Monday, February 27, 2012

Tired of all the Experts, a medium sized rant

So last night was the 84th Annual Academy Awards, a night full of pomp and pose that I used to enjoy watching back in the days when I watched movies in the theatre on a regular basis. I no longer watch movies in the theatre on a regular basis, or even at all really, and as a result no longer really have much interest in the show, but a chance to get together with friends we rarely see for an Oscar Party was on hand last night so I watched the Oscars.

As for the telecast, well it's 3 1/2 hours I'll never get back but at least daughter was exhausted enough after a weekend of tubing/sleepover/soccer, and uninterested enough that she actually snuggled with me on a loveseat. Daughter is almost 13 and has never really been cuddly so I've likely seen the last of that. The Thai food was solid and the banter had some moments, plus the whole thing wrapped up before 8:30 so it was a good evening out.

I had not seen any of the nine nominated films, when did that happen ?, but still got 11 correct out of 25 categories in the annual Oscar Poll with the winner getting 17. The show was fairly well paced, and while Billy Crystal did make me cringe a couple of times he was pretty solid as host. A silent movie made by Europeans, which is apparently about the way American films used to be, won best picture, and oddly was nominated for best original screenplay, Meryl Strep won, George Clooney didn't and the thing ended.

Today however, was the worst part of the Oscars as you couldn't swing a cat without running into some expert, ie: blogger, failed scriptwriter, media hack, lashing out at the selections, the production and the rampant racism of Billy Crystal doing blackface.

Really ? How about if you all just shut up.

We live in a society where I don't like it now means it's terrible and sadly the same technology that I'm using to complain about these experts is the one that provides them with their platforms, and yes I understand the irony of me blogging to complain about bloggers.

I'm tired of the experts who aren't, simply watching 100 movies a year doesn't make you a film critic, it just makes you a movie fan, I'm sick of the bloggers who monetize their opinions and then believe that they are more than just opinions, I loathe the tweeters who think that because they have 4,231 followers that they are important. Have they ever considered that 4,230 of the followers are simply there because the stuff they write is so hilariously bad ?

There was a time when critics carried some credibility because of their experience and knowledge of the industry or art form that they critiqued but nowadays everyone is not only a critic but they have an avenue to have others read their criticism and therefore give it some weight.

It's sad to me that Wikipedia, an encyclopedia where anyone with access to the internet can be an editor, is now a reference material. I am depressed that one of my favourite online Sports pages devoted its' lead today to a profanity laced rant about the Oscars written mostly by people who have no real experience in the motion picture industry. It makes me weep that consumers judge restaurants based on online reviews, especially after a New York Times study indicated that over 1/3 of all online restaurant reviews are written by people who have never eaten in the restaurant.

At the risk of sounding like an old fart, too late I know, I wish that journalism was left to the journalists, experts actually had expertise in their fields of criticism and blogs were simply a way for ordinary Joes to get their thoughts out to friends, family and wandering strangers, not a platform for shoving opinions down our throats.

I'll try to write something about food or wine later this week.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Stupid NHL Polls

Much was made in local media, and I use the term loosely, about a recent poll of NHL players that had Phil Kessel listed as the most easily intimidated player in the NHL, followed by the Sedin twins, Daniel and Henrik.

First off this "player poll" was the result of 145 anonymous NHL players voting, since the NHL employs roughly 750 players the poll is hardly mathematically significant, and secondly it illustrates to me that these 145 players aren't very bright.

I mean if Kessel and the Sedins are so easily intimidated why are they all in the top ten in the NHL in scoring ? Shouldn't the opposition coaches do something about this to scare them away from scoring ?

The macho culture is always going to be prevalent in professional sports, Wayne Gretzky was criticized for being soft, but is is a bit sad that a sport that has done so much to improve its' on ice product and put speed and skill at the forefront has to deal with this stuff. It's also sad, to me, that 145 NHL players chose to anonymously dump on their brethren, I'm betting most of the 145 who responded are just guys who wish they had the skill sets of the players they mentioned .

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Two Argentinean Reds

I hit it lucky the past week with a pair of good value red wines from Argentina. Both wines are currently on sale at the BCLDB, meaning that for a 4 week period their retail price has been reduced, in each case by $2 per bottle. This is a practice, known as LTOs for Limited Time Offering, is used by agents to create interest in their wines, sometimes just to get the brand noticed, sometimes in order to reach sales quotas required to keep the brand listed. Often this practice seems futile to me, I mean is a $1 discount on a $25 bottle going to make me buy it ? Unlikely.

In the case of these two wines the discounts did drive my purchase, for different reasons. In one case it brought a known quantity into everyday drinking range, and in the other case it dropped the wine into I'll take a chance range. The first wine is the Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from the Don David range of wines, the third of five tiers of wines Bodegas El Esteco in the Cafayette region of Argentina, way up high. This wine is a consistent value at it's regular retail of $15.99 but when placed on sale becomes perfectly affordable for everyday quaffing.

The wine is robust and typically Cabernet with black fruits and cocoa in the nose and a distinct note of smoked meat and peppers, the flavours are rich, this is new world fruit driven cab, but there is enough tannin to keep things in check and complement red meats. I opened this 30 minutes before dinner and served it with a roasted striploin of beef, it was a delicious combination. I will likely buy a half dozen bottles of this before the sale price ends to keep on hand for better dinners, and hope it goes back on sale when grill season arrives, it is perfect burger wine.

Next up was the I'll take a chance wine, the Reserva Syrah from Santa Julia. Santa Julia is one of the ranges of the massive Familia Zuccardi winery, Argentina's third largest, and is produced in the dry, lower altitude area of Mendoza. Generally I'm not likely to spend $15 on a "Reserva" from a big box winery but the $2 discount swayed me and we tried this with pizza with happy results, the wine is full bodied with lots of herbs, pepper and red fruits in the profile. There is a fresh acidity to it that would limit it's ageability but made it a nice match with the tomato, cheese, mushroom, salami combo on the pizza.  

Unfortunately this wine is in limited supply, less than 400 bottles in the province, so I fear the discount may be for the purpose of removing any stocks prior to delisting. If you see it on a shelf at the current retail of $12.99 I'd recommend grabbing a bottle or two.

So, in summation, I had good fortune with a couple of discounted wines, one new and one already a fave. I generally use the discounts to buy wines I'm already familiar with but looking back over past tasting notes I've discovered that a number of wines that are currently in rotation on our table got their start as LTOs so I guess the discounting works. I guess the lesson is to pay attention to those sale tags when you're shopping in government stores and you may be pleasantly surprised.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

The Bacon Fat Bellwether, just a little tongue in cheek

I often try to gauge how I'm going to like a person by questioning them about their taste in music or films, generally testing to see their reaction to things perhaps outside the mainstream. I mean almost everyone is going to have enjoyed The Godfather and the Beatles but I'm more interested in your opinion of The Long Good Friday and Little Feat. I'm not saying I will write someone off if they don't appreciate the things I do, but it certainly makes me a tad suspicious.

Food and wine are also good areas to engage new acquaintances in their preferences to see if you are likely to long term friends. I know that vegetarians exist, and I know many have reasons they believe viable for their food stance but I doubt seriously that we could ever be long term amici, I mean there's just too wide a gap to bridge . I can excuse long time friends who drink Cariboo Lager but a stranger who does is going to be on beer probation until I see some signs of positive improvement.

I'm not totally set in my ways, a person who I consider a friend eats his steaks well done, burnt to be honest, can't abide mayonaisse and cheers for both the Red Sox and the Patriots but I can look past that because we have forged a bond through the years ..........actually this same person listens to Fleet Foxes and drinks light beer with fish tacos, maybe it's time to more closely analyze this relationship.

But I digress, the simplest bellwether for future friendship revolves around bacon, though doesn't everything ?  Bacon may well the ultimate food known to man, sweet, salty, savoury, crispy and just plain delicious. When daughter first experienced it, at age three, she approached it with the temerity that kids show towards any new food. Once it hit the taste buds though her comment was: "This is Bacon ?......what took you so long !!!!!!!".  I recall a survey that stated that when asked what they missed most from their previous diets over 70% of vegetarians said bacon, so whether or not someone likes bacon isn't really an issue the question is:

"Do you keep a jar of bacon fat in your kitchen ?"

If the answer is no, then long term friendship is probably not in the cards, unless you have some outstanding other personal traits. Once, a few summers back, we had neighbours over for burgers, the male of the couple and I were discussing the burgers and I mentioned that since these burgers were made with ground bison I had added bacon fat so that they wouldn't be too lean. His comment was along the lines of "Where did you get the bacon fat from?"......... we like his wife so we still socialize but it's never going to be the same.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Reserve Bonarda ? Who knew

We've talked about Bonarda before and I've drained many bottles of the wine recommended in that post since then but the other day I saw something that made my head turn, a Reserve Bonarda .

At first I thought Why in the world would anyone make a Reserve Bonarda ? Bonarda is an everyday grape making everyday wines, the stuff that is consumed daily in homes across Argentina I would imagine. Still this Reserva was only priced at $12.99 so I figured Why not? and grabbed a bottle.

I'm glad I did, the wine was delicious and excellent value, I guess the Reserve part is the oak aging, but regardless the wine is delicious and a lovely complement to grilled meats, burgers, bolognese or even pizza. The colour is deep red, bordering on purple and fruit flavours are all sweet and lush; cherries, blackberries and plums but there is a nice spicy, smoky core to the wine that evens out the fruit nicely. There is a reasonable seam of acidity and a touch of vanilla from the oak, in fact the wine was much bigger and richer than I had expected with a long finish and great mouth feel.

The wine in question is from the relatively new, 14 year old, winery Argento and has good distribution in the lower mainland stores and appears to have come down in price since last fall.  Retailing currently at $12.99 I think the Argento Reserva Bonarda 2010  is a very good buy and would be a nice change from the Shiraz and Malbecs that seem to dominate the Sunday roast table .