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  • Infinite Jest
    Infinite Jest
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    i'm marti.

    Thanks for coming. This is me —what I'm doing, loving, and, most importantly, eating. I hope you enjoy.

    i'm saying.
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    pintxo astearteak (tapa tuesdays)

    casa urola:::champis horno; yema de huevo (mushrooms with egg, potato puree, and ham crumbs)

    Fermin Calbeton Kalea, 20 ::Donostia-San Sebastián

    Okay, so this is actually a ración. But some of the best button mushrooms I've ever eaten, and when porcini/boletus are in season, this plate becomes to die for. It's not for nothing that this is the third time I've featured a plate from Casa Urola this year...


    Uncouth Vermouth : A Tasting

     Once upon a time, in a hip New York borough, a girl was mixing cocktails and wanted cheaper alternatives to some of her ingredients. One of these ingredients was a beverage you may know and love if you follow this blog....vermouth. So this young, third-generation Italian American set out to brew her own. And Uncouth Vermouth was born.

    Thanks to a fortuitious digital link-up with an incredibly kind and fun NYC family, I was gifted three bottles of Uncouth this summer. I looked at them, I held them, and I thought 'I've got to do something special with these." And the more I read and researched, the more I realized I was right. So we called in the big guns at the International Society for the Preservation and Enjoyment of Vermut and crafted a cata for this first-time ever across-the-pond tasting of Uncouth.

    (So, actually, that's me and Maite.)

    Let me tell you what, for me, are the most important facts about this lauded artisan vermouth producer:


    • free of added sugar: Bianca, the artisan behind the brand, harps on what is Uncouth's most unique and distinguishing point—the lack of added sugar. You see, what gives vermouth its signature body (and if you are a Martini brand drinker, syrupy-ness) is kind of a lot of sugar, often caramelized.  Uncouth has none of that, relying instead on sweet wines as a base and the fortifying brandy.
    • über local:  herbs and additions that are sourced in a very artisan manner, grown by Bianca's mother, or harvested nearby. The wine comes from Red Hook Winery, with vines all over Long Island and surrounding areas.
    • cheeky: branding is everything these days, and Uncouth's image does its uniqueness justice.  One look and you know it's not your typical vermouth. 


    At the tasting, we presented three Uncouth flavors, wild raspberry, apple mint, and serrano chile lavender.  They were quite shocking for these Spanish palates, mouths used to taking vermouth over ice as an aperitif (think sophisticated European version of having an apple-tini before dinner). They were distinctly dry, bitter, and stripped-down. In other words, like no vermouth on the planet.

     The winning vermouth among our 10 participants? The Serrano Chile Lavender.


    pintxo astearteak (tapa tuesdays)

    sirimiri::: croqueta de txipiron (squid croquetas)

    Calle Mayor, 18 ::Donostia-San Sebastián

    This new, then old, then burned then new again bar is right next to its sister bar, Atari.  They have only one pintxo, this knock it out of the ballpark croqueta.  The rest of the food is sharing plates and the cocktails are the pride of the house.


    pintxo astearteak (tapa tuesdays)

    bernardina::: verduritas en tempura (tempura-fried vegetables)

    Vitoria-Gasteiz Kalea, 6 ::Donostia-San Sebastián

    I don't know why in the world I haven't written about this spot before. Although it's a bit out of the way, Bernardina is a gem in the Donosti pintxo scene. Great pintxos, great wine, a great menu if you're looking for a sit-down dinner. And these veggies in tempura, while not at all Basque, are the best in town.


    Interview in 225 Magazine

    There are those moments in life that are disproportionately satisfying, and being asked to appear in 225 Magazine was one of those.  225 is the area code of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the town where I spent four formative years at college at LSU.

    Given my love-hate relationship with my time there, it feels a little bit awesome to be on the pages of the local magazine. Thanks, y'all!

    Read more: The interview in 225.