Last week I was driving my friend Raquel and I to an event when the topic of discussion moved towards an extraordinarily good looking and internationally famous chef and cookbook author.
"Oh you know that I had a 'thing' with him" Raquel said looking at me while smiling a mysterious Mona Lisa smile.
"Whaaat?" I said my eyes widening. "What do you mean by 'a thing'?"
"You know, a thing!" she said. She then explained that they had met in London quite a few years ago before he had become famous. "I was hot, he was hot, we were both hot!' Raquel said. They'd met at a nightclub and he followed her across town to another club where they got to know each other better. Later that evening things had well... progressed and she woke up the next morning with the incredibly good looking chef.
"So...how was it?" I asked. Yes Dear Reader I did ask, wouldn't you? ;)
She looked at me knowingly and paused. "Well the thing is, I don't actually know. I remember that he was an absolutely fantastic kisser but we were so drunk I don't remember the rest" she explained. "But that may be a good thing because I don't remember it being terrible but I don't remember it being fantastic either. It was...unmemorable!" she said. We both commiserated, after all it's not good to be known as terrible but is it somehow just as bad if you were unmemorable? I suggested hypnosis as a means of getting the scoop but Raquel demurred. Probably a wise thing...
Well the recipe for Coca Cola is a scoop that people have been trying to get their hands on for decades. Apparently the original recipe is locked in a vault somewhere in Atlanta in the United States. Admittedly I'm not a Coke connoisseur. I drink it about once or twice a year and if anything, I prefer cooking with it than eating with it. And because I usually eat it with pork or use it in some other dish I'm not the kind that would pick Coke from a lineup. Yet, I am still intrigued enough to want to try and make a version of it.
Ingredients for cola syrup
Did you know that the rumoured ingredients of Coke include lavender and coriander and that citrus features heavily but there is no kola nut? I didn't either until I did some research into it. A recipe came from the This American Life who said that they found the original recipe buried in archives. The recipe has come into the news recently when ebay seller Cliff Kluge from Georgia bought some papers at an estate sale, among which is a recipe for Cola Cola. He listed it on ebay with a buy it now price of $15 million. My recipe below is an adaption of a recipe for a cola syrup drink rather than actual Coca Cola from Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain. Still, I was intrigued enough to want to try and make it since I had every item in my pantry of my fridge. It's really just a matter of boiling it all up and then simmering it to release the flavours of all of the ingredients.
So, the million dollar question, how does it taste? Well, it tastes cola like in the same way that cola chupa chups taste like cola but it isn't Coke. BUT it's even better I think. There are so many fantastic flavours in this that it just works so well together and I can imagine making this a gorgeous caramel that could even work with meats like pork belly or making a caramel for desserts. You can also substitute with sugar with whatever sugar substitute you might like. It's closer to Vanilla Coke that regular coke but mixing it with soda water and you've got the making of a fabulous drink.
So tell me Dear Reader, if you could crack any famous brand recipe, which would it be? And are you a Coke connoisseur and can you tell the difference between brands?
Make Your Own Cola Drink!
2 cups white sugar
2 cups water
2 tablespoons brown sugar (dark or light)
Finely grated zest of 1 very large or 2 small/medium oranges
Finely grated zest of 1 lime
Finely grated zest of of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons coriander seeds, crushed in mortar and pestle
1.5 teaspoons dried lavender
4-5 sections of a whole star anise
1 vanilla pod, split
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 piece cassia bark
1 teaspoons freshly minced ginger
1/4 teaspoon citric acid
caramel food colouring (optional, I didn't use this)
Step 1 - Place all ingredients in a medium to large saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 20 minutes. Cool and dilute with soda water.