Friday, June 29, 2012

Core Vodka by Harvest Spirits (Golden Harvest Farms, Valatie)

It should be explained that I don't generally review spirits. I pretty much drink good beer (in addition to the beloved piss beers of Upstate New York), and vodka. I am dubious when it comes to cocktails. Something about grown men messing about with fruit juices and soda seems silly to me -- Don Draper's Old Fashioneds be damned. I am a fan of a good cup of Scotch whiskey but that is a special treat. I don't stock a bar. A six pack in the fridge and a bottle of good vodka in the freezer is generally the manner in which I roll. This all to say that I am no expert, and don't claim to be.

I was at Upstate Wine and Spirits (Hannaford Plaza on Delaware Ave., Delmar) the other day to replenish my ice box vodka stash. Upstate Wine and Spirits is a fine little liquor store right there. They have a good selection and stock all sorts of random items that make for a fun browse. Also, the place makes a sort of a point of stocking local products. You can get Tuthilltown Spirits, as well as Harvest Spirits which we are discussing here. As an aside, I am happy that Tuthilltown seems to be going strong as I used to drive by a young gent holding a sign advertising tours of the place at the intersection of Albany Post and 44/55 down Gardiner way. He always made me smile.

I spied the bottle of Core Vodka and it immediately grabbed my interest. What is more representative of Upstate New York than apples? We are Appleknockers, icy cider runs in our veins. This vodka is is distilled from hard cider made from apples grown at Golden Harvest Farms down in Valatie. I decided to purchase a bottle blind, i.e., I didn't read any reviews or anything.

I am a sucker for packaging so I inspected the whole package thoroughly. I thought the the bring the bottle back to the distillery for a free shot glass thing was a delightful way to inspire people to make a trip to the farm

Above are some accolades.

As I stated before, I do not really drink mixed cocktails at home. I take my vodka neat and out of little glasses. I found these little Italian wine glass jobbers that do the job nicely. I take a couple fingers at a time, За женщин! (Mrs. Dave only). 

OK, let us see here. Again, I probably should have read the description on the producers website that states, "Distilled three times from hard cider and minimally filtered to retain its true apple character." When I opened the bottle and sniffed I got the scent of apples. Throwing back the spirit I also got the taste of apples. I have to be careful with my terminology here (thank you Mr. Fussy). This is a "vodka made from apples" not an "apple flavored vodka" (implying flavor extracts) or even an "apple vodka." However, Core Vodka is a "vodka made from apples" that most definitely tastes of apples. There is a sweetness and a pronounced cider-y flavor (Mr. Fussy thinks that some of this may be due to the use of Champagne yeasts). 

I don't know why but I expected the barest essence of apple. I was surprised by the amount of apple flavor. None of this is a criticism because I think that an Upstate New York distillery making a vodka redolent of delicious apple flavor is the bees knees. I can see home cocktail-smiths and good bar keeps formulating all sorts of wonderful libations from this stuff. That said, I don't think it is a vodka that is purpose built to be swilled in the manner that I take my vodka. 

As I am weird and like to repurpose things, I have some idears for the rest of this bottle. I am growing a couple nice cabbages and I think this would be an excellent addition to some finished kraut. I also think it would bring a pleasantly sweet note to a vegetable pickle. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Stewart's "Brand" Frozen Pizza

You haven't forgotten my enduring fascination for all things Stewart's, have you (click here for a startling amount of posts on the subject)? I came across this Stewart's "brand" frozen pizza during my sabbatical from blogging. I must have known that I would have not be able to relinquish my roll as a convenience store anthropologist as I snapped some pictures.

I have always felt that it is a somewhat dubious endeavor to risk your business' brand by slapping your name on a 3rd party product of dubious quality. I have alway's admired Stewart's because a fair amount of their products are actually produced in-house (most likely by maroon clad elves in a factory up in Saratoga County). This frozen pizza is, in fact, produced by Target (my 3.5 year old daughter Giblet refers to Target as "the red store." I find this endlessly amusing). 

As most Stewart's brand stuff is surprisingly good (with a few notable exceptions), I think that they are going out on a limb by slapping their venerable name on a frozen pizza of questionable provenance. They are probably better off just selling a third party brand. But maybe this was some sort of extraordinary frozen delicacy, truly worthy of the maroon monkier. Of course I had to purchase an example for test purposes. 

 Out of the shrink wrap we have a fairly pedestrian looking frozen pizza. I am not a big frozen pizza guy, but on a cursory inspection I was not encouraged. I followed the cooking directions to the letter, and...

The above pictured thingy is what came out of the oven... It looks like some sort of Air Force unmanned drone wind tunnel model. I think there is some Euclidean geometry at play here, parabolas or some shit. Maybe a math-nerd out there can come up with some equations to recreate this shape.

My first thought was to use the thing as a giant taco boat, but that seemed a bit piggish. I did eat a couple of slices and it was very bad. Chalky crust, insipid sauce, gummy cheese, icky "pepperoni", all tied together by some watery/greasy puddles in the middle.

So, my opinion is that if you are going to slap your brand name on something you should be held responsible for the quality. Stewart's -- you broke my heart with this one. This thing is not up to your impeccable standards. But don't worry. You know I can't stay mad at you for long.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

"Mater Magic" is Tomato Crack (Mr. Dave Does Gardening)

I can claim very few talents and gardening is most definitely not one.  Gardening in Upstate New York is a journey full of pit-falls and weather related annoyances, but I can not solely lay the blame on this. Over the years my attempts at green-thumbing have been almost comically tragic. I have lovingly pampered tomato plants all season, only to be rewarded by 3 or 4 measly, worm eaten little fruits. I once grew a broccoli that gave forth one "tree" -- that would not have been fit for a single morsel on a crudité platter -- than immediately flowered as if to mock me. Last year, I accidentally stepped on a very promising looking pepper plant.  

Anyhow, being a new homeowner and having a nice sunny spot next to my house I decided to attempt a small kitchen garden. Among other things, I planted 3 little tomato sproutlings. Several weeks ago I was traipsing through the Home Despot (Depot) when I spied the above pictured "Natural and Organic Dynamite Mater Magic." It amused me that it was in tomato shaped container and I enjoyed bothering my wife by telling her that I was buying "Dy-no-mite Mater Magic" in a silly voice. So I, of course, plunked down the 4.95$ for the stuff figuring it couldn't hurt.

And lo, did I willfully ignore the directions printed on the packaging? Yes, yes I did. I think my refusal to follow directions on pretty much anything is the key to most of my genius (and most of my failures). I just sort of sprinkled a bit of the Mater Magic around the sproutlings and watered them as per usual.

Well weren't I just tickled when some time later I found that my plants were growing like wildfire and sprouting all manner of knubby little green bastards!

I couldn't capture the full impact of how many 'maters I got going on here. It almost looks like my plants got infected with some weird 'mater disease that manifests itself in more 'maters. I have 3 plants and probably 30-40 'maters growing.

I am pretty excited by this and attribute the success to the Mater Magic 'mater crack. However, I am sure some tragic happenstance will occur that will destroy my crop. I sense wicked garden beasties mustering their dark forces to consume my produce with their little fangs. We shall see.

I also have 2 cabbages going on that I am a bit proud of. Here is one.

Also, I am pretty excited about this little, unassuming guy.

This is a pumpkin vine. But not just any pumpkin vine... It is a MEGA PUMPKIN! At least that is the brand name. I have discovered that I have a strange liking for bombastic terminology in gardening supply advertising. Miracle-gro? Not good enough for me, I need "DYNAMITE MATER MAGIC!!!!" 

Anyhow, I am going to let Meka-Pumpkin (I changed his name to Meka-Pumpkin, also Meka-Pumpkin is a he) take over the garden after I harvest my other veggies. I am hoping that I get one giant pumpkin for carving come Halloween. We shall see about that too. I almost want to feed Meka-Pumpkin some Mater Magic, but I am afraid that he will become self-aware, grow to frightful size, sprout evil pumpkin-y tendrils, and rampage through Olde Delmar causing much suffering and grief among the populace.

I shall post more dispatches on the progress of my garden. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Uncle Charley and a Slim David

I was ruminating on diverse subjects over a snack this very eve. I was munching a homemade sopressata dried meat stick (I call them "Slim Davids") washed down with an Uncle Charley long neck (I got two twelvers of Utica Club for letting a friend store his kayak in my garage).

Anyhow, I swore off perpetrating my hogwash on the internets for a couple months, then I tried starting a more general blog (The Upstate Man) which was generally well received (at least by Mrs. Dave and my 3.5 year old daughter...).

Although it was sort of fun to write about stuff unrelated to food (I especially enjoyed writing the "Capital Region Game of Thrones" post), it felt a bit forced. It also occurred to me that it is embarrassingly self-centered to suppose that anyone really gives a crap about what I have to say (I tend to have a somewhat high opinion of my own wit).

In short, this old rickety blog is the one that I keep coming back to. This will be the 3rd (or 4th) time I have torn the whole thing down and thrown it back up. This is a strange thing for me because I am abnormally steadfast and persistent in most of my endeavors, flightiness of this nature is generally out of character. I think this would actually be a fairly well trafficked corner of the internet if I didn't keep shitboxing it, and I think it is good to knock it down a peg every now and again. I like to keep things small, quaint if you will.

In any event, I will prob. post here every now and again (again). So get ready for more of my droll attempts at humor, shitty grammar, tiresome amounts of parentheticals, periodic blog ending tantrums, and everything else that have made me an insignificant waste of time to follow.
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