Archive for the 'Food/Wine/Spirits' Category

BREAKING NEWS!!! (i think)

Earlier today, a certain UA development company sent out an email to all the members in its registered database with the phrase: DITA 10-29-08.

Of course, you know who it is, and what they are selling, so there’s no need to tell you. Not being a DITA developer (I know, I’m the last to jump on that wagon), I won’t be able to offer much in either the “zOMG we should be excited !!11eleventy!” or “puh-leeze, try again” camps until we actually get to see and play with a product.

So, in short, I’m not sure what this post is actually about. Is a corporation hoping that I market for them? Is it viral marketing if I don’t publish who it is? Is a post a post if it doesn’t contain any useful information or insight at all?

Therefore, here’s a cookie recipe:

White chocolate macadamia nut cookies
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 ounces (1 1/2 cups) white chocolate baking squares, cut into small chunks, or white baking chips
3/4 cup roughly chopped, unsalted, toasted macadamia nuts

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl.

Beat the butter in a large mixing bowl until fluffy. Add the brown sugar and mix together until smooth.

Add the egg and vanilla. Blend in the flour mixture in 3 stages and stir in the white chocolate and the nuts.

Scoop out walnut-sized mounds of the cookie dough and place on a cookie sheet, leaving 2-inches between the mounds. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the cookies are golden.

Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and transfer the cookies to cooling racks. Eat while thinking of DITA-related press releases and odd websites.

I never claimed I was a smart man…

“You shake my nerves and you rattle my brains…”

Over a recent weekend, my wife and I opened our home to an elderly relative of hers. The lovely lady, carrying the superior genes from my wife’s side of our union, enjoyed a few days of respite in our home.

Eager to prove I wasn’t totally useless, I made a pot full of theMonkey’s famous Red Sauce. I may not do many things well, but I can cook a good red sauce. The trick is to dice a half-pound of prosciutto so thin that it disintegrates into the bubbling, steamy tomato flesh, and then… well, I’d go on, but this isn’t a story about pasta sauce. I just thought that it was information that you might need to know later in the story.

One evening, expecting a large influx of relatives coming to visit, I looked at the rather large remainder of the sauce, resting quite comfortably in the fridge, the flavors getting better acquainted with every passing hour. Then inspiration struck. You know, I thought, the only thing that separates red sauce from salsa is cilantro, spicy peppers, and some sugar. Everyone likes salsa. Yes. I shall make salsa. I shall tread to the local grocer, and acquire the necessary items. I shall tell the grocer, “Excuse me sir, but I need some cilantro. And some spicy peppers.” What a captial idea! Which is exactly what I did.

At this point, dear readers, the habaneros enter into our story.

Or, as I shall refer to them from now on: Satan’s Insanity Peppers.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, all the possible anecdotes that could arise from someone working with hot peppers. But understand: no matter what you’re thinking about, no matter how terrible your imagination, no matter how many horror movies you’ve seen, nothing can prepare you for some of the details you’re about to encounter.

Trust me, it’s worse than you can possibly imagine.

Continue reading ‘I never claimed I was a smart man…’

Delicious draught delight

I had some of my family from Britain in town last weekend. My cousin brought some English ale with him, a beer called Boddingtons Pub Ale – or “Boddy’s,” as it’s nicknamed. It’s a delicious ale – a bit lighter than most ales, but very hoppy and refreshing.

The best part of the beer, though, is its fantastic head. Boddington bills itself as the “Cream of Manchester,” and its creamy heads are the reason why.

Beer sold in cans can’t produce the head that you get in a mug that’s been drawn from a tap at your favorite watering hole. That’s because heads produced by CO2 fizzle quickly (think Diet Coke, here). But Boddington’s (along with a few other British beers) include the “Draughtflow System,” an engineering marvel which ensures that one has a proper British head for his beer.


Mmm… look at that firm head. This picture was taken several minutes after pouring, and you could still float a quarter 20 pence coin on it if you wanted to.

I was curious to see how this “Draughtflow System” works, so I cut the can apart.

Rattling around inside the can was a plastic “widget.”

The widget is a nitrogen-infused plastic bubble that floats inside the pressurized can. When the can is opened, the CO2 inside the ale is released, the pressure inside the can drops, and the widget releases its nitrogen in a small explosion. And it turns out that CO2 + nitrogen makes a firm, creamy, silky head; which aerates the ale to perfection. And while CO2 bubbles are going up in your glass, the nitrogen bubbles are going down. Just like when your barkeep pulls a fresh mug for you.

Turns out you can buy Boddy’s here in the States. I definitely recommend it, if not for the taste factor, at least for the gimmick factor the widget will give you. Think of how cool you’ll sound at your next football party, explaining the concepts of pressurized nitrogen and CO2 to a wowed audience.

It’s an Ale, so serve it warm, say around room temperature (“British room temp,” that is, where “warm” = ~65 degrees).

You engineering geeks might be interested in the widget’s patent.

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A nose ahead of the rest

It has been thirty years since California established itself as an authentic wine region. The “Judgment of Paris,” as the event was nicknamed, occurred when a French wine merchant organized a blind wine tasting that included the most prestigious oenophiles in the world. When the results of the experts’ ratings were revealed, they were quite shocked to learn they had rated California wines at the top of the list, and placed their own beloved French wines at the bottom.

Yesterday, the tasting was re-enacted in honor of the 30th anniversary of the event. American, British, and French experts once again subjected themselves to a blind tasting, to see if this shocking defeat could be reversed.

It wasn’t. California won again.

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Scottish friend

I have developed a fond relationship with a Scottish friend. A healthy relationship, mind you, and he’s quite a friendly spirit. We only visit once in a while, usually at the end of a week or at a nice restaurant. My grandfather, the one with the great sense of humor — he refers to his “bum ear as oxymoronic — has known this Scot his entire life.

Nowadays, the three of us often get together, but I remember the first time I had the pleasure of partaking of my single friend’s company. Actually, he picked me up at a bar. Continue reading ‘Scottish friend’