Friday, September 21, 2007

Sipping gin

This summer I have decided that my favorite beer is Capital Brewery's Island Wheat Ale, made with wheat grown on Washington Island, where Chef Leah Caplan is approaching locally grown from the economic development point of view. When she moved to the Island to remodel the Washington Hotel in 2002 or 3, there were about 30 acres in wheat - now there are over 800.

Today when I was riding my bike to work, I went past a Capital Brewery beer truck unloading at the Memorial Union (where they serve Island Wheat on draft, in plastic cups, not as nice as the handblown glass beer glasses they use at the Hotel, but the beer tastes almost as good), and the Island Wheat logo on the truck was bigger than me.

John likes Island Wheat, too - 'course, he's not old enough to drink yet (6 months & counting) so I guess he can't have an opinion ... I just noticed that this year they organized a bike ride starting at the Capital Brewery in Middleton, which is right next to Madison, and ending on Washington Island 5 days later for the Harvest Fest. Wow, maybe I could get my brother to come and do the ride with me if they put it on next year.

But I didn't start out to write about beer - I actually intended to write about Death's Door Gin, another beverage created by Leah Caplan using Washington Island ingredients. Death's Door is the strait in Lake Michigan, between the tip of the Door County penninsula and Washington Island, that you have to sail through to get to the Island.

I didn't buy any when we were up on the Island, but several liquor stores here in Madison carry Death's Door Gin, and I bought a bottle the other day. Opened it up last night, and my thought on first taste was, "mmm, sipping gin - is this really a good idea?"

I saw Leah at the Food for Thought Fest here in Madison last week. When we started talking about the gin, I told her how the smell of juniper berries remind me of my father, and how he trained me to mix his gin martini when I heard the garage door go up, signaling that he was home from work. She said, "Maybe I will have a child."

I drank it the dad way, over ice with a twist of lemon. I went up to Mark's with my drink, with tinkling ice and a paper napkin stuck to the bottom (the mom way) and watched ER (the last re-run, before the new season starts next week). I came back down to finish the dishes and added a little more to my glass, and so was drinking gin at the kitchen counter, reading the paper, when my younger son called to tell me that he was sitting at a friend's house with a cereal bowl of beer in his lap. He was drunker than me, but nevertheless, I could appreciate his mood.

No comments: