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Aug 30

Mad Men Monday: Lost Weekend

Well, that was an interesting episode. I think Don was drunk for at least 90% of it. I did mention he’s becoming an alcoholic, right? But before we get to that, let’s back up to the Clio Advertising Awards. In a town like our own, pretty much everyone is familiar with the Clios. Awards help the business, right?

I noticed one winner in particular. Actually, what I noticed was progressive drunkenness on the part of Roger and Don, but other than that, the Byrrh winner stood out for me. What in the world, I wondered, is Byrrh?

Byrrh Ad Winning a Clio

It’s not what I thought. I figured it was perhaps some early, non-alcoholic Beer. Nope. It’s an aperitif, still produced in France by Pernod. Byrrh is actually a wine-based aperitif, similar to Lillet, but blended with quinine. According to Pernod, “the basic grapes, mainly the Carignan and Grenache varieties from the hillsides of Roussillon, are transformed into mistelles (partly fermented grape juice), which are then blended with selected dry red Roussillon wines.” It’s the history of Byrrh that intrigues me though. Coincidentally, Byrrh was created in 1866 by Simon and Pallade Violet, who were drapers. Drapers, at the time, was a phrase used to describe men who sold cloth or clothing. It’s a great name for a guy who started out selling fur coats.

Which brings me to our resident drunks. I found it interesting that in their first business meeting, Don took Roger out drinking at 10 am. It all started right there. Of course, Roger got snowed by Don, drinking so much he doesn’t know (to this day) whether he actually hired the guy or not.

How to Drink Like a Mad Man

Let’s look at Don’s progressive drinking in this episode. He starts out early, offering a drink to Peggy. The aborted Life cereal meeting includes a few festive cocktails, then they drink a lot of both cocktails and wine at the Clios. After that much, I’d be ready to go home and relax, but Don goes and gives a presentation. No one disagrees? How can they not see this is a bad idea? Of course, celebratory drinks were poured at the Life meeting, followed by the Clio after-party. That, my friends, is a lot of drinking. And these guys weren’t drinking light beer, but were downing the cocktails.

Then there is Don’s lost weekend. It’s one thing to celebrate – another to somehow slip from Friday night to Sunday afternoon without a single memory of what happened. I believe that consuming alcohol to rid yourself of a hangover is Phase 4 of alcoholism. Seriously, hair of the dog, while a time-honored folk remedy, is also an incriminating habit. The fact that Don poured himself a glass of Canadian Club when he got out of the shower on Sunday after his lost weekend, well …

Sunday Morning Pick-Me-Up

Personally, I’ve never tried hair of the dog. If I’m hungover, which thankfully isn’t a common experience anymore, the absolute last thing I want is more alcohol. Drinking too much on one night will keep me off of alcohol for about a week’s time. Not Don Draper.

Below I’ve included a video from AMC featuring Matt Weiner and Jon Hamm discussing Don’s descent into alcoholism (beginning and end of the video). There’s a sponsor ad preceding the video.

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Posted by Michelle at 11:18 am in Mad Men Monday | Permalink | Comments ()
Aug 27

Event Tidbits

Just a few tidbits about this weekend’s events and upcoming festivities:

  • In addition to Farmers’ Fair and Brew-Ha-Ha, you can stay in the suburbs and eat and drink this weekend as well. The 25th Annual Taste of Blue Ash is happening tonight through Sunday. I’m highly amused – both Night Ranger (Sister Christian) and the Guess Who will be there on Saturday night. In addition to the food and 80s rock, there’s a last minute add-on to the vendor list: The Ohio Valley Wine Garden. This pavilion will feature wines from Burnet Ridge, Harmony Hill, and Henke! Prices are $1 to sample and $5 per glass.
  • Restaurant Week is coming up, so mark your calendars. As opposed to the recently held Downtown Restaurant Week, this is the Greater Cincinnati Independents Restaurant Week. Go support the little guy! Restaurant Week is September 13-19, 2010. More information, including participating restaurants, can be found on their web site.
  • Smack dab in the middle of Restaurant Week is Beer Fest. Let’s just consider this a run-up to Oktoberfest, shall we? The Hoperatives have more information, but basically, Beer Fest has moved to Fountain Square. Kevin and I volunteered to help pour in a booth, so we’ll see if that pans out. Dates for Beer Fest are Friday, September 10 through Sunday, September 12.
  • Finally, remember that Disney post I wrote? Well, we did end up registering for Party of the Senses. If you are inspired to go to Disney during the Wine & Food Festival, registration is open for the culinary and beverage seminars. They seem to be running between $8 and $12 this year. We registered for an Argentinian wine tasting, a Spanish wine tasting, and Scotch tasting. You can register for the seminars at http://www.disneyurl.com/foodandwinedemos. Spots fill up fast. Last year we didn’t know you could register online ahead of time and many of the seminars we wanted were already sold out.
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Posted by Michelle at 10:31 am in Beer-Guy.net, Disney, Food and Drink, Tastings | Permalink | Comments (1)
Aug 26

Eat, Drink, Laugh Local: Farmers’ Fair and Brew Ha Ha

This Saturday is a big day for eating, drinking, and laughing local.

Last year was the first year for the Covington Farmers’ Fair. It was so successful, they’ve brought it back for a second year, and it’s bigger than ever.Headlining the event is Ed Begley, Jr. I know, I was surprised too. I thought he was some guy from a hospital/soap that my parents watched back in the ’80s. Apparently, he’s been working ever since and currently has a show on the Planet Green channel called “Living with Ed”.  It’s a reality show about trying to live “green” in Hollywood.

Photo from FarmersFair.org

The Farmers’ Fair is a daylong street fair and farmers market celebrating the local food culture. “Farmers’ Fair is a unique opportunity for those of us who have lost touch with our farming and food-producing roots to see the entire process from seed to plate” said Valerie Taylor, co-chair of the event. Paticipating vendors include Bees and Sweets, Carriage House Farm, Dad’s Favorite Cheeses, Dojo Gelato, Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese, Napoleon Ridge Farm, The Sensitive Epicure Gluten Free Bakery, and many more.  Chefs from Local 127, Lavomatic, Chalk, and more will also be participating.  Finally, Berlin Reed from Oregon will be there. He’s the Ethical Butcher, and people, he’s going to be talking/cooking about “The Bacon Gospel.” Mmmm … bacon.

Don’t forget that eating local is also about drinking local. The two local wineries participating will be Elk Creek Winery and Stonebrook. You can find Kevin and myself pouring for Stonebrook in the morning to mid-afternoon. After that, blog readers just like yourself will be pouring. (Thanks gang!) Not enough for you? Josh Durr, cocktail master extraordinaire from Tonic on 4th, will also be there.

The fair features a farmers market, cooking demonstrations, chefs pairing with local farmers (food samples!), educational booths, and a live performance by the Comet Bluegrass Allstars. There’s even a children’s area with face painting, seed planting (and other educational things), and most importantly, a petting farm. I’m so finding myself a pony to pet.

Much to my surprise, this event doesn’t take place on Mainstrasse. Instead, it’s in the Greenup Street area (um, Roebling Entertainment District), located at the foot of the Suspension Bridge. The bridge, by the way, is currently open to foot traffic. Admission is free and the event will be held rain or shine, 10am to 10pm. Proceeds from the Farmers’ Fair benefit Central Ohio River Valley Food Guide (CORV), Slow Food Cincinnati, Ohio Valley Foodshed Project and the Future Farmers of America Northern Kentucky Chapter: Boone, Campbell & Kenton.

Once you’ve spent your day at the Farmers’ Fair, follow us and head on over to Brew-Ha-Ha at Sawyer Point. This is more of a beer thing, so I’m not going to spend too much time on it. But Kevin and I have gone every year and we never fail to have a good time, sampling beer, socializing with friends, and listening to the occasional comic. There’s a wide range of beer for sampling, so hopefully this year I can get Kevin to write up a post.

Brew Ha Ha 2009, from Bob Schwartz (http://5chw4r7z.blogspot.com)

Brew-Ha-Ha is both Friday and Saturday evenings. On Saturday, join the fun from 4pm – midnight with 50 comedians on 3 stages and a selection of 80 beers from which to choose. Wristbands are $5 and beer tickets are $1 each. One beer ticket equals 1 beer sample, and 4 beer tickets equals a full serving. Beer ticket sales stop at 10:30p.m. and beer dispensing stops promptly at 11:00p.m.

It’s easy to either walk to Brew-Ha-Ha or, as we’re going to do, leave our car in Covington and take the Southbank Shuttle to the event.

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Aug 24

Cline Cellars Tasting @ Dilly Cafe

This Thursday is a tasting at the Dilly Cafe that I think you all should attend. Why? It’s a great chance to meet a great name in wine. Here’s the info from the Dilly Facebook Event page:

Short notice but too good of an opportunity to pass up! Meet Cline Winery owner Charlie Cline and taste a wide range of the outstanding value Cline wines from Sonoma County and California. Hopefully we’ll be out on the patio, with a pleasant evening, delicious wines, and tasty snacks from the kitchen. Just $20 per person.

Cline Label

I was first introduced to Cline back in 1998 or so, when I was looking to my boss at the time to guide me a bit in my wine knowledge. I was working for a startup back then and our first Christmas party was pretty much a huge, yet throw-it-together, deal. My boss went out and bought several cases of wine. Amongst the bottles were several different labels of Cline. I mentally filed this information away and several years later, on my first trip to Napa and Sonoma, I insisted we visit Cline.

Cline vineyards, Sonoma 2004

For a couple of years, we were members of the Cline wine club, until state distribution laws kept them from shipping to us without considerable expense. Thanks to that time in the wine club, we still have many bottles of Cline around the house. I used to be a big fan of Cline’s Red Truck – there’s even a photo of me with the original red truck – but I believe that line was sold and has gone through several changes. I haven’t tried it in recent years, but it now comes in a barrel, not a bottle. Cline’s Small Berry Mourvèdre has always been one of my favorite wines, and their spin-off winery, Jacuzzi, also has some great bottles.

Michelle in the Red Truck, Sonoma 2005

Cline is big enough that it is available everywhere, in varying price ranges. But they’re also small enough that when you visit the winery, you feel like everyone there is a welcoming family.

Take this opportunity to meet Charlie Cline and enjoy delicious noshes from the Dilly Cafe. For reservations, call 513-561-5233.

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Posted by Michelle at 12:58 pm in Special Events, Tastings, Wine Clubs, Wine Events, Wineries | Permalink | Comments (2)
Aug 23

Mad Men Monday: Sake

There was so much to write about in this week’s episode. My first instinct was to actually write about Coca-Cola through the years. For some reason, they were drinking Coke and not alcohol at the partner’s lunch. I’ll hold on to that one though. You’ll probably see me write it at some point this season.

My next thought was aha! I’ll write about the history of Benihana, which I did. Then Julie posted her version of that post and I deleted my own (my apologies if you saw it then it disappeared). Next! I seriously thought about writing about Drinky Bird. As a kid, I never had a Drinky Bird, so I ordered one last night. I love how fascinated the copywriters were with this toy, and it may show up as a future post as well, as soon as I get a chance to play with one.

Drinky Bird!

That leaves me with sake, which I was actually avoiding. Funny, since sake is a rice wine, but I really don’t care for it. It’s not for lack of trying. In fact, last year, Kevin and I visted Osake, an artisan sake maker on Granville Island in Vancouver, CA.


Osake offered a several samples, plus a flight, for tasting. We started with the Ginjo Genshu. The use of Ginjo means that 40% of the rice was ground away and only the remaining center was used in the distilling of the sake. Genshu means the sake was undiluted and can pack a slight punch.

Osake on Granville Island, Vancouver

The Genshu was a filtered sake resulting in a clear drink that had a lot of plum sauce characteristics. This was awarded a spot in the top 100 wines of 2008 by the Vancouver Magazine International Wine Competition. Overall, Kevin liked the “well-rounded flavor and sweetness.” I tolerated this one and we actually bought a bottle to take home with us. At the end of the two-week trip, with a lot of purchases already made (and taking up suitcase space), this is a pretty big compliment. At $25 for a 375 mL bottle, this was expensive but worth the price and hassle of bringing it home with us.

Next in the flight was the Ginjo Nigori. Nigori implies cloudy due to no filtration once the sake is made. This has a chewier texture, as expected in a nigori sake, and a nice long bitter finish. In comparison to other nigori sake, Kevin thought this one had a touch more ripe melon flavors and less creaminess. Once again, he enjoyed the overall experience, while I was slightly less thrilled. At $25/ bottle, this is reasonable pricing for the small batch quailty sake. Both ginjos were aged for 1 year in bottle, while the junmai were aged 2 to 3 months.

We ended with a flight of the three entry level (junmai) sakes. For junmai, 30% of the rice is milled away and no alcohol is added in the creation process. We started this flight with Junmai Nama Genshu, which was a nice entry level sake. Coming in at $35 for a 750 mL bottle, it’s a nice value. There was a lot of papaya and graininess. Kevin thought the ginjo had a more vibrant plum flavor, but this junmai would have paired well with a lean steak or a rick meat like duck.

Junmai Flight

Second in the flight was Junmai Nama which seemed to have higher acid. The slight lime flavor and very little creaminess made me think grilled shrimp would be a very nice food pairing. In comparison to the others, this was probably our least favorite, but still ranks as a nice entry. At $27 for 750 mL, the quality/value ratio is there, but not at the same level as the other options.

Finally, we tried the Junmai Nama Nigori, which had a very nice melon flavor from start to finish. This one costs $29 for 750 mL and is again a nice value for sipping. This was the “ricey-est” of all the sakes due to the nigori style and was closest to what I have tried in the past.

I’m not sure if that helps clear up any mysteries of sake. If not, I believe we have several different types in the fridge. If you’re interested, let me know and we’ll write up some tasting notes.

As for the episode, I did a little research. Honda’s first entry into the U.S. automobile market was the ’69-’70 N600, which to me looks slightly like a less-cool Mini Cooper. It wasn’t exactly a hit. However, they did have a hit in 1973 with the new Honda Civic. So I guess they really were just flirting with other ad agencies, seeing what is out there.

I was also happy to see more of Betty. You know, up until this season, I really liked – and to a degree, felt sorry for – Betty. This season she’s straining my patience. I do, however, think Henry is very good for her, always full of common sense. Roger, on the other hand, reminded me how my grandparents came to a lot of their long-held (and politically incorrect) beliefs. It’s just a specific environment, fueled by a specific war. What are your thoughts on last night’s episode?

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Posted by Michelle at 12:32 pm in Mad Men Monday, Television | Permalink | Comments ()

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