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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Cinco de Mayo & Dia De Los Muertos

RECIPE: The World’s Best Margarita Is The Tamarindo (Tamarind) Margarita

Is this the best Margarita in the world? It’s pretty special. Photo courtesy Tequila Avión.

 

Margaritas come in all shapes, sizes, and in a variety of expressions—from the classic straight up to frozen to flavors such as mango and passionfruit. Some are made with mixes (good, bad and average). The best are made with fresh-squeezed lime juice (ask the server or bartender to be sure you’re not getting reconstituted lime juice).

And then there’s the Tequila. While there are many fine Tequilas on the market (the word is capitalized as it’s the name of the city and state where the spirit is produced), Tequila Avión took five honors* at this year’s San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

And, Tequila Avión was the Tequila of choice for the World’s Greatest Margarita. At the Sixth Annual World Margarita Championship held in February in Tucson, Arizona. Gustavo del Toro of the La Fuente Restaurant in Tuscon won the award with a recipe that used Tequila Avión. Here‘s the recipe, in time for weekend leisure.

 

*Tequila Avión Silver won the Double Gold (higher than a mere gold medal) and Best Tequila awards as well as the Best Unaged White Spirit category (beating not only the other tequilas but all vodkas, gins, and rums). The brand also won two silver medals for its aged tequilas, Avión Reposado Tequila and Avión Añejo Tequila.

You’ll need to rustle up some fresh tamarind (tamarindo) or buy tamarind purée (check Asian market or online). Fresh-squeezed orange juice will also contribute to a “world’s greatest” flavor.

Sourced from the world’s highest quality agave and produced using a rare distillation process, Tequila Avión makes Silver, Reposado and Añejo Tequilas (here’s the scoop on the different types of Tequila). For more information about the brand, visit TequilaAvion.com.

TAMARINDO MARGARITA RECIPE

Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces Tequila Avión Silver
  • 1 ounce Grand Marnier or other premium orange liqueur, such as Cointreau or GranGala
  • 1/2 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce orange juice
  • 1/2 ounce tamarindo/tamarind purée (see recipe below)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Coarse salt and chili powder to rim glass
  • Lime wheel and tamarindo peel for garnish (if you’re not using fresh tamarind, you can substitute orange peel)
  •  

    Preparation

    1. Combine tequila, Grand Marnier, lime juice, orange juice, tamarind purée and sugar in a blender with cup of ice. Blend thoroughly.

    2. Serve in a Margarita or Martini glass rimmed with coarse salt and chili powder.

    3. Garnish with a lime wheel and speared tamarind peel.

    Tamarind Puree Recipe

    1. Boil 1-1/2 pounds of fresh tamarinds for approximately 45 minutes or until tender.

    2. Allow the fruit to cool; then strain to remove the seeds. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and sugar and then blend the fruit pulp into a purée.

    Makes enough for four Margaritas.

     

    Pods, which grow on the tamarind tree, hold the fruit inside. Photo by M.L. Valentin | Wikimedia.

     

    WHAT IS TAMARIND?

    While many people might think of tamarind as an Asian fruit, it is actually indigenous to the Sudan—in eastern North Africa right below Egypt—from where it spread throughout tropical Africa.

    In the 16th century, tamarind was introduced to Mexico by Spanish and Portuguese colonists, and then to South America. Today, the pod-like fruit is used extensively in cuisines around the world. Mexico and South Asia are the largest growers and consumers of tamarind.

    The fruit got its name from British sailors, who first discovered it in Oman, on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula. where they disembarked en route to India. It was sold processed into dark brown slabs of sticky paste that looked similar to the ripe dates. The sellers inaccurately referred to it as thamer hind, literally “dates from India,” which the sailors heard as “tamarind.”

    Known for its sweet-and-sour taste, tamarind is used in both savory dishes and in sweets: jam, juice drinks, ice cream, sorbet and candies. It is an ingredient of Worcestershire sauce, which originated in India: a fermentation of anchovies, chiles, cloves, corn syrup (sugar in the original recipe and the U.K. version), garlic, molasses, onions, pepper, shallots, soy sauce, tamarind, vinegar and water.

    The History Of Worcestershire Sauce

    It is believed that a Captain Henry Lewis Edwardes (1788–1866) brought the recipe for the sauce home after travels in India. It is not known how the recipe got to Lea and Perrins, but John Wheeley Lea and William Henry Perrins, two dispensing chemists (pharmacists) in Worcester, England, created a recipe that was first sold commercially in 1837.

    Known as “The Original Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce,” the brand was purchased by H.J. Heinz Company in 2005.

      

    Comments

    COOKING VIDEO: Make Jalapeño Poppers On The Grill

     

    This year is the 20th anniversary of the jalapeño popper, a hot little nugget that enjoys a cold beer.

    The original poppers were jalapeño chiles stuffed with cheese, battered and deep-fried—a spicy American snack version of the Mexican dish, chiles rellenos (stuffed bell peppers). They were created by McCain Foods for the restaurant/foodservice industry. You can find them in supermarket frozen foods aisles as Anchor Poppers.

    Chefs and home cooks embraced poppers, and stuffing variations have expanded to include different cheeses, crabmeat, ground meat, chopped sautéed mushroom and whatever appeals to the cook (we like polenta and sausage). While restaurants tend to serve the battered and fried poppers, it’s easy—and less caloric—to grill them at home.

    It’s A Snap!

    The video below shows just how easy it is to grill jalapeños. The toughest part (and it isn’t tough) is scooping out the ribs and the seeds from whole jalapeños with the tops cut off, to create the vessel for filling.

    To that end, this inexpensive jalapeño corer is a good investment. You can get one “free” when you buy a jalapeño roasting rack to set atop your grill (about $17.00 for both items).

    You don’t need either to make the bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers in this video: Simply slice the chile in two, scoop, fill and use a raw bacon slice to wrap the two sides together. Fold in a foil packet and grill.

    But if this is your type of food, the grilling rack speeds up the process—and is the green alternative to sending sheets of foil into the landfill.

    More Ideas

    Dip Or Sauce: Poppers don’t need a dip or a sauce, but people tend to like them. We combine melted pepper jelly with plain Greek yogurt. Salsa, marinara sauce or any favorite will do as well.

    Cookbook: There’s also a cookbook for you: Jalapeño Poppers: and Other Stuffed Chili Peppers which has 100+ recipes, from jalapeño poppers to armadillo eggs to stuffed chili peppers galore.

    Pop on!

       

       

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Serve Punch To A Crowd

    Punch is a festive and easy way to serve a
    crowd. Photo courtesy El Jimador.

     

    If you’re expecting a large crowd on Cinco de Mayo, a bowl of punch can make your life easier. It holds a large amount and guests serve themselves, sparing you from the mixologist job. And, guests love a good punch.

    Here are two punch recipes, including a frozen Margarita punch. Separately, here are 10 punch making tips.

    The first punch recipe is courtesy El Jimador tequila. It combines tequila with bubbly—in this case, Prosecco.

    PUNCH #1: CINCO PUNCH

    Ingredients

  • 1 bottle silver/blanco tequila
  • 1 bottle Prosecco
  • 4 ounces Aperol (substitute: Campari)
  • 48 ounces/1.5 liters pink grapefruit juice
  • 25 ounces/750ml honey syrup (recipe below, or substitute simple syrup)
  • Garnishes: pomegrante seeds, raspberries, lime discs and pink grapefruit discs
  • Equipment: punch bowl,* glasses and ladle
  •  

    *You can pick up a plastic punch bowl at a party store for around $10.00. Or, you can use a large pitcher.

    Preparation

    1. MAKE ICE. The best ice for punch bowls is lump or block ice. It melts slowly, keeps the punch much colder for longer and reduces the dilution. Make it by filling a balloon with water; tie off the balloon and place it in a bowl in the freezer the night before.

    2. PLACE BOWL. Place the punch bowl on the table you intend to serve from. A full punch bowl is very heavy to move (not to mention, it sloshes).

    3. ADD ICE. Place ice carefully into the punch bowl.

    4. ADD LIQUIDS. Next, add all the liquid ingredients. Stir gently but thoroughly.

    5. GARNISH. Garnish with raspberries, pomegranate seeds, lime discs and pink grapefruit discs.

    HONEY SYRUP INGREDIENTS

    Like simple syrup, honey syrup is made in a 1:1 proportion of sugar/honey to water. There are about 3 cups in 750 ml.

    Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups honey
  • 1.5 cups water
  •  
    Preparation

    1. In a small saucepan, heat honey over low-medium heat.

    2. Add water bit by bit, whisking until fully incorporated.

    3. Cool, then refrigerate until ready to use. Bring to room temperature before adding to punch.

    PUNCH #2: FROZEN MARGARITA PUNCH RECIPE

    Turn the staple frozen Margarita into a punch with this recipe.

    Ingredients

  • 4 cans (12 ounces each) frozen limeade concentrate, thawed and undiluted
  • 3 quarts water
  • 3 cups Cointreau, Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
  • 3 cups silver/blanco tequila
  • 2 bottles (2 liters each) lemon-lime soda
  • Garnishes: lemon slices, orange slices, berries
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MIX. Combine the limeade, water, orange liqueur and tequila. Freeze at least 8 hours, stirring twice during the freezing process.

    2. THAW. Remove from freezer 30 minutes before serving.

    3. ASSEMBLE. Break into chunks in punch bowl. Add soda and stir until slushy.

    3. GARNISH. Garnish with lime and orange slices and berries.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Michelada For Cinco de Mayo

    A tall, cold michelada is begging for your
    attention on Cinco de Mayo. Photo courtesy
    Bohemia Beer.

     

    Not everyone wants a Margarita on Cinco de Mayo: Some people would rather have a beer.

    If you enjoy a little heat, don’t reach for your regular beer. Have a michelada, a traditional Mexican beer cocktail (“cerveza preparada,” in Spanish).

    Pronounced mee-cha-LAH-dah, a basic michelada consists of beer, lime and hot sauce served over ice in a salt-rimmed glass.

    Michelada is the combination of the words “mix” and “chela.” Chela is Mexican slang for a cold beer. “Mix” refers to the mix of ingredients added to the beer.

    Thanks to Bohemia Beer—one of our favorite Mexican beers—for the recipe.

     

    MICHELADA #1: CHIPOTLE MICHELADA

    Ingredients

  • 2 fresh lime wedges, cut in half
  • Chipotle rimming salt (recipe below)
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle hot sauce (we use the Frontera brand) or 1 teaspoon puréed canned chipotles en adobo
  • Ice
  • 6 ounces chilled Bohemia beer or other Mexican beer*
  • 1 slice cucumber for garnish
  •  
    *You can use any lager you have on hand, but Mexican beer celebrates the spirit of the holiday.

    Preparation

    1. Use a piece of lime wedge to wet the rim of a tall glass. Dip the rim of the glass into the chipotle rimming salt.

    2. Squeeze the juice from the remaining lime pieces into the glass and then add all the lime pieces. Stir in the chipotle hot sauce or puréed chipotles in adobo. Fill the glass with ice.

    3. Pour in the beer. Mix gently. Garnish the glass rim with a notched cucumber slice. Serve.

    Chipotle Rimming Salt Recipe

    Thoroughly mix 2 tablespoons coarse (kosher or sea) salt and 1 tablespoon ground chipotle chile powder in a small bowl. Pour out onto a small plate to use for rimming beer glasses.

    MICHELADA #2: CHELADA

    Short for michelada, the chelada is a michelada variation with sauce, spices and chile. This version uses the fixings of a Bloody Mary.

  • 3 ounces cold Mexican beer
  • 3 ounces chilled tomato juice
  • Several dashes Worcestershire Sauce, Maggi Sauce† and hot sauce
  • Pour into a tall glass filled with ice and stir.

    †Maggi Sauce, made by Nestlé, is a seasoning of salt, spices and pepper. The recipe varies around the world, based on local tastes. You can substitute soy sauce and freshly-ground pepper.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Spicy Lemonade

    Someone gave us a box of Crystal Light On The Go Natural Flavor Lemonade, in individual-portion packets.

    They let you mix up a refreshing lemonade wherever you find a glass or bottle of cold water. We’ve become hooked—a surprise to us, as we haven’t liked other mixes we’ve tried—and this one has just five calories per glass! So congrats to Crystal Light for the excellent lemon flavor.

    After we used up the individual packets—in one day—we raced to the supermarket to buy the pitcher-size packets, which make two quarts. While 64 ounces of lemonade sounds like a lot, it’s the equivalent of four 16-ounce bottles. We’ve been going through a pitcher a day.

    We’ve also been playing with flavor variations.

  • Mint. A sprig of crushed fresh mint is great, but you can also use a drop of mint extract.
  •  


    It’s really delicious! Spice it up for flavor fun. Photo courtesy Crystal Light.

     

  • Cayenne. A pinch of cayenne makes spicy lemonade. Add it pinch by pinch to the glass until you get your desired level of heat; or start with 1/2 teaspoon in a pitcher.
  • Ginger. The same works with ginger, which has a tastier spiciness than cayenne.
  • Pink peppercorns. Not actual pepper but a berry from another tree (the Baies rose plant—details), these add a very mild flavor at best. But they look pretty in the glass. You can add them to the cayenne and ginger recipes.
  • Savory Herbs. If you have fresh basil, rosemary or thyme, you can also add a sprig to your lemonade. Lightly crushing the herbs before adding them to the glass or pitcher will release the flavorful oils.
  •  
    We love all the variations, but will be serving pitchers of spicy lemonade on Cinco de Mayo. Yes, you can add Tequila…and gin and vodka.

    Want To Make Lemonade From Scratch?

    Here’s the recipe.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: How Make Tacos At Home (It’s Easy)

     

    Many people enjoy tacos at restaurants, but far fewer make them at home. It’s really easy.

    You don’t need a holiday to make this family and party favorite. But if you haven’t made tacos before, use the upcoming Cinco de Mayo as the occasion.

    Tacos require a relatively long list of ingredients, but they’re all easy to gather: chopped beef or diced/shredded chicken, canned black beans and corn, onion, taco seasoning (packaged, or use the recipe below) and an optional jalapeño—remove the white ribs and the seeds unless you like things really hot.

    Then, it’s simply into the skillet for these ingredients. When the meat is cooked (20 minutes), set the skillet on the table, buffet style, along with taco shells, chopped lettuce, salsa, shredded cheese and sour cream.

    Then, everyone can build his/her own taco.

    Tacos can be nutritious food, especially when you:

  • Switch the beef for chicken or lean beef.
  • Substitute nonfat Greek yogurt for the sour cream.
  • Go easy on the shredded cheese.
  •  
    Beans, lettuce, onions and salsa contribute fiber (in addition to nutritients), and corn taco shells are whole grain.

       

       

    MAKE YOUR OWN TACO SEASONING

    McCormick’s Taco Seasoning includes chili pepper, cumin, paprika, oregano, onion, whey, salt, sugar, garlic, potato starch and citric acid.

    You can eliminate the whey and sugar by making your own taco seasoning from ingredients you already have on the shelf. And you’ll save money in the process.

    ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon each, cumin, garlic powder, paprika and oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper (optional)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. Combine ingredients in a small bowl.

    2. Substitute for a 1.25-ounce package of commercial taco seasoning.

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Mexican Beer For Cinco De Mayo

    One of our favorite ways to celebrate Cinco de Mayo is with a Mexican beer and salsa bar: a tasting of different beers from Mexico, different salsas, and our favorite corn chips from Food Should Taste Good.

    Bohemia* is one of our favorite Mexican beers. It was named after a region in the former republic of Czechoslovakia† that produced some of the world’s finest beers.

    A pale pilsner-style beer, it is the most awarded of Mexican beers. It’s worth tracking down.

    To set up a beer and salsa bar:

    1. Pick six different beers† and six different types of salsa. Choose among green salsa/salsa verde/tomatillo salsa, red salsa, salsa fresca or pico de gallo (fresh red salsa), salsas made with beans, chipotle, corn and fruit.

    2. Serve the salsa in bowls. Place the salsa containers behind the bowls so people know what they’re eating.

     

    Bohemia beer: a fine way to celebrate Cinco
    de Mayo. Photo by Jaclyn Nussbaum | THE NIBBLE.

     

    3. Use small cups/glasses. You want your guests to try all six beers, but not to overindulge. The five-ounce disposable plastic tumblers (“rocks glasses”) available in supermarkets are on the generous side. You can also use plastic or glass shot glasses.

    4. Beer tasting notes. If you have time, make cards to set in front of each of the beers, mentioning the style and any tasting notes you want to provide (you can find this information online).

    5. Don’t forget the napkins and plates.

    More To Nibble

  • The different types of salsas.
  • The different types of beers.
  •  
    *Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic (capital, Prague) and Slovakia (capital, Bratislava) in 1993. Bohemia is located in the contemporary Czech Republic.

    †The majority of Mexican beer is produced by two large companies. FEMSA is the maker of Bohemia, Carta Blanca, Dos Equis, Indio, Sol, Superior, Tecate and the seasonal Noche Buena. Grupo Modelo produces Corona, Corona Light, Modelo Especial, Modelo Light, Negra Modelo and Pacifico. Estrella, Montejo and Victoria are made by smaller producers.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Chili Corn Bread Salad, A Mexican Layered Salad

    Here’s a variation of the popular Mexican layered salad that’s begging to be served for Cinco de Mayo. The difference: crumbled corn bread, mascarpone and ranch dressing instead of sour cream, and no guacamole.

    This Chili Corn Bread Salad recipe was adapted from another recipe by Emily Carncross of Lodi, Wisconsin. She used Crave Brothers mascarpone (one of the world’s best—more about Crave cheeses) and Wisconsin Cheddar.*

    Emily comments, “I was looking for something different to bring to a potluck and came across this salad. I did not have any sour cream, so I substituted mascarpone cheese and really liked the taste it added to the dressing.”

    *Why is Cheddar capitalized? It’s due to editorial style. Some publications capitalize the names of foods named after places. Cheddar is a place, as are Asiago, Brie, Camembert, Gorgonzola, Parmesan (Parma), Roquefort and many others. Other cheese names, such as blue cheese, chevre/goat cheese, cream cheese and mozzarella, are descriptive rather than place names. THE NIBBLE thus does not capitalize them.

     

    A Mexican-style layered salad with a surprise: corn bread! Photo courtesy CraveCheese.com.

     

    Mexican Layered Salad Ingredients

  • 1 package (8-1/2 ounces) corn bread/muffin mix
  • 1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chilies, undrained
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Pinch of sage
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) mascarpone
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 envelope ranch salad dressing mix
  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cans (15-1/4 ounces, each) whole kernel corn, drained
  • 3 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1 cup chopped green onions
  • 10 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BAKE. Prepare corn bread batter according to package directions. Stir in the chilies, cumin, oregano and sage. Spread in a greased 8-inch-square baking pan. Bake at 400°F for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool.

    2. MIX. In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, mascarpone and dressing mix; set aside.

    3. LAYER. Crumble half of the corn bread into a 13x9x2-inch pan. Layer with half of the beans, mayonnaise mixture, corn, tomatoes, green peppers, onion, bacon and cheese. Repeat for a second layer (the dish will be very full).

    4. CHILL. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or longer. Yield: 12 servings.

    WANT A BASKET CASSEROLE DISH?

    Check out this handsome white ceramic casserole nestled in a woven rattan basket:

  • Medium: L 13 x 7 x 3
  • Large: 16 1/2″L x 8 1/2″W x 4″H
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Hispanic Cheeses With Hot Pepper Mango Salsa

    Try slices of queso blanco with a hot mango
    salsa as a first course or even for dessert
    . Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

     

    You don’t have to wait for Cinco de Mayo to try Mexican cheeses, but it is one easy way to plan to celebrate the upcoming holiday.

    There are fresh and aged Hispanic cheeses. The ones you may be most familiar with are the fresh cheeses:

  • Queso blanco, a snacking and cooking cheese.
  • Queso fresco, a cheese frequently crumbled as a topping or filling in cooked dishes.
  • Panela, a Mexican variation of mozzarella.
  •  
    Check out the different types of Hispanic cheeses. The terms “Hispanic” and “Mexican” are used interchangeably, but “Hispanic” more accurately conveys that the cheeses are used throughout Latin America.

    All cheeses can be made more glamorous with cheese condiments. Among all the different condiments that can be served with Mexican cheese, salsa, not surprisingly, pairs well. A fruit salsa—mango or peach, for example, with cheese—is a spicy alternative to the conventional European fruit-and-cheese plate.

     

    If you don’t want to serve fresh cheese with fruit salsa, put together an assorted plate of Hispanic cheeses and serve it with a variety of fruits, nuts, breads/crackers and cheese condiments.

    If you do want to go the salsa route, make this recipe from the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. Wisconsin cheese makers create much of the Hispanic-style cheeses sold in the U.S. A large number of Hispanic cheese makers have moved from Mexico and other Latin American countries to produce the cheeses in Wisconsin.

    RECIPE: QUESO BLANCO WITH MANGO JALAPEÑO SALSA

    Ingredients

    Cool, sweet mango, contrasted with hot jalapeño, adds an exciting kick to Hispanic-style cheeses. During peach season, you can substitute fresh peaches. You can also use strawberries, which are available year-round; fresh blueberries in season; nectarines and plums; even apples and grapes.

  • 2 cups mango, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 tablespoon jalapeño chile, seeded and diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pounds queso blanco or other Hispanic cheese (allow two one-ounce slices per peson—although some people will beg for more)
  • Optional garnish: cilantro or other green herb
     
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE. Mix all ingredients in mixing bowl and blend.

    2. CHILL. Refrigerate covered for at least 3 hours before serving with cheese. Keep refrigerated for up to four days.

    3. SERVE. For each serving, plate two slices of queso blanco. Serve with a ramekin of salsa and garnish. If you don’t have small ramekins, you can be creative—for example, serve the salsa in hollowed-out lime halves after you’ve squeezed out the juice. The reason it’s better to use a container of some sort is because the liquids in the salsa will run over the plate.

      

  • Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Try A Very Different Margarita Recipe

    Some chefs are inspired to go beyond classic recipes and create their own unusual take on a dish—or a drink.

    Chef Julio Medina, who has an empire* of refined Latin cuisine restaurants in New York City, likes to create special menus, including specialty Margaritas, for each location.

    His latest creation, for Toloache, is an homage to spring and Cinco de Mayo that combines traditional Mexican flavors with his classic French culinary training.

    *The restaurants include Coppelia, Toloache 50, Toloache Taqueria and Toloache 82, Yerba Buena Avenue A and Yerba Buena Perry.

    †Today Cinco de Mayo is primarily a regional holiday celebrated in the Mexican state of Puebla on May 5th. It is actually a bigger event in the United States than it is in Mexico, thanks to American promotional know-how, a large population of Mexican-Americans and other Americans who like Mexican food, music and a good celebration.

     

    A different but really good Margarita. Photo courtesy Toloache 50 | New York City.

     

    The homage to Cinco de Mayo is the name of the drink: Invaciones Frances Margarita, French Invasion Margarita. The holiday of Cinco De Mayo† commemorates the 1862 victory of a small and poorly-equipped Mexican militia led by General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin, over the much larger French army at The Battle Of Puebla. It temporarily stopped the French invasion of the country.

    The homage to spring: the fresh spring peas and tarragon in the mixture.

    Peas and tarragon in a Margarita? Absolutely—and absolutely delish. We present, for your pleasure, the French Invasion Margarita.

    THE FRENCH INVASION MARGARITA

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1¼ ounces blanco Tequila
  • ½ ounce Cointreau (you can substitute another orange liqueur)
  • ½ ounce Remy V (you can substitute Pisco Portón—see below)
  • 1 sprig tarragon (3 inches long)
  • 3 bar spoons (teaspoons) spring peas
  • 1 ounce simple syrup (recipe)
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • Ice
  • Garnish: Small sprig of tarragon
  •  

    Remy Martin’a unaged eau de vie, V
    (pronounced “vee”). Photo courtesy Remy
    Martin.

     

    Preparation

    1. In a cocktail shaker, muddle together 1 sprig tarragon and the peas. Add the remaining ingredients with ice and shake well.

    2. Double strain the Margarita into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Garnish with a small sprig of tarragon.
      
    WHAT’S REMY MARTIN V (PRONOUNCED VEE)?

    Produced by the great Cognac maker, Remy V is not a Cognac but an eau de vie. Eau de vie (plural, eaux de vie) is the name given to a spirit distilled from grapes and other fruits that has not yet been aged. At this point it is a clear liquid, like vodka.

    It is through aging in oak barrels for at least 2-1/2 years that eau de vie takes on the complex aromas, color and flavors of Cognac. Instead, Remy Martin V is finished with a cold filtration process, like vodka.

    Hence the name “V,” a reference to eau de vie (also pronounced “vee,” and meaning “water of life”). It’s unaged Cognac.

    And now the challenge: Where to find it. Remy Martin V has limited retail distribution in the U.S.

    So here‘s our recommendation: Substitute pisco, a clear, distilled grape spirit from Peru that, like Remy Martin V, is produced in the manner of Cognac. Pisco Portón is an excellent brand, with good distribution.

     

    WHAT’S A BAR SPOON?

    A bar spoon is a teaspoon on a long handle, typically 11 inches in length. It is used to measure ingredients and to layer drinks (by pouring the different layers of alcohol over the back of the spoon, where they flow gently into the glass).

    The long handle lets the bartender dip deep into jars to scoop up olives and cherries. If you don’t have a bar spoon, it’s inexpensive and doesn’t take up much room. Here’s a good bar spoon.

      

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