21 September 2006

Interesting wine discussion tonight.

So Suzi and I were sharing a bottle of Sancerre tonight, during which some regulars came in and sat at the bar: W., Bt and B.
At some point or another I happened to notice that a conversation between Suzi and W. had turned oenological.
It was a question of what appellation meant versus other methods of determining from where a wine comes. The distinction, which seemed so clear to Suzi and me, was slightly more difficult to explain that I thought it would be and, finally, it came down to analogies. I've always thought analogies were a great way to explain things, anyway.
So after we discussed differences in region (Bordeaux versus Chateauneuf-du-pape) and appellation (among Burgundies: Pommard versus Volnay -with a slight digression to touch on the idea of terroir) everybody was singing from the same hymnal.
I hadn't quite realized how involved all of us had become in the conversation but, when I went to check on someone who'd ordered a bottle off of the by-the-bottle list, he mentioned how entertained he was by our conversation. It had a "level of sophistication" he enjoyed.
Amanda mentioned when I was in the back that we were having a wine snobby conversation.
I find it interesting that it was perceived as sophisticated (or snobby) since, to me - and I'm sure to Suzi, as well-, it was just us trying to clarify an often convoluted concept that we happen to understand, to some degree.It was like describing to somebody the differences between Orangina and R.C. Cola. Sure, both fizzy drinks but a world of difference between the two. Nothing inherently sophisticated but we just happened to have taken the time to experience and learn about a certain subject.
Music has its dangers of suggesting a listener is snobby, as well. If I said that I loved country music because of the emotional spectrum it offered; the pain it expressed so purely or the joy it evoked so jauntily. Of the melodramatic quality it offered with its cliches of lost loves of varying types. Of the vocal ranges country music explored from Tammy Wynette to Merle Haggard. If I said that, despite its often confusing vernacular, I enjoyed the emotions the music conveyed then rare would be the person who'd say I was being snobby. Assuming I said all of this in a non-haughty way, of course. But if I took all of those reasons and applied them to opera. Well. For some reason opera just implies that the listener is a bit snooty. The same with wine, sometimes.
These are just tastes. Knowledge cultivated out of love of an experience rather than desire to impress.
Hell. This time of year it seems like everyone's a football expert, with their esoteric knowledge of rules and histories and such like.
So for everyone who can bring up the fact that Spurrier hadn't coached a game in almost twenty years wherein his team didn't score a single point then I should be allowed to mention, when it's relevant, that Pinotage is a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault.

20 September 2006

Bacon, not stirred
As many know, Kevin Bacon and a movie crew are in town making what I understand to be a remake of "Death Wish." Sightings of crew abound so when news trickled to us that Ren McCormack himself would be walking through our doors and raising the price of his napkin on eBay we all feigned nonchalance and continued with what we were doing.
Good thing, too, because he never did come in.
With our luck, of course, if he ever does come in we'll be so busy that we won't be able to attend to anybody, much less him, as well as we'd like. Or we'll be so slow that it would just be embarrassing.
So...we're looking forward to that.

16 September 2006

Well, the restaurant has joined mySpace. There are photos and videos and, for the moment, that's about it. I'm planning little commercials or, perhaps, some video version of the beer or wine list. We'll see what I have time for. Or, more accurately, we'll see what I make the time for.
So if anyone is interested, go to

  • www.myspace.com/baansawan

  • In light of the recent FDA warnings concerning spinach and E. coli, we will be using mixed vegetables instead of spinach in our Peanut Curry.
    We generally use Newman's Own spinach and, while it would appear that Natural Selection Foods are connected, the most recent article I read said an investigation is still going.
    Interestingly, in this article on CNN from a Washington reporter a Columbian was quoted.

    "We pulled everything that we have spinach in," said Dan Brettelle, manager of a Piggly Wiggly store in Columbia, South Carolina.

    05 September 2006

    Featured wines as of Sept 05

    ~in this case~

    These are some interesting wines I've come across lately.

    red wine
    Conde de Valdemar 2002
    Rioja Crianza, Spain
    True, I took away the tempranillo that so many people enjoyed but only so that I could offer something new and exciting yet similarly themed. Rioja is like a Spanish Bordeaux in that it's a region that produces blends. In this case, tempranillo is the major grape with a little mazuelo (known in France as carignan.) This has a clean, oaky nose with earth and cherry flavors. Medium to full bodied with a velvety tannic finish.

    ½glass 5.50 glass 7.95 / bottle 33

    white wine
    Höpler 2004 Grüner Veltliner
    Burgenland, Austria
    A light touch of grapefruit and apricot on the nose and a nice, crisp yet broad mouth-feel with the grape's signature peppery quality. It's a very difficult wine to describe, actually. You get some sauvignon blanc nose, a little French chardonnay body and mineral. The clean crispness of, say, pinot blanc. It holds up well to the curries but really shows its personality with lighter dishes.

    ½glass 5.50 glass 7.95 / bottle 33

    Pétale de Rose 2004
    Provence, France
    A wonderfully dry and crisp rosé made with Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah and Mourvédre. Up until I tried this I'd been grudgingly accepting of the style but, I'll tell you, if this was the first rosé I'd ever tried I never would've thought negatively of them. A nice, light and red berry nose, vibrantly acidic and focused on the tongue. Versatile with our food and very easy drinking.

    ½glass 4.50 glass 6.95 / bottle 27.95
    So it would seem that my silly, florid beer descriptions have gained some degree of acclaim. Jason Ryan from The State newspaper was told about my beer menu and, after he came to the restaurant to check it out, he decided to do a piece on me, which I found very exciting. When it came out a couple of weeks ago we braced ourselves for a deluge of customers, each clamoring to bathe in my rhetoric and drink of my beer and, of course, we were slow for the next few days. My ego, of course, insisted that people were avoiding the restaurant on account of their presumption that it would be far too packed.
    Anyway, Alex sent me a link to a blog that mentioned me, which is great in itself but also encouraged me to Google myself to see what else was out there. I'm sure many of you have done the same. I was thrilled to see a number of blogs mention the article and my favorite of them uses the "P" word.

    "The feature focus is on a young guy who has written an interesting menu for his restaurant [4]. I hope you have noticed that I publish an online literary magazine called The Angler. I publish short stories and a literary form called flash fiction. These are short-short fiction pieces. Sam Suaudom Jr’s micro-flash beer fictions are shorter than the ones I publish, but I think he’s on to something. Not only is it good for his business (his beer sales have doubled since introducing the artful menu), but he just may be pioneering a new literary form. Thanks to Stan Hieronymus for spotting that story and highlighting on Appellation Beer."

    Oh, that I were a pioneer but I'm simply a disciple of the written word in such a way that encompasses all manners of literary exercises, among them "how can I tell a teeny story and amuse myself,and hopefully others, at the same time as selling beer?"

    Anyway, here's a link to the original article. Hopefully, it's still up.

  • Brewing Beer Stories
  • My silly, florid beer descriptions
    as of sept 05

    Ayinger Bräu-Weisse -unfiltered wheat ale- Bavaria
    500 ml
    "Bananas." he thought. "That's the nuance to the Ayinger." Stark white cumulus clouds hung heavy above him and they reminded him of the surprisingly heavy and aromatic head his Ayinger had poured earlier that day. "I guess that's the Bavarian ale yeasts people talk about." As his back came into rough contact with the pavement he decided it was more odd that he'd slipped on a banana peel than it was for his beer to smell like one.

    Baltika #6 Porter Russia
    500 ml
    Her eyes cut into me as she poured her #6. It was as dark as her hair and her heart and she eased a finger up the side of the glass to catch an errant drip of froth that had spilled over. I looked away as she licked her finger clean. I drank my own #6 and tried to lose myself in its coffee and chocolate bitterness but my own bitterness was distracting. I hate her so much. But don't tell her I said that.

    B.B. Bürgerbräu -Lager- Czech Republic
    As she crested the hill her shoulders ached under the weight of the pole, from each side of which was suspended a bucket of water. She wanted to stop, put down the buckets and, as she surveyed the Czech countryside that stretched out beneath her, drink deeply from the bottle of Bürgerbräu she'd brought. The lager's clean finish and mildly hoppy taste would've slaked the thirst that her day's labors incurred as she trekked back and forth between her village and the well. She tossed her hair from in front of her eyes and figured she'd better just pay the water bill.

    St. George Porter Hampton, Virginia
    This porter's a sort of
    a dark beer, you see,
    as methinks all drinks
    should aspire to be.
    It's malty and not paltry
    on notes of caramel.
    with not much, but a touch
    of chocolate, as well.
    So sample this ample
    and tasteful dark brew.
    We're fortunate to apportion it
    and offer it to you.

    Singha Thailand
    If spiciness were water then it’s the monsoon season in my mouth. Marvelous, truly marvelous and there’s only one beer that can trip the light fantastic with my taste buds at this point. Only one lager that deserves to share the stage with the flavor cabaret on my tongue. Anything less than a Singha now would be making Martha Graham do the Hokey Pokey. $4.75

    Harp Ireland
    In the distance a lonely dog barked. In the foreground cars rolled quietly past me in the grainy, drizzly evening. To the right of me I think there were more cars. And in my hand, oh, in my hand the elixir to the poison that was my day… $3.75

    Sapporo Japan
    They said it would be fun. “Get in this suit, we’ll fill it up with air and you can sumo wrestle!” This to a man who sprained his ankle during the pivotal last few seconds of a heated game of hopscotch. If I ever get out from under this guy I’m getting a Sapporo. $3.75

    He’Brew Messiah Bold USA
    She leaned against the bar like an art deco sculpture: long, lithe and sensuous. She was recounting the myth of Sisyphus to the bartender, gesturing elegantly with one hand and holding a beer in the other. I could make out its label between her fingers and remembered that it made me laugh every time I read it. If she liked the beer half as much as I did I could see a future between us. $3.75

    Budweiser and Bud Light USA
    Mr. Randall Oxley popped open his Bud and waxed rhapsodic on his current romantic imbroglio. His descriptions were urbane yet ribald and as his companion chortled good naturedly he opened his own beverage. The sound of his Bud Light answered that of the Bud. “What should I do?” Oxley asked. “Oh, my good man,” responded Lord Ottombottom, “what shouldn’t you do?” $3.75
    Beers as of 31jan 2014
    (roughly in order of lightest to fullest)

    Stiegl “Radler” beer w/grapefruit soda/ Salzburg, Austria/3.2%alc/ just like drinking a  fresca!    1pt9fl.oz.            6.00                          
    Konig Pilsener Duisburg-beek, Germany/ dry, crisp, clean, light apple and lemon      (500ml can)                   4.00
    Chang Thailand/ citrus, apples, light hop                                                                            21.6oz 6.00    11.15oz      3.75
    Westbrook Brewing Co. Gose / wheat beer+coriander+salt/Mt Pleasant, SC/ bizarre, refreshing, briny, sour       5.00
    Westbrook Brewing Co “White Thai” / white beer/Mt Pleasant, SC/ lemongrass, ginger, spice                             4.75
    Bellerose Bière Blonde extra/St Amand les Euax, FR/ 6.5%alc/ lavender, litchi, citrus, light hop spice                           7.00
    Left Hand Brewing “Sawtooth Nitro” ESB/Longmont, CO/5.3%alc           citrus, malty nuttiness, creamy texture        4.75                          
    Grand Teton “Pursuit of HoppinessImperial Red Ale/Victor, ID/8.5%/ caramel, light orange, cleanly bitter       5.75
    Three Heads Brewing Too Kind double i.p.a./Honeoye Falls, NY/8.5%alc/ pine, citrus, caramel, so balanced!      6.50
    Moa “St Josephs”Belgian-style tripel/Marlborough, NZ /9.5%alc/sweet yeast, spices, minerally, crisp     375ml   10.00
    Belhaven “Black” Scottish stout Dunbar, Scotland/ smooth, creamy, coffee, light milk chocolate 1pt9fl.oz             6.50                          
    *Anderson Valley “Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout/5.8%/ rich, roasted malt, chocolate, coffee, oatmeal, smooth    4.75
    Brew Dog “Libertine Black Ale” Aberdeenshire, Scotland /7.2%alc/roasted coffee & nuts, lemon peel, hoppy      7.50                          

    Ovila “Abbey Quad” brewed with plums Chico, CA/10.2%/rich, plum, raisin, brown sugar, well-hidden ABV       6.50