Browsing Category

Travel

Cocktail Recipes, Drinks, Travel

Cocktails from Chicago: The 13 Degrees at The Gage

May 7, 2013
chicago_skyline
The 13 Degrees cocktail from the Gage is by barman Thomas Mooneyham.

The 13 Degrees cocktail — with prosecco, sage, velvet falernum and gin — was created by Chicago barman Thomas Mooneyham at The Gage.

I just came back from visiting my family in Chicagoland. I mostly hung out in the ‘burbs, but I did foray into the city one afternoon. I saw the Picasso exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago . It was great seeing the genesis of his famous Chicago woman/bird sculpture as well as a series of pen-and-ink drawings.

Looking at art made me thirsty and hungry, so I went across Michigan Avenue to The Gage, a lively new American restaurant and tavern.  It was a warm day at the 13 Degrees was perfectly smooth and refreshing, with lots of wonderful herbal flavors from the Velvet Falernum and the Death’s Door Gin, which is made in the Midwest.

Creator Thomas Mooneyham, who was kind enough to share his recipe, makes the drink unique with his pear-sage syrup. But flavored syrups like this one are actually quite easy to make at home following the instructions below.

13 Degrees

3/4 ounce Velvet Falernum
3/4 ounce Death’s Door Gin
1/2 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce pear-sage syrup (see note)
Prosecco float
sage leaf

Add the Velvet Falernum, gin, lime juice and pear-sage syrup to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until well chilled. Strain into a cocktail coupe. Add prosecco float. For the garnish, slap or spank the sage leaf between your hands and place on top of the drink.
Makes 1 cocktail

Note: To make your own pear-sage syrup, boil 2 cups pear nectar or juice with 1 cup sugar and 2 sage leaves in a 2-quart pot. Once it boils, turn it down to simmer for 10 minutes then turn off and let the syrup steep. Once it’s cool, strain it, then bottle it and refrigerate for up to a week.

Celebrities & Champagne, Pop Culture, Travel

On the Occasion of her 100th: A Julia Child Champagne GIF

August 14, 2012

create animated gif
how to make animated gif

If you’ve never visited Julia Child’s Kitchen at the Smithsonian, stop by the next time you’re in Washington, D.C. I think the kitchen reveals more about a person than any other room in the house, and Julia’s is no exception.

The exhibit which recreates the kitchen where she created recipes for so many of her books. It’s relatively small, but carefully organized. Besides a well-used six-burner stove, there was a wall grid with an inventory for wine (including ’66 Chateau Margaux, Nuits St. George ’71 and a ’59 La Rioja Alta); a small dining table, and places for each pot, gadget and utensil, carefully outlined on the wall.

What brings warmth to the exhibit is Child’s lilting voice, coming from a TV monitor that plays various film clips. During my favorite segment, she’s telling the interviewer about her most prized kitchen gadgets, which include a champagne stopper.

To show off how well this one works, Child tells how Barbara Fairchild — then editor of Bon Appetit Magazine — had come for a visit.

“I gave her some of my very best Champagne,” says Child, ever the gracious hostess. She’s referring to an iconic bottle of Dom Perignon, but doesn’t mention the brand by name.

They didn’t finish it, but thanks to Child’s trusty champagne stopper, the Dom still had its fizz three days later. I hope the other interviewer got to help her kill the bottle when the cameras were off.

I only got to interview Julia Child once — for an article on the true origins of the Caesar Salad — but she had a wonderful memory and was very excited to share what she knew with a young writer. I think perhaps that may be her most important legacy.

Cool Bars, Travel

1313 Main: A Lucky Wine Bar for Bubbly Lovers

January 13, 2012

The downtown Napa wine bar 1313 Main features adiverse selection of wines, servers that know Napa like insiders and a comfortable modern setting.

A couple weeks ago, a friend asked me the word for being afraid of the number 13. It’s triskaidecaphobia, though I admit I had to look up the exact spelling.

I didn’t think much of it until I realized that this month, which began with Sunday the 1st, would include a Friday the 13th.

But 13 isn’t always an unlucky number. A trip to Napa that started out poorly — when I discovered I’d left my wallet at home — ended with me feeling quite privileged to experience 1313 Main.

There’s a clever logo of mirrored 13s on the front, along with a window showcasing some of their favorite champagnes and sparkling wines. Inside, 1313 has a modern decor done in a range of neutral tones accented by warm red and carnelian touches.

Like most wine bars, 1313 Main offers a selection of flights. The Bubble Trouble features NV Mumm Napa Brut Prestige, NV Taittinger Cuvée Prestige and NV Lucien Albrecht Cremant d’Alsace Brut Rosé. Since I was still getting over a cold, I limited myself to a taste of the Lucien Albrecht, a pristine 100% pinot noir traditional method wine with subtle flavors of plum and berries. The two-ounce tastes range from $3.50 for the Mumm Napa to $5 for the one I chose to $10 for Champagne Collet.

Every Friday, 1313 features a Bubble Bar with a rotating list of 13 sparkling wines by the glass. The lineup usually includes wines like sparkling vouvray from Domain Vigneau-Chevreau, Gruet Brut Sauvage and Schramsberg Mirabelle Brut Rosé. The menu also includes something amazing, like Krug Grande Cuvée or Salon which are rarely seen in wine bars, let alone by the glass.

Can’t wait for my next visit to see what’s featured on the Bubble Bar.

The words “Champagne Taste” invite bubbly lovers into 1313 Main for a sip of something sparkling.

Travel

Top 10 Amazing Museums in Barcelona

August 24, 2011
barcelona_meseum_map

Barcelona is full of wonderful museums; here’s an eclectic list of 10 museums celebrating everything from Catalan history to the art of Gaudì that shouldn’t be missed. Click on the map to be taken to an interactive museum location map created with Google technology.

1. National Art Museum of Catalonia

Explore Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance art as well as modern pieces by Gaudí.

2. Picasso Museum

Immerse yourself in the early works, drawings, paintings and personality of this complicated artist.

3. Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art

The modernist Richard Meier building is stuffed with works by contemporary greats like Casamada, Puig and Bonet.

4. Museums at Disseny Hub

Double your pleasure with a pair of museums: The Textile Museum with a stunning display for fashions from the Baroque period to modern day and the Decorative Arts Museum which explores design of everyday and fanciful objects.

5. Sagrada Familia Church Museum

Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí was killed by a taxi before he could complete this Gothic and Modernist Roman Catholic church, but it’s still considered his masterpiece.

6. Ceramics Museum

The collection ranges from the intricacies of early Moorish ceramic coloring techniques to rooms dedicated to Miró and Picasso.

7. Gaudí House-Museum

Fans of the artist Antoni Gaudí will want to see the Torre Rosa where the artist lived and in his then visit his fqnciful Parque Guëll.

8. Barcelona Football Club Museum

There’s tons of Futbolart like trophies and bronze shoes along with some stuff by Dalí and Miró for less-devoted soccer fans.

9. The Egyptian Museum

This archeological museum with more than 1,000 exhibits is dedicated to shedding light on daily life and burial traditions in ancient Egypt.

10. Museum of the Antoni Tàpies Foundation

This influential living artist started as a surrealist, helped establish a movement called Dau-al-Set and then was one of the first to incorporate mixed media objects like marble dust, string and even furniture in his work.

Travel

Travel Savvy in Barcelona: 5 Things to Know

August 24, 2011
parque_guell_barcelona_crowd

Many popular tourist attractions like Parque Guell shown here are very crowded, so it’s smart to be aware of who’s nearby and where your valuables are.

1. Welcome to Catalonia. Geographically, Barcelona is in Spain, but culturally the people there think of themselves as living in Catalonia. It’s a cultural identity shared by people in the Balearic Islands, Valencia as well as parts of France and Sardinia. Catalan is a Romance language, so many of the words are the same or similar in Catalan and Spanish. Hello in Catalan is bon dia instead of buenos dias; good-bye is adeu instead of adios.

2.  Wear comfortable shoes and a shoulder bag. Ladies, this is not the place to be teetering around in platform stilettos with a clutch purse under your arm. Not to alarm anyone, but purses do get snatched here. Nearly every local woman I saw carrying a purse had a shoulder bag with a thick strap that could be worn slung across the body. And parts of Barcelona are very hilly and streets in some older areas are paved in  cobblestones.

3. Research addresses carefully before getting into a taxi. Barcelona is a very dense city and addresses are arranged off central boulevards, some of which run on a diagonal. Be sure to ask which boulevard your destination is near before leaving the hotel.

4. Read reviews thoroughly before booking a hotel; not all three stars are created equal.  I suffered at one three-star with a hip-looking lobby with no air conditioning even though it was quite hot. The staff’s service was very off-hand. Just a half a block away was another more traditional three-star with full amenities and expert service to match.

5. Be aware of your surroundings. Most tourist attractions like the Parque Guell (shown above), Las Ramblas and the Boqueria Market are very crowded. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of taking in an attraction, and thieves know this. Be sure to keep wallets in your front pocket, purses closed and valuables nearby.

Got any more tips on how to make your trip to Barcelona safe and stress-free? Please share them with us.