Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Jim Jefferies: BARE

I watch a lot of stand up comedy. A lot! It is a sad hobby of mine. Some people go kayaking, some people make birdhouses, I watch funny people tell jokes and stories. While I can't say that all the comedy shows I've seen have been good, one I saw yesterday was great. Streaming on Netflix is Jim Jefferies: BARE.
If you've never seen one of Jim's specials, you should know that he uses very colorful language in his great Australian accent. In particular, he has a knack for saying a word that rhymes with blunt on more than one occasion. This doesn't bother me in the slightest, but a lot of people find it off putting. They should learn to get over that because this guy is hilarious. In other words, this isn't a show for the kiddies. 
Jim is a storyteller. He runs through great scenarios about his new son, airports, guns, sex, and a chance encounter with Neil Diamond. He doesn't dance around issues hoping you get the point. He just says it. He doesn't follow up a joke with "Oh man, just kidding, but seriously". He lays it out for you to accept his comedy or not. If you like it, great. If you don't, piss off. That attitude shines bright when he's talking about guns. I've liked Jim Jefferies since I first saw him a couple of years ago. I'm going to be a life-long fan of both his stand up and his TV shows. Watch this comedy special and I bet you'll join me.

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Rogue Honey Kolsch

It's been awhile since I've reviewed a beer. I've had a few really tasty ones, but haven't gotten around to reviewing them. Today that changes with the Rogue Farms GYO Honey Kolsch.

A quick story about the difference between Rogue and Rogue Farms is the Rogue Farms includes ingredients that they grow themselves. GYO = Grow Your Own. This is a powerful leap toward outstanding artisanal beers. Rogue controls the barley, the hops and all the adjuncts like honey, berries, and even pumpkins that they use in these beers. What this means for us is one company controls every step of production in a process they call Ground to Glass. No middle men taking their cut of profits, no growers spraying who knows what on the produce, and no outside brewery bottling the end results. It's kind of like going to a farmer's market except instead of tomatoes and radishes, we get beer!

Rogue Farms Honey Kolsch is about as good a Kolsch as I've ever had. Kolsch in and of itself is a lightly hopped, light weight beer that is quite refreshing. Adding the wildflower and hopyard honeys only adds to the ease of drinking. Even with the obvious but mild honey aroma and taste, the beer still stays light and crisp. It doesn't have a thick honey consistency like you might imagine. It's just smooth, clean and wicked tasty. I checked out their website and they suggested pairing this beer with cheese and spicy foods. I think that would be a wonderful match. I would, however, like to add that this beer would also pair well with barbecue, tamales, pizza, twice cooked pork, hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken ala king...probably dog biscuits. I honestly can't think of any cuisine that I couldn't at least try to pair with Rogue's Honey Kolsch. Well...maybe not breakfast. My suggestion is go get a couple of the 750ml bottles and drink it with dinner for a week. If something doesn't pair with it, let me know.

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Me and my Rogue and my Pink Floyd fridge magnet!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Chateau Roumieu-Lacoste Sauternes 2010

"Big things come in small packages", "One man's trash is another man's treasure", "Good things come to those who wait", "Wine makes my clothes fall off." All of these phrases could be associated with my latest sampling of dessert wine, the 2010 vintage of Chateau Roumieu-Lacoste Sauternes. Another great wine under the large umbrella of Kermit Lynch.

A few weeks ago I wrote about having an outstanding California Cabernet with a wonderful steak. What I didn't tell you about was what transpired after the bottle of cab had gone the way of the dodo bird. As my friend Henri and I sat and solved all the world's problems, his lovely wife Linda went for the gold medal in entertaining and brought out (drum roll) bananas foster for our dessert. I still had a little space left so I happily partook of the wonderful dish. Since I always try to be prepared, I happened to bring a little bottle of dessert wine, a split bottle (375 ml) of the Chateau Roumieu-Lacoste Sauternes. 

I gave a quick wine explanation after we were finished eating since some people might think the process of making a Sauternes is kind of gross. Hervé Dubourdieu is the winemaker at Roumieu-Lacoste in Haut Bersac. (He also owns Graville-Lacoste and Chateau Ducasse.) Hervé has the task of making this Sauternes for Roumieu-Lacoste entirely of Sémillon grapes, but not just plain old Sémillon grapes. They're botrytized or noble rot Sémillon grapes. Botritis is a fruit fungus that you've seen if you leave strawberries in the fridge too long. For grapes, sometimes it's a good thing to have happen. There is a process of wetting the grapes to make the right conditions for the fungus to grow and do its magic. The fungus breaks the skin of the grape and sucks out a lot of the water. This leaves very concentrated leftovers like sugar, fruit acids and minerals. The grapes are pressed and the juice is fermented leaving a sweet wine.

This sweet wine had the typical aroma of honeysuckle with an added hint of spiciness. The amazing flavors were a rich honeyed apricot with a dash of the spice I smelled earlier. I honestly can't say that this wine would go with every dessert out there, but that's perfectly okay. All wines aren't supposed to go with everything. It would certainly pair well with simple flavors of sorbet or sherbet, fruit tarts or chocolate mousse. One thing I know for sure, though, it pairs extremely well with bananas foster. Love it, love it, love it.

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Stag's Leap Wine Cellars' Artemis Cabernet 2007

Usually I don't write about wines that are nearly impossible to come by. I call it the Wine Spectator syndrome. They are forever raving about wines that I will never have the chance to see, let alone drink. That is, unless I'm in the same provincial French hamlet where they happened to find this local wine for a mere €250. I like to talk about things that you can run out to the store, buy one, take it home and try for yourself. This time I'm going to go a little rarer because I had an excellent bottle of wine with friends the other night. It was a 2007 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars' Artemis Cabernet. This wine is still available in a couple of better wine stores, but they're presence is getting scarce. One of the reasons is that 2007 was a phenomenal year for much of California. Near perfect climate conditions made for one of the best years in recent history for them. Even average Cali wines turned out really tasty and, in turn, came to be great bargains for wine lovers.

My family joined my friend Henri and his family for dinner recently. We sat on their covered patio overlooking the garden having some beer and cider before dinner. (Shiner's Ruby Redbird and Ace's Pear cider to be specific. Both delicious.) Henri's wife Linda had everything food related under control as she usually does so when we saw her fire up the grill for the steaks, we knew it was time to open some wine to decant it. I brought over the Artemis, uncorked it and gently poured it into the decanter. Even with a cool breeze wafting across the patio, I could smell the wonderful aroma of this dark purple Cabernet. Blackberry was the prominent ester with a faint vanilla floating behind it. I polished off my Ace Pear cider and cleansed my palate with a few mild crackers. I wanted badly to dive into the wine, but I also wanted to wait on the steaks. I waited and it all paid off. The medium rare steak was magnificent. We also had some roasted veggies from the garden that lay before me and some crusty French bread. What made the whole meal complete was the Artemis. It was one of the more complex wines I've had in awhile. There were blackberries, black cherries, raspberries, currants, cedar, vanilla, and new word I learned, "petrichor" or the smell of earth after it rains. (It's a word not associated with wine yet, but I'm working to change that. Petrichor. Try it out yourself.) That's the terroir influence shining through all that fruit. It was wonderful.

I finished my steak and veg and sat back fat and happy with half a glass of wine to sip at my leisure. And sip it I did. Even after the wine was open and decanted for about forty minutes, I could tell the tannins were still very present. This made me realize that I could have saved this bottle for a least another five years and it would have softened a little more and been even tastier. As it was, though, I'm glad I opened it and enjoyed it. Even better was having great friends to share it with. Which is really how wine is supposed to be enjoyed. Friends, food, and fermented grape juice.

As I said before, finding this particular vintage might be difficult if not impossible. If you find one, just get it. You'll be glad you did. If you pick up a more recent vintage of the Artemis, the tannins will more than likely be pretty bold. Just let it air out for a while in a nice decanter. I've never had a bad bottle of wine from Stag's Leap Wine Cellars and I can bet you won't either. Cheers.

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Monday, May 12, 2014

Poggio Anime Sameal Montepulciano D' Abruzzo

For the last decade, I haven't been one to always pair a regional food with a wine from the same region. When I was first becoming a wino, I did this all the time. Northern Italian foods with Northern Italian wine, French provincial with Burgundy, etc. While that kind of pairing is usually quite good, I don't necessarily follow that anymore. I'll put together a chicken parm with a German Kabinett if that's the mood I'm in. Tonight, however, I decided to go back to the beginning and have this Montepulciano with a good Italian meal. I drummed up some marinated beef kebabs and spaghetti with a simple marinara. (Many thanks to Francis for the recipe.)

I poured a couple of glasses and let the wine air out a bit. As per usual, I can't wait until dinner to drink wine so I sampled it. It was unmistakably a Montepulciano. It had the old world wine flavors that reflect the terroir of the region; earthy, herbal, and dark fruitiness. Another little tidbit about this wine is that it is aged in tightly grained Slavonian oak barrels. It is a less expensive barrel alternative to French oak and it imparts only the faintest of woody flavors which leaves plenty of room for the fresh blackberries and rich cherries. The concentrated flavors only became more complex as the wine rested in the glass. Overall, this inexpensive wine was the exact right thing to have with my kebabs. Other things that you could match it with would be a nice bolognese, some lamb chops, or a cheesy supreme pizza. (Hold the green peppers on mine, please.)

About the label. That is Samael. He is one of the seven archangels. According to Talmudic texts, he serves God, but he wants humans to act evil. He is said to be both good and bad, which translates easily to Montepulciano. In Italy, it's easy to get tired of this wine because it is ubiquitous. That's the bad. The good is that it is a very tasty and inexpensive wine. Not all Montepulciano wines are good. I've had some bombs, but this one is not. It is a very tasty, inexpensive dry red wine that you should make an effort to try. Saluti.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

American Grill, Grove, OK

If I remember correctly, the old saying goes "From the ashes rises the phoenix" and that is exactly what happened to The American Grill. When The Grill was in their small location on 3rd Street, I was a frequent diner. I had tried everything on the menu and it was all really good. Through a series of unfortunate events, it was broken into, ransacked and set on fire. I was quite angry that someone would do that to a business, not to mention it was one of my favorite businesses. Fortunately, they were not deterred and not only started cleaning up that place, but also looking for a new bigger place. They found a location on Main Street attached to a motel that was being vacated by another restaurant. Hard work and dedication led to a 2014 New Year's grand opening for the new American Grill with much more seating including an old fashioned lunch counter.
Their menu kept most of the tasty favorites that I had before, but added some new things that I am ready to add to my list of things I've eaten there. The name American Grill is an apt one since the cuisine is delicious American food standards. They have great burgers, big sandwiches, steaks, salads, pasta and the American staple chicken fried steak. Also on the menu is the instruction that if you can't find what you want, make a request. If they have the ingredients in the kitchen, they will make something just for you. Try doing that at a chain restaurant! If that wasn't enough, they also have daily lunch and dinner specials that may or may not be on the regular menu. And they didn't let a good building go to waste. Their old location is the home base for their fantastic catering services. There isn't much more praise I can bestow on The Grill. Friendly staff, good management, skilled cooks and great food all make for a pleasant dining experience even if you have to wait a few minutes for a table on Friday and Saturday nights. You can find them at 2320 S. Main in Grove. You can also call in a to go order at 918-787-8689. Tell them the Talking Simian sent you. They'll have no idea what you're talking about but it will be funny for a couple of seconds. Happy dining. 

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Sunday, January 5, 2014

Beauty is Embarrassing

I don't know about you, but I love love love a good biography. Whether it's a book or a film, I enjoy hearing about people's lives. I'm not prejudice about subject matter either. The stories could be about Clint Eastwood, Dr. Dre, or Ben & Jerry or they could be about Noam Chomsky, Whitey Bulger, or Pierre-Auguste Renoir. The person's notoriety isn't as important as the story itself. A case in point, the film biography of Wayne White. It's called Beauty Is Embarrassing and it is important.
Wayne White is a name you probably haven't heard before, but you may have seen his work. He was a puppet designer, puppeteer and set designer for Pee-wee's Playhouse. He did animation work for Pee-wee and other kid's shows. He also did the animation for the Smashing Pumpkins' video Tonight, Tonight and Peter Gabriel's video Big Time. Wayne is a painter, sculptor, illustrator, musician, public speaker, and an all-around great guy. He cusses a lot but it isn't malicious. Like me, its just how he talks.
Wayne was born and raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He had a long career of television work on both coasts but decided to scrap all of that and move back to his home state. There he and his wife, Mimi Pond, (a prominent illustrator herself) their son and daughter all live creative, artistic lives.
If you are an artist, a musician, a business person, or you wish you were, this is a fantastic documentary for you to watch. Wayne has been through the wringer that life often gives creative people and has come out the other side playing the banjo and singing. If you need a little inspiration to motivate you into being the creative person you want to be, watch Beauty Is Embarrassing. It's streaming on Netflix, but it's a film that I have ordered so I can have a copy to watch if they ever drop it. I don't want to forget a film like this. I hope you enjoy it too.

"This place is so beautiful it hurts my feelings." - Wayne talking about Tennessee.
Here is a link to his website.

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