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So we’ve been away and busy. That’s life. We’re back now and I’ve got a few things up my sleeve for upcoming posts (#1– we made mustard! It was great and easy!), so please forgive us the absence. Just because we’ve been gone doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing at all, though. I’ve managed to eke out my monthly booze columns for Vue Weekly. You can check out my not-always-expert examination of and cocktail recipes for Fernet Branca (yum!), Pisco, Goldschlager (yuck), shochu (love it), grappa (firewater, but tasty) and Poire William(delicious, delicious pear) over at the Vue site. I also did a feature for the Hot Summer Guide where I got some local bartenders’ input on summer drinks. You can check it out here. Unfortunately, I took pictures of all the drinks and the one they featured on the site looks pretty but tastes… well, just don’t make that recipe. Try any of the others; they’re all great, but “The Bender” is, um… not.

Also, we went to a great meetup yesterday with some other Edmonton bloggers and cooks. It was fun, though very cold. Carlo pointed out that it’s pretty sad when you’re discussing wind chill at the end of June. Such is life. Also, we didn’t bring our camera (delinquent bloggers that we are), so we have no evidence of the event to show. We had a great time talking with Court and Brooke, Sharon, Mack, Chris, Kevin, Maki, Grace, and Béné and Christian (who don’t have a blog yet but absolutely should. Can’t wait to see that!). If you’d like to get a better rundown, check out Sharon or Chris’s blogs. We’re lucky to be in contact with such a great group of people! I can’t wait until meetup #3. If you’re Edmontonian and would like to come to the next one, keep an eye on the wiki.

Hi! How are you? I hope you’re already out at a New Year’s party, or that you’re settling in for a cozy evening in. Carlo and I, we’re staying in. About four hours ago, when we came home from a shopping trip, our door broke, and we were stuck OUTSIDE for an hour and a half (or longer, I’m not sure. My brain froze.), in -22 C (-32 C with the wind chill!) while we waited for a locksmith. We were so happy to get into the apartment, we decided we weren’t leaving it again tonight. So here we are. If you’d told me five years ago that I’d be content, even happy, washing dishes and rearranging my apartment on New Year’s Eve, I’d… well, I’d have done something… laughed, cried, I don’t know. But right now we’re happy, cozy, and warm. And we’ve got a bottle of bubbly chilling in the fridge for later, so don’t feel sorry for us.

If you’ve got some champagne/cava/prosecco/other sparkler laying around that you’re not sure what to do with (besides drinking it the way it is, which is of course nice too), my latest article in Vue Weekly has a couple ideas. Nothing ground-breaking, just some nice, simple cocktails.

Happy New Year! I hope you’ve had a wonderful year.

In which I meet someone who knows a lot, learn interesting things, and then do the Scotch connoisseur’s equivalent of a face-plant. Not literally. Though given the Scotch drinking part, that might also have been a possibility.

A couple weeks ago I posted about tasting a $660 bottle of Scotch with Peter Gordon, the chairman of the company that makes Glenfiddich (William Grant & Sons). That interview was one of the highlights of my November. The article I wrote about the experience of tasting Scotch with an expert just came out and I’m pretty proud of it. If you want to know what I learned about Scotch, or how I totally embarrassed myself at the end of what was mostly a great interview, you can check it out here.

So the other day, I asked what people thought of egg white cocktails. I had a lovely recipe I wanted to publish, but I wasn’t sure what its reception would be.

Thanks to your input, I decided that Edmonton was ready for raw egg whites.

Here’s the article, if you want to check it out (recipe included). Please excuse the headline. I didn’t choose it. (Sorry, Mom and Dad).

I’m seeing a bump in stats and a lot more hits than usual on our “About” page, so I’m guessing that people are coming in from our mention in the Journal today. We’re new/returning to the food scene here in Edmonton, as we’ve recently moved back home from a four-year stint in Montreal, where we had great food experiences and learned a lot about cooking. It was that experience that inspired us to start blogging.

We’re pleased to be recognized here in Edmonton and hope that you’ll stick around and join in. We’d love to be in touch with more Edmonton food lovers. We focus on recipes, our cooking experiences and food discoveries, so while much of our information isn’t local-specific, we can promise you recipes with ingredients that are available in our area (or I’ll let you know where I found the stuff online).

This month we’re participating in NaBloPoMo, so you’re guaranteed something new every day this month. And if, for some reason, our daily ramblings aren’t enough for you, you can read about my explorations of obscure liquors, booze in general, and the Edmonton food scene in Vue Weekly.

Welcome, and bon appetit!

High time for the SiS team to learn its chops! Hanne and I recently attended NAIT Culinary School’s Art of Garde Manger & Knife Skills course. We spent three four-hour sessions in these kitchens:

There’s Hanne in the back of the room interviewing Chef Roote. Hanne was working double duty as she was on assignment for Vue Weekly. If you’re interested in all the nitty gritty, jump over here.

I tagged along because I’ve always wanted to work in a professional kitchen. I’ve read books and articles on chefs and their kitchens. I simultaneously romanticize and pragmatize this life when cooking. I want to work dans le merde, even though I know that means in the shit. I want to work in a lively, chaotic environment, but don’t want to get pushed around or yelled at (you reading this, Hanne?). I often tell Hanne, while doing the prep work for dinner, that if someone would pay me well to chop and slice food all day, that would be exactly what I’d do. But not only do I not chop and slice well enough, a chef’s work is meant for people with figuratively and literally thicker skin than me.

I was excited to take this course because I could pretend. I did the pretending in my head, so not to embarrass Hanne. Like calling the chef, “chef” or my prepared ingredients my mise or asking if I could wear a toque. I didn’t actually yell at people to get out of my way, but thought of cantakerous ways I would have while waiting impatiently for them to get THE HELL out of my way. I didn’t actually scold a guy for putting a knife in the sink… no wait. I actually did. It is a sure-fire way to dull a knife, after all. Man, I’m an asshole.

The fun wasn’t all in fantasizing. I learnt a lot. I have decent knife skills, but the chefs gave me a gamut of tips to sort out a few bad habits. The best tip was to simply move my cutting board to the edge of the counter so that my fist (the one holding the knife) wouldn’t get in the way when side-slicing an onion. Painfully obvious. “Thanks for the tip,” I said, and at the end of the sentence I swallowed the word chef and washed it down with my pride.

Chef also told me to take my time. I learnt the bear claw/knuckles knife technique around the same time we launched SiS and have spent the last year and a half NOT cutting myself with the chef’s knife. I got so good at not cutting myself that I invested all excess energy into doing it fast. But while quickly pounding a carrot into a haphazard rumble strip is fast, it ain’t good. I was told to take my time and be more precise, which you may have read about in Hanne’s chowder post. What I learnt in this course paid off on the chowder as all the veg. cooked through evenly (perfectly!) and, although you couldn’t see it in the post’s picture, the symmetry of the cubes looked great on the spoon and felt great to chew.

Precision was also called upon in class when making canapes and sandwich displays. I’m now convinced that paying attention to presentation is important. Seeing all the food laid out pretty in class made me even hungrier and although the moment was fleeting, I did at first eat with my eyes.

The course was a lot of fun and I encourage you to read Hanne’s article. She spent way more time working on it than I did on this post, so if you’ve read this far, you owe her a read. Also, if you’re a foodie in Edmonton, check out NAIT’s list of part time culinary courses.

Hanne’s written 1-2-3-4 great booze articles for Vue Weekly, all odes to classic cocktails and/or rare spirits. In October, our columnist turned her job into a losing venture by purchasing 1-2-3-4 bottles of rum, three of which are pictured above (Havana Club Anejo Blanco-Appleton Estate V/X-Gosling’s Black Seal) and won’t be subsidized by the weekly. The problem is, I can’t object because she has 1-2-3 more jobs than I do right now. Also, the cocktail recipes Hanne dug up and created in her latest feat of investigative journalism are some of my favourites.

One of these is the Harpo’s Special, which may (or may not) have been invented by (or for) Harpo (probably not Karl) Marx. I like flavours that attack in different ways with different trajectories. The Harpo’s Special has a sour hook of lime, a jab of boozy acid, a slap of bitters and a soft sweet finish. Go to Hanne’s latest Vue article to make this and other rum-based cocktails.

SiS’s Ginger Beat Cocktail

This drink will work you over. It’s a SiS original made by Hanne, a take-off on Gosling’s Dark and Stormy. I’ll call it–and I get to because I’m, like, married to the creator–the Ginger Beat. Think your various tastebuds cymbals, toms, high hats, bass drums and imagine benched behind them the best drummer you can name, say Stewart Copeland or Dave Grohl.

Gulp, sip or do whatever you do. The lime shimmers sour over your tongue and rumbles in your cheeks. The ginger snaps up your palate and burns down your throat. The dark rum breaks in, flattening the flavour with bitter caramel while beating licorice, anise and earthy (peat moss?) notes. Sugar settles the flavour’s throb to a steady beat and is nearly a nod to silly-girly-drink but comes off more sophisticated-lady-or-mister-drink, grounding the bite of the alcohol and ginger and making the drink less brash than composed.

That may seem a bit exuberant, but I’ve just had 1-2-3 drinks while writing this post. Make it like this:

  • A third of an old fashioned glass of crushed or cracked ice
  • 2 oz Gosling’s Black Seal or other dark rum
  • 1 Tbsp ginger syrup (recipe below)
  • Top glass up with ginger ale

For ginger simple syrup:

Ingredients:

  • 1 inch cube of fresh ginger, sliced thin
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar

Method:

  • Put above in pot, bring to boil, simmer until golden
  • Refrigerate leftovers for seconds
  • Thirds

Another thing I did this summer: I started writing for the food section of Vue Weekly, a free local paper. It’s pretty much as much fun as I can possibly have, and I can’t wait to do more. The job is this: find something that I think is interesting, then read a lot about it, and then after that, tell people about it. Those of you who know me in real life know that this is pretty much my entire mode of existence, so it’s cool to be paid for it.

So far I’ve been writing about booze, but I’m going to be tackling some other subjects soon. I’ll keep you posted!

Everything I’ve learned about:

Campari

Pimm’s No. 1

Chartreuse

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