2006 Sabor Real "Tinto de Toro"

Sabor Real
Tinto de Toro
90 pts--Robert Parker

Fat, voluptuous and bold are the characteristics that superlatively define the physique of this 2006 Tinto de Toro. On the nose, a smoky meat and cracked pepper pervade the senses. As the purple liquid lingers on the tongue it's bramble fruit and cherry become pronounced with a whispering scorched earthiness that is most in part due to it's 6-month contact with American oak barrels. Upon exhaling, notes of chocolate and espresso finish this wine's journey.


1/20 -- Wine Wednesday--2007 Longboard Pinot Noir

Longboard Pinot Noir
Russian River Valley, California

California, especially the Russian River Valley region, is extolled for having prime conditions for growing the Pinot Noir varietal. With the proper climactic elements having been met, Longboards 2007 Pinot Noir proves to be soft and velvety, supple and lush. On the nose, rose petals, plums and a slight hint of bergamot shape the boquette while on the palate cherry cola, raspberries, strawberry jam and a hint of cigar leaf are noted. With a whisper of vanilla at the finish and fine tannins balanced with acidity, this bottle drinks easily.


1/15: Restaurant Review: Public, NYC

210 Elizabeth St.
New York, New York 10012
(212) 343-0918

Executive Chef Brad Farmerie, having been trained in London and having travelled extensively throughout Australia, New Zealand and the East, brings to Lower Manhattan a cuisine, that with a debonair ingenuity, flirts with the essence of many ethnicities. Chef Farmerie, inspired with his untethered fusion of Australian, Asian, African and French cuisines, creates a menu full of dishes such as "Pan-seared foie gras on spiced french toast with pineapple chutney, maple glaze and crispy bacon", "Roast duck breast, confit duck empanada, huitlacoche puree, napoles and cactus pear relish" and "Grilled swordfish with a Sichuan chili eggplant salad, cherry tomato confit and a caramelized fig glaze" sure to titillate the palate of any gastronome.

My favorite dish of the night was the Pan-seared foie gras appetizer. The dish beautifully contrasted the salty (the crispy bacon) and the sweet (the pineapple chutney and maple glaze) as well as the foie gras' polarity of textures (crisp pan seared external crust with a velvety and creamy inside). The play on the "french toast" theme was a sophisticated delight as the maple glaze (or syrup) is the standard compliment to that of french toast. It paired famously with the foie gras. The presentation was of fastidious artistry, but not over done to the point where consuming the food makes you feel that you are ridding the world of an artistic masterpiece.

Part rustic, part chic, the decor of the dining room suits the dynamics and panache of the menu proficiently. The wall at the far right end of the dining hall is actually a fully operating garage door. I would imagine in the summer time the garage door escalates allowing in the beautiful sunshine or starlight. Sanguine brick is the foundation of the lower half of the walls while, white stained brick make up the top half. Twenty five globular glass candle holders, with flickering wicks, are fastened to the back wall and with the help of hanging dim lamps, the mood is set.


The Most Rockin' Boat Around.

Perhaps the weather wasn't as sunny and picturesque as we all had hoped. Perhaps we didn't get to strip down to our swim trunks or bikini's and feel the rays beating on our pasty white Winter skin. Perhaps the 80 degree tropical breeze we yearned to feel whipping our hair in maniacal directions wasn't so tropical and was 40 degrees cooler than we had hoped. Perhaps that wind also carried rain drops forcing the cancellation of Lido Deck performances. But that doesn't matter.

The talent on the ship was hotter than July and the fun experienced on the Inspiration was more enjoyable than that tropical breeze we all had hoped for. So we didn't get to experience Passion Island in Cozumel while sipping a Mexican Corona, the spirit on the ship was greater than a high school pep rally when your basketball team wins the State championship and that's all that matters. I had a wonderful time meeting all of you fellow Rock Boaters, sharing meals with you, enjoying the fine talent on the ship all the while sipping on pink, highly effeminate tropical drinks like a Sex on the Beach.

I highly enjoyed feeling like a million bucks going into the formal dining hall and having the option to order two of everything on the menu if I chose to while not even having to pay a dime. One of the friends I was hanging out with enjoyed the Chocolate Molten Cake so much she ordered one as her appetizer every night. On the last night, the waiter brought her the cake without her even having to ask for it. Now that is table service! Similarly, on the last nigh, I overindulged and ordered two of those sexually stimulating, chocolate lava delights and watched the vanilla ice cream melt over them into a custard-like sauce. It was a beautiful thing.

One of my most exciting moments on the boat was when I passed a group of fans getting in the elevator with Marc Broussard. As I walked past the elevator, as the doors were closing, a fan yelled out and pointed, "Hey! That's Andrew Hoover!!". There is nothing more powerful than when your presence is pointed out to one of your musical idols.

It seemed as though Lady Luck was holding a grudge on me throughout the whole trip as all my performances were defiled with technological problems. On my second performance my guitar's electronic system bit the dust. Fortunately, J. MO, the guitar tech for Sister Hazel came to the rescue and provided me with one of the band's guitars. It didn't stop there. On my third and final performance in the Candlelight Lounge, I opted not to use my broken guitar so I used another spare guitar that management tracked down for me. Seven songs into the show that guitar stopped working as well. I had the sound guys mic the guitar with an instrument microphone so I could continue on with the show as seemlessly as possible. However, two songs later that microphone died. Although it was frustrating and caused for the show's flow to be broken, it allowed me to perform "Secrets" completely acoustic, sitting on the edge of the stage, while the sound techs exchanged microphones.

Seasickness was high in volume on the ship...or was it alcohol poisoning? Who knows! Fortunately, despite the turbulent seas and the occompanying 14 foot waves I was not affected. I did find myself wondering how Christopher Colombus was capable of sailing seas for more than 4 days without gourmet food, bands like Tyrone Wells and Marc Broussard, Dramamine or pink fruity drinks. It is unfathomable.

I'm crossing my fingers and every limb capable of being crossed that I will be invited back for Rock Boat XI. I hope to see you soon at a show now that we're back on the mainland.