Thursday, September 29, 2011

Redefining "Epic Fail" and a Haiku

The term Epic Fail is a part of our culture and often gets tossed around too freely. much like the terms love and hate but that's another topic. Yesterday, however, the Boston RedSox redefined the term with the greatest choke in the history of major league baseball.

That's right the Red Sox, the team with a Nation of followers, (you can actually spend $10 and become an official member of Red Sox Nation) did something that had never before been accomplished in the 140 year history of the major leagues, they blew a nine game lead in the month of September. This year's edition of the Atlanta Braves had a nearly Epic Fail September as well but the Red Sox failure was better, or worse, and really the Atlanta Braves failing just isn't very interesting. To put things in perspective, the 2011 Red Sox winning percentage in the month of September, you know crunch time, when the tough get going all those other cliches, was worse than the team who are synonymous with futility, the 1962 New York Mets .

This, my friends, is Epic Fail on so many levels I can't begin to cover them all. From the winter signing of Carl Crawford, the trade for Adrian Gonzalez, the emergence of Jacoby Ellsbury as a superstar this was the Red Sox year ...... and yet they failed. I tried to console my Red Sox friends today with the fact that they did achieve something historic but it didn't seem to offer much solace.

My disdain for Red Sox fans, and all fans of the New England area teams is previously documented here but I thought I'd add a little variation on Japanese poetry to sum up yesterday's events.

Haiku is a form of poetry in Japan that has been converted to English, in the English version Haiku consists of three line poems which follow a format of 5 syllables in line one, seven in line two and five again in line three. As an homage to Japan and the Red Sox, I present my first (self) published Haiku entitled:

A Nation Mourns

Red Sox fail again
this should not be surprising
but is to Massholes

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pizza Red - Part Two (sort of)

OK I'm cheating a bit here because I didn't actually have this wine with pizza, but while I was drinking it all I could think was Wow, this would be great with Pizza so I'm putting it in the Pizza Red category.

The wine is produced by the Dao Sul group, a partnership of four wineries that was formed in 1989 to make wines from the prime Dao producing area. The partnership went well and expanded into, among other areas, the Estremedura region near the capital of Lisbon. The wines of this area had never been noted for quality, more vast production, but some new producers, such as Dao Sul, are taking advantage of the warmer weather and moderating coastal climates to produce excellent everyday value wines.

This wine Cortello Touriga Nacional is produced from Touriga Nacional grapes, the backbone grape of most Port, but the warm climate in the Estremedura region allows the grape to ripen and take away the harsh acidity that marks the grape in the Northern Douro area. The coastal cool nights keep the fruit in check and the result is a big, rich, full flavoured red without the brooding character of many hot climate reds.

There is lots of dark fruits (blueberry, plum, blackberry) in the initial taste along with oak and green herbs and the nose displays the classic floral, violet aromas of Touriga Nacional . Given time in the glass the wine develops earthy, mineral and spice box character and a nice chalky acidity that makes it much more interesting. It has a long finish and while it may be not right for those who want fruit bombs I enjoyed it a great deal with pan seared beef, sweet peppers and noodles and it would be a lovely pizza red.

The wine has limited distribution at the BCLDB yet had a "New Listing" tag on it at the Mothership so I'm not sure whether it is newly arrived and waiting further shipping or is a one time buy. If you see it I would suggest you grab a couple for pizza night or any slow cooked red meats or ragouts, at $11.99 it is very good value.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Searching for Pizza Red, an Ongoing Saga

So it appears that fall has truly come to us quickly, clouds and rain, highs in the teens and chill over night. Without the clouds and rain it would be perfect, as I prefer my temperatures in the teens, but I do hope the sun will keep shining until at least November.

With the fall comes a change in menu at our house, the summer season is grill and saute', salads and steaks and all that stuff but with the cooling temperatures it's time for the oven and the slow cooker. It's also time for home made pizza, which is among daughter's favourite things and one of the more versatile dishes known to man.

I occasionally make the dough from scratch but more often than not I employ the frozen dough from Calabria Bakery, the bakery is located on Victoria just south of 33rd avenue and well worth the trip (try the sfogliatelle stuffed with nutella if you go) but most often I buy the dough at Stong's Market in Kerrisdale.

Take the dough out of the freezer the night before you want to have pizza and leave in the fridge overnight. On the morning of Pizza Day I take the dough ball out of the fridge and coat with a bit of olive oil then place it in a bowl, cover with a towel and put the bowl in our laundry closet while I do two or three loads of laundry. The heat and humidity created in the small laundry space helps the dough rise and by 3 o'clock or so it's ready to punch down and roll.

I use rectangular bake pans rather than the stone because I'm lazy and can cook two pies at once that way, dough is stretched to fit the pans and topped with simple tomato basil sauce . I generally cook down a combo of good quality canned diced tomatoes with some basil, oregano, shallot, salt, pepper and whole garlic over low heat. After 15 minutes or so I remove the garlic and discard then give a quick puree with a hand blender and add some Passata to get the texture I want. Sauce the crusts, sprinkle with chiffonade basil, add cheese and whatever else you want and bake at 500 degrees for 15-20 minutes, I like my crusts crispy, and serve with a salad of mixed greens and dinner is done. I generally make enough so that there is leftover pizza for daughter's lunch the next day and an after work meal for me .

Pizza requires wine as a partner, burgers and Asian food can get by with beer but pizza needs fruity red to bring out all its' glory . The wine must be dry, but must have fruit to counter the acid in the tomato sauce, but the wine also needs acidity on its' own to work with the cheese so really simple reds aren't likely to be enough.

We generally have pizza 2-3 times a month over the fall and winter season so this year I'm going to chronicle, as often as I remember, the wines I buy to go with the pizza and how they fare. It should be noted that our House Special Pizza is topped with meat (pepperoni for daughter/wife, prosciutto for me), cheese (generally a blend of mozzarella, fontina and romano), roasted cremini mushrooms and sauteed spinach (the veggies are cooked ahead of time to release the water in them that would otherwise make for soggy pizza).

This week's pizza red was a Rioja from Bodegas Antano the Rioja Crianza 2008, which retails at a very reasonable $12.99 at the BCLDB and has wide distribution. The BCL site waxes long and eloquent about the profile of this wine, I found it fruity with a nice balance, some spice, cocoa and dried cherry on the nose, as with most wines made primarily from Tempranillo there is a bit of a dusty character and a hints of tobacco leaf/leather and coffee in the palate. The wine finishes long and was a very good match to this week's pizza .

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Feel free to ignore this as well

I'm just posting here as a test of the feed to Google Reader which I've set up .

Please feel free to ignore this, although it's interesting that the RedSox have chosen to play in September much the same as they played in April. Maybe MLB should go to a four month season in best interest of The Nation - that's RedSox Nation of course.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Happy that's it's Fall

I know that most will not share my feelings on this but I am happy that we seem to be done with our September heatwave.

I know it's been great for the farmers and G-man may actually not finish the summer of 2011 in the red but when you work at a restaurant with a huge patio and most of your summer staff have returned to school a long, hot, dry September is a major pain. I've been working extra shifts all month and, quite frankly, am too old for this stuff.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not praying for rain but a little cloudy and 20 degrees will be just fine for a week or two. Plus I'd really like the feeling of a blanket over me while I'm sleeping instead of a crumpled ball of sheets around my ankles.

There is also the fact that I'm getting tired of grilled and am hankering for braised, roasted and slow cooked with all the rustic flavours those preparations entail. In anticipation of the Fall hearty food season I bought a bottle of a newly listed Chilean red on the weekend:Junta Reserva Syrah-Carmenere 2010, this is new world wine with some lead in its' pencil but really it's more suited for the grill/roast rather than the braise.

The wine is deep reddish purple with a ripe fresh nose, on the palate there are tones of leather, smoke and spice to mingle with dried cherry and black fruits. The fruit dominates but there's enough tannin to carry burgers or simple roasted meat, At $14.97 it's not a great buy but it is a good bottle at a reasonable price and worth a try, the wine has wide spread distribution so should be easy enough to find.

I do question the naming of the winery however, while the back label assures me that Junta is a Spanish word meaning to gather for a purpose, or collaborate, I just can't get the image of intellectuals being marched into soccer stadiums at gunpoint out of my head .

Monday, September 12, 2011

A small tracking device

In order to try and make it easier for my loyal follower's to access the blog I'm doing some work with Technorati, ignore this post unless you find U68QM2V8JKBE to be interesting.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A little, literally, Wine Note

The other night I got off work earlier and stopped in at the newish BCLDB Signature store at Alberni and Bute street. I was looking to pick up some beer and did, though the selection is poor, but while standing in line I saw a cut-case display of 250ml bottles of Cabernet-Syrah Vins de Pays D'oc from JP Chenet for $4.49 so I grabbed one just for curiosty sake.

Now for some background, JP Chenet is the export label of the massive French producer Grands Chais de France a bottler and exporter of wine in France. Grands Chais de France do not make wine, they buy it in bulk and ship it to one of their huge bottling facilities in France, filter and then bottle the wine, this is industrial wine but that doesn't mean it is without merit. The JP Chenet line produces good quality, varietally true, if not exciting, wines but to me the quality/price ratio has never been enough to encourage me to buy or recommend the wines.

Last night i sampled the Cabernet-Syrah and my feelings are still mixed. The wine is fine, it has no flaws and presents some decent cherry, black fruit, spicebox flavours. The tannins are very subtle, it's a new world style, but it was fine with pizza and would be a decent partner to most red meats or chicken. At a prorated 750ml price of $13.47 I wouldn't buy it again but the beauty of this product is its' size.

At 250ml this is a perfect "big glass" of wine, enough to carry dinner and I know that many people can't finish a bottle of wine at dinner so this provides a low cost alternative. The bottle is also a great size for packing on a hike, or going to a picnic and the "no waste" factor means that for these occasions it represents good value. Back in the dark ages when I was a wine importer the BCLDB would not approve listing for 250ml, or 500ml, bottles because they weren't a standard package unit but it appears they have loosened their stance and that is a good idea in my mind.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Really Bad Tagline in Infiniti Ad

There is currently an ad campaign running for Infiniti that wants you to challenge the status quo .

The ad opens with a shot from space of a sunrise over planet Earth and the opening line is, I kid you not, "If no one ever challenged the status quo the Earth would still be flat.

Um, no it wouldn't because the Earth was actually never flat so it could never still be flat .

This ad was produced by TBWA\Chiat\Day Los Angeles, who should be ashamed of themselves, plus didn't anyone at Nissan/Infiniti hear that line and go : "Wait a minute"

You can watch the bad ad here