Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Favourite mustard?

What's your favourite mustard?

I'll freely admit that I'm a mustard snob. French's doesn't cut it, and I often make the trip to our local German deli to buy some good German mustard instead. Luckily, A shares my passion, and we've gradually been exploring and discovering new mustards that meet our high standards :)
For me, good mustard should be quite hot, but flavourful and not overpowering, not vinegary, and only a little sweet (if it's sweet at all).

I grew up really liking the Gundelsheim mustard in a glass mug. (You get a free coffee mug once the mustard is gone, how cool is that!?)
Colman's English mustard was also a regular condiment - great with cheddar cheese or roast beef. (This stuff is very hot though, and clears your sinuses out like hot horseradish).

In the USA, A and I discovered the Dijon mustard at Trader Joe's. It's really yummy and packs much more flavour than the ubiquitous Grey Poupon. (Some people call it "super hot", but they must not have had Chinese mustard or Colman's... hehe)

The German deli I mentioned earlier (Liebschen, in Bellevue) has some good mustards, including several varieties made by Thomy that come in metal tubes. The Tomy Scharfer Senf is great and became our new favourite a few months back. It's a bit too pricey to put in/on everything, though.

I am now eagerly awaiting some French "Tubissime" mustard that I ordered. (Made with Orleans vinegar and Guerande salt, and hand-made in small batches, probably by cute little french maids in flouncy skirts).

Mind 'ow you search...

My colleague Robert Hensing linked to an interesting and scary article about "evil" results in search engine queries being used to infect people's machines.

Ways to stay safe(r):
  • Use Vista on a 64-bit machine with hardware DEP enabled, and UAC enabled
  • Run as a normal user (not an admin)
  • Don't install anything when a website prompts you, unless you know and trust the website, are really are sure it's something you need, and it's signed by a trusted publisher.
  • Uninstall Quicktime :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


A and I saw Beowulf this past weekend, and really enjoyed it. The animation is astounding, and the script while mostly faithful to the poem also has some nice twists and additions.

This review by Henry Gee covers the movie perfectly.

Not so much fun were the four teenagers in front of us in the cinema. They seemed to be terminally addicted to text-messagign on their cell phones, and would pull them out every minute or two to machine-gun a new message. I have no idea why they felt the need to send messages during a movie they paid to see! Eventually a cinema usher cam over and asked them to not use their phones, but this led to much nattering and the girls leaving and making a noise in the hallway outside the theatre.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Housing in South Africa

The PRI (public radio) program The World recently had two segments on housing in South Africa. You can listen to the segments here:

Monday, November 19, 2007

Acquiring a taste for wine

I stumbled on this article from the Seattle Times' Pacific Northwest Magazine: Acquiring a Taste.

It features a nice beginner's guide to wine tasting, ten tips to improve, and a list of wine clubs and events if you want to be part of some organized tastings.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Blind tastings

Slate has a new article by Mike Stenberger which talks about blind wine tastings. This bit was amusing:

Blind tastings can serve both as rites of passage—the exams for both the Master of Wine and the Master Sommelier degrees include blind tastings—and as ritual hazings. Within wine circles, nothing cements a reputation quite like acing a blind tasting. Years ago, British wine writer Oz Clarke was served a mystery red. After much sniffing and sipping, he said he couldn't decide whether it was the 1982 Paul Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle or the 1983. There was a reason he couldn't make up his mind: The glass contained a blend of both. But such triumphs are rare; more often than not, blind tastings yield embarrassment.

The article is worth reading - Mike makes some good points about the pros and cons of blind wine tastings.

Speaking of wine, Happy Birthday to Gary! (A day late...)

New Zune

Microsoft released the new models of the Zune media players yesterday, and the reviews seem generally positive. One thing that has kep me from buying a Zune (apart from the bulky hardware and crappy PC software, ahem) was the lack of a subscription service.

I've been very happy with Napster's subscription service and my old Creative Zen Micro. For around $15 a month I can download and listen to pretty much any album, and then purchase ones I really like if I want them on CD. The Napster software works well, and the Zen Micro is a decent music player.

I'm happy to see that the new Zune software now includes a subscription service, called Zune Pass. For some lame reason, Microsoft decided to "hide" the monthly price for Zune Pass. You won't find it here or in the FAQ. Instead, you need to go to this Microsoft Support article. Weird... Perhaps we show you the price once you've created a Zune account, but personally I'd like to know the cost before going through the rigmarole of setting up an account (and handing over my personal info).

Now, if there's a way to get TV shows off of my Comcast DVR and onto the Zune, that would be nice. Anyone got that working yet? :)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Rodrigo y Gabriella

Yum Lass and I saw Rodrigo y Gabriella live last night at the Paramount. A truly incredible show! I'd seen them earlier this year at Bumbershoot, but last night left their earlier show behind in the dust.

If you like guitar music and haven't heard of them, check them out - They play what you might call acoustic heavy-metal flamenco music.

My only criticism is that some of their songs sound too much alike, are a bit rambling and "bitty", and basically just vehicles to show off their amazing technical skills. (I was spoilt growing up listening to Tananas and Tony Cox in South Africa).

The flamenco guitarwork and driving rhythms are very catchy though, and the sheer energy they put into their performances is breathtaking. They are also capable of playing with a lot of sensitivity, and I found myself liking their slower songs best (like their take on Take Five, and Floyd's Wish you were here). The solo stints they did as the other took a well-deserved break were incedible (especially Gabriella's solo).

Speaking of Tony Cox, I just noticed he has a new album out (with Benguela), so I'll ask South African Santa to send me a copy...