a unique perspective on this crazy world

a european sensibility


This is a day late as I was too sleepy to do the final edit last night.

Last night I overheard the TV advertising something called Skinny Girl wine and spirits.  I didn’t bother to check it out.  I was sure the concept was that calories trumped flavour.  Being a whiskey girl I can appreciate maybe Skinny Girl vodka might be OK – but Skinny Girl wine?  Seriously?

It smacked to me of the nutso North American attitude toward our diet that has helped to increase obesity across our fair continent.  Sadly, to the detriment of health, common sense and – most importantly – pleasure…

As I write this, the concept of pleasure is at the cortex of my brain… I am sitting in one of my favourite restaurants and just arranged with David, the charming English bartender, to do a menu paired with cocktails instead of wine.

My first course is salmon grilled over mesquite.  Presentation at l’Abattoir is always exceptional.  The salmon comes with a stunning crispy skin floating independently on top, some stunning green carefully chopped asparagus, all floating in a frothy pool of anchovy foam.

David’s pairing cocktail starts with gin for the juniper to compliment the salmon.  He adds a bit of Mescal and some chartreuse to add balance and compliment the mesquite.  I’ve just eaten the likely tipsy sour cherry at the bottom of the glass.  It really complimented the salmon dish.  It also worked really well with the bacon brioche.  Seriously, bacon brioche… does life get much better?

To go back for a minute to the theme, the bread at l’Abattoir is almost worth a visit on its own.  It’s full of carbs – and fat – and pure deliciousness.  And I am no fatter today.  It’s the European sensibility.  The portions are not huge.  You don’t indulge every day.  You drink a lot of water.  Most importantly, you eat real food, full of fresh ingredients, flavour and satisfying fat and protein.

No trans fat.  No wild amount of sugar.  No empty calories that don’t satisfy so you eat vast amounts.  Europeans laugh at low fat food – and most walk away.  They know it’s mostly crap.  Instead they eat small portions of foods full of fat, flavour – and carbs!  And then walk it off by hardly ever using their cars.

Like me, they would cringe at the very idea of Skinny Girl wine… hey, most of them are skinny… drinking gorgeous, flavourful Old World wines that they sip slowly while drinking large quantities of water.  Binge drinking Skinny Girl wine would just not occur to them.

Instead, like me, they would be open to my fabulous dinner…  the chef at l’Abattoir even got me eating kale and lima beans!  Because they came together with some juicy, perfectly seared scallops and pancetta so crispy it must be what they feed you in heaven.

All the flavours complimented each other so well.  And David made me a special version of the Harvard Cocktail.  Apparently a Harvard Cocktail is a Manhattan made with cognac.  It includes a splash of club soda.  David also added celery bitters (more veggies!) to compliment the kale.

Since I was far too stuffed with rich food, I told him I would only have the cocktail for dessert.  A digestive.  Very European of me 🙂  My dessert cocktail consisted of Kraken spiced rum from Indiana, crème de cacao, sweet vermouth and aromatic bitters.

So much better than chocolate…  And it would kick Skinny Girl wine’s ass 🙂

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