Continuing with recipes Jeni's, I made the rhubarb frozen yogurt. This process requires draining an entire yogurt quart overnight (in the fridge) to remove the water (It is a tremendous amount of water that drains from low-fat yogurt.).
The recipe basically has you make a frozen yogurt base and a rhubarb compote. And you combine the two together before churning. The rhubarb wasn't great as a compote. We won't be making this again.
Last year, we met Jeni Britton Bauer at The Brooklyn Kitchen. Besides tasting her ice cream again (I've been to Columbus a few times and had it there), she spent a lot of time chatting with the kids. Anyhow, I have a fondness for her from that experience.
So ice cream #2 is her roasted strawberry with buttermilk ice cream. It's my first time making this recipe so I followed it very closely. Next time, I'll roast more strawberries. The flavor isn't intense enough for me. As with all her ice creams, they have a delightful taffy quality, but a slightly chalky aftertaste (from the cornstarch).
For three months, I subjected my wife, visitors, even my in-laws and parents to tasting permutations of the Negroni. I tried 18 variations based on different inputs and differing ratios. Other publications beat me to this, but none have been as thorough.
After all the trial and error, here are the three important facts you need to know.
The negroni is bitter. I think pleasantly bitter, but bitter. There's no way around that. Unless you like an occasional bitter beverage, don't order a Negroni.
Spend money on vermouth, not on gin.
Stir a lot. It dilutes the drink a bit and makes sure you have an evenly mixed drink. I noticed the inputs' viscosity (and density presumably) are very different, so stirring is essential.
A negroni is gin, vermouth, and Campari. I liked adding an orange twist but it's not necessary. Classically, this drink is made in equal parts. That makes the drink really easy to prepare. And to me, it makes a poor drink. Why? To me, it's too much gin. Some bartenders go more extreme. Jim Meehan, of PDT fame, uses 8 parts gin to 3 parts vermouth and 3 parts Campari. To me, it's too boozy.
My recipe goes in the opposing direction and it is delightful (and bitter).
2 parts gin
2 parts Campari
3 parts vermouth
I had strong preferences in gin and vermouth.
Vermouth -Regrettably, I used Dolin for many of my tests. It's terrible. Never buy Dolin. At a few bars, I asked to try a few straight. I preferred Cocchi di Torino. It's smooth, woodsy, and perfumed with herbs.
Gin - I tried Hendricks, Beefeater, Brooklyn Gin, Breuckelen Gin, and Greenalls. Aside from excluding Hendricks (weird vegetal taste with the other ingredients), the others were relatively similar. I had to really concentrate to find differences. If you have gin on hand, use it to start making negronis. If you are going to purchase gin, I'd buy Greenalls. It's very satisfying and affordable.
Technique? There isn't much technique to it. I filled a pint glass with ice, added the ingredients and stirred. I stirred 20 times in each direction. That sounds like a lot, but it's not. After stirring, strain over fresh ice and enjoy with some orange peel.
In the last post, I listed some of our least favorite spirits new to us in 2011. Here's a list of five favorites.
Cardamaro - Slightly bitter, a bit unctuous, and unexpectedly vegetal - this is great to drink on a single ice cube.
Cochi Vermouth di Torino - Who knew the massive divide between good and bad vermouth? It shouldn't surprise though. Anyhow, this is slightly sweet and has an aroma of dried herbs. It makes a negroni great. It makes a slightly sweet martini fantastic.
Denizen Rum - We happened across this at a tasting while waiting two hours to eat pizza at Robertas. It's a Dutch rum made a Trinidad ingredients. Simple and delicious; this makes an amazing daiquiri.
Greenall Gin - I always disliked gin. Always until 2011. And we tried five or six gins and surprisingly liked this one the best. The distiller has made this gin for centuries, but it's not well-distributed or expensive. We found it to be a great balance between classic gin flavors.
Old Monk Rum - From India, this rum has this intense butterscotch flavor that makes a great dark and stormy.
In 2011, I purchased more spirits than I have in the previous 10 years combined. We made many different drinks and in that process, we came across spirits that we just did not like. So in the spirit (ha!) of sharing, here are our five least favorite spirits.
Listed below from unbearable to drinkable.
Nux Alpina Walnut Liqueur - This just tastes fake and slightly medicinal. It has great color so in some tiki drinks, you could lose the bad flavor and enjoy the bright red hue.
Goslings Rum - SoS and I have loved the dark & stormy for a long time. Now I know why high-end cocktail bars seem to use any rum besides Goslings. Sometimes the original is not worth reproducing.
Smith & Cross Rum - None of the complexity or smoothness of good rums, but with a lot of heat. At least this rum is strong.
Averell Damson Plum Gin - Made in my home state of New York, I wanted to like this gin. I wanted to mix a "Ted Damson" and like it - but I didn't. The saving grace for this is that it's not terrible with soda.
All of us are bombarded with "best of 2011" lists this time of year, but to my knowledge nobody provided this list: FIVE BEST BROOKLYN FOOD ITEMS - 2011.
So here it is in alphabetical order.
Ace Jams- Simply fantastic jams made in Prospect Heights. The flavors are memorable of perfect fruit with a little twist. We are very partial to the blueberry shiso. These jams are expensive but still good value - so we enjoy them as a splurge. Ace jams are available only at Brooklyn Larder.
Baked- Hardly a surprise here, the brownies are unparalleled. When we are borrowing a car, inevitably we end up here. Brownies!
Brooklyn Larder - This is a fantastic store for meats, cheeses and very high-end provisions. Our favorite reason to go there is for gelato and sorbet. I make gallons of ice cream each summer and don't think my quality ever parallels Brooklyn Larder. All the flavors are great and well worth the price.
Morris Kitchens- Both the ginger and boiled apple cider syrups are just tremendous. From spooning over vanilla ice cream to making a beverage with seltzer and rum, the products are delicious and impossible to make at home. You'll find their products at Brooklyn Flea and fine food stores around town. Pricing is strange as it seems that the best place to buy is directly from Morris Kitchens at Flea (2 for 20 or 1 for 12).
SCRATCHbread- If you are near Bedford Ave / Quincy, go into SCRATCHbread where Matt Tilden and team make fantastic breads and sweets? His items are interesting, different, and delicious. Our favorite is the foccacia and seems to be in good supply at Brooklyn Larder and Union Market.