Friday Cocktail: Grapefruit Martini

I’m home this week visiting my family and getting a new driver’s license (since mine was stolen), which has been really nice as I’ve not seen them for a few months. My mom is a psychologist, but sells antiques and art prints on the side for fun, which means there’s always something new at the house when I visit. This time she’s found these really beautiful flower frogs, one of which I think she’ll keep, that I just had to post a photo of. They do a beautiful job of showing off the flowers they hold, and have a summery feel to them.

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Campari and grapefruit juice are both staples at home in the summer, which I posted about here, and so we had both fresh grapefruits and bottled juice in the fridge, as well as a flavored vodka my mom had picked up. Rather than a typical flavored vodka that uses synthetic flavors, or extracts, this is mixed with fruit juice concentrate. We tried it  over some ice, which was nice, but definitely a bit too sweet on its own. The bottle recommends mixing with some club soda, or even blending with ice for a frozen drink, but I couldn’t think of anything to add to balance the sweetness. So it served as inspiration for this week, rather than as an actual ingredient.

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These grapefruit martinis definitely require freshly squeezed grapefruit juice. One large ruby red grapefruit should be enough for two drinks when juiced, and other than that you need only a splash of lemon, and some vodka (flavored vodka optional). I know juicing grapefruit is not the most fun, but since it’s the star of the drink the results depend on it. It’s a very straightforward drink that’s refreshing, and easy to sip on the porch. Even my grandmother liked it!

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Ingredients:

• 2.5 oz Freshly squeezed grapefruit juice

• 1.5 oz vodka (I used Absolut)

• Splash of lemon juice

• Splash of Cointreau (optional)

Directions:

1. Combine ingredients into a shaker with ice

2. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled glass.

Garnish with a slice of grapefruit and enjoy!

This drink definitely improved with the quality of the grapefruit juice, and if you find you’d like a bit more sweetness, definitely add the cointreau. The lemon juice is nice as it really brings out the tartness of the grapefruit.

Cheers!

Date Day at the Frist Center

Both Cameron and I have been rather busy lately, which is great because it means we’ve both been productive, not as great in that it doesn’t leave much time for catching up. We decided to have a date day last weekend to relax and go to the Frist Center in downtown Nashville to see the new exhibits- one on Italian Fashion since 1945, and one featuring contemporary sculpture by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa.

The Italian Fashion exhibit at the Frist is amazing. It covers a period from 1945-2014, and features a ton of dresses, suits, and ensembles in glass that you can walk around to see from different angles. There area few movie clips featured, including one from War and Peace with the dress worn my Audrey Hepburn shown adjacent. It was very cool to see the dress “in action” and then to be able to look at it more closely. There are also some pieces of the design process shown- sketches, textile proofs, and a short documentary about contemporary Italian design. It’s a great place to spend the afternoon, so definitely budget a few hours for your visit.

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Just outside of the main entrance is a large sculpture (Isabella) by Jaume Plensa, which part of his exhibition, titled “Human Landscape,” inside. The sculpture plays with perspective, acts in dialogue with numerous art-historical references, and draws you in instantly. There’s something entrancing about the way your eyes can’t quite work out the perspective, particularly with his work Laura II (On view in the Gordon Contemporary Gallery inside). There are a number of other works by the artist installed at Cheekwood, and I definitely can’t wait to go see them soon.

If you’re in the area it’s definitely worth taking some time to go see the new exhibits, both of which can be seen until September.

Friday Cocktail: The 4th Degree

When thinking about this week’s Friday Cocktail I thought it would be fun challenge myself to use ingredients we have on hand just about all the time. Yes, daiquiri’s are great, and margaritas are wonderful in the summer, but rum and tequila are not regulars in our bar cart. It was with this challenge in mind that I came upon the Fourth Degree.

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The original recipe can be found in the Savoy Cocktail Book (and here). It is a strange yet wonderful cocktail that is so much more than the sum of its parts. The recipe sounds strange- mixing two kinds of vermouth, gin, and some absinthe. It sounds a bit like someone poured some ingredients into a glass at random, gave it a good shake, and called it a drink. The juniper in the gin, the anise in the absinthe, and the sweetness in the vermouth would surely clash, right? Wrong.

Pushing my idea that this could not possibly be good aside, I decided to go ahead and give it a try, carefully measuring each ingredient. The only problem was the absinthe-  the Savoy recipe calls for four dashes, but with a standard bottle I had no idea exactly how to measure this, so I added good-sized splash, which, as it turned out, was a bit too much. The result was nice, but definitely overpowered with absinthe. I decided to try again, adding just enough absinthe to cover the bottom of the measuring glass of my Boston shaker. This time it worked- everything melded perfectly to make a drink that was a bit of everything, and also completely new and exciting.

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Ingredients

• 3/4 oz dry gin

• 3/4 oz sweet vermouth

• 3/4 oz dry vermouth

• splash of absinthe

Directions

1. Combine ingredients into a shaker with ice, shake vigorously

2. Strain and garnish with a citrus peel (I used lime, but lemon would be lovely)

The absinthe is definitely present, though perhaps more on the nose, and the gin provides a surprisingly nice backdrop for the sweet and bitter flavors in the vermouth to mingle. The resulting cocktail is herbal, but with a hint of cherry, tasting not quite like anything else I’ve had.

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After making a few of these I’ve come to the conclusion that it is a cocktail that takes a short while to make fairly well, but a great deal longer to perfect. Precision is important here, as even a slight change in proportion will change the drink entirely, but its worth it. I’m definitely looking forward to perfecting this recipe, or at least making it my own.

Cheers!

-C

Dinner with Friends at 5th and Taylor

On Friday night we’d planned to get dinner with some friends at one of our favorite sushi restaurants in Downtown Nashville. We’d totally forgotten about CMA fest going on downtown, and didn’t realize that parking would be exorbitant ($20 for one hour), so we decided to reroute and try somewhere new, preferably away from the CMA crowds.

To avoid the traffic and crazy parking we headed to Germantown, where we met our friends at 5th and Taylor for a drink, and to decide where to go for dinner. We sat outside on their patio, which feels secluded despite being just off of the road, and has wraparound seating by their fountain, as well as a great bar. After looking over their menu, and liking the idea of not having to drive somewhere else, we decided to stay for dinner as well.

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The patio, featuring a very large centaur

Their menu has some great appetizers and snacks that are perfect for sharing (the fried pickles are amazing!), and there’s something for just about everyone. The chef, Daniel James Lindley, also headed up St. John’s Restaurant in Chattanooga, which is amazing, and is definitely worth a trip if you’re ever in the area. Our table had the pork tasting, which featured three different preparations, the tuna, which came with a lovely carrot puree, and the red quinoa pilaf, that had some amazing veggies, and lots of fresh basil.

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red quinoa pilaf

Cameron and I will definitely head back in the future, either for drinks on their patio, or for dinner. The restaurant is a converted warehouse with some really cool seating areas inside, and a large open kitchen along the back wall. It’s a great place to go with a date, or a small group- they also have separate areas for larger groups. If you do go for dinner, think about making reservation, as there can be a bit of a wait, although you could always arrive early like we did and have a drink at their outdoor bar.

Friday Cocktail: A Classic Daiquiri for a Hot Summer Evening

For many people the daiquiri is a sweet frozen drink reserved for beach vacations, but I’m here to tell you there’s a better way. Don’t get me wrong, I have on-occasion enjoyed one of those frozen alcoholic slushee, but the classic daiquiri is so much better. It’s almost a completely different cocktail- in a good way.

The traditional daiquiri is made using lime juice, rum, and some sugar- that’s it. No ice. No fruit. And definitely no blender. If you’re thinking at this point that what I am describing is not a real daiquiri you would be incorrect. The origin of the classic daiquiri can be traced back to the early 20th century, and gained popularity after it was supposedly a favorite of both Hemingway and JFK. The frozen drinks we call daiquiris today were made popular around the tiki drink craze of the mid-century.

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Cruzan is a good mid-shelf rum that works really well in this drink, as it isn’t too intensely flavored

Ingredients:

• 1.5 oz light rum

• 1 oz lime juice (fresh is amazing, but Nellie and Joe’s is great, too)

• 1 oz simple syrup

• Ice

Directions:

1. Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice.

2. Shake vigorously for at least 20 seconds

3. Strain into a cocktail glass with fresh ice, and enjoy!

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It’s a really lovely cocktail in the summer, especially on hot and humid summer evenings. It’s very citrusy, and when on ice is perfect for sipping on the porch, even when it’s too hot to much else. Even better is that it requires only three ingredients, which by now you probably already know I love! It makes a sophisticated looking drink with a lovely light green color that instantly take me back to summers spent in Palm Beach by the pool.

No, you don’t have to be on vacation to have a daiquiri, but it can help a hot summer evening feel a bit more relaxing.

Cheers!

Light and Crispy Stuffed Squash Blossoms

Last weekend at the farmers’ market Cameron and I picked up a few containers of squash blossoms, and we’ve been thinking of everything we can make to take full advantage of them before they’re gone until next year. The first thing we tried was tossing them in with some zucchini, a ton of fresh basil, and some rigatoni, which turned out really well, but with one more box in the fridge I decided to do a bit of experimenting.

Last summer Cameron and I made some stuffed squash blossoms that we baked in the oven, but they were sadly a bit underwhelming. So for this batch I definitely knew I would fry them to add some crispness, but the filling was still a question. After searching for some option, I considered a beet and cashew-cheese filling, and even hummus, but decided to make my go-to cashew “cheese” instead. It’s quick, delicious, and easy to customize for different recipes.

Is it possible to whip these up in roughly 30 minutes? Probably, but I would err on the side of 40 to give yourself a bit of time to get everything together. If you’re nervous about frying in oil, don’t be- I promise it isn’t as intimidating as it seems. In fact, I used to be really wary of frying anything in oil because I was convinced I would catch something on fire, but after quite a bit of practice I feel totally comfortable.

These are a perfect pre-dinner snack, they’re lovely with a gin and tonic, or would even be delicious on top of a big salad for dinner.

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For the Blossoms/Cashew Cheese

• 10-12 squash blossoms, cleaned, with stems removed

• 1/2 c raw cashews, soaked in enough water to cover for at least 2 hours

• 1 Tbs pine nuts (optional, you could also add a few more cashews instead)

• Small bunch of fresh basil

• Lemon Juice

• Salt

• Olive oil

• Some water to blend

To make the Cashew Cheese

1. After soaking the cashews for a few hours place them in a blender or small food processor with the pine nuts, a small bunch of basil (don’t worry about chopping, as you’re about to blend it all), a pinch of salt, 1/2 tsp of lemon juice, 1-1 1/2 tsp of olive oil, and 1-2 Tbs water.

2. Blend everything until smooth, and adjust seasoning to taste. You may need to add a bit more water, depending on how long you’ve soaked your cashews, but add a little bit at a time. The consistency should be like hummus

3. Put filling into a ziplock or pastry bag, and fill squash blossoms to just below where the petals begin to split, then gently twist the petals to seal. They should stay closed on their own, but if they won’t you can add a dab of filling to help them stick.

For the Batter

• 1/3 c all purpose flour (I don’t recommend whole wheat)

• 1 Tbs lemon juice

• Pinch of salt

• 1 Tbs nondairy milk (I used cashew)

• Water

To Make the Batter

1. Combine flour and salt in a small bowl

2. Add milk, lemon juice, and a few tablespoons of water, whisk until smooth.

The batter should be relatively thin, and just barely coat the blossoms.

To Fry the Squash Blossoms

1. Heat an inch of canola, or other frying oil, in a pan to about 330°F

2. When the oil is hot, dip each squash blossom in batter, then carefully move to the oil. Be careful of your fingers! I found it really effective to hold the end of the blossom with the petals just slightly out of the oil for a few second before letting the whole thing fall in.

3. Cook each for about two minutes, flipping with some tongs, until they are lightly golden and crisp.

4. Remove, and place on a paper towel lines plate to drain, sprinkling with some sea salt as soon as they come out.

You can serve them as they are, or julienne a bit of fresh basil and sprinkle on top.

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There are a few missing from the photo- I couldn’t help trying one!

I know it seems like quite a lot of steps, and it’s definitely a bit time-intensive, but I promise it’s worth it. It’s a great recipe to make for a date night (you can make them together!), or a very impressive appetizer for dinner with friends.

Enjoy!

One-Piece Wonder

I love dresses- they are easy to throw on, often pretty comfortable, and I’ve found that everyone thinks you’ve put in quite a bit of effort, even when that isn’t necessarily the case. There’s something about a dress that just seems to say “I have my life together.” I feel like this is the case with rompers too, although perhaps with a slightly more relaxed vibe. I also love that rompers offer the ease of shorts without the need to put two separate clothing items together, or to  tuck things in. Not that that’s difficult, but some days I just want to throw something on and go, particularly in the summer.

A few years ago when rompers and jumpsuits first became really popular, I definitely did not think they would stick around, but once I resigned myself to the idea that they were here to stay, I decided to give them a try. I was met with pretty poor results. Try as I might I couldn’t seem to find one that was flattering or comfortable. As it turns out, it can be hard to find a romper or jumpsuit that is the right fit for you– it’s not unusual to have a bit too much room in the inseam or, even worse, too little. Either way it’s not a great look.

The perfect romper from anthro

The perfect romper from Anthro

So when I saw this romper at Anthropologie I had high hopes- it’s looser in the body and leg, and the tie-waist is great because I can adjust it to fit my natural waist, or closer to my hips for more of a drop waist.

Although I was hesitant to purchase something that presumably has only one way to wear it, I’ve since experimented with layering- adding a flowy sweater, a button-down, and even a blazer to make it a bit dressier. With a flat sandal its perfect for a lazy summer day, but a dressier shoe can take it into the evening for date night or drinks with friends.

It’s definitely become one of my favorite pieces for summer. When it’s hot outside there’s something so nice about a looser piece of clothing that lets you breathe, yet still looks put-together and “effortless”. While I’m still wary of jumpsuits with a full pant leg (I’ve yet to find one that has the right proportions), I’m pretty glad rompers are here to stay.

-C

Friday Cocktail: The Roosevelt

So after the crazy week I’ve had I was excited to test a few cocktails for this week’s Friday Cocktail, and thought it would be particularly fun to try something a little more unusual.

Cameron actually found this one a few weeks ago after we’d picked up a bottle of dark rum for cocktails, and after making a few “unofficial” Dark and Stormies, and a version of a daiquiri with dark rum (coming soon!) we looked to the internet for inspiration and found this one.

To make this cocktail I used my very favorite bar tool the Bar10der. If you live in a small apartment, this is the one tool I definitely recommend getting, well, besides a Boston shaker. Yes, I said one, because this is the Swiss army knife of bar tools. It slices, it dices (theoretically), it stirs, strains, measures, and muddles. In short, you need this tool. You could even travel with it– just don’t put it in your carry-on. It’s available on amazon here, and even comes with a pretty wood handle, which I wish I’d seen. It will significantly reduce the amount of clutter on your bar.

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The best bar tool

The Roosevelt, which seems to me like a riff on a planter’s punch, calls for just a few ingredients which you may or may not have on hand- rum, dry vermouth, freshly squeezer orange juice, and bit of sugar. The dark rum definitely comes through, but the drink itself has a bit of spice from he rum, matched with just the right amount of sweetness. If you’d have told me there was a drink combining all of these things I wouldn’t have believed you. But this is a case of the end result being greater than the sum of its parts.

You may find the combination strange at first, but just go with it. My only caveat is that you absolutely have to use fresh-squeezed orange juice. The pulpy, super-sweet stuff from the carton just will not cut it here. In fact, I’m pretty sure it would ruin the drink.

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I love a three-ingredient cocktail

Ingredients:

• 1.75oz dark rum (Kraken is one of my favorites)

• .5oz dry vermouth

• .25oz orange juice (you can add an optional 1/2 tsp depending on your orange)

• .5 tsp sugar

The recipe calls for an orange twist, but try as I may I just can’t seem to do it right. I think a very thin lime wheel would be a lovely substitution if you have some on hand.

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Directions:

1. Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice.

2. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled glass.

The chilled glass is important because there is no ice- you could either leave some ice in the glass for a few minutes while you make the drink, or leave it in the freezer for a five to ten minutes.

Cheers!

*recipe originally found here

The Worst Monday

This post will be a bit of departure from the usual.

When I was at the park on Monday afternoon my car window was mashed and my bag stolen. Yes, I know the deal- don’t leave your bag in your car. But with tinted windows, and a coat covering it I thought it would be enough, it had been for the past year. The park I go to is one that attracts a lot of families, people with dogs, and has pretty constant stream of  foot traffic moving around the track.

At the end of my run I came back to my car, got inside, and noticed the back window was open, then quickly saw the glass and my missing bag and realized what had happened. After the police, I called my mom (of course), and then my boyfriend, who left work to meet me. I wasn’t so much scared as I was shaken, in fact, I couldn’t stop shaking.

It isn’t so much the physical objects themselves, but the sentimental value they hold that has been more of a loss. Credit cards, lipsticks, even the bag itself can all be replaced, but the angel coin a friend gave me in college, my book filled with lists of things to do, the compact mirror my best friend gave me years ago, are irreplaceable. Even more sad is that I don’t think I’d be comfortable going back to that park again, which is more frustrating as it’s where Cameron and I go for a walk almost every day.

Despite all of this I haven’t felt the direct, straightforward anger I was expecting. Yes, I’m frustrated that this happened, annoyed that I have to have my cards replaced, to go to the DMV and get a new license, and to pay for my window to be repaired. Whomever smashed my window in the middle of the day in a crowded park took a pretty big risk. Maybe it’s naive, but I feel like they had to have been in some sort of trouble. Even the officer who sowed up to help said that it was an act of a desperate person. Of course that doesn’t excuse what they did, or make it any less illegal or wrong, or help me deal with the aftermath.

The situation, for lack of better word, sucks. But you never know what life will bring, and I don’t want waste my time and energy harboring negative feelings for a complete stranger. What’s the old saying? You can’t control other people’s actions, but you can control your reactions. I’m going to chose to move on, and maybe not leave my bag in my car.

I hope y’all are having a better week!

An Unexpectedly Eventful Weekend, and a trip to The Patterson House

After quite a busy holiday weekend last week, I think Cameron and I were both looking forward to having a more relaxing one this past weekend. And while it began relatively  smoothly (we had a movie night on Friday and watched Results) Saturday and Sunday were much more eventful.

One of Cameron’s college friends and fraternity brothers was in town for the weekend so we grabbed dinner at one of our favorite Indian restaurants, then had a drink at home before heading out to the Patterson House in midtown. The wait was shorter than we’ve had before, maybe about thirty minutes, although I never seem to mind as much when the weather is nice and I’m with good company.

Having been the week before I’d already tried a few of their drinks, but there were still one or two that I was looking forward to trying. Their menu is divided by type of spirit, and all of their bitters, syrups, etc. are made in house, which makes for super fresh-tasting cocktails with lots of unique flavors. Their servers and bartenders are incredibly helpful, which is great  as many of the ingredients are likely to be something you’ve not heard of. I decided first on the Coffee? Tea? Or me? which is a tequila based drink that tastes a bit like Campari at the start, and finishes with a really nice sort of coffee, smoky flavor. Yes, it sounds a bit strange, but I promise its amazing. For my second I ordered the Don’t Cry for Me, a brandy based drink that was light, a bit citrusy, and perfect for a warm, summery night. The other standout was definitely the Spring Sazerac- while I generally enjoy the traditional, this might be even better.

Coffee? Tea? Or me?

Coffee? Tea? Or me?

The best thing about the Patterson House is how easy it is to lose track of time. The drinks are strong, which makes them perfect for sipping over lots of conversation (and maybe their warm olives). Another great thing is that the temptation to check your phone is quite small. There’s a small sign at the front discouraging cell phone use, but even without that I find I get caught tup in the atmosphere, and conversation with friends, and stop thinking about what’s going on on Instagram.

Yes, the wait can often be a bit lengthy, but I promise its worth it. I hope y’all make the trip and have great time!