Saturday, January 22, 2011

Desert Islands and Books

The other day I happened to glance at an old Bible that I have. For some reason that triggered a thought about What book would you want to have with you if you were stranded on a desert island? Usually, when people are asked that question, the will say "Oh, the Bible." Sometimes you will hear someone say something like "The complete works of Shakespear," although that would probably be more than one book.

Me, my book would be Boy Scouts of America Official Handbook for Boys, preferably the original 1911 edition.

Hey, I want to know how to start a fire with sticks, build a lean-to, and identify edible plants. Plus, maybe, I could finally learn how to tie a sheet's bend knot so I can bend the sheet to the clew of a sail. For some reason I think this would be important.

As promised, I stopped into the Waterfront Ale House and visited my friend Gaid. He failed in his attempt to quite smoking so I am still charged with bringing him cigarettes back from Mexico. Those unfiltered Camels he smokes are hard to come by but he said he would settle for Marlboros.

Oh, yes, he said to separate the glass from the Boston shaker you tap the Boston shaker, not the glass. I will make myself a Margarita this afternoon and check it out.

But, back to Waterfront Ale House. Now my one complaint about this place is that the beers are a bit pricey. On the other hand, they do have a nice selection. I started out with an Ommegang Adoration.

Adoring My Adoration

This is Ommegang's first seasonal winter ale and is a stiff (10% ABV) dark Belgian ale. It is quite spicy with corriander, cumin, mace, cardamom and grains of paradise included in the mixture. You get a good hit of alcohol but it is a very pleasing beer and perfect for a cold winter day.

The Mysterious Chinese Woman had a Rare VOS Belgian Ale. This is another Ommegang product and another tasty one. This one had, perhaps, a bit ore of a hint of orange and, at a relatively benign 6.5% ABV didn't knock the Mysterious Chinese Woman off her perch.

Another Good Winter Beer

In addition to the Pig Island festival on Governor's Island that I went to, there was also another event there called Meatopia.  At this event Sam won 1st place for beef and  he also won the top Grand Master award as well.

Another Blue Ribbon

Well, it's not a blue ribbon, exactly, but a nice piece of paper. Maybe there was a ribbon to go with it.

And, as promised, a closer look at the famous hot sauce.

Use With Caution

Now when I say this sauce is hot, I mean it.  I was telling Jim, the chef here, about how it was written up in Details.  He said it was so hot that he used it only sparingly.

Of course we then also ordered two appetizers that make use of the sauce, Buffalo Wings and, something different, Buffalo Calamari.

Squid And Chicken

Both were very good, but I thought the calamari was particularly good. Maybe because you don't see it too often. Definitely worth trying if you stop in. And the orders were large enough that we had plenty to take home.  Oh, and they were also plenty spicy.

Oh, yeah, the beer prices. Ten bucks for the Adoration and six bucks for the Rare VOS. As I said, a bit pricey, but you do have a nice selection. I think six bucks is the cheapest beer they have except for the special, which is usually four and a half bucks but you have to drink it at the bar. I think the are pretty lax about that rule, though.  You can't really blame Sam for the prices though, this neighborhood is really undergoing a change and, sadly, rents are going up, and steeply.  I have already mentioned how the really good Mexican restaurant nextdoor to Waterfront Ale House had to give it up.  Sadly, the only way you can afford to stick around, unless you own your own building, is to increase prices.

Today I have to tidy up my place because the Mysterious Chinese Woman is hosting a birthday party, for herself, tomorrow. I think she is combining it with a Chinese New Years celebration as well because we will be in Mexico both for her kind of actual birthday on February 1st (Mysterious Chinese Women tend to have "kind of actual birthdays") and the Chinese New Year which starts on February 3rd. It will be the year of the rabbit but my suggestion that we serve rabbit at the party was strongly rejected. I don't know what all we are having, but I am responsible for roasting a leg of lamb.

I did make it clear to everyone that no matter what else is taking place, at 6:30 the television goes on and I watch the Jets game. Either that or I leave to watch the game at one of the local watering holes. Probably not the Waterfront Ale House, though. They just have two little televisions.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Best Undiscovered Sauces

The latest issue of Details magazine had a section on peppers and hot sauces and I was happy to see that the Waterfront Ale House's Whisky Barrel Hot Sauce made their short-list of America's Best Undiscovered Sauces.

Undiscovered, Until Now

The owner of the Waterfront Ale House, Sam, has always tried to have good food and great beers at his places.  When he first opened up his place on Atlantic Avenue about 20 years ago (and across the street from where it is now) Tim Stark, a farmer who raises heirloom tomatoes and peppers, sold chile plants in front of the bar during the Atlantic Antic.

Sam had the bright idea of buying up all of his peppers, which included chocolate Scotch Bonnets, Thai chiles, bird peppers, and poblamos to make his own hotsauce.  He blends his sauces in the basement of the bar and then ages them in old oak whisky barrels that he got from friends at San Francisco's Anchor Steam Brewing Company.  The sauce is aged in these barrels for two years.  And let me tell you, it is good and HOT!!! 

Coincidentally, I will be heading to the Waterfront Ale House this afternoon for a few beers and dinner.  I also want to talk to Gaid, the world's friendliest bartender, to see if I can get some advice about using my Boston shaker.  I haven't been to the Waterfront Ale House for awhile (too many holiday and Jets parties).  The last time I was there Gaid said he was going to give up smoking.  It will be interesting to see if he has and, if he has, if he is still the world's friendliest bartender.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Boston Cocktail Shaker

The Mysterious Chinese Woman bought me a Winco brand Boston cocktail shaker but I am having problems using it.  Whenever I make a drink in it I have a devil of a time getting the glass out of the shaker.  It is almost as though the coldness of the cocktail causes the metal shaker to shrink around the glass.  I guess I will have to make a trip to my local watering hole and ask the bartender if there is some trick I am missing.

Last night, after making a batch of Margaritas, I had to run hot water over the shaker before I coult separate it from the glass.  By the time I was able to do so the ice-cubes had all melted and the drink was far from frosty cold.

I was wondering if maybe the Winco brand uses a thinner grade of stainless steel than other shakers which would increase the liklihood of the thing seizing up, so to speak.

Anybody who has a possible solution to my problem, please feel free to offer your advice.

Big tiff between the Mayor of New York, Bloomberg, and the Governor of New Jersey, Christie, over whose team the Jets really are.  New York already lost the battle over the Statue of Liberty (it is in New Jersey).  Of course the Jets play in New Jersey but I think the real test should be to which state do the players and coaching staff pay their state taxes.  My guess is New Jersey.

Of course Bloomberg, he of limited knowledge of history, said "Well, they don't call Joe Namath "Turnpike Joe."  Someone should remind Bloomberg that back when Joe Namath was playing the Jets did play their home games in New York.

Now, let me ask you this, regarding team names and where they play, When the Nets move where they play to Brooklyn, do you think they will still call themselves the New Jersey Nets.  My guess is that they won't.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Breaking News

Brett Favre officially signed his retirement papers yesterday, again.

Just thought you would want to know.

And Brett is so young.  Hell, Evander Holyfield is 48, and he is fighting Sherman "Tank" Williams this Saturday.

Got to love Sherman's nickname, "Tank."  But really, Sherman Williams?  Shouldn't his nickname be "Paint."  Oh, wait, that is Sherwin, not Sherman.

Just think, if the Jets and Green Bay end up in the Superbowl it will be two teams that Brett recently retired from playing for all the marbles.  Now wouldn't that be a bit ironic.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Jets Jets Jets

What more can I say, it was a most gratifying victory for the Jets yesterday.  The game was just exciting enough to be interesting without actually causing stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting - unlike their last meeting which wasn't at all exciting but did cause stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting.

Bring on the Bumble Bees. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Play Dead A Disapointment

I went to see the theatrical production Play Dead on Thursday evening and was quite disappointed.  Because Teller of Penn and Teller was involved in the production, if not the actual performance.

The premise of the show was that it was a reproduction of a midnight spook show, something that was, apparently, quite popular back in the 1930s and all the way to the 1970s, although I never saw one.  These shows consisted of a magician who booked a movie theatre for a midnight performance, had fake skulls strewn about, a couple of comely assistants skimply dressed up as vampires or something, and a lot of spooky music.  The shows were often quite cheesy and basically just provided a dark place for teenagers to make-out.

Well, they captured the cheesy part.  The theatre holds about 50 people and the stage is quite small.  The host started out by eating a lightbulb (jeez, haven't seen that before) and then proceeded to tell stories based upon the content of cardboard boxes stacked on shelves.  The stories were about real people, such as Albert Fish, who lived in Brooklyn and kidnapped, murdered and ate small children back in the 1800s.

As the stories were told some relatively basic illusions were done, some involving members of the audience.  There were also some mindreading tricks that, quite frankly, if they have nothing do do with you are really quite boring.  Who cares if someone in the audience is thinking of a lost relative or close friend whose name sounds like Harry, or Larry, or possibly Carrie.  Is there someone in the audience....  Well, of course there is, proably half the audience.

The most amusing illusion was the one that involved the conjuring up of Eusapia Pallidino who, in the 1880s and early 1900s claimed that she had control over the dead.  When she was conjured into existence she was nude (a bit of titillation for your money) and, somewhat out of character, sporting a bikini wax job.

At any rate, I have seen better shows put on by kids in their garage.  Except for that naked girl part, although when I was a kid we certainly tried to recruit one of the neighbor girls for that role.  We never even got one to audition.

On the plus side, before the show we stopped into Minetta Tavern for a drink.  The last time I was there, a couple of years ago, it was an Italian reastaurant.  Now it has new owners and is French.  We got there about 5:00 PM thinking we could just grab a table for an early dinner.  We were told we could wait to see if a table opened up due to a cancellation.  And the place was empty.  But not for long.

We sat at the bar and had a drink and by about 6:00 PM the place had really begun to fill up, and there were no cancellartions.  We settled for drinks, a Manhattan for me and some kind of a special drink for the Mysterious Chinese Woman.  I forget the name, but it was one of the signature cocktail designed just for Minetta.  It was really quite good and the next time I pop in I am going to have one of their specialty drinks as well.  And I will return, and with a reservation.

I didin't feel like eating French so we wandered down a few doors to a Mexican restaurant, the name of which escapes me.  It was huge though, and pretty much empty.  The staff was friendly enough and they made my Margarita to my specification, using fresh lime juice and Herradura silver tequila.  This was after they gave me a free taste of their house Margarita and I found it to be too sweet.  Interestingly enough, our waiter was from Minnesota, where yours truely was born and spent his formative years.

The food was plentiful, but pretty typical fare.  I liked my cheese enchilada because it was nice and greasy and cheesy, just the way they should be.  They are kind of meant to be eaten early in the morning after a night of drinking to absorb some of the alcohol before you go to bed.  And to give you good farts the next day.  The Mysterious Chinese Woman didn't like what she ordered for the same reasons.

Actually, there is kind of a funny story about Mexican food, farts, a drive-in movie showing Jurassic Park on the side of a building during a thunderstorm and my first date with the Mysterious Chinese Woman.  Despite, or maybe because of, that night we are still together.