Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Earthquakes and Tequila

Today, August 23, 2011, the East Coast experienced an earthquake that registered a 5.9 on the Richter scale. It was one of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded in the region. The record is a 5.9 earthquake in Virginia in 1875. Mother Nature loves to show off how powerful and scary she is. It's almost as scary as the inevitable Zombie Apocalypse, which is scheduled to begin later on this year. I don't know about you guys, but I've been working on my chainsaw and baseball bat swinging skills. I'm not EVEN going to get into the whole Rapture thing.

Naturally, since this is the end of the world, I decided I needed a drink. I had to ask the question. I said, "Self, what would you drink if it were the end of the world?"  I answered, "Partida Elegante Tequila." Perfect! And at around $350 a bottle, why not?

It comes in this fancy, high falutin package. It's quite impressive with a leather strap wrapped around the neck, sporting a sterling silver Partida Spirit Bird, that can be worn as a necklace. The bottle itself comes with a glass stopper so you can reuse the bottle as a decanter (my fiancee will be thrilled!). The color is a tarnished copper reminiscent of a fine cognac, largely in part from aging in American oak for 36 months. It's impressive without even taking a sip.

After pouring it in my glass, I immediately get notes of caramel and madagascar vanilla bean. Then sugar and spice, dried peach mango and just a touch of cupcake. On the palate the first to hit you is the sweet roasted agave. Then black pepper, cinnamon, light oak and hints of vanilla shine through. The finish is long and fascinating to the olfactory, lots of black pepper and spice wrapped in sweetness. Just a touch of spicy burn on the mid palate that diminishes after about one minute. It creates a conundrum. You want to let the final flavors do a dance on your palate. But you want to take another sip because it's so damn good.

This is simply amazing tequila. I couldn't have found a better bottle to experience Armageddon unfolding right in front of my eyes. As the sun begins to set, I shall proclaim that this has been a fine day; now a mighty fine day in my opinion. Thank you Partida.
P.S. I consider myself a fair guy so I must admit that I stole the "end of the world" pictures from someone elses' blog

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Rico's Pizza v. Colony Grill

Within recent months there has been war declared between two pizzerias in Stamford, CT. The infamous Colony Grill, on Myrtle Ave., is accusing a new pizzeria, Rico's Pizza, on  Selleck Street, of stealing their recipe and serving the same exact pizza. These were just rumors bouncing around town until the good folks at Colony decided to take out a newspaper ad and make it public. Then all hell broke loose between pizza lovers in Southern Fairfield County. For us, the old battle used to be Pepe's v. Sally's? Now we are hearing Colony v. Rico's? Journalists and bloggers alike are attacking this story from every angle. Being a loyal fan of Colony for the last 30+ years, I decided to make the comparison myself and finish this once and for all.

My fiancee and our friend, DJ, decided that we should try the exact same pizzas from both establishments at the same time. We chose one plain and one half meatball and half pepperoni and onions, 2 pies from each restaurant. First of all, driving from Stamford to Westport with those four pizzas in the car was treacherous. The temptation to just pull over and start stuffing my face was, what I imagine to be, equal to the chinese water torture. The bumper to bumper traffic didn't help either.

I called Colony at 1:44pm on Saturday. They took my order and told me it was going to be 25-30 minutes. It took three calls to Rico's to actually have someone pick up the phone at 1:48pm. The girl on the phone told me it was going to be a 35 minute wait. Colony's pies cost $22.85.  Rico's pizzas were $21.27. Colony had about 15 people between the bar and the tables in both rooms. Rico's had one table of two elderly gentleman and three young kids running around that didn't seem to belong to anyone. Anyone that was in the restaurant, that is. Hey, I knew they weren't mine.

To make this easy Colony is in regular typeface and Rico's is in bold. 

Left: Rico's Right: Colony

The first one we tried was the meatball pizza.
Colony's had their famous grease just oozing all over my fingers. It had a good covering of cheese but the meatballs were bland and unappealing. The crust was soggy and pretty thick.
Rico's was virtually paper towel free. The cheese was tasty and full of flavor. Their crust ended up being crispy and sweeter and didn't bend under the weight of the toppings, which is always a bonus. 

Next up was pepperoni with onions pizza. 
Colony had some pepperoni slices spread out with long slices of onion swirled around on top. The amount of pepperoni was perfect for us. It was also a bit light on the sauce. The onions were perfectly sweet. So. Good.
Rico's pie was covered with pepperoni so that you could barely see the cheese and only had a few diced onions on top. The onions were hardly noticeable in any of the bites. I thought they were a bit heavy handed with their sweet sauce, too. I think I like their sauce better though. 
Left Rico's Right: Colony

Last we tasted the plain pizza.
Colony's sauce was a dark color and it had a burnt taste to it. It tasted like it was sitting on the stove a few hours too long. The crust was bland and chewy underneath the greasy and salty cheese. This was pretty "not good", shall we say?
Rico's was fresh with just the right amount of sweet sauce below flavorful cheese. The crust was crisp and fresh. This pie turned out to be more like a Colony pie than Colony's pie. Weird, huh?

All in all, we liked the pepperoni and onion from Colony but Rico's won the meatball and the plain pizza vote. I must also note that the pepperoni and onion pizza from Rico's was different than the first two times we tried it. This time it had too much pepperoni and just a sprinkle of diced onions. The served it the previous times just like a Colony pie. I don't understand the inconsistency. Maybe they hired someone new?

This battle, in my humble opinion, (that's IMHO for you interwebtube people) was won by Rico's two out of three. It didn't feel to us that Colony was on their game today. Maybe that's the problem? Is the quality at Colony slipping? Or is it simply that a new restaurant, using the same techniques, but newer equipment and seemingly fresher ingredients, is more appealing? Frankly, if we were to order different pies and do this again, the results might be different. It really is a close call and I believe there's room for both in the pizza world. After all, Pepe and Sally have managed to coexist quite nicely in New Haven without turning into the Hatfields and the McCoys. Let's hope Colony and Rico manage the same truce.