Round Up

31 05 2005

This is my one-hundredth SBlog entry.

Good – The Interpreter
Bad – The Transporter
Fugly – Garden State

Red – Chimney Rock 2001 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
White – Baywood Cellars 2002 Gewurztraminer
Bubbles – Kenwood NV Sparkling Champagne (disclaimer: was mixed with blood orange juice)

Persian Lime Spritzer
* Combine 1c water, zest and juice of three (3) limes, 0.25C single blossum honey and 3/4C loosely packed washed thyme stems with leaves
* Simmer for 30 minutes and strain
* Divide between four ice-filled glasses
* Add shot of Absolut
* Top with sparkling mineral water (I obviously use VOSS)
* Garnish with thyme sprig and a lime wedge


Burnt Man

30 05 2005


Burning Man
, which began on a San Francisco beach with just 20 participants in 1986, has grown to more than 25,000 people of all ages. Held over the course of a week prior to and including Labor Day weekend, participants create massive sculptures and other visual and performance art. The event also aims to create a temporary community, where people must rely on each other for basic sustenance.Trying to explain what Burning Man is to someone who has never been to the event is a bit like trying to explain what a particular color looks like to someone who is blind. If you plan to go, be sure you read the Survival Guide aforehand. Some facts:
* for a week, BM is Nevada’s fifth largest city
* BM has a temporary airport for small planes, a post office, an espresso shop, two (2) daily newspapers, several radio stations, a recycling center and pizza delivery
* memorable art featured here has included the Piano Bell (88 charred pianos that you whack with a stick) and La Contessa (replicated 15th century Spanish galleon)
* what you do need: pack a bike, water, goggles, face mask/bandana, hat, tent, baby wipes, food (to eat and share), sleeping bag and air mattress, wig, toilet paper, big coat for nighttime, glo sticks or lights for a bike and hat to avoid nighttime collision, sunscreen, costumes, art supplies, shea butter or lotion for dry skin, garbage bags, parasal, shade structure, beach chairs, first aid kit, spray bottle
* what you do not need: $ is prohibited after you pay your ticket (except at the center camp where you can buy food and beverages with US currency). The purpose is to encouraging trading, a “gift economy”
* the cheapest BM tickets ($185) sold out in minutes online in January. Tickets top out at $250 and cannot be bought at the gate after September 1 to prevent “looky-loos”. Cut-rate tickets are available if you can show financial hardship

Bad Food

29 05 2005

I had bad milk with my cereal. That is terrible. Here is a guide to can, freeze, dry, cure & smoke, ferment, pickle, and store. The National center for Home Food Preservation has many seasonal tips as well.

Dining Survey

28 05 2005

From Open Table‘s Dining Survey was Conducted by Genesis Research Associates, the study investigated consumer dining behaviors and trends in spending, dining frequency, and preferences at white-tablecloth restaurants in eight major US markets: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington DC. White-tablecloth restaurants are full-service restaurants that take reservations.

31% Confess to Eavesdropping on Conversations at the Next Table
Excellent Service Earns a 25% Tip
25% believe restaurant service has improved over time
8% believe service quality has declined
Spending on white-tablecloth dining is trending upward, with 40% of respondents saying they spend more today than they did a year ago. Only 4% say they are spending less than one year ago, while 56% say that there has been no change.
Respondents reported that their average dinner tab is $49.37 per person, including taxes, tip, and beverages.
Compared to one year ago, twice as many say they are dining out more often as say they are dining out less often (31% vs. 15%).

Average service typically earns a 17% tip, and excellent service is rewarded with a 25% tip. Diners report that they aren’t likely to apply excessive punishment for bad service.
New York, Washington DC, Boston and Philadelphia tippers appear to be the most accepting, saying they leave 15% for below-average service. Boston diners reported the most generous tips, saying that they leave an average of 27% for excellent service followed by Philadelphia diners, who claimed to tip an average of 26% for excellent service.

Diners say they are irritated by cell phones in nice restaurants. Eighty-four percent of diners agreed that they get “really irritated” with people who use their cell phones in fine restaurants. 31% admitted that they sometimes eavesdrop on conversations at nearby tables. I am included.

Nationally, 38% of diners say that one or more adults at the table drinks alcohol during lunch at a fine restaurant. New Yorkers lead the nation, with 49% reporting that one or more adults at the table drinks alcohol at lunch. Of those, the average consumption at the table is one drink per person. In addition, more than nine out of 10 diners nationally say that someone at the table drinks alcohol at dinner, with an average of two drinks per adult.

Twenty-seven percent of respondents say they have brought their own wine at least once in their past 10 white-tablecloth restaurant meals. Nearly one in five of those who might otherwise have brought wine, worried that the “staff wouldn’t like it” if they did.

38% of diners try to order dishes with lower carbohydrates and/or fat content, with Washington DC diners most likely to do so at 44%. In addition, 18% of San Franciscans cite “health/ingredient control” as one of the reasons they don’t eat out more often, leading a national average of 14%. On the other hand, just more than half of diners nationally say they usually treat themselves to dessert when they dine at white-tablecloth restaurants.

Here are the “Most Likely to (Least Likely to)” Awards:

  • eat out more often than last year: Philadelphia (SF)
  • eat out at least once weekly: NYC (Philadelphia)
  • tolerate kids in fine restaurants: SF (Atlanta)
  • spend >$75 per person per dinner: NYC (SF)
  • bring own wine: Philadelphia (DC)
  • prefer ethnic food: LA (Boston)
  • cite transportation/parking as barrier to eating out: SF (NYC)
  • do business over dinner: Atlanta (SF)
  • dine out for lunch: NYC (Boston)
  • dine out with friends: LA (Philadelphia)
  • treat themselves to dessert: NYC (Atlanta)

Choose Freezer

27 05 2005

A stand-alone freezer (SAF) is a big investment and you need to have enough frozen foods to fil it almost to capacity for the most energy efficiency.

  1. Measure available space, keeping in mind the need for a little room on all sides for venting and that the freezer should be on level ground.
  2. Choose between a chest freezer and upright. Chest freezers have fewer features. Consider ease of food access and space limitations.
  3. Check the yellow EnergyGuide tag for the freezer’s energy efficiency: a lower number indicates less energy used per year. The cost of running a freezer depends not only on capacity but also on how hot (or cold) the outside temperature is if the freezer is not in thehouse.
  4. Choose the capacity in cubic feet with your storage needs in mind.
  5. Select a frost-free model if desired. Chest freezers are usually not frost-free. Frost-free freezers, while convenient, cost more to run than standard freezers. Do a quarterly inventrory and manually defrost instead.
  6. Check the convenience of access to racks, baskets and drawers inside the freezer.
  7. Read the warranty information and ask about service options.
  8. Your personal height is key when choosnig a freezer: dwarves have trouble reaching into deep chest freezers (not that there is anything wrong with dwarves).
  9. Your freezer needs to be pluggedinto a grounded outlet.

Select appliances.

Week in Wine

26 05 2005


2002 Acorn Alegria Vineyards Russian River Valley Dolcetto: $22
2003 Cline Ancient Vines Contra Costa County Carignane: $18
2004 Clos de Gilroy California Grenache: $13
2004 Frontier Red Lot No. 41 California Red Wine: $10
2002 Hop Kiln M. Griffin Vineyard Russian River Valley Valdiguie: $22
2002 Michel-Schlumberger Dry Creek Valley Maison Rouge: $20
2003 Pellegrini Old Vines Redwood Valley Carignane: $16
2002 Zaca Mesa Santa Ynez Valley Z Cuvee: $15



1998 Geyser Peak Winery Sonoma County Sparkling Shiraz ($30)
NV Wattle Creek California Sparkling Shiraz ($35)


2001 Craneford Barossa Valley Sparkling Shiraz Petit Verdot ($30)
2001 Double Vision Mudgee Sparkling Shiraz ($40)
NV Fox Creek McLaren Vale Vixen ($20)
1996 Galah South Australia Sparkling Red ($50)
NV Hardys Australia Sparkling Shiraz ($20)
NV Joseph Adelaide Sparkling Red ($40)
2003 Majella Coonawarra Sparkling Shiraz ($30)
NV Wild Duck Creek Estate Heathcote Sparkling Duck ($80)

Caution: Wines listed are available but may not be in all stores. Start with local wine merchants, but also try larger stores. I get my wine from BevMo. Drinking during pregnancy is associated with birth defects.

Home Trends

25 05 2005

For the kitchen

  • Modular or Euro-style cabinets
  • Stainless steel
  • Touch-pad controls
  • French door refrigerators
  • Organization systems
  • TV on mirrors, hoods, refrigerators
  • Sleeker hoods
  • Taller washers and dryers
  • Soft-touch closing drawer and cabinets
  • Professional-type appliances
  • Compact, smaller appliances

For the bathroom

  • Custom showers
  • Single-lever faucets
  • Free-standing tubs
  • Furniture-looking vanities
  • Toilet seats with bidets
  • Vessel sinks
  • Soft-closing toilet lids
  • Warming drawers for towels
  • Touchless faucets


  • Colors: charcoal; green, orange and beige with yellow base; ocean blue; white
  • Luminescent and metallic colors
  • Shapes: sleek and lean, inspired by the bar code; curves, inspired by the bubble
  • Lifestyle: organization, accessibility, convenience
  • Function: multitasking, user friendly
  • Concept: technology meets design

Beautiful things

  • Amish breakfront (Aussiewood USA)
  • Farmhouse copper sink (HP Austin)
  • Marble tub (Stone Forest)
  • Arts and crafts hardware (Notting Hill)
  • Tub filler (Dornbracht)
  • Herringbone wood inlay countertop (Pacific Crest)
  • Decorative hood (Zephyr)
  • Vessel sink (Bella Bronze)

Fun things

Green things