Sunday, December 29, 2013

West coast gin (Sunday brunch: December 29, 2013)

While I was on that trip to Cape Cod earlier this month, I took the opportunity to stop by the ‘packy’ in Hyannis to pick up another bottle of Nantucket gin, which I couldn’t do on the summer trip since we went by plane.  While I was there, I noticed a series of gins from the St. George distillery created to express the concept of terroir: where a wine or coffee or food expresses a particular character of where it came from.

Seeing as how the distillery was one of the first of its kind in America, that they started in Alameda next door to one of my favorite wineries, and that it inspired one of my favorite winemakers (Randall Grahm) to try his hand at distilling, this was worth a try.  While they had three gins in the series, I picked the one that I thought would best characterize their work.  The Terroir gin is made with all California botanicals, and certainly tastes like it.  It’s a particularly piney gin, befitting the Christmas season.  Very successful: a trip to northern California in a glass.

Seems like all the west coast gins I’ve tasted tend to the evergreen end of the flavor spectrum: juniper, pine, spruce, and fir, compared to the citrus, herbs and other more exotic flavors of some of the east coast gins.

What to solve over a drink?

We get two cryptics by Hex this week, and since it’s the weekend between Christmas and New Year’s, they’ve given us one puzzle for each.  Start with the National Post puzzle (solved and blogged by Falcon), and then do the Wall Street Journal puzzle, which is a spiral cryptic called “Windup”: appropriate for the last puzzle of the year.   It’s a little harder than their usual WSJ cryptics: comparable to one of their Atlantic puzzles.  But I made it more challenging by blacking out the enumerations of the answers before starting it.  If you’re a cryptic veteran, try it that way.

Hex also have their regular acrostic in the New York Times today (behind the paywall).

Also in the seasonal vein.  Kevin Wald created a great seasonal puzzle called “Time and Tide”, not quite as difficult in the finale as his other puzzles, but nearly as satisfying.

Not a lot else new though, so I worked on a Washington Post straight crossword package Merl Reagle created called “Ghosts of DC.”  It’s a crossword centennial theme with four easy puzzles that contribute to a final puzzle that requires some geography and Washington knowledge as well as puzzle skills.

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