An artist and a chemist making soda and carbonated juices from scratch, using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Fresh draft soda - available at the Brooklyn Flea on the weekends & select bars & restaurants

Friday, September 17, 2010

Concord grapes, and the first apples. Plus our fall schedule

Fall has begun, and we're starting to see the start of the apple season. This week we have our first batch of apple soda, in addition to a concord grape flavour (paired with fennel seed).
The grapes are sweet & tart - full of flavour. They were a hit last week so we're bringing them back for a second week.  

In addition we'll have Golden Supreme apples (from Red Jacket Orchard) with ginger, and we are debuting our root beer!  Tony's been working really hard on balancing out all the spices and herbs so let us know what you think.

Our fall schedule:
September 18 (Saturday): our usual spot at the Brooklyn Flea
September 25 (Saturday): no Flea for us. we're taking a short camping trip to Montauk and stopping by a bunch of farms and vineyards along the way
October 2 (Saturday): no Flea again. We'll be at the Stone Barns Harvest Fest from 10am - 3pm. We've never been to Stone Barns so we're pretty excited about this (especially as there is a pie bake off taking place....) 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Thai fruits - tamarind, galangal and green mango

I'm back from my trip home to Hong Kong, but I thought I'd write about the last batch of soda I did while home.

I went to lunch a few days before I left in Kowloon City (the home of the now demolished infamous Kowloon Walled City, featured in movies ranging from the Van Damm vehicle, Blood Sport to Jackie Chan's Crime Story). This former industrial area is now a cosy residential district that has a number of Thai restaurants and grocery stores.  The Thai fruit and vegetables in the small grocery stores often can't be found in regular markets elsewhere in Hong Kong so I took the opportunity to pick up some fruit for experimenting.

Tamarind and galangal:
Tamarind fruit is a sort of legume, with a hard shell with 6-12 pods. The flesh is juicy and quite sour but as the fruit matures the flesh becomes sweeter. Its grown in areas around the tropics from south Asia to Mexico and can be found in everything from agua frescas to jams.
Galangal is a root, related to ginger but tastes very different, originating in Indonesia, and is used commonly in S.E Asian cooking. 
I bought a small bag of tamarind pulp (the exterior pod had been removed) and soaked it in sugar water over night.  I then poured it through a fine filter to get the sweetened tamarind juice.

Grated galangal was added to the tamarind juice, then additional water added (tamarind packs a serious kick so it needs to be diluted) before carbonating in my trusty ISI soda siphon.  
(yet another thirst-quenching drink that my sister is enjoying!)

Green mango and chili
I also picked up a couple of green, unripe mangoes - tart, crispy and refreshing, they're common in Thai salads, very different from the sweet, succulent flesh of ripe yellow mangoes. 

I diced a small Thai chili, cooked it in sugar water solution for about 15 minutes, then added it to the juice of two green mangos. One chili pepper gave it just the right amount of a kick in the back of your throat. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Japanese inspired beverages - shiso, limes and water melon

I recently got back from a short holiday to Kyoto and Osaka with my family. It was the end of peach season there but I was still lucky enough to have one of their incredibly delectable, juicy and very expensive peaches. Unfortunately they're very hard to ship so I wasn't able to bring one back to Hong Kong.

I did discover the joys of the simple Japanese lime. Smaller and thinner skinned than a Mexican or even a Thai lime, the flavor is quite distinct. Shiso is also a very familiar sight in the markets there - a member of the mint family, its leaves are large and relatively round. I decided to try making a simple shiso & lime carbonated juice, cold-steeping the shiso leaves in the sweetened lime juice, then carbonating.

The result was a very satisfying and fragrant drink - perfect for the hot summer weather.

I thought I'd give a watermelon drink a go, especially since watermelons are plentiful right now (and they're small miniaturized versions too for easy storage).
Half of this watermelon was juiced, then the shiso was muddled and cold-steeped in the juice overnight, before being sweetened with bit of simple syrup.

My satisfied sister, Sarah (otherwise known as our PR help, Lulu). 

Friday, September 3, 2010

Hong Kong carbonated juices (guavas, rose apples and starfruit!)

I'm posting from Hong Kong this week (Tony will still be doing the Flea this coming Saturday with West Indies inspired flavours). I grew up eating a variety of fruit that I often still don't know the English names for, and often miss the tropical fruits.  In addition, Hong Kong has plentiful juice stands and delicious fruit based drinks that help the population of 7 million beat the long summer heat.

First up: Guava and black pepper!  Tony was amazed to discover last winter when he visited that the guavas in S.E. Asia taste radically different from what he grew up eating.  They're smaller and have a more delicate, less earthy taste.  I bought some local guavas that are even smaller than the Thai guavas, and smelled absolutely amazing.

They were put through the juicer, cold steeped with black pepper then carbonated, resulting in a light refreshing drink with a nice, very slight pepper-tingle at the end.

Next up: starfruit and rose apple.  Starfruit come into season early autumn, so I was a tad early but they were starting to show up at the markets. Beautiful and crisp tasting.
Best way to eat them is to slice off the outer rind on the 'points' of the star, then slice the fruit into cross sections.

The flavor is so light and crisp that I didn't want to distract from it too much with a spice or herb, so started thinking about other fruits that it would go well with.

One of Tony's favourite discoveries this past January in Hong Kong was the rose apple.
Rose apples have a superb crunch and texture to them, but very little tartness. I thought I'd pair the two - even though they're both quite light in taste their flavour profiles are different enough to make a complex juice.

Unfortunately most of these fruits are quite expensive in the US, so I doubt I'll be able to scale them up when I'm back in New York, but on a small scale, they were a fun experiment.

One that I think we can replicate on a larger scale is salty lemon and ginger.  Salty lemonade pops again regularly on the menus of cha-chaan-tengs, Hong Kong diners, and its made using preserved salty lemons put into 7-Up or Sprite.  I thought I'd do a Brooklyn Soda Works version using salty lemons I picked up from a small market stall in one of the outdoor markets, hand made by a friendly woman who's name and location of the stall I've forgotten...

The lemons aren't overly salty - roughly a quarter of a lemon per serving, so I used 4 quarter wedges for a liter, boiling it in water for ten minutes, then added in the raw ginger juice.

The result: tart, refreshing and not too salty.

That's it from me in Hong Kong.  And if you're in Brooklyn this Labor Day weekend, go check out Tony's lovingly created Caribbean inspired drinks on Saturday!