Friday, November 23, 2012

Spiced Rum Recipe

My husband and I were first introduced to sweet spiced rum after a fine meal in Grand Case on the French side of Saint Martin.  It is a locally made spiced rum called Ma Doudou.  Over the years we have had home made spiced rums all over Saint Martin.  Some were infused with bananas, coconut or vanilla beans.  Ma Doudou reins as the standard among those for sale.  For many years we brought home several bottles, by request, for friends & family.  
Then security hit the airports and liquor had to be packed into your checked luggage.  Lets just there wasn't enough liquor in those bottles to make up for a plane ride filled with stress over rum soaked luggage.  
I knew I would have to learn how to make my own spiced rum at home.  So with a couple of bottles of Ma Doudou in my possession, to use for taste comparison, I experimented with seasoning and sugars and rums.  Yes tasting the samples was fun.  What I came up with is a recipe that makes my mouth feel like its sitting in a restaurant on Saint Martin.  I am posting the recipe here so family, friends & everyone else can make their own!

Spiced Rum

You'll need a small pot to make the syrup and a large jar to store the rum while it infuses with the spices.
2 to 3 liters of rum (I use Bacardi dark)
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
2-4 vanilla beans - split lengthwise and beans scraped out with a knife
2-5 star anise
1 tablespoon whole cloves
1 tablespoon whole green cardamon pods
1 tablespoon whole allspice
18 inches cinnamon sticks (more or less)
     Mix sugar and water in the pot and heat to a low simmer.  Sugar will dissolve. Add spices and let them all continue to simmer, covered, for 45 mins.  Turn off heat and let cool to room temperature.  Put syrup with spices into large jar.  Add rum of choice.  Seal jar with lid and store in a cool, dark place for 4-6 weeks.  Show it some love with a shake or two every once in a while.
Start tasting at the 4 week point and when it has enough spice for you strain the spices and discard all but the cinnamon and vanilla beans.  Pour your rum into clean bottles and add a vanilla bean and /or piece of cinnamon to each, if desired.   

--The rum can be sipped straight as a dessert drink or cordial, mixed with OJ and/or cranberry juice or added to a hot earl grey tea with cream.  I made french toast with it this morning (the alcohol cooks off but the flavor remains).  It can be used in cooking instead of vanilla.  The list is limited by ones imagination.
--You can use what ever kind of rum you like, different rums will add their own flavors. Meyers Dark Jamaican rum will add a molasses note, lighter rums will have less caramel notes.  The kind of sugar you use will also affect the final flavors. Start with white sugar which adds the least flavoring.  Turbinado sugar adds a little richness, light brown sugar adds more.  I used unbleached sugar which adds the lightest note of molasses.  Also smell the spices, use more or less to your taste.  Taste it as it steeps, you might like more or less steeping time.  
--Make your first batch plain.  As you get to know the flavors you like you can add bananas to the jar for steeping with the spices or after the spices are strained.  Coconut milk, coconut water, or coconut creme each add their own kind of flavors.  Some like orange peel, some mandarin segments, some both.  Experiment, have fun, enjoy and share the rum!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Mermaid Oyster Bar

The Mermaid Oyster Bar
79 MacDougal Street
New York City, NY 10012

First the decor greets you.  Like a beach front restaurant on MacDougal Street.  
White paint, shore photos, retro milk glass light fixture and a perfectly sized bar.  
This is Greenwich Village where spaces are small.  
I'm glad they resisted the temptation to cram another table in, 
achieving cozy over crowded even when full.  
We sat at a small booth table in the first room.  
They have a another room not visible from the entry.  
The staff is very attentive without being annoying.  
We started with cocktails.  
Proseco for Annie and a Legend of Zarro for me.  
Tequila, passion fruit, chipote and lime.  
Tasted like Blood Orange sherbet. Yum!
For appetizers Annie ordered a half dozen little neck clams 
with a special limited harvest oyster topped with fresh ceviche.  
It was beautifully presented on a bed of ice.  
Its oyster season and oysters took up a large part of the appetizer menu, 
east coast and west coast with great descriptions of each individual flavor.  
I opted for the grilled calamari with mushroom over lightly dressed frissee.  
Lemony without being too tart and very good.
Annie had a lobster sandwich served on griddled brioche bun with old bay seasoned french fries.  
I had mermaid fish taco.  The lobster was lightly dressed and
had nice size pieces of lobster on a tender roll.  
My fish tacos were very well made, heavy on fish and again dressed just right to let the fish shine.

We were fully satisfied and asked for a check.  
It came with 2 little espresso cups with chocolate pot au creme topped with whip cream.  
A few bits of sweet to seal the deal.  A perfect ending to a great seafood dinner. 

Sometimes restaurants over use flavor and it becomes the star of the plate.  
At Mermaid Oyster Bar everything was dressed and seasoned so delicately 
that the main ingredient is supported by a cast of flavors 
that let it shine like the fresh diva she truly is.  
I will definitely be back.

Bottom line -
Food bill with 2 cocktails, 2 appetizers, 2 entrees, tax and tip was $130.00.
The oysters can be pricey but they do have a happy hour that includes all those bivalves at deep discount and a very comfy bar to enjoy them at, with a cocktail of course.

Good for romantics, double dates, birthdays, girls night out.
Sorry boys no big screen LCD.  Conversation is the order of the day here.
We dined on November 15, 2012