Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

The L Wine: Lineman’s Wine or Why My Wine Server Sucks

December 22, 2013

I was pressed into doing a review of the classy _looking_ Lineman’s Wine.


The reason that I’m so upset is because due to her incompetence in opening the wine _before_ asking for my expert advice, I’m forced to do this review out of order or with somewhat in complete data.


Thus, for all we know Lineman’s could be Five Gold Star Medal Winner 100 Years in a row. Or it could be purple swilll suitable only for winos.


Immediately, a giant 50+ written on the nozzle of the bottle. I have no idea what this means, but it seems to be a good thing especially as it’s such a large number next to a positive sounding plus sign. Under the +50 it says “Best Buy Best Value Awards.” Ah, an OK wine for cheapos. Great!


The other lable is also classy enough with its large “L” which gives us one of my title’s for this article. Also, it says “Bin 40” in cursive. More impressive gibberish. I guess 2012 was a good year for wine labels.


I sniffed the cork after the server rubbed it on her bare foot. (Don’t ask). The cork smells faintly of wine and even more faintly of old basement, a bit musty.


The actual scent of the bottle is of high grade church wine.


On first impression, it’s a bit too sweet and fruity for my taste, but the finish is that of a normal middle of the road wine.


A few more mouthfuls later, and yes, it’s actually a quite decent wine. Again, not dry enough for my taste, but if you like a sweeter Merlot, this is not the worst of the lot.


Charles Shaw

December 2, 2013

What can I say about the label? Simple yet classyYet when I tried to get the cork out, it didn’t want to come. The cork screw seems to have gotten stuck! Now it’s pull out like a screw in drywall. What did Charles (or Charlie as I like to call him) use for cork material? Driftwood?

With the combind force of two admittedly out of shape people, we still couldn’t manage to get the damned thing out. What does Charlie want? Us to look at his bottle or to drink the stuff.

Finally, cooler heads prevailed and like a scene from The Cosby Show, the woman truly knew better and managed to get it out on her own. Yeah!

Honestly, I don’t know the point in sniffing the cork. They all smell the same. This one’s earthy and pungent and yet less sharp and the overall odor is much weaker than what I’m used to. Also, there’s a hint of mold or must. Not the most promising cork sniffing.

The bouquet is weak and can only remind me of church wine.

Yet when I drink it, by God it’s wine. Delicious wine. And at three dollars a bottle, this hits a very nice price point. Not the best wine at this insanely low price, but since it has nice name recognition, it’s a worthwhile buy at this price range.

Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi

November 29, 2013

robert-wineThis elegant label looks like it could be a woodcut perhaps by Albrech Durer. It shows a wooden arched bridge which leads to a lovely vinyard.

The whole ensemble has me thinking that this label should be more of a book cover rather than a wine label especially because last time I checked, wine usually doesn’t have an author.

Robert’s a bit of a trickster because the wine wasn’t in the wine section of Albertson, but rather in the snack section. But at $6.41, it was quite the bargain.

Let’s open up this bargain.
Note, that there is NO safety seal, only a cork. This means that someone could have all ready opened it! I like this as those safety things are bullshit anyway: too much work. Plus, I like to live on the edge.

Right before, I busted her open, I realized that there’s a lovely monogram of “RM” (Robert Mondavi) with a tiny leaf which is presumably from a wine plant. Cute.

The plastic “cork” has a deep, pungent, and earthy smell. Excellent. They have even upped their game on the whole plastic cork technology as I thought that the cork was real until told otherwise by my assistant. This cork didn’t even smell of plastic.

The bouquet is much sharper than the smell from the cork. Fascinating. The smell is good, but it’s almost to the edge of actually smelling too strongly of alcohol. However, overall, it’s a good experience so far.

The mouth feel is thick and grapey. Robert’s got a full bodied wine. The finish was sharp, but again delicious.

Overall, this is an excellent buy. Thanks, Robert.

Black Swan (Song for Decent Wine)

December 20, 2008

I got this wine because I liked the book so much, I thought I’d like the wine as well. I was wrong, which is predicted by Dr. Taleb. With a Black Swan, you never know.

I could have known that buying the second cheapest wine in the store. This could be the first cheapest if you factor in that only known losers like Manischewitz cost less.

We were looking for the famed Two Buck Chuck wine from Trader Joe’s, but of course, they were closed by the time we got there. Therefore, we are stuck with the Black Swan Cabernet Sauvignon.

At first glance, this is a classy wine. Aside from the name, the cover of the bottle could be the cover of a decent fantasy novel. The black swan is so stylized and it has a shiny beak like the shiny covers of the thrillers. On second thought thriller, in general, are not for me. Nor is this wine. The label even comments on itself, “NEW LOOK! Same Bold Taste.” I should have known that a self-referential label was a bad idea especially when we are talking about cheapo wine. Finally, the label boasts of an Australian vintage in the year 2006, both good things in my book, but bad in practice.

Only when we got the bottle open, though, did we realize we made a mistake. The first sniff and there was a harsh acrid odor that only smelled faintly of wine. The first sip and one tastes water that has a little bit of wine flavor in it. There’s more flavor once you swallow the stuff, but most of that is an acid burn. Once the swallow is done, there’s a pleasant post-wine taste in one’s mouth. So it tastes best when you are done drinking it, actually.

I don’t want you to think that Black Swan is all bad. That would be too predictable which would contradict the label. It’s just not the greatest wine you could get for six dollars. After all, I could get 3 bottles of Two Buck Chuck for the same price or 2.4 bottles of Oak Creek from CVS Drug Store.

If someone serves this, and it’s the only wine then drink away. If you have a choice then try something else. You never know.

Oak Creek Cabernet Sauvignon

December 17, 2008

At this time, I’m so poor, I can’t really buy wine. I’d prefer to wait until I can afford something that I can afford. Yes, I do low rent wine reviews. Therefore, when I saw this Oak Creek Cabernet Sauvignon* at CVS for $2.50 per bottle, I could not pass it up. Yes, usually cheap ass wine is a pain to drink. I recall the only bottle of wine I had to toss out which was Manishevitz. This stuff made me sick as I drank it.

I figured that the Oak Creek might be similar. But it was worth it because the bottle looked like its contents would be proper wine, not some candy shit.

When I opened the bottle, I was not surprised to see that the cork was made from some rubber, faux cork. It did not hold wine very well, the beads of wine sort of dewed up on the end so it wasn’t much to sniff.

Once I had a single sip of this stuff I was hooked. It was just as good as the best wine I ever had. The best. The wine was very dark purple (like normal wine!) and very dry (also normal(. Since I have a very poor sense of taste, the cheapest bottle of wine is a crack in the sidewalk away from the most expensive so long as the cheap stuff adheres to a few standards like not tasting like grape jelly mixed with turpentine.

Ever since, I can’t look at another bottle of wine the same. Everything is in increments of 2.5. For example, for each five dollar bottle of crappy wine I see in the grocery store, I think that I could get two bottles of Oak Creek. And so on. The regular ten dollar bottles are way out of my league now.

In fact, I have no desire to drink any other wine again as long as I live. This is it for me.

Wine perfection. I wasn’t even hung over the next day which is strange because wine often makes people sick because of the sulfates. And also because of the alcohol.

* [Note I have no affiliation with Oak Creek in any way, but boy I wish I did.]

Ave Maria Pass the Diarrhea

October 23, 2007

This is my first restaurant review ever by a guy who knows next to nothing about food which means he name drops like a Tyrone Jackson trying resuscitate his career. Hell, I can’t even spel restaurant right without a spell checker so take this review with a Dead Sea sized floe of salt. In other words, though I am being as honest as I know how, please don’t sue me nice Italian people.

Since the good people of this blog wanted to have a Really Nice Meal TM, we arranged to meet some fellow conspirators at a local restaurant. The exact name escapes me because 1) I didn’t plan this, my partner die, 2) we didn’t go there. I want to say the place is Palm Tree, but that place is for attorneys and corrupt government officials who are spinning their next plot to separate the homeless in North Philly from their daily panhandlings. I thought it was called Orange, but that’s a silly name for a place to eat. Extensive research
(first hit on google) only brings up Lolita which despite its name was a nice place to drink at with a friend of a friend who is a chef there. I didn’t yet get the privilege of eating there, but I’m sure it’s good.

Since we couldn’t get a reservation at the eatery of our choice, we decided upon “something Italian” which to me is always sketchy as it could mean anything between a spaghetti and pizza join in Ocean City (NJ not MD) to the other extreme of Coda di Rospo.

My partner was more daring (and hopeful than thou) so we looked up a great BYOB. Due to the archaic and draconian liquor laws, BYOBs are popular in Philly, and strangely enough, the BYOB byline seems to ensure a minimal level of quality. Note, like Brittney’s career all this is in the past due to our latest culinary ordeal.

The place sounded harmless enough. A long running Italian restaurant right outside the Italian market named after someone’s materfamilias using the good virgin’s name along with redundant descriptor in case the first two words don’t tell us what nation this establishment hails from.

Sitting outside, we watched limos try to pull down the tiny streets of South Philly forcing Humvees and SUVs (why do all the hulking big vehicles–save for the bus–have a big V sound in them?) out of the way. Out jumps a whole brood each holding a bottle of their own wine. With people pouring in, we are hopeful that this is going to be well worth it.

Once inside, we await a table for four while other couples brush past us.  For entertainment there is the soothing sound of the accordion and the taste of what my more worldly companion dubs “fine watered down wine”. The wine was a nice touch, and the wait for the table understandable as we have a group of four who reserved the table of a popular restaurant at the last minute. What is not understood is why a BYOB is serving wine. It turns out that they are a BYOB that serves alcohol a “Bring Your Own, Or We’ll Have Alcohol”, a BYOOWHA so to speak. Don’t believe the hype. Multitasking is not all that BYOB is much greater than BYOOWHA any Saturday of the week.

After a reasonably short wait, “people don’t like to leave,” explains a staff member who also entertains us with a quaint history of the restaurant scene in the area, we get a table.

The table is all ready set with day old bread, yellow (not green!) olive oil, more watered down wine (red and white in nice unlabeled wine jugs) and antipasto. The antipasto is quite nice. It featured eggplant, garbanzo (chick peas, channa, whatever), and more steeped in a cool, tasty sauce.

If they stopped there we feel we could have almost broke even. We chose to not drink the wine we brought and have broke even. Alas, the meal was seven courses, though in this restaurant worlds the word “course” must include ice water.

We got the menu which was not even handed to us, but stuck in a stack on the table. There were no prices on the menu. I thought that I was in on this. I had a guest menu; I had recently read about this. Alas, this, too was wrong like everything else I thought that night. None of the menus had prices. My more brave friend asked the price. Fifty dollars each. All four of us must have looked like tires on a pinto speeding out of a parking garage backwards without paying. Still we plunged on, hoping things would end well. “If we had to pay for wine, and we were huge alcoholics, and we ordered a few entrees from any
other restaurant, the bill would be the same,” insisted my ever optimistic friend.

Next came the chicken soup with a lovely pasta roll stuffed with cheese soaking in it. I enjoyed it so much, I ate two bowls: mine and my friend who said that the chicken smelled old. It seems that everyone who is not American can determine the age of meat with a single sniff. Blissfully ignorant, I enjoyed both bowls and the soggy pasta especially.

Next came the actual pasta which looked quite attractive with its green and orange coloring. It was covered with cheese. I added more from the table, and I enjoyed it, though I realized I could have done as well at home. My partner demurred, “I could have done better than this if I were half dead from the flu.”

My main dish, assorted seafood, was nice. I was so full from the other courses, watery wine and bread that I barely noticed the small portion. My dish consisted of headed shrimp, scallops, and calamari body (I assumed they took the tentacles–my favorite part–in order to please their regular audience).
My partner’s dish of tilapia, tasted OK to me, but she described it as “goopy, slimy overcooked, and covered with a disgusting sauce.” My friend got the chicken which he enjoyed. His date explained that this was not so old as the soup. The white sauce looked nice, but I did not taste this as there was only enough for him.

At the end, they brought so shots. There were three mysterious bottles: cloudy white, an orange, and red. There was something fine which came in a fancy bottle and was dark amber in color this I thought was too sweet. There was also a clear bottle which held Roma Something that tasted like Ouzo and was also described fondly as Turkish Vodka. The latter was the best bet. The cloudy white tasted of pineapple, I think. The orange definitely tasted of oranges and vodka. The red tasted like cherry Kool Aid TM and vodka. The waitress mixed the white and orange and told me to “take it all in one shot.” Since my liver is lazy and it had been overworked all ready, I explained how this would make me
puke. She gave up after a few more tourist friendly urges for me to swallow the mysterious mix.

Dessert consisted of cheesecake which was OK, but did not taste as good as my partners. Nor did it look like cheesecake with its alternating bands of frosting and a moist cake. The Rum cake was also OK. There were two chocolate cakes that were also OK. After sampling them all, I concluded that it didn’t matter what cake you got, save for the rum which tasted strongly of rum. I thought that the chocolate were the slightly better than the others.

Finally, we were offered caffeinated drinks. I took an espresso which was nice. The tea was a middle of the road brand which put it ahead of many of the actual dishes.

If this restaurant was the only one in Wildwood, NJ, and you were hungry after a long day of swimming, then this would be a great deal at twenty dollars per person. At fifty dollars, we expected a bit more class.

I speculated that the point of this restaurant was to serve suburbanites who knew nothing of the Philly restaurant scene. It advertised by word of mouth over Starbuck’s Blended Mocha Frappucino, Ventis in the local strip mall of the local Levittown’s.

“Monica’s getting married and she wants to try a real Italian place.”

“Hey, I know an authentic place that’s in the heart of the Italian Market.”

“Is it safe? Is there parking? What if I get lost? Don’t they disembowel people in Philadelphia and drag them through the streets hanging from bicycle chains?”