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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cocktail Couture: OYO Vodka White Russian

White Russian sounds and looks like the perfect drink for a snowy winter day. Since we'll be seeing many of those coming up soon, why not cheers to one right now? For this final drink in our Cocktail Couture series featuring local spirits from around Columbus, Jenna Sais Quois, a super-talented graphic designer and my favorite fashion blogger, lent us her amazing collection of white and silver jewelry. Staring at all the glittering white reminds me of freshly fallen snow, which I absolutely love. Yes, an Ohioan who loves snow. Feel free to hate, I'm used to it. Many times I've been blamed for the very existence of snow.

We've featured Middle West Spirits once before in this series for their whiskey, but their first love was vodka. When touring the distillery, they share that vodka is often described as flavorless and odorless, but they didn't want to rid the drink of all it's naturally occurring flavors and odors. In fact, the International Review of Spirits describes OYO vodka as “Clear, bright aromas of dried pear, custard and buttery honeyed praline with a supple, soft off-dry medium-full body with a long, spicy apple pie crust, cream and mineral finish. Exceptional, flavorful and delicious.”

OYO Vodka White Russian

Fill a lowball glass with ice
Add 1 oz. of OYO Vodka
1.5 oz. Kahlua
1 oz. of Cream, or half & half

The recipe calls for 1 oz. of cream, but I pour enough to fill the glass. Otherwise I find it to be too strong. To drink, stir well, but I think it looks prettier with the cream floating on top and the swirls of brown running through. To create this effect, turn a spoon upside down and pour the cream over it and into the glass. It stops the pour from disturbing the liquor in the bottom of the glass. 

For our other Cocktail Couture posts, visit:
Tessora Lemon Cappuccini  
Watershed Gin Pumpkin Drop
OYO Whiskey Hot Apple Toddy
Camelot Cellars Pinot Noir
And visit Jenna Sais Quois for her super cute recipe cards and her take on these delicious local spirits.

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Food Photographer's Holiday Gift Guide to Columbus: Top 10

Tomorrow is small business Saturday, and I'm here to suggest some great gifts from 10 of my favorite Columbus small local businesses.

1. To make the most of your local restaurant giving, Dine Originals has gift certificates at discounted prices, While you're at it, buy a few for yourself. This dessert is from Deepwood Restaurant. Yum!

2. For a nice bottle of spirits, check out our Cocktail Couture Series, featuring Watershed Distillery, Middle West Spirits, Camelot Cellars, and Tessora Limone (shown). There's also Brothers Drake Meadery, and local breweries, such as Columbus Brewing Company. Attach a cute recipe card to the bottle for a personal touch.

3. Celebrate Local is a new pop-up shop at Easton, a one-stop-shop for local gifts. Here's a partial list of vendors selling at Celebrate Local. For more information, fan them on Facebook.

 4. The Candle Lab might not serve food, but tell me you don't smell toasted marshmallows and cranberry sauce when you walk in. Leave the mixing to the experts or create your own. I made a Campfire, Mulled Cider and Leather mix on a night out with friends. Entertainment and gift shopping in one.

5. For the kitchen dweller in your circle, grab some spices from North Market Spices. They're super friendly and would love to help you find the perfect mixes.

6. Grab some sweet goodies from Sugardaddy's . Now with 3 store locations (Polaris, Downtown and Easton), they're hard to miss.

7. How about a Clintonville Farmer's Market favorite that can be ordered online? Brezel Pretzels are fantastic, and a fun, unexpected gift.

8. For some dishes to eat all that food on, and much more, The Swanky Abode is a stylish, eclectic place to shop. (These cute coasters came from The Swanky Abode.)

9. Cooking classes are a fun activity to do as a couple, with friends, or with the kids. Here's a list of the best cooking class resources in Columbus, all with local businesses.

10. An easy gift that made it onto my list last year as well, is a subscription to Edible Columbus.

11. This is a top 10 guide, but how could I leave out Photo Kitchen, with an online photo library of over 10,000 photos to choose from and 150 products to print them on, you're sure to find the perfect gift. Search by subject or browse the collections, from oceans to skeleton keys, peaches to honey, and a whole lot in between.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cocktail Couture: Camelot Cellars Pinot Noir

Just in time for happy hour, take a sip of Camelot Cellars' Chilean Pinot Noir. Jenna Brucoli (of the inspiring blog Jenna Sais Quois) and I have been following the changes at Camelot Cellars for the past year, and knew right away that this wine had a place in our Cocktail Couture series. Having relaunched this past July, new owner Janine Aquino has brought new life to the business. She has a deep-rooted history in the world of wine, and is the perfect fit for this Short North store.

Adding more focus on events, Camelot Cellars has hosted a number of big bashes in the last few months, including their grand reopening, Yelp's Meet-the-Owner, a Cbusr Meetup and Celebrity Bartender Nights. Janine is partnered with Edible Columbus' cooking classes, offering wine specifically paired to the evening's dishes.

Enough with the introductions, now feast your eyes on this dark, rich wine.

I got lucky and was given a leftover bottle of this Chilean Pinot Noir at the end of an Edible Cooking Class. I enjoyed it so much, I went out and bought another bottle. It has a scent similar to strawberry jam, but the flavor is smooth, rich, just slightly fruity, and a little smoky. I won't claim to be a wine expert, but what I love about wine is each person tastes something different, and there are millions to choose from to find your own favorites. This is number one on my list of Pinot Noirs, and probably in my top 10 reds.

Because the wine is so simple, we went simple on the accessories. A few beaded necklaces from my own collection brought out the reds and purples of the wine. The props were picked up locally, at flea markets and garage sales, including the tray from Worthington's flea market Treasure on the Green, and the plates of stained glass came from the Columbus Architectural Salvage. If you've never been to either, you really should. Some of my best props have come from both.

One last note: A group of my friends spent a birthday making wine at Camelot Cellars and had a great time. Now every time I see a bottle of the wine we made, I remember the fun we had. What a great, drinkable souvenir.

Check out our previous cocktails from our Cocktail Couture series here:
Tessora Lemon Cappuccini
Watershed Gin Pumpkin Drop
Oyo Whiskey Hot Toddy

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Cocktail Couture: OYO Whiskey Hot Toddy

Continuing with our Cocktail Couture series with Jenna Sais Quois, we've come up with the perfect fall recipe for Middle West Spirit's OYO Whiskey!

Hot Toddy's are not a new invention, but they're new to me. I've never liked whiskey, until I tried OYO Whiskey. My interest in Middle West Spirits isn't just because they're local, though of course I appreciate that. I love their products because I can taste the care that's put into them. They take nothing for granted, every step of their process has been considered. The depth of flavors is incredible, and while there is so much flavor in every sip, they're still easy mixers, blending well with all sorts of other ingredients.

You can read more about what makes Middle West Spirits special in Edible Columbus' Winter 2010 issue (starting on p.46). I was thrilled to photograph them for this piece, and learned so much while touring their distillery, which, by the way, you can do, too!

Hot Apple Toddy

2 oz. OYO Whiskey
2-3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (or so) apple cider
Cinnamon Stick (garnish)

Start by adding a little Ohio honey to the bottom of your mug. Next add the OYO Whiskey and sugar and then fill the rest of the glass with hot apple cider. Use the cinnamon stick to stir the honey into the drink. The longer the cinnamon stick stays in the drink, the more spiced your drink will become.
This is a great party recipe. Just heat a gallon of apple cider and the sugar on the stove and have the mugs ready with the honey, whiskey and cinnamon stick. Then have your guests ladle the apple cider into their mug when they're ready for a drink!

Apple cider and honey are two Ohio staples, and are super easy to source locally. To see more about the different honey varieties, check out our honey post on Design Sponge.

The locket necklace featured here is from Substance, a great store for accessories in the Short North. But lucky you, this necklace is available online, too! The string of gold beads is from Jenna Brucoli's accessory collection, along with the dangling gold bands, but none of the sparkly jewelry can outshine the golden whiskey. Now go build a fire and heat up the cider for a great evening curled up inside.

Check out our previous cocktails here:
Tessora Lemon Cappuccini
Watershed Gin Pumpkin Drop

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Columbus Ohio Food Photographer: Feast Your Eyes on Bleu & Fig

Come feast your eyes on the beautiful spreads and floral arrangements created by Bleu & Fig! While photographing six events both catered and decorated by the crew at Bleu & Fig, I've gotten to capture their talents AND indulge in a few bites of it myself. My job rocks!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Cocktail Couture: Tessora Lemon Cappuccini

The second in our Cocktail Couture series with Jenna Sais Quois is Tessora Limone, a wonderful liqueur I've just recently been introduced to! It's new to the scene, but has already landed in over 100 restaurants and bars around the city and is available in over 30 stores by the bottle!

It's not easy to describe Tessora, as it's a one-of-a-kind drink. You can read a bit about their history, but if I were to describe it, I'd say it's like a lemon creamsicle. Creamy like Bailey's Irish Cream, with a nice lemon flavor-not tart or bitter, just smooth and a little bit sweet.  I'd be afraid to sit down with a bottle next to me, it might disappear faster than lemonade!

This recipe is straight off Tessora's website and was created by Craig Loose, the bartender at Black Creek Bistro. (Who, by the way, serves all sorts of local spirits!) Since I knew so little about Tessora, I wanted a trusted recipe source. Well, I lucked out. This drink is my favorite of the series. I love unusual drinks, and this fits the bill. I would never have thought to combine lemon and coffee flavors, but this is just brilliant.

Lemon Cappuccini

Distinctive Cappuccino flavors with hints of lemon and cream.  1 bean for luck, 1 bean for life, and 1 bean for love.

2 oz Van Gogh Double Espresso Vodka, chilled
3/4 oz Tessora Liqueur, chilled
Garnish with 3 Espresso Beans

Mix and serve in vintage cocktail glasses. These glasses came from a shop in Sunbury, Ohio, Village Square Antique Mall. There are many vendors inside one building, and one in particular, NouVeau Bohemian, that I love to shop with. She always has something I didn't know I needed, but now can't live without.

In making this a second time, I'd play around with the proportions, maybe adding more Tessora. Once it chilled in the refrigerator for a bit the flavors married nicely, so you could prepare a bunch overnight for a party the next day.

The jewelry is from my Cocktail Couture partner, Jenna Brucoli. I got to prop shop in her amazing collection of vintage accessories, and these immediately caught my eye. I love clothing that mimics food, and these strands look like wonderfully colorful hard candy. She's created a beautiful design around the photos and added her own style to the story. Make sure to check out her post!

Don't forget about our previous Cocktail Couture post for Watershed Gin!