Leaving Soon…

Queen
No, not the blog. Though I’m still not posting as much as was previously normal, and I’m not sure when I will be, the blog is not going anywhere. I am though. I am off to London in the middle of the month and will be there for a decent chunk of time on work. The trip will culminate—or so is the plan anyway—with a 10-day jaunt up to Scotland. The plan originally had been to take advantage of cheaper continental travel within Europe and go to Italy or France or Spain or the Netherlands, but if you are an Indian citizen living in Minnesota, getting a Schengen visa is a huge pain in the ass. So Scotland it is and it’s not just a consolation prize. I am telling you all this in order that I may ask for your input on a few things, some whisky-related, some food-related, and some Scotland-related. If you think you are in a position to answer these questions, read on!  Continue reading

Coming Soon: A Shift in Focus

The Enigma of Arrival
[This post started out as the (overly-long) introduction to a review I posted yesterday of Nawal, a Somali restaurant in Burnsville, MN. So as to let that review stand on its own, I’ve split the part about my current shift in focus on the blog to this separate post.]

In the days after the US General Election I published a post titled “Lifestyle Blogging in Trump’s America?“. In it I noted the incongruity of blogging about whisky and food in a time when the confirmation and acceleration of political and social crisis seemed to be all around us. I concluded by saying that while it was necessary to move (further) into political action, it was also important to not let these dark developments make us foreclose on the possibility of pleasure. Well, two and a half months later I’m still refusing to foreclose on pleasure but, especially after the events of the last 10 days,  I am not feeling terribly motivated these days to sit down every night and write tasting notes on whisky (or brandy or rum).  Continue reading

Coming Soon…

Khakhar
Yesterday’s post
purported to look back to the year in whisky in 2016. I have to admit that not all of it was serious—I mean, I still don’t really know how to pronounce “Glenglassaugh”. Here now is a far more sincere look-ahead to January on the blog. As always, I welcome nominations from my long list of potential whisky reviews to a shortlist. I’ll probably also get back to reviewing brandies this month. I have a number of interesting samples in hand: some Calvados, some Armagnac, a Cognac or two, and even an Italian brandy. And I may also post my first-ever rum reviews this month. On the food front, I still have a few reports to come from our trip to Montreal in late October. Those will be mixed in with reports from the Twin Cities. And after a few months off, I’ll be posting recipes again this month.

Check out the whisky list below and, if you’re interested, scroll down to the end for a look at the most read posts on the blog in 2016. Thanks for reading along last year and I hope you’ll be back this year and maybe even post a comment from time to time.  Continue reading

Coming Soon…

man_on_veranda
And so we’re almost at the end of another year. For one more time in 2016 here’s a look ahead to what’s coming on the blog.

I’ll be finishing up my Four Roses recipe roundup this month (only the F and K yeast strains to go) and after two editions of the Kilkerran Work in Progress in November I’m looking forward to finally tasting their regular 12 yo. Beyond that I have no fixed plans for booze reviews in December—so the long list below is more wide open to nominations than usual. I will also be trying to catch up with my back-log of restaurant write-ups: I still have one more meal to report on from our Los Angeles trip in July (!), two more from my London trip in August (!) and a few more from our trip to Montreal in October; plus I have some Twin Cities metro area eating to report on as well. This probably means there’ll be no recipes this month either.  Continue reading

Lifestyle Blogging in Trump’s America?

Moon
Blogging about whisky and food has never seemed very essential and seems pretty frivolous now. What has happened feels like terrible social death even though no one has died. The election results, and the events that have followed, have spurred me into more direct political engagement with my local community. I’ve come to feel the limits of the privilege that have allowed me to feel hitherto secure, as a brown immigrant with an accent (and these days, a beard), in the bits of America that I usually move in; and I’ve recognized the urgency of more than an intellectual acknowledgement of the situations of those who do not have the protections of that privilege. Moving forward in the world we live in now cannot be done, as I said on Thursday, in complacency or denial. As I also said on Thursday, it also should not foreclose a commitment to pleasure. Blogging about whisky and food is frivolous but I will continue to do it. It should not be read as a deferral of social engagement. Continue reading

FUCK!

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Coming Soon…

Coming Soon
Here is a look ahead to November on the blog. But first a quick look back at October. The most read reviews in October were of the Laphroaig Cairdeas 2016 and the Laphroaig Lore. Right behind them was the review of the Booker’s Small Batch. In fourth position was my recipe for Pork Pickle. After that it was three more bourbons: the Dickel 12, Booker’s Noe Secret, and the Dickel 17. Of all the other Islay whiskies I reviewed only two made it into the top 10: the Ardbeg 27, 1973 and the Caol Ila 14 Unpeated. Advice to the beginning blogger who is very interested in page views: review only bourbon and current releases. The list was rounded out by the perennially popular piece on Glendronach’s cask shenanigans (at #6) and my love letter to PentatonixContinue reading

A Worthy Cause

Greenvale Geckos
Yes, I am asking you for money. No, not for me; I’m never a worthy cause: for my children’s school. Our boys attend Greenvale Park Elementary School in Northfield, the small town in southern Minnesota where we live. It is a very good school and we couldn’t be happier about our boys being there. The school does, however, face some challenges that the other (also excellent) elementary schools in Northfield do not. It enrolls the largest number of students from low-income backgrounds (almost half the students are eligible for the free or reduced lunch program)—and this means that it faces greater fund-raising difficulties than any of the other schools do. These issues aside, the school is the most diverse institution in Northfield (both in terms of class and race)—this includes the two liberal arts colleges in town—and is a wonderful symbol of the graceful ways in which our community is slowly transforming. I am asking you to help in a small way with this with a donation to the school’s annual fund-raising campaign that ends on Tuesday. Continue reading

Coming Soon…

soldiers
Here is a snapshot of September on the blog and a quick look ahead to October.

With no recipe posts made in September, almost all of the top 10 most-read posts were spirits-related. The most read was my review of the Astor Huard Calvados—but that was probably due to the vicious behaviour in the comments by a well-known blogger who’s known for flying off the handle at the slightest provocation (you could almost hear him sniffing as he typed). Of the other brandy reviews only the Pellehaut 17 sneaked into the top 10. The Highland Park 10, the Michel Couvreur 12 for K&L, the Longrow 11 Red, the Macallan 10 Fine Oak, the Glenfarclas 35, 1968 and the Bowmore Feis Ile 2012 were the most read whisky reviews (in that order). The only restaurant review in the top 10 was that of Homi, the excellent Mexican place in St. Paul. The only non-review post of any kind to feature was the piece on Glendronach’s single cask shenanigans, a piece whose afterlife seems as endless as whisky geeks’ willingness to buy Glendronach’s “single casks”.  Continue reading

Coming Soon…

Cassatt
Last month I noted that only nine of the top 25 most viewed posts in July were whisky reviews and wondered if this meant the whisky/food balance in my core readership was shifting. The poll I conducted suggested otherwise: while there does seem to be more interest in food posts than a year ago, my audience is solidly a whisky audience. Now let’s see what the story was in August.

Well, there were six recipes, four restaurant reviews, four brandy reviews and 11 whisk(e)y reviews/posts in the top 25. The most viewed post again was a recipe (for corn salad); my review of the Laphroaig 10 CS, Batch 006 was also very popular as were my gallery of images from London whisky shops (despite only being posted two days ago this was in the top 5 for the month) and the two Armagnac reviews (Domaine de Baraillon 30 and Delord 25). So whisky in the lead again and, clubbing brandy in with it, a clearer dominance for spirits-related posts.  Continue reading

Coming Soon…

Races
Another month, another quick look forward. But first a quick look back. Just about a year ago, I had posted a poll asking for feedback on the interest of regular readers in the split whisky/food focus of the blog. That poll received a larger response than I’d expected and it was clear that my readership then was overwhelmingly whisky people. I’ll be posting another poll soon to see how things stand now. I’m curious partly on account of recent traffic patterns. WordPress.com shows only a very limited set of traffic statistics, with very little granularity, but it does give a complete list of views by post and page on a blog in a given period. I just took a look at July and found that of the 25 most viewed posts/pages (not including the home page and other index pages) only nine were whisky reviews. Of the other 16, five were restaurant reviews, five were recipes and four were Calvados reviews; a couple of non-review whisky posts rounded out the 25 (my list of “Standard Malts” and ye olde Glendronach shenanigans post). It’s true that it’s still 15/25 for whisk(e)y-related posts and that the top two posts were for whisk(e)y (Lagavulin 8 at #1 and Old Grand-Dad 114 at #2) but the numbers would tilt even more towards food if I made it a top 40 list. And most of the referral traffic I received came from various food sites and forums.

Whisk(e)y people: are you still out there?  Continue reading

Coming Soon…

Coming Soon...
This is a less fraught first post of the month. On June 1 I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to get my senses of smell and taste back, and all around me whisky bloggers were going through various existential crises. Fortunately, in the last month my nose and palate returned to normal and no more whisky bloggers, that I know of at any rate, have given up the ghost—depending, I suppose, on what you make of Sku’s new focus on doughnuts. This will be a normal July on the blog…for the most part. You can expect a bunch of whisky reviews. And as I am off to Los Angeles today for a week, you can also soon expect a number of meal reports from there. And once I’m back in my kitchen, there’ll be more recipes as well. But don’t worry, there won’t be a slew of jam recipes this year—I all but exhausted my repertoire last year.  Continue reading

Coming Soon?

The first day of the month is usually the day I look ahead to the coming month, present a long list of potential whisky reviews and ask for help shortening that list down. I can’t do that this month. This is not because I am joining the group of whisky bloggers who are reconsidering blogging about whisky (more on this below), but because I am not able to confidently predict when my nose will be back in action. If you’ve been following the blog in the last few weeks you know that my nose has been stuffed up—at first I thought it was a by-product of viral bronchitis, then I thought it was a sinus infection, now I think it might have to do with tree pollen, which there is a lot more of (by several orders of magnitude) at our new house than there was around the old. I have normal days (on one of which recent ones I wrote up the Glenfarclas 30) but they’re not followed reliably by other normal days (yesterday was off again, today seems on so far). For someone whose life revolves as much around food and drink as mine does this is a rather unnerving state of affairs and I’m in a state of ongoing low-grade panic about it.  Continue reading

Coming Soon…

Coming Soon...
Here is the customary look-ahead to the month. But first a quick look back at April.

The most read posts in April, by some margin, were two recipes (for “Palak Posole” and “Prawns of Doom“). The most read whisky reviews were whiskey reviews (of High West Bourye 2015 and the Malts of Scotland Heaven Hill Caribbean Cask, followed by my re-review of the Redbreast 12 CS). Single malt Scotch reviews only show up at the bottom of the month’s top 10 (Springbank Bourbon/Madeira and the Signatory Glenlivet 19 for Binny’s). Still in the top 10 after more than two years was my write-up of Glendronach’s single cask shenanigans (it will be interesting to see what the new ownership of the distillery will do with their single cask program) and just outside it was the Laphroaig Cairdeas 2015. I guess to chase page-views I should review more American and Irish whiskey and post even more recipes. Accordingly, I have another long list of obscure single malt Scotch whiskies this month. And there’ll also be more Twin Cities restaurant meal write-ups than I’ve had in recent months. You’re welcome.  Continue reading