29 September 2008

29sept- fantastic way to test temp of meat
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The Finger Test to Check the Doneness of Meat
29sept- Franklin's 13 moral virtues
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what seems like ages ago (but actually turns out to be no more than 3 months ago) I posted a little thing on Goethe's 9 requisites for contented living.

Tonight, as I make sure this 03Chateau Durfort-Vivens doesn't go to waste, and, as I don't feel myself particularly elevated, I consider opening that 05Ridge Santa Cruz Mountains Estate Cab/Merlot blend, I found these 13 moral virtues espoused by Benjamin Franklin.

"The thirteen moral virtues listed by Benjamin Franklin in his Autobiography:

1. Temperance. Eat not to Dulness. Drink not to Elevation.

2. Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself. Avoid trifling Conversation.

3. Order. Let all your Things have their Places. Let each Part of your Business have its Time.

4. Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.

5. Frugality. Make no Expense but to do good to others or yourself: i.e. Waste nothing.

6. Industry. Lose no Time. Be always employ'd in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary Actions.

7. Sincerity. Use no hurtful Deceit. Think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly.

8. Justice. Wrong none, by doing Injuries or omitting the Benefits that are your Duty.

9. Moderation. Avoid Extreams. Forbear resenting Injuries so much as you think they deserve.

10. Cleanliness. Tolerate no Uncleanness in Body, Cloaths or Habitation.

11. Tranquillity. Be not disturbed at Trifles, or at Accidents common or unavoidable.

12. Chastity. Rarely use Venery but for Health or Offspring; Never to Dulness, Weakness, or the Injury of your own or another's Peace or Reputation.

13. Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.


Also...

The Morning Question, What Good shall I do this Day?

The Evening Question, What Good have I done to day? "


It's so easy to recognize and suggest a good way to live, but so difficult actually to live accordingly.

But there they are. some good ideas.
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so think about that...

Google images offered this in response to "Benjamin Franklin." It comes from Alexanderscostumes.com, which also, oddly, has a child's John Hancock costume which looks quite a bit like the above only in green.

24 September 2008

24Sept- NYTimes article on inexpensive wines
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Modest Luxuries for Lean Times

photo by tony cenicola/new york times

23 September 2008

23sept-chemistry
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We're going to need some new servers in a little while and we've been looking for help in the back. I'm constantly reminded of how valuable chemistry is in any relationship. And that's what any interaction is: a relationship. Whether it's the relationship between a server and a customer, a server and the restaurant owner, personality of the restaurant itself and a customer. These are the same ideas that go into an intimate relationship. We all have expectations, compromises, surprises-good and bad, gives, and takes. In order for the relationship to work there needs to be a harmony, a balance between the participants.
It's a kind of understanding, a sympathy, perhaps, that seems to make a difference.

I'm not going anywhere in particular with this line of thought. These are just things that one must consider when hiring or applying somewhere. Does this new person in your life, with whom you're destined to spend a good deal of time, seem selfish? Do they seem understanding? Are they humble but confident? Work ethics. Ethics in general.
Do you get along?

I've heard from plenty of people that you either love or hate Tom Waits. There doesn't seem to be much middle ground.
His music speaks to you or it doesn't, I guess.
It's chemistry.


19 September 2008

19sept- autumn winds come blowing in
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And push the curtains in the kitchen. They shoosh through the pecan leaves and flutter through the dogwoods and they chill me ever so slightly. The winds smell of decisions and eyes closed tenderly and awkward laughs to distract from awkward but sincere campaigns. The winds whoomp garden torches in unison around a crowd of laughing, tired people who drink warm beer and let fingers linger on loved ones' necks.
An orange moon hangs heavy in the sky, brushing tree tops and reflecting in those eyes.
And it's just cold enough for cuddling to be for warmth, too.


18 September 2008

17sept-ever dream about work?
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I think, generally, we all work very hard for a living. Whether how hard we work is perceived as hard by others is a different matter but, largely, irrelevant since the relativity of the experience is what ultimately counts to an individual. I stress "to an individual" because the efforts of a soft, spoiled person who wails about having to take out the trash don't really compare to the stolid, clench-jawed efforts of the laborer who, because he needs the, doesn't complain when he loses a finger in a thresher . If there were an objective way to judge and compare people's toils then we'd have a clear idea of at whom to scoff and with whom to sympathize. But such an objective scratch on the door jamb of life doesn't exist so I feel free to bitch about my own job.

Which I'm not going to do, per se. It just seems like work is weighing heavily on my mind lately.
I don't know whether it's Baan Sawan in particular, and the stresses the servers and their caprice cause me. Or that things have been slow. Or that Fall Break is coming soon and so many of our staff want to go home to see their family (a desire it would take some time for me to understand since I've worked with my family for almost 14 years now.) Or maybe it's the classes I've been taking and recently begun having some difficulty fitting into my week.
Either way, my sleep has been fitful lately. A couple of nights ago I awoke from a work dream. Not restaurant work, but I found myself responsible for the removal of a carpet, then I had to level out the floor underneath, then I had to re-floor. There was a lot to do. As I set to, I awoke from the dream because the knots in my shoulders have been waking me up a lot lately (I can't seem to turn fitfully without some discomfort.) In the space between dream and reality I can remember thinking, "Oh no! I've got to get back to that dream. I have a lot of work to do." So I went back to sleep, though I don't recall going back to finish the job.
While it would be difficult to argue that this is a good dream, I'm just not sure it's strictly speaking a bad dream.
I generally don't make requests for people to chime in regarding these posts, as I usually post with the idea that few people will actually have the patience to read what i write. But if anybody would like to mention their toil dreams, I'd be happy to listen.


16 September 2008

16Sept-NYTimes article on Aglianico
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An Italian Name worth Practicing

I've been a fan of this grape since running across it in the dusty corners of one of my distributor's price lists. Having never heard of it before, and finding it fairly affordable, I felt the need to try it and I'm glad I did. Long known as "the Nebbiolo of the South", I've been buying them since I can't really afford the Nebbioli of the North. There are some that are priced low enough to be on the by glass list but these tend to be overly simple, unremarkable wines. The one i have on the by the bottle list I think is very interesting with cherry, tar, and leather notes. And, like most Italian wines, it works very well with food. I'm gratified to see that it's been selling pretty well, too.

Anyway, this is the third of my quiet interests that I entertain at the restaurant that have recently appeared in the pages of the New York Times. Muscadet, restrained California Cabs, and now Aglianico. At this rate I expect to read an article soon on the delicate delight that is Italy's Moscato d'Asti. Then, perhaps, an article extolling the dry, nutty virtues of Amontillado.

13 September 2008

13sept- self-indulgent nada post
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so the 12 o'clock hour is coming around and the night is coming to a close for someone who is in the restaurant business but does not live the restaurant life.
How does one shrug off the week?
As I'm now sitting in a house with no wine that's ready to drink before 2013, I'm having a Fin du Monde after a quickly cooked dinner of whatever was in the fridge.
Good/bad? Makes no difference. (good, by the way.)
Watched a 30 Rock as I ate using this website www.sidereel.com
And now there's that awkward part of the evening when I slide into bed and try not to wake up the significant other.
But instead I'll use this time to dump all over the 2003 Chateau Chantalouette.
I chose this wine at random from the Southern Wine catalogue, figuring a 20something dollar bottle would be palatable but, boy, I'll tell you: this was disappointing.
It's a Pomerol but I was expecting more than broadly offered Merlot. It seemed too bright, fruit-forward and simple for my tastes. I decanted it to try to get more out of it but, alas, it had nothing more to offer.
Thank heavens for the Raymond Henriot Brut Champagne I had gathering dust. Its crisp yet full-bodied refreshing quality with toast, citrus and fruit made up for the Chantalouette's feeble personality.

So take that, whomever this post's vitriole is really about despite my ignorance at whom it's really directed. I can only assume I'm not that angry at a disappointing Bordeaux. But seriously. You pay 20something for a bottle of wine, you should expect it to be palatable, at least.
Feh, says I, to Chantalouette.

09 September 2008

09Sept-wonderful cartoon
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I think it's wonderful, at least. It's a quiet conversation between milk and a muffin about why one should do those things one wants to do.

click on the cartoon to read the rest.


08 September 2008

08Sept-absolutely pointless and irrelevant video post
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I happened to run across this. I'd always been aware that Sandra Bernhard was a celebrity of sorts but I'd never been sure why.
Turns out something about this amuses me.
We should do something like this at the restaurant on Mondays.


06 September 2008

06Sept-brilliant!
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IceOrb: the first vertical ice tray
06Sept-NYTimes article on Cotes du Rhone
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Meticulous, modern, and very French

I thought this was an interesting article, even though I don't generally buy Cotes du Rhone. It further illustrates a French movement to appease an American palate which is, by far, one of the most surprising vinous developments I've seen since Australia began exporting really good wine.
It also shows how expensive wine is getting.
There are some styles of wine for which I don't expect to pay much. For years I felt like I could find a good Cotes du Rhone, Dolcetto d'Alba, Barbera, or Beaujolais for under $20. While one still can, it's becoming more difficult. (And when I say years I'm talking about the last 10 years. I wish I could complain, with first hand knowledge, of how inexpensively i could buy classified Bordeaux back in the 80s. I really hope what I pay now won't seem cheap in twenty years...)
One can still find some great deals when it comes to Rieslings. Proper Rieslings, even, with cellar potential can still be had for under $30.

Anyway, speaking of Cotes du Rhone, I've enjoyed, in vintages past, the Santa Duc "Vielles Vignes" Cotes du Rhone. It's a little big because of its old-vine nature but I remember it being lovely. Dusty, leathery nose and restrained dark fruit flavors with touches of those great Southern French notes of lavender and thyme. Nice, dry finish. And it shouldn't cost you anymore than $15 or so.

03 September 2008

04Sept- stupid, self-indulgent struggle
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I'm struggling right now with whether to buy a half-case of a mildly expensive wine because I don't want not to experience it again. Meanwhile, billions of people struggle with their own, very real, problems. Maybe if I donate some money to a generous cause I'd feel better about buying wine, but here's the thing: so many of us spend money on things that make us feel better. Be that thing a nice meal, a new outfit, a massage, and so on. Is it so wrong to spend money on wine? No, I'm going to say because that's the answer I want to hear.
I don't have a great deal of money and, really, I should be saving for the future. But I tell myself now what I told myself in high school when my interest was fountain pens: if the time comes when I can't afford a fountain pen I'll be glad I bought it when I could. I worked my ass off to buy that Mont Blanc Meisterstuck....I think it's around here somewhere...

The point is, to a certain degree, these wines are investments. Theoretically, if I wanted to sell my 98 Chateau Montrose in 5 years I might make a bit of money. More realistically, if I wanted to buy a fifteen year old Chateau Montrose in 5 years I'd be out of a bit of cash.
These bottles are more than an expensive way to get tipsy. They are wonderful, exciting rides along the tastebuds. They may recall a good time, like the wonderful Carneros Pinot of which I bought a half case. It reminds me of that Mother's Day we had my side of the family to the house. Or the 4 bottles of L'Ecole 03 Apogee I have waiting, which reminds me of little more than how great a Washington Bordeaux-style blend can be.
A good friend was buying Bordeaux in the 80s and 90s, before the Russians and Chinese came in and showed an interest, which made the whole damn wine world more expensive for all of us. He'll bring out something wonderful that would be silly expensive now that he paid only kind of expensive then. A testament to foresight and patience. Through his taste and generosity I've learned so much about wine and experienced 1st growths I could never afford on my own. And I take that passion and try to transfer it to others, which spoils their tongues and leaves them with a preference that can only be satisfied by pricey wines. And so we taste on, palates against the wine, borne back ceaselessly into the something something something. I like the idea that I might be to others what he's been to me. I want to instill and nurture a passion through my generosity and therefore enrich the world with people who truly care about the vine. A hundred people in a lifetime and one might truly get it, and that one could be enough.
So I'm going to get that damn half-case.
And who cares if I have to slice hotdogs and zucchini into angel hair and on-sale spaghetti sauce for a while? The wine will be worth it when it's finally opened and enjoyed.
This is what passion is all about. Sacrifice. If yours is something other than wine, don't be afraid to work hard and sacrifice to realize it; I believe that it'll be worth it.
Then again, who knows how long we've got? This bite on my leg that I earned while camping could be a poisonous spider bite and not an over-worried mosquito bite. If that's the case and I'm on my way out, I'm opening the 98Chateau Angelus for which I think I overpaid.

02 September 2008

02Sept-It's September. Already? Why? & some wine talk
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Another month gone. This upcoming one will be more unpredictable than the last because of the football games that sweep through the attentions of this town once a week with varying results. Sometimes we'll be swamped with customers on the night of a game and other game nights we'll be teaching ourselves how to juggle using wine corks.
Last Friday was a hell of a thing. Never saw it coming but we got a lot more interest than we were expecting and, therefore, couldn't quite handle it. This was not to be made any easier by some customers who seemed all too eager to be made upset.
Leigh was nice enough to remedy my jangled nerves by arranging an isolated labor day weekend of camping, which was quite nice.

The morale of the story: Chateau Montelena's non-estate 05 Cabernet Sauvignon was somewhat disappointing. I had rather high hopes since I enjoyed their Chardonnay so much. Perhaps their considerably more expensive "Estate" cab is more to my liking but one would assume, like a Bordeaux's second-house, that their less expensive (of two) cabs would at least be somewhat indicative of what to expect. There were some layers to it but I thought the flavors were a little muted and the overall feel of the wine a little too unstructured for me. Something about the tannin texture called to mind a very, very soft apple. And, even though we were camping, I treated it well. Decanter. Properly-shaped wine glasses. Correct temperature. Our wine experiences aren't compromised just because we're sleeping in a tent and eating by the light of a campfire.
To make up for it, upon our return, we had a bottle of 98 Michele Chiarlo Asili Barbaresco, which was on sale for a reasonable price at the Greens on Assembly (it's in their wine cave). This was a wonderful bottle with black cherry, licorice, a touch of something fresh-like mint?-, and dried flowers on the nose. The somewhat tart and brusque tannins that showed just after decanting smoothed out a lot after about an hour, giving us some wonderful cherry and dark berry flavors with a bit of tobacco and earth. The mouthfeel became soft and full. Leigh detected a bit of anise and pepper to the aftertaste. That one was really good times and its sale price was only about $10 more than the Montelena. I'll be looking for that Asili again.


leigh's campfire dinner