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Everything posted by wnissen

  1. Steve, I remember that potluck well. I think the thread is still around somewhere, circa 2001. Paula was generous with her compliments, I made sherry vinegar chicken from A New Way to Cook and she quite liked that as well. Am still reading the book; she had a fascinating life and I'm sorry I didn't get to know her better.
  2. Perhaps this is related, but the recipe I use for nut brittle calls for adding lots of extra water (2 c. water to 3 c. sugar and 1.5 c. corn syrup) and then boiling it off. This is much more water than would be needed to simply dissolve the sugar, and takes a while (30 minutes or so) to reduce to the point where most of the water is gone. However, it does turn out very crunchy, and not especially sticky. Is this in McGee's book, maybe? Walt
  3. Update on my bottle, originally opened on the 4th. I finished it yesterday, after keeping it in the fridge for ten days, having a glass occasionally. It surprised me by remaining drinkable and essentially unoxidized, even when I left it out at room temperature overnight. The flavors got a little more liqueur-like, cassis-y, but it definitely held on. Based on that I actually would expect it to age. Walt
  4. Data about bacterial levels, etc. is all well and good, but is there any evidence at all that this keeps you from getting sick? I wash my hands after using the bathroom to prevent the good 'ol fecal-oral route, but is microwaving my sponge really going to save me from something nasty like listeria? Looking forward to any answers. Thanks, Walt
  5. My sainted mother saw fit to buy me an apron and potholders in vivid yellow that say "San Francisco" on them. These are the seriously ugly ones they have at the airport, with a cartoon drawing of a crab, cable car, etc. Plus, we live an hour from San Francisco, so it's not as if they make a good souvenir or a "hometown" present. On the other hand, she did give us a very nice brushed aluminum plate rack that exactly matches our sideboard, so she clearly has a sense of taste... :) Walt
  6. wnissen

    Mr. Beer

    Ooh, ooh, me! I admit it, I introduced myself to Mr. Beer. The beer was OK. Not much flavor, but not much effort, either. I ended up buying a beer-making kit and a turkey frying kit, which allows me to make some pretty darn good beers. The Mr. Beer is a good introduction, though. If you get bored with Mr. Beer, you will definitely get bored with real homebrewing, and if you like the process, then you will probably like doing it full scale. I still have that stupid "keg" if anyone wants it. Actually, the plastic caps that come with the kit are useful. To check that I have correctly carbonated a batch of beer, I always bottle one 16 oz. plastic bottle, and cap with the Mr. Beer cap. It seals and looks better than just re-using the Crystal Geyser cap. Walt
  7. Well, by the time I got to BevMo, the vintage had changed, but what are you going to do? <b>2002 Renwood Barbera</b><i> - USA, California, Amador County (1/4/2005)</i><br>$18 at BevMo, 14.5%. Relatively quiet, generic nose, kind of like a Cabernet Sauvignon. Exceedingly well-structured, with tartness and tannin in evidence. Medium bodied, rather pretty red berry flavors. A little more complexity would really bring together the whole package. After being open for four hours, the alcohol and oak become more apparent, and this is not an improvement. Good+. <i>Posted from <a target='_new' href='http://www.cellartracker.com'>CellarTracker!</a></i> For reference, my scale is Poor, Fair, Good, Very Good, and Excellent, with half points provided by pluses. This wine was good but not great, and I doubt very much I would pay US$18 for it in the future, given that simple wines with good fruit are generally available for around $12. I really like the Renwood zins, but you win some and lose some. Thanks for the opportunity to try this. I was under the impression that Barbera tended to be a wine for aging, and while this was structured for it in the acid and tannin departments, I worry about the alcohol and oak that came out over an extended period. Anyone had previous vintages with a few years on them? Walt
  8. wnissen


    Wine.com is great for ordering wine shipped to other people in states that aren't "reciprocal," meaning they don't allow wine shipments. Since wine.com works through distributors in each state, they can ship many more places than your average wine store. However, if you are buying for yourself, they are almost useless if you have access to a local wine store. Walt
  9. God, I hope so. Decided to try my hand at candy making this week with a pecan almond brittle. Turned out brown, glossy, and crisp using our regular probe thermometer that we use for roasting, etc. The durability of the probes varies (we've had our current one for two years of weekly use) but I don't think I'd use a candy thermometer. Hard to read through the steam and boiling sugar, and no alarm to remind you that you've reached 260F and need to add the nuts. At least for this beginner, no thanks. Walt
  10. Actually, the featured wine is the 2001 Amador County. The Sierra Series is the one that I pointed out as being potentially confusing, and apparently created a self-fulfilling prophecy. Sorry about that. However, you will probably have better luck finding the 2001 Amador, as that is the current release, while the current Sierra Series is 2002. My local Costco didn't have either, but I will head out to Beverages and More, which does have it. Walt
  11. I actually think it's a pretty sensible survival mechanism. Back when the edibility of many potential foods was in doubt, long-remembered aversion to the food that made you sick was a very useful reaction. However, it has always seemed to me that, especially with microbial contamination, the aversion tends to fall on the wrong food. I had Norwalk a couple of weeks ago (often miscalled a "stomach virus") which could have been food related or not, there is no way to tell. However, my last two meals before I started getting really sick were an eclair and a dungeness crab (the latter consumed when I could tell I was getting ill), and I now have a mild aversion to both those foods. Not very useful, given that I was almost certainly infected with Norwalk several days before. Walt
  12. Should be interesting, although none of the usual suspects seem to carry it. Wait, I found it at BevMo for $18. I also noted that there's a "Sierra Series" with a California appellation on sale for $8, so be sure to get the right one. Walt
  13. Interested? Absolutely. The last time I was in New York I picked up a bottle of Heron Hill Meritage, and it was pretty good. Lean and somewhat vegetal, but attractive and tobacco-y. But as others have said, in the $20 range you're starting to get into serious money for me (my average bottle is less than $10). If the wineries were local and I could taste and choose, it might be worth it, but out here in California with no availability, it's not really worth the effort. I see more wine from Idaho and New Mexico than New York, as odd as that may be... Walt
  14. wnissen

    White Beaujolais?

    As Carolyn says, it wasn't a mistake. The one all the wine geeks go ga-ga over is Jean Paul Brun Beaujolais blanc. Actually, they go ga-ga over anything by JP Brun, but that's not relevant here. Brun has much better distribution on the East Coast, and wine-searcher only shows a few stores carrying the blanc. The problem is that so little white Beaujolais is made, and you are not likely to find it on a regular basis. However, any you find are likely to be good. If all you're looking for is a similar style, try the other Chardonnay-based wines from nearby in Burguny. Chablis, Macon, and Pouilly-Fuisse are frequently made in that crisp, clean style. Walt
  15. wnissen

    Beaujolais Nouveau

    The bottle of Duboeuf I tried Saturday night was awful, harsh and screechingly acidic. One of the worst wines I've ever tasted. Left corked on the counter, it improved somewhat by last night. The Charles Shaw Pinot Noir / Valdiguie Nouveau (yes, Two Buck Nouveau!) was also flawed, farty and sulphrous but not too bad, as these things go. The only winner was Louis Tete, a reliable smaller producer whose Nouveau tasted fresh, clean, and raw. Just like it came out of a tank. Good stuff. What can I say, Nouveau is a great excuse for a party! Walt
  16. Weber has a recipe for a rotisserie turkey that quotes a 12-14 lb. bird as taking 2-1/4 to 2-1/2 hours on indirect medium to reach 180 in the thigh. That's about right, maybe a tad long, and I would definitely check at 2 hours to be safe. Just assume that it's going to take 2.5 hours, and cover with foil if it finishes early, like it probably will. Oh, and in cold/windy weather turn up the front and rear heat till the grill's thermometer registers 350F. I've been bitten by that! One final tip: If your turkey is still lopsided on the spit and not rotating evenly (weighted toward breast side *bad*) despite having the counterweight extended all the way in the opposite direction, you can duct tape rocks to the counterweight to add mass! I don't have any practical experience with stuffing, having never made it inside the bird, but the conventional wisdom that cooking that to 180F extends cooking time and dries out the bird unnecessarily makes sense to me. But then, I'm mostly Alton Brown's slave. Walt
  17. wnissen

    wine for the bird

    Hey, something to be thankful for! How nice of him (her?).I'm a Pinot/Riesling person as well, and I like to open decent stuff, mostly American if I can help it. Even if not everyone appreciates the wine, I'm still thankful to be able to serve it, so I just go ahead and pour with a smile! I also like to serve wines that I have two of, so everyone gets a glass if they want it. This year it's two bottles of 2003 Fleur de Carneros Pinot Noir, which my local shop recommended as a good value, structured Pinot, and two of 2001 Wegeler Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett. Should please loves of red and white, dry and sweet. Walt Edit: added variety.
  18. Actually, I've been thinking about this. McD's got some good publicity by phasing out the super-size value meals, after the buzz surrounding "Super Size Me." However, have you noticed that other fast food companies have tried to muscle in on the glutton fast food dollar? Taco Bell (at least around Northern California) has been promoting their "mega Bell" menu with really big burritos or something like that, and now the thickburger. It would not surprise me to learn that they see an opportunity in McDonald's pullback on supersizing, and are seizing it.Walt
  19. What kind of gas grill does your neighbor have? If it's a Weber, I highly recommend the Weber rotisserie. It can be tricky to get a bird precisely balanced around the spit (truss it tight!) but actually the result is very moist, evenly browned, and almost completely unattended. The rotisserie is a little under US$100, and is very useful. Walt
  20. I too like the idea, especially the fact that the wines are kept under argon (acts as preservative and propellant) so they will be in good condition. The bottles still are opened and replaced by hand, so presumbly they can check for taint at that time. One hopes they do. I want to stop by and see what their by-the-glass prices work out to, and try some of the offbeat stuff. Walt
  21. wnissen

    Wine for Cooking

    I will use the drinking wine for cooking if it's a small amount. Anything more than a glass and it makes more sense to open another bottle just for that purpose. As long as the cooking wine has sufficient acid and fruit, and no major flaws, it will serve its purpose in the pot. The indignity of rapid boiling and combination with other flavors renders any subtlety or special characteristic of the wine completely moot, in my opinion. While the extractive power of alcohol has been debunked, it still punches up the flavor quite a bit, and the acid is like lemon juice but without the intrusive citrus. Seriously, what is even a $10 bottle going to add on those fronts? Definitely do taste the cooking wine before using it, though. The only thing more hideous than spoiled wine is highly reduced spoiled wine. Marcella Hazan has a recipe that originally called for braising beef in a bottle of Barolo. If there is anyone stupid enough to actually use US$50+ Barolo to make this dish, please let me know, I'd love to come over and help you with the cooking wine... Walt
  22. wnissen

    Sparkling Wine

    ← Aw, that sucks. I also had a recent situation where I had sparkling wine on hand for celebration and beer on hand for mourning. I drank the beer, but was so bummed I couldn't even enjoy it and only finished half my glass. The sparkler went back in the wine cellar (there's no real harm in letting it come back to room temperature). But I have left sparkling wine in the fridge for months with no apparent ill effects. Not that you would, but keeping a bottle in an exposed rack in the kitchen is fairly deleterious for it, and the bottle would be better off in the fridge. Good luck finding more reliable drinking buddies, I mean celebrants. Walt
  23. Since it's a U.S. territory, I assume the limits are the same. The one real problem is the TSA regs on quantities. From http://www.tsa.gov/public/display?content=090005198005fed3 Alcoholic beverages with more than 70% alcohol content (140 proof), including 95% grain alcohol and 150 proof rum, are prohibited from carry-on and checked luggage. Up to 5 liters of alcohol with alcoholic content between 24% and 70% are allowed per person as carry-on or checked luggage if packaged in its retail container. Alcoholic beverages with less than 24% alcoholic content are not subject to hazardous materials regulations. Please check with your airline for any further restrictions.
  24. wnissen

    Cooking Seasonally

    If not for the seasonal rythms of produce, I don't think I'd even notice the seasons at all here! With the exception of baby carrots, bananas (and all the other tropicals), and bell peppers, which we regularly buy from wherever the hell they come from (red peppers from Holland? OK!), most of the stuff is seasonal. Buying most stuff at the farmer's market is still a pretty big net (some folks drive 400+ miles from San Diego to Livermore), the seasonal stuff is just the best tasting and cheapest. Right now the asparagus from Chile is in its prime season (spring down under), so we will get stuff like that. The farmer's market has one farm that sets up portable greenhouses to grow tomatoes year round. Seasonal? No. But not bad tasting either, and for US$3/lb., not a bad price. "Cook seasonal" is a great rule of thumb to get delicious food at low prices, but outside of warm climates it's easy to overdo it. Here, the beet/cabbage/turnip/cauliflower/potato season only lasts for a few months. If it were six months, I would probably go crazy. Oh, forgot one thing. Like Kevin72 says, it encourages you to get out of ruts, so you don't cook the same thing all the time. I'll add a corollary to that: Reducing the selection to the seasonal fraction also encourages you to try produce you haven't had. When six vendors all have Brussels sprouts that look good, you're more likely to go outside your comfort zone, instead of falling back on mediocre-quality but familiar fare. Walt [Edit to comment on Kevin's point]
  25. Still enjoying the Total from the Pleasanton, CA Trader Joes. Google news doesn't reveal any new stories since 24 Sep, so who knows what's going on. I hope it doesn't disappear here, because we love the cup with honey, and have started to use it in place of sour cream in everything. Walt
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