Are you the type of person who loves to get lost in a process? I often find myself getting lost in several at once. I love when something I learn in one process leads to an efficiency in another. But a lot of the time nothing works out as imagined and another day passes.
This need for process is what brought me to study art. Initially, I wanted to be a metalsmith, but after my first painting class I decided to be a painter. I loved everything about the process: The movement and tension of brush on canvas, the heavily pigmented mud on a palette, and the scents of stand oil, damar resin, and beeswax. I soon realized that I didn't want to sell my paintings or drawings, and at the time I couldn't find a way to just "sell the process," so to speak.
As graduation approached, I made the fateful decision to cater our BFA opening. For our graduation show all the BFA program students had a section of the school's art gallery to show a body of work. I put a lot more care and thought into the food than I did in putting up my graduation show. I discovered that I enjoyed the process of making food and drink more. The biggest realization was that I could share this art form with more people. Not everyone likes an abstract painting of a paramecium, but most people appreciate the visceral beauty of a chocolate chip cookie.
I found that with food I could get lost in the process and would often end up with an amazing, albeit ephemeral product. There is so much satisfaction gained from baking a gorgeous plum cake from a serendipitous box of satsuma plums. Although the results may be too pretty to eat, eat we must! And so this is the path I took. I don't make a living from it now, but I am okay with that. I like sharing my products with my family and friends. This, to me, is true success.
And yet I am never satisfied. There is so much more to learn from this life. There are limitless ways to bake bread, knit a sweater, or make martinis.
Here we are in the thick of spring and the current list of projects is growing. Spring does funny things to one’s head. It must be all that potential energy buzzing about. As I write this morning, I have prepared sourdough pancakes, there are two levain loaves proofing, spruce tip beer brewing, and later, garden and yard projects. So I thought that instead of sharing a huge, multi-step recipe that involves fermenting some fruit and muddling exotic herbs and spices, I would offer something easy and elegant. Something so simple, yet with so much going on - a dance of botanicals in your glass.
This drink came about in the best way. We were heading out the door to visit a neighbor, when I noticed my neglected bottle of Genepy des Alpes. I poured a teaspoonful in a glass and added three teaspoons of gin and an ice cube, stirred and took a little sip. Wow! Simple and delicious. When we came back home, I tested a few different ratios and found that the initial 3:1 gin to Genepy is best.
What is Genepy? It was once difficult to find, but most specialty liquor stores seem to carry it. Genepy is an aperitif that tastes a little like Chartreuse, but it is lighter, with a slightly bitter/sweet edge. There are strong and wonderful appearances from the Artemisia family. Although Genepy is wonderfully herbal, it is a tad bitter, so I didn't think Mr. Graham would like this cocktail, but he loved it! I am happy to say that it is now one of our house drinks.
Gin & Genepy
A variation of the martini. This drink has only two ingredients and a garnish. Nothing to juice or slice.
The ratio is 3:1 gin to Genepy des Alpes. Feel free to use a few dashes of orange bitters, or a splash of olive brine.
For two martinis:
3 ounces gin, I tried both Aviation and Tanqueray with good results
1 ounce Genepy des Alpes from Dolin
In a mason jar or mixing glass combine the gin, Genepy, and ice. Stir well, until the liquid is very cold. Strain into chilled small martini or Nick and Nora glasses. Garnish with a small citrus twist, or a picholine or calvestrano olive, if desired.
À la vôtre!