14 September 2008

Pleasure Shared is Pleasure Multiplied

I've received a surprising amount of flak in recent months for keeping a blog. At first I found it simply surprising that others would care that much, but then grew perturbed by the closed mindset of these critics. Having grown up in Poland at various points during the 1980s and 1990s, my mother describes the political environment as epitomized by how even the cookbooks lied. Blogs tend to keep people truthful, and allow for the circulation of new ideas that would probably not get space or time in traditional media.

Particularly on such a creative subject as food and drink, nothing is more worthwhile than gathering information across as many sources as possible to keep inspiration flowing as fluidly as a zesty Zinfandel at a cocktail party.

This weekend, for example, I had a ball of a time bartending at a private party in Park Slope. The couple were celebrating their combined 100th birthday, and dozens of close friends had congregated in their gorgeous Brooklyn brownstone to celebrate. These people lived luxuriously and took their hors d'oeuvres and alcohols seriously. A friend of an editor at Food & Wine magazine described a gorgeous vodka and latke party: he hollowed out red new potatoes to serve as shot glasses for the Belvedere. The vodka soaked through, which made the vessels pleasant to munch on afterwards.

Our host proved a conoisseur of single malt Scotch. He broke out some excellent bottles from his collection at the party, my favorite of which was an 18-year-old Bowman. It tasted very smooth and full of peat; like a hand rolled cigarette with excellent tobacco. Back in Eastern Europe, where cigarette fumes are like incense as opposed to bigger air pollution problems, I grew to be very fond of tobacco. I found a peaty single malt gave me the flavor of cigarettes I like, without the congested lungs associated with the latter. Nice. Behind that was an 18-year-old Caol Ila. It was also nicely peaty, but it had the astringency of vodka. Not nearly as smooth. This wonderful man paid me to tend his bar, then sat down and chatted for over the course of an hour about the east versus west coast of Scotland, accompanied by this tasting.

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