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A Fond Farewell

18 Jan

The Boiler Room has, in my opinion, the best craft cocktail bar in the city.

So yesterday, when I read on Facebook that last night was bartender Ian McCarthy’s last night, I knew a trip was in order.

The first words out of his mouth as I sat down at my table: “Ramos Gin Fizz?” Yes. Yes please, in fact.

A Ramos is my favorite cocktail in the world. It’s made from simple ingredients — lemon juice, sugar, gin — but it’s one of the most labor-intensive cocktails I’ve ever encountered. It requires a good 15 minutes of cocktail shaker shaking to create the finished product. I usually don’t request them, because though I love them, I feel sort of guilty ordering one. When I’m offered one, though, I’ll never turn it down. Ian’s Ramos is different from others I’ve had: he tops it with sparkling wine instead of soda. It’s a brilliant touch.

For my second drink, I told Ian to make whatever he wanted. He brought out one called, fittingly, “The Last Word.” I didn’t ask for ingredients, but it was lemony, herbaceous and just a touch medicinal: basically everything I love in a cocktail. And Ian does herb garnishes like no other.

The rest of my crowd tried drinks on the Boiler Room’s current cocktail list, an ever-changing group of vastly different cocktails. Below left, the Greenpoint. Right, the Aviation.

Chef Paul Kulik told me he’s interviewing potential bartenders, so look for an update on that soon. I rest assured that it will continue to be the most creative bar in the city.

Ian is headed to San Francisco. He will be missed, and we wish him success.

Thanks to Quentin for stepping in as my on-the-fly photographer.


Mulled Wine Party

27 Dec

It’s a tradition on the Hansen side of my family to have a wintertime mulled wine party. My mother-in-law brews up a big vat of mulled wine along with hot chocolate and hot tea and my father-in-law builds a big campfire in a pretty clearing next to Indian Creek, near their house. Fixings for s’mores are, of course, mandatory.

Lots of friends and family come to the party, which this year was unseasonably warm. We’ve mulled wine in much colder weather and drank it while shivering and standing in ankle-deep snow before, so not even having to wear a winter coat this year was a welcome change.

I share a recipe at the end of this post that’s similar to Sally’s recipe. A big batch would be a great way to ring in the New Year.

Mulled Wine, via Epicurious
serves 8

2 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
5 cardamom pods
3 black peppercorns
4 whole cloves
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1 (750-ml) bottle dry red wine such as Côtes du Rhône
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
1 small orange, thinly sliced
1 small lemon, thinly sliced

Special equipment: a 6- by 4-inch piece of cheesecloth; kitchen string

Wrap cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, peppercorns, and cloves in cheesecloth and tie with string. Bring sugar and water to a boil in a 5-quart heavy pot, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then add spice bag, wine, vanilla bean, and fruit. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes.

happy christmasbirthday

23 Dec

Last night my husband took me to The Grey Plume for my birthday dinner, followed by drinks at The Boiler Room. I ate sautéed octopus. Duck fat fries with an egg. Duck with pillowy gnocchi.  (lots of duck, I know.) Drank lovely Oregon wine and a made-to-order hot chocolate. Matthew ate a towering bison burger with a fried egg on a delicious brioche bun. (sorry for the dim photos. My blackberry camera is awful and the mood lighting in the restaurant wasn’t the best for picture-taking.)

Then Ian at the Boiler Room made me a Ramos Gin Fizz, which is my favorite. drink. ever.

My birthday is on Christmas and we’re headed to Red Cloud later today, so we exchanged gifts — Christmas and birthday — last night, too. I’m the proud owner of a gift certificate to Esther’s, a heated slanket (!!) and a pair of Marc Jacobs loafers.

All in all, a great success.

I’ll be doing two more posts this afternoon — one about my story in today’s Omaha World-Herald and one featuring the rest of the chefs from my Holiday Question-and-Answer story, and then taking off officially until next Tuesday.

Thanks to everyone out there reading. Have a wonderful holiday full of good food and drink. See you soon.

My crazy week, in review.

1 Dec

So Chick-Fil-A and it’s soft opening and opening took over my life earlier this week. I can’t say I’ve ever seen so much frenzy over a fried chicken sandwich (or so much controversy over the politics of restaurant owners, for that matter.) I also had to finish writing my story that ran Wednesday about creative hostess gifts (seriously, check out the cheese board that’s featured with the story — it’s amazing) and write my review for tomorrow’s paper and of course compile dining notes. Tomorrow’s review is a good one. I can’t wait to share it here.

Oh yeah, and I have a little column called art notes that always seems to get lost in the fray.

On Monday, I escaped my desk for a photo shoot for the gift story. Yes, that’s my back at left (and my own hand wrapped gift and front door, I’ll add.)

So those are all the reasons that Omavore has been quiet this week. But I’ll be back on track next week, beginning with a recap of this weekend, which I’m spending in Kansas City with my husband. His favorite band is playing a show Saturday night — can’t wait. Next week I’ll tell you about all the good food we eat and the good things we drink over the weekend.

Until then.

Omavore Cocktail Night

8 Nov

We had a few friends over recently to try some cocktails created with Patron XO Cafe, which the fine people at Patron sent to me and asked me to try. My friends happily obliged, and my talented friend and fellow Word-Herald employee Alyssa Schukar agreed to take some photos. (I think I need to hire her full-time as my personal Omavore photographer, because these images are beautiful.)

Anyway, we tried a few of the suggested seasonal cocktails made with Patron XO Cafe, which is tequila flavored with coffee. The drinks were rich — we each ended up finishing about one. The Butterscotch Treat won the seal of approval of the group, and the creamy, sweet concoction would be the perfect after dinner drink at any seasonal party. I’m sharing the recipe below.

Patron XO Cafe Butterscotch Treat

* 3/4 oz. Patron XO Cafe
* 1/2 oz. Butterscotch Schnapps
* 1/2 oz. White Creme de Cacao
* 3/4 oz. half & half
* cinnamon and sugar

Shake all ingredients vigorously in a mixing glass, and strain into a martini. Makes one.