vitals for 01.28.09

  • 8 beers in one tasting session = whoa.
  • 8 swallows of blessed belgian beer (made using the famous monk brewing philosophy/process), with european appropriate alcohol levels (not the lame 3.5% that most people imbibe in the U.S.), sloshing around in my body = whoa.
  • belgian beer is quite delicious. i do realize this is subjective.
  • A 2008 Gallup poll:
    • 42 % of the U.S. drinkers surveyed most often consume beer
    • This compares to the 31 % who picked wine and 23 % who preferred spirits

Three Philosophers
(owned by Duvel but located in sweet Cooperstown, NY. as a side note, I really like Cooperstown--cozy and yummy little restaurants and shopping. then there's the elephant in the room - i learned a lot during my visit. it's a very accessible experience )
  • delicious, smooth, rich, dessert-y but not in a sweet way, in a savory way (red/orange in color)
Abbey Ale
  • a little bitter, but also flavorful; I dig it (also red/orange in color)
  • a slight honey taste, nice and smooth, quite enjoyable
owned by Duvel
  • a general note about the Maredsous - I didn't really care for any of the three that I tried (Dubbel 8, Triple 10 and Blonde 6)
  • note: triple 10 = 10% alcohol (serious freakin' arse kisser)
  • i liked Hennepin - i found it flavorful, a nice golden color and smooth; something easy to eat my veggie stir fry with (asian-belgian fusion anyone?)
  • I enjoyed this beer as well - a teensy bitter, but in a flavorful and savory way, light and smooth (and thankfully, not 10% alcohol content)


Livin' the Dream, baby!

I just got back from an event that was Pure Corporate Gold and I have to share. We have these quarterly happy hours that coincide with earnings. Generally we all congratulate each other for our awesomeness and general market domination, the CEO gives a speech, etc... This time was special because we actually posted a HUGE loss in the 3rd Quarter so the normal "delights" of this event were dampened. But it was still good for a laugh--if you like to laugh at the expense of others. Which I do.

Allow me to set the scene: All 700 employees in the building gather in the cafeteria. There is beer and wine and cokes in tubs of ice, and a spread of strange, fried crap supplied by Aramark or whoever the hell it is we employ to cook the gruel served in our cafeteria.

The CEO is on a podium--he says some stuff that sounds good, but is probably all lies/platitudes intended to keep us from storming the executive suite with torches and pitchforks. The same people always stand right up front, where they make a big show of clapping very hard and nodding their heads when these words of reassurance are uttered. These are the same people that, during the requisite Q&A session, ask questions such as "Don't you believe the company is poised for great success?"

After standing around and pretending to listen to the CEO, the food-shoveling commences in earnest. In general, there are a lot of people who treat this event as if it were their last supper on Planet Earth. There are often people who complain about "line-cutting" and "double-dipping." These are frequent and egregious offenses, most often perpetrated by members of the IT staff, who are apparently underfed. The highlight of this spread is generally a giant vat of overcooked, rubbery shrimp cocktail, which people fight over as if it is the last piece of crustacean on earth. Cubes of machine-cut "cheese product" the exact size of dice are also a crowd favorite.

While most (like myself) have to go back to work after the "festivities," there are certainly some who stay in the cafeteria for the next 2 hours getting bombed and repeating phrases like "loan originations" and "preferred channel" and "lender yield." Those who must actually return to work often attempt to surreptitiously smuggle booze and lukewarm pigs in a blanket back to their offices, where they presumably scarf them down while dribbling stray bits into their keyboards.

Which is a long way of saying: I think this place is killing my soul.

Over and Out,

PS--sorry we've been outta commission so long, readers! Um, I mean: reader!


An Ode to White Zinfandel
by G.J. Pitre

Zinfandel! The grape delicious!
Goes fine with meats! Ain't bad with fishes!

Of all the produce of the vine
Is there another half as fine?

So order up a glass of blush
And feel the mighty sugar rush!

‘Cuz who needs tannins, notes of peat?
Just gimme something super-sweet!

The only wine that, should you call
The Kool-Aid Guy busts through the wall.

Other wines may rot your brain
And put your liver under strain

But only one of them, my sweeties,
Will guarantee you diabetes

So next time you sit down to dine
And hanker for a glass of wine

Don’t hesitate, or stop to think
Just order up the one that’s pink.

"May I present your wine, dear sir?
The Oh-Five, House of Berenger."

Enjoy it, every cloying sip…
…and don’t forget my fucking tip.


Hello World. Vitals is alive. Did you miss us?
(see two new posts, below)

The return of school, the return of Vitals: Backpacks, notepads, PDAs, laptops, books (like, we still have those crazy, physical objects called books?!) and a handful of writers whose crazy, everyday life experiences are antipated and revered by our ever growing reader base = colorful, worth slacking on your "real work" reading. Like, for sure.

Speaking of valley girl talk, the 80's are making a comeback vis-a-vis high-end (haute) fashion and main stream (the gap) fashion. I went through the leg warmer and pegged jeans combo, side ponytail and flats phase once. I was ten. Now, I'm slightly older, (although, the woman at the DMV today blurted, to the entire 100 person room, that I look 16) and my sophisticated and flatering cut countoured pants should be turned in for "skinny" jeans. Jesus. And they say carb dieting is out?!

Couldn't some marketing phenom call them something else? Where are the marketing terms that we have grown custom to:
Bootcut = Hip hiders and ass minimizing
Contoured = Low fitting and loose
Skinny = starve yourself for a month and jam yourself into spandex-ey jean hell; wear long tunic and look very "indie" while drinking PBR

For now, I'm sticking with the ass minimizing look and working on my Ban Urban Outfitters campaign.

smooches, antigone


A Refutation of the Muscular Morality Argument

I shamelessly ripped this quote off of one of the many foodie blogs I spend too many work hours perusing. Just too good not to share. Nigella Lawson ROCKS MY FACE!!

"I don't disparage the shallow concerns of the ordinarily vain, which, after all, I share. What I hate is all this new-age voodoo about eating, the notion that foods are either harmful or healing, that a good diet makes a good person and that that person is necessarily lean, limber, toned and fit. Quite apart from anything else, I don't see the muscular morality argument. Why should a concern for your physical health be seen as a sign of virtue? Such a view seems to me in danger of fusing Nazism (with its ideological cult of physical perfection) and Puritanism (with its horror of the flesh and belief in salvation through denial)."

--Nigella Lawson, from "How to Eat: The Pleasures and Principles of Good Food"


Rasika for Restaurant Week

I can report on 2 spots from last night. Had a pre-dinner drink at Jaleo, and (tho we did not eat there) it was not mobbed as I thought it might be--in fact, there were a number of empty tables at 8pm and the bar was practically deserted. Might be that the $30 RW offering is not such a bargain at Jaleo--as their tapas price-point is already pretty low.

My party of 5 then scooted over to Rasika and we all did the RW menu, which consisted of about 5 choices for each course (with free rice and naan)--not bad compared to some places that offer very limited menus. The place is lovely and overall I'd rate it a positive RW experience.

I started with the palak chaat (fried spinach w yogurt and tamarind) and--Hallelujah!-- it did live up to all the raves it has received! Mmmmm... I love taking something so healthy and making it so divinely unhealthy. Now to figure a delicious way to fry up celery.

Course 2 was the chicken makhani. The sauce was lovely, though stunningly rich and filling. The chicken however, was a bit fatty--I'm not complaining that they used something more flavorful than chunks of boneless, skinless breast like lots of places, I just would like all the fatty skin bits removed from my chicken thigh is all... probably just a personal quibble.

Dessert was just ok--the chocolate ice cream with pistachios and honey was mediocre. Tasted like haagen daz with lots of nuts swirled in. No honey, that I could tell. The lychee sorbet was another snooze.

Service was just...peculiar. Our waiter was truly a weirdo, and offered his (unasked-for) opinion on more that one occasion. Point in case: someone at the table tried to order the Halwa and he said "Don't. You won't like it. Trust me."Just thought that was a bit strange--for all he knows we could be the DC chapter of the Shredded Carrot Fan Club...


Nawlin's dreaming...

A group of us went one Saturday evening to Acadiana for a birthday celebration. In the interest of full disclosure, I must add that the birthday girl was a former employee of the company and we had mentioned as much in our reservation. I'm sure thankful we did! Because considering the price-point, the service was pretty lackluster despite our insider connection. I tell you, I'd hate to see the non-VIP treatment! Specifically, we had completely finished out appetizers and were still holding the menus on our laps by the time our main-course orders were taken! In addition we were not told until it was time to order our entrees that they were sold out of the shrimp, which was pretty big let-down for the birthday girl, who had her mouth quite set for the dish.
Crummy service aside, the food was pretty fantastic--though a Cajun would shudder at "traditional" dishes that hover in the $20-30 range.

The pre-dinner Pimms Cup cocktail put me in a forgiving mood though--and had me back on Marigny Street in New Orleans.

I was delighted to see that the hot, buttery biscuits were served with a small pot of cream cheese and pepper jelly--one of my faaaavorite treats in the world, and a nice homey touch. The apps were all well-executed--crisp and greaseless fried green tomatoes topped with firm shrimp in a slightly spicy remoulade, the duo of beef and crawfish turnovers were delightful (though no better than the Natchitoches meat pies you can get a Shreveport's annual Red River Revel for a $1), and the gumbo was made with a dark, complex roux, just that way I like it! The deviled eggs were tasty, but chintzy--I mean, seriously, $7 for three egg halves? It was not even enough to share at the table.

The grillades and grits were decadent--the jalapeño grits had just the right amount of spice and the savory gravy coating the thin-pounded veal slices was rich and amply-seasoned.
Word has it that the beef filet was well-cooked, but to my mind that’s a dish you can order anywhere—I know restaurants have to feature a high-end beef dish… but still…YAWN.

We had a selection of desserts, which were all pretty good, but none standout. The Bananas Foster crepes were good, but not awesome, and the chocolate bread pudding was just too dense... could not help thinking wistfully of the best dessert that ever passed my lips--the bread pudding soufflé with bourbon cream at Commander's Palace...oh mercy...that was deee-vine. This was no comparison. The mini-pralines and heavenly hash served with the check were a charming touch, but wasted entirely on us…we were stuffed to the gills by that time. Too bad.
I guess it goes to show that DC is a far cry from New Orleans, no matter how you slice the redfish. And baby, there's nothing like the real thing!

Laissez le bon temps rouler!