Thursday, October 28, 2010


I am here today to talk about the mighty mangalista. Never heard of it? That's okay. Up until about a year ago, when I started hanging out with my extremely food-centric friends (note that I did not use the term "Foodie". Evidently that's a bad word), I hadn't either. The food folks were talking about it because it is raised specifically for its lard, and evidently tastes better than most other pigs. Now, that's saying a lot. Those that know me realize very quickly that I am a fan of all things porcine. In fact, I would have made a terrible Jewish guy- I love bacon, chops, tenderloin, belly, skin, etc, etc, etc. When I heard that there was this super-pig hailing from Hungary, I had to check it out. Then I had to eat one.
Much like the Budini, an elusive cat in the hills of Argentina, I had a hard time tracking one of these monsters down. I would hear about them popping up for a night or two at a restaurant, but by the time I got there, they had already been eaten.

What was a guy on a mission to eat a wooly pig to do?

Stumble into one.

Yesterday, I was having a "business lunch" at the Crossing. Ian, the chef there, came out and asked the magical question: "Have you all ever heard of Mangalista"?


I have!

Me! Me! Me!

Look over here!

Long story short, he served up some piggy ribeyes that were one of the best things I have eaten pig-wise in my life. The meat was tender, with just enough bite to keep it from being soggy. The flavor was amazing, as the fat on the pig is- I don't know- sort of lighter than your normal pork chop. It was freaking delicious, and worth the wait.

Should you come across a Mangalista, either on the street, or in a restaurant, grab a bottle of high acid red wine (we had a Barbaresco, and a Barolo with ours), and dig in. You'll thank me for it.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Tour de Moose, redux

This last weekend, I was invited to participate in one of the most painful, yet fun, things I have done in quite a while. There is this annual bike ride/pub crawl/benefit fund raiser that happens each year called the Tour de Moose. It is called that because the guy who sets it all up is nicknamed "Moose" I guess. Basically, about 70 riders meet at Lemmons on Gravois on a Saturday morning, and start riding their bikes. Each 3 miles or so, they stop at a watering hole for games, beer, food, contests, and the like. The entire ride took about 17 miles to complete, and hit probably 8 different establishments. The money raised went to benefit the Matthew and Andrew Akin Foundation (
My wife didn't participate, as she was worried that it would be just an insane drunken brawl of a time. Truth be told, it really isn't. Most people (yours truly included) take it easy on the drinking and eating front because you have to get back on the bike and ride more. Those of you who know me, or at least have seen me in real life, probably could guess that I'm not much of a bike guy. In fact, this ride was a tough one for me- 17 miles on a borrowed bike that didn't fit me resulted in cramped legs, and being quite "Saddle Sore". Oof.
The portion of the event that was the most interesting was the after party at Double D's on Hampton. This is a cramped, smoky, local-style bar just down the street from Record Exchange. A group of 5 of us walked in to survey the scene. What we saw was a little, well, sad. There were 6 people in the bar, and 4 of them were related to the bartender, Tom. Tom let us know in no uncertain terms that any Karaoke (which is offered on Saturday nights) would have to wait until after the Mizzou-OU game. However, his tune changed as soon as about 25 more people walked in, money in hand. The game got turned down, the karaoke got fired up, and I'm sure the Double D lounge had one of their better nights in sales for the last several months. The original 6 people at the end of the bar left.
This is all to say that the biking portion was tough, but I made several new friends and had a great time. The Mrs. was even persuaded to get up there and sing karaoke, which is something I didn't think I would ever see.
I will be Touring with Moose again.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Winery Profile- Boedecker Cellars

Every once in a while, I have to completely rely on those around me in regards to wines to bring in. Such was the case when a buddy of mine told me I had to try the wines from Boedecker Cellars. This is an urban winery in Portland that uses grapes from some of the best vineyards in Oregon to make their wines. Wine geeks will recognize that their grapes come from such vineyards as Shea, Stoller, and Carlton Hill.

The philosophy of Boedecker is simple- the husband and wife team of Stewart Boedecker and Athena Pappas each make their own Pinot bearing their name, and their own sense of style. Put simply, the wines flat out taste delicious. Besides the "Stewart" and "Athena" wines, they also make single vineyard versions of Pinot Noir, an unoaked Chardonnay called "Purity", Pinot Gris, and a line labeled "Pappas" which is their entry-level. In order to be earth-conscious, they package all of their wines in lightweight bottles, and screwcaps.

Check out the Stewart Pinot, which will retail around $30- it is fairly fruit forward, showing notes of black cherry, a touch of vanilla, and really nice cigar box aroma.

Other wines that are available in MO are the Purity Chardonnay (about $17), the Pappas Pinot (about $23), and the Pappas Pinot Gris (about $20)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Advice from Spiderman's Uncle

In the comics, Peter Parker's (Spiderman) uncle Ben said "With great power comes great responsibility". I am slowly learning this in small increments. If you follow me on Twitter, last night there was a tweet that I put out there encouraging people to read this blog today and get a negative review on a local restaurant. About 20 minutes later, I got a text from a friend that owns another establishment, encouraging me to rethink my intentions. (Yes, I got a text about a tweet that referred to my blog. Welcome to 2010!!).

I quickly thought about the implications of what I was about to do, and I decided not to review the restaurant on here. I also deleted the tweet. This was for a couple of reasons:

1) This is a wine blog, not a restaurant review site. I do this thing for free. Even though it has led to a small, paying, writing gig, I am not paid to talk about restaurants here. The intention of this blog is to inform people about beverages. Sure, I eat out a lot but I'll let the full-time critics give you their views.

2) It's not fair to the restaurant. Look folks, just because you have the ability to get onto a blog, twitter, Yelp, etc doesn't mean you should. If you are blessed, like I am, with people that actually read your words, remember that they will also listen to them. This is where Uncle Ben's words come into play. Really think about the appropriate way to discuss your experience. One option (which I will take) is to send a letter or email to the restaurant if you had a negative experience. This gives them the opportunity to respond. Trust me, restaurant owners hate Yelp. Anyone can get on there, covered by anonymity, and say just about anything they want. I don't wish ill fate onto restaurants that don't serve good product. I wish they would fix their issues and deliver food that is worth the hard-earned money that I'm paying for it, but I don't want them to go out of business.

3) I'm a food snob. There, I said it. I think that you can get a great dining experience at any price point, but you can also get pretty bad food as well. In my restaurant and wine career, I have had the opportunity to eat at some of the greatest restaurants in America. This has jaded me a little in that I'm pretty critical about anything that is put in front of me. The meal last night wasn't bad at all- I was just going to be picky about little things in it. Truth be told, most people would have probably found the meal amazing.

4) I'm trying to avoid hypocrisy. Last week, I wrote a post about how people aren't positive enough. Razing a restaurant on here would not have been positive, and would have gone against my own desires.

So, there you go. The next time you are about to flame some other business, just think first about all the people that will be involved, and the fallout that your words might have. I'm not saying not to ever bring up negative points, just do it in a manner that is fair and equitable.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wine transition days

This is a strange time of the year for most wine drinkers. Summer is officially over- most of us have put the slightly out-of-style shorts and last year's shirts in the drawer or closet until next year when they won't fit anymore. We have replaced flip flops with the shoes we originally bought to "get into shape for real this time". We have also started to replace our summer wines with fall ones. We are finally able to admit that the crisp, clean, unoaked wines that we drank all summer are starting to wear on us. We want a big, hearty glass of Cab. However, the weather just isn't cooperating. It's just too dang nice outside. This weather calls for something good, but not too serious yet.
Another hitch in the ol' gitty-up is that many restaurants are starting to roll out the fall menus. Cue just about every possible interpretation of dishes with pumpkin or butternut squash in 3, 2, 1....

Might I suggest something? We don't need to be so black-and-white in our thinking (or, red-and-white as it were). I have already expounded on the virtues of Rose' this month, but remember that they are still delicious. Quite honestly, this is the perfect time of year for lighter reds. Think things like Tempranillo, Sangiovese, Montepulciano, Pinot Noir, and dare I say even Merlot (GASP!!!). When you are eating the butternut squash soup with basil oil and some other thing that tries to make it fancy, try it with a glass of riesling or gewurtztraminer.

Or, you can always drink Champagne. Seriously. It's okay to drink Champagne on days other than Christmas, New Years, and your Anniversary. Try it, it's fun.

Whatever you do, enjoy the weather, the changing of the leaves, and football. Don't worry- a crappy, cold day that calls for the Barolo will be here soon enough.


Monday, October 4, 2010

The hot new thing...wait, what?

Being in the industry, it has been really interesting to see trends come and go. I often talk to retailers, suppliers, bartenders, GM's and waitstaff to find out what the "hot" items are at any given time. To my surprise, lately there has been one answer that has permeated the discussion. Evidently the thing to buy right now is Moscato. Yep, the slightly sweet, low alcohol, slightly sparkling stuff that normally comes from Italy.

Made from the perfume-driven Muscat Blanc a Petits Grains grape, this really seems to me to be a wine that would have been popular 20 years ago. The examples that I have tried range from just a touch sweet to almost syrupy, and have other notes of lemon peel, flowers, perfume, peaches, and green apple. A bulk of the wine that is made from this grape comes from Piedmonte, but there are delicious examples from Verona, and even from France and Australia.

To put this theory to the test, I ran an experiment with my family (yeah, I know, but hey- they got to drink out of the deal). Basically we had a large family get-together, so I put a couple different bottles of moscato on the table, as well as other various whites and a few reds. To say that the moscato was a hit is a gross understatement. Two bottles were completely gone before we even sat for dinner! The other whites barely even got touched.

So, with that in mind, get out there and celebrate this cooler weather with a bottle of wine that is easy to drink and rather refreshing.