Sunrise, Sunset

31 12 2007

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Champagne Tasting

30 12 2007

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Last night’s champagne tasting event was quite beloved. Besides the salsi bar (with its shocking result reversals!), the following were poured:

  • J Cuvee 20 (brought by K, was the most popular)
  • Moet and Chandon White Star
  • Elliston (a welcome drink)
  • Korbel Rouge (a surprising favorite as palate cleanser)
  • Domaine Carneros Taittinger 2003 (starters)
  • Roederer Estate Brut (before the actual tasting started)
  • Bollinger Special Cuvee
  • Moet and Chandon Brut
  • Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin
  • Veuve Cliquot Grande Dame (thanks D! what a surprise)
  • Scharffenberger Brut (why did 6 people all have this great thought – more to pour around)
  • Perrier Jouet
  • Billecart-Salmon Brut Rose (S, this is new to me)
  • Little Valley Raspberry (to clean up for dessert, which was Vince Arroyo port in chocolate cups – not anyone’s favourite)

Happy New Year to all who came and, if you still have a hang over, make a banana smoothie with milk and honey. Magic and healthy for you.





Tiger Watch

29 12 2007

SF Zoo faces the prospect of fines and huge lawsuits from relatives of Carlos Sousa Jr who died after his throat was slashed by a 350 lb Siberian tiger that allegedly climbed over an enclosure wall that was lower than the US recommended minimum. His two friends, Paul and Kulbir Dhaliwal, were released from hospital after being treated for gashes to the head and the arms. SF Zoo reopens on January 3 but it could lose its license. Basically – tiger escapes zoo, does what tigers do. Yet, something very fishy about this case.

You are thinking – what does PETA have to say?





Salsa Recipe

28 12 2007

For tomorrow night, the salsi have to be just right as they have been increasing in specificity and popularity more than I had imagined. Plus, two shockingly hot salsi for O and M are being thought of.

Pico de Gallo

This is the basis for all further red salsi so I make a good batch of this and let it marinade overnight. This is a Mexican sauce. Finely dice 10 large Roma tomatoes. Finely dice one large white or yellow onion (yellow gives it colour). Sprinkle two tablespoons of sea salt flakes and stir until evenly mixed. Take four garlic cloves and smash up with the flat part of a chef’s knife to remove the skins, then mince with the sharp end and stir in to mix evenly. Now you will begin to smell quite atrocious. Deal with it. Cut two limes and ream the juice into the mixing bowl. Small bubbles will appear – this is “pico flaming”. Take freshly chopped cilantro.  This is a rate limiting step when you shop for fresh cilantro – smell it in the farmers’ market: cilantro smells Mexican and parsley smells Italian, know it well. Wash under running water, rinse and pat dry between tissues. Destem and chop as finely as you can without bleeding too much into the mixture. Stir again and then add a bit of smoked sea salt. Let this refrigerate over night.

Salsa Verde

This is the basis for all further green salsi. This is an Italian sauce. As this requires heat processing, you have to make this the afternoon of the party and let it cool down, settle in. It will degenerate rapidly so it cannot be stored for past three days despite vacuum sealing as it utilizes the aromatic volatile oils for its sharp tangy taste. Remove the husks of 15 tomatilloes and 3 large chillies. The type of chilli you use depends on how much heat you wish to generate. The following are rated in increasing order of heat index (using Scoville heat units): bell pepper (0, no heat but use it for the body of all the salsi; you can use red or orange bell peppers for red salsi); pepperoncini, they look like elongated bell peppers (100),  Anaheim pepper (500),  Poblano pepper (1000),  Rocotillo (1500),  Jalapeno (2500),  Habanero (7000),  Serrano pepper (10 000),  Aji pepper (30 000) and Thai pepper (50 000). There are higher rated peppers which I have never used. However, I have served soup with 0.1 mL of pure capsicum oil (15 000 000) – this is ridiculously expensive and I am bemoaning that I did not buy more of it in Italy. As you boil the chillis you choose in already hot water (use the hot tea dispenser for the right temperature), chop up some parsley (NOT cilantro), capers, garlic and onions. To this mixture ad olive oil and a bit of mustard. I cheat a bit by adding Roma tomatoes to the boiling water for more body and a bit of sweetness to the flavour. Remove the limp peppers with tongs and shock them in a mixing bowl with ice cold water (or, better, ice). Deskin the tomatoes (the pulp will be palm-numbingly hot) and add to the mixture. Don’t bother macerating. Blend in a food processor for desired consistency and let stand at room temperature for at least six (6) hours. Sometimes, I add a bit of slivered almonds or chopped walnuts for a crunchy flavour.





Viral Video

27 12 2007

From ew.com, the top viral videos of the year –

  1. My Humps, an iteration by Ms. Alanic Morissette




Lithium Batteries

26 12 2007

With very little notice, the Department of Transportation has announced a change of what you can pack in your checked AND carry-on luggage effective Tuesday January 1. Remember some people are already en route and will not be completing journeys through that date. The rule pertains to rechargeable lithium batteies (primary lithium, lithium metal and lithium ion but does not specify if the commonly used lithium polymer is inclued):

  • you cannot pack any loose or spare rechargeable lithium batteries in checked baggage any more
  • you can carry loose spare rechargeable lithium batteries in carry-on baggage, subject to some limitations (which do not affect us unless you are carrying unusually high capacity industrial batteries) and in a manner to safeguard against short circuits (one battery per ziplocked bag)
  • you can still have devices with normal sized batteries inside them either in checked or carry-on baggage

We are one month away from where Nepal was twenty years ago – I had to open all devices and toss all batteries of any kind while passing through Passport Control. Outside the hotels, battery sellers (?resellers) made brisk business.





Happy Christmas

25 12 2007

Could anything be more annoying than when you wish someone a happy Christmas and, without missing a beat, they reflexively wish you back a happy Holiday. Why the pretense? It is sour enough that Easter break is egregiously “Spring Break” but Christmas? It is the secularization of America, the world even, at play.