2/27/10 – Thanks to Tom for snapping this photo.

Hats off to my friend Mr. Pratt for bringing the wine a very long way to dinner.

It was serendipity that his travels brought him to Cincinnati on the last week of February, as the final Saturday of the month is a holiday of sorts. Open That Bottle Night (OTBN) is an annual event coined a decade ago by John Brecher and Dorothy Gaiter, former wine columnists for the Wall Street Journal.

The intent of the occasion doesn’t fit neatly in a greeting card.

In Dorothy & John’s words:

This is why we invented OTBN, which is celebrated on the last Saturday of February every year. Whether it’s the only bottle in the house or one bottle among thousands, just about all of us have that very special wine that we always mean to open, but never do. On OTBN every year, thousands of bottles all over the world are released from prison and enjoyed. With them come memories of great vacations, long-lost loved ones and bittersweet moments. The whole point of our wine column is that wine is more than the liquid in the bottle. It’s about history, geography, relationships and all of the things that are really important in life.

(from Sprucing Up for Wine’s Night. 26 January, 2007)

That’s pretty kick ass. During their tenure at the WSJ they rated wines on a scale of “Yech”, “OK”, “Good”, “Very Good”, “Delicious” to “Delicious!”. That’s also kick ass.

So it was a good set-up as we met Tom & Wendy at a favorite restaurant that allowed outside beverages (see corkage).

Mr. Pratt brought the wine. Each bottle, carefully considered, was coupled with stories both dear and auspicious.

When I asked him what he thought after having a sip from the second bottle he said “ineffable.” With some shame I asked him what that meant.

“There are no words. It means it can’t be described” but he went on to mention that it had a feeling, a sort of tingling.

Great, I thought. Here I said it had the aroma of a freshly painted room—which it did—but what I didn’t say is that a freshly painted room was the smell of new beginnings! But I felt a little tingle too; and I don’t think it was from embarrassment.

Tangent? I once worked with a designer that never said anything negative when a client offered lame input. He’d simply say, “Well, that is really something!” with palpable excitement.

Luckily my friend isn’t one to mince words and he regarded the paint fume comment without visible distress. He’s also very patient.

I always thought patience was one of the most important components of wine, but this day gave me the perspective that it’s not always about waiting, it’s also about sharing the experience, and this evening was exceptional.


rhubarb, again

Starting off Sunday

As I catch up and reflect on the weekend that was, I have to admit it was pretty darn awesome. Fine weather, good eats, and a hanging with folks to round it all out.

Woke up Sunday and made a small breakfast, enjoying it out on the back patio before it got too warm under the canopy, reading the Times on our laptops.

I opted for rhubarb instead of preserves on biscuits. Doing my customary wiki’ing I found these uncited tidbits about the stalky red vegetable:

It is or was common for a crowd of extras in acting to shout the word “rhubarb” repeatedly and in an unsynchronised manner, to cause the effect of general hubbub. As a result, the word “rhubarb” sometimes is used to mean “length of superfluous text in speaking or writing”, or a general term to refer to irrelevant chatter by chorus or extra actors. The American equivalent is walla. Stage actors in the United States also use word “rhubarb” repeated asynchronously in a low or murmured tone to provide background voice ambience in crowd or party scenes. A variation of this is the repetition of the phrase “peas and carrots”
wiki : rhubarb


Previously: Not the best image, rhubarb on biscuits

Categorized as Food


I can still smell and taste everything from the awesome meal from yesterday

– Seared scallops with wasabi (appetizer)
– Roast turkey (brined and cooked perfectly from a Good Eats recipe)
– Blue cheese and bacon mashed potatoes
– Brussels sprouts with lemon
– Corn pudding
– Mulled wine cranberry sauce
– Ginger squash pie (for dessert)

Yum is not a big enough word to describe the delight.

Thank you Chris and Inger.

Categorized as Food

Bill’s Donut Shop

Centerville, Ohio

Thanks to a kind fella from the Obama campaign, we experienced the goodness that is Bill’s Donut Shop — a Dayton institution of caloric delight.

This place is the real deal. Family owned and operated since 1960. Open 24 hours a day. A counter you can belly up to. Fifty cent refills of coffee (if you have your own Bills mug). Closed between Christmas and New Years. Simple rules too: a handwritten sign says No Loitering.

Talking politics goes good with coffee, but man was it hard to make a decision about which donut to pick.

Cinnamon sugar
Sugar and powdered yeast
Powdered sugar
Caramel nut stick
Whole wheat
White iced
Cinnamon rolls
Devils food
Iced stick chocolate

Sour cream
Caramel-nut iced
Glazed twist
Cake stick
Chocolate iced
White iced stick
Colored sprinkles
Cinnamon twist
Caramel iced stick
Caramel iced
Pretzel twist
Cream filled chocolate iced
Butter twist
Jelly filled (sugar, white iced)
Custard filled (choc stick)
Persian with nuts
Choc stick w/ peanut butter fill
Powdered cream
Categorized as Food

Dancing in Yellow Springs

arms and legs

Dan I and visited a colleague and his wife up in Yellow Springs this weekend. They’re right around the three month marker as new parents.

Their son puts his whole hand in his mouth and drools a little. He’s also in the 97th percentile of tallness for his age so there is talk for a potential career in the NBA.

Somehow his parents manage to shop for groceries and combine these ingredients into a meal. It’s quite amazing really. This menu was a simple salad (lemon, garlic and olive oil dressing), arborio rice with mushrooms, local bison steaks on the grill, and a homemade lemon tart. I can still taste each course.

We went for a walk around Antioch College which is now officially closed. This would be entirely sad if it wasn’t for the local kids using the outdoor theater to plug in their amps and play music on a Saturday afternoon.

There was dancing.

Categorized as Food

Local pizza

Marion’s South

I finally stepped foot in a Marion’s Pizza last night. It’s a local pie chain in Dayton. They battle it out with a joint called Cassanos for the title of Best.

Down in Cincinnati, this crown would likely be won by LaRosas for sheer scale. Even in my home town growing up, we had two places to go out for dinner: LaRosas or Big Boy. This number of restaurants was matched by the number of stoplights.

Either here or there, I’m partial to Dewey’s myself, but I think I’m swayed by their salads.

So Marions… the pizza was better than good, atmosphere dandy, and company excellent.

Bonus: bumping into this cat and his family. They were there to celebrate his son’s birthday I do believe. I could not take my eyes off the gift on the table: a case of Star Wars figures in excellent condition, passed down through generation. This is the type of “mint in box” I place the utmost value.

Current music: Mark Mothersbaugh “Granny’s Last Solo Trip To The Grocery”

Categorized as Food

justifying Nutella

for breakfast

Ingredients easily pronounced.

Adds European flair to start of day.

Tastes good on a bagel.

Adding sliced strawberries makes it seem healthy.

Current music: Grandaddy “He’s Simple, He’s Dumb, He’s The Pilot”

Categorized as Food


On its own, the word “chew” looks kinda funny

Three years ago I wasn’t entirely displeased by the new Wrigley’s wrappers.

There’s been some more tweaking as you can see above. Juicy Fruit still flounders, Spearmint loses the minty cool tones, sharpens up—and Big Red is now, um, umber? No it’s cinnamon colored. I have no real point of reference for Winterfresh, the mountain got way smaller and the Wrigley’s brand is now the same across the line. Maybe that’s how they sold this makeover. Must. Be. Consistent.

Maybe it’s the hour or the time of year, but I don’t have any strong feelings about these changes. Just noting them because it’s a step above recording how I stayed off the snowy roads and watched TV yesterday.

Back to the candy aisle, something I do have strong feelings about is the Snickers Nut ‘n Butter Crunch. It’s like a Reese’s Pumpkin made love to a Snickers bar. They should totally move this out of Limited Edition and kill off that Almond variant. Peanut butter taste has legs I say.

Current music: Frank Zappa “I Have Been In You”

Categorized as Food

Chocolate covered potato chips

I see the white light outside, this must be heaven

If I was Oprah and had a show about my favorite things (mental note: make show about my favorite things), I would include these chocolate covered potato chips. They’re totally local with the sweet side by Esther Price and the salty bit by Mike Sells. A box of ’em will cost about 10 bucks. I grimaced at the price during checkout, but the wallet-sadness was erased when I tried one.

It could be a phase, I know.

Growing up I refused to believe there were any other salad dressing aside from Thousand Island. On the candy front I was a stalwart Snickers fan for the longest time, and before that it was likely Marathon.

But right here, right now? It’s these chips. I’m limiting intake to one a day, at most.

Current music: Bishop Allen “Click, Click, Click, Click”

Categorized as Food