Craft Beer, Fine Wine, Artisan Spirits, and Mouthgasmic Food.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bill Norris's Maraschino Cherries

This recipe is courtesy of Bill Norris at Fino Austin. He's behind the bar. I was so lazy when I received the recipe that I soaked maraschino cherries from in a jar in luxardo. Then I had one of Bill's cherries, and let's just say that it is well worth the time and effort to make these cherries. ^@$#%%@ is the only way I can describe it.


bulletHere's the link to the instructions I followed for canning the jars.
bulletI did 10 pounds of cherries and wound up with about 2.5 cups of extra liquid. I used that extra liquid to maraschino-ize 4 lbs of peaches using the same instructions. In the end, I had about 7 quart jars of cherries and 2 quart jars of peaches.
bulletLet the jars cool completely before removing from water. One of the jars slid out of the tongs I was using (I couldn't find silicone waterproof mitts), and it splashed into the water leaving me with 1st degree burns.
bulletI bought a cherry pitter that does 4 cherries at a time from Bed, Bath, and Beyond (14.99). Best tool ever! It was kind of fun too.
bulletThese cherries are very boozy. Not for kids. They are strong.

From Bill:

The only sticking point here is going to be finding the Luxardo Maraschino. There's not a whole lot in Austin at the moment--Spec's has some, reportedly. Don't, whatever you do, use the Stock brand. It is a vile, horrible thing. There's another one out there on occasion, the name of which escapes me, and it's ok, but Luxardo is the gold standard (

Per 1 pound sweet cherries, pitted
bullet1/2 C sugar
bullet1/2 C water
bullet2 t lemon juice
bullet1 cinnamon stick
bulletPinch of freshly grated nutmeg
bullet1/2 C of Luxardo maraschino liquor and 1/2 cup brandy (cheap is fine, Jacques Cardin works at about $9-$10 a bottle)
  1. Wash and pit the cherries.
  2. In a saucepan, combine all ingredients except the cherries and booze and bring to a rolling boil.
  3. When the liquid begins to boil, reduce the heat to medium.
  4. Add the cherries and simmer for 5–7 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat, add the liqueur, and let cool.
  6. Using mason jars, can as you would preserves

Cherries loaded in the pitter.

Smashy, smashy!

Taking the cherries out.

Oh......... the pits!

Cooking the cherries.

Into the jars.


Peaches on the left, cherries on the right.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Birthday 2009: Adventures in Eating

Having a voracious appetite, birthdays are just an excuse for a me to indulge in some of my favorite eats. This post chronicles how a food blogger spends her birthday weekend.

Friday, August 21

7:00 am - played with the dogs and ate half a cantelope. It really isn't photograph worthy.

8:00 am - arrive at the Four Seasons to begin my Daycation, a thoughtful gift from my other half. A daycation at the Four Seasons rocks! You are constantly being waited on hand and food. It is luxury at it's best with a view of the lake from the relaxation room. Men, are you reading this? This is how you impress your lady. Once settled, I immediately jump on the elliptical machine on the fitness room before my 9:30 body treatment.

9:02 am - I'm startled by the staff and almost fall off the elliptical. My appointment was at 9, not 9:30. My bad. I chose the grapefruit body scrub which involves a full body scrub, shower, and lotion application with massage. It was absolutely fabulous, and if you haven't been in a rain shower, try it. You are deprived until you try. After my treatment, I went to hang by the pool for some sunshine.

12:30 - Lunch with my beau. In case you've missed it, I love Trio at the Four Seasons. My birthday lunch was nothing less than amazing. I could write about it, or I could post drool worthy photographs. I had to be rolled back to the spa and took an afternoon siesta in the relaxation room.

Tomato Watermelon Salad, Tamarind Basil Yogurt Foam

Crab Louie, Avocado, Horseradish Aïoli

Prime tenderloin, Sautéed Spinach, Shitake and Raisin Crouton, and Wild Mushroom Medley

Another view.

Prime Steak Burger

Birthday dessert: Macaroon, truffles, candy, cookies, and chocolates on a stick. I almost had an oxytocin/estrogen moment.

3:30 pm - Wakey time and back on the elliptical. My sweet friend, Debbie (@snax) gave me a call, and decided to join me for a glass of bubbly at Happy Hour. If you haven't been to Trio's Happy Hour, you are deprived. Check out the photos on this post, and you'll see why.

7:30 pm - Dinner with the family at Ho Ho's Chinese BBQ.

Pawns with Special Salt

B.B.Q. Combination

Sauteed Chinese Vegetable

Seafood and Bean Curd Hot Pot

Fish Fillet with Plum Sauce

Shredded Pork In Garlic Sauce

Beef with Chinese Broccoli

Peking Duck

9:30 pm - Dessert at Max's Wine Dive. We got the Half and Half.

Saturday, August 22nd

2:00 pm - Better than Sex Pie at Sugar Mama's. Thanks, Olivia!

3:00 pm - Lunch at Milano Cafe. Mmmm........ I LOVE me some Milano Cafe.

Lobster Ravioli, Veggie Pizza, Roast Beef Panini

Lamb with a rosemary wine sauce. Yummy!

7:30 pm - Dinner and drinks at Fino Austin with @thebeerwench, @sharayray @baconator. I haven't written much about Fino, but it is one of my favorite places in Austin. Over the course of my visits here, I've gotten to know Bill, Caroline, Jimmy, Chris, Lisa, and Emmett here. While chatting with dear friend of mine about Fino, he mentioned that he visited Fino a couple of years ago with a large group of friends the night before a particularly risky procedure and life threatening procedure. The staff overheard the reason for their "celebration," and bought their meals that night. Even if I had never visited Fino myself, a gesture like that buys Fino a million good karma points. Anyways, the food is fabulous, the staff is great, and the drinks are outstanding.

Crab Stuffed Piquillo Pepper, Halloumi & Sherry Poached Figs, Pan Con Tomate

The scallop and prawn dish made vegetarian. It also had chick peas, peanuts, and a fantastic, absolutely wonderful spice blend of spices they call tan-tan. I loved this dish.

Vanilla Yogurt Mousse Tart with Boozy Cherries Candied Marcona Almonds

Pinapple al Reves PX Sherry-Vanilla Ice Cream

Boozy cherries.... oh sooooo good!

10:45 pm - Off to @baconator's house for @ProjectYine interviews and some more @twisted_oak vino!HTML clipboard A big thanks to Four Seasons, Trio, Milano Cafe, Max's Wine Dive, Fino Austin, Sugar Mama's, my family, @snax, @windaddict, @baconator, @twisted_oak, @sharayray, and @baconator for making my birthday weekend a great one!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Big Top Candy, Cissi's Market, Gumbo's, and Elevation Burger

You might have noticed that I was a little preoccupied for the last 2 months with Cupcake Smackdown1.0. Now that it is out of the way, sort of, it's back to posting the usual stuff. We've got some new beer and food recipes on the way along with Cocktail Throwdown. Still on the posting que - Hanging with the Beer Wench, Aqua Fresca, Cupcake and Beer Meet up, and Chocolate Beer Mousse meet up. Upcoming events include Hatch Chile Food Blogger's Pot Luck and the Austin Hot Sauce Festival. This post is going to highlight some of my favorites from Big Top Candy, Cissi's Market, Gumbo's, and Elevation Burger, in reverse order, cuz that's how I uploaded them.

Elevation Burger - Being So Hungry (silly pun), I ordered the Vertigo Burger with 10 patties and fries. Okay, so I also ordered for the photographing, but anyways. A cheeseburger at Elevation Burger is pretty good. The meat is leaner, but with cheese and dressing, it the leaner meat was balanced. I thought fresh fries were pretty tasty. There it is for Elevation: don't stray for the cheeseburger and you'll be a happy camper.

Cissi's Market - I sampled a variety of the foods here, but the offerings that stood out in my mind are the desserts. My favorite item from Cissi's are still the Earl Gray Eclairs that were brought by Jette at the very first Austin Food Blogger's pot luck. These truffles were also fantastic. Rich, creamy, and served with sesame toffee..... Mmmmmmmm.

The Gumbo's food blogger event was delightful, and it was wonderful to see everyone again. What I liked about this menu is that many of their dishes feature alcohol. I shall me contacting them again soon to have a little chit chat about cooking with booze. My two favorite dishes from this evening were the Red Fish Francine and the Crab cake. The texture of the Red Fish was solid in structure, yet flaky. It was perfectly seasoned and served on the a tarragon sauce and crawfish tails. Simply delicious. I like the crab cake in particular as it was full of crab. Seriously, they mean crab cake. It was slightly heavy on the mustard, but served with a spicy chipotle jimaca slaw, it won me over. There you go, two lovely dishes from Gumbo's.

Crab Cake with chipotle jimaca slaw

Bread pudding

Red Fish Francine

Beef Tenderlion with a red wine reduction sauce

Oyster Rockefeller

Big Top Candy is a must go for those who like things weird and sweet. I stopped by with @socialTNT for some sweets and drinks. My favorite drink there is the cucumber soda. Made with cucumber juice and just ever so slightly sweetened - this drink is a spa in a glass. It might sound weird, but it is delicious and low calorie. I might have to make my own version soon - with moonshine of course. This is my recommended Big Top Candy drink.

Cucumber soda

Seasalt Truffle

Tiger's Blood Creme Soda