Since Ice Kitchen 'POPTAILS' book publication day is TODAY, I thought I'd share some behind the scenes moments creating the photographs and whimsical garnishes with the wonderful photographic duo Louise Hagger and Alexander Breeze, each photo expressed the story and mood behind each one so well... I created 50 poptails with 50 stories inspired by the Paris Ritz to the Rolling Stone's ... It was a real trip creating this book for Ice Kitchen in London!
Some of my sketches - working out finer details...
how I feel right now..... https://vimeo.com/121158295
THE POPTAIL STORY....... (My double life as an Ice Wizard) I would call this episode 'HIGH ON LOLLIES!'
The idea for this book came about while I was experimenting with flavors and randomly dipped a watermelon ice lolly into a glass of rum to see how the flavors matched. While sucking the alcohol off the frozen lolly, I realized that this was something so special that I called Cesar right away to tell him how great it was. He laughed because I told him I had to pick my daughter up from school slightly tipsy. It planted a seed that led to the creation of this book, and the ‘dipping’ into a well-matched alcohol became an important aspect of many of the recipes.
ONE THING LED TO ANOTHER…..
There’s something a little mischievous about turning a childhood treat into a strictly adult one and I couldn't help myself from experimenting. I am not a heavy drinker, but I find the flavors and history of mixed drinks very creative and imaginative, and the paring of alcohols to other ingredients felt like exciting new territory. Cesar, on the other hand, enjoys the clubs, bars and social drinking culture of London. The floodgates opened.
I love experimenting, putting together ingredients that compliment each other. I start with one and add another, getting a delicate balance of flavors that enhance each other or an unexpected clash that leads to another ‘story’ altogether, like the ‘Figs Go South of the Border’ with Mediterranean flavors meeting in Mexico. When I wrote the original draught for this book I found that I had written the expression ‘the so and so flavor shines through…..’ in almost every recipe. I laughed at myself for writing the sentence so many times, but the point I was trying to make was that each flavor needs to express itself distinctly, like notes in a piece of music.
ALCOHOL DOESN'T LIKE TO FREEZE…..
The fact that alcohol doesn't like to freeze was a challenge- if I put too much in, the lollies turned to slush - but this led to some unexpected and delicious solutions. Such as using raisins or bits of fruit soaked in alcohol in the mixtures and to finding the alcohols that had stronger, more distinctive tastes, so that the flavor gave the feel of alcohol when the content was low. But most of all, it led to the idea of ‘dipping’ the poptails into a glass of well-matched alcohol, and this became a big part of excitement.
THE LORE OF COCKTAILS AND MAGIC AT THE TABLE.....
I have become fascinated with the whole lore of cocktails, the stories and rituals and the romance behind them, and have fallen in love with the bottles themselves - the way their intriguing shapes and labels reflect the era in which they were first commercially introduced. I learned all kinds of things - for instance that the bartender at the Ritz Hotel in Paris, Frank Meier was also a spy for the French resistance.
The ceremony and presentation around a poptail establish a mood, each one becomes a little still-life at the table, a little story that takes you elsewhere - the Pommes-Pommes poptail with the red rose puts you right at the Paris Ritz, the Tequila Sunrise with it’s lipgloss-red glacé cherry puts you on the Rolling Stones Tour in 1972, Napoleon’s Retreat takes you to 19th Century France. The stories and naming of the poptails gave them meaning and humor - the one for ‘real men’ makes me laugh every time.
The rolling, swirling, or dipping of the poptails into exciting garnishes came from the idea of the traditional pairing of cocktails with bar snacks and it led to some fun combinations, like the Chocolate Whiskey Chili dipped into crispy bacon pieces, or the Bourbon Vanilla rolled into smashed crunchy amaretti or peanuts.
The poptails are highly colored and gem-like and the garnishes - suspended fruits, cut zests, berries pierced onto sticks, umbrellas and miniature toys- all add to the drama and sense of fun.
HOME WITH BLURRED SENSIBILITIES.....
The kitchen where I experiment in my loft in SoHo in New York is attached to my art studio. I live there with my eight year old daughter Lily. Due to demolition and construction work in my building, we haven't had any gas for over nine months, and have only a little hot plate and tiny toaster oven to cook with. But this hasn’t stopped my kitchen from turning into an inebriated Iced Kitchen laboratory, with the whole kitchen counter becoming a drinks cabinet. Friends popping in and visitors who coming to see my artwork end up with fistfuls of poptails to comment on and as many shot glasses to dip them into, thus blurring their artistic sensibilities.
LIONS MILK and more..…
I updated old lost cocktails and froze their components; deconstructed others and created twists on classics; and created new combinations from our own stories and experiences. The Lions Milk with Arak, yogurt and honey is inspired by my grandfather Cesar’s -who is Cesar’s great grandfather - regular drink with a mezze. The Zabaglione recalls something my mother Claudia gave me for breakfast as a child. Some poptails evoke a bygone era, some recall memorable times and places – a bar in London, a magical garden party in New York, a street in Sorrento in Italy, a terrace café in Paris. The most indulgent, the Grand Marnier Custard with raspberries soaked in Limoncello, evolved from a special Christmas lolly commissioned by Claridges, it holds a little culinary secret. You’ll find many spritzes and an obsession with all things ‘Negroni’ - there would have been more than three Negroni poptails if there had been more room!
To order the BOOK: https://www.amazon.com/Ice-Kitchen-Poptails-Sensationally-Intoxicating/d...
For ICE KITCHEN lollies: http://www.icekitchen.co.uk