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Monday, July 24, 2017

Tequila Day Quandary

It's National Tequila Day and I am in a Quandary: I am reading a wintry title in the middle of summer.  John Le Carre's first novel, "Call for the Dead," is a vurrrry wintry, replete with coldcockings. There are no tequila drinks in the narrative, and indeed damn little tequila in Old Merry itself in 1961, the year of the novel.  So what to drink whilst parking proximate to The Tree You Can Walk Through in my backyard and parsing this barely-beyond-novella? Settling on a margarita, and here's how I make one: two parts tequila, one part lime, just less than one part Triple Sec or, if you are fussy, Cointreau. And...I shake it all with rocks in a cocktail shaker and pour it into a frosted cocktail glass rather than a tumbler.  I often use kosher salt for the rim, not that you can tell anymore, as there have been a few sips. 

Limes are not as prevalent in this neighborhood as lemons are, but there are neighbors in a pinch.  I have a seedless Beards dwarf, and can neither call it a disappointment or a delight: it produces, after a nearly decade in the ground, a scant seven limes a year.  But I always remain hopeful that one year it will take off.  It has great shape, and that is a consolation.

Friday, July 14, 2017

After Hell: Fernet-Branca and coffee

This is one of the easiest drinks of all; you drink it at that time in later (but not late) spring when it is 2:30 p.m. and you are about to nap but still would like to do some work and you are not of the energy drink cult.  It works best if you have an espresso machine at home.  You make a short Americano – but before you do pour a shot of Fernet-Branca into your favorite coffee cup.  (It will sip better if you don't put it into a mug, and you need a little more room than a demi-tasse affords).  Make the espresso on top of the Fernet-Branca and add shot of scalding water.  That is all.  Now go to the backyard and read any translation of the Purgatorio – this one is the Hollanders' translation, which has copious notes, which I am looking for these days, as my own present writing project involves the Divina Commedia.  I was ready to fall asleep but now I am ready to work.  Of course, there is some considerable simpatico here for yours truly, as Fernet-Branca was first made in Milan the same year my own family emigrated to the United States, and my last name is German for "one from Milano."  Similarly, there is always a connection between myself and the Purgatorio, because I believe this earth is one, and anyway, it is my favorite of the three books of Dante. About as long to prepare as your N/espresso takes to make.