Category Archives: drinks

In Pursuit of the Smokey Margarita…


I spent the month of July and part of August in Oaxaca – it was an amazing opportunity.  I was awarded a fellowship to the NEH Summer Institute for Teachers there, where we studied Mesoamerican Cultures in History.  While we were there, we were educated on the production of mezcal, and even visited a mezcal distillery run by Beneva called Rancho Zapata.  The waiters there were kind enough to pass out free samples.  As were all of the pretty girls who ran the tasting rooms on the streets of Oaxaca.

The main difference between tequila and mezcal is the type of agave used, and the process for distillation.  The main characteristic, I think, for mezcal is that the agave is roasted before it’s fermented.  Here is a cute little video that leans a bit in the favor of mezcal…

Anyhoo… When I returned to Atlanta, I was happy to see that at my favorite restaurant – El Agavero Cantina – there was a drink offered called the Smokey Margarita.  It was actually a happy accident that I got to taste it.  My friend who arrived early had ordered it and did not like it.  She mentioned that it had mezcal in it.  So, I traded my margarita for hers.  Every since then, I have ordered it when I dine there.

Of course, I started wondering just what made it smokey.  Sure, mezcal has a smokey taste, but not that smokey.  So… to the internet!!!

In my search for the terms “smokey” and “margarita” – this is what I got:

A recipe by Bobby Flay for the Food Network:

  • 2 ounces tequila (recommended: El Tesoro)
  • 1-ounce Triple Sec
  • 1-ounce fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon simple syrup
  • Ice cubes
  • 1/2-ounce mezcal (recommended: Del Maguey “Chichicapa” Single Village Mezcal)

Place tequila, Triple Sec, lime juice, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker and shake until combined. Serve over ice in a rocks glass and pour mezcal on top; do not stir the mezcal into the drink, as it should “float” on top.

It was kicked up a notch by this reviewer: ” The mescal really adds some nice flavor. Took it one step further and picked up some smoked salt at whole foods to rim the glass and all I can say is that is one fantastic margarita smokey goodness.”

Here is another from the blog Daddy-O’s Martinis:

Build over ice in a double old fashioned glass.
1 oz metl silver mezcal
1/2 oz metl silver tequila
1/2 oz grand marnier
1/1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz agave nectar

Place the bottom of a cocktail shaker upside down to cover the old fashion glass and shake vigorously. Reserve drink in tin and salt rim of glass, pour back into the same glass and garnish with a lime wedge.

This one from Mission: Margarita – it is similar to Bobby Flay’s recipe.

Here is one that uses smoked paprika to add flavor:

Ingredients For 2 Cocktails

  • 3 tablespoons sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/4 teaspoon
    smoked paprika,* divided
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • 6 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 2 ounces tequila


  1. Mix sea salt and 1 tablespoon of the smoked paprika on a small plate. Wet outside rims of margarita or other beverage glasses with lime wedge. Dip glasses into sea salt mixture to coat.
  2. Fill cocktail shaker with 2 cups of ice. Add lime juice, agave nectar, tequila and remaining 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika; shake until well mixed and chilled. Immediately pour into prepared glasses.

*The regular paprika you have in the spice cabinet is probably sweet paprika. Spanish smoked paprika is a special kind, smoked over oak fires so it takes on a smoky flavor. In Hungary, there are six classes, or types, of paprika ranging from delicate to hot. In order to achieve the flavors of this recipe, you’ll need to use Spanish smoked paprika.

But this recipe – Carlyle’s Smoky Margarita (notice the smoky instead of smokey?) – gave me some real ideas:

1.75 oz Herradura reposado tequila
.5 oz Cointreau
.5 oz lime juice
.5 oz lapsang souchong syrup

Shake over ice and serve on the rocks in a salt-rimmed glass.

Here’s his note about the lapsang souchong syrup:

Lapsang souchong is a delicious Chinese black tea dried over burning pine wood. This distinctive process gives it a strong smoky aroma that lends itself well to use in cocktails. To make the syrup, simply brew hot lapsang souchong and mix with an equal volume of sugar.

So, I’ve been working with smokey things:  dried ancho chiles soaked in hot water, powdered chipotle chiles and ancho chiles, paprika (not the smoked kind, though), and I even a couple of packets of All Night Samba Yerba Mate tea I had in the pantry.  And, yes, I mixed them all together.  It wasn’t bad.

Now, so far, the only variety of Mezcal I have been able to find is Monte Alban.  It’s not bad, but I was just curious as to whether or not there was a smokier brand.

But, lucky for me, I live near downtown Norcross, home of a great shop called Taste of Britain.  And what do the British LOVE?  Tea!!!  Strong, black tea.  So, I stopped by and bought a large box of Taylor’s of Harrogate Lapsang Souchong tea bags.  And, boy are they smokey…

At the moment, this is my recipe:

1 part tequila (Jose Cuervo Traditional)

1/2 to 3/4  part Patron Citronge (or orange liqueur)

2 parts sour mix (I am using 1 part Jose Cuervo Margarita Mix and 1 part Sinless Margarita Mix at the moment)

1/2 to 1 part strong tea mix*

agave nectar to taste

*I am still tweaking the mix.  More on that later…




Monte Alban and Mezcal, tour day part one


Yesterday (Tuesday) was a field trip day.  The NEH fellows met at the corner of Constitucion and Reforma and boarded a large University bus with a very stoic bus driver with sideburns.  We made our way around the top of the valley to the archaeological zone of Monte Alban.  I had been there once before with my husband and father (in 2003), but this was a little different.

For one thing, we were accompanied by the foremost expert on Mixtec culture and history, Dr. Ronald Spores.  He would periodically stand up on the bus and point out places in the distance, usually covered by urban sprawl, that were Zapotec or Mixtec sites.  He maintains that the indigenous peoples of Oaxaca state never “died”, but are alive and well up until the present.

We got down at the entrance to Monte Alban, where we were met by family members who came on a separate bus.  My husband and nephew were there – my husband taking pictures, of course.  My nephew, who is into geocaching, was volunteered by me to operate a GPS donated to the Virtual Oaxaca Project.  The idea was to map the exact locations of the major buildings at the site so that it can be recreated in a virtual world, probably on Second Life.

To that end, I walked around with a notebook and pen, and each time Robert (my nephew) plotted the coordinates of a major temple or the ball court, or anything major, I wrote down the name of the place and its coordinates (latitude and longitude).  It ended up being quicker to just do the last digit, the “seconds” because the degrees and the minutes did not change.

Let me tell you that we went to EVERY tomb, edifice, pile of rocks, etc. that there was at Monte Alban.  The only place I did not go was to the top of the South Pyramid.  My nephew, of course, trotted up and down that twice, measuring coordinates at the base of the steps and at the top of the structure.

I stayed at the bottom and tried to sketch a hieroglyph that looked a bit like Donald Duck – I don’t know what was up with the bill… Maybe it was a visor.  While I was sketching that, the husband of a co-participant (David Geer) was sketching me!

Can you tell it's me?

After we left Monte Alban, we were heading for Mitla.  First, we planned on stopping at a restaurant and mezcal distillery for lunch.  Alas, we has an adventurous side-track because the highway was blocked – we think it was some kind of protest.  Our bus driver said he knew a “short cut”. and turned off onto a dirt road.  A one-track dirt road.  With cars going in both directions as they made their way around the blockade.  Did I mention that we were in a tour bus?  He got through just fine, but boy, were we ready for some mezcal tasting when it was done!!!

Rancho Zapata was the name of the restaurant/showroom and it is one of those destination restaurants for families to come to for the weekend.  They bring their kids with them (there’s a playground), have a leisurely lunch on the covered patio, and buy a little mezcal.  The place is operated by Mezcal Benevá, and they also raise race horses there.  There are stables in the back.

The front of the restaurant is decorated with old pictures of Emilio Zapata, and the back room has starting gate and finish line photos of their winning horses.  In the back is also a palenque or press for getting the juice out of the maguey roots.  There are vats with maguey in several states of fermentation, and a big murky tub feeding liquid into the distillers.  From there, the mezcal drips into big plastic tanks to be bottled later, I guess.

Now, the one thing I learned about this whole process is that there are a LOT of flies.  Flies on the growing maguey plants, flies on the pulverized core, flies on the vats of fermenting pulp, and flies over the murky tub.  The one source of comfort is that that stuff is boiled, distilled and stored in a fly-proof tank.  Did you know that some mezcals (not all) have an maguey worm in them?  They should really put a fly in there!

More later!  I have another long day in a bus tomorrow and I’ve got to get to bed.

Three Kings Day is today


I bought two rosca de reyes yesterday at the Buford Highway Farmers Market.  Today is Three Kings Day and also the first day back for the students.  I thought that I would treat them to a little celebration.  By the way, I may not have been looking in the right places in the past for rosca, because it now seems pretty easy to find.  This morning, when I went to get serving plates at WalMart, they had them too.  They were bigger than the ones I bought for the same price.

While looking around for juice boxes or something for the kids to drink with their cake, I made up my mind to make some atole to serve as well.  The tradition is to drink chocolate atole, called champurrado, with the cake.  I bought some packets to make rice atole, knowing that I would have to augment the chocolate factor, and add sugar as well.  When I got back to the internet, I found that I had all of the necessary ingredients at home to make atole with harina de masa.  I still needed milk.

Here are some links on atole, while I’m at it:

I worked on the atole for a while, using bowls, two different sized pots, a strainer (to get the broken cinnamon sticks out), and whisks and spoons.  I can’t really describe what I did, but I followed the package directions and kept adding Hershey’s cocoa, brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon and vanilla and even a little more milk until I got something that was thick without being chocolate pudding.  Then I wondered how I was going to serve it hot at school…

I washed out an Igloo drink cooler and put it in there.  Then, my mother came up with the brilliant idea of using my slow cooker.  That’s what I did.  I brought it to school, poured the hot chocolate liquid in, and set it on high until it got hot, then turned it on low to keep warm until after lunch.  Worked like a charm.

We only ate one of the king cakes in class – there were two little babies in it.  That’s strange to me, because there is only one in a Louisiana or French cake.  I have another left over.  Maybe I’ll offer it up to the teachers, or maybe I will make bread pudding out of it.

Two years ago, I made bread pudding from pan de muertos.  I think I will do something similar with the king cake.  It already has candied fruit on the top. I may take that off and chop it up instead of putting in the ate candy as I did in the recipe below.

Bread of the Dead Pudding

1 pan de muertos (large) cut into 1/2-inch cubes
8 large eggs
2 cups whipping cream
2 cups whole milk
1 cup sugar and 1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup calvados (apple brandy) or dark rum
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup ate candy (or buy a brick of ate and cut into cubes)
1/2 cup raisins (I only had brown, but golden might be nice)

Place bread cubes in 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan. Whisk eggs, whipping cream, milk, sugar, calvados, and vanilla extract in large bowl to blend. Pour over bread cubes (I used a square baking pan and was afraid it would overflow, so I used a 1/2 cup measure to add the custard a little at a time.  I worked out perfectly) Let stand 30 minutes, occasionally pressing bread into custard mixture. (Can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake until pudding is set in center, about 50 to 60 minutes. Cool slightly. Serve warm.

Happy Three Kings Day!

Aguas Frescas with Alcohol


Of course, I looked for aguas frescas that were used as alcoholic drink

Tamarind Margarita

mixers. In downtown Norcross, a Mexican restaurant called Zapata served me a tamarind margarita that was pretty good. And, in looking for a recipe for that, my search turned up with recipes for a Gitatini (a Ginger Tamarind cocktail), a Tamarind Martini (from Cooking Light), a Tamarind and Vodka Cocktail (served in a pitcher), and Tamarind Borracho (drunken tamarind). Oh, here’s a Tamarind Margarita with a Chili Rim… Quite a few of the recipes call for Tamarind Concentrate, which I just found in an ethnic grocery.

Of course, since aguas frescas are basically fruit juices, you can just add alcohol to them, and Boom! – you’ve got a drink.  But I thought that I would look to see if anyone had purposefully created a cocktail using aguas frescas as a base.

Here are some more cocktail ideas:

Aguas at the Loteria Grill

I found an Australian company called Sunbeat that makes condensed syrups in exotic flavors.  They have PDF files of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks using all sorts of unusual ingredients, such as dragon fruit, hibiscus, rooibus, lemongrass and ginger.

I came across that site while looking for a Hibiscus version of a Sea Breeze coctail, which is made with Cranberry Juice.  I also found a New Orleans restaurant called The Green Goddess which has a very unusual food and drink menu.  I found this description: Organic Tru Vodka, Hibiscus from Sudan on the Nile River, Acai Juice from the Brazilian Rainforest,  finished with Jamaican Pink Ting.

Okay, I am sure that there are other recipes out there, but I need to wrap this up.  I have a tendency to search things to death – does anyone else do that?

Aguas Frescas – other than Horchata


My first experience with trying to make aguas frescas was in the interest of my Spanish Exploratory class –  I developed this day where we ate “Crazy Mexican Sweets.”  The Klass mixes were the first I tried and it was horchata.  First thing I learned after mixing it in a bottle was that sugar MUST be added.  I had some Mexican children in Spanish Exploratory (which cannot be avoided in the scheduling world) and someone politely tasted it and shared that info with me.

So, yes, there are mixes for aguas frescas that are little more that Kool Aid.  Here is a link so you can see all of the Klass mixes.  I think that the tamarindo and jamaica are passable, but skip the limon – it is very VERY acidic.

Next on the  list are bottled aguas frescas – which are a pretty good substitute if you don’t want to take the time to make them yourself.  They are also good to bring to a tasting – for example, if your Spanish students wanted to have a food day.  Bonadea Drinks offers 11 flavors, including pepino (cucumber?) and has very clean, slick packaging.  It is sweetened with agave for you health nuts out there.  Morela Aguas Frescas has many flavors as well.  Cañita  Brands offers only jamaica and tamarindo.  Even Kern’s Nectars is getting into the act with jamaica (full of antioxidants!), tamarindo and limon.

Okay, if you don’t know what an agua fresca is, it’s basically a drink made of pureed fruit, sugar and water.  The mixture is blended together and strained to make a refreshing beverage.  For further enlightenment, here is a Los Angeles Times article on aguas frescas – and another from the L. A. Times on where to find freshly made ones.  Apparently, they take their A.F. (aguas frescas)  seriously in L. A.

Here is a Guide to Mexican Fruits from  This is for your reference.  After you have read all of the enticing and creative recipes here, you may want to personalize your own fruit!  To get you started, here is a Basic Agua Fresca Recipe with variations.  Here is another page with the basics – they call them Mexican Coolers.

What follows is basically a collection of recipes and variations I have found on the internet through hours of research…

While I was researching, I came across Rachel Laudan’s blog.  She has a lot of posts about exotic foods, but if you click on her Aguas Frescas tag, you can find several unusual drink recipes.  Here is one for Agua de Viernes de Dolores which I think is colored from beet root but it has all sorts of fruit and even shredded iceberg lettuce in it!  Another unusual agua is made with Apricot Leather – it actually has Middle Eastern provenance.

Finally, I did an search to see if anyone had a book out yet on aguas frescas.  I found Cool Waters: Refreshing Homemade Thirst Quenchers by Brian Preston-Campbell – This looks like a really good book with recipes for flavored waters and ice cubes.

P.S. – I did find an interesting variation on Horchata from a restaurant called Guelaguetza in Los Angeles.  It has chopped prickly pear fruit (tuna) and pecans (nueces) on top.  Yum!

We have horchata!


Well, something I did not realize in my eagerness to write about horchata is that it is not an immediate gratification drink.  I went out and bought a coffee and/or spice grinder, white rice, almonds, and stick cinnamon.  I was ready!   I guess it would have been a good idea to read the INSTRUCTIONS…

All of the instructions I found said that the pulverized rice and cinnamon and almond mess needed to soak in water overnight.  I wanted my horchata NOW!  But, I did as I was told.  Then, I looked at the printout of the recipe for Smoked Horchata and noticed there was a cheat there.  They suggested using rice milk, almond milk and coconut water with cinnamon, brown sugar, toasted almonds and unsweetened coconut to make something that would be ready sooner.

I couldn’t find unsweetened coconut, and I fudged a bit on the almonds, using some roasted ones my husband had.  I also added white sugar and a tad of molasses to substitute for the missing brown sugar.  I strained it several times through my inadequate strainer, and it came out pretty good.  I could not find the ingredients for the Smoked Horchata, but I bought some rum and a tiny bottle of Frangelico to make something like the Squirrel Horchata.

I tasted my overnight horchata this evening, and it was good.  I think that I need to invest in some cheesecloth, though.  Paper towels are not good filters.  And, since we don’t drink coffee, there were no coffee filters hanging around.

Aguas Frescas: Horchata, Pt. 2 (Rated R…)

The Smoked Horchata

The Smoked Horchata

Now, let’s talk horchata and alcohol. I found a couple of interesting general articles on using horchata as a mixer.  Of course, there’s the great Squirrel Horchata recipe at Chowhound. But here are some excerpts from a Horchata Cocktails Article on

“Traditionally, forward-thinking citizens have spiked horchata with rum, Cointreau, Grand Marnier or brandy, but finding formalized cocktails has been rare (in California, some Latino bars apparently make a “Rice Rocket,” a potent mix of horchata, coconut-flavored rum and Goldschlager).”

Note:  I was just thinking about the “bling” factor of a liqueur with tiny pieces of gold floating in it, but I just read that Goldschlager has a cinnamon flavor.  That would make it more appropriate than I thought for a horchata drink.

and this (most intriguing):

“At the creative cocktail den Death & Company, you can pick up the very complicated “Smoked Horchata” crafted by bartender Joaquin Simo. The recipe involves reposado tequila, crema de mezcal, cinnamon bark syrup, house-made horchata (crafted with toasted coconut flakes and almond flour) and a dash of bitters. The resulting cocktail is dense but crisp. An unexpected summer drink, like the base liquid itself, it somehow manages to restore.”

Yay!!! I found a PDF of Smoked Horchata recipe, including the easy horchata (made with rice and almond milks with coconut water) and cinnamon bark syrup (added to other drinks as well) at Tasting  It looks fascinating! Here’s another cinnamon bark syrup recipe used in a non-horchata drink from Imbibe Magazine. highly recommends a horchata drink called The Spicy Brown Girl made at Stir Lounge in Las Vegas:

“While the Horchata gives the Spicy Brown Girl its creamy consistency, the drink’s zing comes from (mixologist Niles) Peacock’s homemade Ancho chile simple syrup, a spicy mixer that leaves the palate surprisingly hot. Other ingredients: Smirnoff Vanilla Twist Vodka, dark Crème de Cacao, and Peacock’s homemade Madagascar cello, which he makes with Madagascar vanilla beans.”

I could not find a recipe for the Spicy Brown Girl on the internet, so I looked for recipes for the components of the drink.  Here is an Ancho Chile Syrup Recipe to try (scroll to the middle of the page). I could not find a recipe for “Madagascar cello”, but I assume it is vodka infused with Madagascar vanilla bean pods.  Here is a link to Marie Brizard’s Vanilla Liqueur, which I think might be an acceptable substitute.

The Rosa’s Horchata Site had five cocktail recipes using their canned or bottled ready-made horchata. Click here for the page with the recipes and here for a PDF file to download.

On other random sites, I found some other drinks recipes:

  • Here’s one for Rum-Spiked Horchata, which uses condensed milk and then rum to replace some of the water.
  • Here is a Sarah Moulton recipe for a coconut rice cooler with optional rum added.
  • The Monte Alban on is similar to the Rice Rocket, but uses tequila instead of coconut-flavored rum.
  • had the Rojo Robles,which adds coffee liqueur and raspberry vodka to the horchata, and…
  • The Reggaton, made with horchata and Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum.
  • In the middle of this article  is a recipe for Heavenly Horchata, made with tequila and Kahlua.
  • The La Palapa Horchata has vanilla vodka and amaretto added to it.
  • Horchata Macau uses just a bit of spiced almond horchata with Flor de Cana guava-infused white rum and fresh lemon.
  • the White Widow has tequila, melon liquor and horchata

I just found a fascinating article on orgeat syrups. The original orgeat syrup is a sweet syrup made from almonds, sugar and rose water or orange-flower water. It was, however, originally made with a barley-almond blend. (from Wikipedia).  Here is a step by step recipe for French orgeat syrup with illustrations.

This article from RookieLibations at Blogspot seems to be playing around with derivatives based on rice-based drinks.  Check it out – there are recipes for three different types of syrup.  There is a syrup using a horchata de melon recipe, which is used in a drink called the Melon de Rosa.  There is a rice horchata syrup recipe with a pisco drink called a Fausto Cocktail.  Finally, there’s a wacky syrup based on thandai (a northern Indian concoction) with a cocktail called the Isodo Cocktail.  Very creative!

Aguas Frescas: Horchata, Part 1


I was doing some research into aguas frescas, after receiving a drink recipe ManekiNeko_horchata_jarfrom that incorporated horchata. After doing probably too much research, I felt like I needed to make two entries: one on horchata one on the other aguas frescas.

Even though I had visited Mexico before, and had even been served a hibiscus flower punch at a friend’s party, my first experience with “making” aguas frescas was while teaching Exploratory Spanish several years ago.

I came up with this idea of having my students sample Mexican sweets and candies as cultural enrichment.  I went to the Buford Highway Farmers Market and was amazed at the variety.  Along with sweet breads, cookies, cajeta and sticky chili tamarind treats, I thought I would serve some aguas frescas.  Instead of making them from scratch, I found some convenient Klass dried drink mix packets and decided to use those.

When I prepared the powdered horchata drink for my first group of students, I asked one of my Mexican students to taste it and tell me what she thought.  She took a sip and made a face.  Then, she said, “I think you are supposed to add sugar to it.” DUH! But even after adding sugar, I realized that the horchata powder would quickly sink to the bottom.  If you shook it up and took a sip, you got a mouthful of grit.

I think I tried a liquid concentrate after that, but after having tasted horchata at my local taqueria, I realized that mixes would always be a poor substitute.  There’s supposedly a bottled version made by Rose’s Horchata that is the real thing – if I find it, I may try it.  Also, I just read that the people who make Rice Dream have added a horchata flavor. I’m all about the quick fix.

But, today I received in my Chow mail a recipe for a drink called “Squirrel Horchata”.  Briefly, I wondered about the powdered squirrel, but I quickly found that it was a cocktail made with horchata, dark rum, and Frangelico liqueur (a hazelnut liqueur). From there I quickly found some other agua fresca based drinks and cocktails.  But, today, we will only talk about horchata.

Horchata or orxata is the name for several kinds of traditional beverages, made of ground almonds, sesame seeds, rice, barley or tigernuts (chufas). Horchata, the Spanish way, using chufa is very different from Mexican horchata. Chufa, also called tigernuts can be ordered online. I remembered Andrew Zimmern from Bizarre Foods trying it in Spain, and he did not like it at all.  Here is a video of his experience drinking Spanish Horchata.

Here is an article that features Salvadoran horchata, made with calabash, or morro, seeds.  It also talks about other horchatas.

First of all, here is a basic recipe for horchata (from the Food Network):

* 1 cup long grain white rice
* 2 cups skinless almonds
* 1-inch piece cinnamon bark
* 8 cups water
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
* Ice cubes


Wash and drain the rice. Using a spice grinder (an electric coffee grinder works well too), grind the rice until fine; combine with the almonds and cinnamon bark. Add 3 1/2 cups water and let sit overnight, covered. Blend rice mixture until smooth using a blender. Add 2 1/2 cups of water and continue blending. Add sugar and vanilla extract. Strain horchata into a bowl first using a metal strainer and then a double layer of cheesecloth; finish with up to an additional 2 cups of water until it achieves a milky consistency. Enjoy over ice.

There are all sorts of variations.  Here are some of the recipes I have found:

-From Imbibe magazine, this horchata adds lime zest.
-From, a variety of agua fresca recipes includes a horchata made with skim milk.
Almond Horchata – no rice, just almonds.
-From Ingrid Hoffman, this one adds almond extract.
Brown Jasmine Rice Horchata – someone’s trying to make it healthy!
Indian Horchata with brown basmati rice and cardamom pods.
Horchata de Lima (Peru).
Horchata with Chocolate and Pumpkin Seeds from Saveur magazine
Horchata Rosa– the “rosa” refers to food coloring, not the crushed roses I was hoping to find.
White and Wild Rice Horchata from Garrett’s Table. “To make it, simply substitute 1/4 c. white rice for wild rice in the original recipe.”
-From the L.A.Times, horchata with toasted pecans and cantaloupe.
Barley Horchata – hmmmm.  AKA Horchata de Cebada (Barley).
Horchata de Avena (oatmeal) – at the bottom of the page. A picture of it is at the top.
Horchata de Venezuela – made with sesame seeds.

For a few minutes, I decided to do a search on Bubble Tea (boba tea) made with horchata.  Why not?  This boba tea recipe calls for rice milk anyway, why not substitute that with horchata?  There is also a chocolate version.

Basic Bubble Tea:
1 cup brewed black or green tea or espresso
7 to 8 ice cubes
1 cup rice milk or almond milk
sugar to taste
1/2 cup tapioca pearls

Instructions: Pour everything into a Martini shaker and shake for a few seconds. Pour into a large glass. Use this as a base and add anything you want to it such as nondairy cream, ground almond, or fruit juice.

You can make a chocolate almond variation by omitting the tapioca pearls and adding 2 tablespoons cocoa powder and 2 tablespoons ground almonds.

Horchata Chai sounds good, too!

-Variations on horchata at this website include “plain”, chocolate, and strawberry.
Strawberry Horchata from the California Strawberry Commission.
Peach Horchata from the Food Network.
This recipe uses cartons of organic vanilla rice milk and organic almond milk.
Cantaloupe Horchata uses the seeds of the melon instead of rice and almonds.
Coconut Horchata – really just fresh coconut, milk and sugar.
Yerba Mate and Horchata – okay… I was actually looking for green tea and horchata.

While searching, I also found horchata used in various dessert recipes:
Horchata Cupcakes
Frozen Horchata dessert
Horchata ice cream
Horchata ice cream With Canela and Pecans
Horchata Pudding
Cinnamon Horchata Cookies – second recipe down
Tonka Bean and Cinnamon Horchata Sherbet

Trip to Houston


What can I say?  I had a great Spring Break.  Friday night, my husband and I went to see Yacht Rock at a bar in Buckhead.  Do you know how long it has been since I have been out?  Especially in Buckhead: a major meat market for 20-somethings (and maybe 30-somethings). I cannot describe the crush when we were downstairs with the unwashed masses.  Finally, we made our way upstairs to a balcony overlooking the band.  That is where all of the other “old people” were… The band was great, though.

The next day, I left on an afternoon flight to Houston to visit a friend of mine.  She has the cutest little house in the Heights – the cutest little neighborhood in Houston.  We went out to eat – left planning to go one place and ended up at another.  We tried this trendy place called Max’s Wine Dive.  What a concept: expensive glasses of wine with upscaled “dive” food: Fried chicken, hamburgers, “meat loaf”, mac ‘n’ cheese.  God, I wish I had thought of it!

On Sunday, we went out to brunch with another friend – I had requested dim sum. Instead, a new South African restaurant was suggested for brunch.  It is called Out of Africa.  I have a friend who is spending the year in Johannesburg.  I would love to visit, but I’m afraid that the airfare would be a killer.  So I will have to take my South African experiences wherever I can.  It was pretty good – I really liked the bobotee.  The terrace was the perfect brunch spot – not too hot, not too cool.

As a surprise, my friend bought me a ticket to see Les Miserables at the Theatre Under The Stars.  It was particularly meaningful because Rob Evan was playing Jean Valjean.  I used to be friends with his mother when I was teaching in Monticello, GA.  I met him before he was “my son, Rob Evan – the actor/singer” (that’s what she called him).  He was also quite an event and hunter/jumper rider.  Okay, I am pretty sure I have seen Les Miz before, but did not remember anything at all about the plot.

I did a lot of sleeping late – while my friend was out walking in the morning, I hung with her two dogs, “the Fluffies”, teaching them bad habits, like jumping on the guest bed.  Monday, we went to International Boulevard to have Mexican food.  We ate at a little taqueria (Casa de Leon), where I had tacos de birria (goat, I think).  Afterward, we stopped at an ice cream place – appropriately called La Michoacana.  I had a coconut paleta.

Does it sound like we did a lot of eating?  I’m not done.  That night, we went to Anvil Bar and Refuge.  It’s a new bar run by four hard-core former bartenders.  Everything is homemade and prepared to exacting standards.  They specialize in old school cocktails, like “the sidecar” – I didn’t want that.  After looking at the daily specials, I decided upon a drink called a “Dark and Stormy“.  It was a combination of Cruzan Blackstrap Rum, Ginger Beer (they brew their own, adding a little Thai chili for spice…), and lime.  It arrived in a beautiful squat old-fashioned glass filled to the brim with uniformly crushed ice, with a slice of lime and a straw.

I took a sip of my drink, and pondered.  My friend took a sip, and also was quiet.  Finally, we discussed what it tasted like.  My guess was an incense shop.  My friend went with “inside of my grandmother’s purse”.  Bingo.  I joke – after a while, it kind of grew on me.  My second order was a caipirinha – the cachaca was smokey, and there were perfect little clear cubes of ice.  Beautiful.  These guys cure their own olives, macerate their own cherries (my friend had one on her Metropole), and toast their own hazelnuts, I guess.  Check it out when you are in Houston!

On my last day, I went shopping on 19th Street in the morning.  It’s a lot of fun.  I spent a lot of time at Casa Ramirez, and came out with some cool stuff.  The owner is really nice, and we had a good conversation.  He is somewhat of a local expert on Mexican culture and gives talks and tours of Mexico for Day of the Dead.  I also spent a lot of time at Grace Hart and Company – a flea market-like shop with lots and lots of stalls.  It was fun.

Before I went to the airport to catch my flight, we went to Oishii – a sushi restaurant – and to Berripop, one of those new-fangled yogurt places. It was all very good and light.  It was so much fun to get out of town – I forget how big a city Houston is!  Bigger than Atlanta!  One of the best parts was that, coming back on Tuesday night, I still had five more days of vacation left to spend at home.