Tag Archives: Absinthe

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Cheese of the Week: Alta Langa La Tur


I first had this superb cheese, which hails from the Alta Langa Dairy in Italy’s Piedmont region, at Absinthe Brasserie in San Francisco. It was part of an after-dinner course of cheese, during which I thought, multiple times, Why would anyone ever have a dessert course consisting of anything other than cheese?

(For the record, the cheese course also consisted of a Monsenicio blue, also from Piedmont, which was drizzled with Il Caratello aged balsamic vinegar, and a Coupole goat cheese, from Websterville, Vermont, which was paired with cherry chutney. Yum!)

Even given those spectacular cheeses, the La Tur might have been the standout. This extremely creamy cheese is made from a combination of cow, goat and sheep milk. When store-bought, it comes in a disk shape in a pleasingly delicate paper wrapper. As the cheese warms to room temperature, it practically oozes from beneath its flavorful, bloomy rind, which itself adds an interesting juxtaposition of flavor and texture.

The flavors of this soft cheese come alive only after one takes in the buttery texture, and when they do, they yield a mushroomy and pleasantly cave-like taste that I can only describe as ancient. The taste is complicated, earthy, and redolent. The texture continues to add a sensuous and delightful element and, as is especially easy with such a creamy and interesting cheese, it is gone before you can say, “La Tur”, or “Do you think we can get some more?”

Because it spreads so well, La Tur is made to go with crackers or slices of baguette. Absinthe paired it with Medjool dates, as did I. My beloved Dalmatia Orange Fig Spread also worked (with a little going a long way, as the tastes toggled back and forth), as did a medium-bodied Syrah.


Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

A Toast to Prohibition’s End

76 years ago today, the U.S. government repealed the 18th amendment and ratified the 21st, thus ending the country’s official 13-year dry spell. No time like the present, then, to lift a glass to President Franklin Roosevelt, whose platform included Prohibition’s repeal, and to Mrs. Amy Johnson, whose personal effects at her residence in San Francisco’s Palace Hotel during Prohibition included 36 quarts of Old Crow Whiskey, which she was allowed to transport with her, along with plenty of other booze, to her new digs at the Avondale Apartments. Her permit remains on display at the hotel.


My 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book, from England, offers plenty of lively choices for your toast. The Absinthe Drip involves “1 liquor glass of Absinthe”, into which is dissolved a lump of sugar. It appears that one is to leave a little room to fill the glass with water, to taste. (Absinthe Restaurant in San Francisco makes these and other fun period cocktails.)

Or you could opt for the Barbary Coast: 1/4 each of Gin, Whiskey, Creme de Cacao, and cream, served over ice in a highball glass. Or the Hanky Panky: 1/2 Italian Vermouth, 1/2 dry Gin and 2 dashes of Fernet Branca (an Italian liqueur, which is still in production), shaken and strained. Then there’s the evocative Havana: 1/2 apricot Brandy, 1/4 dry Gin, 1/4 Swedish punch, and a dash of lemon juice, shaken and strained. Of course, you could choose from any manner of Rickies, Daisies, Toddies, Slings, and Fizzes.

Just be sure to heed the advice the Savoy gives to the “young mixer” : “Drink your cocktail as soon as possible.” And be sure to mention that Joe sent you.

Photo by Susan Sachs Lipman

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