Many of my colleagues are in McMurdo, Antarctica this week. Don't worry, I'll have an extra glass of wine for them. Otherwise it's turkey dinner and all the trimmings here at Chez DuVernois.
Head of the National Association of Evangelicals, a man who frequently rants about the evil of gays and drug addicts, wait for, yep, regularly pays for gay sex and methamphetamines. Oh well, it's not as if his followers would have learned anything from previous examples.
"My house actually moved an inch off its foundations. I thought for sure it was going to be more of a disaster than it was," said Tom Greenwell, a coffee farmer in the Kona region, just down the coast from the quake's epicenter.
When I lived in Chicago I thought of it mostly as a place to find good Indian food. The article discusses how this Pakistani-American neighborhood differs from the terrorism incubators similar neighborhoods in England have become.
you need to have money in order to be invited to a picnic. Yup, feeding the homeless in a park is illegal.
I'd pass on the cow eyeball ones, but otherwise... Driving up the California coast eating tacos!
I had been wondering when there would be intelligent press coverage of Chicago's ban on foie gras, and the Whole Food chain discontinuing sales of live lobsters. Looks as though California is also going in for the foie gras ban, though it'll be phased in over the next six years.
The New York Times has a balanced look at this in their dining section. Lobsters? Great Danes in one bedroom apartments? Killing a cow? The article doesn't really talk about internally consistent schemes for animal/food ethics such as being vegan. Though that isn't an interesting option to me, it does eliminate much of the inconsistency noted here.
Way to go, Galactic Pizza! Their pies are really good as well! Their CSA pizzas in the summer can be pretty impressive, depending on what's fresh in the gardens at the time.
- 1 SPAMÂ® Classic (12-ounce) can cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 12 small new potatoes sliced 1/8-inch thick
- 1 Anaheim chile chopped
- 8 corn taco shells
- 2 cups torn romaine lettuce
- shredded cheddar cheese
- chopped tomato
- sour cream
- standard keyboard & internet connection
Since my little Sylvia has taken to drinking tea with all of her meals (subject to the availability of decaf Assam or Darjeeling or reasonable substitute), I offer up the Douglas Adams tribute to making tea.
High-altitude, volanic soil coffee. Even I have to admit that not all globalization is bad.
In Mexico cajeta might mean nougat and be a reasonable name for a candy bar, but in the rest of the Spanish-speaking world it's a common slang term in line with its literal meaning, "little box."
Sam's (of Minneapolis, not to be confused with the huge, and wonderful, Sam's Wine Warehouse in Chicago) isn't bad, and I've been in Solo Vino once. WineStyles sounds pretty scary though. How hard is it to try a couple of wines and find things you like by name? Or buy $6 bottles based on the label. How far wrong can you go?
At long last! A review of hash browns in Minneapolis. Let us all rejoice!
Perhaps 15-16x the governement assumed levels. And 10% of heart complaints at area hospitals have at least a possible coke connection. More popular than X? The 1980s are truly back.
Babbo and the Spotted Pig each got a star. And the Union Square Cafe (good cookbook, but I've never eaten there) didn't get one.
With apologies to Joe Strummer.
The City Page's Wine and Dine issue has a good primer on Spanish wines. Click through to other articles and advertisements.
Well, I always get a kick out of this wine tasting. There's a mix of "Riesling-only" wine drinkers and serious folks (some of whom are in the business), and everything in between. I'll put myself into the "in between" category. Mostly I tasted reds, but there were a few beers, sparkling wines, and whites that made it into my mouth. The Cellars Wine and Spirits sponsored the show. I have no connection with them.
Viking Brewing Company had six of their different beers (found locally, Minneapolis/St. Paul) refrigerated only. I tried the Big Swede and the Whole Stein stouts. The former was an amazing piece of work. As thick and dark as a Guiness but without the bitterness, and also without the sweetness I often associate with such stouts. The Whole Stein was pretty decent, but not as extreme (in a positive sense) as the Big Swede.
Chisago Lakes Distribution had a few options from Arcadia, Avery, Schwelmer, and the Sammiclaus (which is described as the strongest beer in the world, 14 some-odd percent alcohol). Well, the Sammiclaus is a novelty to me. I can now say I've had the strongest beer in the world. No need to do that again. The Schwelmer Berstein was excellent as was the Arcadia Scotch Ale.
Chateau Plaisance Bordeaux (2000), $17. This represented an excellent, balanced Bordeaux, one of the few being tasted at this show, at a reasonable price. Rated 88+ by Parker, I'm told. Moderate tannins, a little smoke, and a fair amount of fruit.
Matthieu de Brully Pommard (did not record the year, 1999?), $32. Wonderful, full and balanced wine. Out of my normal price range though.
Chateau Beauchene Les Sens Syrah (2000), $10. Dark, bloody wine. An excellent Syrah, more of a fruit vs. tannin balance than a lot of the California Syrahs. Probably over-priced compared to Aussie Shirazes, but it is French...
Fort Simon Pinotage (why didn't the folks who made the brochure didn't include the vintage!), $13. One of the more obvious food-wine pairings. Wild game. Yup, you'd need to get some ostrich or venison in order to drink this wine. Good stuff, but the food is required.
Sirius Bordeaux Red (????, probably 2000), $14. Well, this is a hard one. It tastes like Bordeaux. Decent Bordeaux even. It's priced like it, but is a new attempt at a regional wine in mass production. That's not what Bordeaux has traditionally been about. (Chateau Sirius?) Well, it is a serious wine, and quite good, but I think I'd leave it for the restaurants. Buy something for yourself with more character.
Walnut City Willamette Valley Pinot Noir (????, maybe 2001), $16. Spicy Pinot from Oregon. (Will-om-met Valley) Hard to fault, except maybe price now that Pinot is the hot wine. "If anyone opens a Merlot, I'm leaving."
Georges Buboeuf Beaujolais-Village (last week), $7. The flower labels are classic and instantly recognizable. These were some of the first reds that I ever drank and liked. So I do have a bit of a soft-spot for these Gamays, but they taste thin and pale compared to the great wines of France.
Yellow Tale Reserve Shiraz (????, does it matter?), $10. No, no, this is the Reserve. Yes, you had the non-reserve at any number of gallery openings and picnics recently. I wish I had had the chance to taste the reserve back-to-back with the non-reserve, as I couldn't pull up any differences in my mind. Still, it's a respectable, inexpensive wine choice. Good with a wide variety of food, and a colorful label.
Montecillo Crianza Rioja (????, probably does matter), $8. I was told that this was produced in the old-fashioned manner. Very rustic, the pourer said. Well, sometimes progress is good.
Turkey Flat "The Turk" (2002 or 2003?), $16. A nice blend of spice and fruit. The name was intriquing, especially for an Aussie wine. Cotes du Rhone attempt from down under I do believe. Definitely interesting, but perhaps not as much bang for the buck as one would hope.
Castano Solanera (darn it, I'd really like to know!, probably the 2002), $14. Amazing wine. Definitely my choice at the moderate ($10-15) price range. Cherry, tannins, very dark, full body. Never have had a better Spanish wine.
Hess Select Cabernet (2002), $14. Tobacco and fruit (blueberry?) balance very nicely. It was especially prized as I tasted it right after the Beaulieu Rutherford Cabernet (see below) and the Hess seemed quite a bit better in the finish especially. Very silky smooth.
Beaulieu Vineyards Rutherford Cabernet (????), $22. A disappointing, though intense, Cab. Had an almost medicine-like finish to it. Very astringent.
Cain Cuvee (NV), $20. A cabernet-based blend. Seemed like a distinct approach aiming not at the biggest, boldest thing of all times, but a more subtle wine that would work with food. I liked it quite a bit. Seemed a lot like other "Meritage" attempts at Bordeaux from California.
Mestre-Michelot Bourgogne (2001?), $20. A very fruity blast of Pinot from France.
Trinitas "Old Vine Cuvee" (2003), $14. Zinfindel blend that was quite good. Plenty of fruit and some vanilla. My second choice in the mid-price range.
Lelia Garnacha (????), $7. My notes say "interesting." But I also remember a lot of fruit (Garnacha is Grenache I do believe) and a soft finish.
Clos du Bois Marlstone (2002 probably), $38. Coffee was the first aroma. After that came blackberry and then the tannins, with a slight bit of oak on the finish. A fine Meritage and my fave in the pricey range (>$15).
Schramsberg Cremant Sparkling (????), $33. More flavor and less pressure than true Champagnes. A bit of residual sugar and lots of melon flavors. I'm not much of a sparkling wine fan, but this stuff was fantastic. Wish my taste buds had been in better shape at that point.
The movie is being shown locally. On the danger of genetically engineered foods. The Monsanto lawsuits have struck me as particularly crazy. Patent infringement if the seeds blow onto your land? Strange stuff.
Obviously it's created quite a bit on controversy. I haven't been able to find anything of substance on the show, just the controversy. Hard to tell the goals from that.
Starbucks cups! Now banned from Baylor University. Yup, a quote from Armistead Maupin. Evil, evil, evil!
Of course, since this is on the web, and irony is largely lost. I was being ironic above. What is funny is the silliness of Baylor University. That is what I'm saying. Thank you for your attention during this irony-definition moment.
Best quote: "In the driveway lay a survivalist's arsenal: two transistor radios, a cell phone, a half-empty bottle of Napa Valley zinfandel, tobacco, a pipe and some blackberry soda." Survivalist blackberry soda, who'd have thunk it?
They found what appears to be the last open, 24 hour per day, bar in the city. From there you can click onto the rest of the BBC's coverage of the natural disaster and the disaster relief disaster.
"Speak softly and carry a big stick, you will go far." Teddy Roosevelt at the Minnesota State Fair
"Mmmmm...deep fried and breaded Snickers Bar on a stick. It will make one sick." Me at the Minnesota State Fair
Isn't it about time that Free Trade becomes Fair Trade? Demand that the coca farmers get their share. And enough with the corporate, cartell, product, demand microblow.
Reduces liver cancer risks? Coffee as a potent source of antioxidants. And a tasty source of caffeine.
The English papers have been asking the question. We know that Dubya spends most of his time snorting coke and on vacation in Texas, but the Brits aren't used to their leader disappearing.
Though there is a rumor that Blair is in the Caribbean on holiday, we know better! He's taking some time off in Vancouver, BC to learn how to skate.
Skateboarding that is. Reliable reports indicate that Tony Hawk and Tony Blair are practicing some phat moves in parking lots and the stairs of government buildings across the Hong Kong of the West. The Tonymeister was last seen wearing a "Skateboarding is not a crime" cutoff and demanding that The Urinal's first 7" be played louder.
Downing Street had no comment, but unnamed sources in the government confirmed that the Blairster had indeed taken up a new "recreational activity" and would be training the best experts in the world. Earlier reports that this activity was bicycling were proven wrong when Lance Armstrong showed up in Crawford, TX to ride with Dubya and ask for some political cover. The French have finally proven his performance-enhancing drug use, but we know that just starting to call that certain food item "Freedom Fries" will shut them up.
We now speculate that skateboarding is intended as a second occupation for Bliar. He had noted that he would not stand for PM in the next elections, so what would be a more natural job than as a professional skateboarder? He would be the clear front-runner in the "former leader of a nation" skate class/category.
This is definitely a good place for vegetarians. Menu items note the presence of meat, not its absence. That is, vegetarian food is the norm---the type of meat is then noted if present.
Travel for lack of a better suggested category.
Bombay, Bollywood, Monsoon season. It was quite an experience seeing the city shortly after the huge, killer floods. Garbage, sewage, and water all over the streets. But not over all of the streets. And no longer waist or neck deep.
- saw about 1/2 hour of a Bollywood flick at a little shack/street vendor...ate samosas there and watched the film...looked like he was stealing electricity for the TV with a bunch of tangled wires running down from a building...I am going to get the plague I fear, but the food was good!
- speaking of food...Indian food...yup, it's one of the luxuries of the US I think...we get good food of most every type (okay, I know, we also have some really crappy food, but we have good stuff of most types available)...so the good Indian food I've had here is not too different from good Indian food in the US...Udupi in Minneapolis for example
- my hotel in Bombay (or Mumbai, we can talk about those politics some other time) also tried to do "English breakfast" with limited success...they had potatoes with "paprika" but the paprika was some truly hot pepper...tasty, but not exactly what was planned I think...and it's hard to picture some older Brit biting into a four alarm breakfast
- Garlic Naan, yay!
- Politics also...what to say? It definitely feels evil to stay in a nice hotel, drink bottled water, type on a laptop, while outside people slop around in sewage, live on the sidewalks, scrounge for a basic existence. Of course that's true whether I'm here visiting or not. Whether I'm in my first world home in the States or my substitute first world hotel home in India. But what to do about it?
- The meeting looks a bit muddled at this point. There's no posted schedule. In theory there will be transportation tomorrow AM to the meeting leaving from the hotel. No one seems to know about that.
Remember to read Neal Stephenson's Zodiac.
Huey Newton's heirs want to market a hot sauce. Yup, they are trademarking the Black Panthers to sell condiments. Wow!
They sold them before their time. Though the article also blames the Chinese oddly enough.
From Beijing's first ever chocolate fashion show...
I scream. You will scream. We all scream at conservative ice cream. Warning, it plays music at you.
If you haven't seen it yet, you have to. Store Wars! Join the organic rebellion...
Supreme Court strikes down laws banning interstate wine sales. Is there something in the constitution about interstate commerce? It overturns NY State and Michigan laws.
Tofu fake human flesh. Fake article, you think?
As well as better looking? One study says so. Or at least that alcohol stimulates brain cell production in mice...
Ever typed "poppy seeds" into eBay's search feature? Wondered if there's yet another odd subculture out there? Well, look no further for opium-extracting 101.
After some thought, I'm not 100% sure the article is legit. Still, worth a read. And maybe we'll see new rules banning poppy seed cakes.
The Delocator. I found 123 Starbucks within 5 miles of my old zip, 60622 in Chicago! And 21 around 55408 in Minneapolis where I live now. And here in Texas, in Palestine where I'm working this week? Zero Starbucks and zero other coffee shops (zip=75803). Not that it's an addiction...
Well, I made it back to the US on Saturday early morning. Customs didn't take too long, but I definitely got the once over (people who know me typically don't go through security with me out of fear of getting the full treatment that I usually get). I like the airport beagles though. Very friendly. Of course they aren't needed if you set off the custom's department profile. What? Do I look like a drug dealer or something? I even have a nice new passport (old one filled up) without the more "interesting" country stamps and visas in it.
Anyway, noticing the large number of, well, large people at the airport reminded me that I had returned to the land of obesity and junk food. (I'll be polite, I'm overweight as well and at 6'6" not exactly a paragon of human minimal-impactness.) Eating in Argentina, I consumed these huge steaks, piles of fries, small salads, huge pizzas, and deep-fried empanadas. Just like the locals. Just like the thin locals. Obviously there is something more complicated that just quantity of food in play here. More thoughts on this at some later point.
I found their paperwork this morning... Feudi di San Gregorio in southern Italy. They had a nice spread of wines from Campania and Puglia. The Rubrato (2001, $18) had a beautiful deep red color and wonderful flavor of cherries and spice. I also tried their whites, but don't have the notes to keep them straight (there were four different ones). Good wines with more fruit and flavor than the canonical, watery Italian whites. Their Serpico (2001, $70, not tasted) has gotten rave reviews and near-perfect scores from all of the big wine-rating-dudes.
Opolo Vineyards, Paso Robles, CA
These folks, who I had never heard of before, had quite a spread. At least one of the owners (moustache) was present at the show. I tasted late on Saturday and they were almost out of wines and concerned about what they would do Sunday. Anyway...
Summit Creek Zin, 2003, $18, Not to my taste, a touch of turpentine, along with earthy flavors.
Mountain Zin, 2003, $24, Wow! It's 16% alcohol, so you get a noseful of that, plus the aromas of a very intense Zinfindel. An impressive piece of work. What would you eat with it? Darned if I know. (There were some Elk dealers over in the Minnesota Foods section...)
Syrah, 2001, $24, Okay, that's more like it. A complex wine, very tasty, a little bit of fruit, the slightest touch of spice, and a leathery aftertaste. Maybe the Zins were tasted too young?
Pinot Noir, 2002, $24, Reminded me a lot of the "Blue Moon" Pinot Noir (see review below). Very good, but perhaps not the best bargain.
Rousanne and Viognier, 2003, $20 and $22 respectively, I can't mentally separate the two of them. Lots of fruit in both of them, but quite a bit of alcohol as well. I must be out of touch, I was remembering yeasts finishing up around 14-15% and now I'm seeing wines 1-2% higher than that in alcohol.
The "Blue Moon" folks. I've had their Cab/Merlot and Pinot Noir before.
Riesling, 2004, $9, A bit sweet, but with genuine fruit flavor. This summer I might be tempted.
Merlot, 2001, $9, Hmmm...might have been better a year or two ago? Not all that complex. Tastes like Merlot. I'd drink it, but it's nothing special.
Cab/Merlot, 2002, $10, This is better. A nice blend. A little bit of smoke, a little bit of fruit, and a fair amount of tannin.
Pinot Noir, 2002, $15, Must be the movie surcharge. Anyway, a very good wine, I liked it as much as a number of more expensive Pinots (though not as good as those fine Oregon Pinots at World Class Wines).
Rosemount Diamond Label Chardonnay, 2004, $10, Everything that's good about chardonnay, dry yet fruity, subtle yet with aftertaste, but no killer dose of oak! Yay!
Minnestalgia Winery, Minnesota wines, I tried the honey wine and the loganberry wine. It's cool that there is wine made in Minnesota, but I found these to be non-essential. Sorry.
Little Penguin, missed their booth, but the Shiraz is drinkable and a good deal I think. Plus the label is most excellent.
Rancho Zabaco, Dancing Bull Zin 2003, Sonoma Heritage Zines Zin 2003, and Dry Creek Valley Reserve 2001, Sometimes I think the winemakers go too far in making different wines. How many wines does Chateau Margaux put out each year? (Okay, it's more than one, but I think they put out their name wine and second line, Pavillion Rouge, and that's it.) Anyway, the 2003s were great, huge Zins, fruit, tabacco, leather, and smoke. They did taste a bit different, but I don't remember the distinctions. The 2001, no surprise, was a bit mellower, but more complex in flavor. Good stuff!
Okay...that looks like all that I can piece together. Enjoy!
Well, I'd have to admit that the food part of the show exceeded my expectations, and the wine part was maybe a little disappointing. Not very disappointing mind you, but not thrilling. The wine and beer went to my head so I didn't write much down during the show, but did some writing when I got home. Here are the notes:
Columbia Gewurztraminer, 2003, $10, Not as spicy as I'd like a 'traminer to be, but not appalling sweet either. Pretty good summer wine.
Columbia "Red Willow" Syrah, 2001, $25, Good, solid wine with a bit of tobacco aftertaste. I only saw the price after thinking that I would be willing to buy some. Maybe a bit too pricey for the taste.
Mondavi Napa Cab, 2001, $25, A big wine. Excellent wine but it doesn't really stand out as much as it should for the price.
Mondavi Napa Pinot Noir, 2001, $22, An excellent piece of work, long aftertaste, wonderful thick wine. More to my taste than the cab.
World Class Wines (Saturday they were doing Spain and Pacific NW)
Finca Antigua Tempranillo, La Mancha, 2002, $13, Vino of La Mancha I suppose. Tempranillo seems to be undergoing some hipness these days. This was an excellent, rustic wine. If tasted blind I would have said "typical Sicilian wine." Good stuff.
Conde de Valdemar Crianza, Rioja, 2000, $15, Good Rioja?!? Excellent wine and I'm not sure that I've had any well-aged Rioja before. A wine-type that I associate with sangria rather than with a good-drinking wine to go with, perhaps a tomato-based pasta dish? Reminds me of well-aged Sangiovese. I'd buy it.
Firesteed Pinot Noir, Oregon, 2002, $14
Benton Lane Pinot Noir, Oregon, 2001, $22
Domaine Serene Evenstad Reserve Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon, $50, A nice parallel tasting of these Oregon Pinots. Pinot seems to be pretty hot these days (am told that it's partly to do with the Sideways movie) and Oregon Pinots have been doing very well over the last few years. Maybe too well in that prices have been allowed to run high without any controls. The Firesteed nicely showed the fruit, but not a lot of complexity. The Benton Lane was more complex but had a little bit of a cardboard aftertaste. Not thrilling to me. The Domaine...blah...blah...blah was quite complex, a little bit of fruit, a little oak, a little tobacco, a little fruit (maybe peach?). A great wine. Not sure exactly what I'd eat with it. Maybe a cheese course or similar. But $50?
More to come later...
Shotgun Golf! The final article...
"There he goes. One of God's own prototypes. Some kind of high powered mutant never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die" — HST
Although HST's work is done, others take up the slack. Jewish journalist infiltrating a neo-nazi hate group? That meets at Applebee's? Yup, hilarity ensues. Gonzo continues. Film at 11.
Will Duke pass away now? Go not quietly into the night unless you have a huge wad of case, night-vision goggles, and a drug-filled date with a pair of Madonna look-alikes.
From the Doonesbury FAQ:
Q: What kind of relationship, if any, does Mr. Trudeau have with Hunter S. Thompson? --H. Delano R., Long Beach, CA
A: Non-existent. The two have never met, although there was a brief but acrimonious exchange of letters in the mid-70s. Since that time, Thompson has uttered numerous public threats against Trudeau's person, threats Trudeau takes seriously.
Bill Murray met Hunter S. Thompson in the late 70's, prior to portraying him in "Where the Buffalo Roam." He was driving a car back from the coast for Lorne Michaels (I believe) and met Thompson in Las Vegas.
They were sitting around a pool. Murray got tied to a chair (horsing around) and was thrown in the pool. He figured, no sweat, he could stand to his full height (6'1") and extricate himself from the socks that tied him to the chair. One thing though, when you are strapped in a chair, you are in a seated position and not able to extend to your full height. After momentary panic by the ever cool Bill, Thompson saw that Mr. Murray was floundering and hauled him out.
(This story was broadcast on "Focus with Bill Murray" hosted by critic Elvis Mitchell, and repeated last year by Bill Murray at the Brooklyn Academy of Music Film Festival devoted to him, 4/13/04). On the GettyWire Image page if you type in Bill Murray and scroll to all images within 12 months, and go back to April 13, 2004, you will see the photographs of the re-creation.
Longer quotes and stuff below...
"Some people will say that words like scum and rotten are wrong for Objective Journalism--which is true, but they miss the point. It was the built-in blind spots of the Objective rules and dogma that allowed Nixon to slither into the White House in the first place. He looked so good on paper that you could almost vote for him sight unseen. He seemed so all-American, so much like Horatio Alger, that he was able to slip through the cracks of Objective Journalism. You had to get Subjective to see Nixon clearly, and the shock of recognition was often painful." - HST, Nixon Obit
No relevance whatsoever for America. In 2005. Under the Dubya-crowd.
Yowza! What grim pictures! Did people actually eat this stuff? And what's up with the Mackerel in these recipes?
Yes, that's coffee jello. Need I say more about it? I thought not. These wonderful folks have a web site full of awful and awesome pictures of the low point in American cuisine. Food of the 1950s and Minnesota. Okay, that's two negatives and we've completely missed the utter thrill that is fast food. Okay, back to the Likeks website, and Cooking with Dr. Pepper. Yes, a real cookbook. You can find treasured cookbooks like these at all the good Salvation Army stores, unless you have terminally hip artist-types in your neighborhood. If so, drop by their pad and take a look at the cookbooks artfully scattered on the floor. I suspect that part of the appeal, or agony, of those 1950s cookbooks is how the colors have faded. They have faded, right?
New spam advertising campaign. The "luncheon meat" that is. You can join the Official Spam Fan Club from the Spam website. Hormel's media division also runs the SPAM MUSEUM!!! Which I sadly not yet visited though it is only a short distance from Minneapolis...
The final pie-fight scene in Kubrick's Doctor Strangelove was filmed, but cut from the release of the movie. On the other hand, those wild and crazy Taiwan politicos let it fly, live on TV (and in print coverage here) while discussing the military budget. Though the (fantasy) thought of our congress-slugs with lunchboxes does have a certain appeal. (Clash of the Titans lunchbox in Once Upon a Time in Mexico?)
Probably not as a result, Colin Powell strongly stated The One China Policy(TM) in unusually blunt terms. Could it be that after Putin's endorsement of Bush, they're also looking for a Jintao boost?
British experts have found that tea can prevent symptoms of something or other, I forget what. On the more serious side of brewing tea, there seems to be a problem in California. A horrible drug problem sure to create a new genre of warning films. Kava Abuse!!! The highway patrol is cracking down on those driving under the influence of Kava. "Drunk" on herbal tea. They said that they would even arrest those under the influence of a "good merlot." Egalitarian to the end.
There was some news in Japan over the last week or so of a couple of Fugu-related deaths. If you didn't know, the poisonous blowfish is used for at least two interesting different purposes. In Haiti, it's used to make the Zombie Dust (I'll leave you to your own searches about the truth and fictions of Zombification, Voudon, and the dust, but if you want only one reference then you should take a look at Wade Davis's classic The Serpent and the Rainbow of ethnopsychopharmacology) and eaten in Japan after being prepared by specially-trained, authorized chefs.
Here are some spots for you to start your reading...
Of course, you're really here to hear the story of what it tastes like. (What's the purpose of talking about the stuff if you don't try it? I take offense at the ridiculous travel and dining articles "but we didn't have any." If you review the Louvre, you do go inside, look around, dodge the American Dan Brown fans, and see the Mona Lisa while you're at it. If you review Fugu, you eat it. Sashimi, sushi, and fondued.) So, at the cosmic ray conference in Tskuba, Japan back in 2003 part of the Pierre Auger Collaboration got together for Fugu.
If things went wrong, there would be additional job openings in Particle Astrophysics.
Nothing went wrong. Very tasty. Slight numbing of the tongue and lips which indicated that just enough of the toxin was in there to remind you that the edge was relatively closeby. I can cross that one off of my list. Would I go again? Sure, it's tasty, different, and the connections you build cheating death...
Probably not exactly in keeping with the wine (and future coffee) focus of this category, but what the heck... If you've traveled in malarial zones, you probably remember chloroquine and the nightmare of mefloquine, and also the sight of small kids suffering from malaria. It's been discussed many times how malaria is the most serious worldwide epidemic that doesn't have much PR or news profile. The drug companies have traditionally spent very little on malaria medications or a malaria vaccine as the financial rewards are viewed as slight (compared to western lifestyle meds). Some good news on the vaccine front though in today's news. Good to see this!
Here are a few other good wines from recent experience. No tasting notes, just "that's good" for a report.
George Deboeuf, Moulin-a-Vent Domaine des Rosiers 2003 $11 (yeah, the beaujolais folks)
Covey Run Merlot 2001 $8
Tortoise Creek Syrah Vin de Pays d'Oc les Amoureax 2003 $7 (great name!)
Aia della Macina, Morellino di Scansono Poggio Roggettone 2003 $10
Jean Leon, Syrah-Carlnena 2002 $11
Chateau Routas, Coteaux Rose Rouviere 2003 $8 (such good names!)
Lindemans, Shiraz South Australia Reserve 2002 $8
Smoking Loon, Syrah 2001 $7 (another good Syrah buy)
Aleph, Malbec Mendoza 2002 20ARP (purchased in Argentina, but I understand it is imported, 20ARP is about $7 US)
Michele Castellani, Amarone della Valpolicella Classica 1999 $60 (a definite splurge, but I'll do that sometimes for an amarone, this was 6 months or so ago, made an impression...)
Bogle, Zinfindel Old Vine 2002 $9
Castle Rock, Zin 2002 $9
Concha y Toro, Cabernet Sauvignon (the really long winded one, can't find the label at the moment) $12
That'll do it for the moment, lest I look like some sort of wine fanatic.
Big hits (but costlier)... I'm using $13+ as the dividing line.
Alvaro Palacios Bierzo "Corullon" 2001, $27
- wine-maker is "bright young thang" of spanish wine
- less complex than a fine bordeaux, but headed into the same territory
Rex Hill Pinot Noir 2001, $22
- Willamette Valley, Oregon
- a bit expensive for what you get, but it's as pure a Pinot experience as I know
Ferrari-Carano Tresor 1999/2000, $25
- Formula One money?
- bordeaux five grapes in a wonderful, rich, deep blend---long after taste of vanilla and berries
- #3 overall
Aia Vecchia Lagone 2002, $15
- super-tuscan, not a type of wine I know much about
- wonderfully complex a la French wine rather than Italian
Rosemount Hill of Gold Shiraz 2002, $15
- see below for my comments on a parallel aussie shiraz tasting
Chateau Haut de Boussan Medoc 2001, $19
- #2 choice from the tasting, really headed into my range of preferences
- very complex, full, rich experience
- beaten by a cheaper yank? hmmm...
- put some in a cool spot in your house and impress the neighbors for the next decade or two
Palazzo Brunello de Montalcino 1998, $33
- little walled town south of Siena
- pricey, but seemed to me to be the perfect stereotyped wine of Italy (earthy and fruity)
Dry Creek Vineyards Meritage 2000, $20
- another quite good California attempt at claret
Justin Paso Robles Cabernet 2002, $23
- a near perfect cab
- wonderfully in your face
Champalou Vouvray 2002, $13
- I didn't taste many whites, next time need to do a round of whites before demolishing my taste buds on cab after cab
- the vouvray flavors were strong enough to register, silky smooth wine
Hahn Meritage 2002, $13
- my personal favorite from the tasting, #1
- maybe not quite the Medoc, but cheaper and maybe a touch rougher (in a positive way)
- five grapes used a la bordeaux
Less expensive. More bang for the buck. Less than $13.
Buckeleys Shiraz 2002, $8
- need to do a head-to-head comparison of a bunch of shirazes at some point
- anyone want to join me?
Cetemura Chianti DOCG 2001, $11
- seemed like the best of the many chiantis being poured
- very much the type of wine that got me interested in wines in the first place
Masseria del Pilone Primitivo 2001, $7
- this was my best find on the lower price end
- southern italian wine (I wasn't a huge fan of sicilian wines when traveling there, but this primitivo comes across as a brash, bright red that I'd serve with most any pasta or maybe a sea bass)
Osborne Solaz Tempranillo-Cabernet Sauvignon 2002, $8
- this was my other find on the lower priced wines
- cheap spanish wines never did much for me, but this one has character---strong flavors, aftertaste maybe of leather and earth
Charriot Sangiovese 2002, $12
- US sangiovese, seemed like a perfect match for food
- also contrasted nicely in style with...
Fonterutoli Badiola Sangiovese 2002, $10
- old world sangiovese, probably what I would stock heavily if I ran a restaurant
- could charge $24 in the restaurant and no one would mind much
- plus it's a great name
I'll upload my tasting notes from last night's wine tasting when I get a chance. I think a good time was had by all. It's some benefit for the Humane Society (for Companion Animals, kinda a bit too PC sounding for my taste) but some good wines. A mix of representatives from the wineries and from the distributors and retailers. The Hahn Meritage was my surprise find of the evening (wine-wise). It's a California attempt at blending the five Bordeaux grapes---honestly would not have been able to distinguish it from a decent second cru. Probably the freedom in the minimum and maximum fractions of each variety of grapes enhances its year to year success. The 2002 is Merlot dominated while the 1999 was more Cab-centered.