Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Homemade Limoncello

I got fascinated with limoncello a few months ago after sampling the housemade versions at local restaurants like McCrady's, Mercato, and Cuoco Pazzo. Of course, it's really a summer drink, but it takes months of steeping to make correctly, so my first batch is just now ready for consumption.

To get started, I surfed the web for a good recipe, and landed on the one provided by Not Knowing Trusting which, for some reason, seemed more reliable than the other options.

Since South Carolina is an Everclear-friendly state, I started with that rather than vodka, though I did dilute it out with water to be closer to the proof used in the recipe and also to avoid danger from fire in case a bottle got dropped.

Here's the saga:

1. Zest the lemons (15 of them, in my case) and put the peel in big Mason jars along with the (diluted) Everclear

2. Sock it all away on a shelf somewhere (the pantry in my case) and try to avoid the sinking feeling that, "this is going to take forever." Before you know it months will have gone by and you'll be thinking, "I really need to finish up that stuff." See the real recipe for better time guidelines. But, hey. It's a thin line between patient and lazy.

3. Mix up a simple syrup (again, follow a real recipe for actual amounts), mix with the lemon-booze brew, and put it back in the jars to sit.

4. After a few more weeks (or months, if you're really apathetic), strain through coffee filters and pour into old, sterilized bottles (though snooty instructions might tell you to go buy special bottles with decorative stoppers, the Everclear bottle you started with and a few other spent liquor bottles work just fine.)

5. Put it in your freezer and let it sit somemore--several more weeks for it to get at its best.

Now, you're ready to remove from the freezer at a moments notice for a nice apertif.

The recipes tell you to freeze and let sit for at least a week before serving. I found that even after a week the limoncello seemed to have a harsh, industrial alcohol edge to it that I attributed to the Everclear, thinking maybe if I'd started with good vodka it wouldn't be so rough. But, after another two weeks or so of finishing in the freezer, it has mellowed out nicely, and it's every bit as delightfully sweet, lemony, and smooth as the local restaurants' housemade stuff.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Charleston's Top Cocktail (2010)

Head over to the Charleston Magazine site and help select the finalists to be featured in the 2010 Charleston Fashion Week's "Next Top Cocktail" competition. It's fun to look at all the entrants, and it makes you realize how sophisticated our local bartenders have become in their concoctions.

I have to get out on the town more often . . .

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Friday, November 06, 2009

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Update on Woody's

Turns out the Woody's BBQ that's coming to Mount Pleasant is a franchise of a Jacksonville-based barbecue chain that now has some thirty locations, most of them in Florida.

Judging from the web site, it looks like they specialize in ribs, but as an ongoing example of the geographic blurring that's going on in the barbecue industry, the menu includes a laundry list of items that includes barbecued pork, beef, turkey, chicken, and brisket.

It's the kind of place that sells T-shirts saying "Sloppy Woody: You Know You Want One", "Woody's Pulled My Pork", and "Best Racks in Town". And the interior may well look a lot like this:

I would be surprised if any hash and rice manages to sneak onto the menu, but we'll just have to see.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Brothers vs. Brothers

The New York Times has a fun piece that compares the latest book from the Lee Brothers against the latest from Paula Deen's boys.

I'm not sure which pair is truly more Southern, but I know which ones my money would be on in a Texas cage match . . .

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Meat, meat, and more meat

Craig Deihl of Cypress has started a blog, with the first post recounting how he got started butchering whole hogs in house. He also announces his new Artisan Meat Share, a CSA-style arrangement but rather than four zillion tons of rutabagas and squash you get a big sack of artisanal charcuterie, made right there at Cypress from whole South Carolina hogs.

This might be the breakthrough food event of the year.

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