Monday, September 15, 2008

Duck a l'Orange

I'm one of those Gen Xers, stuck at the end of one era and the beginning of another. I didn't grow up with computers everywhere (I remember seeing my first one, a Radio Shack TRS 80 btw), and I remember seeing my first VCR at Ross Taylor's house when I was a kid. As for food and cocktails, we Gen Xers have lived in some interesting times as well. My parents were (and are) gourmands before the advent of FoodTv and celebrity chefs. As a child, I grew up eating in the finest restaurants in the country from a young age. Chez Panisse? My parents were some of the first customers there. Cocktails? They basically didn't exist back then. My father was a rye Old Fashioned man, a choice that I adore, however, the Old Fashioneds that I drink today are a far cry from the muddled, gritty messes he must have consumed regularly. In my childhood I also caught the tail end of "Continental" restaurants, heavy Americanized French meals served by waiters with fake european accents which were considered the height of culinary sophistication in the mid 1970s. Sole Amandine, Coquille St. Jacques, and of course, my childhood favorite, Duck a l'Orange.

I think my favorite version of this dish from my childhood was from Maxwell’s Plum in San Francisco (in Ghiradelli Square where McCormick and Kuletos now sits, this was an outpost of the NY original), right across from Modesto Lanzone's, where I first learned to enjoy true Italian food. To me, as a child, duck a l'orange represented something adult and sophisticated, and yet, even better for a kid, it was delicious.

So why am I rehashing childhood memories on a cocktail blog? Well, I adore Grand Marnier, and I really hope to be able to attend their Mixology Summit in 2009, so I need to keep the creative juices flowing right? Plus, I was in Seattle over the weekend and I came across a jar of duck fat right about the time I was trying to create something new with Grand Marnier, so it seemed like it was meant to be. I enjoy fat washing flavors into alcohol, so duck fat into Grand Marnier shouldn't be too much of a stretch for someone who makes bacon bourbon. I'll give this a couple of weeks (although I'm sure that a few days would be fine) before I strain it and try to add it into a cocktail. My thought is just to serve it up (maybe a little oj to cut the sweetness) and a duck cracklin as a garnish.

Your thoughts? What childhood dish would you like to see recreated in liquid form?

Btw, this is simply one fifth of GrandMa with 11.78oz of duck fat mixed in. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.


JasonT said...

When I was a kid, we used to go skiing at Mammoth Mountain every November for a week, and would eat at a "Continental" restaurant every Thanksgiving. They never served turkey, so we would always have Duck a l'Orange. I adored it, and always looked forward to the holiday. Now, not as much.

For the most part, though, as a kid, when we dined out at a "fancy place," it was usually a higher end seafood restaurant on the coast.

My mother and step-father did assist a Thai family in opening a restaurant when I was kid - from the real estate side.

I wonder if someone could come up with a Phat Thai cocktail.

Doug said...


I think everything can be turned into a cocktail. How about a ham and eggs drink or even a BLT cocktial. Bacon infused vodka, tomato water with egg whites and lettuce jellie to garnish.


Lance J. Mayhew said...

Thats funny that you mention a BLT Doug. I've actually attempted one. Check my archives.

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