Friday, August 31, 2007

Now, About That GOOD Martini..

Miracles can happen. I am happy to report that Mom has become another source for deciding on a good shake. She drank a proper vanilla one today that she liked a lot. It came from the ice cream place in Towaco that Jeff discovered, and we determined we needed to do some follow-up. In addition, she’s walking again. She doesn’t yet remember that she’s walking, but it all seems to be coming together. Talk about highs and lows. And speaking of highs, how about a good Martini!

About 20 years ago I started to drink martinis on a fairly moderate but regular basis. At first I didn’t do it because I liked them. I did it because I adored martini glasses. The first time I tasted one I choked when I sipped it. I don’t know how old I was but I was not a kid and still I’m sure the brand was not Grey Goose or Stolichnaya. Not that the brand made a difference in those days. But I thought it tasted like a cross between mineral oil and wood alcohol. So why did I bother to do it again? The truth is that I found this fabulous little set of 1930’s or maybe 40’s, martini glasses in an antique store in Boonton and became so enamored of the glass persona, that I was hooked. They were very small, (as was the case before ‘big’ everything was in), and the colors were rich burgundy and a deep emerald and violet. After I purchased those glasses I decided that I not only loved the shape of the glasses, I loved the idea of a martini and it was important for me to develop a taste for the beverage. And additionally, to begin to collect martini glasses with clear unique personalities.

Over the years, when I traveled abroad I spent a great deal of time searching small shops trying to find two of a kind martini glasses that spoke to me in some way, As my Uncle Phil always said, “I only spoke English and dirty”—Anyway, the conversations with these foreign friends were often limited, convoluted or misinterpreted. Like the martini glass would have to shout to me, “I’m so special, I’d like to come and live in your house.” Most of the time they didn’t. In addition, I didn’t know how to wrap them and pack them for the flight. What a bore. It didn’t happen with great frequency but occasionally, when the glasses did demand I become the purchaser, I knew it was right whatever the cost or inconvenience. On a trip to Prague, for example, I found fabulous pink deco looking glasses. They were so beautiful that my friend and colleague Penn insisted I buy a half dozen. “You are going to use them, right? Well what if one breaks – are you going to rush back to Prague to replace it?” He was always so sensible, kind of the antithesis of me. And he was so very honorable that when the government decided even senior diplomats couldn’t fly first class, he almost always went along with it. Unless he was traveling with me – I decided the government made an arbitrary and stupid decision and furthermore the government didn’t pay for the upgrade it was an airline courtesy for all the money that was spent. “Penn” I would say, “I am sitting upfront. If you want to sit in steerage by yourself go ahead and sit there.” Inevitable he would cave and we would drink and talk to entire trip away. When he died two years ago, I felt the loss in my character as well as my heart. And, by the way, I bought 8 not six glasses. What a pain in the neck they were to transport. They were impossible to package carefully, so I carried four and made him carry the other four in the first class cabin – where they were much more comfortable.

Don't forget the trip to the salad bar... Olives, please!

David, as well as other friends, started to buy me martini glasses as gifts for holidays and celebrations. I have quite a wonderful collection. And I am now at a place where I do love a good martini. But I have also reached the point where I can’t drink more than one. It’s a combination of the alcohol and my terrible balance, but if I have more than one –you know the expression falling down drunk – well I become the epitome. Two martinis and standing up is a challenge—which I seldom met. That’s the bad news. The good news is that martinis have gotten so expensive I can’t afford to drink two. I guess that isn’t really good news, but it does give David something to do. Since we were invited to dine at the St Regis with friends, where the martini was $20, he searched for a good but inexpensive martini. When we say inexpensive we mean about $6 for one that is a brand not the house. Yes, you can actually find them. There’s a restaurant in Arlington called the Pasha, where the food is good and the martinis are good, large and reasonable. Last night, on the way from Va. to NJ we stopped at a new favorite diner called Mastori’s—(you take 206 north off exit 7 on the turnpike). The place is vast and the portions are enormous. And they bring a brioche type cheese bread and a cinnamon bread to the table before you even think about eating. Anyway, David - as he is wont to do - was going table to table asking people what they were eating before he made any decision. We were waiting to see what the woman at the table right across from us was having before he ventured over there. She had an order of onion rings (about 20 big crispy ones) and a martini in front of her—nothing else ever appeared. We asked the server what else the woman had ordered and the server just laughed. “It’s what she eats”. Is that not fabulous—clearly my kind of girl. The best news was that the onion rings cost more than the martini – about $5-- $6 for a brand name.

It all goes to prove that you can target your taste buds to meet your needs and you can target your needs to meet your pocketbook. And you can do research at a diner as well as a laboratory. And it is possible to eat delicious onion rings and drink a fine martini anywhere in the world including great (as Miss South Carolina would call it) U. S. of America. We’re just sayin... Iris


Anonymous said...

I have the original Bond recipe for a Martini! It is contained in the first Ian Fleming, Bond book, Casino Royale. It is three parts Gordon Gin, one part Vodka and 1/2 part vermouth. It does not specify shaking or stirring, but shaking is easier and produces a colder beverage.

Pam said...

I don't have a recipe for a Martini (does this really need a capital M?), but if you go to SanFransisco area and can make it to a Sam's Club, they have the best coffee beans. My brother-in-law, Robin, always brings a couple of bags to NH in the summer.
The rich and mellow coffee starts off a day at the farm with just the right flavor. This year he left me a few pots worth of beans which I will hoard. I am savoring it right now since it is a holiday weekend.
Anyway, it is called San Fransisco brand and if you bought an extra bag, you could check me off on the Christmas list for 07.

About that James Bond Martini, as I recall, his specific instructions were "stirred, not shaken".

Unknown said...

You follow Dorothy Parker's direction when you limit the martinis. She wrote, "I'd like to have a martini, two at the very most. After three I'm under the table, after four I'm under my host."