Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Proper Vesper

Every year when the Oscar nominations are announced, I immediately map out a  movie-going schedule in an attempt to see as many of the nominated films as I can in the weeks before the awards ceremony.  Alissa is my frequent movie buddy, but with all of these particularly heavy-duty films nominated this year, we just weren’t in the mood for a somber evening, which is how we ended up at the James Bond movie.  Even though we were at “Skyfall” on its opening day back in November, we both felt compelled to see it on the big screen once more, and our second viewing certainly did not disappoint.  (May we just talk about how inspiring Daniel Craig is?!  Wow.) It only seemed natural to follow our movie-going outing with a proper Vesper, the signature James Bond martini.

Basically, the Vesper is a mostly-gin martini, with a touch of vodka for balance and orange-scented Lillet in place of the traditional vermouth.   In “Casino Royale”, Agent 007 orders a dry martini right before a dramatic high-stakes poker game, but then he changes his mind: “Three parts Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet.  Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel.  Got it?”  I always appreciate attention to detail in all things, and this drink is no exception.


James Bond, quite pleased with his creation, names this cocktail after Vesper Lynd, his love interest in “Casino Royale”.  “Because of the bitter aftertaste?” she asks him.  “No, because once you have tasted it, you won’t want anything else.”  I was always a classic martini girl myself, but now that I’ve started drinking Vespers on a regular basis, that is what I crave.  Bond was right. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Chipotle Chilaquiles For A Fresh Start

Hello everyone. I am really happy to be back on this site at long last, and I truly have missed being here. I will try to make up for my absence with a plate of soul-satisfying Chipotle Chilaquiles, prepared especially for you. I realize that’s a lot to ask from a single recipe, but once you taste it, I know you’ll thank me.

The reason for my hiatus would take a year’s answer or none at all, and I will merely confine myself to saying that 2012 was Year Of The Major Curveball. There were huge personal upheavals and professional ones too, a year of trying to roll with the punches as gracefully as possible but with varying degrees of success. (As a result, most of my creative projects—such as this blog—got pushed to the furthermost edge of the proverbial back burner.) In coming to the end of a most challenging year, I was simply grateful that to have made it through 2012 and that everyone I love survived it too.


However, some good things happened towards the end of 2012, such as this delightful new job and that crazy adventure. I also took myself to San Francisco for a late August escape, treating myself to some much-needed downtime in that beautiful Northern California light, along with a good dose of culinary inspiration. One of the most outstanding meals during that fabulous week was a plate of to-die-for chilaquiles from the Primavera tamale stand at the farmer’s market outside the Ferry Building. I’ve been on a mission to recreate it for myself ever since.


Chilaquiles, a traditional homey Mexican dish, are made by briefly simmering lightly fried corn tortillas in a brothy tomato-chile sauce. The trick is to cook the tortillas just long enough so that they soften a bit but not so long that they become mushy. I cheat a little by using thick-cut tortilla chips instead of the tortillas, and I don’t think the dish suffers in the least from this timesaving measure.