Friday, 21 February 2014

The Manhattan Cherry Wars

A need to keep the glacé cherries under lock and key was not what I expected from married life. Rows about emptying the dishwasher and whose turn it is to clean the bathroom maybe but not cherry wars. The only reason I keep them in the house is as a garnish for that wondrous cocktail: the Manhattan. Cherry related skirmishes break out when I go to make a much needed cocktail and I find the cherries have been "disappeared". The Husband is officially a demon for them.

I think I like a Manhattan because it is a serious drink. When I'm in a "don't mess with me" mood I need a hard core cocktail to accessorize my scowl. A decent Manhattan is a complex, warming invigoration of a drink. The perfect remedy for the down at heart on a winter's evening.

If you order a Manhattan in a bar you might be asked if you would like it "sweet, dry or perfect". This just refers to the type of vermouth that is used, perfect referring to a 50:50 mixture of dry and sweet vermouth. I used to like them perfect but now I think that the traditional sweet version is a better balanced drink. In fact, I often add a little extra sweetness in the form of a dash of simple syrup. I couldn't resist using a simple syrup I had which is infused with ginger and spices. It sits well with the inherent complexity of the bourbon.
60 mL good quality bourbon (I'm using Maker's Mark at the moment though I do also like Woodford reserve)
30mL sweet vermouth
3 dashes bitters (angostura or orange bitters)
dash of simple syrup (I used my Christmas spice syrup)

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker or pint glass. Add plenty of ice and stir until very cold. Strain into a cocktail glass (you can also serve it over ice in an Old Fashioned glass). Garnish with a cherry, if you can find one.

You can hear me talking about the Manhattan on the Flavour show on Cambridge 105, podcast available here

Sunday, 9 February 2014

The Table

Excellent beer at The Table, Regent St, Cambridge
Of course we were having a row when we eventually made it there. The caliber of row that you can only reach when you have spent 11 hours in an airplane, and an hour wandering around steep streets of San Francisco getting increasingly lost. Then, the awkward moment when we spotted it, the cool neighbourhood pizza joint we had ventured out of our hotel for and we were suddenly shy. It was small. Everyone was going to turn around and look at us. It was going to be awful. I'm still not sure who was brave enough to walk in first but the next thing I remember I was sitting at a short bar, a pint of Anchor Steam in front of me and a slice of one of the specials on the way. The row was long forgotten, I find beer often helps with that. Za, It's just a tiny pizza place in the Russian Hill area of San Francisco but on both trips to San Francisco we have ended up here twice. Why? Well the pizza is great. The beer is cold and the staff are friendly. But more than that, sitting at the bar I can almost believer I live here, I'm just popping in for a quick pizza slice and beer on my way to do something wonderful and Californian.

The healthy option at The Table
But Cambridge is a pretty good place to live too and I have been looking out for somewhere close by that gives me that relaxed "my life is fabulous" feeling. I think I have found it. The Table has opened recently on Regent St, in the old Massaro's location. The owners (the same lovely people who ran Massaro's) have changed the space at the front to include a wonderful big table surrounded by high stool-like chairs. It gives a communal feel to the space and is very inclusive if you pop in by yourself. 

The not-so healthy option at The Table
The sourdough pizza is fantastic, though temporarily off the menu at the moment. I hope it comes back soon, it's the perfect size and topped with quality ingredients: n fact I think The Husband has developed a fennel salami addiction. I've also had a fresh and invigorating salad and on a windy Sunday evening a comforting bowl of ribolitta. To accompany the food there is a great selection of craft beers and natural wines. The coffee is as good as it always was under the Massaro's name and the welcome just as warm. For me it's the perfect spot for light supper with a cheering glass of wine. The Husband has already been back for lunch without me.

The warming option at The Table

The Table
85 Regent Street, Cambridge, CB2 1AW.
Tel: 01223 314230