Tasty Travels

Celebrating NW Spirits

Looking for lots of great drink recipes using NW spirits? Check out Sip Northwest Magazine – it’s chock full of great libatious articles and recipes by yours truly. Try my Summer Punches – great for this weekend’s 4th of July celebrations!

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Photo by Kathy Casey Liquid Kitchen®

Are you a fan of locally made spirits? I sure am! Washington has some of the fastest growing craft distilleries in the country! Come try a whole new selection at PROOF – The Washington Distillers Festival next Saturday July 12 at Seattle’s Fremont Studios.

Proof

This second annual festival will include tastings of locally made whiskey, gin, bourbon, vodka and lots more craft spirits. You will be able to discover your new favorite cocktail, shaken, or stirred – by local restaurants and bars.

Find something you like? Tons of bottles will be for sale so you can take home your new favorite local spirit!

And if this sounds good to you, but mixing drinks at home sounds a little daunting, then have no fear – local bartenders will provide tips to mixing drinks and upgrading your home bar!

–Kathy

Posted by Kathy Casey on July 3rd, 2014  |  Add Comment |  Posted in Cocktails, Foodie News, KOMO Radio, Lifestyle, Recent Posts, Tasty Travels

Travels to India – Part 3

Guest blogger and KCFS intern Jenn concludes her travel recaps to India with Part 3!

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As I have learned from my travels, the types of food in India vary greatly from region to region. One dish that I have consistently enjoyed in every city that hails from the south is dosa. Made from a batter of ground rice and fermented lentils, dosa is a large crepe that can be served plain or rolled with a variety of fillings. It is always accompanied by sambar (a spicy lentil soup) and different types of chutneys (usually coconut, mint, and tomato).

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All the food I’ve had was delicious but there was something special I was yearning for – mangoes! When I first arrived in the country, I was dismayed to learn that I was too early for mango season. And while the streets were lined with all types of mangoes, I was assured by locals that they were not sweet at all and I’d needed to be patient.

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Finally, on my last day in the country my patience was rewarded. The first crop of the summer season of the ‘king of mangoes’ had arrived! Alphonso was his name and as the sweetest, juiciest, and most fragrant mango variety, he definitely delivered! My trip was complete.

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Posted by Kathy Casey on May 21st, 2014  |  Add Comment |  Posted in Foodie News, Lifestyle, Recent Posts, Tasty Travels

Travels to India – Part 2

Guest blogger and KCFS intern Jenn continues her travel recap to India with Part 2!

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Food is everywhere in India – from vendors selling fresh produce on the street to food stalls lining the sidewalks for those looking for a quick snack. Whether you’re looking for an icy treat to beat the heat or a savory bite like fried samosa, there’s something for everyone.

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While locals have the luxury of eating as they please, outside travelers have to be weary of the food they choose to eat to avoid the much feared “Delhi belly”. In order to combat this, I had to be very selective of what street foods I could eat, but in the end, I definitely indulged.

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My favorite street food by far is pushka (or pani puri, depending what part of the country you’re in). Start off with a puffed ball of semolina dough that has been fried to crispy perfection. Poke a little hole on one end to make room for a spoonful of filling made from potatoes, onion, and masala spices. Then, pour in some sauce made from tamarind paste and lemon juice. Lastly, enjoy it altogether in one perfect bite!

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My husband Cliff, myself, and his cousin enjoying a fresh pushka!

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It’s the perfect combination of sweet, savory, spicy, and tangy!

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Stay tuned for Part 3!

Posted by Kathy Casey on May 15th, 2014  |  Add Comment |  Posted in Foodie News, Recent Posts, Tasty Travels

Dishing with Kathy Casey: The Newsletter

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Welcome to the brand new Dishing with Kathy Casey – The Newsletter! I can’t wait to share all of my tasty adventures with you; read on to see what I’ve been up to, check out some great recipes, and enjoy all things d’lish!

What is the coolest thing you’ve seen around the beverage world? The Drink Nation Experiment wants to know! Facebook, Tweet, and Instagram anything you see or sip that is cool, unique and cutting edge in the land of beverage. Great cocktails, beers, cider, a cool coffee presentation, a fantastic non-alcoholic beverage –share, tag, and post it!

This 6-month social media experiment will showcase the best of the best in the world of beverage.

The Top 40 trends and findings will be presented at this year’s Flavor Experience conference by Beam, Inc.’s resident Mixologist Philip Raimondo and myself – and then posted on the Drink Nation Experiment Facebook page.

So let us know what you’re seeing out there in your travels, at your favorite bar, or restaurant! From Seattle to Miami …Dubai to Peru, we look forward to virtually sipping your next drink with you!


Follow and share on Twitter:

@DrinkNationExp

Time has been zipping by and 2014 has been off to a great start! Since my last Newsletter, it’s been non-stop busy with traveling. Here’s a peek of what my team and I have been up to lately and what’s coming up.

Liquid Kitchen on the Road

The Heathman Restaurant & Bar!

In the early 90’s I wrote the Northwest Table Cookbook and Chef Greg Higgins penned the Oregon chapter. He was the chef at the Heathman Hotel way back when and the hotel became my home base for shooting the Oregon companion videos for PBS. Fast forward about 12 years – we did a new cocktail menu and I was thrilled to be asked to come back and do new cocktails to go with Chef Michael Stanton’s NW local-French inspired menu. It was so fun to create cocktails to compliment his menu and cooking style.

Liquid Kitchen’s Keith Waldbauer and I recently headed to Portland to shake up our new cocktails at a press party featuring the new menu. To go with the Heathman’s famed High Tea service, we created the Tea Court Lounge Punch with Fonté Earl Grey Tea Spiced Syrup, rum, cognac, and fresh juices – topped with and Angostura Foam. Another party favorite was the Vineyard Margarita.

(Photo by Amiran White)
The Provence w Lavender Cocktail Perfume & Oregon’s Argyle Sparkling Wine

Shaken up by Lead Barman Andrew Kualaau

(Photo by Evrim Photography)

Chatting with the Heathman Guests

(Photo by Evrim Photography)

It was great to meet so many cool Portland bloggers – and their photos of the event were amazing! I hope that you’ll stop by the Heathman Restaurant & Bar on your next trip to Portland!
Sunny Bermuda!

After a winter in Seattle, I enjoyed heading to Bermuda with Associate Mixologist Dänny Ronen to implement a new bar menu at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess. Look at the beautiful view from my room!

It is always great to meet new bartenders and learn about local spirits. Yes, the local rums are amazing there.

Fairmont Hamilton Princess’

Cavon and Curtis taking a quick photo break after Liquid Kitchen training

The local fish chowder (also the national dish) is served with a caddy of dark rum and sherry pepper sauce to customize your soup. Served with a corn Johnny cake – this was definitely a go-to lunch. The preparation of this soup is very old school, and a LOT of technique goes into making it – yum!

Bermuda Fish Chowder – amazing flavor!

Dänny and my Sous Chef Jason Anderson, and I are headed back to Bermuda in the next couple of weeks to open the new 1609 Bar & Restaurant – the new cocktail menu is amazing! Make sure to follow me on Twitter @KathyCaseyChef for sneak peeks and updates.

The VIBE Conference in Las Vegas!

After a quick breather at home, the Liquid Kitchen team (Dänny, Heather, Jason, and I) flew down to Las Vegas… for the annual VIBE Conference! During the Cameo Party, we shook up a South Seas cocktail at the Monin & William Grant booth with fellow mixologist Charlotte Voisey. Fresh Thai basil, Monin South Seas syrup, Sun Orchard grapefruit and lime juices, Reyka Vodka & Milagro Silver Tequila – served over large format ice cubes and topped with a sprinkle of Liquid Kitchen Edible Cocktail Silver.

The following morning I led a panel on Cocktails on Tap 2.0 (Tapped, Bottled and Pre-Mixed) Seminar with Dänny and guest speakers Brandon Wise from Portland’s Imperial PDX and Matthew Meidinger from the Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group). We had a huge attendance and guests sampled a few of our cocktails, including my Bottled Front Porch Cooler. It is exciting to see more and more interest in this growing trend!
Chicago, here we come!

The Liquid Kitchen team will be traveling to Chicago in May for this year’s National Restaurant Association conference, showcasing recipes at the Cardinal Glass booth. Then during the International Wine, Spirits, & Beer event, I’ll be leading a seminar on

Bar Redeux: From Design – To Drinks – To Training.

Looking forward to a fun week in Chicago – hope to see you there!

Me as my Smitten Cocktail! How fun is this !

Sketch is courtesy of Dave Stolte!

Hitting the Red Carpet

The year started off quick with a fun trip to LA for the TASTE Award. My cocktail show Kathy Casey’s Liquid Kitchen was nominated for a under the Best Drink or Beverage Program – Web category. And Small Screen’s President and Founder Colin Kimball had four of his shows nominated. Don’t forget to Like Kathy Casey’s Liquid Kitchen and Small Screen on Facebook.

World’s Best Cocktail

… well I’m sure there are some other great cocktails out there but we are thrilled that SavoirThere.com ‘s World Food Awards picked the Luxury Sling as their Favorite Cocktail of 2013. Liquid Kitchen created this Sling for the Fairmont Makati (Philippines) and it continues to be blog and buzz worthy!

Quench your Thirst

…with summer episodes of my Kathy Casey’s Liquid Kitchen! How about a Strawberry Basil Blush made with gin, Lillet Rose, basil and juice strawberries?

www.LiquidKitchen.com

And don’t forget to check out my brand new Liquid Kitchen website for more summer drink ideas.

Chef’s Feed

Make sure to download the Chef’s Feed app – a great resource for top rated chef recommended restaurants and foods! Check out some of my hot spots like the Bruce Lee Roll from Shiku Sushi and the “Oil Soup” from Volterra Restaurant. And for laughs, check out their YouTube playlist Chefs Read Bad Reviews – LOVE IT!!

Women Stars of Food & Wine

Pacific Northwest’s best female chefs, tastemakers, winemakers, and sommeliers came together for tasty a fundraiser for the Women’s Funding Alliance! This event was held at the amazing Columbia Tower Club, where my team and I shook up the signature cocktail for the afternoon.

Check out this great write-up of the event on Wanderlust and Lipstick!

Gilda’s Club: It’s Always Something

I am so honored to be a judge this year for this teen writing contest – an annual event sponsored by Gilda’s Club – Seattle and open to any Washington teens in grades 9 through 12, who has been touched by cancer. Keep your eye on their website for the winning essay. I can’t express how it touched my heart to read these stories….Truly honored.


So make sure to Save the Date: Tuesday, May 20 and celebrate cancer survivorship with the 17th Annual Surviving with Style Fashion Show & Luncheon event! All models are cancer survivors with extraordinary stories and will be fitted with clothing provided by local boutiques. Organized by Gilda’s Club Seattle, make sure to get your tickets soon!

And to toast in spring here is one of my new favorite cocktails – perfect for a brunch celebration (think Mother’s Day) using one of my favorite new cocktail methods – Flash Blending!
Strawberry Silver Gin Fizz
This frothy drink is delicious to serve for brunch. The flash blending of the drink with egg whites makes it extra frothy, and quick and easy to serve to a crowd. You can pre-batch the strawberries, sugar, gin, lemon, and egg white and keep refrigerated until ready to blend with the ice.

Photo by Kathy Casey Liquid Kitchen®.

Makes 4 – 6 servings

3/4 cup sliced strawberries

1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp. powdered sugar

1 cup gin (or substitute vodka)

6 Tbsp. (3 oz) freshly squeezed Sunkist® lemon juice

2 organic egg whites (or 2 ounces oz pasteurized egg whites)

1 cup ice

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1/4 cup soda water, chilled

Garnish: fresh strawberries and lemon peel twists

In a large glass measuring cup combine the strawberries and the powdered sugar. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Combine the macerated strawberries, gin, lemon juice, egg whites and ice in a high powered blender. Blend on high speed until smooth and all ice has been blended in. Add soda water to blender. Divide fizz between chilled glasses. Garnish with strawberries and lemon twists.

Recipe by Kathy Casey Liquid Kitchen®.

Copyright © 2014 Kathy Casey, Inc., All rights reserved.

Travels to India – Part 1

Guest blogger and KCFS Intern Jenn Chong shares her recent travel stories while exploring India. Here’s Part 1 of her 3 part series.

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Hello all! I’m Jenn and I’m pleased to share some of my culinary experiences from my travels to India. The idea of Indian food probably conjures up images of super spicy food that can be too hot to handle. And while that may be true to a certain degree, India is a vast and varied country with regional cuisines appropriate for any palate.

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Today, I bring you to Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta) where the food tends to be sweeter, milder in spice, and with slight tinges of sour. Located in the northeastern part of India, food from this area is often referred to as Bengali cuisine.

Bengali cuisine is famous for its fresh fish and seafood, cooked as curries or steamed in banana leaves. Sweet flavors come from the use of unrefined cane sugar called ‘jaggery’, and the sour flavors come from heavier use of tamarind paste. My favorite dish by far was the jumbo prawn curry, which was absolutely delish (see below)!

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Chingri Malai

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Basanti Pulao (seasoned rice), naan, Echor-er Dalna (jackfruit curry)
Dak Bangla Chicken Curry, Hilsa Fish Mustard Curry, Chingri Malai

Sweets are an important part of Bengali cuisine and choices for desserts are limitless. From mishti doi (sweet yogurt) to kheer (rice pudding) to smaller confections like rasgulla, ladoo, and cham-chams, there is no such thing as a bad decision! The food in this region was so delicious it was hard to leave, but I knew there was still much more to explore and eat.

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Small selection of sweet treats!

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Mishti doi with fresh fruit

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Stay tuned for Part 2!

Posted by Kathy Casey on May 7th, 2014  |  Add Comment |  Posted in Recent Posts, Tasty Travels, dessert, poultry, seafood

Dishing with Kathy Casey: The Newsletter

My Holiday Extravaganza and “Over 21″ Real Fruit Cakes!

That’s right mark your calendars for:
Saturday December 14th – 11AM – 7 PM
at the Food Studios in Ballard

And come join us for a tasty Open House. We will be serving up lots of tasty sips and apps and I will be signing copies of my books Sips & Apps and my most recent D’Lish Deviled Eggs – yes, there will be lots of samples!

We will be selling all kinds of tasty treats, including our ever popular “Over 21″ Real Fruit Cakes made with Maker’s Mark (also available for purchase online), Dish D’Lish® specialty products, Kathy Casey Liquid Kitchen® bar goods, and all the tasty treats we have been putting up and baking like busy holiday elves!

Fruitcake

“Over 21″ Real Fruit Cake made with Maker’s Mark
(Check our YouTube video on how we make it!)

Stop by for a chat and load up on some holiday cheer! I hope to see you there!

The New Liquid Kitchen Website is Live!

I am very excited to announce that we just launched a brand new website for the beverage arm of my business Kathy Casey Liquid Kitchen®! Come check out and see we’re up to, meet my team members; watch an episode of my Cocktail Show and check out the recipe section for lots of great cocktail inspiration. Visit often for great cocktail and spirit news.

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Like this post on why I’m obsessed with Flash Blending – a technique used in my fave holiday cocktail, Snow Drift

Sips & Apps – D’Lish eBook Deal!!

It’s the holidays and Chronicle Books is celebrating with a special online deal! My Sips & Apps is one of their best nine holiday ebooks picked for their special “Tis the Season Sale.” For the entire month of December, ebook versions of Sips & Apps (available on Kindle, iBookstore, NOOK, Google play, and Kobo) are 75% off – $2.99!

Sips & Apps cover

Tasty Travels – Fundraiser – Events

Since my last Newsletter, the team and I have been non-stop from fundraisers to conferences and exciting new client projects. Here is a fun overview of our adventures:

Adventure Race for Parkinson’s
Heather, Erwin and Jason dressed up in their superhero onesies for the first ever scavenger hunt/race for Parkinson’s. That day was filled with lots of “call-ins” and computer searching!

Onesie
Go Team Onesie!
The KCFS crew all dressed up for the 1st annual Adventure Race for Parkinson’s!

Fabulous Fungi
Wild mushroom hunting has to be one of my most favorite things to do. I became a member of the Puget Sound Micological Society over 20 years ago at the urging of dear friend and mycophagist Patrice Benson and have been hooked ever since. Patrice organized the cooking demo station at the annual show for years, and in her memory, I have been volunteering to cook up wild mushroom demos ever since.

This year the society celebrated its 50th anniversary. I’m always asking foodie friends to join and so this year my longtime friend and salon owner/hairstylist glitterati Marco joined me; he is a great cook! We had a great day of sharing mushroom dishes with the crowd!

This year’s weather was so perfect for mushrooms: rain, sun, rain sun… It was the most wild mushrooms that I have ever seen at the show – nature certainly cooperated this year! If you like foraging and fungi then check with your local wild mushrooms clubs to learn more and join in the fun! Spring morels will be here in no time!

Marco & mushrooms
Marco & I and a bounty of Lion’s Mane mushrooms!!

Shaking it up with Sunkist
Meanwhile KCFS team members Heather and Jason headed down to New Orleans for the annual PMA Fresh Summit Conference with Sunkist! They shook up refreshing Grapefruit Honey Ginger Fizzes (fresh grapefruit juice and honey ginger syrup then topped with soda water) at the Sunkist Booth.

Sunkist
HJ & JA shaking
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Heather and Jason serving a fresh Grapefruit Honey Ginger Fizz!

Serious Sippin’ at Portland Cocktail Week
While they were in New Orleans, I was off to Portland Cocktail Week to be on the “How to be a Consultant” panel. This industry only event had bartenders coming from all over the US to participate in a week of classes and seminars… of course followed by lots of great parties.

Pernod
Karlyn Monroe and the Pernod Ricard team stop to pose for a fun photo at the industry party.
My favorite drink of the night was a Pernod & Hot Chocolate with Homemade Marshmallows!

Dame Good Fundraiser
After a little breather, I was off to emcee the annual auction for the Les Dames d’Escoffier – Seattle Chapter. This women-only international organization supports women in the food & beverage industry. The theme for this year’s auction was “There is Nothing Like a Dame” and featured my South Seas Sparkling Punch as the signature cocktail! The Seattle Chapter event raisee over $140,000 for culinary scholarships for women!

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The Liquid Kitchen team synchronized shaking at the Dames Fundraiser!
Erwin – Jason – Keith

(Photo courtesy of Katherine Kehrli.)

South Seas
The Evening’s Cocktail: South Seas Sparkling Punch

Shaking and Cooking it up in the Media

Food & Wine
My Citrus Scandi featured in Food & Wine Magazine

Cocktails in NY with Martin Miller’s
In November, I headed to New York for a special media tour and paring dinner with Martin Miller’s Gin. The dinner was at the famed 11 Madison Park restaurant. I created 5 cocktails and worked with Chef Brian Lockwood on the dinner pairings, bar manager Leo Robitschek executed the drinks with his bartenders. The food was amazing and our cocktail pairing collaboration was a hit! Food, cocktails, service … It’s not often I say FLAWLESS! The guest list was pretty spectacular – CNN, Martha Stewart Living, Food and Wine, Bon Appetit, Saveur, and the list goes on – very exciting!

The whole theme on my Martin Miller’s holiday cocktails was: don’t get stuck behind the bar. Go enjoy your party and make party imbibing by pre-batching your cocktails hours (if not days before)! Check out some of the recipes in the Examiner, Chicagoist, and the UK’s Ideal Magazine!

Ruby Spiced
My Ruby Spiced Martini

Holiday Sips & Apps in the Seattle Times
For those of you that remember my column Dishing with Kathy Casey in the Seattle Times – it was great to do a special feature all about easy holiday entertaining. I include some do-ahead cocktails as well as delicious appetizers like Sticky Pomegranate Chicken Wings; Siracha Deviled Eggs with Crunchy Cucumber and Shrimp; and Warm Crab Dip with Mushroom and Brie served with Sea Salt and Thyme Crostini. All modern twists on favorites, with lots of do-ahead components so you’re not stuck in the kitchen at your holiday party!

Sticky Sriracha
Need a Holiday Party Appetizer – I’ve got you covered!

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Mushrooms sautéing up for Warm Crab Dip in my favorite Cuisinart Pan!

It’s All Things Peppermint at Dish D’Lish

With the hustle and bustle of the holiday air travel, make sure to stay recharged and stop by Dish D’Lish at the Sea-Tac Airport. Whether you’re traveling by yourself or meeting someone, we have a café pre- and post-security. And for some holiday cheer we are featuring Peppermint Crush Cupcake, Frosty Peppermint Latte and Candy Cane Cocoa – all topped with Hammond’s handmade candy canes.

Peppermint Crush
Peppermint Crush Cupcakes

For an in-flight treat or a little something to take home grab a signature candy cane or Candy Cane Crunch Chocolate bar. Yum! And be sure to check out all our other new menu items, including lots of gluten free options.

Traveling and need to pick up a great gift? Sea-Tac Airport is full of fun places to shop; check out this special on New Day Northwest for ideas!

Happy Holidays and a Joyful New Year!

I am grateful for such a wonderful year with amazing clients, wonderful co-workers and friends and family.

Wishing you a joyful holiday season with friends and family. I look forward to sharing lots of delicious new projects and travels with you in the New Year! –Kathy

Snowman

Don’t forget to join me on my blog Dishing with Kathy Casey and weekends on KOMO News Radio for all things d’lish, including recipes, tips, and fun events.

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Follow on Twitter @KathyCaseyChef. Blogging: Dishing with Kathy Casey.
Like on Facebook: Sips & Apps and Kathy Casey’s Liquid Kitchen.
Read: D’Lish Deviled Eggs. Watch: www.LiquidKitchen.tv.
Web: www.KathyCasey.com www.LiquidKitchen.com”

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My Trip to Japan

Twelve year old super foodie Carter McCarroll is our guest blogger today. I asked him to share his culinary adventures on his first trip to Japan this past summer (I’m jealous as I’ve never been there except for layovers in the Delta lounge!). Here’s part 1 of this young man’s trip.

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Hello, my name Is Carter McCarroll. I am a twelve year old boy with a thirst for adventure. I live in Hinsdale, Illinois and I just started going to Hinsdale Middle School. My dad works for Kerry, a company that supplies food and beverage ingredients.

One of the main reasons I wanted to go to Japan was the food, but there are many reasons why I love food. Foods from around the world have so much rich history, different textures, and techniques for cooking certain foods. There’s just a whole variety of them! I especially like Japanese food. I just love the intense flavor of sushi when It’s dipped in soy sauce (with bits of wasabi in it) and topped with ginger. I also admire the Japanese udon noodle bowl. Noodles have always been my favorite food and I thought it couldn’t get any better until I tried the Japanese noodle bowl – in Japan! Which I will get into more detail later. That pretty much sums up why I love food, especially Japanese food.

We left for Japan on July 21 (a day that I’ll always remember). My dad and I planned that moment for such a long time and the day was finally there and it would just be the two of us flying! I was overwhelmed with excitement. I knew that I’d miss the rest of my family while I was away, since I had never been away from them for so long, nevertheless I couldn’t wait to fly to Japan.

When the plane landed, my dad and I felt an urge to eat noodles (even though It was 3 AM in Illinois). So after nearly four hours of train rides from Narita airport to Tokyo, we finally arrived at the hotel. There were a few Japanese restaurants nearby, so we decided to go to one of them. Luckily for us, our waitress could speak a little English. I ordered a beef noodle bowl that came with a side of rice and tempura. After we ordered, I felt so tired that I could just fall asleep sitting right there (It was 7 AM in Hinsdale and I still hadn’t slept – not even on the plane). I was just about to fall asleep when the waitress placed our food on the table. Even though I was literally half asleep, I dug into my food until there was nothing left. Even the rice was about 5 times better than I usually have back in the U.S. I loved the broth for the noodles. The mixture of everything was almost perfect…… then it was back to the hotel… of course we fell asleep almost immediately.

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Our hotel room’s view of Tokyo

The next day was officially my 12th birthday. We were planning to do a whole lot of exploring that day, but kept it more low-key thanks to jet-lag. After a long day and a nap, we went to a local outdoor restaurant. I still wasn’t very hungry, but I ate something anyway.  The best fried rice I ever had! It had the perfect warmth, mixture, and balanced flavor.

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I felt a lot better the next day. We started off with breakfast in the hotel (which was fantastic!). There was sausages, eggs, noodles, miso soup, steamed rice with many toppings, a whole selection of breads, and so much more. After breakfast we took a cab to see some temples. Then we walked to Shibuya crossing, the busiest street crossing in the world!

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Waiting our turn to cross at the busiest intersection in Tokyo!

After some more exploring, we headed back to the hotel to have a snack. We decided to share a small pizza at an Italian restaurant down the street from the hotel. We were actually surprised by how good that pizza was. This pizza was just a margherita. I’m not going to go into much detail about this, but let me just tell you – if you ever travel to Tokyo, stay in the Westin Hotel, and then if you’re In the mood for pizza, go there – its right in front of the hotel.

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One of the best pizzas that I’ve ever had!

That night, we ate at a fancy Michelin star sushi restaurant. When our taxi dropped us off, it took us a while to find the entrance, but eventually we did. The first thing that caught my eye when we walked in was that this was actually a sushi bar. No tables anywhere and everyone looked so sophisticated. We sat down next to an elderly Japanese couple and right away, the waitress came and asked us what we would like…in Japanese. She was expecting us to instantly know what we were getting, but without an English-translated menu. I’m guessing that the people that come here are mostly regulars.

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Me in front of the “hidden” entrance

My dad finally worked up the nerve to order with some finger pointing and limited Japanese. Our first course came ….it was a mushroom thing and some other seaweed stuff.

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I didn’t even dare to try some. Especially after my dad did and said he didn’t like it at all. Next came some nicely cut raw tuna. Finally something that I could eat! It was magnificent! This tender, delicate delight was a perfectly cut juicy piece of tuna that I will never forget.

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After that, we ordered some tempura. What came as a surprise was they also had fried corn! It was wonderfully sweet and savory at the same time! That was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten in my whole entire life. I think my dad liked it better than I did – he kept on talking about how brilliant it was.

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Finally, we finished off with some miso soup – which was even better than the miso we had at the hotel. It was perfect blend of warm flavors. After that fabulous meal, we called it a day.

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After 2 days of being In Tokyo, it was time to go to Kyoto. This used to be the capital city of the country. There are loads of very old temples with many mountains surrounding it and it’s the culinary capitol of Japan. To be continued…. – Carter McCarroll

Posted by Kathy Casey on October 15th, 2013  |  Add Comment |  Posted in Foodie News, Lifestyle, Recent Posts, Tasty Travels

Spirits Shine at Tales of the Cocktail

What do you get when you combine thousands of mixologists, spirit industry professionals, bar enthusiasts and a lot of libations together in New Orleans? Tales of the Cocktail, of course! Like a five day summer camp for the best and brightest in the spirits industry, Tales is THE highlight of the bartender circuit. Held annually in New Orleans, the week features seminars, parties, and cocktailing galore in this boozy 24-hour playground. It can be a liver workout – trust me!

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Guest Mixologists shaking up and showing off their creations at the Diageo USS World Class Happy Hour event: Tony Devencenzi, Beckaly Franks and Tim Cooper

The Competitive Spirit at Tales

Mixologists love to collaborate, but they also love to compete! And competitions abound at Tales, from this year’s challenge to create the best spin on the Rickey for the title of Official Cocktail of TOTC’13 to the Stoli Most Original Bartender competition and the Cocktails on Tap Contest sponsored by Drambuie.

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Jacob Greer’s Portland Rickey – official cocktail of Tales of the Cocktail 2013

Reading, Learning, Shopping….Boozy Style!
No trip to Tales is complete without a stop at the TOTC Bookstore by Octavia Books. It is the definitive place to go for spirited books. All the new boozy tomes are there, from Molly Wellman’s Handcrafted Cocktails to bar pal Matt Seiter’s The Dive Bar of Cocktail Bars which was a top 10 nominee for Tales’ Spirited Awards best new book. And this year they also incorporated a Bitters Market featuring a huge array of bitters — it’s hard to control yourself in there! So many great new books and bitters… HIDE my credit card!!!

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Molly with her new book, Handcrafted Cocktails!

And speaking of shops, Cocktail Kingdom transformed the Hotel Monteleone’s gift shop into a Pop-Up! Sparkly cut-glass yari cocktail mixing pitchers, gold stirring spoons, ice ball molding machines, sexy jiggers… if you have never shopped their site check it out – it’s my go-to for unique barware and cool cocktail products.

There were a lot of great panels and seminars but my favorite was “Fun with Hydrocolloids”. Molecular mixology and its techniques can sometimes be a bit intimidating but this crash course on hydrocolloids and its many uses was enlightening! They presented on the different types and what their textures were like – it was great for attendees to experience and feel these in a comparison tasting.

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Sazerac in an “Edible” Absinthe Shot Glass

I enjoy making cocktail gelees for seminars and love to discuss how “eating” liquor is so much different than drinking it, so I was very intrigued by the panelists take on a Sazerac. The drink was presented in an edible absinthe-infused gelee shot glass! Fair warning – spirited gelees look innocent enough, but their boozy bite might sneak up on you!

Those that know me well know that I am a garnish freak… I’ll admit that I can sometimes to get carried away. From edible gold flakes to baby coconuts and fluffy fire sticks…..I just love a good garnish! Garnishes are the finishing touches on our cocktail experience, and Francesco LaFranconi and Charlotte Voisey led a seminar about that very subject.  “Hey, Good-Looking” went through the history and functionality of garnishes and how to really jazz up your cocktail.

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I love Edible Fire Sticks for Garnish

The Ladies were in the House!
The west coast has always led the country in the local and sustainable food movement, and it’s evident in our many restaurants and bars installing everything from full working gardens to beehives on their premises. The trend is sweeping across the country, and Amy Stewart -also known as the Drunken Botanist- and Susan Morrison captured the essence in their panel, “Successful Bar Gardens”. These two ladies brought their considerable know-how and sage advice about all things green and gave us a panel chock-full of ways to put your green thumb to work for you and your bar, and the benefits having fresh produce right at your fingertips. And if that has your interest peaked check out my blog that I did on Amy’s Book The Drunken Botanist.

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Amy Stewart’s The Drunken Botanist

Speaking of the ladies: women were definitely shaking things up this year! Bombay Sapphire Gin Most Imaginative Bartender All-Stars Competition was won by a woman for the first time in Tales history! Miami’s Cricket Nelson took gold with her “Sapphire East Love Game”, a delicious elixir crafted with Earl Grey tea, rosebud syrup and fresh Thai basil. Yum!

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Cricket Nelson serving up her winning “Sapphire East Love Game” cocktail.

And then there were the Tastings….
All day, every day, spread throughout the city, from rum and mezcal to vermouth and champagne. Having just come back from Peru and a tour of the Porton distillery, I had to visit the Pisco Pavilion for a taste of my travels! Can I just say that Pisco Sour is my favorite new drink!

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Inspired by Tales – A Passion Fruit Pisco Porton Sour with Edible Baby Orchid I made at the Recent Flavor Experience Conference with Monin

And then it was on to all the special events that take place – the USS Diageo World Class Happy Hour for a libatious trip around the Mediterranean with featured cocktails with some of my favorite mixologists. Next it was off to see Liquid Kitchen associate Danny Ronen at the Krug House Champagne Tasting where he welcomed guests with ice-cold glasses of bubbles – a bit of a welcome reprieve from all those cocktails!

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Me enjoying the Krug House champagne tasting party with famed mixologist Francesco Lafranconi
photo by Danny Ronen

Spirited Dinners…
…are always the highlight of Thursday night. And this year I attended the Beam Great Whisk(e)y Debate. Held at the Bourbon House Restaurant, this spirited showdown aimed to determine once and for all what America’s favorite whisky is! Fred Noe III, 7th generation Master Distiller for Jim Beam, squared off against Kieran Folliard (Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey Ambassador), Dan Tullio (Canadian Club Ambassador) and Simon Brooking (Laphroaig Single Malt Scotch Ambassador ) and engaged in a good-natured -but not without much teasing, elbowing and well-meaning jibes- debate. Everyone fought valiantly, but in the end, and in the spirit of good sportsmanship, the moderator called a draw. We were more than happy to continue debating amongst ourselves over courses of whisky, naturally!

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The lords of whisky at The Great Whisk(e)y Debate – Simon Brooking, Kieran Folliard, Fred Booker Noe III and Dan Tullio – Yes! There were pins to support your favorite whisk(e)y guy.

The Spirited Awards
The Spirited Awards are the capstone event, honoring the cocktail industry’s top dogs over the past year. This year’s theme was The Roaring 20’s by way of The Great Gatsby, which was the perfect way to honor all things libatious!  And I want to give a special congratulations shout out to Charles Joly beverage director of The Aviary in Chicago on his win as American Bartender of the Year. I recently visited Charles at The Aviary on a trip to Chicago and had some of the best cocktails of my life – and that is no small claim considering how many I’ve tasted in my time! A well-deserved win!

And then there is all the swag that has to find a place in my suitcase:
One of the coolest perks of attending Tales of the Cocktail is the mysterious curtained-off lagniappe room.  Presenters, media and VIP’s were given a special bottle cap to obtain entry into the swag room and an “all you can fill bag”, then let loose upon the mountains of swag! I stuffed my bag with all sorts of goodies – from bar tools to key chains, little bottles of amaro, swizzle sticks, a handy compact raincoat – I’m from Seattle, of course I needed that! – and tons more boozy mementos of my wonderful time at Tales.

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Tales Swag

Leaving Tales is always bittersweet – I love learning new things and seeing my cocktail friends from all over the world, but eventually you’re up to your eyeballs in drinks and the floor at the Hotel Monteleone starts to just get a bit too sticky… that means it’s time to head home! See you next year at Tales!

-Kathy

Posted by Kathy Casey on August 14th, 2013  |  Add Comment |  Posted in Cocktails, Conferences, Recent Posts, Tasty Travels, events
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