Book Review

Wine Cocktails (Book Review)(Podcast)


Wine Cocktails

**To listen to or download the podcast, click the above photo.

Wine Cocktails is a medium-sized hardcover book of recipes. Cocktail drinks have been around for a long time and everyone has had tried a few drinks that use wine as the base for mixing. Wine Cooler, wine spritzer, Champagne cocktail and the Bellini family are examples everyone has drank at some time. The cocktails listed in this book are very original and use many different ingredients but wine is not necessarily the alcohol base drink for mixing. Many of the recipes have liquor and liqueur as the actual base and wine is only a mixer. The drinks are very interesting however and worth trying at home. They can be more interesting on a commercial basis. Fancy restaurants offer signature drinks as part of their drink menus and cocktails that are not easy to mix but sell well are the norm for bartenders. Wine cocktails can bring a new group of drinks to the market that offer great taste and flavor. One element that has value is wine cocktails can also increase the need for basic American wine consumption in the times that wine sales are low. Wine industry owes it to themselves to sponsor events and provide support for adoption of wine cocktails as part of ordinary bar menus. This will increase the need for basic wines and help with the oversupply. This will also give wine more exposure as part of the cocktail culture.

Cocktails themselves were once invented to help sell basic liquors and that is one reason why so many kinds exist using so many different ingredients. There has been an oversupply of liquors (vodka, gin and so on) for as long as hard liquor has been manufactured. The creation of new brands and new ways to drink the liquor has been one solution. Wine works the same way and suffers an oversupply which can be addressed by creating new ways to consume. Drink cocktails are an established part of the culture and wine can benefit in the long run by offering more wine cocktail options universally.

*This post belongs to this week’s edition of Reviews by Cush blog and published early in World of Cush also.

Get Slightly Famous (book review)(Second Reading)


 

Get Famous

 

I read Get Slightly Famous once last year and was very useful. I did learn a few things to apply and a good deal more was exposed to me for later. I have mastered what I had picked up then and the second reading helped me find new areas to work on. The book is really about personal branding though this phrase is hardly used. Getting slightly famous means one learns to become known as a professional to the people in one’s niche. If a person can demonstrate expertise and capabilities beyond the average professional, that person will be sought after and will succeed more. The key element is to target the specific market niche that this professional offers services for. The person can be very well known within this small or medium size niche and be a total unknown outside of this niche. That is what ‘slightly’ means. Becoming famous outside of the niche does not directly help a professional but being recognized within the field does. The obvious fact is the person has to be far above the average or hardly anything exists to be recognized. If one is great at one’s profession, a good chance exists the directions of this book will make the person well-known for the specific purposes of success within one’s niche. Personal branding is explained and is required. Media and self-promotion also take a good part of the book. The text is ‘slightly’ dated but applies perfectly today and should be a must read for some.

 

*This post belongs to this week’s edition of Reviews by Cush blog and published early in World of Cush

 

How Did a Huge TYPO Get into the Michelin 2010 San Francisco Restaurant Guide? (Essay#12)


 

I finally got to look at Michelin 2010 San Francisco restaurant guide and once again it is printed on the nicest paper I have touched in a long time. The packaging, the printing and the feel of the pages are exotic. The guide appears high end and very classy as always. Everything inside looks fabulous except for the information. The information is fine unless you are a local in San Francisco Bay Area. I like Michelin guide a lot because it has been in business forever and has helped the industry by promoting tens of thousands of restaurants. I really did not want to write anything critical that would have Michelin’s name and this essay is not about Michelin. Afterall, I am the one who writes 15000-word essays on how the rich and the corporations control and manipulate standards, such as restaurant review tools, in America to their benefit. How can I miss a huge TYPO in the Michelin 2010 guide? How does a restaurant, of dubious characteristics, and funded by a very large real estate company, in an unleaseable commercial space, appear in the Michelin 2010 guide while scores of better San Francisco restaurants are absent?

The legend page for Michelin 2010 guide claimed that all Michelin guides are “well researched” or something similar. Was it not Michelin who by mistake had reviewed a closed restaurant not too long ago? Mistakes do happen and I guess that is why Michelin now researches the restaurants well. Every restaurant has a story and if it is “well researched,” much of that information will surface before the review. I hope the Michelin researchers, for San Francisco, were not all French and the French-speaking Tunisian ownership, of this restaurant, did not have any influence on their judgments. But how can that be? The great Michelin guide making a mistake or something similar by promoting a not worthy restaurant? What did the research leave out about Sens Restaurant in San Francisco that brings the effectiveness of the review guides into question?

Once upon a time, in a city far far away named New York, there was a chef who was hired to come to San Francisco and re-open a ailing restaurant under a different name. The uprooted chef moved to San Francisco, and created a new restaurant – Sens Restaurant. One major problem that had led to the recruiting of this chef was the old restaurant could not get good reviews from local reviewers. Sens was the same as the previous restaurant only with a new menu and name. This chef had a history in the Bay Area and was known by local reviewers. The hard work and dedication to make Sens paid off. These efforts and the chef’s personal credibility brought good reviews and scores from local restaurant writers. The celebrations did not last long since the chef and the staff were replaced by a lower-cost team shortly after the reviews. That was the beginning of Sens. The great restaurant start, by the chef, turned into an ailing existence again, under the same ownership as the last restaurant. How did they survive after this? Sens is the brainchild of a huge real estate corporation with many unleaseable retail spaces in San Francisco. If no restaurant would start at that commercial space, why not start a restaurant of your own? Sens would survive regardless of any events because it was created to “appear” as a great restaurant and to lower retail vacancies. It survives because it has to remain open and appear functional to maintain commercial attractiveness. Sens is not an “inspired” restaurant. It is a front to keep overall lease prices up for other spaces. How does it maintain the facade? PR-managed restaurant reviews are not unusual and are the way to go for many restaurants. PR can get good reviews into many local review guides.

Zagat is a fraternal brother or sister of Michelin and shares some of the same problems Michelin has with its business model. We don’t know how strong Michelin is but Zagat can be infiltrated and unlikely restaurants get surprise scores! Sens did well in Zagat and so does almost every restaurant listed in Zagat. And almost every restaurant does get listed in Zagat anyway! That means most restaurants are listed in Zagat and always get good reviews! What kind of a review guide is that? Michelin is a travel book restaurant guide written by professional reviewers and Zagat is written by local shoppers. Can PR manage a good review in Zagat or other guides for Sens? It is an easy one.

Citysearch.com is an independent review web site and most business travelers write or read the Citysearch.com reviews. A restaurant can have a free or paid account and Citysearch.com team can write an editorial review for the paid accounts. I remember Sens having a few bad reviews long time ago but they somehow disappeared! Sens has been in business for two years and yet has not one review by a guest in Citysearch.com. It does have a paid editorial review (which is an advertisement in the form of a review). I am surprised Michelin’s research did not turn this questionable fact up. If you do the math, you can see how questionable: Let’s find the smallest number for guests that have visited Sens in the past two years. Sens can seat more than 200 people. If Sens is only open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner and we pick 100 for lunch and 50 for dinner (since lunch is bigger in Financial District), we would have 78000 guests visiting. This number does not include the happy hour guests, the special events guests, the holiday season guests and the nightclub guests. We are counting the lowest possible number. How can not even one of 78000 people write a review on Citysearch.com? I don’t know. I do know, from my restaurant experience, a paid account at Citysearch.com gets much support. That should have appeared in Michelin research.

Yelp.com is the generation Y online review site and carries many reviews by the younger people. I monitor many restaurants, for professional reasons, and Sens is the only one I have noticed that lowers the number of its reviews on a regular basis. I would say that over the period of two years, Sens has “lost” no less than 200 reviews. It only has 185 reviews left for that 78000 guests. Yelp.com is used by local people and mostly the young. That means the happy hour guests, the nightclub guests and so on. Their reviews appear in Yelp.com and that would mean more than 78000 guests (our arbitary number) could have posted reviews on Yelp.com. There is only 185 reviews after two years of service and Sens still gets a mediocre 3.5 stars on a 5 scale! And Yelp is famous for its stars! (Being ironic) That should have appeared in Michelin research.

Zagat.com also has reviews for Sens. After two years, Sens has about 30 reviews and most are only one liners. That should have appeared in Michelin research.

How does a restaurant such as Sens get into Michelin while hundreds of potentials are left out? Can Michelin make a mistake? It probably did. But do Citysearch, Yelp and Zagat also make similar mistakes? Citysearch and Yelp are extremely friendly to business clients: Both “edit” suspicious reviews and at least Yelp.com has been publicly criticized on numerous occasions for credibility and integrity. Michelin is not a local American business and safe from the local issues. How can Michelin research restaurants well and publish Sens? We know the other companies are local, insignificant and are not ashamed to get paid to “help” Sens. But what happened with Michelin? If Michelin research did not fail, I wonder what made them print about Sens? The French connection? The other guys get paid to lie for a living and this is a danger for better publications also. But anyway, what kind of research is this? I honestly don’t think Michelin did anything wrong because everyone from the original chef and crew to the local writers and review web sites got manipulated by Sens ownership once. Michelin gave someone the benefit a doubt and should have been careful.

I thought more about how and why of this situation. I couldn’t find an answer except for the obvious but I figured a new entrepneurship scheme based on the Michelin approach: Starting a business that evaluates things from a distance and only for people who are in a distance. Michelin is a great guide but is written by folks with a mindset far from San Francisco. And I realized today, Michelin guide is also written to be READ by folks with a mindset far from San Francisco. They don’t write Michelin guide for the locals. So who is the primary reader for Michelin? I would say the perfect reader for Michelin 2010 San Francisco Restaurant Guide is from out-of-town, has little local knowledge, has little time to explore and has no way of comparing Michelin recommendations against personal experiences. The pretty shiny pages of Michelin impress them into some of the better restaurants in San Francisco and even into surprises such as Sens! I just hope Michelin continues doing a good job in the future with a little extra care when in America.

Book Review: Good Beer Guide West Coast USA


 

GoodBeerGuideWestCoastUSA

This book is thick and filled with information on all breweries in its area. Anyone who is serious about beer beyond tasting a few on occasion will appreciate the information. I find a few beers in each section I know of and a serious beer drinker should find plenty new ones to experiment with. The information is very comprehensive and great for a fun project of tasting and learning. Travel is not out-of-question but only a small percentage of the people who buy such books will travel in pursuit. The book is great and the information will be valid for a couple of years.

When Wine Tastes Best: A Biodynamic Calendar for Wine Drinkers


I really like the idea of this book because what wine tastes like has a great deal to do with not only temperature but also location, height, humidity and much more. I quote a nameless wine salesperson saying ” you can taste the same wine in one place and then in another and they taste completely different.” I didn’t realize this until I kept attending tastings at the top of the top buildings in San Francisco. Have you noticed many of the tastings are at the top of biggest hotels. You cannot go any higher. Do they taste different? I can speak for wine I had already tasted. Why the same wine that I had tasted as very good or great tasted weak and bland at top of some building. Of course, you blame it on alcohol effect at first but taste of wine has to do with many things. I have a hunch any wine tastes better outside of San Francisco because of the proximity to water, the humidity and whatever is in the air affecting your taste.

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from [Spittoon] Full Postings


There are a huge number of wine producers following biodynamic principles; some proudly proclaim the fact on the label while others (such as South Africa’s Boekenhoutskloof) feel no need for such ‘marketing’ efforts. To the average drinker I guess such talk could be off-putting adding even more mystery to the complexities of ‘wine’.

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http://www.spittoon.biz/when_wine_tastes_best_a_biodyn.html