As I mentioned in my blog post about my Piedra Azul cocktail- La Última Palabra– A Bolder Table was invited to participate in a Dip and Sip Challenge featuring Piedra Azul Tequila and Avocados in honor of National Guacamole Day, which is September 16. Sean and I had plans to invite friends and have a little soirée in our loft, but then Boulder suffered through a 100 year flood, making roads impassable. In fact, we were asked to stay put so only emergency vehicles were on the road, and at the time of this posting, we’re still under a flash flood warning. So, needless to say, there was no fiesta with the $25 gift card we received to Whole Foods nor with the bottle of Piedra Azul Tequila. It was just the two of us, tequila, and avocados.
Before the flood of the century, I had plans to go to the Boulder Farmers’ Market for all of the ingredients I couldn’t purchase at Whole Foods. That, unfortunately, didn’t happen because the market was canceled due to flooding. Most of the farms, in fact, were totally wiped out, so I’m not even sure we’ll have a market for the rest of the season. But, disaster aside- plans changed. When life gives you lemons, make lemon-aide. When Piedra Azul gives you avocados and tequila, make guacamole and libations. It’s simple, sometimes.
When there was a break in the rain we rode our Linus bikes (couldn’t resist the plug) to Whole Foods to grab some Hass avocados, Haystack Mountain Boulder Chévre, and a few other ingredients to make an avocado dip to pair with my tequila tail and some veggie fajitas that the chef planned for dinner after working a ten hour shift at OAK.
The Dip and Sip Challenge is straightforward: Create a unique avocado dip and tequila libation. We received a $25 gift card to Whole Foods, a bottle of Piedra Azul Blanco Tequila, and Gaby Dalkin’s cookbook Absolutely Avocados.
When I lived in Santiago de Chile, I ate avocados every single day. After moving to Boulder and seeing a $2-$3 price tag per avocado, I pretty much made them a food specialty item in my kitchen. So, I was eager to accept the challenge, the gift card, and the cook book since I absolutely LOVE avocados. Disastrous flooding canceled our party, but the bright side is Sean and I had two days of serious avocado indulgence, which is not custom in our home.
Sean made a caramelized onion chipotle chévre guacamole for dipping with chips and spreading on fajitas. The recipe is straightforward:
Caramelize a yellow onion in olive oil. If you’ve never caramelized an onion before, it’s easy. Slice them thinly and add them to a hot pan with olive oil. Turn down the heat and let them slowly turn brown over 30-40 minutes, agitating them occasionally.
The caramelized goodness went into a food processor with a log of locally made Boulder Chévre and a couple chipotle peppers from a can of San Marcos Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce purchased at Whole Foods.
While Sean sliced the avocados, I had a giddy-as-a-school-girl-look on my face. But, we have no photo of that. Just the aguacates.
The final steps are simple- add the caramelized onion chipotle chévre mixture to mashed avocado, add Meyer lemon, French sea salt, Aleppo Pepper to taste (recall those ingredients from my cocktail?), and mix well.
This was a fun challenge for both of us. We learned some interesting facts about avocados from Gabby’s book, were both challenged to create something new, and had a great dinner for two as a result.
Piedra Azul Tequila invited A Bolder Table to participate in a Dip and Sip Challenge, which will be judged by Gabby Dalkin, featuring avocados for the dip and Piedra Azul Tequila for the sip. As the owner of Local Table Tours, I bring guests on weekly cocktail tours and have had my fair share of tequila sips and tails for years now, so I jumped at the chance to create an original tequila tail.
A bottle of tequila blanco arrived at my door, and I was pleased to see it was distilled from 100% agave azul. Here’s a tip- when buying tequila, look for 100% blue weber agave or 100% agave azul on the label. Unless you’re buying Sotol or Mezcal, tequila that isn’t 100% blue weber agave can be distilled from all kinds of junk. Tequila law states that it must be distilled from at least 51% agave, so the remaining 49% could be sugar cane, cheap grains… anything, really. And, that’s the tequila that easily leads to a hangover. (I learned all of this from “working” as a cocktail tour guide:)
As I was saying… I was pleased to open a box and find an un-aged bottle of silver tequila. I tasted it and found it perfect for a mixing tequila. When I sip tequila, I tend to prefer reposados, but blanco tequilas are great for a number of cocktails since they impart the clean notes of the agave plant, not oaky, woody notes from barrel aging.
I don’t usually create my own cocktails because there is a well-trained group of bartenders in town who’s bars I frequent when thirsty. So, I really had no idea what I was going to do until I ordered a classic- The Last Word- while on vacation in Boston, and got curious how a tequila version would work out. I was pleasantly surprised on my first attempt.
The Last Word is my friend Molly’s favorite tail, and it’s simple: equal parts Gin, Green Chartreuse, Maraschino Liqueur, and Lemon Juice, shaken with ice, strained, and often served in a coupe glass. Chartreuse, unfortunately, is really expensive, and having a bottle of Yellow Chartreuse at home, I wasn’t inclined to spend another $70 on the green variety. Also, I didn’t have Maraschino, but I did have a bottle of Roi René Rouge Cherry Liqueur (made by the makers of Combier, the BEST orange liqueur you’ll ever taste). So, I improvised.
As I was working with tequila and am fluent in Spanish, I made a tail I call La Última Palabra- equal parts Piedra Azul Tequila, Yellow Chartreuse, Roi René Rouge Cherry Liqueur, and Meyer Lemon Juice. I added 3/4 oz of each to the glass mixing glass of a Boston Shaker. Next, I mixed French sea salt and Aleppo Pepper from Savory Spice Shop, of course, rubbed the rim of my glass in Meyer Lemon juice, and rolled the rim in salt and Aleppo pepper. This is a great tip I learned on my tours- prep your glasses before mixing the drink so you’re ready to pour the drink as soon as you’re done mixing or shaking to avoid a watered down drink that was sitting on ice.
Once I had an Aleppo Pepper Salted rim, I added ice to the metal mixing glass, poured in my tail, shook, strained, and enjoyed.
As I’m not always a fan of salt with every sip, I enjoyed half of my libation through a locally hand blown Di Nalo glass straw. These straws always help me keep it classy.
I bought a Himalayan Salt Brick from Savory Spice Shop to explore something new in my kitchen. Lucky for me, I’m dating a chef, so it turns out he took on the opportunity to try something new and let me drink wine and take photos. Not such a bad arrangement.
A Himalayan salt brick is a large slab of Himalayan crystal salt that you can heat up to high temps to bake, sauté, or grill; chill to serve cold foods; use to cure meats; and present as a serving platter. It’s a gorgeous slab of light pink marbled “stone,” and I’d wanted one ever since they were first for sale at Savory.
Sean and I used our brick once before in the oven, and I never got around to a blog post… been busy guiding food tours, you know.
Baking on the brick was similar to baking on a pizza stone. The stove top, however, was a new frontier.
Sean spent some time researching this one. If you have a gas range you can set the flame in a way that the stone isn’t directly in contact with fire, but heats up. An electric range, however, requires something to be positioned between the stove top and the brick. We used a tart shell, but a cake ring or wok ring would work also.
After a trip to the Boulder Farmers’ Market, we had carrots, onions, and squash for grilling.
Sean sliced them and threw them on the hot salt brick while marinating some extra firm tofu that had been frozen, pressed, thawed, and marinated in a little peanut oil and Harissa Spice Mix from nowhere other than Savory Spice Shop.
Our meal was simple, yet took quite some time to execute since we spent forty minutes or so heating up the brick, which crackled and poped in ways that concerned us it was going to crack on the stove. The brick did impart a slightly salty taste to the veggies, which were grilled plain, but didn’t give off a flavor that stood up to the Harissa blend. In the end, the food was great and our dinner was fun, but it was a very long process to prepare what could have been a quick meal on the grill outside or the stovetop. But then, we wouldn’t have been able to say we grilled on a salt brick, now, would we?
June is the BEST month to buy spices from Savory Spice Shop because if you bring in your “tired old” competitors’ bottles (empty or not), you save $1.00 off Savory’s 4 oz. bottles of freshly filled herbs, spices, and spice blends. This promotion runs from June 1-June 30, so let’s make June a spicy month. Head to you nearest Savory Spice Shop and treat yourself and your tastebuds to some of the best spices available.
Bring a bottle, buy a bottle, get a buck!
I, unfortunately, will not be participating in this since every single spice jar in my pantry is filled with Savory’s spices. But, as Savory Spice Shop’s biggest fan, it’s my duty to suggest you start making the great migration from ordinary to extraordinary.