There is a trick to walking through a crowded grocery store wearing a sombrero.
You have to be it. Own it. Every movement, every gesture, every facial expression must ooze comfort. I am not talking about cocky bravado – that would reek of overcompensation and defeat the entire purpose. You must, rather, be simply confident. Walking around in a sombrero must seem like second nature. The vapid stares from the other shoppers must fall off you like raindrops upon stone. The giggles are ignored. Questions like “dude… why are you wearing a sombrero?” meet with a low-key, clever retort.
The only problematic moment of my trip (Kenard Avenue Kroger, for those of you keeping score at home) occurred at the very end of my visit, when I had to ask an 18 year old store clerk where in the freezer case I might find puff pastry. He looked up at me from behind his fortress of boxes, and his face slowly started peeling back into a surprised smile.
Of course, it’s possible that Kroger corporation has developed a world-class sensitivity training program, whereby front-line staff are drilled in respecting customers for sartorial diversity…
I wasn’t going to chance it. I just eyeballed him. You’re gonna laugh at me, punk? No. You’re not. You’re going to tell me where the puff pastry is because I wear this goddamn sombrero every time i visit the grocery. Arright?
I suppose I should back up and mention that I hosted a tequila party this past Saturday Night.
It was pretty impromptu. My work situation had de-escalated over the summer but over the last few weeks it’s become tense again. And with the typical 14-hour end-of-the-month cubicle hell midweek, I was ready to let off some steam.
While I have friends over fairly regularly, this was the first time since the now-legendary Bacon Tasting Party of 2007 (which I still regret holding on Rosh Hashanah but the invites had already been sent) that I’d really entertained.
And what strikes me the most about these last couple of years, is that I now seem to be moving in a much more coherent and interconnected social circle. I still feel like I have pretty much the same group of friends, but the group I do have tends to be more connected to each other – much more of a community than a bunch of free atoms. It’s a nice feeling – things were fluid and convivial (despite, for the most part, our mass intoxication) A perfect group to meep up somewhere, eat, and drink obscene quantities of fancypants tequila.
Anyway, I have some recipes to share.
My Twitter pal Jessica planted the idea of tequila cupcakes as soon as I announced the party, and I was very lucky to find this cookbook during an impulse trip to the bookstore. As it happens, there happens to be a tequila cupcake recipe here that I really liked. This recipe really takes advantage of the floral brightness of tequila without overpowering you with harshness. And, of course, it happens to be a yummy frosted cupcake.
Coco Loco Tequila Cupcakes (adapted very slightly from Tequila: A Guide to Types, Flights, Cocktails, and Bites – I don’t care for ginger and didn’t want to buy coconut extract)
2 C AP flour
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
large pinch of salt
1 C unsalted butter at cool room temperature
1 C sugar
1 C unsweetened coconut milk
1 t almond extract
1/4 cup 100% agave tequila
1/2 c buttermilk
COCONUT CREAM FROSTING
1/2 lb cream cheese, room temperature
2 T unsweetened coconut milk
2 T 100% agave tequila
3 C Sugar
1 C shredded coconut
Oven to 350. Prep your cupcake tins.
Sift the dry into a bowl and set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar in your stand mixer, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. This mixture should lighten in color and look “fluffy” in some inarticulable way. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until combined. Add extract.
Stir together buttermilk and tequila. Drinking this mixture is probably not salubrious.
Add the buttermilk/tequila mixture alternately with the dry ingredients, in two batches. Mix until just combined.
Place the batter into your cups (the recipe says it makes 2 dozen but I got like 18), bake for about 15 minutes or until the center is just set.
While baking, assemble the frosting: Beat the ice cream until fluffy, add the coconut milk, sugar, and tequila. Continue mixing until spreadable.
When the cupcakes are cool, apply frosting and top with coconut. Devour.
Sadly, I did not get a photograph of the savory contribution, the chorizo hand pies. The filling was not of this Earth amazing (imagine a paste chorizo and peppers and saffron and tomato with just a hint of cumin), but I botched the puff pastry portion of the exercise. I wound up cooking up a bunch of lentils and throwing the remaining fillling in, which has meant wonderful lunches these last few days. But anyway…
Okay. Thee and a half drinks.
This was David and Laura’s contribution. I’m not quite sure of the porportions, but I think it contains a couple ounces of tequila, a splash of triple sec, and a healthy bit of pineapple juice (which is my favorite juice ever) The rim of the glass is coated with honey and dipped into brown sugar. Which is totally easy to wash, i might add. But VERY tasty.
The Jeff Margarita
The more margarita recipes I read, the more convinced I am that this concoction is completely, completely wrong. Fine, I would not last five minutes behind the bar at Nada. Too much orange liqueur, too much lime, not enough syrup… whatever. It tastes like a margarita and is really good. The porportions are easy to remember, too, which is key.
3 ounces tequila – reposado is suggested, but use what you have. Sauza Hornitos makes a fine margarita.
1 ounce orange liqueur. Sissies may use Triple Sec.
Juice of one lime
small bit of simple syrup
You know the drill. Lime on the glass, salt, ice. Stuff in a shaker, pour.
Your other option? THE Margarita (again, from the Tequila book, referenced above)
1 1/2 oz tequila
3/4 oz agave nectar
3/3 oz water
1 ounce lime juice
prepare as above.
And what if you don’t want a margarita? I think this last drink was the star of the party. It should be well known that I appreciate puns, fancy garnish, and bright red drinks, so this fit in really well, I ended up making what seemed like 20 of these:
THE SURLY TEMPLE
1 3/4 anejo tequila (We used Patron Anejo)
3/4 oz lemon juice
1 1/2 oz grenadine
4 oz club soda
lemon round… sugar rim
Combine tequila, lemon juice, grenadine and club soda with plenty of ice in a cocktail shaker. Stir gently (bubbles) for 15 seconds. Serve over ice or straight, garnish with lemon.
What a great party! And because I am feeling generous, and sincerely appreciate so many friends turning up, I will post this highly regrettable photograph, taken, as should be obvious, well after the tasting had begun.