Monday, August 22, 2011

Bison Country BBQ

In celebration of the end of softball season,  Jayne and I headed out together for a lunch date that was more centered on finding a good burger than finding good beer.  Lucky for us we found both.  The place was Bison Country Bar and Grill on Moody St in Waltham, MA.

The first thing I noticed as we sat down at the bar was the Clown Shoes Tramp Stamp on tap.  I'm not a huge fan of Clown Shoes beers but the fact that they were pouring Tramp Stamp instead of the more ubiquitous Clementine was a great sign.  Without even checking the rest of the beer menu I ordered one.

The bar area itself was well worn but comfortable.  It had the feel of a place that sees a lot of happy customers.    

Jayne loves Buffalo Shrimp and spotted them when she opened the menu so we ordered some for a snack while we decided on lunch.   They were good.  The shrimp were a nice size.  The sauce was generic but fine.  Like a lot of Buffalo Shrimp, presentation was kind of messy and unimpressive but overall we were both satisfied with the snack.

For lunch Jayne ordered a Buffalo cheese burger with their bacon chutney and I ordered their Fire Wings which the menu describes as "crazily hot".

Jayne loved the burger.  I had some too and it was very tasty.  I didn't try the fries but Jayne reports they were kind of soggy.

The Fire Wings were very yummy, they had lots of nice smokey, fire roasted flavor, but they were not hot.  Not the least bit hot.  The only person who would think they were hot was a person who chokes on a drop of Tabasco.   I love spicy so I was disappointed by the lack of fire but enjoyed them all the same.

For my second beer I switched over and had a bomber of Clown Shoes Lubrication.  The label, with its semi-phallic gas pump nozzle, had created a minor controversy in MA beer circles and I wanted to see what it looked like in person.  You can barely see the nozzle on the bottle.  I explained the whole thing to Jayne and she just shrugged - not impressed.

We also placed a take-out order of their 'Spicy South Carolina Wings'.  They were the same great wings as the Fire Wings but with a mustard based sauce.  Again, not spicy but very good.

All in all it was a nice time.  It wasn't perfect but it was much better than the typical chain restaurant's  corporate-mandated-mediocrity in the same price range.   Pete and Jayne approved. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

On Re-Reading 'A Song of Ice and Fire'

It's been a busy reading month.  In preparation for reading the 'A Dance of Dragons', the latest installment of George R.R. Martin's series 'A Song of Ice and Fire', I decided to re-read the previous four novels (all 3496 pages).  It had been a few years since I had read them originally and after a reviewing the plots summaries on fan site dedicated to the series I realized much of the story hadn't stuck with me.   I really enjoyed the HBO series based on the first novel as well, so it seemed like a fun project.

When I was a kid I read and read Tolkien's LOTR multiple times and the first Dune book a couple but other than that I've never been a re-reader.  In my rough calculation it's been  25 years since I read a book more than once.  My expectation was that it would go quickly.  That's not been the case however.

I'm finding much more enjoyment in the minor characters and over arching back story than I did on the first read.   On the first pass I was so intent on finding out what was going on with the main characters that I would skim past sections where they weren't present.  It turns out I missed a lot.  At this point in my re-read I'm well into book 4, A Feast for Crows, and though it was the last book I read it's the one I remember the least details from.  I think my frantic reading pace had accelerated to the point where I was hardly paying attention when I read it the first time. 

In a previous post I wrote about an interesting theory I had encountered while reading the ASOIAF fan-sites about who one of the main characters real parents where.   On the second read through the books that theory is obvious.  Whether it's true is another thing all together  but G.R.R.M was telegraphing it pretty heavily throughout the first novel.

As much as I like HBO's Game of Thrones it's passing over a lot of the back story that ties the characters and main threads of the story together.   It's will be interesting to see how they deal with that as the series progresses.  My dream is that when G.R.R.M finishes the series and the HBO completes the main narrative that they do one extra season that tells the events that set the story in motion.  I generally hate prequels but I think this one could be awesome.

Overall it's been a lot of fun re-reading the series.  It's taken more time that I thought it would because I'm absorbing more and delighting in the all the glorious details.  Once I read ADwD I know I'll want to re-read it too.  I'm also starting to wonder what other books might be better on a second go round:  Blood Meridian perhaps.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Beer travel: Late July 2011

I was up in Maine for my annual Hermit Island vacation last week and I flanked the trip with stops at two of my favorite beer bars: Lions Pride in Brunswick and Novare Res Bier Cafe in Portland.

I stopped in at Lions on Friday afternoon on the way up and sampled a a couple of sours: St Louis Gueze Fond Traditional and Rodenbach Grand Cru.  I'd had the Gueze before but the Grand Cru was a whole new taste experience.

Sours are not your average beers.  If you didn't know better you could could almost mistake a Gueze for glass of white wine.  The Rodenbach Grand Cru however was more like a glass of malt vinegar.  It takes some getting used to but its quite delicious.  It's not going to replace IPA as my go-to summer beer but I'm very intrigued by it's potential for food pairing.

While also at Lions I split a bottle of Fantôme Saison with a nice guy sitting at the bar.  It was so interesting.  Great funkyness on the nose.  For a beer not brewed with fruit it tastes an awful lot like strawberries. 

I didn't hit Novare till I was on my way home after a week on the beach.  It was great to sit down and have somebody serve me a beer again.  Honestly, after a week of PBRs out of the can I'd have been happy with simple Harpoon or Smutty but the Novare selection was stellar and offered lots of beers I've either not had or not had much of: Allagash Fluxus 11, Musketeer Troubadour Magma, De Dolle Boskeun and Bavik Petrus Oud Bruin

A couple of fellow patron turned out to be from the Boston based indie band "Static of The Gods".  Nice folks.  I hadn't heard of them before but I'm a fan of fuzzy guitars and the down-tempo, shoe-gaze so I've been listening to them all week.  Now that I know their music I feel like I missed a great opportunity by not having more insightful questions to ask them.  Maybe next time.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

The Out Campaign: Scarlet Letter of Atheism