Il Teatro Ristorante

Karlsruhe, right by the Novotel, is a nice little Italian restaurant that I have somehow missed in my many times here. What a shame, as it was delightful.

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The meal started with a nice glass of red that carried through the rest of the meal. Nice and dry.

Then he brought out the Pumpkin Soup, and wow! I’ve had Pumpkin soup more than once Karlsruhe. And usually the spicing is reminiscent of Middle Eastern or Indian cuisine (both of which are delightful). But the soup here was delightfully savory, without much to distract from the pumpkin and goodness. Now, typically, I would make fun of the “everything pumpkin flavored” this time of year. However, this is how pumpkin should be consumed, no question.

Following that came the Bocconcini. Now, that name is apparently odd, seeing as Wikipedia thinks that is a mozzarella ball of a certain variety. There was definitely no mozzarella in sight. Instead, it was a delightful mix of veal and beef, noodles, cognac, Pilze (mushrooms) and Rahmsauce. With a delightful side of vegetables: broccoli, carrots, potatoes and cabbage (buttered, not kraut, yay!).

In any case, thoroughly enjoyed it.

 

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Plenty Of Fig Leaves Means…

deviating from previous recipes (april 2013)

took seven large fig leaves and rinsed them off. added them to pan with 850 mL of water. bring to a boil

Mixed up solution of 400 mL everclear (190 proof) and 450 mL of water – for a total of ~850 mL at 89 proof. (done while it rose to a boil)

once at a boil, removed from heat and let seep for twenty minutes

add 850 mL of sugar to the pan and bring back to solution

mix alcohol and fig leaf tea, store in cool dark place

Testing The Honeyed Summer Cantaloupe

Ugh.

Nasty. I don’t have the heart to just toss it. But I don’t have the stomach to drink it. Kim found it equally (if not more) offensive. One more proof that not every recipe or modification I try turns out well!

Mid-Summer Non-Fermentation

Final Product: Honeyed Summer Cantaloupe

Final Product: Honeyed Summer Cantaloupe

Honeyed Summer Cantaloupe

This evening, right on schedule (7 days melding), I finished making the Honeyed Summer Cantaloupe. All it took was straining the bulk of the fruit, letting the liquid drain off without any additional pressing. I did hem and haw about which container to put it in for storage, but ended up deciding on an old Stoli bottle (1.75 L). Little big for the job, but it seemed annoying to do 1 full screw-cap wine bottle (750 mL) plus a partially filled second. I have a few more of these old bottles, and they want to be filled.

I don’t know that I am fond of the smell, in all honesty. But then, cantaloupe is not my favorite melon, either. It isn’t offensive, just not pleasurable in the way the Rose Raspberry of Lemon Drop were, and nowhere near the pleasant smoothness (in smell or taste) of past years’ spiced apple liqueur. We’ll just have to see about the flavor later, as I’m going to give it a day or two off the fruit before sampling.

Cucumber Mint Liqueur

Cucumber Mint Liqueur

Mint, With a Healthy Does of Cucumber

Finishing with that, I then began on another recipe from the same book. I had originally thought to nearly double the recipe (to end up fitting  a 1.75L bottle), but was short on Vermouth. So, I relented and went with the recipe as is. Still was a little short on Vermouth!

The book called for 1.5 cups of 80-100 proof vodka mixed with 1.5 cups of Vermouth (18% ABV). I used an unremarkable vodka sitting in the pantry (80 proof, or 40% ABV), and an extra dry Vermouth. Turned out I had just under the expected amount of Vermouth, so I’ll be needing a new bottle.

My birthday is almost here [hint, hint…]

On a serious note, I just increased the amount of vodka to make a total of 3 cups of liquid. And I’m fully capable of purchasing Vermouth, if the need arises. Which it could.

To that I added one large (I mean really large) cucumber, grated. The recipe had called for 2 medium cucumbers, grated. I also added a half cup of chopped (apple) mint from the front garden, per the recipe, and the zest of 1 lemon (also per the recipe).

Then I mixed this all together, sealed the top and set in a cool, dark place. Give that a couple days, adding some simple syrup, and we’ll see what we’ve got.

Next Up

Need to get a ginger bug back operational. Been out of the regular ginger ale swing. Technically, that’s fermentation. And I did say this was a non-fermentation post. Ah, well. I have more lemons, so another Lemon Drop attempt could be possible – especially since the previous one was so well received by friends. A limecello is probably in order as well, before the purchased limes give up the ghost.

Oh, and it is high time for making some more fig leaf liqueur. I’m considering Everclear, as I have already tried it with both gin and vodka. Just for comparison, of course. the figs themselves aren’t quite ready for anything. But the tree can pass me a couple of leaves without too much harm.

Lemons and Cantaloupe

Today, I finished the Lemon Drop (lemoncello).

Much as with the Rose Raspberry liqueur, I had mistakenly ignored the original proofing of the Everclear. So, using the same measurements as for the Rose Raspberry, after straining off the lemon zest, I added 12 ounces of water, and then mixed in the 1 cup of simple syrup (still 1:1). Once it was all mixed, I put it in the freezer for later.

It was quite interesting to see actually. The Lemon Drop starter was a solid and earthy yellow, not unlike a solution of saffron and water. It was crystalline clear, even after the addition of water. The simple syrup, too, was quite clear, though not exactly crystalline. But the addition of the simple syrup to the base was an instant shift to opaqueness, with color shifting from earthy yellow to a lemonade yellow – white-ish, thick…just begging to be tasted.

ater is now. And I must say that the flavor is delightful. The mixed up proportions have not affected the enjoyability of this one, in the slightest. Kim liked it, but prefers the Rose Raspberry. Fine by me!

Next!

With Rose Raspberry and Lemon Drop out of the way, and a cantaloupe begging to be cut open, I started on a Honeyed Summer Cantaloupe. Using the same book, but with a considerable amount of adjustment this time, I started by chopping up half a cantaloupe. This came to just about 4 cups. I then poured about a cup of a North Carolina honey into my vessel.

This time, I had purchased Everclear at 151 proof (about 75% ABV), and using the calculator, tested proportions of water and Everclear to reach somewhere in the 80-100 proof range. I came to stop on 400 mL of Everclear and 350 mL of water, for a total of approximately 750mL of liquor (the equation is not exactly linear). This would result in a 91 proof liquid.

All that done, I measured in my water and Everclear on top of the honey, the juice of two lemons, and then transferred the cantaloupe pieces. I crushed all this with a spoon inside my big mason jar, and then was finished. Now we wait for about seven days.

New Flavor Infusions

First day of a long needed vacation. Not sure what the day holds, but I plan on it being restful, to say the very least!

Last Thursday, inspired by a book I’ve been meaning to browse, and the delights of a friend’s Limecello, sampled happily, I decided to start some new liqueurs. I started two, making minor deviations, and we’ll see how things turn out in the end. The first is fairly close to Raspberry Rose, from the book Homemade Liqueurs and Infused Spirits. The second played off of memory and remnants of conversations and the Lemon Drop recipe from the same book, a copycat of Lemoncello (maybe successful).

Raspberry Rose

Starting with the Raspberry Rose, I measured out 1 ounce of dried rose bud/petals. I had picked these up recently from a spice store in Florida, and was glad to be able to use them for something fun. That’s why I bought them! In any case, I also measured out 1 cup of raspberries, which amounted to about 6 ounces, picked over to remove bad berries. To this I added the fresh zest of 1 navel orange, though the recipe called for tangerine, which was unavailable at the store.

Then I made my biggest mistake, in hindsight, which was adding 750 mL of 190 proof Everclear. The recipe had called for the same amount of Vodka, at 80-100 proof. The proof was a fact I skimmed over and only realized a day or so later I had missed. I had used Everclear at the suggestion of my friend, and will probably continue to do so, as it is cheaper for the quantity – once proof is reduced. In any case, I muddled the mixture together, sealed and set aside.

The recipe called for 3-5 days of infusing. And today is the 4 day point (well, three and a half). I got up this morning, made coffee, and then set to making up a 1:1 simple syrup (3 cups sugar, 3 cups of water). After straining the infused Everclear off of the rose and raspberries, I added some water (12 ounces) and then 1 cup of the simple syrup (per the recipe). That makes 20 ounces of additional liquid, and if my calculations are correct (with the help of a calculator over at bootlegbotanicals.com), that should reduce the near-190 proof infusion to somewhere around 98 proof, more in the range of Vodka or similar. The infusion had ended with 21.5 ounces of dark red liquid, down from the ~25 ounces (750mL) to start with. I didn’t expect to get all the liquid out, of course, adding the 20 ounces of additional solution, I should have 1.6 750mL bottles worth of liqueur.

I have now thrown that mix in the freezer, to chill for later. Need to pick up some soda water from the store before this evening.

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Lemon Drop

With the lemon drop, I did make the same proofing mistake. But it is not complete, so the final state remains to be seen. Thursday, I zested 10 lemons, per recipe and placed this in a mason jar with 1.5 cups of 190 proof Everclear (rather than the 80-100 proof Vodka) and 1 cup of Vermouth (18% ABV). That is supposed to rest, sealed, for 7 days. Soon. Very soon.

Lemon Drop: In The Beginning

Lemon Drop: In The Beginning

Beyond

I have plans, or maybe imaginations, for something with ginger and/or cantaloupe. I’m going to hold of on Limecello for just a bit (supplies and containers is an immediate issue). And I’d like to try an Orangecello in the future as well. And if I can find Dutch gin (and maybe even if not) something with cucumber and mint, maybe. Oh, the possibilities are…endless.

Mmmmmm.

Pear Mead/Apple Wine from 2012

Pear Mead/Apple Wine from 2012

Ah, finally a restful moment to think back on the day. I decided to open a bottle from some of the first batches of wine and mead I ever made, a mix of pear mead and apple wine. It was slightly carbonated, not enough to pop the cork (thankfully), with a crystal-clear golden hue (though there is sediment in the bottle kicked up by the carbonation). The flavor is rather light, but a recognizable apple-pear. And though my hope was the glass would focus the smell, it was so light at first that there was not much to detect. Re-sniffing as I write this I am pleasantly surprise to have a much richer smell to sample.

Earlier today the family drank the first batch of Pasteur Champagne ginger beer (from ginger bug trial 3). It was delightful. Not as spicy as I might have desired, but still enjoyable. My friend, likewise, enjoyed the ginger beer based on the bread yeast ginger bug (trial 2). The other ginger bug continues to be inert, to the eye at least.

And the bière de garde is bubbling its airlock quite well.

 Ah. Good night!