Monday, July 24, 2017

National Tequila Day and More

I’m known for the fact that I like variety. I eat and drink different things every day, at every meal. There’s only two things you can always count on: I’ll have some form of yogurt each day, and I’ll always celebrate National Tequila Day.

The reason for the latter goes beyond my obvious love of spirits. July 24th also happens to be my birthday.

My latest tequila…
Given these two facts colliding on one day, I usually receive quite a bit of tequila just before today. This year, three arrived, and they are all quite special.

Casamigos Tequila is the brand created by George Clooney and Rande Gerber. The two celebrities were not looking for a money-making scheme. Instead, they were looking for a great tequila to drink while the friends vacationed in Mexico.

They say some people have the power to turn everything they touch into gold and these two are proof. Their little project was recently sold for nearly a billion dollars to spirits giant Diageo.

According to Clooney and Gerber, who signed the bottle, “Our idea was to make the best-tasting, smoothest tequila whose taste didn’t have to be covered up with salt or lime. So, we did.”

I love the suggestion to try cucumber with the Casamigos Tequila since I have a citrus allergy. It’s delicious.

I must agree. You can immediately smell the sweet agave when you pour a glass and the taste doesn’t let you down. It’s smooth and floral, for me, loaded with honeysuckle and a touch of vanilla. At around $40 a bottle, the Casamigos Tequila Blanco is also reasonably priced.

The other tequila of the day is quite different from any I have tasted. Viva XXXII Tequila Joven is a blend of unaged silver and three-year-old anejo tequilas, made in small batches. The blend is then put in oak.

The result is Joven Tequila, a spirit which is super smooth and very easy-drinking. I get more sweet, butterscotch undertones here than floral, and even a bit of pepper. It’s quite delicious and also priced at around $40. In addition, 10% of the net proceeds are donated to animal abuse prevention.

Tequila Corralejo Reposado is yet another tequila that’s deliciously different. 

Corralejo has been making tequila for nearly 300 years. The use handpicked 100% Blue Weber agave, from Guanajuato, Mexico, slow cooked in stone clay ovens. This reposado is aged for four months, in French, Encino, and American oak.

The resulting Corralejo Reposado Tequila has a gentle cinnamon spice, with lots of vanilla, and a touch of caramel.

Don’t like your tequila plain? Try these cocktails:   
Casa Chilled Coffee
2 oz Casamigos Blanco (or Reposado if like it more oaky)
2 oz Bailey’s Liqueur
1 Espresso Shot
.5 oz Agave Nectar
2 Dashes Orange Bitters

Combine all ingredients into tin shaker with ice.
Shake vigorously for 8-10 seconds.
Use a fine strainer to strain into coupe glass.
Garnish with one-star anise.

1 oz Casamigos Blanco Tequila
4 oz Prosecco
.25 oz Vanilla Bean Simple Syrup*
2 Dashes Lavender Bitters

Combine all ingredients into tin shaker.
Dry shake without ice.
Pour into champagne flute.
Top off with chilled Prosecco.
Garnish with an edible flower.

*Vanilla Bean Simple Syrup
Make a standard simple syrup. Break open and stir in whole vanilla beans. Let simmer over very low heat for an hour and strain.

VIVA Crisp
2 oz VIVA XXXII Joven Tequila
3 fresh slices of Cucumber
2-3 fresh slices of Jalapeno (deseed to control spice factor)
.75 oz Agave Syrup

Place all in a tin and lightly muddle.
Do not crush ingredients, just press to express oils and flavors.
Add ice and give a short and soft shake.
Pour all into a Double Old-Fashioned Glass.
Garnish with some something fresh and fragrant.
Use a lime peel and cucumber wheel, or a large basil sprig.

VIVA Tourist  
2 oz VIVA XXXII Joven Tequila
.25 oz Mezcal
.75 oz Fresh Lime Juice
.5 oz Fresh Pineapple
.75 oz Fresh Orgeat (Almond Syrup)
2-3 fresh Jalapeño Slices

Place all in a tin and add ice.
Give a long hard shake.
Double strain the cocktail into a single Old-Fashioned Glass.
Garnish with a Jalapeño slice.

Note: VIVA recipes created by Chris Kramer of 
The Larchmont (5750 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038)

Viper's Fang
2 oz of Tequila Corralejo Reposado
.25 oz Laapsang watermelon syrup
2 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters
1 dash of aromatic bitters

Stir ingredients together.

Serve on the rocks with a lemon twist.

The SirtFood Diet by Aidan Goggins and Glen Matten…
The word “diet” is not in my vocabulary. When I feel I’m putting on a few pounds, I’ll cut back a little on sweets, add a little more exercise, and change my way of life. This book had me curious, though, so I thought I’d give it a read.

The premise is, “Eat your way to rapid weight lost and a longer life by trigger the metabolic super powers of the The Sirtfood Diet” and lose “7 pounds in 7 days.” To back up these claims, a 5-year study on 7,400 people is introduced

I was immediately turned off by the start of this diet, which has you living on 1,000 calories the first three days, before going on two phases that bring you to three Sirtfood rich meals, one sirtfood green juice, and 1-2 sirtfood bites.

The thing is, while I’m not going to endorse the specific diet, a lot of what is in the book makes sense.  Most of the 20 foods that belong to a group of plant foods called “sirtfoods” and are said to activate genes called sirtuin have been shown in various studies to help with weight loss:

Extra virgin olive oil
Red wine
Red onions
Green tea
Medjool dates
Red Endive

A lot in The Sirtfood Diet reminds me of the Flat Belly Diet! as well as the nutritionally known diets in India and the Mediterranean. While I don’t personally believe anyone should be on a restrictive diet unless advised specifically to do so by a doctor, I do think this book is worthwhile to learn more about some of the best foods to add to your daily meals. 

Friday, June 30, 2017

Summer Items to Taste and Wear

It feels like summer has been here forever already, but it’s only the start. This heat makes me think of comfortable clothing, cool drinks, and barbecue.

Comfortable Pants for a Good Cause…
I will be wearing these One Tribe Elephant Harem Pants a lot this summer. They are cool and comfortable. At first, I was looking at them to just wear over my bathing suit, but I got so many compliments on them I’ll be wearing them out.

As if the comfort isn’t enough, there are other reasons to purchase from One Tribe. Products are made in Thailand by local workers paid a fair wage. Also, for every pair of elephant pants sold, the company makes a donation to the Elephant National Park in Chang Mai, where they rescue endangered animals.

The Best Burgers in the Country…
In the 2017 Harris Poll, Five Guys dethroned In-N-Out as America’s Favorite Burger Chain. It’s the burger that’s the star here and that comes from Schweid & Sons, a family run ground beef company now in its fourth generation.

Schweid & Sons sent me a selection of their burgers (Brisket Blend, One Percenter, and Sliders) to try out for myself and I can definitely see how they won the top spot. The Brisket Blend, moist and flavorful, even well-done, was my favorite, but they were all delicious.

If you’d like to cook these burgers yourself instead of going to Five Guys, you can buy them at these stores

A Red Wine to Pick Up…
If you are looking for something to drink with those burgers, my summer red is Chilcas Single Vineyard Cinsault 2014. This Chilean wine is tasty, fruity, with a bit of dry oak. It’s also under $20 a bottle.

Low Calorie, Gluten-Free Vodka…
You won’t find a shortage of vodka in the liquor aisles, but not many are gluten-free. Devotion Vodka are gluten-free, as well as under 100 calories.

They sent me the Devotion Blood Orange and the Tiki to try. I brought them out to a pool gathering. The Blood Orange was an instant hit, straight, with Coca-Cola, and sprite. The ideas for cocktails were flowing from all my friends.

The Tiki (Black Tea) was not what we expected since most tea vodkas tend to be sweet. This one is much stronger and more tart than sweet. It worked with a sweetened iced tea (if you want to do a little spiking), or a citrus soda. Lemonade is another option, if you don’t like sweet drinks, but this isn’t a vodka I’d enjoy straight.

My Favorite Wine this Summer…
I’ll occasionally drink a glass of moscato, most likely as dessert. When Oliver Winery sent me their Cherry Moscato, I thought it would be even sweeter than the ones I already consider dessert. I was wrong.

Oliver Cherry Moscato, which you need to serve well-chilled, is my perfect summer wine. The 2016 Indy International Wine Competition winner is filled with fresh cherry flavor, which actually brings down the sweetness of the moscato. At $12 a bottle, this is the wine you should bring to every picnic and barbecue.