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Posts tagged ‘beer’

Episode 8 of Edacious – Food Talk for Gluttons.

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New episode up now! Available at Edacious – Food Talk for Gluttons, on iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud, and your regular podcast outlets. In this episode, meet a woman with a degree in Biology (with a concentration in Molecular Genomics!) who bought a gelato store. Splendora’s Gelato ain’t ice cream. Nor is it frozen yogurt. No dump and mix here. No ice cream dasher which adds air. Gelato is a fantabulously rich, thick, decadent frozen concoction from Italy which makes all the rest look like amateurs.

An awesome conversation touching on subjects like the concept of FOMO as it relates to gelato. What’s FOMO? Look it up. I had to LOL! We also discussed savory gelatos, how owner P.K. Ross creates her unique flavors, what challenges are faced by women-owned businesses today, and beer. Learn the story of the day she signed the papers for Splendora’s. It’s a great one. Is a good palate something you’re born with? Or can it be developed? What’s her most popular flavor? What region of Italy is on her bucket list to travel to someday? Are there some ingredients that just don’t work in gelato because of its cold nature? Who gave her the idea for her popular goat cheese, honey, and fig gelato? Her most surprisingly popular flavor? Listen now to find out!

This episode is sponsored by In A Flash Laser.

The United Republic of Texas.

Originally published on November 17, 2010, at The Diner of Cville. Recently I had cause to think of the story again. And I thought I could tell it better. So I am.

I have a love/hate relationship with blogs. Part of me wants to think of this space on the Interwebs as a book. I’ll have experiences, then write luxuriantly and elegantly about them the minute get home. Each experience a chapter in an ever-evolving narrative of my life in food. But life gets in the way doesn’t it? Sometimes the stories get published. And sometimes they languish in my sad little notebook lying at the bottom of the chasm that is my purse. Then sadly, I forget them.

If they’re good stories though, they rise from the chasm. Something will happen, my mind will jerk awake, usually at 3am, and I think, “Damn, why haven’t I written about that?!” Smack self in forehead. Or I’m doing laundry, or out for a walk, or driving into town and the shape of a tree will remind me of something I experienced 10 years earlier and haven’t written about yet. The mind, the memory, isn’t linear, but a circular, jig-jag messy business. And so is this blog.

This was exactly the case this week. I am sipping a Guinness for St. Patrick’s Day. For strength of course. And out of the blue think to myself, “The United Republic of Texas.”

And there it is. The United Republic of Texas. The thought sends my head Wayne’s World reeling, complete with flapping hands and Doodle-do noises, flashing back to an image of two scruffy, grizzled, elderly gentlemen in dirty suits, one brown, the other gray. They wear brogues on their feet, fedoras atop their heads. Francis Phelan meets Tom Waits by way of Harry Dean Stanton (look ‘em up kids). Sitting outside a pub on Portobello Road in London on worn wooden chairs. The table in front of them is gouged with pocket knife carvings and covered in pint glass water rings. One is strumming a guitar, the other is humming and playing drums with the tabletop. Both are drunk, guzzling Guinness like it’s water. It’s like a scene out of Ironweed.

The Hubby and I had headed out to the corner pub to meet friends. We grab the only two chairs left on a busy happy hour Tuesday. Two chairs immediately adjacent to said grizzled guys. Humming, strumming, drinking along without a care in the world. Waving to anyone who looks and generally being genial in an, “I’m drunk and cannot really harm you,” kind of way. Most people would choose a seat inside, but I figure, what the hell. We’re traveling. Let’s make some friends. So we sit. Offer the gentlemen a Guinness which they gladly accept. Small talk is exchanged.

That’s when it happens. The older gentleman of the two, his face covered in gray frazzled beard, his eyes just on the verge of rheumy, but jolly all the same, his teeth yellowing, reaches into his jacket and offers me his card. A business card. Handmade. Like something a child who was just learning computer software would create in some early version of Windows Paint. The edges are dirty, like he’d fingered it many times, offering it to people to look at, but never keep. The words are typed in mismatched fonts, the map below badly pixelated and some of the words are misspelled. It says, in all caps:

PROUD CITIZEN OF THE UNITED REPUBLIC OF TEXAS!

A colorful map of the Republic lay underneath. Mr. Grizzled begins a long diatribe about how he came to be a proud citizen of this Republic, and in his American accent (getting slurrier and slushier by the minute) talks about what brings him to that stretch of London on that particular afternoon. Or day. Or month. Or year. It kind of doesn’t matter. Mr. Grizzled Two just sits and strums his guitar and grins. Grins like he’d heard this speech many times before. Too many times to count, so why not just strum the day away. Playing nothing in particular. I think I may have actually whipped around to make sure that 1) I wasn’t dreaming and 2) ol’ John Singer wasn’t about to come walking around the corner because right then I was sure I had somehow dropped into a Carson McCullers novel.

But no, Mr. Grizzled is real. And he is passionate about his cause. He talks and talks about why this Republic needs to happen. And why it needs to happen NOW. I want to ask if he’s so passionate about it, then why is he sitting on a London street corner instead of protesting in Austin, but he won’t let me get in a word edgewise. It’s as if the card is attached to an invisible string leading to his sternum, and once it’s pulled, he’ll talk until that string coils back up inside him. However many hours that takes.

Our friends arrive a while later and we leave these gentlemen. One strums, and one talks. Even as we stand to leave, Mr. Republic of Texas just smiles, waves, and keeps spewing his passion all over Portobello Road. Later on that week we see them again, one strumming, the other just sipping, this time seated at a different pub on a different street in the same neighborhood. I catch the eye of Mr. Texas and he just smiles. Points his index finger at me and with a wink of his eye pulls the trigger. But in a genial way. Like we’d shared a secret joke.

So is this story accurate? For the most part. Like all stories you file away in a drawer for a year or two, it’s probably the victim of embellishment. Memory is messy. Sometimes when you let a story percolate flavors are added and boring spices removed. The narrative ferments and acquires a better taste. If it’s a good story of course. Maybe forgetting for a while makes it better? Maybe not? In any case, it makes it mine…

Belly Up to the Bar.

Don’t forget! My podcast, Edacious – Food Talk for Gluttons, premieres ONE WEEK FROM TODAY! Friday, February 27, 2015. Right here, and on iTunes, and at my new podcast website. Which I will reveal one week from today ;) Cheers!

In this article, composed for his incredibly awesome magazine, Lucky Peach, Chef David Chang extols the virtues of sitting at the bar. He explains not only is it the best seat in the house, but you never have to call ahead.

I could’ve written this article in my sleep. In fact I did, for C-Ville’s Bites and Brews a few years back. The Hubby and I ALWAYS sit at the bar if we can manage it. Any given night if you walk into a restaurant where we are wolfing down food and gulping down cocktails you’ll find us at our perch, probably staring intently at the goodies coming from the kitchen, gazing longingly at the shiny bottles lined up like soldiers, and smiling endearingly at the bartender because he’s the one making our drinks, the coolest person in the place. I should know. I used to bartend. And it’s still the best job I’ve ever had.

The best reason is the view. You’re higher than everyone and can pretend you’re somebody even if you’re wearing dingy dungarees because you just finished weeding your garden. I love perching on a stool, legs crossed just so, like it’s 1977 and this is Studio 54. Plus, when you perch your gaze travels downward. Onto people’s plates. There’s no sneakier way to spy on what folks are eating, and thus make an informed opinion on what to order, than sitting at the bar. Not only that, the bar is usually somewhere near the kitchen, so you have a first-eye view (and smell) of the goodies coming out the door.

The first time Hubby and I discovered the virtues of bar-sitting was at Emeril’s in Las Vegas. We’d forgotten to make reservations and the place was packed. No matter two seats at the bar were wide open. Not only did we have a grand time, but the floor show of dishes emerging from the kitchen all night was more sexy than Zumanity. Granted, it’s not hard to be sexier than Zumanity but you get my drift.

Many people wrongly assume the bar is just for drinking. Not so. I’ve never been to a restaurant where they wouldn’t willingly offer you a menu. Most bars are full service. And why wouldn’t they be? It’s just good business. If you order something yummy and the drunk guy next to you finds it appealing, he might order something too.

The bartender often knows what to order. Become his friend. Talk to him or her. Ask the bartender to recommend a cocktail, a wine, an appetizer, or a main dish. They readily will. And I promise you it will be delicious. Quite often your bartender will have worked there longer than your server, especially in a town like Charlottesville where a good 80% are students hustling for beer money. It naturally follows the bartender will know more about what (and what not) to order.

It’s pretty cool to saunter past the hordes waiting at the door, flat buzzers clutched tightly in their hands, hoping at any minute they will start bleeping red lights madly signaling their table is ready. When you’re a bar sitter, you never have to make reservations. Decide at the last minute on a Saturday you want to go out? Head for the bar. Bar is full? No matter, do what you’d do anyway. Get yourself a cocktail at the bar and wait. I’ll bet you $20 you’ll wait less than other folks. Because they’re waiting for a table, and they have probably been waiting for a while.

Some of our best meal experiences have been at the bar. Downing vodka and caviar at Red Square in Las Vegas. The entire bar was topped with ice, making us feel like we were the 1% in the movie Snowpiercer. You wouldn’t get that experience at a table. Absinthe pipes imbibed at Sage in Las Vegas, and everyone who walked past stopping to ask us what in the hell we were drinking which resulted in some fine conversations. We’d never have had that in a booth. The Sharp Edge Beer Emporium in Pittsburgh was a home away from home, and the conversations we had while watching baseball games all the while gazing at the THIRTY BELGIAN DRAFT taps down the beautiful wooden bar are precious memories. Whenever someone strikes out, we still yell, “Nice fucking swing you pansy ass!” because years ago a drunk girl yelled this at a Pirate. At the bar. Still my favorite bar.

Closer to home at Bonefish Grill I had one of the best gin martinis I’ve ever had in my life, which resulted in a long conversation with the bartender about his methods and the virtues of a great martini. At our first visit to Beer Run we sat at the bar and met the owner, Josh Hunt, who directed us toward the best drafts. Now we’d never sit anywhere else.

Then there are those restaurants who don’t take reservations in the first place, like Tavola, so you end up at the bar waiting anyway. These folks hold a close, dear place in my food-seeking heart. I LOVE never having to plan to eat, and waiting at the bar is never a problem because we love it there. One of my biggest pet peeves is walking into an empty restaurant and having the hostess ask, “Do you have a reservation?” then giving me the stink eye when we say no. Not requiring reservations makes me love you more. And sitting at the bar removes that stressor entirely, making the meal an even more enjoyable experience.

Sit at the bar people! The minute you walk through the door, saunter past the crowd, inform the hostess of your lack of reservation and indicate with a wave where you’ll be dining. Take in her look of relief, her warm smile (she loves you already) before walking toward the far end of the bar nearest the kitchen. Find yourself a comfy spot. Perch on that stool as if you own the place. Ask the bartender for a menu. And prepare to have fun because you’ll be drinking and eating long before anyone else. Plus there’s no time limit. As long as you’re eating or imbibing, no one will ask you to leave! What could be better than that on a crowded Saturday night?

Red flashy buzzer things are so 2000’s people. Plus, I bet they’re germier than a Grand Central Station toilet seat. Forego them. Do what the cool kids do. Sit at the bar.

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