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Posts tagged ‘beverage’

passionate valentine martini

Let me preface the post by saying what you all already know. I am no mixologist. (If you’re looking for a man who knows his spirits, that would be Greg, affectionately known as Rufus. He and wife Katherine would welcome you with open arms if you’d like to pay them a visit.) And then there’s my blogging buddy Smidge  (who has a perfectly beautiful  blog!) – Smidge published a post today of a gorgeous blood orange martini. Completely out of my league,  I go barreling forward! I don’t know a lot about drinks, but I do know what my mouth likes, and my mouth loves this.

We have a favorite restaurant in Portland. Nuevo-Peruvian, Andinas.  They offer a sumptuous menu of foods you won’t find prepared quite like this anywhere, outside Peru;  theirs is a diverse menu, reflecting the diverse cuisine of a country that is on the sea, in the Andean mountains, and on the wide high planes. Andinas offers something for every appetite and every palate.  The walls there are  painted in russets, oranges, mahogany and deep purples;  hung from them are gorgeous photographs of Peruvians in brilliantly woven textiles, large hats, heart-splitting smiles! It’s noisy. It smells divine. Service is wonderful. And there’s this drink that I think I come close to dreaming about. It’s name is sacsayhuamán.  Shall I give you a minute while you try to pronounce it? Or shall I just tell you everyone calls it Sexy Woman, which comes awfully close.

Pureed Passion Fruit ~ Habañero-infused Vodka ~ Sugared Rim

I’m afraid that’s all I know about it…apart from the fact that it manages, like no drink I’ve ever had,  to be slightly sweet, slightly tart, a teeny bit  h o t, very cold and very sexy. Do you ever shudder with delight over the taste of something? (Please tell me I’m not alone in that!)  So it seemed right that I play with it a bit at home, tweak it just slightly to make it even prettier and just the thing to be sipped with your valentine.

Several years ago we went on a hunt for pureed passion fruit. I checked every local market before going on-line. We found several sources, but from what we could tell they all manage to be quite expensive. (That is, if you think $75 dollars is too much to pay for shipping!) But on a recent trip to a local market, I found the whole fresh passion fruits all snuggled up against the papayas and star fruits.  I picked up a slew of them and brought them home to ripen. They’re odd things…ripe when they turn from a beautiful smooth greenish-purple to a deeply wrinkled, dried-up (or so it seems) purple handball. These are on their way, but not yet ready.

When they’re ripe, you open them up and find it’s mostly seed in there, with a little pulp, but a perfume escapes that’s so floral and exquisite you want to slurp it on the spot, no spoon.

Scoop out the contents and push through a sieve, holes small enough to hold the seeds back, large enough to let the pulp and juices through. It’s worth working hard to get every delicious bit.

Then, the tweak, add the deep red of blood oranges and you’ll have most of what you need for a ~

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where do you look for sunshine?

When rain in Seattle or Portland makes national news, you know things are about as bad as they get here. Standing water on freeways, drains unable to keep pace with the deluge,  stretches of highway closed, even a few small towns along rivers evacuated. We get grey days, and mostly gentle (and occasionally incessant) rain here, but not monsoons that turn umbrellas inside out and flood boots with the rain that falls fast down our jackets.  I was hydroplaning down the freeway about 10 miles an hour below speed limit, heading toward a long (and long-overdue) coffee date with a dear friend. Carolyn had been out of town for more than a month and I’d missed her. I was thinking of her sunny self as I tried to see through the waterfall that was my windshield. I was thinking too about where it is we go looking for sunshine when our eyes and skin are hungry for it.

Carolyn and I sat drinking our large steamy cups of chai, catching up with the parts of each other’s lives we’d missed. And then, from beneath the table she brought out a canvas banana with a zipper along one side. “Bananagrams,” she said. “You’re going to love it!” She spilled the tiles onto the table, and we turned them over, letters face-down,  as she explained how the game is played. Carolyn was right of course, my friend knows me. From here on out, along with my camera, Bananagrams go where I go.

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Not long ago I’d visited a fellow-blogger  – Violets and Cardamom – and was struck by her pretty mango lassi.  It was lovely.

Today, I winged my own with several changes. Knowing the deliciousness of the pairing of mango, coconut, ginger, lime, cardamom and banana, it was a simple matter to drop them into a blender, whir them up, pour them out, and stick a straw into a glass of gleaming sunshine.

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chai for two, & two for chai

We read the other day that locally-based Tazo Teas will be pulling up stakes and leaving Portland for a colder and damper clime. (I know, you thought that not possible. Portland gets such a bad rap.)  We’ll still be able to buy their teas of course, but we’ll be sorry to see them go. Having Tazo in our backyard is a bit like a blanket thrown over the back of the couch, or a delicious book on the nightstand – a bit of a comfort –  there, should you need it. The building that houses Tazo is striking in its simplicity, spare in its details, but rich, warm and inviting. Is there something subliminal in its design that makes one suddenly crave a steaming fragrant cup of tea? Wait here, I’ve got just the ticket!

I’m not claiming to be an expert, not by any stretch, but I did learn from one. My friend Amit from Delhi taught me how chai was made in their kitchen back home and I’ve been making it in ours ever since. It’s very simple to do and I predict you’ll never go back to those cartons of chai after tasting this one. Take ten minutes of your time before you sit down to address your holiday cards, or wrap your gifts, or pay your bills. If your attitude is running a bit sour, you might try chai. A hug around your heart, held in a steamy pot. (I know. Ridiculous you say. But only because you haven’t tried it yet.)

For those who’ve never enjoyed the treat that chai is – imagine steaming milk (cow’s milk, soy, rice, coconut – whatever your preference) – into it fragrant cardamom, allspice, freshly ground pepper and grated fresh ginger root – allow it all to steep so that the milk itself is imbued with all the fragrance and warmth these spices impart – then the tea (black or green or a combination of the two) for the last 3 minutes. Strain and serve. Warm your hands, warm your soul.

(And though I’ve strongly advocated for your chai to be served steaming hot, I can tell you that over ice in the summer, it’s refreshingly delicious and wonderful!)

Chai for Two

  • 2 cups milk (I’ll use any milk, but for chai I think soy might be my personal favorite.)
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger root (see NOTE)
  • sugar to taste (see NOTE)
  • 2 teaspoons tea (see NOTE)


Into a medium saucepan, over low heat measure the milk of your choice and water. Add allspice, cardamom, freshly-ground pepper. Grate the ginger, measure and add. Bring the pot slowly to just steaming, stirring frequently. (Don’t allow soy, rice or coconut milk to boil as it will separate which is never pretty.) Turn heat to lowest setting or turn off entirely. Spill the tea(s) over the steaming milk. Stir once then leave undisturbed for 3 minutes. (After 3 minutes, the bitterness of the tea leaf begins to leach into your brew.)

Using a fine mesh strainer, strain the chai of its solids.

This will cool it off some, so return to the pot and gently rewarm. (Again, careful not to boil.)

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Serve steaming. Or chill, and serve over ice.

See below for NOTES on Ginger, Sugar and Tea. Read more