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Slinging Samples for Santas

December 10, 2012

Two nights of Chanukah down. Only six more to go. But I’ve already gorged twice on potato latkes, so now it may be time to move onto other things like donuts or deep fried hamburgers.

But Saturday was a big day for two reasons.

One, it was the release of the Ironweed bourbon from the Albany Distilling Company. I’m really eager to give you my full notes and thoughts on batch #2 (the lot from which my bottle was filled). But that’s going to have to wait just a little while.

The other big thing on Saturday was the Santa Speedo Sprint, and for the very first time I was there manning a table with my chefs of the Chefs Consortium. It may not have worked out exactly as planned, but it was a great time and we were able to spread the word about some delicious regional products.

If you made it out, you saw what I was slinging, but here’s what you didn’t see.

When I was approached by the chefs to participate in this event, the conversation immediately turned to beverages. And I’m cool with that. I love this group, and it’s my pleasure to help any way that I can.

Although I kind of balked on the first two things that were suggested: hot mulled cider and hot cocoa.

In my mind, while we have a lot of great orchards pressing cider out in the region, mulling requires citrus and spices that have to come from great distances. The same is true for chocolate. Although, to be fair, I came to learn there are some bean to bar chocolate producers downstate. It’s not clear that they are making their own cocoa powder, but the potential at least exists.

So hot cocoa and hot mulled cider were out. What could I serve cold and hungry santas who just ran down Lark Street in the freezing cold wearing nothing but their undergarments?

My big idea was warm milk with honey.

It’s simple, it’s delicious, and it highlights local products. I even thought a few grains of nutmeg on top would be acceptable because they would be in parts per million of the drink.

The Chefs Consortium got me all the ingredients I needed to execute this beverage, but we ran out of working portable burners and the even the ones in service weren’t working that well in the cold December air. So nobody got to try this. Luckily, someone had the presence of mind to bring hot mulled cider in vacuum press pots which kept it warm. So we weren’t without a hot beverage to sample.

As a result, I was left with Meadow Brook eggnog and chocolate milk served cold.

I can’t say that I was a fan of the chocolate milk. I wish I had captured a picture of the ingredients it contained, but I didn’t. What was surprising was how much dreck this otherwise good dairy pumped into the milk that they take such pains to produce cleanly.

The eggnog, on the other hand, was fantastic, and I was delighted to be pushing that all day. Hopefully my further thoughts on the eggnog itself will appear on The Chefs Consortium next week. So keep your eyes peeled.

But as always it was inspiring to hang out with the chefs while they worked and be able to hold my own as we talked about food and cooking. Next time, more burners. And seriously, for a winter warmer on a night that you aren’t going to make a boozy toddy, you should totally consider warm milk and honey with a little bit of nutmeg. It’s outstanding.

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