At the Market with Library Bar's Matt Biancaniello | KCET
At the Market with Library Bar's Matt Biancaniello
Biancaniello asks customers which spirit they prefer or what ingredient laid out on the bar intrigues them. Then he slices, muddles, stirs, shakes, and tastes until the drink lives up to his standards - then presents it with a big smile. Biancaniello's enthusiasm shines through in every cocktail.
Biancaniello looks for new flavors to infuse into spirits or to combine in an original way. After discovering a particularly smooth walnut oil, Biancaniello paired it with Benedictine, lemon and cocoa nibs, and named it the Nutty Monk. Though the list of ingredient may sound challenging to the palate, the combination works. It's a cocktail recipe that would not have happened without regular trips to the farmers' market.
We accompanied Biancaniello to a recent Wednesday morning Santa Monica Farmers' Market to see him in action, gathering produce for the bar and searching for new ingredients. As he walks through the stalls on any given week, it's clear that he has developed relationships with several farmers, all eager to show him the fruits, vegetables and herbs they have available.
We then head over to Harry's Berries for a fruit that Biancaniello is very serious about. "I love Harry's Berries strawberries. The thing about strawberries is that it is very important to buy organic. The pores in strawberries are large and dangerous pesticides seep in. Harry's are true organic and sustainable and the flavor is so good.
"These berries are an important ingredient in the cocktail I make called the Last Tango in Modena. I muddle the strawberries with aged balsamic and Hendrick's gin, strain into a rocks glass over a large cube of Neve Ice and top with St. Germain foam and garnish with fraise de boise."
"I buy huacatay from them for the cocktail I call the Sol Survivor, that I created for a customer who had recently traveled to Peru. In the drink I combine gin, watermelon, cucumber, lime, agave and the huacatay and serve it over a large cube of Névé Ice."
When asked how he found Windrose, Biancaniello smiles. "One day a friend and I noticed Windrose here at the northern end of the market. When we went over to check it out, they showed me their rose geraniums. I made a water with them that was incredible. Then one week they showed me their mint geranium and lime geranium. In that moment I realized this farm was doing things way beyond everyone else."
We walk to the back of the booth where the back door of the truck is open and filled with produce and herbs. Like a scene in a mafia movie, we peek into the back of the truck, filled with secret exotic ingredients saved for special customers. "I get so many ideas for cocktails based on what Windrose has for me."
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