8.24.2009

I'll take one for the road!


Just mere hours before our flight to beautiful Puerto Rico, R and I squeezed in enough time to attend the infamous Pharmacie Cocktail Party. Suitcases in the trunk, comfy clothes for the plane, now all we needed was a few delectable cocktails to wash down our flying anxieties. The Pharmacie had just the cure. Three gin inspired concoctions, good music, wonderful hosts- I was ready for my vacation!

The Pharmacie is run by two men with a passion for the art and precision of cocktail construction. There has only been one party to date, but it received a lot of attention (you may have read the generous write-up it received by Betty Hallock in the LA Times). This was their second cocktail event and I was fortunate enough to receive an invitation.

The Pharmacie lived up to my expectations and more. Tucked down a small Echo Park side street in a non-descript building, the location was perfect - a modern day speak easy of sorts. We were not sure if we should enter, it was so unassuming. The room was spacious and grand, minimally decorated with brick walls, low couches, beams jutting out of the high ceilings and one fully stocked bar.

We were greeted by an aperitif of Vermouth Blanc. I am not generally the biggest fan of gin. When at a bar or making a cocktail at home I generally refer to whiskey or rum, but for the Pharmacie I was willing to follow their prescription.

The first cocktail was the Original Aviation Cocktail made with Bluecoat Gin, Maraschino Liqueur, fresh lemon juice, and Crème de Violette. After a few mouth-tingly tastes, our host graciously explained to us the origins and components of the cocktail we all had the pleasure of enjoying. The Aviation is not commonly made with Crème de Violette, but the original recipe calls for it and I find it to be a necessary addition. It gave the cocktail a subtle soft floral note, almost creamy. It was a glassful of blue bliss.

The next cocktail was "The Capitalist." This was the Pharmacie’s spin on the classic gin cocktail the Communist, but with a well-thought-out twist. "The Capitalist" is created by combining Junipero Gin, fresh lime juice, thyme, and house-made cherry shrub. Cherry shrub? A cherry shrub is created by boiling cherries, sugar and vinegar, with lots of complex steps that create this amazing taste. Thyme is thrown in to give the cocktail an added depth. These guys have a true passion and knowledge of their craft.This was my favorite of the night. And needless to say after an aperitif and the first amuse bouclé I was well on my way to "relaxed."

The last cocktail on the list was "The Bees Pyjamas," the Pharmacie’s version of the classic cocktail “The Bees Knees”. The Bees Pyjamas a mix of Old Tom Gin, house-made mint syrup, Yellow Chartreuse, fresh lemon juice, and bitters. After my first sip I immediately thought “is there booze in this thing?” It was the sweetest mix of honey and mint, reminiscent of the best remedy to a sore throat. It was the perfect end to a night of unbelievable cocktails. It was understated and dazzling. I was ready for my flight, but more ready for the next of hopefully many Pharmacie parties.

8.09.2009

Tacos in Sight. Afternoon Delight.


I received a message from my friend Christina saying “We are going to be in your area tomorrow, Silverlake Arts and Crafts Fair. You should stop by!” Finally! Christina works for the Border Grill Truck, which until yesterday made most of its stops on the Westside of Los Angeles. Being an Eastsider and with LA’s notorious traffic quandary, I don’t often venture westward. I have been a long time fan of the Two Hot Tamales, Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken, and until this weekend I had not had a chance to experience the flavors and joys of the their latest gastronomic endeavor: the Border Grill Taco Truck.

Saturday, R and I waited patiently growing just hungry enough to gorge ourselves on tacos and more. When our stomachs could wait no longer we made the convenient trip down the street and found the big black shiny truck.

I have had many a taco in my day. Tacos are actually part of my meal rotation each week. I am also no stranger to the growing outpour of food trucks around LA. I have sampled a Kogi BBQ taco, I have evaluated the Let’s Be Frank hotdogs, I have savored the BarbieQ’s sandwiches, and I have tried the CoolHaus ice cream sandwiches. This experience was different. As we read over the menu posted on the truck, the words jumped out with new vitality. The pork taco was braised in achiote seed; the avocado taco was coated in quinoa and amaranth. Overwhelmed and excited by all of my choices, I worried that if I did not order everything on the menu I would miss out on the half the pleasure. We ultimately settled on 4 different tacos, 2 cones, and churro bites to round it all out.

We started with the Green Corn Tamale cone. It was a sweet and savory deconstructed tamale placed in a paper cone in which you would normally find a snow cone. It was topped with salsa fresca and crema. I had a buzz of euphoria with each sweet corn bite. One cone was hardly enough between the two of us.

Next we enjoyed the Peruvian Ceviche cone, a bright blend of mahi mahi, ginger, Amarillo chiles, pickled onions and lime in a crispy tortilla cone. The fish was tender and flavorful with the perfect crispness provided by the tortilla. The ginger was a pleasant and unexpected ingredient.


The tacos were a playful contrast of textures and flavors. The Yucatan pork taco was juicy and satisfyingly tart from the orange and pickled onions. The Avocado taco was generously crusted in seeds made complete with a creamy corn relish. The Potato Rojas taco had a silky spicy consistency. The flavor of the potato was expanded by the chiles and Mexican cheeses that crowned it.


Full and happy, we ended our meals with bliss in the form of four little dulce de leche infused churro bites with whipped cream. This was a true afternoon delight!









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