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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 with the potential for this inquiry. Given the scenario, I had to conclude that I'd 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're e…

Where have all the Caesars gone?

I'm trying not to begin this article with pure criticism. I truly want to understand the situation at hand, to understand the background and the future.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".

It's not rocket science, it's salad dressing. Going back to the presumed original recipe; 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 cannot be substituted. In particular and most frequently violated, is the "vinegar for lemon" trick.

Clearly restaurants are doing this for a very specific reason - vinegar is FAR cheaper than lemon juice, e…

Death of the Martini?

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“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 sat uncharacteristically quiet 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 new steakhouse and, despite most steakhouses being wastelands of culinary originality and creativity, my carnivore urges were calling. The portions are insane and no vegetable “side” is served without being violated in some way, but I must respect a place that focuses so purely on flesh.


I was also after a cocktail; a Martini, to be exact. It is the iconic, quintessential cocktail. Just the shape of the glass sculpted in neon is enough to signal where cocktails are being served.

I've never…