Yeh, that’s right, I’m the Egg Man Driving Around, King of the town Always got my windows rolled down You know, I’m the Egg Man — Beastie Boys
The Beastie Boys had it right. The common chicken egg is pretty rad: a surprisingly complex bit of biology and nutrition. We thought we’d break it down for you here, so you’ll have some awesome egg savoir-faire to show off. After all, if you’re reading this the odds are that you’ll be dining at Au Cheval— the name itself is a creative take on the French culinary term that conjures any number of meals that are served with a fried egg atop.
We also know that most humans eat the egg of the common chicken, Gallus domesticas. Not to be oversimplified, however; 200 breeds of chickens have been documented. But most egg laying hens in the US are Single-Comb White Leghorns, which originated in Tuscany, Italy. The name, Leghorn comes from the name of the port city Livorno, from whence the birds were first shipped to the U.S. Leghorn is, evidently, an easy anglicization of Livorno.
The ancestors of the these original hens now lay the majority of the eggs consumed in the US. According to the Incredible Edible Egg site, “Each of the roughly 280 million laying birds in the U.S. produces from 250 to 300 eggs a year. In total, the U.S. produces about 75 billion eggs a year, about 10% of the world supply. In modern hen-houses, computers control the lighting, which triggers egg laying. Most eggs are laid between 7 and 11 a.m. A hen requires about 24 to 26 hours to produce an egg.“ Quite the Sisyphean task.
The eggs are actually quite remarkable and well designed. Air Membranes— a thin pouch of air protects the egg from breakage and cushions the liquid interior, but this cushion is virtually non-existent when an egg is laid. A freshly laid egg comes out at a temperature of roughly 105º F, and as the egg cools, the liquid contents contracts. Moisture and carbon dioxide leave through the pores of the shell, and air enters and the air cell expands.
The yolk, or yellow portion, of an egg makes up about 34% of the liquid weight of the egg. It contains all of the fat in the egg and slightly less than half the protein. The white of an egg, also known by its scientific name, Albumen makes up the bulk of an eggs liquid weight at 66%. The white contains more than half the egg’s total protein, and none of the fat. Albumen color is nearly clear and viscose, and doesn’t appear white until an egg is beaten or cooked. But the white isn’t all uniform inside the un-cracked egg. The Albumen has four alternating layers of thick and thin white.
The perfect protein: Beans and rice? Or eggs? According to the Incredible Edible Egg, it just may be the egg. “Eggs are high in protein and egg protein is of such high quality that it is often used as the standard by which other protein foods are measured. Egg protein contains all the essential amino acids (building blocks of protein which the body needs but cannot make) in a pattern that matches very closely the pattern the human body requires. This is why, eggs are classified with meat in the food groups and why egg protein is called complete protein.”
And an even greater testament to the awesomeness of the egg is ostensibly found in the chef’s toque, which is said to have a pleat for each of the many ways an egg can be cooked.
So pony up to the counter at Au Cheval and order in. Chances are your dish might just come trotting out_ à cheval_, with the awesome egg atop.
More trivia and factoids on eggs can be found on the entertaining site http://www.incredibleegg.org/
Volcanically Grown Wine from an Aegean Sea Island
At first taste, this white wine is fresh and light. You put the glass down and your attention turns to something else on the table— the chopped chicken liver has just arrived and looks delicious. You take a bite and your suspicions are confirmed; the dish is rich, salty and fantastic. It makes you a bit thirsty and you instinctively grab for your glass and take another sip. This second sip is different- richer, more honeyed, more structured. It’s a great compliment to the chopped chicken liver and you smack your lips, go back for a third sip. Red apple and ripe citrus tones have become present, followed by a long, dry finish. You’re already looking forward to your second glass. The ease of drinking this wine belies the challenges that this Santorini vineyard faces in producing wine. Santorini
The wine is an Assyrtiko/Aithiri blend from Domaine Sigalas. Located on the island of Santorini, in the Aegean sea, this winery is known for blending modernity with tradition. They have been producing wine since 1991 and built a new production facility in the late 90’s. This new equipment is centered in ancient land with volcanic soil- the island used to be an active volcano and is home to one of the largest volcanic eruptions ever recorded. This rocky, volcanic soil is rich in minerals and encourages strong vines. The climate is so windy that these vines have to be trained low to the ground, in ‘Stefani’ shaped baskets. The grapevines are pruned in a way so that they bend and grow their vines around this low-lying basket shape. A Stefani basket
Although these low baskets help protect against climatic elements and preserve moisture, the grapes are incredibly hard to harvest. They are hand-picked; grape harvesting is always labor intensive, but having to bend down to find these grapes is an added physical stress.
All of these challenges result in a unique, complex wine that is terrior driven. It has an impressive and distinctive wine identity- ripe citrus tones, great structure and a stunning minerality, all characteristics that are becoming synonymous with Greek wine. These wines have an old world elegance that is becoming more and more relevant in a modern world. Stop in for a glass at Au Cheval.
— Jean Tomaro
At first glance, the array of influences from which the Au Cheval cocktail list was designed is apparent. Quite an alluring mix representing classic, modern, and house cocktails originating from various pockets of the globe, the search through numerous cocktail books and the countless (and oh-so-tiring) attempts at getting a recipe just right coincides with a theme of our beverage program: provide esoteric, high-quality options for people to have fun and just maybe step outside their usual box. Thus we bring to you El Presidente.
Created by American bartender Eddie Woelke at the Jockey Club in Havana, Cuba, El Presidente seems to have been lost among many of its Prohibition era sisters. We are using the most original recipe, as found in Manual del Cantinero, 1924. Apparently, El Presidente became the house cocktail at Club El Chico in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, where America was introduced to the rhumba in 1925 (esquire.com). Perhaps the most important element is the vermouth; many sources insist that French vermouth is absolutely necessary, and Dolin Vermouth de Chambery is the most recommended.
To warrant our selection, we indubitably tinkered with the vermouth component. We tried the recipe with Lillet Blanc, similar to French vermouth, which produced too sweet of a concoction. When we experimented using solely the Dolin dry vermouth, the flavor was boringly less complex. After a handful of trials and sips, it was agreed that Dolin Blanc produced the best results, which tends to be subtler than other versions. Plus, we are proud to honor the original recipe. The 1924 copy of Manual del Cantinero calls for Chamberly, where Dolin was established in the late 19th century.
The significant vermouth presence lends to the awesomely distinctive flavor of El Presidente; it’s rare to find a concoction with vermouth as a main ingredient, as our recipe calls for equal parts rum and vermouth. With all flavors combined, the sexy El Presidente surpasses expectations. David Wondrich expresses the cocktail aptly: “Rich and lightly sweet yet still refreshing, with layers of flavor that are fully integrated into a whole that’s greater than the sum of its parts” (Imbibe, Issue 33, p. 20). While it’s easy drinking with a smooth, velvety texture and lighter mouth-feel, the flavor is rich and very unique. The delight continues well into the finish, which lingers on the tongue with a pleasantly slightly sweet flavor.
And, true to the Au Cheval brand, El Presidente is not your typical sweet and fruity mai-tai-esque rum-based cocktail, making it an exemplary fit among the others of the list: a lovely counterpart with bold foods, yet light enough so as not to limit your indulgence. Above all, I’m obligated to warn you that the swanky El Presidente also induces a slight urge to bust out the rhumba. ¡Salud!
Don’t Forget the Horse’s Neck
If you’ve been following the blog, you’ll know that the name for the diner, Au Cheval, stems from the French culinary term, literally translated as “on horseback,” while in the kitchen it denotes a fried egg atop of a bun or toast . And while there’s no horse on the menu at Au Cheval, there is a Horse’s Neck.
But before you gasp with a mixture of surprise and fright, think again— it’s a cocktail. The Horse’s Neck garners its name from the lemon peel garnish. It’s a complete peel of one broad swath of lemon, pared from the fruit in a continuous strip. It’s broad, thick, and sturdy, just like a horse’s neck and completes the drink.
In it’s original form, the Horse’s Neck was a non-alcoholic drink of ginger ale and the signature lemon peel over ice. But it wasn’t long before a kick was added to the horse with a little whiskey. In 1897 The Centralia Enterprise And Tribune wrote, “A dash of whisky is said not to interfere with the agreeable taste of this drink.”
Coincidentally, around the same time, the sport of horse racing was arguably reaching an apogee, which likely explains the thick lemon peel being associated with the brawny neck of a horse.
Alas, the Horse’s Neck, was not a match for the Mint Julip, and unlike the Julip, the Horse’s Neck disappeared in the wake of prohibition. It was long lost in the annals of pre-prohibition cocktails. But there’s a great story surrounding the Horse’s Neck, or actually, the lack thereof that colors the drink’s history.
The story starts with Cornelius Kingsley Garrison Billings heir to the controlling interest in the successful Chicago utility People’s Gas. By 1907 the company held a monopoly on the Chicago gas market. Billings retired at the ripe old age of 40, moved to Manhattan, and indulged in his hobby of harness racing a genre of horse racing among other Bourgeois passions.
On March 28, 1903, just prior to the official opening of a new stable, Billings threw an intimate dinner for 36 at Louis Sherry’s restaurant. As guests arrived and cocktails were served, the dinner seemed to be just as promised— a quiet affair. But according to the thoroughly researched blog, 12bottlebar.com the party took a drastically different turn after the cocktail hour.
“As the guests entered the main dining room for the evening, they found that the room had been transformed into a bucolic countryside – with “grass” on the floor, a bubbling brook, waiters dressed for a fox hunt and – wait for it – a dozen live horses. The entire meal was to be eaten on horseback. Special saddles equipped with trays had been designed. Champagne bottles with long straws were fitted into saddlebags. And while chorus girls and singers were paraded out for the gentlemen’s entertainment, the horses gladly fed on oats.”
The dinner cost $50,000.
The original menu from Billing’s dinner party (courtesy of Deana Sidney of lostpastremembered.blogspot.com
While this seems lavish even to our modern inflation-numbed senses, it was outlandish for the times. The gilded era was over, and such opulence was considered poor form, to say the least. The press had a hey-day criticising the ridiculously expensive affair, and duly noted that Billings had overlooked serving the Horse’s Neck at his “freak dinner on horseback.” Imagine!
We’ve dug through history’s annals and determined not to repeat Mr. Billing’s mistake— we’ve put the Horse’s Neck on the cocktail menu at Au Cheval. Stop by and see what you’ve been missing.
I owe a great thank you to the following blogs:
And to Jennifer Fink for her research on the Horse’s Neck.
— Kari Skaflen
The origin of the Pickleback (also known as the Piskey Whickle) remains, to this day, shrouded in mystery. A simple enough one-two punch, the Pickleback is by definition a shot of whiskey followed immediately by a shot of pickle brine. As delicious as this sounds, some still need a little convincing. Jonathan Swift once said, “Twas a brave man who first ate an oyster”, and by this logic, I like to imagine that the first ever Pickleback was drunk sometime around the 17th century when men were stouthearted and pickles abundant; perhaps by a fearless traveler who walked into a dimly candlelit bar and bravely mistook the salty brine for a glass of water.
Alas, while the true history of the Pickleback may never be known, the first bartender to champion the cause was Reggie Cunningham. In 2007, Reggie worked for the Bushwick Country Club in Brooklyn, NY. At the time, the bar’s basement also served as storage for McClure’s pickles next door. According to Reggie, he was feeling particularly hungover one day, eating a jar of pickles behind the bar, when a “trashy Florida redneck chick” insisted he pour some of the juice into a glass and join her in what is widely considered to be the very first Pickleback. The drink was instantly popular among industry folk who claimed not only that the pickle juice improved the flavor of the whiskey and counteracted some of the bite, but also that this miraculous libation was essentially hangover proof. Though the Pickleback was originally poured with Old Crow Bourbon, Jameson is now the standard and you can get it along with a shot of house pickle brine at Au Cheval.
— Danielle Zuckerman
Who Wants an Orange Whip?
As the story goes, there was once a beverage manufacturing company by the name of Orange Whip Corp. that made a syrupy, whipped fountain drink, the likes of which you may’ve found in gas stations in the 60’s and 70’s. Details regarding the company are hard to come by, but it appears as though production had come to a halt by the early 1980’s.
According to a Chicago Sun-Times article published in 2005, the father of a set designer for 1980’s The Blues Brothers worked for the illustrious Orange Whip Company and, at some point, it was proposed to director John Landis that he do a certain someone a favor and include Orange Whip in the film for product placement. Though it’s rather ludicrous to think that Mr. Landis took this suggestion seriously, it must’ve tickled a young cast member’s (John Candy) funnybone. In a late scene, three on-duty police officers (one of whom is Candy) sit in a bar lounge awaiting the conclusion of Jake and Elwood Blue’s final concert performance, when Candy, with impeccable comic timing, improvises the now-ubiquitous drink order. Watch it here:
Though it could be coincidental, it’s safe to say that prior to the release of The Blues Brothers in 1980, the Orange Whip was nothing more than the product of a fledgling American soft drink company. Such trivialities, however, do little to deter a bartender from spiking whatever liquid is within arms-reach. So what started as a tongue-in-cheek quip was treated as a summons and, as a result, the Orange Whip cocktail was born.
The approximate birth date of the first alcoholic Orange Whip is unknown. Perhaps a record was never made because of its questionable conception but, then again, many drinks of this ilk (the Orgasm, Slippery Nipple and Sex on the Beach to name a few) are surrounded by soft recollections. They do, however, share some stylistic similarities (the use of schnapps, modern liqueurs and affordably packaged fruit juices like cranberry, pineapple and orange) that plant them somewhere in the last quarter of the 20th century. The most common alcoholic interpretation of the Orange Whip didn’t put anybody out too much either, but neither did it impress. As it stands today, the traditional Orange Whip is a murky concoction of vodka, rum, orange juice and cream that will make even the most populist of mixologists furrow their brow.
But maybe a misunderstood line in a movie is the perfect context for the rebirth of a drink. We’ve studied texts as far back as the late nineteenth century that detail how to deliver stunning and praiseworthy drinks. But excellent potations certainly aren’t limited to any era and liberties are often taken behind the bar to adapt forgotten drinks to the modern palate. Cocktails are subject to constant change and development. Perhaps it’s through irreverence that a drink like the Orange Whip is given credence. It may’ve been a ham-handed idea to begin with, but its base ingredients (rum, orange juice, cream) brush up stylistically with many a classic drink. With a little imagination, a highly favorable drink can be achieved. This time we’ll write down where it all started.
The Orange Whip 1.5 - flor de cana rum 3 - freshly-squeezed orange juice 1 - cream .75 - luxardo triple sec .25 - simple syrup .25 - lemon juice 1 dropper - vanilla extract
shake with cobbled ice and pour unstrained into a collins glass. garnish with an orange twist.
image of Orange Whip fountain container:
— Joe Darling