Noilly Prattle: Orange Delights

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Orange Delights

intoxicating French Manhattan - cheers!

If you think of France, what comes to mind? Wine? Cuisine? Perfume? La Marseillaise? L'amour, toujours l'amour? French fries? (They're not really from France you know.) Edith Piaf? The Eiffel Tower? The Louvre? The land of my ancestors? Yes, all of those and much more. But what about oranges?

There is the city of Orange with its old Roman theater where they produce outdoor operas in summer. There are orange liqueurs like Cointreau and Grand Marnier.  I'll bet you never heard of Orange and Black Olive Salad, but you may know about French Manhattans. The main difference between an ordinary Manhattan and a French one (I don't know if they're really from France either) is that it uses Dubonnet instead of sweet vermouth (I use Noilly Prat, the patron saint of my blog) and a strip of orange peel (you can eat it) instead of Maraschino cherries. You can readily buy Maraschino cherries at any market, but you have to make the orange peels yourself—and that is a bit of a culinary art.

cut into strips
peel off the strips
A good time to prepare the orange peels is when you make an Orange and Black Olive Salad, a taste bud explosion invented by a chef in a small restaurant (don't remember either his name or the restaurant's) in Nice down on the French Riviera. Without further ado I'll explain how to make both.

place in a jar
First, cut the orange peel in strips from navel to stem and peel them off leaving the fruit for the salad. Scrape off the pulp with a potato peeler leaving only the orange skin (a little pulp is OK). Place all the peels in a jar and cover them with Cointreau or a combination of Cointreau and Grand Marnier liqueurs, cover and marinate in the refrigerator until ready for use—the longer the better.

fill and cover with Cointreau
French Manhattan
You use them in a French Manhattan. For that mix Dubonnet and a good bourbon (I use Four Roses): 1 part Dubonnet to 3 parts bourbon (1 to 4 is OK, too). Stir with four or six ice cubes in a cocktail shaker. In a cocktail glass put one orange peel strip and ~¼ tsp. of the Cointreau marinade (optional) and add the bourbon and Dubonnet. Magnifique!

Orange and Black Olive Salad
Now, what to do with all those oranges? Make an Orange and Black Olive Salad, of course. First, put about ½ cup of pitted black olives in a small food processor with a bit of powdered thyme or dried thyme flakes and some olive oil and chop them up so that they are a little coarse (you don't want to pulverize them to mush). Set aside. Slice a couple of oranges (or three if they're small) into ¼” halved slices and arrange on a plate. Sprinkle them with olive oil and spoon the olive mixture over them. Sprinkle some fennel seeds over that and add a few sprigs of fresh thyme for garnish and voila. 

Bon appétit!


Anonymous said...

Never realized that you are such a Renaissance Man.

How 'bout YOU make lunch next time you are here?? (the secret is now out).

Noilly Prattle said...

Secret! What secret--that I eat and drink? ;-)

Anonymous said...

no, silly, that you cook...and enjoy it!

Noilly Prattle said...

Ohh, that! It's that I like to EAT good food and get bored with the same old same old all the time. Of course I like to DRINK good booze, too. ;-)

Anonymous said...

good for you....and for your company!!-R