Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tasting My Licker

Cheers.
In my previous post I describe the process of making nasty zombie puke milk liqueur. Until now, not much recommended it as either a tasty, or even a safe, beverage. Just looking at it you might see it as a rich, amber liquid, ambrosia of the gods. Or you might think it looks like a large urine sample from a Klingon with kidney disease.

It sat in my refrigerator for almost two weeks before The Diplomat suggested he treat me to a pre-birthday dinner and a virgin tasting of the milk liqueur. I said I could never turn down an opportunity to slip into a little black dress, pearls and heels, but was it wise to drink a possibly deadly concoction before going out to a nice restaurant? What if we were both struck with killer diarrhea and couldn't leave the restaurant bathroom to get home? What if it made us so sick we weren't able to call an ambulance? What if we died just two days before my daughter's due date? She'd never forgive me for upstaging the birth of her first child. He said it was an adventure. I don't turn down adventures. Let's drink licker!

The Diplomat asked what restaurant I wanted to go to, what was my favorite. I said there were several I really liked, but I wanted to go someplace new, someplace where I didn't have memories of going with someone else. He suggested El Meson, a kind of Spanish restaurant that serves foods from various Hispanic countries. He assured me I could order food that wasn't spicy (I've never taken pleasure in burning my tongue on purpose. I guess I'd rather inflict pain than receive it.) and we could get wonderful tapas there. I said I was in....but first we had to test the licker. Nom? ... Nom? ... Nom?

When The Diplomat arrived at my house after work, I pulled the liqueur out of the fridge and collected a couple of aperitif glasses. I took off the jar lid and we each smelled the golden liquid. I expected it might smell like spoiled milk, cheap vodka and baby poop, but I was wrong. It smelled like a summer meadow, or maybe an English garden in bloom: sweet honey and vanilla tones, and no hint of alcohol. This isn't your daddy's corn likker. I hoped it wasn't a cosmic trick.

It's tempting.
I poured an inch or so in each glass and handed one to The Diplomat. We posed with our drinks, as if it might be our last photos.

Finally, we had to either drink it or commit hari kari. Honor required that we at least give it a try after ten days four months of steeping and randomly scheduled shaking. We each sniffed it again, like we would before the tasting of a fine wine. We toasted the event. We raised our glasses at the same time. He sipped and I watched him over the top of my glass. (Hey, I'm not trying to win a Bronze Star here, although they're easier to win than they used to be.) OK, The Diplomat had sipped and he hadn't dropped dead....yet. I was cautiously optimistic.

He gave me a challenging look so I raised my glass and dipped my tongue in the syrupy liquid. It tasted like...I couldn't believe it. It tasted like wild flowers. Like honey and vanilla and chocolate. It was light and sweet and not a bit cloying, like what I imagine butterflies and hummingbirds sip from summer flowers. Like a fairy cocktail. I was surprised the cheap vodka didn't even burn on the way down. We sipped again and smacked our lips. Mmmmmm. This actually came close to the blueberry martini I developed a couple of months ago.

"I'm amazed, " I said. "This is some yummy shit. It tastes like sex."
"It's delicious," he said. "Did you put honey in it?"
"No, just plain sugar and chocolate. Isn't it sweet and delicate?"
He was too busy sipping to answer.

We agreed it was way better than we'd expected. I started making plans to experiment with other flavors and for giving it for Christmas gifts in small antique bottles with corks. We sipped slowly until every drop was gone in our glasses, this juice of curdled milk, cheap vodka, chocolate shavings and chopped lemon. It shouldn't even have tasted good, but it would seduce Zeus. A great way to start the evening.

High on the success of the licker (and I can certainly imagine licking this ambrosia from someone's.....well, that's off the topic and X-rated as well), we headed out in The Diplomat's car for the restaurant.

El Meson is considered one of the best restaurants in our small city, because of their unique menu. Every few weeks they feature an entire menu selection from a different South American country, in addition to their regular menu. Right now, they're serving dishes from Colombia, which is also where the owners came from. The host offered us a choice of either the big, noisy main room or the quieter, more private smaller room in back. We chose the back room.

The staff sang "Happy Birthday" three times back there while we ate. Not so quiet after all, but the place has a friendlier atmosphere than most restaurants. Other diners make eye contact, share comments, laugh. The staff feel like family. The white-washed walls and terracotta tile have an Old World feeling that encourages lingering over another margarita and dessert.

First things first. We ordered their dry margaritas, which are tarter and....well, drier than the common margarita. It was the best margarita I've ever tasted, and during my years as a bartender, I tasted a few. In fact, it's the first drink I learned to make when I started tending bar at 17. I'm sorry to say I don't think I ever made one that yummy. Must experiment.

Ceviche, baked brie, margarita
We'd already decided on tapas, little plates of food that alone would be more like a snack or an appetizer. We ordered four though, so it was a meal. After a leisurely perusal of the menu, we chose ceviche, thin slices of fish that are "cooked" in lime juice and mixed with chopped tomatoes, onions and avocado; baked brie served with Spanish ham, apples, grapes, and an enormous caper berry nose; calimari, grilled with lemon and garlic and served with a sweet orange sauce; and grilled corn cakes drenched in honey.

Calamari
I felt like an Iron Chef judge! The ceviche was a little spicy, but still bright and tart and fresh. Hard the tell the fish wasn't actually cooked--not that I care if my fish is cooked. The brie was was like a little picnic, with its cute, sad face. The grilled corn cakes were crisp on the outside and custardy in the middle. Sticky and delicious, but put honey on anything and I'll lick it. The calamari was my favorite though. It looked like undercooked french fries, sure. But it was perfectly grilled and the sauce was sweet with just enough acid that it didn't overpower the natural sweetness of the squid. And the squid wasn't rubbery, although I wonder if they can pull that off with the deep-fried version. Who cares! The calamari rocked! It all rocked!

dulce de leche con moras ala orgasm
But a pre-birthday dinner isn't complete without dessert, and they had many tempting choices. I decided on the dulce de leche con moras, homemade caramel and blackberries. The Diplomat said he'd just try a bite of mine. Brave man to get his spoon near my dessert, but he was buying so I felt generous. Oh....oh, oh, oh...that's it....right there....oh yeah ... Neither a photo nor words can describe this dessert, this lump of buttery caramel hidden under the sweetened blackberries and whipped cream. It melted as soon as it hit my tongue into what can only be described as a smooth, creamy mouth orgasm. The Diplomat had to dip his spoon more than once. I must have looked like I had a vibrator tucked under my dress and set on high. Happy birthday to my mouth! So......

Be the first on your block to try the milk liqueur! Your friends and loved ones will be disgusted amazed like mine were! Seriously, I didn't die. Take a risk today. Write about it. Your birthdays are limited and so are mine. Don't waste a minute of your precious life worrying about sour milk. Try the licker!

5 comments:

  1. I am actually tempted.
    Especially if I can gross my kids out for a month or two!

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  2. Do it! My kids tasted it last night when they came over for my birthday, and they thought it was delicious too. Before, they all said they'd never touch it, but they forgot how gross that jug of vomit looked.

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  3. Licker! I hardly even know 'er!

    Ar Ar Ar!

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  4. too late for my birthday but if i start soon maybe a new years toast. i'm looking forward to 2012.

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  5. It's only supposed to take 10 days. I'm going to try it by the recipe soon and see if there's a difference.

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