Sunday, November 23, 2008

Louisville Swamp

Our Sunday running group headed down to Louisville Swamp for our run today--if you've ever been to the Rennaisance Festival here in town, you 've very close to a gem of a park.  Instead of turning into the field outside of the Festival, continue down the road, where it dead ends in the Louisville Swamp parking lot.
The trail runs through oak savannah, flood plain forest, and by some great ruins of farmsteads.The Jab farmstead also doubles up as a warming hut come XC ski season.  Add to that the fact that we saw a river otter floating around in one of the
 creeks (swimming on his back, just looking at us) made it a great, great run.  

There is an 8 mile loop, but it can't be completed since a bridge is out.  Hence, a double out and back is necessary to see the whole park.  I highly recommend this trail if you are ever in the area just south of Canterbury downs.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Yes, the World has Ended

I just drank a wine that came from a screw top bottle.  No big deal.  The same wine came in a plastic bottle.  Yes, the World has officially ended.  To be fair, it was a Beaujolais Nouveau--which I'm sure that all of you know is a "fresh" wine, meant to be drunk between the 3rd Thursday of Nov and the New Year.  Nonetheless.... 


 I'm snooty. (or fancy in TX speak).  Plastic bottles of wine are just plain wrong--unless of course you sell it as a "green" thing.  Shipping less weight saves jet fuel (it does).  However, it also saves shipping costs and puts money back into the pockets of the winemaker.  I guess it is a win-win situation...

So, the wine tasted okay--buy it for the novelty.  Don't buy it for the taste.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Feeling Wimpy.

I went to the gym for the first time in a long time and lifted some weights. I'm shocked at how weak I am, particularly my right arm, which is the one I broke earlier this year. I think I need to eat my spinach.

Speaking of spinach, a new grocery store (Cub) opened right by our house. It is so convenient I don't know what to do. Being able to buy bread an deli meat mid-week is going to make lunch that much better. That, and the store is much, much nicer than most Cubs. They even have a sushi bar. Yum. Maybe.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Little Motivation

This morning's run was awesome. The weather was great, there were little fluffy flakes of snow in the air and the sun came out for the first time in days. Add to that a great group of guys to run with and a great group of people to drink coffee with after and you can color me happy.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I've Forgotten

I've forgotten how to run. Well, at least it feels like it. A 6 mile run tonight felt like 20. It must be all the beer and hamburger I've had since Chicago. Ugh.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Armistice Day

Kurt Vonnegut was born on Armistice Day, which is today.  In one of my favorite books of all time (and one of my least favorite movies of all time), he wrote the following...

“I will come to a time in my backwards trip when November eleventh, accidentally my birthday, was a sacred day called Armistice Day. When I was a boy, all the people of all the nations which had fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

“It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one and another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.

“Armistice Day has become Veterans’ Day. Armistice Day was sacred. Veterans’ day is not.

“So I will throw Veterans’ Day over my shoulder. Armistice Day I will keep. I don’t want to throw away any sacred things.

“What else is sacred? Oh, Romeo and Juliet, for instance.

“And all music is.”

- Breakfast of Champions , Kurt Vonnegut

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Shoe Recycling

I don't know about you, but I have a bag full of old shoes that I've been waiting to recycle in some way or other.  Lucky me--the South of the River 'burbs are having a shoe recycling drive starting next week.  The details are;

Recycle Your Soles

Recycle your Shoes in Eagan, Apple Valley & Burnsville

Instead of throwing shoes away, residents in Apple Valley, Burnsville and Eagan are now able to recycle their shoes during a free one-week collection coordinated by Dakota Valley Recycling. Residents will be able to drop off shoes from Monday, November 10 to Sunday, November 16 at locations in each community.  Shoes of all types, sizes and styles will be accepted.

Shoes donated as part of the program are shredded by a local company, Wipers Recycling LLC, and turned into new products.

Eagan 
Eagan Civic Arena, 3870 Pilot Knob Road. 
Daily 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. 

Apple Valley 
Apple Valley Community Center, 14603 Hayes Drive 
Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. 
Saturday/Sunday 12:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Burnsville 
Burnsville City Hall, 100 Civic Center Parkway *
Monday-Thursday 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. 
Friday-Saturday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 
Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. 
*Closed Tuesday, November 11 for Veterans Day

For more information please contact Dakota Valley Recycling at (651) 675-5011 or visit www.DakotaValleyRecycling.org on the internet.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Stealthy Guest Post

First, I have to come clean, this is Anne. I'm trying to clean things up around the house and one of the things that has needed some attention is the backlog of wine varieties that should be added to our century club checklist.

These bottles have been sitting around for a while...
(for some reason I can't get the photo to post right now...I'll be back to add it later)

The only information I have on these wines is what is on the label, what I can learn from the internets and the knowledge that as soon as I publish this blog they'll all be moving to the recycling bin. I wish I could tell you that they were grassy or leggy or unctuous, but frankly, I can't remember any details about the wines themselves. I do know, however, that they are now officially checked off on our Century Club checklist.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Deer Flies

First, I finally took the time to figure out how to add a title to my blog, which is nice. Second, I had a horrible, scary run at Lebanon Hills tonight. Swarms and swarms of deer flies chased me down for a good hour while I ran scared. The uphills were the worst, as my legs were tired and I had to slow down--meaning the evil flies had time to land. Ugh. I wore a white hat and white shirt and sprayed myself with bugspray but they still were horrible. I made it roughly 9 miles tonight, but I hardly enjoyed any of it...

Here is to hoping that the deer fly season doesn't last long.

Alright already Chad…


I ran a 5 Mile race in Apple Valley on Friday and ran it pretty well—nearly 2 minutes faster than last year. The start of the race was total mayhem, with a cross country style start that combined the fields of both the 2 mile and the 5 mile race. The result is that you have no idea as to where you are in the race until the race breaks up at the 1 mile mark, where the 2 milers hang a U-turn. I went out in a somewhat conservative pace and found myself way back in the field with about 8 guys in front of me (and none were that close). I had my work cut out for me. Luckily, I've run enough races to know that patience can be a virtue. After climbing the ridiculous hill that is cruelly scheduled in the race after the first mile, I began to pick runners off, one by one. I had all but the top two pulled in by the time I hit mile 4 with only one runner hanging on to me. Somehow, I held off the 16 year old kid (that’s 20 years my junior-dang I’m getting old) and crossed the line in 28:26. Not a great time for a flat course, but this isn’t a flat course.

My secret? I pre-planned and built in a great
alibi the night before. Nathan and I did a 90 minute progression run (30 easy, 30 medium, 30 hard) and ran the last few miles in sub 6. That took off all the pressure of running fast! Could I have run faster had I not done this workout? Sure. Did I have a great Alibi? You bet! And nothing beats a great alibi heading into a race.

Truthfully, I believe I’m having a great early season because of the consistency of training over the winter that I had. Training for the Boston Marathon by only running base mileage built my strength up and made sure that I didn’t burn out after running a marathon like I normally do. I didn’t start doing any real speedwork until a few weeks ago and most of that has been oriented around sprint leg turnover (strides) and speed (short fartleks). I still haven’t run a track workout and I have no idea how fast I’m running during my workouts—I’ll take care of that later in the year when it is time to sharpen. Nor do I know what % of my HR I’m running. I know I’m breathing hard and that is good enough for me. Sure my Boston time suffered, but that wasn’t the goal. Running fast at Chicago was. And I believe I’m on my way. I’m looking forward to it already.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

TWIKR Notes

My favorite show when I was a kid was This Week in Baseball and one of my favorite segments of the show was TWIB Notes, when you got to learn about what was really happening in the league. In honor of the show, here are my TWIKR notes (This week in Kirk's Running)..

I hit 80 miles this week, with all but 6 of them on trails. The week started with the Brian Kraft 5K, which went pretty well for me--I ran a 16:55 and placed 51st among males at the race. Yes, the field was that good. While it is a ways off from my PR, it is early in the season and I've only done a few workouts that even resemble 5K speed workouts (If you can call strides a workout...) The rest of the week's runs were amazing runs through Lebanon Hills (my favorite place to run in the Cities, and the Sibley House (Minnesota Valley trails).

The only run of note was a 35 minute Steady State that Mike and I ran on Thursday night. Very good workout in that I was only ready to be done with it once we hit 30 minutes--so only 5 minutes of not enjoying a workout. We then proceeded to destroy any benefit from the run by drinking lots of beer, eating lots of peanuts and popcorn and eating an unhealthy meal at Lucky's in Mendota. Some people eat to run and some people run to eat. I'm Schizo on that one.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Building a Wine Cellar...

Anne and I have been talking about building a wine cella
r for a very long time. This weekend, we finally got on it. I bought a book--How and Why to Build a Wine Cellar, by Richard Gold--an Engineer's Engineer. It is a great read, and very instructive on how to build a wine cellar. Sooooo----We decided on a rough dimension for the wine cellar, borrowed a truck, and bought some lumber.

The first t
hing to do was to rip out the old insulation and vapor barrier. After this, I added electrical wire for future purposes. We don't need electricity inside the wine cellar (now), but we will (likely) need electricity in the rest of the basement at sometime in the future. The insulation was in bad shape after having too many winters with moisture (note the black color in the picture on the left). The problem was that the vapor barrier and insulation was stopped below the bottom of the wall, allowing for moist air to run up the wall and sit there. So, after the rough electrical was run (12/2 Romex, for those who care about that kind of thing), I reinstalled insulation (R-13 Fiberglass) and added a new coat of 6mm Poly Vapor Barrier. The look and insulation is much cleaner and much better than the previous installation. So, call the exterior walls semi-done.

I then had to build and install the interior walls (those that face the interior of the room. The picture below is me starting to build frame that became the wall. I used 2x6 construction and added 2x4 for the stud wall to allow for 2 layers of R-13 insulation (yes, it will be slightly compressed and if I had to do it again, I would have used 2x8 construction). The finished product looked like the picture on the right.

Now that the stud-walls were up, I had to put vapor barrier (6mm Poly) on the ceiling, but not the joices, per the book (too much vapor barrier can cause too much humidity). After this R-30
unfaced fiberglass insulation went up on the ceiling, protecting the wine cellar from the heat in the living room directly above the wine cellar.

After finish the celings
, it was time to insulate (R-13 again) and vapor barrier the interior walls. This seems easy, but it was time consuming. and I was happy to be done with handling fiberglass iinsulation for the time being. There is quite a bit more work to do, but the tough stuff (like handling huge amounts of fiberglass insulation) is largely done.

There is quite a bit more to do, but the least glamorous parts of the project are done and things are looking up. I'm looking forward to next weekend so I can entirely seal up the room and see if how well it holds temperature and humidity.

One of the things we really noticed was how much heat an incandescent light put off--and so we replaced it with a flourescent light bulb. The room stayed much cooler and will definitely be the normal light in the cellar from now on...

To be continued...

Friday, May 23, 2008

Overdue

I can't believe how overdue on wine updates I've become. I'm adding 6 grapes to the list as of this moment--Riesling (I can't believe it wasn't on the list already, considering my love of the grape), Marsanne (a normal blending grape that should remain a blending grape), a Touriga (Portugal's National Grape), Muller Thurgau grape from Deutschland, and a Columbard/Ugni Blanc Mix that I'm drinking as I'm writing this.

I don't have alot to say about the grapes as none of them knocked my socks off. However, the Touriga is a Rose Wine that I picked up for under $8/bottle and was pretty pleasant. The winemaker is Quinta Da Alorna and was purchased at Byerly's.

The Muller Thurgau was a gift, so was the best kind of wine in the world. Free. That and it tasted pretty good. I don't know how much it cost, so I'll leave it at that.

Monday, April 28, 2008

24 weeks ‘til Chicago

I’ve been thinking of adding a running angle to my blog for a while, but I’ve been afraid that I’d bore the tears off of my friends and family if I did. I’ve finally realized that no matter what I write, I’m boring them, so why not add some running stuff to the blog?

So, my blog is down to running and wine. I guess that they are two of my major passions in life, if not the major passions. Maybe I should rename my blog to “Running over Grapes” or something similar…

Why did I decide to do Chicago? The (Medtronic) Twin Cities Marathon is one week before Chicago and is my favorite marathon ever. I placed 3rd in my age group last year. I know how to run a great race on the TCM course and I love the local support. So why not run it? Why choose Chicago? I’m not sure. It might be that I’m starting to get up there in my running years and I wanted one last shot on a flat course and a significant PR. It might be that I was impulsive and when Marty and Deb decided to do Chicago, it sounded like a great idea and so I went and signed up. It could also be that I simply needed a change. (and CHANGE seems like the them for the year, doesn’t it???)

I’m already looking forward to the training cycle; hard runs, easy runs, and long runs. Cold runs, yielding to incredibly hot runs, yielding to cool fall runs. To strides, to fartleks, to tempos, to hill runs, to long runs, to easy runs. I’m looking forward to it all. Chicago can’t come fast enough….

Friday, April 25, 2008

I Heart the Marathon (Part 3)


Anne's Freevo picked up the Paris Marathon, which I watched tonight. Two things stuck out. First, the Men's race was tight at the 40K marathon. Very tight. Two guys, mano-a-mano, trying to run the other into the ground. Kenya vs. Ethiopia. Man vs. Man. So, they pull up to a water stop, one guy grabs a water bottle, the other slows for him and they go on and share the water. Seriously? Share water? Slow down for the other competitor? Yep. That is marathoning. And that is why I love it. Ethiopia's 20 year old wonder one, but it didn't matter to me. 40Km showed everything I needed.

Second, the women's race. Amazing. Kenya vs. Ethiopia again. Kenyan woman running with horrible form, obviously beat. Ethiopian lady, drafting off of her, biding her time and finally grabbing a commanding lead. Or did she? Kenyan lady, basically running like the Humpback of Notre Dame, passes her back. And breaks Ethiopian lady. Kenyan lady, runs across the finish line with her head bobbing like she was listening to Def Leppard or Poison in the late 90's. With a strain on her face that makes waterboarding look like pleasure (okay, maybe not). I clapped at a recording of a recording. It was awesome.
I Heart Boston (and the Boston) Marathon

This (past) weekend was incredible. Anne and I flew into Boston on Friday and checked into the most kick ass hotel I've stayed at in a long time, the Marriott Custom House. The building was built in the 1860's as a Custom's Building for Boston Harbor. In the 19-teens, the feds built a 26 story building on top of the building. So, imagine the Jefferson Memorial with a a 26 story building (similar in style to the Foshay tower in Mpls.) The Feds moved out in the 70's into the awful Pei designed Boston Federal Government Building. Yes, this is the same Pei who designed the Pyramid at the Louvre and JFK Library. I can't speak for the new digs, but the old digs rock. Marriott gutted the tower in 1910 and renovated the Custom House in the late 90's. This hotel was amazing.

Anne and I went out to eat at Sel de la Terre, about a 3 minute walk from our hotel. Amazingly good. So much so, we went back later in the trip.

Saturday, we went to the Expo, and because it was so incredibly beautiful out, walked around alot. We went to lunch at a restaurant on Tremont Street called cafeTeria, in which we had a pretty good Kobe Hamburger. Hmmm--Hamburgers and fries two days before a marathon. That evening we (Mike, Nathan, Emily and some of her friends) drank some beer at the Black Rose (awesome) and then went to Todd English's Kingfish Hall, which was mediocre. (Sel de la Terre was cheaper and 5x as good). So, we walked alot, but enjoyed the day.

Sunday rolled around and we watched the Women's Olympic Trials. Simply amazing, except that we walked around for 5 or 6 hours 1 day before the marathon. No problem, right? That night we went to Trattoria di Monica, an awesome but very small restaurant in the North End of Boston. Off the main drag, but packed due to it's 6 table space, it was great and an opportunity for us to meet a couple we met on diving on Dominica who live in the Boston Greater Area. Great Fun.

Monday came early. Breakfast at the hotel at 5:30, buses to the start at 6:15, and the start at 10 am. It was cool before the start, with temps in the 40's and very damp. Unluckily, the clouds broke at 9:59 and shone on us throughout the marathon. I started in corral 1, and started conservatively. I don't have my splits, but tons of people passed me throughout the first 10 miles. The problem was is that I didn't feel comfortable. I realized that I hadn't run at marathon pace (or faster) for more than 6 miles all spring--and both of those were in very short races. My legs also hurt from walking around the 2 days prior to the marathon. I hit the half in 1:25 and change, exactly what I'd hoped.

By 16, I knew I was toast. My legs were mush, especially the inner quad muscles. I was in trouble. I pushed through the Newton Hills and held myself together with very few people passing me. However, once we hit the downhills after Heartbreak Hill, my quads were on fire. I tried to stay composed, but I was sure that I was going to cramp up for the remainder of the race. Luckily, they didn't and I only slowed a little, finishing in 2:55:08. Losing just under 5 minutes in the second half. Much better than the first time I ran the race when I lost 15 minutes, but still slightly disappointing. But only slightly...

Looking back, I'm very happy with my time. Very. I did no marathon specific training and ran this entirely on base mileage. I walked around a lot the days before and had some great meals and some great times at the Black Rose. I got severly dehydrated (my bad, yeah, but hey--it was the warmest day of the year so far!).

So, in summation, great race, great time and an amazing city.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

I Heart the Marathon

I work up 3x this morning before 4 am and finally got up at 4:15. Why? The freakin' London Marathon was on WCSN.COM for free. I dragged my butt out of bed, threw my body on the couch and watched the marathon. What a show! I can't believe the I can hang out and watch 2:05 (2:25 FOR the women) worth of running. But I can. And there is no better show on the airwaves. The tactics and the physicality of this are second to none. Imagine running 1:11 400's for 105 laps. And then having 2 other guys hang on to you. And then sprinting away from them. WOW.

I can't wait until Boston next week.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Spring has finally Sprung (2008)!

I made it over to Lebanon Hills today and was astounded by the sounds of spring. Warblers, chickadees, cardinals, and yes, frogs... I can't wait for the trails to be clear--they look like mashed potatoes and gravy right now-- snow, and mud mixed together to make a mess. In two weeks we'll be running in the parks and enjoying the solitude (funny that I used we, eh?) of the woods once again.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Lucy caught a whaaaaat?

Yes, Lucy (notice here cool-ass runing in really cold weather beard in the Picture to the left) had this Possum in her mouth not too long ago. BTW--this possum wasn't dead. It was playing possum. As in not really dead, but playing like it was. I could see it breathing. I'm not sure how good of defense mechanism it is when you are in the grips of a predator (Lucy???)... but it worked with me. It was gone the next day.


Minnesota, Ain't She Grand?
Contrast this picture, taken today---

With this picture, taken March 25, 2007 from Anne's Blog



Ain't Minnesota Grand? At least it keeps most of the Texans out of here...

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Struggling to keep up with his wine varietal postings, Kirk asked me to guest blog tonight.

Speaking of struggling to keep up, I'm feeling behind...my big bro (who Kirk refers to as the Wine Monkey) is way ahead of us on his wine quest. He's up to variety #89 as of 6 PM tonight...we're currently up to 39, but with this blog I officially bring the total to 41.

#40 - Mandolina Classico Toccata, 2003
This was one of Kirk's Wine.Woot.com bottles. A nice wine to have as a standby around the house. The wine is a blend of 5 varieties and only one of them, freisa, is new to our list. At only 15% it feels like a bit of a cheat to add it to the list, but I'm feeling desperate.





#41 - Chateau St. Jean Gew├╝rztraminer, 2006
The decision to drink this wine was purely based on the fact that we haven't checked it off the list yet, but it was was a well made decision. This wine has a nose of vanilla, slightly sweet (but not to a fault) this wine is really drinkable. Just don't pair it with pistachios...

Cheers!
Anne

Friday, February 29, 2008

Update Update Update

Tomorrow we go on vacation. I'm very excited to escape the cold of MN. Very very very. Some warm days in a warm, humid clime is just what the Doctor ordered.

So, I told Anne that I'd clean up the counter of wine bottles that I'd been meaning to blog about. So, realizing that I was (finally) done packing, I'm finally writing about them..

Varietal #35-36 Viognier and Chenin Blanc--Pine Ridge, CA 2005. This is one of my favorite summer wines and it works well in winter as well. Light, with some residual sugar--fruity and yummy. I think this is one heck of a wine for ~ $10...

Varietal # 37 Viura---Medievo, Rioja, Spain. This was another great white wine, especially for the price. Fruity, with some decent body, I like this one alot.

Varietal # 38 Pansa Blanca. No wait this one has already been drunk. Same name as Xarel Lo. Dang. None the less this Marques de Alella makes a very nice wine of this grape, which is typically blended into Cava, Spain's version of Champagne.

Varietal #38 (again) Garganega- Tamellni Soave 2004. The wine maker must love oaky Chardonnay. California Chardonnay that is. I'd prefer that they handled this wine a little more delicately... I'd no go this wine again.

Varietal #39 Muscat. Joao Pires 2004. This one was bottled in a tall bottle, similar to wines from the Alsace Region or the Rhein. Labeled as a white table wine from Portugal, I figured it would be made in the German Tradition. I was kind of right. A ton of acidity, a little residual sugar. Fine, German Style. Odd taste, confusing palate. Not German whatsoever. I'd recommend that everyone try this wine, because you'd never expect a Muscat to NOT be a desert wine. Nor would you expect it to be as dry as this one... I'm confused. Still.

I'll see you in a week. With a tan.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Vino Update

Have you ever fallen so far behind in a task that you rue catching up? That's what I did in the wine varietal count. I finally decided to catch up today by simply placing them on the count and not worrying about writing what the wines were and how they tasted. That would take so long that I would never get it done. As you can see, we're up to 34 varietals--this occurred much more quickly than I expected. Much more. And yet, I'm happy and my liver is just fine. It helps to have family that is interested in the same thing.

By the way, I just finished reading Red, White, and Drunk all Over by Natalie MacLean. If you have any interest in wine, this is a great read.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

I Voted

I wasn't planning to vote today. However, I got out on my run a little late due to a work function. I was running through my neighborhood and there was quite a bit more traffic than normal. I thought "Dang, there must be something big happening at the High School tonight"--because we live so close to the High School. I then made my way onto Diffley Ave, and I noticed that traffic was backed up nearly 2 miles, waiting to get to the High School. This is 2 lanes of traffic, backed up for 2 miles. I'd say voter turnout was high. Then I felt guilty, and decided I had to vote. So I dropped Lucy off after my run and ran to the High School, where they let me vote despite the fact that 8 PM was when the polls was supposed to close and it was now 8:15. Thanks caucus people. Thanks.

FYI--Lucy has run 30 miles in 3 days. She is turning into quite the athlete.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Sally's has Me Seeing Red!

Today, I was "lucky" enough to get free tickets to the Gopher-Badger Basketball game. (lucky is relative, as the game was brutal). We decided to meet at a U of M standby-- Sally's Saloon. I know it is a U of M bar because 1) it is right next to the U of M Campus and 2) it proclaims it in an ad right outside the bar on a sign on a bus station shelter. (The U of M Gathering Spot!)

Soooo--I walked into the bar, purchased a Summit Winter Ale (because I only purchase MN beers when possible), and wandered into the bar. There were the usual assortment of Gold and Maroon wearing folk scattered with the ugly color of Red and White folk in the front half of the bar. Then, I wandered into the back of the bar...where the University of Wisconsin Badger Pep Band was playing and Bucky Badger was dancing. WHAT??? Yes, it appears that the owners of Sally's has sold out to the mighty greenback and fallen prey to the "Badger Nation". The entire back end of the bar was full of ugly leather jackets and incredibly tacky red and white overalls. I was shocked. I was upset. This is a bar that hosted the U of M Alumni Pep Functions for the same Gopher Basketball Team last year. This is a bar that is named after " female companion for Goldy Gopher (the U of M Mascot) was in order - thus the creation of Sally the female gopher." What the heck? What the !#@$?

I turned to the bartenders for sympathy, but they were wearing a sticker that stated "Rolling Out The Red Carpet"; featuring a Badger on the label. Now I was incensed! I went to the manager to plead my case. He simply stated that they were paying customers and that they arranged with the bar to show up early and take over the back half of the bar. I stated that I didn't mind that Badger fans dropped their money at their bar, but they did not have to allow the pep band into the bar along with Bucky Badger... He basically said that they had sold their Soul to the Devil (not his words) and that he didn't feel bad about it. I left and another guy walked up to complain. So did someone else, and then another. Because complaints don't mean anything to Sally's, I ask that all of the "Gopher Nation" speak in the only words that Sally's understands--the mighty dollar. Boycott Sally's now until Sally's apologizes and agrees to never host another Badger function on their premise... If you want to email the traitors, email them at sallyssa@sallyssalloon.com.

Monday, January 21, 2008

90 Days--and Counting

I did some math today and determined there were only 90 days left until the Boston Marathon. This marathon is coming up much more quickly than I'd like. The temperature today was 9 F and there was 1/2" of fresh, powdery snow--it sure seems like the gods are against me training for Boston. Alas, I went outside and I ran and surprised myself--I had a great run.. My legs were tired by the end, but this was a redeeming run. Wrapped up in my own thoughts, I looked forward to the hills of Boston, the heat of training through the heat and humidity of a Twin Cities summer and another Twin Cities Marathon. Here's to looking a crappy day in the and telling it to bugger off.
Dang where does the Wine Go?

A trip to a couple of wine bars and a wine tasting later, and we've zipped through a few more varietals. I didn't do a good job of taking notes, so I'm going to forgo writing about the wines--just note that all were good unless noted otherwise...

Varietal #12 Aligote
2006 Shooting Star Washington State Aligote--a bit flabby, we didn't mean to purchase this wine, but all ends just fine. This one would be better on a sunny deck than on a day when it is -15 F outside.

Varietal #13 Colombard
2006 McNab Ridge Mendocino Niemi Vineyard French Colombard--very similar in taste to a Gewurz--lovely with a salad or sweets

Varietal #14-16 Gropello, Marzemino, Barbera
2004 Garda Classico Negresco--this one also has Sango, but that one has already been covered. This is a great blend of red wine with some rare grapes. A great one for the challenge.

Varietal #17 Monica Grapes
2004 Argiolas Perdera--another nice wine, and a nice price too. I'm impressed with Italian wines especially dollar for dollar.

More later, maybe...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Weekend Wrap

This weekend was a beautiful one up here in the Tundra, with temps sitting in the mid 20's and some nice light snow. The run on Saturday morning was wonderful--the falling snow dampened the din of the city and the only sound you could here were footsteps for much of the run.

On the wine drinking front, it was a productive weekend (including tonight)--

Varietals #7 & 8 Arneis & Tocai Friuliano

The wine--2005 JB Cellars Margaret Anne, Mendocino CA

Anne picked this one up at Byerly's because of the interesting grapes involved. Both are Italian in nature but these grapes were grown in the cool temperatures of Mendocino. I had a tough time with this wine because it was slightly corked. I'm a little more sensitive to TCA than most people and I have a tough time evaluating a wine once I sense it. Regardless, this wine was fine--it reminded me of the table whites we had when we were in Italy--a little grassy, very little nose, and honestly not that much flavor. The structure was good and the wine was dry--pretty good with food, but definitely not a sit and sip wine.


Varietal #9 Gruner Veltliner

The wine--2004 Hopler Gruner Veltliner, Austria

I love Gruner Veltliner. Dry and minerally. A little fruit but definitely not overpowering. This grape has become my favorite white grape. Maybe it is because I have relatives from Austria. I am soooo happy that Austria is making a comeback and we are able to get these incredible grapes once again.

Varietal #10 Pinotage

The wine--2003 Wamakersvallei La Cave Pinotage, Wellington, South Africa

When I asked for a Pinotage at the wine store, the clerk's eyes shine and he walked me straight to this one and claimed it was in the top 5 wines in the store. It was pushing the price threshold for the wine century club (~$24), but based on this recommendations, I had to bite. I'm glad I did. This wine was deep ruby--dark and beautiful. The nose was lush and dark. The flavor--chocolate, raspberry and spice. Yummmm. I won't go on, but I would definitely recommend this one

Varietal #11 Grenache

The wine--2006 Almira Los Dos, Campo de Borja, Spain

Admit it, when you hear for Grenache, you think of Gallo White Grenache from the late 80's. It was popular at the same time as White Zinfandel and it still confuses people. To get a good idea of what a real Grenache tastes like, head for some Spanish wines--this one is Spanish and it is a Grenache. It should be great, right??

Hmmm-- after the Pinotage, I knew there would be a letdown. I was right. I picked to eat this wine tonight because we were having Mexican food and this was a Spanish wine. They serve tamales in Spain, right??? This wine is actually 85% Grenache and 15% Syrah, but I'll only take credit for the Grenache. The wine is rather weak in color--not quite like a Pinot Noir, but definitely not as beautiful as the Pinotage or the wine with Petit Verdot in it. The nose matches the color--it is rather underwhelming--a little fruit and a little earth. The structure of the wine is good--light tannins (there but not strong) and a taste of blackberries and maybe cranberries. In spite of this, overall I think this wine is underwhelming--however, for $10 I might pick this one up again.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

#3-6 in one Sitting

I honestly didn't mean to cover 4 grapes in one sitting, but I did. I think I feel downright dirty and will have to revisit many of these varietals when I can. Here is how it happened--I found myself at the liquor store, nearly panicking at the variety of varietals. I picked up an Hungarian wine but put that aside for later. I settled on a wine from Forte de Valle (Valley of the Fort, I guess) from the Yecla DOC in Spain. Little did I know that it was a blend that covered 4 varietals--56% Merlot, 24% Mouvedre, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Petit Verdot.

Varietal #3 Merlot
Vatietal #4, Mourverde (dog strangler in French??)
Varietal #5, Cabernet Sauvignon
Varietal #6, Petit Verdot

The wine--Casa De Las Espacias, 2004 Forte del Valle, Yecla DOC

With a deep red olor (likely from the Petite Verdot), but not quite inky, this is a pretty wine in the glass The nose is a little different--almost smells of anise??? The flavor is straight up the middle of the tongue with some pronounced Tannins when swirled around the mouth. There is some density -almost meatiness to the wine, similar to Jumilla district wines--the terroir is definitely there. We are definitely not in California anymore--and it reminded me of many of the wines we had when we were in Spain in 2003. So if you like somewhat challenging wines that reflect on Spain and you like paying under $10 for a bottle, this one would be right up your alley

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

2 Down, 98 to Go

Dang, the first 2 went down fast. However, I'll be sick of wine and missing beer in now time, so my brother in law, Ted, can relax. Please note that he has now joined the Blog Community for the challenge.

Varietal #2: Zinfandel

2004 Zinfandel, Luddite Vineyards, Russian River Valley, 68 cases produced

I made a pretty great (if I do say so myself) Hungarian Style Goulash on Sunday, which we ate as leftovers tonight. The cookbook recommended Limerick Lane Zinfandel (one of my favorites)--but the only Limerick Lanes I had formed a vertical so were off limits. Hence, the Luddite wine, which is only a few miles away as the crow flies from Limerick Lane. We bought this wine in the tasting room and shipped it back with some other bottles--I'm glad we did. For those of you not familiar with Zinfandel--it is quite often a very fruit forward wine that is often described as jammy and quite often at 15+% ABV (alcohol by volume). It is one of the quintessential American Wines, but is often "dissed" by wine snobs because it is too fruity and too high of alcohol. Good for them, but I really like it for drinking in front of a fire on a dark cold evening.

This wine is deep, particularly for a 2004 from Sonoma County. It is peppery with very little fruit on it, which I find rare for CA Zins. The nose is dominated by pepper, with a little hotness, hinting at the 14.2% abv (alcohol by volume). While this isn't particularly high for a Zin, I always smell it before tasting it. The taste is of plums and chocolate. Surprisingly, the tannins are still prevalent, which again, is rare for a few year old CA Zin. I think that this wine could sit for a few years and do very well.

Monday, January 07, 2008

100 Vino Varietals

I was browsing the internet (actually reading my Google Reader Acct), and I came across Wine Century, which really peaked my interest. The challenge is to drink 100 different types of grapes and submit your "accomplishment". I quickly filled out the checklist and realized that I had only drank (drunk?) 38 different varietals in my life. 62 to go. Some people would feel daunted by that task. I felt invigorated. I wrote Anne and my brother in law Ted, who leveled the challenge that we start over! We get no getting credit for past work (pleasure), and we have to log each and every varietal we drink. I now felt doubly invigorated!!!! Running 3500 miles in a year is too daunting, drinking 100 varietals of grapes is not. Plus it gives me something to blog about. Sooo, here goes...

Varietal #1--Sangiovese


2005 Mayo Family Winery, Dry Creek Valley, Unti Vineyard

This wine varietal is one of my favorites and Mayo makes a pretty good wine. Sangiovese is a wine typical to Tuscany, but is usually blended into Chianti, which is a blend. Mayo, for th
ose of you not familiar with them, are a family winery based in Sonoma Valley. They focus on single vineyard designations, and this one is no different. Cranberry in color and taste, something I find common in California Sangos this wine has a nice light finish and some berry flavor (not too fruity), which make this a particularly good dinner wine. I'm not talking big steak and potatoes kind of dinner, I'm thinking Pizza or a light red sauce on Polenta or Pasta. Excellent.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Spirit of the Marathon

On the 24th of January, for one night only, theaters throughout the US will
show Spirit of the Marathon, a documentary about, what else, the Marathon. I've pre-purchased tickets for the show at the Eagan 16. This is normally my workout night, but if you can't give up a workout for this, what can you give one up for? I hope to see you there as well.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

German Corporations

Cracked.com does an interesting and funny look at companies that got their start during WWII--you can find that here. What I find disturbing is that so many of these companies have so much style. Who would have thought that Adolf would have had such a strong fashion sense? You certainly wouldn't have guessed that from his 'stache.

PS--you might want to spend some time wandering around cracked.com -- it is pretty good.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Christmas in Fort Myers Beach

was great. To give you an idea of how I spent my days...


I "filmed" this with my new Flip Video that I received for Christmas... It appears thus far to be a pretty cool tool.