This certainly appeals to my 90s-era Apple nostalgia—here’s a nice retrospective on the company’s short-lived online service, which competed with AOL. I never used it, but I certainly read about it and I remember the UI art distinctly.
I’ve liked wine for a decade or so, but it was sufficiently more confusing than beer that I never bought or drank much, and sufficiently more expensive that I didn’t bother to resolve the confusion.
But there would be occasions where I’d want a glass, or a bottle, and so I resolved to ensure my money was well spent. About a year and a half ago, Cindy and I started to work on wine in ernest—aided to a large extent by the power of always having a camera (iPhone-bound) in my pocket and the ability to archive and search the photos in Evernote.
All of that to say—the first French region we fixated on was Rhone, and it’s still my favorite. And here we have a great overview of the region, the kind of thing I really could have used when I was starting out. So I post it here.
One quibble: Mr. Lyons says that he doesn’t think the wines of the region should be over-analyzed; just enjoyed simply. I’m not quite sure if this is a sleight or a compliment. They can definitely be enjoyed, but I don’t see why they’d be any less deserving of deeper analysis and appreciation than any other region.
The link-bait headline is awful, and here I am, falling for it anyway. But why criticize that, when I can deal with the article itself? Utlimately, Ms. Sakraida points out that Amazon frequently offers music for lower prices than iTunes, the implication that anyone who pays more for the same thing must be an idiot.
There’s a couple problems here. First is the assumption that what is actually happening is paying more for the same thing. This isn’t true. The files you get from Amazon are not the same as the files you get from iTunes. Amazon sells music in mp3 format. Apple sells music in AAC format. AAC is a newer format and offers arguably better subjective quality than mp3. That’s a fine reason to prefer Apple’s product to Amazon’s. Similarly, when you buy from Amazon, you (sometimes) get the right to stream the same media from Amazon on demand via Amazon’s software; likewise, buy from Apple and you can stream (or redownload) the media from Apple via Apple software. If you like Apple’s software better than Amazon’s, that’s a good argument for paying more to buy through Apple.
Second, sometimes there are other good reasons to pay more for the same product. Sometimes the buying experience is better. Sometimes it’s about supporting a company you believe in. Sometimes it’s about making a statement about the value of things—much has been written about how Amazon’s $9.99 e-books could harm the perceived value of books; similar points can be made about how dirt-cheap apps are driving away quality developers because people now think $2.99 is too much to pay for a great piece of software.
So. people may buy from iTunes because they are getting what is (to them) a superior product, or because they believe in the value of music. I wouldn’t call those people idiots, just like I wouldn’t make blanket assertions about any of my readers being idiots1.
That’s a lie. I don’t know who all is in my audience; I’m sure there are some of you that I will, at some point, accuse en masse of being idiots. ↩
Grapes and Cheese: Mix feta cubes and green grapes (or grape tomatoes or pieces of watermelon). Add mint, salt, pepper and olive oil. A tiny bit of chopped fresh chili is good, too.
Because I lack restraint when it comes to cooking, my version of this recipe uses both grapes and watermelon with the feta, as well as taking all of Mr. Bittman’s seasoning suggestions. My formulation looks something like this:
½ watermelon, cubed
equal amount of green grapes by weight
3 or 4 jalapenõs, seeded, deveined, and diced finely2
3 or 4 oz. of feta cheese cubes, crumbles, or what-have-yous
Combine first five ingredients. Dress with olive oil, season liberally with black pepper. Salt to intensify the flavor of the watermelon, but not to the point of making it salty (try a teaspoon or two to start)—the feta will carry most of the salty flavor in this recipe. Serve cold.
This makes for a colorful, delicious summer salad, particularly for pairing with BBQ. It’s sweet, savory, spicy, and refreshingly cold. Yum.
Because you’re working with watermelon, and particularly watermelon to which you’ve added salt, the dish will graduate accumulate liquid as water is pulled from the watermelon. For this reason it’s ideal to mix the salad as close to serving time as possible, in as small a quantity as possible, and to serve with a slotted spoon.
But: when serving a large group, or transporting the salad to serve elsewhere, this may not be an option. Even if you do take care prior to serving, afterwards, when you have leftovers, the salad quickly descends into a soupy mess. But it gets worse—the sugar, salt, olive oil, and other elements in the juice begin to interact with the feta, probably denaturing some proteins and eventually making the juice take on a slimy consistency.
I recently ended up with a couple quarts of this mess. There’s no putting these particular chemical genies back in the bottle, so I figured, what the hell, let’s just finish the job and purée the crap out of this. And what can you do with a purée of fruit? Sorbet!4 I adapted this from Alton Brown’s helpful melon sorbet recipe5:
21 oz. (by weight) of the watermelon salad, puréed
Combine all ingredients, being sure the sugar dissolves completely. Chill to 32–40°F. Process into a sorbet as per your ice cream maker’s instructions.
The result was delicious—sweet and fruity, but with some added intrigue provided by the various savory elements. It also looked pretty: a nice shade of pink, flecked with green, black, and white. And this particular balanced of sugar and alcohol gave it a wonderfully soft texture with a minimum of iciness. You might try reducing the sugar a bit, as mine came out quite sweet; it could be due to using a blend of ingredients (i.e. the salad) instead of pure melon. The grape skins also produce a weird textural effect. It’s not entirely bad, but if I were serving this to particularly discriminating guests, I’d want to eliminate it. However, I couldn’t think of a good way to do so without also removing desirable solids such as feta, chile, and black pepper. So they’ll stay in unless I think of something clever.
So: a great summer salad, and the leftovers make a great summer dessert. It’s a winner all around.
Mr. Bittman’s suggestions aren’t really recipes, per se, but I actually like that. Too many people view a recipe as a law, to be followed to the letter. Recipes are ideas, and they can and should be tweaked, experimented with, and played with. By not giving recipes, Mr. Bittman encourages readers to have fun figuring out the best way to formulate these foods. ↩
Actually I’m thinking of switching to serranos, for some extra heat—if you want to try this, use about the same weight. Maybe eight or so serranos? ↩
That’s redundant, of course; there is no other kind. ↩
It might make for an interesting fruit gazpacho, too. ↩