On a Backwards Monday

As storms belted the central US, humid air with scattered rain enveloped Cincinnati this weekend. How was your weather?

We had a full weekend involving a ballroom night, a church wine group gathering, and hosting my in-laws to celebrate my mother-in-law’s 85th birthday.  How was your weekend?

Chocolate and Wine was the theme at the wine event. The host had this interesting activity. They purchased 12 high-quality chocolates (most were flavored), and then broken them into bite-size bits. The samples were numbered 1-12, plus each participant received a “checklist” that included 12 short descriptions as “Sea salt and almonds, 45% cacao, Belgium” – thus everyone’s task was to match the descriptions to the samples.

On to the current task at hand. As humid air remains, temps are expected to reach 88 F (31 C). Hot, muggy weather is not my favorite. Because I hope that temperatures go in the other direction, enjoy this creative clip from Dancing with the Stars. Watch carefully – and have a good week!

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 182

On Politics
With current topics as Benghazi, the IRS, and the AP, our elected officials continue to demonstrate their preference for diversions over finding solutions to primary problems.

The IRS story has activated a burr. I’ve been writing on it other the past several days for this post, but eventually exceeding a short, so it will an upcoming post.

Here’s a good one for Gov. Steve Breshear (D-KY) responding to state Republicans avoiding expanding Medicare at the state level in response to Obamacare: “I say get over it. This law was passed by Congress and it was upheld by the Supreme Court. This is not a political decision, it’s a policy decision.”

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion
Seedless watermelon coming to grips with facts it will never have kids
New crispy cracker to ease crushing pain from modern life
Man demands to know how many siblings co-worker has
Sea World to discontinue Great White Shark ride
Elf finger found in box of Keebler cookies

Interesting Reads
A conservative economist’s support for Keynes
The Bible is not a science book
Top 10 blown umpire calls
Fred Flintstone’s feet as breaks
Wyatt Earp’s Fourth Wife
How curling stones curl?
A slideshow of Cincinnati’s mosaic murals

On Potpourri
The recent news about Angelina Jolle’s choice of a preventative double mastectomy surprised many. Interestingly, the morning of the Jolle’s news, CNN’s Zoraida Sambolin stepped up to publicize her decision for a double mastectomy after her recent breast cancer diagnosis three weeks ago.

Just finished reading Oracles of Science: Celebrity Scientists versus God and Religion by Karl Giberson and Mariano Artigas (2007). Very interesting profiling six leading scientists who also publish: Richard Dawkins, Stephen Jay Gould, Stephen Hawking, Carl Sagan, Steven Weinberg, and Edward O. Wilson. I’ll review it later, but a thumbs up. PS: Debra, I haven’t forgot!

I haven’t cooked this recipe in a while, so we just did for a friend. Still, a big thumbs up to Cranberry-Sausage Spaghetti.

Several weeks ago, I mentioned the Cincinnati Ballet doing a production with Peter Frampton to his music. Here’s a review.

Sorry – no Saturday Morning Cartoon feature this weekend.

As my Chocolate and Wine week ends, below are a few short videos fitting for the occasion. Have a good weekend! In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Chocolate Covered Bacon


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Chocolate Covered Jalapenos

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Chocolate in Wine (Rosenblum Desiree)

On Graeter the Greatest

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Yes – my bowl!

Do you like chocolate? Do you like chocolate chips in your ice cream? How would you react if you found a piece of solid chocolate in your ice cream that easily covers the center of your palm?

Welcome to Graeter’s – an ice cream treasure in Cincinnati – and a worthy participant in my Chocolate and Wine Week.

Cincinnatians smile at the mere mention of Graeter’s. When out-of-town friends visit, a trip to this tasty treat is mandatory. Convention attendees discover our local jewel at Fountain Square as they stroll the streets of city center.

Graeter’s is about ice cream. Sure, they also produce candy and baked good, but their ice cream is truly one of our area’s golden nuggets.

Louis Graeter started the business in 1870. Because he died in a 1919 accident, Regina (his wife) is the one who led the business’s growth throughout the Cincinnati area. Today, the fourth generation of the family leads a distribution system reaching 4,000 grocery stores in 41 states.

Ingredients and technique are the secrets to producing this creamy, gastronomic delight. Graeter’s blend fresh cream and egg custard together in a chilled French Pot Process. Meanwhile, a large paddle prevents air from mixing into the delight in order to deliver a smooth, rich taste of creamy treasure. Oddly enough, each copper pot only produces 2 gallons of frozen bliss at a time.

Although Graeter’s offers many flavors (flavors here with pictures), including seasonal treats, the chip flavors are the favorites in our house because of the possibility of chunks of chocolate. My wife favors black raspberry chocolate chip. We share appreciation for peanut butter chocolate chip. For me, it’s mint chocolate chip – especially after eating Skyline Chili!

Oh my my – time is running out and I haven’t even mentioned the delicious sodas and scrumptious sundaes! (menu here for description of sundaes)

For those now desiring this rich, creamy taste of high-caloric Nirvana, go to their website, and locate the Find Graeter’s tool on the right, which only needs your zip code. Others can order online because they ship. To Sylvia in Paradise, tell your son and check your zip code for your time in the US.

For the record, it’s not cheap, but it is that the best and “the way ice cream is supposed to be.” Consider a pint for an evening of Graeter’s and a movie at home.

Enjoy the videos, and a few more resources below. Meanwhile, my mouth is watering, so I’m off to a Graeter’s location nearest to me. Meanwhile, fess up – who is going to look for it?

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Resources
New York Times
Forbes
A Philadelphia blogger
The Ice Cream Informant
Chicago Bites
Graeter’s on The View
CBS Early Show

On Satire Bits: Vol. 55

After the cool weekend, the first part of the week has been wonderful weather. It appears one more day is possible before the rain clouds move back into the area – which also means get some yard work done!

The classic video of Lucy and the chocolates on the conveyor belt was a big hit. After others commented on the upcoming chocolate and wine event, I decided to declare this week as Chocolate and Wine Week. If you noticed, yesterday was a wine post.

For your midweek dose of satire, I searched The Onion’s archives for past headlines involving chocolate … and a bonus video. Any favorites?

20 idiots evacuated from Times Square M&M’s store

Half of sleeve of Oreos lost in house fire

More Vegetables evolving chocolate-sauce-filled centers as evolutionary imperative

Local resident like a chocoholic, but for booze

Ozzy Osbourne bites head off five-pound chocolate rabbit

Report: Double-stuffed Oreos could raise tolerance to stuff

Blood thirty, undead ghoul advocates chocolate-cereal consumption

Hershey ordered to pay obese Americans $135 billion

U.N. orders Wonka to submit to chocolate factory inspections

Chocolate pudding futures up $2 per barrel

Praise the Lord … and pass the chocolate

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Chocolate and Wine Week continues tomorrow. Meanwhile, here’s a special video for chocolate lovers.

On Wine in America: Abridged

This is an abridged version of a story because they were many more events than these.

(The people) didn’t consume many of the beverages we drink regularly today. Not only were there few nonalcoholic juices (citrus fruits being unavailable and other fruits fermenting like grapes), but coffee and tea were expensive, milk spoiled quickly, and water frequently was brackish and disease-ridden. Ironically, health and safety constituted the primary advantage of alcohol.

American Vintage: The Rise of American Wine, Paul Lukacs, p 24

These were the typical conditions in the US for the early 1800s, thus what a young man from New Jersey encountered when he headed west in 1803 to start a new life in a frontier town known as Cincinnati, Ohio. Arriving full of hope and optimism, Nicholas Longworth became a lawyer and a real estate mogul – and given Cincinnati’s location in the westward movement, he became wealthy as the city grew.

Longworth was also a man of temperance, but saw wine as a beverage of moderation that would improve life for the commoners. Keep in mind that wine wasn’t in the picture because supply was limited to imported European wines and mainly drank by the elite – and yes, banishing wine was not part of the temperance movement at that time.

Thomas Jefferson, the US President at the time and early spokesperson for wine in American, not only loved European wines, he believed America could also make great wine. His enthusiasm drove him to try cultivating European varietals in Virginia, but he was unsuccessful Native American varietals grew in the wild, but made poor wines. As other were unsuccessful throughout the east, the curious began hybridizing American and European varietals.

Nicholas Longworth made his first wine in 1813, but it was a fortified wine that was over 20% alcohol, thus far from the 12% dry table wine he wanted to make. Therefore, in 1825 he purchased a little known hybrid from Maryland called Catawba.

Experimenting with separating skins from the juice, Longworth produced a sweet wine that Cincinnati’s growing German population enjoyed. He kept trying with different grapes and techniques, and in 1842 accidentally discovered a second fermentation producing a sparkling, which led to a new problem – exploding bottles.

Fortunately, Nicholas Longworth had deep pockets to fund his passion, so he kept trying. By the 1845, his wines were getting national attention, thus production was around 300,000 gallons (over 1.1 million liters) per year. By the end of the decade, grapes covered over 2,000 acres in the Cincinnati region. The wine even inspired this poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: The Ode to Catawba Wine.

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Image from Wikipedia

In 1860, a disease (blight) hit the region’s grapes – and the grapes suddenly vanished. Longworth died in 1863 at age 80, but his son was unsuccessful at revitalizing Cincinnati’s wine industry.

Longworth’s dream lived on through others (including former employees) as growing grapes moved west to Missouri and eventually California – all building on Longworth’s knowledge. This is why Nicholas Longworth – the one who came to Cincinnati for a new beginning, earned his title: the Father of the American Wine Industry.

Note: Click to continue to the next post in this series.