Yep, the French make beer—highly complex and distinctive beer. I don’t think your average Pabst or Bud drinker would denote this fabulous bière de garde as a beer, but it’s accessible to anyone who’s enjoyed Belgian beers. Michael Jackson notes that Duyck’s Jenlain uses pan-European hops (Alsace, Flanders, Germany, Slovenia) and that it’s 6.5% ABV; he doesn’t note the surprising sweetness that greets you on the first sip. The sweetness is matched by the complexity of the nose, which is equal parts orange peel, bready yeast, and caramel, and by the lengthy finish with lingering citrus and spice notes. Not an everyday beer, but then what is?
I entered the East Coast Grill in Inman Square last night just as the Phantom Gourmet was leaving (you could tell it was him because a van with his logo was parked at the curb). At the door: a dish holding round candies that, upon closer inspection, turned out to be Tums. The occasion: Hell Night, a night where everything on the menu, including drinks, has a higher capsicum per cc count than should be legal.
The instigator: my friend Niall, who reported he had wanted to go to one of these since we got to grad school four years ago but always managed to miss it. From this morning, I wonder if he still feels the same way this morning.
As things go, you could still have a good, though spicy, meal at this thing. I got the obligatory insane hot thing out of the way early with a “Hurler from Hell” (an oyster shooter made with habanero-infused vodka). The oyster was indistinct after its bath in the vodka, which was unspeakable. While recovering from that and basking in the incredulous stares of my tablemates and the waitress, I silently pledged to take the rest of the evening easy. That was accomplished by sticking to appetizers. My choices: a fairly sublime raw tuna with jicama slaw and a hot pepper marinade, and a decent plate of baked quahogs surrounded by chorizo sausage. I couldn’t finish the quahogs, less because of the heat than because of the uneasy interaction of the chorizo with the rest of my meal.
I regret to say that it wasn’t the hottest meal I’ve ever had—I’ve eaten in some Indian and Thai restaurants that produced the full cold-sweat, white-faced, ear-ringing effect and last night I only got the sweat part. But to be fair I chose three- and four-bomb food (the scale tops out at seven with the famous Pasta from Hell). It was certainly the best-tasting hot-food meal I’ve ever had.
Tin Man was on fire yesterday. Point one: catching the great CNN headline, “Public Split on Whether Bush is a Divider.” Point two: pointing me to Andrew Sullivan’s fisking of William Safire’s editorial taking Kerry to task over calling out Mary Cheney. This is what I wanted to write on Monday and couldn’t pull it together.
But the best is his memory of the 1992 election. Like Tin Man, this was the first election in which I voted for president. I don’t remember as much about that election; if memory serves I was overloaded with classes and not watching a lot of television, but I shared the sense of excitement that things were going to be different. I didn’t know how different at that point.
Today I’m starting, for the first time since the DNC, to feel the stirrings of that hope again. Hope for a day where we govern the “reality based” world and not the world our fundamentalist leader would like to live in. Where we prosecute Ken Lay, not Martha Stewart; go after the radically decentralized and stateless Al Qaeda first and tackle its state sponsors (if any) second; where we don’t cynically underfund vote-getting mandates like “No Child Left Behind,” AIDS money for Africa, and body armor, VA hospitals, and salaries for the troops that fight our wars. Where the Attorney General and the President uphold the Constitution. T minus two weeks and counting.
The Sox are fighting to the finish. A comment on Dave’s “philosophy” of the Sox: yes, the Curse is an important part of the team’s psyche, but so, right now, is trying hard (and thanks for the kind words about games 4 and 6), and once in a blue moon it pays off. Like being the only team to force a Game 7 after being 0–3 in a seven-game series. Nice writing about the game at Eric Wilbur’s “blog” (a column by any other name) at Boston.com. (Oh, and confidential to David Ellis: Nyaah nyaah.)