Muddle & Wilde

What sounds like the name of a pair of bumbling, ineffectual British TV detectives is actually a new project by two of the most creative, beautiful women I know — Muddle & Wilde, organic drink mixes “handcrafted in small batches.”

Laura and Moira

Rereading the grammatical structure of that previous sentence, I realized it could be interpreted that my two friends are named Muddle & Wilde. They are not. They are Moira and Laura, two mothers at the elementary school where my daughters go — and are friends with their daughters. And we are friends with Moira and Laura, and so were impressed and excited when we heard about their venture.

We were even more impressed and excited when we tasted the mixes.

My tequila/lime-sumac-chili cocktail, courtesy of Moira

If you’re like me, you’ve probably had friends who were home hobbyist brewers or vintner. And when you tried their beer or wine, you put on a brave face and offered up an earnest, “Not bad!” or “You made that!”

There was no need for such faint praises in the case of Muddle & Wilde. The girls had done a thing truly exceptional. Their strategy was to craft something so simple that all the at-home drinker would have to do is follow the few simple instructions on the bottle — i.e. “add two ounces your favorite spirit and some sparkling water” — to become a home mixologist. Indeed honoring the fact that bartenders were now called “mixologists” and leaving behind daiquiris and Long Island iced teas in favor of personal, chef-inspired cocktails, they went for unique combinations like Lemon-Sweet Woodruff, Sumac-Chili-Lime and Orange-Star Anise. And the flavors all work — really well.

We experimented with several them over a recent ski weekend in Mammoth. My favorite was the Sumac-Lime-Chili, which Moira served me with tequila and fresh lime slices. As good as it was, I imagined it would be even better with mezcal. So back at home, I pinged my pal Mike of Del Maguey mezcal and invited him over for a taste.

Mike liked the drink and loved the concept of the ready-made craft cocktail, and agreed that mezcal — his mezcal, of course — was likely the very best spirit to pair with the mixes. Although I did find that many of the softer lemon-based mixes worked especially well with vodka. Moira mentioned an impending still-in-the-lab grapefruit-based mix that we were both looking forward to trying with Del Maguey’s broadly available entry-level label, Vida.

Anyone who has ever tasted a bad margarita mix will attest to the need for this product. And for many people, for whom trying to figure out ingredients and portions for a proper cocktail is an exercise in frustration, this need is multiplied.

Muddle & Wilde drink mixes are currently available at a variety of Southern California farmer’s markets, where you can meet the girls and be charmed in person. Or you can visit their website: muddleandwilde.com

Of Kim Jongs and Cauliflower

In December of last year, I predicted 2017 was going to be the “Year of the Sandwich” on this blog. But at the rate I’m going, it’s shaping up to be Year of the Korean Food.

Speaking of Korea — and the North in particular — that fat little squirt Kim Jong Un, the Baby Leader, sure is turning out to be a provocative one. I included his father, Kim Jong Il, the Dear Leader, in a previous post about Korean short ribs. And as batshit crazy as that cat was, this new Kim makes him seem positively Lincolnian.

Kim Jong Un

Kim Jong Un

In one of his first acts as leader, he had his favorite uncle executed. He’s been developing nuclear warheads, and has recently launched a barrage of medium-range ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan. Barring the U.S. going to war with Japan — and I say that only half facetiously, given the unpredictable nature of politics and policy these days — I will be cruising those very waters with my family this summer, visiting Japan, Russia and Korea (South). Hopefully we will not get hit by one of Kim Jong Un’s errant missiles. More

Simplicity

A wet and drizzly morning of the sort we’ve been having lately, the usually dry stream that crosses our property burbling happily, the canyon veiled in gray and exploding in every shade of green, brought me back to a memory:

A child, a younger me, dripping in the rain — no umbrella, no boots, socks and shoes wet — setting leaves into the gutter and chasing them down the street. Joy: unrestrained, unmannered, untethered.

Simplicity.

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In the kitchen, after a previous evening’s West/East mashup of spaghetti ai ricci di mare, Venetian carpaccio, spicy fried tofu and three different kinds of sushi, I craved simplicity on the plate, too. More

A Soft Spot for Bacari

It was a somewhat vulgar term for the pre-opening of a restaurant, my pal Steve pointed out.

“You’re right!” I replied. “I hadn’t thought of that.”

If you’ve never been to the “soft opening” of a restaurant before, the experience can largely be encapsulated in a single sweetly sad moment at the recent preview of a new restaurant we attended with our friends, Steve and Ashley:

A young waitress brought one of our cocktails to the table. The drink was too full, she was nervous, and green tequila-infused juice splashed over the rim of the glass all over her hands and the table as she awkwardly set the cocktail down and apologetically scuttled away.

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“What sort of food do they serve?” Leslie had asked as we drove toward Glendale. More

Kim Chee to the Rescue, Again!

It was Super Bowl Sunday, and things were not going well.

A few evenings earlier, I had awoken in the middle of the night with one of those sneezes that tells you immediately a cold is imminent.

We had friends for dinner Friday night, and despite feeling a bit under the weather, I cooked and ate and drank and toasted and laughed. And then went to bed. And didn’t sleep a wink — the entire night.

My medicine

My medicine

I got up, jittery, tired and sick. And went for a run. When I got home, I showered, took a Benadryl, climbed back in bed. And slept for four hours. When I woke, I felt wildly out of sorts — even sleepier than I had been, my vision skewed, my depth perception practically non existent. More

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