Thursday, September 15, 2005

Listening to...

I noticed some intersting new albums came out on Yahoo! Music today:
  • The Dandy Warhols "Odditorium or Warlords of Mars"
  • David Gray "Life In Slow Motion"
  • Sigur Ros "Takk..."
  • Tracy Chapman "Where You Live"
  • Paul McCartney "Chaos & Creation In The Backyard"

So far, I've listened to some of "Chaos..." and like most of it. He definitely knows how to write pop! I love "Takk..." - I need to explore more of their albums.

Other recent discoveries of note are Michael Penn (brother of Sean Penn), who does great pop/rock in the vein of Neil Finn/Finn Brothers.
Eels are also incredible, with quite a range of style and emotion over their albums. Their new album "Blinking Lights and Other Revelations" was reviewed in NPR and got me hooked.

Dinner @ 8: Purple Cafe, Kirkland

A group of 7 went to the Purple Cafe in Kirkland last night for dinner. They're part of the Dinner at 8 promotion running in September. The place was packed (even more than usual) but we had a reservation and they seated us promptly. The noise level was a little uncomfortable, and made talking hard, but hopefully they'll return to normal after the promotion is over.

This place is a great choice for wine lovers. Their wine list is extensive, and they have a huge selection of wines by the glass, so you can explore new wines without committing to a whole bottle. That said, we decided to get a bottle to share: Folie a Deux Menage a Trois (2003 I think, around $30 at the restaurant). This was a very smooth, soft red with not much structure or character, but very easy to drink. Definitely a decent wine, but nothing exceptional.

I decided to order off their main menu, and had the crab wontons to start, then the lobster macaroni bake. The wontons were very good (a little oily), but the sauce they were served with was an odd choice and didn't work in my opinion. (It was a creamy ranch-style sauce with not much flavour. I'd have preferred an asian soy/citrus/ginger/chilli concoction.) The lobster bake was disappointing - it very oily and had very little cheese flavour - I expected a good rich cheese sauce, instead there was a oil-slick at the bottom of the dish. The lobster was good, though. The final nail in the coffin was the presentation - topped with deep-fried carrot and leek jullienne, and so hot that about 30 mins later I was still waiting for each mouthful to cool down before I could eat it. I'd avoid the deep-fried garnish and use a wider, shallower baking dish so it cools quicker.

Other ordered from the $20 fixed menu, and seemed to like their food. A ordered an apple and stilton salad to start and a pesto pasta for mains, which were both very good. Finally, the desserts looked good, although no-one seemed to rave about them. Our server forgot to ask me or A about dessert, so we didn't have any, and also never checked to see how we were enjoying our food, so service was spotty. (Skipping dessert probably was better for the waist-line though...)

Overall, an average meal out, made memorable by the nice wine and company. (It turns out we can get into quite a frenzy talking about Judge Roberts and his Supreme Court nomination).

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Wine: 2001 Fleur Du Cap Cabernet Sauvignon

Region: Stellenbosch, Western Cape, South Africa
Score: 90%
Price: $10
Colour: Inky red
Nose: Medium blackberry with some smokiness and must/damp leaves.
Taste: Medium to heavy finish, velvety, smooth mouth feel. Good structure, well integrated tannins that are start out strong and fade as the fruit and smokiness becomes apparent. The fruit is quite subtle and there's also some gaminess and mustiness on the palate. After 30 mins of breathing, the attack is much smoother. This is a nice "meditation wine" or would go well with red meat, stews, etc.

Links: Fleur du Cap's website, their notes for this wine

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Thursday, September 01, 2005

Happy Birthday TAR!

Today marks the 40th "birthday" of the Tibetan Autonomous Region in China. I wonder how many Tibetans were really celebrating? If you read the Chinese reports (like this one), everyone is ecstatic and the economy is booming.

Foreigners weren't welcome though... Some snippets from the Sydney Morning Herald:
"Ceremonies marked the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Tibetan Autonomous Region in 1965, which followed the "peaceful liberation" of Tibet by the People's Liberation Army in 1951 and a failed uprising in 1959 when the Dalai Lama fled to India.
Foreign tourists have in effect been barred from Tibet as China celebrates its widely resented rule of its restive population under a system of administration presented as autonomous self-rule. Travel agents in Lhasa said the processing of the special permits foreigners need to enter Tibet has been halted until September 10"

This article outlines the changing relationship between Nepal, India & China, and how this affects the Tibetan liberation movement.