Thursday, August 22, 2002
SENSORY OVERLOAD...Infomercials have taken over the airwaves. I love that word, infomercial. There may come a time (sooner than later) when every image we see will contain some form of advertisement. There''s gonna be hell to pay some day for the deadening of our society''s senses.
We all get led around like schools of fish by the incessant carpetbombardment of images and stimuli hypnotizing us into buying this or that. I was watching a show about Shanghai, and how rapidly its culture is being transformed. There was an interview with a young Chinese scholar against a backdrop of a KFC storefront and Coca Cola sign. Five thousand years of tradition obliterated in one generation.
It''s funny how seductive and deadly the pursuit of pleasurable sensation can be. A little salt sprinkled on food brings out the food''s inherent flavor. Gradually, over time, if the amount of salt is steadily increased, even very slightly, the food''s flavors are supplanted by the salt''s. Eventually, only salt do we seek (as Yoda might say). The same applies to all our senses. A little stimulation is good. Too much becomes deadly.
Obviously, since the purveyors of sensory stimulation-high-powered advertising firms, drug cartels (both licit and illicit), Hollywood, giant food monopolies-refuse to take responsibility for their own behavior, it is up to each of us to exhibit enough self control to resist becoming a junky. A difficult but worthwhile task. Be strong. Show resolve. Control yourself-we''ve already got too much government interference where it doesn''t belong, and not enough where it does.
PINOT AT TALBOTT...Which brings me to one of the more wonderful sensory stimulators, wine. Talbott Vineyards, longtime leader with its Sleepy Hollow Chardonnay, has expanded its Kali Hart brand to include a Pinot Noir. The just released little gem proves a worthy companion to the Kali Hart Chardonnay, which is always a great, inexpensive bottle of Carmel Valley wine. The 2000 Kali Hart Pinot Noir is made with 100% Sleepy Hollow fruit from old, Martini clone vines and aged for 10 months in French Oak. It exhibits tart, ripe cherry flavors with tea accents, good acidity and supple tannins. It''s a fine example of varietally correct Pinot that is very versatile as an accompaniment to almost any food. Way to go Talbott.
NEW VALLEY LABEL...Speaking of Pinot Noir, my man Ross Allen, one of the good guys, has just released his own label called Tres. This Pinot, made with fruit from Gary''s Vineyard (one of the great sources) is beautifully made, in an elegant, fruit driven style, with bright, fresh sweet cherry flavors, lovely balance and a delicious long finish. The name Tres (which means three) derives from the collaborative effort of three friends, Ross, William Ray and Scott Flint (the winemaker). The handsome, rustic looking label depicts three pine cones (tres pinots), symbolizing the three partners. Very cool. The wine should be appearing in better stores and restaurants right now so check it out.
MEXICAN IN PG...Ate lunch at Michael''s Grill and Taqueria the other day. Sweet Thing has been telling me about it for a while, how the guy who owns it, Jose Barajas, is such a good guy and how the place only uses fresh ingredients without lard or other unhealthy stuff. It''s tucked into the corner of that shopping center on Forest and David, in Pacific Grove-the one with the Albertson''s. The Mexican style food is good, fresh and honest. In fact, the whole philosophy is honest, which is an honestly refreshing breath of fresh air.
There are little sayings written throughout the store that show a sense of humor. For example, the sign outside that reads: "Hours: from when we''re ready to when we''re tired, or usually..." then it posts the hours. It''s a very casual lunch and dinner joint-no frills, kind of like fast food with substance, heart and a bit of style. But, like the slogan at Michael''s says, "If it ain''t good enough for Mama, it ain''t good enough for you." Check it out.
GOING CRAZY OVER YOU...Absinthe is making a comeback. Absinthe is a highly alcoholic (around 150 proof) beverage that was very popular in France and Europe back in the days of Van Gogh. It contains Wormwood, a plant that yields a bitter tasting, dark green oil with supposed hallucinogenic qualities, which led to its being banned. Well, lo and behold, examples of genuine Absinthe are popping up from France, Spain, Czechoslovakia and Switzerland. It has a beautiful, green-jewel like color, a slight sweet fennel flavor, with an appealing bitter finish, like a fine liqueur from France or Italy (or so I''ve been told). A little different form of sensory stimulation worth trying, but not overdoing.
Catch you next time.
-Drink with Ray at firstname.lastname@example.org