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Posts Tagged ‘margarita’

The Best Damn Margaritas You’ll Ever Taste

In Drink on May 4, 2013 at 11:57 am

Here at The Foodinista, we take our margaritas very seriously. We drink them made with limes, not strawberries, not mangoes, and absolutely not with pineapple juice (I’m talking to you, El Coyote Scratch Margarita). We also drink them year round. But if you’re just tuning in for Cinco de Mayo, here are our four of our favorites.

best damn margaritaThe all-time most popular recipe on TheFoodinista.com remains David Lansing‘s Perfect Margarita, pictured above. David knows his margs, and years ago I sent him down to Jalisco to research tequila for Bon Appétit magazine. Amazing that he ever came back, but when he did it was with this recipe. The man knows his stuff, and his margs. Get his recipe HERE.

LATC MargaritaI’m a believer that the best margarita is one somebody else makes for you, which is why this dandy little “skinny margarita” that Bruce stirs up at our local tennis club ranks right up there. I’ve watched him make it more times than I care to admit, and as best I can tell here are the basic proportions.

Los Angeles Tennis Club Margarita

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 ounces fresh lime juice, plus one lime wedge

2 ounces* silver tequila (Bruce uses Patron, I like Don Julio)

2 tablespoons triple sec

1/4 cup club soda

*2 ounces is a heavy pour, and believe me I’m not complaining, but you may want to start with 1 1/2 ounces. Or not.

Sprinkle salt on a small plate. Rub lime wedge around rim of a rocks glass and dip in salt to coat rim. Fill rocks glass with ice. Add lime juice, tequila and triple sec. Stir, and then top with club soda.

sohohousemargaritaThe Soho House Picante de la Casa Margarita is my favorite new discovery for spicing things up in the marg department. This one gets its kick from red jalapeños and cilantro. My friend Vanessa recreated the recipe for home consumption and says feel free to play around with proportions depending on how spicy you like it.

classic margaritaAnd then it’s hard to improve on perfection, which is why this is my go-to classic margarita recipe. Simple and sublime.

Foodinista’s Go-to Marg

Makes 4 stiff drinks

Kosher salt

1/3 cup fresh lime juice

1 cup Don Julio blanco tequila

1/2 cup triple sec

Sprinkle salt onto a small plate. Take a juiced lime peel and rub around rims of glasses, dip glass rims in salt. Pour lime juice, tequila, and triple sec into a shaker full of ice. Shake and strain into salt-rimmed glasses.

How to Spice Things Up

In Drink, Recipes on February 14, 2013 at 12:35 pm


If not in the bedroom, then let’s start by heating things up in the kitchen tonight. Last night at cooking club, the theme was recreating your favorite restaurant dish. The evening requires a separate post—Mozza meatballs, tagliata and Brussels sprouts with prosciutto breadcrumbs, Akasha kale salad, Ammo lentil salad, Café des Artiste mac n cheese, Hungry Cat ceviche and chocolate bread pudding, all SO good. (And apparently a lot of us like Mozza and Hungry Cat.)

But for the purposes of romance, for igniting that flame tonight, might I suggest my friend Vanessa’s recreation of the Soho House Picante de la Casa Margarita? Vanessa notes, “There are no real directions for how much pepper/cilantro to add so you just have to experiment and see how spicy and cilantro-y you like it.”

If you know what I mean.


Makes 2 cocktails

Red jalapeño, chopped, to taste

Fresh cilantro leaves, to taste

4 ounces Cazadores tequila

1 ounce agave nectar

2 ounce fresh lime juice, squeezed

In a mixing glass, muddle together chopped red chilies and cilantro leaves. Add tequila, agave and lime juice. Shake hard. Strain into two ice-filled rocks glasses.

Cheers to Cinco de Mayo

In Food on May 5, 2010 at 9:28 am

My in-laws are visiting from the East Coast and for their last night we are planning a Mexican-inspired feast to send them off in California style. For those of us who grew up in the Golden State, celebrating Cinco de Mayo is a matter of cultural pride. I took particular delight in celebrating Mexico’s victory over France when I was living in Paris a little over a decade ago. I grabbed a six pack of Stella Artois—Belgium’s answer to Corona, only Corona is much, much better—and a couple limes at the local Monoprix, and headed back to my little apartment on Rue Paul Bert. There, I shoved a ceremonial lime slice down the neck of a bottle of Stella, and sat with the windows open, smoking a cigarette and drinking a toast to my friends back home. It may have been the only time I truly savored a Stella.

So for tonight, Mr. Foodinista and I are putting together a menu of some of our favorites as follows. And, of course, margs. What will you be cooking up tonight? Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Cinco de Mayo Menu

Squash Blossom Quesadillas—I picked up a fistful of colorful squash blossoms on Monday at farmers market. I love them with a little creme fraîche, feta and cracked black pepper in a tortilla.

Salad with Spicy Lime and Avocado Vinaigrette—a recipe from my friend Jimmy Shaw at Loteria and a staple in our home. Love the spicy pumpkin seeds!

Red Beans and Rice with Salsa—Tiny G’s nanny is an excellent cook and learned all the Mexican classics from her mother-in-law. While Tiny G takes a power nap, she plans to make our kitchen smell awesome with tomatillos, chiles, garlic and onion simmering away. (Note: Tiny G’s nanny points out that the rice in this dish should be shorter grain than in the photo—and will be tonight!)

Grilled Carne Asada—Our neighbor Chris, an expert griller, turned Mr. Foodinista onto the carne asada from Liborio Market. Last year at our Guac Off, Mr. Foodinista grilled up something like 15 lbs of the stuff. And there were no leftovers.

And for dessert? In my fantasy world it’s Tres Leches Cake from Animal restaurant on Fairfax. OR the Banana Dulce de Leche Ice Cream from Milk on Beverly is muy delicioso.

Middle-Eastern Lamb Meatballs

In Drink, Food on March 8, 2010 at 10:30 pm

Ack! I’ve been on deadline all day and this is the first second I’ve had to post! First, a huge thanks to our neighbors Martha and Alex for hosting a killer Oscar party last night. Martha, a fourth-generation New Mexican, made her legendary margs, as well as a huge pot of posole and tamales. She has all these gorgeous silver platters, passed down generations, and so everything tastes just a little bit more magical served on these family heirlooms. Here are some yummy sausages that Alex grilled (from Trader Joe’s!) as well as some of his wife’s margs.

Because they are irresistible, I had a couple of potent margs and got so caught up in the Oscar madness that I neglected to snap pics of all the other yummy food, like a delicious salad our neighbor Jen brought or the insane tres leches cake Martha and Alex’s friend Eli brought from Animal restaurant. Good—and dangerous—to know you can get that stuff to go!

I zigged from the Mexican-themed menu and, at the suggestion of Eating LA‘s Pat Saperstein, paid homage to The Hurt Locker with Middle-Eastern Sesame Lamb Meatballs and a divine mint yogurt-cheese dip. Let’s start with the dip. On Saturday night I drained the whey from the yogurt overnight by pouring whole-milk plain yogurt into a sieve lined with cheese cloth, covering and sticking in the fridge till morning.

The result is a delicious, thick yogurt cheese. The next morning, I mixed in chopped fresh mint and a sprinkling of salt. It was so good I think I’ll do this regularly for breakfast! Even Tiny G was babbling for more.

The lamb meatballs themselves were pretty straight forward to prepare and went lickety split at the Oscar party. This recipe is def a keeper. Sauté some minced garlic and chopped onion in oil and then mix with allspice, mint, cinnamon. Add fresh breadcrumbs, ground lamb and beaten egg. I skipped the currants. Then mix and roll into tablespoon-sized balls. Roll meatballs individually in lightly toasted sesame seeds. Bake at 450 for about 10 minutes and serve!

By the way – The Foodinista is now on Facebook! Become a fan!

The Best Damn Margarita Ever

In Drink, Recipes on November 20, 2009 at 6:41 pm


Perfect Margarita / Photo by David Lansing

I don’t know about you, but I don’t give two figs that it’s November and we’re talking Margaritas. In California, the Margarita is a perennial favorite. And who better to wax poetic on the drink than modern-day flâneur David Lansing, who has kindly taken a break from his extensive travels and own excellent travel blog to share his recipe for a perfect Margarita. I’m a Tommy’s girl myself, but this has me thinking…perhaps we’ll have a Margarita Smackdown this spring (in the tradition of this summer’s heated GUAC OFF). I already know the first three contestants: Lansing, of course; my third-generation New Mexican neighbor, Martha; and my friend Susan’s husband, Wylie, maker of the WP (aka Wylie’s Perfect Margarita). But while we mull the possible contenders, I give you David Lansing on this fine Friday…

Margarita Ingredients / Photo by David Lansing

The Goods / Photo by David Lansing

Having just returned from a month-long hiatus in Mexico, I have come to the conclusion that Mexicans no longer know how to make a proper margarita. At Ten Ten Pie in San Miguel de Allende I had to pry the bottle of Jose Cuervo gold out of Chema’s hand before he dumped the inglorious liquid into my glass. At El Sacromonte in Guadalajara I reveled in their chile en nogada while ignoring a large but insipid especial margarita that smelled of petroleum. And at Adriatico in Bucerias I got into an argument with my waiter for insisting that the bartender actually squeeze fresh limes for my drink instead of using some syrupy mix straight from Gigante. It’s triste, no?

A good margarita is one of those things that seems easy enough to make—like an omelette—yet so few people do it well. So let me tell you the key to making the perfect margarita: balance.

Have you read Michael Ruhlman’s book Ratio? If not, you should. It’s illuminating. Ruhlman posits that if you know the simple proportions of things like biscuit dough (3:1:2—3 parts flour, 1 part fat, and 2 parts liquid) it will, as he says, “unchain you from recipes and set you free.” Ruhlman doesn’t have a ratio for cocktails, but I do: 2:1—2 parts base to 1 part modifier. For instance, to make a Manhattan, dump 2 ounces of bourbon and 1 ounce of red vermouth in a shaker of ice, shake, and strain into a martini glass. What could be simpler? (By the way, to make a great Manhattan, take 2 ounces of an excellent bourbon, like Makers Mark, and add 1/2 ounce of red vermouth and 1/2 ounce of red Dubonnet—same ratio, better result).

For a cocktail like the margarita, which has more than one ingredient, you just expand the ratio. Here, you have a double base, tequila and lime juice, and two modifiers, Cointreau and simple syrup, so the ratio is 2:2:1:1—2 parts tequila, 2 parts lime juice, 1 part Cointreau, and 1 part simple syrup. (Another way to think of it is that the 1 part Cointreau is modifying the taste of the 2 parts tequila while the 1 part simple syrup is modifying the tartness of the 2 parts lime juice. So it’s still a 2:1 ratio.) This ratio alone would give you a margarita as good or better than any you’ve ever had. But now let’s make it even better. To do that we need to focus on our ingredients.

First of all, it’s imperative that you use a very good 100% agave tequila. That’s what we want to taste—that agave spirit. You can make a valid argument for using either a blanco or reposado. Thomas Schnetz of Restaurante Doña Tomás in Oakland, one of my favorite Mexican restaurants, insists on using a blanco tequila, El Tesoro, and I have no argument with that. Personally, I think a reposado brings out more of the roasted agave flavor, so that’s what I use. Centenario is my go-to tequila, but I also love El Tesoro or Siete Leguas when I can find it.

The lime juice is almost as important as the tequila. First of all, it can never come out of a bottle. If you have some sweet and sour mix in your fridge, like the unnaturally radiant green-colored Jose Cuervo Margarita Mix, I want you to go pour it on your blueberry bushes (they’ll appreciate the acidity). What you want are fresh limes. And not the big ol’ honking store limes the size of baseballs but the little Mexican limes (also called Key limes or bartender limes) the size of golf balls. These smaller limes are sweeter and not as acidic (and remember, it’s all about the balance). To get two ounces of lime juice, you might need to squeeze four or five limes, depending on the time of year they are harvested and the freshness of the limes.

Next comes the orange liqueur. Forget about Grand Marnier. It may make the “Cadillac” of margaritas, but do you drive a Cadillac? You do not. So don’t make a Cadillac margarita. Also avoid the cheap crap like Gran Gala. It’s yucky and will make your margarita taste yucky. Cointreau is great although I personally prefer the Mexican version, Controy. But you can’t buy Controy in the U.S. (the makers of Controy have a licensing agreement with the French producers of Cointreau which prevents the Mexican version from being sold in the U.S.—but next time you’re in Mexico, bring home a bottle of Controy and try it).

Finally, you will need some simple syrup. When in Mexico, I use a commercially produced version called Jarabe (which just means “syrup” in Spanish). It can’t possibly taste better than simple syrup you make yourself, but it does. Sort of how like Mexican Coke tastes better than U.S. Coke, I guess.

So now we’re ready to make the best damn margarita you’ve ever had. Get a martini shaker and fill it 2/3 with cubed ice (not crushed). Add two ounces of your most excellent 100% agave tequila, two ounces of fresh-squeezed Mexican lime juice, one ounce Cointreau and one ounce simple syrup. Shake. Strain into a margarita or martini glass, salted or not, as you prefer, and sip.


One last secret: The only way to make this cocktail better is to add a scant teaspoon of Princesa brand tamarindo jarabe de pulpa. You’ll have to sleuth around to find that, but if you get it, oh-my-god—you will have created la reina de margaritas. Now if it was only possible to get one this good in Mexico….—David Lansing



Salt, Rocks, Shaken

In Drink, Recipes on May 6, 2009 at 7:16 am


Last night we made our best margs of the season. Note the technicality: made and not drank. We are lucky enough to live across the street from Martha, maker of the world’s best margaritas, so we happily drink superb margs throughout the year. One of these days I’ll get Martha drunk enough to share her magic mojo. But until then, here’s second best:

Foodinista’s Go-to Marg

Makes 4 stiff drinks

Kosher salt

1/3 cup fresh lime juice

1 cup Don Julio blanco tequila

1/2 cup triple sec (or better yet – 1/4 cup triple sec; 1/4 cup Grand Marnier)

Sprinkle salt onto a small plate. Take a juiced lime peel and rub around rims of glasses, dip glass rims in salt. Pour lime juice, tequila, and orange liqueur in a shaker full of ice. Shake and strain into salt-rimmed glasses.

*On a guamole note: Thank you COOKIE for the shout out about our upcoming Guac-Off!*