Dazed and confused? Not me. I’m just Lost in the Cheese Aisle.

Friday, November 21, 2014


Capture the Flag
Capture the Flag, Dee’s favorite cocktail. Before I could make it at home, I first had to capture the formula.

In our house, I’m the cocktail maven, the mixologist manqué with twenty-five different bizarre elixirs taking up shelf space in the kitchen. If you want something with Aztec chocolate bitters or a gin crafted with botanicals from northern Québec, Elisson is your man.

Dee is decidedly different. Unlike many ladies who prefer frou-frou drinks involving cranberry juice or little umbrellas, she goes for more assertive beverages like the gingery Moscow Mule, and more often than not will drink brown goods with a style that would do any gentleman proud. Single malt Scotch neat?  Yes, please!

There’s a notable exception, though, and that is a cocktail that appeared at one of our nicer local watering holes. (They serve food there, too, so one could equally call it one of our nicer local food-troughs... but that somehow lacks finesse.) It’s called Capture the Flag, and nutty nomenclature aside, it’s a complex, bittersweet concoction that captured Dee’s heart.

What’s in it? You may well ask. According to the menu, it contains Maestro Dobel tequila, Amaro Ramazzotti, lemon juice, mole bitters, and spiced port-pineapple syrup. In other words, it’s pretty fucking complicated. But - and this is an important but - it is pretty fucking tasty.

When we recently dined at this establishment, we were bitterly disappointed to discover that the Capture the Flag cocktail was no longer being offered. It seems that the spiced port-pineapple syrup was the culprit: Their existing supply had gotten old and had to be eighty-sixed, and they had not yet gotten around to the (considerable) task of making up a new batch.

I explained to the bar staff that their special cocktail was much beloved by both of us, Dee in particular, and - given that they themselves would not be offering it again in the near future - would they consider sharing the recipe with me? Somewhat to my surprise, not only were they happy to divulge the basic instructions for building the drink, they also gave me the details on how to cook up the Sooper-Seekrit Ingredient that makes the whole thing work, namely the spiced port-pineapple syrup.

It’s a multi-step process. You first reduce a bottle or two of port by about 50%, simmering it with brown sugar and an assortment of warm spices. Then you sear pineapple chunks in the spiced port, caramelizing them and infusing them with that spicy, porty deliciousness. Finally, you simmer the seared pineapple chunks in simple syrup. That’s a lot of work for just one of the cocktail’s ingredients.

Spiced Port-Pineapple Syrup
Spiced port-pineapple syrup simmering in a pan on Darth Stover.

The drink itself - garnished with a spiced port pineapple chunk and a lemon twist - is magically delicious. Perhaps a tad sweeter than most cocktails on my Favorites List, but that matters not. I could drink these bad boys all night long.

Oh, you want the recipe? Sorry, no can do. But I will be happy to make you one. Just get in line behind Dee.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Pete shook his head. He had just gone over the financials with his accountant. Things did not look good. At the rate he was bleeding money, Pete’s Pastry Palace would have to close down in less than six months.

He had run a lucrative business for years and had become a beloved fixture in the neighborhood. Even the new mall failed to dent his sales. But when Boner Billy’s Bakeshop opened just down the street, Pete’s customers deserted him for Billy’s cock-shaped chocolate cakes. “Fucking sex fiends,” Pete thought.

But he fought back... and his Poon Danish saved the day.

[Inspired by the irrepressible (and occasionally reprehensible) Maven.]

Sunday, November 16, 2014


We’re shopping at IKEA
To get some FÜKNSTØFF
No matter what we purchase
It can never be enough.

I want to eat a meatball
The texture’s smooth, not rough
The perfect snack when we go back
To get our FÜKNSTØFF.

We’re shopping at IKEA
Our Swedish Happy Store
We’ll fill our carts, content our hearts,
And then come back for more.

Thursday, November 13, 2014


Peace, Love, and Devotion
If you are my brother -
But if you are not,
Then the answer is “Other.”

“O, Lord, save us all
From hate and bigotry
And destroy all the heretics
Who believe differently.”

Religions teach love
And sometimes compassion,
But for the outsider
Mostly smackin’ and bashin’...

O, when God looks upon us
And sees what He’s wrought,
I sure hope He don’t think
His work was for naught

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


I love pizza. Hell, pretty much everybody loves pizza.

What’s not to love? Gooey cheese piled atop crusty bread. Some kind of tomato sauce and/or toppings may or may not be involved. Pizza is delectable.

For me, pizza is not just food - it is a part of my geocultural identity, given that I grew up in the village of Massapequa on the south shore of Long Island, where Italians were thick on the ground. What with the relatively large population of both Jews and Italians, it’s no wonder the place carried the sobriquet “Matzoh-Pizza.”

Massapequa Triptych

Even today, you can start a passionate discussion - perhaps even a fistfight - over which local restaurant served the best pizza forty years ago. Dick and Dora’s? Dino’s? The place at Sunrise Mall?

And no matter where you are, you can always argue about Pizza Details. Do you like a thin, crispy crust? Thick and bready? Kinda thin and floppy? Do you like massive or minimal amounts of cheese? What kind of toppings do you like - are you a plain cheese pie person or do you go for add-ons? Meaty standbys like pepperoni, meatball, and sausage compete with options such as bacon, Indonesian chicken satay, and duck confit... not to mention outliers like ham and pineapple, or the not-for-the-faint-of-heart anchovy. The vegetarians will face off over the issue of whether bell peppers, mushrooms, and spinach should be included.

Regardless, there is one thing upon which all pizza lovers will agree: Few things can spoil the pizza-eating experience more thoroughly than the Dreaded Pizza-Burn.

Cheese has a relatively high heat capacity, so when your pizza arrives in front of you fresh from the oven, you have to resist the temptation to just grab a slice and shove it into your Pie-Hole. If you don’t give that bad boy a chance to cool off a bit, you will immediately sear all of the flesh in your mouth. While that’s unpleasant enough, it gets even worse as the blistered skin of your palate sloughs off over the course of the next few days... a fresh reminder of your momentary Pizza Impatience.

Don’t ask me how I know this.

If you’re the masochistic sort who likes Pizza-Burn (I am sure such people exist, though I have never met any of them), be sure to load your slice up with crushed red pepper flakes. You can get your Pizza-Burn at both ends.

Don’t ask me how I know this.

Monday, November 3, 2014


I’m not sure why, but yesterday morning as I was feeding Miss Stella - or, more accurately, standing over the sink rinsing out Miss Stella’s plate - a song from my distant childhood popped into my head.

You know the song. Everybody knows the song. Its the one that involves a spider and a waterspout. But for some reason, as the song played in the deep recesses of my cranium, it just didn’t sound right. And I couldn’t figure out why.

The inky dinky spider went up the waterspout.

No, that’s not it.

The inky binky spider went up the waterspout.

Nope, still not it.

The inky winky spider went up the waterspout.

Damn, I was thinking by this time. What am I missing? Inky stinky? Inky blinky? Inky cacaminky?

By this time I knew I was in the midst of a major Brain Fart. I needed help.

Dee was upstairs in bed. “I need your help,” I said. She practically leaped out of the bed, concerned that something was wrong. “What is it? What do you need?”

“What kind of spider went up the waterspout?”

At this point convinced that I had lost my mind, Dee replied, “Itsy bitsy.”

Aha! Suddenly everything clicked into place. Itsy bitsy! Itsy fucking bitsy! Of course!

“Itsy” was the key to the whole puzzle. Once you have “itsy,” you see, “bitsy” follows of necessity. But “inky” plays with a lot of different friends, and that was the spanner in my mental works... the discordant note in my nutty cerebral symphony.

Random brain farts, alas, are one of the joyful side effects of getting old the maturation process. And even Dee is not immune. A few nights ago, looking for the remote control for the television, she asked, “Where did I put the munchkin light?” We both laughed ourselves silly over that one.

Thus, henceforth we shall refer to the remote control as the Munchkin Light... because we can, and because it is a way of tacitly recognizing that we are both losing our minds.