The Vintage Cookie

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Off to Los Angeles to confer with my costume designer for Halloween

The Vintage Cookie will be offering an exclusive line of premium children's Halloween costumes. I am in Los Angeles working with our Hollywood designer, Elizabeth Atwater Menes. Stay tuned for more.

Monday, August 23, 2010

More on the Oversized Cocktail Glass

A week ago I blogged on the subject of martini (ahem, cocktail) glasses and size. Here is a follow-up from a Table Matters on the same topic.

Looks like vintage is the only way to go.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

San Francisco before the earthquake

San Francisco in 1905, pre-earthquake, a peek at the world a century ago.

I noticed a few things. First, more cars than horses, even in 1905. Second, the central city really was a man's world. There are women, but not many. Finally, the use of urban space is very different. Pedestrians and vehicles share the road; people are not exiled to the sidewalks.

The soundtrack is Air - La Femme D'Argent. Thanks to Walter Nelson at Mass Historia for the link.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Hour - in Old Town, Alexandria

Honesty compels me to reveal my sources. I was tipped off to the difference in modern and vintage martini's by the wonderful owner of one of my favorite competitors:

The Hour
1015 King St
Alexandria, VA 22314

If you love cocktails, stop by and see the fabulous collection of vintage glassware and cocktail accessories. Best of all, The Hour is only 1.3 miles away from The Vintage Cookie at Eclectic Nature, 1503 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria VA 22301.

Yet more evidence that Alexandria is the place for those who love the art of the party.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Three Martini Lunch Exposed.

On Saturday at a local charity shop I found a lovely collection of mid-century Japanese glassware in my favorite "bamboo" pattern. There were about 30 glasses in a range of cocktail shapes, including sherry glasses, brandy snifters, liqueur glasses, champagne coupes, and six of the cutest little martini glasses you have ever seen. Herein lies the secret to the Three Martini Lunch, the martinis were tiny.

Above is a photo of the mid-century martini glass (on the left) and a modern martini glass (on the right). The modern glass is not a particularly large example, either - just a standard glass out of my cupboard. (The little blue figure standing in front of the glasses is a Lego minifg, for scale.) The photo does not exaggerate the difference. The mid-century glass holds 2 ounces, filled to the brim. The modern glass holds nearly 8 ounces, similarly full. So three martinis in 1964 would barely equal one martini today.

This reflects a general difference when comparing vintage to modern table ware. Plates, tea-cups, cutlery, everything was smaller scaled. And, of course, servings were smaller, too, unless you had three of them.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Nineteenth Century Peach Ice cream and the Flavor Principle

Well, now that I have finished painting (for at least the immediate future), I can return to FOOD. It is still too hot to cook, so I  made Peach Ice Cream, another recipe from Mrs. Lettice Bryan's recipe in The Kentucky Housewife (1839). I followed the recipe as given (although I used an electric ice cream machine), so I will present the recipe first. Then I will discuss how it came out, and what I learned.

Coincidentally, the ice cream is made with heavy cream but without eggs (although the author offers an egg custard made with milk as a variant, if you are low on cream.) Apparently this style of ice cream is enjoying something of a comeback, and even was covered in the New York Times recently. (See Egg-Free Ice Cream Lets Flavors Bloom , and thanks, Pauline, for the link.)

The Kentucky Housewife by Mrs. Lettice Bryan (1839), pp. 341-342
Select peaches that are very ripe and soft, peel them, extract the stones, and mash them to a marmalade. Having one quart of peach pulp, mix with it one pound of powdered sugar, a grated nutmeg and a tea-spoonful of powdered cinnamon; stir it into a quart of rich sweet cream, and freeze it as directed [in an earlier recipe.] If cream is not to be had, substitute a quart of rich sweet milk, stir into it the beaten yolks of five or six eggs, simmer it till the eggs are sufficiently cooked, set it by till cold, and then stir into it the peaches, &c. as before directed.

Comments -
First off, this is a lovely ice cream, and it improves with a day or two in the freezer to let the flavors meld. This is also an excellent example of the concept of the flavor principle, as discussed in my review of Elizabeth Rozin's book, Ethnic Cuisine. This ice cream reflects a very old flavor principle in English cooking - sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon. To the modern palate, this ice cream tastes like a cross between peach ice cream and pumpkin pie. But that reflects just how old fashioned pumpkin pie is (well, how old fashioned the spices are, pumpkin pie is relatively modern, since pumpkin is a new world food.) Nutmeg and cinnamon were extremely common Elizabethan spices, used in savory as well as sweet foods.

In the U.S., and even in Britain, we have largely abandoned this flavor profile, especially the lavish use of nutmeg. It is hard to appreciate nutmeg's importance from a few recipes, but from at least the 17th through the 19th century, nutmeg (and its relative, mace) were dominant spices in cooking in the English speaking world. In some rural districts, nutmeg remained important well into the twentieth century. My husband remembers playing as a child in an abandoned grocer's cart. The cart had functioned as a traveling grocery store, visiting remote farms in southwestern Scotland before World War II. Even in the 1970s, the ruins were coated in a thick layer of ground nutmeg dust which covered every surface in the interior. When you make a modern recipe that uses nutmeg, such as pumpkin pie or eggnog, you are preparing a dish with ancient roots. This ice cream strongly reflects this ancient flavor profile, nutmeg with sugar and cinnamon.

The flavor of this ice cream is also notable for what is missing -- vanilla. Vanilla is the flavor profile that has replaced nutmeg in so many of our sweets. This ice cream, without either vanilla or egg, has an unusually bright, fresh flavor which is quite delicious, and even a little exotic. So dig out your ice cream maker and enjoy a quick trip to an antebellum summer party.

Here it is folks, The Vintage Cookie at Eclectic Nature, 1503 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria VA (Del Ray). Hrs are Mon-Fri 10-6, Sat 10-5, Sun 11-5.
Posted by Picasa