Thursday, July 17, 2008

Dr. Horrible

If you've not yet heard of this, check out the latest project from Joss Whedon et al - Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog.
If you liked the musical episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", you should enjoy this...

Episodes I and II are out already, and the final episode is due out on the 19th.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

How to east sushi

I was recently reminded of this fun video that spoofs Japanese sushi-ya etiquette, so here it is:

Monday, July 07, 2008

Wedding website live...

At last, the wedding website is ready for public consumption. (Sorry about the Flash content :P)

Now we just need to complete a few last minute things and enjoy the actual day! Hold your thumbs for sunny weather!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Oh noes! No more Monte Pollino olive oil at TJs?

My favourite olive oil for the past few years has been the Monte Pollino oil that Trader Joe's sold. Sadly, the last few months that we've been to TJ's to get more olive oil, they have not had any. It seems like, in classic TJ's fashion, they've discontinued it... I will keep my fingers crossed (and maybe talk to a store manager) in the hope that the stock it again.

Antonello Imports have it for $15 a bottle (compared to $5 when TJ's had it...)

This blog post on Chowhound mentions that it seems Monte Pollino at TJ's was the same as a more expensive brand, Frantoia (which I've not seen generally in Washington - maybe DeLaurenti in Pike Place has it?)

Saturday, July 05, 2008

No-one said we are "poor, wimpy, stupid jerks"

In the July 2008 edition of Wines magazine (which I got from the Issaquah Winestyles store) , executive editor Cathryn Castle Whitman wrote the closing article, titled "We Are Not Poor, Wimpy, Stupid Jerks". The article is in response to one by Joel Stein in Time magazine, which you can read in full here.

Joel's article starts:

Touring wineries can make you feel like a jerk. Not just from saying that yes, you do totally taste the gooseberry in that merlot but also because the chemistry of oenology makes you feel stupid, the picking and crushing of grapes makes you feel wimpy, and the giant estates make you feel poor.

Cathryn quotes this and then responds:

Wow. In the span of two short sentences, Stein makes us wine enthusiasts out to be poor, stupid, wimpy jerks. I say not so fast, beer man.

I think Cathryn misses the point of Joel's article - he is not saying that all wine drinkers are stupid, wimpy, or poor - just that there are still a lot of wineries that are intimidating for "wine neophytes". Wines magazine has a similar philosophy to Gary Vayerchuck: wine should not be initimidating, taste lots of wine and find what you enjoy, and don't let "wine snobs" put you off. All of that is amiable - but you still need to recognize that some wineries are targeting the more "expert" wine drinker, and will tend to make us lesser mortals feel intimidated.

Cathryn writes:

The key is to enjoy ourselves and have fun while we're sniffing and
swirling and sipping. If we don't totally taste the gooseberry, we won't let it totally spoil our fun - or make us feel like a jerk.

Carolyn then mones on to tackle the "wimpy" part of Stein's 2-sentence opener:

As for Stein saying that "the picking and crushing of grapes make you feel wimpy," I know a few burly wine-makers who'd probably like to crush his laptop, like, well, a graoe. If you ever tour a vineyard during harvet, you'll soon find out it isn't a job for wimps.

Now, for me this is where Carolyn really loses the point. I don't read Joel's statement as in any way a maligning of wine-makers toughness. In fact, Carolyn re-inforces Joel's argument. Wine-making is tough, physical work - especially harvesting and crushing the grapes. Some of it is mechanised, but it is still a tedious manual job in most respects. Pruning the vines, picking the grapes - all manual. Most wineries feature huge fermentation tanks, with lots of hard work imvolved in moving the wine, cleanign tanks, filling barrels, ... And then there's the dirty job of making barrels. All along the line, this is a physically-demanding job.

All that just means that if you're an average person, all this phsyical work would seem quite daunting and might make you feel "wimpy".

And then the final statement that Carolyn takes issue with: "giant estates make you feel poor". I'm totally with Joel here. Has anyone been to a large winery or wine estate and not thought "Wow, this place is amazing! They must have spent a fortune building it!". Take the Mondavi Winery in Napa, or Opus One as a more extreme example. Or consider some of the older estates in Europe or South Africa that are located in old family estates/chateaux. At some point a family lived here and they had a lot more money that you do now...

Then there's the "makes you feel poor" apect of most wine tasting roooms I've been to i nthe USA. For example, in Napa you will be paying to taste, and for the higher-end wineries, you will be paying a lot. ($30 for a taste of Opus One). If that doesn't make you feel poor, then you probably earn a few times more per year than I do... :) I don't object to paying, to be clear, but sometimes I've felt like a poor country cousin being given a disapproving once-over, usually followed by the tasting-room staff steering me away from the expensive Reserve tasting list, as if to say "This isn't for you, boy. Have some nice, fruity wine instead..."

And in a snarky closing statement, Carolyn writes:

Maybe someday Joel and I will meet up at a writers' conference [me: they have those?] or something, maybe at the bar in the hotel lobby. And maybe I'll buy him a drink. I'll order a lager for myself, and for him, a nice merlot. One with a hint of gooseberry...

Snarky me thinks: Isn't gooseberry a flavour you usually associate with white wines (like Sauvignon Blanc)? :P

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Word Association Football

I was reminded of this for no particular reason today: One of my favourite Monty Python pieces is the "Word Association Football" sketch from the Matching Tie and Handkerchief album.
(Can I get a shout-out for for Michael Palin?)

It's definitely worth listening to, but the script is pretty funny on its own:

Tonight's the night I shall be talking about of flu the subject of word association football. This is a technique out a living much used in the practice makes perfect of psychoanalysister and brother and one that has occupied piper the majority rule of my attention squad by the right number one two three four the last five years to the memory.

It is quite remarkable baker charlie how much the miller's son this so-called while you were out word association immigrants' problems influences the manner from heaven in which we sleekit cowering timrous beasties all-American speak, the famous explorer. And the really well that is surprising partner in crime is that a lot and his wife of the lions' feeding time we may be c d e effectively quite unaware of the fact or fiction section of the Watford Public Library that we are even doing it is a far, far better thing that I do now then, now then, what's going onward christian Barnard the famous hearty part of the lettuce now praise famous mental homes for loonies like me.

So on the button, my contention causing all the headaches, is that unless we take into account of Monte Cristo in ourthinking George the Fifth this phenomenon the other hand we shall not be able satisfact or fiction section of the Watford Public Library againily to understand to attention when I'm talking to you and stop laughing, about human nature, man's psychological make-up some story the wife'll believe and hence the very meaning of life itselfish bastard, I'll kick him in the balls Pond Road.

My high school French teacher would sometimes allow us to kick back and relax in class by playing this (in English!). Great fun - something to try on your long summer road trips maybe?