Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Deborah Solomon stopped by last night

Q: Wow. That is one gorgeous drink. What is it?

A: Isn't it lovely? It's called an Aviation and it contains gin, maraschino liqueur, lemon juice and something called creme de violette that renders it lavender. Steve Martin describes this cocktail in his novel Object of Beauty and I've been obsessed with trying it for the last week.

Q: Is it as good as it looks?

A: I don't know! Wait just a second. . . . Hmm. Okay. No. It is perfumey. I don't love this.

Q: Who cares, so festive.

A: I am sitting on the sofa beside my son who is watching Phineas and Ferb and it feels not very festive. Today I had to replace my falling-apart jeans and that required much self-scrutiny in the harshly-lit mirrors of Macy's, Sundance, and J. Crew. So, I decided to skip evening spin class, buy a bottle of creme de violette, and try a new cocktail.

Q: How's that approach to dieting and discouragement working out for you?

A: I don't think that's a nice question.

Q: Yeesh. Sensitive. Fair enough. You've been working through Food Network star Guy Fieri's new cookbook. How's that going?

A: I've been moving slowly and doubt I 'll get very far. I do like Guy, but his recipes are mostly gimmicky and only moderately delicious. The other night I made his version of beer can chicken. You heavily season the chicken, impale it on an open beer can, and pop it in the oven. The beer supposedly evaporates and keeps the bird moist, while the outside crisps up. Fieri's twist is to drape bacon over the skin.

Q: And that wasn't awesome?

A: It was fine, but I would not go so far as "awesome." Plus, I had to buy a whole 6-pack of Bud. Our supermarket doesn't sell singles.

Q: Quite a change of pace from Heidi Swanson.

A: I know. I miss Super Natural Every Day. Not a lot of vegetables in Fieri's book. I was very hopeful about the Bomb Bakers (recipe is here) but they were not a hit.

You brine the potatoes for 8 hours, roll them in oil and Lawry's seasoned salt, then roast them for an hour. I was very curious about brined potatoes, except to me they just tasted like baked potatoes with inedible, salty skin.

On the other hand, I loved Guy's pork blade steak piccata. Recipe is here.

Q: What's on the table tonight?

A: Bloody Mary flank steak. It's been marinating in V-8, vodka and a lot of other stuff for the last 24 hours.

Q: On another subject entirely, how's the little goat?

A: Wild and impish and she charges at the chickens. We're petting her lots, but pretty soon we're going to need a lasso.

Q: Are you liking the Aviation better now that you're getting to the bottom of the glass?

A: It is vile. I like it so little that, to my shock and disappointment, I'm going to stop at one.


  1. The Steve Martin reference was just right


  2. i like this weird format. did you actually write it during/after that cocktail?

  3. I like your take on dieting. Skip spin class and have a drink!

    On the other hand, don't let one pair of fallen apart jeans determine how happy you are with yourself. I watch "what not to wear" all the time and one thing they are always saying is that you can look great at any size, it is just making sure to highlight your assets. AND don't wait until you are the "perfect size" to dress well.

  4. Adrink that pretty should taste pretty also.Hope the bloody mary flank steak works out better.

  5. a friend of mine's wife recently asked him: "honey, do these pants make my butt look big?" (stupid question)
    his answer: "honey, your butt makes those pants look big."

    so it could be worse.

    good or not, that is one fine looking drink.

  6. Found my way to your very entertaining blog through an article in US Airways magazine about your upcoming book. My husband recommended it to me, and I've been telling everyone it's the best thing I've read in a good while. Looking forward to the book; so many things I could relate to, especially the paragraph that ends with the husband consuming a lot of homemade yogurt...

  7. I've always wanted to try that cocktail. I saw it for the first time in a book called "Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails." The color and the perfume quality is intriguing. My current favorite from this book is the "Lucien Gaudin Cocktail". Apparently he was an Olympic fencer during Prohibition. If you like gin and Campari, you'll like this and it's a pretty pink.
    1 ounce gin, 1/2 ounce Cointreau, 1/2 ounce Campari and 1/2 ounce dry vermouth. Stir in a mixing glass with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

  8. Those potatoes sound vile. The cocktail does not. I've been musing about a rhubarb mojito, which may or may not be vile. Research necessary.

  9. I love that color so much that I want to make that drink even though it's "vile". Also I am in love with the idea of ingesting flowers.

  10. Okay, it was the beer can chicken with bacon that got me!

  11. the cocktail--gorgeous! too bad it didn't live up. the chicken, hilarious--looks like it is ready to walk away from the grill, the potatoes---yuck, I agree. I want to make a purple drink but now I am worried :)

  12. I can't be the only one who thinks that chicken looks hilariously obscene. I want to make one just to see it in real life.

  13. The cocktail you tried is not an Aviation cocktail. The Aviation cocktail is made with gin, lemon juice, and maraschino liqueur. It's sublime, especially if you select a recipe that has a light hand with the amount of maraschino. In early cocktail literature, the Aviation cocktail is sometimes referred to as the prince of cocktails, and deservedly so... Just remember to take it easy with the maraschino, which can overwhelm.

    What you tried is actually a variation on the Aviation known as the Blue Moon cocktail. A proper Blue Moon cocktail is made with gin, lemon juice and Creme Yvette (a subtle violet- and vanilla-flavored liqueur). It's good, but vastly inferior to the Aviation cocktail. Creme Yvette was out of production for several years just as interest in classic cocktails grew (it came back into production last year), so people started substituting with Creme de Violette, a vile concoction that tastes like cheap perfume.

    Please don't count the Aviation cocktail out. In my opinion, a well-made Aviation may be the greatest and most subtle cocktail of them all (nosing out even a great Negroni!). Please get yourself a bottle of maraschino liqueur and give it a try. It's actually worthwhile to get a bottle of it even though it has limited applications in making cocktails; a tiny drizzle of it mixed with fresh pineapple chucks is amazing; it also works wonders on cut-up apples and the otherwise dull mixed fruit salad (honeydew, cantaloupe, grapes, etc.).

  14. Hey - Question -- Have you written a book? My husband came home and read something in a US Air magazine and wants me you read your "book" - I told him it was prob for you "blog" so now we're arguing and he's looking over my shoulder wondering WTH I'm writing... Thanks Karen

  15. ok I think it's funny that I'm not the only wife who's husband is telling me to read your book after they got home from a business trip -

  16. And I think it's funny that for the first time EVER I'm thinking, where can I get my hands on a US Airways magazine???

  17. Don't count out the aviation cocktail. It shouldn't be this undrinkable, and I've learned this is one of those drinks that you need a pro to make, as the first time I did it myself it was pretty awful, followed up sometime later by a well-made one (by someone else). "Make the food, buy the drinks."

    For another tidbit, I've heard the creme de violette makes it appear blue to match the sky.

  18. Regarding a comment on a previous post from a former classmate of mine who found the photo of Owen being a goof rang a old school bell for her: Owen at the moment can be an endearing goof, whereas I was only an obnoxious goof. We're all hoping Owen remains more endearing than obnoxious as he rises through middle school and into high school, but, really, what're the chances?
    In answer to tink's question on this post, Yes, there's a book on its way; that thing in the airline magazine was an excerpt.
    This morning I fed the goats and released the chickens. It's amazing how the baby goat is born able to hop along steep inclines. One of the younger chickens spent the night outside the coop but seemed to be physically intact. I think the goats actually keep raccoons at bay.

  19. Too much violette will ruin that drink, just as too much maraschino will ruin a great Opera (another cocktail you should try if you haven't).

    For some reason it strikes me that you are not a fan, in general, of floral notes in food, drinks, etc., so perhaps these just aren't meant for you. The Campari/Negroni seems better tailored to your refined palate (while I always find it aggressively bitter).

  20. We do the 'beer-butt chicken' often but now have a contraption and it's like a bunt pan so you don't have to insert an actual can of beer in the nether regions of the bird. It's awesome. It's got a pan with sides around the center post and my husband fills that with apples, onions, potatoes, and beer. He also does a rub on the chicken for a few hours before. This is a divine way to cook a bird. This is a similar product to ours.

  21. A real Aviation DOES include violette, if by real we mean the first recipe to be found in print (1916's "Recipes for Mixed Drinks" by Hugo Esslin).

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