May 30, 2013 by caitlinvaclark
The other weekend I went for drinks to 69 Colebrooke Row, a cocktail bar that promotes itself as the “bar with no name.” With it’s secrecy, I was anticipating a great little speakeasy, hopefully on par with my old favorite spot in Durham, NC, Whiskey, which has an extensive selection of bourbons and scotches, served neat or in your favorite classic cocktail. Against the backdrop of dark wood walls, we have spent many a raucous night sunk into hard leather sofas, yammering over the pulse of a jazz band. Chris and I even found ourselves smoking cigars and sipping bourbon at 2am the night of our wedding. I honestly don’t know how I managed to avoid ash burns or red wine on my wedding dress, not that I cared all that much at that stage of the evening.
Perhaps due to the British gap in hands-on knowledge of the prohibition era, the feel of 69 Colebrooke Row was not as I expected. Or maybe it was just that the idea I had created in my head was not actually what they were going for. Initially though, it was a bit of a letdown, being more French tabac than speakeasy, with sparse decorations, black and white tiled floors, and simple red banquettes. Clearly, after a few cocktails, I got over it.
While the space was small that made the atmosphere intimate and lively. The bar itself is charming, the service was exceedingly friendly, and they made killer cocktails, including the deliciously tart and refreshing Rhubarb Gimlet. I happen to love a gimlet, or as I like to refer to them, “Gin & Tonics, Cancel the Tonic,” and the addition of rhubarb added a bit of sweet and sour fruit that paired great with the juniper gin.
Until recently, I had only ever associated rhubarb with Strawberry Rhubarb Pie. My younger self was convinced that this pie was a weak attempt for my parents to get me to eat my vegetables. I thought that basically the rhubarb was there to make dessert healthy and the strawberries to mask the flavor. I honestly wasn’t quite sure what rhubarb would even taste like on its own.
But last year, my friend Jen and I attended a Spring Produce Technique Class at a Williams-Sonoma in Northern Virginia. Has anyone ever been to these demos? I would definitely recommend it if you are looking for a Sunday afternoon activity. A lot of Williams-Sonoma stores offer these free cooking classes, and while they are not hands on they include generous tastings. Plus if you attend, you’ll receive 10% in stores.
The standout dish at this particular event was the Rhubarb-Ginger Crumble, so fresh and easy. I just couldn’t get over how delicious rhubarb was on it’s one. No need for strawberries at all! If you look at raw rhubarb, it looks quite similar to celery. See where I thought my parents were trying to pull one over on me…
This, along with pretty much any crumble, is a great option for a dinner party because you can assemble it early in the day, then pop it in the oven as you serve your main course. It will take 45-60 minutes. So you can serve a fresh from the oven dessert with ease!
To make this crumble topping, cut together flour, sugar, and cold butter, using either a pastry cutter or two knives. Then you’ll stir in almonds and chopped crystallized ginger.
I love the addition of ginger, both fresh and crystallized. It pairs so well with the tangy sweet rhubarb. Once the crumble is mixed, chop up the cleaned rhubarb and toss with white sugar, ginger, and
Once everything is well tossed, pour the rhubarb into a buttered baking dish and top evenly with the crumble. This can be done in the morning. Just cover and set aside until your dinner party is underway! Doesn’t it just look like spring!?!
I pop the dessert in the oven just as I’m plating dinner. It will bake for about 45 minutes and can sit until you are ready to serve.
I served the warm crumble with a vanilla custard and whipped cream. Instead of my usual hand-mixer-whipped cream, I tried to get fancy with my Gourmet Whip (from Williams-Sonoma of course). It was my first time using it and it looked beautiful once we got the hang of it. But then we tasted it… let’s just say it tasted like seltzer whipped cream. It was awful.
Once we scooped that back out of the bowls and added a bit more custard, dessert was served!
*from Williams-Sonoma Technique Class 2012
6 Tbs. butter, cold
1 cup flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sliced almonds
1/3 cup crystallized ginger
1/4 tsp. salt
2 lbs. rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 Tbs. fresh minced ginger
3/4 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Butter a 2-quart baking dish.
Mix together the flour, brown sugar, and salt. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture becomes crumbly. Stir in the almonds and crystallized ginger. Reserve topping.
In a separate large bowl, mix the rhubarb with the sugar and fresh ginger. Pour rhubarb into the baking dish. Top evenly with the crumble. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. The topping will be golden brown and the rhubarb bubbly. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.