Fountain Of Cheese

While investigating the John Scott National Hockey League incident, I was arrested by the statement that, among the other tourist delights surrounding the Nashville NHL All-Star game, there would be a fountain of Velveeta cheese.
The concept of a molten river of Velveeta gripped my imagination as I fantasized dams breaking, overflows, and Gary Bettman swallowed up in a cascading river of cheese-like dairy product that immediately solidifies to a state that could be mounted as sculpture. Perhaps forever. Or at least as long as the chemicals in Velveeta can preserve him. A century or two anyway.
But what does such a “cascading fountain of Velveeta” look like? I asked myself and then realized that, of course! the answer was on the Internets.
Yes, various intrepid idiots have utilized their chocolate fountains to melt Velveeta, and possibly other substances (but I decided not to investigate any further. You, of course, are free to do as you will).
Meanwhile, if you don’t own a chocofountain, here’s where you can rent one in the United States (and what other nation would ever have this melt capability?)
And here is a supreme photo of a cascading cheese fountain in action:

fountain1

[BTW, the US used to give out blocks of Velveeta-ish cheese products to low-income folks. Denounced as “Government Cheese”, it was encased in plastic almost impossible to remove from the food and was, overall, a sign of how much America disdained its poor. But, I think, Government Cheese would probably do well in one of these fountains.]

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Today’s Taste Sensation: Haggis Crisps

Yes, haggis-flavored potato chips. I came across these in my local organic food co-op, so they are, of course, made from organic, non-GMO potatoes. I would guess that they are vegetarian, too, from the ingredients list, although Mackie’s has mentioned something about pork products (?) in news stories. So, non-GMO and non-kosher/halal. Also, not gluten-free! Contains wheat!

haggis_chips

Mackie’s is a major crisps manufacturer and is trying to break into the US market. Three years ago, Mackie’s was unable to export their Flame-grilled Aberdeen Angus crisps to America, because of fears of Mad Cow disease. So their Flame-grilled Aberdeen Angus chips-for-export are now made with a vegetarian recipe. Where would the world be without America keeping us healthy?

Okay, the taste test:

Appearance: Okay. Nothing bad to report. Although the chips are heavilly-flavored, there is no evidence of powder, just black pepper, which is Good.

haggis_chips2
Aroma: Don’t ask. Fetid, nasty — like the Mummy’s athletic socks. But, like a ripe cheese, you don’t smell it, you eat it.
Texture: Although Mackie’s claims to make thick crisps, these chips were very thin, about half the thickness of Miss Vickie’s thick-cut chips, and very crunchy. Good.
Mouth Feel: These are remarkably non-oily chips (perhaps because they are cut so thin) and the salt, though evident, is not nasty granules. Fine.
Taste: Salt, spice, potatoes — where’s the mutton? Meh.
After-Effects: None so far, but this report may be amended for late medical bulletins and addenda regarding looseness of stools and other such possible counter-indications for the sensitive diner. But no immediate haggis-hurling.
Summary: Nope. But, overall this is a well-executed chip: nicely cut, crisply fried, non-greasy, not over-seasoned.  I bet other Mackie’s flavors would be quite good.

A true haggis, turning its back on vegetables. A sheep's stomach stuffed with liver, lights, heart, and whatever else might be inside a sheep. Serve with whisky. And a deep-fried Mars bar.

A true haggis, turning its back on vegetables. A sheep’s stomach stuffed with liver, lights, heart, and whatever else might be inside a sheep, combined with oats. Lots of oats. Serve with whisky. And a deep-fried Mars bar. [celtnet.org.uk]

Alton Brown says, “Serve with mashed potatoes, if you serve it at all.” Which is not really encouraging. So I asked a Scot: “On Bobby Burns Day, when you have that haggis and all, what do you have with it?”

“Whisky.”

“No, I mean other vegetables.”

“Man, I said whisky didn’t I?’

“Okay, but potatoes, rice…”

“Whisky!” He glowered at me as only a Scot can glower.

“What about neeps and tatties?”

“Lowland, are you?” He shrugged, “Turnips, maybe. Some put it in the haggis.” He shook his head. “But that’s wrong! A filthy Saxon trick to lengthen the pluck.”

I didn’t ask any more.

So, haggis chips with turnip and whisky dip? Or, maybe, just whisky. Lots of it.

Food For Thought: Turkey Cake

Okay, imagine your guests sitting around the table, waiting for dessert, and you bring out this:
turkey-fullview2
Wow! What drama! Here’s another look:

turkey

Now, while everyone is squicked out, you begin to slice the bird:

turkey_slice1

And… OMG! Is that blood?:

turkey_slice2

But wait:

turkey_slice3

That’s right, it’s a delicious rum cake made up to look like a raw bird.

turkey_sliced

Pretty cool, eh? That bird/cake was designed by Sarah Hardy and you can see more creations on her Facebook page.

The photos all came from Eat Your Heart Out, which is worth your attention.

Celebrity Plonk

Looking for a hobby? Got a few millions to spend? Why not buy a vineyard and bottle your own wine. You might make a profit, even better, you might turn out something good. Now I’m not talking about just licensing your name to somebody so they can put your image on a jug of swill and triple the price. I’m talking celebrities who actually like wine and have a bit of taste and, maybe, some business acumen.

The worst kind of celebrity plonk. Malcolm Young doesn't drink any more and Angus never did. Bon Scott of course... Still, I might try that Highway to Hell Cabernet someday.

The worst kind of celebrity plonk. Malcolm Young doesn’t drink any more and Angus never did. Bon Scott of course… Still, I might try that Highway to Hell Cabernet someday.

Surprisingly few celebrity chefs dabble in wine production. Mario Batali works with his business partner, Joe Bastianich (son of celebrity chef Lidia), who is a recognized authority on Italian wines, but that’s about it. Perhaps the chefs are concerned that a poor vintage might cause people to doubt their culinary skills or the restaurants they own. Or maybe it’s because these chefs already have sweetheart deals with wineries. Possibly I should mention Martha Stewart here who has partnered with Gallo to lend her name to wines sold through K-Mart. Or possibly not. Oh, and maybe there’s Guy Fieri, if he survives the awful reviews of his restaurant.

One of the few wines in this post that I've actually tasted. It was very good. Thanks, Jason Priestly. [more on Black Hills]

One of the few wines in this post that I’ve actually tasted. It was very good. Thanks, Jason Priestly. [more on Black Hills]

There are plenty of actors who have taken up vinting — Lorraine Bracco, Kyle McLachlan, Jason Priestly, Emilio Estevez , Sam Neill, Gérard Depardieu, all own some or all of a vineyard and and a label. Raymond Burr bought a vineyard but died before its first vintages were ready — the label is still run by his partner, Robert Benevides. Fess Parker started the winery and resort that bears his name, which was featured in Sideways.

Sideways wine-tasting at Fess Parker's place.

Sideways wine-tasting at Fess Parker’s place.

Some actors are concerned that their personae may affect the reception of their wine:

Originally the winery was called Smothers Brothers, but I changed the name to Remick Ridge because when people heard Smothers Brothers wine, they thought something like Milton Berle Fine Wine or Larry, Curly and Mo Vineyards,” Tom explains.

On the other hand, Francis Ford Coppola has turned his estate into a movie museum where you can suck down some Black Label Claret while you look at Godfather mementoes.

Drew Barrymore's Pinot Grigio which is supposed to be pretty good.

Drew Barrymore’s Pinot Grigio which is supposed to be pretty good.

Dan Aykroyd isn’t afraid to market his own products and put his name on the label. “They asked me if I’d like to have my own wines…how good is that?” Aykroyd got heavilly involved in the selling of Crystal Head vodka (distilled in Newfoundland) and was dismayed when the Liquor Control Board of Ontario refused to carry it because the bottle was too pretty or something. Aykroyd finally won that fight and his vodka is on sale beside the Pátron tequila that he imports into Canada and his own line of Niagara wines. Aykroyd also has a surprising factoid about wine and celebrities:

Every hockey player I know has an excellent nose and an excellent tongue. Kirk Muller, for instance, has excellent taste. Dave Ellett – he called his dog Caymus [after the famous Napa Valley cabernet] Dougie Gilmour loves to have the big, full red wines. Wendel Clark and John Erskine, too. I’ve had some good wine parties with those guys.

Wow! Wait’ll Don Cherry hears about hockey wine snobs! And I really, really want to try some Wendel Clark In-Your-Face red — but it has to be made from Saskatchewan grapes. Or saskatoons or something. Meanwhile, maybe I’ll sample some of The Great Ones’ No.99 wines, especially since it’s now legal to transport wine across the border into B.C.

Cellar of Valeri Bure's Bure Family cellars. Note the hockey stick in the eagle's talons. Bure says he learned about wine in Montreal.

Cellar of Valeri Bure’s family winery. Note the hockey stick in the eagle’s talons. Bure says he learned about wine in Montreal.

There are a whole lot of athletes that have gone into the wine business — Tom Seaver, Mike Weir, Mario Andretti, Charles Woodson (who is not allowed to promote his product so long as he is active in the NFL) — just to name check four major sports besides hockey. Peggy Fleming had a winery but it seems to have closed.  And let’s not forget David Beckham who gave his wife a vinyard for her birthday. (I so hope they produce a wine called Posh Spice.) Hmm, no basketball wine. Well, Larry Bird has put his name on a few bottles (“surprisingly good for a white”) but he’s not really involved so far as I can see.

wine_PinkFloyd

But aside from a few rockers like Vince Neil, the best celebrity wines are produced by actors. Richard Gere has teamed with a major Italian producer to put out what I hear are outstanding wines. And, of course, there’s Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt who are the latest celebrities to buy Miraval, a French château that has seen more than its share of celebrities. Sting (yes, he makes wine, too) recorded there as did Pink Floyd, who recorded much of The Wall at a studio constructed in the basement by jazz pianist Jacques Loussier. In fact, a reportedly excellent rosé from Miraval was named Pink Floyd by Pitt. Pitt and Jolie are to be married at Miraval and then will market their co-produced wines as Jolie-Pitt. They should be very very good.

Food for Thought: Fun with Bacon

Baconhenge with french toast stones. [ via  Anticraft  ]

Baconhenge with french toast stones. [ via Anticraft ]

Bacon bouquet, [via  ThisIsWhyYou'reFat  ]

Bacon bouquet. [via ThisIsWhyYou’reFat ]

Porkgasm: bacon wrapped sausage stuffed with sausages, etc. [via  Porktopia  ]

Porkgasm: bacon wrapped sausage stuffed with sausages, etc. [via Porktopia ]

 

Bacon potrait of Kevin Bacon created by artist Jason Mecier. [via  LaughingSquid ]

Bacon potrait of Kevin Bacon created by artist Jason Mecier. [via LaughingSquid ]

Bacon mug filled with cheddar cheese. [via  ThisIsWhyYou'reFat  ]

Bacon mug filled with cheddar cheese. [via ThisIsWhyYou’reFat ]

The Meatship, before and after cooking [via Supersized Meals  ]

The Meatship, before and after cooking [via Supersized Meals ]

 

Bacon and chicken narwhal created by Christopher G. [via Incoherent Ramblings  ]

Bacon and chicken narwhal created by Christopher G. [via Incoherent Ramblings ]

Baconocopia filled with  20 hot italian sausages, 1 pound of scrapple, 4 pork chops, 1 black pudding sausage and 1 white pudding sausage, pepperoni and salami. [via ThisIsWhyYou'reFat]

Baconocopia filled with 20 hot italian sausages, 1 pound of scrapple, 4 pork chops, 1 black pudding sausage and 1 white pudding sausage, pepperoni and salami. [via ThisIsWhyYou’reFat]

Bacon van Gogh by Becky Stern with how-to-make-it intrctions at Makezine .

Bacon van Gogh by Becky Stern with how-to-make-it instructions at Makezine .

Bacon Demon. One of several entries in aNeatorama  contest.

Bacon Demon. One of several entries in a Neatorama contest.

Bacon Skyrim mask also from Neatorama

Bacon Skyrim mask also from Neatorama

 

Bacon Mobius strip. [via Peeping Monster]

Bacon Mobius strip. [via Peeping Monster]

The End Is Nigh, Philosophize!

Mayan pie celebing the beginning of  new 5000 year cycle, December 19. [Moises Castillo/AP]

Mayan priests celebrating the beginning of new 5000 year cycle, December 19. [Moises Castillo/AP]

Well, somehow it seems like we escaped oblivion yet again. I say again, because this has occurred many times before and certainly will repeat. Now, recognizing that our existence will continue for a while longer, now is the time to sit back with a glass of something or other and ruminate on the notion of the End of the World. But if that’s too much work, then drain your glass while reading Brillat-Savarin’s meditation on the subject from The Physiology of Taste: or Meditations on Transcendental Gastronomy published in 1825:

Meditation 10

The End of the World

…Indubitable signs teach us that this globe has already undergone several complete changes, which have been in effect ends of the world; and I do not know what instinct it is that warns us that there will be still more of them.

Often before now we have believed these revolutions ready to happen, and there are many people still living who once hurried to confess their sins because of the watery comet predicted by the good Jerome Lalande.

According to what has been written on the subject, we seem only too eager to surround such a catastrophe with avenging fury, with destructive angels and the sound of trumpets, and other no less horrifying accompaniments.

Alas, we do not need such histrionics to be destroyed; we are not worth a funeral display, and if God wishes it he can change the whole surface of the globe without such exertion on his part.

Let us suppose, for instance, that one of those wandering stars, whose paths and purposes are unknown to any of us, and whose appearance is always accompanied by a legendary fear, let us suppose, I say, that such a comet flies near enough to the sun to be charged with a terrible excess of heat, and that it then comes near enough to us to cause a six-month period of a general temperature of about 170 degrees Fahrenheit (twice as hot as that of the comet of 1811).

At the end of this murderous period, all animal and vegetable life will have perished, and all sounds have died away, the earth will turn silently until other circumstances have developed other germs of creation on it; and still the cause of out disaster will lie lost in the vast halls of outer space, and we shall have passed no nearer to it than a few million leagues.

This happening is as possible as any other, and it has always been for me a tempting thing to dream upon, and one I have never shunned.

It is a strange experience to follow, in spirit, this unearthly heat, to try to predict the effects of it and its development and the way it acts and then to ask:

What happens during the first day of it, and the second, and so on until the last one?
What about the air, the earth, the waters on the earth, and the forming and mixing and exploding of all the gases?
What happens to mankind, according to age, sex,and strength or weakness?
What about man’s obedience to law, his submission to authority, his respect of other people and the property of his fellows?
What does he do about trying to escape from the situation?
What happens to the ties of love, of friendship and of kinship, of selfishness and devotion to others?
What about religious sentiments, faith, resignation, hope, et cetera, et cetera?

History can supply us with a few facts about the moral reactions; for the end of the world has already been predicted more than once, and even fixed on a certain date.

I really feel ashamed about not telling my readers how I myself have decided all these questions; but I do not wish to deprive them of the pleasure of doing it for themselves. It can eliminate a few insomniac hours for them, and even pave the way for some daytime siestas.

Real danger tears down all social ties. For instance, in the epidemic of yellow fever which struck Philadelphia in 1792 or thereabouts, husbands closed doors against wives who shared their homes, children abandoned their fathers, and other such phenomena were common.

Quod a nobis Deus avertat! [God keep that from us!]

[translated by M.F.K. Fisher]

Thus Brillat-Savarin laid out the conflicts that we are all familiar with when confronted by the question, How do we deal with survival and other people during or after nuclear holocaust? Killer meteor strike? Total climate collapse? Flesh-eating zombie apocalypse? Actually, Brillat-Savarin might have a few more words to say about the last, since his book is about food. I can visualize a chapter on the preparation of brains for example.

end_brillat

A free download of The Physiology of Taste is here, but I recommend the M.F.K. Fisher translation, because Ms. Fisher, a pre-eminent writer about food, lards the book with her own observations on cuisine: The Physiology of Taste: or Meditations on Transcendental Gastronomy