23 December 2010

goodness gracious, great bowls of fire!

my camera had a close encounter with flaming sugar loaf this week. i almost lost it to holiday cheer in the form of Feuerzangenbowle, or "fire tongs punch"...


thank goodness it didn't, because then i wouldn't be able to share with you lushes and pyromaniacs this hazardous, yet deliciously comforting german christmastide drink; instead, i'd probably be in hospital with a camera fused to my hands.

to make your own Feuerzangenbowle, you'll need one of each of the following :

- a sugarloaf (zuckerhut)
- dish on which you can douse the zuckerhut with rum so you don't leave a mess
- pot* of mulled wine omitting the sugar (about a 2L box worth)
- bottle of overproof rum (54% or higher**)
- metal grate/tongs thing (die Zange) that sits over the pot
- fire-lighting device (matches, lighter, bbq lighter)
- fire-proof ladle/spoon to douse the zuckerhut
- fire-proof tray to catch dripping sugar or fire under the pot of wine (optional)
- brave soul willing to risk singing his eyebrows (you can hire dr. andy to do this because he no longer has eyebrows, being a seasoned Feuerzangenbowle-maker.)

and then...

1. prepare your unsweetened mulled wine. don't drink it all. cheat using this:

[i don't know where you'd get that here, but it's basically coriander, cloves, nutmeg, but use what you feel like]
2. turn heat down to low. or, optionally remove from heat and set the pot of mulled wine on the tray, and set the metal grate/tongs over the pot.

3. place sugar loaf in dish and pour enough overproof rum over it to soak it through, and then place it on the metal grate/tongs.

[dr. andy in action!]
4. carefully, light the sugar loaf on fire.

[now you know what rum-soaked sugar looks like on fire!]
5. dim lights for effect. make oooh-ing sounds while the flames lick.

6. occasionally, spoon more rum over the sugar loaf as it melts into the pot of mulled wine. be very careful as it will flare. shhhpoosh!

[potentially, the last photo my camera took. potentially...]

IMPORTANT: ensure you have sufficient flaring space (e.g. under a rangehood, or high ceilings) and the lid at hand to smother flames if required.

7. when the sugar loaf is melted, extinguish any remaining flames by smothering it (not with hugs -- with a metal lid).

8. reheat mulled wine if required.

9. ladle into mugs and drink with fervour and holiday cheer.

[dr. andy serving up his concoction]

ta-dah! prost to baby jesus! and thanks to dr. andy for making this and risking what's left of his own eyebrows.

* if you have a Feuerzangenbowle, by all means use it.
** dr. andy says it has to be over 54% or it won't properly light. he's a scientist so listen to him.

16 December 2010

'tis the season to get groggy!

it's december: the season for embarrassing office holiday parties and to get your drink on.

speaking of drinks, there's a carboy full of apple juice that's been sitting around fermenting, taking up space and getting old in my house for the last 3 months, like a disenchanted teen at the last birthday party for a senior citizen. it's about time it get its arse in gear and be delicious apfelwein. 

[apfelwein day 1: the yeast has just begun!]

apfelwein is a german version of apple cider that isn't as sweet and definitely more tart, and sometimes served warmed with spices like a toddy. this one will be consumed like an apfelwein should -- straight up like a giraffe sinking in quicksand!

[apfelwein day 4: the yeast, post-juice binging]

the apple wine is now bottled and aging more and should be ready for consumption shortly. i'll let you know when it's been getrunken...

(i would have taken more photos of that stuff aging but murky brown liquid reminiscent of swamp water makes terrible blog material. in fact, nearly 99% of stuff that makes it into blogs in general doesn't need to be on the internets; this is true because the internets told me it was.)