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Gin & Tonic paired with Gin cured Gravlax and fixings

For many people Summer is all about Rosé . I like many of friends drink Rose all year round. There are many drinks that conjure images of sunshine and sunny days – Margaritas, Sangria, Mojitos. But, there is one drink that I really only drink in the summer – Gin and Tonic. A tumbler with a splash of gin, a good quality tonic and wedge of lime, at the end of work day sitting on my deck, my feet up and good book- now that’s what I call relaxation.

G & T is happy hour. It is also a simple and almost perfect aperitif. For cocktail party or as a warm up act to a nice dinner, G & T’s lend themselves to many traditional appetizers – Pâté Campagna, smoked salmon, Crab Cakes, Cucumber Sandwiches, Blini & Caviar. But a perfect pairing Salmon Gravlax.

Gravlax is one of the first dishes I learned how to make in professional career. I only takes a couple days, a good quality (fresh) salmon some salt and sugar. Juniper is a traditional spice used in making Gravlax, but since I rarely have juniper berries lying around, even in my kitchen, I have turned to using a splash of ubiquitous Gin.

For a pre-funk to night out or dinner party I would serve right off the cutting board a side of gravlax accompanied by Cornichon, capers, diced red onion, fresh mascarpone or crème Fraiche, mustard sauce and pumpernickel rye bread.

As for The Gin? There are many good quality Gins to choose from – Martin Millers is the benchmark as far as I am concerned. Bombay Sapphire is a good default. Locally we have great gin producers: Big Gin, Batch 206, Sun Liquor Gun Club, Voyager, Halcyon. But, I do a favorite Local and That is BelleWood Gin.

What makes BelleWood good is that it has a refreshing light clean base of apple derived spirit. At BelleWood they use a traditional blend of seven botanicals that are vapor infused into their Gin. What makes it unique is that this is one of the few Farm to Table Gins, I have ever heard of. BelleWood is an Apple Farm just north of Bellingham. They grow the Apples, press into cider, ferment and distill right on the property. You can’t really get much more local than that.

Gin and Tonic

Ice
1 part Gin
2 -3 Parts Tonic
Squeeze of lime
Lime wedge for garnish

Gin Cured Wild Salmon Gravlax
________________________________________
1 2 to 3 pound, wild Coho Salmon, deboned, skin removed
6 ounces kosher salt
4 ounces brown sugar
2 tablespoons Coarse ground Black Pepper
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 Tablespoon Fresh Dill (1 teaspoon Dried)
2 ounces (BelleWood) Gin
13 x 9 baking dish
1. Remove any pin bones from salmon side
2. Combine kosher salt and sugar in bowl. Place half of this mixture in bottom of Baking dish
3. Lightly toast fennel and caraway seeds in dry pan until aromatic cool and coarsely grind with mortar pestle. Combine with black pepper and dill.
4. Drizzle Salmon with gin pour any remaining gin into baking dish.
5. Season both sides of Salmon liberally with spice mix and place in baking dish cover with remaining sugar salt mixture
6. Wrap with plastic wrap and cure overnight in refrigerator. The next day turn over salmon, wrap and return to refrigerator
7. Day 3 remove salmon from marinade and rinse gently. The salmon should feel firm to touch. Wrap in plastic and return to refrigerator if not using immediately.
8. Using a sharp nice slice the Gravlax as thinly as you can.
9.
Serve with Cornichon, capers, diced red onion, fresh mascarpone, mustard sauce and pumpernickel rye bread

Mustard Sauce:
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons Honey
1 ½ tablespoons cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill or Tarragon

Combine the mustard, honey and vinegar in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the oil and stir in the chopped herbs

Weekend Wine Pairing ~ Martini Party!

Almost everyone loves a cocktail party! I love them because they are relatively easy and surprisingly inexpensive ways of having people over. Cocktail Parties give people an excuse to dress up. There is a simple touch of glamour to people chit-chatting over cocktails and caviar. Some good shopping, a little bit of preparation, plenty of ice, and you have a party!

Less is more.

Pick one or two cocktails to feature. Just tell everyone you invite, “We are having a Martini party this Saturday! Would you like to come?” Yes, you want to have back-ups, say some beer, some chilled Champagne and wine, even a bottle or two of other basics (Bourbon, Vodka). But, letting people know what they are getting into sets their expectations and anticipation.

Let’s say you want to throw a Martini Party. First, plan on tending bar for the evening, so have your food already plated and ready to go. For the food, I like to set platters and trays around the party to create an inviting atmosphere. Many classic hors d’oeuvre are perfect pairings for Martini’s – Caviar, Smoked Salmon and Lox, Crab Cakes, Deviled Eggs, Shrimp Cocktail, even Oysters on the half shell.  Also, have back up snacks: nuts, chips, crackers, cheese, in case more people show up or they show up hungry.

First things first.

A Martini is a cocktail made with gin and vermouth, and garnished with an olive or a lemon twist. Classic is a ratio 2:1 gin to vermouth, International Bartenders Association dictates a ratio of 6:1 (which could end up being quite a party), but I like to use better vermouth and get the ratio closer to 1:1. I also recommend using smaller martini glasses 3 – 4 ounce to help restrain consumption a little.

Lenny’s Martini (serves 4)

8 oz. The Botanist Gin

6 oz. Dolin Dry Vermouth

Squeeze lemon wedge

4 shakes orange bitters

8 olives on picks

Lemon twist for rim

Prepare chilled martini glass running lemon twist around edge of rim. Discard. Combine ingredients in shaker with ice. Stir until all ingredients thoroughly. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with cocktail olives.

The Botanist Islay Dry Gin $42.99

(Taste Botanist Gin Saturday April 22, 2pm – 5 pm)

The Botanist Gin is truly one of kind. Made by one of my favorite scotch producers Bruichladdich, it is the Gin produced on Islay. While most gins are made using a column or continuous still, Botanist is made in an old Lomond pot whiskey still, nicknamed Ugly Betty. That means that the base distillate is made with same care and attention as a fine scotch. Second, while all gins have Juniper along with a usual cohort of six or seven botanicals, Botanist contains 31, of which 22 are native to the Southern Hebridean Island itself. It should be noted that most of the native botanicals sound like they came straight out of a Harry Potter novel; rest assured the final product is delicate and not surprisingly floral.

A great Gin and good quality Vermouth some good olives and plenty of ice …

The botanical quality of a Martini lends itself very well to seafood of all sorts. How about an update to classic Shrimp Cocktail? My Kick Butt Shrimp Cocktail will change the way you think about the cocktail sauce.

Kick Butt Shrimp Cocktail  Ingredients + Recipe

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