Monthly Archives: December 2008

Raise a glass

Do yourself a favor and resolve to start 2009 without a wicked headache from drinking too much cheap Champagne.

Today’s Seattle P-I has a good primer on sparkling wines, which includes tips on matching bubbly with food and a shopping list with bottles ranging from $9-$35. The classic example of sparking wine is, of course, French Champagne, but there’s also Spanish cava, Italian prosecco and many fine domestic sparkling wines including one from New Mexico(!) Click here to learn more.

And from eHow, here’s seven easy steps to opening a bottle of Champagne.

Happy new year!

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When cakes go wrong

I recently attended a first birthday party where the cake read, “Happy 1th birthday!”

But this mistake is nothing compared to this completely NON-age appropriate cake for “Lil Derrick” that I saw on Cake Wrecks. This is for a 4-year-old!


Did they play pimp slap the donkey at this party?

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Filed under So wrong, Sweet

Lost in translation: wine coolers

My friend Thao didn’t go to the ends of the earth for love. She just went to Switzerland.

Her husband, Matthias, is Swiss and they live in Geneva, which is a long way from Seatle. I miss her terribly and was excited when Thao told me she, Matthias and Matthias’s parents, Helen and Hugo, were coming to Washington for Thanksgiving.

A couple days after turkey day, my husband and I had lunch with Thao, Matthias, Hugo and Helen to help polish off some leftovers.

There was turkey, prime rib, mashed potatoes, salad, pumpkin pie, and one thing that made me do a double take–one Bartles & Jaymes strawberry margarita wine cooler.

The wine cooler startled me because 1) Thao doesn’t really drink; 2) it seemed an odd thing to offer guests, especially your in-laws from Europe; and 3)there was only one wine cooler (they come in packs of four!)

I asked Thao about it, and she said nonchalantly, “Oh, my mom gave it to me with the rest of the leftovers.” I found this stranger still.

Matthias and his parents noticed my reaction and wanted to know what it was all about. It was a disconcerting experience to explain what a wine cooler is and why someone would want to drink one. I told them that a wine cooler was something that a “college-aged woman would drink.” I added that many young people in America tend to drink wine coolers when they first try alcohol because wine coolers are sweet and cheap. (During my own undergraduate years, I preferred to drink Boone’s Farm, a low-end fortified wine. Classy!)

I ask Matthias if there was a Swiss equivalent to the American wine cooler, and although I’m sure one exists (since most countries have some kind of cheap alcohol), none came to his mind.

I thought that I had conveyed that wine coolers weren’t really anyone’s drink of choice so I was surprised when Hugo said he wanted to sample some.

After the taste test, he said, “It’s too sweet, but it will help me sleep well during my siesta.”

I got to thinking about those Bartles & Jaymes commercials in the ’80s that featured two old guys and always ended with “Thank you for your support.” Here’s a funny one.

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Filed under Essays

Mystery meat


I’ve always been a little puzzled by fake meat products for vegetarians and vegans. Fake hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken, deli slices–even fake pepperoni. What’s the point of trying to replicate the look and feel of meat? The vegetarian/vegan lifestyle is all about abstaining from animal flesh, right? Perhaps fake meat is a gateway to vegetarianism. Or are these products really for friends and family of vegetarians to eat as a show of support? “I love you so much, I’m willing to eat this Tofurkey.”

Equally baffling is McDonald’s McRib sandwich. I had never tried a McRib before, but after seeing a billboard declaring, “The McRib is back,” my interest was piqued. My husband has sampled many a McRib and said the sandwich was good. He was excited I wanted to try one since I rarely eat junk like the McRib.

The McRib is a boneless pork patty that is covered in barbecue sauce and served with pickles and onions on a roll. Its standout feature is that the patty is pressed so that is resembles a side of ribs. This is truly weird.


The only thing that may be stranger than the McRib’s boneless ribs is its promotional Web site. A “McRib DJ” thanks users for visiting the site and declares that “Saucy love is back.” He then directs you to get free McRib downloads and listen to one of four McRib radio stations.

The free ringtones are pretty funny–they’re heavy metal odes to the McRib, but how is this supposed to get people to buy more sandwiches? I feel like this ad agency got caught up in creating a slick Web site and new technologies instead of focusing on the basics of selling.

Here’s a YouTube video featuring “The Simpsons” version of the McRib–the Ribwich. Although it’s in German(!), it’s still funny.
This Wikipedia entry gives a full synopsis of the episode.

As far as taste goes, I was surprised to find that the McRib isn’t terrible. The barbecue sauce helped a lot, and the pickles and onion added some extra flavor. You could do a lot worse when it comes to fast food.

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Filed under Reviews, Savory