Cocktail O’Clock: Happy Snowy Spring

Honeydew Cucumber Sour - Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain

OK SERIOUSLY?!? Four to six inches of snowfall in New York today…on the first day of spring?

I don’t care what the weather says, we are ready for some springtime drinks.

Here’s an enticing recipe that comes to us all the way from elements restaurant at Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain in Paradise Valley, Arizona, a place where I would really like to be right now, because I am pretty sure that it is not freaking snowing there.

Honeydew Cucumber Sour

· 1oz Martin Miller’s Reformed Dry Gin

· .5oz fresh lemon Juice

· 1.5oz fresh honeydew juice

· ¼oz  Clover Honey Syrup (here’s a recipe)

· 1 dash Regan’s No. 6 Orange Bitters

·Shake, pour and add sliced cucumber as garnish. Eff the snow.

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Points for Pittsburgh: The Pierogi Hot Dog

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I love talking about crazy sandwiches (clearly) but what I don’t like is when they cross over the border from genius to gimmick (it’s a fine line, people!)

For example, if you serve a hamburger with giant onions ring on top, but then even an extra-large-mouthed person has to deconstruct the burger and take the onion rings off to get any kind of decent bite in, then that’s not really that crazy of a dish. It’s actually just a burger with onion rings on the side, but presented crazily, with more work involved for the eater. #foodaddictproblems

In Pittsburgh this weekend, home of the great Primanti’s french-fry-on-a-sandwich, I was fortunate enough to stop in Franktuary and be offered a hot dog served “Pittsburgh style” — topped with housemade, slaw and a housemade cucumber-y ranch dressing on top. Now, this could easily fall into the gimmick category if they overloaded that dog with so many pierogies that you have to pick them off and eat on the side. But with just two crispy pierogies on top it’s just crazy enough that you can actually pick the whole thing up and get a taste of each element — dog and dumpling included — in each bite.

In fact, they didn’t even offer me a fork. Bravo, Pittsburgh.


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Warm It Up: Salt-Roasted Pork, Beets and Sunchokes


Man, spring is sooooo close I can feel it. I think all of us (on the East Coast, anyway) are ready to be done with this particular winter, but before we bid adieu to constant snowfall, we’ve got time for the only thing I really love about the coldest time of year: winter-warming recipes!

As I set out to make this particular warming winter meal, I had triple endless inspiration from previous meals. The first was a recent experimentation with salt-roasted beets. This method of cooking whole beets over a thick bed of sea salt doesn’t make them particularly salty, but the NaCL does act to seal in all the beet’s good flavor and juiciness — it’s a simple and straight-forward method, but they’re the best beets I ever had. My second inspiration came from back seven years ago (!?!) when 80proof cooked up that delicious-looking salt-crusted red snapper. Similarly, cooking the fish in a salt crust doesn’t make it super-salty; it just works to seal in all the flavor and juiciness.

I had a  beautiful slab of Smithfield rosemary & olive oil marinated pork tenderloin on hand, and I wondered whether I could do the same thing — roasting it in salt in order to keep in all that juicy pork flavor. I also came across a lovely batch of sunchokes at the coop this week, and since good fresh vegetables have been few and far between these past few months, I jumped on them.

That all might sound complicated, but it really wasn’t. All-in this dinner took 30 minutes to prepare, and all three elements came out deliciously juicy, tender, and flavorful…perfect for a snowy day (hopefully one of the last ones!)

Salt-Roasted Pork, Beets and Sunchokes

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A Little Mustard in Your Cocoa?

Colman's Mustard Spicy Hot Chocolate

These days, it’s pretty hard to get me to bat an eye at the craziness of any particular recipe, but I have to say this press-y email caught my eye when it made the suggestion that when it comes to your hot cocoa, “chocolate, cinnamon, and vanilla combined with mustard creates a perfect combination for spicing up this simple yet decadent treat.

Really? Mustard in your chocolate? That just doesn’t sound right to me, but I’m willing to try anything once…Has anyone made this before?

Mustard-Spiced Hot Chocolate

2 cups milk
2 ounces (half a bar) of bittersweet chocolate, broken into chunks or grated
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 cup boiling water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 stick of cinnamon or 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon cocoa extra
A sprinkle of Colman’s Powdered Mustard
A pinch of salt
Optional (lez be real, not optional): A dollop of brandy and a little whipped cream.

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The Endless Road Trip, Philly: A Waffle to End All Waffles



At Philly’s new V Street, the all-vegan menu is inspired by street food from around the world, fusing flavors from as far afield as Hungary, India, Peru and the Philippines into an amazing array of meat-free snacks like jerk trumpet mushrooms and harissa-grilled cauliflower mixed up with spiced avocado, olive salad and chermoula, an intensely flavorful North African marinade.

The cocktails are particularly off-the-wall—the “Cruz Control” mixes tequila with horchata, lime and tepache—a Mexican fermented pineapple drink—but the true crazy prize has to go to this dessert waffle: it’s layered with rich chocolate ganache, gooey bites of banana, vegan ice cream and a chunky miso caramel, with Sriracha peanuts and syrup poured over the whole thing. Yes, please.

(Photo: V Street)

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Endless Road Trip, Philly: Chicken Schmaltz Rugelach


This savory, fat-filled take on the classic Jewish pastry is just the amuse bouche at Abe Fisher, but it’s a perfect introduction to Chef Michael Solomonov’s unique new restaurant, where he explores inventive takes on foods from throughout the Jewish diaspora. Solomonov offers a tiny, flaky take on the rugelach cookie and fills it with schmaltz (clarified chicken fat, a Jewish traditional ingredient usually used for frying or spreading on bread). It may seem like a gimmick, but it’s one of those gimmick-seeming things that actually work, and makes you wonder why they ever put chocolate in these doughy pastries when pure chicken fat works so much better.

Elsewhere at Abe Fisher, the borscht tartare is a deconstructed beet dish topped with trout roe, hard-boiled egg and onion potato chips (any dish that has both caviar and chips wins my vote). The smoked sable cakes are a crispy, crustacean-less Kosher answer to Maryland crab cakes, bursting with the surprisingly effective combination of Old Bay and dill, while the requisite Kosher-busting piggy dish subs pork belly in for pastrami on a delightfully cheesy rueben. Even the simplest dishes here impress, like a side of warm and juicy carrots amped up with aged gouda, little bits of pumpernickel bread pudding and savory prune butter. Overall, one of the best new restaurants in the country I’ve been too lately. Also, it’s March and still like 10 freaking degrees. Can I get some more chicken schmaltz in here please?

(Photo: Yelp / Melissa P.)

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