Friday, October 30, 2009

Two Parts Rye's Barcelona Adventure Part 3: Food and Beer and What to See

You've been back a week.  This is taking forever!  I know.  I'm just getting writer's block with this travel stuff.

Why don't you use your normal format where you interview yourself?  Works for me.
And me!

What's the "gotta do" stuff:  La Rambla is the big tourist trap street.  If it was not for the Mercat St Josep (aka , La Boqueria) and the fact that it borders the Barri Gotic, which is way cooler spot for shopping than La Rambla itself, I would say skip it.  However, the market is awesome.

In Barcelona, all of the little piggies go to the market.

Go to Bar Clemen's in the back and get an anchovy sandwich and a beer for breakfast.

Anchovy ewww?  While it was salty and fishy, it's nothing like the gross pizza that your weird uncle likes to eat.

How's the spanish beer?  Estrella Damm is the most popular beer in Barcelona.  It's a really nice refreshing pilsner.  Grade: B.  Damm-Lemon is 40% lemonade. I loved it. Grade: B.  I tried several others and I found them all to be too malty and sweet.  Voll Damm Double Malta, Moritz, San Miguel, and Xibeca all get a C-.

Didn't Three Sheets do a Barcelona episode?  They sure did and you can see it here.  Thanks to the show I went to El Vaso del Oro which is a tapas bar that makes their own german style beers.  They have 3 types of beer and I wanted to try them all.  This is where the language barrier gets difficult.  The default beer that they are going to hand you is the pilsner.  Trying to communicate that I wanted to try all of their beers was a challenge.

El Vaso del Oro Pilsner: B
Stout: C tastes like a sweeter maltier guinness.
50/50: C+

The tapas was excellent.  We ate there twice.  I had a kabob that had sausage, roasted pepper, and grilled pork.  Pimientos del padron, which are roasted peppers.  They look like jalapeno, but they are quite mild and sweet.  Blood sausage.  It was pretty good, kind of an all-spice flavor.  Cold herbed, buttery potatoes that were great and maybe the best tapas dish that we had.  Which is odd to say because cold potatoes do not sound that exciting, they just tasted that good.  My only complaint is that all of the locals throw their dirty napkins on the floor.  It seems to be the common way to get rid of your trash at a tapas joint.

El Vaso Del Oro!  Where you can be served by Captain Stubing

What was your favorite Sangria? Sangria Cava, which is basically Cava (spanish sparking wine) and orange fanta.  Probably some liquor in there too.  Not bad.  Got it at the beach.

Didn't you tease something called Capi Pati in the intro?  Yep, I had that at another micro-brewery called La Cervesera Artesana.  This was by far my favorite meal.  It's calves head and tripe.

Did you find that out before or after you ate it?  Before.  It was the best beef noodle soup that I have had, except those weren't noodles.  This is also the one time where the fact that I speak french came in handy. It's odd, I had to go to Spain to remember all of the french that I had forgotten.  For the most part, it does you no good.  One of the younger bartenders spoke some french too and it was nice to be able to communicate for a change.  My only complaint about the bar is smoking is allowed and you will come home smelling like an ashtray.

How were the beers?  They had 4 on tap that day.  I tried 3, skipping the stout.

Iberian Pale Ale:  It's a nice pale ale.  Much more mild than the american style that I'm used to.  Grade: B
Bronze Ale:  It's ok.  Didn't blow me away, but not bad.  C+
Honey Ale:  One of the best tasting beers that I have ever had in my life.  It had a nice fruity flavor.  Grade: A.

Any other good places to eat?  La Cerveceria Catalana is another nice tapas bar in the Gracia area.  Rias de Galicia is an excellent, but very pricey seafood restaurant not too far from the fountains.

What are the must see sites:  I already talked about the fountains and La Boqueria.  La Sangrada Famlia is Gaudi's epic cathedral that is still a work in progress.  The gothic quarter is a great place to roam around.  Cool shops, great gelato and several cool cathedrals to check out.  Museu Nacional D'art de Catalunya is a good museum, especially on a rainy day.  Museu d'Historia de la Ciutat is cool because you can walk around some unearthed Roman ruins.  Always splurge for the audio devices when you do these tours.

Anything to avoid like the plague?  The olympic stadium.  There are about 500 stadiums in the US that are more impressive.  I have to say that I did not get to go to a FC Barcelona game and regret it.  Their stadium looks kick ass and it would be cool to soak in the rabid euro soccer-houligan atmosphere.  El Poble, otherwise known as the spanish village is a lame version of La Rambla that you actually have to pay to get into, plus the crappy souvenirs are more expensive.

Wrap it up.  I'd say that Barcelona is a 4 day city.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Two Parts Rye Observations: NFL Weeks 6-7

In the last 4 years, I have travelled to Europe 3 times during football season.  Twice for work, most recently for fun.  Two things always happen when I go across the pond.
  1. OSU loses a game that they have no business losing.
  2. I miss a Steelers-Browns game.
One awesome side-effect from travelling to Spain.  For the next 4-5 days, you wake up every morning at 4 am.  Awesome.  Early Sunday morning I watched the Steelers beat the Brownies.  Gotta love the DVR.  Don't love 5 Turnovers in a row at the end of the 3rd quarter.  That's some quality football right there.

The Vikings game was weird.  We won, so can't complain too much.  It was just odd to watch Minnisota drive down the field only to cough it up and Pitt takes it back for a score.  Twice.  I think the old man at the bar who, we will call buzz-kill, kind of ruined the end for me.

Folks, if you're going to a bar on NFL Sunday, you are going to hear some swearing.  Buzz-kill complained about my language because there were children and a lady present.  His son was cool and apologized for him, but I still had to have a quiet conversation with him.

Me:  I don't want to offend you, but you are at a bar.
Buzz Kill:  You don't have to use the F-word.
Me:  Actually, yes I do.

Don't blame me for my language.  Blame Polamalu for leaving Sydney Rice wide open on 3rd and 18.  What the fuck was that?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Two Parts Rye's Barcelona Adventure Part 2: Sangria and unexpected coolness.

Intro can be found here.

Part 1 can be found here.

The impetus for this trip was a weekend work conference for Mrs. Rye that we extended into a long vacation.  Come Friday evening Barcelona time, our first day there, I had been up for 30 hours and wanted to sleep for about 14.  Mrs Rye was heading back to the conference for dinner and badgered me until I got up.  The following picture does not do the crowd justice.  I took it the following evening.  Imagine all of these stairs jam packed full of people.

Mrs. Rye asked me what I was going to do?  I'm heading up the hill to see what's up.  I make my way up the first flight of stairs and see a bocadillo stand.  I ask for a chorizo sandwich (in Barcelona, chorizo is salami, not sausage) and a sangria.  The lady says to me, this is a 1/2 liter, only 1.  Obviously she does not know that she's talking to the scribe of Two Parts Rye, the world famous drinking sight.  Señorita please.

I'm standing around, munching on my sandwich and all of a sudden Ode to Joy is vibrating through the air.  I turn around and this happens.

Pretty cool.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Two Parts Rye's Barcelona Adventure Part 1: What you need to know.

In the intro, I teased about bandits trying to steal our luggage.  We took the train from the airport and switched to the metro in town to get to our hotel.  With the exception of this event, I have to say that their metro system is excellent.  A couple of jackasses tried to pull the "walk in before you, and then turn around and rush you" trick.  Mrs. Rye entered first and they had her pinned pretty good in the train doorway.  I pushed my way through one of them and he made a move for my suitcase, couldn't get it and kept going.  His buddy followed him out.  In the train, we looked at each other and said, "Those assholes just tried to rob us."  So unless you are travelling light, splurge for the cab fair.

Language: They speak Catalan, not Spanish.  From a writing standpoint, Catalan looks a lot like Spanish, except they replace random consonants with the letter "X".  The only words that you really need are "bocadillo" (sandwich) and "cervesa" (beer).  With these two words, and the ability to point at what you want, you can not only survive, you can thrive.

If you are young and in love:  You must make out like there is no tomorrow in the metro.  This is a federal law.  Break it at your own risk.

Most cerveseria's have mulitple size drafts for their beers:  This in and of itself is not unusual.  I just don't understand why some places gave me the big glass, and others, the kiddie size.  If anyone knows the etiquette behind this, please post a comment.

Do you remember those old Visa Olympic commercials?  They're still true, most businesses don't take mastercard.  The vast majority of businesses don't even take credit at all.  My American Airlines Mastercard got me a "free" round trip flight, but damn, I only got to use it 3 times in a week.  Bring Euro's.  Lots of them.

There are asian girls available for a massage if you are sunbathing:  I was just passing by.  Pretty sure that there are no "happy endings".

Turn signals do not mean what you think that they mean:  They either mean "I have made a turn in the past and would like to share the joy of it with you." or "I am planning on turning sometime before I die, but not right now."

Some dude named Gaudi was pretty important:  I have never seen a large city that was so indebted to one architect.  His work is everywhere.  The most famous of which is La Sangrada Familia which is still under construction 80 or so years after his death.  Supposedly, it will be done in 20 years.  By the sounds of things, the tallest point will be about twice as tall as the current structure.  Gaudi is a bit gaudy.

Parts of the city plain old stink:  Lot's of dogs.  Most people pick up after them, but the smell lingers.  We did see an old man pissing on a bush, and this was on a major road.

Kids have no respect for history: Graffiti is everywhere and it's heartbreaking.

Beautiful, right?


The Two Parts Rye's Barcelona Adventure: Introduction

Barcelona, land of history, endless tapas, 5 cerveserias per city block, dog feces and old men urinating in the bushes.  Join us to find out if the bandits got our luggage?  What sites are worth your money and time?  What in the world is Capi Pati and would you eat if you knew?  And where you can find one of the best beers I have ever tasted.  I'll also review every mass market spanish beer that I could get my hands on.  (Preview, most are bad.)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tales from the top shelf: Remy Martin XO

Premiere Cru Grande Champagne Cognac

Web stuff:  Rémy Martin XO Premier Cru is the Exclusive XO - exclusively from the Grande Champagne, the most prestigious cru of Cognac, exclusively available in Duty Free. It's on my vacation to do list.

Its Grande Champagne eaux-de-vie makes XO Premier Cru a fine blend offering strength, intensity and elegance Floral aromas of jasmine and violet are joined by tobacco and leather spicy notes and plum fruit aromas.
How does it really taste?  It starts off with a cinnamony oaky taste and finishes with a lingering flavor of dates.  There's top shelf, this is TOP SHELF.
Cost: The best price that I found was $115 on American Airlines in-flight duty free "shop".
Grade: A
Cost Adjusted Grade: A Yep, it's worth it.  This is actually a bargain.  Lesser XO Cognac from Remy is typically $130-150 in the liquor store.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Two Parts Wry Observations NFL Week 5: Who dey?

  • Brace yourself Columbus, 50k "Life-long Bengal" fans are going to crawl out from under some rocks.
  • On the 3rd day, Urban Meyer went to the tomb and found the stone rolled away.
  • Last year I stopped watching all college and NFL studio shows.  My life is better for it.  If I ever want to hear from 5 assholes again, I'll go to the circus and fart in the hall of mirrors.
  • Ben Roethlisberger is on track to pass for 4704 yards this season.  He's completing 73.8% of his passes which is even better than the great Peyton, and he has a passer rating over 100.  He's still no Carson Palmer.
  • I saw someone wearing a $275 "authentic" Brady Quinn Jersey at BW's.  Poor dumb bastard.  I have a Hines Ward "authentic" that I bought in Nashville last year.  Pretty Sure that "It fell off the back of a truck."  Needless to say, I got it at an 82% discount.
  • Hmm Hah, the Titans have not won a game since stomping on the Terrible Towel.  Coincidence?
  • The Steelers D isn't the only one slipping.  Talking to you Ravens.

That's how you put your Foote down.

Sierra Nevada 13th Release Harvest Wet Hop Ale

Web Stuff: Created in 1996, Harvest Ale features Cascade and Centennial hops from the Yakima Valley in Eastern Washington. These hops are harvested and shipped as “wet” un-dried hops—the same day they are picked—to our brewery in Chico where our brewers eagerly wait to get them into the brew kettle while their oils and resins are still at their peak.

What do you taste?  The labels says "unmatched aromatics of pine and citrus with layers of spicy-sweet notes that hop fanatics like us dream of all year."  First of all, Columbus Brewing Company's Bodhi double IPA is the most aromatic beer that I've had to date and I'll let you know if I find one that matches or passes it.  All beer labels are prone to hyperbole, so we'll move on.  It's pretty good but not great.  Lots of hops of course.  The aftertaste is bitter and lingers a little too long.  The natural thing to do is to compare it to the Southern Hemisphere Harvest Ale from this spring.  There's no comparison, the Southern Hemisphere Ale blows it away.  If you can still find it, grab it.  It's a great beer.

Cost: $4.99 for 24 oz.
Grade: B
Cost Adjusted Grade: B

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Bell's Java Stout

Speaking of things that will make you puke.

Web stuff:  The satisfying elements of both stout and coffee come together in this full-bodied treat. A marriage of Sumatra's best with rich chocolate and roasted malt provides for a truly enlightening beer.

Reality check:  Bullshit! I had this at a tasting.  Thank god that I only had to choke down one ounce of this swill.  If you would like to recreate the experience at home.  Take some used coffee grounds.  Poor beer over it.

Cost: $15.99 a six pack!  You're welcome.
Grade: F
Cost Adjusted Grade: Z

Friday, October 9, 2009

Don't try this at home, seriously, don't.

The wife, (she hates that phrase) made a pie last weekend that called for half a can of evaporated milk.  What to with the other half?

Make a 10,000 calorie cocktail.

1/2 can of evaporated milk
1 shot of Old Overholt
1/2 shot of Cointreau
1 shot of Sweet Lucy (which I will get around to reviewing one of these days)

As you can tell, I just added liquor to the glass until I decided that it tasted ... ok.  And .... it ain't half bad.  I imagine that 3 of these would kill you.  We'll call it "The Big Snack."

The original "Big Snack"

I have to go puke now.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

New Layout

Seeing how it's 2009, I expect most folks have a 16x9 monitor, instead of 4x3.  The old template manged to be cluttered while wasting a lot of screen space.
This new template looks great at my house, but I don't know how it looks elsewhere.  Let me know if you hate it.

I haven't done a wine review in a month.

La Grange de Piaugier Côtes du Rhône 2007

It's a traditional french wine.  No web site, no extra info on the label.  In the US, we're used to seeing the grape variatal instead of the region.  Some research has led me to believe that the grape in this wine is granache.  I like my granache to be a bit more lighter than this wine.

That's fascinating, what does it taste like?  A little bit of berry, not too much tannin.  Kind of earthy.  The sophisticated palate appreciates a glass of dirt.  This is better known as terroir.

Cost: $12.99
Grade: C+
Cost Adjusted Grade: B-

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Tales from the top shelf: Talisker

The only single malt scotch whisky from the Isle of Skye.

Label stuff: From the western shores of the Isle of Skye, in the tall shadows of Cuilin hills, comes a single malt like no other.  Drink in all the rich golden drama of a Skye sunset in thie alluring, sweet full-bodied spirit with a warming afterglow, so easy to enjoy yet, like Skye itself, so hard to leave.  Looks like someone didn't make it as a romance novelist and had to settle for marketing.  Seriously, am I supposed to drink it or make love to it?

How does it taste?  I find that eating spicy food before sampling Scotch helps to negate the "old shoe" flavor.  It is sweet in the beginning, with some oak in the middle, and old shoes in the finish.  If you like peat, it's a whisky for you.

Cost:  Approximately $50
Grade: B+
Cost Adjusted Grade: B

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tales from the top shelf: The Yamazaki Single Malt Whisky 10 Years

I will be heading abroad for vacation in the near future and I am looking forward to making exciting purchases at the duty free shops.  Therefore, I need to clear out all of the bottles on the top shelf that are almost empty.

What the heck is the Yamazaki?

Here's the deal.  It's Scotch.  But, it's not Scotch because it's made in Japan.  It tastes just like The Macallan, which is a complement.  It's the 1980's Honda of booze.  It's got some barley sweetness with just a hint of peat.

You can tell that they want you to think that it is Scotch, because it is "single malt whisky", not whiskey.  Which is the equivalent of it's a kilt, not a skirt.

Cost: £20 at the Stanstead Airport duty free in 2007.
Grade: B
Cost Adjusted Grade: A

Monday, October 5, 2009

Two Parts Wry Observations, NFL Week 4, NCAA Week 5, A Whale's Vagina Edition

Here we go:
  • Looks like Ohio State is once again king turd on top of shit mountain.
  • Even if he gets his wins back from the NCAA, Bobby Bowden will never catch Joe Pa.
  • Notre Dame could easily be 1-4.  That is the worst tackling team in the history of football.
  • Five minutes left in the Michigan State v Michigan game, Spartie up by 14.  I can mow my lawn.  Later I see that they won in overtime.  Spartie tried to be Spartie.
  • I don't think that there is a dominant team in College football this year.  Maybe Texas.
  • The San Diego Chargers are the Virginia Tech of the NFL.  Every year, people think that they are a pre-season darling.  Every year, they get exposed.
  • Buckeye Hatin' Chris said it right.  Bellicheck loaned Tomlin his balls this week.  Going for it on 4 and inches on your own 30 in the second quarter.  Nice!
  • The Bronco's may be for real.  The cowboys definitely are not.
  • There is a distinct odor of poo coming from Nashville, and I'm not talking about Vanderbilt. Time to start Vince Young.  Whether he is good or bad, you can decide your future.
  • Does anyone want to play the Saints right now?  Did you ever think that you would hear anyone say that?
  • If you ever get into trouble, call Tony Dungy, apparently all sins are forgivenGood person, but c'mon.  First Vick and now Lagarette Blount.  Bye the way, nice punch.

The Steeler Drinking Game rules have been updated and made more optimistic.  They can be found in the last widget on the right.  Nothing like an ass-kicking to make you feel better.  The unofficial tally (I was drinking) for this week is:
  • 2 McNutty's
  • 5 "Hold!"s
  • 1 Poop Shoot.
  • 13 pump fakes.  I know that I lost count on that one.
  • Your friend!  8 catches, 2 drops.
  • 8 Miller Times
  • 5 Swaggins. 
  • 4 Softee D's
  • 2 Head & Shoulders
  • 2 Gay Plays of the Day

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Tastes like triple sec

I thought that I'd take some 375 ml bottle of liqueurs for a taste test, before investing in the big bottle.  Last week I bought Patrón Citrónage, my first thought was, wow, tastes like triple sec.  What a rip off.  This week I bought Cointreau, and my first thought was, wow, tastes like triple sec.  What a rip off.

Dekuyper Triple Sec costs $10 for 750 ml.
Patró Citrónage costs $15 for 375 ml.
Cointreau costs $20 for 375 ml.

So, let's be fair and do a head-to-head-to-head taste test.  Straight up, and in a margarita.  A more comprehensive review of orange liqueurs can be found at Oh Gosh!

Triple Sec straight up:  Very sweet with a mild orange flavor.  The sweetness is thick and I would be surprised if it is not made with corn syrup.  Not what you'd call an elite product.  But, hey, it's a mixer.

Citrónage straight up: The orange flavor is lighter, and the liquid is not quite as thick on the tongue.  It's actually more sugary than triple sec.  If I didn't know better, I'd think that it's the cheaper product.  But, hey, it's a mixer.

Cointreau straight up:  This one actually has a bitterness to go along with the sweetness, kind of like they used some of the rind in the extract.  It's more complex, but less pleasant straight up.  But, hey, it's a mixer. 

Margarita time!  The recipe is going to be 2 shots tequila, 1 shot orange liqueur, 1/2 shot of fresh lime juice.  Shaken on the rocks.  I'm going to use Sauza Hornitos Anejo tequila.  It's very oaky and I want to see how the sweet flavors interact with it.  It's the only tequila that I currently have so I don't really have much of a choice.  FYI, the Sauza Hornitos Reposada is a great house tequila.

Triple Sec Margarita:  The first thing that you notice is that a properly made margarita is not the sugar bomb that you are used to getting at a restaurant.  The lime is strong but not puckeringly strong.  The tequila is really mellowed out and I only slightly taste the oak.  The triple sec flat out disappears.

Citrónage Margarita:  This is better.  The lime is a bit more muted and I get a hint of orange.  Perhaps the fact that it's tequila based helps with the interaction.  I could actually get used to this.

Cointreau Margarita: I kind of like it.  I can get the orange on the tip of my tongue and the lime on the sides.  There is an oaky aftertaste from the tequila and the bitterness from the Cointreau.

The verdict:  I have to admit that I am surprised.  While the more expensive orange liqueurs are not impressive when you try them straight up, they perform admirably in a cocktail.  Keep in mind that this type of margarita is not a sweet drink.  If you use a mix or concentrated juices to make it sweet, stick with triple sec.  Citrónage won this challenge, though Cointreau was not far behind.  The triple sec version was frankly not good.  In the future, we'll see who wins in a sidecar, Corpse reviver # 2, or a man-o-war.  By the way, I was using a 3/4 size shot glass to measure, so I'm not totally plastered.  Still, for me this has been a lot of sugar.  I need a beer.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Session #32: The Nation to the East

This is my first session post.  For my regular readers (4 is plural) this will probably be unfamiliar.  It's basically a monthly theme for beer bloggers.  This month's session is hosted by girl likes beer.  The theme is the "nation to the east".

The nation directly to the east of Columbus is the Steeler Nation.  But a review of IC Lite will quickly get me shunned by the other beer bloggers.  The next country over is Portugal, no Portuguese Beers available.  Next up Spain, well Estrella Damm is a damned nice beer, but I want something more exotic.  So I'm going so far east that it is really west.  Japan.  Showing the country's flag was part of the requirements.  Kampai!

Web stuff: Hitachino Nest Red Rice Ale

Complex sake like flavors not really with malt sweet notes. yes! Hints of strawberries yes, though I would not have thought of it without the suggestion in the nose and palate. An intriguing mix of sake, malt ,and bitter notes in the finish.

Available both in Japan and U.S.A.
Malts: Pilsner, Flaked Barley
Original Gravity: 1070
Alcohol Vol: 7.0%
IBU: 11
Color: Hazy Pink  It is pinkish.

What does it really taste like? You know what, it does kinda taste like strawberries. With yeast.
Cost: $4.29 for a 11.2 oz bottle
Grade: B-
Cost Adjusted Grade: C+

They used make a sake cask aged beer that was really good but hard to find. The label looked just like the one above, except that it was green, not pink.  They also have a ginger flavored beer that is ummmmm.... an acquired taste that I have not acquired.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Two Parts Wry Observations NFL Week 4 Preview, Steelers Drinking Game

These things tend to evolve over time so expect updates to the rules from Time To Time.
  1. One person is designated as the McNutty.  If you have a girls cowboy hat available, the McNutty should wear it.  Every time Ben gets sacked, the McNutty gets to hand out 9 drinks and designates someone else to be the McNutty.
  2. The Harrisson hold rule.  If James Harrisson gets held, everyone must yell "Hold!"  The last person to yell drinks.  If a flag is thrown, no one drinks.
  3. The poop shoot rule.  Drink once for every penalty called on Willie Colon.
  4. Throw the damn ball rule.  Drink once for every time Ben pump fakes.  This should average 3 drinks per pass play.
  5. Hands of stone rule.  Drink twice for every time Ike Taylor drops an easy interception.  Drink 3 times if he catches it.
  6. The stop being a pussy rule.  Drink 3 times when the Steelers attempt a field goal from inside the 10 yard line.  5 times from inside the 5.  Finish your drink if it's from the 1 yard line.
  7. The slow developing run play rule.  Drink everytime the backside linebacker or end goes unblocked and blows up Parker/Mendenhall/Moore in the backfield.
  8. The 86 rule.  Drink everytime Hines lights someone up.
  9. The softee-D rule.  Drink when our db's give a 10 yard cushion allowing an easy completion.
  10. The Troy rules.  Drink every time Polamalu overruns a tackle and whiffs.  When injured, drink each time TV shows him on the sideline while the defense is getting picked apart.  Drink every time you feel uncomfortable while watching his Head & Shoulders commercials.