My mother, although multi-talented, had an aversion to the kitchen and has often said that I learned to cook at an early age “out of self-defense.” When she made chicken à l'orange by smearing a chicken with powdered Tang, I quickly developed a necessary passion for creating tasty things to eat. Somewhere in the family photograph album is a picture of me at the stove, age ten, happily stirring marinara sauce.

I developed a lifelong fascination with food; good food. There was even a foray of working as a chef’s assistant at a French restaurant during my mid twenties, just for fun. I had always loved watching Julia Child and knew that Mastering the Art of French Cooking was to be revered. It wasn’t until I read her biography (long before the Julie & Julia movie) that I really became fascinated with her work. From that book, I decided to prepare her recipe for mayonnaise.

Upon tasting it, I wept. . . .

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Saturday, October 2, 2010

Sortilège - The Best Liqueur Ever

A few years ago, my friend, Jack, was touring Montréal and came across this very unique liqueur called Sortilège. The tour guide explained that Sortilège had been produced in Montréal for over three hundred years and could only be obtained there in Québec. So, naturally, he bought a bottle of it and brought it home for his friends to sample at the next dinner party.

I was amazed the first time I tried Sortilège. (By the way, sortilège means "magic spell" in French -- a very appropriate name for this elixir.) It's a blend of Canadian whiskey and maple syrup liqueur. Got that? When you taste it, you first get a hit of sweet, vaporous, whiskey followed by . . .
. . . pancakes!

Seriously, the maple syrup flavor comes through after the whiskey makes itself known. Every time I've ever served it, it's been a big hit. People love this stuff. As a matter of fact, when it comes to distilled spirits, I've been more of a gin-and-tonic guy, have never liked "anything brown" (whiskey, bourbon, Scotch) but Sortilège was the exception. 

And yes, you can obtain it outside Québec. It's a little difficult, as distributors seem to come and go, but you can get it. Click here -- this seems to be a pretty good price for it. ($19.99 for a 375 ml bottle.)

A couple of years ago, I ordered a case of it and it was the best money I ever spent. A bottle of it makes the best gift ever. No one's ever heard of it but, like I said, everyone loves it. Need a last-minute Holiday gift? Something truly unique to bring to a dinner party? Having Sortilège on hand comes in so very handy. If you don't want to spring for a whole case, go in halfsies with a friend. You'll both be very glad you did.

The slender, amber-filled bottle is also quite elegant and impressive.

I like it best at room temperature. When served chilled, the whiskey-ness seems to get muted. Once I tried to be clever by adding cream to it -- sort of heading in a Bailey's Irish Cream direction -- and it just made it bitter for some reason. So, yes, room temperature is best in my opinion.

I've been so enamored with this liqueur that I even wrote a song about it called O Sortilège! sung to the tune of O Canada. You can sing it at your next dinner party if you know the tune to O Canada.

First, here are the words to O Canada:

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide, O Canada,
We stand on guard for thee.

God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

And then here are my words to O Sortilège:

O Sortilège!
We drink a toast to thee.
Sipping liqueur imbued with maple trees.
With glowing hearts, oh Canada
With each glass we partake;
We Americans do love thee more
The elixir our neighbors make!
Oh Canada, free up your stores
Sortilège upon our nation’s shores; 
With Sortilège upon our nation’s shores!

The holiday season is right around the corner. Time to put in my Sortilège order. 
Christmas shopping -- done!

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