El Floridita: An Opening into the World of Cocktails and Hemingway

         When Piña de Plata or the Silver Pineapple first opened in 1817, the location in what is now La Habana Vieja, Spanish for Old Havana would have been just known as downtown Havana back then. Located at the end of Calle Obispo, across Monserrate Street from the National Museum of Fine Arts of Havana, the streets in front of the muddy pinkish-red stucco exterior with its famous neon sign bustles with cars with fins in Easter egg colors and matching interiors. It’s a sea of pinks, purples, sky blues, two tones of white and maroon and other combos. We could be in a scene from “Mad Men,” but instead of crystal clear martinis, we’re heading to El Floridita.

200 Years and Counting

The name changed from the Silver Pineapple happened in 1914 about the same time that Constantino Ribalaigua began learning to mix drinks from his father. Four years later, Ribalaigua, who later earned the nickname of “El Rey de los Coteleros” or The Cocktail King of Cuba, had earned enough money to buy the place. He was only 26 and would own it for decades, creating more than 200 cocktails and adapting dozens more.

Creating the Hemingway Daiquiri

         It was one of Ribalaigua’s adaptations that made him famous—the recipe and the person who frequently left his apartment down the street after spending the morning writing and relaxed with a couple—or maybe even more—daiquiris. A concoction of white rum, maraschino liqueur or cherries depending upon the recipe, freshly squeezed lemon juice or pineapple juice and sugar or a sugar syrup, it pleased Ernest Hemingway so much, that soon El Floridita, daiquiris, and Hemingway became an icon of the bestselling author’s days in Cuba. El Floridita soon earned a subtitle, becoming “la cuna del daiquiri” or the cradle of the daiquiri.

Historic Architecture

         At opening time, the doors open and people stream in. They’re a mixed lot. College students, older literary types, locals probably bemoaning that they can’t have a quiet drink because of all these tourists, men who looked like artists and musicians, women in exotic outfits looking like poets and writers. The shiny mahogany bar is an extravagant piece of beautiful wood where red-jacketed bartenders swiftly add ingredients and then buzz them in the blender.

Daiquiris for All

These bartenders are smooth, able to mix and pour two daiquiris at a time. They need to be, the surge of people is endless. There’s a neo-classicist style to the decor. Huge paintings back up the bar and line several large walls. Chandeliers drip from the ceiling, the tables in the large dining room have white tablecloths and louvered doors. The bar itself is rather dark though streaks of the stunning sunshine stream through the door. Musicians come up on the small stage and play Cuban music, jazz, Bolero, Timba, and their own compositions as well including music from the eastern end of the island.

         You don’t have to imagine Hemingway sitting at the bar, a bronze bust of him in his favorite corner was sculpted in 1954. And it’s easy to pause when my eye captures the lifestyle statue of him at the bar that was added almost 50 years later. Another honorific is a plaque with a Hemingway quote: “My mojito in the Bodeguita del Medio and my daiquiri in the Floridita.”

         But probably the best indication of the author’s prestige and power as a tourist attraction is the lure of the blender as it mixes another daiquiri (there are four varieties associated with Hemingway and I’ve included two of them below) and the clinking of glasses as patrons toast the author and, of course, his drink.

Recipes

Floridita Daiquiri

  • 2 oz. white rum (Floridita uses Havana club)
  • ½ oz. fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp. maraschino liqueur
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1½ cups crushed ice

Mix the lime juice and sugar in a blender and pulse to combine. Add the maraschino and crushed ice and blend on high speed, gradually adding rum to the mix. Pour into a chilled large cocktail glass.

Floridita Cocktail

  • 2 ounces white rum (I prefer Brugal)
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • ½ ounce fresh grapefruit juice
  • ¼ ounce maraschino liqueur
  • 1 teaspoon simple syrup

Shake with ice, and strain into coupe. Garnish with a lime wheel.

Eight Historic Hotels for Those Who Love History and Travel

Knowing how much I love historic architecture and enjoy immersing myself in the grandeurs of centuries past, Sara Martin sent me a list of resorts and hotels dating back a century or more. All are in the U.S. except for one in St. Croix. But because it is located in the U.S. Virgin Islands passports are not required for American citizens. Whether you’re looking for a warm weather, winter, an urban or country stay all are relatively easy places to get to by plane or car. So take this step back into history and have a wonderful time.

The Buccaneer Beach and Golf Resort, Trademark Collection by Wyndham in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

Back in 1653, Charles Martel, a Knight of Malta, constructed the first building on the eastern end of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. After the Denmark purchased St. Croix 80 years later, a sugar mill and home were built on the estate. Later the land was used for growing cotton and raising cattle. In 1922, the Armstrong family took over the property and continued raising cattle until when, in December 1947 they built and opened an 11-room inn. Now the Buccaneer Beach and Golf Resort, Trademark Collection by Wyndham remains in the Armstrong family and is today considered one of the Caribbean’s finest resorts.

Don’t expect to find a lot of cows mooing around now days. Instead of hay bales, the Buccaneer boasts 131 elegant guest rooms, three restaurants, three beaches, two pools, a water sports center, a full-service spa, a 24-hour fitness center, an 18-hole golf course, eight tennis courts, and more. Committed to remaining an individually owned and operated resort, the Buccaneer recently partnered with the Trademark Collection by Wyndham. Located just a short drive to Christiansted, the capital of St. Croix.

Because the Buccaneer is located in the U.S. Virgin Islands no passport is required for U.S. citizens.

The Otesaga Resort Hotel

Located in Cooperstown, New York, The Otesaga Resort Hotel, which opened in 1909 has been the crown jewel of this lovely town nicknamed “America’s Most Perfect Village.” Commissioned by the Clark family, who still owns the hotel today, The Otesaga was a very model of what was state-of-the-art back then featuring such luxuries the many Americans didn’t have in their own home like a telephone in every guest room, individually controlled central heating, and a refrigerator cooled with 30 tons of ice.

Maintaining its old-world aura of charm and grace while evolving with time, The Otesaga today features 132 luxurious guest rooms, including 26 suites, spread among a diverse collection of accommodations. A sampling of all there is to see and do at The Otesaga includes golfing at the resort’s highly rated Leatherstocking Golf Course, swimming at the outdoor heated pool, rejuvenating services at Hawkeye Spa, playing tennis at the two all-weather courts, fishing in Otsego Lake using equipment provided by the resort, and more. Guests can also enjoy a rich diversity of dining options at the resort including The Hawkeye Bar & Grill, which serves comfort foods and delicious cocktails.

Though formerly a seasonal hotel, closing in October, The Otesaga is now open year round.

HOTEL DUPONT in Wilmington, Delaware

In the early 1900s, the growth of the DuPont Company and the need for hotel and entertainment venues lead the company’s president and secretary-treasurer to commission the development of HOTEL DUPONT. The building, which originally served as the headquarters for the DuPont Company, was the first skyscraper in Wilmington. When it opened in 1913, the luxurious European-inspired hotel featured 150 guest rooms and served as a financial and social epicenter for Wilmington’s elite. A 1918 expansion brought such additions as 118 more guest rooms, a “Gold Ballroom,” and a theater that is today known as the Playhouse on Rodney Square. Throughout the years, the iconic hotel has undergone renovations true to its original roots but with all the amenities expected by discerning travelers. A prime example is the reimagining of the legendary Green Room, originally serving as a venerable gathering place for politicians, business leaders and the occasional celebrity, after a recent remodel, it now is known as Le Cavalier at The Green Room, a French brasserie with a relaxing and inviting vibe.

Inn at Montchanin Village & Spa in Montchanin, Delaware

The Inn at Montchanin Village & Spa, located in the beautiful Brandywine Valley and at one time part of the Winterthur Estate. Its name is a homage to Alexandria de Montchanin, grandmother of Henry Francis du Pont who founded the DuPont Company. One of the few villages or what were also known as company towns still remaining, thee village was where those laborers working the DuPont mills lived. Comprised of 11 restored buildings dating back to 1799, the Inn’s 28 guest rooms and suites today blend historic charm with luxury and modern comforts. Furnished with period and reproduction furniture and marble baths, several of the rooms include cozy fireplaces and many offer beautifully landscaped private courtyards. The property also features a spa, a restaurant housed in a renovated blacksmith shop, and a private “Crow’s Nest” dining room for up to 40 guests.

Hotel Gunter in Frostburg, Maryland

Hotel Gunter, located along Historic Route 40 in the heart of Frostburg’s growing Arts and Entertainment District, was originally named Hotel Gladstone when it opened in 1897 on the National Road, America’s first federally funded highway. The name changed in 1903 when William Gunter bought the property and embarked upon a 20-year, $35,000 renovation adding such enhancements using electricity instead of gas lamps with electricity. Other improvements meant adding a dining room that sat 175, and when Prohibition loomed, a speakeasy in the basement bar. A savvy businessman Gunter added a jail cell—but not for regular guests. Instead, it was a place for federal agents transporting prisoners to house their charges and enjoy a wonderful stay themselves. T Marhe jail cell is still there but now it’s just a place for the guests to explore. As a nod to its past, the speakeasy was restored though there no longer is cockfighting as there was one hundred years earlier. Amenities also include cozy rooms and event banquet facilities. Hotel Gunter also shares space with Toasted Goat Winery and Route 40 Brewing and Distilling Company.

Town Hill Bed & Breakfast in Little Orleans, Maryland

Sitting atop Town Hill Mountain and surrounded by the 44,000-acre Green Ridge State Forest in Allegany County, “The Mountain Side of Maryland,” Town Hill Bed & Breakfast was originally built as a fruit stand in 1916. By 1920, it had become the first tourist hotel in Maryland offering accommodations to those traveling by machine as automobiles were commonly called at the time. Up until then, car gypsies as they were sometimes called, when ready to get off the road, would stop at a farmer’s house and inquire if they could camp on their property. The prices were typically right–$5 might get you a spare room in the house and a homecooked breakfast by the farmer’s wife. Camping was even cheaper.

Like the Hotel Gunter, Town Hill Bed & Breakfast is on the historic National Road. It’s also near the C&O Canal National Park, a perfect place for cyclists and hikers traveling along the historic canal’s towpath. The Inn retain much of its original woodwork and furnishings loving preserved during its many renovations. Today, the 101-year-old Inn offers such amenities as 27 guest rooms, a 65-seat dining room where their legendary breakfasts are served, campfire area and easily accessible hiking trails. Another plus is the overlook with its panorama view of three states and seven counties.

Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel & Spa

The Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel & Spa in Mobile, Alabama

The site of the Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel & Spa dates to the beginning of the 19th century when it served as the headquarters of General Andrew Jackson during the War of 1812. The first hotel to debut here was the Franklin House in 1825. In 1829, new hoteliers opened the Waverly Hotel on the site, before the Battle Brothers – James, John and Samuel – constructed their own hotel here in 1852. After operating as an independent hotel for more than a century, the proprietors sold the company in 1958 and is now one of Marriott International’s prestigious Renaissance Hotels brand. The Battle House has 238 sleeping rooms, including 31 luxury suites; a 10,000 square-foot European spa with eight treatment rooms; a state-of-the-art fitness center; and a rooftop pool. Unique dining experiences include The Trellis Room, which serves family-style Italian cuisine at dinner; Joe Cain Café, which serves soups, sandwiches, pizza and salads; and Royal Street Tavern, featuring a menu of appetizer favorites.

Fort Condé Inn in Mobile, Alabama

MBCVB Facebook Banner shots – Thanksgiving Season

The Forte Condé Inn, the second-largest house, built in 1836, was an elegant mansion but time isn’t always kind and the hotel fell into disrepair before being expertly restored in 2010. Now the Inn, alongside nine other restored historic properties that are part of Fort Condé Village. Located in the heart of downtown Mobile, Forte Condé Inn is among the city’s most historic landmarks. A four-star boutique hotel, guests can immerse themselves into the unique charms of its past but have the most modern of amenities. Featuring dozens of one-of-a-kind accommodations in the village with its cobblestone streets lined with century oaks, and verandahs lit by gas lanterns. The inn, known for its legendary breakfasts that pay homage to the many cultures and cuisines in Mobile, recently opened Bistro St. Emanuel.

Freelancing Equals Freedom: How to Become a Writer as a Digital Nomad

Freelance opportunities have always been attractive to people who crave freedom and flexibility in their professional lives. Thanks to technology, it’s now easier than ever to work remotely from the location of your choosing as a writer. You may even have such success that you end up morphing your freelance gigs into a bona fide small business opportunity. Guest blogger Lisa Walker of Neighborhood Sprout shares some tips on how to make it happen.

Assess Your Skill Sets

There are a number of different occupations that can be done in a freelance or independent contracting capacity. Before exploring the potential for your industry, make a self-assessment that includes an honest appraisal of your ability to work and write in a sometimes challenging environment. Being knowledgeable in your field, having enough industry contacts, and being well prepared can all help boost your odds for success. Good time management skills and a self-starter personality are essential to being a freelance writer.

Where Will You Work?

As a freelancer, you won’t be working a 9-to-5 office schedule, but you will need to have the appropriate workspace and equipment to be able to do your job effectively. This typically means a quality laptop with reliable internet connectivity as well as access to private and quiet work spaces you can use as necessary. You may also need a noise-blocking headset or private workspace that allows you to conduct Zoom or phone conversations with potential clients. You may even be able to work on-site for some of your clients, reducing the need for your own office space.

When first starting out, choose a handful of job boards where you can detail your work skills and experience as well as share your portfolio. For example, you can offer blog writing services through a site like Upwork. Here, potential clients can read reviews from other clients and learn more about what you have to offer.

Traveling as a Freelancer

According to Influence Digest, many freelancers decide to work in this capacity so they have the ability to travel and to build flexibility into their lives. Others travel because it’s related to their particular line of work. For example, if you’re a freelancer who reviews vacation destinations or different points of interest across the globe, you may be traveling on a regular basis. If costs are not covered as part of your assignment, look for low-cost rentals and off-season travel times, and make sure tech capabilities are adequate so you can efficiently do your job. Travel via public transportation or fly standby. According to CNET, having a credit card that gives you rewards points toward travel can also be beneficial.

Building a Business

You may find that demand for your writing is expanding to a point where you’d like to establish yourself as a small business. In this case, taking the steps to register a business name and establish a formal business entity is a good idea. A DBA, which stands for “doing business as,” is the way to name your company without necessarily having to attach your own name to it from a public perspective. A DBA makes it easier to branch out into ancillary services if you decide you would like to do work for different industries under the same business umbrella. You can also use the DBA to establish banking and online accounts, as well as use it in billing statements and in cashing checks.

Working as a freelance writer provides numerous opportunities for flexibility and choosing work you find personally and professionally rewarding. As a small business, you may also have a greater degree of control over your earnings. Careful budgeting will be essential to ensuring success. Also keep in mind that as a freelancer, you’ll have to pay your own share of taxes as well as that of your “employer” (you) in making contributions to your Social Security account. Keep these matters in mind for long-term planning, budgeting, and expense tracking.

Best destinations for traveling gourmets

If you believe that every meal when you travel should be sublime then you’re in luck because BSpoke Travel has curated a marvelous list of Italian—and one Moroccan—hotels and restaurants that’s perfect for traveling gourmets.

Borgo Santo Pietro, Tuscany, Italy

At Borgo Santo Pietro a team of farmers, culinary gardeners, and talented chefs work together to create an ultimate Michelin-starred dining experience. Meo Modo offers a well-balanced gourmet tasting menu with a right proportion of vegetables, protein, and carbons. Borgo estate’s productions include over 300 types of vegetables, fruits, herbs, cheese, and meat.

If you are fancy for more traditional Italian food Trattoria sull’Albero offers a menu with a wide selection of pasta dishes, main courses, and antipasti made only from the fresh estate’s products or bought from local producers.

Nordelaia, Piedmont, Italy

This new boutique hotel situated in the UNESCO world heritage site of Montferrat, deep in Italy’s Piedmont wine country, has two restaurants curated by a head chef and mentor Andrea Ribaldone and a resident chef Charles Pearce. Two restaurants L’Orto and The Bistrot combine the authenticity of Piedmontese cuisine with the experimental ambition of modern fine dining.

L’Orto Restaurant is a relaxed fine-dining concept. The menu is based solely on freshly caught seafood from the Ligurian coast and locally grown vegetables.

The Bistrot offers a more informal experience, focusing on Piedmontese ingredients, culture, and stories of the region. The main approach chosen by the chefs is respect for the traditions of the region while experimenting and pushing boundaries.

Ciasa Salares, Dolomites, Italy

Run by the Wieser Family ever since its establishment in 1964, the hotel is well known for its outstanding wine cellar and food experience.

Cocun is a wine-cellar restaurant with over 1900 labels, 24,000 bottles from every corner of the world, and a voyage over 1,000 culinary latitudes by the cold cuts, the cheeses, and the 15 dishes prepared with carefully selected ingredients.

        Nida is the cheese room and boasts a selection of 65 raw-milk cheeses, jams, chutneys, and jellies.

  Nodla is the chocolate room, where you can dive into a world of no less than 120 different kinds of chocolate.

Other dining options include a new Sori Restaurant with the sun-kissed Infiní “Eat on Beat” Terrace and Bona Lüna Dine Bar – perfect for early-evening aperitifs or after-dinner drinks.

Capri Tiberio Palace, Capri, Italy

Capri Tiberio Palace, the iconic property located just a few steps from Piazzetta, is known also for its fizzy splendid style inspired by La Dolce Vita. At Terrazza Tiberio the Executive Chef Nello Siano offers a new menu inspired by the Mediterranean diet but with an unexpected international flavours.

Fairmont Taghazout Bay, Agadir, Morocco

Nestled in the heart of Taghazout Bay, the resort sprawls on 18 hectares of olive groves and argan gardens with the Atlantic Ocean as its backdrop, Fairmont Taghazout Bay features a wide variety of culinary experiences through different themed restaurants and bars:

•          Morimoto restaurant – modern Japanese cuisine with fresh ingredients in an elegant and sophisticated atmosphere;

 •          Beef & Reef – Mediterranean cuisine where seafood and meat dishes are presented with unexpected pairing suggestions;

 •          NOLA bar – a wide selection of original and creative cocktails and a list of premium spirits to be paired with chocolate and cigars.

Vilon, Rome, Italy

Vilòn Roma, located steps away from Palazzo Borghese and Via Dei Condotti, is now known for the restaurant Adelaide that just won the prize as one of the best places for all’amatriciana – a famous traditional Roman dish.

The menu changes according to the seasons and includes Roman classics with modern twists. Sunday’s lunches are dedicated to “Il Pranzo della Domenica” when, according to the local market’s offer, Executive Chef Gabriele Muro expresses his creativity at the best.

Maalot, Rome, Italy

Located in the original residence of Gaetano Donizetti Maalot Roma is primarily a restaurant, and then a hotel. Designed to celebrate life and social gathering, Don Pasquale is set to be an all-day dining experience for locals and hotels guests. Named after one of the most renowned works of Gaetano Donizetti, the restaurant menu pays homage to the tradition and attention to what the new modern food lovers are looking for.

Expect Maritozzo con la Panna, Pizza with Mortadella, and a vast choice of cooked eggs reinvented with roman traditional ingredients. Lunch and dinner options include a wide range of vegetables from local producers to meet the needs of modern trends. And do stay for an aperitif – Maritozzo Salato is a must-try!

Because I always like to include a recipe, here is one for Gricia from my acquaintance Katie Parla, a food writer and author of Tasting Rome: Fresh Flavors and Forgotten Recipes from an Ancient City: A Cookbook and Food of the Italian South Recipes For Classic, Disappearing, and Lost Dishes: A Cookbook who lives in Rome. The following recipe was featured in her story, When I First Moved to Rome, I Found the Sunday Dinners I Never Had, sponsored by Lagostina.

“This classic Roman pasta sauce always features Pecorino Romano, guanciale, and plenty of black pepper,” writes Katie. “But if I’m making a few dishes for a dinner party, like this Roman-style stuffed zucchini, I’ll often enrich the pasta with the insides of the zucchini that’s leftover from the recipe. After all, there’s no sense in wasting the cored inside of the zucchini, which is suited to cooking in rendered guanciale fat until creamy. Toss the zucchini and guanciale with the pasta (a large, round type of pasta called mezze maniche), plus a little bit of pasta water, and stir it vigorously until a thick sauce forms.”

PREP TIME: 10 minutes

COOK TIME: 25 minutes

SERVES: 4 to 6

  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 7 ounces guanciale, cut into 1 1/2 x 1/2-inch strips
  • Cored insides of 6 zucchini, roughly chopped
  • Sea salt
  • 1 pound rigatoni, mezze maniche, paccheri, or other tubular pasta
  • 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over low heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the guanciale and cook, stirring, until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Add the zucchini, season with salt, and cook until the zucchini is softened and cooked through, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Salt the water. When the salt has dissolved, add the pasta and cook until al dente.

Add a ladle of the pasta cooking water to the skillet with the zucchini and bring to a simmer. When the pasta is very al dente, drain, reserving the cooking water. Add the pasta and another ladle of its cooking water to the pan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring vigorously, until a thick sauce forms, adding more water if necessary to achieve the desired consistency.

Remove the skillet from the heat and, add 3/4 cup of the Pecorino Romano, and mix thoroughly. Season to taste.

Plate and sprinkle each portion with some of the remaining Pecorino Romano and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

YOU’RE INVITED TO A SPECIAL CENTENNIAL WEDDING RECEPTION FOR ERNEST AND HADLEY (RICHARDSON) HEMINGWAY

Get set for the wedding of the last century when, as part of its year-long HEMINGWAY HOMECOMING celebration, the Village of Walloon Lake hosts its “Hemingway Centennial Wedding Reception.”

Tickets for the event are now available for its “Hemingway Centennial Wedding Reception” on Friday, September 3 at the Talcott Center. The event, benefitting the Michigan Hemingway Society, is being held on the 100th anniversary of Ernest Hemingway’s wedding to Hadley Richardson. A special appearance by the newlyweds Ernest & Hadley is one of the highlights of this commemorative evening.

The evening begins at 6 p.m. with a Hemingway themed Happy Hour that features a cash bar and such spirits as wine from Walloon Lake Winery, Two Hearted Ale from Bell’s Brewery and spirits from Michigan’s Wise Men Distillery and Papa’s Pilar, a brand endorsed by the Hemingway Foundation.

Dinner, featuring foods from the Pinehurst Inn in Horton Bay (the same place the real Ernest and Hadley said “I do) will be served by Wine Guys Catering in Petoskey at 7 o’clock. Menu items the inn’s famous fried chicken, poached local fish, cabbage salad, tomato pudding, sweet potatoes with apples, Parker House rolls and Velvet cake for dessert.

Throughout the evening, attendees are invited to bid on a variety of unique Hemingway and Walloon Lake themed items and experiences, with live auctioneer Scott MacKenzie of Boyne City.

For those interested in an after-hours party, a cash bar with signature cocktails as well as cigars – available for purchase on-site from Ernesto’s in Petoskey – will be offered on the Talcott patio until 11 o’clock.

Tickets for the “Hemingway Centennial Wedding Reception” are $125 per person, $200 per couple or $1000 for a VIP sponsored table for eight guests (with space limited to 200). Tickets can be purchased online here: https://hemingwayweddingreception.eventbrite.com.

On Saturday, September 4, village officials will dedicate a series of historical signs in Circle Park downtown, which tell the story of early visitors and residents to Walloon Lake (first called Bear Lake, then Tolcott/Talcott) – from the trains, passenger steamboats and resorts – as well as several pieces specific to Hemingway, in partnership with the Michigan Hemingway Society.

Ernest Hemingway was just three months old when he made his first trip from his hometown of Oak Park, IL to Walloon Lake where his parents – Clarence and Grace (Hall) – had purchased property along the North Shore. He spent time each and every summer until 1922 at the family’s beloved Windemere cottage (including his 1921 honeymoon). The cottage is still owned by descendants of the Hemingway family.

Details for all upcoming events will be posted on the village website at WalloonLakeMi.com or online www.Facebook.com/WalloonLakeMi

Walloon Lake YouTube (The Nick Adams Stories Discussions)

Hemingway Daiquiri

We don’t know if Ernest drank these at his first wedding, but they are said to be one of his favorites so in case you want to toast this great American author, celebrate with one of his cocktails.

Hemingway Daiquiri

  • Ice
  • 2 ounces white rum
  • ¾ ounce fresh lime juice
  • ½ ounce fresh grapefruit juice
  • ½ ounce maraschino liqueur
  • 1 lime wheel, for garnish (optional)

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add all of the remaining ingredients except the lime wheel and shake well. Strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with the lime wheel

ROCK SPRINGS CAFE: A TASTE OF THE OLD URBAN WEST

         At one time a stagecoach stop because of its natural springs creating the ideal place for watering horses and passengers as they crossed the Sonoran Desert, Rock Springs, a chunk of land just north of Maricopa County off Interstate-17, is the site of one of Arizona’s oldest restaurants as well as an iconic salute to the old west.

         It started in 1918 when Ben Warner erected a canvas tent and started selling mining equipment for those digging for gold and silver in the Bradshaw Mountain range. One of the mines, the Tip Top, ultimately yielded over $4,000,000 worth of silver. Now a ghost town with some buildings remaining, at one time the population reached 500.

  Ranching was also big and so even though the stagecoach era was ending, Warner soon had gas pumps and a building that functioned as a hardware store and café with hotel rooms on the top floor. Early Silver Screen actress Jean Harlow—known for her platinum hair—stayed so frequently (why we don’t know but it may be because of the still found on the property signifying that despite Prohibition alcohol could be had here as well as water) that the room where she stayed is now a museum. Cowboy movie star Tom Mix was also said to spend the night.

         I-17 was a sheep trial back then and herds of 20,000 sheep were driven up the dirt trail to Flagstaff. The Rock as it was called had the only telephone in the area. The number, if you needed to call, was Yavapai County #93. The post office was housed in the hotel and Warner was the postmaster until it closed in 1955. There were no tanker trucks delivering gas and so Warner brought it in five-gallon cans. Because cars used a lot of water back then, there were canvas bags that could be filled with water to take along for when the radiator went dry.

         “Cars going up the incline which was made of gravel and dirt would stop here to add water to their radiators,” says Augie Perry who owns the Rock Springs Café outside of Black Canyon City.

         Now you can buy all the hardware you want at one of the big box stores in Phoenix, everyone has cell phones, the hotel is closed, and the rooms where people stayed are now used to sell arts and crafts but much of Warner’s original store remains. The original flooring, timber, and staircase remain as does the reputation for traditional American diner food—steak and eggs, chicken fried steak, liver and onions, fried chicken, and grind the meat for the hamburgers and meat loaf they serve. 

 Mrs. Warner made pies and Perry has kept up that tradition as well but on steroids. Rock Springs Café sells about 120,000 handmade pies a year—their busiest times being around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. During the regular non-holiday week, they sell 250 to 350 pies daily and 500 each day of the weekend. The demand was so high that they started shipping pies about six years ago.

Their most popular pie is the Jack Daniels Bourbon Pecan Pie which Sean Penn ordered when he stopped by a few years back. My favorite is the Tennessee Lemon Pie, but for whatever taste, there’s a pie—chocolate silk, lemon meringue, banana cream, mixed berries, you name it. Their cream pies have a signature top to them—beehive cones that twists up and has been lightly given a pass over with a torch for a slight touch of golden brown atop the peaks. The pie business is so good that Perry, who has a long history as a consultant for large restaurant groups and also owns another eatery in Prescott, Arizona, has just renovated the old stone building where the Warners lived into The Pie Box. It had fallen into disrepair but now will sell pies and other pastries and feature seating areas both inside and out. Another plus, instead of crowding the restaurant and gift shop, people can come and get their pies here.

The property—about 60 acres—is private and it’s a free-range place. For Great Lakes people like me, that doesn’t mean much but in Arizona that translates to cows getting to roam free—which they do. Typically, in the morning they come around to drink from the spring. We haven’t heard of any ordering a pie to go but may be that’s next. They usually are gone by afternoon, maybe because they don’t want to be in vicinity when it comes time to make hamburgers. Because there’s a spring here, the gardens are pretty and lush with flowering plants, grass, and leafy trees. A small collection of historic buildings sells Native American art, organic and freshly grown produce, and specialty foods. There’s a wide selection of foods in the gift shop area of the café as well including cactus candies and other cactus goodies. Another room contains a huge Brunswick Bar built in 1856 and other artifacts from its early history.

Rock Springs in the 1920s and 1930s was what Perry describes as being an “urban western” place with a mix of cars and horses. That’s in comparison to Tombstone which was “frontier western”—pretty much just horses.  Whichever you stumble upon, it’s a refreshing reminder of what the west once was like.

Chicken Fried Steak

1 1/2 cups whole milk

2 large eggs

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons seasoned salt

Freshly ground black pepper

3/4 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 pounds cube steak (tenderized round steak that’s been extra tenderized)

Kosher salt

1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil

1 tablespoon butter

Gravy:

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

3 to 4 cups whole milk

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 Mix the milk with the eggs. In another bowl, flour with the seasoned salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper, paprika and cayenne.

 Sprinkle both sides of each steak with kosher salt and black pepper, then place it in the flour mixture, coating on both sides.  Dip in the milk/egg mixture, again coating each side and then dip on both sides in the flour.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the steaks three at a time making sure not to crowd them until their edges turn golden brown, about 2 minutes each side. Drain on paper towels and cover with another plate or tin foil to keep warm. Repeat with the next batch..

After all the meat is fried, pour off the oil/butter/dredgings into a heatproof bowl. Without cleaning the skillet, return it to the stove over medium-low heat. Add 1/4 cup of the oil back to the skillet and heat.

 Sprinkle the flour evenly over the hot oil. Mix the flour using a flour and stir until it turns a deep golden brown color.

Pour in the milk, whisking constantly. Add the seasoned salt and black pepper to taste and cook, whisking, until the gravy is smooth and thick, 5 to 10 minutes. Be prepared to add more milk if it becomes overly thick.

Jack Daniel’s Pecan Pie

 6 servings

1 cup granulated sugar

4 tbsp melted butter

1/2 cup dark corn syrup

3 large eggs, beaten

1 1/2 cup Pecan halves

2 1/2 tbsp Jack Daniel’s

1-9 inch pie shell, unbaked

Preheat oven at 375.

In a bowl, add sugar, melted butter, Jack Daniel’s and stir well.

Then add dark corn syrup, beaten eggs, pecans and stir well.

Place filling into pie shell. Transfer pie onto cookie sheet and place in oven.

Bake at 375 for 10 minutes. Then lower to 350 and bake for additional 25 minutes or until pie has set.

Tennessee Lemon Pie

3 eggs, separated

Zest of 1 lemon

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup extra-fine sugar, divided

1 9-inch Pure Butter Pie Crust, pre-baked (see recipe below)

In a medium-sized bowl, beat egg yolks for 2 minutes. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and 1/2 cup granulated sugar.

Transfer mixture to a double boiler and cook, stirring constantly, until very thick and a thermometer reads at least 182°F, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and let cool for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, beat egg whites with a hand mixer or stand mixer, until stiff peaks form. Add remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar and beat until just combined.

Fold egg whites into the custard, until just combined. Pour into pre-baked pie crust and then bake for 15 minutes, until pie is set. Top will lightly brown.

Pure Butter Pie Crust

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, preferably unbleached

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, unsalted and very cold

1/4 cup buttermilk or ice cold water

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon extra fine granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place flour in a bowl of an electric mixer and place in freezer along with mixer’s paddle attachment for at least 20 minutes.

Cut butter quickly in small cubes and place in freezer for 15 minutes.

Combine buttermilk with salt, sugar and vanilla extract and place in refrigerator.

Remove cold flour bowl from the freezer and add butter. With paddle attachment mix mixture on medium speed until butter pieces become smaller than peas and mixture feels like coarse meal.

With machine mixing on low speed add buttermilk mixture very fast and mix just until dough forms. Do not overmix. Chill dough in refrigerator for at least one hour.

Roll dough into desired thickness of about 1/8 inch and use for baking pie. Shapes of leaves can be cut out for pies if desired.

For more information about Rock Springs Café, (623) 374-5794; rocksprings.cafe

IRELAND’S ROMANTIC CASTLES: A LUXURIOUS TRIP INTO HISTORY

Frequented by showbiz royalty and actual royalty alike, Irish castles have long been famous for their ancient history and heritage, their beauty and romance, and with many also offering the ultimate in five-star luxury. What better way to explore Ireland’s past then with an ultimate road trip visiting the following wonderful castles and their gardens.

Dunluce Castle, County Antrim

North Coast Sept 2011

The sprawling ruins of the medieval castle sitting at a cliff edge are all that is left of the fortress that was once the seat of the earls of Antrim. Dunluce Castle was home to rebellion and intrigue over centuries and is said to have inspired CS Lewis to create Cair Paravel, capital of Narnia. Here you might have to share the space with banshees (fairy ghosts) that are said to haunt the ruins.

Glenarm Castle, County Antrim

Since 1636 Glenarm Castle has been an important centre along the spectacular Causeway Coastal Route in Northern Ireland. Here you could relax in the sumptuously decorated lounge while viewing portraits that date from the early 17th century. Imagine strolling through the walled garden and then ending the day with a restful sleep in a four poster bed dating from 1754.

Tullynally Castle, County Westmeath

Tullynully

Overlooking the lake where the legendary Children of Lir were said to swim when they were turned into swans, Tullynally is a beautiful gothic-style castle. With over 120 rooms including the magnificent Great Hall, you would have plenty of space to roam. Outdoors the grounds include a grotto, a walled flower garden, two ornamental lakes and a llama paddock.

Birr Castle, County Offaly

Birr Castle, County Offaly

Indoors and outdoors you’d be surrounded by splendour at Birr Castle. The opulent interior rooms include a Victorian dining room and octagonal Gothic saloon. The gardens are some of the most stunning in Ireland with exotic flowers, waterfalls and lakes and in the grounds sits the fascinating Leviathan telescope, once the largest in existence.

Blackrock Castle, County Cork

Originally built to protect Cork Harbour, imposing Blackrock Castle with its towers and turrets is today home to the astronomical research centre of the Cork Institute of Technology. The castle offers splendid views over the water and you could amuse yourself by spending time at the award-winning interactive astronomy exhibition, Cosmos at the Castle.

Ballynahinch Castle, County Galway

This fairytale castle set against the gorgeous backdrop of Connemara’s Twelve Bens mountain range has been home to some of the most infamous figures of Irish history, among them the pirate queen and chieftain, Grace O’Malley, and the ‘Ferocious O’Flaherty Clan’. The extensive grounds provide an ideal walking area and the evening could be spent curled up in front of an open fire.

www.ireland.com

Hummingbird Lounge: Appalachia cooking Meets New American Cuisine on Michigan’s Sunset Coast.

         Raised in Southern Appalachia in Stagg Creek, a slip of a town tucked in a corner of North Carolina hills and hollows near the Tennessee state line, Shane Graybeal describes the region as “food heaven” and the beginning of his fascination with food.

         “Both my grandparents had farms,” says Graybeal, who after graduating from culinary school at Johnson & Wales University in Charleston, South Carolina worked in France, Italy, Washington D.C. and spent seven years in Chicago working at such well known restaurants as  Bin 36 and Sable Kitchen & Bar. Along the way he was inducted into Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, the world’s oldest, largest and most prestigious food and wine society.

         But he missed small town living and being close to the farms where he sourced his foods.

          “I’ve been a fan of Southwest Michigan for many years,” says Graybeal who now is executive chef at the recently opened Hummingbird Lounge in New Buffalo. “When I was living and working in Chicago, I  sourced a lot from Southwest Michigan.”

         Among the local food producers they use are the Mick Klug Farm in St. Joseph and Kaminski Farms Meats in Three Oaks.

         Another plus for Graybeal was being back in a small town.

         “Though compared to Stagg’s Creek, which has a population of about 300, New Buffalo seems like a big city,” Graybeal adds with a laugh.

         Graybeal describes his food as a “cheffy take on American classics, comfortable food all dressed up.” I loved the description but was surprised to learn that “cheffy” is an actual word meaning relating to or characteristic of a chef.

         His take on food matches the overall philosophy of Hummingbird’s owner and operator Ben Smock who wanted to create a cocktail bar and restaurant that was comfortable and “served food you want to eat.” The lounge opened in April and is located in what had been a grand home built in 1901 that once housed a creperie in  New Buffalo.

         Smock has an extensive background in the food industry starting when he worked at his grandfather’s bowling alley in Davison, Michigan where he grew up. He graduated from Michigan State University’s hospitality program, worked at McCormick Place, Levy Restaurant group and the Ravinia Music Festival and started his own consulting business where he provided food service planning and events. He’s also opened a number of venues.

         The menu changes frequently, depending on what’s in season. Graybeal was excited because the first peaches were hitting the market along with blueberries and raspberries.

         “I’m thinking fruit cobblers,” he says.

         He also brings a bit of Appalachia to the menu.

         “Food is very important there,” he says, making one want to jump in a car and head south to see what he’s talking about. “And I think in the right context—pickling, charcuterie, foraging–it comes across very well.”

Earlier in the season, he took ramps, cut them into a tiny matchstick size and flash fried the garlicky wild greens to add to an asparagus dish. We’re guessing that the round super thin pickled with cherry Kool-Aid hails from the mountains as well—and they’re delicious.

Graybeal also made ramp vinegar which he now uses in some of his dishes. Now with fresh Michigan peaches available, he makes a jam to pair with pork, but kicks it up a notch with the addition of jalapeno peppers.

But, he notes, the food is a side note to the cocktails and what’s on the menu are more like a tapas bar—nibbles that are share,able. The Lounge’s cocktail team takes what Graybeal is preparing in the kitchen and concocts drinks to accent his flavors.

The cocktails—which also change frequently—have in the past included a Smoked Pineapple Margarita, a tequila based drink with seasoned and smoked pineapple and salted foam, The HRG Manhattan using Traverse City Whisky Company blend along with sweet Vermouth, Angostura bitters and a fancy cherry and A Real Dandy Old Fashioned with rum, demerara syrup, bitters and expressed orange. For those who don’t drink, there are spirit-free cocktails. There’s also a small wine list offering by the glass or bottle and local brews.

         Why did they name the place Hummingbird? Smock says they chose it because hummingbirds drink all day and it just fit because they are open throughout the season. For warm weather dining, there’s a large back porch and garden area. The garage has been redone and is now an inviting event space. The interior of the restaurant itself is very cozy with a curated antiquated feel to go with the history of the home including a fireplace flanked by columns, its mantel topped with a large mirror and coach lanterns, cozy rooms, polished wood floors, and the deep gray walls are accented with lots of white woodwork. The bar is sleek—less Victorian and more urban trendy which makes for a nice contrast.

Chef Graybeal’ s Pork and Peaches

Rub pork belly with salt, sugar, and vanilla powder. Place in pot. Cover and marinate overnight. The next day cover with lard and cook on low heat for three to four hours. Cool and then crisp up in a hot pan until golden brown and tender.

Peach Jam

Cook together for two hours, them finish with a squeeze of lime juice. Puree in blend until smooth and cool.

To serve—crisp the pork belly, put two ounces of jam on a warmed plate, top with the pork belly, slice a peach and toss with aged sherry vinegar, basil, parsley and mint and a little olive oil. Place on top of the pork.

Beef Skewers with Whipped Feta

For the Beef Skewers:

Grind the brisket, combine with the other ingredients and whip with the paddle attachment. Form into balls and then into long rolls, place each roll on a skewer.  Grill for six minutes on both sides.

For the Whipped Feta:

Combine in the mixer, whip using the the whip attachment until light and fluffy-like similar to icing.

Just for fun, I thought I’d include a recipe for Kook-Aid brined veggies.

Trish Yearwood’s Fruit Drink Pickles

Drain the brine from the pickles into a bowl. Add the fruit drink packet and sugar into the brine and stir until dissolved. Pour the brine back to the jar, discarding any that’s leftover. Refrigerate at least 2 days and up to 1 month.     

Historic Swiss Journeys

 Travel back into the past by car or aboard the Treno Gottardo, a VIP train trip along an ancient trade route that crosses the fantastical Gotthard Pass, a north south journey connecting the German speaking region of Uri to the Ticino, the Italian speaking area of Switzerland.

Prehistoric Pile Dwellings in the Alps

In 2011, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee added the remains of prehistoric pile-dwelling also known as stilt house settlements in and around six Alpine countries that were built from around 5,000 to 500 B.C. on the edges of lakes, rivers or wetlands to their list.

The sites provide glimpses into what life was like in prehistoric times during the Neolithic and Bronze Age in Alpine Europe as well as the way communities interacted with their environment. In an exciting new find, archaeologists diving in Lake Lucerne discovered pile dwellings from the Bronze Age.

Exploring Roman History           

Augusta Raurica near Augst/Kaiseraugst, a 2000-year-old settlement on the southern bank of the Rhine, is located near the beautiful city of Basel. Named after the Celtic Rauriker tribe and the Roman Emperor Augustus, the city at its peak had a population of around 20,000 with workshops, commercial enterprises, taverns, temples and public baths closely strung together. Because no new towns were established during the Middle Ages or our modern area, Augusta Raurica is amazingly  well-preserved.

Visitors can view the myriad of wonders discovered here like the largest silver treasure dating from Late Antiquity, a Roman domestic animal park with ancient animal species, and the architectural remnants of the city, the museum offers great insights into the daily lives of the people who lived here around the time of Christ’s birth.

1821—Napoleon’s End

On May 5 was the 200th anniversary of the death of Napoleon I on the island of St. Helena, where he was placed in exile. His stepdaughter Hortense des Beauharnais also lived in exile at Arenenberg Castle and Napoleon Museum in Switzerland.

As the only German-speaking museum on Napoleonic history, a special exhibition during the “Année Napoléon 2021” will take place from October 10-24, 2021, showing the long lasting influence of Napoleon on Switzerland even today.

Inventing Milk Chocolate

Food and beverages reflect a country’s culinary traditions and customs. Many of today’s Swiss cheese brands go back to the 12th century, but Daniel Peter’s much newer creation in 1875 really took the world by storm—a passion that continues today. Peter was able to solve the problem of how to combine chocolate and milk. Most Swiss cities offer chocolate tours and several chocolate brands features visitor experiences.

Newly Restored LGBT Pioneer’s Spectacular Painting Returns to Monte Verità

After a lengthy restoration, the super large circular painting “Il Chiaro Mondo dei Beati” or “The Clear World of the Blessed”  by Estonian artist and LGBT pioneer Elisàr von Kupffer (1872-1932) is on display at the Monte Verità museum complex located in southern Switzerland near Ascona.

Ballenberg

Instead of destroying more than one hundred historic buildings, many of them farmhouses, were instead carefully taken dismantled and rebuilt at the Ballenberg Swiss Open-Air Museum.

The museum is nestled in the beautiful pastoral landscape of the Bernese Oberland and can be reached by bus from Brienz. The many hands-on activities were created to provide insight in old traditional crafts like forging, weaving, and herbal medical treatments

View Point: HISTORY AND LUXURY AT NEW HAMPSHIRE’S MOUNTAIN VIEW GRAND RESORT

Tucked in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, the Mountain View Grand Resort waits as a classic place to slow down.

When I was young, my family and I traveled along back roads that twisted through rolling hills and historic hamlets as we made our way to grand hotels dating back to the late 1800s. Once there, we’d swim, ride horses and play games such as horseshoes and croquet. But as I grew, these journeys to sprawling old resorts gave way to trips by airplane to big cities, sleek hotels, museums and shows.

And so those distant days seemed irretrievable, a way of vacationing that belonged to a different time. That is until I once again followed a winding country road through the small towns of the White Mountains and arrived at the Mountain View Grand in Whitefield, New Hampshire.

In the late 1800s, the U.S. had more than 1,000 summer resorts, many like this wood-framed escape with its towers, porches and neatly clipped green lawns. Now the 144-room Mountain View Grand, where luminaries such as Mark Twain, Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt, and Babe Ruth stayed, is just one of a handful remaining.

Its luxury is based on old-fashioned style: the attendant-operated elevator, the uniformed bellmen, the arched doorways, the long veranda. Always supercharged, I grow at ease sitting there while I sip Apple Blossoms, fresh cider mixed with local honey, and watch the night mists gather over the mountains. It’s easy to slow down among details that bespeak a time gone by.

The activities that attracted visitors long ago are still part of the resort’s offerings as well. The nine-hole golf course was designed in 1900. The clubhouse was built in 1939. The heated pool was dug in 1946, and the tennis courts were added about the same time.

I opt for taking walks through the extensively landscaped gardens and kayaking on Martin Meadow Pond, where loons provide the day’s soundtrack. And while on a trail ride through the hills, I look for wild turkey, deer, moose and black bears.

Before Mountain View Grand became a hotel, in 1865, it was the Mountain View Farm. And even after the transition, the original owners still relied on their farm to feed guests. Harkening back to those days, the menus in the resort’s four restaurants reflect what is raised here as well as from food producers nearby.

And in another throwback to the resort’s farm heritage, wool is spun from the hair of Mountain View Barn’s alpacas, goats and angora rabbits and sold at the front desk.

Although there’s reverence for the past, there’s respect for the present, too. A wind turbine supplies some of the resort’s electricity. There’s not one stoplight between here and the Canadian border an hour away, but my cell phone signal is strong.

Each day I order a latte, sit in the antique-filled lobby and tap away on my laptop while using the free Wi-Fi. And I get a deep-cleaning facial at the resort’s Tower Spa with its panoramic view of the mountains, one of the many amenities that  has resulted in the resort being award the AAA Four Diamond status since 2002.

On my last day as I drive down Mountain View Road, I turn for a final look at the expansive resort with its green shuttered windows that offers a way to span the centuries and feel at home all in one.

>> Mountain View Road, Whitefield, N.H., 866-484-3843, mountainviewgrand.com

 Depending Upon the Season

Fall | When the 1,700 acres of rolling hills become a confetti of jewel colors, saddle up for a guided trail ride on horseback.

Winter | Become a musher as snow blankets the pine forests, or travel like days of yore in a horse-driven sleigh.

Spring | As the sap rises in the spring, learn about tapping trees and making maple syrup, one of the agricultural programs.

Summer | Head out on the property to search for moose with an experienced guide as dusk falls on a soft evening.

If It Was Good Enough for P.T.

Travel to the top of the mountain the old-fashioned way aboard The Mount Washington Cog Railway, the first mountain-climbing cog railway in the world.  “The Second Greatest Show on Earth!” proclaimed P.T. Barnum who rode to the highest point in the Northeast in 1869 when it first opened.

Close By and Not to Be Missed

Voted one of the America’s Best Little Small Town, Littleton, located on the banks of the Ammonoosuc River, is a delight of history, trendy shops, great green spaces, and public art as well as lots of walking paths within town including its River District, along the Ammonoosuc of course, that encompasses the multi modal bridge on Bridge Street through the Apthorp District on Union Street and beyond into Bethlehem via the Rail Trail. Eleanor Porter, author of Pollyanna, lived here and a statue of her title character celebrates her books and the joy of always looking on the good side of life–making Littleton a happy city.

The Littleton Grist Mill, established at the end of 1700s, is now home to Schilling Beer Co. Located right on the flowing river, it’s a step back into history.

While walking through the historic downtown, make sure to take time to check out Thayer’s Inn, built in 1850 and located on Main Street. Candy lovers will love Chutters, a candy store dating back to the late 1800s with the original 112 feet of the original Guinness World Record candy counter.

Dinner is Served

Considered to be one of the most popular menu items at the Mountain View Grand. This recipe serves 6 people.

Ingredients for the Beef Ribs

  • 12 lbs of bone-in beef short ribs, cut between the bones into 6 ribs
  • 4 tbsp Kosher Salt
  • 4 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 2 cups blended olive oil

Cooking Instructions

Preheat oven to 375*F. Heat oil in a large sauté pan until shimmering. Season beef ribs heavily with salt and black pepper and sear ribs, one or two at a time, on all four sides until well browned. Arrange ribs evenly in a deep oven proof pan.

Ingredients for the Braising Liquid:

  • 46 oz V-8 juice
  • 20 oz tomato juice
  • 32 oz beef broth
  • 12 oz tomato paste
  • 4 cups of cabernet sauvignon wine
  • ½ cup cornstarch mixed with cold water
  • ¼ cup chopped garlic
  • 1 Spanish onion, cut into chunks
  • ½ bunch of celery, cut into chunks
  • 2 carrots, cut into chunks
  • 4 bay leaves
  • ½ oz fresh thyme

Cooking Instructions

Combine the liquids into a large stockpot with a wire whisk. Add the cornstarch slurry and the chopped garlic, along with the tomato paste and mix well. Pour over the beef ribs, until they are almost covered. Any extra liquid can be reserved for later. Top the rib mixture with the chopped vegetables, bay leaves and fresh thyme. Add a sheet of parchment paper to the top of the ribs and wrap with aluminum foil. Place in preheated oven for approximately 3 hours. Check ribs with a pair of tongs. The meat attached to the ribs should be almost falling off the bones and very tender to the touch. Remove beef ribs to a platter and keep warm.

To make the sauce; strain the liquid through a sieve or colander lined with cheese cloth, pressing down on the vegetables to extract as much flavor as possible (you can discard vegetables, or eat them, they too are delicious!). Heat the sauce with any reserved braising liquid in a saucepan on the stove and reduce until the sauce is thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Season to taste with additional salt and black pepper as needed.

Ingredients for the Red Onion Straws

  • 1 large red onion, thinly julienned
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk
  • 1 ½ cups of flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 3 cups vegetable oil for frying

Cooking Instructions

Slice red onions thinly and soak in buttermilk for at least 1 hour (this step can be done a day before you need them).

To fry onions, heat oil to 350*F on the stove with a frying thermometer. Combine flour, salt, black pepper, and paprika in a bowl until well combined. Flour should have a pinkish hue to it (if not, add more paprika). Drain red onions and add to flour and mix well. Sift carefully and add to the hot oil in small batches. Remove golden brown onions with a wire skimmer and drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat the process until you have fried all the onions.

To serve the beef ribs, set up warm plates with your choice of starch and vegetables. Top each plate with a hot beef rib, cover with the cabernet sauce and top with onion straws. For some color you can garnish with your choice of parsley, rosemary, thyme, or pea tendrils.