Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cocktail Know-How: Grenadine

Hello, Blog Friends.

Grenadine syrup is a popular flavoring used when making many of the classic cocktails in American cocktail culture. Many of us may know this red, sweet syrup from our days of sipping the Shirley Temple (gingerale drizzled with grenadine and stuffed with cherries and oranges). Didn't we feel so "grown up" when one came to our restaurant table.

Grenadine syrup is made from the juice of red currants and pomegranates, not cherry juice (although in some pinches maraschino cherry juice might work!). In most beverages a scant 1/2 ounce is enough to pack a punch without overpowering.

Some cocktails this syrup is used in are: the Bacardi Cocktail, Tequila Sunrise, the Singapore Sling, and the Ward 8 (a grenadine laced whiskey sour). Being a syrup, grenadine adds a pink/red color to the beverage and sweetness.

My favorite brand of grenadine is Giroux. It is so much a favorite that if I am in the mood for, say, a Bacardi Cocktail I ask the bartender which brand of grenadine syrup they pour. Anything else...I change my drink order immediately. I've been mixing cocktails with Giroux since 1986, when I first started bartending at a family restaurant in New Hampshire. It may be found at most grocery stores next to the mixers, margarita salt, and bottled lime juice. A small bottle should last you a season of libation enjoyment (if not longer!).

I know of no cooking uses for grenadine syrup (at this time). I do hope, however, you might stock this (if you have young children around for family gatherings, it would be thoughtful).

I am roasting a chicken in the kitchen as I write and the smell is intoxicating. Until next time...

Keith A. Neubert


Thursday, January 20, 2011

"Variety 58 a la You"

Greetings, Blog Friends.

The recent snowstorms in Maine and the Northeast have kept this innkeeper busy. Rain fell on top of the 8 inches of snow we had recently and shoveling it was my cardio---for the week!

It's funny...I think about how much being an innkeeper brings out in me sometimes. Every innkeeper has to be a convivial host/ess. Every innkeeper has to have an eye for detail, be perceptive, be a good business person. Many innkeepers must be good cooks, as well (I write about this neverending journey herein). The facility projects in this inn (a large 7,700 sqaure foot home--the largest I have ever owned!) and maintenance, including shoveling, bring out what I

lovingly call my "hearty, stalwart New Englander" personality component.

Things like snow happen. You manage them. (You might even enjoy it in the process). You move forward. I guess maybe innkeepers are "mindful"---being in the moment, be it stirring muffins, chatting and learning from guests, or be thinking "I want everything to be in its place for them" before their guests even arrive. Hospitality even with all its "less glamorous" moments is an amazing challenge. But..."it's great work if you can get it." (didn't Gershwin write that?)

Anyhow...over the holidays I had some guests that had read this blog prior to arriving at the inn. At our first breakfast Evelyn and Ken handed me a wrapped gift. It was a lovely book called "Recipes from Home" by David Page and Barbara Shinn (pictured above). I thanked them for their kind gesture and while they were out exploring Western Maine (or napping--they really needed to escape their career for a few days) I baked cookies for them and flipped through the pages of this engaging cookbook.

"Home" apparently is a restaurant in New York City. It evolved from a need in the neighborhood for good home cooking. The authors/owners of the restaurant provide us with their delicious take on the classics. I blinked when I flipped through to find a recipe for ketchup. Yes, the "lowly" condiment (my Creole friend, Denise, in New Orleans refers to ketchup as being New England's 3rd spice---hahaha! She's such a "stitch!"). The authors explain they do not buy ketchup in their restaurant--they make their own!

It struck me a little happy to see how they made it with tomatoes, paprika, garlic, allspice, etc. Wow, I thought! How reliant are we on such basic condiments! Think of all the variations one could make and serve by knowing the basic components--and then adapting them to make them their own. You can have your own Variety No. 58! Yes, folks, from this book came not only a great array of recipes--but the happy creative inspiration that makes us want to investigate food further, to explore where no other foodie has gone (this is starting to sound more like Star Trek! Hahaha.)

The truth is: we rely too much on convenience items. Yes, they are convenient and, in most cases, part of our habit/past, but we've evolved a bit. We've learned as cooks that homemade tastes better, and that it is better for you. We also learned that sometimes it is the simple mindfulness in cooking that keeps us tied to our heritage as Americans. Why then, have we become a society of "lid pullers?" "Nuke this, rehydrate that, order this..."--it is us, my foodie friends, that will change the way we feed ourselves and our families, perhaps our culture.
We love to cook and play and entertain and learn. We can impact and teach others with our knowledge. (Our families reap the benefits of our work and passion of food, too!) This book prompted these feelings. I hope you can check it out.

Back to the inn on this chilly Maine evening. The lights on Long Lake are glimmering white reflections on the dark water. It is a still evening and a good night to sit down with a blankie and open a cookbook or two. Be well.

Keith A. Neubert


Inn at Long Lake

Naples---18 degrees

Monday, January 10, 2011

Holiday Fun and Deals....

(Pictured above: The Neubert Women (and Lord knows behind all good men are good women!) L to R: Marina, Nancy (my sister-in-law), Brandy, and, of course, Elaine (my Mom).
Holiday get-together in Atkinson, New Hampshire).
Hello to all!
After the holidays, many stores have sales on holiday-related decor and food items. Now is the time for big savings on things like candied fruit (red and green cherries, candied orange peel, etc.), sprinkles, pumpkin puree, and fresh cranberries (these freeze well), and many more baking items.
At a recent trip to the grocery store, I found items 50 percent off or more!
If you are an avid baker--or plan on being one for next year's gatherings, hit the stores as soon as you can. Stock those pantries for any of this Winter's parties for which you may need to cook or bake!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Happy New Year to All!

Greetings, Blog Friends.

A dear friend reminded me that I hadn't written for quite some time. The holidays were quite busy for many of us. Between all the entertaining and being entertained, this is the time of year the inn needs to gear up for the year ahead.

This quieter time of year still brings guests to the doors of Inn at Long Lake. The inn always has had an intimate feel about it---I hope this is an indication my hosting abilities, of course! So... whether it is 1 couple staying for the night (being in a large inn alone must have its strange, wondrous vibe!) or a full inn (a vibrant buzz, for sure!), I endeavor to create a peaceful, personalized scene for all.

After all the parties that I experienced, it struck my heart tender to know how blessed I am to have such wonderful friends. Many of them are "mentors" to me. I appreciate the love they put into their gatherings---a prized recipe, a warm hug upon welcome, decor that chimes the conviviality of the season, or the tasteful music they played that was woven through the laughter and conversation.

I hope that you all were able to experience the playfulness of giving and receiving, the magic of solemn peace that exists in the light of a single Christmas candle, and that you learned that all dreams are made new in this glorious time of year.

And, so, my friends, it is here that 2011 begins....a year of possibilities that begins with a passionate feeling in your heart. Let it out. See where it can fly!

Naples, Maine---15 degrees. Brrrrrrrrr! ;-)

Keith A. Neubert