Marti Kilpatrick is a freelance journalist and blogger who has spent the last three years living and working in San Sebastian, Spain. She writes most frequently about food, travel, and Spain, and spends her free time selling ice cream sandwiches, cookies, and donuts via her bakery bicycle called The Cookie, and promoting the culture of vermut through the International Society for the Preservation and Enjoyment of Vermut with co-founder and friend Maite Roso. Read more about vermut and the Society below, and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to keep up with new projects and exciting news!
For the uninitiated, how would you describe vermut as opposed to vermouth?
Vermut is Spanish (and Italian) for vermouth. So it's the same! Although the concept and reputation of vermouth is very different here in Europe. Here it is seen as a pre-meal drink, an aperitif, to be enjoyed on its own over ice. In the States, vermouth has mostly been relegated to dusty liquor shelves and frowned upon by martini drinkers everywhere. At it's most basic, vermouth is a fortified wine, whose unique point is the inclusion of wormwood ('vermut' in German).
What is the role of vermut in Spanish culture? In Basque culture specifically?
Vermouth has a long tradition in Spanish culture. It's strongest in Madrid and Cataluña, where every Sunday families would head to the nearest bar after Mass to have a drink to pass the time until lunch. "Fer un vermut" is a Cataluñan phrase that means 'to do a vermouth' but is really used as a broad invitation to get a drink at midday. That should give you an idea of how ubiquitous the tradition is. Vermouth is not particularly Basque...whatever influence and popularity it has here comes from the Spanish side of things.
What prompted you to begin the International Society for the Preservation and Enjoyment of Vermut?
My friend Maite and I had been talking for months about doing an event around vermouth. Finally we said, okay, let's just do it, and even if it's not perfect, it will likely be fun. So as we were setting up the event, we thought, there should really be something bigger behind this. And I get so passionate about food, drink, and tradition. So we formed the society.
My journey in the world of vermouth started only about three years ago, a while after I moved to San Sebastián. I noticed old ladies were always drinking this incredibly colored beverage around 5 or 6pm. One day, I asked what it was and tried one. It was love at first sip.
How has the response been from locals?
Overwhelmingly positive! For our first event, people came from Barcelona and Bilbao, it was incredible. I think vermouth hits the sweet spot of something both nostalgic and modern.
What are your goals for the Society?
To have fun, try every vermouth under the sun, make thousands of vermouth converts and serve as an information hub for vermouth lovers everywhere. We are also experimenting with crafting some artisan vermouths, but that's secret....shhhh. ;)
Any recommendations for Americans looking to enjoy vermut? Best way to drink it? Best accompaniments?
Yes! Any vermouth you can get your hands on BESIDES Martini will be so much more herbaceous, flavorful, and true to real vermouth. In fact, there are some great American artisan vermouths out there (Imbue, Atsby, Uncouth, etc). For the american palate, sweet vermouth served alone may be shocking at first. If so, you can cut it with a bit of gin to take some of the sweet and herby edge off. Serve with an orange slice, an olive, and some potato chips to snack on.
Thank you, Marti!
Studio Kokumi is the Paris-based design studio of Marguerite Cordelle, whose most recent project is the development and design of the new Paris restaurant, Coretta. After coming across her work online, we asked Marguerite to share a little more about her experience at Noma, in Copenhagen, where she photographed and conceptualized her Master Thesis. Read her words below:
My inquisitive mind brought me to Copenhagen for a very specific reason: the restaurant Noma, and its masterful chef, René Redzepi. I yearned to discover his cooking philosophy and in particular his method of representing time and space within his dishes.
The experience was a pleasure not just reserved for the stomach, but equally for the eyes and for the soul. Redzepi takes his patrons on a culinary journey through his "snacking," a journey that remains one of my most treasured culinary experiences. The plethora of small dishes Redzepi produces allows his guests to gain a better understanding of the world of Noma; a world constructed of the marriage of sustenance and beauty, seasoned with humor.
The final bite, called the Aebleskiver, was my favorite. I loved the playfulness that was expressed by the small smoked and salted Finnish fish that pierced the sphere as though it was swimming through it. The contrast between the filamentary nature of the fish and the roundness of the foam ball fried lichen makes the look of the fish much less frightening and instead, cheerfully invites you to chew his head off.
The philosophy of René Redzepi is based on the desire to immerse the customer in an environment conducive to the awakening of the senses; from the interior of the restaurant, to the attention and precision shown in the execution of the food, to the casual service expressed through the choice of dish ware. Noma offers a strong sensory experience and it is through this awakening of the senses that our intellect is activated. The dishes at Noma undoubtedly are speaking to not just our stomachs but to our souls as well.
Photos courtesy of Studio Kokumi.
If you haven’t seen the glossy Swedish food magazine Fool yet, do yourself a favor and order one immediately. Fool is the creation of creative husband and wife team, Per-Anders and Lotta Jörgensen, who act as co-Editors in Chief as well as Creative Director and Photographer for many of the stories. Both have decades of experience working in magazines and photography, and they bring their experience to the superbly produced Fool.
But don’t expect a collection of how-to’s and recipes—as Lotta says, "Fool is different to other magazines on food, taking inspiration from fashion, design and popular culture…no high end fashion magazine would have sewing patterns for clothes. Gastronomy needs to be taken seriously but with humor."
Issue #4, “The Italian Issue” is out now. Read on for the Jörgensen’s favorite find from their recent travels around Italy. Thank you Per-Anders and Lotta!
Last year we traveled extensively all over Italy for our fourth issue, "The Italian Issue". We soon learned to arrive both with an empty stomach and lots of spare space in our luggage because hospitality is not taken lightly in Italy, where "no thanks" is not even an option.
Of all the excellent olive oils we were given, one stood out, coming from Restaurant Don Alfonso on the Sorrentine peninsula. After a winding road we came to Alfonso's and Livia's Capri-facing garden that resulted in a Fool spread on the bees there and the beehives with the best view in the world! In the incredible garden they bought in 1990 there is an ancient orange grove as well as six varieties of olive trees, mostly Sicilian Nocellara del Belice and Frantoia from Toscana.
These trees produce 1500-2000 liters of the most incredible and "real" olive oil we have ever tasted, an oil that at first is incredibly sharp, yet harmonious later, maturing like a fine wine, showing what a great olive oil should be. It’s impossible to cook food in this region if you don't have the best olive oil, and our oil is made from hand picked olives, individually selected when absolutely ripe, Alfonso says. We'd say it is worth a journey!
As Lotta and Per-Anders pointed out, this is a perfect contrast to the recent Food Chains infographic in the New York Times!öööö
Researching an upcoming trip to the Netherlands.
Images in a collection of "Maastricht earthenware decorations, 1836-1969," found here.