Sunday, April 29, 2012

Alasdair Neale & the PSO, Extremely Impressive

Last weekend, April 21st, after a delicious birthday dinner, Dr Desert Flower and I went to the Phoenix Symphony to hear Brahms & Beethoven.  We'd exchanged tickets form an earlier concert where we were visiting our son & out of town, and when I saw that there would be a guest conductor, I was really looking forward to the performance.  Alasdair Neale has an impressive conducting resume, and I was delighted to hear him describe the three works that were going to be presented in a warmth, welcoming, non-pretentious, relate-able manner before beginning the first piece. 

The Phoenix Symphony Orchestra started with a Jennifer Higdon work, Blue Cathedral, dedicated to her deceased brother's life.  Dr Desert Flower enjoyed the piece.  I quietly endured it, as I've never warmed to Higdon's works - this being the 3rd or 4th I've heard performed live.  It was fine, just not to my liking.  But then the Brahms work, Schicksalslied Op 54, Nanie Op 82 were played, and they were beautifully presented.  Neale is a tall, thin man, with long Jack-o-Lantern from Nightmare Before Christmas proportioned limbs.  During the pianissimo parts of the work, he keeps his elbows close to his sides, and makes very small gestures with his hands.  Then, during fortissimo, he leverages his long arms and bends his knees, not just conducting, but directing, demanding, inspiring the orchestra before him.  I enjoyed the Brahms works tremendously.

Intermission passed quickly, and then the focus of the night's performance, Beethhoven's Symphony No 7 in A major, Op. 92 was played.  Wow.  Neale knew the work by memory, and did not use any sheet music.  On the conductor's stand he was animated, joyful, full of life, pointing to specific principals & second chairs to draw them forward, engaged, vibrant, fine tuning this German Engineered masterfully constructed and harmoniously presented work.  Neale appeared to be having the time of his life, smiling broadly when the orchestra responded with precision, admonishing them immediately when they over or under performed with a slight scowl and Immediate, definitive hand gestures, often specifically pointing to individual players to encourage or rein in their instrument's output.  Like an inventor who has personally hand crafted a 600 horsepower supercharged V8 adjusting each valve's clearances, each spark plug's gap, each cam's rise, and shifting the spark timing and biasing the flue-to-air mixture precisely to get the exact dynamometer readings his calculations predicted were possible.  And Neale showed such joie de vivre, such masterful engagement, that even the most stoic of PSO players appeared to be infected by his dynamic leadership and responded with a performance that stands out in my mind as one of the best I've ever heard the PSO put on.  I lead the standing ovation at the end of the Allegro con brio, and enthusiastically and loudly continued the applause for 3 curtain calls.  Neale, ever the humble gentleman, shook the individual hands of of the Orchestra's most impressive strings and winds who wowed him as much as his conducting wowed the concert hall. 

The next time I get to San Francisco, if I've got the chance, I am going to try and attend a Alasdair Neale conducted performance there.  Highly recommended.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Mr Garrison Lectures on Game of Thrones

The most recent South Park episode was pretty funny, but what had me rolling on my yoga mat Thursday, was how Mr Garrison was lecturing the class about how Game of Thrones parallels ancient Greek & Roman political structures.  It's right around the 2 minute mark (link here).  "Now everyone Pay Attention!" LOL!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Gray Would Be The Color

This was the sound track, running through the dream I had, just prior to waking up 3 hours ago.  I don't always have music in the background of my dreams..  but when I do, it's often memorable, and keeps playing through my head during the rest of the day.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Teeth Brushing As Snacking Deterrent

I've got a dentist appointment early tomorrow morning, and as I like to bias my health care provider feed back in a positive sense, I've been brushing and flossing and mouth washing many times a day for the last 2 days.  One things I've noticed, is that having a freshly brushed, flossed, and minty freshly rinsed mouth is a major disincentive to snack.  As I was eating a few stalks of organic celery with pine nut hummus this afternoon, I noticed it had been 6 hours since I sauteed organic leeks, organic orange sweet peppers, and organic spinach before I added them to two organic brown shelled eggs, and I'd not had a single 75% cacao chocolate square, or 72% dark chocolate covered almond, or a cup of (teeth staining) tea throughout the morning as I worked. 

I'd wanted to eat a dark chocolate square here and there, as I refilled my water glass in the kitchen, sure, but the thoroughly flossed, fastidiously cleaned set of teeth dissuaded me from breaking off a square, pouring any tea, popping an almond in my face hole.  I think I'm going to try and brush and floss more often than my normal "once a day" every week day - not just excessively, obsessively, repetitively during the 3 days preceding a Dentist visit.    And the "wanting" was not because I was HUNGRY, it was because the chocolate is yummy,  psychologically addictive, and present / visible in the kitchen.  As long as I stay away from the carbs, I don't get that DRIVEN HUNGER I used to always have when I started this blog.

I'm better off snacking on organic celery rather than chocolate covered almonds anyways.  =)

Smells Like A String Quartet

This made me chuckle.  It didn't send me to Nirvana... but did bring a smile to my visage.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Pascal Jolivet Sancerre 2010

(I do not like the new google blogger interface... it's cumbersome, and tries to "fix" that which was not broken)

Last Saturday night, for Dr Desert Flower's 32nd birthday, we went ot one of her favorite restaurants, Elements, at The Sanctuary, on the north side of Camelback Mountain.  The service was awesome, the food delicious, and the wine...  ahhh..  the wine.... superb.

DDF had the "butter fish" (aka escolar - don't eat too much of it!).  I had the duck.  White wine was appropriate.  Element's wine list had this wonderful Sancerre on it, in both 1/2 bottle sizes and full bottles.  Since we had symphony tickets for later that evening, I chose the demi bottle from the Loire Valley. Mmmmm. 

We sipped the wine with dinner as the sun set over Paradise Valley AZ, through salads and main courses.   It was gone by desert. 

Pascal Jolivet's winery is only 49.50 acres in Sancerre, near the villages of Bue & Verdigny France.  100% Sauvignon Blanc, grown in 50% limestone, 30% chalky clay, and 20% flint (it had a very descriptive label).   Imported by Frederick Wildman & Sins, NY NY.  If you're looking for a delicious white and you spot Pascal Jolivet on the wine list, it's truly worth it.

French Splits

It will be interesting to see which way the xenophobic & nationalistic La Pen supporters throw their support.

Pause Café Cognac

My dear friend Francois in France gave me a bottle of private label Cognac last year in March 2011 when I visited him & his family in Belfort.  Francois told me the Cognac was made specifically for a small cafe where he knows the owners as friends.  It was a truly delicious bottle filled with l'eau de vie (water of life). 

I truly enjoy Cognac.And the Pause Café bottle was exceptional.  I savoured it, and it took me over a year to slowly, finally,take it all in. 

Daniel & Joanna Bouffard's magnificently crafted beverage, 17520 St.Heurine France.  Truly delightful.  If you're ever in St. l'Heurine, be sure to have a taste, or buy a bottle.

Popocatepetl, Location, Location, Location

The Popocatepetl volcano outside of Mexico City is not just spewing ash, it's making loud noises (loud enough to wake sleeping children in the middle of the night) and spewing burning rocks and lava (link here).  There's 20 million Mexicans in the possible ash / lava / devastation zone, but they don't want to evacuate and leave their homes.  Location, location, location.  Mt St Helen's ash cloud blanked under a million people.  Pompei was less than a million people (at the time).  Pinatubo affected 200,000 people.  Popocatepetl might be the biggest volcano of a lifetime...  ya veramos. 

If there are any Mexico City citizens who die from this eruption, it will be from their own choosing.  When the mountain shoots fire out of the top, move away, proactively, regardless of real estate interests.

Vieux Chateau Grean

Total Wine's European Buyer Alfio Moriconi has pretty good taste in wines.  We picked this one up around Christmas, and enjoyed it this Winter with a nice meaty dinner.  Vieux Chateau Grean, mise en bouteilles du Chateau by Danielle et Richard DUBOIS, St. Sulpice de Faleyrens France.  It was like a $12 bottle of Bordeau.  Not bad at all.  If you're looking for a nice bottle of Bordeaux, it would not be a bad idea to this selection.

Hooded Arizona Oriole

Last weekend, Dr Desert Flower and I spotted an immature male Hooded Oriole at our hummingbird feeder..  The Hooded Oriole (not a Baltimore Oriole, no, they don't come to Phoenix) has a curved beak that let's it dip into the crevice of one of our nectar feeders between the glass bottle and the metal base.  The mass of the Oriole seriously shakes the feeder, and the red sugary liquid was dripping all over our patio deck, so I had to move it much further away from the patio as the ant intrusion was more than annoying.

Later, on Monday night as I was catching up on Game of Thrones on our DVR near sunset, with a bottle of Monte Ducay, I saw the same Oriole drinking from the flowers atop the sculpted ocotillo just outside the living room window (and about 4 feet from the edge of the LCD Sharpe Aquos). Visually, the Oriole slightly resembles a mocking bird in size, shape, and coloring somewhat, but is not as vociferous as a mocking bird.  

It's nice to be able to see a wide variety of species in my own back yard.

Berneroy Calvados VSOP

Back around Christmas, I was shopping at the liquor store, and looking for Cognac.  I'm always annoyed at how Total Wine puts the Cognac behind a locked glass case, and you have to WAIT and WAIT for them to come unlock it, and then when you just ask for a cheap bottle of Hennesy or something, they get all huffy and exasperated that they had to come all the way over to the Cognac / Whiskey aisle just for That!  So I saw a bottle of Berneroy Calvados VSOP.  VSOP is a typical designation for Cognac, and the Berneroy was immediately next to the locked Cognac case, so I figured it was some kind of Cognac I'd never heard of.  I was mistaken.

Calvados is a French Brandy, made in the north west (Brittany) region of the country.  It is not bad, with a mild cherry flavor, but it does not taste like cough syrup.  It took me about 2 months to finish the bottle.  If you like Brandy, try it.  If you're looking for Cognac, don't settle for a bottle of Calvados.

Dear Rosemary

Our Rosemary plant in the front courtyard has surged in growth, to become a bush.  In many places in Downtown Phoenix and Scottsdale, landscapers have used Rosemary as hedges.  It's quite pleasant.

As I was running out of "eco friendly" chrysanthemum pyrethrine spray, I picked up a can of "green" bug spray at target, whose primary ingredients are Rosemary & Peppermint oils.  I tried it on the Argentinian ants that plague our kitchen and WHOA! Did the house smell like peppermint for a week, from just 2 small sprays next to the dishwasher! Very pungent stuff.

Then, last weekend, as I was pulling out more weeks, trimming the palm trees, bougainvilleas,  & shaping the lavender hedges, I noticed how over-grown and massive the Rosemary bush had become in the front yard, and I used 12 inch Fiskars garden shears to lop off large handfuls of Rosemary.  I put it in the trash dumpster with the rest of the clippings, and my goodness, did it make my garage smell nicely herbal!  As the other clippings decomposed, they provided heat and moisture for the rosemary, which continues to effervesce its fragrance even 4 days later.  (if our yard was bigger, I'd compost, but there really is no place "away" from the house in this tiny lot to build a nice compost heap where the smell and critters would not be unpleasantly close to our home's structure).

In honor of the usefulness of  Rosemary, I've placed this nice Foo Fighter's clip from the inter-webs.   Enjoy.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Heat Resistant Snapdragons

Heat Resistant Snapdragons, or anti-endothermic antirrhinums.

You see, the flower pot on the patio, in the foreground of the photo, with the blue glass watering bulb, has nearly dead, very shriveled snapdragons that Dr Desert Flower planted last Fall.  They bloomed over the winter, and then this month, as the ambient temperature climbed above 90, they inexorably wilted.  We had a pot on the patio table, pots near the corner, and some snapdragons in the ground, next to the living room window (seen on the right, here). 

Dr Desert Flower planted all red snapdragons.  No yellow ones this winter growing season. the previous winter (2010-2011) she did plant some yellow snap dragons.  And looky, looky, what Mother Nature did with the yellow ones?  They are growing feral, all around the back yard.  The ambient heat doesn't bother them, even in the center of a brick patio where they are growing up between the bricks.  Dr Desert Flower's theory (and I trust her theories on biological things) is that the potted plants cannot cool themselves off, and they not only dry up and shrivel, but their roots get cooked as well at intolerably high temperatures.  The flowers in the ground however, can send roots Deeper into the soil where it is cooler, and still be able to fix nitrogen, take up nutrients, and aren't getting slowly cooked (braised actually) in the pots. 

Eventually, every flower in the back yard will be burnt to a crisp in the July and August infernos at 5 to 10% relative humidity, and 115F temperatures, except for the lavenders, lantanas, and bougainvilleas which seem to thrive on the scorching heat.  But next Fall, when it cools off again, I am looking forward to a back yard full of wild flower feral snapdragons.

Chianti Pietro 2010

Are you ever looking for a good, inexpensive Chianti to go with a pizza, or pasta dish, or some other Italian or spicy food?  Well, the Pietro Chianti (D.d'I.O.C.G.), 2010, bottled by Filli Bellini, Rufina Italy and imported by Saranty Imports, Harrison New York might fit the bill at less than $6.  I picked up a bottle at Trader Joes, and it was a good Chianti. I am glad I did not have my glasses on when I bought it, as the back label "boasts" of "mushroom, berry, and dried herb aromas".  Um, no, I didn't taste or smell any "mushroom", and I am glad I didn't, since mushrooms are typically grown in wet, moist, decomposing areas, and like "old shoe", baby diaper, tobacco, and "smoke box" are not appealing flavors or aromas to me or those I share with at dinner. 

And yes, my eyes are old enough now, that small print looks like ants to me if I am not wearing my reading glasses.  but bifocals are a royal pain, and since my non-reading vision is perfectly fine, I tend to keep my glasses in my shirt or coat pocket, and only take them out to read a menu. 

Money For Nothing

I was in a video conference today at work, and several of my colleagues in Atlanta kept going on and on about how the commercial aspects of certain technical issues should not be interconnected... and this Dire Straights classic kept playing in my head. 

The corporation I work for has an intranet instant message system run through Webex, so employees can message other employees on the intra-web, so I began messaging several of my team mates who are also in their 40s:
"We've got to move these refrigerators"
"We've got to move these color TVeeeeees"
"That ain't workin', that's the way you do it"
"Get your money for nothing"

Ora Montepulciano D'Abruzzo

A few weeks ago, at Fresh & Easy, I bought some wine on a Sunday evening.  F&E had this Ora Montepulciano D'Abruzzo on sale for $5 a bottle, and I always enjoy a good Montepulciano.  It's a cheap man's Bardolino, at 1/10th the cost (typically) but still with acceptable quality.

This Ora Montepulciano D'Abruzzo was impressive.  It went fine with meats and spicy sauces - I don't remember exactly what we had with it, but it made a good impression.  If you see a bottle of this Ora Montepulciano D'Abruzzo, I recommend trying it.  You'll be pleasantly surprised as well.

Titanic v Lusitania

This week, on NPR, there was a non-stop homage to the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.  The "Edwardian" stoicism and restraint that the passengers exhibited as the ship took 2 and a half hours to sink, 'women & children first' in the life boats.  Millionaires and 3rd class paupers listening to the sound of the string quartet playing until the ship sank and they all (except for 15 who were helped into life boats) froze or drown in the icy water off Newfoundland, nearly 2 miles deep in the ocean..

Then, there was a radio story about how the Lusitania sank in just 20 minutes off the coast of Ireland in just 300 feet of water, after being torpedoed by a German submarine (U-20) in 1915 during WWI, and how everyone panicked.  The radio reporter was crediting the mayhem to how people act in their own self interest and self preservation... but what the story ignored was the fact that the Lusitania was torpedoed during war time, AND it sank just 3 years (and 2 weeks) after so many people perished on Titanic.  A Loud, Large, Nearby Explosion will cause mammals to panic.  The recent memory of nearly all the men dieing during the Titanic sinking would have accelerated the panic, even if there was no explosion. 

It's the same type of Homosapien behavior as to why there will never be another successful plane hijacking in the western world where the hijackers have only box cutters, or a light-it-yourself shoe bomb.  No cockpit will ever be successfully taken over again, in flight.  Humans will nearly always act in their own self interest, and the more severe the stimulus is, the more severe the reaction will be.  The recent mentally unstable Jetblue commercial airline pilot Flight 191, who tried to take over his flight for Jesus[TM] after coming back from the rest room was tackled and sat on by large passengers as the flight attendants used the fat-person seat-belt extenders to bind the ranting pilot. 

The passengers of the Titanic were not "better" people than the Lusitania passengers.  They were ignorant, and in a state of disbelief.  They did not have a war going on, and they were not shaken up by a violent explosion.  The passengers of Flight 191 were not better than the passengers of the 9-11 flights that plunged into the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon.  They were more informed, and reacted according to instincts.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Villa Pozzi Nero D'Avola

Along with the nasty Jacob's Creek, I picked up 2 bottles of Villa Pozzi Nero D'Avola from Sprouts earlier this month.   I'd never tried Villa Pozzi before, but I am very glad I bought 2 bottles.  The first bottle was wonderful, especially for just $5!  Produced and bottled by Cantine Francesco Minini S.P.A. Verolanuova Italy.  Villa Pozzi says that the wine has a perfume of blackberry liqueur, white flowers, vanilla and a hint of fig.  I did detect the vanilla and some berry flavors, but I could not small any fig or flowers.

If you see this under-rated southern Italy wine, I recommend trying it.   If I'm wrong, you're out a whole $5.  If I'm right, you can thank me later.

Rachel Maddow's Ginger Twins Producers

I sometimes watch DVR'ed Rachel Maddow shows while doing yoga indoors., and last month, I saw something that made me do a double-take.  Rachel Maddow was reporting from Mexico, where the US Department of Energy was removing the last of the highly enriched uranium (HEU) from Mexico that the Eisenhower Adminstration.  The DOE, you know, that agency most Republicans want to defund and dismantle?  Well, they're removing HEU from countries all over the world, and considering the massive crime, corruption, and mass murder in Mexico, it's a good thing the Department of Energy is actively working to reduce the threats to the US and the rest of the civilized world there.

But aside from this really excellent reporting on this very significant national security threat, I noticed something very strange in the back of the SUV in which Rachel Maddow was driving around Mexico.  The lady in the front is DOE Threat Reduction Director Sarah Dickerson.  The two ginger twins in the back seat, are Rachel Maddow's producers... or at least one of them is Vanessa Silverton-Peel.  I am assuming the other lady is her twin sister, or her emergency organ clone?  If they are not twins, the resemblance is uncanny. 

I've tried googling "Rachel Maddow" and "twins" and "producer" but all I got were hits of angry Republicans and / or bigoted lesbian haters and Russian websites that embedded "Maddow" and "twins" in their meta-data, so I gave up.  But I did take this screen shot of my TV before deleting it from the DVR.

Chateaux La Croix Pomeral Assists Octogenarian Felines

Way back in December of 2008, I mentioned Chateaux La Croix Pomerol (97) and how 10 years ago, Dr Desert Flower and I got a personalized tour of Chateau La Croix in Bordeaux.  I purchased a 1/2 case of the delicious wine at the time, and I took it as carry on - back when an airline passenger used to be able to carry on sealed wine bottles, and brought the wooden case in through Detroit customs in a small duffel bag thrown over my shoulder/  "1/2 cas red wine" my customs form read - and I was waived through by the customs official, since we were coming in from Paris simultaneously with a flight from Mumbai & another from Amsterdam, where the food sniffing and drug sniffing dogs (respectively) were eagerly waiting.  Anyone from Paris was uninteresting the humans and canines in customs.

Well, our older cat is now not-so-confident in her ability to make it up to the couch in the living room or futon in my  office, so I put a copier paper box on the floor in my office as an intermittent step for her to get 1/2 way up.  But in the living room, I knew Dr Desert Flower would not like a Big Red Staples box, glaringly visible between couch & television.  So I looked around the house, and found this old wooden Bordeaux wine case.  Our Octogenarian Feline loves this wooden box, and since she 'owns' the couch, she uses it to get up and down many times daily.  And it looks stylish in the living room, reminding us of how we spent our 15th wedding anniversary enjoying truly delicious wine and company of the some of the nicest people we've ever met who opened their home to us for a whole week.  And now, this wooden artifact of that visit, has a new life in helping our aged feline in her sunset years.

Tullamore Dew Does It

Triple Distilled Tullamore Dew (established 1829) has become my preferential Irish Whiskey.  It goes down smoothly, and has no after-taste.  I've also found that Tullamore Dew gives me no hang-over, even when I have 2 or 3 glasses of it.  I like it much better than John Powers or JamesonBushmills comes close, but Tullamore Dew - in my perspective, tastes better.  And while I still love Cognac, a good Irish Whiskey is 2/3rds to 3/4rds the price by the bottle, often 1/2 the price by the glass, and usually is not served in a fru-fru snifter glass in public. I just wish more bars carried Tullamore Dew.  I've had multiple waitresses & waiters say 'we have the best, Jameson' ... to which I think... 'you've fallen for the elaborate marketing campaign, haven't you'?

Tullamore Dew, neat, please.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Not A Fan Of Team Jacob

I bought a bottle of Jacob's Creek Syrah and a Merlot from Sprouts last Sunday night. (I always try to purchase my alcohol on Sundays, to 'vote with my wallet' and counter-act the hordes of tea-totalers who put a misplaced reference on Sundays [pssst.. the 'Sabbath' was Saturday, christians]).  The wine was on sale, 3 for $10.    I'd had Jacob's Creek many years ago, and recalled it was not bad.  They've moved to screw topped bottles, and I unscrewed the Syrah Monday night.   Eww.  It intially had a "fragrance" of "old leather shoe".   Not so good.   It matured to a hint of cough syrup, and a strange "full blandness" that was not appealing.   For $3.33 I am not that worried about the financial loss, but I am disappointed that Jacob's Creek did not begin to live up to expectations.  I hope the Merlot will do better...  but I doubt it will.  I am not a fan of team Jacob's Creek.

Italian Linguistics

What is the one foreign language that Italians study more than any other?  Why, it's Italian, of course!
Original post here (link to let's look for treasure).

Women's Asses

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Back Yard Deck Is Better Than A Hotel Carpet

For the first time in almost 3 weeks, I was able to do yoga in my own back yard, and not in a hotel room.  There was a light breeze Friday afternoon with 10 percent relative humidity, in the upper 70s (F).  I'd gotten my work email inbox down from 1200 to less than 800 emails, and called it quits for the work week. 

The bees didn't care about me, as they were ga-ga over the fully blooming Spanish lavender, and mildly interested in the hybrid and French lavenders, snap dragons, petunias, violas, and honeysuckle.  The achey-ness caused by sitting in cramped coach seats from Atlanta to Houston, and then Houston to Salt Lake and onto Phoenix was still in my neck, and the hour+ yoga Friday helped to banish the remaining tension.  No hotel carpets of questionable cleanliness, no cramped quarters, no pre-dawn darkness, no Joe Scarborough (but the only down side, there was no Mika either).  Lots of fresh air, a clear blue sky with a few contrails in it, lots of birds flying by, children playing next door and laughing (that IS a very refreshing sound), lots of male birds calling out to potential mates "hey baby, I'm a great nest builder!" and "Hola chica, this is my territory.  Come on over, come on over, and Look at my plumage!".  Maybe, when I stood on one leg, some of my avian neighbors were calling to each other to chortle "what, he thinks he's a stork now?!? lol!!!" ... but I doubt it. Single male birds, looking for compatible species mates, don't have time to mock middle aged, bipedal apes.  Spring is awesome in Phoenix. I am very happy to be home, especially after such a trip as I just had.

Inchworm, 2 and 2 are 4

This inch worm song has been going through my head for the last 3 days.  Maybe because so much of my job has become metrology and dealing with dimensional data on millions of parts, repaired in dozens of global shops.  When I used to go to afternoon kindergarten, walking one block down the street from my parnets' home to the elementary school that is now a "christian" church, I used to sing this to myself from time to time, having just watched Sesame Street, with a stomach full of white bread peanut butter & jelly.sandwich and a glass of Pleasant View Dairy whole milk.  I dunno.  Maybe, when under severe stress, the human mind reverts back to comforting things from childhood, from the past, to help re-ground, re-establish a foundation on which to face the challenges of the present?

An inchworm once told me:
2 and 2 are 4.
4 and 4 are 8.
8 and 8 are 16.
16 and 16 are 32. 
(if the data is taken & entered & uploaded correctly on the marigolds, where it can then be analyzed...  sure)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Chateau de La Rivierer, 2007

Last Saturday night, I had the privilege of eating dinner with my buddy Ryan and his family.  From Trader Joe's, I'd brought a variety of bottles of wine for the weekend.  An Epicure Nero d'Avola that we opened Friday night  A Port de Bordeaux tht we opened Sunday night.  and a delicious Fronsac, Chateau de La Rivierer, 2007, that cost more than 3 of the other cheap Trader Joes bottles combined.  It was a wonderful pairing for the seasoned New York Strip steaks that Ryan grilled on his outdoor gas grill.  He seasoned the with a coat of extra virgin olive oil, and then rubbed salt and pepper in.  The NY Strips came from the Dekalb Farmer's Market, and were juicy, flavorful, and succulent.  Ryan's wife Alix made a organic three bean chili to go with the steaks (as she is a herbivore), and we dined together in their kitchen with their adorable 22 month old daughter Annabelle. 

The Fronsac had no shortage of tannins, and some sediment in the bottom of the bottle..  A truly impressive Bordeaux, it had some oak to, but not overwhelming like many Californian wines.  It was the Very First wine I ever had that had a definite bouquet of roses as soon as it was uncorked.  It was very pleasant, and I asked Ryan and Alix teach confirm that these were roses my nose were smelling, and concurred.  It was really a delightful bottle.

If you're looking for a higher-end red to go with a hearty meal, I recommend picking up a bottle of Fronsac at your local Trader Joe's, and celebrate its opening.

Reich's Aftershock

I just finished Robert Reich's AFTERSHOCK book, written at the end of 2010, after the Republicans took control of the house and the Democrats lost their super majority in the Senate.  I've heard Reich for years on Marketplace and as a guest on various NPR and PBS shows, but I'd never read on of his books before.  AFTERSHOCK was part of the God father Book Exchange program I have with my Uncle Joe.  I gave him DEMOCRACY MATTERS and Gun, Germs, and Steel back n January when he visited Arizona, and he gave me AFTERSHOCK.  I need to drive up to my cousin's house and exchange the books, as GGS I've not yet read.

But back to AFTERSHOCK.  In the work, Reich postulates that if continuing trends of increasing the divide between rich & poor do not reverse, that an "Independence Party" will emerge that makes the Tea Party look tame by comparison.   They'll run a fire brand candidate who promises to limit immigration, tax those companies who lay off workers, and drastically reshape (and in the process turn even more anemic) the US economy.  In the future scenario, Chelsea Clinton and one of the Bush progeny lose to his upstart, and the next day, the stock market crashes like it's 1929.  as America begins a slide towards a third world economy.

While AFTERSHOCK was written after the Nov 2010 elections and after Citizens United, it was also published prior to the Detroit Automakers' rebound.  It doe not account for the ending of war in Iraq and withdrawal from Afghanistan, which are bleeding the US of talent, blood, treasure, and patience.  So it is a little dated.   It DOES accurately characterize the haves & have nots, the rich Walll Street bail outs while leaving Main Street to grasp for the lowest common denominator of mediocrity and regressivism.  Reich spends alot of time theorizing, but not too much time backing up his theories.  He provides cock-sure statements that are rife with unjustified hope that I find hard to swallow.  I WANT to agree with him, but he doesn't give me too much substance to back up his theories.  He's obviously a Very smart man, I just have grown too sardonic and jaded to give his plan for the future much chance of getting started.  Corruption and well funded greed are too significantly ingrained in American politics for the pendulum to swing back, in my life time.  Maybe in my son's or someday, my grand childrens' life times... il faut voir.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Danthai & No Longer a Red Robin Virgin

My buddy Ryan took his family and I to Danthai in Lawrenceville GA this evening.   I raved about Danthai back in November (here) and it was once again, really delicious. We were (unfortunately) the only diners in the restaurant until 5 minutes before we were finished eating, when a lone diner came in and sat by himself.   They did do a brisk Take-Out business, throughout our dining experience.

Earlier in the day, Ryan introduced me to Red Robin.   Now, there's a Red Robin in Phoenix near the Costco that is within walking distance of my home, but I've never been to it.  It was 12:30 on a Sunday, and the Red Robin was hopping busy.  I had a sauteed mushroom burger, which was "bunless", wrapped in lettuce.  It was delicious.  So I am no longer a Red Robin virgin, and I will enjy taking Dr Desert Flower to the ones near us in Phoenix.   There were however, no thin people in Red Robin, other than Ryan and I.  Girth prevailed amongst the customers - though some of the wait staff were not obese.  Supposedly there are "unlimited fries" but we did not partake of this aspect of high carb dieting.