Un-Tandoori Chicken

Un-Tandoori Chicken
Tandoori chicken is made in a tandoor. I do not have a tandoor. This is, therefore, simply grilled chicken with Indian spices. But let me keep talking about tandoori chicken for a little bit longer anyway.

Tandoori chicken has come to be identified, both outside and inside India, with a particular look (red: usually achieved with food colouring) but all it literally means is “chicken cooked in a tandoor”. Some of the best tandoori chicken I’ve had has not looked anything like what we usually think of when we think of tandoori chicken. This un-tandoori chicken, on the other hand, does. I’ve not used red food colouring (now banned in Delhi and environs) to achieve this resemblance: I’ve instead used copious amounts of deggi/Kashmiri chilli powder, which is very mild and generally used to impart colour; it does also have a mildly smoky flavour (I’m not entirely shallow).

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Longmorn 31, 1978 (The Whisky Exchange)

Longmorn 31, 1978, TWE
This was released for The Whisky Exchange’s annual Whisky Show back in 2010 under their “Masterpieces” label. I had the opportunity to purchase it then but felt it was too expensive: I believe the price was £120 ex. vat. Those were the days. Anyway, I’ve never had a late-1970s Longmorn before (not that I can remember anyway—I do have two small children). This is from a bourbon cask (many of the older ones I’ve had have been from sherry casks). As to whether this will reach the fruity heights of its storied stablemates from earlier in the decade, I don’t know, but can only hope.

Only 135 bottles were released by TWE (presumably from a single cask). As to whether this is because they split a cask with someone else or Sukhinder Singh (the proprietor and avowed Longmorn fan) kept the rest for himself, I don’t know, but let’s get to it. Continue reading

Pluot Jam with Apple Cider Vinegar and Galliano

Pluot Jam
A few years ago I made a pluot jam scented with star anise that came out rather well. This year I thought I’d try adding a different set of flavours to the jam and decided to use Galliano, the herbal liqueur, a bottle of which I’ve been trying to finish for who knows how many years now (there aren’t really very many palatable cocktails that call for it). This seemed like a good way to infuse the jam with anise and other botanical flavours without having to fish around for stray pieces of spices, as I remember having to do when I used whole star anise (and, of course, anything that makes more of a dent in this bottle of Galliano is a good thing). For the hell of it I decided to add some apple cider vinegar as well. This sort of thing is the other great benefit of making your own jam: once you develop a bit of confidence you can make experimental jams that would make Dr. Moreau’s head spin.

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Straight Up Strawberry Jam

Strawberry Jam
On Thursday I posted a recipe for strawberries in syrup. Here now is my recipe for a very simple but also very excellent strawberry jam. It only has three ingredients (well, maybe four): strawberries, sugar, lemon juice. When you have excellent, perfectly ripe strawberries that you just picked yourself the day before, you don’t mess around.

One of the pleasures of home-made jam, as I said on Thursday, is that you get to keep the sugar low, or at least lower than in most commercial jams, and this jam puts intense strawberry flavour and not sugar front and center. The lemon juice is there for acidity, necessary both to keep you from killing people who eat your jam months after you make it and to help release the pectin in the fruit. Pectin is what you need to get the jam to jell/set and strawberries are not particularly high in pectin. Some/many home canners get around this by using commercially available powdered pectin. I’m not one of these people.

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Bowmore, “Small Batch”

Bowmore Small Batch
This is the recent NAS Bowmore—it was released a few years ago in the UK and Europe and only arrived much later in the US, as is not unusual. As per the distillery, it contains malt matured in first and second fill ex-bourbon casks and then married together. I can’t recall whether it replaces the Legend or if it’s just going to sit alongside it at the bottom of their price list. It’s hard to keep track of Bowmore these days: they seem to release a new whisky every other day for regular or travel retail. Like the Legend, this one is at 40% abv, which seems a little too low these days for even entry-level whisky. You’d think something with the words “small batch” slapped on the label would carry at least a bit more punch and be unchillfiltered. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.

The Legend (which was my first review on the blog) is/was a drinkable, inoffensive whisky—what will this one be like?

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Slow-Cooked Strawberries in Syrup

Strawberries in Syrup
A couple of years after we got to Minnesota we joined a CSA—the excellent Open Hands farm, just outside our town. Our CSA is different from most in that it gives us a lot of flexibility. Rather than receiving a random box packed by the farm, we go to the farm on our pickup day and make our own selections from different categories of greens and veg: if you don’t want kohlrabi (as I never do), don’t take any kohlrabi. The other great thing about Open Hands is that they have a bunch of stuff for “U-Pick”—things that we can pick ourselves in the fields (over and above the rest of the stuff). The amounts and selections vary over the season but peas, beans, cherry tomatoes, tomatillos, herbs, flowers, and, most excitingly, strawberries and raspberries are all available for picking. And it’s not just a handful or two—this past week I picked 4 quarts of strawberries on our pickup day.

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Port Charlotte 11, 2001 (Malts of Scotland)

Port Charlotte 11, 2001, Malts of Scotland
I believe this is the oldest Port Charlotte I’ve yet tried—it was bottled in 2013, just short of its 12th birthday. I’ve liked most of the Port Charlottes I’ve had a fair bit (the PC 8 most of all), with the heavy peat masking more or less effectively—as it does in Octomore as well—the sour milk note I usually get from current era-Bruichladdich’s distillate. This one, a single cask from the German bottler, Malts of Scotland, is a sherry cask to boot, and a sherry hogshead at that. It will be interesting to see how the combination of sherry, heavy peat and a bit of age work with this spirit.

The age also makes me wonder what Bruichladdich’s plans for the Port Charlotte line are. The Port Charlotte 10 was released a couple of years ago: are they going to be releasing and older version of that as well? And is the cask strength PC series going to keep going?

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Tea House (Minneapolis)

I was going to post yet another write-up of a bunch of meals at Grand Szechuan this month but figured they might be getting a bit monotonous*. And so here instead is a writeup of the U of M outpost of Tea House.

Tea House were, I believe, the OG Sichuan pioneer in the Twin Cities—people with actual knowledge of the history of Chinese food in the area should feel free to correct me if this is wrong (we’ve only been here since 2007). When we first got here they were recommended to us when we asked about Sichuan options. We had a meal at their St. Paul location and weren’t overly impressed; and then we found Little Szechuan (which was then coming into its prime) and couldn’t see any reason to make a longer drive. And after Chef Luo opened Grand Szechuan it’s been hard to go anywhere else (though we did like both our meals at Szechuan Spice quite a bit).

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Amrut 4, 2009 (PX Sherry Cask 2701)

Amrut, PX Cask
I’m a big fan of Amrut and a big fan of high quality, intensely sherried whisky (and, unlike some whisky geeks, I quite like PX sherry cask whiskies as well). And the only other sherried Amrut I’ve had (the Intermediate Sherry) I like a lot. So this purchase was a bit of a no-brainer when I came across it. I did not, of course, come across it in the US. For some reason we don’t get these single cask Amruts here—maybe this will change? Those who keep company with brand ambassadors may know if it will or the reasons why it won’t.

I was particularly curious to see how this full-term matured (though, of course, not a very long full term given the climate issues) sherry cask Amrut would compare to the more complicatedly made Intermediate Sherry which only spends a portion of its maturation period in sherry casks (what type? I don’t know). I opened it for an Amrut vertical I hosted for some friends a month or so ago. We all liked it but I have to admit that, given the high strengths of all the whiskies we drank, they ran together in my mind not very long after the tasting concluded—and I’ve not gone back to it yet since. And so I’m interested to see what I make of it tonight when I have more time to give to it.

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Glen Grant 21 (Gordon & MacPhail)

Glen Grant 21, G&M
Gordon & MacPhail do a number of “licensed” releases under these old-style labels (I put “licensed” in quotes here because while I’ve seen a number of references over the years to these as licensed bottlings, I don’t really know what that means in this context). The distilleries that most often show up in this general livery in the US these days are Mortlach, Strathisla and Glen Grant. Actually, I don’t know if they still show up steadily or if the bottles I see from time to time are old stock, as G&M don’t put bottling or vintage dates on most of these bottles. They also don’t bottle them at a very high proof: many of them are at 43% or below—nor do I know if the colour is natural. This one is at 40%. I’ve been tempted by it for some time but when a local retailer marked it down late last year I was finally unable to talk myself out of taking a flyer on it. Well, I am glad to say that it did not disappoint.

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Mutton Curry

Mutton Curry
In English English mutton is sheep meat (i.e. grown up lamb). In Indian English, however, mutton is goat (ideally kid). How this linguistic divergence came to be, I have no idea, but I am going to speculate that it may have something to do with the kitchens and tables of benighted English colonial types in India during the Raj. If you can either confirm or deny with confidence, please write in below. Anyway, mutton is one of the staple meats of India, though not eaten quite as widely as chicken, which is cheaper (if you’re interested in how meat eating in India is distributed by region and type, see here). And across the country there are many iconic preparations of it—and not just in biryani form (mutton is the meat par excellence for biryani, though you wouldn’t know this from Indian restaurants abroad).

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Glenburgie 19, 1995 (Signatory for K&L)

Glenburgie 19, 1995
Here is another of K&L’s exclusives for 2014. This is another cask strength bottle from Signatory wearing the livery of their 46% UCF series. This is from Glenburgie, a workhorse distillery from the Speyside that produces malt for Chivas Bros.’s blends, in particular for Ballantine’s. It’s a distillery that flies under the radar but their malt can be very good indeed. In fact, one of the malts that spurred me to further exploration of releases off the beaten track was a 500 ml bottle of Glenburgie from Chivas Bros.’ Cask Strength Edition series. That was a 15 yo, 1992 that I reviewed not too long after starting the blog and I already know that this one is not quite in that class: I opened it for one of my local group’s tastings a couple of months ago. That’s not to say it’s not good, however; we all liked it a lot. In fact, at the time I liked it more than the Signatory/K&L Glen Ord 17 that was released at the same time—and that one improved by the time I got around to reviewing it. Will the same be true of this one? I hope so.

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