The Absinthe Ritual

Absinthe is distilled from a mixture of whole herbs in alcohol. These herbs include grande wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), green anise, sweet fennel and other culinary plants.

Created as a medicinal elixir by a French doctor living in Switzerland around 1792, it achieved great popularity as an alcoholic drink in late 19th- and early 20th-century France, particularly among Parisian artists and writers where the drink was said to act as an aphrodisiac and stimulate creativity.

The Absinthe Fountain
“Rimbaud’s Poison”
“The emerald hour when the poet’s pain is soothed by a liquid jewel held in the sacred chalice, upon which rests the pierced spoon, the crystal sweetness, icy streams trickle down. The darkest forest melts into an open meadow. Waves of green seduce. Sanity surrendered, the soul spirals toward the murky depths, wherein lies the beautiful madness – absinthe.”

The bar at Chaya Downtown in Los Angeles, and our Absinthe Guide (bartender) Victor.

He pours ice water into the absinthe fountain.

Then pours 1 oz. absinthe into the special glass. Places a sugar cube over an absinthe grille or spoon in a saucer and soaks the sugar cube with absinthe.

Traditionally, the sugar cube is not ignited, as purists believe the caramelized sugar detracts from the herbal flavors. Apparently the use of fire in the absinthe ritual is a newer phenomenon was not a part of the custom during the Belle Époque. Sugar is used to cut the bitterness of the strong herbal spirit.

The spoon is placed over the glass and the sugar is lit on fire. As the sugar begins to caramelize, the absinthe water drip is begun.

Ice water from the absinthe fountain spigot slowly drips over the sugar into the glass, extinguishing the flame and melting the sugar and sweetening the absinthe.

L’Absinthe
Edgar Degas
1876
Oil on canvas

The cold water releases the oils from the absinthe, unlocking the powerful anise bouquet, and causing it to louche or cloud up into a light opalescent green. Absinthe is usually diluted in a 1:3 or 1:5 ratio to water. La louche has a symbolic meaning as well – As the water transforms the absinthe, so will the absinthe transform the mind.
La Fee Verte
The Green Fairy is the affectionate French nickname given to absinthe.

Can you spot the green fairy?

Absinthe had been portrayed as a dangerously addictive psychoactive drug. The chemical thujone, present in small quantities, was singled out and blamed for its alleged harmful effects. By 1915, absinthe had been banned in the United States and in most European countries.
Although absinthe was vilified, no evidence has shown it to be any more dangerous than ordinary spirits. Its psychoactive properties, apart from those of alcohol, have been much exaggerated.
Absinthe’s popularity grew steadily through the 1840s, when absinthe was given to French troops stationed in North Africa as a disease preventative. When the troops returned home to Paris, they brought their taste for absinthe with them. It became so popular in bars, bistros, cafés, and cabarets that, by the 1860s, the hour of 5 p.m. was called l’heure verte (the green hour).
A revival of absinthe began in the 1990s, when countries in the European Union began to reauthorize its manufacture and sale. In 2007 French absinthe “Lucid” was the first authentic absinthe brand to be legally imported to the US since the ban in 1912. The absinthe must contain less that 10 mg/kg of thujone to be legally imported. Also that year, the first batch of legally produced absinthe was made in California.

Absinthe produced for consumption outside the US can contain up to 100 mg/kg thujone, like Century Absinth. Some aficionados claim that this is the true absinthe which creates the “effects” cherished by famous absinthe drinkers of the day: Edouard Manet, Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud, Oscar Wilde, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Pablo Picasso, and Ernest Hemingway.
(some information for this post from wikipedia.com)

Black Garlic Risotto with Peas

Black Garlic Risotto with Peas

Black Garlic

The flavors and texture of black garlic are so unique. It did not taste like I had expected. It was like a garlic candy; sweet, and slightly savory, with subtle garlic notes and a jelly-candy texture. The deep color and flavor is the result of a month-long aging by a special high-heat fermentation process. It has umami flavors of molasses, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce and licorice. For more information and a recent culinary history about Black Garlic, go to blackgarlic.com.
Risotto Recipe

I started with this wonderful olive oil from the California Olive Ranch, 2009 Olio Nuovo, a gift from the Foodbuzz Blogger Festival. It was one of the oils we tasted at Michael Tuohy’s Olive Oil Tasting seminar. We learned from Michael to use this oil now, when it is young. Olio Nuovo: A “living liquid” bottled at time of milling, it has a thick texture and rich flavor.

Heat 1/2 c. olive oil in a heavy saucepan. Add a finely chopped onion. Sauté until light golden brown.

Add 1 1/2 c. arborio rice and stir until each grain is coated with oil. Add 1/2 c. white wine and cook until the wine has evaporated. Add about 5 c. hot chicken stock gradually as absorbed, stirring continuously until the rice is almost al dente.

Add sliced black garlic and continue stirring, adding the final stock, until the rice is al dente.

The black garlic gives the rice a deep caramel color.

Cook peas separately, then combine peas with risotto.

Black garlic imparts such interesting and complex flavors to this risotto.

Crispy, juicy pork chop optional.

BLT Quiche

BLT Quiche
A Quiche Inspired by the Classic
 Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich

Are you a fan of the BLT?
Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato, Mayonnaise
Served here on Toasted Ciabatta 
Caperberries for Garnish
BLT Quiche Recipe

Slice high-quality bacon, cook in a non-stick skillet until cooked through but not crispy. Drain on paper towels and set aside.

Meanwhile sauté finely chopped yellow onion with a small amount of bacon fat until soft and slightly browned. Set aside on paper towels to cool. Combine bacon and onion.

Spray a pie dish with baking spray (cooking spray with flour added). Form pie dough (homemade or store-bought) in the pie dish.

Add bacon onion mixture.

My ratio for quiche custard base is:

  • 5 fresh whole large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups of warm light cream
  • 1 T flour
  • salt and pepper
I beat these ingredients with an electric hand mixer.
Pour custard base over the bacon onion mixture. Bake at 350° for about an hour, maybe a little longer, until just cooked through.

Let quiche cool completely to room temperature.

Slice the quiche into wedges before topping with the salad. Top the bacon quiche with tomato wedges and mixed lettuces tossed with mayonnaise or ranch dressing, salt and pepper to taste. A pie server is perfect for serving. This is a great dish for a brunch buffet as it is served at room temperature, it’s colorful, whimsical and delicious! 

Foodbuzz Blogger Festival in San Francisco

I left my heart in San Francisco
High on a hill, it calls to me
To be where little cable cars climb halfway to the stars
The morning fog may chill the air, I don’t care

My love waits there in San Francisco
Above the blue and windy sea
When I come home to you, San Francisco
Your golden sun will shine for me


Tony Bennett with Judy Garland

The 1st annual Foodbuzz Blogger Festival was a huge success. Congratulations and thank you to the entire Foodbuzz team for hosting this wonderful weekend in San Francisco.
Day 1
  • Welcome Reception, Hotel Vitale
  • Taste of San Francisco Street Food Fare, Ferry Building
Day 2
  • Morning at the Market, Ferry Building
  • Olive Oil Tasting, Hotel Vitale
  • Taste Pavilion, at the Metreon
  • Merlot Tasting, at the Metreon
  • Foodbuzz Dinner and Awards Ceremony, at GreenLeaf Produce Warehouse by Outstanding in the Field
Day 3
  • Farewell Brunch, Restaurant LuLu

Day 1
Hotel Vitale Landmark Terrace

Welcome reception with a view of the Ferry Building
Street Food Fare
The Chicharrones Girl

“A one-way ticket to chicharrones heaven.”
Rotisserie Porchetta

Heritage’s free range pork loin rolled into the belly with Thomas’s original herb mix with lemon zest. Grilled on the rotisserie for four hours until crispy brown on the outside, succulent on the inside.

Rotisserie Porchetta on Acme Roll
With Curly Cress and Onion Marmalade
Day 2
The Ferry Building

Morning at the Market
Olive Oil Tasting

With Chef and Frontburner Blogger Michael Tuohy
Foodie Friends

Joan of Foodalogue
Lori Lynn of Taste With The Eyes
City View at the Metreon

Taste Pavilion getting ready to welcome 250 bloggers for a food and wine tasting and cooking demonstrations.

Merlot is Back, Baby!

Alder Yarrow, the granddaddy of wine bloggers and proprietor of
Vinography.com guided us through a Merlot tasting.

Pouring Bonny Doon Wines

Father Adam and Randall Grahm, Winemaker

The Stupendous Serpentine Table
Seating 250 People





Crisscrossing North America, Outstanding in the Field’s long, linen-draped table beckons adventurous diners to celebrate food at the source. Bringing together local farmers and food artisans, chefs and winemakers, exploring the connection between the earth and the food on your plate. Their mission is to re-connect diners to the land and the origins of their food, and to honor the local farmers and food artisans who cultivate it. More about Outstanding in the Field here.
GreenLeaf Produce Display


Cooking a Gourmet Dinner in a Warehouse

Kudos to the team from Namu Restaurant!

Foodies in a Warehouse

GreenLeaf Produce Warehouse
a terrific venue for a unique and enchanted evening…

Soup Line

Preparing to serve 250 bowls of soup.

The Soup: Mushroom Dashi, Maitake, Shimeji, Enoki
Salad Course
Udon, grilled Monterey calamari in a browned butter ponzu reduction, cucumber, kaiware, frisée & yellow pear tomato with chojang & sesame vinaigrette
Food Photographers

Danny of Kung Food Panda blog
photographing
Mushroom Risotto with Koshihikari Rice
Crispy Maitake Mushrooms

Matt of Mattatouille blog
photographing
Sea Trout Baked with DashiKombu
Fried Garlic, Japanese Curry Powder

Day 3
Build Your Own Bloody Mary
The festival ended with a delicious brunch and build-your-own Bloody Mary bar sponsored by Nature’s Pride and Skyy Spirits at Restaurant LuLu. The Farewell Brunch was the perfect ending to an amazing weekend. Besides hanging out with my dear dear friend Father Adam, and getting to meet many awesome bloggers, my next favorite part of the event, being a table setting aficionado myself, was that Outstanding Table! I haven’t stopped talking about it! A heartfelt thank you to the folks at Foodbuzz for all your planning and creativity and graciousness. The weekend rocked!
Here I am enjoying Far West Fungi Vol au Vent
from Spencer on the Go
at the Street Food Fare

(photo courtesy of Father Adam)
To all my foodie friends, it was an absolute pleasure to get to know you! Best wishes for continued success with your fabulous blogs. I left my heart in San Francisco, how about you? See you next year!

Foodbuzz Blogger Festival

1st Annual Foodbuzz Blogger Festival 
San Francisco
“We blog, we eat, we cook, we drink. So when Foodbuzz sat down to cook up our first weekend blogger event, we decided to host a festival of networking and collaborating the way foodies do things: over good meals and in good company! You’ll be hands on tasting, eating, drinking, networking and learning all weekend. Meet amazing foodie friends, and return home with awesome experiences to blog about.”
To those of you who will be in San Francisco this weekend, I am definitely looking forward to meeting you! We are going to have a blast. I am very excited that my dear friend and great cook, Father Adam will be there too! And to everyone else, I look forward to sharing our experiences when we return. Have a great weekend!
Lori Lynn