry veteran, multiple mixology cookbook writer, and long time cocktail blogger Natalie Bovis?


HangoverHow to Get Over a Wine Hangover

So, the Drink Local Wine – Missouri conference has been over for a while now and I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my response.  At the very least, I want to cover the highs and lows of the conference, the spits and the swallows (is that a thing?) and the laughts and the tears, but I did want some time to gain perspective.  I wanted to make sure that my thoughts about Missouri wine were well thought out and not simply riding the emotion of great food, great wine, and good times.

However, before that, I submit the following Public Service Annoucement.

Tips for Getting Over a Wine Hangover

May the record reflect that at a wine conference, there is a lot wine.  In fact, it’s about as hard as anything I’ve ever done to keep a wine glass empty for more than a few seconds.  Believe me, I tried.

Also, for the record let me say that I’ve had beer hangovers, tequilla hangovers, whiskey hangovers, and now wine hangovers.  That wine hangover was over and above, far and away, the worst hangover I’ve ever had.  Bar none.  Hands down.  Certainly, that first night at the conference was far from the drunkest I’ve ever been, but the hangover was bad.  I’m guessing it was the sulfites.

Here’s how to get those nasty things out of your system:

1.  Drink lots of water before you go to bed.  This makes sense for a hangover of any variety, but in a wine hangover, the water will help flush the system.  That’s a good thing.

2.  Take a shower when you get up.  Standing under the hot water and letting it work out some of the knots in my shoulder made me feel better, and as the muscles unknotted, it made sure all the junk in my system was flowing as freely as possible.  (That is a thing…massage therapists have their clients drink water all the time because knots trap bad bodily chemicals.)

3.  Avoid orange juice.  When I have a beer hangover, all I want is OJ.  It’s liquid + vitamins, which is the double whammy of hangover recovery.  Maybe it’s the sulfites again or the sulfites + the citric acid, but my tummy wasn’t having any.  Ice water was the rule of the day for the first hour.  Once I felt a little hydrated, I was able to move to OJ.

4.  Bagel.  Plain.  Putting something easy to digest (processed carbs) into my stomach helped calm it and allow me to drink OJ faster.

5.  Sit.  Inactivity kept the head from moving quickly.  No head movement = less headache.

6.  Ibuprofen.  As soon as I took it, my eyes stopped pulsing in time with the speakers.  That was good.

Eventually, I came around and was my old sweet self again…right in time for lunch.  Yay.  More easy-to-digest food and orange juice.

So, I highly recommend my six step system.  And if that doesn’t work, go to a wine tasting where you have to consume like 42 wines in 4 hours.  There’s nothing a hangover loves more than alcohol!

Thanks to pasukaru76 for the picture.


My Thought on Local Wines Before #DLWMO

Since I have an hour to kill, I thought I would spend some time pontificating on local wine prior.  As I sit here mere hours from what should be an intense study/drinkfest of locally produced wines, I figure it will be interesting to compare what I think about local wine now as compared to what I will think about local wine tomorrow.

So, here are my five thoughts about Missouri Wine right now.  Please keep in mind, I am not a sommelier (though I did get the spelling right on the first try…) nor I have studied Missouri wine intensely.  On the other hand, I have drank my fair share of it and have been to Rocheport several times, Hermann several times, and St. James at least once.   (Wine + memory = not so good.)  Plus, I have availed myself of the opportunity to drink local wine whenever I can, and in doing so, have always strived to learn more about it.

1. Missouri’s Greatest Strength and Greatest Weakness is the Norton Grape

I’m going to let Wikipedia describe the Norton Grape in all it’s glory, but let me summarize what the Norton is in one word: sweet.  And not in the “Dude!  Sweet!” way.  All of the wines I have had, in particular the Steamboat Red and White from Les Bourgeois, are always very sweet.  This is no problem for me.  I love sweet.  My friend Scott, the wine snob, called them dessert wines.

2. Missouri Has Yet to Produce a Big Red

Of all the observations I will make in this post, this is the one I am the least confident about.  I’m not really one to go out and seek big reds, but I know I haven’t stumbled on one during the course of a wine tasting. 

What is a big red?  It’s bold, strong red wine…you know the ones that might get called oaky or “meaty.”  Why is this important?  As near as I can tell, it’s part of being taken seriously as a wine producing region.  So many wine lovers gravitate towards big reds that it seems like a wine portfolio isn’t complete without one.  Even if I personally find them unpalatable.

3. Where’s the Acidity?

Again, all I can do is speak for myself, but I know that the Missouri wines gracing my wine rack lack the acidity of other region’s wines, especially those I’ve had from Spain and South America.  The result is that Missouri wines may come off as having a less refined finish than those other wines.  This is something I plan to ask about during the conference.

It’s also a myth I am hoping to dispel after a few rounds of tastings.

4. Missouri Doesn’t Have a Strong Wine Culture…Yet

I know that sounds strange from someone going to a Missouri wine conference, but it’s true.  When people talk about a wine vacation, they think about Napa when St. James, Herman, Rocheport, Knob Noster, Odessa, etc. are closer, cheaper, and in many cases, almost as good (and has the potential to be better.)  And if you try to convince them to go local, you get looked at like you have a second head.

My hope is that by this time tomorrow we’ll have a concrete plan of action on how to get more people to think of Missouri as wine country.

(One thing that will help this wine culture, strangely enough, is the continued evolution of the culinary landscape in Missouri.  Good food and good wine go hand-in-hand.)

5. Missouri Will Face the Same Challenge as California

There was a time when California was thought of as a second-class citizen to other wine regions (read: France.)  Eventually, though, Captain Kirk and Dute Leto Atreides bottled a wine that showed the world that California deserved a place at the wine table.  (At least the actors who played them — Chris Pine and William Hurt — portrayed the real-life people who actually did so…)

Anyway, for Missouri to be mentioned alongside Napa, Honduras, France, and Italy as places to go for wine, it’s going to take work from everyone involved: the people who grow the wine, the people who think about the wine, and the people who order it.  It might even take a movie staring the guy fom Wings and Paul Giamatti, but if we work together, it can happen.

So tomorrow, I’ll figure out how.


It’s the first inaugural

Tea-Sty Tuesday


Like the name?  I made it up myself!

As you might have guessed, I have decide to talk about tea every Tuesday, somewhat for the illiteration, but mostly because I really enjoy drinking tea.  If that comes as a great shock to you, I wouldn’t be surprised.  You have to figure that anyone who looks as crazy as I do in their profile probably drinks a lot of coffee.

But for some reason, I never really acquired a taste for the stuff.  Tea, on the other hand, was always plentiful in my house, so I drank it.  Sure, when Starbucks got popular, I had a love affair with $5/cup coffee and it made me feel like this guy (sophisticated, yet bemused at the price I was paying) :


when I could say (at a very rapid pace) “venti white chocolate mocha with soy, hold the whip” in a crowded room and have everyone know what I was talking about.  (Even when like half of that sentence aren’t really words.)  Still, in the end, I always came back to tea.

And since I have a blog, I figured I should start writing about it.

So, let’s cover some ground rules.  Not really because I expect you to follow them, but because I want to set some expectations.  Basically, Tea-sty Tuesdays will largely cover instant tea

About half of the readers of this post just left. 

Hey, there’s a reason.  I drink instant tea because I can make it in an office setting and have tea with me wherever I go.  Would I prefer to always drink tea from the kettle?  Sure, but I don’t always have a tea kettle and time to boil water.  I do, usually, have access to hot water.

I will cover some loose leaf teas, especially when I buy them thinking they are instant, but also because I enjoy them.  I will also cover tea-based alcoholic beverages, tea+milk mixes, and cooking with tea.  But all that is later. 

For now, I think I’ve yapped about enough.  I will leave you with two things.  First, this picture that came up when doing some image research on tea:


The picture is somewhat tea related and frankly, I haven’t been using sex enough to sell my blog.

I also will remind everyone about crack tea (aka oolong green tea.)  This was the first tea to really tear me away from the arms of Lipton instant tea (which is kind of like the equivalent of coffee in a huge tin you buy for $9.)  It’s delicious, mild, and it makes you awesome.

Seriously, I don’t know what it is with crack tea, but if you are tired, sick, depressed, or dead, crack tea can cure you.  And I used to think it was ridiculously expensive ($15 for a box.)  However, after paying for a a lot of tea, I can see it’s only moderately expesnive and it’s still the best money can buy.

Okay, well that’s it for this week.  Next week, I’ll be back with a new review.  Until then, thanks to Shandi-lee, Cavin, and Carnival King 08 (and Julie) for the pics.  Go drink some tea and enjoy!

Photo Credit

Photo Credit

Oolong Tea (a.k.a Crack Tea)

So, funny story.  I was sitting in front of my computer, with a nice little headache, talking to a friend of mine who is dragging a bit.  We’re both lamenting because he’s tired and I’m trying to think of a topic on which to write.  Anyway, I start telling him that instead of energy drinks, whenever I feel like I need a pick-me-up or when I have a cold, I drink crack tea.  For minutes I go on and on about how this green oolong tea we get from is better than coffee, makes us feel better when we are sick, and is basically what makes us awesome.

I’m not sure he went and bought any, but it did give me a topic.  I’m going to review crack tea!

Wait, Why’s It Called Crack Tea?

Well, for starters the package is written in Chinese characters, so we had to call it something.  More importantly, we called it crack tea because the minute it entered into our office, none of us could stop drinking it.  I would go through 2 bags a day and I started hoarding some in my desk because I wanted to make sure it would be there when I needed a fix.  I even carried some around in my planner because I might need a little at home.

Okay, I have to stop here and say don’t freak out.  While all of that was true, I wasn’t quite the addict I claimed to be.  (Hi Mom!)  It was just I do love my caffeine and I used the stuff to get me off soda, which was pretty cool.

Anyway, crack tea also earned the name crack tea because of the caffeine in it.  We said drinking it was like being on crack, though frankly, I’m not sure any of us actually know what that’s like.  (Daniel?)

Either way, the stuff tastes good (tea purists will roll over in their grave when they hear I sweeten it … with Sweet and Low), it packs a punch, and seriously, if you have a cold, it’s 1,000 times better than DayQuil.  So if you get the chance, try some out.  A pack of 50 bags is only $16, which is a bargain when you think of all the soda and over the counter cold meds you won’t need to buy!

Fair Warning

I don’t know, I feel the need to raise the only concern about crack tea I have.  My concern goes back to the package being written in Chinese characters.  I honestly have no idea what’s in it.  I am pretty sure it’s only tea leaves and maybe a little cassia bark or something for flavor, but if you are really concerned, a little more research or a call to the owners of the website might not be a bad idea.

Honestly, at the end of the day, the stuff is probably made in the US and given crazy packaging so that American consumers think they are getting something mystical.  I’m not too worried about it.  The site appears reputable and I seem to be okay after drinking it for almost a year, so yeah, I say go for it.

Get your own crack…er oolong tea!

Picture taken from

The White Album- Perfect Music to Listen to for a White Meal

The White Album- Perfect Music to Listen to for a White Meal

Okay, so the fashionistas all agree that you can’t wear white after Labor Day, but, I’m wondering about eating white after Labor Day.  Think about it.  If you can’t wear white, you’re probably wearing darker colors and if you spill… yikes!  Who knows…maybe tomorow the manner experts are going to outlaw fettuchini alfredo, sugar cookies, and White Russians!!

Just in case, maybe you should try this all-white Labor Day menu.  It’s not exactly the most waistline-friendly, but that’s not my fault.  I was trying to think of what was white and, of course, I thought of heavy cream!  It’s not my fault this meal is so creamy and delicious.  I have to make sure every one gets one last white meal during Labor Day.

You know, just in case.

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Chef Jennifer Iannolo

Jennifer Iannolo

I knew there was something special about Jennifer Iannolo (aka @foodphilosophy) when she once tweeted her favorite meal.  The details have long since been forgotten except for the fact it started with “when me and Charlie” sat down for a meal. 

Now, for the rest of you who aren’t on a first name basis with the culinary greats, the “Charlie” she spoke of, was none other than Charlie Trotter, one of the best chefs in the world.  And the restaurant they ate at belonged to Alain Ducasse.  

I knew she was a great podcaster and food vlogger and I had visited her site at the Culinary Media Network (CMN) many times.  I just had no idea she was so close with Charlie (that’s Chef Trotter to the rest of us) and that she had so many great stories to tell. 

From listening to her podcasts and watching her vlogs, I always had this romantic notion that her days are filled with hob knobbing with chefs, eating their delicious foods, and then coming home at night to Tweet about it.  This, of course, would be her regular schedule.  On special days she’s jet setting halfway across the world to hob knob with chefs, eat their delicious foods, and then go back to the hotel to Tweet about it. 

When I finally chased her down, she slightly disabused me of the notion.  Apparently, there is more to being the CEO of the CMN than the whole hob knobbing/eating/jet setting thing, though that is a very visible part of what she does because she podcasts and vlogs about it.  (If you’re interested, you can see some of her work on the CMN site and on her own  Still, despite all of that work, she’s a businesswoman first.

Using the business degree she earned from the Stern School of Business at New York University, she offers food consulting to various restaurants.  While she already has a presence in Web 2.0 consulting and media, there’s something else in the works that she hinted at, but now all I can say is that it is coming soon.  This project will allow her to consult with restaurants on the full range of Social Media marketing opportunities.  More to come…

In the meantime, she’ll have to content herself with all her other jobs.  Like the food consulting and being a cookbook author.  Together with her Culinary Media Network associates (including Chef Mark Tafoya who was interviewed earlier on the blog), she assembled The Gilded Fork Cookbook, a cookbook containing 3-4 years’ worth of recipes from the website.  Even though the recipes are on the web, “there’s something about a physical cookbook,” she says. 

The goal of the book was simple.  “We wanted to convey our idea of entertaining.”  Jennifer, Mark and the others all believe the entertaining should be fun and stress-free, which is why they’ve taken care of all the details, even the wine pairings in their book.  (A full review is coming, I promise.)

She also runs an online boutique, the Gilded Fork (, where she offers artisan products that are hard to find anywhere else.  The site features brownies, oils, flor de sel, truffle salt, black garlic, and a special Italian olive oil that “people buy by the case,” she says.  It’s a store “for foodies” by people who know food.

So podcaster, vlogger, social media master, online store owner, cookbook author, and a woman who rubs elbows with the finest chefs in the world, all describe Jennifer, but they still don’t form the complete picture because they don’t explain her philosophy.  For a woman known to many as @foodphilosophy, it’s important to know what drives her, because beliefs about food drive everything she does.

At heart, Jennifer is a sensualist who believes that food is something that can excite every sense: smell, sight, touch, sound, and, of course, taste.  It was something she experienced while working in the kitchens and in the businesses of some of the greatest chefs in the world : Thomas Keller, Charlie, Daniel Boulud, just to name a few. 

While working with these great chefs, she also learned quickly that being a chef is not a glamorous business, so she wanted to find out “what moved their [the chefs] souls.”  She wanted to find what it was about cooking that got them through the tough times and share that with her readers, listeners, and watchers.  She wanted to give them a chef’s point of view.

All of this culminated in, what she calls, a “moment of truth.”  She sat down and wrote an article called “On Food and Sensuality,” (read about it here) which was a phrase she used to describe food that was as pleasing to the mind and body as sex.  It was something chefs grasped intuitively, but as she wrote the article, she was not sure how the idea would be received. 

Fast forward five years and her article continues  to captivate readers and is opening up avenues which may or may not be suitable for a G-rated blog like this one, she explains while laughing.  It’s also allowed her to open “Bachelor Bootcamp” so that she can teach us guys a few things about the sensual pleasures of food and how to use it to accentuate the sensual pleasures of …other things.

Ultimately, though, I save the best for last.  After all the time in the kitchen, directing a “space camp for foodies” called L’Ecole des Chefs from Relais & Chateaux, managing the James Beard Award, and writing an article that is changing the way people think about food, there is one thing that amazes me about Jennifer: she has no formal culinary training.

When compared to being on a first name basis with Michelin-rated chefs or getting a cookbook out in three months (which is seriously how long it took to get The Gilded Fork out), it may not seem like much to anyone else, but she and Chef Mark are inspirations to any of us who want to play with a food for a living.  It may take some hardwork, but it can be done and for that bit of inspiration, we owe Jennifer a big thanks.

So when you’re done here, check out her site.  You can get a feeling for her recipes by checking out the cocktail below.  Oh, if you do go to the website, that is actually her with the grapes.  Most importantly read her words, watch her have fun and know that this is a women who has inspired chefs to keep cooking, people to learn to be chefs, and more than one blogger to think about living and playing with his food.

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For unResolution month, sometimes we need to drink our calories, too.  That’s why I turned to Natalie from The Liquid Muse, who directly inspired this very blog you are reading now and who is the finest mixologist/cocktail blogger I have ever read.

I knew if I needed to find the official drink of unResolution month, she would have it.  And, as usual, I was not disappointed:

Pumpkin Pie Preggatini

Though this recipe was featured on her blog, she also has a book out called Preggatinis: Mixology for the Mom-to-be, a collection of non-alcoholic drinks which look absolutely delicious. And while the book says its for the mom-to-be, it’s also great for anyone who does not drink or cannot have alcohol for whatever reason.  (Personally, I would have called it Delicious Designated Driving but that’s just me…)

Anyway, when I was mapping out what I was going to do for the “A month is four weeks, which is 28 days BUT January has 31 days so I need to find 3 more days worth of delicious but unhealthy foods” section of unResolution month, I just knew this was the drink for me because I love pumpkin and this one does not shy away from the calories.

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So in my post Watermelon Wine, I had mentioned that while I had been less than enthusied by the watermelon wine, I had not come away empty handed from Davenport Orchards & Winery on Sunday.  That’s because I found a new sweet red: Charlemagne.

I had to try more than one wine.  Far be it from me to stop at one glass when they are giving wine away.  I tried the Cayuga, the Seyval Blanc, and the Rhubarb.  But it was Charlemagne that really caught my attention.

The Sweet Red Wine Charlemagne

Yes, it was sweet.  Like after-dinner or reduced-to-syrup-and-served-over-ice-cream sweet.  At the same time, though, it had a bolder flavor than I am used to in sweet red wine and it had a nice floral bouquet.  Plus, the sweetness was not overpowering so I actually got to taste the wine, not the sugar.

Plus I found that the United States Marine Corps private labels it and serves it at its galas.  So I figured if it was good enough for them, well it was probably good enough for me, too.

Going to Lawrence

If you are ever in the Lawrence, Kansas area, stop by Davenport Orchards and Winery (it’s about 5 miles East along K-10.)  If you like dry reds, the Chat in the Dark is very good and their Apple Wine is still my favorite desert white ever.  Though don’t tell ’em that the blogger who didn’t like the watermelon wine sent you.  It probably wouldn’t do you any good.