Let it Snow


The snow has been gorgeous here.  There is a wonderful quiet that accompanies snow.  As long as they do not call off school, it could just continue to snow off and on through February for my taste.  The dog loves it too.  His eyes change color in the snow and, though he doesn't ever need any help getting there, he is a total puppy dog in it.

I have been in search of my Christmas Spirit this season and it seems to be hiding from me.  This is the first season in a long time (perhaps ever) that I have succumbed to the Holiday Blues.  To the point of wanting to just hibernate.  I am trying to maintain until I go on break this week.  We had some great friends over last weekend for dinner and kitchen therapy always helps.  The theme for dinner was "Comfort Food" and I made a lasagna, BLT salad with ranch dressing and my friend brought some exceptional homemade peach cobbler with vanilla bean whipped cream.  A lovely red wine, Quarterback, that was on sale in my snack bracket was there and one of my very favorite champagne cocktails called an Americana was on the menu with the Gorgonzola, hazelnut, and honey crostini appetizer.  The cocktail marries two of my favorite things in the world, bourbon and champagne, into a slightly aromatic drink.  Less sweet, more spice with the addition of bitters to it.  One of those "I could drink this all night and I think I will do just that" drinks.  I first had it at a local restaurant called Limestone.  It is owned by Chef Jim Gerhardt, the former chef from The Oak Room, one of the oldest and finest dining restaurants in the city located in The Seelbach hotel downtown.   That was the first place I had ever been that had silver coffee service at the end of the meal and a battery of waiters per table.  A remarkable dining experience.  At the Oak Room, Chef Gerhardt earned a AAA Five Diamond Award and a James Beard nomination.  He is an exceptional chef and though I miss him terribly in the Oak Room setting, his restaurant is doing well.      

Champagne Americana (also known locally as a Limestone Cocktail)

1/2 cup bourbon
2 Tbs simple syrup
1 teaspoon bitters
Ice cubes
8 strips of lemon peel (yellow part only)
1 bottle dry sparkling wine or champagne (Poema Brut worked well here)

Mix bourbon, syrup, and bitters in cocktail shaker with ice until cold.  Drop a lemon peel in the bottom of a champagne glass and pour 1 Tbs of bourbon mixture in each glass.  Top off glass with champagne.  Prepare to be smitten.  The bourbon mixture should do 8 cocktails.  "Should".  I find 4-6 is more likely.

I suppose I just need to be in the kitchen non stop for the next week or so to see if I can't get my Christmas Spirit in order.  I have all of my baking ahead of me and hopefully Steven and I can spend a day or two just being in the kitchen together.  I know my spirit will come out of hiding soon and be just in time for the holidays.  Until then I will keep searching... and cooking.   


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