Tag Archives: beer

Sunday Read: What your beer says about your politics

I am posting this for two reasons: it generated quite some commentary and banter on my Facebook wall, and I have not seen it pop up elsewhere on blogs.

Reid Wilson of the GovBeat blog on the Washington Post had some help crunching the numbers of a National Media Research Planning and Placement survey regarding consumers in the US. While Wilson’s article focuses on beer, the graphic attached to the article actually shows wine and spirits as well, and that is what piqued my interest. The premise is that people in the survey indicated their political views and whether they voted. Since it was a consumer survey, they also reported their favorite kind of booze…and that is where it got interesting:

What’s your booze and politics chart (click for larger version)

This is my personal analysis: My favorite hard liquor is Gin (=Democrat, high turnout), my second favorite is Bourbon (=Republican, slightly less high turnout). While I drink Miller High Life at times (low turnout Democrat), my usual is Miller Lite (middle turnout Republican) – my go to, PBR, does not appear. Some of my favorite reds are Pinot noir (=just a little Republican, high turnout), but I also like Sauvignon blanc (insanely high Democratic turnout). Riesling does NOT even appear in the list. Looks like I’m quite the split personality.

Most of all, I am not surprised that Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay drinkers are all Republicans…that might say more about Republicans than anything else…you know where I stand on those two grapes…

Happy Sunday, and where do you stand?

Reid Wilson: What your beer says about your politics 

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Some random thoughts on alcohol in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia

 

Check out these cheap wines in clearance.

Disclaimer: I entered into a tentative agreement with the online wine retailer Wine Chateau under which they sponsor two of my posts per month. Wine Chateau has no influence on the topic I select for the post or its content. Opinions expressed are all mine.

Nina and I have been traveling in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia for about 6 weeks now. We are currently on one of the islands of Ko Samui, Ko Phangang or Ko Tao in the Gulf of Thailand. We are feeling the exhaustion of 6 weeks on the road, thousands of kilometers travelled on poor roads in sleeper busses (with beds!), normal day busses of all ages and makes, minivans and trains as well as on foot. Being in a totally different place every three to four days is very taxing. We have made many experiences, but I want to focus on wine for a bit, in line with my blog…this post will actually not be about wine very much, simply because of the circumstances in these three countries.

In all three countries, beer seems to reign supreme: most of you probably know the Thai megabrands of Chang and Singha. In Laos, Lao Beer dominates the market, with a Leo here and there and Nongkham, which I enjoyed most. In Cambodia, the national champion is Angkor, but there is also Cambodia  Beer and Kingdom…the latest newcomer is apparently “Ganz Berg”, a beer that advertises as “German Premium Beer”, yet I have no clue what it is, and its advertised website is not active.

Finding wine can be difficult, and if you find it it is clearly a luxury product that is heavily taxed. In the wine market, Chile, Australia and France seem to dominate. That is a bit odd, if you try to pair them with local foods, which should be rather difficult. But on second thought, wine is usually consumed with Western foods, not local foods, thus further making it difficult for wine to be embraced and incorporated into local culture. The only wine “product” we have tried so far was “Spy”, a wine cooler produced by a Thai company. They come in the craziest colors and flavors, the best having been the shiny blue “Kamikaze” which tasted like lemonade. Still kind of depressing…

There are developments and changes, but it is happening slowly. In Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand, wine buffets are apparently all the rage. We saw several places offering pretty much an all you can drink buffet which, however, was limited to their housewine only, lasting for two to three hours each night and costing around $10. Which tempted us, but somehow it never happened due to other plans. As I mentioned a while ago, there are also wineries in Thailand now, and I will have the good fortune of visiting the well renown GranMonte estate before we leave Thailand. I will definitely write about that visit in the future…

Globalization is taking hold more and more. Besides the different global wine countries present, we have been able to find German Franziskaner Weissbier (a German wheat beer Nina likes) and our beloved Savanna Dry (a South African cide), just to name a few.

This is my last post from our trip and I want to close with some random impressions:

  • The soft drink Fanta comes in all sorts of flavors and colors. We saw: red (strawberry), pink (lychee), green (tastes like chewing gum), purple (grape), blue (no clue).

  • Easily the best and most affordable food of the three countries is available in Thailand.

  • Chiang Mai rightly lays claim to a great coffee culture, Pakse in southern Laos tries but doesn’t deliver.

  • Lao kids are the best.

  • After traveling in Laos, Cambodia seems like a rich country. After entering Thailand, Cambodia seems like a poor country.
  • We had the best French baguette of our whole trip on Koh Samui, in a bakery run by a young Frenchman from Marseille. Divine.

  • You will find most French tourists in Laos and on the southern Thai islands. Most Dutch tourists by far are concentrated in Cambodia.

  • Upon return to the US we will have to buy a wok, so Nina can make use of the Thai cooking school skills she acquired. Also, we will need a professional blender, so she can make her beloved banana shakes.

  • There are more 7/11s in Thailand than in Canada.

  • Lay’s produces an insane variety of potato chips, from Nori Seaweed flavor to lobster or “American cheesy paprika” or shrimp ginger curry flavor to Sweet Basil Chili (our favorite).

  • Visit Laos sooner rather than later. It is rapidly developing and I fear might lose some of its charm in the near future.

  • After a few weeks, haggling becomes exhausting.

  • Pyjamas are an acceptable piece of clothing for women in Cambodia.
  • Showers are often just attached to the bathroom wall without seperating structures, so your toilet seat is frequently wet.

  • Quail eggs are an everyday staple in Thailand. You can buy 10 fried quail eggs as a snack at street vendors for $1.

  • McDonalds, Burger King and KFC in Thailand offer delivery services.

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Erica Vitkin: Is Ignorance Bliss?

Somewhere, beyond the Sea

Somewhere, beyond the Sea

This is the seventh installment in my guest blogger series “Somewhere, Beyond the Sea”. For this post, I asked the lovely and talented (gave that right back!) Erica Vitkin to contribute something. I had to make a trade with her (yes, she is that kind of a person), so the bread rant I wrote in June was directly attributable to her. Erica’s blog, Now Entering Flavor Country, is an awesome resource for interesting recipes, often with a twist (she published a recipe for zucchini jam the other day!), and general tomfoolery. I love her writing style, which is easy to read, entertaining and doesn’t shy away from making fun of herself. But most of all, I am super glad that I have had the chance to meet Erica and spend time with her in person. She is as awesome as her blog. Thank you, Erica!

Is Ignorance Bliss?

I have a high opinion of myself when it comes to the indulgent arts of food and beer. I have a lot of knowledge, and I have a lot of enjoyment. However, does this knowledge hinder me from other enjoyments? Let me back up…

I was talking with a friend and fellow blogger, Lindsay from The Daily Sampler, and the topic of Sommeliers came up. Obviously if you’ve achieved the title of Sommelier you have spent lots of time (years!) studying and learning about the intricacies, subtleties, ins and outs, and culture of wine. She said “I wonder if all that knowledge would make you enjoy wine less” and that statement has been haunting me ever since. Even the other night, my boyfriend and I were sharing a bottle of red wine, and upon my first few sips I affirmed my enjoyment of our selection. He just replied “yeah, I like this too, but I don’t know if this is ‘good’ wine”, which of course just took me right back to Lindsay’s comment.

I began my study of the alcoholic arts as a wine gal. The more I learned about the fermented grape juice, the more excited I got. Oak aged? Buttery notes emerge. Hard frost? Wonderful ice wines. Swirl the glass? Awake the esters and take in the aromatics! Even the pageantry of wine service at a restaurant: I. Loved. It. All.

A similar thing happened to me a few years ago with beer, and now I (unfortunately) cannot deny I am a total beer snob. Just the other day I bailed on friends I had plans with because the bar they were at had a crappy tap line up and I didn’t want to drink swill (ughhh do you hate me yet? That statement just made me hate myself).

So what does all this mean?

Many people take on knowledge of food, beer, wine, whiskey, cheese, or any other foodie-esque topic much like a hobby, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, does this wealth of knowledge tip the scales too far to allow oneself to just “let go” and enjoy what’s in front of you.

Years ago there was a delightful show called Penn & Teller: Bullshit where they would devote an entire episode looking into modern-day “bullshit topics” such as lie detectors, circumcision or astrology. One of my all-time favorite episodes featured organic food. There is a segment where they do a blind taste test at a Farmer’s Market to see if people could taste the difference between organic and non-organic produce. Check out the clip here and fast forward to 11:20 (or feel free to watch the whole thing, it’s super entertaining).

Notice how disgusted the guinea pigs are when they find out they chose the non-organic tomato as the tastier option. Why, their palates have been trained and tweaked to the utmost superiority to know the difference between a pure virgin tomato and a filthy pesticide-pumped harlot (sidenote: I always thought it was spelled “harlett”…who knew).

If we all think back to the first time we tried beer or wine or coffee or even cigarettes (c’mon, it’s a college right of passage), they were T-E-R-R-I-B-L-E. So total ignorance isn’t the answer.

What I love about all this food/drink culture is the knowledge, the history, the traditions, and the science behind it. All those little tricks to keep your produce lasting longer (always take your tomatoes out of plastic bags immediately!) I truly enjoy learning about. However, I can’t help but cringe when I’m eating a sandwich topped with sliced tomatoes purchased at Kroger in August, when I know a much MUCH superior product was waiting for me in the aisles of the Farmer’s Market. The truth? They might taste just the same—the Kroger tomato may even be better—but I’ve been trained in such a way that I’ll always have those thoughts.

I know that you should never drink beer from a “chilled” glass because micro ice crystals form on the sides, and they create extra friction when the beer is poured, yielding a too-frothy head. It also chills the brew down so much that you can’t really taste anything (but I suppose if you’re drinking Labatt or Coors there’s not much to taste to begin with, ba-zing). When I see a bartender grabbing a glass out of a freezer, I practically jump over the bar to say “no please! Just a normal glass or the bottle will do!” I then proceed to judge the establishment for the remainder of my stay, and everyone around me who is sipping their sub-zero sauce. Damn you brain, why must you ruin another evening out!

So what is the answer? Does a magical equilibrium of just enough knowledge actually exist to allow for the utmost enjoyment of your culinary/boozy bounty? Maybe it’s rooted in the person, and not the knowledge. Perhaps if I didn’t start off as such a blowhard I wouldn’t be as inclined to judge the lesser products so harshly.

But then again, we’re all hypocrites, aren’t we? If I could afford to shop at the Farmer’s Market for everything I would, but I’m at least 1 more educational degree away from that reality. No matter what, I love a glass of Ben Marco Malbec or a pint of Brewery Vivant Zaison, but nothing beats an ice-cold can of Bud Light Lime when you’re drinkin’ outside…

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