Saturday, December 29, 2007

(Much Belated) Birthday Dinner for J-LA

Weeks past the actual event, Cafe Drake invited longtime gal pal Jen Lazzaro for a cozy-caj dinner celebrating her latest birthday. Knowing J-La's tastes thoroughly we constructed a tailor-made menu of Cabbage and White Hominy Soup (drizled tableside with herb and chile-infused olive oil), followed by Soy, Anise and Marsala-Braised Pork Chops with homemade Quick Pickled and Spiced Pears (recipe of sorts below) and Scalloped Potatoes. Espresso came with candy and cookies festooned with candles and a birthday serenade by tone-deaf Cafe Drake. Festively obscene amounts of champagne were consumed over hours (first, in Kir Royales; later, alone) along with plummy Pinot Noir and German honey liqueur digestifs. The Birthday Girl lit up our evening as expected, especially with her sing-along renditions of an eclectic playlist including Mika, Lily Allen, Rufus Wainwright (of course), Pet Shop Boys, Depeche Mode and Diana Ross.

Quick Pickled and Spiced Peaches

This is an adaptation of a Nigella Lawson holiday favorite. Per Ms. Lawson's dictate only canned peaches in heavy syrup will suffice - no fresh fruit or peaches in fruit juice allowed!

So simple, basically: take a large can of peaches in heavy syrup and heat to a low simmer with star anise, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, several slices of fresh ginger, approximately a teaspoon of kosher salt, several dried red chiles and 2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar. Cook on low heat for 2-3 minutes and allow to cool. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Better over the next week. Serve with any light meats, such as poultry or pork.

Wishing Everyone a Lazy, Happy 2008

CAFE DRAKE sends Best Wishes and HAPPY NEW YEAR'S greetings to all our visitors. May 2008 be a year both productive and relaxed, with plenty of time for slow-simmered sauces and long braises.

Friday, December 28, 2007

A Very Cafe Drake Christmas 2007

Cafe Drake has spent a most lovely & wonderful December holiday in Atlanta with our Mother, enjoying nightly fireside cocktails and noshes followed by extravagantly celebratory meals. Restaurant reviews of Atmosphere Bistro, re:past, Marage, Osteria del Figo and more will shortly follow on this site so check back quickly for our glowing recommendations and (notoriously) hard-earned kudos. Above are a few photos from the visit, including: an overdue dinner party for Cafe Drake's dear cousin Anne Michaels, tours of historic Georgia homes (Barrington Hall & Bulloch Hall) and northern-state wineries (Dahlonega's Blackcrest & Frogtown) and various sundry shots of Cafe Sondra. Please indulge the extravagant number of pictures but it's the Holidays! and we had such a good time with our Mother we wanted to share a few of the small details.

For those who crave menu re-caps, Dinner for Anne and Sandy included Watercress and Cranberry Salad, Glazed Cornish Hens with Rutabagas, Brocollini and Sugar Snap Peas and Peppermint Ice Cream and Mint Brownies for Dessert. Drinks were tempered with Curried Cheese Toasts and our mother's Saffron Shrimp Bruschetta (recipe to post soon).

Christmas Eve began with more booze naturally and platters of snacks, followed by Filet Mignon with Bleu Cheese Sauce, Mother's homemade dinner rolls, Yorkshire Pudding and Peas and Roasted Shallots.

Dinner on Christmas itself was suitably grand: after the obligatory 2-3 Manhattans (with Tuscan Bean Dip, Pickled Spicy Peppers, Green Olive Tapenade etc) we tucked into a Roasted Pork Loin with Brussels Sprouts and Baked Cranberries with Pecans and Brown Sugar. Ice wine, port and cognac rounded out a perfect evening.

[Ed. Note: If we were brave enough to post these singularly unattractive photos of Cafe Drake ourself, no one should ever complain again about a "bad" picture of themselves on this site! xxoo, CD]

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Another Holiday Dinner

Actually, a pre-Christmas/belated birthday dinner (for Miki) at Cafe Drake. Sub-freezing temperatures demanded Miki's fave dish - classic Swiss fondue (see below our stripped-down, super easy recipe for the most traditional version of this highly malleable entree). We served it according to age-old standards, swabbed up with toasted bread cubes (whole wheat-onion baguette) and spiked with tart pickles on the side. Excessive bottles of bubbly and white still wine preceded and followed the main course, as well as espresso, Swiss (natch) chocolates and lemon shortbread to follow. Aged port rounded out the festive gathering seen above.


1/2 lb. Gruyere cheese, grated / 1/2 lb. Emmentel Swiss cheese, grated / 1-2 cups dry white wine / 1-2 T. kirsch / nutmeg

  1. Heat wine to a simmer in saucepan.
  2. Add cheese and reduce heat to very low.

  3. Stir slowly for 10-15 minutes.

  4. When smooth and thickened, add kirsch.

  5. Cook for 2 more minutes.
  6. Sprinkle with grated nutmeg and serve at once over flame.

More Fotos from the Lens of Miki Shimada

Above you will find pictures snapped by Miki or friends entrusted to her camera. Included are many shots from Cafe Drake including Thanksgiving 2007 and Miki's very recent birthday celebration at Fix Bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Images abound of friends dear to this site and familiar to our visitors, both human and feline!