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looka, <lʊ´-kə> dialect, v.
1. The imperative form of the verb "to look"; in the spoken vernacular of New Orleans, it is usually employed when the speaker wishes to call one's attention to something.
2. --n. Chuck Taggart's weblog, hand-made and updated (almost) daily, focusing on food and drink, cocktails as cuisine, music (especially of the roots variety), New Orleans and Louisiana culture, news of the reality-based community ... and occasionally movies, books, sf, public radio, media and culture, travel, Macs, liberal and progressive politics, humor and amusements, reviews, complaints, the author's life and opinions, witty and/or smart-arsed comments and whatever else tickles the author's fancy.
Please feel free to contribute a link if you think I'll find it interesting. If you don't want to read my opinions, feel free to go elsewhere.
If you like, you are welcome to send e-mail to the author. Your comments on each post are also welcome; however, right-wing trolls are about as welcome as a boil on my arse. Search this site:
"Doctors, Professors, Kings and Queens: The Big Ol' Box of New Orleans" is a 4-CD box set celebrating the joy and diversity of the New Orleans music scene, from R&B to jazz to funk to Latin to blues to zydeco to klezmer (!) and more, including a full-size, 80-page book.
Produced, compiled and annotated by Chuck Taggart (hey, that's me!), liner notes by Mary Herczog (author of Frommer's New Orleans) and myself. Now for sale at your favorite independent record stores (such as the Louisiana Music Factory, because you should be supporting local New Orleans retailers) or via Amazon if you insist.
The box set was the subject of a 15-minute profile on National Public Radio's "Weekend Edition" on Feb. 6, 2005, and a segment on Wisconsin Public Radio's "To The Best of Our Knowledge" on Apr. 3, 2005. Here are some nice blurbs from the reviews (a tad immodest, I know; I'm not generally one to toot my own horn, but let's face it, I wanna sell some records here.)
* * *"More successfully than any previous compilation, Doctors... captures the sprawling eclecticism, freewheeling fun and constant interplay of tradition and innovation that is at the heart of Crescent City music." -- Keith Spera, New Orleans Times-Picayune.
"... if you DO know someone who's unfortunate enough to have never heard these cuts, press this monumentally adventurous box and its attendant booklet upon them. It's never too late to learn" -- Robert Fontenot, OffBeat magazine, New Orleans
"... the best collection yet of Louisiana music." -- Scott Jordan, The Independent, Lafayette, Louisiana.
"[T]he year's single most awesome package" -- Buddy Blue, San Diego Union-Tribune
"This four-CD box set doesn't miss a Crescent City beat ... For anyone who has enjoyed the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, this is Jazz Fest in a box. ***1/2" -- Dave Hoekstra, Chicago Sun-Times
"... excellently compiled, wonderfully annotated ... New Orleans fans will know much of this by heart, though they may not remember it sounding so good; those who don't know what it's like to miss New Orleans will quickly understand." -- Terry Lawson, Detroit Free Press.
"... a perfect storm when it comes to reissues. This box set is musically exciting, a complete representation of its subject matter, and just plain fun to listen." -- Charlie B. Dahan, AllAboutJazz.com
"... one of the best impressions of a city's musical blueprint that you're likely to ever find." -- Zeth Lundy, PopMatters.com
"... an unacademic, uncategorized album that suits the city's time-warped party spirit." -- Jon Pareles, The New York Times
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2007: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.
2006: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.
2005: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.
2004: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.
2003: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.
2002: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.
2001: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.
2000: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.
1999: Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.
My Photos on Flickr
My Darlin' New Orleans...
Shop New Orleans! Visit the stores linked here to do your virtual online shopping in New Orleans. The city needs your money!
Greater N.O. Community Data Center
New Orleans Wiki
NOLA.com & The Times-Picayune
WDSU-TV (Channel 6, NBC)
WGNO-TV (Channel 26, ABC)
WNOL-TV (Channel 38, WB)
WTUL-FM (91.5, Progressive radio)
WVUE-TV (Channel 8, FOX)
WWL-TV (Channel 4, CBS)
WWNO-FM (89.9, classical, jazz, NPR)
WWOZ-FM (90.7, Best Radio Station in the Universe)
WYES-TV (Channel 12, PBS)
New Orleans ...
proud to blog it home.
2 Millionth Weblog
A Frolic of My Own
Ashley Morris (in memoriam)
Blogging New Orleans
Dispatches from Tanganyika
Home of the Groove
People Get Ready
Suspect Device Blog
The Third Battle of New Orleans
World Class New Orleans
The Yat Pundit
Your Right Hand Thief
"We are still heartily of the opinion that decent libation supports as many million lives as it threatens; donates pleasure and sparkle to more lives than it shadows; inspires more brilliance in the world of art, music, letters, and common ordinary intelligent conversation, than it dims." -- Charles H. Baker, Jr.
The Internet's most comprehensive
and indispensible database of
authenticated cocktail recipes,
ingredients, reseearch and more.
By Martin Doudoroff & Ted Haigh)
Museum of the American Cocktail
Founded by Dale DeGroff and many
other passionate spirits in Jan. 2005.
Celebrating a true American cultural
icon: the American Cocktail.
The Sazerac Cocktail
* * *
(The sine qua non of cocktails,
and the quintessential New Orleans
cocktail. Learn to make it.)
The Footloose Cocktail
(An original by Wes;
"Wonderful!" - Gary Regan.
"Very elegant, supremely
sophisticated" - Daniel Reichert.)
The Hoskins Cocktail
(An original by Chuck;
"It's nothing short of a
masterpiece." - Gary Regan)
* * *Chuck & Wes' Liquor Cabinet
(Frighteningly large, and would
never fit in a cabinet)
Chuck & Wes' Cocktail Book Collection
Chuck & Wes' Cocktail Menu
(A few things we like to
drink at home, plus a couple
we don't, just for fun.)
* * *Peychaud's Bitters
(Indispensible for Sazeracs
and many other cocktails.
Order them here.)
(The gold standard of bitters,
fortunately available everywhere
worldwide. Insist on it.)
Regans' Orange Bitters No. 6
(Complex and spicy orange
bitters for your Martinis,
Old Fashioneds and many more.
Order them here.)
Fee Brothers' Bitters
(Classic orange bitters,
peach bitters and a cinnamony
"Old Fashion" aromatic bitters,
plus new lemon & grapefruit bitters!)
The Bitter Truth
(A new brand of bitters
from Germany: orange, lemon,
aromatic bitters and more!)
(Fantastic new small-batch
bitters company with forth-
coming products including
Xocolatl Mole Bitters,
grapefruit, "tiki" spice,
and sweet chocolate bitters, wow!)
* * *The Tiki-licious Luau Spirited Dinner, July 17, 2008
(Eleven dishes of wonder by Chef
Chris DeBarr, with fabulous
tropical cocktails by Jeff "Beachbum"
Berry and Wayne Curtis. Full review
of the 11-dish, 4-course meal, with
photos and recipes for all 5 drinks.)
* * *Alcademics
(Gary & Mardee Regan)
The Art of Drink:
An exploration of Spirits & Mixology.
Bar Mix Master
(Brad Ellis, New Orleans)
(Jeff Berry, world-class expert
on tropical drinks)
(Seamus Harris, N.Z. & China)
The Cocktail Chronicles
(Paul Clarke's weblog)
(Group drinks blog by Vidiot,
Mr. Bali Hai, Kosmonaut,
Chico and me).
The Cocktail Circuit
A Dash of Bitters
(Craig Mrusek, bring art and
alcohol together for a
Drink A Week
(Alex and Ed)
DrinkBoy and the
Community for the
(Robert Hess, et al.)
DrinkBoy's Cocktail Weblog
(Online magazine for the
Esquire's Drinks Database
(Dave Wondrich and
Fine Spirits & Cocktails
news & insider info)
(Celebrating the world in a glass)
In the Land of Cocktails
(Ti Adelaide Martin & Lally Brennan,
"The Cocktail Chicks," of Café Adelaide
& Commander's Palace, New Orleans)
(Bartender/mixologist, Eugene OR)
Jimmy's Cocktail Hour
(Rick Stutz, bringing us cocktails
and great photographs)
La Fée Verte
(All about absinthe
from Kallisti et al.)
(Ladies United for the
The Ministry of Rum
(Everything you always wanted to know)
(The Munat Bros. host
cocktail gatherings in
Seattle, and write about them
here. I'm jealous that I can't go.)
The Modern Mixologist
Mr. Lucky's Cocktails
Swanky et al.)
(Hundreds of cocktail recipes ...
in Hungarian. Well, why not?
Sajnos, nem beszélek magyarul.)
The Munat Bros.
(Seattle-based brothers and
ardent proponents of fine drinking.)
Off the Presses
(Jay Hepburn, London)
Rowley's Whiskey Forge
(Matt Robold, The Rum Dood)
Save the Drinkers
(Kevin Kelpe, Boise, Idaho!)
(F. Paul Pacult)
Spirits and Cocktails
Trader Tiki's Booze Blog
The Wormwood Society
(Dedicated to promoting accurate,
current information about absinthe)
Culinary Concierge (N.O. food & wine magazine)
Mr. Lake's Non-Pompous New Orleans Food Forum
The New Orleans Menu
Notes from a New Orleans Foodie
Chocolate and Zucchini
Mise en Place
à la carte
Chef Talk Café
The Global Gourmet
The Hungry Passport site and weblog)
A Muse for Cooks
The Online Chef
Pasta, Risotto & You
Slow Food Int'l. Movement
Southern Food & Beverages Museum
Southern Foodways Alliance
So. Calif. Farmer's Markets
In vino veritas.
The Oxford Companion to Wine
The Wine Spectator
Zinfandel Advocates & Producers
Wine/spirits shops in our 'hood:
Colorado Wine Co., Eagle Rock
Mission Liquors, Pasadena
Silverlake Wine, Silverlake
Chronicle Wine Cellar, Pasadena
Other wine/spirits shops we visit:
Beverage Warehouse, Mar Vista
Wally's Wine & Spirits, Westwood
The Wine House, West L.A.
Reading this month:
Lisey's Story, by Stephen King.
The Ghost Brigades, by John Scalzi.
In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan.
Listen to music!
Chuck's current album recommendations
La Bottine Souriante
The Old 97s
The Red Stick Ramblers
Tom Morgan's Jazz Roots
Miles of Music
New Orleans Bands.net
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
Appalachian String Band Music Festival - Clifftop, WV
Long Beach Bayou Festival
Strawberry Music Festival - Yosemite, CA
WWOZ (New Orleans)
Live audio stream
Bob Walker's New Orleans Radio Shrine
(A rich history of N.O. radio)
Air America Radio
(Talk radio for the
rest of us)
Grateful Dead Radio
KPIG, 107 Oink 5
KRVS Radio Acadie
Mike Hodel's "Hour 25"
(Science fiction radio)
(Irish language & music)
Raidió na Gaeltachta
RTÉ Radio Ceolnet
(Irish trad. music)
WXDU (Durham, NC)
Films seen this year:
In the cinema:
Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (****-1/2)
No Country for Old Men (****)
Dominion: Prequel to The Exorcist (***)
Eastern Promises (***-1/2)
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (**-1/2)
Across the Universe (***-1/2)
Michael Clayton (****)
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (****-1/2)
Lookin' at da TV:
A Gallery for Fine Photography, New Orleans (Joshua Mann Pailet)
American Museum of Photography
California Museum of Photography, Riverside
International Center of Photography
Paul F. R. Hamilton
Clarence John Laughlin
J. T. Seaton
The Mirror Project
(My pics therein: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.)
My photographs at Flickr
The Abominable Charles Christopher
by Karl Kerschl
The Amazing Adventures of Bill,
by Bill Roundy
Bloom County / Outland / Opus,
by Berkeley Breathed
Bob the Angry Flower,
by Stephen Notley
by Aaron McGruder
Calvin and Hobbes,
by Bill Watterson
by Garry B. Trudeau
Electric Sheep Comix
by Patrick Farley
Get Your War On
by David Rees
by Jonathan Rosenberg
L. A. Cucaracha
by Lalo Alcaraz
by Peter Blegvad
by Al Capp
by Emily Flake
The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green,
by Eric Orner
by Walt Kelly
by Greg Peters
by Ted Rall
This Modern World,
by Tom Tomorrow
XQUZYPHYR & Overboard,
by August J. Pollak
AlterNet.org (Progressive politics & news)
Daily Kos (My favorite political weblog)
Eschaton (The Mighty Atrios)
Hullaballoo (The Mighty Digby)
Media Matters for America (Debunking right-wing media lies)
Orcinus (David Neiwert)
PostSecret (Secrets sent in via postcards; astonishingly beautiful, funny and sad.)
Talking Points Memo (Josh Marshall)
TAPPED (The American Prospect Online)
TruthOut (William Rivers Pitt & Co.)
Borowitz Report (Political satire)
The Complete Bushisms (quotationable!)
The Fray (Your stories)
Landover Baptist (Better Christians than YOU!)
Maledicta (The International Journal of Verbal Aggression)
The Morning Fix from SF Gate (Opinions, extreme irreverence)
The New York Review of Science Fiction
The Onion (Scarily funny news/satire)
"Rush, Newspeak and Fascism: An exegesis", by David Neiwert. (Read this.)
Whitehouse.org (Not the actual White House, but it should be)
Weblogs I read:
The Carpetbagger Report
Ghost in the Machine
Hit or Miss
Neil Gaiman's Journal
Not Right About Anything
August J. Pollak
This Modern World
Your Right Hand Thief
Friends with pages: The Final Frontier:
"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."
-- Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States (1901-1909), speaking in 1918
"There ought to be limits to freedom."
-- George W. Bush, May 21, 1999
"You don't get everything you want. A dictatorship would be a lot easier."
-- George W. Bush, describing what it's like to be governor of Texas, Governing Magazine, July 1998
"If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator."
-- George W. Bush, CNN.com, December 18, 2000
"A dictatorship would be a heck of a lot easier, there's no question about it."
-- George W. Bush, Business Week, July 30, 2001
Déanta: This page is coded by hand, with BBEdit 4.0.1 on an Apple iMac 24" and a G4 15" PowerBook running MacOS X 10.5 if I'm at home; occasionally with telnet and Pico on a FreeBSD Unix host running tcsh if I'm updating from work. (I never could get used to all those weblogging tools.)
"Eating, drinking and carrying on..." -- Adelaide Brennan
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Today is Second Thanksgiving. It is gustatory pleasure tantamount to self-abuse. That's what I put myself through during the latter half of November every year.
Not only is there my birthday dinner (not that I'm complaining, mind you; it's one of the highlights of my year), but there tends to be up to four Thanksgiving dinners -- one at work (a "progressive" meal, with each department taking a different set of dishes, and everybody takes a plate and moves around from department to department, filling their plate twice over, usually, and in which we learn that some of our cow-orkers are wonderful cooks, and some of them ... aren't), one at Wes' church (where there are so many requests for me to bring Pork 'n Pork 'n Pork 'n Beans that next year I'm going to have to make at least a quadruple recipe), Thanksgiving Day either at home or elsewhere, and then the Fat Pack tradition of Second Thanksgiving, in which we make our most indulgent dishes and enjoy a Thanksgiving celebration among close, food-freaky friends.
I have no idea what to expect, except that there will be a LOT of bacon and that some things will be deep-fried, and there will be excessive desserts. (If I don't post on Monday, feel free to worry that one of these dishes has killed me.)
Wesly has requested, likely futilely, hoping against hope, that someone bring a Turbaconducken:
Yes, it's a Turducken, wrapped in bacon.
UPDATE: There was a huge ham, glazed with brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg that was fabulous. I did okra and tomatoes with smoked sausage and ham, Steve did great roasted root vegetables, Nettie did fresh creamed corn, there were savory sweet potato pancakes topped with sautéed mushrooms, and a few other things I lost track of. Rick brought a ton of insanely over-the-top cupcakes from Yummy in Burbank, and I made a bunch of cocktails. We'll talk about those tomorrow.
Mighty good Second Thanksgiving![ Link to today's entries ]
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Here Come The Cocktail Chicks! Our friends Ti Martin and Lally Brennan (cousins, proprietors of Commander's Palace and Café Adelaide in New Orleans, and collectively known as "The Cocktail Chicks") have been working like busy bees on their new website, and got it online just a few weeks ago (right before my li'l blogging hiatus, in fact). It's called In the Land of Cocktails, and already it's a doozy. There will be regular video features, and there are three up already -- two featuring King of Cocktails Dale DeGroff, plus one absolutely delightful one featuring Ti's mom, Brennan restaurant family matriarch Miss Ella Brennan and her sister, Miss Dottie Brennan. Y'all might wanna watch that one first.
There'll be regular blog entries, cocktail recipes and more, so subscrbe to the RSS feed and keep up with 'em. Oh, and I must forewarn you ... Ti and her camera krewe caught me unawares at The Swizzle Stick a few months back, drink in hand, and there's a danger I might show up in one of those videos. Y'all might wanna avoid that one.
The Imbibers' 100. A while back there was a list that was bandied about from blog to blog (originating from some guy in the New York Times, as I recall) about a list of 100 foods that everyone should try at least once in their lifetimes -- not necessarily a "best-of" list, but interesting things to try.
My friend Darcy O'Neil, proprietor of the most excellent drink blog The Art of Drink came up with a similar list, but for drinkers. There are items both alcoholic and teetotaling here, and Darcy also emphasizes that "it's just a list of things you should try, not a 'best of the world' list."
Participation is invited thusly: 1) Copy this list into your blog, with these instructions. 2) Bold all the drinks you've imbibed. 3) Cross out any items that you won't touch. 4) Post a comment here (and preferably at the original post) and link to your results.
I scored a somewhat respectable 88 out of 100 (and I could very easily get that up to 92 -- I have molasses in my cupboard and milk in the fridge, I can buy barleywine and the Westvleteren ale when I go on my regular post-payday booze run next week, and next Wednesday I have a sushi lunch scheduled with some cow-orkers, one of whom is a self-taught sake authority). How 'bout you?1. Manhattan Cocktail
Kopi Luwak ("Weasel Coffee)"
3. French or Swiss Absinthe
4. Root Beer
5. Gin Martini
7. Whole Milk
8. Tequila (100% blue agave)
9. XO Cognac
11. Spring Water (directly from the spring)
12. Gin & Tonic
14. Westvleteren 12 (Yellow Cap) Trappist Ale
15. Château d'Yquem
17. Maraschino liqueur
20. Grand Marnier
21. Mai Tai (Trader Vic's original recipe)
22. Ice Wine (Canadian)
23. Red Bull (But ewww ... I just had a sip to see what it tasted like, which is terrible)
24. Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
25. Boba (Bubble) Tea
26. Tokaji wine
28. Islay Scotch
29. Pusser's Navy Rum
30. Fernet Branca
31. Fresh Pressed Apple Cider
33. Australian Shiraz
34. Buckley's Cough Syrup
35. Orange Bitters
36. Margarita (classic recipe)
37. Molasses & Milk
38. Chimay Blue (Belgian Trappist Ale)
39. Wine of Pines (Tepache)
40. Green Tea
41. Daiginjo Sake
42. Chai Tea
43. Vodka (chilled, straight)
45. Zombie (Beachcomber recipe)
46. Barley Wine
47. Brewed Choclate (Xocolatl)
48. Pisco Sour
50. Speyside Single Malt
51. Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee
52. Champagne (Vintage)
53. Rosé (French)
56. White Zinfandel (Blush)
57. Coconut Water
59. Cafe au Lait
60. Iced Tea
61. Pedro Ximénez Sherry
62. Vintage Port
63. Hot Chocolate
64. German Riesling
65. Piña Colada
66. El Dorado 15 Year Rum
68. Greek Wine
73. Rhum Agricole
74. Palm Wine
76. Ceylon Tea (High Grown)
77. Belgian Lambic
78. Mongolian Airag (fermented horse milk)
79. Doogh, Lassi or Ayran
80. Sugarcane Juice
81. Ramos Gin Fizz
82. Singapore Sling
83. Mint Julep
84. Old Fashioned
85. Perique Tobacco Liqueur
86. Genever (Holland Gin)
87. Chocolate Milkshake
88. Traditional Italian Barolo
90. Natural Sparkling Water
91. Cuban Rum
92. Asti Spumante
93. Irish Whiskey
94. Château Margaux
95. Two Buck Chuck
98. Rye Whiskey
99. German Weissbier
100. Daiquiri (classic)
I'd drink the fermented horse milk before I'd ever touch Red Bull again -- God, that stuff is awful -- and although I'm not too keen on the idea of coffee made from beans which have have been pooped out of a weasel, Wes chimes in that he'd be up for it.
Best. Spirits Review. Ever. While I'm not normally inclined to hyperbole (okay, I can hear certain friends of mine laughing right now), I can at least say that I highly recommend this review, written by Bobby Heugel of Drink Dogma and co-proprietor of what's about to be the best cocktail bar in Houston (that's Anvil, at 1424 Westheimer, opening soon).
The review is for Jim Beam's new "premium" "boutique" rye whiskey called ... well, if I said "unpronounceable symbol" you might mistake it for Prince's former name, but it's actually spelled (rī)¹ and is supposedly pronounced "Rye One." I'll pass on the ridiculousness of that (and the fact that that, plus the fancy bottle, are solely responsible for the liquor's ~$50 retail price and let Bobby take it from here, after describing his feelings for all of the different liquors we've come to know and love::
And then there's your best friend. Sure everybody's best friend is different, but there's something about them that's just grows on you. They're not perfect by any means, but you've just been through so much that they've kind of become a part of you. This could of course be any of the personality types listed above or some of the others I haven't, like that slut Chambord who seems to have been knocked up like 8 times since she was 14. It all just depends on who you are I guess. But for me, it's rye. There's just something genuine about it.
So today, when I tried Jim Beam's new offering, it was kind of like having a day on which my best friend came to me and confessed his undying love for this bitch we both worked with two years ago hes been secretly seeing and blowing me off for every weekend since. It was almost as if my friend rye, the guy I could always count on to be there, was sleeping with the freaking enemy while I watched the rain delayed, anti-climactic World Series by myself.
I am skeptical of this product, to say the least. As Bobby rightly points out, given the fact that one of the best ryes you can buy retails in my neighborhood for about $17 these days, the only way I'm going to try a dumbed-down "boutique" product is if they send me one for free, which isn't likely to happen soon.
If any of you have tried "(rī)¹" I'd be curious to hear your assessment. When I look at the bottles of Rittenhouse Bonded (and the five spare bottles in waiting), Sazerac 6 Year, Pikesville, Pappy Van Winkle, Michter's and every other rye in my bar, I don't see much rhyme or reason for (rī)¹.[ Link to today's entries ]
Friday, November 28, 2008
Cocktail of the day. Our friend Gregg directed us recently to The Spirit World, which we were familiar with but which was new to him. I was appreciative for the tip, though, because I hadn't read it in a while and the nudge was helpful. I've now added the RSS feed to my reader, so I won't forget again.
Wesly was digging through the more recent posts, and noted a recent series called "Winter Wonders," a collection of wintry cocktails for the '08 season. He thought this one seemed the most appealing, which was our evening cocktail the night before Gluttony Day.
The Park Slope
2-1/2 ounces rye whiskey.
3/4 ounce Punt E Mes.
1/2 ounce apricot brandy (Apry, or Orchard Apricot, not eau de vie).
1 dash Angostura bitters.
Stir with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a good quality cherry.
I am all over the Manhattan variations.
Meal-in-a-cocktail of the day. We've talked a fair bit about the fat-washing technique, and how that gives us, among other things, bacon-infused Bourbon, which we've been enjoying quite a bit lately. (The other night I did Old Fashioneds with a dash each of Peychaud's and orange bitters, then sweetened them with 1/4 ounce of a Chinese five-spice infused syrup, recipe for which is in the current issue of Imbibe. Next time I do this I'm going to try it with the bacon Bourbon.)
In Gary Regan's most recent column in the Chronicle, fat-washing is taken a step further, starting with a ham hock and a bottle of corenwijn (I suppose we'd have to substitute the new Bols Genever over here) and ending with something called a Ham, Cheese and Tomato Toasted Sandwich Martini (loath as I am to condone the misuse of the word "Martini," this does at least contain a form of gin). I ... kinda can't wait to try it. I'm a bit risk-averse on this one, though, so I think I'll start with half a bottle of genever and half a ham hock.
I could also take the ham hock-infused genever and add some pot liquor from my collard, turnip and mustard greens ... am I crazy?
Open Sound New Orleans: A Sound Map of The City. This is one of the coolest sites I've seen in a good while. Using the Google API, it's a map of New Orleans marked with myriad locations, giving us an audio tour of the city. Music, nature sounds, people and more -- when you click on one of the place marks, up comes a window with an audio clip. Don't miss Meyer the Hatter, the various street music, and a yet another wtf-is-he-on-about story from our idiotic mayor.
The Abominable Charles Christopher. I have a new favorite web comic.
Thanks (a million!) to Boo Radley at MeFi, who via a post there turned me on to The Abominable Charles Christopher, described by its author Karl Kerschl as "the adventures of a dim-witted yeti through a forest full of colourful animal characters." That only barely begins to describe the delight and sheer ... wonderfulness of this comic, published every Wednesday. Go to the archives and start at the first strip, and work your way forward. It won't take you all that long, and you'll be captivated, I promise.[ Link to today's entries ]
Monday, November 24, 2008
Oh. My. Gawd. Yeah, I took a little break. Combination of my being lazy bastard, a bit of periodic blogging burnout, and election decompression. I think all's well now.
What better way to jump-start da ol' blawg after a couple weeks' hiatus than with some truly spectacular food porn?
This comes ot us courtesy of Mary, who sent the following picture, which was taken by Pat Peeve:
This, my friends, is foie gras beignets from Commander's Palace. To be completely specific, here's the exact menu description:
Foie Gras "du Monde"
Bourbon braised fig and foie gras beignets with
vanilla cracked coffee beans, foie gras café au lait
and chicory coffee "mist" 18.00
Mary adds, "Those are SLABS of foie gras on those beignets, which are savory. And the 'coffee' is made of pureed foie gras, with a richness and thickness like a fancy cocoa."
I've been wanting this BADLY since the first time I heard it had been added to the menu. As far as I know they've still got it. I'll be home in a month. Just sayin'.
Here's Mary's description of it from an email earlier this year, which I only kinda skimmed because I was so insanely jealous that she'd had these and I hadn't that I kinda didn't even want to know how good it was.
"Surely the most inspired and frivolous appetizer there could be, meant as a gourmet homage to the venerable Cafe du Monde's famous combination. Check this out; bourbon braised fig and foie gras beignets, warm and sturdy, topped with cracked vanilla beans and a large slab of light-as-air foie gras, with a foie gras cafe au lait (the foie gras gave the liquid the richness and slight taste of hot chocolate) with chicory coffee foam, in a sweet little fluted glass. The pairing of the two components worked on every level. An absolutely outstanding dish and one you should hope is always on the menu at Commander's because seriously, you have to try this. It was pretty much the last thing we ate in New Orleans, and it's nearly wiped out the memory of anything else we ate there."
I'll be checking before I go home (I'm almost afraid to), but if this is no longer on the menu by then, I think I shall die. To me this sounds like a dish that they can never take off their menu, like bread pudding soufflé.
Cocktail of the day. Also from Commander's, and taken from Ti Martin and Lally Brennan's (a.k.a., The Cocktail Chicks') book, In the Land of Cocktails: Recipes and Adventures from the Cocktail Chicks . I'm not sure if this drink was created by or created for Miss Ella Brennan -- matriarch of the Brennan family and its restaurants, the flagship being Commander's -- and it's named after her vision of the afterlife, in which "[t]he bar looks like the one she and her siblings ran in the 1950s, the Old Absinthe House on Bourbon and Bienville in the French Quarter. Fats Pichon is playing. Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald are singing. The food is great, the drinks are better, and the company perfect."
Saloon in the Sky
1-1/2 ounces Bourbon (they recommend Maker's Mark, but we like Buffalo Trace).
3/4 ounce Laird's straight apple brandy.
3/4 ounce Grand Marnier.
Combine ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker and shake until chilled. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice.
When it's my time, I think I want to go to Miss Ella's heaven.
The Foundry on Melrose. Yay, more food porn! Two weeks ago tomorrow was my birthday, and as is our tradition Wes took me out to a fabulous restaurant, the location of which is a mystery until we pull up in front of the place. I had been wanting to get to The Foundry for quite a while, so it was (as usual) a very pleasant surprise.
We were first, of course, drawn to the list of house specialty cocktails. On first view it didn't seem to have too much to excite us. There was an absinthe-based cocktail (yay!), but they specify Le Tourment Vert Absinthe, which is more like a minty green mouthwash than actual absinthe (boo), and a Margarita variation with fresh raspberries that had one of the best cocktail names we'd come across in a good while .. the Mexican Radio. The one that finally caught our eye was The Billy Parks Cocktail -- Hendrick's Gin, fresh cucumber, Lillet and chile. (If you view the image in large format you can see the tiny flecks of chile on the surface of the drink.)
It was very good.
It had been highly recommended that on our first visit we try the chef's tasting menu, as chef Eric Greenspan has quite a reputation for exciting food (apparently a monthlong stint learning in Ferran Adrià's kitchen at El Bulli in Spain had an unsurprisingly profound impact on him). Trouble was, there were a lot of really good-looking dishes on the regular menu that I wanted to try, but ... I suppose we can always come back. Five courses for $80, and to our astonishment only $30 more for the wine pairings, which were all very generous. Six bucks a glass for some of these wines? That's a bargain. Hmm.
It's actually six courses, if you count this fairly generous amuse bouche:
Caramelized bay scallop with Jerusalem artichokes and artichoke foam. This wasn't just foam for foam's sake either; it was very light (natch) and had a wonderful flavor. Off to a good start.
I have to admit I was skeptical at first, looking at dish no. 1 and thinking, "Christ, tuna fucking tartare? Has this not been done to death?" This was perhaps the main reason I was reluctant to get the tasting menu, even though most of the other dishes looked great (and I also confess to thinking that I wasn't terribly excited by beef tenderloin either). We talked about it and batted it back and forth, and yeah, this guy's supposed to be really good but man, was I sick of tuna tartare in restaurants. Even though it was my birthday and Wes was of course more than willing to defer to my wishes, I could see that he wanted to try the tasting menu. It's also a really good way to try out a new place, so we went for it. Tasting menu it was.
Was it a good decision?
1st Course: Albacore Tartare.
"Tuna tartare? Has this not been done to death?" No. No one's done it like this.
The beautifully seasoned albacore was nearly puréed, and sat atop a purple sweet potato purée with yet more layers of flavor and texture, then soy braised caramelized onions, sliced jalapeños, shiso leaf, orange and topped with fried lotus root chips. Okay, it might look a little weird (one commenter on Flickr likened the appearance to a dish sponge), but most of the ingredients are a bit unusual. I can't help it if the commenter has Peruvian purple potato-colored dish sponges.
The symphony of flavor and texture was amazing.
I quickly learned that this chef doesn't serve tired, done-to-death dishes. This was wild.
The wine was 2005 Pablo Padin "Segrel" Albariño from Spain.
2nd course: Roasted Cod. (Not Emerson.)
The fish was lovely, served top tangerines, dates, kalamata olives with piquillo peppers and seared potato gnocchi.
The wine was 2005 Kunde "Reserve" Chardonnay from Sonoma Valley.
At this point we had decided on a mid-course interruption. There was a special listed on the menu which we could not resist. Duck liver terrine, covered with a layer of duck stock gelée and topped with a variety of chewy crunchy grains and stuff (which I can't for the life of me remember), accompanied by some frise, fleur de sel and some toasty bread.
Mad! Super good!
Oh, and the wine was a 2007 Bonny Doon, "Le Vol des Anges", which was gorgeous.
Now, where were we? Oh yes, third (fifth?) course coming.
3rd Course: Lacquered Quail with autumn squash topped with a sunnyside up quail egg. The quail in a pomegranate-stock reduction sauce with Parmigiano, with yam purée underneath.
Afterwards, nothing left but a li'l pile o' bones.
Wine: 2006 Moobazz Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
4th Course: Beef Tenderloin with eggplant purée, potato, mushrooms and harissa. This was the other one I was skeptical about. I do love beef in great restaurants (see that arm-sized shortrib I had at Spago last year), but I just didnt' think I was in the mood for beef. Hoo-boy. I was wrong. This was perfect beef, deeply rich, and with a lovely balance of flavors -- the earthy mushrooms, the rich, complex eggplant and the spicy harissa ... okay, okay, I was wrong!
Wine was 2005 C&T "Rooftop Red" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
Dessert: Filo & Apple Basket. There are those who say that dessert is not dessert unless it employs chocolate in some form. I am ... sometimes one of those people, but I do enjoy a good fruit dessert. Tongiht was one of those times. Apples and currants with pistachios and a caramel sauce, accompanied by honey ice cream, this was perfectly seasonal and appropriate and yummy and just the way to finish this grand meal. The wine was a 2006 Uroulat Juraçnon.
That was one hell of a birthday dinner. I'm very much looking forward to getting back to this restaurant![ Link to today's entries ]
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Nobody likes a math geek, Scully. I am a prime number today!
Cocktail of the day. This is one of the house cocktails at The Doheny in Los Angeles, but might drop off, as they're debuting an all-new cocktail menu this week. It's worth remembering, particularly to those who are skeptical about cocktails based on a big, smoky Scotch.
Smoke O' Scotland
1-3/4 ounces Laphroaig Scots whisky.
1/2 ounce dry vermouth.
1/2 ounce St. Germain.
1 barspoon Averna.
Orange peel for flaming.
Stir with ice, strain into chilled cocktail glass, flame orange peel over the drink and garnish with the peel.
Jeff the Tweedy. Wilco's lead singer is interviewed on "The Colbert Report," then Wilco perform a new song entitled, "Wilco the Song" (kinda like Joe the Plumber, only not like that at all).
Speaking of whom ... Those are three words I never want to hear again, ever, when spoken in that order:
Joe the plumber.
Fortunately, our plumber's name is Keith. If it were Joe, he'd have to change his name or we couldn't hire him anymore. At the very least, he'd just have to let us call him "Keith" (which we already do, 'cause it's his name, so we don't have to worry about that). You can still say "plumber," and obviously "the," plus I have friends and relatives named "Joe." That's all okay.
But no ... that guy, the ... pipe ... fixer. Ever.
So say we all. Well, all of us who decided to behave as humans. Keith Olbermann, in a moving special comment on Proposition 8.
If you voted for this Proposition or support those who did or the sentiment they expressed, I have some questions, because, truly, I do not... understand. Why does this matter to you? What is it to you? In a time of impermanence and fly-by-night relationships, these people over here want the same chance at permanence and happiness that is your option. They don't want to deny you yours. They don't want to take anything away from you. They want what you want -- a chance to be a little less alone in the world.
Only now you are saying to them -- no. You can't have it on these terms. Maybe something similar. If they behave. If they don't cause too much trouble. You'll even give them all the same legal rights -- even as you're taking away the legal right, which they already had. A world around them, still anchored in love and marriage, and you are saying, no, you can't marry. What if somebody passed a law that said you couldn't marry?
I keep hearing this term "re-defining" marriage.
If this country hadn't re-defined marriage, black people still couldn't marry white people. Sixteen states had laws on the books which made that illegal... in 1967. 1967.
The parents of the President-Elect of the United States couldn't have married in nearly one third of the states of the country their son grew up to lead. But it's worse than that. If this country had not "re-defined" marriage, some black people still couldn't marry...black people. It is one of the most overlooked and cruelest parts of our sad story of slavery. Marriages were not legally recognized, if the people were slaves. Since slaves were property, they could not legally be husband and wife, or mother and child. Their marriage vows were different: not "Until Death, Do You Part," but "Until Death or Distance, Do You Part." Marriages among slaves were not legally recognized.
You know, just like marriages today in California are not legally recognized, if the people are gay.
And uncountable in our history are the number of men and women, forced by society into marrying the opposite sex, in sham marriages, or marriages of convenience, or just marriages of not knowing -- centuries of men and women who have lived their lives in shame and unhappiness, and who have, through a lie to themselves or others, broken countless other lives, of spouses and children... All because we said a man couldn't marry another man, or a woman couldn't marry another woman. The sanctity of marriage. How many marriages like that have there been and how on earth do they increase the "sanctity" of marriage rather than render the term meaningless?
What is this, to you? Nobody is asking you to embrace their expression of love. But don't you, as human beings, have to embrace... that love? The world is barren enough.
It is stacked against love, and against hope, and against those very few and precious emotions that enable us, all of us, to go forward. Your marriage only stands a 50-50 chance of lasting, no matter how much you feel and how hard you work.
And here are people overjoyed at the prospect of just that chance, and that work, just for the hope of having that feeling. With so much hate in the world, with so much meaningless division, and people pitted against people for no good reason, this is what your religion tells you to do? With your experience of life and this world and all its sadnesses, this is what your conscience tells you to do?
With your knowledge that life, with endless vigor, seems to tilt the playing field on which we all live, in favor of unhappiness and hate... this is what your heart tells you to do? You want to sanctify marriage? You want to honor your God and the universal love you believe he represents? Then Spread happiness -- this tiny, symbolic, semantical grain of happiness -- share it with all those who seek it. Quote me anything from your religious leader or book of choice telling you to stand against this. And then tell me how you can believe both that statement and another statement, another one which reads only "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
All you need is love. Love is all you need.[ Link to today's entries ]
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Celebrating through music. Thanks to my friend Barry for sending these!
Change is what I beleive in - R.E.M. on Election Night. They were onstage in Santiago, Chile, announced the election results to a jubilant crowd, then played a fantastic version of "I Believe."
I keep faith in every single one of you: Barry said, "Billy Bragg's 'I Keep Faith' is just a wonderful song about hanging in there, even when the bad guys seem to be winning. I know this is mostly a time for being happy, but the Prop 8 business is a real pisser, so this is for Chuck." Thanks, man.
Here's a spoken introduction by Billy to the above song from a concert he did in Chicago this past June because, as Barry says, "we all love to hear him talk."
Keep the faith.
This ain't over by a long shot. Gloria Allred and the ACLU are gonna kick some asses.
The petition charges that Proposition 8 is invalid because the initiative process was improperly used in an attempt to undo the constitution's core commitment to equality for everyone by eliminating a fundamental right from just one group . lesbian and gay Californians. Proposition 8 also improperly attempts to prevent the courts from exercising their essential constitutional role of protecting the equal protection rights of minorities. According to the California Constitution, such radical changes to the organizing principles of state government cannot be made by simple majority vote through the initiative process, but instead must, at a minimum, go through the state legislature first.
The California Constitution itself sets out two ways to alter the document that sets the most basic rules about how state government works. Through the initiative process, voters can make relatively small changes to the constitution. But any measure that would change the underlying principles of the constitution must first be approved by the legislature before being submitted to the voters. That didn't happen with Proposition 8, and that's why it's invalid.
"If the voters approved an initiative that took the right to free speech away from women, but not from men, everyone would agree that such a measure conflicts with the basic ideals of equality enshrined in our constitution. Proposition 8 suffers from the same flaw . it removes a protected constitutional right . here, the right to marry . not from all Californians, but just from one group of us," said Jenny Pizer, a staff attorney with Lambda Legal. "That's too big a change in the principles of our constitution to be made just by a bare majority of voters."
Take that.[ Link to today's entries ]
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
A change is gonna come. Raise your hopeful voice. Yes we can, yes we can, yes we can. (Yes we did!)
On January 20, 2009, Barack Hussein Obama will be inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States of America. Our long, national nightmare will finally (I hope) be over.
President-Elect Obama. I just like saying that.[ Link to today's entries ]
Tuesday, November 4, 2008 :: Election Day!
This is it. It's time to take our country back, to vote for hope, for change, for unity, for the future. It's time to put away the politics of hate and resentment, the politics of seeing and accusing Americans you disagree with as traitorous or disloyal or unpatriotic or anti-American. It's time for you to cast your vote in the most important election of our lives.
Barack Obama for President.
Vote Democratic. In California vote No on Prop 8.
Barack and The Boss. "We are at the crossroads, and it's been a long, long, long time coming. It's how we will accomplish this task that'll tell us just what it means to be an American in this new century, what the stakes are and what it means to live in a free society. SO I don't know about you, but I want my country back ... I want the dream back ... I want my America back. Now is the time to stand with Barack Obama and Joe Biden, roll up our sleeves and come on up for 'The Rising.'"
Republican Mayor of San Diego supports same-sex marriage. Via Kos: "Turns back on campaign promises to oppose gay marriage in emotional press conference:"
"I have close family members and friends who are members of the gay and lesbian community. Those folks include my daughter Lisa, as well as members of my personal staff.
"I want for them the same thing that we all want for our loved ones -- for each of them to find a mate whom they love deeply and who loves them back; someone with whom they can grow old together and share life's experiences.
"And I want their relationships to be protected equally under the law. In the end, I couldnt look any of them in the face and tell them that their relationship -- their very lives -- were any less meaningful than the marriage I share with my wife Rana.
Unlike so many supporters of Prop 8, he truly understands the meaning of family values.[ Link to today's entries ]
Monday, November 3, 2008
You! Shall Not! Pass! Defeat the Balrog. Defeat Proposition 8.
I see that the Yes on 8 campaign has bought some adwords on Google, and because I write about the lies perpetrated by the Yes campaign and am fighting for us all to vote no No on Prop 8 it seems that Google is feeding Yes ads to this site.
I only noticed this today, and added the URL of the hate-filled bearers of false witness to my ad filter, but it could take 4 hours to take effect. I've commented the ad-generating scripts out of the top part of the blog for the rest of the day, but if you see a Yes on 8 ad, click on it -- it costs them money. Then if you live in California, make doubly sure you vote NO.
From the Los Angeles Times:
Clever magicians practice the art of misdirection -- distracting the eyes of the audience to something attention-grabbing but irrelevant so that no one notices what the magician is really doing. Look over at that fuchsia scarf, up this sleeve, at anything besides the actual trick.
The campaign promoting Proposition 8, which proposes to amend the state Constitution to ban same-sex marriages, has masterfully misdirected its audience, California voters. Look at the first-graders in San Francisco, attending their lesbian teacher's wedding! Look at Catholic Charities, halting its adoption services in Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage is legal! Look at the church that lost its tax exemption over gay marriage! Look at anything except what Proposition 8 is actually about: a group of people who are trying to impose on the state their belief that homosexuality is immoral and that gays and lesbians are not entitled to be treated equally under the law.
That truth would never sell in tolerant, live-and-let-live California, and so it has been hidden behind a series of misleading half-truths. Once the sleight of hand is revealed, though, the campaign's illusions fall away.
Much has been made about same-sex marriage changing the traditional definition of marriage. But marriage has evolved for thousands of years, from polygamous structures in which brides were so much chattel to today's idealized love matches. In seeking to add a sentence to California's Constitution that says, "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized," Proposition 8 supporters seek to enforce adherence to their own religious or personal definition. The traditional makeup of families has changed too, in ways that many religious people find immoral. Single parents raise their children; couples divorce and blend families. Yet same-sex marriage is the only departure from tradition that has been targeted for constitutional eradication.
Religions and their believers are free to define marriage as they please; they are free to consider homosexuality a sin. But they are not free to impose their definitions of morality on the state. Proposition 8 proponents know this, which is why they have misdirected the debate with highly colored illusions about homosexuals trying to take away the rights of religious Californians. Since May, when the state Supreme Court overturned a proposed ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional, more than 16,000 devoted gay and lesbian couples have celebrated the creation of stable, loving households, of equal legal stature with other households. Their happiness in no way diminishes the rights or happiness of others.
Californians must cast a clear eye on Proposition 8's real intentions. It seeks to change the state Constitution in a rare and terrible way, to impose a single moral belief on everyone and to deprive a targeted group of people of civil rights that are now guaranteed. This is something that no Californian, of any religious belief, should accept. Vote no to the bigotry of Proposition 8.
Tell them NO.
October Looka! entries have been permanently archived.[ Link to today's entries ]
Several of my friends and loved ones (and a few kind strangers) contribute regularly to this weblog, providing links, comments and sometimes lots more. Thanks to Wesly Moore, Mike Luquet, Mary Herczog, Steve Hochman, Dave Schmerler, Nettie DeAugustine, Diana Schwam, Andy Senasac, Michael Yasui, Steve Gardner, Michael Pemberton, Steve Kelley, Barry Kelley, Eric Labow, Tom Krueger, Greg Beron, Sean Burke, Shari Minton and Barry Enderwick.
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