Counter Intelligence

Chin-Chin for Gin in July, Part Two

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on July 29, 2009

I don’t have a ridiculous sweet tooth, but for some reason I can’t get enough of baking spices in cocktails. Last year, it was Tom Brown’s Rum Punch. This summer, it’s sangria at New Heights. Two types of red wines, a white wine, Granny Smith and Fuji apples, lemons, limes, oranges, cloves, star anise, cinnamon and nutmeg, soaked overnight and strained, its really quite nice.

I may be sucker for star anise, but when it’s 90 degrees, I veer toward gin. Should you not get a $100 dollar ticket like I did the last time I went to New Heights, you too can thoroughly enjoy the most refreshing spirit of summer. Not sure what kind of gin pleases your palate? Check out these crib notes from the New Heights Gin Manifesto: (more…)


Chin-Chin for Gin in July, Part One

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on July 28, 2009

DC Bartenders Guild’s reminder that July is Rickey month made me thirsty for one or several, so I recently did a drink around inspired by the Rickey contest to be held at Bourbon on August 3rd.

“A Rickey should quench your thirst,” says Derek Brown of The Gibson and The Passenger , set to open late fall. Bourbon’s Owen Thomson encourages the quick sip by serving his super-refreshing Watermelon Rickey with a straw .

I always thought Rickeys had to be made with bourbon or gin, but Brown sets the record straight in his column for  The Atlantic Food Channel:

. . .  is a category of mixed drinks made from a base spirit, half of a lime squeezed and dropped in the glass, and topped with carbonated water. Little or no sugar is added to the Rickey. Originally made with Bourbon whiskey, the Rickey was invented in Washington, D.C. around 1883 at Shoomaker’s bar by bartender George A. Williamson, purportedly in collaboration with Democratic lobbyist Colonel Joe Rickey. It became a worldwide sensation when mixed with gin.

In addition to Owen’s, I sampled the jalapeno spicy, Is that A Cucumber in Your Pocket? from Sebastian Zutant at Proof, the terrific pickled cherries in the Crickety Rickey at Zaytinya, the best liquid summer dinner–roasted red pepper Rickey at Rasika, a lovely classic Bourbon Rickey at Poste Brasserie, and a tiki-inspired Rickey from Tiffany Short at The Gibson. I’d like to sample others featured in this year’s contest over the next couple days.

In the meantime, mark your calendar for Monday, August 3rd at Bourbon where, starting around 6 pm, cocktailians can vote for their favorite Rickey.

Five on Food: Articles from the Wednesday Dining Pages

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on July 15, 2009

1) Tales of the Tales. Washington Post. Jason Wilson talks trends from this year’s Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans.

2) The History of Gyro. New York Times. If you ever want to eat gyros again, you may want to skim this and skip the video.

3) Fresh Herbs at the Center of Vietnamese Cuisine. Los Angeles Times.  A slew of ideas.

4) Which Pie Crust is Right for You? Boston Globe. I’m the worst pie maker ever and I’ve apparently found help.

5) New Takes on Deviled Eggs. Chicago Tribune. In case you’re in a deviled egg rut. (Their text, not mine.)

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Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on July 7, 2009

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Lobster Lust

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on July 6, 2009

In Sunday Suppers at Lucques, Suzanne Goin says she didn’t get her mom’s lust for lobsters, that it just wasn’t something she craved. My mother is less than excited about them, while my father and I have what Goin calls “that lobster bond.” I can’t help but love them, even when they’re not local, such as this past visit to Pawleys when my father ordered a couple. Kind of odd, since shrimp and grouper and whatever else is so fresh and accessible by their home. But he’s from Boston. Who can blame him on Father’s Day?

Like reading the Sunday New York Times, I eat lobster in an order that’s become a ritual. As a kid, I used to savor the tailfin first, separating flesh from shell with my fingertips, like a plastic bag at the farmer’s market. Then I’d suck juice from the legs, crack and pick the joints, then savor the claw meat last. Tamale and tail, I’d give to my dad or whomever.  I know, it’s the best part, I just like the rest of it better.

Post Father’s Day, I wanted to do something with the leftovers, which led me to the lobster roll. I’m not always into them. Especially when the bread is average, I’m bored. For that matter, I’m not a huge fan of sandwiches anyway. (I usually take them apart.) And I’m not really a fan of store-bought mayonnaise, either. So I decided to make them open faced with homemade aioli and fresh herbs.

I took a potato roll (though ideally, brioche), cut it in half and toasted it til golden in a pan with melted butter. Then I made a homemade mayo, kind of like this one, with olive oil, an egg yolk, fresh tarragon and lemon juice. I took chopped lobster tail and a diced carrot, added some mayo, fresh cracked pepper, a little salt, more tarragon, some grated lemon rind, and plated it on baby greens and half the warm roll.

Just enough toasty buttered bread as the base for a heap of lobster meat was a delicious take on the standard. Another rendition I’d like to try is Gourmet‘s no mayonnaise lobster roll from this month’s issue. Have a favorite lobster roll recipe? Share it in the comments.


Five on Food: Articles From the Wednesday Dining Pages

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on July 1, 2009

1) The Sweet Dream Team. LA Times. Make your own ice cream sandwiches.

2) The Perfect Burger and All Its Parts. NY Times.Insider baseball for burger freaks.

3) ISO a Summer Cocktail. Washington Post. Jason Wilson makes the Negroni better. (Despite his reference to the most disturbing Hemingway story ever, I loved this column.)

4) Where’s Boston’s Best Pizza? Boston Globe. A city pizza crawl.

5) Wine is the Star. SF Chronicle. Wine takes the center at Michael Mina’s newest restaurant, RN74.