Monday, November 30, 2009

L'Argentier Vielles Vignes de Cinsault

Yeah I don't actually know what any of those words mean either, but it is a DELICIOUS wine.

Okay I lied a little. L'Argentier is the winery, and the grape is, apparently, Cinsault. It is very dry, to the point where it seems to sear the back of the tongue. It's medium to heavy bodied, and has notes of pomegranite, cherry, and walnut. It's pretty freakin' amazing wine, and so it is appropriate that this is what I drink as I celebrate having finished the Ultra Rough Draft of Rising Mind. This story has been like a physical pressure in my head for a long time, and I am extremely glad to have it all out on paper.

So let's raise a glass of whatever's handy to all the other winners of this year's NaNoWriMo! Congrats guys! Take December off and let 2010 be the year of great revision!

Oh hey.

Oh hey look, I won the nano thing.

Tonight I am actually going to finish the book. Then I will regale you all with tales of thanksgiving drunkenness, complete with embarrassing pictures of my friends.

But for now? There is only Rising Mind, because god damn it I need to write the last few scenes. I  hate action scenes. I hate them a lot. I am bad at them. VERY bad at them. Also, I have realized that I change my main character's appearance from one paragraph to the next in the second chapter. I'm AWESOME.

Okay, hush now, it's time to apply to graduate school. Edit in January.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Maryland has wine?


I mean, it's a pretty awful climate for that sort of thing, seems to me, with its unpredictable droughts and deluges, but what do I know? I just drink the stuff. Someday I really would like to take a couple courses on viniculture and learn the hows of it instead of just the drinking of it.

So here's this Black Ankle vineyards Rolling Hills red sitting on my countertop, and I look at the back of the bottle and it has a listing of where it was grown, when it was picked, the geology of the region and the orientation of the slope... and I think "hot damn. That's some useful information right there." I don't know what I'd use it for, but I'm sure it's useful to someone.

It's just... strange. Like it doesn't know whether it wants to be sweet or dry or fruity or bitter or what have you. It's a blend of seven types of grape, mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, which can be pretty cool, but this is bad jazz. My parents say it's drinkable, but I'm eyeing this 3-oz taste I poured myself like it's out to get me. I am pretty sure it is. Apparently it costs over 20 bucks, which is highway robbery, I swear to you, but hey. The winery itself is pretty awesome, all greenified and hip. Apparently they recently built a new tasting room out of hay bales and stucco. I'm down with that. I should go do a tasting and meet them and not tell them how bad I think this wine was.

Oh well! Tonight I go to La Madeleine to work on Rising Mind some more. Only seven thousand words left! I'm in the home stretch, bitches!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Beaujolais nouveau est arrive!

...And hey it's not very good!

Well, the Jean-Claude Debeaune isn't, at least. It smells and tastes like cherry juice, complete with the sort of dry, bitter finish. I kind of like it, but that's because it reminds me of drinking cherry juice in Germany in place of wine and pretending to be all sophistimacated, except when I went through my thirteen-year-old mandatory vampire phase and pretended I was drinking blood omg so dark and deep and stuff.

Speaking of vampires, New Moon comes out tomorrow. The adverts for it are so laughable... every time that skeevy little mexican says "DO NOT MAKE ME UPSET." I have this sudden urge to heave half a brick at him in true Anhk-Morpork fashion. When I tell this to people they say "well he turns into a wolf wtf" and to them I respond: "Then I will acquire a bigger brick!" Goddamn werewolves getting all up in my shit. Best weapon against werewolves? Mace. Totally blinds them and sears their noses so bad they'll never be able to track you. Mace bomb the little fuckers.

...Yeah so that's my slightly inebriated rage for now. It's time to write about horrible little soul-eating demons again.

Oh god why am I not updating anymore

...Blame NaNoWriMo. I'm nearly 35 thousand words in and holy balls I just can't stop writing. Any time I sit at my computer I'm probably typing Rising Mind, and not these blog posts. I'll definitely return to this in December, when I have the chance to think about something other than crazy people and graduate school.

But here is a catch-up post. Let's talk about my last excursion to Max's Tap House with BeerSnob and The Irish.

BeerSnob is snobbish about beer, and has a hard on for stouts of all varieties. I like pilsners, because they are refreshing and pleasant and do all the things a beer should do, i.e., get you drunk but not make you sick. Irish will drink anything you put in front of him because he is poor.

I started out with the Reider Maerzen. Nobody pronounces the umlaut correctly, you linguistically uncultured bastards. Either way, I'd ordered the pilsner, but the bartender misunderstood me. Still, this was everything I want in a beer. It was light enough that I could drink it without feeling overfull, and it had a clean, malty flavor that consistently made me want more.

Irish got the house beer that night, which was a kind of gross Belgian blonde. It had the kind of fruity sweetness that I enjoy in wine, but is totally out of place in a beer. I don't know what was going on there. Very sad.

BeerSnob bought snobby beer: the Brewdog Zeitgeist dark lager, to be specific. It was DELICIOUS. It was sort of tart up front, the way a just-underripe cherry is, and had a very light cafe-au-lait flavor and texture at the back. It was smooth and delicious. /he also got a taste of the Thirsty Dog Stud Service Stoud, probably because it had the silliest name on the menu. It was lightly bodied, tasted of burnt coffee with a clean finish. Smooth, but not what I wanted. I blame it on the fact of it being a stout.

For our second round, TheIrish acquired a beer called the MAXIMATOR. Because when there is a beer with a name like MAXIMATOR someone has to try it. Here is what my notes say about that:
"Holy fuck spices. Holy crap let me wash out my mouth now jesus why did I drink that there can be no loving god in a universe where there is this beer." It was not very good.

I got the Reider Pilsner this time, which was the strangest thing I ever tasted. It was clean and bubbly the way I like it, but it had this strange vegetable aftertaste... like peas and asparagus. The boys didn't believe me, but when Irish drank some he immediately sputtered: "IT'S HEALTH BEER!" It was, too.

BeerSnob's second round was a glass of Hitachino Redrice, a rice beer, and he wished it hadn't been. This was all about fruit. It was apricots and cinnamon and ginger all over the place. We all agreed that this would be a FABULOUS beer to cook with, but it was not a pleasant pint.

Much later in the week I had a couple glasses of unexceptional pinot grigio. They were both clean and tart, though one had a bitter hint of lemon rind that I didn't like all that much. Pinot Grigio is wine for people who don't like wine very much, or so says the guy who orders the wine for our restaurant. But it's a fabulous wine to sip while writing, because the gentle flavor doesn't distract you!

I have also set up a bunch of infusions in a series of one and a half liter bell-jars that I bought for the purpose. The reason there are no pictures up or descriptions is that they are all to become Christmas presents and I don't want to ruin the surprise, so there.

And now I'm going to go back to writing my terrible urban fantasy. Rock on y'all.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

On coffee.

It doesn't technically come in a bottle, but it totally could if you wanted it to. While I drink wine often and beer occasionally, I drink coffee or tea every day.

My first job was at a coffee shop. I worked weekends for a handfull of dollars an hour. Before then I didn't drink coffee. It was bitter and awful to me, but I loved the smell. Eventually waking up early on the weekends got the better of me and I realized that I needed a mild stimulant to keep me going.

I first started drinking coffee black, because I'm hardcore, right? Then I realized that it tasted like chewing on tree bark and just put milk and sugar in it. That was where the trouble all started. I began drinking coffee every morning, because it was delicious, and hey, when it's at home and at work it's free! Badass!

Eventually I started developing a really awesome condition where my heart would shudder in my chest. It wouldn't skip beats or do that fun thing where the ventricles get overcharged and contract twice in a row, it beat totally normally, but shivered while doing so. It was an intensely distressing feeling, I didn't know what was going on until I described it to my mom and she said that a coworker of hers had something similar, and it went away when he stopped drinking caffiene.

Oh. God damn it.

My friends did not understand why I switched to decaf. Why drink coffee at all when you're not getting the psychoactive effects? Because it's delicious, you bastards. Coffee is just flat out good. Of course, the fact that it's a stimulant is also pretty cool, and in college I returned to regular coffee.

That's basically all just a lot of backstory for this statement: Starbucks coffee is awful. It is the weakest. It is no good. They have excellent espresso, don't get me wrong, and if you're looking for some vaguely homosexual icey chocolate concoction then Starbucks is your man. However, if you just want a damn cup of coffee... damn they're bad.

So what does that have to do with the price of feet, Stark? Well, it's seriously interfering in my thought processes. I like to write and relax in the Barnes and Noble coffee shop and I feel vaguely guilty about doing this without buying something, so I always get one of those apple purses and some form of coffee after I get at least 1500 words down (Yes, I am attempting to condition myself to write more. Yes, this makes me a huge nerd. Yes, it's totally working.). Yesterday I got a vanilla latte, which are usually pretty good. It's hard to screw up espresso + milk + syrup. Today, however, I have a cafe au lait.

This thing is a disgrace. Instead of being rich, milky coffee, it is apparently just milk and bitter flavor. What the hell, Starbucks? What the hell?

Back in college I used to get three shots of espresso and doctor it like coffee. It was pretty damn delicious, but holy christ I think I may have gone tachycardic if I kept doing that shit.

In other news, tonight myself, BeerSnob and Kaiser TNT (because he looks like Napoleon Dynamite) are going to Max's Tap House for beers. TheIrish may join us, but we do not know. I will update again tomorrow about  the delicious beers I try.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Hogfather and Incas

Sunday was a good day all around, but mostly for the way it ended: a bottle of wine, a Boyfriend, and a BBC adaptation of Terry Pratchett's The Hogfather. If you're looking for a three-hour long movie to waste an evening with, this is pretty much it. The special effects are awful, but the sets, costumes, and acting are all so awesome you can't even complain.

For the wine we selected a bottle of Inca torrontes/chardonnay blend. It cost about 9 bucks, but Boyfriend insisted that it was pretty good. When first uncorked it smelled exactly like orange juice. When poured... well, it still pretty much smelled like orange juice, but maybe a bit sweeter. When consumed... Tang. It was Tang-flavored wine. That is a lot better than it sounds. It was a very easy drinking wine, clean and light and enjoyably sweet, but not syrupy. For nine bucks a bottle? Sure. I'd buy it again.

Boyfriend also had a bottle of pumpkin ale, which, naturally, I can't recall the name of. Most pumpkin beers have this weird, sugary smell and a bizarre aftertaste. This... not so much. It smelled like spiced beer and tasted like pumpkin bread. Not a Starbucks pumpkin muffin sugarbomb, but like pumpkin bread. It was roast pumpkin and spices. No sugar. The cinnamon and nutmeg aftertaste actually ended up being nice and clean, not cloying at all.

Of course, I only had one sip of it. The Boyfriend's father tasted some and said "That wasn't bad. I don't want any more than that sip, but it wasn't bad." I've got to agree with him there.

In other news, I am so far behind in my NaNoWriMo project it ain't even funny. There's a guy at my school almost halfway done already. I'm seven thousand words in and feeling accomplished, then I see that. Holy crap. he must be a machine.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Punkin' Chunkin'!

First, yesterday was a good wine day. I got to try two merlots at the restaurant. One was a decent, aromatic, medium bodied and had a good taste of dried fruit. I can't quite recall which one that was. The other was a Kendall-Jackson grand reserve merlot, and it was fantastic. It was the kind of wine that you *could* drink with a meal, but it would almost detract from how tasty the wine was. I thought about trying to get various flavors and scents from it, but I was too busy enjoying the experience.

I also liberated a half bottle of Entrada sauvignon blanc from a party of pharmaceutical people. Lucky them. I might even bring it back to the restaurant. It smells like sugared pears and tastes like sugared pears steeped in vinager. Thank you very much, Argentina, but I'll stick with your malbecs.

Speaking of malbecs, I also had a lovely glass of Terrazas malbec at the Boyfriends house. He and I first had this wine at Fogo de Chao, which is basically a fat kid's paradise. Made of meat. He fell in love with its spiciness and full body, and buys it whenever he thinks he may be cooking red meat. It really is a lovely wine, especially with lamb.

In other news, today I went to the Punkin' Chunkin, which is basically an engineering frat party. The idea is to build absurdly powerful machines to fling pumpkins up to 5,000 feet. There are centrifuges, air cannons, catapaults, and trebuchets. My favorites are the air cannons, which get the best distance and look the most impressive. My god, the Old Glory and the Young Glory III had hundred foot barrals! The best named air cannon was probably the Second Amendment Too, which also had a rediculous barral.

Possibly the greatest thing about the punkin chunkin is the bizarre mix of people. You have the engineering clubs who build the machines (or, in the case of one group, genetically engineer pumpkins to go farther), the Harley riders who help sponsor the event, fratboys who just want the excuse for a tailgate party, and D&D nerds who are jealous of the useful skills that the engineering nerds are displaying. I know I saw at least one gang member there, and Boyfriend claims to have spotted several undergound biker gang signs. It was a surprising group, but it reveals a universal truth: nothing brings people together like the promise of artillery.

Sadly, the event was BYOB, and Boyfriend and I did not realize this, so we went drinkless for the entire event. No matter, for now we have both consumed a bottle of Blue Moon, and he is napping on the couch while I type. It is a good day.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Washington State Gewuertztraminer and NaNoWriMo

2008 Paradise Peak Gewuerztraminer. A good wine for halloween, because it is candy sweet. Seriously. Candied pears all over the place, a bit of a bitterness on the back of the tongue. The bitterness might be a result of having eaten intensely spicy food beforehand. I don't like it much, personally. It's too sweet. As it's getting colder I'm more interested in full bodied dry wines. That white brgundy from that restaurant was just about perfect.

So it's November, right? That means it's National Novel Writing Month. This month I have no excuse, I have to write. So suddenly Open Bottles is going to double as my NaNoWriMo blog. All NaNoWriMo entries will be tagged as such and maybe even hidden behind a link... I'd put it in the Rising Mind blog, but I'm pretty ashamed of the entries over there already, and the more blags I have the more I feel like a drain on society. So there. At the start of every day I'll have the writing from the day before posted here. In order to maintain the topic of the blog, I may even play the Paper Writing Drinking Game (write a page, take a shot) at some point. :D


I love Halloween. It's just a fun time of year. Candy, pumpkins, costumes... and an excellent excuse to drink too much.

On the night of the 30'th I got a group of friends together for a liqueur tasting and some spicy pumpkin soup. Almost everyone had a similar reaction to the liqueurs: the raspberry was the best, followed by the pomagranite, followed by the ginger vodka. Nobody liked the apple caramel, and the strawberry was unspectacular. Boyfriend liked the ginger vodka the best, though, and refused to have anything to do with the apple caramel, while BeerSnob tasted a few things, made faces, and ate all my goat cheese. Bastard.

At my party, which was a complete success, the strawberry was the most popular, followed by GrogLass's limoncello, which I have yet to taste. I was busy keeping people from breaking things and drinking key lime cocktails. My recipe is as follows:

2 oz vanilla vodka
1/2 oz rose's lime or fresh lime juice or whatever you have handy. Limecello might also be good for bonus alcohol points.
1/2 oz frangelico
1 oz cream
shake over ice, strain into martini glass rimmed with crushed graham crackers. Lacking graham crackers, I usually rimmed it with cinnamon and sugar instead. It was quite tasty.

Yay tasty things! Anyway, I was surprised at the number of people who showed up, and the great costumes some of them had. GrogLass and BeerSnob were, respectively, a dinosaur and the meteorite that killed the dinosaurs. Boyfriend put together a remarkable Fidel Castro costume out of crap he brought from WalMart. My good friend Hootie McBoob was an extremely attractive gray devil, which only got more awesome when another good friend, I'll call him Mr. India, showed up in a business suit with horns and red facepaint. Apparently they used the same purple lipstick.

I had people bring booze with them, and in some cases this was extremely awesome. I mentioned GrogLass's limoncello earlier. We were concerned about the quality, because it did not age at all and she had left the pith on the lemon peels. This did not matter at all, because someone got the brilliant idea to mix it with ginger ale. It disappeared, mostly into Mr. India's stomach. Another friend, Thom the Bhomb, had the unfortunate idea to bring jello shots. Well, really it was a big bowl full of boozey jello with a bunch of spoons in it. Terrible idea. Far too attractive to the already drunk.

Today was the continued cleanup. I have a metric crapton (or do I mean crapliters?) of booze left over. Unfortunately some of that is Miller Lite. Oh well. It'll get drunk in the fullness of time.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Jazz and wine and halloween

So it's intensely weird to eat at a restaurant where you wait tables. You see your boss and coworkers out of the corner of your eye and you're all "oh dammit I forgot to polish the big wine glasses aga... wait... wait..."

Even so, tasty stuff. I had a decent glass of red and a really excellent white burgundy. I don't know if it was really 12.50 a glass excellent... but it was certainly delicious. Very smokey. The jazz band was pretty awesome too.

Tonight I clean more for the party. The fun part will be dragging the table for beer pong into the basement in such nasty weather. Then I must acquire Red Cups and ping pong balls. At some point I am going to carve a pumpkin. I have a scene planned out of the Slender Man sneaking up on an unsuspecting person on his creepy legs. I'm going to need to find the right pumpkin for it.

I am somewhat disappointed in myself that I never made the pumpkin pie liqueur... it would have taken ages and breaking down pumpkins is so time consuming... so of course I'm going to do it in Friday to make my spicy pumpkin and sweet potato soup. Because what *else* would I do?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Rheingau Riesling Rocks

Nothing makes you want to drink more than waiting tables. If the service industry does not turn one into a raging misanthrope, it certainly turns one into an alcoholic. I enjoy working large parties, because most of the time people are so busy chatting with each other that they forget if I screw something up. Unfortunately tonight I was the only waiter who spoke English reliably. The others spoke only French. I was the only native English speaker in the entire staff that night, actually. It's depressing. I can't imagine how it feels to be in an entire country like that, divided off by language all the time.

Actually I can. I grew up in Germany. I learned enough German to get by, but I could only actually make friends with the other Army brats. Still, what a beautiful place to grow up in! We lived in a small town by the Rhein in a red sandstone castle (not kidding) within walking distance of the vinyards. We used to run around the vines and generally irritate the vintners as kids. It was good times.

It is impossible to get Eltville whine in America. They don't export it. This is a sadness for everyone who loves sweet riesling or spaetlese wines. It's hard enough to find good Rheingau wines at all, most riesling seems to come from the Mosel valley or somewhere in heathen France. I updated about our last bottle of Rheingau riesling earlier in the blog and was unimpressed, but my mother managed to find a bottle of riesling from a vinyard only a few miles down the road from our village: Schloss Vollrads.

I am not normally a fan of sweet wines. I find that most rieslings taste either like honey or vinegar. This, however, is very tasty.

It has a faint, fall appley smell. It is a very sharp wine, light bodied and  almost feels like it's pinching your tongue. It tastes like apples that have been macerating in sugar. It is a very fall drink, it conjures up images of fires, blankets, and early snows. I am enjoying it.

This weekend should have been much more interesting in terms of bottles being opened. it was MetalChef's 21st birthday party, after all. I gave him a gift of the cinnamon-apple infusion (formerly the apple-botulism infusion) and we all had a bit of a taste. Wow it was good. I probably over-sweetened it, which is unfortunate 'cause I definitely don't have a record of how much simple syrup I actually used. The cinnamon aftertaste was strong, almost, but not quite, overpowering. I almost think I should have used a stronger tasting apple. I used a Fiji apple when I should have used Granny Smith. I hate eating Fiji apples though, while if there is a Granny Smith available I am probably already eating it.

Anyway, the big problem at that party was that I decided to layer a bottle of hard cider on top of questionable alfredo, which was itself layered on top of a knot of seething, unthinking rage. This is not a recipe for success, and I found myself quite unable to continue drinking after a bottle and a half of cider. What a shame.

On Saturday I had an overly sweet margarita sno-cone at the Greene Turtle in Ocean City with the Boyfriend after watching Zombieland, which was a surprisingly excellent movie.  There was an exceptional band playing there called Pompous Pie. They were not exceptional for their music, which was decent, rather for the volume at which it was played. For some reason the Greene Turtle on Rt. 611 feels that they need to provide music for the entire eastern shore, and turns up their speakers appropriately. I just want to have a terrible boat drink and chat, you bastards!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Party with Stark

Today I went to Corridor and my wallet cried. This is what I got:

Miller Lite (for beer pong)
Yuengling (for dranking the drank)
Rum (silver and gold)
Drego Azul tequila (and the gross-ass margarita mix I like)
Stoli Vanilla vodka
Silver vodka
Vampire cabernet
Two Big Cheap Bottles Of Wine (when they are this cheap you pronounce it "whaan")

So god damn. God damn. God damn.

I wonder where I am going to keep all this?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

goddamn goons. goddamn slender man.

I make poor decisions. Today's poor decision was to read all the Slender Man stories on Something Awful. After watching the first few Marble Hornets episodes. I am now jumping at movement in my peripheral vision. Luckily I own a parrot, so screeching and giggling sounds are so standard in my life that I can't even notice. And so I turn to wine and terrible German pop to drive the distressing images out of my mind.

Last night I had a large party of people order a large quantity of red meat. They ordered three bottles of red and one bottle of white, and proceeded to drink all the red and half of the white, so I liberated the bottle. It is another white burgundy wine, I can't find the grape varietal, and it is tangy and tropical and kind of delightful for sitting open in my fridge overnight.

I also decanted the apple-caramel and the raspberry infusions. They both smell *amazing.* I flavored the raspberry with a metric crapton (about a half cup) of simple syrup and dropped some food coloring in there to turn it a beautiful, dark-dark red. I made knockoff chambord! Yay me! I have no idea how I am going to use this stuff at my party. I guess people can drink the apple-caramel stuff like a martini, maybe with a rim of cinnamon-sugar. I think I'll mix the raspberry stuff with the pama knockoff and add... something else, maybe just straight up pomegranate juice... and call it Persephone's Tears. Suggestions?

Monday, October 19, 2009


Okay first? To hell with the GREs. They are useless as tools to determine suitability for graduate study. I have an undergraduate degree, graduated cum laude, and completed an undergraduate thesis and a separate comprehensive exam, and to hell with you I don't need to retake the SATs to prove my academical worth!

But yeah I got a pretty good score so go me!

In other news, it's booze-buying week for the Halloween Shindig. My paycheck is pretty much going to determine what sorts/how much I am providing. I know that there will be beer and wine and probably some basic stuff like vodka, rum, and tequila... we shall see!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Big Post! Many pictures!

I have been procrastinating updating this blog because I have been pretending to study for the GREs. There is something really peculiar about a single exam that may determine the next three to six years of my future. I do not like it one bit.

So lets start with the oldest news! It is MetalChef's birthday party this coming Friday, so I made him a present! 

Yes, that is the apple-botulism infusion. It does not actually have any botulism in it.

Check out those tasty, vodka-filled apples! They look tasty to me! But I nibbled one and wanted to die, and that was my lesson in "looks are deceivingly full of vodka."

Next I put the apples in some cheesecloth and squeezed them like they owed me money, or perhaps were dating my younger sister.

Now for some cinnamon simple syrup! which is made exactly like the regular type of simple syrup, except you throw a stick of cinnamon in there.

All together now! I'm still trying to find a good way to bottle it for gift-giving purposes, so it looks less like moonshine and more like the tasty apple pie schnapps that it is. we shall see, we shall see.

I also checked out my other infusions and decided that the pomegranite one wasn't looking too good after about a week, so obviously it needed to have the berries swapped.


See how the berries are all white and pale? The liquid looks a lot darker in that picture than it was. It was a very pale pink, not anywhere near the deep red I wanted for my Pama knockoff. So obviously it was time for a new pomegranite.

This pomegranite was about twice the size of the first one and had twice the berries. Cutting open pomegranites is always kind of fun because you can pretend to be sacraficing hearts on an alter. Or maybe that's just me, I don't know.

That is MUCH nicer, isn't it? Now, this was some time last week. I can't quite recall. I *believe* it was before Texas showed up. hopefully these things will be all nice and tasty for my Halloween Party.

Now I could start talking about Pub Dog, but that's BeerSnob's schtick and I'll let him have it. Suffice it to say that I got a Blonde Dog beer and it was tasty, refreshing, and four dollars.

The more interesting news is that I went over to the B's house last night. I've known these people for pretty much my entire conscious lifetime. They are good people and dangerously fun to drink with. By the time I came over they and my parents had already finished off the better part of two bottles of wine, though I got the last glass of a pretty unspectacular muscadet. The one we have at work is honey sweet and kind of super gross. This one tasted like lemons. It was tart and kind of nice for that, but it had a completely different flavor profile than I was expecting. It was okay with the foie gras (they left me a piece, thank god. I was both starving and REALLY looking forward to eating that stuff), but not as good as the vouvray they had before I showed up. I love vouvray even though I normally avoid sweet whites.

With dinner, which was some sort of delicious Indian-inspired roll-up, there was a tasty cotes du rhone. Cotes du Rhone always makes me want lamb or rib eye or some other super flavorful red-meat.

I brought with me a bottle of that Marques de Caceres rose, because Mrs. B introduced me to the joys of dry rose wine and she loves it probably more than I do. Everyone loved it. I'm going to have to go to Corridor and find out how much it is a case. It is extremely flavorful for a pink wine and is liked by pretty much everyone I've given it to.

So tomorrow I've got these GREs, so I'm going to pop off and study for those. Tomorrow expect to hear a complete rant about how much I loathe them and why I think I should have gotten a higher score.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Back to booze-ness (get it it sounds like business haha)

At work today I finally broke down and bought myself some potato-leek soup to take home with me. I made an EXCELLENT choice. I have said before and I'll say it again: I will eat anything made by Chef or Jaime, even if I normally hate it. I usually won't eat veal because, well, it's kind of cruel, but Chef made a veal stew with french fries and it was the greatest thing I have ever put in my mouth oh my god. "Wait," you might say, "you don't order veal because it's cruel, but you order foie gras every time you get the chance. You hypocrite!" It's not hypocrisy. I just hate birds and want them to suffer.

ANYway with this soup I am drinking a small glass of Chateau de Rochemorin sauvignon blanc, and it is wonderful. I find it to be very herbal and crisp. It is dry and high in acidity, and my father thinks it has some cork in it. I wouldn't know. I haven't been drinking wine long enough to experience a "corked" bottle.

Speaking of cork, what is up with this cork debate? Suddenly I'm opening bottles with plastic corks, or worse, screw tops! Now, I secretly like the screw tops because I lose my wine key at least twice a day, but absentmindedness aside... this is... not good. Cork is a recyclable, biodegradable and renewable material. Cork trees are not damaged by the harvest, and they have this awesome tendency, as most plants do, to grow. But no, because one bottle in a thousand gets some nasty-nast in it due to a bad cork (I don't know the real statistic) we have decided to go all crazy for alternative bottle closures. "The screw tops are recyclable stark!" No, no they're not. The metal bit is, but to actually recycle that metal bit, you have to strip away that rubber piece that provides a true seal. It is not cost effective to recycle bottle caps. And the plastic tubes? Sure, they provide a better seal, have no risk of ruining the bottle, and they maintain the full, poncy wine-pouring ritual. Lovely. Except it's more goddamn plastic that is not going to get recycled.

I'd call this entry "stark goes green" but the image that brings up of Iron Man retooling his suit to lower emissions makes me giggle too much.

I have some pictures for infusion reports that I'd love to post here, but I can't freakin' find the calbe for my camera. So that'll happen in a more different post.

Oh, it's also my good friend MetalChef's 21st birthday tomorrow. Everybody say happy birthday!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Seriously, I'm not an alcoholic.

I'd just like to make it clear, since there is apparently debate over this. This blog is about booze, not about my daily life, so I really only update it when there has been some sort of event in boozing. It's a biased sample, see? I'm out of college now, I don't do the "hey let's get shitfaced" thing anymore. I didn't do it MUCH back then... though there were a few evenings spent worshiping the porcelain idol that I wish I could take back. And that one naked time, but hey, it was MayDay. NO REGRETS.

Alcohol is a poison. No, I'm not screwing with you. It is an antibiotic, and guess what? You are biotic. Congrats, you're poisoning yourself! But it's okay, right? Right. Sure. Be responsible and don't act like your trying to become the Saint of Liver Damage (hey T, how's the hangover?) and you should be fine. It is also worth knowing exactly how alcohol works in the body.

Everyone knows that alcohol is a diuretic, right? It makes you pee. That's what the whole "breaking the seal" thing is about. If you take a moment to notice you will see that you almost always pee clear after you've been drinking. Of course, after enough drinking you'll pee blood... which is actually related.

Alcohol (along with other diuretics) shut off your kidneys. The kidney is built to function like a filter: it sucks all the water out of your urine, leaving behind all the nasty metabolites and toxins you ingest throughout the day. Our kidneys are pretty good at that, but we always lose SOME water. Desert mice (Muad'dib!) have such powerfully salty kidneys that their urine is actually a solid. The more you know, right? Even without getting into the drama of kidney failure, which can happen, it means you're losing a lot of water, which gets you nasty dehydrated and gives you the headache and light sensitivity of a hangover.

The muscle fatigue and nausea portion of the hangover come from the first metabolite of alcohol: acetaldehyde (any medical student can correct my spelling, or even my entire post). Acetaldehyde is poisonous and unpleasant, and in some people it can stay in the body for hours. Do you know someone who doesn't show that they are drunk for a long while, and who tends to get hangovers BEFORE they go to bed, not the next morning? These people likely have an excess of the enzyme that breaks alcohol down into acetaldehyde. These people are also the most likely to become alcoholics, and should be the most cautious of their drinking.

Acetaldehyde stays in your system for much longer than you would like it to, but it does go away. If I recall correctly, it is metabolized into salicylic acid and peed away.

This is all recalled from memory of a class in health psychology taught by a recovered alcoholic. I *can* back up any statements with the appropriate literature, though it would take me time and effort, and if enough people bitch at me I might do it. Of course, if I find out I was wrong on any point I'd correct it.

There *are* people out there with less sensitive systems. You might be one of them. However, unless you have been tested for Extremely Awesome Liver and Kidney Function, it is not safe to assume that you are in the minority.

Everyone knows someone who fits the DSM-IV-TR's definition of alcoholism. Hell, I may very well BE that person for some of you. However, there is usually a pretty obvious distinction between enjoying drink and having an inappropriate relationship with alcohol. If you know someone who you think is developing a drinking problem, talk to them about it. Encourage them to seek help. Don't be afraid of seeming pushy or obnoxious, you might save a life.

The website for Alcoholics Anonymous is here:
For those who prefer a less religious organization, the website for Rational Recovery is here:

Drink for the joy of it, drink with friends, drink with caution and awareness.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A very "meh" weekend.

 First, let's get on-topic. I have a bottle of Kendall-Jackson chardonnay here, and it is quite tasty. Not sweet, sort of off-dry. It has a cranberry sort of tartness and a lightly floral aroma and is heavier and spicier than a lot of whites I've been drinking. I also threw together a caramel-apple and a ginger snap infusion, but since I don't have pictures of them I won't bother talking about them much.

Other than the wine, this weekend was not a successful alcohol weekend. I had a tasty tequila sno-cone on friday at DuClaw, where Boyfriend drank an extremely disappointing beer. BeerSnob may disagree, but both Boyfriend and I found the Hellraiser IPA to be a one-note failure as a beer.

Of course, we then went on to drink Keystone Lite at the college, where Boyfriend's friend was having his 21st birthday. What an epic shitshow that was. The birthday celebrant was blacked out by 5 pm, but somehow managed to stagger to the bar at midnight for his birthday round. We have received word that he is not, in fact, dead of alcohol poisoning, nor did he have to get his stomach pumped. Good job, dude.

Things like that make me really glad I had my 21st birthday in a foreign country where no one knew me nor cared to know me. My flatmate threw a party and trashed the apartment, and I drank a few beers at an Brog, but that's about it. Not very interesting, but there was no horrifying intoxication. Granted, I experienced horrifying intoxication later during a pub crawl in England, but I feel fortunate that I escaped the stereotypical 21st birthday shitshow.

Also, WOW is alcohol expensive in restaurants. One of my tables tonight easily ordered a hundred and fifty dollars worth of wine, knocking back overpriced by-the-glass selections like it was their job. I love it when people do that, because it means I get paid for watching the bartender work, but seriously. Where are these people working where they make enough money to spend that much on a night of not-immoderate drinking? Can I have their jobs? Please?

I have become a huge fan of ordering one or two drinks and a dessert in restaurants. The bill stays low and I am satisfied.

Friday, October 9, 2009

I have a confession to make.

 Sometimes I pretend to be classy, which is probably a mistake to begin with. Some of my friends make the mistake of believing me to actually BE classy, since you know I drink wine and all and wine is apparently classy when you are twenty-two. Unfortunately my lies crumble when I order mixed drinks in the summer time.

My name is Stark and I adore blended margaritas. With sugared rims. They are delicious tequila sno-cones and that is just about the best thing ever. You know what's worse? I like them with cheap tequila and even cheaper Margarita Mix from a plastic jug. Make my own sour mix? Naaaah. Too much trouble. Got to squeeze all them lemons. Besides, this way they are a pleasant green color usually associated with radioactivity, or maybe Denarians.

I also am now incapable of drinking spiced rum after a night of ill-advised consumption, during which there may or may not have been public nudity (woo college). This really appears to have spread to all forms of brown liquor, excepting firefly vodka, naturally. This means that when all of my manly friends are ordering Jack/rum and cokes or  scotch and ginger ale (boyfriend drinks these incessantly. I think they smell like paint thinner) I get a fruity pomegranite martini and contempt.

It could be worse, though. I drank a chocolate martini once in a gay bar in Philly. Never again. That stuff made me understand what it must be like to be diabetic.

I redeemed myself on that trip, though, by going to a fabulous bar called the Apothecary, which specializes in amazingly creative savory cocktails, such as the Booty Collins, the Sage Wisdom, and the Aviation. The Booty Collins comes in a pint glass, is lemon yellow, and tastes like delicious hate due to the cayenne pepper they put into it. The Sage Wisdom comes with cinnamon and a sage leaf and really does look like a potion. It is dusty green and opaque with a layer of sage foam, and it tastes, well, like sage and cinnamon.

Personally I liked the Clever Club, which was made with raspberry, simple syrup and egg whites and some manner of liquor. It was mild and fruity, the way I like them. I love me my sissy drinks. That is my confession.


In unrelated news, my parents recently returned from France (pronounced "fraynst") and brought with them amazing things. Mother brought back three bottles of wine, a pink champagne, an Alsatian pinot gris, and some manner of Cotes du Rhone (The bottle is in French, you see, and I can't read it. It's a problem). My father brought back six cans of foie gras. Holy science. This  is going to be an awesome weekend.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I am an idiot.

Okay so I read Uzumaki yesterday while eating spirals mac & cheese from a bowl with a spiral pattern on it, you know, for bonus points, and I found it far less frightening than either Gyo or Amigara Fault, both of which gave me distressing nightmares. I thought that I would be totally fine with everything. And then today I decided to eat a slice of portobello mushroom.

Now, I used to hate mushrooms. The texture is gross. I started eating them at work because they are vegetable matter and I don't eat enough vegetables. I grew to like them, even though they are kind of like eating slugs. I would think "mmm delicious balsamic slug nom nom nom" as I ate them.

While I was thinking this I recalled the part of Uzumaki where the gang member crawls inside the snail persons shell and starts eating his face raw. He comes out and describes it vividly before doing whatever weird spiral-possessed thing he did. I was immediately sick to my stomach and had to throw away the rest of the mushroom. Even holding it in my hand was disgusting to me.

So I guess what I'm trying to say here is SCREW YOU ITO JUNJI, YOU TWISTED BASTARD.

In other news I'm thinking of starting Rising Mind in a new blog, because that would be pretty cool, right?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

How To Suck Less

Today's episode of How To Suck Less involves nasty restaurant patrons. I have a lot of names for people who are rude to waiters and waitresses, many of them I will not repeat because my mother reads this blog and will already be vexed with me for saying "suck." I will settle for calling them Nasty People.

In the service industry you learn to pick up on which tables are going to be friendly and which are going to be nasty almost as soon as people walk through the door. Often you are pleasantly wrong: the woman had a sour face on because they had hit a squirrel on the way there; the man was looking grumpy because he bruised his shin on the car door. Or maybe they are just not chatty. These people will be brusque but not impolite. They just want their food and their drinks, please. No problem. These people Do Not Suck.

Nasty People are rude to wait staff, impatient with bussers, intensely particular about their food, and usually above the age of 50. OR they are creepy old men who want to touch the waitresses. Ew.

Everyone deserves a standard of service in a restaurant. Everyone who walks through the door will be treated professionally. This means a smiling waiter, getting the right food at the right temperature, and reasonably prompt service.

So here are the steps you can take to Suck Less and get better service in a restaurant.

1. Be patient with your server.
Look around you. Is the restaurant packed? If yes, then your waiter is probably slammed and will get to you as soon as you can. The phrase "When you get a chance... could you _____" will get you what you want MUCH faster than "I need _______." If you want it right away, show patience. If the restaurant is not packed but the waiter is still not showing up, it is acceptable to say "what was the hold up?" In the right tone of voice this is not a mean thing, and if the waiter knows that he or she was at fault, it could get you a discount.

2. The waiter has nothing to do with the food.
If you ordered a strip steak but got lamb? That is a waiter screw up, send it back. If you do not like the taste of what you ordered? Whatever, send it back, but don't blame the wait staff. We do not cook your food. We do not have anything to do with your food. We take the order and then translate it for a bunch of Hondurans and Frenchmen. It is not easy.

3. Don't lie about knowing the manager.
Personally I love it when this happens, because my boss will actually show up at the table and cheerfully embarrass you. Don't lie to us, we know when you're doing it.

4. Don't skeeve out on the waitresses.
Yes. Your waitress is flirting with you. It comes with the territory. Casually flirting with dads is how we make good tips. This is a business strategy, not a sign of actual interest. There is an old gentleman at my restaurant who we will call Phil, because that is his name, and he is a Class A Skeeveball. The last time I spoke with Phil he invited me to his timeshare in the Carribean, invited me for drinks, asked me to walk with him around the lake, and tried to convince me that my boyfriend lived too far away. When our 17-year-old bussgirl mentioned that she was Jewish to him, he immediately invited her out for drinks, and then said if she needed extra cash, she could come clean his house. If Phil is in the bar she will avoid it like the plague. None of the waitresses will make eye contact with him willingly. He also harrasses the jazz singer.

4a. If you are going to skeeve out on the waitresses, tip well.
Phil tips 15% max. If you're going to try to put your hands on the waitress, tip her at least 20%. It might make her reevaluate her previous desire to poison you.

LUCKILY the people who do not understand these four points make up the minority of restaurant patrons. In fact, the only person who breaks rule 4 on a regular basis is Phil. There are awesome people, and eventually I will post about How To Rock as a restaurant patron. This will probably not be right after work.

In better news, that languedoc BossMan gave me only got more delicious over a couple days. I'm drinking the last of it now, and the basil is really coming through. Also Boyfriend is coming over this weekend, along with Texas, who is my sisters boyfriend. This will be interesting since they are both conservative and my sister and I are very liberal. I imagine they will begin by comparing guns, which seems to be the butt-sniffing ritual of the modern conservative.

Monday, October 5, 2009


It is time for another episode of STARK MAKES STUFF! Again with the pictures! My god!

Today we are making raspberry vodka and pomegranite liqueur. Let us begin.

Now, raspberry season is so far over that it is not even funny, and pomegranite season really hasn't started yet, so why the hell did I decide to make these? Simple. I had money and the store had pomegranites and raspberries. They also had pumpkins, but the more I think about it the less I want to dig into a pumpkin right now. So here we go.

A big ol' jug of vodka is what you want. Yes, it's ten dollars more expensive than the 750 ml bottle. Yes, that's STILL a better deal. 22 dollars for 1.75 liters vs. 12 dollars for a 750 ml bottle? Is there a question here? Okay, if you've only GOT 15 bucks to spend, go for the 750, but it's almost always worth your money to get a bigger bottle.

Recepticles prepared! Yes, I actually bought some smirnoff raspberry twist. It was nasty. This shit tastes like Red Flavor and smells like Blue Raz soda. Screw it.

Fill that thing with raspberries! Real ones! These were super goopy 'cause they were overripe. Ew.

Now fill it with vodka! HOORAY VODKA!

That's about all we can do with the raspberry for now. It needs to rest. Now let's move on to the pomegranite.

People give Maryland blue crabs a lot of shit for being a lot of work for very little food. These people have obviously never eaten pomegranites before. The ratio of edible material to nonedible material is pretty freaking low. That said, they are delicious and if you have never had one then you are living a sad and deprived life.

Break your pomegranite down, fill the jar with vodka. Easy steps here, folks. Avoid getting any of the bitter pith into the jar. I was super anal about that, and so it took me about half an hour to fully break down the pomegranite. I ate a lot of the seeds. They were DELICIOUS.

What's that? You have vodka left over? WELL HOT DAMN! Thinly slice half an apple and snap a cinnamon stick in half and toss them in that jug! I would usually prefer not to use plastic for an infusion, but hey. When life gives you a plastic jug o' vodka, make an apple pie infusion. Woohoo!

The end results. These are my infusions. Apple-cinnamon, raspberry, pomegranite, apple-botulism, and strawberry. The apple-botulism infusion has been sitting there since June 30, and is really hard to open. I probably shouldn't drink it, but I know I will.

And now time for a snack!

Those of you who are even classier than I am will be asking "Stark, why are you drinking a spicy languedoc vintage with apple slices and chocolate? That is the worst pairing ever." You people are correct, it is a horrible pairing but the picture is pretty so go away. Actually it works pretty well with the tart apples, but the chocolate was a poor decision on my part. The wine was given to me after I waited on a large party of wine reps at the restaurant. I love the wine reps, they are good people.

So I think all of y'all (the three of you who will read this) should make infusions too. They are embarassingly easy, and a good way to turn cheap, nasty vodka into premium, delicious vodka.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Oh christ on a crutch I just dropped over three hundred bucks on a plane ticket why did I do that oh god I am so very broke aaargleblargleblargle

But hey! Puerto Rico! It is where the rum has gone! I look forward to drinks made with three parts bacardi to one part coconut milk and pineapple. I also look forward to iguanas, because iguanas are awesome and, apparently, edible. I plan to cook one. Anyone know how to cook an iguana?

I'm getting ahead of myself.

So Boyfriend's family has this three bedroom apartment in Luquillo. I've been there once before and it was awesome, but I was much shyer at that point in my life, and missed out on some good times. THIS time, I am going in armed with a basic Spanish vocabulary picked up from the Hondurans at my restaurant. I shall also be going with an excellent cast of characters, such as BeerSnob, his girlfriend GrogLass, and Mr. Boyfriend's fraternity brother, Brosef. This promises to be an entertaining mix. There shall be scuba, snorkeling, swimming, and the dedicated swilling of rum.

This is going to be awesome. I can't wait.

In considerably less interesting news, I'm slowly making my way through a bottle of Ferngrove Symbols this week. It's a Viognier/Shiraz blend and it basically tastes like red wine. It has some pleasant nuttiness to it, and a clean aftertaste, but those are masked by astringent alcohol vapors. Drinkable, but not the kind of wine you drink a large quantity of at once.


It is similar to the recipe below, except it involves frangelico instead of midori and like double the unsweetened lime juice. VERY TASTY

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Drink Recipes! Hooray!

Yeah, I don't have a title for today.

I had every intention of having this post be all about my original psychoactive drink of choice: coffee. Unfortunately my attention waned at the restaurant today when I was told to bring out a plate of mushroom compote crepes with foie gras and carmelized pears to my boss. Oh god, the smell was so heavenly... I love foie gras. It is cruel but delicious. I get it maybe once a year, twice if I'm lucky. This is for the best, since too much of it would likely make me gras myself.

I was also told of an Amish market that opened up in Laurel that I shall have to visit. Tim the Fabulous recommended it to me. I need to get some pumpkins and some good spices for my next infusion, as well as maybe some fatty goose liver to satisfy these new cravings. Of course, I'd have to take a dollar over to the candy counter and get a metric crapton of candy like I used to do when I was little.

Speaking of candy, it must be near to Halloween because the air just smells like candy. Two days ago it smelled like peanut butter cups. Then it smelled like hersheys. Best. Synaesthetic experience. Ever.

In booze news, I found a cocktail recipe on Something Awful (I lurk) that I MUST share. In fact, I may be forced to edit this post as I read through the cocktail thread there, so that I can keep all of my favorite ideas together.

Key Lime Cocktail
2 parts vanilla vodka
1 part Midori or other melon flavored liqour
1.5 part heavy cream
1 part roses lime

Place all ingredients in a shaker and shake like hell. You want to incorporate enough air into it so that it becomes creamy, and whips the cream. Pour into a martini glass that is rimmed with crushed graham cracker.

I had a simplified version of this at the rumor mill as just a shot. This sounds badass. I have a bottle of cheap melon liqueur in my car that I may have to open. Though it's two years old and has spent much of its life in my trunk... it's probably gross now.

Purple Haze Martini
2oz Stoli Raz
1/2 Blue Curacao
splash of cranberry juice.

Shake and strain Blue Curacao and vodka with plenty of ice into a martini glass. Sink the cranberry juice into the bottom of the glass.

Hot damn this one sounds good. Also very pretty! I should make more raspberry liqueur before making this though, 'cause that'll be cheaper.

And the drink with the most excellent name is...
Alien Orgasm
2/3oz Amaretto
2/3oz Midori
2/3oz Peach Schnapps
Fill rest with 1/2 orange juice, 1/2 pineapple juice 

Apparently I'm all about Midori today with the drinks I'm selecting.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Strawberry infusion. Lots of pictures!

My strawberry infusion has been steeping since sometime around August 18th. The berries have gone the desireable gray color you see here. I'm going to do a step-by step thing here, because I can. Also I like to pretend to know what I'm doing.

It smelled heavenly when the berries were still in the bottle, but that probably was just the berries being delicious. I got them from a farmers market, and as many of them ended up in my mouth as in the bottle when I began this infusion a month ago.

Okay. So set up your space. You have your infusion, a strainer, a clean, white t-shirt, a bowl to strain the vodka into, and a new bottle. The bottle was originally a lemonade bottle. I took it home from my restaurant when it was finished, sterilizing it first in the restaurants steam cleaner and then in my own dishwasher, you know, for paranoia purposes.

If you own any pets, they will immediately swarm around your legs at this point. If you own a large bird, get him out of the kitchen, because he will fluff as much as possible and get feathers in your vodka. At least, that's what this little bastard did.Cyrus is evil and hates all that is good in the world.

Now pour your vodka through the strainer and t-shirt.  The t-shirt ensures minimal sediment in your final product.Try to get those strawberries all out of the bottle. You will want to squeeze out every last drop of tasty, tasty alcohol from those berries. Also this lets you recycle the bottle. Recycling is important, kids!

Once you have all of the vodka in your bowl, it is time to taste! Get out your classiest shot glass, or in my case the most classified one. Now, the delightful smell earlier really was all a function of the berries. The long steeping took a lot of the harshness out of the cheap, cheap vodka I used, but it still tasted sort of like grass. Look at that pretty color though!

I have a huge sweet tooth, so I sweetened this with a quarter cup of simple syrup. No pictures of this step because making simple syrup is just about the most boring task in the world. I then spent about fifteen minutes hunting for a funnel, because I'm an idiot and forgot about it at the beginning.

The bottle is now in the basemant. We have a room in the basement where the temperature stays around the mid 60's, which is just about perfect for my purposes. It will stay there for about another month, at which point I shall do another taste report. Hooray!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Weekend Wangst and Renfest Ranting

I am not a romantic person. I used to be, but I am not any longer. I do not believe in true love, painless relationships, or fairytale endings. I do my best not to get soppy about idle things like boyfriends.

I am in a long distance relationship with a guy I met in college. We first met when his roommate drunkenly cartwheeled through my locked and dead-bolted dormroom door. He assured me, looming and loud, that he was not drunk at all, that he was just keeping Roomie from killing himself. Yeah, okay large bearded man. You smell like a distillery. Get out of my doorway.

Our relationship in college was just about perfect. We had our own groups of friends, we could go hang out with others and return to one another in the evening. It's harder now that he's three hours away. He visits me on weekends, or I visit him, when I have weekends off. I work in a restaurant, I don't usually have weekends free. He works in publishing. He only has weekends free. Badass, huh?

"Oh to hell with you, Stark." some would say. "Three hours? Only on weekends? What about the folks with family in the military? What about the people whose loved ones are journalists halfway around the globe?" to these people I say "oh screw off. Just because other people have it worse doesn't mean it suddenly doesn't suck."

These issues now addressed I feel that I have kvetched sufficiently and shall immediately return to my topic.

The Maryland Renaissance Festival may be best treated like a giant outdoor theme pub with a heinous cover charge. That's how I like it, at least. One goes to drink the cheap beer (or hardcore cider in my case. I loves me the cider) and socialize. The Boyfriend always gets sulky at the renfest, because they have not had a new act there in decades and all my friends want to do is see Hack and Slash for the millionth time. I do not exaggerate. They see every show at every time slot every time they go. They recite the lines along with the actors. I know it's ritual and all, but god damn, Fight School is on at the same time, and they actually do good improv! And they have that one cute guy in a kilt!

So instead of sitting through the same four acts, BeerSnob, Boyfriend and I sat in the various pubs, singing along with the meandering minstrels (they don't really travel, the entire park is only a kilometer squared), and discussed with rising horror the travesties of cleavage that surrounded us. Boobs should not look like tiny, flabby shelves! Ladies, if you want to wear psuedo renaissance gear, you are probably already spending a couple hundred dollars! Do not spend those dollars on gear that makes you look thirty years older (boob-squeezer tops) or like a low class whore (horse tails or fox tails).

Also, if pregnant, please do not wear nothing but a bra and booty short leather armor set. While I understand that motherhood is beautiful and all that nonsense, when you're eight and a half months along... you make BeerSnob cry.

It is also a fact that any drink tastes better coming from a proper mug instead of a plastic cup. So I bought a proper, stoneware quaffing mug. Because if I don't spend money on something idiotic at the renfest I feel I have not had the true experience.

I also got a chance to do a quick wine tasting from a Maryland vineyard. Wow those were some sugary wines. The only one that did not taste like a cordial was the sangria. I have not had a whole lot of experience with my local wineries, there seems to be some kind of prejudice against them right now since they are all so new. It is something I'd like to get more into, there must be someone out there making less syrupy wines.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Morning blech.

It is the morning. I am a morning person. This is a blessing and a curse, as it means I am never late to work. It also means that I cannot luxuriate in bed when I don't have work. Dammit. The TV is assuring me that when I am thinking Chevy, I'm thinking I wonder how they know?

moving on.

Wednesday was a great day for the drink. I am a strong proponent of going out on Wednesday nights. You know you have work the next morning so you won't overextend yourself, and the bar is rarely crowded. Anyway, the evening began at my friend TheIrish's house, where we were setting up characters for a Shadowrun game run by one of these guys. I made a Dwarvish trauma surgeon. Rock on. To this session I brought a bottle of Spanish rose I'd purchased from the Wine Bin. I've mentioned my fanatical love of rose wine before, and this particular bottle was why. Marques de Caceres 2008 Rioja wine. It was clear and very pink, we drank it warmer than we should have. It was very dry as advertised, and it tasted like eating an english muffin with cherry jam. It was tart, buttery, and smooth. Holy crap it was good. Even TheIrish, not normally a wine fan, thought it was good.

After the session, TheIrish and I headed up to Baltimore to meet our friend BeerSnob and go to Max's Tap House. We managed to avoid getting mugged in Fayette Square, even though I gave a guy some crack money. Here is the list of beers I tried.

Spaten Pils
I like a German pilsner. This tasted the way you wish your Game Day case tasted. It was clear, light, refreshing, and gently hoppy. I don't like super hoppy beer because I am a pansy. Boyfriend *loves* himself an IPA though.

Brew Dog Paradox Speyside Scottish Imperial Stout
What a name! Christ, with a moniker like that (and the price it had) this had better be nirvana in a glass. I'm not big on imperial stouts, because if you drink too much stout you become so. I stole tastes from BeerSnob. It smelled like candied walnuts, which is apparently pretty normal. It tasted like letting a chocolate espresso bean melt on your tongue: first sweet, then bitter, then fruity sweet. Okay maybe I'm eating a very strange brand of chocolate espresso beans. I *liked* it,  but for 10 dollars? I'll stick with my pilsner. Thanks.

Original Sin cider
I love cider. While I was in Ireland I was introduced to Bulmers hard cider and it was good. In the states I learned that it's called Magners, and it is still amazing. So I try whatever ciders I can every time I can in the hopes that I'll find something even better. Unfortunately, the best part of Original Sin was the price: 4.00 a bottle as opposed to the insane prices of the More Regular Type Beers. It was sweet like apple juice. There was no pleasing, refreshing dryness. It was a juice box for adults. Disappointing but drinkable. I have still never tasted anything better than Magners for cider.

Del ducato verdi
BeerSnob saw that this beer was listed as an Italian chili stout and went a little crazy. He was raving over how bizarre that is and how much he loved chili-chocolate and all sorts of other madness. I was pretty focused on my buffalo wings and didn't pay him much attention. But *damn* was he right. It was a lot less sweet than the previous stout, with only a hint of chili spice. There was a lot of pepper smell, like bell pepper smell, when you had it in your mouth. The aftertaste lasted for a full minute, changing constantly. One minute it was sweet, then peppery, then bitter, then sugared coffee, then chocolate... It was an experience. A nice one. But again, I don't think I could have had an entire pint of this. It was too intense.

I also tend to be taken aback by the texture of stouts. I want them to be fuller bodied, like a big jammy red wine. I want them to have more carbonated texture. I always am left wanting something else from stouts, they are tasty but not refreshing. To each his own, I suppose.

Anyway, it is Pirate Weekend at the Maryland Renaissance festival. Flask of grog, anyone? Oh hell yeah.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Beer Garden! Hooray!

This blog is devoted mainly to wine. This is because I grew up in a vineyard in Germany and I am more aware of the varieties of wine than I am of the varieties of beer. I won't go so far as to say that wine has more variety, 'cause that would be stupid. I'm just more familiar with wine and I drink it more often.

There are times, though, when wine will not cut it. I was at a Phi Delta Theta crab feast on the Eastern Shore a few days ago, accompanying The Boyfriend. The crabs were barely legal (like, seriously barely 5 inches across), and the beer was Miller Lite.

Christ on a matza, I thought. When The Boyfriend was in charge of things there was Sierra Nevada. Screw that. So I cracked my way through a pile of blue crabs, managed not to rub Old Bay into any cuts (a triumph, as any from my fine state are aware of) and had a fine old time. Somewhere around the 8th crab I realized that it was time for beer. ANY beer. So I paid my two dollars for a cup of nasty beer, and it was perfect. It was awful, watery swill, but it was perfect just the same.

This is a long preamble to a simple fact. There is a beer garden at the Fall Festival for my town. BEER GARDEN.

Now, I know this will not be like the beer gardens of my youth. It will not be a shady grove with tetanus-inducing playground equipment. Nor will it be like the beer gardens I went to in Ireland, where local brewers showed off their wares (Easter beer market at the Franciscan Well was the GREATEST DAY EVER). It will likely be a tent sponsored by the EC Brewery, which is still awesome because they make great beer. I'm covering this event for a magazine, so I will have to post a less formal trip report here.

Beer Garden! Hooray!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


On the list of Things That Are Nasty, I am adding Soda Fountains.

I had the fun task of cleaning the soda fountains at work today. Oh sweet science... the amount of black nasty-nast turned the stomach.  I think it's the first time that thing had been cleaned in a month. Holy shit.

That right there? THAT is why I prefer alcohol. It sterilizes what it is contained in! Of course, one of these days I'm going to have to clean out a beer tap, and that entire theory is going to go up in smoke... but beer is made of friendly delicious bacteria, right? So it's okay!

Also, crap. I left the bottle I was going to put my pumpkin pie infusion in at the restaurant. CURSE YOU CRUEL FATE! Oh well, I needed to buy the liquor for that anyway. Here is my current recipe plan.

750 ml vodka (kutskova again if I can find it. Smirnoff if I can't)
500 mg roasted pumpkin
Steep 3 weeks.
Add 1 vanilla bean
Half stick cinnamon
1 sealed teabag with pumpkin pie spice.
Steep  1 week

Open, taste, sweeten, and age until my halloween party. Give to plebian friends who will not appreciate my genius. Bastards. I'll remember to take pictures of this one, though, as well as the strawberry stuff I plan on opening and sweetening tomorrow. Hooray booze!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Germany vs Australia

There was sushi tonight! I love me some sushi. There was snapper, spicy tuna, fabulous ruby tuna, and yellowtail. Yellowtail is just about my favorite sushi fish ever, and luckily my father agrees.

With dinner we had a delicious Spy Valley Gewuerztraminer. Golden color, lightly floral nose, and fabulous fruit flavors. Tart up front. Sweet like new plums at the finish. I could drink that stuff all night. While the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc from a few days ago was fair to middlin' (as Boyfriend would say), this was truely excellent. It also has a great lable, as you can see.

After dinner, Mom opened the above bottle of Peter Mertes Riesling. It was water clear, with a sour, sulfery scent to it. Not tart. Sour. Like old milk. It the same minerally aftertaste as the sulfer springs in Wiesbaden and Mainz. It was drinkable, much more so than I'm making it sound right now, but it was not all that great. I'd have had that sau blanc (I guess that's just going to be my median for wine) a thousand times over instead of this. The bottle was six years old, so it may have been better a few years ago.

I have also been meaning to mention my favorite bar here: The Rumor Mill, so I guess I should do it now. This place, located in Old Ellicott City behind Bean Hollow, has the friendliest bartenders and the best martinis I ever remember having (there was, after all, the martini bar in London where I blacked out before the first drink. Friends don't let friends drink whiskey during bar crawls). My favorite drink there has to be the key lime pie shot, which I must replicate at some point. Their big schtick is their in-house infusions, which are all excellent, especially the apple cinnamon one. They also have the best creme brulee I have ever tasted. Hands down.

Unfortunately, they are pricy. Worth it, but pricy. Since I am 22 and want to do such wacky things as go to Puerto Rico and have health insurance, I can only go there once every few months. If you're in the area and have money, head on that way.

2008 Beauvignac Syrah, Raspberry infusion

I love rose wine. All roses are delicious to me. There is nothing nicer in the summertime than sitting outside with some Terry Pratchett and a glass of rose. So when I found an open bottle of rose that sells for 30 bucks at my restaurant, I needed to try it.

It was a pale orange-pink color, clear and dry. It had passionfruit and citrus notes, and that flinty taste I like in chilled wines. of these days I'll learn to write about wine descriptively. For now, you'll have to deal with "durr that flinty taste I like."

IN OTHER NEWS I opened the bottle of raspberry liqueur that has been aging in my basement. 500ml of Cheap Vodka + 500mg of raspberries. It steeped for 3 weeks and aged for 3 more.

When I first opened it up it smelled of booze and grass, not attractive scents. I sweetened it with simple syrup so that it tasted like sweet, boozy grass and sent it back to the basement. Two nights ago when I opened it back up it tasted like fabulous raspberry syrup. It wasn't perfect: I should have let it steep for at least another week to take some of that cheap-liquor aftertaste out. But it made for fabulous shots and was gone before I could mix it with anything. That's what you get when you bring good booze to college parties, Stark.

I'd also like to take the time to mention my favorite summer cocktail: the low country iced tea. Firefly sweet tea vodka and lemonade over ice. FABULOUS. Do not, however, under any circumstances drink Firefly by itself. It tastes like ass.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

My father recently went to New Zealand to look at the sort of things that happen in New Zealand, ie, sheep. Around the Waihopai "spy" station there are some pretty spiffy vineyards that put out some pretty spiffy wines. I warned him about what I've read on New Zealand sauvignon blancs, which is that they're overproduced and unexceptional. But the station was having its 20'th anniversary and they were selling bottles of the stuff for cheap with a big white "ANNIVERSARY!" label, so he pretty much had to bring some home.

My (utterly uneducated) impressions:
Sauvignon blanc wines always smell like grape juice to me. The bottle says passionfruit, sherbert, and tropical fruit, but to me I just smelled sugary white grape juice. It was pleasantly light and medium-dry, with a touch of citrus. I enjoyed it, but there was very little to grab onto that made it different from any other sauvignon blanc I've had.

Luckily for me, I'm pretty sure that just means I need to drink more sau blancs!

Testing Blogosphere





Free Hit Counter