RottenBrains

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Archive for the ‘Beer, Wine and Spirits’ Category

This is Not Tequila

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

I ran by the liquor store this evening, in search of a bottle of tequila. To my dismay, I found they were out of my usual, El Tosoro Anejo–and it was too late to make it to another store before closing time.

So I figured I would salvage the situation by trying something new. I googled for some ratings, and ran across Hacienda de Chihuahua Sotol Anejo. It was highly rated, and they had a bottle that was cheap by highly rated anejo tequila standards.

I got it home and cracked it open, and immediately realized this was something different. A bit of googling turned up the fact that Sotol is a completely different spirit. (I remember thinking Chihuahua was not usually associated with mezcal.)

This stuff is extremely smooth for its price, or any other price for that matter. It has sort of an oaky butter-pecan and leather flavor, with floral, spice, and herbal notes in the finish. I’m still deciding what I think of it, as I was in a tequila mood tonight, and this is not tequila. But it’s interesting enough that I recommend the adventurous of taste to try it and tell me what you think.

Buddhacello, intermission

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

Yes, there will be a part 2 to the Buddhacello post, as soon as I have time to do so. I believe I have a free weekend sometime in May. :)

For the curious, the everclear/Buddha zest mixture smells incredible at this stage, like an overpowering mix of lemons and flowers.

Buddhacello, part 1

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

After I mentioned to Phil my success in making Limoncello using Persian limes (would that be limettacello?), he kindly offered up a Buddha’s Hand for me to try the same thing with. Buddha’s Hands are truly odd beasts — they’re a citrus fruit, but they have no pulp. It’s all zest and pith. And they look like an elder god. They smell somewhat lemony, but with strong floral notes — similar to the smell of some roses.

After a bit of research, I discovered that the pith of the Buddha’s Hand isn’t bitter, which means I didn’t need to be anywhere near as careful in removing zest as you do with lemons and limes.

So, for the first set of steps, I needed to get as much zest as practical off the Buddha’s Hand, and get it soaking in 190 proof grain alcohol. Here’s the basic setup:

Buddhacello Setup

The strange looking thing is the fruit itself. The knife is to get at the hidden surfaces on the fruit; the white scrub brush is to remove any wax, dirt, or other undesirable stuff from the fruit; and the tool on the right is a microplane, which is one of the best ways to zest a lot of citrus.

Here, you can see the inside of the fruit:
inside-buddha

Yep, it’s pith all the way through. Here, you can see the stem sticking down into the pith:
buddha-stem

After about 30 minutes of chopping and zesting, the entire Buddha’s Hand is reduced to a pile of chunks and about half a cup of zest:

chunks

Finally, we add about half a liter of Everclear. This is just a few seconds after I poured the alcohol in; you’ll notice that the liquid has already taken on a distinct yellow hue:

yellow

So, now we let it sit for a week — I’ll report back on the final product when it’s done.

Restaurant Review: Cyclone Anaya

Monday, October 13th, 2008

I remember Cyclone Anaya from my occasional day trips to Houston back in the college years. It was a rather down-scale Tex-Mex place with what I considered then, the second-best fajita’s in Houston. By down-scale, I mean metal-table Taco Cabana ambience, but with table service, a trendy menu, and a full bar. When I saw that one was opening in Addison, I had to try it.

There is very little relation between this new version and the Cyclone Anaya of memory. This is not down-scale in any way–it is one of the fancier (and pricier) Tex-Mex places in the area. Think Mi Cocina or Cantina Laredo, not El Fenix. The menu had enough unusual items to distinguish it from those two. In particular, they have a number of fancy enchilada dishes.

Candace had their Lobster Enchiladas ($21), and said they were very good, except for the sauce being just a touch to salty. (We tend to like less salt than most people, so this is probably not a bad thing.)The lobster meet was tender, and, well, lobstery. My Enchiladas Anaya ($16, I think) were excellent–chicken enchiladas with a sweetish-smokey ancho chili and mushroom sauce. They were also available in beef. Both were served with Tex-Mex rice, and choice of beans (1 of 4 combinations of pinto or black, refried or soup)

They also have a very nice patio, which is always a plus for us.

The only real downside is that the drinks were pricy but just pretty good. Candace’s Mojito was okay, but does not compete with the best in the area in any way except for price ($12 for one.) I had their “perfect” Margarita: Patron Silver and Patron Citronage, but with a margarita mix no where near worthy of the liquors. A large was $14, and a small (read–really small) was $10.

The one other minor downside was that they have lots of TVs, and had the sound up for the football game in progress. The patio was free of TVs, but they had the sound from the game playing over their outside sound system. It was a Sunday after noon during peak game-time, so we realize, of course, that this would be a plus for a lot of people. I merely bring it up in protest of the trend over the last several years where every restaurant pretends to be a sports bar.

Don’t read too much into the down-sides. We enjoyed our meal immensely, and plan to go back.

Immort Ale

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

Dogfishhead has done it again with another incredible seasonal ale. This time they tried to out-pun the Monty Python’s Holy Ale people with Immort Ale.

It’s on tap at the Addison Flying Saucer. It comes in small glasses. Flavor-wise, I would have guessed a barley-wine. It’s good, with a perfect balance of sweetness and hoppiness, with vanilla, maple syrup, and juniper berries. (Adam can pretend it’s gin.)

It’s a perfect followup to last year’s Midas Touch.

Pyrat Rum Pictures

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

I promised in a comment to Phil’s post about Pyrat Rums a while back to post pictures. It’s been a few months, but I finally got around to processing the pics. (I apparently just like playing with cameras–not actually processing pictures :-) )

Also, we cracked open the bottle of Cask 1623 the weekend before last. All the hype is, in fact, justified.

Pyrat Distillary

Pyrat Distillary

Intrepid Expedition to the Pyrat Distillary

Party Animal

Wednesday, December 6th, 2006

Irish camels have quite the party instinct.

Good rum from a tequila company!

Friday, June 9th, 2006

I was happily sharing some of my finer spirits with some friends recently and they asked for a reference on one of them. The beverage of note is the Planters Gold Pyrat XO Rum.

When I went to find some good web-references for it, I found the expected back-stories (all consistent, leaving no sources that might hint at how romanticized the story may be):

Then following that 2nd one to their source I got the susprise that showed this favorite sipping rum of mine is now owned by the Patron comany, makers of the finest of Tequilas:

Yum! Enjoy.

Update:

Ben got some of the newest batch that actually has the Patron URL on the label. This new batch definitely does not have either the depth of flavor nor the smoothness of the older bottles I had. Hopefully this is either an unusual problem with just that bottle or is a short-term setback.

Update #2:

I am passing this on from Ben:

Rum review site. They like the Pyrat a lot: www.rndrumreviews.com

Update #3:

Ben again: hopefully he might provide a bit more publicly visible insight as he has had a chance to visit the distillery. Plus, a tip-o-the-hat to Roger, were you searching the web for sites that reference yours or good rum? *grin*

Midas Touch

Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

I found a new beer from Dogfish Head at CM this week. It’s called Midas Touch. This one fits Adam’s definition of “beer he doesn’t like”. That is, it is very fruity, and moderately hoppy. That being said, I challenge him to try one–he might change his tune on this one. It reminds me of some of the sweeter barleywines I have gotten into. Or maybe a west coast pale mixed in equal parts with mead and a fairly sweet muscat wine.

The story of this one is that the University of Pensylvania excavated a tomb in Turkey, which they think may be the tomb of the mythical King Midas. They found a set of drinking vessels with residue containing barley beer, honey, grapes, and saffron. Dogfish Head created a recipe inspired by this combination, and Midas Touch is the result. They call it a “Handcrafted Ancient Ale”. And it’s good. _Really_ good.

Now, I suspect that the residue of all those different things does not prove they were all in the mug at the same time. It may be that Midas had a sloppy dishwasher, and these were from different beverages. No matter; they are still good mixed together.

By the way, this is 9% ABV. That’s up there the low-middle end of wine territory, and you get 12 to 16 oz. at a time. It can sneak up on you pretty fast.

A New Brew from Austin

Monday, May 15th, 2006

I’m not exactly what you’d call a beer snob, but there’s a lot of stuff out there that I don’t like. On the other hand, there’s a lot of beers that I’ll happily drink that would give me “social pariah” status if I ever owned up to drinking them.

In any case, I’m partial to dark, German style beers — bocks and doppelbocks in particular. I stay away from anything ever described as “hoppy” or “fruity,” and strongly beleive that the brewer who invented IPA (George Hodgson, for what it’s worth) should have died an unnatural death. (Yes, I know the story: they were brewing beer to ship to India, and wanted to make it as foul tasting as humanly possible so that the thorough heat skunking it received on its journey wouldn’t make a difference — but I digress).

Recently, I discovered Bootlegger Brown Ale, made by Independence Brewing Company out of Austin; I think it’s really good. It has much more of the sweet malty taste that I associate with dark German beers. While it’s a bit heavier, the taste is similar to a Warsteiner Dunkel. In Dallas, you can find six-packs at Central market for about $7.00.

Interstate Wine Shipments: States Can’t Discriminate

Tuesday, May 17th, 2005

This news article reports on a recent Supreme Court ruling that requires states to be nondiscriminatory in their laws about direct shipment of wine to consumers: if they ban it, they must ban both interstate and intrastate shipments.

While a fifth circuit court of appeals ruling in 2003 allowed Texas residents to have wine shipped to them from out-of-state, many potential customers of Texas wineries remained off-limits due to various states’ direct-shipment laws. So this Supreme Court ruling will help level the playing ground, presumably to the benefit of Texas wineries (especially smaller ones that don’t tend to have distribution channels in other states).