A couple months ago, I bought a bulb of fennel from the farmers market. It had the most gorgeous long stem, overflowing with feathery fronds.
This kind of fennel is harder and harder to come by. Not a chance at our local super markets. They like to chop off the beautiful tops to make the bulbs all tidy when stacked.
It always makes me feel like I’m getting ripped off when I have to purchase fennel like that. I do as much with the fronds as I do with the bulb. So whenever I spot it at the farmers market, I grab it.
Well, this time around I had loads of greenery left over after a project. I started to think about how its licorice-like flavors would pair with the Costco-size bottle of vodka sitting on the counter (don’t judge). I’d had fennel infused cocktails before, but it was as a flavor accent, in the syrup or as a garnish, versus the main attraction.
I’m celebrating Friday and the start of fall with a rum tea cocktail! It’s made with Dark Aged Rum that I received from Cruzan®.
If you asked me to pick my favorite spirit, it would be tough to choose between bourbon and rum. One reminds me of our days living in Kentucky. The other gets me thinking about our many trips to the Caribbean.
Despite summer’s end, rum has won out lately for the taste buds. Maybe its because we have a Caribbean trip coming up in a couple months or maybe I’m just thankful that the temps here are now more beach-like and less I’m-frying-in-the-sun-like.
If you’d told me a few years ago that soon I’d be a regular visitor to the L.A. area, I would have thought you were crazy. I never could have envisioned myself driving around those interstates at all, let alone 3 times in the past 3 months.
These short road trips have been for both business and recreation. I’m getting to know the area better each time and one sign that always catches my attention is the exit for Ojai.
When winter rolls around and citrus season becomes evident across most of the state, I’m reintroduced to my fondness for Cara Cara oranges.
I’ve lost count of the foods I’ve discovered since moving to California. Most have quickly moved to the top of my favorites list, and these oranges are no exception. Considering the positive feedback I get when mentioning them, it seems they have made their way across the country. But I had no idea they existed until 3 years ago.
Quick. If you make these cranberries right now they will be ready for your New Year’s Eve cocktails. And trust me. You are going to want them for your cocktails.
These tart little berries are sweetened with a syrup made of raw sugar, rich bourbon and aromatic whole spices. They take only minutes to prepare and they make a good destination for the half bag of cranberries left in the fridge that you can’t find a use for.
Concord grapes are in a league of their own. I don’t put them in the same category as the red and green seedless table grapes that are common, regardless of the season.
Their flavor and texture sets them apart. The tart skin busts open in your mouth leading the way to a sweet, gummy bear-like pulp inside. I enjoy these qualities so much that I can easily overlook the pesky seeds.
I was preparing kebabs for the grill when the idea came to me. We love grilled fruits, but one fruit I had never grilled were cherries. I’m sure it’s been done before, but the idea was new to me. It was also pretty exciting because I adore cherries. Blueberries have always been my favorite fruit, but these days cherries are neck and neck for first place.
Considering a few grilled cherries led me to wondering what kind of smoky sweet flavors that grilling would add to them. No surprise that those thoughts led to our home bar and the bottle of smoky mezcal that I’ve found to be a challenging ingredient to incorporate into our drinks. If there is one thing that it had to go well with the spirit, I figured grilled cherries would be it.
I like cocktails that have a seasonal twist. When Templeton Rye sent me a bottle of their whiskey to try in celebration of Father’s Day, it gave me the perfect opportunity to add a touch of summer with this Blackberry Scofflaw Cocktail.
I grew up with more blackberries in a single summer than most people eat in a lifetime.
For as far back as I can remember, at least one side of the property of my parents home was lined with blackberry plants that would produce buckets all season long. These then turned into bag after bag of berries that filled our freezers throughout the rest of the year.
And not those puny berries that are so tart you can barely eat them. These were berries that grew to the size of a cherry tomato. They were so plump that if you squeezed a little too hard while picking them, splatters of juice could find their way from your forehead down to your ankles.
Truth be told, I had no idea what a shim was.
A shrub? Yes. I’d actually made some shrubs at home.
So when I was invited to a shims and shrubs workshop, I jumped at the chance, assuming that the shrub I knew had to be somewhat related to a shim that I was unfamiliar with.
Plus, this workshop was at the Healdsburg SHED. I literally had just discovered this place no more than a month before this media workshop invitation arrived in my inbox. The moment I saw it in some of my travel research, it immediately went on my must-visit list. This seemed like the perfect excuse to take the short drive up to California wine country.
I’m stepping outside of Kentucky this week and giving Oregon bourbon a try! These Derby-inspired cocktails are made with Burnside Bourbon provided by Eastside Distilling in Portland, Oregon.
After 10 years living in the Bluegrass state, it’s no surprise that I rarely look beyond Kentucky for my bourbon. It’s good stuff. Pretty much the whole world agrees.
But as we explore new craft spirits, I’m trying more and more that I like, including bourbon. We are in California now, of course. So maybe it’s time to celebrate Derby week with something a little more local, or at least on the same coast.