Suzi's Blog

Drinking Tomatillo [with Tequila and Beer]




“What town?” I was asking a friend for his address. He had moved to California and I was about to visit.

“Camarillo,” he said, but very oddly. Holding a map of Ventura Country, I saw that the city was spelled with two letter “l”s so I repeated the city name but using a long “l” sound, just the way it was spelled.

“No,” he said. “Camarillo is pronounced like the two “l”s are a “y.”

I practiced the sound, traveled to California, stopped at a gas station and asked for direction to Camarillo. But thanks to habit, I pronounced the “l”s. The service station attendant, with dazzling black hair and skin the color of deep pecans, corrected me. The two “l”s were a “y.” I was stranger in this land that belonged to his culture, not mine.

I loved that odd sound and only later discovered the reason. The Spanish alphabet used to have additional characters, beyond the 26 we have in English. One of those “characters” was spelled with two English “l” characters: ll. But it always had a “j” or “y” sound. There’s an ongoing battle within the Spanish speaking community whether it is “j” or “y.” But it ain’t “ll” as in English.

Why the change? Why was the letter “ll” officially dropped? Thank English, the internet, and keyboards. It was just not quite popular enough, not economically powerful enough for Microsoft to incorporate into Word, not easy to make keyboards with an extra key labeled “ll” … There were lots of reasons, but we now have a major language with an oxymoron: it uses a letter that is not officially a letter any more.

But we need “ll.” People still live in beautiful Camarillo, California. And we still eat tomatillos. One of my favorite fruits, the source of that deep sour pitch to salsa verde, a powerful ingredient when cooked and added over chicken or in quesadillas or … It’s wonderful to eat in a thousand different ways.

And, now, you can drink it.

Yes, you can drink a tomatillo. And it’s not a gimmick. It’s a good drink. One that lasts long in the glass, that you can sip for an hour and enjoy how the flavor changes as the ice melts, the mixture warms, and beer and tequila shift in impact.

Yes, again. Here’s a tomatillo based beverage made with both beer and tequila. And you rim the glass with a spice mix based on cayenne pepper.

At first sip, after your lips stop burning, you are going to say, “This is bleeping strange.” But you keep sipping, you adjust to the spices, and over time that unique tomatillo flavor comes more forward and attaches to the beer and tequila. After a while, you are going to say, “This is bleeping lovely.” Fortunately, in “lovely” the two “l”s are not next to each other so you enjoy the “l” sound. If you want the Spanish “ll” sound, just mention the key ingredient: tomatillo.

My friend in Camarillo moved long ago. The two lane highway originally there is now six. The rows of eucalyptus trees, two hundred years old, that lined the original highway are gone. But the air is still California fresh and sometimes I will stop for a beer or a tequila or even a tomatillo. That’s with a “y.”

I found this lovely drink recipe while surfing the web. If you love to drink, you need to visit

The Michedore

Yield: 1 cocktail


  • 1 ½ ounces anejo tequila
  • ½ ounce fresh lime juice
  • ¼ ounce agave syrup
  • Dash spice mix [recipe below]
  • 1 small heirloom tomato, diced
  • 1 small tomatillo, diced
  • 2 sprigs fresh cilantro
  • 2 ounces light Mexican lager [Yes, I used Corona Light instead]
  • Ice cubes


Muddle the tomato, tomatillo and cilantro in a cocktail shaker. Add the remaining ingredients, except the beer, and shake with ice. Double strain in a chilled cocktail glass and top with the beer. Garnish with cilantro.

Optionally, first rim the glass with lime juice then dip it into the spice mix [recipe below]. Warning: this is hot. Just be careful or your lips will burn.

Spice Mix


  • 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons celery seed
  • ½ teaspoon habanero powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt


Place all the ingredients in a small bowl and slow whisk to mix. This mixture is devilishly hot. So, do NOT wet your finger, dip it in and taste test. You’ll be screaming and running for a beer if you do.

Source: which credits Tilth Restaurant in Seattle [please visit to learn more about this exciting New American restaurant]

 Photo Credits: Canon T2i, EFS 18-55MM Macro lens, shot at F/2.8 for 1/80th second at ISO 2500.



Wine versus Beer: A Friendly Discussion at Cooking by the Book on Friday, October 19th

The wine versus beer debate can be conducted from many perspectives.

This Friday at Cooking by the Book, we will have our own Beer versus Wine debate featuring Sommeliers Samuel Merritt (beer) and Harriet Lembeck (wine) as they bring their expert perspectives t  a key question: beverage preferences by sex. Men do seem to prefer beer, while women are more inclined to wine.

On Friday, we’ll supply appropriate bites of delicious food to go with the words you hear in an intense, yet friendly discussion. And, of course, some tastes of both beer and wine to let our experts try to sway you to their side. Some debates are not enjoyable. This one will be.

We hope you can join us this Friday at 6:30 PM. Here’s a link to register for the class, just $75 for beer, wine, food and spirited debate:

Register Now!

Of course, there are many ways to compare beer and wine. Volumes consumed, how healthy they are, …

Oh, health? Yes, health. Alcohol, from some source is recommended by the American Heart Association, for example. The AHA recommends two drinks a day for men and one for women where “drink” is 12 ounces of beer, 4 ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces of 80-proof hard liquor or 1.0 ounces of 100-proof liquor. So, six packs are not recommended on a daily basis.

Research has shown some wonderful aspects about wine:

  • Wine drinkers live long
  • Wine drinkers have lower cancer rates
  • Wine drinkers eat better [more fruits and vegies, less chips, cold cuts and sausages

Why do we drink more beer than wine? Better marketing and cheaper prices. And beer was made for salty food. However, research has shown these positive things about beer:

  • Beer is more nutritious than wine, with almost all B-vitamins, plus significant amounts of trace metals and minerals
  • Beer reduces heart disease

Now some of this research was conduct in Europe, in Germany, Denmark, and the Czech Republic so there may be some caveats to be applied..

What to do here? Grab a beverage, put your feet up, and relax. Yes, you can meditate with a glass in your hand. And, please join us this Friday if you can.


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