May 26, 2008
I've provided copious documentation on this blog of my affection for bacon, to the point when friends and readers have started sending me pointers more baconware. Here are a few for your enjoyment:
Vosges Mo's Bacon Chocolate Bar
I admit, I've had a few of these but didn't blog about it because it's been written up everywhere. Still, enough people ask me about it that I figured I should write about this. The Bacon Chocolate Bar is exactly what it sounds like - a chocolate bar with bits of bacon in it. I'm a fan of salty-sweet combinations, so it's probably no surprise that I like this. Still, despite the bacon in the bar, it's not as good as Fran's Gray & Smoked Salt Caramels if you're looking for a salty/chocolately treat (and you should be.)
I have not yet had this product, which the maker describes as "a zero calorie, vegetarian, kosher certified seasoning salt that makes everything taste like real bacon." Why eat anything else that just tastes like bacon, if you can have real bacon? I'll get around to trying this thing sometime if I ever run out of bacon. On the other hand, the notion of bacon fries or bacon popcorn does sound pretty appealing.
Oh yes, for only $99, you can be the proud owner of this stylish tuxedo that will pleasure the ladies by both sight and smell. (No, that's not me or anyone I know in the photo. Really.)
May 21, 2008
We had another windy night for our regular Tuesday night sail race. The wind was probably 20 knots/hour+, so all of the boats were carrying their jibs instead of the larger genoas. The deck of our J/24 and all of us were pretty wet, even before the first race, just from the spray splashing up.
We sailed pretty well all night, managing to avoid the collisions, round-ups, and sail handling mistakes (with accompanying penalty turns) we saw on the other boats, but I did have one scary moment.
The boat was heeled over quite a bit when the skipper called for us to tack. When we tack, I duck under the boom over to the other side of the boat. I started moving a little too quickly and started sliding feet first across the wet deck toward the water. My feet and legs went under the lifeline and into the water. I caught myself on the lifeline with my arms and dragged in the water for a second. I managed to kick my legs up onto the boat, but now I was wrapped around the stanchion (one of the posts that hold the lifelines up), with my torso on one side and legs on the other. I was stuck for a bit until some of the other guys helped me back on board, and we continued the race.
Through all this I didn't even get wet (since I had my foulie pants and sailing boots on), but it was definitely a spooky moment. I never want to see the boat from outside the lifelines again. I promptly put my inflatable life jacket on after that (which, like most idiots, I wasn't wearing at the time.) Apparently, someone else on another boat wasn't so lucky and went overboard. Fortunately, another boat picked up the wayward crew member.
I managed to finish the evening without any other incidents aside from bruises on my hips and knees from scurrying around plus another briefly scary moment as I pitched into the cockpit spinnaker bag (just barely catching myself before dropping headfirst into the bag). It was perversely a very fun evening, exactly the kind of evening I love sail racing.
I'll just be sure to wear my life jacket from now on.
May 10, 2008
Our friend Joe clearly has too much time on his hands. At least he put it to good use. Here's a great video of his very cute son, Alexander, playing all four parts of Can't Stand Losing You in Rock Band (the greatest game of all time).
I was talking with the boys about the American Declaration of Independence the other day.
Me: "We hold these truths to be self-evident. That all men are created equal..."
Michael (7) [interrupting]: "What about the super delegates?"
Yeah, I didn't quite know what to say.
May 5, 2008
Congrats to Taylor Shellfish! Their Totten Virginicas won the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association contest for the best-tasting oyster. I don't know the politics of oysters, but I'm guessing that a West Coast oyster winning in the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association contest is probably big upset. Of course, they can claim some solace. The Virginicas, as you might guess from the name, are originally an East Coast oyster, transplanted to Puget Sound. These Virginicas were grown in Totten Inlet at the southern end of Puget Sound and get much of their flavor from the water they were raised in.
I'm sure these would be lovely with one of the winners of the 2008 Oyster Wine Contest. Mmm...
Here's the press release for your enjoyment:
April 30, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Jon Rowley 206-963-5959
“TOTTEN INLET VIRGINICA” FROM PUGET SOUND JUDGED BEST TASTING OYSTER AT EAST COAST SHELLFISH GROWER’S ASSN. FIRST ANNUAL INVITATIONAL OYSTER CHALLENGE IN R.I.
PROVIDENCE. R.I.: “Oyster growers are fiercely fiercely competitive and every grower is convinced their oyster is the best’, says Bob Rheault, President of the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association. To settle the issue of which East Coast oyster (Crasssostrea virginica) tastes best, the ECSGA and the National Shellfisheries Association asked growers to submit their finest to the First Annual Invitational Oyster Challenge, held in Provincetown, Rhode Island April 7 where 19 varieties from three coasts went head to head in a blind tasting judged by a celebrity panel of some of the country’s most discriminating oyster palates.
While the oysters were judged on a number of characteristics and the Island Creek from Duxbury, Massachusetts came in first overall, when it came to taste, it was an oyster from Washington state, the Totten Inlet Virginica, that prevailed. “Some of our customers have been telling us we have the best tasting oyster”, says Taylor Shellfish Farms President Bill Taylor, “but we are thrilled to have it verified like this by such an esteemed tasting panel.”
“I'd always known they were good, but tasting blind against so many others was really eye-opening’’ enthused Rowan Jacobsen, one of the Challenge celebrity judges and author of The Geography of Oysters. “You don't usually see all of that fruitiness and body in a virginica. To me, the superiority of the Totten’s flavor was stunning.”
“Plump and juicy, with a crisp flavor and a good amount of brine, it is a real oyster lover’s oyster”, says judge Sandy Ingber, Executive Chef of the New York’s legendary Grand Central Oyster Bar. “It is one of our top-selling oysters; I sell 2300 a week.”
Because flavor characteristics are derived from the waters they grow in, oysters on the half shell are traditionally marketed by the name of their growing location. Most restaurants serving oysters carry several varieties; some as many as 30. All of the oysters were sent to Brown University where they will be tested for salts, minerals and metals. “I’m really trying to understand why some oysters taste rich and full bodied while others have a thin finish dominated by salt”, says Rheault who also grows Moonstone oysters in Narragansett, RI.
Totten Inlet Virginicas get their start in Taylor’s Quilcene, WA hatchery from brood stock descended from Eastern oysters brought to Washington State from the East Coast by train nearly a century ago. When thumbnail-sized, they are placed in nutrient-rich Totten Inlet in South Puget Sound where it takes 2 to 4 years to reach Taylor’s 3 ¼ inch minimum size “when they just taste better”, says Taylor.
Detailed information on the oysters, the judges and the judging can be found at ECSGA.org or by contacting Bob Rheault 401-783-1360 firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on Taylor Shellfish Farms visit www.taylorshellfish.com.
THE OYSTERS (alphabetically):
13 Mile Brand – Apalachicola Bay, FL.
Camanada Bay Oysters – Camanada Bay, LA.
Cape May Salts – Delaware Bay, NJ.
Island Creek Oysters® – Duxbury Bay, MA.
Katama Bay Oysters – Martha's Vineyard, MA.
Matunuck Oysters – Potters Pond, Wakefield, RI.,
May River Select – Bluffton, SC.
Moonstone Oysters® – Narragansett, RI.
Mystic Oysters – Mystic CT.
New Point "Comforts"® – New Point, VA.
Ninigret Cups – Charlestown Pond, RI.
Pemaquid Oysters® – Damariscotta River, ME.
Rappahannock River OystersTM – Rappahannock River, VA.
Saddle Rocks® – Long Island Sound, NY.
Snow Hill Oysters – Chincoteague Bay, MD.
Sweet Petites – Katama Bay, Martha's Vineyard, MA.
Toby Island Bay Oysters – Chincoteague Bay, VA.
Totten Inlet Virgincas – Totten Inlet, WA.
Watch Hill Oyster® – Winnapaug Pond, RI.
Mallory Bufford, Executive Chef, Black’s Bar & Kitchen, Bethesda, MD
David Carrier, Chef/Owner, Avenue Sea Restaurant, Apalachicola, FL.
Kurt Freisland, Buyer, J. J. McDonalds, Jessup, MD
Max Harvey, Seafood Buyer, Jasper White’s Summer Shack, Boston
Peter Hoffman, Chef/Owner, Savoy Restaurant and Back Forty, New York
Sandy Ingber, Executive Chef, Grand Central Oyster Bar, New York
Rowan Jacobsen, author, The Geography of Oysters
Rob Klink, Executive Chef, Oceanaire Seafood Room, Baltimore, MD
Maureen Pothier, College of the Culinary Arts, Johnson & Wales University
Bruce Sherman, Chef/Partner, North Pond Restaurant, Chicago
* Prior Oyster Award Winner ** Multiple prior Oyster Awards
If my experience with the winners is any indication, these will all be relatively inexpensive and delicious with oysters. It's a bit late in the season for the best oysters, but if you hurry, you may be able to get some good ones still. I'm sure they'll still be lovely with these good wines (or whisky)
I've been itching to start sailing again for quite a while, so this year I signed up to be regular crew on Rajun' Cajun, a J/24 I've raced on before occasionally. Last Tuesday was the first week I was out racing (I missed the week before.)
It was a pretty big night (meaning windy) with a front going through. Fortunately, we had a full crew of five people, so we were able to keep the boat pretty flat (good). For the first time with a full crew, we sailed well with no major gaffs in sail handling. We sailed three races that night and placed 11th, 6th, and 12th out of 26 boats -- not bad.
Anyway, it was super fun to be out on the water. I'm looking forward to racing tomorrow night too. It's good to have this regular event on my schedule so I can get out a lot this summer.
(If you look at the results, you'll see we're in the bottom half of the fleet despite some good sailing because we missed the first two weeks. You get the worse possible score if you miss races, which once again is a good reminder that the biggest part of any competition is just showing up.)
May 1, 2008
I'm a bad father. I try my best to instill the right values for the boys, but sometimes, despite my best efforts, the kids go wrong. I know they're just kids and they are each his own individual person, but I can't help but feel responsible.
The other day, Michael (7) saw me working on a competitive review of Firefox. He noticed their logo and said, "That fox is sooo cute and cuddly. I love it!"
I tried to explain how the fox was really the pawn of a joint communist and Al-Qaeda plot with potential connections to Darth Vader, Voldemort, and people with stinky feet, and that it was trying to undermine truth, justice, and the American way. He didn't care; the fox was cute. (I think I may have lost the argument with the Darth Vader connection.)
I'll keep working with him to reinforce our family values. I hope this is just a fad that he'll grow out of like being a Democrat or vegetarian. :)