# of divers

Monday, April 29, 2013

Sandwich Architecture

It is said there's a spread between two slices of bread,
it's a well-mastered practice that's taken widespread.

In lieu of plain toppings, stacked with kindness instead,
 with fillings of gladness and fresh green go aheads,
and a melty-good smile, you'll surely drop dead.

Stuffed with spells of magic to make one heels over head,
a saucy-bit messy, if it's tidy lunching you dread.
You may even catch a sliver of spirited red.

I built you a sandwich in fond reminisces,
topped with leaflets of love, and covered in kisses.

With seasons of savory, and just a touch sweetened, 
but most above all, it longs to be eaten.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wineoceros Wednesday: Wine on tap: A sustainable alternative? A pile of pish?

Just a touch of mental masturbation for your wine thoughts today.

I first made note of artisan wine by the keg during a visit to The Bent Brick in May of last year. Being so finely poised on the dining map of Portland, I was left to wonder whether my beverage of choice was being bastardized into a souless wine, or whether it was indeed a viable option for our beloved sour grapes.

Although, not a new idea, I've kept a close eye on it since. To date, tapped wine has been spotted at five local destinations, with tapped house spirits being offered at a sixth.

Apparently, the flowing wine spigot is on round three, as it was initially introduced in the seventies, then twice again during the eighties. Due to a sorrowful lack of know how, beer lines were used and the resulting oxidation caused to wines to sour, making this endeavor a botched misadventure.

'Boxed wine' aside, one could argue that wine flowed freely, straight from the winemakers barrels in the days of the Roman Empire.

Today, its contents are pressurized using argon, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide. This somewhat inert environment was created to protect our precious grape juice from its wrathful nemesis, oxygen.

Conceptually, this idea is brilliant for wines that are drinkable now, and not suitable for aging. On the nightmarish end of things, these lined metal kegs would surely become a beastly place where the dark and perplexingly complex Barolos and Barbarescos would go to die.

A really-real wine 'cask'?

Environmentally, the answer is obvious. According to the (FAO) Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the astonishing equivalent of 36 billion bottles of wine are produced worldwide each year.

The Good

  Eliminates waste, thereby reducing our carbon footprint 

 Savings could potentially be passed on to the consumer.

✓ A much longer shelf life. This "winery fresh" wine has been said to yield tapped keg freshness for up to sixty-five days!

 No senseless wine waste of unfinished bottles, (the calamity!), potentially leading to higher profit margins. 

The Bad

x  For fans of labels, a lack of familiarity may very well leave the end user feeling somewhat hopeless, wondering just how to go about purchasing some of what was just sampled, and knowing little of its stainless steel origins.

 Bulk keg production means few, truly unique, boutique wines would make the tapped circuit

 Limited to young vintages

The Ugly

Maybe I'm just a purist, or a devout traditionalist, but the romantic in me weeps at the very thought of abandoning our well-entrenched history of opening up a bottle of wine in the comfort of friends, family, and loved ones.



I suppose we'll have to just enjoy our wine as is, before they begin to serve it from wine hydrants.

At any rate, none of this is preventing me from going nutter butters trying to sort out if I'm a fan or not of this natural evolution. I'm still picking up the spritzy acidity and fruit forward flavors that have been well preserved in its keg vessel storage.

Winetender, could you kindly pour me another?
Perhaps that will get me to stop my sniveling.


Monday, April 22, 2013

A grilled cheese meltdown!

Whew! Think I've finally come to after succumbing to a heavily-induced, grilled cheese coma from last week's sandwich castle in the air affair.

The highly anticipated April Cheeseup for my cheese club, Queso Diego, went off without a hitch!

Paying homage to our beloved fromage, we paid a proper tribute honoring National Grilled Cheese Month by stacking tried and true favorites for the mother of all grilled cheese roundups at City Farmer's Nursery

It was a grilled cheese off that knew no boundaries.

Armed with an arsenal of tools fit for a sandwich match like no other, we took to slating and plating like bosses.

Using everything from stovetop grill pans to George Foreman grills, our mighty team came up with a vast and impressive array of cheese sandwiches across the sweet and savory spectrum of delectability.

Of course, no Queso Diego meeting is complete without a generous supply of beverages to meet the hydration needs of our thirsty compatriots.

The brew crew brought in some homemade meads, ales reared their much welcome heads, a lovely port made a special appearance, and wine as always, was abound.

We were delighted to have Kathy Strahs of Panini Happy come out to help us celebrate one of our most perfect foods. Make certain to stop by her lovely blogspace that's stuffed with a grilled sandwich bliss of another kind. 

You could say it was a sandwich heaven of sorts with excellent company, fine drink, and imaginative, little, tasty, concoctions across the board.

My own contribution was a blue cheese, grilled cheese.

Using cheeses of smokey blue, a Morbier, and a Gruyere, topped with Moscato-marinated, grilled pears, candied pecan bits, and raw Tupelo honey. It was a delicious, grilled to perfection, beautiful mess.

If you look closely, there's even a praline pecan and honeyed chevre dessert sandwich lurking beyond.

One of our members even fashioned an ornamental, grilled cheese truck, cloche atop her head for the evening. 

Perfectly themed attire for our cheesy theme, I say!

I believe it's fair to say that no one left hungry, and our melty-grilled, sandwichtide was quite possibly the best thing that's happened since sliced bread.

Everyone went home with some epic Toastabags, compliments of a generous donation from Boska Holland

I'm happy to report that it's left my toaster crumb-free, with no cheese remnants, while properly equipping my son to take on the frightful task of feeding himself when he's away at college.

Some of us even got our 'Benny & Joon' on, taking full advantage of all that these fine Toastabags have to offer.

"Some cultures are defined by their relationship to cheese."

I'm delighted to announce that Queso Diego was featured in the New England Cheesemaking Company's 'Moosletter' which can be found here:

 Oooey, gooey, cheestasticness is on the move, and us cheesers are delighted to be a part of all of it.

I have to admit, I'm slightly saddened now knowing that only eight days remain in the cheesiest month of the year.

If you've yet to celebrate this classic food, I invite you to do so now, while the smell of grilled cheese is still well in the air.

For scrumptious sandwich recipes

have a looksie here:


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wineoceros Wednesday: Attack of the Killer Tomatoes Wine

It has come to my attention recently that there's a contingent of folks out in spanky winetown making "wine" with anything and everything other than traditional grapes.
Indeed my friends, there's a surplus of 'fruit and plant wine' being made from the fermented juices of a wide range of base ingredients.

Ingredients such as:
rose hips
Not Buddha Bananas, but common everyday banana-nanas*

A new use for bad bananas other than bread!
My question.
Can it actually be deemed as wine?
Well, it certainly can't in the EU, by its very standard that it must be made from fermented grape juice, but that's not where it's being produced.

Seems that Africa, the Philippines, and the French Caribbean, have well taken the lead on this market, and I for one, am dying to get my hands on a taste.
Natali Vineyards sells a dessert version said to have the 'aroma of ripe bananas in the foreground and the bouquet of honeynuts in the background with notes of dried figs.'
Perhaps a small pour with a creme brulee as a sticky-sweet nightcap?
Perhaps it's so sickening-sweet, it's completely revolting?
As if the universe of grape fermented wine wasn't overwhelming enough on its own, there's a whole galaxy of lonesome fruits out there just vying to be explored, and they are certainly no shrinking violets I tells ya.
 To further diminish any apple of discord, the Omerto Company of Quebec, Canada has successfully made a tomato wine.
 I can't help but dream up that it's been procured from docile fruit, such as those starring in the cult film, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, but I've no place in making such brazen judgement seeing that I've yet to give it a go.
Surprisingly, it's touted as a lovely version of wine. Made using 'subarctic, yellow and black cherry tomatoes.' It has been described as having a nose of subtle fruit with zesty aspects, and a bit honey-sweet.

Perhaps pairing it with an fresh herbed chevre would be really, rather lovely? I imagine it would be brilliant in a tomato wine sauce.
At any rate, sales are soaring for the tomato wine-makers. Why in 2012 alone, the company sold an excess of 34,000 bottles! Seems there's enough interest in those vying to try the atypical sort of fruit wine, myself included.

Good or bad idea?
My curiosity knows no boundaries.

*You must excuse me as I have to remember how may 'na's' to include with each spelling of banana.

Monday, April 8, 2013

A Beautifully Blustery Morning

I learned long ago that living in close quarters to the briny-deep sea was integral to my sense of well being. There is just something about that magnetic juncture where the coastal waters meet the shore that's nearly undefinable. 

I can however, say with certainty that there is something beyond marvelous that occurs when the unpredictable currents come in contact with the presence of soft and stable sand.

I always believed that if I had to be anything other than myself, I'd like to be this very crux, the enchanted place where the waters meet the shore. 

Here in the southern California parts of the world, I am but a stone's throw to the waters edge. There are days when the crashing waves awaken me from the night's rest, and I rise to to enjoy the silence of a sleepy morning.

And on this given day, for no other reason than it's wonderfully dreary out and the skies are perfectly windy, I head for a stroll to be left alone with my thoughts, my coffee, and a fancy tune up in the headspace.

Taking to my neighborhood is always a guarantee for unexpected run-ins which might not otherwise occur if one opted to stay in bed for a good part of the morning.

It's a sunup sort of morning filled with kind pleasantries from the few transients struggling to keep warm amidst the offshore breeze. 

A morning where perfect strangers bid you kind compliments, reminding you that you look quite fierce, as though you could slay vampires, and doing so was possible merely by wearing a certain pair of timeworn boots.

It's the sort of day where you can find a near-perfect dragonfly kite, anxiously awaiting to be cast up into the highest of heights for a proper flight.

Mr. Kite is now safely fastened to a beach palm tree, and I do believe he is still smiling up there.

It's going to be a beautifully, blustery day.

Monday happies to you.

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