Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The celebration of National Rum Day (two days late) included an interesting cocktail of people, gastronauts and guestronauts of various origins and ages. A few people I didn’t even know; others, I didn’t even know how they knew. But there we all were brought together by a shared love of… powdered milk?

Besides the fact that a giant box of Carnation was the real star of the evening. Let’s review a few of the cocktails features at our blessed event.
I provided
- the unnamed Big Top Creation: N.O. Cajun Spice rum, ginger ale, and crushed (sometimes obliterated and smashed) fresh basil from the pots in my from porch. Like a mojito, but not.
- the original Daiquiri cocktail: N.O. Crystal, lime juice, simple syrup shaken with ice either served on the rocks or up.

Jennifer brought the mixings for a various drinks, I think the main idea was for the Louisiana Lemonade: N.O. Crystal, Sour Mix, Club Soda, and 7 Up.

Liz brought some Tangerini (?) mixer, and I’m not sure with what it was mixed, perhaps powdered milk? But it was all natural, so much so that it had to be shaken to let all of the requisite “wholesome” particles surface from the bottom. We must keep our health into perspective.

Victor brought some Classic Coca-Cola for all of those rum-and-cokers, as well as fresh limes.

Out of the case of 12 bottle of rum, 6 were consumed. Nice Work, Kids.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

It's all gouda.

Here are the specs on the foreign cheeses featured at the fonduder party.

Gruyère- an unpateurized cow's milk cheese, named after its city of origin, Gruyères in the canton of Fribourg, Switzerland. It is often described as creamy and nutty when young, becoming with age more assertive, earthy, and complex. Sounds like my kind of cheese.
This is the one we fondued with Bodega Castano Monastrall Spain creating the mauve concoction.

I brought:
Fontina cheese, of Italian origins and made from cow's milk. Touted by many to be the premier melting cheese, we approached said title with trepidation, as it's aroma was overpoweringly earthy, a bit human like. (p.s. this is a nice way of saying that it was really really smelly cheese and I was afraid that my apartment would smell like an old Italian man's fart for a few days).
I was happy to bestow this upon Gulu, whose experienced palate could appreciate the sublime flavor profile.

I found this to be a delightful semi-soft cheese that was a bit more subtle than the Gruyère and Fontina. We were unsure whether it was melt-able, but we were feeling quite risky at this part of the evening, so we threw it in, and our instincts led us to a find conclusion of the evening.

Gouda- Dutch cheese made from cow’s milk and the city of origin is its namesake. Gulu’s the red wax covered wedge redeemed the old standby for me. Normally I must endure smoked gouda, which in my opinion is less than desirable. Ever had smoked mozzarella? Note to self: smoke ruins many a thing.
The term "Gouda" is now a generic name, and not restricted to cheese of Dutch origin. The term "Noord-Hollandse Gouda" is registered in the EU as a Protected Designation of Origin. Strangely the cheese itself was originally developed in Gouda which is in the Dutch province Zuid-Holland, hence its registered name seems incorrect.

A few word equations:
Fuji apple + Gulu = happy
Apple + cheese = tasty, but obvious.
Apple + cheese + wine = not good
Apple + Velveeta + salsa = genius

I wasn’t sure if anyone was understanding my choice of music for the evening, but I was going for frivolous, slightly cheesey music which slightly nodded to the 60’s. Belle & Sebastian, Architecture in Helsinki, and the bird and the bee.

By the way, I passed by Storyville the next day, and to my chagrin, the Easy Cheese Grafitti was gone! And we thought they would be impossible to remove. The American dream is dead.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

CHEESE MAN: the melting of a star-bellied hippie cheese-bot


much talk of dairy to follow

This past Saturday the Gastronauts had a CHEESE MAN/fonDUDE celebration where everyone ate at least ten times the recommended daily serving of dairy products. And boy oh boy, did we all feel it the next day.

Why a CHEESE MAN/fonDUDE celebration? Well, July 29 is Cheese Sacrifice Purchase Day. And how do we know that? The Nibble. And why even to think of food holidays? A couple weeks back, New Orleans Menu Daily (by Tom Fitzmorris) had this:

Food Almanac For July 19
It is reported widely on the Internet that today is National Daiquiri Day. The daiquiri has evolved from a good, slightly sour drink (rum and lime juice, shaken with ice and something sweet) to a frozen slush for adults, flavored with almost anything you can think of. Drive-through daiquiri stands have become a commonplace, against all conceivable logic. The answer to the question, "Where's the best daiquiri in town?" is "False."

The daiquiri is named for a spot on the southern coast of Cuba, near Santiago, where the drink is said to have been concocted around 1905, after the American invasion of the island.

And of course, I had to celebrate July 19 with a daiquiri from the pink place on Elysian Fields and St. Claude next to Gene's Po Boy.

I sent a list of the other July food holidays to the rest of the Gastronauts and Liz responded with "what the fuck is cheese sacrifice purchase day?!" We did some research and found this:

Despite the day being a day of purchasing cheese and sacrificing some to a mouse trap in order to have a mouse-free home, we made the day our own. We focused more on the sacrifice part instead of the purchase part and imagined Burning Man but with cheese, thus Cheese Man. And then Jennifer suggested melting him in fondue, thus fonDUDE.

In preparations of the celebration I found a foundue pot and fondue skewers at some thrift stores. The pot was a lovely 70s green. Oh man, the 70s had some great color combinations - green and orange and white (like the wallpaper in my parents' kitchen).

Before we sacrificed Cheese Man, we fondued (not fonDUDE) some gourmet cheese with some red wine. That purple stuff on the piece of bread is the melted cheese mixed with the wine. We probably should have used white wine. Oh well. We did have some white wine but it was mixed in a white wine sangria, a sangria blanco.

Cheese man was made of the finest cheeses available - Velveeta, Easy Cheese, and string cheese. I started with Velveeta for the body and head. Next, string cheese was used for the limbs. Part of a Triscuit was the neck. The string cheese limbs didn't stay very well in the Velveeta so I used some angel hair pasta to hold him together. I gave him an Easy Cheese face and star on his stomach and some string cheese for hair.

Here are some pics of the assembly of Cheese Man. Actually, it turned out to be a star-bellied hippie cheese-bot.

Jen Leslie made a Velveeta cat and I also made a bread chair for him.

Finally we put him in the fondu(d)e pot for the start of the evening's sacrificial activities.

We added some salsa and add he became a wonderful queso dip. Mmmmmm...cheesey.

Liz made a pie for desert. I put some cheese on it, some Easy Cheese. Hey, why not? Travis Bickle does it. Maybe not Easy Cheese though.
            "I had black coffee and apple pie
with a slice of melted yellow
cheese." - Travis from Taxi Driver

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm sure you were thinking it - we did cut a lot of cheese. I even found at a thrift store Fart: The Game. We didn't actually play the game, but we did make armpit farts. (At least some of us did. Some of us couldn't quite master the technique. See Ben trying to help Gulu with the underarm flatulence.)

The evening ended at Storyville for a Defend New Orleans party. There was some left over Easy Cheese which became graffiti.