December 18, 2008

Scrapin' Up the Bits... Update style

Newsworthy items for your perusal, beginning with a few updates, courtesy of the PG:

Update #1 - Following in my footsteps, China Millman weighs in on Dinette.

If Dinette makes me this happy in the winter, I can only dream of the magic Finn will work in July. Right now, with many months of winter still ahead of us, I look forward to settling in for the long haul.
Think she liked it?

Update #2 - Some people are upset about the whole Penn Brewery thing. This letter-writer in particular makes a very good point...

Penn Brewery/The North Side is to Pittsburgh as Guinness/St. James Gate is to Dublin, Ireland. Think about it. Certainly, current ownership must appreciate the fact that far upstream in the Penn value-chain sits the historical and romantic appeal of Penn Brewery as an emotional "destination." Look at Guinness. Millions of people flock to St. James Gate to witness/experience Guinness, not just to buy a beer, and tens of millions more feel an attachment to the brand and choose it whenever they have the opportunity. Guinness has built a brand and distribution channel second to none, and Penn should focus on the same.

On to politics... So President-Elect Change picks as his nomination for Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack from Iowa. Well, there was an outpouring from the sustainable ag community to pick a true progressive here, somebody who gets every angle of the importance of agriculture - protecting the environment, promoting organic and sustainable farming, stomping out the overbearing influence of agribusiness on agriculture policy.

And who gets named? A former Biotechnology Industry Organization's "Governor of the Year" awardee! The Ethicurean has a tidy little post that raises some of the concerns about Vilsack, but also highlights some of his more progressive leanings on ag policy.

I know President-Elect Change has said he sets the policy, that he's read Michael Pollan (who made his thoughts clear on the Vilsack pick on NPR today), yadda yadda, but this was an opportunity to put a real forward thinker in an extremely influential position and, well, he blew it. You know, pragmatism isn't always the best course of action, even if it's part of what won a presidential election.

Speaking of politics, particularly things like bailouts, how insane is this?

According to the [Wall Street Journal], the Italian government is planning a bailout for, of all things, the Parmigiano-Reggiano industry. The bottom line is that at current prices the cheese costs more to produce than it does to purchase; a cheesemaker cited in the article spends €8 to produce a kilogram of cheese that he then sells for €7.40.

As the post's author notes, this is definitely an industry for whom a bailout is essential. I mean, we're talking about the undisputed king of cheeses here...

And now, TWO recommendations:

First, for the gin martini drinkers out there, I highly recommend seeking out Bluecoat gin. Made in Philadelphia, it's produced from organic juniper berries. I almost hate to say it, I am starting to prefer it to Bombay Saphire.

I recently picked up a bottle on sale at a PA Wine & Spirits store. Think I'm gonna have to have me a Bluecoat Derby tonight.

Second, if you're looking for a place to go out to dinner, want to share your thoughts -- good or bad -- on a local dinery, etc., visit Urbanspoon Pittsburgh. Heck, you can even find little ol' me there.

Finally, as you're doing your holiday cookie baking -- which I strenuously try to avoid, leaving those duties to my wife, who is a far more skilled baker -- the New York Times offers some guidance on what most pastry chefs say is the single most important ingredient: butter.

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