Site Meter What I Learned Today - MG's CIP

Sunday, May 31, 2009

New Recipe: Blue Cheese-Abatta Burger-Jita

It's a mouthful whether you're saying it or eating it. But, Man! What a mouthful!

We had just gotten back from our bi-weekly trip to the grocery. Each parent got a cart, a child, and a not-so-specific idea of what we needed. My kinda trip. That means we had to "Garlock" the grocery - a phrase coined by my soon-to-be sister-in-law. Basically, it means you go up and down every aisle, regardless of what's on your list, to be absolutely sure we don't miss out on some randomly placed aisle-cap-o'goodness.

So we lug our 40 bags of staples and such back to the house and I begin my next bi-weekly tradition of trying to figure out where to put all this crap since the fridge is perpetually full of leftover filled tupperware and tubs of butter with 2 teaspoons left in it.

Once I have the fridge packed to the gills and the effort of me and two sub-four year olds is needed to close the door, it's time for lunch. I look at the items I have yet to find a home for sitting on my counter.

  • A loaf of fresh Ciabatta bread

  • Ground Beef

  • Stilton Blue Cheese

  • Green Peppers

  • Vidalia Onions

  • Mayo

  • Macaroni Salad

  • Chips

It's like the food gods were sending me a not-so-coded message. I chose to listen.

Here's the Recipe for the my latest creation of deliciousness:

The Burger - loosly based on the Juicy Lucy (or Jucy Lucy depending on who in Minneapolis you believe is the originator of the delicacy. Matt's Bar or the 5-8 Club. I like the first for obvious reasons):

  1. Cut a piece of the Ciabatta that you will be using for a bun - mine happened to be the size of my outstretched hand - any bigger and the structural stability of the burger becomes suspect. Cut it horizontally to make a top/bottom of the bun. Set aside.

  2. Take enough ground beef to fit just smaller than the ciabatta - match the shape as well. Now cut in half and make two thinner-than usual patties.

  3. Crumble your cheese on one of the patties - leave a border un-cheesed on the patty.

  4. Place the other patty on top. Crimp the edges (see, there was a reason for the border) to keep in the cheese.

  5. Grill as you like it.

The Spread - Garlic Lemon Mayo Spread

  1. Spoon more than the normal amount of mayo for a sandwich into a small bowl. Remember, that Ciabatta is rather pourous

  2. Add lemon juice. The amount is up to you. Keep in mind that when you taste it you should note hints of the lemon. It shouldn't be overpowering.

  3. Add in your favorite garlic mixture. I'm a big fan of the Tastefully Simple brand. Not overpowering, rehydrates in your mix quickly. Good stuff.

The Jita - short for Fajita of course

  1. Put 2 tbsns of oil in a saucepan

  2. Slice Onions and Green Peppers, place in pan on med-low heat - we're just sweating these

  3. Add Oregano, Salt and Pepper to taste.

  4. Sautee until the onions are translucent and the peppers start to wilt a bit.

Now we're ready to assemble.

  1. But Ciabatta on the grill just long enough to grill-mark them.

  2. Add your spread liberally to both top and bottom slices

  3. Add the hamburger patty

  4. Top with additional cheese (either the same or a new one - I went with more Stilton Blue)

  5. Cover with the Jita
  6. Add chips to the sandwich place. Slice the burger in 1/2.
  7. Open up a beer and enjoy

This is one of the best burger concoctions I've come up with at home. Give it a try and let me know what variations you put to it.

Stay hungry, my friends.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Philadelphia, PA Eats: Part 3, The Phinal chapter

Seriously, I’m still here:

Ok, here we go again. This installment is the Phinal Philly Phood Phoray (Sorry, couldn’t resist). I’m once again gastronomically guiding you around the Center City area of Philadelphia (with a few side trips in between). I’ve been on a tear recently: I have not eaten at the same place for dinner in the last few weeks.

This Post’s Highlight City: Philadelphia, PA Eats: Part 3

Fast Food

Here’s the standards list: I still characterize food as “fast” much like my mother does – I have to unwrap it. Usually wait in a queue, national chains, multiple states have them.

Joe’s Pizza on 16th – This was a recommendation from a friend. Solid pizza, authentic-ish Italian (at least everybody in the kitchen was speaking Italian). Couple of slices and some cheese sticks fill up the gut.

Oh So Good – That’s both the name of the place and a review by yours truly. It’s a pay-by-the-pound take out, buffet place neat the office with the most eclectic food choices I’ve seen in one place. Chicken Salad to Grilled Chicken, Portabella Mushrooms to Sesame Chicken, Beef Tips to Ribs and Salads. And I tried most of them. Only 1 of the items was so-so, the rest were, yep, Oh So good… (Sorry, I couldn’t resist).

Morning Calm Deli – Quick, tasty sandwiches. Needs more condiments though. Chicken Parm and the Italian are both tasty. If it hadn’t been lunchtime I would have picked up a mix-six pack from a decent beer selection. Not too bad.

Pizza Zone on Chestnut – Big slices, good variety, and open when I need a quick pie fix. And there always seems to be a soccer game on… Odd, but tasty.

Mid Range Places:

These were places I needed to order from a menu, but could sit down and have my food brought to me. But you still get paper napkins and plastic “we don’t care if you steal it” cutlery:

Little Pete’s Diner – Did a Google search for “Best Philly Breakfast” and this place made the list. Can’t go wrong with a diner, right? Right! I tried the scrapple with home fries, eggs, sausage, toast and a drink for less than $10. That’s a serious deal. And from sit down to fork in mouth was about 7 minutes. That’s why these guys are one of the best in town. I’ll be back here.

The Fieldhouse – Went here to watch the OSU – Texas bowl game on a Monday night. (It’s a Texas stronghold, by the way. Take from that what you will). I had the jerk chicken wrap with Pineapple salsa. That was after the cornmeal breaded calamari. Great texture, perfectly cooked. And it’s a great place to watch a game. This place must be rocking on football Saturdays. It’s huge! Try it out.

McGillin’s Olde Ale House – This was another recommendation from a friend (thanks Michelle!) Not exactly what I was expecting from all the things I’d heard about it. It’s the oldest Ale House in Philly (opening when Lincoln was in office back in 1860). Great atmosphere, just smaller than expected. And the food – holy cow! I had the stuffed/breaded shrimp special. Great appetizers too. I’ll need to come back here to try something else from this multinational menu.

Houlihan’s – One of the old standby’s from home. The nachos were ridiculously huge, too much sauce caused about 1/3 of the plate to get soggy though. Terrific burgers (even if they were out of Swiss… didn’t they know I was coming?). Always good in a pinch.

Fado – Turns out I had been here a couple of years ago, but didn’t realize it until I was in and seated. Service was great, Fantastic Irish Fare. Go with the Guinness BBQ Chicken Sandwich. That’s if you have room after the Sausage rolls topped with Asian slaw for the appetizer. Atmosphere is great for watching a game too. It’s always funny to hear an Irish Brogue speaking intelligently about both American Football and Hockey. Too much.

Marathon Grille – There are a few of these around Philly, I was at the one at 19th and Market. I had a solid burger with interesting topping options (Piquillo peppers and gruyere for me please). Great texture on the fries – may have been double fried – but the Caesar needed more dressing and smaller chop on the leaves. (yep, nitpicking here) You can do a build-your-own option on sandwiches as well. Good, quick service. Not too shabby.

Sky Partners Asian Bistro – Another airport place. Decent food, horrible service. Got the spicy Thai noodles and had to walk up to the bar – twice – to ask for water refills. Had to get the water since there were no refills on the $2.50, 75% ice Sprite I got. Seriously people – you’re not squeezing the lemons and limes by hand here.

T. A. Flannery’s – Looks like a small, Irish joint from the outside… Whaddya know? It IS a small Irish joint. Good food. Get the Wiz on your fries if you can afford the arterial trauma inevitable. The Rueben and Burgers are very good. Great corned beef (of course). Good place for lunch in the neighborhood.

Elephant and Castle – Went against a ‘pan it’ recommendation to try it anyway – big mistake. Worst sit down meal I had in Philly. Calamari was rubbery, aioli tasted like it was 40% salt, burger was raw, fries were cold. I was disgusted. Seriously, if you can’t do a burger and a sauce you should be shut down.

South Street Souvlaki – Actually tried to go to this place once, found out they were renovating (after walking the 2 miles to get there) and ended up at Fado’s that night (see above). Glad I went back! Had to get the Souvlaki, of course. Great sandwiches, good sized app, and got out for a very reasonable price. Recommend it.

Nodding Head Brewery – Gotta love a place with thousands of bobble-head/belly/insert-body-part-here figurines for décor. I had the Charcuterie Platter (fancy way of saying “meat and cheese plate”) could only have been better if you put it on a stick and deep fried it… hmmm…nevermind. Rasta man jerk chicken sandwich with plantains was also a solid menu item. Don’t forget to try the brews. I recommend the Monkey Knife Fight… just it’s fun to order!

Salumeria – If you look closely, you can see the sign for this place in a scene from National Treasure where they duck in Terminal Market. Mainly it’s a deli counter with dozens of seriously quality meats and cheeses. On the other side, there’s a small sandwich and salad counter. I did the chicken parm sandwich, antipasti and the mozz and tomato salad. Like I was back in Rome!

Dutch Eating Place – Another Terminal Market great. This is just old fashioned, comfort food. Reuben, pot roast, mashed potatoes, fresh cut fries, and fresh squeezed lemonade. Two of us got out of there with stuffed bellies and happy faces for $15 with tip! Amazing quality and value.

Good Dog Bar – If you want a happenin joint with great bar food – check this place out. There is actual seating upstairs (I think) and a dive-y type bar downstairs frequented by the college types. I met some friends from school here and we were all thrilled with our food. I had the Grilled Shrimp Salad and the Grilled 3 Cheese sandwich (go to their menu and look up the descriptions – SOOOO much more than their titles). Holy good bar food Batman! Best surprise of my stay.

Devil’s Alley Pub – Had a pleasant surprise for lunch here. Got fried green tomatoes and a terrific Cuban sandwich. Not what you’d expect from an Irish pub. This place is always hoppin at night too. Check it out.

Jim’s Steaks – Yep, had to do it. I went to Jim’s for a cheese steak. Wasn’t impressed. The Steak was dry and bland, there was very little cheese (I got one with provolone and one with wiz) and the bread fell apart when I bit into it. I should have gone back to Geno’s or Pat’s instead.

Upper Crust-ier Type Joints:

These were nicer places. Linen on the table, you feel under-dressed in jeans and/or without a jacket. Probably not places I would try if I couldn’t charge it in after fasting for breakfast and lunch to save up the Per Diems.

The Continental – Another one of the Starr Restaurants. I actually made unintentional happy noises while eating my appetizer. That’s a first. The chicken was quite tasty as well with the Arugula salad. A bit pricey for me to make a habit of, but still worth trying out. The décor was really funky too. Multiple floors, multiple bars and one of the most well-appointed bars I’ve come across in quite a while. Easy to see why Starr is able to build an empire.

Porcini’s – Pretty tasty Italian, BYOB joint. Intimate setting (read “small”). Portions were ok. But the dishes were pricy for what I had. If cost isn’t a concern though, a solid Italian place.

Smith and Wollensky’s Steakhouse – Went here during Restaurant week and got “the dish” Filet, Potatoes… nothing special. I wasn’t impressed for the pricing. Was really expecting to be knocked out based on the reviews. Clearly more of a status place than a foodie place based on my one experience.

TRIA – This is by far my favorite place in Philly. Lauded as a wine, beer and cheese bistro, I was expecting some snobbery and had my best “sure, I know what all these things are” face on. Didn’t need to use it. Staff was super-approachable, extremely well educated on each menu item and the signature items as well. I received excellent recommendations and swore to come back again. Try the cheese stuffed figs on prosciutto. Exquisite! I broke my own rule and went back a second time my last night in town. What does that tell ya?

Thanks to Philly for a TREMENDOUS culinary journey!

My Great Herbal Experiment, Year 2

So last year, I did some math in the late spring and realized how much money I was spending on fresh herbs at the local grocery. The herbs themselves weren’t necessarily bad, but the fact that I would forget about that Basil in the crisper drawer after using two leaves until it started to go bad just bugged me.

So I started the herb garden. Nothing extensive, about a 5’ by 8’ plot in an existing garden. I cleared out the existing bulbs from that area, bought the seeds and then went to talk to my neighbor. His daughter has quite the green thumb, and with mine being not so tinted, I worked out a deal with her. She helped plant, weed and water, and I paid her (yeah, I’m the real hands on type ; ).

She did a great job. I had a ton of stuff out there: about 6 varieties of tomato, basil, parsley, lavender, sage, multiple oreganos and basils, a few chives and a couple of transplanted bits like mint and pepperoncini.

The wins:

Basil, Oregano and Chives whenever I wanted them. This was great and led to my ruining of omelets for my wife since she will now only eat them with the fresh herbs. I do love Sundays in the summer!

Introduction to a couple of new items I hadn’t tried before: Dark Opal Basil (a bit more bitter than the sweet, but makes a fantastic dark pesto), and lime thyme (aside from the rhyming, it was pretty tasty on chicken – just a hint of the citrus).
One Pepperoncini – stuffed with a garlic cream cheese and wrapped in bacon. A small appetizer (especially if you know me) but a decent victory in my book.

The Losses:

Deer: Those antlered fiends got to every one of my tomato plants eating everything that popped up. In doing so, they also trampled a number of other items getting to their juicy treats.

Squirrels: I’ll show you deer! I’ll move the pepperoncini up to my deck! Ah…huh? Who knew that squirrels apparently like a little kick. They got all but the one delicious specimen. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t caught one of the little buggers red-pawed. I’m pretty sure I heard it laughing at me as it left.

Lessons Learned:

So here we are in year 2 of the Great Herbal Experiment. I’ve made some changes – here is a list of things I’ve modified.

  1. Much larger area – everything was haphazardly placed last year due to space constraints. My fault, not the neighbors. Tripling the area should help that.

  2. Fencing – I hit the local Home Depot and got stakes, wire fencing, the whole works. That should keep those deer away.

  3. Careful seed selection – Based on our eating habits, ease of growth, and unused pieces from last year, here’s the list of what made the cut this year
    a. Tomato – 5 varieties
    b. Sweet Peppers – 2 types
    c. Hot Peppers – a bunch of these
    d. Basil – about 3 times as much as last year
    e. Oregano – the same
    f. Chives – these I actually left outside the fenced areas – never really bothered last year
    g. Sage – 2 packs
    h. Parsley – used a ton of this last year
    i. Scallions/Green Onions – always good to have on hand
    j. Rosemary – We eat a lot of chicken
    k. Cilantro – I’ve got killer Chicken Salad, Guacamole and Corn Salsa recipes
    l. Peas – Last minute suggestion from the other neighbor as they will grow up the fencing.
    m. Sunflowers – No, not to eat. My daughter just wanted them, and she’s pretty cute.

  4. Arrangement - This year I took the time to lay out the pattern I wanted.

  5. Earlier planting – I waited until late May last year. This time, we’re in the ground in mid April after that last cold snap we had.

  6. Marked Locations – I did a bit of this last year, but it was more “in this area” rather than the straight lined, staked markers I’m using this year.

  7. Miracle Grow – Really didn’t use any fertilizers last year. But my neighbor swears by the stuff. We’ll see how it works out.

  8. The kids are involved. This is kinda the fun part for me. I got them some small starter pots and now they are watching to see when things start coming up. It’s a mess, but a good learning opportunity for the young’uns.

I’ll post updates as I get them! Wish me luck – and please post any suggestions that you have for success!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Comcast Experience HD Video Wall – Biggest TV in the World

So I’m on my way to lunch with my client in Philadelphia and she asks me “Have you been to the Comcast Center yet?” Can’t say that I have… so off we go. She tells me that it houses the world’s largest television. You have my attention, says the videophile. We walk into the Comcast Office Building and I’m expecting to see some big projection screen. But it’s much cooler than that.

First up came this picture:

Not bad, says I. That’s pretty big. But the configuration confuses me. Why would you have it break up with an opening in the middle. That just seems like bad planning… But wait, there’s more!

Holy Shnikies! The ENTIRE wall is a video screen! The background is showing the same wood paneling as the adjacent walls, so it looks like there are floating screens. Now I’m seriously impressed. This thing wouldn’t fit on the broad side of my house! (though, I’d be willing to let them try. Imagine the neighborhood movie nights ; ) And the Clarity – It’s like Super-HD on speed.
Here are some stats and details from their listing on the Go Philadelphia site:

Most stunning of all, however, is "The Comcast Experience," a 2,000 square-foot LED screen projecting computer-generated images so realistic, you'll think they're jumping out of the wall. With a resolution 500% greater than that of an HD television, the Experience is a remarkable technological and artistic achievement. The video wall, a giant HD video screen that is actually the largest four-millimeter LED screen in the world, is located right in the building's publicly accessible main lobby, so everyone can enjoy it.


Utilizing a technique called “3-Camera Panorama,” which involves placing three high-definition cameras side-by-side and filming everything from spectacular nature footage to urban landscapes, a seamless, wide-screen vista is created.

This realistic imagery offers 10 million pixels of clarity — five times the resolution of hi-definition TV — supplemented with computer-generated images of amazingly realistic quality, producing a vivid virtual world.

The system that delivers the content to the screen has the ability to make a pre-designed selection from a bank of hundreds of images. The selection from the delivery system is random in nature, in order to create an array of ever-changing imagery.

Click to read more about the World’s Largest LED Screen.

The only weird part to me? Why wouldn't they be showing something that, I don't know, actually airs on Comcast? Maybe they couldn't get an appointment with the cable guy. I know I've had my issues with that one ; )

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Philadelphia, PA Eats: Part 2

The Saga Continues:

As I finished up my travel for 2008, it’s time to do another installment on the eating escapades over the last couple months. I’m still in Philadelphia and MAN does this city know how to eat – if you missed the first post, check out Philadelphia Eats: Episode 1.

Otherwise, you know what I’m doing here: Eating at as many new places as I can find. Giving my 30 second thoughts, and moving on to the next place. So, without further ado:

This Post’s Highlight City: Philadelphia, PA Eats: Part 2

Fast Food

Here’s the standards list: I characterize food as “fast” much like my mother does – I have to unwrap it. Usually wait in a queue, national chains, multiple states have them.

There were lots of duplicates in this category overlapping with the first post: Au Bon Pain, The Corner Bakery, Dunkin Donuts, Faunbrook Catering (pretty much every Wednesday for lunch in Exton), The Pita Pit, Primo’s, Primo’s and more Primo’s – So here are the new ones this leg of the journey.

Wendy’s – Yeah, I know “them again?” What can I say? I do love a good value menu. Right down the street from the hotel. Eat [great might be a stretch] even late. Check! – As expected.

Chinese place on Market at 21st – I’m pretty sure there is one conglomerate that supplies and runs every Chinese place like this: Standard one page oversize menu with green and red text. Super close-up square pictures of entrees above them counter that appear to have been fading since 1984. And the exact same fluorescent red sweet and sour sauce in the pseudo-tupperware container. That’s probably why the name didn’t stick with me. That said… there’s a reason I keep going to these places. Sesame chicken, pork fried rice, crab rangoon and an egg roll. Can’t go wrong.

Pagano’s – Last day in town was not great. Pagano’s is a newer place that opened in the plaza where the office is located. Slick looking counter/deli type joint. However breakfast is not their strong point. Breakfast sandwiches should be no brainers. Should have been a tip off when the woman next to me was complaining about hers. Over cooked eggs, bland bagels, forgot the cheese… Won’t be back before noon – they get one more try though.

Asian Chao at PHL Airport – Worst meal I’ve eaten in Philly. Bourbon chicken was charred, Orange Chicken was dry, No sweet/sour sauce available, over-deep-fried egg rolls… and a glass of sprite that was a good 85% ice… Seriously? Skip this place in terminal F. I should have gotten the Sbarro…(*sigh*). That goodness I had enough smarts to hit Primo’s for lunch.

Mid Range Places:

These were places I needed to order from a menu, but could sit down and have my food brought to me. But you still get paper napkins and plastic “we don’t care if you steal it” cutlery:

Aya’s Café – Mediterranean fare near the office, pretty laid back, cozy atmosphere, not terribly big – but big enough. I had the Babaganoush and the Shawarma (thanks to Guy Fieri for doing that one on Guy’s Big Bite or I never would have know what the heck it was). De-friggin-licious! The Shawarma especially. Compatriots had a couple of their huge salads. I’ll be back there several times.

Day by Day Restaurant – A client favorite – we saw several people from the office while we were there. It’s easy to see why. Good food, reasonably priced, and the staff remembers you if you are a regular. I tried the Havarti and Turkey melt. There was a hint of citrus in there too that balanced perfectly. Nice even meal – as expected. Daily menu items on the big board like Seafood Lasagna that made it a tough decision even with the smaller total number of options.. I might try that next time I see it. Can’t tell you the last time I saw a bowl of crumbled desserts as an enticement to get something to go from the pastry counter – good idea.

World Café Live – Very interesting joint. Two stages for live music. We happened to be there on a night without a performance – tough luck. Everyone liked the Antipasto Mista. Good Italian style munchies to get started. The burger was spot on. Check out their site to see who is there when. An eclectic mix, but some pretty well known names at the same time. I’ll be back.

McKenzie’s Brew House – Check this place out more for the beverages than the chow. The Unicorn was a party favorite. I also tried a couple other varieties (the Abbey 8 was out of stock unfortunately). The food was average. Calamari is one of those “cook for a minute or cook for an hour” things if you believe the guys on food network. I think mine was in for about 10 minutes - fairly rubbery. The sliders and fries were about what you’d expect. And when they say “spicy,” dem wings is SPICY. It took about 10 minutes for the “eye sweats” to stop. I’d go back and try something different – both liquid and solid.

Mix Brickoven Pizza – Good place for a quick slice and a sandwich. My sandwich needed something – mayo, or more of the balsamic vinaigrette that came with. Was also a little light on the meat for a flank steak sandwich. The Spinach and Mushroom slice with wheat crust was different, but very tasty. Hit the spot.

Upper Crust-ier Type Joints:

These were nicer places. Linen on the table, you feel under-dressed in jeans and/or without a jacket. Probably not places I would try if I couldn’t charge it in after fasting for breakfast and lunch to save up the Per Diems.

Marigold’s Kitchen – Very small place (I believe there’s an upstairs too, I just didn’t see it. They’re located in a college area up at 45th and Larchwood. We were looking for it, had the address and still almost missed it. The food was quite good, if small. I had the Mussels (yeah, that’s right, Matt ordered seafood on purpose) and the Hanger Steak. Another BYOB joint. Expensive for the area and the portion sizes in my opinion. Don’t leave without dessert though, you’d be missing out.

Brasserie Perrier – I have mixed feelings about this place. The Halibut was very well done. But the tuna tartar was a different texture than I was looking for (not good or bad, just different). The vegetable complement (Spinach, seasonal veg gratin) was about average. However the Brussel sprouts were delicious – pan seared with pancetta. As many of my favorite TV chefs say “It’s always better with bacon.” I may even get my wife to eat them like this. Overall, it gets a pass. Not bad, probably not a return to – especially with all of the places I have yet to go.

Pietro’s – Supposed to be a pretty good pizza place. I wasn’t in the mood for a slice though. I can, however, highly recommend everything we had. From the Fried Mozz wrapped (I contend it was more draped in rather than wrapped) with Prosciutto, to the Vitello Scallopino over Linguini al Funghi (My Italian Prof would have a field day redlining this one) – all was delicious. The surprise for me on this one was the Arugula Salad - simple, straight forward, and an exquisite honey vinaigrette dressing. Delish!

Buddakahn – One of the top 3 meals I’ve had in the last year. It’s another one of the Starr Restaurant Empire (Like Alma de Cuba and the Continental, et al). Pricey items, but well worth the money. Everything is served family style to encourage sharing. We did the Tuna Pizza, the Black Cod and the Sea Bass (yes, you read that right… Matt ate a whole mess-a-seafood!). And it was all delectable! Don’t forget to try the Wasabi mashed potatoes, the green been salad or the Japanese Eggplant side dish. If I have the boss’s credit card, I’ll head back here in a second!

Watch for more from Philly!

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Fabulous Food Show and Cleveland Wine School – at 11:00 AM?

Ok, so I have a good excuse for this one.

A couple of weeks ago, I took off Friday from work for 2 reasons. 1) My daughter (and her cousin) were having a joint birthday party in the evening, and 2) It was the first day of the Cleveland Fabulous Food Show (that’s the name, not a review).

I managed to get tickets to the Guy Fieri 12:30 show – which were row two center section by the way (had no idea about that until I got there) – so I headed over when they opened at 10:00 to make sure I saw everything.

First off, there were a TON of exhibitors. Everything from gadgets to restaurants, local food stores, Ohio favorites. If you’re looking for a new salsa or Barbeque sauce, this is the place for you. There are lots of samples if you’re willing to wait in line. I’m usually not that patient. I cherry picked the short lines, waited for a couple brands I had heard of before, and made it to the back of the floor by about 10:45… What to do now?

What’s that sign say? Free wine tasting instructional class at 11:00? First come, first served… Guess I just filled up the next 30 minutes!

Aside from the obvious plusses to this one, there class was really well done. Marianne (check out Marianne’s Wine Blog ), the owner of the Cleveland Wine School gave us a quick overview of the school. Including details like “Open wine tastings on Fridays and Saturday – Bring your own food.” It sounded pretty cool. She said people bring different breads and cheeses… then she launched into the teaching portion of the program. The only cheesy part was an “accidentally served red-wine-gone-bad” which was obviously staged to show what not to drink – which was still very informative and showed me that I had, in fact, had bad wines before.

So What else did I learn? Well, here’s the top 15 (No significance to the number – just happens to be the good stuff) in no particular order:
  1. Acid cleans the pallet at tastings – that’s why you should have the foods along with wines.
  2. Tanins protect wine from oxidation – that’s why the reds can last longer than whites.
  3. Good white wines can be served warm (see her for detail on what constitutes “good” be
  4. Why swirl the wine? It causes minute amounts of agitation and evaporation that releases aroma
  5. Pale colors indicate “younger” wines – “Older” wines will be darker as some of the oxidation has already taken place.
  6. When the pros taste, the do that swishing motion (like with mouthwash). This is done to allow the most surface coverage within the mouth and to release the acid. You can determine the body of the wine this way.
  7. Speaking of acidity, that seems to be the main determiner or what foods do or should not go with certain foods. Sauvignon Blanc because of it’s high acidity in general, for example, goes weil with any chickens and fishes served with lemon or other citrus.
  8. White wines get darker as they age, Reds lose color.
  9. If a red wine has lost color, it’s said to be an older wine – more than 3 years old.
  10. The small sip offered to you when trying a wine is not to see if you like the wine. It’s to make sure the wine hasn’t gone bad. You already bought the bottle so no sending it back. If you think it’s gone bad, the proper etiquette is to request “Another of the same”
  11. Tannins also make the mouth feel fuzzy – her words, not mine.
  12. When tasting – the slight opening of the mouth and inhaling is to determine acidity of the wine. The more the mouth waters, the more acid.
  13. The highly acidic wines should always be served with food at gatherings.
  14. TCA is bacteria in corks that are driving the industry to explore synthetic corks and screw tops
  15. Decanting softens the wine. When the air gets in, the oxygen aerates the tannins making it a softer texture.

Wow – that’s a mouthful. And I was writing quickly, so if any of this is off, please leave me a comment so that I can correct it. And check out the food show and the Cleveland Wine School. Both are time well spent when you would be working otherwise.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Adding to Technorati

Learning all about how to do this stuff...

Technorati Profile

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Scylla and Charybdis: The wha-who?

I did my daily check into today to see what they had on the docket. (HD TV adapters for analog TV’s. You know, the “As of February, 2009, your analog tv with just an antenna will cease to work” warnings you’ve been hearing about for a year now. This thing fixes that apparently. I’m on DirecTV, so I’m set anyway). Anyway, they typically have some goofy product description or exchange preceding the tech specs of the product.
In the midst of this one I see this sentence:

“…Between the Scylla of digital conversion and the Charybdis of the Pinnacle 880e PCTV Ultimate Stick, the good ship That Old TV is about to crash on the rocks of redundancy.”

Between the what and the who?

So I turn to my old friend Google Search Bar, who in turn shoves me over to Wikipedia:

Scylla and Charybdis are two sea monsters of Greek mythology who were situated on opposite sides of the Strait of Messina between Sicily and Calabria, in Italy. They were located in close enough proximity to each other that they posed an inescapable threat to passing sailors; avoiding Charybdis meant passing too closely to Scylla and vice versa.


But what other Sea Monsters top the list? Here are the top 5 in my book:

· The Giant Octopus Thingy: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea/Pirates of the Carribean/etc.
· The Loch Ness Monster – Ahhhh Inverness - technically not in the sea, but it's a water dweller
· The Kraken – Clash of the Titans (Part Octopus/Part Crab
· Godzilla – While he spent most of his time on land, He came from the water
· Giant Sea Serpent – On every map before 1500.

Want to find some more mythical creatures? Check this out. Found it looking for a description of the Kraken:

The Mythical Creatures and Beasts Wiki

Lots of stuff I didn’t know there… probably gonna keep it that way.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Macallan - a tasting event

About 2 week s ago I had the opportunity to attend a Macallan Scotch Whisky tasting. (First off, there’s no ‘e’ in Scotch whisky. ‘Whiskey‘ is an Irish spelling from what I understand.

I was alerted to the event by my buddy Badger, a Philly local, who I went to college with. He sent me this Find a Macallan Event link and I signed up for the same one he was on.

We (Badger, Paul, Phil and I) were all able to gain admittance to the event at the Liberty Museum in downtown Philly. What a Great event! By coincidence, my brother Joseph had just attended the same event (with a different host) in Chicago the weekend prior, and also gave it high marks.

Here’s how the tasty goodness went down. Upon arrival, you are given tokens for beverages (one for most, sneaky bastages get more than one). I was a huge fan of the cheese and cracker table. Aside from it’s obvious responsibility-based implications, it was also quite delectable. Then you go into the presentation room. Nicely appointed, mood well set. And Graham, our “brand ambassador,” was certainly a character.

Negatives: (And I’m nit-picking here – because it was free Macallan. Grain of salt, people!)

I’ve been to other whisky tastings in the past – the most recent being Johnny Walker Scotch Whisky (also sans ‘e’). That one, by the way, led me to purchase a bottle of Johnny Blue through an offshore excursion. (“I like to shop at the Duty Free shop.” You know you were silently singing that in your head… ; ) The previous experiences were much more educational on what to look for in a good Whisky. “Look for the nutty flavor,” “… the fruity aroma,” “… the hint of orange or flowers.” I was expecting this to be very similar. However I didn’t get much of that during the actual tasting.


The Macallan – that should be self explanatory. The 18 year, I believe, was featured on Lost in past seasons. They don’t do that for Wild Turkey (no offense). The Scotch was delicious. The flight we were indulged with included the 10 (for the token), then while seated: the 12, 15, 17 and 18.

That alone is enough to promote this event. Also take into account a very detailed description of the distilling process, the barrels used, the people (and their remarkable noses) that determine what make up a batch. These were great anecdotal references to how and why The Macallan is what It is.

By the way, there was a great presentation by Graham, the Cheese table (both previously mentioned), Belgian Chocolate (was presented with the 12 year, but I found the 15 year was more ‘simpatico’ to this particular olfactory offering). Not to mention the Ginormous flat/touch screen that bore the information presented to us. That was just cool.

What was missing:

The one question that I posed to my cohorts was around why there would be two labels with but one year difference. Specifically, the 17 and 18 year. Why so different in taste, or so similar, that they needed separate incarnations.

Then came the goody bag: We received some flyers (etc, etc), some tasting glasses – one each, and a little flip book. I didn’t open the book until I was unpacking from the trip. Then I found the answer to my question:

It’s around the casking. The Macallan is casked in both Sherry Oak and Bourbon Oak barrels:

Bouron Oak – Houses the 10, 15, 17, 21 and 30 year Macallans
Sherry Oak – Houses the 12, 18, 25 and a different 30 year Macallan

The Sherry versions are darker in color (due to what is absorbed from their homes). And each bottle tells which type of barrel that particular libation arises from.

So there you go boys, one more mystery of the universe uncovered.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

New Music [For me anyway] – Link Wray

I always like finding new musical artists, or seeing a new publication by a known favorite. By the way, if you care: Jason Mraz – Thumbs up… Guns N Roses… No dice.

So when my brother-in-law put together a site proposing the induction of Link Wray to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (that’s right, it’s still in Cleveland!), it got my attention – for a few reasons:
  • Eric doesn’t do websites – it’s my sister’s genre. But I took a look and I’m pretty impressed. Very well done, especially for a first effort.
  • Eric DOES do Music. I’m constantly impressed by the names he puts in front of me. Old school blues, shows he’s been to, artists I should try out. Los Straightjackets to Buddy Guy. He Knows music.
  • Eric’s more or less a quiet guy in general. For him to put a site together means I should take a look.

So here’s what I found:

First off – you can check out his Induct Link Wray site.

Great bio information there. Well researched.

I’ll try to give you the Wikipedia Link Wray highlights

Wray was noted for pioneering a new sound for electric guitars, as exemplified in his hit 1958 instrumental "Rumble", by Link Wray and his Ray Men, which pioneered an overdriven, distorted electric guitar sound, and also for having, "invented the power chord, the major modus operandi of modern rock guitarist,"[1] "and in doing so fathering," or making possible, "punk and heavy rock. “

The Music:

Peruse some of the history that Link Wray has been part of. That’s right, Raw-Hide… That alone should be enough to get you to read further. Carry on.


· Rumble
· Raw-Hide
· Comanche
· Slinky
· Vendetta (as Ray Vernon)
· Trail Of The Lonesome Pine
· Ain't That Lovin' You Babe
· Jack The Ripper
· El Toro
· Big City Stomp
· Rumble Mambo
· The Black Widow
· Week End
· Run Chicken Run
· The Shadow Knows
· Deuces Wild
· Good Rockin' Tonight
· I'm Branded
· Girl From The North Country
· Ace Of Spades
· The Batman Theme (with Bobby Howard)
· Ace Of Spades
· Let The Good Times Roll (with Kathy Lynn)
· Jack The Ripper
· It's All Over Now Baby Blue


· Link Wray & The Raymen
· Great Guitar Hits by Link Wray
· Jack The Ripper
· Link Wray Sings And Plays Guitar
· Link Wray
· Mordicai Jones (w/ Bobby Howard)
· Be What You Want To
· Beans and Fatback (rec. 1971)
· The Link Wray Rumble (rec. February 1974)
· Stuck in Gear
· Bull Shot
· Live at the Paradiso
· Apache
· Wild Side of the City Lights
· Indian Child
· Shadowman
· Walking Down a Street Called Love - live
· Barbed Wire

Now that you have the background – go check out the site and sign the petition if you’d like to make an impact on the history of music.

I, for one, will affix my virtual John Hancock to this one.

Well done, Moore.