May 2007
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Day May 3, 2007

The Great Seattle Madeira Tasting

Back in January, Roy Hersh hosted a Madeira tasting here in Seattle, bringing together 15 people (including myself and friends Chuck Miller and Marc Olson) to taste some of the oldest and rarest Madeiras in our collective cellars. Peter Reutter, a Madeira expert from Germany, joined us, as did guests from Canada, Silicon Valley, and Washington, D.C.

The wines ranged from sercial to moscatel, with a smattering of terrantez in the mix, with ages ranging from the 1827 Quinto de Serrado Bual, through 1927, with an average age of 133 years old.

Our host, Roy Hersh (who runs For The Love of Port), just finished his article on the event (with pictures and tasting notes), and I recommend it highly if you’re a fan of these special and rare wines, are interested in getting into Madeira, or are just curious about what old wines such as this are like.

The Great Seattle Madeira Tasting – For The Love Of Port

May Day Pig Roast on San Juan

Tuesday night, I hosted a pig roast here at the house, to celebrate the (near) coming of spring weather, and of course it was May Day, the international leftist labor holiday (which is always good to celebrate somehow).  Madden had lined up two suckling pigs and Jason, a butcher on the island, came out Monday to help us with the "prep" work — which meant dispatching the little guys and dressing the carcasses (pics of most of the process on Flickr).Wholepigchoucroute

Madden and I brined both pigs overnight, one in a straight sugar/salt solution, the other in a smoked paprika/herb brine for a Spanish-inspired effect.  On the day of the roast, we got one on the rotisserie (the Spanish one) and the other into the oven to roast.  The latter was served on a bed of Madden’s sauerkraut, along with homemade crepinettes and spaetzle, which were stirfried in a wok with brown butter.  The spanish pig was served with homemade chorizo-inspired sausage and paella-style rice, along with a beef cheek and cannellini bean soup. 

15 people showed up and made short work of the two pigs, a mountain of food (including numerous salads and other contributions), and a gigantic pile of wine bottles.  Marc flew up from Seattle with another wine group friend, Justin, bringing some excellent wines including a Raveneau, a Leflaive, a Corton Clos du Roi, Chave St. Joseph (estate bottling), and a PX 1927 for a sticky finisher.  The weather cooperated and we were able to hang out on the deck until quite late.  It was a terrific evening, and one I hope to repeat many times as the weather gets better. 

SAA Meetings in Austin

Last week, I attended the Society for American Archaeology conference in Austin, for the first time in several years. Austin was a great town for the conference, but sad to say I didn’t get any truly good BBQ. IronWorks was OK, and Stubbs was fine for lunch, but we didn’t have a rental car this time and Salt Lick was out of reach. Despite this, we had a great time, and I caught up with folks I hadn’t seen in years, like Chris Pierce, who’s working on semantic web database technology, Terry Hunt, Lee Lyman, and many others.

Poster sessions were terrific this year, with plenty of space to walk around and see everything; increasingly I find that spoken talks are much less interesting, particularly when people have few slides and read their written-out talks in a flat monotone. How do people expect to convince or interest an audience without a strong presentation style?

Among the interesting papers I saw were two papers on costly signaling theory by Aimee Plourde (of UCL), and Jillian Galle (Monticello). Another paper by Colin Quinn and Ian Kuijt on signaling in the Natufian was also interesting, but I need to see a written copy to follow their argument on how they link Natufian burial behavior to costly signaling.