Monday, November 12, 2012

Secret Menus

Everyone who's been into an In n' Out knows about the things you can order that are not on their menu.  But there are plenty of restaurants in America that have special menus.  For example, if you go to the cafĂ© upstairs from Books Inc. in MountainView you might be there on the right day to have their poppy seed cake.  I haven't had it in years but it is very very good.  You have to know to ask for it.  They won't tell you about it if you don't already know.  And there used to be a certain cheese shop in San Francisco where one could, if the right words were said and enough cash paid, leave the premises with soft, unripened raw milk cheeses.  I don't know if that store still exists.  I hope it does, even though I don't have that kind of money anymore.  One place you can go and get a truly amazing off-menu item is Harris' Restaurant:  Sweetbreads in a conac reduction. But there is that money problem again.

There is one place, more than one place, maybe, in San Jose to get your off-menu yummies and not go broke in the process: Mama Do's Kitchen.  It has all the Vietnamese clasics but there is one thing that is sooooo good that you won't find on the menu:  Chicken stewed in ginger.  I can not even begin to describe how good it is.  I could say it is better than sex, but people have said that about many things.  Usually, they are wrong when they say that.    But if someone were to say Mama Do's chicken stewed in ginger is better than sex they might be right, at least, some of the time.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Cocktail of the Week: The Stinger

It is a truism that all the best cocktails are variations of the Martini.  That classic mixture of a high-alcohol spirit and a contrasting flavor of low-alcohol spirit is mirrored in the Manhattan, the Rusty Nail, the Black Russian, and a dozen or more others.  This weeks cocktail is part of that family.   No one, to the the best of my knowledge, remembers who first mixed one, but the recipe was included in Ideal Bartender (1917) by Tom Bullock.  Every Christmas I am reminded of this drink's former popularity when I watch Cary Grant order stingers in the classic movie The Bishop's Wife.
The Stinger
1 ounce brandy (I like Christian Brothers)
1/4  white creme de menthe
Shake well with crushed ice.  Strain into a cocktail glass.  Serve.