Gin&Juice

It seems like a thought but only today did I discover,by accident, that Jo Malone products are available in Stockholm. They just started selling it at Åhléns City. But that’s not why I made a drink inspired by one of the scents in their range yesterday,

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That reason is simply because I’ve been wearing Earl grey&Cucumber for the last week or so; let’s start with a few words on “the juice” . It’s a classic cologne, non intrusive but nice. With it’s warm from bergamot and cold notes from the cucumber it’s a very good scent for the days that go from cold,to warm and then to cold again; much like we’ve had. Typical spring basically. Although the sun has been shining so three cheers for that, it’s Gin&Tonic season for real now.

Because that’s what it is, a twist on the classic. I decided to name it Gin&Tonic in a cold climate as the bottle of perfume that I have was a gift from @lifeinacoldclimate. I had smelled it on a visit to London, put off purchase until I was at the airport and ,of course, they were all out of it at the Heathrow Jo Malone-shop. Annikky was nice enough to send me a bottle.

So; I basically made a earl grey syrup with 2 dl of caster sugar,1,5 dl of boiling water and 3 tablespoons of good quality earl grey.

  1. Put the sugar in a heat proof bowl, pour over the boiling water and then stir until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Add the tea leaves and let steep for about 7 minutes. Don’t worry about it becoming bitter, the sugar will balance but don’t let it steep for too long.

My trick to making good tea, in general, is using a bit more tea leaves then recommended but then letting it infuse for shorter. I find with earl grey this gives more of the lovely bergamot. Make sure to sieve the syrup when the 7 minutes are over, and then let it cool. Otherwise it will be to sticky to sieve easily.

Then it’s just a case of filling a glass with ice cubes, add 1,5 cl of the syrup and the amount of gin and stir. Then add the tonic you prefer; Schweppes is perfect for this as it doesn’t overpower the bergamot. Serve with a sizable cucumber chunk. Also good for stirring. A citrusy gin is a god idea.

This is nothing revolutionary but a nice take on a classic with a lot of nice roundness from the bergamot. Enjoy responsibly.

-Suss

Tangerines&a thousand columns

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In her bok Husmoderns död och andra texter, Sara Danius points out how everyone can play the role of the intellectual and analyst of our times by putting editions of the same cookbook, but from different eras, side by side you have the material to critic the contemporary by comparing it to the past.

Another way to fiddle around in the field between the then and know, to alternate between the historian and the critic and think vertically is;

1.Be a french sociologist in which case you will have rockstar status and opinions on everything

2. Repeat what has been done. Cook through a cookbook someone else has written, live like Gwyneth Paltrow for a week or travel in the footsteps of a man who lived cirka 700 years ago.

Obviously it is a good framework; “a year of” is a good start for a book title or a blog like the famous example Julie&Julia about cooking though the cookbook of Julia Child. Living a week like Gwyneth Paltrow(which is probably the maximum amount of time anyone can manage) is high level social anthropology and there should be an award for it. Tim Mackintosh-Smith chose to walk all the way from Tangiers to Mecca, and then he walks some more. The man he is following is Ibn Battutah, the man in green, and the great Arab traveler.

Battutah’s own travels happens between 1325 to 1355 and he did write an account of it, one that has remained in publication and I know that Penguin has a version of it that I keep meaning to read. I have however read Both Travels with a Tangerine and The hall of a thousand columns,both by Mackintosh-Smith. The latter did not take 30 years to traverse the world but he did the best he could and I recommend both warmly.

Here I find it a good time to point out that Mackintosh-Smith is fluent in Arabic, lives or has lived in San’a,Yemen and has written a book called Yemen-the unknown Arabia which was published in 1996. I do recommend that also, especially since it’s one of the few books written about Yemen and it’s a region of conflict(even though it seems to have dropped of the media radar). And my copy seems lost somewhere on my shelves.

The travel books came after that; from 2000 to 2005 was when the traveling and writing happened although it is hard to tell or I should say that it’s been a while since I’ve read them, and then they already had a few years on them. But they had that timeless quality which is partly because so much of what is discussed is the travels of Ibn Battutah and,partly at least, Mackintosh-Smith’s decision to highlight the personal encounters. And that dry english wit always get me in a good mood.

I still enjoy watching clips of when Micheal Palin traveled around the world in 80 days(again; repeating what someone else has already done lends legitimacy to both them and you actually) and he is given the advice at some point that the best thing is to never apologize or acknowledge danger but just go ahead with his BBC-self “jolly good chaps, coming through. Just the BBC. Toodles”. And he was very clever in that series to refer to the camera crew as Passepartout; which was the servant in Jules Verne’s story.

In fact I much imagine it was the same when Mackintosh-Smith undertook his journey. I romanticize wildly, and will continue to do so as far as this is concerned. Travel writing might just be the last bastion of romance and glamour. Which is enhanced by the fact that both books,and the one about Yemen too I think, have wonderful illustrations by Martin Yeoman.

Things mentioned in this post;

A snippet of that Palin show from 1988(I had a look at this and now I want to see the whole thing again).

An example of living like Gwyneth 

More of living like Gwyneth

-Suss

Weekend&how you should lobster-ify your life..

Lobsters are the hottest crustaceans around right now. Not since Schiapperalli collaborated with Dali on a dress have they been this hip.

Probably it’s mostly Dolce&Gabbana are driving this trend, those lobster earrings are everywhere. And where they go, people will follow(apparently).

1.Wear it;H&M has this t-shirt. That’s an option if you want in on this trend. A better way is to just read either Consider the lobster by David Foster Wallace(I’ve ordered a copy but it hasn’t arrived yet) or Husmoderns död och andra texter by Sara Danius if you are fluent in Swedish. Again; books are not something I think of as an accessory but I often have one in my hand so I might as well look trendy while I’m at it. The former I have not read yet but it comes highly recommended, the latter is absolutely brilliant. Danius is the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy for a reason. The notorious eighteen knew what they did when the asked her to join(if the members of the academy were available like movie star cards in the 60’s (or Pokémon cards)  I’d probably be willing to trade quite a few of the others to have her and historian Peter Englund).

2. Eat lobster rolls; This is one of the things that Gwyneth Paltrow and I agree on, this and the usefulness of grey cardigans.  I’ve learned the hard way that I eat like a neanderthal and thus have grease stains on several delicate items of clothing, as lobster rolls always are served with a dollop of mayonnaise on top. I need a bib, and more lobster rolls. I lament my silk blouses but I really think it was totally worth it. Mayonnaise!! Always make sure to put some finely chopped chives in the Hellman’s mayonnaise you serve them with. Or make your own mayo and use elderflower vinegar(I’m sure Gwyneth would approve; I made the vinegar myself )

3.Watch Last week tonight with John Oliver; they have a mock supreme court with dogs. But when President Trump got to elect a member to the court they chose a lobster as a symbolic representative in their mock-court. Because lobsters are trendy. The could just have chosen a cat, a parrot or a pig. They didn’t. They chose a lobster. Just sayin’.

-Suss

The power of a sour

I’ve been working my way through my bar cart, trying to use up odd liqueurs and spirits gathered during my days as a cocktail blogger. My aim is to rebuild my bar to suit less nerdy needs. One thing has become abundantly clear; lemon juice is the great balancer*.

It’s not a panacea but citrus,-floral- and berry liqueurs with some gin and lemon juice makes a great cocktail. It’s been an endless parade with twists on the old White lady. That weird citrus liqueur that you bought on holiday? Brilliant! Old dusty bottle of Amaretto? bring it! Some homemade elderflower liqueur that didn’t end up as intended? Tastes great.

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That last one is mine actually; the other year I made elderflower liqueur, and didn’t watch what I was doing and somewhere in-between the rhum I based it on and putting to much of the stems in there, it turned out more herbaceous that floral. Not necessarily bad or anything, just not as intended. So it’s been standing on the back of the bar cart , I can’t really put it in any cocktails as it has a unique flavor. Until now.

Strega,Amaretto,experiments and limoncello. They all work with the same basic concept. Liqueurs are very sweet so they need that dash of gin and the lemon juice but then you are pretty much good to go. Don’t do this with any amaro as they will curdle(I have a trick for that too;it’s called the Café Pushkin flip and well get to it at some point) nor any pastis like substance.

A white lady-twist;yields 1 cocktail 

3 cl of what have you. See above.

2 cl of gin

2 cl lemonjuice

1 egg white

for serving;

coupette

  1. Shake ingredients in an ice-filled shaker until cold.
  2. Pour into glass.
  3. Serve and enjoy responsibly.

And it’s as simple as that. If you have any questions let me know in the comments and I’ll help you the best I can.

-Suss

*Words chosen for effect. I knew this and have know it for a long time. Just haven’t shared my expertise in this forum.

7 lots from an auction catalogue

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Important artifacts and personal property from the collection of Leonore Doolan and Harold Morris, including books,street fashion, and jewelry by Leanne Shapton is a novel told in the way of an auction catalogue. It’s a brilliant idea and it plays to my weaknesses, as I’m the nosey kind. But, and I’ve pointed this out before, no harm done as these are not real people. A few of the items “for sale” that I might just have put a bid on.

  1. Lot 1026- A Smythson of Bond Street day to a page diary; I have a weak spot for anything Smythson. At some point  I will get some personalized stationary. And a few of their notebooks. My hot pink camera case from Smythson that I use for my emergency meds has been in my bag every day for three years, still in great knick. Quality goods.
  2. Lot 1069 -A group of striped clothing items; I can never have enough striped clothing but I’m suffering a shortage due to things falling apart, and my reluctance to buy anything new has intensified since reading yet another book about the fashion industry. Buying second hand is a reasonable middle way. This lot includes both cashmere and Sonia Rykiel so all my bases are covered.
  3. Lot 1077 -Du Maurier,Daphne Don’t look now and other stories; wonderful cover on this edition(the one in the catalogue that is) pure 80’s kitsch. Since reading Rebecca I’ve been meaning to read more by du Maurier.
  4. Lot 1012 -Cast-iron flower frogs; I already have one of those clever little Japanese “hedgehogs” to put at the bottom of vases when making arrangements but have been on the look out for “frogs” i.e. slightly bigger and often with spirals you can but flowers in. Makes arranging flowers easier.
  5. Lot 1177 -Six jars of homemade strawberry jam; I often give away homemade things around Christmas but these have the words “Tidings of comfort and jam, love from Hal and Lenore” and “have a Berry Christmas, love from Hal and Lenore”. Great puns, I wish I would have come up with them and I must use it sometime(bc. puns are lyfe as the kids say)
  6. Lot 1242 -Elsa Schiaparelli astrakhan coat; An amazing coat in size 36 with a short sleeve. Supposedly belonged to Maria Callas at some point. Doesn’t everyone want this coat?
  7. Lot 1267 -A candle with a handmade label; to make my own scented candles is something I very much would like to manage, and I have failed a few times already so I’m getting there. I dissect candles and try to figure out what works and not. This would be purchased for research purposes. Also it looks like it’s a reused Diptyque glass and I need a few of those as they make great double old-fashioned glasses when used up. However this one is a bit overpriced. No reserve noted so might make a sham bid.

-Suss

7 things from the Asian supermarket

IMG_1863I went by the asian supermarket yesterday to pick up soba noodles, sichuan peppar and a few other essential foods, but there is more to be found there. It’s a great place to shop to be honest. Here are a few things to look out for;

  1. Fans; these are ever so useful when it’s warm out and a small fan that you can fold up is a good thing to have in your bag. I stock up on these and frequently give them as presents.
  2. Soaps; especially rose and jasmine. They smell great,cost next to nothing and are not drying. I mostly adore the packaging to be honest.
  3. Sheet masks; turns out that the asian supermarket is where reasonable priced and good quality taiwanese and korean sheet masks can be found.
  4. Fortune cookies; These are somewhere between styrofoam and something you can eat but I count them here as they are not essential food. However they are fun to have at a dinner party and can be a nice decoration on a glass of chocolate mousse.
  5. These tiny teacups; I have a weak spot for blue and white china and I seem to be partial to this, the cheapest around, and some very fancy Royal Copenhagen and Spode. These are great for chocolate mousse,chocolate fondants,to serve an espresso/macchiato or punch.
  6. Really big bowls of this kind; great to serve punch from or use as fruit bowls or possibly floral arrangements.
  7. Teapots; Have we meet? You need teapots of all shapes and sizes(obviously) but these are reasonably priced, really good quality and in worst case they have other uses. They never go out of style.

-Suss

Florals for spring..

As winter has had us in a tight grip(and I’ll continue moaning until the lilacs blossom OK?) I’m still in my big ol’ coat, wrapped in a woolly scarf and thinking about warm drinks. But I made an effort to make something  more interesting when the sun came out for a few hours.

Jasmine green tea is not my usual tea of choice but I do like it, and make sure to have some on hand for when mood takes me there. With jasmine green tea it is the case that you get what you pay for; I splurge and buy “jasmine pearls” which is the whole tea leaf rolled into a small pearl. Pricey to buy but it has the most intense jasmine flavor which is what I’m after and I’ve found that they do stretch a long way; several brewing of the same leaves turn out just fine. This time I used them as a base for cocktails. The thing to remember with green tea is to not use boiling water when brewing, that’s when you get that bitterness. 70 degrees Celsius at most.

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Jasmine Martinis with tea-infused dry vermouth;

This is very easy, all you need to do is plan ahead; Pour the amount of dry vermouth that you want to infuse in a jar, add a reasonable amount of jasmin green tea,I’d say a pinch per deciliter, screw on the lid,let it infuse for 3-5 hours and then filter the vermouth. Then make Martinis as usual. I will also say that this vermouth is equally wonderful in a Negroni.

All vermouth should be kept in the fridge BTW.

White Nixons with cold jasmine green tea;

I got the recipe for this from Martha Stewart magazine actually, from an article focusing on tea-purveyor Bellocq that sell very exclusive tea in Brooklyn. I don’t have access to their teas but the ideas for food and drink in that spread were noted. I think this drink was originally made with lemon vodka, not a bad idea, but I use gin bc. I never have lemon vodka around. Here I made it into a shaken cocktail but in the heat of summer its wonderful as a long drink with more green tea and loads of ice.

White nixon; yields one cocktail

5 cl gin

2 cl cold jasmin green tea

2 cl pink grapefruit juice

1 cl ginger syrup (from a jar of gingembre confit is fine. Don’t know what it’s called in english)

Either shake the ingredients in an ice-filled shaker and serve in a coupette or pour them into a tumbler filled with ice. Using pink grapefruit juice makes all the difference as the colour is so inviting, that pink blush. Exclude the gin and add a bit more ginger syrup and you have a very nice non-alcoholic cocktail that I like to call “The dim sum-Sunday

G&T with jasmin-syrup;

According to bartenders here G&T:s are over. Over. O.V.E.R. Whatevs boys. Don’t care about your hip cocktails. However I discovered a long time ago that adding a little something sweet, like ginger syrup or elderflower liqueur, improves it. This time I went with a green tea syrup and as the jasmin goes so well with the gin, it turned out nice. Stuck to Schweppes, a fancier tonic would just overpower the jasmine I think.

Jasmin green tea syrup;

Pour 1 dl of boiling water over 2 dl of caster sugar placed in a heatproof bowl. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Add 2 pinches of green tea/10 jasmine pearls and let steep until cool. Filter the tea(or just fish out the leafs if using pearls, they really are a charm to work with)

Add 1 to 1,5 cl of the syrup when making a G&T and then proceed as you normally would. Garnish with a grapefruit peel.

 

Things mentioned in this post;

Bellocq

Ginger syrup

-Suss