30 November 2008

30Nov- on the other hand, here's something happy

29 November 2008

29Nov-Walmart worker trampled to death
Outside of what this says about us a consumer society, I can imagine fewer worse ways to die. Not only being trampled by Walmart customers -Long Island quite likely not being that different, body-type wise, as down here - but the very fact that he was at work when he died. Swarmed by strangers, so many of whom ignored his pain and cries in their mad rush for Just Things. Completely surrounded but completely alone. And wearing a Wal-Mart uniform.
I wonder if Walmart looks at the revenue and considers him an acceptable loss.
I shudder to think.

26 November 2008

26Nov-We'll be closed Thursday, Friday, and Saturday
I thought I should mention that. Just in case.
I hope everyone has a pleasant weekend, whether that involves being thankful for anything or not.

25 November 2008

25Nov- poking through the NYT

Thailand in the news, once again. It appears as though, while nothing has improved, people are at least beginning to grow weary about the whole thing.

Shots Fired as Thai Factions Clash

I'm not surprised in the slightest that "Young Frankenstein" the musical is closing. It seemed like such a big mistake in the first place. Or was it? "Cats" did astonishingly well. How about a musical version of "The Waste Land"? To be composed by John Adams . Now that I write those two names outloud, it seems almost possible. If it happens, I'm buying myself a drink.

Broadway is Dry-Eyed as Monster Falls Hard

Now this one is just a damn shame. It's about what might very well be the beginning of the end of the French cafe. It seems that business is dropping off considerably for more reasons than the global financial crisis. People just don't want to sit and talk and eat and drink now, it seems. For this to happen in France, of all places, is so dreary a suggestion of what we're coming to. The idea of sitting, talking, eating, and drinking has always struck me as something wonderfully French. Of course, I've imagined myself in a sun-suffused Parisian cafe with croissant crumbs on my jacket, warming my left hand over my cafe latte and holding my glass of Muscadet in my right while discussing French politics (which, to me, would be along the lines of, "I wonder what the sex is like between Bruni and Sarkozy" "I'm sure we'll find out in the next album" and so on.)

But now people are grabbing food to go, not having a glass of wine in the afternoon, and just ordering water with dinner? If France becomes America, where will my imagination go? Prague, maybe. I have no idea what's going on over there; that'd be an easy place about which to fantasize. London. Madrid. Maybe Madrid.
Yeah. If you need me, I'll be in Madrid.

No. I'll still be in that Parisian cafe, writing in a little notebook I bought at the stationery shop next door, letting my mussels steep a little longer in garlic and wine broth, and enjoying a simple but delicious red wine I'll never find in the States. French cafes need the business of my imagination. Maybe I'll send over a few dollars.

Across France, Cafe Owners are Suffering

24 November 2008

24N0v-saw this at The Daily Digress


and i thought it was hilarious.

And even though I tend bar, and even though I do love to drink (but I don't love getting drunk), I don't want people to think that I advocate casually getting drunk. However, the stick up my butt isn't up there so much that I don't think this is funny.

and apparently, it's an ecard.
24Nov-I should teach a class on how to mismanage finances while finding great deals on wine
The trick to the latter is equal parts exploration and knowledge. I've managed to come across some astonishing deals because my Mondays tend to include visits to at least one Greens, the Total Wine, World Market, and sometimes Morganelli's. I do this to get an idea of what is selling, what isn't selling, and to see what people are charging for what. Now, in order to mismanage your finances where this is concerned isn't terribly difficult. Sales will pop up here and there and, for instance, if you should find 2003 Groth Cabernet Sauvignon on sale for $29 you should only be concerned with the money saved than the money spent.
Similarly, if you're out of town, you should always look for wines not available in your home town. In this way you can spend more money because the deal then becomes its relative scarcity.

The most recent place I've visited out of town was The Wine Shop at Rivergate in Charlotte, NC.
They had a very broad selection at plenty of price points. A lot of interesting white wines I don't see that often. Their Bordeaux selection was oddly slender, but choice, avoiding the big names upon which so many shops rely. Their Oregon Pinot selection was satisfyingly bigger than I'm used to and their lockbox had several very interesting, hard-to-get selections that I feel compelled to purchase on my next visit.

They had a strange combination of very good prices and some rather marked-up prices, according to the prices available to me. It's possible they get the Mulderbosch Faithful Hound at a more expensive price than I do, but if they don't, they're making a chunk of change on it. On the other hand, their Santa Duc Old Vine Cotes du Rhone is making them pennies if they get it at the same price as I do. Both great wines, by the way, still worth what they're charging.

I bent the ear of one David Thomas there, who was very knowledgeable of a breadth information. We had a series of pleasant chats over the course of my browsing. Or, at least, I had a series of pleasant chats while he patiently worked hard for his money while appearing, convincingly, as though he were having pleasant chats.

In addition to a broad list, they also had that system that allows you to purchase tastes of wine through that neat spigot thing. We need something like that in Columbia.
And they also served food, with a selection of some very pleasant cheeses. I enjoyed their fries and their mussels in blue cheese sauce, i thought were quite nice. Their proscuitto was cut a tad thick for my tastes, but that's the way of the world, I suppose.
Over dinner Leigh fell in love with the Orchis Grenache while I enjoyed every wine I tried but fell in love with nothing. I did really like the Flora Springs Trilogy, which had a nicely restrained, Bordeaux-like quality. Naturally, when I was told it was on sale in their store for twenty bucks off their normal price and, supposedly, it's not terribly easy to get anyway, I had to buy what they had left. Fortunately for me, that consisted of only one bottle.

All in all, a very enjoyable place to spend more money than I should have.

and you can, too.

21 November 2008

21Nov-a fleeting thought on vices and camaraderie
I wonder what it is about sharing vices that can bring people together.
Camaraderie can be fostered over drinks or a smoke, et al. Seems odd. Maybe it's because vices, by they're very nature, are mildly -to rather- illicit, and you're automatically separating yourself from everyone else by being part of coterie that indulges. This shared interest would imply other shared interests and, bingo, you're past being strangers and on your way to something else.

I used to think that people want you to smoke or drink with them as a way of validating they're decisions. If I'm drinking while they're drinking then what they're doing is all right. Maybe it doesn't have to be as self-serving as that. Or over-simplified. Maybe wanting to share that experience is a handshake, of sorts. Just sharing the experience puts people in similar states of mind and you can be closer for it. Or maybe there's a touch of altruism. This glass of wine is making me feel very good; I would like you to feel good as well.
Maybe it creates a little bubble around you. If you're having a drink with someone, that's something you're doing together which shuts other people out. You feel like you're a part of something that is special that you two, or three, or five, or ten understand. This is especially true where limited resources are concerned. I've had extraordinary bottles of wine that, if I had my druthers, I'd make compulsory drinking for every man, woman, and child so that they can get how fantastic wine can be but if there's just one bottle I want some for myself and I become particular about with whom I'm willing to share it.

There was bit of hanging out at the bar tonight with some of the staff. We smoked a hookah (chocolate/mint tobacco) and drank absinthe (which, oddly, seemed to clear my head more than muddy it after over-indulging last night) and I think we all felt a little special for it. It was out of the ordinary, a new experience for some, and, not to put too fine a point on it, fun.

I'd like to think that we can give that experience (not specifically hookahs, absinthe, and the music of Paris Combo and the Ikettes) but something new, different, and fun to our customers.

Speaking of which, I can't believe Southern Wine is discontinuing their Chateau La Noe Muscadet. That was a fantastic wine at a great price.

17 November 2008

17Nov- in which I describe my disappointment with Absinthe
Honestly, I don't know what I was expecting. And, perhaps, I haven't had enough of it so that its unique properties make an impression on me but, still.
And I certainly hope the person who told me never to try it because she said she would be sad at my disappointment isn't reading this.

So Christine brought me some absinthe from Prague in mini-bottle form and Leigh and I finally broke into it the other night. I'm a big fan of accessories, so naturally as soon as I got the bottle I bought an interesting looking absinthe spoon on eBay and some nice, rough-hewn Bosnian sugar cubes (lumps would be more accurate) from the European Corner store on Two Notch (way out.)
It was interesting and fun in that way that entirely new experiences can be and, since it didn't louche, I decided I wanted to see absinthe louche.

Columbia has recently seen a boom in absinthe offerings. This boom consists of about four brands. Thanks to Christine, again, for some over-the-phone research while i was in the store. she helped me avoid Grande Absente, despite the cool, free spoon that comes attached to the box (at Total Wine). Evidently, it doesn't contain the original wormwood that made absinthe so crazy, but rather a relative of it. And many reviewers at the Wormwood Society took dumps all over it.

Kubler, also, seemed to get lukewarm reviews.

The people behind Mythe Absinthe (which caught my eye because it's also available in 375ml) evidently spent years figuring out how to remove the thujone molecule (a compound found in wormwood that has been blamed for some of the more interesting effects of absinthe but, as of late, has been identified as having not much to do with anything at all.) Of the many less than stellar reviews I found, one said "I wonder how many years of research it would take to remove the *suck* from it." Good enough for me, and it stays on the shelf.

So, it would seem that, locally, the best choice is Lucid.

People generally said that it was a good introductory absinthe that gives one the general idea of how a good abisinthe might taste. Basically, it didn't blow anybody's socks off but it also didn't warrant that much criticism. This is available at both Greens stores as well as Total Wine. I didn't check Morganelli's, but if they don't carry it I'm sure they could get it for you. Plus, the Total Wine and the Green's on Piney Grove have the gift box that includes two glasses and a spoon, which I would've gotten if i hadn't waited until I hit the Green's on Assembly, which doesn't offer that.

Anyway, the price is readily discovered with a modicum of research if anyone is interested, so I won't state it here.

And, to be honest, I find myself coming to the decision that there's not much this absinthe offers me from a taste perspective that I couldn't get from a bottle of NyQuil. Though it does have a slight waxy quality to it and, on the nose, in addition to all the anise and herbs you'd expect there's a slight touch of human sweat to it. cumin, perhaps? And it does louche, which is pretty cool to watch. And I get to use my spoon, interesting French glasses I found at T.J.Max, and neat sugar cubes but the experience to price ratio just doesn't cut it for me. Fortunately, I've always enjoyed the black jelly beans.

Supposedly, a lot of things happen. realistically, one is supposed to experience an unusually clear-minded buzz. I have a mild buzz, and I do feel rather clear-minded, but I also drink for a living so that result is questionable.

I don't know.
Leigh has a friend who lives in Switzerland who's coming for a visit. I think I'll ask her to ask him to bring me a bottle of something universally regarded as good and we'll see how that works.
Until then, I'll poke at the bottle of Lucid for a while. And i'll have it at the bar, just in case.

I mean, I bought kind of cool glasses and everything.

Viktor Olivia's "Absinthe Drinker"

15 November 2008

15Nov-Wow. extraordinary restaurant review
Not of us, though we've had our share of enchanted and dis-enchanted reviews online. This is by A.A.Gill from the London Times on a London restaurant called Bel Canto.

This review fills me with a variety of emotions. It has its moments where it amuses me, delights me, infuriates me, and confounds me.
I must admit to being, at times, as catty as this reviewer, though never in print. And if I ever held court about someone's efforts to the amusement of myself and others at the expense of the first party's feelings in the way that this reviewer does, I would not blame the first party of the first part for punching me very firmly in the mouth.
But I play the game, evidently, and I read the article and am amused by it. And then there's the twist at the end that could almost, but not quite, smooth over any rancor incited by the rest of the article.
And the best part is the readers' comment section: "less bile and spiteful invective than normal..."

AA Gill at Bel Canto
from the London Times
15Nov- What was that?
So Columbia decided to descend upon us en masse tonight. Which is fine; we definitely need the attention. It just caught us a bit by surprise.
I wonder what tomorrow will be like.

update: not so bad

13 November 2008

13Nov- happy little song
sometimes it's nice to have a happy little song with you as the day goes by. Sometimes it's the most irritating thing ever.

I haven't tired of this one yet. And the actual video is charming, too, in a Wes Anderson kind of way but none would let me embed them.

09 November 2008

09Nov-vague notes on the Carolina Wine Source Oregon Pinot tasting
okay. I keep forgetting to have my notes with me (I call them notes. really it's just a bunch of stars, and single words like "smooth", "plump", or "too sweet") so I'll just do this by memory since I feel like i should complete this idea.
Jennifer and I seem to have some differing opinions on our Pinots while our white wine preferences seem roughly the same. In re pinot noirs, while we both dig high aromatics she tends towards fuller bodies that match the intensity of the bouquet and I'm still in a delicate, focused place. Just preferences.
Of all the vineyards available we seemed to agree on two, in particular: St Innocent and Belle Pente.
Belle Pente was completey new to me and it was a very pleasant surprise. Wines these days seem to be getting bigger and bigger, even in the cool climate varietals that used to treasure delicacy and nuance. Even in my favored Oregon there are vineyards that over-extract and push the boundaries of what I consider to be an expression of Pinot Noir, though admittedly it then becomes a genuine and largely valid expression of the winemaker. Unless this new trend of thick, syrah-laden pinots that california is disgorging begins to influence how Oregon produces. then, for shame.
Anyway, my point is that we found Belle Pente to be wonderfully restrained in their style. their gewurztraminer and rieslings were done in very nice, refreshing, dry Alsatian styles and their Murto Vineyard Pinot Noir was really the only Pinot Jennifer and I agreed on. A good balance of aromatics, body, and structure.
The star of the tasting for us was the St. Innocent Pinot Gris. Great body, dryness, acidity, spice, and a glorious minerality. This we decided to make our last tasting that turned into finishing off the bottle, as it was going into a box and i thought we could give it a better home.

So that's going to be on the list, as a by-the-bottle offering. A runner up for our enjoyment would be the Et Fille Pinot Noirs and some Patricia Green Pinots.

Good times had by all. Except for when I returned to the restaurant a little after 6 to find it unexpectedly busy stressed out, even though we hadn't had a busy pre-7 crowd for months. Stupid fate.

06 November 2008

6Nov-picture portion of Charleston Oregon wine tasting.
thoughts on the wines and other things to follow.

here we are pretending to be serious. great wine, though. St Innocent Pinot gris. very dry and minerally. thanks to blonde, green pants girl for taking the picture.

the smoked salmon treat from Gaulart et Maliclet Cafe on Broad St. they were nice enough to make it for us even though it was early and it's supposed to be an evening appetizer. very enjoyable.

here i am pretending to talk while eubanks pretends to listen to my pretend talk. she's a good sport

and this picture i just like. i'm entering a fashion photography contest and i think this is going in

02 November 2008

02-E Lecevan le Stelle
just because

02Nov- Jeez
It's a buck forty-eight (pre-time change) in the morning and I can't get to sleep, for a variety of reasons. Some restaurant related, some not.
So here's some more Tom Waits.
Late night, eyes-kind-of-burning, tongue-kind-of-speechless, kind of music that doesn't make you smile so much as it makes you nod and think.
there's something in here that I just don't feel Tony and Maria can communicate.

01 November 2008

01Nov- Halloween pics
I always dread going in to work the day after Halloween. I never know what foolishness college kids have gotten into on or around our property. But I didn't get an ADT call last night, so it can't be all that bad. It's only a little after 8 this morning so I'll just not worry about it until I have to, I suppose.
Anyway, here are some pictures of the crew, all gussied up in their Halloween finery.

rus' impressively elaborate pirate costume

how i imagine a pirate would look just at the moment of explosion, before he realizes what's going on

jennifer as a terribly comfortable egyptian

dayna as a reluctant pharmacist. much to her disappointment, unforeseeable events prevented her from finishing her teenage mutant ninja turtle costume.
this lack of focus is illustrative of how i saw the entire night, through the gauziness of my costume's mask

alex's costume. as he puts it "alex always wanted to be a cowboy - as he understood it."

i'm not sure what i'm supposed to be. but people seemed unnerved by it, so it went over pretty well

i think the ring ties the whole thing together