Friday Happy Hour: Cherry-Infused Brandy Manhattan

This recipe is a bit of a happy accident. Last year I was experimenting with cherries to make our own garnishes for cocktails. Someone had left some brandy at our place after a party, and I thought I’d play with this forgotten bottle.

The process was simple: Buy some fresh cherries (the sweet kind, not the bitter/sour kind), remove the stems and the pits, put them in a jar, and fill the jar with brandy so the cherries are completely submerged.

Leave the jar in the refrigerator for some period of time (days, weeks, months), and that’s it. Super easy.

The problem was when I tried the cherries after a few weeks. WAY too strong with brandy and not enjoyable as a garnish for anything. The alcohol in the brandy had also pulled the color out, so they resembled green olives more than cherries. Again, not good for a garnish.

Honestly, then I forgot about them. They lived in the back of the refrigerator for months. It was only recently that I realized what I did have was a nice cherry-infused brandy, which was much more interesting than the cherries themselves.

So, what to make with cherry-infused brandy? How about a Brandy Manhattan?  It is sometimes also called a Metropolitan, which causes some confusion. There is another version of a Metropolitan cocktail out there, that is a cousin of the Cosmopolitan and includes vodka, lime juice and cranberry juice. I am not talking about this drink.

As the name would imply, this lovely drink uses the same ratios of a regular Manhattan, but with brandy in the place of Rye.

Cheers!

Friday Happy Hour: Cherry-Infused Brandy Manhattan

Ingredients

  • 60 ml (2 oz) Cherry-infused brandy
  • 30 ml (1 oz) Sweet vermouth
  • 3-4 dashes Angostura bitters (or other savory bitters)
  • Garnish with a Maraschino cherry (the real kind, like Luxardo or Amarena)

Instructions

  1. Chill glass
  2. Mix all ingredients in a mixing glass full of ice for 20-30 seconds
  3. Pour into chilled glass, add garnish.
  4. Enjoy!

Notes

If this is too much brandy for you, you can tone it back to 45 ml (1.5 oz).

http://www.travelingtotaste.com/2017/03/24/friday-happy-hour-cherry-infused-brandy-manhattan/

Barcelona Day Trip: Craft Beer Tour & Tasting at Cervesa del Montseny

It’s no easy feat wrangling a group of Barcelona dwellers for an early (read: before 1 p.m.) excursion outside the city. If I were to suggest a 9 a.m. start time for, say, a day of hiking, I’m not sure how much enthusiasm I’d receive/have. But change that into a day of tasting local craft beer, and voilà! We all learn how to use alarm clocks on a Saturday.

Cervesa del Montseny: Catalan Craft Brewery

Cervesa del Montseny – a microbrewery about an hour by train from Barcelona – offers Saturday morning tours that are well worth the journey. Montseny is one of the earlier Catalan craft breweries, opened in 2007, and it produces an eclectic and well-balanced selection of beers.

Brian and I have visited twice – once on our own, and once with a group of friends – and both times we were impressed with the friendly, knowledgeable guides. The Saturday tours are only offered in Spanish or Catalan. I spoke with Ferran at the brewery, and he said the guides would do their best to help anglophones understand during the tour (and if you’ve ever visited a brewery or know how beer is made, you’ll be able to follow along just fine). If you have a large group, it may be possible to arrange a private tour in English; contact Montseny.

Tour & Tasting Info

Tours are held most Saturdays at 11 a.m. Look at the calendar on the Cervesa del Montseny website, and click on the day you’re interested in to see if there are spots available. If there are, you can send a reservation request through the web form. Tours tend to book up a few weeks in advance, so plan early.

Worth the early Saturday wake-up call @cervesamontseny

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The visit takes about 1 ½ to 2 hours; the price is 13 euros, which includes a tour of the production facility, generous pours of several beers, and snack platters of meat, cheese and bread. After the tasting, you can buy beer to bring home – mixing and matching bottles to create your own sampler.

Visit Cervesa del Montseny | Traveling To Taste

At our last tasting, we tried the Blat (a citrusy wheat), the Malta (a pale ale), the Negra (a stout), the Lupulus (a hoppier pale ale), the Aniversari (an IPA) and a Mala Vida (one of a trio of imperial stouts). If you’re lucky, you might even get a sample of one of their seasonal beers. Their Castanya (a brown ale made with chestnuts) is available for a limited time in the fall, and it’s my favorite.

Visit Cervesa del Montseny | Traveling To Taste

How to Get There

Take the R3 Rodalies train from Barcelona to the Balenyá-Tona-Seva station (not the Balenyá-Els Hostalets station, which is the one right before you get off):

The R3 leaves from six Barcelona stations:

  • Barcelona-Sants
  • Barcelona-Plaça Catalunya
  • Barcelona-Arc de Triomf
  • Barcelona-La Sagrera-Meridiana
  • Barcelona-Sant Andreu Arenal
  • Barcelona-Torre del Baró

Google Maps will tell you to walk 13 minutes on a roundabout route to get to the brewery. Ignore this, and carefully cut across the tracks to get there in two minutes. I am risk-averse, and I watched Fried Green Tomatoes a lot growing up, so this makes me nervous every time. But you can literally see the brewery from the station, and it’s more dangerous walking on a busy road with no shoulder.

Cervesa Montseny walking map

The current Rodalies schedule has you taking the 9:11 train from Catalunya, arriving a bit early at 10:27. There isn’t another train that will get you to the tour on time, so grab a cafe and wait outside the brewery with the rest of the eager beer enthusiasts.

PSA: Barcelona Beer Festival 2017 is this weekend!

Cervesa del Montseny will be there (it won best artisan brewery in the Barcelona Beer Challenge there last year). BBF is in a new location this year in La Farga in L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, and it’s supposed to be much more spacious.

Carrer Barcelona, 44, 08901 L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona

  • Friday, March 24, 2017 (11:00-23:00)
  • Saturday, March 25, 2017 (11:00-23:00)
  • Sunday, March 26, 2017 (11:00-21:00)

Access:

  • L1 metro red line
  • R1 Rodalies train

Friday Happy Hour: Bijou Cocktail

A couple of weeks ago we went on a green Chartreuse kick, and did some experimenting with a variety of cocktails. One that stood out was the Bijou (“jewel” in French), which combines gin, green Chartreuse, sweet vermouth and a dash of orange bitters.

I’ll credit this Esquire article for our original inspiration, and pointing us to the original, very old recipe by Harry Johnson, first documented in the late 1800s. (Here’s a link to digital version of  Harry Johnson’s 1882 New and Improved (Illustrated) Bartender’s Manual and a Guide for Hotels and RestaurantsThis recipe is on page 129).

The original recipe has equal parts of the principal ingredients, but most modern versions have tweaked the ratios. A couple of days later we played with these ratios ourselves and definitely preferred ours more gin-heavy and dialed-back on the Chartreuse. The one we settled on was closer to this version from Imbibe Magazine.

Chartreuse is a lovely and complex liqueur that touts 130 different plants and flowers. In laymen’s terms, this means it will likely overpower an herbal/flowery gin. We used one of our Corpen gins that is more earthy to complement, rather that compete with, the herby flavor of the Chartreuse.

Friday Happy Hour: Bijou Cocktail

Ingredients

  • 45 ml (1½ oz) Corpen gin
  • 22 ml (¾ oz) green Chartreuse
  • 30 ml (1 oz) sweet vermouth (white)
  • 2-3 dashes orange bitters
  • Lemon peel

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients in an ice-filled mixing glass.
  2. Strain into a chilled martini glass.
  3. Squeeze lemon peel express the oils and discard.
  4. Garnish with a cherry.
  5. Enjoy!
http://www.travelingtotaste.com/2017/03/17/friday-happy-hour-bijou-cocktail/

Friday Happy Hour: Boulevardier Cocktail

We’re trying something new here. I’ve been working on building a craft distillery here in Barcelona, and in the interest of professional development, we’ve kicked our cocktail game into high gear over the last couple of years.

Here’s the first installment in what will become a recurring theme: Cocktails we love, we are experimenting with, and/or have made up ourselves.

Our first installment in this series is the lovely Boulevardier, which we recently had at Mark’s Bar in London (downstairs in HIX Soho). Upon ordering this, the bartender said “Ah yes, a whiskey negroni.”

Yep, that’s about right, and exactly why we love it.

Friday Happy Hour: Boulevardier

Ingredients

  • 1 oz (30 ml) Rye Whiskey
  • 1 oz (30 ml) Campari
  • 1 oz (30 ml) Sweet Vermouth (we use Casa Mariol's Vermut Negre)
  • Garnish: Orange twist or Maraschino Cherry (the real kind, like Luxardo or Amarena)

Instructions

  1. Chill an Old Fashioned glass
  2. Mix all ingredients in a mixing glass full of ice for 20-30 seconds
  3. Pour into chilled glass, add garnish.

Notes

- We like to over-pour on the whiskey here, but that's us, about 1.5 oz (45ml).

- Bourbon can be used in place of rye if you wish, but we prefer the spiciness the rye adds to this drink.

http://www.travelingtotaste.com/2017/03/10/friday-happy-hour-boulevardier-cocktail/

Lemony Spaghetti with Artichoke Hearts

I love artichokes. I get a huge kick out of seeing their symmetrical little shapes all stacked up at the market this time of year. Growing up in California, I gorged myself on them… and I burned the roof of my mouth more times than I can count because I can never wait for them to cool down before digging in.

Until recently, I would order fresh artichoke dishes in restaurants, but I would never prepare them at home. They just seemed like too much work, and canned artichoke hearts are pretty fantastic. But it’s artichoke season, and we keep getting beautiful artichokes in our CSA basket. I am racked with guilt every time I neglect them and they go bad, so I started playing around with this pasta.

The ingredients are simple, but they complement each other so well. The artichokes are earthy and buttery, and the lemon adds a touch of brightness. And cream and Parmesan are always a good idea; use just a little for a lighter dish, or be heavy-handed for a decadent, creamy sauce.

To be clear, you can make this pasta with canned artichoke hearts, and it will be delicious. But if you have some in-season artichokes just begging to be used… well, here’s you go.

Lemony Spaghetti with Artichoke Hearts

Yield: 3-4 servings

Ingredients

  • Garlic
  • Olive oil
  • 3-4 T. butter
  • 8 oz./226 g dried spaghetti
  • Zest of 2-3 lemons
  • 2 T. lemon juice (plus more for cooking artichokes)
  • Generous splash of cream
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan
  • 6-8 whole artichokes (or 1 can artichoke hearts)

Instructions

  1. Cook artichokes. If using whole, fresh artichokes, roast them with garlic, salt, olive oil and lemon juice according to this recipe. If using canned artichoke hearts, rinse and drain them. Sauté the hearts with 1 T. of butter, a spoonful of minced garlic and a splash of lemon juice. Roughly chop and set aside.
  2. Boil a large pot of salted water. Cook pasta until just shy of al dente.
  3. Meanwhile, melt 3 T. butter in a large skillet. Add lemon zest and cook for a couple minutes. Pour in cream. Use tongs to add the cooked pasta, lemon juice, artichokes and Parmesan. Toss, adding a few spoonfuls of pasta water to thin the sauce if needed.
  4. Season with salt and pepper, and a splash of olive oil. Serve with additional Parmesan and lemon zest on the side.
http://www.travelingtotaste.com/2017/03/05/lemony-spaghetti-with-artichoke-hearts/