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!

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