But Did JFK Know?

So, last week we asked what well-known woman was named an honorary Artichoke Queen? (I know, it’s a little left field…). Anyway, our favorite answer was Monica Lewinsky. But the right answer was Marilyn Monroe. In 1947 (some sources say 1948) Monroe was given the honorary title by the California town of Castroville, even though as a younger woman she never scored the artichoke crown (apparently, she wasn’t considered beautiful enough).


Piper Heidsieck Chewing Tobacco Advertisement—1919

I’m sure the Champenoise weren’t too crazy about this… In 1919, the American Tobacco Company featured “Piper Heidsieck Chewing Tobacco,” as a way to entice people to chew more tobacco. The tobacco itself was high-quality white Burley tobacco picked ripe. According to the United States Tobacco Journal, “Piper” was unequalled for chewing, and the rare Burley leaf was made even more delicious by blending it to achieve a flavor like Piper Heidsieck Champagne. Apparently if you chewed “Piper” once, you’d never be satisfied with any other tobacco.


Bound to Happen

It was “nutty” and “clean.” It was organic. It scored a 91 which translated as “excellent.” But it wasn’t a score from Parker, because Parker doesn’t rate pot. But Rachel Burkons does. She’s the Cannabis Editor of Clever Root magazine. And just so you’re up to speed on this, here’s her rating system:

98-100     A True Classic
95-97       Outstanding
91-94       Excellent
88-91       Very Good
84-87       Above Average
80-83       Average

Oh, the 91 in question? It was for Mondo, a dissolving cannabis powder that can be mixed into any drink and which Burkons says is “great for daytime consumption.”


“I’ll Have the Special, Thanks”

So there you are—staring at a menu item that reads “Prawns Human Taste” (ah: Hunan Taste?)   According to Atlas Obscura’s fantastic piece, “Why Menu Translations Go Terribly Wrong,” these aren’t just typos. Translating the names of dishes that exist within a cultural context can be next to impossible. Some entertaining (and delicious) examples:

  • Steak on the Way Home
  • Battered Brains
  • Vegetarian Meat Floss
  • Climbing with a Hen
  • Sautéed Happy Family
  • Sad Cold Noodles
  • Lamp, Immaculately Grilled
  • Mediterranean Risotto with Smallpox
  • Nuts of Saint Jacques
  • Chicken with Special Needs


To the list of all the things you can (but maybe shouldn’t) do while drinking, add this: ax-throwing. According to Tasting Table, two new ax-throwing places will open this year in Boston and ax-throwing bars already exist in Philadelphia and in Canada. If throwing an ax in between sips of pinot noir never crossed your mind, you’re, umm, not alone. But apparently ax-throwing is the new thing. The ax-throwing bars are careful to point out that safety precautions are taken and that an “axepert” supervises every throw. Co-founder of Revolution Axe company, Chris Greeno is quoted in the piece as saying. “If you and your boyfriend or girlfriend walk in for a romantic night of ax throwing, we want to accommodate you.” Good to know.


Crafty Opossum Downs Craft Spirit

According to The Drinks Business, this merry marsupial snuck into Cash’s, a Florida liquor store, the day after Thanksgiving, broke a bottle of bourbon then drank the entire contents. The brand was not revealed. Found in a wobbly condition and looking rather pale, the opossum was taken in by the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge and given a Bloody Mary–I mean medical fluids. She has since been released. Many animals are known to appreciate the uplifting effects of an occasional nip including elephants, shrews, and fruit flies.


Edible Delirium

Okay, something is seriously wacky with the cheese people. First, pink prosecco cheese. Now this: Finlandia cheese company has created an edible cheese wine glass and edible cheese beer glass. At first, I thought, “okay, I’ll get one as a gag gift (really a gag gift) for WineSpeed’s publisher since he likes cheese.” But then I found out each eat-me glass cost $5000. And then I discovered you could only buy the glass on Facebook (beat that op-ed Amazon) and only on one day—last Wednesday. I swear if eat-me glass went viral, I’m in the wrong business. Your complimentary subscription BrieSpeed will arrive next week.



Maybe it’s just me but doesn’t this pink cheese bring back memories of Hostess Pink Snowballs? It’s actually Wensleydale cheese (a British classic) flavored with raspberries and prosecco (which, sigh, Snowballs didn’t have). But I don’t know, there’s something creepy about pink cheese and besides, Prosec-obsession is starting to get a little tedious. The pink prosecco cheese—already being billed as gastro-bait for millennials–is made by The Great British Cheese Company. Get it here and WineSpeed friends, report back please.



Ten Aromas

Top ten aromas you don’t want to smell in your wine this fall.

Compound  What it Smells Like
Acetaldehyde Stale straw; roasted nuts
Amyl-acetate Fake candy banana flavoring
Brettanomyces Barnyards, fecal matter, gamey horses
Cork taint Damp dog in damp basement sitting on damp cardboard
Butyric acid Rancid butter
Ethyl acetate Weak vinegar, paint thinner, nail polish remover
Hydrogen sulfide Rotten eggs,  garlic that has gone bad
Mercaptans Burnt garlic or onion
Oxidation Cooked bruised fruit and walnuts
Sulfur dioxide Burnt matches

Smoke Blunder

With the fires that have killed nearly 50 and devastated 162,000 acres of wine country not yet fully out, famous San Francisco chef Michael Mina is heralding the opening of his new SF restaurant. Its name? International Smoke. The promo copy talks about how “approaches on fire, grilling, and smoke…bring communities together.” (Yeah, no kidding). We’re pretty sure Mina’s cooking is great. His timing? Not so much.