Monday, August 31, 2009

Gastronomic extravagance

I have a lot to say, because I'm a narcissist and I want to impose myself onto YOU, whether you like it or not. Photos to follow, tomorrow.

Started the weekend off well, with a fresh seafood-themed dinner, highlighted by an incredibly delicious pan-seared bream with tofu soup, followed by a battered and fried blue crab. Paired with a lovely NV Champagne and an old riesling. Amazing combinations of flavours, and a very satisfying Friday. Capped the night off with a few glasses of whisky and early to bed.

Started drinking on Saturday early - still had a bit of the Champagne left, which worked nicely with a strawberry shortcake. Sometimes you're a bit wary of serving a more acidic wine like Champagne with something sweet, but this bakery makes the most perfect cakes, with not a lot of sweetness. Perfect for my palate - I don't have a taste for sweets. Then, off to a friend's place to begin one of the more extravagant dinners I've been to this year.

I chose the wines with a specific pairing in mind. Four bottles, 9 people. Two bottles of Spanish Cava, Brut that I wanted to pair with scallops and salmon. A bottle of Pouilly-Fumé to marry with the oysters, bien sur, and a bottle of New Zealand Sauvignon blanc, to cook and drink with mussels. Fantastic. I was itching to get started.

We started with the most wonderfully fresh Kumamoto oysters. Small in size, but big in flavour. Just phenomenal. So rich, so creamy, all balanced with a hint of brininess. Absolutely delicious, and achieved perfect harmony with the Pouilly-Fumé. I'll elaborate on that in a later post, with the exact bottle we drank.

Onto some salmon sashimi. I'm not a man in love with salmon. But my friend had procured a whole salmon, which he filleted and sliced himself. So fresh, with the most beautiful depth in colour and shade. Absolutely amazing. This was the most flavoursome salmon I've ever tasted, with all the richness and delicacy salmon possesses. He cooked it two ways - the second dish was a spiced filet of salmon barbecued on a cedar plank. Incredible. Cooked to perfection - a bit of crust on the outside, wonderfully moist and tender on the inside. Phenomenal. Very smoky, with a savoury quality not unlike a piece of smoked meat. The cedar adds a very subtle layer to the flavour, which is very nice.

Mussels. Not quite in season yet, but these were all alive and fresh. That's already a step up from the bags you find in the supermarket. Our local store is fine and all, but I'm always prepared to throw away 5-10%. Cooked simply, with lots of onion and olive oil. A bit of butter for weight, then white wine, a New Zealand sauvignon. It has all the bright fruit and high acidity to balance out the richness. Some herbes de Provence to give complexity, season to taste. Mussels were done in 50 seconds. Incredibly delicious, with bread to dip in the broth. Came out as white as milk, and exactly as I had hoped. Scallops, pan-seared with minimal seasoning, finished with some butter. Simple, fresh, delicious. Paired well with the first bottle of Cava. This surf and turf obsession has got to stop. Rich seafood and rich meats don't go well together, you need balance.

Finished the meal with some Malpeque oysters. A bit brinier than the Kumamoto, but very refreshing. Perfect with the Cava. Bubbles are a wonderful way to close a meal, as they cleanse the palate, and prepare you for the desert. Excellent. Tiramisu - same bakery, perfectly low in sugar, moist and flavoursome.

Cleared the table, onto the mojitos. And that's when I should have called it quits. I started shooting rum instead. Mojitos are wonderful but sometimes you just need fire down the throat. Sweaty and anxious, because I wanted everything to come out so perfectly. Rocky pulled it off. How am I going to top this? Well done. Excellent food.

I think I know why I felt so shattered yesterday. Maybe I was a bit too intense for dinner. When you want everything you plate to be perfect, you completely drain yourself. Even though it was a casual dinner, you still want to share your enthusiasm and get your friends excited about the oysters and salmon and scallops we were eating, and the wine it was being paired with. It's not about ego, it's not about showing off, but if that intensity and energy rubs people the wrong way - that's just how it is. Or rather, that's just how I am. You can't expect me to sit there and taste these wonderful flavours, where the food matches perfectly with the wine and not expect me to start hyperventilating with excitement.

I don't know how to be diplomatic when I'm talking about food. Or someone else's palate. How do you say, 'you have the palate of a 3-legged dog - something's missing', without coming off as a total asshole? No, I'm not diplomatic about food. Rocky's quite skilled at it though. Maybe I should just eat in the kitchen. You wouldn't know by looking at me, but I have a big mouth when I start drinking. I have the tolerance of a f*cking whale, but when you've been drinking for 8 hours straight, who knows what'll happen...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Roar

It's damn frigid outside, isn't it? Unbelievable. What's more unbelievable is that September is here. Again. Shit, what happened to summer?

Whenever I'm a bit pensive, stressed, upset, aggravated, or any combination of the four, I wash my car. It's incredibly therapeutic to carefully brush the rims clean, to gently apply soap, and to thoroughly rinse all the dirt away. Took me two hours, but she's shining, and I think I feel a bit better.

Why are people so insecure about their palate, and food in general? I understand how food is becoming a status symbol - the one who serves filet mignon will always trump the one who serves Boyardee. But why is it that no one will really be honest about their palate, and admit that the only reason they enjoy a food is because of the perceived status it brings, instead of taste? Insecurity is a bitch.

I want people to call me out on it, when we have differences in palate. I welcome it. Tell me you disagree that something is undercooked, overseasoned, or the like - just don't try to impress on me the fact that I should enjoy something because it was expensive, or because feelings will be hurt. Food is food. It's never personal. The way I talk about food has nothing to do with who bought it, the cook's skill, or who's hosting. I absolutely don't care. The only thing I care about is what's on the plate, and I'm not about to blow smoke up someone's ass and tell them I find something delicious, if I'm being served a plateful of shit. Nothing personal, you see. When I say a dish is shit, I don't mean you are.

Call me on my bull, if you disagree. Don't pansy around with me, because I take food very seriously. Palate insecurity is very unappealing.

Let's leave it at that. I don't know a thing about food, but I do understand my palate, and I'll fight to the death to defend my taste.

---

Blogger's note: 7:25 pm

Just got back from a friend's place - I am exhausted and I don't know why. The cold is completely sapping all my energy. I think it's time for bed.

Next door to a dictator

Wow, my neighbour just stepped out of his car, and he looks exactly like Kim Jong-Il today. No jokes, it's a striking resemblance.

Short puffy hair, big blind man sunglasses, ill-fitting grey slacks, and grey polyester coat. They're about the same height too. Wow.

Hot or cold

Wine does two things: it either elevates you spiritually until you're at peace with everyone and everything, or, it just turns you into a really ornery bastard.

I'd like to think that I belong to the former. Which one are you?

Twitchy

Just out of the shower. Up at 10:52 am today. AM. On a Sunday, with about 6 hours of sleep. What's going on? Ooooo, I have a hangover.

I was in rare form yesterday, in all my gesticulating, hand waving, fist slapping, twitchy glory. It was a sight to behold. And that was before I started drinking. You guys shouldn't encourage me. Certain things make me excitable and it's just not a pretty sight to see me get all worked up about something that quite frankly, no one gives a damn about. We talking about how water temperature affects taste of oysters, of course.

I become a raving lunatic. I mean, Monday to Friday, I think I'm pretty straightlaced. Work out everyday, no alcohol, work hard, sleep early. And then the weekend shows up, I'm with friends, and I lose all self-control. But I love food and if I had to deny myself those simple pleasures, then what's the point of living?

Great dinner last night. I think I have a few photos. Incredibly fresh seafood, full of flavour and texture. And that's what it's all about. Forget dining in expensive restaurants, forget all you think you know about food. When you're given ingredients as fresh and as high quality as the Kumamoto oysters, salmon, mussels and scallops as we did yesterday, you do the bare minimum, and let the true taste show itself. No theatrics in the kitchen - just simple, timely cooking. Wonderful, and absolutely delicious.

Onto the next dinner. Since fall is coming, I'm very excited to be seeing the vegetables and fruits beginning to pop up at farmer's markets. There's a few fall-themed dishes I want to try. And of course, shellfish will really be starting to come into season. I just don't think I can pull off having 10 people come over. I need a bigger kitchen at home. I can't host these parties of 6+ people. Just don't have the space for everyone to feel comfortable.

Wow, no comment

Geez, you're thin-skinned. If I knew you were like that, if I knew I had to tiptoe around your f*cking feelings like that, I'd have kept my mouth f*cking shut like a trapdoor.

I'm not a passive-aggressive blogger. No, I'm not going to start talking shit. All is well and fine, because I owned up and manned up to the situation.

The ego is talking now. But y'all knew that. Refer to this. And grow a f*cking set of bollocks.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

So is anyone going to help?

Just came back from LCBO. Picked up a few bottles of Lan Gran Reserva, 2001. A beautiful wine. They still haven't stocked the Daniel Schuster riesling I was looking for, so I went up to a white shirt and asked for help.

Why the f*ck do they call them Vintages Consultants if they don't consult? If you don't offer any help to your customers, then what the f*ck are you doing there? What do they pay you for? Lazy f*cks, each telling me to go ask someone else, each deferring responsibility. That's what happens in a monopoly. There's no accountability to get the job done.

I guess the only thing these chumps do well is stock shelves. Well, if that's your only function, then I'm going to start talking to you like a common stockboy. Jackass.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Smashed

I am so f*cking smashed right now. This is my higher plane of consciousness.

My mother says I swear too much. I think it gives me character.

Liquid comfort

Liquid comfort

The golden rule of blogging is to never blog about work and never blog about your friends. In general, don't talk shit about people, and if you are, don't be specific.

I had a rough week. In general. I'm drinking my sorrows away. Sometimes you need something with a little more punch than riesling.

This weekend is going to be a weekend of fantastic seafood. We started tonight with an absolutely delicious dinner. Sea bream soup and fresh water crabs, all paired with a wonderful Champagne and old riesling. Incredible.

But sometimes you just need to drink. The time is now. My drink of choice is whisky. Let's see if my inevitable hangover will continue to tomorrow's dinner. Looking forward to it very much. Picked out some wines already. This is going to be a good weekend!

The moment

We need to live in the moment.

I never really had a typical, carefree childhood. Summer time wasn't for playing - it was to catch up on all the things I didn't have time for during the school year. That meant mostly piano exams - theory and history. Also, lots of art class and math tutoring. Usually, that meant I only really had the last week or so of August to just hang out and be a kid.

But I don't regret it. Idle time is wasted time, and while I never had the cottage getaways, or golf camps, or whatever the hell rich kids do in the summer, I always felt like I was doing something to improve myself. Is it worthwhile? Perhaps. I think I'd be a much duller person if I was left to my own devices.

But live in the moment. We do all these things, like go to school, in the hope that it'll better our future. Sometimes we forget to enjoy things while we're doing it. A friend posted a link on FB telling us to stop looking at life through a viewfinder. It's absolutely true. How many times do you see tourists, with a camera permanently anchored to their face instead of enjoying everything? So while you're busy and doing these wonderful things to prepare for a great future, enjoy your life while you're doing it.

I'm reminded of this, because in wine, we often forget to enjoy what's going on in the glass now. Too often do we pour a glass, only to say that it'll be better in 10 years, instead of appreciating the experiences it's giving us now. And that's very sad. I love to drink for the experience now, and I try never to lose that perspective. Well, I love drinking period, but the point is, life never goes as planned, and it would be a terrible shame if you forget to enjoy it.

Done. I need a glass.

As the artists do...

Now I understand artists' obsession with absinthe.

All things are better once you're a little buzzed. A little toasted. A little clattered. I'm definitely a better pianist if I have a little wee in my step.

Aren't all winos just glorified alcoholics? I think I qualify.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

2005 Chianti Classico Riserva

2005 Barone Ricasoli

2005 Barone Ricasoli Rocca Guicciarda, DOCG Chianti Classico Riserva

This was my second Tuscan wine in as many days. Let's hope this one isn't a dud. This bottle is a bit pricier than I normally drink, so already, my hopes were high. I believe this is 100% sangiovese - if not, the remainder is all indigenous varietals. Should be classic southern Italian.

Dark colour, with great saturation to the rim. Quite a powerful nose of dark fruits, berries. It was throwing off a lot of cedar notes, with this strange mustiness. I was convinced that it wasn't corked, so I decanted. I was right - the repulsive oakiness blew off after about 2 hours. It develops a richness, and a smokey and meaty character - it's quite savoury in fact. Good complexity and ripeness. No doubt a 2005.

In the mouth, there's good weight, with a sweetness that reminds of merlot, or some kind of Bordeaux-style blend. Good fruit, with enough earthiness to keep things interesting. Very fine, well-integrated tannins. Lingering finish.

Not a bad wine at all, but again I ask - what bit of this wine tells you that it's a Chianti, or even a southern Italian wine? I'm getting impatient with paying a lot for these homogenous wines, no matter how technically correct they may be. Not everyone has to be French to be interesting you know!

Hot intensity

Intensity in wine...I use that term a lot, but I can't figure out a way to explain what it means to my friends.

A few weeks ago, I was sharing a bottle of German pinot noir with a friend, and I was trying to impress on him the fact that while it was a lean wine, it still had intensity of flavour. He understood texture, weight, and flavour impressions - it was intensity that was confusing. I described an intense wine as a wine with very focused flavours. There I go with yet another ambiguous term.

Focus and intensity. I'm really a bit stumped about how to explain that concept. Think about it like a person. An intense person doesn't necessarily have the loudest, or the flashiest personality. It's a quality of how they say things, how they do things. Same with wine. An intense wine doesn't need to be heavy or powerful. But there's just that quality of taste that makes a huge impression on your palate.

This would work much better with a glass in hand.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Monsieur Moueix, for a price

Moueix_en

This strapping young gentleman is Edouard Moueix, from the grand Moueix family of Bordeaux. He's in town to do a dinner and tasting. I really, really want to go. Of all the wines he'll be showing, I'd like to taste the Dominus the most. A Californian, claret-style wine combining power, elegance, and purity of fruit? Really would like to experience that. And then I checked how much the dinner was.

I'll pay for a good meal, but $295 a head is pushing it. Considering that I probably wouldn't go alone, that's $590 for two people. Unless they were serving albino sturgeon caviar (they're not) or 1961 Pétrus (again, not happening), I find that price hard to justify.

But I'd really, really like to attend this dinner, with a like-minded food & wine lover bien sur.

2005 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

2005 Pasiteo Fassati

2005 Pasiteo Fassati DOCG Vino Nobile de Montepulciano

Before my mind goes to shit, I'm reminded that this is a wine blog. Or is supposed to be. This will be my 86th post this month, and with less than a week to go, my mark for August should be apparent by now.

It's been a while since I've tasted an Italian red, and so with a dinner of spaghetti on tomato and wild mushroom sauce, what could go better than a Tuscan wine? This is 100% sangiovese, more and more of a rarity it seems, as Italians seem determined to stamp out all their heritage in pursuit of making the 'Tuscan claret'. Wankers.

Did not want to taste this wine upon smelling it, and I shouldn't have. Dark colour, which should have told me something already. Overbearing nose of over-extracted fruit, layered with shit oak. Insipid. Very oaky on the palate, with the artificial sweetness that wood brings. Just that hankered fruit and woody burn reminiscent of very cheap cabernet. Disgusting. A very poorly made wine, and quite honestly, I would eat a cork before I served this for human consumption. Very, very disappointing.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Skankusations

Read this Globe article first: The Model, the blogger, and the Web giant

This is a lesson to all of us bloggers. Don't write shit about other people. And if you are, at least make a coherent, rational argument. Don't call people hoes and skanks. That's not classy.

I'm actually a bit scared now. Damn, girls are vicious. This chick isn't some ugly fat loser either. I mean, really, not bad for both of them. How can pretty girls be so cruel? Wow. I visited her site when I first heard this story, a few months ago. It was brutal. Skanks was probably the tamest term used.

Watching myself, before I wreck myself.

A higher plan of consciousness

On the beach at Centre Island, there was a group of people sitting nearby. I thought it was any other Sunday gathering of buddies - how wrong I was. Pretty soon, I heard the hollow thumping of a drum. And then much, much more.

They started chanting. Creepily. In a foreign language. It looked a bit cultish, and more than a bit strange because the entire group was white. And of course, the clown in the blue tank started prancing around in the middle of the circle. Finally, one of us figured out what they were going on about. It was a group practicing the Hare Krishna Mantra. Yeah, totally - a group of all white people, sitting on a beach on Centre Island, chanting an ancient, Hindu mantra.

Thanks to Wikipedia, I learned some things. These people apparently worship Krishna as the all-powerful god. I still don't quite understand the purpose of it all, but the mantra goes like this:

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare

I guess they believe that through chanting this mantra over and over, it's possible to achieve a more powerful level of consciousness. Right. Wrong skin colour guys - why are all religious fanatics caucasian? Stop embarrassing yourselves, don't you have your own religions?

Anyways, at least the sun came out. So I guess it wasn't all for nothing. This is what the beach looked like soon after:

Centre Island beach

Sublime agony

Revised, from an original post, dated August 17, 2009

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I tried very hard today, but failed, yet again. Failed to get the attention of the pretty little thing in tights, in the machine across from me. Great to see a girl who understands that there are other things you can do to look smashing and to feel good about yourself than just food deprivation and low-cut dresses.

I love working out because it's not fun and games. I love working out because you need anger to get those last 10 reps in. And I love working out because it's a sublime agony.

Waddup, esé

On my way out of the gym today, my trainer said, 'Catch you later homes'. Hmmm. Now, neither of us are Mejicanos. So how does that work...................

And holy shit man, I keep getting a massive number of hits for this obscure porn reference I accidentally made. Damn, this is getting ridiculous, homes. Please f*ck off, you sick, dirty, skeevy little pervs.

I'm deleting the post.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Island ferry

Centre Island ferry

I've stopped going in recent years, but I was a frequent visitor to Toronto's Centre Island in my childhood. School trips and the like - also, being a poor immigrant, it was a good place to go to enjoy the day without spending a fortune. Maybe my tastes have changed - in any case, I still don't mind going.

My favourite part of the day was taking the ferry. Like the two above, I used to go on tiptoes to peer over the rail, to stare at the sailboats and seagulls. I miss the innocence, and to some level, the naïveté.

One thing I noticed taking the ferry is the people. Where you live says a lot about the type of people you see everyday, and taking the Island ferry gives you the opportunity to see people from generally all demographics. Interesting. People are................different.

Now, if only they set up a decent pub by the beach....yes, I'd be much more eager to visit the Islands.

Correction

I recently posted a piece titled, 'Be(ay)utiful agony'. Check the spelling, just don't want anymore google searches leading to this page. I've been wondering why there's so many hits for it - people are googling this term, which is leading them to LCF. I just googled myself, and found out why.

B.A. - attention, I'm not writing it out fully again - is a porn site, where the premise is headshots of people getting themselves off. The name derives from the facial expressions of people as they achieve orgasms. Wow. That is not what I had in mind when I wrote my post.

Ok, so now I know what this is, I want to make clear that it was never my intention to reference porn. I thought I was quite clever, coming up with that. This is not a porn blog. That shit's sick man. You sick motherf*ckers. Why would you google that stuff, man? I want more traffic, but geez, not this kind. Stay the f*ck away!!

I just edited that post. Will not make the same mistake again.

Nope, can't do it

A party involving 19 year olds slapping each other on the elbow for entertainment and drinking beer like thas wassup is something I don't need to be a part of.

Sorry. Just can't do it. Barely legal lightweights trying to look cool - acting obnoxious and pretending to nonchalantly drink beer doesn't make you the shit, it exposes how shallow and quite frankly, how intellectually bankrupt today's kids are.

But don't take it personally though. It's not you, it's me.

---

That's a horrible thing to say. Just to be clear, I'm not talking about anyone in particular. Just in general. And yes, I'm an awful person.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Ferried

Ok, so I didn't get my pint today. A little disappointed, but did I really expect to find a bar serving Boddington's on Centre Island? It's fun for the whole family, but in this context, family constitutes middle age, two kids and a dog. So no, there was no drinking.

Back from a back-to-back gathering/party/engagement. I'm exhausted. I don't understand why I don't get enough rest, even on weekends. Maybe I just need to bar the door and be forgotten. I just feel shattered right now.

Top of the morning

Up at noon, heading out..........I need a pint.

Guilty

This is the bottle that's been causing all the mischief. 2006 Royal Tokaji Furmint Dry. The troublemaker.

2006 Royal Tokaji

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Cigarillo

Smoking cigarillos with a glass of Chianti Classico actually works. You just have to keep puffing, because the damn thing's gone out at least 5 times already. No romancing the stick.

Cigarillo

Rules of seduction

Ok, so you take a girl you quite like to a nice restaurant. You want to share dessert, you want to stare into her eyes, you want to say all the right things..............you order a bottle of wine right? That's romance, no? But what if she knows nothing about wine? What if she sticks to the whole red meat with red wine, fish with white schtick? What if she has the palate of a wet donkey? Uh ohh...........................................

Money

I think I've discovered the meaning of money.

Easy come, easy go...............................but only if it's worth it.

Tawdry bastards

Untitled

This is what I received in the mail on Friday. LCBO's 3rd offer for 2008 Bordeaux En Primeur. What a cheap, transparent campaign to capitalize on Parker's recently released scores.

Okay, the full story: as you may have noticed, I began writing about 2008 Bordeaux Futures a while ago. 2008 was an excellent vintage; certainly, the quality was much higher than speculated last year. To account for the economic downturn, and price gouging for 2006 and 2007, the Bordelais agreed to reduce prices, at up to 40% off from last year. Fantastic right?

LCBO released two offers already: one in May and the other in June. These two offers all came without Parker scores - he was among the last to release. The general consensus among wine writers and critics was that although 2008 was a wonderful vintage, it was not as legendary as 2005. What does Parker say? He places 2008 on the same level as 2005, and of course, prices for the First Growths instantly shoot up.

Which leads us to this 3rd Offer. The only reason for LCBO to release another offer is for an opportunity to leverage Parker's scores for more sales. You cheeky little git. The new releases are pitiful. 6 or 7 wines, with the centerpiece being Lafleur at about $650+ a bottle. Down with monopolies!!

---

Ask and you shall receive. I wrote earlier this week about the lack of decent Champagne being released by the LCBO. Next week's release will feature two Grand Cru Champagnes, at relatively reasonable prices. Bubbly, anyone?

There and back again

So, returning the corked bottle back to LCBO went off without a hitch. She refunded in cash as well. Beautiful. Needless to say, I'm done with Hungarian wines. For the time being.

There was a very pretty girl at the front, handing out tiny booklets for Bombay Sapphire Gin. She wore a bright blue dress, to match the bottle. They were serving shots of Tom Collins, made with fresh squeezed lemon juice and Bombay Sapphire Gin, of course. There was an even prettier model at the bar, handing them out. Very, very pretty. I didn't know where to look, because it was impossible not to look sleazy/leeringly/checking her out. Wow, she was good looking. I apologize, but I am just a man. If you see a pretty girl and don't stare, well then...............

I just recently discovered that there was an Apple store at Fairview, so I wanted to check out the 13.3 inch MacBook Pro for myself. It is as divine as advertised. This kid set off the alarm, and being Chinese, the first words out of his mother were, 'What are you doing????!!' Biding my time, waiting for Snow Leopard to be released and a possible hardware upgrade...

At Leonidas, I saw an old gentleman having a coffee. Alone. Some people might find it quaint, but I see it differently. I hope, for my own sake, to not end up like that. A little decrepit, a little senile, and a little lonely. Oh I hope I don't end up like that.

Corked

I was looking forward to a wine last night, a dry Hungarian white. Opened it up, and immediately noticed the telltale musty aroma of a corked wine. Damn. My first TCA bottle of the year. I was hoping to get through at least this month without coming across one.

Cork taint is the result of 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA) in the wine. TCA occurs when airborne fungi permeate cork trees, and the resulting corks produced are not properly sterilized. Lazy cork making, in other words. A corked wine can show this flaw in many ways, but the most common are odours of mustiness, damp newspaper, moldy basement - you get the idea. In less obvious cases, the wine is dull, and lacking any sort of fruit. While TCA is harmless when ingested, it does ruin your wine experience.

LCBO's policy for cork taint is full refund. I'll test that later today, when I go to BV. Too many people mistake cork taint for a bad wine, but take notice - a corked wine is just a bad bottle, not a bad wine. If you notice these characteristics, make sure you return the bottle. Don't drink the wine, and think that the producer is shit. It's the cork's fault.

District 9

district-9-poster-0

I went to watch District 9 with friends yesterday. It was as good as the press is reporting, and really, is one of the more original movies I've seen in a long while.

The premise is that aliens have arrived in Johannesburg, hovering above the city in a gargantuan spaceship. There's no movement at all, and when humans finally cut their way into the ship, they find millions of aliens - "prawns" - inside, in filthy conditions. There is no leadership, and the aliens seem to exist in a caste system - there is a clear hierarchy of command and worker aliens, and the ones in the ship all appear to be simple-minded beasts. After 20 years, the citizens of Johannesburg begin rioting against the aliens, as they begin to commit crime. So, the prawns all get herded into a ghetto, District 9. Control of the aliens has been outsourced to M.N.U., the largest weapons manufacturer in the world, who want to understand how to work alien weapons, which require alien DNA. They want to relocate the prawns to District 10, 200km away from the city. An M.N.U. man, Wikus van de Merwe, is sent to collect eviction signatures. He happens upon a cannister of alien fluid, which sprays his face. It begins to alter his DNA, and his left arm begins changing to a prawn arm. He has to work with an intelligent alien, Christopher Johnson, to retrieve the cannister from M.N.U. and help him get back to the mothership, where there are medical machines which can reverse the transformation. In the end, he succeeds in helping C.J. get to the mothership, although he has to wait 3 years until C.J. returns. Wikus fully transforms into a prawn, and the last scene shows him folding scrap metal roses for his wife.

This is a very creative and original film. People want to look into it as an analogy for apartheid, but maybe we're trying to take things too literally. This is a film about diversity, about recognizing and respecting differences, and about tolerance. So maybe it is about apartheid. The actor playing Wikus is brilliant. Alternately a geeky straight man, and at times unintentionally hilarious, Sharlto Copley plays him perfectly. Very impressed.

It's difficult to come to terms with, but you end up sympathizing with the aliens. The prawns look disgusting - tentacles and antennaes, eerily reminiscent of bipedal cockroaches. Wikus seems nerdy enough, but he actually turns into a huge manipulative prick once he enters District 9. I can't believe I was cheering for C.J. and his little alien son. Smart little bugger.

I'm so glad they didn't elaborate further on the "inter-species prostitution". And I'm going to start saying 'fuck' in a South African accent.

Morning after

My hand's been cut in two places, instead of the one long slash I was treating. Ugly. It's swelling up, but at least the blood flow has stopped.

Last night was interesting. I'm so done with this supposed culture of clubbing and drinking yourself comatose every week. What is this? Is this really supposed to be fun? Screaming at each to be heard, getting your ear drums jackhammered by bad music, and drinking cheap disgusting alcohol, overpriced to match the egos of the douchebags who come to these places? I'm so done.

We were at C Lounge last night in downtown Toronto, to celebrate with a friend who was leaving for school. My views on what constitutes nightlife here has nothing to do with this friend, or why we were out. I'm just so opposed to this idea that this is what young people should do to have a good time. Vapid. Cheap.

Or maybe I'm just the oldest f*cking 23 year old in the world.

Friday, August 21, 2009

I got a feeling...

...that tonight's gonna be a good night.

Sliced my left hand making dinner, I'm leaking blood everywhere. Drank a f*cking dreadful Italian wine today. But still - tonight's gonna be a good night.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

2005 Baden

Königschaffhauser Steingruble

2005 Königschaffhauser Steingruble Pinot Noir Trocken, QbA Baden

Germany, as you know, produces some of the most sublime white wines in the world. I've always known that it produces red wine as well, but my experiences with it have been mediocre at best. Most of the production is in pinot noir, or spätburgunder in the local tongue. This bottle labels it as pinot noir, which is a bit worrying - I'd very much prefer to see the German name, but again, never judge on label.

I'm glad I didn't. This was a spectacular wine. Deep cranberry red, with a luminous robe. Such an intense nose, with a lot of pinot noir character. Roots, bramble, earth, strawberries, and a lot of sour red fruit. Very intense, with excellent oak use. In the palate, this is a leaner style, but with lots of character. Sharp, austere, with good fruit and minerals. Lovely. Very silky texture, with a lot of presence. Long finish. Wow! What a delicious wine.

Very pleasantly surprised with this bottle. Not for everyone, but this is what a complex pinot noir should be like. Nuanced, austere, with lots of character and personality. Wow I love Germany.

Pump it bro

Update on the personal trainer situation. A few weeks ago, Mr. Filipino told me that due to circumstances (fight with a manager), he had handed in his resignation. However, there was no word that he couldn't train me anymore, so we kept going. Until today. When the man simply failed to show up without so much as a call.

New trainer. Good guy. Big, tattooed, but he wears a cross, so he has to be righteous. And he put me through some shit today. I feel like my arms were mashed into jello and then chewed down by a rottweiler. It was dirty, but oddly gratifying.

We'll see how this goes. I hope it works out, for my sake, but regardless, I'm not quitting. Recognize, I never quit at anything.

The world is ending!

Is anyone else seeing this? I've never seen a storm like this before. What is this, our version of typhoon season? A tornado in downtown Toronto? My goodness, the world really is going to shit.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

2008 Mantinia

2008 Boutari

2008 Boutari Moschofilero, ACQS Mantinia

The second wine of the night. Or evening I should say.

Light straw in colour - almost changes a few shades as you go towards the rim. Good, fruit-forward nose. Lots of waxy fruit, melon, pear, and honey. In the palate, there is good texture, with a weight and creaminess that you don't expect. Glossy. Good length on the finish.

Greek white wines are a subject area that I definitely want to explore further.

1992 Rheingau

1992 Hans Lang

1992 Hans Lang Hattenheimer Hassel Riesling Spätlese, QmP Rheingau

The first wine of last weekend's barbecue. An old riesling is the greatest thing you can drink, and I always always feel.......elevated when I drink one.

Dark gold colour, maintaining its saturation. Beautiful in the glass. Lots of honey on the nose, very rich. Stewed fruits, apple and pear, with lovely minerality. Good sweetness in the mouth, with a mineral finish. This wine has length. Holding up every well for a 17 year old. Delicious.

No bubbles

I love bubbles. Bubble baths, carbonated water, and of course, Champagne. I mean, you basically have to be brain dead with the palate of a wet donkey not to enjoy Champagne.

Which is such a shame that there has yet to be an LCBO release this year which focusses on this delightful wine. The last major Champagne release was about June of last year - I still have the bottles because as much as I'd like to drink bubbles daily, there's never really an occasion that seems appropriate enough to pop a cork. That will change.....................as soon as I have a proper cellar. Where I don't have to drive 40 min to a friend's place to pick up a bottle.

So what's up LCBO. How come no decent Champagne. The economy's in the shit, we all know that.....what better to bring us out than the most sublime expression of joy that wine can bring?

Please, stop depriving us. The next bottle of Salon Champagne I see, I'm getting. Oh, and any and all 2002's.

Movie and a pinot

Blockbuster movies are the best because sometimes you just need to be entertained by a movie. What's this snobbiness about these gay artsy movies? I mean, they're fine and all, wonderful, but sometimes you just need to see nude women and shit being blown up. Mindless entertainment. And what better to go with these blockbusters than alcohol being served in movie theatres?

We're so backwards. The new theatre at Fairview has a bar, but you can't take it to your seat. I don't understand. Just don't get it. The movie (especially a bad one) would be SO much more enjoyable if you had a slight buzz going on.

This Friday, we're going in for District 9. I think we should pre-drink a little, no?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Lily is lovely

Lily Allen is the shit. I don't know how I've never heard her music until now, but I'm just in love with this chick. Youtube won't allow you to embed her MV, but here's a live performance. I liked this song the first time I heard it, but I just realized that it's about a guy - nice guy, wonderful, but completely sexually inept. Geez, it's hard enough with girls, and now it's 'not fair' if she doesn't get off? Sweetheart, that's cold....real cold.

Pow!

How's this for blowing shit up - Bryan Colangelo just dumped two more players. Yup, he just sign-and-traded Delfino and Ukic to Milwaukee for Amir Johnson and Sonny Weems.

I like it. Johnson should have some impact. And really, everyone was getting sick of seeing Roko completely ignore the two best players on the court in the dying seconds of a quarter to try and force his way to the hoop for a weak shot. You know, it only works if you can score - otherwise, you're just another selfish wanker who loses his mind on critical possessions.

So now, we have 12 new players, with only CB, Calderon, and Bargnani coming back from last year. Talk about taking a f*cking sledgehammer to the roster. Really really excited to see how this team plays together. I predicted 50 wins last season. Let's be more conservative: 45-50?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Dorian Gray

normal_DorianGrayPoster2

The artist is the creator of beautiful things.

I don't read fiction, but Oscar Wilde's writing is profound. One of the most beautiful stories I've ever read is The Selfish Giant.

'Who hath dared to wound thee?' cried the Giant; 'tell me, that I may take my big sword and slay him.' 'Nay!' answered the child; 'but these are the wounds of Love.' Beautiful.

So, it's with great excitement that I see a movie coming out in September, titled Dorian Gray. Based on the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, they certainly got the lead actor right. Pretty boy. But what I'm really excited about is Colin Firth cast as Lord Henry Wotton. Lord Wotton is my favourite character in the book - a far more subtle and infinitely more interesting, multi-faceted character than Dorian Gray. Colin Firth should do a smashing job. The actress they cast for Sibyl Vane works too - pretty enough, but more importantly, she has a 19th century face.

Really looking forward to this film. Please, please, don't Hollywood the shit out of a wonderful story and stick to the novel. Please don't ruin this masterpiece.

Dorian-Gray-upcoming-movies-5287443-695-849

dorian-gray

周立波

Ahh, this man is just blowing up. I've written about this Shanghainese performer already but the Globe and Mail just picked up on his story. Big time, but that's how my people roll. It's just great to see this kind of intelligent, subtle comedy being recognized. This guy's my favourite.

The Globe article: A political jokester where dissent is hardly routine

Just watch - this is only a portion of a 2 hour show. Bask in the brilliance!

Boom boom...

BOOM! I'm still the greatest. Many thanks for everyone who's visited, please keep me in check and help me with keeping the quality of the content high. Boom!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Video: 2008 Boutari Moschofilero

The video is finally ready to be unleashed, and I'm actually horrified. The shirt felt like a great idea at the time - I was going to dinner at a neighbour's house, and I didn't want to dress too formally. It, however, was not my intention to mirror a gigolo. Or a Chippendales dancer. I don't have the chest hair to pull it off. Sorry for the eyesore, it won't happen again.

I talk about a few things in this shorter video: St Peter's English Ale, Löwenbräu Original, and the main subject, the 2008 Boutari Moschofilero. As always, comments are welcome, and appreciated.

Uploading...

Finally, finished editing a video I've been sitting on since the long weekend. Uploading and rendering, will be posted soon. Please come back!

Oh no...

...this can't be a good thing right? Like, dude, this cannot be good.

I'm opening a bottle of Hungarian wine tonight, a dry tokaji. You know, just because.

(My) Hand in fire

Fiery

(My) Hand in fire

When the steaks on the grill start to sizzle and the flames reach eye level, the smart thing to do would be to hand the tongs to someone else and say, 'good luck'. Unfortunately, I fancy myself as a cook, so when the fires start, I want to get in on the action. That's my right hand, turning the steaks. You can feel the fire licking your fingers, but at the risk of cooking yourself, you keep going. But it's ok - my fingers came away relatively unscathed.

Sleeping it off

Late night, but how come my head is exploding. My mind won't stop, even thought I'm fatigued and ready to pass out. This is getting compulsive. It's like I need to write something here, regardless of how incoherent I'm sounding. Good night everyone, more tomorrow, when I'm a bit more sober and a bit more courageous.

Much gratitude, much love

After a night of eating, laughing, talking, discussing.......I am happy. Happy because this is what I envisioned my summer to be. Many, many thanks to our two hosts, and family, for the generosity and hospitality you gave us tonight. Finest BBQ I've ever experienced. The mountain of food you prepared was savoury and delicious, with enough variety to fill several menus. Many thanks. I'll see you guys soon, after your exam. Much love.

So I'm thinking, after all the discussion......I am what I am. I don't think I'm willing, or able, to change for anything, anyone. I'm above all a realist, but more truthfully, a sensualist. I'll readily forsake all rational thought in exchange for a moment of happiness and satisfaction. Life is f*cked as it is. We need to enjoy the glimmers of joy we manage to find, whether it's a quick chat with friends, or a glass of wine that you didn't expect to be so profound. I try to pay attention, because details matter. And I live for sensual experiences. Even the boneheaded ones.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Starting off right

My weekend started off well. Drinks at Moxie's, received some great advice, wine shopping at BV, and then home for steak with cognac/mushroom sauce. Still perfecting my technique, but I'm thinking it's pretty damn flavoursome. Paired with a stunning Spätburgunder; just stunning. Germany's always made pinot noir, but my experience with it has been limited, and the bottles I have tasted have been mediocre at best. This bottle was absolutely delicious. Let me say it again: this bottle was absolutely deeeeeeeeeelicious.

On to today, woke up to a breakfast of coffee and bread on olive oil/aceto balsamico and Champfleury. Life is good. Just chilling at the moment, filling out my wine notes and preparing for tonight. Another BBQ, and this time, it should be much more successful. I'm bringing two bottles, both whites. A surprise, but I have no doubt everyone will be thrilled.

Now, the only thing that will make this weekend better is if........................I got toasty drunk, but I don't think that'll happen. We'll see. I keep you posted. Maybe I start drinking now? That bottle of 2002 Rheingau riesling is starting to look awfully good...

G.I. Joe

scarlet-gi-joe

gijoe-7

You know, I had no idea G.I. stood for 'Government Issue'. I always thought it meant General Infantry. The things you learn from wikipedia.....

Went out to watch G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. This is a reboot of the franchise, and gives the setup to the G.I. Joe universe. All the reviews were fairly negative, but as in all things, critics are useless turds and should be stoned.

This is a entertaining movie. Suspend all your idea of what reality is, what the laws of physics are, and you'll really enjoy it. Action-packed, with enough eye-candy to keep you interested throughout. Nice length as well. Really awesome technology (mech suits that respond to your thoughts) and as you can see above, tight spandex. As I said, don't try to think about how feasible all of this is, just enjoy the action. In the G.I. Joe world, the laws of pysics don't apply. Characters step in and out of a speeding airplane as easily as you would step on an escalator.

The actors were acceptable. The girls were crazy hot, and the two ninjas were great, as was General Hawk. But Duke was a bit of a disappointment. As the emerging leader of the world's most elite unit, his character's brainpower is supposed to be as lethal as his muscles, but Tatum plays him like a mumbling dope. Stop trying to look pretty man. And the ending was weak. Having Destro basically grow a metal head? And Cobra Commander wearing this gigantic metal helmet? He looks like a f*cking metallic bobblehead.

But, as long as Rachel Nichols does the sequel (is there any doubt?), I will watch.

What a Dick

There's an article in the Washington Post on Dick Cheney: Report: Cheney felt Bush stopped taking his advice

This just shows how narrow-minded and closed off American politics has been these past years. Forget diplomacy, forget democracy. All that was important to this past administration were idealistic policies that favoured America's elite. You had a fanatic vice-president pushing around an extremely weak-minded president for 8 years. How are these people (Cheney, Rove, et al) different than any Islamic extremist?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Rehash

Many apologies for the fluff posted this week. No, I'm not trying to micro-blog.



I'm not going to write anything unless I actually have something to say. From now on.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Looking up

Okay...so I guess I do have plenty of things to do this weekend. If I can get my hands on a Paul Smith piece - any piece - then things really are looking up.

PS by Paul Smith

paul smith jacket

paul smith jacket 3

Paul Smith is the greatest. Classic British tailoring, with enough of an edge to still make you feel manly. I don't understand this metro thing, it's just slang for being really, really gay isn't it? The only man in the world that can pull it off is Beckham, and it's only because he has a hot wife.

Anyways. I need a fall coat. Maybe a peacoat, or something similar, but I need a heavier wool overcoat to wear over a suit. 2 years ago, I saw a grey Paul Smith wool coat, single-breasted, single vent at HR. If it weren't for the 4-figure price tag, I would have worn it home. Well, after 2 more years of trudging along in Club Monaco, it's time to invest in a proper piece of outerwear.

It's been nearly 4 years since I've bought clothing. No exaggeration. Tokyo doesn't count because I didn't pay.

So, who wants to come with me and witness the momentous occasion when I hand over my visa and ask for a garment bag?

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I'm trying to upload these photos but damn, Flickr decides to 'hiccup' at this exact moment. Right. Because I live a blessed life and everything works out for me.

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Photos up!

2007 Rheingau

2007 Schloss Schönborn


2007 Schloss Schönborn Hattenheimer Pfaffenberg Riesling Kabinett, QmP Rheingau

Yes, this is still a wine blog, despite all the junk I've been writing as of late. We see a lot of this estate in the LCBO. Many older vintages have been released in the past 2 years, and my experience with them has been wonderful, as you can see from previous posts:

Video: 1982/1994 Rheingau --- 1982 Rheingau --- 1994 Rheingau --- Undisputed Greatness --- 1994 Schönborn

This is a new release, 2007 vintage. 2007 was noted for its extremely high acidity, and a return to the more classic, austere style of German riesling. The estate also changed its labels. More modern perhaps, with the seal the only indication of its previous design. I don't like it. Don't mess with what works, the gold-trimmed labels were beautiful.

Light colour in the glass, with a slight mousse. Interesting. On the nose, lots of bright citrus, light honey, and minerals. Definite prickle of mousse on the palate, but just ever so gently. Citrus follows, as does the minerality, with a creaminess that I'm sure will develop. Long finish. Delicious, crisp, bright wine, with only a hint of sweetness. Wonderful, with all the tension, energy, and excitement of young German riesling.

Finding IT

Ok, I've recovered sufficiently. Sorry for the outburst. I'm not unstable.

Yes, inspiration. Still looking for it. Even in something as innocuous as deciding what wines to drink. Because if you're not careful, you can end up spending a lot of money, drinking lots of random wines, and learn/gain nothing. Method, right? Do everything methodically, and you'll begin seeing results.

I approach wine drinking very simply - mood and circumstance. How I'm feeling is particularly important. Sometimes I feel adventurous, and want to explore new wines. And sometimes I feel a bit vulnerable, and want to taste something I know well. Like snuggling in with someone you quite like. Comfortable. And of course, you have to gauge the occasion - why you're drinking, who you're drinking with, what you're eating, where you're eating, etc, etc, etc.

But it's so easy to keep going back to the same wines over and over. Like always drinking Rhône with steak or Sancerre with fish. That's where book knowledge comes in. Reading about new, exciting wine regions inspires you to search them out. Lately, I've been actively looking for the white wines of Greece, vintage Ports, and sherries. It's all about being brave and embracing diversity.

That's my point - try new things. Get out of your comfort zone, in wine and in other pursuits.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

WTF BIG TIME

Aww, leave it the fuck out. WHo the fuck leaves their car alarm blaring at this time of night? Oh what the fuck, you fucking imbecile. Great, now the fucking alarm is varying its degree and pitch. You motherfucker, thanks for waking me up. In 30 seconds I'm taking a fucking bat to the windshield.

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Blogger's note:

Look at that.....look at the horrific profanity. But I don't appreciate inconsiderate louts who wake up the entire neighbourhood late at night, and who don't know how to shut off their car alarms. You press the damn red button!! Really, come on...it's not that difficult of a concept. I keep my windows open when I sleep, and the beeping was so loud and sudden I jumped up out of bed. Unbelievable man, just unbelieeeeeeeeeeeevable.

Greebles

I'm a trend-setter.

When I was in Grade 6, I had an accident in the playground involving broken glasses, and 7 stitches around my left eye. After you lose a few cc's of blood, you don't react as much when the doctor tells you how close you were to losing an eye (1/4 inch).

So, while I was waiting for the stitches to do their work and for my new glasses to arrive, I was stuck indoors. No more recess. Mr. Kyle, my Grade 5/6 teacher was nice enough to let me get on the new Mac computers we had just received. And that's where I discovered Greebles.

Greebles is, in short, the greatest game ever developed. I'm not a gamer at all, as you can probably tell, but I was hooked. Greebles is a multi-player puzzle game, where you command little bulldozers. The trick is push the blocks to kill all the bad guys, to go onto the next level. It was revolutionary because you could network with other players, up to a maximum of 36 players. And I was the king.

Pretty soon, I got my whole class involved. But elementary school wasn't enough. I brought the phenomenon to Junior High. And guess what - within half a term, my Grade 7 class turned into Greebles maniacs as well. We would network with another class and have tournaments. And I was the daddy of them all.

I'm reminded of this game because it only works on Macs. My sudden interest in Apple reminded me of this delightful part of my childhood, and suddenly, I'm feeling reckless with my wallet. Of course, it'd be stupid if I based my decision to get a Macbook Pro completely on the basis of an urge to play a game but..........................screenshots below:

9-1213_2


9-1213_3

Just so American

In Time Magazine this week, this article: The Moment

I don't understand how these kinds of biased, anti-intellectual editorials are allowed to be printed in a world-class publication like Time. Calling Kim Jong-Il a lying maniac, a bizarro fascist? The author presents the usual narrow-minded viewpoint of lower middle class America, with none of the wit or thought that Time's readers deserve.

Again, we see this argument that because North Korea is a totalitarian state which may or may not be nuclear armed, the rest of the world should ignore it, even though in this case, the U.S. was righteous in negotiating with them because rescuing the 2 journalists was just so noble. But to be politically correct, the U.S. does not engage in dialogue with dictatorships. Right. You can thank your last president for that. By labelling North Korea as a cog in the Axis of Evil, you dimwits effectively shut off all doors. And in the years since, the best intelligence you've been able to get is blurry satellite images and the hearsay of deserters, who've escaped the country mainly to experience the delights of McDonalds and KFC.

Of course, instead of diplomacy and understanding your friends (or enemies, however you look at it), there's always another way. When America inevitably has to beat a hasty retreat from the Middle East because of plumetting public support and an inability to 'Mission Accomplished!', guess where the troops can go next!?

But going back to President Clinton's 'humanitarian mission', this was a win-win-WIN scenario. Obama opens a dialogue with North Korea, Clinton gets to be a hero, and Kim gets new propaganda material. Win-win-win. We'll see how dedicated this president is to diplomacy. This is a good start.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Temptation, temptation...

The more you watch these Macbook videos, the more you want one. Damn, these Apple people are geniuses...it's like you only want to look around but the next thing you know, you're walking out with bags in both hands, and spent $1000 over budget.

http://www.apple.com/macbookpro/

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Blogger's note:

Edited. Stupid sounding sentences are what happens when you should be sleeping instead of blogging.

Apple or Orange

Ok, so maybe I figured out a way to kind of resolve this computer issue without actually paying $2000 for a new one. I think I'll undo what I should never have done - replace Windows Vista with XP. I think the one reason I installed Vista was so I could use iTunes. So, so stupid, because I could never get the Sony drivers to install properly so half the hardware on my VAIO is useless.

This is what I'm doing on Saturday. Redoing past mistakes and saving some money. Time to start backing up.

Of course, I'll probably give in anyways, buy a Macbook Pro and find a way to convince them I'm still in school so I get a free iPod Touch.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

12 Year Blended Scotch Whisky

Johnnie Walker Black Label

Johnnie Walker Black Label 12-Year Blended Scotch Whisky

Whoa, its thundering and flashing righteously outside. Just an odd, odd summer we've been experiencing in Toronto.

This bottle was given to me by a very old friend of mine, who's coincidentally, not a big whisky drinker. But then again, neither am I. Amber colour, sweet malts on the nose, and intense sweetness on the palate. More silkier and creamier than I expected, but the alcohol disturbs me. There is still harshness from the alcohol that I don't find in finer single malt scotches, such as Lagavulin. But it is very sweet.

At 43%, this stuff is lethal. My hangover still hasn't subsided. Head pounding, a bit disoriented. Lethal.

Beijing, one year on

Yesterday was August 8, and I was so busy messing up my bbq that I didn't even realize it - it's been a year since the Beijing Olympics. Wow, a full year...I was unemployed, poor, and hopeless last year. 12 months on, I'm now employed, poor, and still hopeless. Good times!

These Olympics remain the greatest event of my lifetime. It's really something special - watching the motherland host one of the greatest international events.

Just reminiscing a bit. More, at: 2008 Beijing Olympics

An Apple

My computer is dying on me. It's been in its last throes for the last 16 months, and I've been trying to squeeze what I can from it. But I think it's time to get a replacement.

MacBook Pro? I don't know if I'm ready to commit to a whole different philosophy of computers. Or if I have $2000 just lying around.

Morning after whisky

I woke up with a raging headache and a thirst rivaling a beast. The peanut butter generously slathered on toast is helping with the jitters. Was it worth it?? Was it really worth it????

Yesterday, I insisted that we eat inside. I should have insisted a lot harder. By the time we finished cooking the scallops and sat down, it was raining already, lightly. We sat for a grand total of about 15 minutes outside, before it started getting ridiculous. I wasn't about to stand and bbq outside in the rain, and I wasn't going to make anyone else do it, so I just threw the food on the grill and hoped for the best. Mmm, seeing wonderful food turn into charcoal is fantastic.

I f*cking hate bbq.

Grilling is awful, and I still have no idea why I wanted to organize a bbq. Cooking over direct heat (flames and smoke) is barbaric. Scorched meat offers nothing in flavour. We're better than that. I'm better than that. Let's see a grill perfectly sear a sirloin, basted in butter, and finished a perfect medium-rare.

I f*cking hate bbq.

What am I supposed to be doing

Late night, and I'm nursing a glass of Johnnie Walker Black. Many thanks to one of my oldest friends for this bottle. You know what's it's like this late at night, half-drunk and barely thinking straight? A moment of clarity. What the f*ck is going on man. What the f*ck. I literally just forgot what I was going to write. What am I doing...

The bomb

Ok, so I did a bbq today with some friends, and it bombed. Not only did it rain like there was no tomorrow, it f*cking poured. Right. Because it's not a real bbq until it rains right? Awesome.

Bbq while it's raining means that a poor sucker has to stand outside under an umbrella and man the grill. Well, that sucker certainly wasn't going to be me, so we let all the food sit on the fire until it became charcoal. Fantastic. Everything burned to shit, but at least we had a knife to scrape off the black.

When I invite people to my home for dinner, or any meal for that matter, there is an expectation that you will be fed proper food. Not only should it be edible, but it should also be memorable. I'm not calling myself a decent cook by any means, but I take pride in the dishes that I put together for my friends. And tonight was a f*cking disaster. I detest grilling to start with, but tonight's food was a disgrace. My sincerest apologies. Deeply, deeply, sorry.

At least the pan-seared scallops were cooked perfectly. Could have done without the bacon. Bacon-wrapped scallops are so cliched and overdone. Alas, I could have done a much better job. Proper dinner next time, I promise. Again, many apologies for a disaster of a dinner.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

2008 Twenty Mile Bench

2008 Featherstone

2008 Featherstone Estate Winery Black Sheep Riesling, VQA Twenty Mile Bench

After all the beers, I opened this wine to drink with some cheese. I have a bit of experience with this estate's rieslings. We met the owner last time we went up, and their organic approach to viticulture is really appealing. Black Sheep refers to the sheep that they use to sucker the vines and provide fertilizer.

Light straw in colour, that's very bright. Nose of citrus, honey, green apple, and some lanolin minerality. I like that these rieslings are showing more overt minerality when they're young. In the mouth, a lot of sour green apple flavour, with taut acidity and silky texture. Minerals follow, but what's most primary is the extremely high acidity. There's a long finish, ending tangy and tingly. Wonderful.

This estate's wines all share this commonality of very high acidity. There's almost no perceptible sweetness, although at 10.5% abv, there must be residual sugar in the wine. I believe I still have a bottle of the 2007 riesling sitting somewhere, and I'm very interested to see how the acidity integrates with some bottle age.

Prep

Prepping for tonight's bbq. Today, possibly on the only bbq I'll host this year, there's a 40% chance of showers. Come on man, help me out a little. Please?

Seafood bbq tonight. You know, to be honest, I don't like grilling food. Heat is too direct and everything chars. Why the f*ck am I bbqing then? Maybe it's because I can sit back with a glass and put my feet up while someone else mans the grill. Hey, I'm just hosting, never said I was going to cook.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Finding inspiration

I need some inspiration. I need direction. I just spent the last 90 minutes nudging labels off of empty wine bottles. They look great and all, but, there's clearly a better way to spend my time.

Lately, I've been feeling a bit bored with how things are going. Like I think about it over and over again. Get it?? Get it?????

English Brown Ale

Newcastle Brown Ale

Newcastle Brown Ale, Gateshead, England

A pub standby. This last beer was paired with steak/cognac/mushroom.

Not as dark as its name would suggest. Brown, yes, but with a luminosity to it. Very complex, earthy nose of mocha, toasted grains, smoke. Rich in the mouth, though a much more refreshing style than, say, a stout. Very long finish. Paired perfectly with the beef, which by itself showed a lot of flavour from the cognac. I was perhaps a bit too enthusiastic about the flaming the cognac. Added a shot or three too much.

English Ale

Fuller's London Pride

Fuller's London Pride, Chiswick, England

This second beer was paired with the spaghetti and ribs. I found this beer to be absolutely delicious, and my favourite so far this summer.

Paler than the last one, although deep copper colour. Such a fragrant nose. Green in fact, with a character reminiscent of freshly washed celery stalk. Wonderful! A bit of mocha as well. In the mouth, very round and full, with mocha and creaminess. Finishes quite bitter.

Incredible. This is a very complex beer. I should go buy a few more.

English Pale Ale

Bass Pale Ale

Bass Pale Ale, Burton upon Trent, England

For dinner with my friends, I decided to go a different route. Instead of wine, how would ales pair with the food I was cooking? To start, we had salad dressed in olive oil/balsamic vinegar, then spaghetti on a tomato/oxtail broth sauce. Third course of short ribs marinated and slowcooked in the oven. Last dish of steak on cognac/mushroom sauce.

This ale was paired with the spaghetti. Amber colour, but not very dark. Beautiful hoppy character on the nose. Very drinkable, very refreshing, with a slightly bitter finish. Wonderful with food. Great start to the meal.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Take it to the limit

To my buddies in Waterloo and Cambridge...at least to the ones I care about...good luck. Term's almost over, and for a few, this marks the end of undergrad. Don't do what I did - give up at the end. It's exhausting, and difficult, and painful, but get it done properly. Don't give up on working and then have to worry for the next 2 months over whether you passed the course or not.

Good luck, nail that son of a bitch and finish with a bang! Take it to the limit, one last time.

Munich-style helles

Löwenbräu Original

Löwenbräu Original, Munich

Helles is German for 'light-coloured' or 'pale'. In other words, helles beer is a pale lager. This brewery has been in business since 1383, and has been served at every Oktoberfest in Munich since 1810.

What a lovely, golden colour. This is such a fragrant beer. Floral and clean character, great foam. Wonderfully sweet in the mouth. Good texture as well. I drank this after the St Peter's, so it came out as especially sweet. Wow, this is a delicious beer.

Pale lager is what it's all about. This is what a true lager should taste like. Delicious.

English Ale

St-Peter's English Ale

St Peter's English Ale, England

What to drink with fried chicken? I can't imagine eating wings with anything other than a pint of ale, and this bottle works. My first beer of the night. This beer is brewed in Suffolk, England, using organic barley and hops. The bottle shape is a reproduction of the same style and colour created in 1770 for an American customer. Cool.

As you can see, an orangeish hue, with a very nice head. Frothy. Clean aroma, of sweet barley and cool hops. Wonderfully refreshing and bitter on the palate. Incredibly refreshing, in fact, and exactly what I'm looking for out of an English ale. Perfect with the chicken, which was breaded, seared in olive oil, and finished in the oven.

I'm a big fan of this beer. Good stuff. Perfect for big gulps, with refreshing and complex hoppy character.

2008 Mantinia

2008 Boutari

2008 Boutari

2008 Boutari Moschofilero, ACQS Mantinia

I love discovering new wines from new regions, and this certainly satisifies. A Greek white wine! I've been hearing so much about the fantastic quality of whites coming out of the Greek islands that I jumped at the chance for this bottle.

Moschofilero is a grape variety indigenous to Greece. A pink-skinned grape, it shares characteristics with muscat. Grown on the Peloponessian islands, in the region of Mantinia, this grape is known to be aromatic with high acidity.

This wine has a light straw colour, quite similar in appearance to sauvignon. Let's not forget how young it is, and the fact that it touches no new oak. Lots of fresh fruit on the nose - juicy melon, citrus and spice. Very fragrant, and quite unlike anything I've come across. On the palate, there is lots of fruit, on a creamy texture. Lovely balance and high acidity. Finishes with an explosion of apricots and sweet honeydew. Long finish.

Very impressive indeed. This wine has all the balance and ripeness I'm looking for in a white wine, with the texture that makes it delightful on its own. Delicious, and very unique. I'm very impressed, and eagar to try more wines from this part of the world. Bravo!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

1995 Mosel

P.S. Baumler Becker-Erben label

1995 P.S. Baumler Becker-Erben

1995 P.S. Bäumler Becker-Erben Riesling Auslese, QmP Wehlener Sonnenuhr

I've been looking forward to this wine for many, many months. Written about it often, too. Not only is this wine from what many would regard as the finest vineyard in the Mosel, Wehlener Sonnenuhr, but this is also an older Auslese, made from botrytised fruit.

After an hour in the ice bucket, the labels slid right off. Which is great, because normally I struggle with removing it, and inevitably rip an edge. Perfect.

Look at the colour. A 14 year old white wine, that looks barely 14 months. Light gold, straw colour, with a bit of transparency at the rim. Still looks so young. Wonderfully intense nose of honey, citrus, oily/musky minerality and a touch of creamy butter. Wonderful! I could smell this wine all day and be happy, without drinking a single drop.

On the palate, this wine is very rich, with lots of weight and texture. Silky, but with that creaminess evident on the nose. Honey and dried fruits, apples. Wow. This wine has length. And texture. And balance. There's sweetness, but everything's so perfectly integrated with age. Acidity is beginning to fade, but this wine was wonderful with food.

I have 2 bottles left, of this vintage. Now, if there was a wine I could drink forever - this would be it.

Back-door channels and posturing

President Bill Clinton is my hero. All the back door channels and under the table maneuvering aside, who else but this man could the country rely on, to get out of a nasty situation with grace and goodwill?

I love how the media outlets are reporting on this, as if the North Koreans would love to portray this as a diplomatic envoy sent out by the Obama administration, while Obama's people insist on calling it a private humanitarian mission. Is there any doubt? Obama's been talking with the North Koreans for weeks, if not ever since the journalists were captured. What the release hinged on was what concessions the U.S. was willing to give up, and who to be the public face of all this. And who better, to lend gravity and substance to this charade, than the former President, and husband of the U.S. Secretary of State.

So, what did the U.S. have to give up? Removing battle groups from the Sea of Japan? Loosening economic sanctions? Granting U.S. visas to key members of North Korea's elite? Telling the Japs to back off? I'm fascinated and very intrigued.

World politics and diplomacy at its best. Ahh, Dr. Kissinger must be smiling at this masterstroke of international relations.

NYT article: Bill Clinton and Journalists in Emotional Return to U.S.

Just Twittering

So, in another move to satisfy my hungry narcissism, I'm on Twitter. They came up with this thing called TwitterFeed, where all your Blogger posts get automatically posted on Twitter. And of course, I want to whore this thing out as widely as possible, so...

http://twitter.com/d2fang

Please add me, or follow me, whatever the jargon is. Just so I'm not the only loser on Twitter with 0 friends.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Just a dream...

Do y'all believe in deciphering your dreams? If so, then what did the one I had last night mean? It was wonderful. Just wonderful. Heartwarmingly wonderful.

I'm not smart enough to understand what subconscious means, or any of that business. I guess if you think enough of something during the day, your mind keeps going at it when you're asleep. Now, if only your dreams could come true........but if they can't, it'd be nice if I could dream a bit longer in the morning.

2004 Central Otago

2004 Nevis Bluff

2004 Nevis Bluff Pinot Noir, Central Otago

Another Central Otago, New Zealand wine came up recently, and of course, I wasn't ready to give up on this region. The examples I've drank so far have been disappointing. Quite expensive, without the intensity and elegance I'd like in a pinot noir. It's even more upsetting when I drink $20 Niagara pinot noirs that are much more profound wines. But this wine changed the perception of what New Zealand can produce.

This is, of course, bottled under a screwcap, and is one of the older wines under this kind of closure that I've tasted. I have no doubt that the screwcap is a more airtight closure than cork, but there is no emperical data on how they age. Until we're able to see wines bottled this way after 10 or 20 years, it is absolutely ridiculous that people are proclaiming screwcap to be better than cork.

The wine has a light red robe, very typical of pinot noir. What's odd is that the colour lacks luminosity. I don't want to describe it as browning, but there is a somewhat dull sheen to it. Very intense nose of red fruits (cranberry, cherry), herbs, brambles, and an excellent pinot noir character. In the mouth, there's lots of sour red fruit, but with a sweetness that's very succulent. Excellent acidity and balance - the alcohol is undetectable, which is a very pleasant surprise. Lingering finish. What a fantastically balanced, nuanced wine.

What's the greatest surprise for this wine is how well integrated all the components are. The alcohol, the acidity, the very fine tannins. Beautiful. So wonderful. Maybe it's because it has a few years of age, and the other wines I've drank are very young. But this is an absolutely delicious wine.

Back to diplomacy

Finally, a good story in international politics. President Clinton breaks through, visiting North Korea and negotiating the release of two American 'reporters'. Very impressive.

American politics has been missing this idea of diplomacy and negotiation ever since President Clinton left office. What is this idea of American superiority, and not negotiating with people? What, there is no middle ground between ignoring someone and engaging in all-out war? What's funny is these people wanting to play hard-ball with Korea. Let me make something clear. Communists are not afraid of anything, including war. You really want to risk war with one of these countries? If America really dared to do so, Cuba would have been swallowed decades ago. This is a ridiculous stance, and how typical of the American public to think like this. Diplomacy is the only option.

Bravo, bravo - maybe this will be a turning point in America's international relations. Let's go back to the examples that Dr. Kissinger set for everyone. Everyone's excited that these 2 women are being pardoned - but no one is questioning what President Clinton had to give up. Whether it's economic concessions, money, goodwill, or some of that cognac that Kim loves....does it matter? This is what Dr. Kissinger used to do. Don't question his methods - judge him on his results. And this is the best conclusion to a situation caused by the Americans themselves.

The world is not black and white. Geo-politics is far too complex for monolithic thinking.

In the New York Times: Clinton Secures Pardon for 2 Americans in North Korea

Monday, August 3, 2009

Love the stank

I've been eating a lot of fried beans today, and let's just say I'm a walking bio-hazard. But that's not the stank I'm referring to.

Cheese

Cheese is fantastic. I had a great afternoon of eating loads of bread, olive oil, cheese, and of course, lots of wine. The piece on the left was magical. A Champfleury cheese, a washed rind soft ripened cheese with the texture of a double crème brie. Delicious. Quite pungent, but with an amazingly soft and creamy weight in the mouth.

The other, a light brie, was firm and quite good after a meal. Eating so much of this stuff can't possibly be healthy. But it's sooooo good.

Labour

Sigh....and the maid has to get to work.

Think I can recruit the neighbours to help me wipe the floors, wash the car, and take out the garbage?

Finishing

Is it really Monday already? Damn. Where did this long weekend go? I think I may have slept it away.

Drank a lot of fine things today. A lot. And you know what I realized? I can't watch tv and do other things. This just isn't working. Haven't touched any of the cheeses and fruits since I've sat down. I look up and 90 minutes have passed. Beer and wine, fantastic. I just have to get working on this food, shower, then head to bed. One day left, then back to the grind. When people say, 'I'm just going to drop everything and go to Bora Bora', do they really mean it?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Setting fire

I have many kitchen horror stories, especially from when I served time in university residence. Thank goodness I escaped relatively unscathed, but I've never dared to attempt flamethrowing in the kitchen again. Until today.

I accomplished flambé today. Steaks with cognac mushroom sauce. Turned out beautifully, full of rich, complex, cognac character which married incredibly well with the earthy mushrooms. And I didn't lose my eyebrows!

Flambé

Flambé

Flambé

Beautiful mould

There's this raging misconception that white wines don't age, and shouldn't be aged. Ridiculous. Some of my greatest wine experiences have been with old white wines, German rieslings in particular. I'm starting with my friends. I'll open a few older bottles for them, and we'll see what they think. There's nothing like the maturity and presence of an old white wine. Look at this beauty.

P.S. Baumler Becker-Erben cork

Blue skies and green fields

Today's a good day. Perfect weather, airy....blue skies help you clear your mind.

Prepping for dinner tonight. Starting with some spaghetti, and continuing to steak on cognac mushroom sauce. Flambé action tonight! I hope I don't lose my eyebrows. Pairing my dishes with 3 beers - classic English ales.

I was going to get up earlier and wash the car but.....that can wait until tomorrow. Oops, I was supposed to work out today too. But, I was too busy being a poser and doing this:

Pose

Trifecta

Up still. Hammered beyond belief. This feeling is so right, it's right.

A weekend of binging yields a lot of fresh content. Lots of marvelous wines and beers to talk about. Cigars too. I know, I shouldn't be smoking. Girls hate it, and you know, I'm trying to impress someone, so maybe I should avoid it......but your vices are your vices. What can you do. I excuse myself because cigars are an interest, not a habit. Attention. Big difference. I'm not a smoker. I eat very healthy and I work out 5 days a week.

It's time to go to bed. Lots to do tomorrow, but that's not important. Having some buddies over for dinner, so have to work on that. Can't disappoint. I just hope to get up before 1pm.

Peace.

Post No. 901

Profile - Colour


Late night, but late night is good. It's only been a month to accumulate another 100, but 900 posts has to be an accomplishment, whichever way you look at it.

Keeping to my word. A lot of white wines drunk this past month. Hope you're all entertained. I've been. And much more to come. I'm trying to expand into other areas, not only wines - beers, cigars, etc. Writing about these other vices is as a bit of stretch, but very interesting to me. I'd like to be as well-versed in beer as in wine - of course, I write under the pretense that I know what's what in wine. Self-absorbed, as usual. Maybe even vain. Not so much wicked.

What's to come? I'm slowing down a bit. Quality over quantity, as in all things. Summer is still raging on, so more interesting wines to drink and experience. Let's get on with it. F*ck writing, let's just drink.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

To drink and to love

I've been steadily drinking since 1pm today. Nice. 2 bottles of wine and a few pints of ale. What a perfect Saturday, the best I've had in a long, long time. Quite nothing like being irresponsible.

Wine, and fine ales make me a better person. I see the world differently. There's a clear beginning, middle, and end. And I'm at peace with my life. Wow, I am so toasted.

All this bread, olive oil, fried chicken I've eaten today cannot be conducive to muscle growth. I'm completely undermining my 5-day a week workout routine. And not to mention all the wine and beer! But it's ok. Anything for a fantastic food/wine experience. Hot damn, I just love food!! Been smoking some cigars as well. Oops. Just taking advantage of being my own man in the house. The neighbours can tell my parents whatever the hell they'd like.

I am FILLEd with love at this moment. This is awesome. I think I'm in love. With you. Is this a sign of alcoholism? Or just being a good old wino?

Home alone

Parents are out of the house, home alone. Fantastic. Just came back from BV with cheese, bread, and lots of wine. So, tonight's going to be a good night.

I actually have a lot to do around the house. Woke up with a slight hangover - just a slight one. Let's see how much I'll be able to drink tonight. Cooking up a storm. Boom!

This is awesome. Hot outside, and no one in the house...I'm totally in nothing but boxers. There's nothing greater than drinking wine whilst almost naked. Awesome.

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A moment of weakness today - I gave in and bought a $32 half bottle of Sauternes. Will be opening it soon.