Sunday, September 27, 2009

It's Mooncake Time Again!

Went to the store today to get the "fixins" for this year's Moon festival. The Moon festival (also called the Mooncake or Mid-Autumn festival) is going to happen on October 3rd this year. This year's celebration of the harvest moon is going to have a really nice full moon. Hopefully the clouds will be gone and we can really enjoy the sight.

Mooncakes are the ultimate "it is better to give than receive" festival gift item. Seriously. So, where are these famous mooncakes? Right beside this happy guy!

There they are ...

So, I picked one ...

The cakes are stuffed with egg yolks and other "surprises" like lotus seed paste or different kinds of bean paste. The best cakes have four yolks representing the different phases of the moon. Those are exceedingly pricey. Going with just two yolks will save some money. If you get a mooncake with one yolk, smile, and try to remember that there is only one moon after all.

If you have never eaten one before, a word of warning about mooncakes may be in order. I have never been able to force myself to eat a whole one. Why? It's a photo-finish of evil taste, texture, smell and density. The idea of eating
a hard, dry, absolutely UNSWEETENED pastry loaded with texture from dry egg yolks or bean paste inside is so thoroughly revolting that it's beyond me how this became festival food. How bad do they taste? Think of it like this - hide a sulfurous fossilized egg inside a sweaty gym sock inside two week-old bleached white flour bagel that pigeons have used as a bar stool, and take a big healthy bite and then punch yourself in the face twice. Bon Appetite!

OK, if you happen to have a mooncake in your hand at the end of the day, there are many things you can do with it. But there is at least one thing you can't ...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Cognac & Brandy at a discount

Found this little gem in the display case at the store recently. Normally I don't make product recommendations, but seeing that $1200 price tag (after a whopping 31% discount) made me want to say something about conspicuous comsumption.

There are some things that are just plain better than others. It's true no matter where you look. Some wines, cars, or clothing is so far ahead of its competition that people will pay a hefty premium to have it. The liquor in this bottle is not only rare and highly prized, it is made by a very well respected distiller. Yes, this liquor is well aged, remarkably smooth, and very French. It is not just ANY brandy - this is a genuine cognac. This particular spirit is some of the very best in the world.

That distinction means a lot. Most of us live in tough times and need to make the very most of the money we spend. Certainly it is ok to have luxuries when you can afford them, but the dedicated shopper knows that luxuries are not created equal. Here's one that I found a few years ago.

This is a brandy from California. It is well aged, remarkably smooth, and is really, really good. It's also a thousand dollars a bottle cheaper than it's snooty French cousin. Robb Report magazine says that it is just as good as, if not better than, its French cousin. They are absolutely right!

Because of the way that Oklahoma liquor laws are written, it is nearly impossible to find beer, wine or spirits from small producers. If your state isn't so prudish as mine, then I would invite you to save up $100 or so and find a 750ml bottle of Germain-Robin Select Barrel XO. It is really good and makes a wonderful Christmas gift.

Monster Spider!

Had a visitor hanging from a thread from the garage this morning.

Glad I didn't plow through her web on the way out the door.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Second Day from Sea

The first port of call ...

Today's shore excursion is the Glass Bottom Boat. There were loads of colorful fish out on the reef.

And some more ...

And even a barracuda came for a snack. Here he is racing through the swarming school of fish.

And the star of the show was this reef shark. This picture isn't very good, but it's the only camera I have ...

Afterwards, enjoyed some local refreshments (which wasn't bad with a nice 8 year old Rum) ...

Then back to the ship to get ready for dress up evening. Discovered that most of my clothes that I had carefully packed were wrinkled. Naturally in this floating hotel, there aren't any irons or steamers in the rooms, but they do have special "launderette" rooms for people to do laundry or iron their clothes. Unfortunately for me, everyone else had the same problem. So now to get that ironing done and get dressed for the evening.

I have a suit and tie, but that is going to be a story for another time.