Wine. Food. Reviews. Recipes. Lap it up.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Wine corks provide ammunition for artisan’s creations

Cork-firing CrossbowWine corks tend to collect. It just doesn’t always feel right to simply throw them away, since they often serve as reminders of a person, an evening, or a memorable bottle drunk. Plus, it seems like they just should be good for something, someday.

Some people make crafts out of them — trivets, picture frames, and so on. I've seen them used as mulch in a foundation planting. But often, they just accumulate in sacks, drawers and oversized wine bottles, just waiting.

An Indianapolis artisan, Eric Wallentine, has a novel use for all those corks: Ammunition. Wallentine makes highly detailed, hand-crafted crossbows that fire wine corks with great accuracy for a range of at least 25 feet or more. A fine artist and student of medieval and primitive weaponry, he also has constructed pumpkin-launching catapults, just for fun.

His crossbows are based on classic designs of crossbows and flintlock pistols, and can also be custom designed to the customer’s specifications. Standard models cost $800, or $1,000 fitted with a custom case with a built-in gong target. They are sturdily built, beautifully finished, heirloom-quality pieces of art. A possible downside to owning one: You may start avoiding wines sealed with screwcaps or other alternative closures.

Wallentine’s crossbows are available by contacting him through his Web site, Corkbo. (Shouldn’t all the sales reps for the wine distributor, Winebow, be equipped with these? Sure they should!)
J. Silverheels Gray, 10:47 AM | link | 1 comments |

Monday, August 25, 2008

Terra Andina Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

Terra AndinaIt’s easy to buy a good wine if you’re OK with plunking down thirty bucks or so on a consistently highly-rated brand, but the real satisfaction comes from finding an inexpensive wine that drinks like an expensive one — one that will elicit raves from your wine enthusiast friends, but leave you chuckling at how little you spent. Everyone loves a bargain!

Now that I’m into my second case and about to spring for a third, I guess I’ll share my secret, favorite new find: The Terra Andina Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (Valle Central, Chile) is a helluva deal. There’s cedar and a little tobacco on the nose, and plenty of blackberry and dark cherry fruit on the palate. It’s medium-bodied, with just enough tannin to give it some structure and food-pairing ability. Don’t even think about cellaring it — this is a drink-now wine that is delicious straight out of the bottle, and opens up further after 10 minutes or so of decanting. I can tell you from personal experience that it pairs very well with grilled lamb, steak and burgers, and is just the ticket for an everyday, after-work sipper.

The bottom line? $6.99 a bottle — about as much as you’d pay in a restaurant for a glass of something much inferior. If your local wine purveyor doesn’t have it, check with Grapevine Cottage in Zionsville.
J. Silverheels Gray, 8:31 PM | link | 0 comments |

Pretty in pink: Kimmie’s Watermelon Fizz

WatermelonsJust recently got a message from friend Kimberly, who apparently has been enjoying her summer. She sent the following drink recipe for what just may be the perfect cocktail for the upcoming Labor Day weekend:

Kimmie’s Watermelon Fizz

2 oz. of your favorite clear liquid (vodka or gin)

2 nicely chilled watermelon balls
3 Tbs. or more watermelon juice (the more the juice, the sweeter the drink)
tonic to taste (or not, if you are so inclined)

lime wedge

It is just the prettiest pink muscle relaxer : ) Bottoms up!

J. Silverheels Gray, 10:48 AM | link | 1 comments |

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A bumper crop of green tomatoes

Green TomatoI’m certainly not going to complain about the pleasantly warm days and cool nights we’ve been having lately, but one of the results of the weather is that I now have a bumper crop of green tomatoes. Since it will be September is just a little over a week (how did THAT happen?), it’s likely that I'll end the growing season with a couple of plants worth of big, beautiful, unripe fruit. (Technically, they’re berries.)

So I paid attention a few days ago when the WikiHow corner of my iGoogle page highlighted an article on How to Ripen Green Tomatoes. The page lists four different methods, for ripening just a few tomatoes to an entire plant’s worth. (Not included is the method an Altum’s employee says his grandmother used, which was to wrap tomatoes in newspaper and put them in the basement.)

The key to ripening green tomatoes is to start with ones that have already started to ripen on their own; they’re a little softer than new green tomatoes and have a little color at the blossom end. Tomatoes that aren’t going to ripen should be cooked (mmm — Fried Green Tomatoes) or used as balls in games of Fetch.
J. Silverheels Gray, 8:24 AM | link | 0 comments |

Friday, August 22, 2008

Where’s my steak and Malbec?

Zucchini? Arrgh!
You have to take the bad with the good, I guess. I have a pretty good gig here, two squares a day, room and board, personal chauffeur, nice laptop, and the food is usually pretty good. But really — zucchini again?
J. Silverheels Gray, 10:08 AM | link | 2 comments |

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Cork & Cracker’s northwest location opens

Cork & CrackerThe second Cork & Cracker store is now open. Located on the northeast corner of 106th and Michigan Road, it’s in the strip mall just south and east of the Marsh supermarket that anchors the corner. (Come to think of it, the original Cork & Cracker is also a stick-toss away from a Marsh. Hmmm....)

Cork & Cracker specializes in wines that are $15 or less, divided by color and categorized by flavor profile. They also stock beers, cheeses, crackers (natch) and other foods, as well as a few gift items. They operate under a grocery license, so they’re kid-friendly — a good thing, since the two women running the new store both have school-age children.

The photo above is of the Broad Ripple location. If I have time later on, I’ll take my camera over and get a shot of the new place.
J. Silverheels Gray, 10:45 AM | link | 1 comments |

How to become a famous wine writer

Steve Heimoff, the West Coast editor of the Wine Enthusiast, parodies himself and other wine critics for five goofy minutes.

I found the link to Steve’s video on Tom Wark’s blog, Fermentation. Tom has really been on a roll lately — today he weighs in on the 21 year old drinking age with a logical, tongue in cheek suggestion: If a minimum drinking age of 21 saves lives, why not raise it to, say, 35 and save even more?
J. Silverheels Gray, 9:17 AM | link | 2 comments |

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

College, university presidents press for rethinking drinking age

18More than 100 college and university presidents nationwide have signed a statement calling for reopening the debate about the minimum legal drinking age.

While the Amethyst Initiative doesn’t advocate a specific policy change, it does state that the 21 year minimum drinking age is not working and has resulted in a dangerous culture of binge drinking. The statement notes that persons under 21 are deemed adults in that they are capable of voting, signing contracts, serving on juries and enlisting in the military, but are not mature enough to have a beer, and says it is time for elected representatives to consider whether current public policies are in line with current realities.

The primary target of the Amethyst Initiative is the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, which was passed in 1984 and imposes a penalty of 10 percent of a state’s Federal highway appropriation on any state setting its drinking age lower than 21. The group says that this provision has effectively stifled debate over the drinking age, and notes that Congress will need to pass reauthorization of the transportation bill in 2009, and would then have the opportunity to repeal the National Minimum Drinking Age Act. This would not change the drinking age in any state, but would enable state legislatures to consider the subject.

Predictably, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and other advocates of the 21-year drinking age say it has saved thousands of lives, and that lowering the age would pass drinking problems to high school students.
J. Silverheels Gray, 9:46 AM | link | 3 comments |

Monday, August 18, 2008

Home Grown Indiana: a guide to local flavor

Home Grown IndianaLast Friday I had the pleasure of attending a book-release party for Home Grown Indiana, by Christine Barbour and Scott Hutcheson. Fun was indeed had by all, and it was good to see some familiar people and connect with some new ones. And it was quite a treat to get to sample the Pork and Sweetbread Terrine and the Caprese salad drizzled with 15-hour Balsamic reduction that Reneé made.

As good as the food was (and the wine, and the beer), the star of the evening was the book. It’s an amazingly complete guide to Indiana’s food producers, farmers markets, shops, wineries, brew pubs and locally-owned restaurants, with some tantalizing recipes thrown in for good measure. For those who like to travel around the state to the various food festivals (Evan, this means you) they’re in there by region with a few highlighted in the back. (Dangit, I missed the Perogi Festival again this year!) Putting together a guide of this type is like trying to hit a moving target, so some of the information will inevitably go out of date as new places spring up, others close, and hours and names change. Fortunately, the authors promise that there will be future editions, so we can look forward to this guidebook growing and evolving over the coming years.

This would be a good book to keep in the car — but the recipes and restaurant guides make it a good reference to keep in the house, too. Maybe it would be better to buy two. It’s $16.95, and available from bookstores and from the publisher, Indiana University Press.
J. Silverheels Gray, 10:20 AM | link | 2 comments |

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Happy DAYS, that’s the ticket!

Doggone Right!

For more of Hilary Price's humor, surf on over to Rhymes with Orange. I read her strip daily at the Seattle P-I’s site as part of my morning routine, and it always helps get my day off to a good start.
J. Silverheels Gray, 10:52 AM | link | 0 comments |

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Fun with hard-boiled eggs

Here’s Tim Ferriss demonstrating an easy way to separate a hard-boiled egg from its shell. I’m definitely giving this a try the next time I make potato salad!
J. Silverheels Gray, 5:29 PM | link | 0 comments |

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Court of Appeals reinstates Indiana face-to-face shipping rule

No Wine!The U.S. 7th Court of Appeals in Chicago this week dealt a blow to direct shipping in Indiana by reinstating the face-to-face clause in the state’s law that was struck down by the U.S. District Court in Indianapolis one year ago. That clause requires that Indiana residents fill out an age-verification form in person at any winery from which they wish to order wine.

According to The Wine Spectator, a three-judge panel that heard arguments on February 22 reinstated the face-to-face verification provision in a decision handed down on Aug. 7. “It is important to remember that we are dealing with effects on the margin,” the court's ruling explained. “Make it easier for minors to get wine by phone or Internet, and sales to minors will increase.”

But the latest rule change does not completely reverse the previous ruling. “Quite frankly, we won the big one—that out-of-state wineries are not excluded,” Ed O’Keefe, CEO of Michigan’s Grand Traverse winery and a driving force behind the 2007 repeal, said. “This face-to-face thing is not such a bad deal. There’s always some way [to legally ship wine].”

The legal challenges in Indiana and elsewhere will continue. “[Direct shipping is] a running battle,” O’Keefe said. “It keeps going and we keep winning the tactical battles, and eventually the whole situation will be solved in a few years.”

Some states that allow direct shipping of wine require shippers to conduct age verifications upon delivery. There are also several online age-verification services that wineries can use to determine legal age before the sale takes place.
J. Silverheels Gray, 5:24 PM | link | 0 comments |

Monday, August 11, 2008

White River Yacht Club open house is Aug. 16

White River Yacht ClubThat hidden, members-only Indianapolis gem, the White River Yacht Club, will welcome visitors this coming Saturday at its annual open house.

For those struggling with the concept, a White River yacht is typically a pontoon boat, houseboat or other power boat that cruises the river south to the Broad Ripple Dam and usually no further north than Sandy Point. During the summer this stretch becomes a water-based party zone anchored by the White River Yacht Club, where members and guests gather in the club or on its deck to eat, drink, socialize, and watch the river go by.

Those who frequent the WRYC enjoy its laid-back atmosphere, good food (including the Yachtburger, which is in the running for best cheeseburger in town) and its bar drinks, which are well made and reasonably priced. The club is also well known for the spectacular fireworks display it launches over the river each July 3rd.

The number of members is limited by the club's bylaws, but this Saturday’s open house gives the general public the opportunity to enjoy the place. Special open house events include food specials, a raffle and live music. If you go, take Keystone Avenue to 75th Street and go west until the road curves around by the club’s driveway; the address is 1400 East 74th Street.
J. Silverheels Gray, 9:52 AM | link | 0 comments |

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Grab your pad, a customer just sat in your section

Patient Bear
“Hi! Could you send over my waitress, please? And where are the restrooms?”
J. Silverheels Gray, 8:57 AM | link | 2 comments |

Monday, August 04, 2008

Sudden thought

A Belgian HorseIf the sale of Anheuser-Busch to InBev goes through, will the Budweiser Clydesdales be replaced with Belgians?

(If you've somehow missed it, U.S. brewer Anheuser-Busch has agreed to be purchased by InBev, which makes its headquarters in Leuven, Belgium. With the acquisition of Anheuser-Busch, InBev will become the biggest brewer in the world; its brands will include Budweiser, Michelob and Busch as well as Stella Artois, Beck's, Brahma, Bohemia, Alexander Keith's, and many others.)
J. Silverheels Gray, 7:49 PM | link | 0 comments |

Friday, August 01, 2008

Flavor of Fishers is this weekend

A FisherThis weekend marks the first-ever Flavor of Fishers, presented by the Fishers Chamber of Commerce and Community Hospital North. It will be held Saturday, August 2 from noon until 10 p.m. at USA Parkway Circle, right behind Sallie Mae.

There was recently a thread on Feed Me/Drink Me about whether there are any good places to eat in Fishers, and this event may be a good way to research that. More than 30 restaurants are reported to be participating, both local and chain. (Costco is a restaurant?)

Music will be provided by Zanna Doo! and Brenda Williams and the Soul Providers. Admission is $5.

In case you're wondering what the critter nestled into the corner of this post is, it's a Fisher. Fishers are hardy omnivores capable of eating just about anything, including bagel dogs, Snickerdoodles and porcupines. (But alas, porcupines are not among the dining choices at the Flavor of Fishers. Maybe next year....)
J. Silverheels Gray, 10:38 AM | link | 1 comments |