Can't beat that!
I assume everybody has had enough rain by now! Our mighty Davis Vantage Pro 2 on the roof says we have had 6.16 inches this month, and 26.1 for the year. Good for the crops?
Anyway, just two items (left off the third) of interest and a bonus
As readers are (painfully) aware, especially MFO! I get tons of food magazines. Over time, you learn there is a common pattern to most of them. Depending on the season of the year, there are always issues devoted to:
Grilling (summer & winter!)
of course seasonal issues
And of course a whole raft of “best” issues of restaurants, chefs, etc., you name it
Extra credit, who’s the chef on the far right (can hardly miss him these days)
And there are some I just skim
Plus there's always a "Cookie" issue, a "Cook like a chef" one, etc., But the one that irk me most, which always shows up at some point during the year in the Regional rags like the Washingtonian, Baltimore, and St. Louis magazines. Is "Cheap Eats"
They begin their article with (non-italicized mine): “Peruse restaurant menus these days, with their $32 Burritos and $24 Sandwiches (no source given) and you might think it’d be tough to get a decent meal on a budget in this town. Turns out that couldn’t be further from the truth – just flip the page. Herewith, our 100 (!!!) favorite places to eat for $25 a person – or less.”
Just something about the theme of “cheap” rubs me the wrong way. I have never seen a $32 burrito, but the implication is that it is overpriced? (which does sound a bit much – maybe Wagyu). Since they say “decent” I guess they’re saying you don’t get a great meal. Guess the operative word is “decent”. Low expectations.
So, perusing the list of the “100”, reveals the common characteristic is that they are mostly “single dish” places (Pho, Kebob, noodles in various forms) and the vast majority are International cuisines: Korean, Ethiopian, Mongolian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Yemeni (!), Pakistani, Thai, Indian, Filipino, Cuban, Bosnian/German, Afgan, Lebanese, even Uyghur! To name but a few. In fact, if you give them Barbecue only 7 out of the whole 100 are characterized as “American”. The restaurant names are inscrutable, like Toosso, Shamshiry, Pupatella, Padaek, Thip Khao, and CherCher (which is Ethiopian). Perhaps if you hail from those regions and speak the language you would understand (I understood BBQ!). Photos of staff kind of indicate that they are understandably mostly from the same region as the food.
As to the “Cheap” label, I suppose a lot of it is due to the ingredients which tend to be economical to buy or are even made in house. Never having been to any of them, I suspect there is not a lot of staff that has to be paid, most (I assume) are family run, the restaurants themselves are often small, sort of store-front places that are most likely not high rent. All these factors would contribute to keeping price points within the budget of most folks. I suppose a phrase like “economical eats” or “value priced eats” doesn’t have the news stand sex appeal of “Cheap”, always a magnet to the general public. So with all these factors it enables them to produce quality food, yet with a smaller price tag.
So after further thought developed toward the end of writing this, I’m backing off my initial snarky attitude, and say if you’re looking for a particular favorite or sample a new single culture cuisine, this is a good directory. Won’t hurt the big boys.
As most of the readers are (also painfully) aware, my daily go to cocktail is a DMOTRWAT (Dry Manhattan On The Rocks With A Twist). Everybody should remember that it is bourbon, dry vermouth, no bitters, with a lemon twist. Simple, clean and nice. At home I use rocks, but when out I normally get it "up" mostly for aesthetics.
Anyway,Vermouth is the French pronunciation of the German word Wermut (wormwood) that has been used as an ingredient in the drink over its history. Space (and most likely your interest) doesn’t permit a history of Vermouth, but it has been around in one form or another since as early as the 5th Century BC. Commercial production started in the mid-18th century.
Although there are sweet (red) and dry (white) available today, it all starts out with a white wine made from principally Clairette blanche, Piquepoul, Bianchetta Trevigiana, Catarratto,and Trebbiajno grapes as the base. They produce a low alcohol wine that is then fortified with extra alcohol (a fairly neutral grape brandy is used in most cases) and also infused with botanicals such as cloves, cinnamon, quinine, citrus peel, cardamom, chamomile, hyssop and ginger. The "sweet" wine (red) is made by adding sugar syrup and caramel color. Traditionally white (is sometimes called French) is used for Martinis and red (sometimes called Italian) goes into (Classic) Manhattans.
Both are produced in a relatively small area of Southeastern France and Northern Italy. Here is a map of locations of the principal manufacturers
Although these days, like anything else, there are several producers in the new world making “boutique” vermouths, another story for another time. I have traditionally used white vermouths from Italy and France. Economics have driven me to mostly use Martini and Rossi (Italian) and save my favorite Noilly Prat (French) for special occasions. I also had another bottle of French (Dolin) kicking around which I use for emergencies (“OMG, we’re out of Vermouth!”).
Something moved me to think “can I really tell the difference?", and decided to do a little comparison.
I was chicken to do it blind.
I found the French Noilly Prat to be a bit smoother than the Italian M&R, but both were virtually identical in color, body, and nose. The Dolin was a bit darker and distinctive on the palate with more botanical character, kind of an Anise (Wormwood?) overtone. Both of the former were “extra dry” while the latter was just “dry”. Not sure if that made the difference or not.
So there you have it. Damn it, now I’m thirsty!
I was going to add a third subject, the recently completed Solomon’s version of the Screwpile races, but I’ll have mercy on us all, and save those images for another time. Just one for a tease.
Yes, it’s B&W, but somehow more appropriate and graceful
So after you have had your favorite libation before eating, a small reminder to
And remember NMMJ!