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Garlic Crusted Beef Cross Rib Roast.

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Garlic Crusted Roast Beast.

Roast beast, roast duck, gin cocktail… it’s working. Glad to be done cooking! Recipe: Beef roast, small or medium. Chop thyme and rosemary and add to 4 large cloves of crushed garlic. Mix with 4 tablespoons of fine sea salt and add olive oil to cover the mixture. Spread the whole goopy mess over your raw roast, all sides and bottom. Put in oven uncovered in a pan and roast on 425F for about 30 minutes, or until only the thickest part of the center is still tender (if you want some nice medium rare). I’d give you a thermometer reading, but I broke mine a long time ago.

Gin Tasting Notes: Hendrick’s Gin.

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Hendrick’s Gin, Scotland

It’s gin sampling day again, and I have finally acquired the top shelf gin, Hendrick’s, from Scotland (and now reason #479 to visit Scotland). This is the magnum opus of gins. With eleven botanicals, including an infusion of Bulgarian rose petals, it puts the army of gins I’ve tried to absolute shame. By itself in my glass, it’s a pure epiphany from the first drop, as in a what-have-I-been-drinking-before-this revelation. In a clean 4:1 martini, it’s genius; in a dirty martini, it’s brilliant. Usually strong personality gins make terrible martinis, but this is a remarkable exception. It’s Tchaikovksy’s 1st symphony.

As usual, the bottle of Noilly Pratt is there to remind any martini enthusiasts that if they’re still mixing martinis with Martini & Rossi vermouth, pour that crap down the drain, and get serious.

 

Gin Taste Tests for Martinis.

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Gin Taste Tests for Martinis.

Another gin taste test for martinis. Although Noilly Prat reigns supreme for French vermouth, gin choices aren’t so easy. Even though it lacks prestige, New Amsterdam makes a smooth martini, in the style of the newer, “smooth” gins. It comes off a little too sweet for my taste, and requires a lower percentage of vermouth. Beefeater competes and comes recommended by the Regans (The Martini Companion), but Bombay Sapphire is completely unsuitable for martinis. Next time I’ll try Gordon’s before moving into top shelf.

A Cassoulet for All Occasions.

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Cassoulet

Finishing hours of my little 2-day cassoulet: lovely browned hen from a night of low heat baking, homemade cognac Toulouse sausage cakes, essence of lamb and duck, and a refresh of herbs, covering the essential beans. A good, reliable cassoulet recipe can be found in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but just know that the essentials are a nice white bean like great northern beans, first cooked to tender by themselves, before meats such as your choice of sausage, poultry (traditionally goose, but duck, chicken, and here a cornish hen will do) are layered in with fresh herbs such as sage, rosemary, thyme, and garlic and salt to suit.

New Years Eve.

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Raspberry Diamond Fizz

For my raspberry diamond fizz champagne cocktails tonight, I’m trying out Fizz 56, a lovely red brachetto sparkly from Italy (DOC). So far so good! A diamond fizz = gin, champagne, lemon juice, and an egg white. Creamy and wonderful.

New Year’s Eve Dinner & Cocktails.

Happy New Year’s Eve! (And Happy New Year’s Day to my friends on the other side of the world.) Champagne drinks will be in the New Orleans historical tradition, dinner will be in the Greek tradition. So, Diamond Fizzes and Raspberry Diamond Fizzes will accompany red wine braised lamb shanks (αρνι κοκκινιστο: arni kokkinisto). Let’s do it!