Category Archives: Rum

Disastrous Mojitos

“Nooo,” Emelie cried as her involuntary hand gesture knocked the glass over, spilling it’s precious and ridiculously expensive contents on the kitchen table.

“My mojitooo!” – Tina howled with the genuine pain and anger of an innocent girl done horribly wrong, her anguished cry echoing through the room and hitting me like a thousand icy spikes right through the heart and drawing some really uncomfortable flashbacks to much unhappier times.

Don’t,” I managed, steadying myself against the table as I tried to regain control of my involuntarily shaking legs.. “Don’t EVER do that again! Only once in the last two years have I heard such sadness and pain in your voice and back then you were trembling and crying uncontrollably in my arms.. Please, baby, it’s just a drink.”

“But..,” she looked at me with deep, sad, blue eyes, pointing at the mess that Emelie had made and was now in the process of cleaning up.. “It was my drink.. My mojito!” – “Yes, sweetie,” I countered, “and that’s my $100 rum being sucked up by kitchen towel, you’ll live and I’ll make you another mojito.” – She smiled at me gratefully, as I started shaking her another mojito and as Emelie finished, cleaning up the mess she’d left, I handed Tina another mojito and, shaking my head slightly, went back to cooking dinner.. “I should have just gone to the Entombed show downtown,” I though jokingly to myself. “It would have been easier than to spend Friday night cooking for these two crazy ladies.” It wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun, though, so despite the drama, the spilled drinks and the yelling, I was happy I had decided to spend the evening cooking for, and enjoying the company of, my lovely girls.

The drama above wasn’t part of the plan, but the mojitos were. For almost a week, we’d planned to spend Friday evening together, having a few drinks and some good food. Tina had, through her usual means of persuasion, made sure that the drinks of choice would be traditional Caribbean mojitos and daiquiris, and that the food to go along be traditional Mexican dishes, namely quesadillas and carne asada burritos. Both lovely ladies claimed that said dishes and said drinks traditionally go together and since their main arguments came in the shape of sweet smiles and batting eyelashes, I thought it futile to argue.. At any rate, I aim to please.

So yeah, anyways, Friday evening, I’d dragged myself all the way down to Emelie’s pad with all the ingredients to make some killer home-made quesadillas and burritos along with some nacho chips, a six-pack of Coronas, a bottle of French white wine and all the ingredients for the mojitos and daiquiris that were as of now apparently an integral part of traditional Mexican cooking tradition. In other words, I’d brought enough food to make the girls content, full and happy.. And enough booze to get them beautifully liquored up. The latter, at least, I seemed to be succeeding in judging by the fact that glasses were flying around the kitchen even before dinner was served.

Which about brings us back to where we were. Having regained some sort of control over the situation and having made sure everybody once again had something to drink, I set about finishing dinner while I had the girls set the table. Well, that is, I tried to have the girls set the table but made the mistake of asking the giddy, chatty girls if they’d mind setting the table once they were done with their little talk about nothing in particular.. Which, in their defense, they did, I just hugely underestimated the amount of time girls can spend chatting about nothing in particular.. So by the time we had time to sit down and eat, the quesadillas were pretty well done and I’d learned an important Zen lesson.

Starving as I was, though, the quesadilla appetizers were amazing if I dare say so myself and they went down really, really well with a cold Corona, a bit of home-made salsa and the guacamole which Tina had struggled to help me make, this time not only by mashing up the avocados for the mix, but by actually running (yes, running) out and getting new, ripe avocados as those I’d brought turned out impossibly unripe.. Thank you, baby, you saved the evening!

The appetizer was followed by more chatting, some clearing of the table and a short break while I messed up the main dish. Errm.. Which is to say that I didn’t so much mess it up as I made some involuntary fusion cooking. The beef was great, the refried beans as well, the Spanish rice and the compliments. But, as it turns out, if you leave flour tortillas in the oven for too long, they toughen up and lose a lot in the whole being pliable department, and as such they’re kinda hard to roll and manipulate into a burrito-like shape. And so, the Carne Asada taco was invented! If you can’t manage a roll, you can at least manage a semi-circle.

The resulting dish looked downright comical, but tasted pretty authentic, and hey, the girls were happy and that’s all that matters.. Hell, I was happy, too, by the time I got around to my second Corona. And so, we feasted, ate, drank and were merry until a state of food coma was reached by all.. Well, all but Tina who sneered at me as I tried to remove her plate a little too early, then had another bite and declared defeat. As the girls sat back, I quietly sneaked into the kitchen and, knowing that my cooking ways don’t usually harmonize too well with a woman’s idea of tidiness of the kitchen area, tried to clean things off a bit after myself.

I managed to keep at this dodgy plan for all of ten minutes before Emelie cried out “Joohaaaaan?” in her usual semi-concerned/semi-disapproving manner. “Be right there,” I countered, after which the girls came charging into the kitchen and gave me a right trashing for trying to tidy things up. I stood my ground pretty firmly for a while before Tina resorted to her mean, girlish ways, huggled me, snuck an arm around my waist and dragged me back into the living room without too much protest on my behalf. Damn women and their disarming tricks!

After having successfully failed in trying to clean up after myself, I thought fuck it and just plopped down with the girls on the couch where they were now snuggling under their own respective blankets. Not being much of a blanket man myself, I decided to keep warm by grabbing a bottle of wine instead and pouring a glass for Tina and myself while Emelie stuck to snoozing over the remainder of her Corona.. We then set out to watch a movie, namely “Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny”, a movie Tina claimed to never have seen despite me showing it to her a few years back.. Which she would have to admit upon seeing the first scene of the movie.. Regardless, though, it was still a fun movie and watching it with Emelie just proved all the more fun..

See, Emelie (bless her) have a way of making funny movies even more fun because the poor girl can simply not handle embarrassing situations, not even on film. Which means that she reacts to comical embarrassment in the way that most girls would usually react to horror movies, by shying away from the screen, turning her head, perhaps even hiding under the blanket if things get really bad. It’s a strange kind of behavior, if you ask me, but Emelie being Emelie, it’s also a strangely cute kinda behavior.. And having watched this particular movie about a dozen times myself, I’d say it made for some great variation now and then. And I use the term now and then because I could have been perfectly happy just watching Emelie for most of the film, but she, in turn decided to spend half of the movie sound asleep.. It had been a long day after all.

After a great movie, a few power naps, some good laughs and some even better glasses of wine, we sat and chatted for a while, watching VH1 and laughing at music videos from our younger years. Ahh, good times. Fast times, though, as most of us were pretty well spent after a long day at work, and Emelie in particular was nodding off. So, we decided to call it a day, Tina asked Jeppe to come pick her up, I started gathering my stuff, Tina got picked up, I helped Emelie clear out the rest of the mess I’d created and then I, too, headed home, carrying the last two glasses of wine with me in the bottle to share with a good friend once I made it home, i.e. myself..

And I’m happy to report that I did just that once I got home over some good music and an even better book. I’ve really taken to reading again and am quite enjoying it. After a long busy Friday it was just plain awesome to be able to kick my feet up at home, dig into my newly purchased Johnny Cash auto-biography, pour myself a glass of really good wine and disappear into American VI.. What a great day!

Where’s the rum gone?

In case you’re wondering, preparing for a rum tasting and a dinner with a raging hangover is neither the easiest nor the most fun thing in the world. But apparently a raging hangover is what you get for helping Dunkel wait for the train, as detailed in my last post. As a result, most preparations for Saturday’s big Caribbean dinner/rum tasting event was done in the short period between around 4 PM when I started to feel well enough to move about to 6 PM when Tina had scheduled her arrival. It went rather slowly, and I’m not gonna lie to you, there was some groaning, but it all got done in time.

When Tina arrived, shortly after 6 PM, it quickly became clear that she too, may well have been hell-bent for trouble on the night before. For starters, she was swaying slightly from side to side the minute she got in the door.. Secondly, she wore what I’ve come to describe as her hangover hoodie, a large over-sized purple specimen we’d picked out at a mens’ store once while shopping for me. When we hugged, we didn’t so much hug as we just grabbed hold of one another, leaned into one another and both tried to apply enough force and guidance as to not topple over. “I don’t feel so good,” she said – “Me neither, babe,” I replied, “there was trains and Dunkel and waiting and brandy..” – “What?,” she demanded, after which I tried to explain, causing her to laugh, cough and nearly fall over again.. Indeed, we were a pretty miserable bunch as we kicked off the evening.. Which is why I decided to kick things off with a drink!

The concept of the evening was pretty simple: Tina had asked me to introduce her to rum. I figured we’d start with some classic rum drinks, have dinner, then have a go at tasting some sipping rums and see what happened. For the first drink of the evening I’d chosen the most classic and simplest of all rum drinks, the original Daiquiri.. And I don’t mean that girlish pink shit with berries, fruit and whatever the fuck have you. I mean just classic white, semi-aged Cuban rum, fresh squeezed lime juice and simple syrup.. Simple, fresh, tasty and a perfect cure for the hangover.. And a perfect way to win over Tina because, well, the girl loves her some Havana Club 3 year old and is absolutely obsessed with lime juice..

So the hangover was quickly forgotten and we were quickly chatting about the night before, a peaceful activity which lasted for all of five minutes or so before the fighting broke out. It started innocently with Tina telling me about this hot little outfit she’d been wearing the night before and it ended rather horribly when I remarked that she never wore anything nice for me anymore but rather showed up hung over in her work clothes or an old, oversized hoodie with tales of how fucking nice she’d looked the day before. Tina responded with a slur of profanities, pointing out that I myself was in a five year old band shirt and, in case I hadn’t noticed, was hung over myself.. It all sorta escalated from there until I decided to bring the argument to a halt with more alcohol.. Consequently a pair of Cuba Libres were had, as well as two different Mai Tais, all in miniature versions as to not have people off their feet before dinner.

Speaking of dinner, it was a complete success. In keeping with the Caribbean theme of the evening, I’d made Jamaican jerk chicken, served with rice and beans cooked with coconut milk, garlic and spring onions

The whole thing was served up with Jamaican Red Stripe beer

and consumed in a very laid back manner

Which got even more relaxed once dinner had been consumed and poor Tina got completely knocked out by the weight of the food and just sorta collapsed over a row of chairs.. The good friend in me wanted to pick her up and carry her to the couch to rest a bit, however, the fucking idiot friend in me was busy taking pictures and poking her in the stomach until she started looking at me with big, sad, puppy dog eyes and quivery lips and going “Please.. Don’t..”

at which point I let her retreat to the couch and cleared the table, only to return to her with the only thing I know am certain to ALWAYS make her feel better.. Mojitos!

Once again in miniature versions and this time around made with my pricy Havana Club Cuban Barrel Proof rum.. Not only did that wake her up, it made her absolutely. positively ecstatic and giddy. “Y’know,” she beamed, “I think we’ve found our new go-to Mojito rum!” – “Honestly,” I said, turning to look at her with a serious face.. Which was instantly met with Tina’s usual offense of soft smiles, ever-widening deep blue eyes and batting eyelashes.. “Oh c’mon,” I muttered, “fine, whatever, but then you’re paying the extra DKK 300 a bottle out of your own little pockets!” … And with that, Tina’s face froze for a little. “Fine,” she smiled softly, “the 3 year old might do the trick for now.”

In the end, though, it proved nearly impossible to get the poor girl to abandon the thought of the Barrel Proof.. Or even to get her to part with the bottle for that matter, and since I’m a sucker for pretty blondes, I eventually suggested that we make it our very special occasion Mojito rum, a suggestion which was met with more big smiles.

Having thusly survived both dinner and a small onslaught of rum drinks – or drink tapas as I came to call them due to the smaller servings, we moved up to the big boys, the sipping rums. We kicked things off with one of my personal favorites, English Harbor 5 year old which is stupidly good for such a relatively young and inexpensive rum as it is. We then moved up through the 8, 12 and 15 year olds until we eventually ended with two of the best, if not THE best rums in the world. The Santa Teresa 1796 15 year old and the Ron Zacapa 23 year old. Both absolutely marvelous rums! Tina has had the Zacapa 23 once before and to this day swears it’s the best spirit she’s ever tasted. Me, I’m not too sure, I want to say the Zacapa 23 because it’s just so damn smooth and friendly, yet the Santa Teresa is clearly better balanced and more versatile.. Gah, I can’t say. Parts of me wanted to try both rums over again to maybe be able to make up my mind, but parts of me knew that was a pretty silly idea. For one thing because it’d end up a fucking expensive rum tasting and for another because after some 12 rums in an evening, details get a little blurred, even when only sampling very small portions..

So instead of doing that, I did the second stupidest thing I could do which was to mix up more Mojitos.. This time simply to see what would happen if we used a 15 year old Cuban styled rum as the mixer.. Which turned out to be nothing good, really. The more subdued softness of the aged rum made it drown completely in the mix, creating a slightly expensive yet utterly characterless Mojito.. Oh well, that was that plan tried. We washed down the failed Mojito with a more standard one and then, not wanting to face another day of hangovers, decided to call it a night.. By the time you’re mixing 15 year old rums, it’s probably about time to call it a night anyways.. But what a good night it was.

“You know,” Tina told me in the end before her knight in shiny.. fashionable clothes came to carry her away on.. in.. his white.. Toyota Aygo, “I feel almost bad that despite all the awesome rums you tried on me, my favorite is still the Zacapa 23 and your standard Mojito.. – “Don’t, sweetie,” I told her, “at least you have good taste and at least your favorite thing in the world is still something I make.. That’s not too bad, really.”

Relax, it’s research!

In case you have not noticed, I have a bit of a love affair with rum.. So when Tina asked me if I’d ever be interested in doing a rum tasting/introduction for her, I jumped right at the chance.. After all, if nothing else, it was a perfect excuse to spend a Friday evening geeking out and obsession over rum.. And doing a bit of tasting and research as well.. And it’s probably also a very good way to give my little friend a few even more expensive habits.

A few of my rums


And a few more.. As with so many other projects, this one spun out of proportion pretty quickly.


The classic Mai Tai has been a favorite drink of mine for a few years now. And searching for the perfect rum combination for said drink has proven an interesting pass-time activity. This attempt to figure out which combo to serve Tina as her introductory Mai Tai proved pretty inconclusive, so I may have to serve her both.

Mr Kelly, I presume! (Johan has a brush with another random celebrity)

So get this.. There I am, just walking down the street, minding my own business, coming back from a stop at my go-to wine guy where I’d called looking for a bottle of Havana Club dark rum and ended up leaving with a bottle of Santa Teresa 1796 (which is an entirely different kind of rum and about three times as expensive as what I was after) – but that’s another story, I digress.

Anyways, there I was just walking down the street, minding my own business, swinging around my new bottle of Santa Teresa rum, when I walk idly by this street musician setting up on a corner.. Not something I thought a hell of a lot of since there is a steady supply of more or less talented and more or less stark raving drunk street performers doing their thing in a town of Kolding’s size.. There was, however something about this guy that made me pause and go “Huh? Wait a moment.. I know you..”

A look back revealed the street musician in question to be a somewhat cleaned up yet somewhat scruffy looking version of Angelo Kelly of late nineties pop-sensation “Kelly Family” infamy. After the initial shock of seeing a washed up version of a former world start standing on a street corner begging for attention of any kind had subsided, The pressing question of “WTF?” emerged in my mind. Upon relaying this question to Mr Kelly, the long, dignified answer took the shape of a rant about how nice it was to be off the road and away from the stress and, for once, being able to play away from the stage and the inevitable distance it created between him and his listeners.

“In other words,” I thought to myself, “money’s been a bit tight in the family lately, and you’re trying to make the best of what’s left of your fame?” – a suspicion which was confirmed when Mr Kelly a minute later pulled out an acoustic guitar, a sign reading “CD’s 50 DKK” and fell into a rather average cover of “The Fields of Athenry” – Umm, yeah, all is well, I’m just selling CD’s on the street for DKK 50 a pop for shit and giggles? Possibly, but it’d be a pretty weird business plan, weirder even than what I could come up with.

This is pretty ironic, I thought to myself as I stood there watching him do a pretty half-assed job of what I consider to be one of the best Irish traditional ballads. I seem to have a knack for randomly stumbling into celebrities that others would have loved to have met in the ways that I did, yet of whom I couldn’t really seem to give two fucks myself. Be it Ben Affleck, Michael Jackson, or more homely personas such as Mads Mikkelsen.. And now this bloke! Granted, most of these absolutely random encounters make for some pretty good stories and anecdotes, but how’s about letting me run into someone awesome for a change? Like, I dunno.. Chuck Norris, Bruce Dickinson (or Springsteen for that matter), Aquaman or one of those hot chicks from the movies? Just saying..

Oh well, it was still fun times, though, even if had more fun chatting with my wine guy than I did watching half a minute of Mr Kelly’s performance.. But that’s probably just me, I prefer 15 year old rum over fading pop stars, I’m weird like that.

It’s a Hard-knock Life (this being unemployed business)

“Oh, my God, I love it,” cried Tina and rushed right by me.. “Umm,” I said, feeling a little overlooked, but happy to see that she apparently liked my new place. Then, within seconds, I realized that she’d charged right for the dishwasher which she had then opened and was staring at with huge admiration and the kinda look on her face as if she’d have hugged it if she could. “If you start liking my appliances more than you like me, I’m gonna be pissed,” I muttered under my breath. “I’m sorry, sweetie,” Tina smiled, pulling out one of the dish racks from the washer and almost sticking her head in to examine it further, “and stop being such a girl!” – “I’m sorry,” I muttered, “I learned from the best.. So you like the new place, then?” – “I like it a lot,” she beamed and charged on through the house to the terrace, “I have a feeling we’ll be spending a lot of time here!” – “On account of the terrace and the garden?,” I asked.. “That.. And the dishwasher!,” she answered.. Well, the little one sure loves her dishwashers.. But seeing as our usual agreement is that I cook the food and she do the dishes when we’re together, I can kinda see why.. For someone who loves to be spoiled as much as she does, her life just got a hell of a lot easier and sweeter.

As it turned out, the little one was right, we did get to spend a lot of time at my new place, starting with that very Monday evening where we ended up eating dinner together.. Well, that and a little more, really. See, in order to coax Tina over, I’d told her that if only she showed up, I’d not only share a beer on the terrace with her, but also cook her a nice little dinner to go along with it. She’d already lived up to her part of the deal and arrived in her mother’s fine, little car, she’d even worn a cute, little summer outfit for the occasion. I, in return, had lived up to my part of the deal and served her a Corona with a slice of lime on the terrace which seemed a fair exchange for the present company.. And we were now slowly, but steadily, in the process of cooking a nice summerly dinner of Italian tomato salad, roast chicken and pasta with fresh tomato sauce when things took a turn for the worse.. Or better.. Strongly depending on how you look at it, I tend to favor the latter.

“Y’know?,” Tina started, her head fixed to the top shelf of the fridge she was rummaging through before turning to me, a soft smile growing wider across her lips and a trademark sparkle forming in her eyes.. “Maybe Jeppe would be kind enough to pick me up later tonight?” – “Let me guess,” I said, shaking my head, “you just discovered the bottle of Rosé wine in the fridge and would like a glass or two, is that it?” – What followed now on Tina’s part was a reaction, more than likely as completely autonomous in nature as it was professional and effective. She turned to me, crossing her legs slightly, bending her knees slightly and crossing her arms in front of her chest, bending her head as well in a shy little girl manner, letting her hair fall down slightly, batted her eyelashes a few times, then slowly looked up at me with intensely deep blue eyes and a shy, ever so slightly trembling smile on her lips.. “Mmmmmaybe,” she said in a soft voice, “I mean if you want to? (cue batting eye lashes). “Fucking hell,” I thought as I felt my insides churning, heart softening and any trace of resistance (if ever there were one) fading away, “you are GOOD!”

“You do realize you’ve got me exactly where you want me and there’s no possible way I can say no to you right now,” I eventually managed. – “Yes, I like things this way,” Tina said with a happy, slightly triumphant, yet entirely grateful look on her face. – “You’ll be the death and ruin of me one day, baby,” I pondered out loud, “but it’ll be a happy death and ruin.. Get the wine out and set the table!” – “Yes! Right away!,” Tina chirped, jumping to attention, and like the good (albeit manipulative) girl that she is, she started buzzing around the kitchen, pulling out plates and cutlery before meticulously carrying it all to the dining room and setting the table.

Having finished our beers, and having also gotten over one of our loving little fights and bitter arguments as I started accusing Tina of being a very bad little girl and a terrible guest for finishing her beer way ahead of me and not even waiting for me to catch up, we moved to the table and had what can only be described as a very nice summer dinner befitting of two wonderful people such as ourselves, but entirely too expensive for an ordinary Monday night, especially given the rather bottle of wine that Tina had tricked me into having.. Or I’d tricked her into wanting, depending on whether or not you believe the story about me stacking it in the fridge where I was sure she’d find it and have her interest peaked.. Ahem.. But that’s all speculation and conspiracy theories.. Regardless, it was a very, very nice bottle of wine, and it put us in a very, very good mood.

“I’ll tell you what,” I told Tina as we we’d about eaten ourselves into a tummy ache. “It’s a hard-knock life this whole being unemployed business.” – “Tell you what,” she laughed back at me, “I’m starting to quite enjoy it, really! I wish every day could be like this!” – “Of course you do,” I countered, giving her a loving little shove on the shoulder as we got up and made our way to the couch, “you’re high maintenance like that!” – “I may be,” she smiled, nudging me back, “but you made me who I am, so it’s all your own damn fault!” – “Aw, no, really.. Thank you.. I’m happy you’re here with me beign unemployed and still spoiling me silly,” she added before I had a chance to start bitching.. Which sorta, kinda made me forget all about what I wanted to whine about..

The night eventuall developed into one of those warm, cosy, happy unforgettable, slightly buzzed summer nights where time seems to about as still as the warm air outside and nothing much really matters. The stress of being unemployed was gone for a while, the endless rejection, money issues, worries about tomorrow.. All that shit.. For a while there, all the mattered was the company, the music playing, the talk, the wine in our glasses and somewhere along the line, and the fine spirits that somehow popped up along the line.. Again, I’m not really sure how that happened, but I’m reasonably sure that Tina was the instigator. At any rate, I remember her looking at me once again with that trademark smile of hers that is known to melt the knees of guys such as myself and saying “if I ask nicely, do you think I could one day have a small sample of your new Japanese Whisky? Please?” – I’m about ready to call this a deliberate attempt of manipulation and exploiting ones position as cute blonde. Tina, on the other hand, will probably argue that I was simply trying to get an innocent, little blonde drunk.. But regardless of who was trying to manipulate who, the end result was pretty predictable in that I sighed, got up, exclaimed “Well, you don’t file for unemployment every day,” found a pair of tumblers, poured a single ice cube into each (and before anyone attacks me for that, let me just defend myself by saying that it was a little to fuck off hot for whisky to be served neat and that it needed the water anyways plus it was Tina’s first brush with undiluted Whisky in a state of near soberness) and topped with a bit of Yamazaki 10 year old.

Not too surprisingly, Tina quite enjoyed the Japanese take on Whisky and not too surprisingly, she immediately developed a certain curiosity for the world of fine spirits and eagerly started asking questions, commenting while examining tastes and smells and sucking up the impressions as well as the knowledge I tried to relay.. I swear to God, sometimes she reminds me a little too much of a younger, shorter, prettier, long haired version of myself. Before I knew it, we were going through my entire fine spirits collection, sniffing here and there before sinking into a long discussion about one of my big passions: rum!

Once again, I couldn’t help but get a little weirded out by someone as decidedly feminine as Tina taking an interest in a somewhat masculine subject, e.g. that of aged spirits, but once again, she surprised me by approaching the subject with wide-eyed interest and near child-like fascination. And of course, I couldn’t help but want to show her what I was talking about, in particular that rum could be more than just a mixer. So of course, I had to bring one of the rums to the table.. Now, having had fun on Tina’s expense for most of this post by calling her a spoiled and manipulative little girl, I guess it’s only fair to mention that there was absolutely no pressure from her in what happened next, and if she wants to claim once again that I was just trying to get an innocent little blonde drunk, she should feel to do so. I will, however, stand by the statement that I was just trying to introduce a very special little blonde friend of mine to a very special bottle of rum, namely my Ron Zacapa 23 years old from Guatemala.. The fact that we somewhere along the way of Whisky, fine rum and wonderful Rosé wine ended up a little tipsy and giggly.. Well, that’s just a bonus.. But, again, I digress.. Back to rum!

Now, Ron Zacapa is a rum I’ve always had a special relationship with. It wasn’t the first fine rum I’ve ever had, nor has it been the most distinctly flavored, but it’s definitely the most memorable.. And not only because of the palm leaf wrapped bottle it’s sold in.. It quite honestly might be my favorite rum ever because it’s simply everything you don’t expect a distilled spirit and 40+ % alcohol by volume to me.. It’s sweet, smooth, pleasant, fruity and flowery and seems to coat the mouth forever, yet leave next to no burn once it goes down.. It’s also a fucking expensive bottle or rum and definitely not one I’d normally start people off on when it comes to tasting rum.. But Tina, like me, isn’t quite a normal person, so somehow it just seemed fitting – not so that I’d be able to crack more jokes about her being high maintenance, honestly. Rather because she actually has one of the best palates I know and a sincere knack for tasting and enjoying complexities in whatever you hand her.. So it seemed right that she became one of the selected three that I’ve actually let taste the damn thing.

“Oh.. Wow.. Just.. Wow.. Umm.. Wow!” was literally her first impressions and comments with the meeting of this fine rum, leading me to believe that I hadn’t been entirely wrong in serving it for her. “That’s really special,” she mused.. “I had absolutely no idea distilled spirits could be lile that”.. Which was pretty much exactly the point I was trying to make. We spent the next odd half hour, tasting, sharing impressions and discussing the very fine beverage that is aged rum and Ron Zacapa in particular. And I can honestly say that I didn’t for a second regret spending the very expensive rum on my little friend.. Well, maybe in one single aspect since Tina pretty quickly deducted that she could probably pretty easily develop a strong devotion to fine rums and, quite possibly, Whiskies as well. To which I could only repeat what I had already stated earlier that evening: “You’ll be the death and ruin of me, baby, but what a beautiful death and ruin it will be.”

After many an hour of appreciation of the finer things in life, mainly cooking, good food, good wine, good spirits and the likes, it was actually growing pretty late and poor Jeppe showed up to pick up Tina, only to find us in a slightly tipsy, overly happy, chatty and giggly mood. He seemed initially pretty confused at our state, so I went on to try and tell him that it was Monday and that getting nicely toasted had seemed a pretty good idea. “Yes,” Tina chimed in, “we were simply celebrating that Johan had filed for unemployment, why not make a party out of it?” – “Honey, you’re drunk,” Jeppe said as we pushed for the door so they could get home and relax a bit before a new day beckoned. “Nonono,” countered Tina, pointing at him, “I’m TIPSY! There’s a big difference there!” – “I agree, Jeppe,” I said as I showed them out, “you should see her when I get her proper drunk!” .. And with that I bid them farewell, thanked Tina for a wonderful evening, thanked Jeppe for picking her up and letting her have fun, then sat down, poured myself a wee dram of Laphroaig 10 years old Whisky, put my feet up and once again groaned to myself “It’s a hard-knock life!”

Global Recession Menu 2010, Part 3: The Aftermath

(Continued)

There are a number strangely liberating things about having dinner with Tina.. And hanging out with her in general for that matter.. Some of those being that, like me, she doesn’t take things too seriously and is still a playful kid at heart. Like me she understands that there’s a time to be serious about things and a time to be relaxed and have fun.. Which probably goes to explain why we’re the kinda people to get dressed up nicely for a six hour long gourmet dinner, only to jump out of our fancy clothes and into something a lot more comfortable before dashing outside and having the night end in a snowball fight of epic proportions..

Hmm.. Well, maybe I have to set the scene a little better.. See, Tina had texted me the day before, during a huge snowfall, that I was obligated to come build a snowman with her. Since I couldn’t, on account of having a lot of cooking to do for her, I for once stomached the strength to turn down a plea from her, stating that if anyone could coax me into going outside and playing in the snow (I hate the stuff, remember?), it would probably be her, and that I probably would do it but only if she asked nicely. Well, it didn’t take her long to hold me up to my promise and so the night after, at around 11 PM, after our gourmet dinner and quite a lot of wine and spirits, she applied her charms and.. Well.. In one way or another (probably owing to a lot of alcohol mixed with Tina’s powers of persuasion), I got around to thinking that going outside and building a snowman seemed the only reasonable thing to do at this particular point in time..

So, as I said, we changed, I borrowed some extra warm clothes and we then dashed outside, like a couple of giddy and, albeit, pretty hammered little kids. We dove into the snow and tried our very best to form balls or in one way or another build something even remotely resembling a snowman.. Yet, sadly, it was too damn cold for the snow to be formed into anything at all.. Boo!

Not wanting our entire trip outside to be in vain, and remembering that several months ago, I’d jokingly threatened to bury Tina in snow if she didn’t stop being so damn giddy about the whole thing, I decided that it was time for a bit of a snow fight. At the same time not being terribly interested in giving Tina a chance to defend herself, I didn’t inform her of her of my decision, and so while she was still busying herself trying to make a snowman, I dove at her from her blind side, picked her up, swooped her off her feet and dumped her in a pile of snow before starting to pile more snow on her. Tina, being outmatched at least in terms of physical strength took to kicking, screaming and squealing and shoveling snow back in my face until I let go and she staggered to her feet.. After which a huge chase ensued all along the parking lot in front of her apartment building.

I really hope that not too many people were awake or looking out their windows at the time or they’d be treated to the rather spectacular sight of two supposedly adult, mature people in their late twenties chasing each other around and hurling snowballs before again collapsing in a pile, rolling around, both struggling to gain the upper hand before the male eventually emerged on top, only to disappear again in a blinding cloud of snow as he realized that while using his weight to keep her down was a pretty smart move, securing her hands as well would have been an even smarter move.. Because for someone with very tiny hands, she sure was capable of shoveling a surprisingly large amount of snow up in my face in a surprisingly short split second.

As the cloud of smoke cleared and we staggered to our feet, it became pretty unclear who was actually the winner of the showdown. Tina, for sure, didn’t seem at all happy with the situation..

Until she got a better look at me..

Who admittedly didn’t look much like a winner either..

I’m not too sure if we ended up declaring a winner or not, but I am reasonably sure that we decided that there was no reason to hang around outside and get all wet and sickies, so we ventured back inside to the warmth of Tina’s apartment where we had a final glass of Champagne and sat down to play a few board games.. And have a few of the most expensive late night snacks we’ve ever had, consisting of bite size mini blinis with salmon and fromage blanc, beef tenderloin, and – just because we could – another round of blinis with creme fraiche, quail eggs and those delicious, little, horribly expensive fish eggs.. With a side of Russian vodka, of course! Which, in another totally unprecedented move, managed to render Tina absolutely speechless as I somehow stupidly managed to reveal to her the true cost of the dish she was eating.. Which left her just staring blankly at me for a few minutes, then repeating the mantra “Wait? WHAT?” over and over before giving me the most heart-felt hug ever and muttering a soft thank you.. Which, by the way, made the $50 per serving price tag well worth it. It really was one of the most memorable dishes ever, though, if I were Tina, I wouldn’t count on it being served again any time soon, it was just one of those things that had to be tried.

I have to be honest and admit that three bottles of really good wine, a couple of vodka shots, a Mojito and the shot of rum that Tina requested in order to sample what was in the food and drink was starting to take quite a toll on me at this point, and things really started getting a little blurry.. There were more board games and sipping of fine wine, there were laughs and conversation as well, but I can’t for the life of me remember what was said or done. All I do remember is that both of us suddenly got really tired really fast and that while Tina sunk down on her couch under the weight of all the good food and drink, I packed up my stuff and after checking that Tina was indeed okay, decided to let myself out and walk on home.. This plan actually went pretty well, for about two seconds until I, in my tipsy state of mind, staggered into a wall and cried out “Ouch!” – which, of course, had the till then pretty unresponsive (but obviously very caring) Tina on her feet in no time and into the hallway to check on me.. So much for that plan then.. But thanks all the same 🙂 I took the chance to thank her for caring and for a wonderful evening, before telling her to get her ass to bed and then trotting out the door, down the stairs and into the night for a long walk home and some four hours of sleep before getting up in the morning to visit with family..

I could have wished for a little more sleep that night, but I probably couldn’t have wished for a better evening..

Global Recession Menu 2010, Part 2

(continued)

Dish five: French onion soup, rustic bread and Gruyere cheese.

French onion soup has become somewhat of a classic for me. It’s actually one of the most requested dishes that I do, and one that (till this day anyways) has earned me the most praise. Reaching for a stable dish and a requested classic for an evening such as this is a bit, well, it feels a bit like cheating and a bit unoriginal.

However, given the company, I feel kinda justified in including it on the menu. Because lord knows Tina has begged me to cook this dish on a lot of occasions.. And we’re talking a girl who knows how to beg here, and is well aware that she’s more than capable of winding me around her little finger.. We’re talking puppy dog eyes here, batting eye lashes, pouty lips, the whole shebang.. Enough to make any man weak in the knees. Anyways, I’ve managed to push off having to make the dish for ages now, telling her what a time consuming process it was, and promising I’d make it for a special occasion.. And well, what more of a special occasion than this?

Of course, this being a special occasion I wanted to try to make it just a little bit better than my every day French onion soup.. And as with anything I did, it quickly spun pretty wildly out of control. It all started on Thursday with a batch of home-made veal stock that had been simmering for about eight hours. The stock was chilled and the poured over some freshly roasted veal tails and vegetables, the slowly brought to a simmer and slowly reduced down for an entire day. Then strained and put back into the fridge overnight. On Friday, an entire kilo of onions was slowly sweated down for a few hours to a deep brown, concentrated, sweet mess, half a bottle of lightly oaked Chardonnay was introduced to the party and slowly reduced for another hour or so. Then the veal stock (or consomme or whatever it was at this point) was added along with some vegetable stock and other ingredients and the entire thing was left to blend for about an hour, before a healthy shot of 25 year old Cognac was added and left to cook just long enough for the alcohol to boil off and the flavors to blend. The resulting soup was scooped into ramekins, topped with a slice of day old rustic French baguette and some cave aged Swiss Gruyere cheese, then transported to Tina’s where it was broiled to perfection immediately before serving.

Again: A little over the top? Possibly! Friggin’ awesome? Hell yes! There’s really no rivaling the taste of slow food and elaborate reductions. The taste was powerful, almost overpowering, and I was pretty happy that I hadn’t made larger portions, because it was the kinda thing you’d really only want a little off at this point. But what little we had seemed to please the Tina, at any rate, she responded with another “Fantastic, plain and simple!” – I guess I got away with introducing a classic to the menu..

Dish six: The ultimate Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich: French Baguette, lightly smoked rare beef tenderloin, red onion marmalade and Gruyere cheese.

This dish sorta rose out of necessity. I felt the jump from a meat infused but still vegetable based soup to a really powerful meat dish would be a little too much, plus I needed a way for us to kill about a half hour while the sides for the main course cooked in the oven. I somehow got to thinking fast food and junk food which led me to thinking about some of the really horrible quick meals I’d had in the States.. And possible “gourmet” versions of these. Tiny gourmet burgers were considered, but didn’t seem overly exciting.. And then it dawned on me what if I took the often absurdly oversized, greasy and disgusting all-american Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich and turned it into something small, delicious and lean?

Sounded like fun to me.. So I cut and toasted little pieces of French Baguette, then topped them with thin slices of lightly smoked beef tenderloin cooked very rare and drizzled with a few drops of Worcestershire sauce, a sweet and tangy red onion marmalade and a healthy sprinkling of Gruyere cheese.. Then broiled them and served them up.. Simple, delicious, while maintaining the simplicity and ugly appearance of the original dish.

Good as they were, though, the real star of the show during this dish was the wine. Having covered both bubbles and a spicy, flavorful white, it was now time to move to red and to the star of the show, a 2004 Amarone Della Valpollicella Classico from  Sartori Rino.

And.. Umm.. Wow.. Perfect food moment right there: We both sniffed the wine deeply, swirled the glass, sniffed again, then had a taste.. And just sorta sad there for God knows how long, looking at each other, smiles growing wider on our faces. Someone, I honestly don’t remember who, eventually broke the silence with a “Wow” which was immediately seconded by the other. It was Tina who first regained her composure and stated that “This is, without the shadow of a doubt the best wine I have EVER had in my entire life!” – I took one more small sip, thought about it for about five seconds and concurred: “Y’know, I’ll have to agree!” If I could take but one lasting memory away with me from this dinner, this would be it: Good food, even better company and an absolute knock-out of a wine to go along. I don’t know what else to say except.. Well, It was absolutely perfect, and at the risk of sounding mushy, a memory I will treasure for a long time to come, if not as long as I can remember.

But wait, there was more food to be had!

Dish seven: Osso Bucco “with a splash of Amarone”, Cranberry Gremolata, Pommes Anna, baked Jerusalem Artichoke mash with truffles, green beans and bacon.

Probably a bit of explaining is due here. We probably all know Osso Bucco, a classic Italian dish involving veal or beef shanks simmered for hours in a flavorful liquid.. But what about the splash of Amarone? Well.. Firstly, I’d originally bought a different bottle of Amarone to pair with the main course. And while it was by no means a bad bottle of wine, it wasn’t.. Well, it wasn’t what I’d use for my perfect dinner (and given the wine we ended up having, I’m glad I didn’t).. It basically had every attribute of a cheap Amarone. It was fruity, powerful but not really entirely in balance and not what you’d expect from such a high price point and the Amarone name. A good wine in many aspects, but not in this..

So there I was with a DKK 100 bottle of Amarone and a DKK 200 bottle of Amarone, wondering what the hell to do with the inferior alternative.. This dinner already being ridiculously over the top, I got to thinking of the old mantra of “don’t cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink” and it all fell into place.. The “a splash of” part is an inside joke between Tina and I which refers to dumping an entire bottle of wine into a dish. So in essence, I made Osso Bucco and used an entire bottle of Amarone (along with more of my veal stock, some tomatoes and aromatic vegetables) as a braising liquid. I cooked it forever and topped it with chopped, dried cranberries, roasted pine nuts, parsley, raw garlic and orange zest, then served it alongside a small portion of Pommes Anna, bacon wrapped green beans and a bit of baked, mashed Jerusalem artichokes with a little shot of black truffle oil.

This all made up a serving which was probably a little too generous at this point in such a large menu.. But, eh.. There’s a lot of bone and connective tissue in veal shanks anyways, and despite lacking in size, both Tina and I eat quite healthy portions without giving two fucks about whether or not it looks good or is considered proper etiquette.. So eventually, and over the course of almost an hour, we both managed to finish all sides and most of the veal.. Good show!

Dish eight: Grilled pineapple, Habanero Syrup, lime, rum, mint and Pastis Custard.

I’ve known Tina for six years now, I know most of her likes and dislikes as well as her crazy little ways. I’ve seen her get pretty excited over some of the things I’ve made for her, and, given enough thought, I know just what to cook to make her feel appreciated and get excited about eating.. I have, however, never nailed a dish to her liking like I did with this one, nor have I ever seen anyone so excited about a dish as she was about this one (seriously!), and I’ve never EVER seen my lovable little friend so flustered and absolutely beside herself with pleasure.. Over eating.. A dessert..

Maybe it was the fact that I’ve always listened to what she’s had to said and tailored a dish based on that, maybe it’s because I included all her favorite ingredients, maybe it was the combination of flavors, maybe girls just plain like having dishes invented for them and dedicated to them.. I don’t know.. All I know is I thought that food orgasms were a joke but now I know better, because there’s really no other way to describe Tina’s reaction to first tasting this dish.. And if that’s not a compliment, I don’t know what is.. After the first few involuntary sounds and cries of “Oh!” and “Oh fuck, this is goooood!”, my co-eater was al soft smiles, soft sighs, incoherent mumblings of “yummy”, “mmm”, and the likes all around..

Really, I must have done something right because Tina is definitely not a dessert person, yet I had her reduced to a point where she was visibly impaired both in terms of speech, hearing and perception of the world around her.. She’d try to construct a sentence, get lost mid-way through and just trail off. You’d try to tell her something and she just plain wouldn’t register you were talking to her. She’d mutter incoherently or repeat herself or just say nothing for extended periods of time.. Really, all I managed to get out of her over the course of about twenty minutes was “wow”, “best thing you ever cooked me”, “perfect” and “is there any more? Please let there be more!” .. Like I said, I’ve been used to seeing her pretty excited over food, but this was absolutely ridiculous in an adorable and very satisfying way.

As a way of putting things into perspective, I made her favorite drink to go along, the Mojito. But not only that, I made it with 15 year old aged rum and topped it with Champagne rather than soda owing to the special occasion. I’m usually not able to put even a regular Mojito in front of Tina and have it sit there undisturbed, in fact it will usually be gone in record time. Yet, this time, once the plate hit the table, she became absolutely oblivious to the drink in front of her and barely registered to sip it maybe once or twice.. And as she put it herself, that really does say quite a lot about her fascination with the food.

As for me? Well, I quite enjoyed the dish as well, it was really good if I dare say so myself, but my fascination with the food was nothing compared to my fascination with watching Tina consume it, poking a little fun of all her involuntary little (and not so little) reactions and having a laugh as well as quite a sense of pride and accomplishment.. I have a feeling I’ll be cooking this dish again soon.

After consuming unmentionable amounts of dessert and after Tina having licked her plate clean, it was all pretty much over and everybody involved were pretty damn full and pretty damn pleased.. And they were in for a bit of a shock as well. I knew we’d started eating at around 5:30 PM and I knew it must’ve taken some time.. Yet we’d both been so busy enjoying the experience that we hadn’t had time to look at our watches or phones, so it came to as a total surprise to me when Tina  informed med that the clock had just passed 11 PM and that we had been eating for a full five and a half hours..

Oh well, sometimes it’s okay to get a little caught up, enjoying life.. And sometimes it’s alright for two grown-ups in their late twenties to have a snowball fight after spending six hours playing sophisticated individuals.. Stay tuned for the aftermath!