02.22.16: the vibe, barçelona

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once in a super blood moon, you’ll find someone that is as broken as you, probably more…someone that is going to lead you down a path of a thousand tiny cuts.  and with that, i present to you our first ever guest editorial at fernet love….

What does Fernet taste like for me?

I believe that alcohol contains the context of the place in which it was first consumed.  Budweiser will always force me into recalling the hot, dry summer nights of Utah.  Even when Bud is über cold I am plunged into that place where I am clandestinely sipping St. Louis urine at a flaccid 97 degrees.  Needless to say I grimace when someone I truly like hands me a Budweiser, takes an intense drag of their own, looks at me and says, “God, nothing like a Bud on a day like today.”  They are sincere.  I am not as I take a meek geisha sip and respond with a hearty, “Fuck yeah brah!”

Let’s get to Fernet.  I first consumed this beautiful liquor while in the mountain town of Verbier.  My friends were hurtling towards near death ecstasy from shots that reflected an 80s fashion sensibility. That edge was not appealing to me, so my friend, the most complete drunk known to humanity, suggested that I have some Fernet with a bit o’ ginger.  Good GOD I love that man and his Norwegian abilities.  I tasted Denmark.  Yes, Denmark.  I tasted Europe.  I tasted Lakerol.  I tasted Montana mornings.  I tasted the camaraderie of your group swaying in unison against the bar.  I felt my friend becoming more lucid the more that he drank.  I tasted bitterness hiding in the reflection of sweet.

When I taste Fernet I am first taken to that holy of places, fond memory.  I can’t hear anything for the briefest of moments.  I am momentarily taken to the mountain citadel.

Okay, Fernet raw.  Room temperature.  No ice.  No mixer.  There is a distinct sharpness coming from this stuff.  Not sweet.  Not sweet, but then there is an aftertaste that lingers.  It reminds me of… There is a warmth to Fernet.

What does Fernet smell like?  God, I don’t want to say it, but it smells like fermented molasses.  That smell is not the taste though.  There are surprises in that taste.  Initially harsh like Grandma’s or Amy’s cough syrup, but without that cloying sweetness.  It lacks saccharine.  This initial taste is but a door barring the pedantic from entry.  Jesus, the finish is smooth.  It is the best parts childhood.  It is a smile thrown your way with the summer sun gleefully blinding you, haloing her face.  Fernet finishes with that moment that you fell in love.

Much better to draw

what have you done to me
i only want to fall asleep

 

 

 

12.26.15: coquine, portland

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this dinner somehow was years in the making. but how did we get there?

act 1: two southern belles head south in the summer of 2011 to escape the dredges of love & marriage.  one packs her bike with plans to summit the ever-allusive hill of anne amie vineyards.  does she make it?  YES. SHE. DID, and refreshing glasses of pinot blanc await her at the finish line, served by none other than wine steward extraordinaire, ksandek podbielski.

act 2: after a fabulous 2015 fall ride through the appalachian foothills, we settle down for the customary, yet always extraordinary, feast that ensues.  after repeated trips to the bbq tent for burnt-ends and wine-filled cheeks, the party winds down.  then out of nowhere, someone starts playing spoons…fitting for a country shindig, even more appropriate because it was none other than the master of ceremonies/components guru himself, mr. chris king.

now step right up to my time machine and we arrive four months later at coquine, the latest james beard-nominated shining star in the portland culinary scene.  with chris as my crewmate and ksandek steering the ship, we headed into pleasant waters, with delectable dishes and expertly-selected wine pairings drifting into port, one after another.  and the last farewell?  a dark and rich gingerbread loaf light as a feather but dense enough to anchor us home.

the blacker the bread, the sweeter the bite

the blacker the bread, the sweeter the bite

11.22.15: jarrbarr, downtown

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it wasn’t until recently, while watching a seahawks game with friends, that i learned that yellow line in a football game wasn’t a real line after all.  fast forward a couple years when my bbf (read: best boy-friend) secured tickets to the hawks/49-ers game.  first thing first, i proceeded to procure the proper game attire; in this case, the evrgrn crash sack. if a sleeping bag and a snuggie had a baby, well this is it.  needless to say, the hawks won (i’m fairly certain my sleeping bag coat had everything to do with it), and the next order of business was to find a suitable venue to keep us entertained while we escaped gridlock of post-game traffic. after a stint of indecisiveness, we stumbled upon then 12 day-old (coincidence??) jarrbar.  built for the casual barfly and industry folk alike, it features tins of tapas and a curated cocktail list (jarrbar drinks!) the norteño, with smokey mezcal and jalapeño, was the perfect sipper to keep me cozy. and let’s face it, nothing raises the temperature like a long leg stretched out on the bar…iberian that is.  the view behind the bar wasn’t too shabby either, especially in my crash sack.

LA --> SEA

LA –> SEA

11.18.15: mattei’s tavern, los olivos

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it was the best of times, it was the worst of times…charles dickens couldn’t have known that those words would apply not only to the french revolution but also to a digital age over 150 years later (maybe that’s why it’s arguably the best selling book of all time.)  by way of illustration, let’s take my now expired stint at the great empire – it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…and it was ultimately time to close this chapter of my life and start a new one.  by invitation from an old acquaintance, i headed down for some r&r in santa barbara where i hiked waterfalls, biked wine trails, and of course consumed enough calories to more than make up for the efforts.  mattei’s is one such purveyor set in an quaint 1886 stage coach stop.  most noteworthy was the roasted bone marrow – conjuring memories of st. john (*note to other marrow makers – *always* garnish with parsley and picked onions!), but there’s more folks…HASHBROWN accompaniment!  gone are the days of toasted baguette, fried potato is where it’s at.

 mattei 7:14: For the plate is small and the nome is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who deny it

mattei 7:14: For the plate is small and the bone is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who deny it

11.07.15: herb & bitter public house, capitol hill

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i have a basic rule: try everything twice.  however, twice sometimes just isn’t enough, especially when it comes to matters of the heart.  i’ve always been quick to judge, often opting for sparkle (read: shiny boy toy) over box turtle (the safe, stable bet) but upon urging from a friend, i opted to try again. drinks topped our agenda at herb & bitter, and the waiter described something like a blood & sand, with the cherry heering swapped out for a foam of éphémère cherry. whaaaa? so here’s the buzzkill…they don’t carry éphémère cherry anymore.  womp womp. there were however promises made and the gauntlet was thrown: the cocktail would be crafted if i produced the prize ingredient.  challenge accepted…next date denied.

10th time’s a charm?

04.19.14: rumba, capitol hill

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not since the sad departure of naga has seattle experienced such a strong showing of tiki drinks.  how appropriate, as the go-to liquor for said libations is rum (or should i say rhum), and there’s plenty of it at rumba (60+!)  i have to admit, it wasn’t an affinity for cocktail umbrellas that initially drew me here, but rather a tip-off from none other than yelp seattle’s community manager. you see, i’m part and parcel to publicans on my payroll, and i’ll follow david nelson‘s blood and sands to the end of the earth. however, start playing the name-your-own-cocktail game, and david might just start regaling stories of patrons past ordering cockeyed concoctions such as matt damon’s tearshow do you like them apples?

matt damon’s tears

 

04.12.14: pourhouse, vancouver

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bartenders sporting vests.  sure, it’s a little cliche but there’s something to be said about a uniform. after all, there’s a sizable market for schoolgirl fetishes, but alas i digress. perhaps the draw of uniforms is the predictability in a world so full of fucked-up surprises. or maybe it’s become a way to combat the ever-growing frumpiness plaguing our society. either way, i’m all for it when it comes to dapper eye candy concocting tasty libations for me; such is the case at pourhouse, a gastown icon when it comes to classic cocktails.  but even beyond the vintage decor and those magical little glasses served from the bar handcrafted of reclaimed douglas fir is the perfect bite (or 5)-  it’s the gastropub stable of the scotch egg, a soft boiled egg swaddled in fennel sausage.  and if that wasn’t already enough, then BREAD IT and FRY IT.  i could definitely have eaten enough of those to send myself to the poorhouse, but at least i was left with something to write home about.

cocktail she wrote

03.14.14: the yard cafe, greenwood

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fresh off a trip from the old empire, it was time to reintroduce myself to seattle and single-dom, a double ‘s’ threat as frightening as the schutzstaffel.  equipped with the latest in euro-hosiery, i crashed some friends’ oyster eats and soon ended up in one of said friend’s newly relocated neighbourhood of greenwood.  a microcosm much like west seattle or georgetown where us ausländers (read: eastsiders) dont hear much about, greenwood offers up its own local hangouts like the yard cafe – part mexican, part dive, very much frat-boy meets brunch bar. i can’t remember what caused me to ask, but upon inquiring about the origin of their bitters, the response was “the bitters factory”.  at first taken aback, i realized i had it coming…i mean, i’m in a place that smells like industrial cleaner and tortas.  valuable lesson of the night?  don’t ask questions when the answer won’t change the outcome.

my milkshake brings all the boys to the yard

my milkshake brings all the boys to the yard

03.07.14: donau, vienna

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after a long, hard, poke-my-eyes-out-after-18-jetlagged-hours-of-sleep-across-5-days sort of week, it was time to rally and make the last night count in vienna.  and that means euro dance party.  i had queried the locals in the office that day of to find out the hot spots, but all signs lead to big box discotheques with lines and cover charges.  time for plan b and thanks to tmobile’s amazingly free international data plan in conjunction with yelp wien, <insert 10 minutes of confusion and broken english at a nearby hostel> we found our way to a dark alley with an unmarked door.  what was within was more than we could ever have wished for: euro trance meets williamsburg hipster, complete with a hot dog stand and fernet.  we danced our asses off amongst the college clientele and being that it was our last night in vienna, it was all par for the course digging around at the bottom of our purses for the last of our euros…ah to be 20-something again.

fables and fernet

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