Saturday, January 30, 2010

Cookies, wine, and Top Gear!

Oh, what a lovely evening!

It's been snowing steadily all day, leaving us with somewhere between five and six inches of the white stuff. On the Eastern Shore where the Boyfriend lives they got around eight inches, which is huge for that part of the state.

The results are in for my wine vs. beer. From my Real Life friends the vote was pretty solidly Beer, except for CollegeMinx who voted for wine on its alcohol content. On the other hand, the delightful folks at the Google coffee shop forum nearly unanimously voted for hard liquor, ranging from vodka belly shots to a G&T. Two votes for wine came in and one for beer... bringing the Wine vs Beer ratio to... 4 votes each (including my own for wine.) Clearly, I am a less competant shit-stirrer than I had previously thought. I really ought to have phrased things better. Perhaps I will try again in a few months.

Mmmmm cookies. I'm drinking a glass of Columbia Crest Horse Heaven Hills Merlot (C2H3M) while they are in the oven, filling the house with their delightful aroma of chocolate and sugar. It's not a good cookie wine, being dry and heavy and full of fruits. I'm getting red delicious apples out of this one, which is strange because I love this wine and I hate red delicious apples (they are not delicious at all).

The B's are coming over with chinese food, and have actually just walked in the door! Time to drink unwise amounts of wine and eat large quantities of MSG!

Thursday, January 28, 2010


So I've decided that what I really need to do is lose some friends by making a BEER VERSUS WINE post. Because as most of you know, I feed on discord like some horrible little Grecian sprite.

On the other hand, most people already know my stance because of what I write about. I like wine. What I want is for people to tell me what they prefer and why, and I can do a happy little write-up about the ensuing arguments. So please, if you read this blog at all, let me know whether you prefer beer, wine, or spirits and why you think it's the best!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Cheap Ass Wine Tasting!

So last night I gathered together some of my closest friends and had a Cheap Ass Wine Tasting!

It was a blind tasting, which means we got to feel especially classy drinking out of paper bags and solo cups that BeerSnob stole from his roomie. The goal of the event was to have everyone bring an under 15-dollar bottle of wine, blind taste them, and when they are revealed we could be all "oh shit! this was delicious and now I know what to buy!" I described it at the time as "when you want to get crunk... classily."

The real class was provided by DesignBroad (no I couldn't think of a better nickname hon it is eight AM and I am hungover), who knows a crapton more about tasting wine than I do. The crunkness was brought most handily by Mr. The Bhomb, who brought his own infusions. His strawberry chocolate smelled amazing and tasted really good, though the cinnamon vanilla SEARED MY MOUTH LIKE THE FIERY WRATH OF GOD.

The apartment was provided by BeerSnob, who also provided a snobby beer for us to try. Rounding off our cast of characters was The Irish, Wellington TNT, and The Crazy. The Crazy's boyfriend, Nerdling 5000, was unable to join us because he was doing something unspeakably nerdy at the time.

So I numbered the bags of wine pretty much at random, but this is what we ended up with, more or less in the order that we drank it. I'm gonna start with


Apparently it's a "Belgian Quad flavored with cherries." Only BeerSnob was able to detect any cherry in this, everyone else was distracted by the literal pockets of yeast that were floating in it. I don't know about you, but I find it rather distressing when I feel like I should have baleen to help drink a beer.

Our first wine of the night was the intensely disappointing and actually kind of creepy STRAWBERRY SPLENDOR
This poured BROWN. Not red. BROWN. Like we're talking dried blood brown. It smelled like jam, it tasted like jam. DesignBroad claimed that it tasted like her dad's homemade strawberry jam, which is far more complimentary than this crap deserved. It tasted fake and overly sweet and seriously gross. We thought that it *might* be an okay gluhwein or mulled wine, but it was so sickly no one but Wellington TNT would finish their tiny pour. After revealing the bottle, we realized that it had "natural flavors added." That's EXACTLY what I want in a wine, eeeeyup!

Moving on from the grossness was wine number two!

 Pretty much everyone liked this, which surprised a few of the people who normally only like reds. It's very citric and very mild. It's dry but not tannic, which The Crazy described as "watery." It's a very easy drinking wine, but not in a bad way. Design Broad thought that it was a very young Chardonnay, "like, Dumbo rides at DisneyWorld young." Turns out that it was some Spanish estate grape that I, in my inebriation, failed to write down. GO ME!

337 Cabernet Sauvignon

The Irish bought this wine entirely based on it looking cool, and it's hard to deny that it looks cool. It smelled extremely sweet with an overlay of alcohol fumes that I've come to associate with Cabernet Sauvignon. There was a distinct fruit flavor, like tart blackberries or black raspberries, and a hint of vanilla that was throwing me off completely. It was one of those wines that smells nothing like the way it tastes. It smelled harsh, but it was pretty mellow. I'm not overly fond of Cabernets, I don't like that alcohol smell, but this was pretty alright.


This smelled a little peppery and a lot sweet. It was a very clear red and had a very mild taste. It was extremely easy drinking, probably too easy. There was almost no aftertaste, which The Irish liked, but it made it very hard to determine what flavors besides "red fruit" were going on in there. It was Pinot Noir with training wheels on, and would serve as a passable introduction to red wine, or something to serve to people who don't normally drink wine but want to be seen drinking it for some reason.


I've reviewed this one before! It was my contribution, along with the white from the same winery, and I loves it. DesignBroad had the typical reaction of someone who has never had a good European dry rose. When people see rose they think "white zinfandel from california fruit bomb sugar 'splosion." This stuff, as I've said before, is buttery, smooth, and dry with a nicely balanced fruit flavor. I have bought it before for 15 bucks a bottle, but found it at a more different liquor store (Jason's on Rt 40 for y'all in the EC) for 9.95. I CAN DIG IT!

Last, and probably least, is the BOHEMIAN HIGHWAY  CALIFORNIA CHARDONNAY
 It's got a great label, I've got to say. Sadly the wine tastes as green as the bottle, and by that I mean it is sauerkraut wine. It seriously tasted like sprouts with sugar on top. It was sickly. My fondness for sauerkraut notwithstanding, this wine needed to go down the drain.

So there you have it! We liked the Marques de Caceres and the 337, and I'd recommend the RedTree if you have a friend who refuses to drink wine. Avoid Goose Watch and Bohemian Highway at all costs, which should not be hard, because all of the wines above were less than ten dollars. Save your wallet: drink cheap wine!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Sleep Madness

So I woke up a little early this morning, and the first thing that crossed my mind was about the Avatar movie. Now, I freakin' loved that movie, but that does not excuse that level of geekery. It has completely taken over my morning.

I think that if I were the mining corporation and had access to all that nifty space stuff and a bunch of locals were causing me untold amounts of trouble... I would leave as promised and come back thirteen years later with an orbital weapon.

Hell, you wouldn't even need to leave. Grab a sufficiently dense piece of rock and drop it from low orbit and watch your strip mining operation get a whole lot easier! (though I guess that would depend on whether or not your metal would "splash" when you crater'd the site) Now, since Pandora orbits a gas giant, it's pretty likely that there's some kind of debris ring as well, which would make it especially perfect for Evil Mining Company to homebrew a Tunguska (or Vredefort, Chesapeake Bay, Popigai... choose your own impact event), since the debris could even supply plausible deniability for the perverse whims of corporate profits!

You know, Stark, I don't think Science works the way you think it works.

All I know for sure is that I have spent WAY too much time on Wikipedia.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Burn Notice!

Burn Notice marathon! Hooray!

I love that show, despite the terrible acting and the complete absurdity. It's not as bad as NCIS, but it's still amazing.

I got to taste some Mouton-Cadet a while back. All three were really good, though I liked the rose best. It was all raspberries, and I do love me some raspberries.

I've also recently found a few recipes for brewing my own deliciousness. BeerSnob sent me a link to a site all about making your own hard cider. I'm really not all that attached to beer, but I adore hard cider. In Ireland, I got to drink Magners on a regular basis, and I have yet to taste any hard cider that stands up to it. Woodchuck makes a variety called 802 which is closer to the mark than anything else I've tried. Still, hard cider is hard to make gross. Even when it's not good it's still sweet and drinkable. This makes me think that I can get away with making it myself!

I have also found a recipe, provided by ICSA, for chicha, which is apparently rainforest potato beer. I asked the Boyfriend, who has spent some time in Ecuador, but apparently it's a Brazillian thing. According to the ICSA entry, it tastes like sweet potato pie, only it's mildly alcoholic and kinda beer-y. So apparently I need to do some serious SCIENCE up in here!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Rising Mind

I am not used to writing about myself. I like fantasies, I like writing about dreams and futures and the pasts of other people. I don't even like reading the stories that have been written about me in the paper. So writing this opening is... difficult. I'm not sure what to say.

This is not a love story. This is not a war story. This is not propaganda or human interest. This is, more or less, how it happened. Some things have been embellished and some things have been left out for the sake of a more interesting tale, but these are secondary. For what it's worth, this is how the Rising Mind came into power. This is how James Recrin and Theodore Hatcher changed the playing field.

Sa'u Si'Clara. My name is Clare. This is how I became a god.


This morning I completed the majority of the work for my application to the University of Maryland school of social work. I celebrated by engaging in my favorite leisure activity: drinking wine and playing pokemon on my sister's game boy.

Oh yeah. I'm classy.

So while I was levelling up my Monferno (ladies) I chose a glass of Terra Barossa Shiraz, partially because I think "shiraz" sounds like a pokemon name, but mostly because it's the bottle that was open. A quick googleing tells me that this brand is part of the Thorn-Clarke winery, which has a really great website. Unfortunately, I'm not tasting any of the chocolate that they mentioned... though there's a hint of it on the aftertaste. This is probably my own fault. First, the bottle was opened two days ago and was left on a part of the counter that gets a good deal of sun. Not ideal. Secondly, I drank some coffee just before tasting it, and so my taste buds are overloaded.

 Normally I'd also list having a cold there, but for some reason, this cold is not touching the usual nose and throat membranes and has gone straight for my inner ear. It's not that bad right now, but every so often I'll look up and the room will come unhinged. Saturday was miserable. We were supposed to go skiing up at Whitetail, but I was having trouble performing such complex tasks as brushing my teeth. Throwing myself off of a mountain seemed to be a bad decision.

I have noticed that I'm not doing so well on the slopes this year. It's been about three years since my last lesson, and I can feel old bad habits kicking in. I'm throwing my heels around to make turns instead of just shifting my weight. Not only is that a waste of energy, it's a pretty useless method of speed control. So, since my efforts are less effective, I'm becoming more timid. So basically I neeed to take another lesson or two.

Hooray! I love skiing! I went with dad right after Christmas, and I'm really excited to get back on a mountain. Of course, I'm supposed to be doing things like "applying for graduate school" and "looking for a job" instead of playing on the slopes... but all work and no play makes Stark a dull girl, right?

Okay now it's time to go battle the leader of Veilistone gym!

Friday, January 15, 2010


The garbage truck's brakes are either very, very new or old and busted. Either way, they are making a sound like the mourning call of a great leviathan. It is much eerier than I approve of this early in the morning.

So it's my birthday next Tuesday. I really have no idea what I plan to do for it, though the idea of doing a cheap-ass blind tasting has crossed my mind. Naturally, I would not be able to actually DO that until February, due to everyone I know being World Travelers (tm). The difficulty of having a birthday in mid-January is that everyone is sort of out of the party spirit. In early January you can ride the New Year wave of partying, and in late January people have generally been rested enough to have a go at it. It does not help that my birthday coincides nicely with the first day of classes for most colleges.

Anyway, all this kvetching isn't furthering my alcoholic blag. Unfortunately, I have not been drinking anything I have not already tasted. Every night so far it has been the Cruz Alta Cabernet, our standard house red. Mom and Dad did open a Syrah last night that I should investigate later, of course.

My mind just can't stay on the dranks that long, mostly because I am busy trying to plan for graduate school. I have enrolled in a class at Howard Community College, which will probably cost me two or three paychecks, since it is a requirement at Maryland's School of Social Work that I have a lifespan development course under my belt. LAME. Could be worse, of course. It could be ANOTHER STATISTICS CLASS AAAAAARGH HATE.

I am also desperately trying to write all of my essays. I am not good at that sort of writing. After NaNoWriMo stripped me of any illusions about the quality of my work, I have come to the conclusion that I am not particularly good at any sort of writing, and should therefore just get on with it. So off I go then.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Is probably me. I could go into all of the things that made me stop posting, such as Nanowrimo and graduate school applications, but none of that is particularly interesting.

Here, however, is the stuff that is cool.

I had a really great Christmas this year, my family came over and we had a nice big dinner of roast beef and other good things. I discovered how amazingly delicious proper Pacific salmon roe is. I do not recall the wine we had with dinner, except that it was delicious and had a horse on the bottle. After having my one allotted glass of the fabulous horse wine, (we didn't have a kids table to stick me at so I had to drink the kids wine instead. So I don't get uppity, you see) I stuck with our typical house red, a pretty tasty Chilean cabernet sauvignon.

I was given a nice bottle of French sparkling wine (not champagne since it didn't come from Champagne) by the restaurant, which we drank while opening presents. The fizz of sparkling wine makes it totally impossible for me to glean any actual flavors other than green apple. In booze related gifts: my sister got me a big glass vodka infuser with a little recipe book. Hooray! I'm going to make another batch of vanilla espresso in it. In non-booze related gifts, I received Settlers of Catan (best board game EVER) and a bunch of badass ski accessories. The Boyfriend gave me a kindle. He is awesome.

My presents to others were pretty much just booze and cookies. I made four Christmas Infusions: Quarante Quatre (44 coffee beans in an orange left for 44 days, which I bastardized by sweetening with orange simple syrup), Vanilla Coffee (my personal favorite. Mix with milk for a crazy delicious latte martini), Apple Cinnamon, and Pomegranate (which I always spell wrong). They all sat for 45 days, but did not have a lot of time to age after sweetening, so if you got some of an infusion by me (and it wasn't the vanilla coffee, which only sat about two weeks and aged plenty) then you should probably let it sit for a while.

And then I went to Puerto Rico.

Oh god, Puerto Rico. I flew down there with Boyfriend, GrogLass, and BeerSnob. It was raining for the first two days, which made for a really awesome and REALLY damp trek to the grocery store a mile away. We acquired two bottles of Castillero del Diablo sparkling wine and a pink cava for new years and for the purpose of mimosas (the classiest breakfast booze). The Diablo wine was dry and apply, with a kind of creepy taste of yeast that is supposedly what you want in good sparkling wine gone flat. GrogLass compared it to drinking bread. The cava was super sweet and gone in pretty much minutes. I love pink wine, even when it tastes kind of like candy.

Boyfriend, being the high roller that he is, bought two bottles of Terrezas de los Andes (I don't speak spanish and probably spelled that wrong), which is his favorite red wine. It is like drinking a bottle of lamb. It has a very peppery smell that I love in Malbecs, and really should be paired with food. Drinking it on its own is still a singular pleasure.

I think he got those bottles almost as an apology for the wine that was left in the house: Undurraga Merlot. It was the thinnest, sourest red I think I've ever had. It did have a kind of neat ginger hint on the nose, but eeeeww. Never again.

After that, it was pretty much rum and tequila. The Bros (who I was tempted to call Patron and Polo, but I won't do that) arrived on the 1st of January, hungover and tired from flying, and I made them a fabulous pina colada by following the directions on the back of the can of coconut milk and adding two rings of pineapple.

It is pretty common knowledge that Bacardi comes from Puerto Rico. This means that, when you go to Luquillo beach, a cheerful, one-armed man at a concessions stand will sell you a Pina Colada that is 3/4 151 for four dollars. It will be the best Pina Colada you will ever drink, because you have just worn yourself out by jumping around in the fabulously blue water (with a viz of like, 10 inches. on a good day. damn tourist beaches) or are simply dry from sunbathing. At one point, GrogLass and I went up to get ourselves cups of rum. I was wearing a secondhand skin (a rashguard, because I get really freakin' cold even in the tropics) and a baseball cap about a size too big for me.

I asked for my pina colada in my best broken spanish: "Pina colada con ron, por favor"
"Sin ron?" One Armed Jimbo looks at me suspiciously.
"No, with rum, please."
He laughed: "You're, like, eleven."


Still, he pours me a generous helping of rum. GrogLass has no trouble ordering, probably because she's actually wearing a swimsuit and not what looks like hand-me-down boyclothes. She spills a bit of her drink on the counter. One Armed Jimbo cheerfully tops up her cup with 151 again.

Basically what I'm saying is, Puerto Rico is the best place ever.

Our only problem was that in PR, when everyone goes on Holiday, that means the concession stands at the beaches too. So for New Years day and Three Kings, there was no one to sell us rum drink or to cast aspersions on our age. The excellent bar (the Flamboyan, both a tasty place for drinks and a really cool type of tree) was also closed. We were forced, as were all thirsty gringos on the island, to go to the only bar open: The Brass Cactus. Holy hell their bartender knows how to mix a fabulous Margarita. We showed up during happy hour, where drinks were half priced, and I ordered a "Perfect" Margarita. This would be Cuervo 1800, Gran Marnier, Cointreau, and sour mix. It was the best thing ever.

I have had other drinks since then. There's a really nice Malbec in the decanter right now that has all sorts of vanilla and clove in the nose, as well as something steely backing up the bakery flavors. It's really nice, and naturally no one remembers the name of it.

I do plan to post pictures here, but since I can't find the cable for my camera, this is probably not going to happen for a while.

Now that I have typed out THAT disjointed mess, I am going to try to keep to my New Years resolutions: to post as reliably as I did in the beginning. We'll see how THAT works out.
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