Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Kelly - A Wine Hero

Today's Independent Weekly features a story about NC wines.  They assembled a tasting panel to blind taste NC wines and then published the comments by the group.  Kelly Skaggs is my wine critic hero.  Thank you Kelly for putting it like it is and putting it how you taste it.  Way to stand up to "wine professionals" who beat around the bush, while you get to the heart of the matter.  I wish I could have been a fly on the wall to hear you speak.  

My favorite Skaggs quote from the article, "I wouldn't drink it even drunk off my ass...Yes, it's easy to bash these things, but...people need to know, and people need...true, honest opinion. That's a crap wine, and I think people need to know honest feedback."

You can read Kelly's blog at Durham Foodie


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I like bacon and I like Bourbon - Let's try them together!

So I was watching the Food Network, and on some show they briefly mentioned a bartender that combined the great flavor of bacon with Bourbon.  I figured I'd try it since it seemed like a great thing to do.  The technique goes like this.  1. Make some crispy bacon and eat it, but reserve the warm bacon fat.  2. Pour the bacon fat into some Bourbon (I used Maker's Mark).  3. Let it come to room temperature and then refrigerate to congeal the fat, leaving the bacon flavored spirit.  All went to plan, except some of the white bacon fat was free form and floating like little white pearls of love.  I tried to filter it with a fine mesh filter but some got through.  I really didn't want to drink this fat.  So I went to the paper coffee filter method and finished with clear Bourbon.  Now it is ready to drink!   The Maker's definitely had a smoky bacon flavor which was delicious...if you really like bacon that is.  - Salamanzar

Monday, August 4, 2008

Lunch at Mez in Durham

Had lunch at Mez in Durham today. Thought I’d share the experience.  A friend had recommended we stick to the apps/small plates on the menu as the entrées still need work, so we figured it was a perfect lunch opportunity.  

If you have visited 518 West in Raleigh, the restaurant immediately makes you think of the same design. It’s the same owners, and the decor was pretty straight forward. It’s “nice.” Sort of chain looking, clean with straight lines and a carpeted dining room. There is a water wall with small pool in the back which was great entertainment for our baby.

We started with their margaritas. Fresh squeezed lime juice and made to order, they were very good. My only issue was the coarse Kosher salt on the rim that fell to the bottom, didn't dissolve and made the finish of the Margarita very salty. I couldn’t get to those last few drips of melting ice/watery margarita flavor as the drink came to an end. The wine list was not worth going into until that is greatly improved on.

The same friend recommended the guacamole. It was fine guacamole made from avocado, tomato, lime juice, etc, but nothing you haven’t had before. The chips were house made and very crispy, thin, warm and well salted. They had a great crunch and were not oily.

The next appetizer was the goat cheese/corn empañada with poblano rajas . It was very crisp and comprised of a half moon shape deep fried dough. Not like something I have had in Argentina, but very good with the tomatillo sauce beneath, these should be called Empañada Style perhaps. The slaw with a hint of fresh mint on the side was excellent. There were three half moons to an order. I’d order this again.

Next up carne asada soft tacos. These were a hit. The tortilla appeared to be hand pressed as it was doughy, soft and uneven in thickness. The meat inside was outstanding with great grilled and smokey flavors highlighted by chipotle. They were topped with fresh guacamole and very juicy with onions and tomatoes as well. Our portion had three tacos and my wife, who eats very little meat, fought me for the third taco.

We also had a child’s cheese quesadilla for our 14 month old. It was cheese and flour tortilla and she liked it. Our server said when we come back we have to try the Beef Brisket Vaquero, it was her favorite along with the Tilapia fish tacos.

Overall, a good lunch, not cheap but we went to “dine.” I’d go back, but not in a hurry to go soon. They are located just off Rt 40 on Page Road. Take a right at the end of the ramp and go to the top of the hill, on the right. Probably a good place to bring family for dinner out when those visiting are not necessarily foodies, but you don’t want to go to a chain.

Total for the meal with out tip: $54.74 -Salamanzar