September 24, 2011

Wine Robot

It's been a while since I've written about tasty wines and last weekend's trip to Middleburg, VA afforded me with excellent material.  For uninitiated, when in Middleburg one might imagine that fox hunting and horse riding is business as usual. It is also in the middle of Virginia wine country.  A shining beacon of the main street was the sleek Tasting Room...

The main feature of the small and sparse tasting room is a large contraption, a wine-dispensing robot. The impressive Italian machine uses nitrogen to block oxygen from wine. Think wine-loving rocket-scientist set loose. Armed with a wine-card we circled the Wine Robot like sharks, making our picks.

Tasting Room in Middleburg Virginia Wine Country - Nitrogen Wine Storage

There is so much to love about red wine, nothing compares, except maybe a great white wine.  And Italians do a good red wine - it is hard to find its equal, except maybe French.  And Argentina.  Oh, Spain too.  I digress....

This Barbera (excuse me, Paolo Scavino Barbera d'Alba) left an impression. A big bowl of juicy cherries. And it tasted extra special, thanks to the nitrogen.

Paolo Scavino Barbera d'Alba from Italy

I promise, more wine posts to come soon and mark your calendar for Beaujolais Nouveau celebration in November.

September 16, 2011

Legend of Starbucks Monster

Speaking of A.S. Byatt and legends of forest maidens, ever since I read Possession I have been keen on the Breton legend of Melusina (or more poetically Mélusine). 

The myth goes back a millennia with many variations on Melusina’s story and name for that matter. But the gist of tale is that Melusina is half-woman and half-serpent or fish. She is a beauty, of course, and luckily the tail only shows up only once a week. By and by Melusina meets a handsome count (possibly prince) and agrees to marry him on the condition that she is given privacy when the wretched tail makes an appearance.  

Eventually Mr. Melusina discovers the secret, they try to patch things up but after some ugly words are exchanged Melusina’s flees. Of course all these years later noone remembers his name but Melusina is on coffee cups in Bretagne and the world over (scroll!).
depiction of fay Melusina
Often Melusina has two tails 

Guillebert De Metz 1410

Melusina Starbucks logo inspiration
Take a look at Starbucks logo and tell me that's not Melusina! 

September 5, 2011

Country slogans to amuse and puzzle

Speaking of absurd, a recent article in the Smithsonian Magazine got me thinking about country slogans designed to entice tourism. How does one distill the essence of an entire country into a single line?

Several of the gems came from the former Eastern block feeling their way in the global tourism marketplace. Croatia – “The Mediterranean as it once was.” I get their “Adriatic is the new Mediterranean” message but saps who did not bother to look at the map might be disappointed…

map of Croatia

Latvia is “Best enjoyed slowly.” What? Otherwise you will run out of sights and landmarks?

Some slogans are downright trampy. Montenegro “Wild Beauty” is almost demure compared to “I Feel sLOVEnia” and Lithuania's “See It! Feel it! Love it!”

Not to be outdone, U.S. states have been branding themselves for some time. Everyone knows that “Virginia is for Lovers” (a man and a woman only, of course). Kentucky has “Unbridled Spirit,” which perhaps is one of the more successful distillations.

I will end this post with my favorite (translation, most ridiculous) slogan. Washington state’s “Say WA” reminds me of a Budweiser commercial – it is really like a tale of a King who found himself naked except here the branding ‘experts’ hoodwinked state’s tourism agency.

Did I miss any slogans that deserve a mention?

September 1, 2011


Speaking of enchanted places, I am dreaming of a beach - gentle breeze, rolling sounds of waves, the smell of salt in the air, and a book. The summer is now nearly over but alas shore outing did not make it on our calendar this year. So join me in the daydream….

Alex Katz, "Ada with Bathing Cap" (1965)
Source:, Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY/Collection Paul J. Schupf, Hamilton, New York.

Praia Piquinia by Christian Chaize, photo from - alas it is sold out before I had a chance to order one....

Jane Peterson, Beach Scene (1935) from the National Museum of Women in the Arts. 


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