Thursday, January 31, 2008

Interesting podcasts, new faces

There are a bunch of podcasts out there about wine, beer, scotch, food, sports, you name it. A couple that I ran across that I think are interesting are...

1. The Food Geek. This guy Brian from Charlottesville does a lot of commentary about food in general, but gets more into the pop culture of it, and delves more into the molecular gastronomy than a lot of the other shows do. His idol is Alton Brown (Good Eats, Food Network), and it shows. There aren't really any recipes to speak of, but its interesting nonetheless.
2. The Scotch Cast. While these guys aren't sitting around playing Magic the Gathering, they're drinking single malt scotch whiskey, and talking about it. If you like scotch, or are interested in knowing a lot about it, I suggest that you listen to this podcast. They typically drink stuff that's around 50 a bottle, and really get into the production of it. Occasionally they splurge, but most of the stuff I hear them talking about, I can get at my local shop.
3. William (AKA Bill) Wilson Wine for Newbies. He hasn't added any new posts to it, but he does an extensive job of getting into every varietal and giving you a good working knowledge of what's out there. They post onto an audio blog that explores new, little-known productions such as South American, New Zealand, Germany, etc. If you want an audio textbook about wine in general, this is it.
4. The DawgCast. For those Bulldog lovers out there, these two clowns do this podcast which is obviously more active during the football season (do we even have a basketball team?). They're pretty funny, and they say all the stuff that you know, it's just nice to hear it, especially when you're in the college-sports clueless Midwest.
5. Larry Munson's commentary. You need to listen to this (again non-Bulldog lovers probably need not apply) to get a sense of just how off his rocker Larry Munson is. This is supposed to be a show about Georgia sports, particularly football, with a Larry Munson spin. What it winds up being is an audio blog about his movie group >2/3 of the time. Good luck with that.
6. The WFNZ Whiner Line RSS feed. It's very ACC heavy, given that it's in Charlotte, but to hear these people call in and go crazy about various things is hysterical. The premise is that there's a voicemail that you can call any time day or night to complain about what's pissing you off the most, usually something related to sports. They pick their favorite ones, and they play them twice a day in the afternoon on their radio show. There are some recurring characters on there: Bradley from Pickens (SC), The Wild Wolfpack Man, Cold Pizza (some stoner that calls in unintelligible messages), Mark from Charlotte, the QCB (Queen City Bitch), Mike from Gastonia, etc.

All but the last one is on ITunes podcast.

Just to let you know that we have a couple of new people that are in on the fun. Here's everyone that has posting priveleges.

Farin, fellow trauma dude in Nashville
Brian, married the older sister but has logged more restaurant time than most people I know
GOscar, trauma dude in Nashville, but apparently hasn't figured out how to post anything or just won't. For that, I'd say his wine and culinary expertise have to be held suspect... Yeah, dude I'm callin' ya out.
JW, UGA/MCG pal in Augusta. The man can flat out do it. And if it's grilling expertise you want, look no further.
OG, trauma dude West and North in Saint Louis, Missouri. I married the younger sister, and then moved her west of the Mississippi and North of the Mason-Dixon line. WTH was I thinking?

Feedback, this thing belongs to us, we can do with what we want. You wanna go public? Fine. You want to advertise and make some money, we can do that to. You want to eliminate the sports talk and make something separate, no big deal. I'm going to start tagging the posts because there are enough on here now that it's not a chipshot to find them.

Anyway, welcome to our new posters, we're all eager to hear new things. I'm also welcoming any comments about beer, wine, spirits, etc.

Hasta la vista homies.

Monday, January 14, 2008

You can slow cook anything damn it!

On call this past weekend but needing to cook something good. Having eaten at McDonald's and Duncan Donuts twice made be feel a bit greasy and slightly nauseated. Wanted something light, which at my house usually means fish of some sort so I strolled to the Fresh Market to have a look at the daily catch. As usual, I has horrified at the previously frozen and frayed sea bass still priced at $22.99/lb and the tuna that seemed a bit too red (like a clown nose). Luckily there was some fresh Atlantic salmon on sale, just arrived earlier in the day for a modest $8.99/lb.

There are 4 ways that I like salmon. The first is smoked with the usual sides, if it's fresh it's hard to beat; second is sprinkled with a spicy rub that has a fair amount of brown sugar and pan-seared on one side and finished in a 350 degree oven; third is cedar plank smoked; and fourth...slow-roasted. Since OG has me fired up about braising, I decided to slow roast the salmon. This method is fool-proof and for a fish dish, hard to beat. I decided to serve with celery and white asparagus (bear with me on this) and orzo with mushrooms and onions.

Heres what I bought:
1) 4 - 6 to 8 oz salmon fillets
2) 1 bunch of celery
3) 1 lb white asparagus
4) 1 - lemon
5) fresh thyme
6) orzo
7) 8 oz button mushrooms
8) 1 yellow onion

Again, preparation and cooking are extremely easy. Trim and slice celery and aspargus on the bias into roughly equal pieces. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and layer in baking dish. Skin the salmon, salt and pepper and place on top of veggies. Top salmon with lemon slices and thyme sprigs...done. Preheat oven to 225 degrees and "slow-roast" for 30 minutes.
In the meantime, bring 1 gallon salted water to a boil and cook orzo until slightly underdone and set aside.

While that is going on, saute 1/2 of the thinly sliced onion and chopped mushrooms in olive oil and butter. When nicely brown salt and pepper to taste and add some of the extra thyme. Deglaze the pan with some of the wine you are enjoying and set aside.

When the salmon is almost ready, add the drained orzo and about 1/2 cup of pasta water to the mushroom mixture and bring up to temperature. Finish with the juice of the remaining lemon.

Plate salmon on top of the orzo, serve the veggies on the side.

Salmon cooked this way is unbelievable. It becomes amazingly tender and has the consistancy of butter, which in my opinion makes this some really good eats!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Beef Bourgignonne

It's been a while since we put any food stuff on here, and I think that will restart again with a vengeance. There's not much more football to talk about, and besides, it's winter time and we're all eating ourselves into oblivion!

Beef Bourgignone, Bourdain style
  1. 2-3 lbs of beef, pick your favorite roasting beef from your favorite butcher. This is the key ingredient, so don't skimp!
  2. 2 large yellow onions, sliced thin
  3. 3 large carrots cut in big pieces
  4. 2 potatoes, medium to low starch, peeled, diced large (optional)
  5. Bouquet garni
  6. Red wine, preferably Burgundy, but Merlot, Zinfandel, Cotes du Rhone, Pinot Noir will work
  7. Beef stock/water
  8. 2 tbsp of AP flour

1. Season room temperature meat with salt and pepper only, don't be shy.

2. Bring a healthy (read unhealthy) pool of olive (doesn't have to be EVOO) to medium high temperature, and brown the meat in batches, don't overcrowd, don't underbrown. This is most important part of this dish, and will greatly affect how it tastes in the end. Get ready because it's going to be a little bit of a smoke-out. If you have an effective hood, well, I'm jealous.

3. Once you're done browning the meat, POUR OFF THE EXCESS OIL. I forgot to do this, and it made the whole thing a bit oily. The key point is that you need more oil to brown the meat than you do to make the stew, just get rid of it so the thing isn't too oily. Set the meat aside to rest while your getting the brew ready.
4. Reduce the heat a little, and add the onions. They'll dehydrate and help get the frond off the bottom of the pot (I think a 5 quart dutch oven works best). Add a couple of cups of wine here, and reduce, stirring the onions. Sprinkle in a little AP flour to make the coat the onions a little bit.

5. Add your meat again, and then add either beef stock or water to just cover up the meat. This is setting up a braise here, and it's a simple meat, carrots and potatoes dish after that. Add the bouquet garni (1 sprig parsley, 1 sprig of thyme, and a bay leaf) to the brew with the carrots.

6. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cover. I think that if you seal the top of your dutch oven with foil, it makes a better seal than how it comes from the company. It will matter more for tough meat that really needs the steam heat to soften up, or if you're pushed a little bit for time and you want to get your veggies going faster. Take your pick, experiment.

7. After about an hour or 90 minutes, add the potatoes if you want. If you add them too soon, they'll fall apart, and be kinda gross, although, sometimes you may want it like that. It depends on how you like beef stew. Bourdain's recipe doesn't call for potatoes at all, but that's a little more classic American style dish.
8. Whole thing around 2 1/2 hours. You can braise either on the stove top or in the oven. If you do it on the stove top, it's low heat. You want steam to rise out of the brew, but you don't really want it bubbling. That's about 2.5 on my electric range. If you do it in the oven, go for around 250 F.
9. Chop some fresh parsley, serve with some good bread, and you've got it!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Running out of reasons to not hate ESPN

Everyone gets tired of a bully, and revolutions have been started and won by people who were tired of being told how to feel and what they should think. That said, Colin Cowherd's broadcast on 1/2/2008 put out there some of the most compelling radio I've heard in a while. Check it out on iTunes or here at the ESPN website.

BTW, is there likely to be a new baby on 1/9? We'll see....

Saturday, January 5, 2008

And then what?

So, the New Year's here, January 1st has come and gone, and I'm sad that UGA's season is over. It was the worst of times, it was the best of times. It really ended with a bang!

Sugar Bowl
You can look at this from all points of view, but the conclusion is the same. Hawaii was nowhere as good as Georgia in any phase of the game. They were an overrated joke, but what do you expect from the conference they played in? To their credit, they did everything right until they got to the Sugar Bowl. Yeah, Colt Brennan likes to run his mouth a little bit. He was cocky because he had a lot of people lining up for the fellatiorama, so why not feel like that a little bit? Remember, things are never as good or as bad as they seem. Right now Martinez looks like a freakin' genius, but is he? Did anyone in the country not know how to beat Hawaii? It was a case of superior focus and depth that won the game. We really took it easy on them offensively, which was obvious from the lack of deep passes. We didn't have to do that. The breakdown from where I was watching goes a little like this...

We blocked as well as we needed to. Knowshon and TB combined for about 140 yards. Knowshon's TD runs were awesome, and it was obvious that Hawaii wasn't about to stop that. Stafford had one pick that wasn't really his fault. He wasn't spot-on accurate, but he didn't throw the game away. He audibled well and got us into the right plays. WRs caught most of what went their way. Sutherland was a beast! Joe Cox looked wild-eyed out there, throwing the ball as hard as he could. More on that later.

What more can you say? Marcus Howard- BOOOOMMMMM!!!!! That sack on Brennan with the fumble recovery was like DDDAAAAAMMMMNNNN!!!!! We beat the hell out of Colt Brennan before he had any clue what was going on. He took a bunch of hits, and then went out with a concussion in the 4th. And then he started crying when his replacement threw a touchdown. Secondary was in the right places at the right times with 2 picks, Ellerbee added another on a tipped ball at the LOS. We crashed the line, hardly ever needed to blitz, and covered the expected screen. Colt's arm looked to me like a cold dish towel. Side arm, shovel passes, I didn't see him throw anything too strong. He may never have gotten his feet set to do so, but I didn't see NFL material the other night. He's small with a poor delivery, and can't scramble at all. How he was in the Heisman finals in anyone's guess. I thought he totally sucked, but I didn't watch him all year. Fuck off Hawaii, you didn't watch us all year, either.

Special teams
We still can't kick a ball deep, and our coverage leaves a fair amount to be desired. Brian Mimbs can kick the hell out of the ball, and he ain't afraid to mix it up! WE ARE SO GOING TO MISS COUTU! Yeah, he's a little injury prone, but think about your level of confidence when Andy Bailey lines up back there versus Coutu. No contest.

That announcing duo was one of the worst I have ever heard. I know that I've bitched and ranted and raved about Verne Lundquist, and with good reason. But Brenneman and Davis were far and away the worst announcers for a game I've heard in a long time. They only bright spot is that they would look at players numbers before they tried to tell us who they were (did you hear that Larry?).
1. It was Brenneman who called the Boise State game last year, and he was obviously disappointed that this year would not be a similar scenario. Both of those assholes kept going on and on about how it wasn't fair that Hawaii didn't get a chance to show us what they could do. That's called a good defensive plan. Fair has nothing to do with it, we didn't cheat.
2. The stupidity about calling us the Gators, for God's sake, once when we were on offense. Get your head out of your ass and pay attention. How can you be getting paid for such bullshit?
3. The way they tried to call out Mark Richt about going for it on 4th down, and saying that we were trying to run up the score. OMG, we were trying to run out the clock! Did he want us to kneel down? Then we would have been assholes for not giving Hawaii the ball with decent field position. Should we have kicked an extra-point field goal? Then we would have been just putting points on the board for nothing gained.
4. The idiocy of calling us a bunch of assholes for the challenge of a catch on the field on 4th down, and then being wrong about the result and spot on the field. Richt said before the game that one of the keys to not being flat was to look at the clock only, not the score. Otherwise, keep playing hard as you can and doing the things you know to do. Don't play not to lose.
5. The most laughable part of it is that they're going to be selling the DVDs of the game with the official FOX call. Good luck with that. I know we won't be buying it. However, that's why video clips are hard to come by on YouTube because they're all blocked. Gimme, gimme, gimme.
6. What the fuck is Jumper, anyway? Why do I care? Who is Bonerama? Why were they performing the National Anthem? Why not some hot chick? Why did the game take SOOOO LOOONNNGGG!!!???? The look on June Jones face told me that he knew his team was about to get killed, and there was nothing he could do about it. No emotion, no adjustments, nothing. Why did they keep showing the flag girls for UGA? In all, I thought it was a half-ass effort of production, commentary, sideline reporting (who was that Troll?), story-behind-the-story from FOX who unfortunately has fans by the balls because that's the only way you're going to get to watch it. Where was the UGA radio coverage? It was not on GXtra. Piss-poor, all in all. The radio rights were sold to XM radio through ESPN radio. It's ridiculous.

Look, Hawaii, we're not complaining about being in the Sugar Bowl. Frankly, we're thrilled. What we feel like we got short-changed on was that we weren't able to prove to the nation that we can play with anyone in the country. You got that chance and failed. Thanks to the monopoly that the BCS has on the post-season of college football, unless we're one of the media darlings (UF, LSU, UM, OSU, USCal, UTexas, OU) we're always going to have a hard time getting street cred. The only sports network out there has a bunch of people that play big-time favorites, regardless of their own alma mater. Don't believe it? Just listen to Mark May. He hates UGA. Why? Who knows. Lou Holtz (AKA Daffy Duck with that spit lisp), said that Hawaii was really moving the ball on us late. Herbstreit? Made a play against UM that fell right into LSUs hands ("Les Miles is going to be the coach at Michigan." All of a sudden, "We're the best team in regulation, no matter that we're #7!") So, we just wanted to play what the consensus had as the best teams in the country at the time: USC, OU, or VT (less so). Not a nice team that went undefeated against poor competition. We had an opportunity to be a big thorn in the side of the BCS, and the money prevailed.
Yeah, you're right. Just beat everyone, and you'll be OK. We really would like to have the USCar game back, but such is life.
As far as the broadcasting goes, I think it's simple. They can't be depended on. We just have to spend our money on the schools that we like, go to the games when we can with people that we like to be around, and talk about the game and make our own commentary then and there.

UGA: it's been one heck of a season, full of a bunch of highs and lows. We learned a lot about ourselves this year, and it feels like the sky's the limit right now. I wish I felt like this at the end of every season. My hat's off to CMR, CMB, CWM, et al and the team for hanging in there and finding the sparks we needed when we needed them. Can't wait 'til spring practice, G-Day, and August 30th. It's great to be a Georgia Bulldog!