01 October 2007

Blog notes, plus the 2002 Kunde Syrah

No, I'm not cooking endangered species. That's a shot of a chimpanzee I snapped this weekend at the Little Rock Zoo, where I've been for the past week and a half. Little Rock, that is, not the zoo. (Click the photo for an enlarged version if you want to see the occipital crest, hair patterns, and wrinkles between the phalanges of Simia troglodytes.)

I also had a great time this weekend visiting the Arkansas Arts Center which was hosting a traveling Smithsonian exhibit featuring the art of Jim Henson. Not only did I get to see Henson's paintings and sketches from all periods of his life, but I also got to see real life Muppets used on TV, including Kermit, Bert, and Ernie. Cool to see them in person, but as a child of the late 70s, there's a slight disconcerting feeling as if you'd seen Mr. Rogers in a glass case staring ahead with a smile on his face.

Thanks for all of the positive feedback on the previous "hotel room cooking" article, and I'll have another one up later this week. To answer a few questions:
  • No vlogs, video podcasts, or other motion-picture technology anytime in the near future. I did video production in high school and to do it right requires decent lighting and a knowledgeable cameraman. I'm by myself and I'm sure it would look great if I advertised on Craigslist for "video services, paid hourly, working in hotel room". I'd get lots of entertaining responses. And while I bear a slight resemblance to a short Mario Batali, I have no desire to become a star of the small screen.
  • I do this not out of starvation or poverty, but just because it's fun. If you're in one place for two weeks (like me), you have to find ways to keep busy. If you're on a romantic weekend getaway with a young woman, I don't know if it will impress her when you blanch veggies in the coffee pot. "Room service would have charged $5 for this!"
  • Proper hotel cooking is helped a lot by access to a Whole Foods, Wild Oats (recently purchased by Whole Foods), Fresh Market, or other gourmet/organic grocery store. Good base ingredients and a selection of prepared or semi-prepared ingredients go a long way.
  • In the future I'll write a more extensive guide on hotel cooking, perhaps with such exotic techniques as using the iron to make grilled cheese sandwiches.

A couple of weeks ago, I sipped the 2002 Kunde Syrah, a $20 bottle from Sonoma. I served it alongside a pair of steaks, broccolini, and later some Scharffen Berger 82% cacao chocolate from Berkeley. Dark, bitter, savory, not sweet, and utterly delicious. (These new dark, artisanal chocolates are to Hershey bars what fine espresso is to Folger's instant coffee.)

The wine has classic blackberry and cracked pepper aromas and flavors, along with a fruity but not overpowering profile. After breathing for a while it picks up a darker, duskier aroma, but is still quite enjoyable.

And a note on broccolini: this is one of my new favorite vegetables. It's more expensive than broccoli, but is more tender and flavorful. Plus you get a great textural combo--the broccoli-like feel of the florets combined with an asparagus-like feel of the stalk. And it takes to sauces like a fish to water.

No comments: