April 30, 2012

Dispatch... Seattle

I've got a friend who's advice I've been taking for years on many things gluttonous. He's from New Orleans, and as such has some innate authority on matters pertaining to the overstuffed and ginned-up. The same man who sent a group of my friends to Jacques-Imo's nearly ten years ago, only to have Jacques hisself appear with a half dozen shots of scotch for them to take. Shots... of scotch... there's a reason people don't do this. The same guy who on more than a few occasions stained my patio with a blown out Fry Daddy. He was in Seattle last week and sent along a few words of his irritating goings-on. Good to file away for a future visit...

Landed yesterday mid-day and went straight to the bar of a cool little restaurant overlooking the harbor and the market. Grabbed a Bloody Mary made with aquavit vs vodka and a hoppy IPA, half dozen raw served with beet and kimchi ice and a lamb burger with goat cheese and bacon. Picked up some excellent suggestions from the bartender and cruised the water front.

After quick shower and shave we were back on the streets in an attempt to hit as many of the suggestions as we could. First stop Anchovies & Olives for another dozen raw (this time served with meyer lemon ice on one half dozen and a chile chive vinegar on the other half). A beer and a champagne for the lady. Confirmed by our waiter that our next few stops were key to a successful visit we hit up a place called Quinn's, a hipster gastropub populated by tatted up folks with lots of metal in their face.  Braised oxtail with a marrow custard bottom, some roasted veggies and a scotch egg (soft boiled egg wrapped in sausage casing then fried. I can't begin to envisage how you make that but the yolk pouring over the crisp sausage and bed of shaved Brussels sprouts was pretty amazing). Beer and wine also consumed. 

Next stop a small Italian joint called Spinasse. Had to wait at the bar for a bit where we had our first cocktails. I had something that was made with Bulleit rye, vermouth, grenadine, and bitters served up; S got something with ingredients that I've never heard of. Good stuff. Moved to restaurant and sat at the bar with a quarter bottle of red wine and the mixed antipasto (rabbit and chicory salad, prosciutto, water cress salad and some sort of cauliflower mash followed by a buttery sage angel hair which the guy cranked out in front of us, and some sort of delicious frozen nutty ice cream stuff for dessert). 

We spent close to three hundred bones grazing for six hours and had no trouble sleeping.  Good thing (generous company) gave us a ridiculous stipend and the bed was comfy. 

Post note... also check out the Walrus and the Carpenter

April 23, 2012

Viva! Fiesta

This week... is a great week. Viva! 

April 20, 2012

And All The Bells Were Ringing

There was a time, not long ago (let's call it my twenties) when some friends and I would get together on the first Friday of September to watch The Last WaltzMartin Scorsese's rock film about The Band's last concert at Winterland Ballroom (San Francisco - Thanksgiving night 1976). It was an honored tradition that heralded the beginning of fall, which in so many ways is the revered season of the South. 

If you've never seen the film, then God help you... watch it tonight. But if it's just been a while, as it's been for me, then pull it together and watch it again soon. There's something  celebratory in each of the acts - the best illustration of this in my opinion is Van the Man Morrison's Caravan...  purple jumpsuit and all, he turns "Justa-One-More-Time" into justa-eight-more-times - though the finality of the evening lends itself more to a reflective meaningfulness. 

That meaningfulness added weight yesterday with the passing of Levon Helm, The Band's lead singer, who on that night in 1976 performed for the last time "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down." An end-of-days song about the pain and suffering in Americana land. So much passion in his voice, the man from Turkey Scratch, Arkansas.

The Last Waltz is a way for me to associate with my youth, and reminds me how important it is to hold on to the traditions we create as young men. Best we can, of course, for we're busier now, more spread out, which might just make it all the more important. You can bet I'll be watching again soon, bourbon in hand, cursing those damn yankees.  

April 17, 2012

April 12, 2012

Cinco de Derby

Saturday, May 5th (2-6p)
1127 S St. Mary's (behind The Monterey)

$40 all in gets you bluegrass music, cold beer, good eats, strong drinks. All the while we're raising money for the San Antonio Public Library Foundation and the great programs that it supports. 

Pay here. Hope to see you there. 

April 7, 2012

What's in a Name?

a-Plenty, if the name is Justin Townes Earle. That's Earle, as in father Steve. And Townes, as in Van Zandt. Walking down the street no one's going to expect too much, but strap on a guitar and stand behind a microphone and suddenly I reckon the shoulders bear a heavier load. 

It's the name, and the music attached to it, that roused us from a perfectly good slumber at some unholy hour on SXSW Saturday. KUT hosts a series of morning concerts throughout the week at the Four Seasons, a swell venue in which I've danced to many-a-bad wedding band and drunk many-a-superb greyhound. The Z said that if I insisted on getting her up before sunrise the least I could do was get her a room... 

Well that didn't happen, but the coffee and breakfast tacos were free, and it was early, a fact not lost on the performers: Sons of Fathers (8a), Glen Hansard (9a), JTE (10a), Nada Surf (11a). Every... single... one of them made a comment. Listen for yourself.

The Glen Hansard set is absolutely worth a listen. About 18.5 mins in he invites his "really beautiful friend" Sarah Siskind onstage to perform. No small thing, given that sets at SXSW only last about half an hour. Not wanting to miss out on the fun to remind us all what time it is, she confirms that "this (was) definitely worth waking up for..." (thanks) then launches into a solo rendition of Lovin's for Fools, the musical equivalent of taking a Quaalude from the bottom of whiskey bottle on a rainy day while spinning a .38 snub-nose on the coffee table. 

Heavy shit. Don't listen to it if you're in a bad way. Rather, take in some of this Hopkins/Williams-influenced folk Americana, tap your feet, and enjoy another day...   

April 1, 2012

Old Tom Gin, Ransom

Distilling gin is a particularly tricky business. There are a significant lot of botanicals that go into the process, and the extraction requires some finesse. Take too high from the still it'll lack flavor, too low and it'll be overly concentrated. So what you're left with is the "heart" and relatively little room for error... certainly compared to the making of vodka, where you've got some latitude concerning the "body" from which to draw.   

I've just cracked this bottle of Old Tom Gin from Ransom Spirits (Sheridan, OR), developed in collaboration with David Wondrich, a drinker and author of some acclaim. Its profile is that of a London sweet gin (hence the Old Tom designation), which, as I've come to understand, is just a London dry with added sugar or some such sweetening agent. 

Ransom claims to retain only "the heart of the hearts," and unlike any gin I've ever had, its color is that of a weakened whiskey. This is due to aging in oak containers, which "really helps tone down the aromatics, and brings up the malt." Smells and looks like a brown but mixes like a clear, which makes this a terrific seasonal transition spirit.

Normally the tipping back of a fresh bottle guarantees my rapid entry into the passage of remorse, from which I emerge foggily the following morning full of questions but no real desire for answers. But I kept the Negronis lighter than what's typically called for (equal parts gin, vermouth, Campari) and benefitted greatly, enjoying all of the numbness and none of the sorrow... 

High ice
2oz gin
1oz Aperol
Cap full of vermouth
Splash of Topo Chico
Stir well, add twist