Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Estómago's Revenge

I know this man who we will call "my dad."  He is also known, in some circles, as the Man with the Iron Stomach.  Okay, I just made that up.  But, if there were circles, and if those circles gave out such names, and if those names were in Spanish, he would undoubtedly be called El hombre con el estómago de hierro - the Man with the Iron Stomach.   [Thank you website formerly known as Babel Fish.]

Estómago de Hierro
How long can you leave left overs in the refrigerator before you introduce them to the garbage disposal?  Mrs. Hydrant says 3 days.  I say 1 week.  

What say you Estómago de Hierro?

Estómago is a fantastic cook with great instincts for adding some mysterious - off script ingredients to his culinary concoctions. Estómago has also been known to reject expiration dates as optional guidelines for those less resourceful, and less iron-plated than he.

Some time ago Estómago went on a cooking binge involving roasted peppers. He made like a year's supply of peppers and added some to just about every recipe he could.

Many months later, I was assisting Estómago in the preparation process when his instincts took over. "Get me the peppers." As I returned from the fridge, I opened the container to discover a science experiment. You've seen it before - the whitish, black speckled fuzzy mold which lives off of forgotten leftovers.  

"These are bad," I said - preparing to donate the remaining peppers to the garbage disposal.

"Wait, let me see them," Estómago replied.

I watched in horror as the famed Estómago de Hierro cut the mold off of the effected peppers and cooked what remained.

I lived to tell this tale. But I will tell you the evacuation that took place from my body the next morning was akin to what happens when you drink water in some foreign countries -- my own personal case of Estómago's Revenge!

Friday, May 4, 2012


If you are a wine snob, you are not welcome to read this post.

If you are not sure whether or not you are wine snob, I present you with this simple test:

Let’s say a waiter comes and presents you with the bottle of wine you have selected from a wine list.  He opens it, pours a little in your glass.  Do you:

A)    Swirl the wine around the glass to agitate the wine and, as you observe the residue of the swirl evaporate from the sides of the glass, place your nose just inside the glass and breathe in deeply to attempt to identify the distinct aromas and thus enhance the senses as you the sample the wine; or

B)    Swirl the wine around the glass a little because you saw someone do that before; feel like an idiot as you place your nose to the glass and sniff, confirming only that the liquid in the glass does, indeed; smell like wine; just before you take a sip to confirm that yes, the liquid also tastes like wine.

If you fall in category A, this post is not for you.  Buh-bye.

The rest of you come with me. 

Is it just me, or are wine stores ridiculous?  Rows after rows after bottles after bottles of this region of that valley or this river in that country; or this vintage or that varietal.  Where do you even begin?  

If you are like me, you have probably purchased way too many wines based on the label, whether it be classy, sassy, chic or cheeky.  Hit or miss right?

Or, you lock yourself in on one brand or one type, because you know you like it -- thereby foreclosing your ability to discover something new or different you may like.

Let me tell you about my tried and true method of choosing a bottle of wine:

Step One:  Cut a Hole in the Box  

Step One:        Set a price point.  Good wine does not discriminate against those of us who are economically challenged.  My personal price range is about $9 -$12 dollars.  High enough that you look classy (and avoid Mad Dog), but low enough that so that you’re not wasting hard earned money on grapes possibly crushed by someone's feet.    

Step Two:        Identify the wine type.  You should know if you are looking for a red or a white and, generally what type of wine in that category.  I usually go for reds in the category of Cabernet Sauvignon or Chianti.  If you do not know what you like, I recommend starting with a Pinot.  Pinot Noir, if you like red; Pinot Grigio, if you like white.

Step Three:      This is the most important step – and it is not a joke.  Purchase the wine that has the fewest bottles left which fits in the parameters of Step One and Two.  If there are only a few bottles left, that means that there have been multiple purchases of that wine and you have a very good shot that the wine will be really good.

I know, enough clichés about the following the kid jumping off the bridge.  But kids jumping off bridges do not have to pay their hard earned money to take the leap.    I have about a 99% success rate  in selecting a good bottle of wine this way.  

Give it a try.  If you do, please let me know how it went.