Friday, January 30, 2009

Pintxos and Friends

Few things are as narcissistic as blogging about how many hits your blog has been getting lately; nothing we're able to do is more pretentious than hosting a dinner party highlighting the cuisine of a region whose existence most guests are not aware. The centerpiece was these flag-evoking anchovy pintxos we were informed about here. To differ, we added spicy pimenton ahumado to our mayo and unfortunately over-roasted the peppers, making them harder to cut. FYI, we were able to find boquerones in NYC at Westside.
Since the phrase "Vegetarian Spanish Food" may have as well been created for a George Carlin bit about oxymorons, we had to freestyle for these inclusivity-themed pintxos. We incorporated an ancient secret of Spanish cooking -- using a shitload of olive oil -- to sauté two packages of oyster mushrooms with half an onion, roasted red pepper scraps, and thyme leaves. This was topped with a slice of brie and freshly ground smoked peppercorns. The brie was ommitted on two of these per plate so that vegans would have two less reasons to passively whine -- these were consistently the last two eaten before a new plate was brought out.
For the people who were too squeamish to let their palette wander like a butterfly in an open meadow we made these self-explanatory Castilian pintxos. More notably, we were actually able to bring with us from Spain our favorite olive, Campo Real. They are perplexedly sold nowhere in the United States that we are aware of; please turn the lights on for us if you know where to find the switch. They have a fresh, herbed, non-salty flavor for which there is no substitute.
The reason for the existence of the party was the purchase of a frozen octopus from the corner fish market. At 24$ we needed help eating this, and at the precipice of offending the uninvited the only reasonable choice was to invite everyone that we could think of. We wanted to see if we could recreate the pulpo a la gallega of our dreams -- contrary to the assurances of Bittman we were not. While certainly tasty, it was rubberier than the restaurant prepared version that hooked us in the first place. However, the Area 51-esque scenarios we encountered in cooking such a creature more than validated the attempt.
Like the fabled lost episode of your favorite TV show, message board denizens of Pintxos and Friends fan sites often say that the tastiest pintxos were the ones never brought out. This would be the bacalao pintxos we prepared from this recipe. While that sauce is very lacking in the flavor category, placing a piece of bacalao on the baguette slice and topping it with a pickled hot pepper made an irresistible combination. So irresistible that the possibility of our tipsy Friends eating too fast and choking to death on fish bones caused our inner risk-assessor to keep them hidden. However, based on the reports of sober souls with lifelong experience in navigating cod skeletons -- the few trusted with the task of tasting -- they measured up.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Fun With Google Analytics, Vol. 1

Much like Rakim rapping about how good he is at rapping, we are going to get a little meta-indulgent here and blog about blogging. We got our Jan 14th post about La Penya a mention on the pre-eminent basketball blog, TrueHoop, by wining, dining, and bribing. Of course, that is super-secret internet speak for sending a polite email. As you can see, the bump in traffic made all of our other posts look insignificant by comparison. We're definitely swimming in advertising revenue now at the DBB headquarters. In the blogosphere, it is a good thing when your individual country details look like CDC disease outbreak scenarios.

Perusing our worldwide acclaim led us to pinpoint another one of Google's well known Chinese government-placating policies. Hovering your mouse over individual countries on the map overlay will show how many hits in the last month you have gotten from that country. Conveniently, the country over which your mouse hovers is highlighted in yellow to further visually distinguish it. For instance, when we hovered our mouse over Taiwan it showed that we had recieved 2 visits from there. However, as you can see, more than just Taiwan was highlighted when we did this, a subtle reminder from Google as to just how far they believe Taiwanese autonomy extends.

In the Hipster Hierarchy, there are Minions and Minionmasters

While we've got one hour now before the melatonin kicks in and we are too tired to even rail against the hipster hierarchy, we do have one hour to rail against the hipster hierarchy. However, instead of railing, let us instead make casual observations from afar, as hipsters themselves are wont to do. In the hipster hierarchy, there are minions and minionmasters.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Visca La Penya!

The basketball junkies we here at Das Bloggy Blog, few things hit us as hard as when TNT became no longer free on Time Warner. Gone were the carefree musings of EJ, drunk Charles, and the Jet -- our only outlet for non-exploitative professional basketball would be ABC. Yeah, that ABC ... the channel that seems to show samey Celtics, Lakers, or Cavs games every week. So when we had the opportunity to see über-prodigy Ricky Rubio in an ACB Spanish League game, we were more than willing to navigate Catalan websites and wander aimlessly in suburban malls in order to figure out how exactly to make it happen.

DKV Joventut (or simply La Penya) does not play in Barcelona but in nearby Badalona. They play at the old Olympic gym located near the Gorg Metro stop, on the L2(purple) line. It's hard to picture a top D-1 team, let alone the original Dream Team, playing at this grafittied, corragated steel canister. Getting tickets (25-30 € each) is as simple as showing up 1-2 hours before gametime and waiting in line at the ticket counter. The ticket counter, which accepts cash, is to the right of the main entrance. The windows to the left of the main entrance seem to be for will call tickets purchased online.

We saw the Dec. 28th game against Baloncesto Fuenlabrada, featuring Alaskan Brad Oleson and a still invisible Nicholas Tskitishvili. Entering the stadium, it becomes difficult not to keel over and writhe on the floor in pain at the greatest cultural difference between a game in Spain and the US: no alcohol is served. The club seems to be more than happy to make its money from the relatively hefty admission -- merch and food sales are really at a minimum. So after picking up a popcorn and a San Miguel 0,0 we took our seats and watched the game. And yes, there is a dance team.Bon Nadal, indeed. The game itself has a few notable differences than what we're used to:
  • The dusty court leaves the players sliding around like they are in a rec-center in June. We think there are may be more people cleaning the sidewalks outside than a court in which millions of invested €'s compete.
  • For all the talk of the 'Euro two-step', the crowd is quick to stand and call for a traveling violation when the ref neglects to. Meanwhile, in the NBA, LeBron can calmly explain why he should be allowed to take three steps.
  • La Penya's answer to Thundersticks are nasal sounding plastic horns favored by fans young and old. If you are a sensitive soul bring earplugs and aspirin -- you are going to find out what it is like to spend 2 hours inside a bagpipe.
  • Besides having the beverage menu written with the former(!) President in mind, hooliganophobia also manifests itself at the end of halves. A shielded tunnel wheels onto the court while the players are escorted off by police in riot gear.
La Penya fell way behind at the beginning of the second half, playing a trapping zone whose mystery was easily solved by passing to a wide open corner 3. The star of the team, Rubio, and its most dominating player, Jerome Moiso, didn't start; although its best player, Louisianian Demond Mallet did. In crunch time, all three took the court -- their best play being to simply loft a pass inside to Moiso. Their furious comeback was instigated by a press that created turnovers and contested shots. The play of the game was definitely a lackadaisical 1 on 1 break in which the DKV player dove to floor with minimal contact; scooping the ball towards the basket was merely an afterthought. That the 'shot' actually went in meant nothing -- he just wanted the foul call! La Penya, 86-84.

Unfortunately, Rubio was never even given the opportunity to create fast break magic -- he was intentionally fouled every time he received a quick outlet pass. In the half court he was able to get assists and layups often, and when ably defended showed a Ginobili-esque knack to jerk his head back quickly -- this delighted the referee's whistle like nothing else. When he and LeBron are playing for D'Antoni in 2010, the Knicks will be quite the unstoppable force. "Hi, I'm Mike Tirico, and this is the only team that ABC will ever be showing!"