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paul o' vendange

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Everything posted by paul o' vendange

  1. Full annual cap at Frederick is currently 60K bbls. 22,000 is not where they want to be, for sure, but they were down sharply last year, from something like 35,000 the year before, because they were in receivership and couldn't buy malt. They've got that problem under control now, and sales are coming right back up to where they were. They're finally putting some smart sales work behind the Little Kings Cream Ale line, and it's selling like crazy in the Midwest. Wild Goose is going back into old markets and picking right up where it left off. I still think the best stuff they make is the Blue Ridge line; had a great, fresh Blue Ridge ESB last night. The place, BTW, is unfortunately no longer a dream; maintenance got neglected when there was no money, and they're limping in places. But there's a very can-do attitude...I think they've got a good shot, if the money men can give them a little room to run. This is very good news. My hat's off to them for having the tenacity to stick it out when many would have caved. Paul
  2. Susan, you bet...at a very reasonable rate, I would think. Our group sessions offer many different therapeutic modalities, too; e.g., a duo of duck starter, house-cured duck breast prosciutto on black mission fig brioche point and duck liver feuilleté with a demitasse of chilled, summer fruit coulis, or braised lamb shoulder with a tian of roast summer vegetables, chevre risotto cake and a lamb jus, or, or, or... We also regularly provide private sessions, in a wonderful setting - the private session room is a glass atrium attached to our main clinic. It's a working greenhouse, with flats of herbs for aromatherapy purposes. The only thing about our clinic is that it is at the end of the world - our Canadian guests will have to swim across Mother Superior and our Southern U.S. guests will have to bring a parka in tow.
  3. Wow. Do you do therapy sessions? Speaking for myself, I know I am very singleminded generally, and especially so when it comes to cooking, to a verified fault I own. It has its pluses - looking inward, a fierce desire, a sense of mission, I suppose I would say. I am also a hell of a social animal; I simply like to keep the two separate. I liken cooking to painting, or writing, or any other activity which requires concentration to give pleasure. Bottom line, I don't know that this desire for quiet shared by a few (including myself) is as much about an inability to concentrate as it is simply a choice about how best to go about the work at hand. Paul
  4. Kate, I mind the talking. I may be (name the deficiency), but my cooking demands my absolute attention, and in several of the commercial kitchens I have worked in, there was a Rule of Silence, only chef and the expediter spoke. I like that kind of an atmosphere, and this is how I structure my own kitchen now. At home, I'm afraid I have the same habits as at work - I only relax once everyone is served and I, too, have a glass of wine in hand. I deeply enjoy hearing the warming buzz of guests as the first sips of wine go down and food is moving out. I enjoy the buzz - but from the other room. Paul
  5. From a Rhode Island Fact Sheet, "The American Lobster:" "Molting. A lobster's hard outer shell does not grow. Homarus can only increase its size by molting periodically. In preparation for molting, the lobster lays down a new, soft shell underneath its old shell. Just prior to shedding the old shell, the lobster seeks out a protected shelter - a rocky cave or crevice - because a newly molted lobster is soft and helpless, unable to move. Then the lobster rolls over on its side, bends into a V Shape, shrinks its extremities (especially the large claws) by drawing fluids from them, and withdraws from its shell. Over a period of several hours after molting, the lobster swells to a larger size and the shell begins to harden." (Emphasis mine) I didn't know this about its molting mechanism. I suppose if one buys a lobster within this entr'acte, before it swells to fill its new (soft) shell, it would be smaller, per what Anna discovered. But it seems that as the window for this is a matter of hours only, at least in my experience, iI would guess it has more likely been the problem of lobster too long in the tank. Paul
  6. Lisa, you are quite right, I should have added a "so, I'm stumped." I was merely positing a general rule that I avoid lobsters in tanks, generally, as autolysis is quite common. But you are right Anna indicated the quality was fine, and so I am indeed stumped. The only time I've seen a poor amount of meat for the shell size is when I neglected to pick the animal up myself - and it indeed "shrunk" due to auto-consumption. I've no other explanation for why a lobster's flesh is considerably smaller than its shell. Paul
  7. My suspicion is actually the opposite of "young." If they were in the tank quite a while, they ate themselves to survive. Lobsters autolyze, that is, they consume their own flesh in the absence of nutrients. Best way to tell is to pick one up in the tank - if they feel light for their size, they have probably been there quite awhile and I would move on - tank water is notoriously foul, and their flavor and quality is likely poor. Paul
  8. Great thoughts, all. My $.02. Michael Jackson: Good man for beer. My wife and I won a trip to England through a web entry. I got the news on my final day working for Goose Island Brewing Co. The package included a multicourse dinner at the White Horse in London, with MJ himself. The dinner was extraordinary. The publican's wife is the chef, and she is gifted. MJ was a brilliant dinner companion, and his knowledge is encyclopedic. He quizzed me on what hop varieties were in the several beers accompanying our meal, and I played well. (Though I must have come off as a pompous ass - I'm afraid my nerves must have gotten the best of me, as they then tended to do in such situations, and I stepped into my erstwhile "thespian" alter ego to overcompensate. If you find the article he wrote on the dinner, you'll know what I mean. Ah well). Re: CAMRA, agree with beergirl. Example: We stayed at the Pear Tree Inn, Hook Norton, England, within spitting distance of the 150 year old brewery Hook Norton. The publicans there, beyond being some of the most gracious folks my wife and I had ever met, ran a great real-ale trade; John knows his stuff and is beyond reproach. He also refuses to deal with CAMRA at all. The impression I have of many of CAMRA's minions is that they are much like 1000's of Society for Creative Anachronism players, with the zeal of a religious mission, fueled perhaps by the consumption of too much real ale - a bad mix, in that many presume to know more than just about anybody and have become unthinking missionaries. A good cause, but often misguided in approach. In the instance of the Pear Tree Inn, I understand they tried to tell John how to run his business and, I think rightly, he told them what they could do with themselves. He still managed to pull an excellent pint. Paul
  9. As usual Brooks, beyond being one of the country's finest brewers, proves himself to be an analyst without peer. You are spot on, Mayhaw Man, down the line. I have seen the two things you pointed out - moving too far from home, and overcapitalization/burdensome debt service - too, too often. Goose Island, where I formerly worked, moved very quickly from being a midwest bastion (they still are, at least in terms of barrelage reports) to trying to go somewhat national, when I was there, 14 states. Additionally, they capitalized the installation of Hooch equipment, having worked out a re-distribution agreement with United States Beverage to contract brew the stuff. Somewhere in the neighborhood of $2 mil, I think it was, on top of a bright Krones and state of the art bottling/packing line costing roughly the same. Time will tell, of course; but I know the company was relatively cash poor then, and as National Distribution Manager (my title alone signified the aim of the company), I saw what happened to our beer where our distribution network was weaker, i.e., away from home. Not a pretty sight, and at the time I fervently felt we did ourselves no favors. I hope the best for the company and as one of the older guys, they've got enough in place they might prosper over the long haul. Others are not so lucky. I know that 4 or 5 years ago I was very close to putting together my own micro in the Upper Peninsula - there, some of the market dynamics Brooks laid out so well had not yet hit, and we were seeking to build on the idea of "the first craft/production U.P. beer - ever." Follow that idea with a big "so what?" I thank god we never got into it, as the market has certainly matured, or, more, congealed and new entrants are all but squeezed out entirely. In our neck of the woods (the Upper Michigan area), Bell's, having been around (and stayed local) is the craft powerhouse. They have moved beyond the goofy distribution and production bumps of their earlier years, and I predict they will do quite well for many years to come - provided they stay home and service their existing distribution network. Sadly, we have seen many companies beyond Frederick that forgot the most fundamental maxim of business - whether I (as the owner) am proud of my product, or make it well, it matters not unless there are those who will buy it. To Brooks' two principles - service your distribution network well, and don't strangle yourself with debt service you haven't earned, I would also add that many in the craft business, hot for the profits they saw screaming through the '90's era craft breweries of note, forgot that on top of the above, they were also required tp produce good, and consistently good, beer. I have been saddened to see many fine breweries close over the last several years. I have not been saddened to see many others close - those breweries that knew nothing about fine brewing, and as they arrogantly and greedily sought to make a quick buck, they had no business getting into the game in the first place. Fine analysis, Mayhaw man, thank you. Paul
  10. I have always found that shallots have a distinct, garlicky edge - though I can't call them a cross between garlic and onion, as the flavor is not exactly between the two, but unique. I echo FG's comments on glazed shallots. Whole, glazed...can't be beat. Paul
  11. Wow, I wasn't aware of the pandemic we now have of demonic children. And we don't have to have kids?? I thought it was a required act, like registering for the draft here in the States. And to think I could've avoided the early morning eyes smiling to tell me, "I love you dad," or the daily renewal of my own life through the life of this precious, growing being, as in wonderment he looks to Lake Superior and declares it "pretty." Or the insane romps of ticklefests and bouncing on my back as I give piggyrides. Man, if I only had the sense to forgo this hell, and, additionally, not foist his goodness on this world. You know, your idea (and, I'm sure, that of your confrere, Minister) of "crating" 5 year old kids is not half bad. Most would've thought you made a typo in "create," but now that you've shown me the virtue of being parentless, I know what you mean, and couldn't agree more - crate the monsters, much like the kennel dogs. I'd feel sorry for you and Minister if you weren't so abrasively arrogant in your appraisals of children generally. Edited in the interest of civility, at least to an extent. Cheers, jrufusj. Paul
  12. Minister - I rarely stray from the bounds of considered politeness, but in this instance, I will echo mnebergall's sentiments. I work my ass off. So does my wife. Together we own and operate a fine dining restaurant. Our little boy of 3 is, on balance, an exceedingly well behaved kid (says "please" and "thank you" to servers bringing him water and the like, and simply loves the theater of eating out). We love our son, and love being with him - and also love dining out (when we can, which is extremely rare these days). On the rare occasions when he's done what he's supposed to do at 3 going on 4, namely, throws a hissyfit over the lack of butter on each quadrant of a piece of bread, we give it a minute and try to redirect his energy - believe me, from our side, it's a drag to have to bail on a great meal for this - but, if after a minute or two we are unsuccessful, we will leave rather than spoil others' enjoyment. Trust that most parents are not insensitive jerks out to ruin your evening. Most just want a break. Your comments on battering a child are wholly inappropriate, beyond comprehension, and disgust me to the core. If getting a rise is what you sought, you have achieved it in this father. I can assure you your recommended control methods would not pass by me (nor my boy - as a father, and martial arts instructor, I've seen your kind far too often, and I have made it a point to teach children the value of defense, both of one's spirit and body). You might find your "five across the eye" would be better contained to other pursuits. Paul
  13. Liver and onions, caramelized to extinction and the meat cooked to iron oblivon. Drowned in ketchup, no dice, sitting alone in a wash of tears over a stone cold plate. Though I cook professionally, I only begrudgingly respect the humble onion. Paul
  14. Three of my faves, with favorite combos: Jerez, for a Jerez beurre blanc with lobster; apfel balsam essig (apple balsam vinegar, gotten from an open air market in Salzburg), for a riesling and vinegar-braised green cabbage with bacon and beautiful, blade-end Berkshire loin roast; rice wine vinegar for a million things, off the top a red pepper coulis for whitefish or delicately flavored fish. Oh, and a workhorse zinfandel vinegar - from Wolfgang Puck's idea, a good shiraz or zinfandel mixed with a good red wine vinegar, to mute the bite and bring up the complexity a bit. For a good many vinaigrettes. Paul
  15. Been away for several days due to a move across country. Just wanted to say, Lisa, what a profoundly enjoyable piece of work you and your mother created in Lobscouse & Spotted Dog. "Enjoyable," to which I would add "important," except that as it is written with such lightness of touch it belies any encumbrances of grave weight (there - how's that for ponderous writing?). Thank you for the great piece of work, and for this blog. Paul
  16. Brad, because it's so labor intensive (relatively speaking), I do it in quantity, as with my ravioli, and freeze with no drop off that I can tell, esp. as I vacuum seal. Paul
  17. So..... freezing to death is humane and boiling to death is not? That's worth a chuckle! I suppose, given my options, I'd choose freezing but I still find the whol thing humorous. Owen, without knowing more of the actual physiology, at least the theory behind it has some basis - ostensibly, as cold blooded animals, their systems shut down with the cold, they essentially go to sleep, unlike us, where it hurts like hell on the way down. Sentience goes out the door, and they can thereby be killed humanely. So goes the theory. I don't see a distinction between any animal I kill and eat - all should be respected and, if I am going to eat them, I try to kill them as painlessly as possible. Paul
  18. I don't roast them, as in dry-roast for 1 1/2 or so hours, but I do sweat them with aromatics, as with my shrimp/langoustine/crab shells, so that they develop a nice "roast" red character and flavor. Paul
  19. i don't know if you were asking me paul but i am in boulder, colorado where the microbrewery to beer-belly ratio is quite high. the best porters i've had are in bars here. they have that mix of bitter-ness and sweetness you mention. the ones i'd tried in los angeles (where i lived before) tended to be much more on the bitter side. i take it the more bitter porters are closer to the traditional. i'll try the mass-market porters you mention--any thoughts on their particular characteristics? your own porter sounds very good--where is your brewery located? Hi Mongo - actually, I was responding to rgruby, don't know where he/she comes from... If you're in Boulder, my friend, I'm jealous, as you know you're in heaven. Avery Brewing is an outstanding company, one of my favorites. Most of the bigger craft beer companies (mass market? God, would that it were. If the mass drank craft beer, we'd all be a helluva lot happier ) I mentioned have a nice bite of black malt in them. I can't give the breakdown of malts used as I don't know them, but outside of Bell's, they all have a black-balance, and a great hop presence. My friend is the quality control director at Bell's, and he has told me they shoot for more of a traditional style Porter - not deep black/ashy, but a good dose of chocolate malt (d'oH! Forgot to mention in my initial thread that chocolate malt is usually seen in porters, whereas not typically in "textbook" stouts). Bell's is a huge dark ale producer, so my guess is that they wanted some relief from the deep black richness of many of their other products... As to my own efforts, they are contained to Ugly Betty, the 1/2 barrel hand-welded contraption I built and abuse regularly. I am a trained brewer and formerly worked for Goose Island Brewing Co. in Chicago, and at one point I sought to open the first production craft brewery in the Upper Peninsula. But life took a turn and we are fortunate to be soon opening a restaurant. I still have fun - I have a microlab dedicated to capturing, propagating, and storing yeasts, and I run biological and other assays on other brews - but, mostly, I put them on tap or cask for friends who come out of the woodwork regularly. Cheers! Paul
  20. BBQ, my mom used to work for Martin V. Smith, who probably now owns half of Oxnard, if he's still alive. My step dad and I would fly out of Camarillo airport - he was an old navy pilot. Man, memories - I used to haunt those fields between Ventura, Camarillo and Oxnard all the time as a kid. Nothing better. I'd hike to Two Trees and eat fresh from the field. When my aunt and uncle bought their property, I think it was worth about $11,000, which he got on the V.A. bill. The man is a fiend for growing and he lost more avocados in ripe-drop than I will probably buy in a lifetime. We were in free avocados as kids. Ah, youth! Cheers, mate, from a fellow Ventura Count-ian... Paul
  21. BBQ - You're killing me. We've shared the transcontinental voyage, it would seem. Born and bred Venturan, lived most of my life since then in less temperate climes (New England, Chicago and, soon, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan). Put a call through to my aunt and uncle, who have dozens of avocado trees in the front and back yards alone, and satsuma plums; how to get the things I feasted on as a kid to us in "da U.P." Never had Silver Queen white corn, to my knowledge. Where can I get it? Paul
  22. It's not so much that I just disagree as I find myself astonished. Rocco looks like a bloated, paunchy coke freak to me. But perhaps that's just me. It is most definitely you, Jinmyo. He is not a bloated, paunchy coke freak. He is a puerile, whining ninny. Let's keep it straight. Paul Edited for comedic effect.
  23. They really have become blurred in modern practice. Porter used to be the working person's drink - hence, Porter, and as rgruby alluded to, it was called Stout Porter. It was typically made with black barley, amber barley, and, eventually, pale malt. The textbook difference is that stout has raw barley, roasted brown. Porter has barley malt, roasted black - "black patent malt." Under this strict regime, stouts tend to have a dry, coffee character, unless they are other than the Irish type stouts (Guinness, etc.), in which case they have various other malts added, i.e., crystal malt or even lactose (think English "Milk Stouts"), and may be quite sweet. Porters usually have a fair amount of crystal malts so, in addition to a certain acrid foreward taste contributed by the (essentially) burnt black malt, they can be quite sweet. Traditional porters also use black barley, which is, like roast barley, raw, unmalted barley roasted black instead of brown - for an even drier, ash-like or burnt-note taste. Move further afield from the textbook versions and all bets are off. In my porter, I use a modest amount of black patent malt, but mostly use de-husked black malt, typically from Germany or Belgium. By de-husking prior to kilning, this black malt is less bitter than true black patent malt, as it is in the husks where the tannic-substances mainly lie. I seek a very smooth, rich, roasty porter, and it is a big porter - 6.75% alcohol. I also use prodigious amounts of dark crystal malt. In my stout, for the dark component, I use a good amount of roast barley, but add a touch of black malt for depth. I don't know where you are, but if you are in the States, we have many wonderful Porters. Just a few: Anchor Brewing's Porter, Summit's Great Northern Porter, Sierra Nevada Porter and Bell's Porter are all good, and all different. Happy hunting! Paul
  24. I don't worry about the eyes; maybe I should, and will, to see. To clean the gills, just hook your index finger around the bunch and yank them free. Great way to clean the fish, too, if the guts are still present. You may have to grab a remnant or two, but I rarely need to, as the gills tend to come away intact. Paul Oh, sorry, Nola, I may have misread you - I don't worry about the bony plates covering the gills (read somewhere - biologists - operculum?). I just make sure and remove all fins, and use my index fingers to pull the gills proper - the bloody three-or so u-shaped things themselves (rakers and filaments).
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