Jason Truesdell : Pursuing My Passions

A life in flux. Soon to be immigrant to Japan. Recently migrated this blog from another platform after many years of neglect (about March 6, 2017). Sorry for the styling and functionality potholes; I am working on cleaning things up and making it usable again.

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Seville orange-enhanced martini

jason

I promise: This is not one of those fruity, syrupy drinks masquerading as a martini. No, it's not traditional, but it's also only the slightest departure from the standard martini.

Seville oranges, also known as bitter oranges, don't seem to be tremendously juicy... at least not this time of year. I know the flavor well, but this is the first time to play with the fresh fruit. In Japan I've also encountered daidai, which are somewhat similar, but I remember them as smaller.

I'm quite happy with an old-school martini, which to me means gin AND vermouth. I don't understand the "dry vodka martini" cult, because it seems to me just to be an excuse to put straight vodka in a pretty glass.

Shaken or stirred? I'm not religious about that... I usually shake, which tends to make for a somewhat cloudy martini thanks to all of those ice crystals, but it still tastes nice.

The drink is 2 scant shots Quintessential Gin (complex but not very intense; a little drier than the average dry gin), 1 half shot Cinzano vermouth, and whatever juice I could extract out of one seville orange. I used a dash of Peychaud's bitters. I did a channel-cut from the skin of that nice seville orange for the garnish.

Because this type of orange is not sweet, the overall flavor highlights the gin itself, but the citrus flavor adds a nice accent, and brings out some of the hidden aromatics.

Not enough time, some kind of dinner, blood orange and gin

jason

Monday night we had the dubious pleasure of completing my office shelving work… I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s actually organized, but it looks much less chaotic than it previously did. I’d actually be able to make good use of another shelf, but the next step is moving the remaining bits from my upstairs office to my storage facility. I have two spaces at ActiveSpace near the zoo, one of which is small and has a window, and the other of which is large, features high ceilings, but doesn’t get much natural light save for a partial skylight.

I’m planning to consolidate the two spaces into one, now that I really don’t see the office enough during daylight hours for a window to matter much, and don’t need quite the same amount of space as I once did.

We actually didn’t feel much like cooking after a long Monday… it was a day off from my contract project, but I never get a day off from my business. But we made something that was quite pleasant… we were hungry enough that we didn’t photograph it, though. It was tounyuu nabe, or soymilk hot pot, which I think I last had in Japan last spring, but Hiromi made it last Christmas when she visited. Basically, it’s thick, unsweetened soymilk, simmered with a bit of dried konbu, seasoned with miso and maybe a bit of salt. We used a combination of yuzu-miso (expensive, but adds a nice yuzu flavor) and komekoshi-miso. To the pot we added good, fresh tofu, some takenoko, and enoki.

Tounyuu nabe is simple food, but it is kind of special for Hiromi and me, because we ate a variation of it called toufu-dzukushi the first time we had dinner together at a fancy toufu restaurant in Kawasaki.

The last two nights, dinner was completely unremarkable, but tonight I made some yu tsai (a leafy green somewhat like nanohana) with atsuage, onions, and vegetarian “oyster sauce.” Hiromi made takenoko gohan, rice with bamboo shoots. We also had miso soup, but our itamemono wasn’t very Japanese.

Yutsai and atsuageTakenoko-gohan

After dinner I asked Hiromi if she wanted a drink, and she asked me to do something with the Moro blood oranges we got yesterday. I squeezed about four or five of them and blended the juice with a couple of shots of gin, a dash of bitters and a hint of vermouth, then shook everything up in a cocktail shaker with ice. After splitting the results into two glasses, I added an ounce or so of tonic water to each glass for a bit of effervescence.

Bloodorangeandgin

The result was quite refreshing. I’m not much an expert on mixed drinks, but I’m starting to have a bit of fun constructing them, and most of my recent endeavors have been quite passable.

Fresh Flours Opening, "Irish Matcha"

jason

I wanted to make sure I made it to Fresh Flours on their opening day, so I came for a late breakfast with my roommate. The space was jumping; a steady stream of adventurous joggers, baby-stroller wielding couples, and meandering neighborhood residents flowed through, and decimated most of the available pastry selection in short order.

There were a number of tempting things, but I got started with two of the more Japanese-ish fusions, and my roommate chose a sibling of the Almond Brioche Toast I first tried at Essential Bakery, where Keiji (Fresh Flours owner and baker) has previously worked.

The cautious use of sugar was a big plus. The fact that this place is in my neighborhood will make it a frequent destination for me… but I better walk there in the future or it will make me fat quickly. I had a morning latte, which was very nice; it’s made with Victrola coffee.

Below: Matcha macaron, kabocha muffin, and almond brioche toast by Fresh Flours.

Kabochamuffin-640wAlmondtoast-640w

I made a small delivery to complete the order of my new customer, Les Cadeaux Gourmets, in Queen Anne. They have picked up both my dragon beard candy and the Matcha Latte from Three Tree Tea, so I went and helped them with setting up a display stand and I dropped off the second part of their order, which is the Matcha Latte.

Last night I was playing around a bit and I made my second attempt at an Irish Matcha. When the weather was still cool, it occurred to me that a classic Irish coffee, made with a bit of brown sugar and coffee, then floated with cream, was only a short stretch from my infused gin, and considering that a Matcha Latte works quite well with whole milk, and matcha itself works well with desserts like cheesecake and ice cream. I’ve established that Matcha and gin works well, so I didn’t think it would be too much of a stretch to this.

I haven’t yet managed a decent photo, but I wanted to leave at least some visual impression, so here we go. I’m quite fond of this drink, but I think it will be more fun in winter.

Irishmatcha

Jason’s Irish Matcha

1 shot (1.5 fl oz) of your favorite Irish whiskey, in glass
4 fl. oz. hot water (about 165–180F)
2 tsp. Ippuku Matcha Latte mix by Three Tree Tea
2 tbsp. cream, whipped and rested

Boil some water, and pour 4 oz. into measuring cup. Add the 2 tsp. Matcha Latte mix and stir until blended. Pour this matcha blend into a glass. Carefully float cream atop.

If, for example, you don’t have the same Matcha Latte mix as I do, try whisking furiously about 1/2 tsp of matcha into the water, then add 1.5 tsp. sugar. For a more Irish effect, use brown sugar. The flavor profile of brown sugar is somewhat similar to kokutou/kurozatou, /Japanese “black sugar”, because of the molasses content, so I would expect that to work fairly well.

Matcha gin

jason

Matcha GinLast night I mixed about 1/4 cup Matcha Latte mix with a couple of tablespoons of warm water, stirred it a bit, then I added about 3 cups (or roughly 750 ml) of dry gin and shook it up a bit. I will infuse the mixture for about 7 days and then keep it in the freezer. I want to minimize the risk of oxidation and also keep the flavor green-tea like.

I’ve made this type of drink once before using about a tablespoon of matcha and maybe 3/4 cup sugar (it was a sweeter drink last time). I usually drank it after dinner served extremely cold, just pulled from the freezer. In that case it was more of a strong liqueur; it had a heady green tea flavor but was sweet enough that it needed to be blended with some shochu or vodka to cut the sugar.

I will infuse it for about 7 days. After that I will store it in the freezer to minimize additional oxidation, so that I can keep the color as green as possible. I think it’s discolored a bit since I first made it last night since it was more of a emerald color originally, but a little bit of color change is probably unavoidable.

I’m hoping it will make for a nice martini, just shaken and poured into a glass washed with vermouth. The last version of this I made worked for a martini but was more of a digestiv-style drink.