"You are about to embark upon the great crusade toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you...I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle."
- General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander
"Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices. Because of these sacrifices, the dawn of justice and freedom throughout the world slowly casts its gleam across the horizon."
- President Harry S Truman
As I have pointed out before.
Rest in peace.
Actual Christian Science Monitor Headline: "Monkeys hate flying squirrels, report monkey-annoyance experts"
There are a lot of new American gins worth exploring, and some wonderful things to mix them with (such as Crème Yvette, returned after many decades).
In fact, I think I'll go have a Blue Moon cocktail right now...
2 ounces gin
1/2 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 ounce Crème Yvette
Shake in iced cocktail shaker, and strain into a small cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
I just realized that I always buy Apple products about a year after they come out, and I get the next generation...Apple ][+, Mac 1024K, Mac IIci, iPod 10GB...and when I haven't done that, I've regretted it (like when I bought one of the first Intel iMacs, and missed out on a bunch of small upgraded added in the next few months).
So I urge everyone to go buy an iPad when it comes out, so it is successful...and I can buy one in March, 2011...
Hey, if you are a little LA music venue and one night some guy comes in to play and does a cover of some obscure Tears For Fears song that was on soundtrack and he and the original band and some guy who looks like Spiderman gets rich, and then some other guy pays a song that gets picked up for "Garden State" does that mean that your venue is famous ?
But it does mean that it has the best FAQ ever. Oh, I mean: Best. FAQ. Ever.
What to drink on Thanksgiving? A few days ago, I heard the loathsome Hoda on loathsome parasite Today show (following the less loathsome actual show) suggest that "they make Beaujolais Nouveau just for Thanksgiving." She was no doubt remembering a charming Thanksgiving at a little cafe on the Seine, but Hoda, that was just an acid flashback. The loathsome Kathie Lee tried to correct her, then gave up, no doubt thinking "the only people watching right now are those too lazy to get up and change the channel, or with misbehaving Tivos, so who cares?"
And even were Beaujolais Nouveau not -- you guessed it -- loathsome, it's hardly fit for an American feast.
The perfect drink for Thanksgiving (and really any time) is the American 76. I came up with it a couple of weekends ago, and worked with Ben to perfect it. As the name suggests, it is based on the French 75. But this is a very American drink. The cognac (or gin) in the original is replaced with Applejack, the champagne with good American sparkling wine -- say, Roederer Estate non vintage brut: American, but owned by people who know how to make sparkling wine (that is, French people). The lemon and sugar/simple syrup are replaced by good apple cider (homemade, bought at a good roadside stand, or Simply Apple). The "75" (from a French 75 mm artillery piece) is replaced by the American independence "76."
And that's it -- the cider should be both sweet and tart enough. If it's not, you can tinker by adding a little lemon and/or sugar, but it should be fine.
In a champagne flute:
• 2 oz Laird's Applejack or apple brandy
• 1 1/2 oz apple cider
• sparkling wine to fill (about 6 oz)
I'm not sure why I'm so angry about this, but I am (maybe it's because I had just read another story about mistreatment of blog comments).
The director of social media for the Post-Dispatch (not some kid, either--he says he's been a journalist since 1982) used the IP address of a comment poster to notify his employer (a school), costing the person his (or her) job. The initial story is here, and his even more infuriating follow up is here.
This is so idiotic that I have trouble even responding. He didn't tell anything private, just how and where to find the guy?
OK, my headline isn't really correct--I recommend doing these things sober, in preparation for getting drunk. They involve knives and fire.
This weekend, I decided to keep the promise I made on a podcast to make some apple cocktails. We’ve been getting great apples from a farmer in San Diego who delivers boxes to our Long Beach neighborhood. I combined those with some other apples, including some fujis and pink ladies, then followed this recipe from Imbibe. It really wasn’t too difficult, and while I fully expected the results to be equal or less than to Simply Apple cider, to my surprise it actually was much better, and rivaled cider I’ve bought in Julian.
I also decided to try making some apple gastrique, similar to what I had in La Jolla. I had no idea what their recipe was, so I kind of made it up. I took a cup of the apple pulp while making cider (before the step squeezing it through cheesecloth) and caramelized it in a sauté pan with just a couple of pinches of demerara sugar over high heat for five minutes or so, then added a 375 ml bottle of Vin Glaciere muscat ice wine (once made by Bonny Doon, by the way, but since handed off to another maker so Bonny Doon could focus on more obscure things, like apple brandy). I reduced this for a few minutes, then turned off the heat and let it cool. I strained it into a jar, pressing the pulp well, then taking a spoonful of the pulp and added it to the jar to make a more rustic gastrique (this is optional, of course, since the flavor from the pulp had been almost all extracted).
Then I experimented with making a few cocktails, with three different liquors: Laird’s Applejack, Maker’s Mark Bourbon, and Clear Creek Apple Brandy. Maker’s Mark isn’t my favorite bourbon (Woodford Reserve is) but it’s a good mixing bourbon. We’ve said a great deal about Laird’s here before. And Clear Creek is just a very good brandy producer. I also had some decent Calvados, but I drank it (well, most of it--I used a cup of it to flambé some pan roasted spiny lobsters, but that’s another story). I didn’t do much with garnishes, but a sliced apple and/or a cinnamon stick would have been nice. I also stuck to the core booze--I was tempted to add some sweet red vermouth, but resisted to keep the flavors cleaner, at least for now.
Honestly, all of these combinations were pretty good. The apple brandy was better with the cider, the applejack was better with the gastrique, and the bourbon was pretty good with either (but better with a little of both). The apple brandy honestly was better on its own, and somewhat wasted in a cocktail. The real star, as you might expect, was the Laird’s. Two ounces of Applejack, 1 ounce of apple gastrique, and a dash of apple cider over ice was a winner, but research continues.
Learn more about fun with apples on the Internet.
I went to a great bar (and restaurant) recently, the Whisknladle in La Jolla. They had a couple of apple cocktails there. One was the New Fashioned, with cinnamon-infused bourbon, orange and muddled apples. This was OK, but lacking somewhat in apple flavor.
The other I can't remember the name of because, hey, we were walking back to the hotel and trying the whole cocktail menu, but I think it had Buffalo Trace bourbon and a fuji apple gastrique. That was much better, and tasted a lot like an apple pie (that may have been the name of the cocktail).
We started messing with the cocktails, and asked the bartender to add some of the gastrique to the New Fashioned, and it was much better. Of course, the real problem here was the use of bourbon. I have to admit that while I like the idea of Buffalo Trace bourbon (a small distillery owned by the Sazerac Company) in practice I find it a bit harsh. A far better choice for a rough-edged liquor would have been the incredible Laird's Applejack.
Still, a great time with apple cocktails.
Next: making homemade apple cider and apple gastrique, then mixing it with all kinds of booze.
Hmmm...let me guess. Something made of apples, right?
Slate has the answer... sort of.
It's been kind of funny to watch the coverage of Conde Nast's decision to shut down Gourmet magazine. Most coverage seems to try to find a larger meaning, without going to the obvious story that it's just part of the decline of print media.
ABC News led with something like "a beloved magazine is disappearing from kitchen tables." But that's wrong--Gourmet was never in the kitchen. Cook's Illustrated is in the kitchen. Saveur is on the coffee table (that's not to knock it--it's a beautiful magazine with great stories about authentic cuisine, though I expect the recipes are rarely made). Eating Well is maybe in the kitchen, or on the bedside table as you actually plan your menu for the week. I could try to say something like Gourmet was in the magazine rack in the bathroom, but that's meaner than I intend. Obviously, Gourmet was on the magazine rack at the newsstand, and that's why it is gone.
It had one of the best food editors, Ruth Reichl, and yet it didn't seem like her magazine. It lacked any real clear voice or point of view. Cook's, like its sister television show makes clear, is about the test kitchen. They make a dish a dozen different ways, tinker with it, and perfect it. Other magazines aim at healthy eating, or true foodie cooking (Saveur will explore how authentic bouillabaisse is made, and tell you where to get good saffron), or even down home cooking like Cook's Country. Gourmet, like Bon Appetit (the title Conde Nast kept) really lacked any clear direction (go check out the website for the magazines, Epicurious and you'll see).
Just as I argue that the future of newspapers lies in covering local and neighborhood stories very well (even as most papers are cutting back on local staffs and trying to hold on to their D.C. bureaus), I think the future of magazines is in having a clear point of view, while still covering a fairly broad range of topics.
A few quick booze items before I go make myself a cocktail:
• Galliano has apparently quietly reintroduced the original formula to the United States. I say "quietly" because apparently they made a big deal in Europe about it, but I've hardly heard it mentioned here, though I guess there was some kind of launch event. I have a really old bottle my neighbor gave me, so when I get a bottle of the new I'll report on it. I prefer Licor 43, though.
• I'm into tiki drinks right now, and was disappointed that all of Beachbum Berry's books seem to be out of print. Apparently they'll be back this fall, but I was happy to discover the Tiki+ app for the iPhone, which is from the same folks who do Cocktails+. (Read Ben's Macworld review of Cocktails+ and other drink-related iPhone apps.) It has almost all of Beachbum Berry's recipes, painstakingly researched from the history of tiki culture.
• Last, Monkey Brad recently asked for a good margarita recipe on Twitter. It took me a while, but let me weigh in. Ben suggests a 3-2-1 ratio of reposado tequila, Cointreau and fresh lime juice. I tend to prefer silver tequila, which is why that might be too strong for me. I think the absolute best margarita I've ever had was from the best Mexican restaurants I've ever been to, Topolobampo & Frontera Grill in Chicago.
Here's my adaptation of that recipe:
• 1 cup good tequila (silver or reposado)*
• 1/2 cup Cointreau (Gran Torres orange liqueur or Grand Marnier work here but use less or it's too sweet)
• 1/2 - 3/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 3 large limes)
• Finely grated zest of two limes
• 5 Tablespoons sugar
• Lime wedges
• Coarse salt**
1. Steep the mixture. Dissolve sugar in lime juice and 1 cup water, then add orange liqueur, tequila and lime zest (or use a mixture of water and crushed ice to make a bit more than 1 cup, but then you'll have to add it last or the sugar won't dissolve). You can also use that fancy new agave syrup instead of sugar, so dissolving isn't a problem. Prickly pear syrup would also be great, but I can't find the stuff since I left Phoenix. Don't use Splenda (Brad).
Put the mixture in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours (but no more than 24 hours). This time is really worth is, trust me. After the time is up, strain into another pitcher.
2. Rub the rims of martini or other glasses with lime, then dip in course or kosher salt. You should get 6-8 margaritas out of this mix depending on how much you drink. I consider this recipe "serves two," but that's how I roll. If you have more than 4 people, do double the recipe.
Now, pour the margarita in the glasses, either up or on the rocks (I do think this margarita benefits from some dilution, but if you're serving it on the rocks, you might want to use a bit less than 1 cup of water in the first step).
It will be the best margarita you've ever had.
* You can use Cuervo Gold here if you want, just be aware that it will probably induce Tijuana-memory gagging for anyone who went to college in San Diego. I use Milagro silver a lot.
** One tip on the salt: rub the lime on the outside of the glass, not the top of the rim, and roll in salt (this can be a bit tricky with a martini glass, so you'll probably need to put the salt on the end of your cutting board). This is so you taste the salt, but it doesn't fall in your glass. Refrigerating the glasses at the same time as the mixture is also a nice touch.
On June 4, 1989 I was a student at University of California, San Diego. It was Saturday morning, and I was at the office of the college paper, the UCSD Guardian, then located next to the Ché Café, which was pretty much exactly what it sounds like. They were having some kind of exhibit that consisted of kids giving speeches, and a bunch of tables with old hippies giving out pamphlets. I spoke for a while to a woman with a large poster of Mao behind her (I still have the poster somewhere—she left it behind). She explained that what China really needed was a return to Maoism, and she thought that’s what the students really were protesting for.
But on the little black and white TV in the paper’s offices, I watched the atrocities in Tiananmen Square. Here’s some of what I wrote that day:
I have a friend who works in the Revelle College Cafeteria. She saw on student waiting in line for foor who looked a little depressed, so in her typical perky way she said, “Be happy!” He answered, “I can’t. I’m Chinese.”
This was typical of the shock and dismay around UCSD and around the world—and not just among Chinese—in the wake of the Beijing massacre. It was, as several commentators have pointed out, Kent State a thousand times over. We’d been watching these charismatic young kids, so committed to their causes, so far away—and so like ourselves. A leader of the students was very serious about his when he was interviewed on the network news, but at the end he couldn’t resist asking if any of the girls in America had noticed him. Just a kid; he is probably dead now.
So much hope destroyed. It wasn’t entirely unexpected. When Chinese –American students had a march here at UCSD recently, I spoke with one of the organizers. I asked him what he thought would happen, and he said grimly “The history of the Communist Party is violent repression.” But he added that he hoped that this time it would be different, that real progress could be made.
Of course, it wasn’t different. The people of China still live under a repressive totalitarian state. But I’m always optimistic about freedom, and there are still people all over the world who remember that day, and the true face of Communism.
Imbibe magazine's current issue has an article about building a home bar (not the carpentry, or even how to organize it, just what to have). It's in pieces on the web, such as this section on what booze to stock.
It's not a bad article, but I'd question the basic philosophy. I have to agree with someone I read (maybe Ben could help me remember) who said the way to build a bar is pick a basic cocktail, such as martini or margarita, get the ingredients, and then experiment with making it with different recipes until you perfect how you'd like it. I'd go even further, and say that if it's in your means, get a few different brands of the ingredients, and see how different gins or tequilas can be (vodkas less so, at least in mixed drinks, and whiskeys perhaps most of all).
But it did get me to thinking...what are the essentials that you would need to have in order to say you have a respectable home bar? I'm just going to focus on the booze this time, not the equipment or mixers or garnishes. Stripped down to basics, and with an eye for economy (which knocks out, say, Junipero or Old Potrero) what would you need? I'd argue the following:
Brandy Lairds Applejack
Brandy Landy VSOP Cognac
Liqueur Maraska Maraschino
Rum Cruzan (Light)
Rum Myers (Dark)
Tequila Milagro (silver--I don't consider reposado essential, though others might)
Vermouth Noilly Prat (Dry)
Vermouth Vya (Sweet)
Whiskey Jameson (Irish)
Whisky Johnny Walker Black (Scotch)
Whiskey Woodford Reserve (Bourbon)
Whiskey Old Overholt (Rye)
It was tough to leave out some things, especially Campari and cachaça, but choices had to be made...I welcome suggestions, though, and cries of outrage at my choices.
For those who only remember Earl Scruggs from The Beverly Hillbillies, there's oh so much more to find. This is just a delight, even though you might suspect that while Earl has perfect recollection of how to play the banjo, he might not remember who those guys around him are (even though he's related to most of them--his sons, I think). But if you like this, go to YouTube and see more. As Steve Martin once said, "The banjo is such a happy instrument--you can't play a sad song on the banjo - it always comes out so cheerful." And, yes, on YouTube, you'll find Steve playing with Earl on "Foggy Mountain Breakdown."
This is just outrageous and wrong. How does this make any sense? I'm pro-gay marriage, and this offends me.
How can this make sense to anyone? I mean, I like to use achiote paste a lot, with pork, and also on my smoked turkey every Thanksgiving. It's really hard to find in grocery stores, and I have to go to a small Hispanic market to get it. The AG should sue the grocery stores for this blatant discrimination against Hispanics, and force them to stock a full line of Hispanic foods!
Worse, this sort of nonsense actually hurts gays. This service is bound to be sub-par, but will take business from other matching services designed for gay people (and probably run by them).
The broader issue is that state Attorneys General need to be reined in. They have too much power, and use their office as a political staging ground for runs to higher office. It's an incredible abuse of power.
"I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the promised land. And I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord." - Martin Luther King, April 3rd, 1968 (the day before he was killed).
ABC is calling PA for Obama...
I've been joking that I like John McCain too much to want him to be President. And there's a lot of truth in that--I lived in Arizona when McCain was first elected to Senate, and I volunteered in his 200 campaign. He's a good man, and even where I disagree with him, I believe he is honorable.
But the real truth is that the Republican Party has lost the right to govern. It may be unfair to blame the shenanigans of Bush and congressional Republicans on McCain, since he railed against of lot of it at the time, but this isn't about fair. It's also not about silly ideas like "it might help the GOP to be in the opposition for a while," or "it might make them wake up to be..." then filling in whatever you happen to believe.
No, this is about America, and what happens next. The next President will face a difficult and changing world. The financial situation is bleak, not just because of the immediate credit crisis, but because of China, all the debt Bush has run up, and a host of other troubles. I don't know that Obama will handle it better than McCain, but I think he will have a lot more flexibility, and a lot more talent to draw upon. McCain would face a hysterical opposition, and, yes, his age is an issue. He would also be backed by a party that doesn't really believe in him, and--as I mentioned--has lost the right to govern.
So I voted for Obama. It was in California, so it didn't really matter much, but I hope he wins, and I hope things get better. Yes, I said "hope."
I'm really looking forward to the "It's A Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" parody on The Simpsons tomorrow night. We watched Corpse Bride (alternate title: sad and pale attempt to recapture the magic of Nightmare Before Christmas but with one really great musical number that makes it all worth it), so we didn't get around to watching the wonderful Peanuts special until tonight.
(My generation underestimates Peanuts a bit because of Shulz's late comics, which tended towards the formulaic and maudlin. But it was really genius.)
My wife thought I should post a parody of Linus's letter to the Great Pumpkin, telling McCain (Great Pumpkin) he shouldn't feel bad because Obama (Santa Claus) gets all the publicity, and saying if he's a fake, I don't want to know. But I couldn't find the text of the letter online, I'm really drunk, and what the hell. Plus, as Linus said, there are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin.
It was 95 degrees today in Long Beach, and baseball is on the TV, so one thing is clear: it's still the Summer of Gin. Plus, Ben's been too lazy to wrap the whole thing up.
So of course, I took the opportunity to try a new cocktail. It proves two things: one is in the title of this post, and the other is that the greatest cocktails in the world are the relatives of the Sidecar. That is, cocktails that have a flavorful base booze, a nice aromatic liqueur, and citrus. And, if possible, a dash of bitters. The Sidecar itself (Cognac, Cointreau, lemon juice) is delightful if well made, and of course one of the best variations substitutes tequila for the Cognac and lime juice for the lemon (I hope people can figure that one out, even though that drink is now usually ruined with sweet & sour mix and cheap triple sec).
So when I was looking through my fourth favorite book, Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails, by Ted Haigh, a.k.a. Dr. Cocktail, I knew that today was the perfect day to try the Pegu Club. The recipe:
1.5 oz gin
.5 oz Cointreau
.75 oz fresh lime juice
2 dashes Angostura bitters (and/or orange bitters)
It's a real delight. According to Haigh, it's a 1920s product of British colonial Burma. I highly recommend it.
Dutch Genever gin (or, better, American Genvieve Gin from Anchor Steam) and Bitter Lemon (from Fever Tree). Especially if you're about to suffer through a debate.
There is a simple truth about politics: likability often trumps everything else. Bush was more likable than Gore, Carter was more likable than Ford (at the time, not in retrospect), and so on...but the odd thing is that sometimes the likability of the person who plays you on SNL is just as important. Dana Carvey helped George H.W. Bush, and Will Ferrell really, really helped George W. Bush (the "strategery" line alone disarmed concerns about W's twisted syntax--now it was funny and charming). I think Tina Fey really helps Palin.
October 19, 1987, reporters shouting at the president:
Q. Mr. President, are we headed for another great crash?
Q. What about the stock market?
Q. Are we headed for another great crash?
Q. Stock market.
The President. Oh, the stock market. Well, I only have one thing to say: I think everyone is a little puzzled, and I don't know what meaning it might have because all the business indices are up. There is nothing wrong with the economy, though.
The President. What?
Q. Panic, how -- --
The President. Maybe some people seeing a chance to grab a profit, I don't know. But I do know this: More people are working than ever before in history. Our productivity is up. So is our manufacturing product up. There is no runaway inflation, as there has been in the past. So, as I say, I don't think anyone should panic because all the economic indicators are solid.
Ok, this was just plain stupid. Of course the Dow Jones fell 22.6% in one day, and to suggest that it wasn't all going to hell was ridiculous.
But markets are about confidence. And Reagan, unlike our current leaders, was all about confidence (not to be confused with arrogance and bravado, by the way). And, so, because he said it, it was true. The market went back up, and 1987 ended with a positive market.
Today, without further comment:
Obama and McCain Issue Joint Statement on the Economy
As agreed upon and promised earlier in the day, rival Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), have issued a joint statement on the economy, below:
"The American people are facing a moment of economic crisis. No matter how this began, we all have a responsibility to work through it and restore confidence in our economy. The jobs, savings, and prosperity of the American people are at stake.
"Now is a time to come together - Democrats and Republicans - in a spirit of cooperation for the sake of the American people. The plan that has been submitted to Congress by the Bush Administration is flawed, but the effort to protect the American economy must not fail.
This is a time to rise above politics for the good of the country. We cannot risk an economic catastrophe. Now is our chance to come together to prove that Washington is once again capable of leading this country."
The statement was distributed by the Obama campaign, along with the following note:
Speaking for himself, Senator Obama outlined the following principles that he calls on Senator McCain to support:
I believe that several core principles should guide this legislation.
First, there must be oversight. We should not hand over a blank check to the discretion of one man. We support an independent, bipartisan board to ensure accountability and complete transparency.
Second, we need to protect taxpayers. There should be a path for taxpayers to recover their money, and to turn a profit if Wall Street prospers.
Third, no Wall Street executive should profit from taxpayer dollars. This plan cannot be a welfare program for CEOs whose greed and irresponsibility has contributed to this crisis.
Fourth, we must help families who are struggling to stay in their homes. We cannot bail out Wall Street without helping millions of families facing foreclosure on Main Street.
Fifth, we both agree that this financial rescue package should move on its own without any earmarks or other measures. We have different views about the need for other action, but this must be a clean bill.
This is a time to rise above politics for the good of the country. We cannot risk an economic catastrophe. This is not a Democratic problem or a Republican problem - this is an American problem. Now, we must find an American solution.
Just so you know, mateys.