My new book – coming Nov. 20

Exciting news! My new book, The Secret Financial Life of Food, will be available in bookstores on November 20, 2012.

…If you’d like to pre-order a copy, you can do so on Amazon (and thank you!)

…If you’re a journalist or blogger and would like a review copy, galleys are now available! Please go to this link and click the “Request!” button. 

…If you’d like to hear more about the book, I’m giving a brief preview talk at the Culinary Historians of NY’s season opener meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 12. Event details are posted here. 

…If you’re a fellow boozehound and you’re wondering, “Hey! Where’s the hooch?” Let me assure you, spirituous history abounds in this book. In brief, The Secret Financial History of Food focuses on commodities markets from a culinary perspective, and chapters focus on topics such as the former “Butter and Egg Men” and the rise and fall of pork bellies. But this book also gave me an excuse to talk about whiskey trading (grain and corn chapters, thank you), wine futures, and perhaps my favorite discovery during the long research months: the nearly-forgotten American Liquor Exchange, which set prices for wine and spirits post-Prohibition.

…Last but not least:  if you’d like to arrange for an interview or speaking engagement related to the book, please email Meredith Howard at Columbia University Press (mhoward AT columbiauniversitypress DOT com) or me (kara AT karanewman DOT com).

Whew! That was a lot of information. We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

Two parties, two punches

Last week, I participated in two events, and punch was the featured libation at both. A few snaps (and recipes) to share:

Event #1:  The Holiday Spirits Bazaar – This event was hosted by The Dizzy Fizz. I was there selling copies of Spice & Ice, so of course I showcased a drink from the book, writ large in punch format.  I also had hot sauce available for sale, the hottest I could find!

Punch #1:  Sparkling Ginger Daisy Punch (click for recipe)



Event #2: Monastic Liqueurs & Cheeses – This was an event hosted by The Culinary Historians of New York, and focused on the rich foodways that monks have provided throughout history, and continue to provide today. The event was held at the National Arts Club, who provided the gorgeous silver punchbowl.

Recipe #2:  Alchemist Punch  The punch (recipe after the photo) showcases Benedictine, a liqueur once made by monks as long as 500 years ago. It’s not supposed to be bright red (I used blood orange puree since I couldn’t find mandarin orange puree). But it sure does look festive, doesn’t it?

Alchemist Punch

Alchemist Punch (courtesy of Benedictine)

Organic honey (50 ml)

Water (300 ml) (10 oz)

1 bottle of Benedictine (70 cl)   

Mandarine Puree/Nectar (500 ml) (16.6 oz)   

Freshly squeezed lemon juice (350 ml) (11.6 oz)

Fresh slices of lemons (2 lemons)

Fresh wedges of tangerines (3 tangerines)

Fresh thyme (for garnish)

Glassware:  Punch bowl + glasses.

Method:  Start by diluting the honey with hot water in the punch bowl. Assemble all the other ingredients, stir to harmonize all the flavors, fresh fruits last. Macerate and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Take the punch out. Serve in a cup/glass with ice cubes and garnish with fresh thyme.

Where You’ll Find Me This Weekend

There’s no need to stay thirsty this weekend!  (okay, long weekend, since I’m including Monday). Here’s what I’ll be up to – please come out and say hello!

Saturday, December 11: Holiday Spirits Bazaar (Brooklyn, NY). A one-night shopping and tasting extravaganza, benefiting the Museum of the American Cocktail. I’ll be signing & selling books, and serving up some Sparkling Ginger Daisy Punch!  Buy tickets here.

Sunday, December 12: Heritage Radio Network. Along with cheese expert Diana Pittet, I’ll be talking with cheesemonger Anne Saxelby, host of “Cutting the Curd,” about monastic heritage in cheeses and liqueurs. 

Monday, December 13: Monastic Liqueurs and Cheeses, a lecture and tasting event with cheese expert Diana Pittet and me, presented by The Culinary Historians of New York. (National Arts Club, Gramercy Park, New York — Excuse me, but have you seen what the NAC looks like all decked out for the holidays?!? Wow.) An amazing raffle basket also will be available, including a limted edition 500th anniversary bottle of Benedictine. Buy tickets here.

Spice & stitches

I hear Mercury is still in retrograde. Surely that can be the only excuse for yesterday’s random series of events that landed me in the emergency room for five stitches in my index finger and a tetanus shot.

I’d been very much looking forward to the annual “Celebration of Our Members” event held by the Culinary Historians of New York. In addition to general catching up with friends I hadn’t seen all summer, I wanted to pick up books written by members (Raising Steaks! Grains Greens & Grated Coconuts! Seven Fires!) and hear about Diana Pittet’s round-the-world cheese adventure. And surely a few people would be reporting back from the Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery.

This was also meant to be a low-stress preview for Spice & Ice – game plan was to mix up a few shakersful of Poblano-Blackberry Margarita for a friendly audience, and then sit my butt down and listen to other people present their work.

Not so fast.

I keep thinking about all the “what-ifs” that might have allowed me to participate as planned. If only…

…our venue had an ice maker on site, I wouldn’t have dashed out to the corner deli to pick up a bag of ice.

…the ice hadn’t been frozen solid (meaning it was poorly handled – partially melted and then re-frozen) I wouldn’t have needed to bash it to pieces to create usable chunks.

…I’d had the brains to smash it in the sink, not on the floor.

…the cheap-ass bag hadn’t broken, spilling ice cubes all over the floor.

…the janitor had arrived sooner with the mop, the floor might not have been wet.

…I’d been smart enough to go around the other side of the kitchen island, I might not have slipped.

…I hadn’t been carrying a bottle of Cointreau, it wouldn’t have smashed, lacerating my hand.

Of course, it was just an accident, plain and simple. But these are the things that went through my mind as I sat in the ER, dejected at missing all the fun and smelling rather like a distillery. (Self-pity trumps fear!) Renee, a cool-headed friend keeping me company at Lenox Hill, charitably said that the high orange note of the liqueur smelled more like strong perfume.

Here’s a photo of the morning after the night before. I’m trying to come up with less embarrassing reasons for the bandage than “I slipped.” Knife fight (you should see the other guy…). Trapeze mishap. Daredevil monster truck race. Got any bad-ass ideas I can use?

My war wound

My war wound

The stitches come out in a week. Hopefully by then Mercury will have moved far, far, far out of retrograde.