Category: Miscellany

Renaming SFO…

I was unaware that there was an effort underway to rename SFO to “Harvey Milk International Airport.” This particular quote in the article made me laugh out loud:

And, of course, flights between Harvey Milk International Airport and Reagan National Airport would be joyous for those travelers who prefer their flights laden with as much irony as possible.

Irony FTW 🙂

Good luck with the ballot, San Francisco!

Knowledge of the universe is not to be obtained by metaphysics.

Most philosophers – or, at any rate, very many – profess to be able to prove, by a priori metaphysical reasoning, such things as the fundamental dogmas of religion, the essential rationality of the universe, the illusoriness of matter, the unreality of all evil, and so on. There can be no doubt that the hope of finding reason to believe such theses as these has been the chief inspiration of many life-long students of philosophy. This hope, I believe, is vain. It would seem that knowledge concerning the universe as a whole is not to be obtained by metaphysics, and that the proposed proofs that, in virtue of the laws of logic such-and-such things must exist and such-and-such others cannot, are not capable of surviving a critical scrutiny.

Bertrand Russell

A Fascinating Scotch

First off, I should say that I am NOT a scotch guy. I’m a bourbon guy, through and through to my bones. Over my plentiful years I have tried myriad single-malt, high-quality scotches and they’ve never captured my palette or imagination. My working assumption is that I have something (undoubtedly irrational) against filtering my liquor through burnt vegetation – in the case of scotch, peat. I’m also not a fan of JD – in that case, sugar maple.

But I was totally intrigued by the idea of Glenmorangie’s Lasanta scotch.

It’s a twelve-year-old, single-malt scotch. Of those twelve years, it spends the first ten aging inside previously-used bourbon barrels that they apparently purchase and then loan to an unnamed bourbon producer in the US – who presumably leverages them for 4-6 years and then ships ’em out. You can only use a bourbon barrel once for making bourbon. The Lasanta scotch is then decanted out of these bourbon barrels and put into previously-used sherry casks for a final two years of aging. How’s that for different!

Just to put this out of the way quickly, if you offered me a twelve year old bourbon that had been aged with sherry or cherries or berries or whatever – I’d probably turn my nose up at you ‘cuz I’m a bourbon snob. So if you’re a scotch aficionado and you think this whole idea is moronic, I completely hear you! However, since I am not a scotch aficionado, I’m really digging this stuff! It has a very bourbon-y finish. A complex (to say the least) nose, and the sherry part of it does not overwhelm. The burnt peat is still in there – for sure. It’s a scotch – without doubt – but it’s a scotch mellowed by the bourbon barrel, and spiced-up by the sherry cask residues. If you’re a bourbon nut, you should try this out. It’s not trivial to find, unfortunately, but it is out there!

Happy whiskey!

Tom Waits “gets” me.

My kids are starting to notice I’m a little different from the other dads. “Why don’t you have a straight job like everyone else?” they asked me the other day. I told them this story: In the forest, there was a crooked tree and a straight tree. Every day, the straight tree would say to the crooked tree, “Look at me…I’m tall, and I’m straight, and I’m handsome. Look at you…you’re all crooked and bent over. No one wants to look at you.” And they grew up in that forest together. And then one day the loggers came, and they saw the crooked tree and the straight tree, and they said, “Just cut the straight trees and leave the rest.” So the loggers turned all the straight trees into lumber and toothpicks and paper. And the crooked tree is still there, growing stronger and stranger every day.”

– Tom Waits

Montgomery Cheddar – WOW!

I appreciate that 99% of the time, the words “Cheddar” and “WOW” do not belong in the same sentence. However, I had an epiphany this weekend – and its name was “Montgomery”.

Montgomery Cheddar is made at Manor Farm in Somerset in the UK. They’ve been making artisanal Cheddar for generations. This stuff is amazing and completely redefines how your brain thinks of “Cheddar”. It’s aged. It’s firm. It’s flaky. It’s downright dirty – and I mean that in a good way! You can seriously taste the terroir from which these cows were sourcing their sustenance. The finish is downright earthy! I mean, just take a look at this stuff!

Have YOU eaten Cheddar cheese that looks like that before?

Manor Farm makes just over 3,300 lbs of Cheddar cheese each week (roughly 60 wheels at 56 lbs each of so). Each round ages 14 to 20 months. By way of comparison, Cabot makes about 150,000 pounds of Cheddar cheese each day.

This stuff is purportedly the standard against which all Cheddar cheeses are compared. I have bad news for anybody who makes Cheddar cheese: you can’t compare.

The great news is that Wasik’s has this stuff IN STOCK right now. Get your ass to Wellesley center!

Blue Ginger Revisited

Since we moved out of the city in 2000, the boss and I have eaten once or twice at Chef Ming Tsai’s Blue Ginger in (S)Wellesley MA. While the meals certainly were not horrible, they weren’t wildly memorable either. It’s been years since we’ve been.

Last night we snuck out to celebrate the boss’s 29th birthday (yes, she’s 29 again!). The wait at OGA’s was too long. The wait at Alta Strada was twice that of OGA’s. So we thought we’d take a stab at Blue Ginger, where we were seated right away. We are told by friends they don’t reserve every table in advance so they can often seat walk-ins.

Net-net, we had a stellar meal. Blue Ginger is officially on my list of fine dining outside the Boston/Cambridge city limits. It’s an unfortunately small list, so I’m happy to be able to add to it!

We started off with:

Crispy Fried Calamari with Thai Dipping Sauce which was tasty, but not exceptional. Apparently it’s a signature dish. The batter was on the thick side. The dipping sauce was wildly distinctive, but you had to consume it in units of millileters due to how strong the flavors were.

Foie Gras-Shiitake Shumai in Sauternes-Shallot Broth which was quite impressive. The shumai were ethereal (the best word we could come up with) in that they weren’t smack-you-in-the-face flavorful, but they were incredibly savory and subtle with a superb texture. You kinda wished you could just chew ’em forever 🙂 . The broth was exceptional, and many of the calamari were dipped into it rather than the Thai dipping sauce they came with.

Creamless Roasted Parsnip Soup with Wild Mushroom-Truffle Ragout and Beet Syrup which was stupendous. The perfect soup for a cold night. A wonderful mix of flavors. Just enough beet to kick it into high gear. Bravo!

For her main course, the boss ordered the Crispy Skin Salmon in an Aromatic Corn Broth with Shiso-Chile Oil. The crisped-up skin was to-die-for. I assume they crisp it with a torch or something, but whatever they do, it was delectable. The Salmon was perfectly cooked.

For my main course, I ordered a house specialty, the Garlic-Black Pepper Lobster with Lemongrass Fried Rice (pictured below). It was the best lobster I’ve had in recent memory – probably since a lobster dish I had at The Blue Room in the first half of the 90s.

[For those of you with greying hair, the plating of the Lobster gave me a total flashback to the “Fighting Prawns” dish that was a staple at Stan Frankenthaler’s original Salamander (in the Thinking Machines building in East Cambridge). Two huge prawns were cooked whole and assembled standing on the plate with their legs intertwined – as if they were fighting. Customers would invariably lose their cool when the dish arrived!]

To finish off the meal, we shared the Palm Sugar Cranberry Tart and Ming’s Maitake Coffee.

It was a super duper birthday dinner, and we’ll head back to Blue Ginger again, now that we know they’re playing an A game. Yes, Chef Tsai was there – hopping from table to table all evening playing the gracious host. We got to say hi.

O.N.C.E. In Hell — A Culinary Adventure

For those of you who have been living in a cave of late 😉 this week marks the premiere (three shows only) of O.N.C.E. In Hell. From JJ’s blog post:

This is a dinner with a full performance. The menu and the script were written together, as a play, by a really amazingly creative group of women, three of whom are cooking- as Cuisine en Locale. It’s not going to be a goth night, it is going to be an art-for-arts-sake literary interpretation of the text.

Jennifer, the show’s Assistant Head Chef, assures us this is not about spicy food. It’s ten courses of haute cuisine plus Dante – damn – what could be cooler than that?!?!?

The show goes on on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights this week in Cambridge at the American Repertory Theater’s Oberon theatrical club space. Apparently the Thursday show is just about sold out, but there are still some tix available for Tuesday and Wednesday, so have at ’em!

The boss and I are counting the hours ourselves!!!