Thursday, December 15, 2011

Vanilla Bean and Cacao Nib Bourbon (X-Mas gift idea) and Seattle

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Bottles of infused bourbon make the perfect gift for the distinguished gentlemen in your life (or for Southern men, or anyone who enjoy's spirits for that matter). The best part is it only takes a couple ingredients and two weeks to sit, and my goodness, doesn't vanilla bean and cacao nib bourbon sound downright delicious? The process is super simple. Just combine your favorite bourbon with two slit open vanilla beans and the cacao nibs and let it sit for two weeks before straining and pouring it back into its original container. You lose a little bourbon in the process, I think because the cacao nibs seem to soak it up, but nobody is going to complain.

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You can drink this straight up as an after dinner cocktail with a cigar or mix it with Coke or even the eggnog I posted yesterday. Another sweet suggestion is to write down any number of different cocktails that one can make with bourbon to go with your gift. One thing to note is cacao nib is really pure so it's not chocolatey but more smokey. This might catch you off guard if you don't expect that, but the vanilla bean is lovely with it. This is a subtle infusion and only hints at the notes put into it which I would assume most men would like - after all, they probably want to taste the bourbon - but you could always try adding in more vanilla beans if you wanted.

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Here is the recipe. Scroll down and keep reading if you want to hear about the second part of our trip to Seattle and visit with my sister!


Cacao-Nib and Vanilla Bean-Infused Bourbon

adapted from Traditional Home Magazine, October 2011

In a clean, 2-quart glass jar, place 1/2 cup cocoa nibs and 2 vanilla beans sliced open but not scraped. Add one 750-ml bottle good-quality bourbon; seal jar. Store in a cool, dark place 2 weeks. To serve, strain bourbon through cheesecloth into a clean bottle. Store tightly sealed.

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When I left you last, I was a wee bit tipsy on the plane ride to Seattle. By the time my trip was over and I had left and was in the middle of my third "scary" flight back home I had learned the following:

A) I still didn't enjoy flying

B) United airlines serves Absolute Vodka while Frontier prefers Skyy brand. I prefer Absolute and Frontier, so basically you could say I am screwed either way.

C) I would need to learn how to remove red, Mr. and Mrs. T Bloody Mary Mix from a white Kenneth Cole pea coat. The gentleman in the seat next to me reminds me that Club Soda should do the job. Riiiiight.

D) I need to eat at Canlis again before I die.

More about Canlis later, but for now let me show you where we stayed. This is Pike Market and it's considered "The Soul Of Seattle". We stayed at The Inn At The Market and I would suggest it highly.

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The first Starbucks store! This was totally exciting for me. I didn't even know Starbucks originated in Seattle when my sister pointed it out, but you bet your bottom dollar I made my way back over there (it was maybe one block from our hotel) in the morning for a cup of coffee when the line wasn't so long. A skinny peppermint mocha to be exact. It tasted just like any other Starbucks would make.

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There's this place called Post Alley that runs through the market area and it's home to the famous "gum wall". It is absolutely disgusting! There must have been millions of pieces of chewed gum stuck all over this brick wall. Of course, we had to contribute.

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Here is the view of the Seattle skyline from Kerry Park. We got lost on our way to find it and ended up at the public library downtown. Eventually Kaylee, my sister, found it.

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One morning for breakfast we at at this cute little place named "Tilth". The chef who opened the restaurant was on Iron Chef and won against Morimoto! That's serious stuff. Morimoto doesn't mess around. Then, the next day we ate at a Thai restaurant for lunch and had a great green papaya salad but then, seriously...the absolute nastiest Pad Thai imaginable. It made for great memories as I tried to divide up the noodles and hide them under everyone else's so it looked like I ate it. I'm not kidding. Everyone tried it, and everyone said it was utterly disgusting. Actually my husband said exactly what it tasted like, but I decline to write it here. It came with these little thai bananas for garnish and when you took even the tiniest bite, all the saliva in your mouth dried up. It was so strange. Everything about the experience was strange and funny and gross and memorable.

Pat, my sisters boyfriend and Kaylee and me in front of Tilth-

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After the horrible Thai fail, we decided we would go see a movie. But when we got to the theatre we had an hour to kill. Luckily the theatre was part of a mall and we walked around until we happened upon a wine bar/store. It was there we had a spontaneous fun filled hour of wine flights and cheese.

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After that we decided we were having way too much fun to go to the movies so instead we ran, literally ran, although I'm not sure why, to another wine bar named "Purple". Seemed like a good idea at the time. We tasted a wine here that tasted and smelled like a florist shop. Straight up. It was very intriguing.

Me, Pat and Kaylee at Purple. This was the best day ever.

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Kaylee and me stopping for a picture between running the streets of Seattle

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Another day, my sister and I went red lipstick shopping with my patient husband who told us what looked nice. We ended up making the lipstick purchase at Chanel, of course ;)

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I told you before I left that I was going to have to stop by Delancey. It's the food blogger, Molly Weizenberg's and her husbands restaurant. It didn't disappoint. If you are looking for a great wood fired pizza and wine with homemade chocolate chip cookies for dessert, hit up Delancey.

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Then there was Canlis. If you don't know already, Canlis is a very, very nice restaurant and their valets are famous. Seriously, they know your name when you pull up and when you are done and walking out the door your car is already being pulled up front for you-no ticket. It's super cool.

Canlis front entry

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I should mention Patrick, my sisters beau since high school, is executive sous chef at Canlis (which means he is second only to "chef" and second in charge of the whole kitchen, which in a restaurant like that is a huge accomplishment) so we got the VIP treatment which was a lot of fun. Although we happened to be with Pat, it was pretty clear that everyone who walked into Canlis' doors got the same treatment.

The tables and view. Our spot was pretty much identical to this. The Sleepless in Seattle house is on that lake (Lake Union)

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To start, we sat in the gorgeous lounge with the genius 19 year old piano player who played classical renditions of Coldplay’s covers to Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”. I ordered the Canlis cocktail, which was created for a party for "The Black Swan" movie. It was called The Nonesuch of Von Rothbart and was made with apple-infused Bols Genever (gin), arrack punch, Charles Heidsieck Brut Champagne, and a quail egg preserved in a white truffle vinaigrette. Oddest $24 dollar cocktail in the world, yet addictive as I’ll get out. The creator of the cocktail was "looking to explore the powerful duality brought to Nina by the sorcerer Von Rothbart in a dream. Even as top dancer in the ballet, dark ambition pushes her past her earthly limits; it's magical, dank, and poetic all in one." That's pretty much what it tasted like too. My sister stuck to classic glass of champagne, while my husband ordered red wine and Pat (being the most seasoned one in the pack) left it to the incredible bar tender “Pepe” to create for him the perfect concoction. Pat is manly, tall, handsome and funny. His cocktail was pink…served with a lemon twist…in a martini glass…I had to snicker, but as he told us, it was delicious. Fair enough.

My Canlis Cocktail:

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At the table after we asked, Pat told us that Bill Gates was a regular. My sister and I gave the obligatory “ooh’s and aww’s” as we imagined him and his wife, Melinda, at the table next to us. However upon hearing the Nordstroms (as in the department store) were in “all the time…in fact they were just here Friday and Saturday night” my sister and I straight up squealed like school girls. They probably get a lot of famous people dining with them, but that's all we got. I don't think Pat's a name dropper or thinks much of it, which I like.

We also got to tour the kitchen. Seriously? The cleanest room I have ever seen. It’s a live production happening in there every night and they are all the masters. Everything was white and labeled, bright and sanitized. I knew then that this dinner we were about to have was no joke. Canlis was nominated for best restaurant in the US last year and lost only to Thomas Kellers NY restaurant, Per Se. It is apparent why.

The food at Canlis all looks like this. I'm not the hugest fan of plates that are too fancy shmancey because they look sterile to me, like they lack flavor and are sort of boring. I stand corrected. The chef's here are genius'. Everything was complex and developed and seasoned to perfection.

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We all ordered the chefs tasting menu for dinner which consisted of a dizzing array of seven courses with wine pairings for good measure. My sister was annoyed by the amount of white wines on her pairing list but she also ordered all vegetarian fare, so you could say it was her own fault. I, on the other hand, opted for the traditional tasting menu that consisted of a fruity shrimp bite with a shooter of delicious soup to start, then the most memorable course for me personally, which was lemon and truffle scented tapicoa with sous vide egg and fresh truffle topping. There was an interesting and complex beet salad with goat cheese sherbet (as in frozen and delicious!)and also a salmon course in which Pat told us the roe garnish was right out of Lake Union which was the very lake we were looking at from our view. Awesome. Then we had a delectable chicken which was especially memorable, then New York beef, and finally a passion fruit palate cleanser and an onslaught of desserts. Decunstructed pumpkin pie, banana, peanut butter and chocolate touille, then there was a chocolate on chocolate dessert accompanied by a salted caramel ice cream and finally a grand marnier souffle. There was another dessert on the table as well, but alas, I have forgotten what it was and in doing so epically failed you-but I trust you will forgive me.

We finished with a decaf coffee for me and super delicious vanilla bean scented red tea for Jeremy which smelled fantastically of my great-grandfathers pipe. You could say it was pretty much perfect.

After Jeremy and I left the restaurant, Kaylee and Pat stayed for the Canlis Christmas party. I think they had a very good time and were out pretty late as evidenced by these pictures taken at the photo booth at the party.

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She was trying to be a "reindeer"...(obviously) We don't know what look Pat was going for!

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And as evidenced by this photo showing what my sister wore when she came to pick us up to take us to the airport the next morning: :)

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By the way, in creating this post I realized that my sister makes that kissy face quite a lot. See what I mean?

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So busted! She doesn't make that face all the time though. Sometimes she prefers to dress up like Rudolph the red nosed reindeer for Christmas parties.

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One more before I bid you adieu, because how often do you see a sign to British Columbia while driving to the airport?

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Okay, I'm done. Next post will focus solely on food. Promise. ;)

13 comments:

  1. OK, I now completely and totally want to go to Seattle!!! Did you have to make reservations at all these restaurants to be able to get a table?

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  2. Hey Stephanie- At Delancey, you don't need a reservation, but you might have to wait for a table. We got here at 5:35pm and waited for 45 minutes in the bar area and ordered apps. At Canlis you absolutely need reservations. :)

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  3. Your pictures have made me want to go to Seattle! Looks like you had so much fun. And Seattle looks like an amazing city! The infused bourbon is a wonderful idea! Both my boyfriend and dad are huge scotch and bourbon drinkers. I may have to do this for them, thanks for the wonderful idea!

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  4. Hahaha, this is hilarious. I can't believe you put up all those pictures of me, so embarrassing... and funny.

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  5. AND you took a picture of me in my pjs that morning??? rude.

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  6. hilarious!!! Kaylee and that kiss face....reminds me of myself, just so you know. I like to say it's blue steel rather than a random kiss face. :) The city looks amazing...the gum wall look unbearable...LOVE the red lipstick!!! be precise! Love the view from that restaurant!!! amazing!!!

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  7. I love it all!! I am a chanel red gal myself...love!! You look amazing in red lipstick!

    The gum wall made me drool a little...like that nasty morning sickness feel. Ick. I can imagine you trying to stick your own gum without touching anyone else's...eeeewwww!!!

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  8. What a great Christmas idea! Love all of the pictures! xo

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  9. I may have to disagree with you on the worst Pad Thai imaginable. We bought it once from the Panda restaurant by Walmart in SB and it tasted like dog food. We literally fed it to the dogs.

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  10. Yeah for trips to Seattle, that's where I live:-) Gotta love the tourist spots (gum wall!) and great food. glad you guys had fun!!!

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