Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Bartender Josh Perry Shakes Up the 1833 Cocktail Menu (Edible Monterey Bay)

May 24, 2016 – This piece went live on the Edible Monterey Bay blog. Read it there.

Bartender Josh Perry Shakes Up the 1833 Cocktail Menu
Story and Photos by Camilla M. Mann

May 24, 2016 – Late last week, lead bartender Josh Perry set up a bar beneath the redwood tree and invited media folks to preview of his brand new cocktail menu. Though Perry has been part of the Restaurant 1833 staff since March of 2015, this is the first cocktail menu that showcases all of his own creations.

“I started developing this menu in January,” Perry said. “I was looking for maximum flavor with minimal ingredients.” As we eagerly eyed the menu, devouring the cocktail titles and descriptions, he continued, “You should see the six hundred and twenty five recipes that didn’t make the cut!”

Standing over a tray of his Coconut Milk Punch, Perry told us the story of how he started mixing drinks two decades ago – when he was six years old. It was Easter Sunday and his grandfather decided it was time for him to learn how to make an Old Fashioned. When he got to describing the pour, Perry held up three fingers, “’Normally you would pour two fingers’ worth. But my grandfather said ‘your fingers are small, so make it three.’”

The Coconut Milk Punch takes four days to make and involves seven different strainings; Perry describes it as a clarified piƱa colada. It features copper pot-distilled Trinidad rum and a liqueur that oozes the essence of the Caribbean with flavors of vanilla, ginger, and clove. While I can appreciate the craftsmanship involved, it was not my favorite of the five we tried that evening.

Perry’s Hummingbird was inspired by the lavender bushes just outside the kitchen window. The cocktail includes a homemade lavender tincture, something akin to lavender bitters, made from those fragrant bushes and is decorated with a lavender sprig.

While Perry mixed and poured, Chef Jason Franey brought out some bites for us to share, including the Guajillo Chile-Crusted Baby Back Pork Ribs, Seasonal Mushroom Flatbread, and Homemade Falafel. As Perry talked about how the bar menu must complement the restaurant menu, we finally made it to his favorite cocktail: the Banana Boulevardier.

Boulevardier is the mysterious cousin to the Negroni. While the Negroni is simultaneously sharp and smooth, substituting whiskey for gin lends the Boulevardier a robust richness. “I love the Boulevardier because it takes such classic flavors of the original cocktail and throws in a twist that is both bold and nuanced within the drink,” explained Perry. When I asked what he would pair with his favorite cocktail, he paused for a moment and said, “The Banana Boulevardier goes very well with the Fire Roasted Sunchokes or our market fish selections.”

My favorite cocktail of the night was his Smokey & the Bandit. A concoction with both bourbon and mezcal, it was sort of like a sultry, supple kiss—tongue-tingling with a lingering sweetness and just a caress of heat from the homemade poblano-tabasco syrup. Perry let me try the syrup aside from the cocktail and I was instantly smitten. My mind began spinning with a dozen of other applications. But in the cocktail, it provided the perfect balance of sweetness to the citrus, smoky, and spicy flavors.

The menu is officially launched. Up next for Perry, he has submitted a cocktail for Bombay Sapphire’s Most Imaginative Bartender competition. “I am currently waiting to hear back on the results of my submission. If selected, I will be traveling to London to compete in the finals,” he said. While he didn’t share the name of his drink, he did share that the cocktail contains Bombay Sapphire, mango curry, sherry, Rangpur limes, Thai basil, and egg whites. Whether the cocktail is honored, or not, I hope it makes it to the menu at 1833. It sounds fabulous.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Dolatas Look to Expand Their Food Community at 7D

May 3, 2016 – This piece went live on the Edible Monterey Bay blog. Read it there.

Dolatas Look to Expand Their Food Community at 7D
Story and Photos by Camilla M. Mann

Jay and Chloe Dolata, who own the community-centric Carmel Belle restaurant, are looking to expand our local food options and need your help. They are going to the Carmel City Council tonight about 7pm seeking permission to install a food marketplace in the underused 7th and Dolores building, which will offer everything from espressos and homemade granola to charcuterie, wine and caviar.

“Food is the centerpiece for gathering people together,” says Chloe Dolata, who affectionately calls the new project 7D. “Jay and I want the marketplace to be the center of our community because we love neighbors and eating and celebrating.”

Their established restaurant, nearby Carmel Belle, attests to that mission. Over the years they have amassed a crowd of passionate fans who enjoy the Dolatas’ focus on local, sustainable foods.
Jay and Chloe invited friends and community members interested in their new venture to visit the proposed marketplace one evening last week. The space is airy and modern with lots of natural light and warm wooden floors. There is also a full commercial kitchen already in place.

On the floor, in blue tape, were the outlines of fixtures, labelled with what they intend to place there. “Chocolate Bar” read one sign; “Espresso Machine” read another. There were also outlines of tables and chairs, designating where they plan to have seating for customers to eat inside as well as outside on the Dolores side of the building. Nestled between the two buildings is a cozy fire pit surrounded with wooden chairs.

Around the main room were informational boards that shared what the Dolatas have planned in various areas. For their Pantry & Grocery section, they plan to emphasize organic, locally produced goods, including fresh pasta, jams, honey, and nut butters. They will offer housemade almond milk, granola, and bone broths. “Pho in a jar?” one of the signs asked. “Why not!”

For Home Goods, they will carry ceramics, Pendleton beach blankets, custom-made flip flops from Big Sur, and pour-over coffee filters. Beer aficionados can pick up branded 7D growlers while wine connoisseurs will be able to select both red and white wines from a variety of Santa Lucia and Monterey County vineyards. At one table, representative of two local vintners’ they plan to sell, they were pouring Heller Estates’ 2013 Cachagua Cabernet Sauvignon and Big Sur Vineyards’ 2014 Chardonnay.

Their Cheese & Charcuterie Bar will include an array of caviar and an olive bar. The Coffee, Pastry, & Prepared Foods options will provide pour-over coffee, overnight oats, and everything customers would need to pack a picnic. “Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner everyday,” read a sign.

After guests had mingled, chatted, and sampled the eats—large platters of charcuterie, cheeses, fresh fruits, and fresh-baked pizzas—Jay, Chloe, and their daughter, Brogan, ascended the stairs and addressed the crowd below. Jay presented a concept of “Community in Food,” echoing what Chloe had said about food being the center of gravity for social gatherings. Jay offered ways in which they hope 7D will be the location of such gatherings. They plan to host a variety of special events including pop-up meals and cooking demonstrations. And they will offer local authors a venue for book talks or cookbook signings. Jay asserted, “We want this to be a gathering place for all.”

Tonight at 7pm Jay and Chloe bring their proposal before the Carmel City Council. They invited friends and community members to attend the meeting in support of the project. But before that, Jay called for people to come talk to him. “Ask me the hard questions!” he challenged. I didn’t ask him any questions that were too tough, but I did probe about the two people ahead of me who are well-known business owners in the vicinity. “I assured them that this venture is about community and collaboration,” Jay explained. “Our marketplace isn’t meant to compete with what they are already doing.”