Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Tasting

I thought a nice idea for a series of posts would be commenting on the occasional bottle of bourbon or Scotch I purchase. While I have several "go-to" favorites, I do like trying new things. Unfortunately, there is a risk of hating something new. And that would be a real shame because trying something new can cost $40. My best example of this happened when my wife and I were in Napa. After taking the tour of the Mondavi vineyards there is a tasting. The tasting starts with bottle that retail in the $12 to $15 range and ends with a bottle with a suggested price tag of $125. I thought the $125 dollar bottle sucked. The only thing that would be worse than buying that bottle of wine and being pissed about wasting $125 would be buying that bottle of wine in a restaurant for $250.

Back to the current tasting. One of my favorite liquor stores in Albany is Empire Wines.They have a nice selection of wines as well as a very nice shelf of bourbon I have been working my way across. On a recent trip, there were several new arrivals including the bottle I bought. The brand name is Hirsch and there were three Hirsch offerings in three different price ranges. Two of the price ranges were out of my league for a fifth of anything until after I win the lottery. The third level was just under $30. Here's a shot of the bottle:

Enough blabbing, let's have a taste......It's just so-so. Lot of caramel in the aroma but the bourbon is pretty harsh. Drinkable, but nothing special. No age on the bottle, but it is clearly young. Placing two bottles priced well over $100 next to a $30 bottle with the same name is a good marketing move. But I don't think I'll be buying this one again.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Summer in February

It looks like a lot of people end up here look for a "55 gallon drum BBQ pit." I use a 55 gallon drum to burn logs to coals before using them in a pit. Here is a link to the nicest 55 gallon drum BBQ pit I have seen.

This post is not exactly timely. But as I have said in the past, I am more of a blog follower than a blog creator. Every year in the middle of February (usually near Valentine's Day), a bunch of family gets together at my in-laws to have a meal full of foods you find at a summer picnic. This year's menu included (but wasn't limited to) ribs, sausage, pierogi, deviled eggs, potato salad, a huge green salad and way too many desserts. It's is always a good time that unfortunately is not sanctioned by any cardiologists.

Here are some pictures of the BBQ pit where I cooked the ribs and homemade Italian sausage. It is nothing more than a bunch of concrete blocks with a old commercial oven grate as a rack. I love cooking with it. The pit has a sister with a view of the Sacandaga Lake. I'll post a picture of that this summer.

A scrap piece of sheet metal is the lid. Wood gets burned down to coals in a 55 gallon drum that has been slightly modified. There is a rebar grid at the lower rib in the barrel. The wood burns on top of the grid and when coals get small enough they fall through to the bottom. Using the little door and a shovel, the coals make their way into the pit as needed. It is pretty much an over-sized charcoal chimney. The door also controls the air flow. With a lot of wood and that little door wide open, the barrel looks like a jet engine. In the winter, I set up a grate in the pit for the coals. If they are not elevated, the heat of the coals melt the frost and the water puts out the embers. Ask me how I know.

I cooked three racks of ribs that sat in a rub over night. There was also about 4 pounds of sausage.

Like the amateur blogger I am, I went and ate instead of taking pictures of the food for a post. I'll try to remember next time. Last picture. Here's a view of the pit from the other side. The cow in the back thought I was nuts.