What Should My Next Recipe Post Be?

I’ve been doing Twitter polls for the last couple of months to decide the order of my recipe posts. All four recipes eventually get posted; the poll only helps me decide the order. If you’d like to vote, please click on this link; pictures of all four candidates are in the next tweet in the thread. I’m only going to go by the results of the Twitter poll because it’s easier to keep track of that way, but you can ask for more information on the dishes here. However, the poll will close at 10.15 am CST tomorrow so you’ll need to respond relatively quickly.


Coming Soon…

Even though I tell myself every year that I won’t do it, I invariably find myself going in on bottle splits of K&L’s annual year-end parcel of single malt exclusives. My shares of their 2020 exclusives—many of them casks of teaspooned malts—got to me in mid-January and I expect I will review them all over the next month or two or three. Half of them are in the list of potential reviews for this month and the rest will show up next month, whether I get to all of these this month or no. I’ll also be rolling out a very special review feature for those K&L casks—but more on that later this week. On the food front I think I’m going to take a break from the biweekly Indian restaurant review for a few weeks. This month will probably see more Southeast Asian food and a return to St. Paul for Ethiopian and/or barbecue. Oh, and I think I’ll finally put up the next installment of my wrap-up of writing on Indian food. As for cooking, if you’re on Twitter you may want to look out for my next poll later this week to determine the order of the next four recipes. Continue reading

The Only People Who Truly Appreciate Me

I’ve been writing this blog for almost eight years now. But what have I got for it? Very little. You fuckers have been taking me for granted. I try to put some light into the world and all I get is complaints, threats of lawsuits or just plain indifference. I don’t know why I go on. Actually, that’s not true. I do know why I go on. It’s because there is one group of people who really, completely get me. They understand the value of my work; they offer sharp critique from time to time; and they also offer many products that help—so I am told—with issues of virility, hair-loss and acquisition of female Russian friends. I am referring, of course, to my spammers. I too have been guilty of taking them for granted. No more! While I will be keeping their product offers to myself, I do want to share with you some of the lovely comments they have left for me in just the last week or two. Read them all—you too might learn to value me as you should! Continue reading

Lagavulin Distillers Edition Change?

Here’s a quick question about a bottle I opened last night: the 2020 release of the Lagavulin Distillers Edition. I didn’t pay close attention at purchase and assumed it was, like all previous releases of the Lagavulin Distillers Edtion, 16 years old. That is to say that it was—as it used to be—the Lagavulin 16 + a few months extra maturation in PX sherry casks. See, for example the three I’ve previously reviewed: the 1991-2007, the 1993-2009 and the 1997-2013; but it’s not just mine: all the listings on Whiskybase for releases prior to 2020 have the same 16 year gap between distillation and release. However, this label lists a 2005 distillation before bottling in 2020. There doesn’t appear to have been a change in the nature of the double maturation—the box still notes that PX sherry casks are used. So why this change? Is this a one-off due to insufficient stocks from 2004? Or is the Lagavulin Distillers Edition going to be younger going forward? For that matter, I suppose, there may have been changes in the ages of Diageo’s other Distillers Editions as well—I confess I haven’t tracked them. If you know more about this please write in to the comments below. Continue reading

Coming Soon…

In my look back yesterday to 2020 on the blog I noted that there were no whisky reviews among the top 30 most viewed posts of the year. Yet more confirmation surely that at this point far more people are coming here for posts on food than for whisky reviews. Nonetheless, I still think of the blog as a whisky blog first and foremost. And so, as I noted yesterday, there will continue to be three whisky/booze reviews a week as I approach the end of the eighth year of the blog. And, as always, you can help me narrow down the list of likely reviews by nominating to the shortlist for January those on the long list below that catch your eye. There are a few that are almost certainly going to be posted—though I haven’t taken notes on them yet—but mostly it’s an open book at this point. Continue reading

Looking Back at 2020 on the Blog

Happy New Year to you all. I hope everyone had a safely podded or distanced passage from 2020 to 2021. And, of course, I hope 2021 will not be like 2020 for too long. Among our New Year’s Day rituals is the eating of tteokguk (the Korean rice cake soup) and dumplings. The making of these is the missus’ department—I participate heavily in the eating—which means I have time this morning for my own annual ritual gazing at my navel or my look back at the past year on the blog.

I have to confess that when the stay at home orders started back in March I wasn’t sure that the blog was going to continue for very much longer. I had a few weeks worth of whisky reviews lined up but I wasn’t sure I’d be able to muster the motivation to keep going once those ran out—and it didn’t seem there’d be any reviews possible of restaurant meals. Of course, as invariably happens, sticking with routines turned out to be a way of managing the uncertain. Continue reading

Coming Soon…

Just another month of this so-called year. Well, at least December is off to a less stressful start than November. Which is not to say, of course, that we are at risk of complacency. Things are not so great in Minnesota on the Covid front. We are trying our best to stay as locked down as we can. I hope things are better where you are and that you too are managing to stay safe without going too crazy. Well, on the blog, at least, the year will end as it began: three whisky reviews, one restaurant/takeout report and a recipe each week. And occasionally an extra food-related post. On that last front I’ll soon be posting a follow-up to my annotated list of regional Indian cookbooks. I’ll also soon have another roundup of recent’ish writing on South Asian food. And if I can find some time I might even get to some of the other stuff I threatened back in August. In the meantime, I invite you, as always, to let me know in the comments if anything is of particular interest to you in the long list of potential reviews below. Continue reading

Your Five Favourite Distilleries?

Happy Turkey Day to those of you who mark it. For us it’s going to be our first Thanksgiving by just ourselves in more than 15 years—for the boys, their first Thanksgiving with only the family. We’ll miss the usual, excessive gathering we host every year with friends who haven’t gone out of town but we look forward to doing it again next year when, hopefully, all of this will be behind us. As I’ve been gearing up all week for the smaller Thanksgiving lunch I’m going to be making in the morning, I don’t have the usual Thursday recipe post. Instead, I have something for my beleaguered whisky readership—or at least for what remains of it. It’s a simple question: which are your five favorite distilleries?

This question arises out of a brief conversation I had earlier this week on Twitter about Springbank. As I waxed enthusiastic about that great distillery which has always been in my top 5 (I think so anyway), I began to wonder how I’d round out the rest of my top five these days. Continue reading

Coming Soon…

Well, one of the most consequential weeks in recent US history is upon us. I am guardedly optimistic that this Tuesday will go better than the one four years ago but I am also steeling myself for the worst. The reports of what may be in store if Trump and Co. win another four years are alarming enough but it will all pale, I’m sure, in comparison with what will actually happen if another four years of this shit come to pass. I mean, I thought after the last election that the next four years were going to be bad but I didn’t realize just how bad they’d be. This time I’m a citizen and will be casting my first-ever vote in a governmental election (I never did in India before leaving in my early-20s). I hope the rest of you who are citizens are planning to vote too—if you haven’t already. And I hope all our votes will be counted. Continue reading

Does Anyone Still Read Whisky Blogs?

I usually post a recipe on Thursday. I will have a recipe this week—I’ll post it on Saturday, probably. Today I have a post for the people who are not here primarily for the food, and it’s a simple question: do you still read whisky blogs?

I obviously don’t mean the question literally. If you’re reading this you’re reading a whisky blog (though for a couple of years now this has been a whisky and food blog). The better, though less catchy, question is really, how has your relationship with whisky blogs changed over the last few years? I’ll lead things off by answering for myself, both as a whisky blogger and as a reader of whisky blogs; then a poll or five; and finally, an invitation to respond more fully in the comments. Continue reading

Coming Soon…

September was a busy but unusual month on the blog. A lot of readers but not seemingly always reading what people mostly seem to come here to read. The most read post, you see, was an entry from my food poetry series that petered out in the spring; “At the Lahore Karhai“. Usually, my posts about anything literary compete with my jam recipes and reviews of Japanese whiskies for the fewest possible readers. But it turns out this post on the Imtiaz Dharker poem has picked up a lot of views since the summer. Why this should be so, I don’t know. I should be happy, of course: I like the poem a lot and if my post is getting more people into reading Dharker, then great. The literature professor part of me worries though that the post may perhaps be being used as a crib by students somewhere. Is this poem often assigned at school in the UK? It wouldn’t surprise me if that’s the case. At any rate, if you are one of the people who has been reading my thoughts on that poem do write in in the comments on that post. Continue reading

Coming Soon…

Onward into autumn and September. The busy season at work starts up again in the middle of the month. I’m teaching online again this term but that amounts to more work than teaching in person. The missus is teaching online too and the boys are going to be at home as well—we passed on the in-person school option for them. Hopefully, we won’t go crazy and hopefully, our little town will not be hit too hard by the fact that both the local colleges are bringing all or most of their students back to town from all over the country and the world. Let’s see how it goes,

In the meantime the blog will carry on as normal with the usual complement of booze reviews and takeout meal reports. I’ll also be filing regular entries in my new series, Bombay Cinema: A Rough Guide. If time permits I hope to get another longer piece on Indian food started and finished as well. The experiment with ads on the blog will continue as well for now. The gap between page views and ad impressions suggests most of my readers have ad blockers on but the ads still generated enough money to cover August’s hosting costs. Ads should no longer be appearing inline in posts—hopefully those of you who’ve turned off your ad blockers are not finding the ads to be too disruptive. Do let me know if that proves to be the case. Continue reading

Ads on the Blog: A Request for Feedback

As you may have seen if you don’t have an ad-blocker enabled on your browser, at the end of July I suddenly enabled ads on this blog. The idea is to see if the ads can generate enough money to pay for (most of) the costs of hosting the site without becoming an irritant to readers. I use the WordAds service from WordPress.com and from the blog dashboard it appeared that I had a fair bit of control over where the ads appeared: only in the sidebar and at the bottom of blog pages but not blog posts. However, it appears that in addition to these locations WordPress randomly inserts ads between paragraphs on some posts. I seem to see these only on Firefox and on my phone and never on Chrome for the Mac. I’ve no idea how consistent this is. WordPress tells me that I can request to have this “feature” turned off. Before I do so I thought I would check with readers to see what your take on all this is. So if you wouldn’t mind terribly, please take 30 seconds to respond to the following polls. Thanks! Continue reading

Coming Soon…

I think it might be August. There will once again be a number of booze reviews, three a week, mostly whisky. I do have a few more rums and brandies listed than usual so if you’re looking for a malternative month on My Annoying Opinions this is your opportunity to get at least half a month out of it. (As always, I invite your nominations from things to promote from the long list of potential reviews below to the shortlist). There will also continue to be a couple of food posts per week. My pandemic takeout reviews from the Twin Cities metro will continue (we’re not eating in anywhere till at least the end of the year, probably) and I’ll post a recipe most every week. I hope to also finally post my last report from our Calcutta trip and my last report from Delhi from the winter. And I may also have a fresh annoyance for the food media in the form of yet another piece on writing about Indian food. On the non booze and food front, I’m also planning to start a regular series of capsule reviews of Bombay films; and I’d like to revive my literary posts from the spring. Let’s see how these big plans go. Continue reading

Coming Soon…

Another month of barely leaving the house behind us, another about to begin: good times! In keeping with the unchanging nature of our days here is the latest evidence of the unchanging nature of this blog. I will once again offer you three booze reviews a week, along with at least one restaurant review and one recipe. And possibly the occasional post on books and movies. And if I can be arsed to do it I may become the 543rd person on the internet to offer a take on Padma Lakshmi’s new Hulu show, Taste the Nation, which I was looking forward to but found extremely disappointing.

By “restaurant review” above I mean takeout reviews. I do still have a few reports from our India trip remaining that were of actual meals eaten in actual restaurants but there will be no dine-in reports from Minnesota for a long time. The state has allowed restaurants to re-open with social distancing but it’s going to be takeout-only for us for a while. Anyway, here is the usual long list of potential booze reviews. If there’s anything that catches your eye please nominate it to the shortlist in the comments below. Continue reading

Coming Soon…

Just when it seemed things couldn’t get any worse, here we are. Both my countries continue to plumb the depths of their foundational pathologies. In India Kashmir continues under a repressive and brutal lockdown, while the ruling BJP takes advantage of the pandemic to crush political dissent elsewhere in the country as well. In the US the march of fascism gets more open and confident every week, seemingly. And last week the Minneapolis Police Department re-confirmed what should need no re-confirmation: the enduring—because foundational—racism of American society, and the particular inequities and contempt faced by black Americans, 155 years after the end of the Civil War. There seems to be no end to the shit coming relentlessly down the pike, no sign of hope convincing enough to believe in. And here I am blogging about whisky and food. Continue reading

Coming Soon…

April is in the bag—I think. Another month looms and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be very different from the one ending. Minnesota’s “stay at home” order will continue for another two weeks but it’s hard to see how we’ll be returning to anything resembling “normalcy” after that. On the home/work front we’ve been doing four simultaneous Zoom sessions most days and that’s going to continue through May as the kids’ school and our colleges are all staying online. The question right now is what the fall term will look like, for us and for all the people who work at schools and colleges with less security than we are privileged to enjoy.

Those questions are also looming large over the industries whose products I cover on the blog: spirits and food. In all the talk about social distancing and industrial workplaces I haven’t heard too much about what is happening at distilleries. People are certainly drinking more at home but what is going on with employees at distilleries, distributors, importers, stores? Is production being/going to be affected? Casualties in the restaurant world have begun to pile up. The Bachelor Farmer is the most prominent Twin Cities restaurant so far to announce that they will not be re-opening at all. Other smaller restaurants have closed too and I’m sure many others will as well. Will our favourite places survive? Will the industry—farming/food production, distribution, retail, restaurants, bars, food media etc—be able to remake itself to be more equitable and sustainable? Will any of the political and economic transformations that will be necessary to allow all of that actually happen? I hope so but I am not confident. Continue reading