Ofrenda, New York, NY

There are good days and bad days. Good meals and bad ones. Truth be told, I don’t mind when the two intersect. We spent the last weekend in New York and packed a lot into the trip- a film festival, brunch, dancing, and coffee, before heading home. A good trip, but an anxious one, as exams are this week and the next and I’m up to my ears in writing assignments. But it was a good trip. I was hard-pressed to pick a highlight as we were heading home, but my stomach growled otherwise. We’d just finished a meal up at Ofrenda, an excellent new-ish Mexican restaurant in the West Village, and though I was stuffed, I was already looking forward to the leftovers.DSC_6524 Continue reading “Ofrenda, New York, NY”

Mohegan Sun BrewFest 2013

Sometimes things don’t go as they’re planned. Moves. Relationships. Briefcases. Expos. What’s that? The first two were rom-com tropes, and the third and fourth are virtually unrelatable? It’s so much bigger than that. Please, allow me to extrapolate. The Bedfellow and I went to the Mohegan Sun BrewFest the other night. We went as members of the media (the casino supplied passes and food tokens), and halfway through the casino, strutting across the floor like kings, my new briefcase started to malfunction. The clasp has been failing, lately- it’s been breaking at inopportune moments, spilling my papers on the floor.

Continue reading “Mohegan Sun BrewFest 2013”

Delicia Red Velvet Malt Beverage

Last week, the internet sent me broken champagne flutes, a clutch, lipstick and hell. Hell in the form of a premium carbonated malt liquor by the name of Delicia. Delicia is new ladyjuice for the ladies, especially the ones who crave something a little more dangerous than champagne with more instructions than the Anarchist’s Cookbook.

Delicia comes in four flavors: red velvet, whipped (yes, just ‘whipped’, which you’ll be both if you purchase this and after you drink it), peaches and cream, and strawberries and cream. Of course, it was essential that we try red velvet as my goal of becoming 14% red velvet cake can only be achieved by ingesting it in liquid form. Delicia came with activities for my ladyfriends and I. Little did they know that Stila lipgloss only makes me look more like a low-budget Chaz Bono impersonator pre-Chazzing. The more you know!

Armed with an iTunes gift card and a studded clutch, which I like to imagine was hand-selected for me due to my sassy personality, the Bedfellow and I went about trying this. It took us a while. We were scared, unprepared to party, and not quite ready to experience the sultry bubbles of cream cheese frosting and copious red food dye. But some things, like awful teen blockbusters and traffic accidents, come together organically, so at 12:35PM this afternoon, in a dark warehouse of a studio apartment, we found ourselves duly prepared to rock out with our mock out.

Delicia is liquid Spring Breakers. It’s the kind of thing everyone will be talking about and be curious to try, but its disappointment is a special breed of cur, the likes of which will leave red streaks of dye on your fingers and the taste of Tootsie Roll and KoolAid hooch in your mouth. It’s so sugary it makes Coke look like a sensible diet solution- both the soda and the drug. It has a bitter, beerlike aftertaste and aggressive bubbliness, like Kristin Chenoweth. And for all that fuss- alcohol? Alca-who? The alcohol content on this is so far gone it’s on the walls outside Walmart under the ‘missing children’ section. A fifth grader couldn’t find the alcohol in this. In a sense, it is perfectly marketed- toward the women in the bar nobody wants to speak to. The ones from New Jersey or Boston with bubblegum in their cheeks like pink-hued chaw and an inch of caked-on eyeshadow. They’re drinking this.

And for all their pomp and circumstance about knocking someone’s mascaraed eye out of their socket with the cork popping, Delicia’s silky, sparkly outer liner reveals a hard, stubby screwcap. Disappointment abound, and another ladyexploring ladynight ruined by diabetes.

We’ll always have the party playlist, Delicia.

~~

I’m working on embedding this in the post- damn you, Playlist! In the meantime, enjoy this text list.

1. David Bowie- Cat People
2. Gwen Stefani- Southside
3. Beats Antique- Oriental Uno
4. RJD2- Gypsy Caravan
5. The Doors- Alabama Song
6. Federico Aubele- Contigo
7. Serge Gainsbourg- Qui est in, qui est out
8. Beck- Sexx Laws
9. La Bouche- Be My Lover
10. Scissor Sisters- Laura
11. Moby- Run On
12. Billy Squier- Lonely is the Night
13. Kanye West- Runaways

The Generous Pour at the Capital Grille, Providence, RI

The Bedfellow and I took a trip to Newport this weekend to check out the folk festival. While we were watching Beth Orton and Shovels and Rope, and not watching Beck play ‘Sexx Laws’ because he was too busy exploring his emotions, we were invited to take a side trip to the Capital Grille in Providence to check out this year’s Generous Pour event.

As you know from last year’s event, seven to nine wines are selected, generally around a theme or specific region, and are offered at an upcharge of $25 per person to be paired alongside a three or four-course meal so diners can sample the entire selection without opening full bottles. This year centered around California wines above 90 points, playfully named ’90 in the Shade.’ We started our meal with a few appetizers, and the first three wines.

One of the appetizer specials sounded too good to pass up, the chilled Maryland crab cocktail with a spicy mustard sauce—and no, not just because of the sauce on the side. Eight hours in the sun at a music festival had me craving savory, cold protein, so with that and the Wagyu carpaccio with wasabi arugula, we were set to start a wonderful meal. The crab was perfect, with a light, savory chew and tender bite. It almost didn’t need the sauce on the side, for a drizzle of tart lemon enhanced the natural salinity of the meat.
Both meats were delicious on a whole, but could have benefitted from a reduction of extra enhancements on the side. The carpaccio was served with a wasabi arugula salad and shavings of fresh, nutty parmesan. Both delicious, but the melty, fatty flavor of the meat was overshadowed by the sharpness of the cheese. It paired well alongside the arugula, though, and may have been the only salad I’d have asked for seconds of.

With these appetizers and the classic Capital Grille breadbasket, filled with flatbread, poppy rolls, and raisin brown bread, were the three whites- a 2012 La Crema Pinot Gris, 2011 Matanzas Creek Sauvignon blanc, and 2011 Freemark Abbey Chardonnay. My favorite was the sauvignon blanc, which had a curious varietal flair to it, almost musky and caramely, with a highly perfumed nose and snappy, bright finish. The Freemark and La Crema were also tasty, neither oaky nor overly dry, but not as memorable in terms of their uniqueness and pairing alongside the food.

For entrees, we were both craving steak after a day of sandwiches and smoothies at the beach, so I ordered the 24-ounce Porterhouse and the Bedfellow went for some surf and turf with a filet mignon. To eat alongside, we requested half orders of the creamed corn with bacon, Parmesan and truffle fries, and lobster macaroni and cheese. We may have gone completely overboard, as the side portions were absolutely enormous. The steaks were served with four reds, starting with the two lighter wines, a 2005 Kendall Jackson Highland Estate Merlot, and the 2011 Hartford Court Pinot Noir, and the heavier-bodied following them, the 2009 Atalon Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2007 Arrowood Syrah. I enjoyed them, but on a whole, did not find the selection as diverse as last year’s world tour of wines. The merlot stood out the most for me, with a rich, chocolatey flavor and velvety finish, and could have easily stood its own against the syrah, which personally had less bottle age and depth to it, despite being the heavier of the choices.  
I asked for my steak to be cooked a shade to the left of medium rare, as I still wanted some crisp but also wanted to relish the joy of stabbing it dead with my fork on it . It was perfectly cooked, albeit a hair more done at the edges, as it was thinner on the sides. I could barely make a dent in it, as it turns out that two pounds of steak are reserved for the metabolistic superhumans of this world. My sangfroid dissolved with each warm-blooded bite. But what I did have was delicious, and I tucked into it with gusto. Simple, clean in flavor, and cooked as I pleased.

The filet was cooked perfectly, plenty rare in the middle and juicy pink on the outside, but had a few technical flaws that detracted from the simple flavor of the meat. For one, the entire plate was swimming in a flavorful parmesan, garlic, and butter sauce better suited to a plate of pasta than to two delicate and expensive proteins. While I’m hardly objecting to butter on steak, one of life’s greatest pairings, the amount was downright excessive and coated each bite. The lobster was enhanced by this, as it was slightly overcooked, but the steak just felt overly heavy alongside such a decadent sauce.

The Bedfellow isn’t crazy about Parmesan, so I alternated between bites of steak and fries throughout the meal. The fries were excellent and very crispy, and loaded with cheese and just the slightest hint of truffle oil and cilantro. The cheese made it difficult to get one fry without tearing a few others off it, as it melted them into one large metafry, but was still delicious alongside the meat.

Our other sides were massive, the creamed corn being the Cinderella story of the night, perfectly balancing the gap between overly rich, dairy-heavy corn and plain vegetables with the bacon and, presumably, the bacon fat melting into the corn. It was fresh and served rustically with some larger segments of corn as if it had been recently shucked. Smoky and very summery.

And of course, I couldn’t take the Bedfellow here without having her try the famous lobster macaroni and cheese. This one was particularly heavy on the mascarpone, which I loved, and the pasta cooked exceptionally well, cradling the cheeses in its horn-shaped pieces. This is my favorite usage of campanelle. Oddly enough, the lobster was perfectly cooked in this, leading me to wonder if two different people had been cooking the lobster tails and the claw pieces in the pasta.
After that part of the feast, we’d saved just enough room for dessert. Our sweet server, who had been doubling both as a sommelier and dutiful waiter all evening, brought us a slice of flourless espresso chocolate cake from the chef, and we ordered some of their coconut creme pie alongside our coffees to finish off the meal before we went back to our tent. The cake was light, fluffy, and deeply infused with all the flavonoid glory to go with the dessert wine, a non-porty Zinfandel port from Sonoma County.
The coconut pie was the perfect way to finish the meal, and I’m unashamed to say that I’d been waiting all year for it- the fluffy cream, the boozy caramel, and the thick, salted crust complemented it all so well. I missed the crispy cookie on top, though! 
It was a wonderful meal and honestly, an even better breakfast when we woke up the next morning for the second day of the folk  festival. A special, big thanks to the team at the Providence location and the PR folks for the Capital Grille for having us for dinner.

Vista Lounge Opening Party at Mohegan Sun, Uncasville, CT

What a weekend. Miss Love, Dillinger, and I drove down to Mohegan Sun, New England’s largest casino, for an evening of food, fun, and a killer opening party to celebrate their new bar, the Vista Lounge. Vista lounge and dance club officially opens on July 28th (this weekend!) but we were invited to a party featuring Jenny McCarthy as a host, along with a pumped dance floor and a selection of delicious cocktails to try. 

We arrived famished and, after checking into our sweet hotel room, ran down to Pepe’s for a quick bite to eat before the party. This was technically Miss Love’s official New Haven-style pizza deflowering, so we had our fingers crossed for an authentic experience. Honestly, I don’t know how they did it, but this pizza was perfect. It was exactly like the kind you’d get in Wooster Square, minus the lines, annoying tourists, and surly service. Witchcraft, I tell you. That, and a killer brick oven. Crispy and charred on the crust and bottom, with a bubbly, thin crisp and a bounty of homemade toppings. This is what all pizza aspires to be. I’m a Pepe’s fangirl, but god, it is so obvious why this is the best pizza in the world.

Obviously, there was an endless fountain of Foxon Park on tap, too. Ah, Connecticut. These are the things that I love. The pie we split, sausage and summer tomato, doesn’t come slathered in their spicy, sweet tomato sauce, but the roasted tomatoes and anise-spiked sausage are absolutely worth getting.

And then we changed into our party clothes and requisite party tee and headed to the dance! The new lounge looks amazing. Spanning two floors of secluded nooks, private blackjack tables, bar stools, and alcoves, all centered around a massive dance floor and blanketed by a functioning planetarium, the power and noise belies its intimate size. Oh, and Jenny McCarthy was there. She, however, was extremely popular and in demand from people taller and louder than I, so the best photo I managed to wrangle of her was a photo of someone else taking a photo of her on their iPhone. Watch out, Diane Arbus, I’m ‘a comin’ for yooooou!

The club was rocking and bopping and pumping and grinding well into the evening while the world gambled at our feet. We were kings and our libations, dessert-themed and surrounded by endless bowls of chocolate. A few notable potables: the Vista Signature Cocktail, with prosecco, lillet, Pama, Solerno, and lime juice. This was my first brush with both Pama, a pomegranate liqueur, and Solerno, but I suspect we’ll be seeing more of each other. This was zesty and not too sweet, with a lively bite and gentle effervescence. We also loved the melon cosmo, though the tart cranberry threatened to overwhelm the melon vodka.

And of course, the dessert martinis. Martinis in that they’re served in a martini glass, dessert in that they’re sweet and sexy and go down easier than actual cake. The salty chocolate-covered pretzels went well- perhaps a little too well, with the chocolate cake martini, a balanced example of the fatal attraction that vodka and chocolate have. Pictured above is the Tiramisu martini, with a butterscotch kick like an amped up coffee.

The party was wonderful, filled with decadent snacks (birthday cake-flavored chocolate-covered Oreos! Homemade turtle candies!) and great music. Halfway through, we found that we were in desperate need of food to balance all the drinks we’d been having.

And what better treat to indulge in than Krispy Kreme? At midnight, the store was still pumping out fresh, glistening doughnuts for all. We brought a selection back to the room- another first for Miss Love! Clockwise from the top: key lime pie, a freshly fried glazed doughnut, chocolate with chocolate cream, strawberry jam with sugar, and two marshmallow-creme filled. So perfect.

This new Key Lime doughnut was silky and tangy, with a wonderful spiced streusel topping.

We stopped back at the party to enjoy a few more drinks and then decided to take a swim, because, hey, there’s no better time than 1AM to do some laps, right? What we didn’t know was that we’d unknowingly wandered into another dance party in the pool area, filled to the brim with guys in suits and girls in bridesmaids dresses. With our t-shirts, repurposed gym shorts, and sandals, it was like a scene out of Pulp Fiction. (“You guys look like…what do they look like, Jimmie? “Dorks. They look like a couple of dorks.”) We took a seat in the hot tub and let the party come to us.

Finally, after some thirty-odd people jumped into the pool in their clothes, we were all herded out. The next logical thing to do was to have a snack. So we made brunch reservations, ate the last of our doughnuts and pizza (somehow over 9,000 times better cold) and slept, ready to meet the new day three hours later, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Find out what we did with our hangovers tomorrow! Hint: it involved lobster for breakfast…

Thanks again to Mohegan Sun for having us to photograph and write about the party. They went above and beyond and let us stay the night, comped our food, drinks, and hotel, and showed us a great time. I was so excited to do this and can’t wait to come back!

The Generous Pour at the Capital Grille, Chestnut Hill, MA

We had an awesome time last night at the Chestnut Hill Capital Grille, where the restaurant is in the thick of its second year hosting the much-lauded wine event, The Generous Pour at their locations nationwide. The three month event debuted last year with smashing success, featuring a selection of red, white, sparkling, and dessert wines curated by Master Sommelier George Miliotes that diners can add on to their meal for an extra $25. We were invited to come and try all the wines over dinner last night. This is definitely an opportunity you don’t want to miss.

The selection of nine wines, valued at over $750 at retail price, are not your typical Napa, Bordeaux, and Washington reds, although the list does include some of those. Dancing a fine line between traditional and exotic, we were pleased to see some wines from unexpected locales pop up, like a Western Slovenian Rebula white wine and a South African late harvest Semillon. None are wines that I’ve ever tried or owned, so it was fun to get that type of variation along with dinner rather than just buying a whole bottle of wine. And when they say generous, they mean generous- these aren’t small sips of wine we’re talking about! The pours varied from 2 to 4 ounces depending on the varietal and our server always made sure that we had something to drink, explaining the flavors, pairings, and information about the wine as she went along.

Our favorites included the 2008 Simcic Rebula from Western Slovenia, an austere, shimmering white wine with the full-bodied tannic rush of a red wine and the grace of a white. With a blanched almond and bitter orange zest flavor and almost Amaretto-like finish, this was a curious and clever wine to go along with our appetizers. We also enjoyed the 2009 Chateau du Pin, a classic example of a French Bordeaux, alongside our steaks and sides. It cut the richness of some of the flavors and amplified the smoky, meaty ones in the best possible way.

We started dinner with an amuse bouche of house-cured smoked salmon on a toast point and a few appetizers. Miss Love chose the lobster and crab cakes and I enjoyed the prosciutto-wrapped mozzarella with tomatoes. I was pleased to discover that the mozzarella is not only made in house, but prepared every two hours to ensure that the cheese is at its absolute freshest when it is served. It was with that in mind that I wished that the cheese’s natural flavors had not been so blanketed by the proscuitto. Although delicious and crispy after a quick stint in the broiler, it smothered the cheese with its salty, spicy flavors. This was still a unique appetizer and I really liked that it was served warm and melty.

The lobster and crab cakes were thick and meaty, with large chunks of claw and tail and buttery crab. You might be wondering what that yellow sachet is at the top of the photo. It’s a lemon covered in cheesecloth fabric to squeeze onto the crab cakes without getting citrus oil on your hands. A very nice touch. The crab cakes interacted well with the spicy corn slaw, a zippy relish served on the side, but the tartar sauce was a little salty. We loved the generous portions of the cakes and felt that they had a great flavor.

Miss Love ordered the filet Oscar, a 10 oz. filet mignon with lump crab meat, asparagus, and Bearnaise sauce on top. The steak was perfectly cooked, with a thick sear on the outside and a sweet, aged flavor. The crab meat, dusted with a little paprika, was the perfect counterpart to such a velvety cut of steak.

My steak was an absolute showstopper. If your eyes are bigger than your stomach, please order the Delmonico. Capital Grille’s Delmonico is a bone-in aged ribeye, one of my favorite cuts of steak, weighing in at a whopping 22 ounces. Perfectly marbled and cooked, this was delectable and savory, especially with the Kona rub and shallot butter on top. I’m normally a steak purist, but this was a great add-on. The rub was thick and peppery and created a great crust on top, and the butter just added to the richness of the meat. I loved it all.

We shared a skillet of the restaurant’s famous lobster mac and cheese on the side, an oozing, ooey-gooey, cheese-laden dish with massive chunks of lobster. It had to be at least 30% lobster meat. It was extremely rich alongside the steak, but the flavors were delicate and savory without being too overbearing. Definitely one to share.

For dessert, we shared an order of the coconut cream pie and a slice of the chocolate hazelnut cake. While the dessert list is decidedly safe in style, the quality is off the charts. The desserts are made daily on-site, a trait that was indicative in the coconut cream pie. It was fresh, fluffy, and not too sweet, with a salted coconut graham crust, a creamy coconut pudding base, coconut whipped cream, housemade coconut caramel sauce, and pieces of toasted coconut on top. Cocoverload! I couldn’t stop eating this. It was one of the nicest steakhouse desserts I’ve had the pleasure to enjoy. The giant, crispy coconut cookie on top was a tasty and flashy garnish. This was my favorite dish of the night. Miss Love’s chocolate hazelnut cake was also wonderful, with a gritty, nutty flavor and crispy toasted hazelnuts on the side. With the 2006 Kanu Kia-Ora, a nutty, honeyed wine in itself, it was the perfect pairing.

This was a wonderful meal and we were so glad to have the opportunity to check it out. I highly recommend this pairing, as it’s a great value and a wonderful way to step outside of your oenological comfort zone. The dinner was excellent, and the selection of entrees and appetizers are sure to please all palates. Thanks again to the staff at the Capital Grille and their PR team for facilitating our review, and we hope to come back very soon!

Pearl Wedding Cake Vodka

Easter, you cruel beast. And Passover? I don’t even wanna talk about it. Never before have two holidays teamed up to attack my stomach, mind, and interpersonal skills as these have. I come from a culinary background dominant in traditionally Italian and Jewish food, so you can imagine how that goes. Needless to say, I have a few days’ worth of ham brisket matzah bread sandwiches with caramel egg matzo ball filling in between. Mmmmmm. Sandwiches.
So today you’ll have to excuse me as food is literally the least amazing thing I can think of right now. According to Family Feud host Louie Anderson, the top five answers were vintage cars, adorable puppies, prescription antacid drugs, treadmills, and alcohol. And because it’s wedding season and 54% of you are now stressing about how to fit into a dress, here’s the seasonally curious Pearl Wedding Cake Vodka. Here’s a confession I likely share with many wedding-goers across the country: I’m not too crazy about wedding cake. It’s a very visual medium. People ooh and ahh at it while they pose next to it for photos like it’s Duff Goldman himself and the end result is like owning one share of Disney stock. It sounds much more awesome as a whole and in reality, you only end up with a tiny, tasteless sliver that cost you more than you’re willing to admit. Life would be so much better if we could celebrate the sweet beginning of a new couple and also get trashed while we’re at it. Boom.
In a classic best of both worlds scenario, Pearl Wedding Cake vodka offers neither the simpering, saccharine burn of cheap shortening-based frosting nor the bland block of cake flour most companies pass off as cake. Its flavor is clean and simple- Pearl goes for the classic white wedding with a vanilla-dominant profile, kind of like cupcakes without carrying that aggressive pre-pubescent artificial scent. It brings a classic, if not entirely complex essence to your glass and brings a touch of class to your evening cocktail and could likely pack a one-two punch in both improving a terrible wedding and an awful cake. For fifteen bucks, it’s smoother than one might imagine. This is likely the cheapest and most entertaining gift for your bridesmaids and as a bonus, serves as something to pour on the semi-nude exotic dancer at the bachelorette party. Insert “goes down easy” joke here. A plus is that it will also likely outlast the Kardashian wedding and divorce process. Opah!

Pinot Noir Enchiladas Rojo

I know you’ve enjoyed staring at my pudding review for the last five days. See, I love you, I do these things for you. I know you. I watch you while you sleep, etc. Lately I’ve been on an easy food kick because I’m lazy, yo. But Foodette, you might complain, I’m not lazy and I want to cook something that will impress my bill collector/DH/sullen teenager/collection of cats/infant. While I still don’t know why I’m coming to a fey lesbian student for recipes versus a wholesome and tasteful blog, I am here and I need to eat. Well, well, well, have I got a treat for you, dear conflicted reader.
I made this last week. We ate the whole pan in less than 24 hours and I’m okay with that because I need to get ripped for BlogHer and this is crammed full of protein and real live vegetables that have had the ever-loving life blended out of them. Hot sauce and plenty of wine, too. Gotta look ‘n’ cook fly for the mommy bloggers if you catch my drift.
The next day I made another version with homemade salsa verde. That went pretty fast, too. I’m slowly eliminating the need for us to get Mexican take-out. If I could just figure out how to make perfectly smooth salsa we’d be all set to open up a cantina. So, pinot noir enchiladas rojo. It’s not conventional, but screw that because neither am I. You like it.
Pinot Noir Enchiladas Rojo
Ingredients (serves 4)
1 1/2 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 large yellow onion
1 cup of water
2 chopped jalapenos
2 cans of diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 cup of Pinot Noir
1/4 cup of chopped cooked bacon
1/4 chopped yellow onion
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
6 tablespoons of hot sauce
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons of oil
12 yellow corn tortillas
1 cup of shredded pepper jack, cotija, or cheddar cheese (I topped mine with Merlot cheese and subbed cab sauvignon for the wine, so I guess this makes these Meritagenchiladas?)
1. Start by preparing your chicken and onions- boil water in a large pot on the stove with salt and pepper and place the chicken in, skimming the fat on top and lowering to a simmer after three minutes.

2.In a stainless steel pan, chop your onion into thin slices and cook over medium-high heat. As the onions stick and caramelize, they will leave a sticky glaze on the pan. Deglaze with water and repeat until the onions are soft and sweet. Shred the chicken once it has cooled and mix with the onions. You can make this mixture up to a day in advance and chill in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.

3. Combine jalapenos, tomatoes, wine, bacon, onion, tomato paste, and spices in a blender and blend until smooth. You will use half of this to cook with the enchiladas and the other half to top them as a cold salsa. Reserve half in the fridge.

4. In a shallow frying pan, heat your oil until bubbling and lightly fry the corn tortillas to make them soft and pliable, for no longer than seven to ten seconds per tortilla. Drain them on paper towels. In a casserole pan, pour half a cup of the enchilada sauce in the bottom and dip the tortillas in before filling, saturating them with the sauce and letting them dry for a few minutes after they soak.
5. Fill with chicken mixture and cheese and roll tightly. After all the tortillas are stuffed and rolled, pour the remaining sauce over the top and sprinkle with the rest of the cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes and serve with cold enchilada sauce spooned over the top.

And yeah, I’m kind of into pan photos right now. Next time we might even include photos of the cooking process.

Salted Scotch Pretzel Bread Pudding

While I’m not really a bar person, I have a mighty, abiding appreciation for bar food. I’ve been known to enthusiastically down a handful of sweaty almonds and ignore the beer in front of me. I have no qualms ordering a burger at midnight to go with a gin and tonic nightcap. I’ll eat it all from the dingy leftovers in a bowl of salted peanuts to the etheral french fries served at my local gastropub.
Above all, though, nothing stokes my fire like a soft pretzel. Rare is the bar that makes them and makes them well, so I decided to take matters into my own hands this rainy afternoon and make a dessert that combined my love of old-school bars, with sweet, boozy flavors, minus the increasing tab and obnoxious barflies. Lo and behold, Salted Scotch Pretzel Bread Pudding.
The pretzel bread was supplied by Pretzilla (more on them later) the consequence of issuing a challenge for me to try out their line of pretzel rolls. Challenge accepted, so off they went into the pudding, along with a layer of scotch-infused goat’s milk caramel on the bottom like flan, and a healthy slug of Glenlivet 12.
I considered busting out the Laphroaig for a smokier flavor but decided that that would be better for round two if the recipe worked out. And work out it did…it’s abundant with a lingering peatiness from the scotch, whose rough edges are softened from the sweet caramel sauce and spiced custard. We used a lot of scotch- you may want to use less for a slightly less aggressive flavor. Make it in the winter, make it in the spring. Make it when it snows. Make it for your grandfather’s birthday. Who cares? Just please, please try this out. And remember, the scotch is not optional.
Salted Scotch Pretzel Bread Pudding
Ingredients (makes 4 ramekins)
2 1/2 cups of pretzel bread cubes, cut into 1 inch squares
2 whole eggs plus one egg yolk
1/8th cup of sugar, plus two tablespoons
1 1/2 cups of milk
1 tablespoon of vanilla bean paste
1 1/2 ounces of good, older scotch (we used Glenlivet 12 as a tester, but a stronger or older scotch may work better. Pro tip: leave the Cutty Sark behind)
3 tablespoons of butter
1/8th teaspoon of cinnamon
Caramel sauce
Salt
1. Slice and cube your pretzel rolls into one inch squares until you have roughly 2 1/2 cups. They should be big enough to soak up the liquid but small enough to eat in one bite.
2. In a medium-sized bowl, beat your eggs and sugar together until they are pale yellow and smooth. While they are beating, heat up the milk, butter, vanilla bean paste, and cinnamon up on the stove until simmering.
3. Turn the heat off and add the scotch to the milk mixture, whisking gently to combine. Add a small ladle-full of the milk mixture to the eggs while stirring to temper. Add a little more at a time until fully combined. You do not want to add it all at once or the eggs will scramble.
4. Once the eggs and milk are incorporated, dump in your pretzel bread cubes. Cover with plastic wrap and chill from 2 hours to overnight.
5. An hour before baking, prepare your ramekins by pouring a spoonful of the caramel sauce into each one, swirling gently to cover the bottom. Sprinkle with a little pretzel salt (I used the packet that came with the rolls. Kosher salt will do fine.) and set aside.
6. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spoon your chilled bread mixture into the ramekins until they are filled to the lip, roughly an inch from the top. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, or until the ramekins can be gently shaken and not jiggle inside the container.7. Take out when crisp and firm, and let cool for 15 minutes. Top with additional caramel sauce and pretzel salt and serve with vanilla gelato.
Really, why would you ever want to go to a bar again? A shot of scotch with one of these and you’ll be set for the evening. I’m crazy about this. I’m already planning another version with candied peanuts, bacon, and IPA. Stay tuned!

Bacon Steak and Tomato Doritos ‘n’ Chips for Highball

“Your mom. Champagne glass. 64% classier.” – Your Mom Is Clubbin’
Here at Foodette, we prioritize a number of elite values in the food blogging world, not the least of which is “above all, pretension.” And everyone knows that Japanified versions of American snacks designed to pair with cocktails are pretentious, to say the least, without even mentioning that these chips are endorsed by an expert, Japan’s best sommelier in 1995, Shinya Tasaki. Hell yes? I mean, look at this guy’s face. Sniffing out of a Riedel Burgundy glass in a tuxedo. I would trust everything that man said even if he told me he could take me on a tour of Hell in between sips of DRC La Tache.
J-List sent these over for us to try. According to the description, Mr. Tasaki and Frito-Lay formulated these chips to ride on the coattails of the burgeoning Asian wine market sales. Because nothing goes as well with an $8,000 bottle of 1947 Petrus like Doritos and Sun Chips, am I right? This particular flavor was designed to pair well with cocktails, presumably ones you can enjoy with Tasaki’s $200 corkscrew and bottle opener. The bag has two different types of chips, flavored like bacon steak and tomato ketchup. The chips are smaller than your average Dorito but still have the rounded edges and thicker crunch of Japanese Doritos. The scent is pungent, like getting a noseful of Spanish paprika and tomato sauce, with an almost cloying initial sweetness wafting up from the bag.
The Doritos were definitely more successful than the Sun Chips, with a light, crispy crunch and wonderful flavor. These tasted like the Herr’s Heinz ketchup chips but with a deeper, richer tomato sauce flavor, with a brown sugar edge and garlic bite to them. They were very sweet, but not in a way that made them inedible or incongruous with the rest of the chips. The natural sweet, oily flavor of the corn chip was a wonderful carrier of the ketchup flavor. It sort of put regular ketchup to shame as I felt that the flavor was just deeper and tangier, more of a marinara but somehow sweeter. Unique and a little strange to adjust to, but tasty.
The Sun Chips were supposed to mimic the exact flavor of the giant, quivering bacon slab on the package. A tough act to follow. And they crumbled in the face of porcine goodness, providing a weak smoky flavor dominated by the corny heft of the chip. No bacon, no fattiness, nothing that would have suggested meat or even barbecue sauce. It mainly tasted like ground black pepper and corn, not a bad flavor profile, but also not bacon. I’ve noted this before in Japanese Cheetos- all of the chips are much thicker and the denser ones end up having a dry noodle-like texture. Not a bad thing, but also kind of strange to get used to.
So the chips were good on their own, but what about alongside a few drinks? In one of the most stupidly surreal Foodette photoshoots ever, we documented the success of these chips as snacks and as cocktail pairings with what else? Bakon vodka, because you can’t eat bacon chips without drinking a bacon drink. Says so somewhere in the Bible or something.
We made three cocktails, two contemporary and one classic to try with the chips. Our first cocktail didn’t utilize bacon outside of a small curled garnish. It was a classic gin and tonic, nothing more, nothing less. The sweet cooked tomato flavor of the Doritos really amplified the sweet juniper notes in the gin, but neither was so sweet as to feel like a dessert or candy.
The second cocktail was kind of a “kitchen sink” style drink to gross out Miss Love and also see how the chips held up with a little spice. Enter the Flaming Bacon- bacon vodka, hot pepper vodka, Prometheus Springs pomegranate black pepper juice, club soda, and a salsa dipped bacon garnish. Despite the grocery list of ingredients and the science beaker presentation, it didn’t taste like ass and the chips held up to the spice of the drink. It was surprisingly the best combination of the triad.
Our last drink failed and completely overwhelmed the chips. The Broker’s Breakfast had hazelnut espresso vodka, bacon vodka, milk, and club soda. It was atrociously flavored and discordant with a fake sweetener aftertaste. The creaminess destroyed the flavors of the chips with a filmy, boozy tang. But aside from that, it seemed like the chips actually were congruent with fruity, tangy, and even spicy drinks. Then again, what salty snack isn’t? These would be a unique alternative to a traditional pub mix, but didn’t seem wildly outside of the realm of other sodium-laden nibbles designed to sop up booze. Maybe the wine-based Doritos will prove to be more successful.