Toronto this past few days has been pretty as Narnia…
And scary as hell.
With the ice storm bringing down huge trees and live electric cables, leaving cars smashed up and 300,000 Torontonians without power, it has felt like a great time to hunker down at home with a festive cocktail–either in full coat, hat, scarf and fingerless gloves, all your pets snuggled in close; or at the house of a friend or neighbour lucky enough to still have power.
My Ice Storm 2013 cocktail of choice has been the Caesar. This Canadian classic contains vodka, tomato clam cocktail mix, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce and spices. It’s served over ice in a celery salt-rimmed glass, and you can start drinking it from breakfast onwards, without raising eyebrows. One glass is also kind of like a full meal, so if there’s no way of powering the stove, you still have something substantial in your belly. OK, I’m going to stop rationalizing.
The standard commercial Caesar mix, Clamato, has high fructose corn syrup, Monosodium glutamate (MSG) and artificial red food colouring in it. But an all-natural, small-batch mix just came on the market, and that’s what I was “taste-testing” during the Ice Storm. It’s called Walter and is made with: water, tomato paste, concentrated lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, seasoning, sea salt, organic sugar, clam juice, spices, horseradish, onion powder, garlic powder, vinegar, salt. All good stuff.
It comes in two flavours: mild and well spiced. I prefer the mild, which you can serve as is or adjust, to taste, with ingredients like horseradish, jalapenos or Tabasco. It tastes smooth and rich, like real, sun-ripened tomatoes, and the gentle heat of the spices doesn’t shut down your taste buds.
The ratio of vodka to Caesar Mix should be about 1-4, but you can obviously play with that. You can drink it virgin too, or even mix it into gazpacho or a tomato-based pasta sauce. Ice is essential in your drink, so it doesn’t taste soupy; and for garnishes, it’s traditional to pop in a leafy celery-stick stirrer, lime wedges or olives on a cocktail stick.
I made a rimming salt by grinding 1 tbsp (15 mL) celery seeds with 2 tbsp (25 mL) regular salt. I also added a tsp (5 mL) of Vancouver’s hottest salt from Sea to Sky Seasonings (totally optional, but totally delicious). This flavoured salt is made with ghost peppers, which I’m told can also used in gunpowder. Just a heads up!
Walter isn’t available everywhere in Canada yet, but with any luck it will be soon. You can follow this link to order it online or see where it’s on sale near you.
So was your area struck by the Ice Storm? What got you through it?