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Weekend Reading, Volume 15

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I haven’t posted a collection of links in awhile.  I’ve just been too fixated on the Phillies, I guess.  No—wait!—it’s not even possible to be too fixated on the Phillies.  Anyway, I haven’t stopped wasting spending time on the web, so there’s quite a backlog.

  • What’s the best thing in this week’s New York Times Magazine?  I think it has to be this piece on doughnuts, which, among other things, has Washington Irving saying that a New Amsterdam table “was always sure to boast an enormous dish of balls of sweetened dough, fried in hog’s fat and called dough nuts.”  Be sure to check out Stephen Lewis’s accompanying photographs, too.  They’re amazing.  (That’s not one of Lewis’s above.  Sadly, I can’t afford food porn of that quality.)
  • I’m becoming a big fan of “The Wild Side,” evolutionary biologist Olivia Judson’s NYT blog.  A few weeks ago, Judson blogged about a gene variation in men that was associated, in a Swedish study, with an inability to maintain long-term monogamous relationships.  The very next week, she wrote about the evolution of male-only asexual reproduction in a few unusual species.  It’s good to be reminded just how freaky nature truly is.
  • It’s certainly been a long time—too long—since my last date, but I’m not ready to resort to a cuddle party to get some basic human contact.  Bizarrely, the local paper, The Inky, devoted many, many column inches to the topic.  The article just made me want to buy gallon after gallon of Lysol, hand sanitizer, and various other cootie-killers.  Ewwww.
  • Americans can get married nearly anywhere they want—the backyard, Las Vegas, the halftime of an Oklahoma City Thunder game.  It seems like a basic human right, doesn’t it?  (For straight people only.  Hmmm.)  It’s not that way everywhere, of course.  In England, the rules have loosened up just a little bit, but there’s a long way to go.
  • Pop or soda?  Or just coke? As I’m sure you know, what we Americans call our, um, soft drinks varies pretty dramatically from region to region.  In the Midwest, it’s pop.  In the northeast and California, it’s soda.  In the South, it’s coke.  Strange Maps recently featured a great map that shows off this regional variation.  I grew up in Oklahoma, which, as you’ll see, is one of the places where pop and coke collide.  I grew up with “pop,” in one of those counties in northeastern Oklahoma where 50-80% of the population prefers that term.  But it’s not what I say anymore.  After a decade-plus in Philly, I’ve converted to “soda.”  I’m a traitor.
  • Speaking of great maps, I enjoyed the NYT‘s interactive map showing how well nations have done at the Summer Olympics over the years.  Now is a good time, of course, to get a good view of how the Beijing Games played out.
  • Like any good devotee of Belgian beer, I’ve been closely following the political upheaval between the country’s Flemish and Walloon populations—and just hoping it doesn’t mess up the beer.  If you haven’t been following the steady slide toward devolution, here’s a good primer from BBC News as well as an article on political unhappiness in Flanders.
  • Etan Horowitz, who writes for the Orlando Sentinel and who happens to be one of my “buddies” on Twitter, explains how to change your email address as painlessly as possible.  This is something I need to get my parents—who insist on sharing an email address provided by their small-town ISP—to read.  Horowitz, by the way, is a fan of Gmail.  Me, too.

Written by Jimmy

October 4th, 2008 at 8:39 pm

The Funky Monk

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Having neglected my all-important beer education for most of the summer, I knew I had to attend last night’s beer class by Tom Peters—the renowned owner of Monk’s Cafe, the premiere Belgian-beer destination in Philly (which is really saying something in this Belgium-crazy city)—at Tria Fermentation School.  Peters wanted to show off sour flavors, and he brought nine examples.  I’d tried four or five of them before, but it was still a real pleasure to be able to easily compare and contrast so many sour ales.

Of the nine, I’d say the biggest revelations were the Goudenband from Brouwerij Liefmans and Russian River’s Supplication.  I hadn’t heard good things about Liefmans previously, but the Goudenband, a classic Belgian brown ale, was absolutely delightful.  The “sweetest” beer of the evening, it was still sour enough and offered up some interesting wine and cherry notes.  I’d have to describe the Supplication with similar terms—in that it’s made with sour cherries and aged in pinot noir barrels—but it struck me as a lot more wine-like than the Goudenband.  Sour and delicious, that’s for sure.

On my next pilgrimage to The Beeryard in Wayne, the beer distributor of my dreams, I may be bringing a case of the Goudenband home with me.  The Supplication isn’t generally available west of the Mississippi River, but I believe it can be had in the Philly area, too.  Those crazy West Coast brewers have realized what a market we have here….

Of the beers I knew already last night, my favorites were the Cantillon Gueuze and Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen’s Kriek.  The Cantillon is one of those beers I’d put on my desert-island list (i.e., what five beers will you take with you to the desert island along with the sexy, athletic nymphomaniac?).  I liked the Kriek from 3 Fonteinen much better than I did a few months ago when the brewery’s Armand Debelder was in town for Philly Beer Week.

So I enjoyed myself last night.  I have to say, though, that I’m sometimes a little bit uncomfortable with the way that beer snobs (and I say this with love, as a bona fide beer snob myself) fetishize some flavors, like sours, over others.  I like sour flavors as much as anyone, but it ain’t heroic of me.  If you listened to some of my classmates last night, you’d think that only the most gauche beer drinker in the world would enjoy sweet flavors.  Well, hmph.  Different types of flavors are just different types of flavors.  Can’t we enjoy sour flavors, bitter flavors, and—hey—even sweet flavors sometimes, too?

P.S. I really enjoyed one of the cheeses provided by Tria last night—Beehive Cheese Company‘s Barely Buzzed, a cheddar cheese made nearly irresistible with a coffee rub.  Put some of that in my fridge, ok?

Written by Jimmy

September 17th, 2008 at 9:54 pm

Posted in Beer,Food

Weekend Reading

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  • Do you have Olympic fever yet?  I do, and I’m feeling all nostalgic about Olympic baseball and softball, since it looks like this is the last time they’ll be official Olympic sports.  In those sports, and others, the host nation gets an automatic berth in the Olympic tournament.  This NYT article on China’s baseball team suggests, well, that the Chinese aren’t taking their chances too seriously.  Oh, and American baseball-isms don’t translate into Chinese all that well.
  • If you’re wondering whether a website is down, or if the problem is with your own set-up, Down for Everyone or Just Me? may be the answer.  Warning, though: The site always tells me that Amazon is down.  (Link via NYT)
  • It looks like the Discovery Channel is going to devote a little attention to beer.  Isn’t it about time the Food Channel offered up an entire series on beer?  I’m available for hosting duties….
  • Planet Earth is running out of indium.  And several other elements, including gallium, hafnium, and even zinc.  There’s not much copper left, either.  If you like TV screens, solar panels, and computer chips, this is bad news.  (Link via Kottke)
  • Do you like your murder mysteries to have, er, a spiritual bent?  Then check out Clerical Detectives.  I’m going to check out the Rabbi Small mysteries.  (Link via Thousand Voices)

I have a backlog of cites, so look for a very special midweek edition of Weekend Reading soon.  If I get my act together….

Written by Jimmy

July 13th, 2008 at 4:03 pm