Showing posts from March, 2007

Death of the Martini? Part 2 - The Dirty Little Secret

Some things in life are best the first time.

In March of 1997, I was in San Francisco visiting a restaurant/bar that some friends had been raving about named “Bruno's”, a monument to the classic live crooner venue.

My companion and I ordered Martinis, Bombay Sapphire to be exact; a simple and clear request with (seemingly) little that could be misinterpreted. It is precisely because of this implied simplicity that a follow-up question from the female bartender was so puzzling.

“Would you like those dirty?”

She was not unattractive, mind you, and I must admit my mind wandered a bit on the full potential of her inquiry. Given the scenario, I had to conclude that I'd simply misunderstood her. The puzzled look on our faces lead her to prompt, “Ah, you've never had a dirty Martini, have you?” We shook our heads. “I think you'll like this,” she responded.

For those of you that claim to be fans of “Dirty Martinis”, let me assure you that what comes next is probably not what you e…

Where have all the Caesars gone?

The classic Caesar salad has descended into such mutant variations as adding "creamy" to the dressing description, "with chicken/shrimp", and - the worst offender of all - the non-adjective"garlicky".
The presumed original recipe is fairly simple - garlic, olive oil, salt, anchovies, dry mustard, an egg, lemon juice, Romaine lettuce, grated Parmigiano Regiano, and black pepper. Then, of course, you get into variations - with or without Worcesteshire, Dijon mustard vs. dry, etc.

But as far as I'm concerned, there are a few ingredients that can be substituted. In particular and most frequently violated, is the "vinegar for lemon" trick. Presumably restaurants are doing this for a practical and understandable reason - vinegar is far cheaper than lemon juice, especially fresh lemon juice.
Then they add a similarly distorting ingredient - "shrimp or chicken". As there isn't much in the way of protein in a classic Caesar salad, this is …

Death of the Martini?

“I'd like a dry martini, Mr. Quoc, a very dry martini. A very dry, arid, barren, desiccated, veritable dustbowl of a Martini. I want a Martini that could be declared a disaster area. Mix me just such a Martini.”- Hawkeye Pierce, M*A*S*H 

I took a seat at the bar of a brand-new restaurant in San Jose, California, taking in the scent of new polyurethane on the bar and fresh paint on the walls, admiring the gleam of surfaces that would become dull and worn all too soon. It was a steakhouse and while most steakhouses tend to be wastelands for culinary originality and creativity, my carnivorous urges were calling. The portions are usually insane (no human should be eating 64 ounces of meat in a single sitting) and no vegetable “side” is served without being violated in some way (you can't get corn, but you can get creamed corn, you can't get spinach, but you can get creamed spinach, asparagus must come smothered in hollandaise, etc), but I must respect a place that focuses so pu…