LA*: what a world of possibility; what a world of great food and places to go!
I was meeting up for dinner with my friend Camille from high school and had to find a place to eat. But where to eat? I looked around the internet and scoured the annals of my own experience to come up with four or five choices, which I proffered to her to choose from. She chose Bacaro, a wine bar in South LA.
(Thanks to Yelp! for the pic.)
Bacaro came recommended from one of my fellow bloggers, Horny for Food. It was supposed to have a good, reasonably-priced wine list, and good, reasonably-priced small plates. Note also the cool atmosphere–blackboard wall, wine bottle ceiling, good mix of yuppies, hipsters, and yupsters.
There are certain immutable truths in life. Here are two.
(1) My roommate Alex does not like Belgian beers.
(2) My roommate Alex does not like hops.
Of course, as with any immutable truth there are gray areas. However, as far as beer and Alex are concerned, these two truths might as well be the laws of the universe.
While we were drinking at Mission Wines over my winter break, I remarked to one of the associates how much I liked IPAs–for instance, I loved the Craftsman Brewing Company‘s IPA that Mission Wines had on tap. I then complained about Sam Adams’s Imperial Pilsner, which I had had a year or so previously and loved but which seemed incredibly out of whack for this most recent iteration (crazy hops married with a syrupy texture is not a good idea in my book).
So… I’m entering my fourth week of law school and, you know what? It’s pretty cool.
For once I feel as if I’m learning something that is truly relevant–I no longer have to worry about esters and “backside attacks” (well–living in DC, that last is not entirely true!). All I have to do is worry about offers and agreements, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, tortfeasors, and restorative justice.
It does feel like a lot at times, and I’m sure I’ll be VERY stressed during finals. However, I’ve been able to get by with a little help from my friends–and a lot of help from booze.
A funny thing about grad school is that I’m drinking much more than I did at college; oddly enough, what I’m drinking is worse than I what I had at college. As a fifth year I only stocked Grey Goose and Ketel One, Tanquerey, Campari, Pimm’s… I’ve been reduced to drinking rail drinks and Smirnoff vodka once again.
I HAVE been drinking some good wines–I’ll have to write about those soon–but I have also been drinking a lot of beer. A LOT of beer. Much of it is Miller or Bud Lite, unfortunately; happy hour is a big phenomenon here. And you know what? Miller and Bud and Coors do the job.
After a long, involuntary hiatus from the drinking of alcohol I have again been getting my liver “wet”. I am ashamed to admit that my tolerance has gone way, way down–much too low for the amount of drinking that must needs take place in DC this fall.
I dipped in gingerly a few days ago, having a Firestone Double Barrel Ale after dinner. It got me legitimately “crunk” (keep in mind here, good readers, that I AM Asian, after all… my ancestors weren’t exactly quaffing tankards of beer around some round table in the forests), but it was a delightful feeling. The Double Barrel Ale is a good beer, moderately hoppy, somewhat sweet, a rich amber color. The only down thing about the DBA was that it had an off-putting aftertaste–more like an afterfeel… a bit syrupy, but not in a pleasant way. Oh well. It was a good beer, though not one I’d put into my standard rotation.
Today after work my co-workers and I opened a long-saved bottle of Joel Gott “815” cabernet sauvignon. (Named after the birth date of Gott’s daughter.) Four of us chipped in a few bucks each for the bottle back in MARCH, but there never was any real occasion or opportunity to open it up and enjoy. What better day than the day before the Fourth of July?
So the thermostat has been going up slowly but steadily–we now are in the high 80s here in SoCal. This means beer and white wine weather.
Yesterday, as we all know (or all now know) was Father’s Day. My family decided to stay at home and cook dinner instead of go out for some fancy affair. My brother decided upon angel hair pasta with a sauce of mussels, shrimp, basil, tomato (apparently from Canada and therefore 100% immune from salmonella), garlic, and white wine. He was in charge of buying the food: I, of course, was in charge of getting a wine to drink and with which to cook.
We found ourselves at Whole Foods, which apparently is the nation’s #1 wine retailer for 2007 or something. They do have a pretty good wine selection, and I spied a bottle of grüner veltliner, that spicy, peppery Austrian white that is one of the next big things in the wine world (though not according to David J. D. over at Horny for Food). It’s still relatively obscure–though almost cliché in some circles–so it’s a great bargain, especially given its quality. I picked up a bottle of velt.1 grüner for a cool $9.99. Excellent.
I had posted a few weeks previously about Unibroue’s “La Terrible”. I felt that it was one of the best beers I had ever tasted. One of the reasons I loved it so much was that it had a fascinating mouthfeel, a very complex texture complemented by wonderful flavors.
After writing that post, there were quite a few people who commented that I should try Unibroue’s “La Fin du Monde” (The End of the World)–an interesting name for a beer, I thought. I had opportunity to pick up it from the new Whole Foods on Arroyo Parkway in Pasadena, along with some pre-made, frozen cioppino and a rosemary ciabatta loaf from Trader Joe’s.
A few years ago I took a summer job selling educational books door-to-door in Connecticut with the Southwestern Company; as such, my fellow UC Berkeley salespeople and I drove all the way across the country, first to Tennessee for a week-long sales camp and then up to the Constitution State.
This cross-country drive was a very significant moment for me: I passed through more than twenty states and saw parts of the United States that had been little more to me than pictures or words. The only bad thing about this trip was that it was done at breakneck speed: we went from Berkeley to New Haven in the equivalent of about five days, which meant we drove about 18 hours a day.
Is it just me, or do a lot of beermakers love the whole Founding Fathers / Revolutionary War / Patriot motif?
I’m of course referring to Sam Adams, one of my favorite “small breweries.” Small is in quotation marks here because it’s so ubiquitous now. That ubiquity, however, is a good thing, as I love Sam Adams beer.
Sam Adams was founded in 1985 and is considered one of the main players in the craft brew movement. However, go back another 20 years and there’s an even more influential brewery: the Anchor Brewing Company based in San Francisco.
One of the traditions of my fraternity was to “adopt” new pledges into different respective beer families. There were a number of different families, including but not limited to the Coors Light family, the Sierra Nevada family, the Anchor Steam family, and my own, which was the unfortunate (for many different reasons) Red Nectar Ale family. Red Nectar Ale is disgusting, probably one of the worst beers I’ve ever had in my life. In fact, I tried to stage a coup d’état by splitting off from that family and starting the Sam Adams family. That’s another story for another time.
I love wine tasting–actually going to a wine bar to try a flight of different wines. Unfortunately, I don’t like WRITING about the tastings afterward because there are just so many to list. I can’t imagine how Robert Parker and Kermit Lynch do it (though, of course, they get paid $$$ to do so).
I took a few days off of work just to chill out and get my second wind, so to speak, before heading off to law school in July. Thursday and Friday were spent with the family doing nothing in particular, so Saturday afternoon was ripe for something fun: Mission Wines with the co-workers was in order.
The official lineup for the day was:
2006 Leitz Drachenstein Riesling
1996 Lopez de Heredia Gravonia
2005 Rauzan Despagne
2005 Foulaquier Pic St Loup
2005 Ridge Lytton Springs
I will be attending law school at George Washington in the fall, which puts me right in the middle of the Eastern seaboard. I will be across the river from Virginia, a few hours from New York, and a few more after that from Boston. And, if so inclined, I will be able to take a flight or a long drive up to that hallowed land: Montreal.
I’ve had a fascination with Montreal ever since my brother, who went to school in New York, took a trip there and came back in love with its architecture, its food, and its French-Canadian girls (“Their accents are SOOOO hot!” he raved). As this recent New York Times article shows, the food in Montreal–poutine aside–is excellent. I leave the matter of beautiful women up to you, the reader, to determine first-hand.
But now I have another reason to venture up north of the border: beer.