Posts made in October, 2011

Enough Already

Posted on Oct 22, 2011 in Drink This, Recipes | 1 comment

Here’s what I’ve been drinking this summer. I don’t know if this drink has a name; it’s just something I mixed up one night when I wanted something a bit drier than Lillet but not quite as strong as a Martini. It contains several dozen herbs, spices, and fruits, all blended together in complicated infusions and extractions on strange equipment in a foreign land–but all you have to do is buy two bottles and mix them together. The Lillet will keep about a month in the fridge after you open it, and if you can’t get G’vine (a lovely French gin made from a grape spirit similar to...

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A Lemon Drop Done Right

Posted on Oct 22, 2011 in Drink This, Recipes | Comments Off on A Lemon Drop Done Right

Meyer Lemon Drop   I approve of Lemon Drops only when the vodka is infused with real fruit, not “natural flavors,” and only when you float a little bubbly on top to knock back the sweetness. I’m not a fan of the sugar rim, but if you want to do it, run a lemon wedge around the rim of a chilled martini glass, then dip the rim in sugar.   1.5 oz Hangar One Citron ‘Buddha’s Hand’ or Mandarin Blossom Vodka .5 oz Cointreau .5 oz Meyer lemon juice Splash of sparkling wine 1 thin lemon slice 1 pansy with a small bit of stem attached. Optional sugar for rim   Do the...

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Posted on Oct 22, 2011 in Botany, Plant This | Comments Off on Angelica

Angelica (Angelica archangelica) is a big ol’ gorgeous creature in the carrot family that has been used to flavor liqueurs since the Middle Ages. If you’re going to grow it, be sure to get this particular species. (Get the seeds here.)  There are other ornamental angelicas sold in garden centers, but they can be mildly toxic. It’s actually fairly easy to grow from seed, and I’ve had good luck planting them in fall after the rains start.  Just be sure you sow them where you actually want them to grow:  like other members of the carrot family, angelica has a long taproot and...

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Scented Geranium

Posted on Oct 22, 2011 in Botany, Plant This | Comments Off on Scented Geranium

Scented geranium (Pelargonium spp.) Not a true geranium, these fragrant pelargoniums are the result of endless hybridizing, which is why it’s impossible to list a particular species.  You can get scented geraniums that smell (and taste) of roses, coconut, apple, nutmeg, strawberry, lime, and ginger. They do great in containers, they can tolerate dry soils, and they prefer full sun but will put up with a little shade. If you’re growing the plants for flavor, do give them as much sun as possible to encourage the development of essential oil. The flowers are edible so they’re safe to use...

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Anise Hyssop

Posted on Oct 22, 2011 in Botany, Plant This | 1 comment

Also called agastache or licorice mint (Agastache foeniculum)  This tough little perennial is, in fact, a member of the mint family, and the leaves do taste and smell of licorice or anise.  It’s completely hardy on the West Coast and will survive winter temperatures as low as -25F.  In summer, the plants thrive on sun and very little water, pushing up flowering stalks that reach a couple feet in height. Because it’s such a widely adaptable plant, you’ll find that anise hyssop does just fine in partial shade as well. These plants have been the subject of a great deal of hybridizing,...

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The Pineapple Express

Posted on Oct 22, 2011 in Drink This, Recipes | Comments Off on The Pineapple Express

This recipe was served by the nice people at Combier in New Orleans this summer when I gave a talk about The Drunken Botanist (the book, that is—it’ll be out next March.)  We called it The Drunken Botanist that day, but it normally goes by the name Pineapple Express.  There is one new and unusual ingredient here:  Combier Kummel, a modern version of a traditional caraway, cumin, and fennel-flavored herbal liqueur.  If you don’t have kummel and can’t get it, I’ll let you in on a little secret:  tequila and pineapple are amazing together.  Get some pineapple juice and a good...

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Pineapple Sage

Posted on Oct 22, 2011 in Botany, Plant This | Comments Off on Pineapple Sage

Pineapple sage (Salvia elegans) I was talking to a friend on the East Coast about this plant, and he was complaining that it was available for such a short time there.  Well, here on the West Coast, it’s almost a weed. If you don’t get much of a frost, you’ll be able to harvest it all year.  This salvia (also in the mint family) produces stalks of red, tubular flowers that hummingbirds love, and the leaves are, in fact, pineapple-flavored. There’s a variety called ‘Golden Delicious’ with chartreuse leaves and red flowers, but it’s not really a strong bloomer, and it only...

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It’s Apple Season, Y’all

Posted on Oct 13, 2011 in Featured, Recipes | Comments Off on It’s Apple Season, Y’all

Seems like everyone in these parts has an opinion about what Humboldt needs to make it truly great.  A railroad.  A trail around the bay.  A general plan.  A Wal-Mart. A Trader Joe’s.  One grand, vitally important addition or improvement that would change everything. I agree that Humboldt is lacking in one critical area, but it doesn’t involve railroads or general plans.  What Humboldt is missing is locally-made hard cider. Think about it.  We are blessed with an extraordinarily long apple season, with the earliest varieties ripening in August and the last flush of ripe fruit still...

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The Wonders of Cassis

Posted on Oct 1, 2011 in Distilleries, Reviews | 1 comment

(Your intrepid reporter at the Cassissium.  Notice the pen and notebook. This is work.  Really.) After a week spent touring distilleries in France, Scott and I had come to suspect that anything called a museum must receive special benefits:  tax cuts, subsidies, an extra-long vacation every August.  It seemed like every distillery had created an official museum devoted to their product.  The museum was often nothing more than a few glass cases in the gift shop, but a smiling woman in a blazer and a badge stood nearby, ready to hand us a brochure in our choice of language and give us a...

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