Many of you are probably familiar with the horchata you can buy at Burritoville, a pale, dairy imitation of the real thing made with fat-free milk, rice powder, cinnamon, and sugar. It's potable, but doesn't even begin to compare with horchata made with actual rice and almonds, cinnamon and vanilla, with no milk in sight.
Horchata is a sweet, creamy beverage that we love to drink when eating spicy foods (and whenever else we can get our hands on it, too).
(adapted from this recipe, which was adapted from Gale Gand)
1 C basmati rice
2 C blanched, peeled almonds
4" piece of cinnamon
5 C water
3/8 C sugar
2 vanilla beans
Grind the rice into a fine powder using a coffee grinder. Place the ground rice, almond, and cinnamon into a large bowl with 3 1/2 C water. Cut the vanilla beans in half the long way, scrape the seeds into the bowl, and then throw the beans in after them. Cover and leave overnight.
The next day, add the sugar and 1 1/2 C water. Puree everything in your blender, then strain. The best tool we've found for straining is a Thai tea sock, which is basically a fine cotton mesh on a metal ring with a handle. Serve chilled.
You pick pick up a Thai tea sock at Bangkok Center Grocery at 104 Mosco Street, between Mott Street and Mulberry Street in Chinatown. It'll cost you something along the lines of $2, and you can stop by Ping's Seafood on Mott Street just around the corner for fantastic dim sum afterwards.