Dazed and confused? Not me. I’m just Lost in the Cheese Aisle.

Monday, September 29, 2014


The Guild takes us to the sunny climes of the Mediterranean with this evening’s Spanish-themed wine event at Eclipse di Luna.

With the exception of a single red blend from Argentina, all of this tasting’s wines are from Sunny España. And given that my knowledge of Spanish wines is pretty much confined to the basics of Rioja and sherry, to me this looks like a fine opportunity for a little education. Plus... how can one refuse tasty Spanish food, served on an “all you care to eat” basis?

Here’s the bill of fare...

2011 Agro de Bazán Granbazán Albariño Etiqueta Ambar, Rias Baixas, Galicia, Spain*

Gambas al Ajillo - Sautéed shrimp with garlic and Calabrese peppers
Ostiones Fritos - Fried Chesapeake oysters with a citrus herb aioli

First Flight
2010 Bodegas Palacios Remondo La Montesa (75% Garnacha, 20% Tempranillo, 5% Mazuelo) Rioja, Spain*

Ensalada de Manzána - Arugula, radicchio, Granny Smith apples, candied walnuts and Manchego cheese with apple cider walnut dressing
Calamares Fritos - Lightly fried calamari with pico de gallo

Second Flight
2008 Bodegas y Vinedos O. Fournier BCrux (60% Tempranillo, 30% Malbec, 10% Merlot) Mendoza, Argentina****
2005 Bodega Hacienda Lopez de Haro Reserva (90% Tempranillo, 5% Graciano, 5% Garnacha Rioja), Spain**

Salmon a la Parilla - Grilled salmon, smoked piquillo pepper relish and kalamata tapanade

Third Flight
2010 Bodegas Volver Tarima Hill (100% Monastrell) Alicante, Spain**
2011 Vinessens Sein (60% old vine Monastrell (60 yr old), 40% young Syrah) Alicante, Spain
2012 Castaño Solanera (70% Monastrell, 15% Cabernet, 15% Garnacha) Yecla, Spain**

Costillas Españolas - Spanish-style ribs and aged balsamic vinaigrette
Patatas Bravas - Spiced potatoes with romesco sauce

Fourth Flight
2012 Tintonegro Malbec Limestone Block, Mendoza, Argentina*
1998 Muga Torre Muga, Rioja, Spain****
2004 La Rioja Alta Reserva Viña Ardanza (80% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha Rioja), Spain**

Carne a la Parilla - Grilled hanger steak, roasted tomatillo sauce and cucumber salad

2006 Alvear Fino En Rama (100% Pedro Ximenez), Montilla Moriles, Andalucia, Spain**

Per my usual practice, I’ll post an update with my post-drinkem commentary.

The food was excellent and available in quantities limited by our own appetites. Our dessert wine, a fino PX, was anything but desserty - it would have fared much better being paired with the first round of appetizers. Other than that, the wines were hit and miss, with a few nice surprises thrown in: The BCrux and Muga were killer.

Saturday, September 27, 2014


We’re all familiar with palindromes, those words and phrases that read the same in both directions.
  • Bob.
  • Madam, I’m Adam. (Possibly the first palindrome ever.)
  • A man, a plan, a canal - Panama!
Years can be palindromic as well. The last three were 1881, 1991, and 2002; the next will be 2112. (The turn of the millennium accounts for the relatively close proximity of 1991 and 2002, only eleven years apart instead of 110.)

Like countless others, my mother never saw a palindromic year. Her entire lifespan - a too-short sixty years - began well after 1881 and ended before 1991. And yet Dee and I, along with Elder Daughter and the Mistress of Sarcasm, have experienced two.

We Red Sea Pedestrians in the Diaspora, given that we use both the Gregorian and Hebrew calendars, get a crack at yet another palindromic year. The setting of the sun this past Wednesday evening marked the start of 5775. (Bob! 5775, Bob!)

Too bad none of us now living are likely to get to see the year 2222. “Palindrome” doesn’t quite capture it. What should we call it?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


New Year Challot
Round (or round-ish) challot, especially baked for the New Year, await their slathering of honey.

A New Year begins as the Old Year ends:
Shanah Tovah to my Jewish friends.

שנה טובה ומתוקה

May the year 5775 bring you health, happiness, and all manner of good things without limit. (Same goes to our non-Jewish friends. Just because your Calendrical Odometer doesn’t tick over when ours does doesn’t mean you should miss out!)

Friday, September 19, 2014


Yes, it’s International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Again.

So: What arrrh you going to do about it?

Have a parrrhty?

Wear a carrrhstume?

Or just ignarrrh the whole fucking thing?

Sunday, September 14, 2014


Widow's Kiss Cocktail
Widow’s Kiss Cocktail.

There’s nothing that will bring you bliss
Like the sweet, sultry savor of a Widow’s Kiss.
It tastes of herbs and apples and mystery,
And if you have one or two, it will set you free.

This seductive little marvel uses Calvados, the delicate apple brandy of Normandy, as its base. It is a bit on the sweet side thanks to a dose of Bénédictine, and deliciously floral as well, owing to the presence of Chartreuse. (The traditional recipe calls for yellow Chartreuse, but since I have only the green variety, that’s the one I use. It makes for an extra powerful cocktail.) Here’s how to make one:

1½ oz Calvados (Laird’s bonded apple brandy or applejack can be used in a pinch)
¾ oz yellow Chartreuse (Green Chartreuse works just fine)
¾ oz Bénédictine
4 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Stir well and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist. Drink carefully... didn’t I say it was powerful?

Thursday, September 11, 2014


Tai Kimuchi

Tai kimuchi - dried red snapper cured in soy and chile pepper - and an Aviation. Don’t judge.

I made the cocktail with Nolet’s gin and Meyer lemon - a real high flyer. The perfect apéritif for a dinner consisting of leftover gumbo.


We’re not necessarily the sort of people you would consider early adopters.

We’re not the first in line to buy the latest technological gimcrack or gewgaw. (The iPhone 6 will probably have to wait.) And yet we are not complete Luddite dinosaurs. Viz:

Yes, this is a real product. And today, for the first time, I tried it... and it worked. It worked most effectively, living up to its (refreshingly candid) advertising.

Now there’s no need to get cocky... or at least to get cocky-aroma in the old nostrils.

It’s a refreshing surprise to find a product that does what it claims to do... and even more surprising, to find its place in the market despite never being advertised on television - to my knowledge, anyway. Social media seem to be doing the heavy lifting, along with Internet-based sales and distribution - a real 21st century business model.

Why, it’s the best thing since sliced loaf bread!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


The TeeVee was playing in the den as I was fixing supper this evening, and I heard an ad that summoned up a bittersweet memory. It was for a tobacco cessation drug.

Chantix... helps reduce the urge to smoke.

I remember when I was visiting Eli, hizzownself, back in early January. He was still with us then, but it was evident - especially in retrospect - that he was nearing the end of his rope. He was just... tired.

His cognitive abilities were starting to slip. He would ask to be taken back to his room, forgetting that he already was in his room. And yet he could still be sharp as a tack.

We were watching the TV in his room and an advertisement for Chantix came on, along with the familiar tagline: “Chantix... helps reduce the urge to smoke.”

And apropos of pretty much nothing, I said, “Charlie Chantix...”

Eli responded immediately. “Helps reduce the urge to solve mysteries.

It was a flash of lightning amidst the thickening fog, but it was a flash nonetheless... and Dee and I were there to bear witness.

I miss you, Dad.


The other day, one of Dee’s students presented her with an edible gift.

Eschewing long-standing traditions, said student did not bring the usual apple for the teacher. Instead, she fell back on her own family heritage with a Foodly Offering of zereshk polo.

Zereshk polo? WTF izzat?” I can hear you asking. It’s a reasonable question, unless you spend time hanging out with people of Persian extraction. It is nothing more or less than a rice pilaf (pilaf, polo, and pullao being linguistic and culinary relatives) with a liberal dose of sweet-sour zereshk (barberries), along with saffron to provide a subtle flavor counterpoint.

Zereshk Polo
Zereshk polo, fresh from the Polo Grounds. Yum.

What elevates a Persian-style polo above its ricey cousins is the marvelous caramelized crust that forms on the bottom of the pan as it cooks. When the polo is ready to be served forth, the pan is inverted onto the plate so that that crust - the precious tahdig - sits on top of the pile of polo. The considerate host will ensure that everyone gets his or her share of tahdig by hacking it into manageable portion-size chunks.

On a somewhat unrelated note, Dee and I had been watching a show on the Food Network the previous evening, the one in which Rachael Ray and Guy Fieri take turns mugging for the camera while coaching teams of skillet-wielding toddlers. When one of said toddlers prepared a smoked chicken gumbo using red bell peppers in lieu of green, it struck me as unusual: Green peppers are one of the traditional components of the “trinity,” the Cajun-Creole mirepoix that forms the base of all good gumbeaux. (If that’s not how you spell the plural of “gumbo,” it oughta be.)

Neither of us are big fans of green peppers, gumbo being one of the few dishes in which we use them (the other is gazpacho) - so right then and there I resolved to try making a gumbo with red peppers. Said gumbo, crammed with chicken Andouille sausage, turned out to be similar in flavor to the conventional version but far more colorful. Even better, it was a fine accompaniment to my little plate of zereshk polo at lunch the following day.

Red Pepper Gumbo
Andouille sausage gumbo with red bell peppers. When your Polo Match is gumbo versus polo, everybody wins!

In case you’re curious, I did not put the polo in the gumbo. That’d be a no-no.

Monday, September 8, 2014


O, they’re eating chicken in Heaven,
In the clouds where the seraphim sing.
Yes, they’re eating chicken in Heaven,
(Mister Angel, please pass those wings.)
Yes, they’re eating chicken in Heaven,
For what else can I say?
The Founding Father of Chick-fil-A
Has gone and passed away,
Has gone and passed away.

The benevolent S. Truett Cathy
Has earned his Eternal Rest
After a lifetime of selling
The wing, the thigh, and the breast.
The chickens all cluck, “Hallelujah!”
For their nemesis has done and passed;
They all say, “We hope he’s cremated -
Let him taste that hot oven blast - O, yes -
Let him taste that hot oven blast!”

O, they’re eating chicken in Heaven,
In the clouds where the seraphim sing.
Yes, they’re eating chicken in Heaven,
How angelic, the taste of those wings!
Yes, they’re eating chicken in Heaven,
Where the good people go when they die,
Where they say, “Jesus saves, and Moses invests,
And Mister Cathy? He fries, he fries -
And Mister Cathy, he fries!”

[S. Truett Cathy, founder of the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain, passed away today at age 93. “And He will raise you up on chicken’s wings...”]


Yesterday evening, Dee and I were watching yet another show on the Food Network. (When we’re not watching shows about foods we can’t bother to cook on the Food Network, we’re watching shows about real estate we can’t afford on HGTV.)

I’m not sure what made her look towards the sunroom - possibly Stella taking an unauthorized walk on the dining room table - but the strange light pouring through the windows immediately grabbed her attention. “Take a look at that,” she said.

The skies were a bizarre yellow-orange, more what you would expect to see on Krypton or Mars. The yellow light that illuminated the sunroom was not the hue of a normal sunset; it felt strange and alien, vaguely threatening despite not being the eerie dark-green of a tornado sky.

I went out the front door, camera in hand, to see what I could see... and here is what greeted me:  
Orange Sky 3
View towards the northwest.

Orange Sky 2
View towards the southeast. Where General Zod at?

Towering storm clouds boiled in the distance, lit from behind by a sun angry at having to go to bed early. It reminded me of nothing so much as “A Feasibility Study,” an old Outer Limits episode in which a six-block chunk of suburbia gets teleported to a distant planet: It looked almost as though that same fate had befallen our neighborhood.

But no. No repulsive aliens waited to enslave us, no annoying electrical hum met our ears... just a couple walking their dog and looking completely unconcerned at the strange orange-yellow sky. Just another late summer day in Marietta.

So I went in and fixed myself a drink... ’cause I’m the guy who put the Bar in Barsoom.

Friday, September 5, 2014


That’s how I feel after this morning’s, errr, ahhh, procedure.

It’s the kind of thing Old Guys like me should have done every five to ten years... and the kind of thing that probably would have inspired a frenzy of Crap-Blogging a decade ago, back when the world was new and we cared about such fecal matters. But I just don’t have it in me anymore.


Crap-Blogging was once a thing, but for better or worse it is the sort of thing that does not seem to work on Facebook, where the audience is not a random bunch of internet geeks but rather a circle of friends, family, and acquaintances. It all seems like Too Much Information.

And even here on the bloggy side of things, you’re safe. I do not plan to post photographs, though I do have them... and they are fascinating in a perverse sort of way. (How often do you get to have a glimpse of your own living, glistening innards?)

To close, a brief Poetic Reflection on the day’s events:

The very idea, why it’s just nuts -
To have a tube shoved up your guts
Therewith for to inspect the Colon
And thus ensure there’s nothing growin’.
The preparation is no damn fun:
“Excuse me, but I’ve got to run!”
But give me a dose of Propofol,
And whatever you do, I won’t care at all.