Cognac. I hear that word and my pinky automatically extends. I develop a heavy, fake French accent. My pocketbook screeches in horror. It's unapproachable.
Imagine my surprise when, in Chicago in October, I wandered into Wine Riot 2018 and was handed a card to attend a Cognac class. My pinkie extended as I took the card and sidled past a Chicago dog vendor and the Jam Jar Wines booth and took a seat at a cloth covered table complete with a variety of fancy bar tools.
We were going to learn to make a French 75 substituting Cognac for Gin. I'm in. Gin is not my jam, but a fine brandy I am typically forced to not buy, is.
Cognac is basically fancified Brandy made specifically from grapes in the Cognac region of France. Hennessey - the brand sponsoring this class - makes 50 percent of all the world's Cognac, and has been since 1765.
It's known as the "Drink of Kings" and is considered by those in the know as one of the finest of spirits. I was pleased to be getting to taste my way through some of it. For free. Not only did we mix it into the French 75 (here's the recipe), we had a taste of the Hennessey VSOP neat, and the Hennessey XO with ice. Trust me when I say all three sips were amazing and different.
Cognac is not to be rushed. And it tastes like it. Complicated yet simple. Soft yet spicy. Hints of complexity. Vanilla. Apricot. Caramel. Coffee . . . to die for. And I'm sure people have.
The class helped me feel Cognac is approachable. I may talk my wallet into a bottle for a special occasion. My pinky will be extended and I will pronounce it with a horribly fake French accent.
“If you can make bread out of it, you can make whisky out of it,” said Really Smart Guy with the moussed hair at the Longs Peak Scottish Irish Festival. The RSG was a sales rep for The Macallan Scotch Whisky company.
He and RSG2, his partner who looked a bit like Adam Levine, provided us with a Scotch 101 lesson during the annual festival where it appears it’s OK to wear kilts and Crocs. Or kilts and Deadpool masks. Or corsets and flip flops. Anyway . . .
RSG2 talked a lot about the chemistry behind whisky making. Stuff like how yeast eats sugar and how if you spray water on barley it thinks it’s a plant. But no, they mess with the germination process and yada, yada, yada, it turns sort of porridgey … This is a great time to disclose Scotch 101 came after 3 hours of Irish Ales.
We had sips of five of their amber-colored liquid yum during the lesson. Here’s what we learned. Give or take. Apologies in advance for the disjointedness and most likely somewhat inaccurate translation of my notes. Reference the last sentence of the previous paragraph.
After becoming Scotch experts, like the RSG twins, J and I have determined we prefer The Macallan 12 year Sherry Oak to peatier (Highland Park Magnus) or the lighter Macallan Double Cask 12 year or smoky ones like Naked Grouse. But, as we always say: You do you. Just branch out and Scotch it now and again.
As I prepare to send my children (and myself) back to school, I was pondering lunch possibilities that would be quick and keep them from bitching too much. I know that a good mother would lovingly make their lunches with balanced food groups and a sweet note on their napkins. As I am not vying for mother of the year, to hell with that. The options for kids are abundant. I can find a prepackaged meal for my kids with all kinds of things they like in it, but I was unable to do so for myself. Nothing "fit" me.
Teachers have special needs. It is an incredibly stressful job that includes planning, teaching, not peeing when you need to, collaborating with people you don't like, dealing with difficult students and yelling parents, committee meetings, staff meetings, department meetings, etc. Teachers do all this plus deal with John Q. Public saying they are overpaid and under-skilled babysitters who get too much time off. How can there possibly be a lunch kit line that addresses those needs? It doesn't exist.
I discussed this with D, and she assisted me in finding the perfect meals for teachers. We call them Teacher-ables.
These delightful lunches come with your choice of beverage and a combination of snack foods to get you through an afternoon of apathetic students and quick drop-in evaluations. Each meal has Tylenol, Tums, and a mint in common. I shouldn't even have to explain why.
When we first started these hijinks, we had little understanding of how much we talk. It turns out we have a tendency to banter. Incessantly. We would have 30 minutes of video and when we reviewed it, we would giggle about how fabulous we are. Which we are. However, it took a couple of videos and a couple more friends with 25 second attention spans for reality to set in. We needed to cut stuff out.
This video is the second half of the one we did for National Gin Day in June. It involves Harry Potter and gin: two of my favorite things. Hang with us for nine minutes as we make a Harry Potter and the Gimlet of Fire from the book Gone with the Gin: Cocktails with a Hollywood Twist by Tim Federle.
On this glorious day, we decided to bring together some friends and take a little international beer challenge. Let us explain our thoughts to you.
My job was to man the three cameras and pour the beer. It wasn't as easy as it may seem. Note to self: Tell people which camera to look at. Also, the wind was howling which was a lovely background noise.
Sometimes life just calls for a road trip. A delightful break from the norm. Now before I get judged for not even leaving my state, remember that Wyoming is quite large. I live in this part:
Doing a brewery tour also got us labeled as lushes because every post on FB was about beer. Sometimes food. The occasional Bloody Mary. I am sensing a pattern, but judgers be damned! It was worth it.
I don’t know much about what we Americans call soccer. I didn’t play it as a child nor did any of my kids. Of course, full disclosure: I didn’t have any children, so there is that.
I know almost as much about socc – football as I do about hockey. That is to say, I pick a team (usually because I like the color of its uniforms, or think one of the players is hot, or I like the team’s mascot) and yell encouraging things like “Go!” or “You got this!” or “Kill him!” And I cheer when other people cheer so I look cool.
I picked England and Belgium to be playing for the World Cup championship on July 15. They played July 14. For third place. Congrats Belgium. Tomorrow it’s all about Croatia and France. And in my time zone the match begins at 9 a.m.
And 9 a.m. on a Sunday, for me, means one thing: coffee. But tomorrow, in honor of the two countries playing for the title, I’ve decided boozing is in order. Why not enjoy a little of the crazy the folks in those countries, and all the fans of the two teams, will be embracing?
I won’t pretend to love socc – football, but I can truthfully say I love it when the World Cup rolls around every four years. The world’s football isn’t as popular in our country as America’s football and our fervor for our favorite football teams is crazy. But American football crazy is pretty tame compared to the fanatical world football crazy that takes over the globe for a month.
So for this booze blog entry, I picked two drinks from both countries to try today so you can reap the benefits tomorrow while screaming “Go!” or “You got this!” or “Kill him!”
I am lacking the palate for boat and beach drinks. All that fruit and pretty colors makes it hard to take seriously. Plus, I was scared the fruit was a backdoor way to make me eat healthier. However, I realized I had better actually make the recipe I was posting for this day because booze.
It's been hot here. I know. It's been hot everywhere, but I don't care about everywhere. I care about here. In my house. Where it's hot. I didn't sign up to live in a desert. That's why I live where I do. Anyhoo . . .
I purchased all necessary ingredients for to make the drink for National Piña Colada Day. I went home to my "dry heated" home and headed to the basement. The only place to get respite from the eternal gaze of the sun. And that's where the bar is so it was a win-win.
So I gathered all my ingredients and proceeded to measure (I am not Deidre) and prep. I got all my ducks in a row, added them to the blender, and blended the hell out of them. It was satisfying. I plopped my beverage into the waiting glass, garnished it, and promptly took pictures.
After I completed my required stint for these hijinks, I sipped my drink. Ooh. Light and refreshing. Loving the coconut. This isn't even strong. I could drink twelve.
I downed the delight and promptly began clean up. I washed the blender and measuring cup. When I reached for the shot glass, I realized my error. The shot glass was full. Of Bacardi. Well, not anymore. Half of it was now on the counter. Hmmm. No wonder my drink was so light. Since I am not a rum drinker really, I guess I didn't know what it was supposed to taste like anyway. Except for the Piña Colada Jelly Belly candies. I know what those taste like.
Lesson learned. Check your ingredients and make sure you put everything in the damn drink that goes there. Bummer. Now I have to make another. If you need to make one and prove you are more able than I am, follow the link here.
Ah, the good ol' U S of A. 'Murica. The land of the free. What a good home you are. In honor of your birthday, people get obliterated every year on the 4th of July. How lucky you are. While beer seems to be the most consumed alcoholic beverage on this fine day, let's not forget the cocktail drinkers. The ones for whom beer makes them think of Nascar (no judgement) and people who wear their ballcaps backwards (possible judgement). I am a beer drinker so I am shutting up about that.
However, I am also a cocktail drinker. And it's fugging hot out. Hot. And a cocktail with ice is just what any subpar doctor would recommend.
This light and refreshing drink helps one forget that it's burning up outside and fireworks are illegal this year. Drink one as a toast to the country that lets you drink one for your country.
Since PB and I still have kiddies who are in school, we are obliged to take care of them. For our youngest, we take him to various swim camps and meets. One swim camp was in Colorado Springs, CO, and we were kind of excited because Colorado has a pretty happening brewery scene. One of our servers told us that Colorado Springs has 39 craft breweries, which to me seems a bit much, but oh well. As this trip was all about Dex, we couldn't ditch him and pub crawl, so alas, we only got to visit two breweries, one cocktail bar, and one gastropub (which I didn't know was an actual word). We just combined our food and brewery experiences. Here's a brief (hopefully) glimpse into our adventure.
We have been friends for more years than we haven't. Perhaps because of that or simply because we both have jobs/family that seem to encourage escape, we often bond over an ounce or so of liquid magic. Through these experiences, we have discovered the joys that can come with a well-crafted cocktail, quality beer, and excellent wine. It's about quality for us, and we want to share that with you.