Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pigs Are Smart

Nice article in the Times about the intelligence of pigs (hint: it's high)...

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Introducing the Black Balsam and Tonic Cocktail

So a Latvian friend recently introduced me to Black Balsam liquor which is apparently quite popular over there, especially with the older set. It is essentially a high proof liqueur (40% alcohol by volume) flavored with bitters.

Black Balsam is tough to drink neat but I believe I have discovered the perfect solution:

Black Balsam + Tonic

I discovered this completely by accident because I was looking for a mixer for the black balsam and tonic was the closest thing on hand.

At 1 part black balsam to 2 parts tonic, the two go very well together, especially over ice. The tonic highlights both the sweet and sour notes in the liqueur and the end result is both refreshing and delicious.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Steak Steak Steak Steak Steak and Eggs Steak

Just kidding. No eggs.

There are 2 things that come to mind when people mention Omaha:
1) Omaha Steak
2) Warren Buffet, aka the Oracle of Omaha
3) Omaha hold 'em poker

Ok. that was 3 but the poker thing was a spur of the moment insight. At any rate, on a recent trip to Omaha, with little hope of playing poker and no hope of sighting Mr. Buffet, I opted for the only attainable option: steak.

This particular steak was from the Upstream Brewing Co. in the Old Market district. It was a ribeye, grilled medium rare and encrusted with some sort of cumin-based spice rub. Maybe because I was overly hungry or maybe because I was influenced by its reputation but I thought the first few bites were rather good. I especially like the rub on the steak which had blackened on the grill and lent it a deep smoky flavour.

However, the honeymoon was over by bite number 3. The meat was visibly juicy and pink but it was also stringy and hard to cut. What's more, it was overly chewy and even the smallest pieces required quite a lot of work with the chompers before swallowing. I was halfway through the steak when I had to take a break because my jaw muscles were getting tired.

Nonetheless, if you get away from the texture, the taste of the beef was still pretty good and let's be honest, steak is always a good option in my book, any which way you cut it.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Give thanks for potatoes

Thanksgiving is always an exciting time for a traveling pig. There's traveling and there's food. What's not to like?

Anyway, Thanksgiving at the Pig's parents' involve three main staples: potatoes, chicken and more potatoes. That's right, screw the big tasteless turkey and get down to fowl basics. Here's how the Pig's dad prepares it:

Veggie Prep
Cube potatoes, carrots, more potatoes into 1/2"-1" pieces
Place cubed veggies in the bottom of one midsize roasting pan, making a bed for the chicken, and season liberally with salt and pepper

Chicken Prep
Wash chicken, making sure to pull out that bag of liver, heart, gizzard from the cavity
Stuff chicken with shitake mushrooms, entrails that came with the chicken and whole scallions
Close cavity with toothpick and truss up chicken legs
Rub entire chicken with olive oil
Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper

Chop 1 head of garlic (not too fine, otherwise will burn). Set aside.
Place chicken, breast side up, onto bed of potatoes and carrots (no rack needed - don't worry, skin will still get crispy)
Sprinkle 1 third of chopped garlic on top of chicken

Place roasting pan in preheated oven at 400 degrees
About 45 minutes in, turn chicken so that the backside is up
Add some more olive oil on top
Sprinkle another 1/3 of the garlic onto the chicken
Bake for 45 more minutes, turn chicken again to breast side up
Add more olive oil
Sprinkle on remaining 1/3 of chopped garlic
Bake until done (depends on chicken, oven, whatever) - another 15 minutes in our oven

Dig out the roasted, garlicky potatoes from the bottom of the roast pan. These potatoes should be sitting in a pool of chicken drippings (mmm...drippings). Get those first because they'll be all gone once you go back for seconds. And oh, the chicken's not bad either.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Three 'Bucks for the price of one

I know lots of people who complain about the ubiquity of Starbucks locations in the city. That these are often the same people who absolutely have to have their venti skim triple shot extra hot extra foam cappuccino every morning or they just can't start their day is no surprise.

Instead of complaining, I embrace the Starbuck-ness of New York. I'm not a big coffee drinker but I am comforted by the knowledge that if I should want good coffee I can always get good coffee by walking a block or so to whichever the is nearest Starbucks. So I think I hit the jackpot yesterday when I finally found the holy grail of Starbucks locations:
The Starbucks where you can stand outside and see two other Starbuckses.

That's right. I had found the Starbucks trifecta. It's not an urban legend, it exists and its home is Astor Place - that bastion of individualism, free thinking, hipsters and random street theater performed by the NYU kids. One day I will go back and drink a mocha frappe at each one. That will be a glorious day.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

New Beginning

Obviously, I haven't updated this thing in over a year. I would have done it sooner but I was having username/password problems that didn't get resolved until just today.

This blog will be mainly about travel. I already keep a travel diary in paper form (::gasp::) but it is very simplistic and contains only the most pared-down information -- hotels, restaurants, sights. I'm aiming to be a bit more expressive in this blog and actually write down both the places I go and also the thoughts I think.

So that's my goal and away we go.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

First Post