• Darn Good Ideas,  Entertainment,  Wine & Spirited Drinking

    The shower beer

    Have you ever brought a beer into the shower with you? Not once have I thought to do this. After some completely informal quizzing of my male friends, I’ve determined that they understand having a cold beer during a late afternoon shower to be one of life’s great pleasures. “Oh of course,” they say, “You’ve never done that?”

    “It’s a way to relish a normal thing, and make it more fun.” Joe says.

    “But you don’t even take long showers,” I say.

    “Yes I do.”


    Maybe I’m crazy, but doesn’t it sound a little weird to be all sudsy, with warm water everywhere, and then try to drink a cold beer?

    However, if there’s relishing to be done, I will not be left out of it.

    While I was mulling over this, I came upon this gentleman’s blog wherein he posted about his first outdoor shower of the season. The ante has been upped: it doesn’t get more vacation fantastic than an outdoor shower. Here’s his drink of choice:

    a manhattan garnished with persian cherries that have been rehydrated with rye and bourbon.

    Now that I’ve heard about this, it’s definitely going on my summer bucket list.  Are you getting excited about new things to try this summer? {speaking of, Anna just posted a great, very Boston themed one.}

  • Boston,  Life Story,  Music,  Wine & Spirited Drinking

    My Valentine’s Day

    Lux and I listened to this all day, like the latin lovers that we are. (on Grooveshark. I couldn’t find it on Spotify, Rdio, or Last.fm. What, no kids music? Come on guys.)

    I had a dentist appointment and they gave me a rose. Sweet, but the implication reminded me that I’m there a lot these days (sad but true) and neglecting my first love (my teeth) made room for our new relationship…Or some metaphor like that. When I walked home carrying the rose, people smiled knowingly at me, and I wanted to say, “it’s not as good as you think guys!”

    A little vintage ring for me from Joe, from our local antique jewelry shop. With a background of aging roses from a friend who visited over the weekend.

    This photo makes the ring look really nice, which it is, but Joe promises that it was not expensive as I have tragically lost rings before and neither of us want to worry about that. I love how the stone looks black but is actually a little red. It’s too big so I need to find one of those little adjustment-pieces that make rings smaller.

    a little antique (not really) Scotch whiskey for Joe. He likes peaty stuff from Islay, and I’m running out of new brands to try as I basically buy him whiskey for all special occasions.

    While I was at the dentist, Joe took Lux out and bought her a sneaky Sylvester. oh my gosh does she love balloons. And I do too. We had to bring him on our walk to soften the blow of being stroll-ered around. It worked!

    In the evening after Joe got out of work, we met him midway to go to a favorite local wine shop that also sells chocolate, olives, eighty-five different kinds of cheese, and salami! On the T ride to meet him, the car was full of people holding bouquets of flowers, fiddling with their ties, or fixing their hair. When we waited for Joe outside there was a feeling of anticipation in the cold air and we watched as couples excitedly met up for the night. One corner of the T station was taken up with a bustling impromptu flower shop.  It felt a bit like Christmas eve!

    The wine shop was having a very clever wine tasting and oyster-eating event. For $10 you could try three different wines and have a small plate of three oysters. Lots of people were taking advantage of it. I loved how they gave you a slip of paper with the names of the wine, and the cost of the bottle, for easy reference.

    Lux spent a lot of her time looking around for other baby friends, to no avail.

    We used some Valentines money (thanks Mom! thanks Mimi!) and picked out a german champagne, soft cheese, a salami, homemade crackers, and homemade biscotti. It was all irresistible!

    After we got home, we settled in with our snacks, and caught up on episodes of Downton Abbey. Joe said, “wine, cheese, and the aristocracy!” All and all, we barely noticed that we couldn’t go out to a nice dinner or a late night party.

  • Cooking,  Wine & Spirited Drinking

    Mint Tea

    Before the riots, I’d read about Tunisia because of tiny Tunisian restaurant on a side street in Cambridge. Every time I go to this restaurant I accidentally walk past it because the sign is so demure and the windows have beads hanging over them, so you think for sure they are closed and your heart sinks. But it’s just a ruse–they are open! I found Baraka Cafe because of a forest green guidebook that I bought when I first moved to Boston. This guidebook had an uncanny knack for recommending restaurants that I liked. Compared to Yelp, it was almost prophetic in its ability to actually predict how I would feel once in the restaurant, which is all one really wants to get out of a good restaurant review.

    Anyway, I love going to Baraka because of the woven bench seats, the swinging beads in the door, trying to read the specials that have been scrawled in cursive, their oniony zaatar coco, the tiny space between you and your neighbors, but most of all because of their mint tea. The tea comes in a silver tea pot with small gold etched glasses to pour it in, and it is so dark, minty, and deeply sweet that I want to pick up the tea pot and hide it from my companions for the rest of the meal. But then I remember that we can just order another pot if we run out, and I try to relax.

    It has always seemed to me that it would impossible to duplicate their mint tea, because it’s made in their shadowy kitchen, and I have a red tea pot, not a silver one, and surely there are secret ingredients, like mint leaves they only grow in the window boxes of Morocco. But that did not keep me from trying when I saw the mint tea recipe in the New York Times Cookbook.

    The recipe calls for loose Ceylon tea, which sounded terrifyingly specialized enough to get me to take the T to the Indian market in Central Square. Once there, I realized Ceylon was actually just black tea. But I was glad I ended up at this market because you also need two bunches of mint, and they sold mint bunches superfluously, for $1.50 each, like it was totally normal to use loads of mint for one afternoon’s drink. So I got my mint bunches and my enormous container of loose black tea and some naan because they had that for pretty cheap too and I am sick of dry old pita.

    So all you do is put the mint, tea, and sugar in a pot to boil, and then leave it to steep, and then hope you have something with which to filter it. I did not, so I used the lid of the pot to keep the leaves out, and then tried to get most of the loose tea out with a strainer.

    I also didn’t have a container big enough to hold all the hot tea, so I used a bowl. Looking at this picture, you might get the feeling that this recipe was right on the money, just by how you can see your future swirling into the cooling dark water. And it was. Make this when friends are coming over, so you can drink it all right away.

    Jennifer’s Moroccan Tea

    from page 33 of the New York Times Cookbook

    10 cups water

    2 tablespoons loose Ceylon (black) tea

    2 large bunches mint

    3/4 cup sugar

    Combine everything in a large saucepan or teapot. Bring to a boil, them remove from heat and let steep for 5 minutes.

    Strain the tea, however possible. And serve! I also saved some in the fridge and drank it cold through the next couple of days. Never quite as delicious as the first hot serving though.

    Originally printed in “Home is Where the Party Is,” a wonderful article to read if you feel like fantasizing about Moroccan food.

  • Boston,  Wine & Spirited Drinking

    Tasting right now:

    I think this is my first pinot rosé. It tastes better than the rosés I’ve had before–not as stingily crisp as your typical summer pink. When I was tempted into buying it (they were tasting it with a mint and lemon pea soup), I learned the rosé wines from 2009 are just starting to arrive from France: “They’re on the boat over here right now.” Purchased around the corner at Charles Street Liquors.

  • Darn Good Ideas,  Joe & Rachael Projects,  Wine & Spirited Drinking

    Rouge in February

    Campari and I have never gotten along like we should. Campari & soda seemed like the best possible drink to sidle up to the bar and order, preferably if you’ve arrived late, and everyone else has ordered and then you show up and whisper something to the bartender and this deep red, slightly sparkling, completely Italian drink appears in your hand. But it is strong, bitter stuff. And soda does you no favors, remaining steely and sharp alongside the bitter. I was forced to conclude that the only way you can really drink it was if you planned on drinking nothing and just carried your glass around with you all night.

    But yesterday I was digging through the archives at smittenkitchen, looking for inspiration for last night’s dinner party. I  found inspiration (from 2007, lemon risotto with scallops) and her recipe for a Campari-involved concoction.  And oh yes: this is it. Pink, sparkling, layers of sour, bitter, sharp, tangy and softy sweet at the end. It’s ideal as an apertif: when you have an empty stomach and are very worried about when dinner will start, but have only been offered a drink so far with maybe a nibble of cheese to mull over, asks for (demand) this.

    Fill ¼ of the glass with campari

    Fill a little over a  ¼ of the glass with soda

    glass should be 1/2 full at this point.

    Quick glug of sweet vermouth (it will say “Rouge” on the label.)

    3 glugs of grapefruit juice

    Lime for decorative purposes, I don’t think it’s gin-and-tonic essential here. As you can note in the picture, by “glass” I mean tumbler.