Monday, October 31, 2011

First Taste - Corner Stable in Columbia

The P90s went to Corner Stable on Friday night. We got there early (5:40) and the place was packed. We had six adults and three kids – we could be seated immediately or after 8:45. Did I mention that the place was packed? We were at the Village Center primarily for the clown show and trick or treating, but we decided that eating was our priority.

The hostess station seemed a little disorganized and was having a hard time keeping track of which party was which. I’m cutting them some slack because they are newly opened, but I find it helps to write down names and the number of people in a party… Also, the manager/owner seemed a little frazzled. Maybe they weren’t aware of how big of a draw the trick or treating is? Either way, after about 10-15 minutes of them trying to figure out which party we were and whether or not they could actually seat us – we were seated.

Once seated, things improved quickly. Our server was friendly and efficient and she quickly brought drinks for the adults and crayons for the kids. And she brought water for everyone – I always appreciate receiving a water in addition to my wine or beer.

Seeing as Corner Stable prides themselves on the ribs and the crab cakes, each couple split the “Showstopper” – a platter that combines the crab cake with either a whole or half slab of ribs and two sides. For us, it was more than enough food for two. The crab cake is delicious. It’s a mix of lump and backfin with good seasoning and just the right amount of filler to hold it together. It’s not quite as good as a G&M crabcake, but it’s very good. I would happily order it again.

Everyone in my party (aside from me) loved the ribs. I’m partial to smoked ribs and these ribs have never seen smoke. They are cooked to the point where the meat falls off the bone and are wonderfully tender. If that’s your thing, you will love these ribs. The sauce is delicious. It’s a sweet sauce with hints of cinnamon and it really suits these ribs well without overpowering.

My complaints with Corner Stable arose from the sides and the lack of prices on the drink menu. The list of beers on tap is pretty good – Heavy Seas Loose Cannon, Fat Tire, DFH 90-Minute, etc. They also had your mainstream Yuengling, Bud Light, Blue Moon stuff as well. But in this day when it’s not uncommon to see a $10-12 pint of beer, I’d prefer to see the price in print and not have to ask the server. It's an easy fix and something they should work on ASAP. I’m sorry to say I didn’t check out the wine list, but I’m not seeing Corner Stable as a place where I will order wine.

So, about those sides. The mac and cheese was bland and squishy and tasted a lot like the frozen Staufers kind of had the unfortunate experience of trying before. The fries were kind of soggy. The green beans were ok. They were obviously fresh (rather than canned or frozen) but they lacked in the flavor and seasoning department.

I hope this review doesn’t come off as negative. All in all, we had a very good experience at Corner Stable and they are head and shoulders above Michael’s (the former restaurant in this location) in terms of service, food, and ambiance. But they are going to need to improve their sides and get organized quickly. HoCo has plenty of great restaurants these days. It’s going to take more than ribs and a good crab cake to stand out in this crowd and bring in more than just us neighborhood folks. I wish them luck. And I’m more than happy to share recipes for a better mac & cheese. hocofood@@@

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Is a Song Rationale for Renewing Wedding Vows

The Mrs. and I have been married for ten years as of today. And if you read this blog frequently, you know that we’re pretty big music fans. So, one of the most difficult decisions regarding planning our wedding was agreeing on a song for our first dance.

The back and forth was incredible, and let’s ignore for the moment that Ben Fold’s Rockin’ the Suburbs came out a few weeks before our wedding, and I suggested that Luckiest be our wedding song. I was shot down. We all know where this is going… But alas, we decided on That’s How Strong My Love Is by Otis Redding.

It's a great song. And I don't regret using, but since then, I've found numerous songs that would be great for a first dance.

Frequently, when I hear a really good love song, I think. I wish that song would have been out when we got married. For example, hearing the My Morning Jacket version of True Love Ways, was one of those times. This song is so freaking amazing that I a half-way considered having a 10-year anniversary celebration and renewing our vows, just so we could dance to it.

But here you go, if you’re not yet married, these are a few other suggestions for under-used first dance songs.

Poison Cup – M. Ward

One By One – Wilco
At My Most Beautiful – REM
Thirteen – Ben Kweller
Do You Remember – Jack Johnson
Love and Some Verses – Iron & Wine

Friday, October 14, 2011

Achtung Maybe?

Ok, so this Q magazine covers album of Achtung Baby is kind of awesome. But seriously, the Fray? And Damien Rice? We can do better.

I’m dying to hear Jack White’s take on Love is Blindness, and I am cool with the Killers doing Ultraviolet, but for the best U2 album, this is a pretty craptacular list of bands.

Here’s my dream track listing:
Zoo Station – Modest Mouse or Wilco: I’m sure Isaac Brock is way too cool to admit to liking U2, but a Modest Mouse version of this song would be pretty awesome. And I can see either Modest Mouse showing up, but I’m thinking crazy banjo-wielding Modest Mouse might be the right ones for the job. The other option for this song is Wilco. Everyone talks about Wilco being “America’s Radiohead.” Sure, I guess they are. If Radiohead had written a memorable song sometime after OK Computer… And Wilco can get all “cool” and talk about Can and all of these other ultra hip influences. Sure. I doubt Tweedy & Co. ever would have tried something like Spiders or Bull Black Nova is they hadn’t heard this song and or the Fly. I’m just saying…

Even Better than the Real Thing: Funny, the version on the Q album is a remix of the U2 version. Glad to see I’m not the only one who thinks this song should have been left off of Achtung Baby in the first place. My version would skip it entirely.
One – Iron & Wine: Who better to take the most stripped down song from an extremely produced album and make a radical reinvention of it. Just as Sam Beam has taken Iron & Wine from hushed bedroom four-track recordings to whatever it is we’re labeling Iron & Wine as these days, he can take One and rescue it back from whatever the hell Bono has been doing to it for the last 20 years. 

Until the End of the World – Spoon: I’m going with Spoon for this song. I had a few other thoughts for it -  I think the Black Keys or Conor Oberst could have done cool takes on this. But the way Spoon manage to present just the most crucial elements of a song, would be amazing. The original of this song is so perfectly cacophonous that the only other option is to strip it bare but still leave the angst of the original – Spoon could do that. 

Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses – M. Ward, or maybe She & Him: I think M. Ward could do very cool things with the vibe of this song. I’m hearing a lot of reverb. If M did the verses and Zooey did the choruses, it could be very cool.

So Cruel – Bon Iver: Shut up. Listen, that’s the sound of Bon Iver killing this song. Probably with a healthy dose of Autotune. Who can I pay to make this happen?
Alternatively, pairing Ryan Adams back up with Gillian Welch and David Rawlings could make for a pretty amazing take on this song… Seriously, go back and listen to the chorus of this song. Now imagine Gillians background vocals.

Mysterious Ways – Elvis Costello: Track down the version he did on Spectacle. Admit that I am a freaking genius. 

Trying to Throw Your Arms Around the World – Death Cab for Cutie: Death Cab – they wrote the second best U2 song since Achtung Baby (see When Your Heart is an Empty Room – thank me later). I could see Death Cab doing numerous songs from this album. But lyrically, I think this song fits very well within the Death Cab repertoire.

The Fly - My Morning Jacket: They wrote the best U2 song to come out since Achtung Baby. Hint, it’s not a U2 song. It’s called Gideon. It’s on Z. It’s amazing and clearly displays My Morning Jacket picking up the baton that U2 so unceremoniously dropped with Pop Mart and has failed so far to pick up. Hearing Jim James on this song would be nothing short of amazing.

Ultraviolet – The Killers: They are doing it on the Q compilation. I’m intrigued. This is my favorite song on this album. I’m somewhat conflicted about the Killers doing it. I’d like to hear someone with a little more depth do this one. The National maybe? Oh well, Human and Mr. Brightside are pretty great – the Killers deserve a shot. I could see Arcade Fire doing a really good version of this. But hey…

Acrobat - Neko Case: Neko should sing this. Calexico should be her backing band. It would be awesome. That is all.

Love is Blindness – Jack White: I’ll stick with Q on this one. Jack earned it. I can’t wait to hear it.

Now if only I could get the rest of these to happen...

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Great Deal on Direct Shipping Wine in MD

This week, I finally took advantage of the new Maryland direct shipping wine law.

I ordered two cases of Zin from the Diageo Employee Sale (the name is confusing, it's open to anyone). And today, I took advantage of free shipping from Lot 18 and ordered two bottles of Sonoma Merlot (for a grand total of $7.69 since I had a $25 credit).

If you have not yet checked out Lot 18, I urge you to do so. A lot of the wines they have are not available for shipping to MD, but they always have great deals! And last week they had an amazing deal on some delicious sounding heritage breed pork and sausage.

Dogfish and Pearl Jam - Faithful Ale

Originally Posted on 9/23/2011: It looks like Dogfish Head's Brand X (the last remaining beer in their 2011 release schedule) will be Pearl Jam Faithful. According the the schedule, it will be released in November.

A few weeks ago, I was scouring the 4th quarter releases for Sony Legacy assuming that Brand X would be another beer in that partnership. I didn't think the third in the series of the Johnny Cash Bootlegs warranted a beer, and I was pretty sure that Billy Joel's Piano Man wasn't a good fit (see Joel's struggles with alcohol abuse). My best guess (and hope) was that it would be the Ben Folds/Ben Folds Five Retrospective, but I figured that was a long shot. I love(d) Ben Folds, but he's not quite of the same legendary status as Miles Davis or Robert Johnson.

So they threw us for a loop and partnered with Columbia Records. I gotta say I would have expected a "Black" ale, but instead they went with a Belgian golden with Black Currants. I assume it will be "Alive" and bottle conditioned. Now I wonder if they will have a special bottle to guarantee an "Even Flow" when you pour. Sorry, I couldn't resist.

Update 10/6/2011: Today, Dogfish Head announced a mid-October release of Faithfull Ale along with "re-issues" of Hellhound and Bitches Brew. I guess it's good that beer re-issues don't come with out-takes and extra tracks. I doubt they would taste very good...

From the press release: 

"Faithfull Ale is a celebration of Pearl Jam's 20th anniversary as a band and its extraordinary debut album, "Ten." In recognition of these milestones, this Belgian-style golden ale is delicately hopped to 20 IBUs and fruit-forward from 10 incremental additions of black currants over a one-hour boil. Faithfull will clock in at 7% ABV."