Sake Swirling


It’s me.

It’s been a while.

I’ve missed you.


I could type up what I’ve been up to in the last 18 months but it’s not that interesting…at least for blogging purposes.  But, I am back from the grave, i.e. not departed:

Anyway, one of the things I need to get off my block and do is start prepping for my sake exam in May.   I am currently a WSET Sake Level 3 candidate  and the course & exam are about 2 months out.   Over the past year or so, I’ve been trying to do some more academic style studying in conjunction with the tastings:

If you’re remotely interested in learning more about sake, I recommend the book, Sake Confidential.  It’s written in such a way that even if you’ve never had sake before, you would know exactly what you’d like to purchase and why when you’re done.

When I tell people that I am studying sake, I often get the same answer, “Oh, I don’t think I like it.” or “I’ve never had one I liked.”.  I completely get it.  More often than not, people’s experience with sake tends to be a hot carafe served with tiny ochoko cups at a sushi restaurant.   While that type sake is not bad by any stretch, it’s not necessarily what I’d recommend to anybody.   Hot sake tends to be the same level as “house wine” or cheaper, mass produced bottles of beer.  Not terrible but not mind blowing either.

Should you be inclined to get to know sake a bit more, these are some key points that could help with your enjoyment:

1. Sake will not give you a hangover.

2. Sake will hold up to any meal whether it has intense heat or hard to pair ingredients like asparagus or artichokes. You will find something that will complement the whole meal.

3. Sake only lasts about a year, even in a sealed bottle.  It won’t be “bad” or “spoiled” but it won’t be as aromatic.

4. Most sake can be served chilled.

5. There are few key items on a sake label that will give you an indicator as to whether or not you’re drinking a craft sake or a mass market one:

  • Junmai – This means there were only 3 ingredients: rice, koji (mold for fermentation), and water. This level of sake also mills the rice to the smallest size, removing much of outer portion of rice grain before fermentation.  These account for a very small part of the market and would be akin to a craft beer or wine from a small vineyard.
  • Non-Junmai – This means there is a little of alcohol mixed with the rice, koji, & water.   Also, more of the rice grain is used in the fermentation process.  This would be the equivalent of maybe a Sam Adams level beer or $15-$20 bottle of wine.
  • Regular Sake – This level indicates that more alcohol is mixed into the finished product.  Most of the rice grain is used is used in fermentation vs. milling down to the best part.   This level of sake makes up about 65% of the consumer market.   It’s hallmarks are cost, consistency, & mass availability.  Not bad at all but not special.

6. And, like any beverage, you don’t need a special glass to enjoy sake.  In Japan, they tend to serve sake in the tiny cups as it’s customary to continue pouring for your guests.   The ochokos, while often works of art, aren’t necessarily optimal for enjoying the aromatics.  I, personally, prefer to use a wine glass…but, like everything, it’s truly a personal preference.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be buckling down with my tastings & studying so you should be hearing more from me.  If you’re also studying, are an aficionado, or if you want to know more, feel free to reach out to me.   I’ll need all the help I can get taking in knowledge or sharing the knowledge to reinforce what’s in my tiny brain.

On that note  – かんぱい!!!!





This Weekend’s Edition of Feasting (July 2018)

A few years ago, one of my BFFs was talking to me about the “suckage”.  Everybody talks about how valuable time,  money, and sleep are but nobody ever talks about “spiritual” energy, i.e. doing things that make you feel energized.  I’m doing my best to avoid the suckage, even if I am feeling a bit overbooked as of late.  After all, it’s the best season of the year and there is so much fresh food around!  While I haven’t cooked in a few weeks, I’ve got some stuff planned for August.  Stay tuned!  For now, stuff about that one weekend when I cooked in July.

(Side Note: I’m having a media issue so the photos are forthcoming. If you’re interested, just comment & I can email the pics to you)

Without realizing it, this post is a bit on the Australian side.


One late night at the radio station, I got served a You Tube ad for Red Rock Deli chips.  I was on the tired side and – no joke – thought I was having some weird fever dream or that I somehow had patched into an Australian IP.  Red Rock Deli chips are the premium level bagged chips in Australia.  I’ve eaten many, many bags in my lifetime.   Apparently, they’re doing a launch in the US market.  For now, the ones we are getting here are actually made in Australia so they actually taste like potatoes vs. salt & oil.  I ordered a mixed case from Amazon (I love Prime but am completely conflicted about the packaging).  There was a packing issue so I ended up with a case of all Lime & Cracked Pepper, a tropical version of salt & vinegar.  Since you can’t return food, they let me keep that case. The mixed one with Himalayan Sea Salt and Sweet Chili & Sour Cream arrived the next day.  Fingers crossed they’ll release the Honey Soy Chicken ones.  Americans tend to like sugary tasting stuff so I’m guessing those probably won’t make it here.   They’ll just stay a special treat for when I travel.


Billy Kwong is probably my most favorite restaurant on earth. It’s all sustainable, local food made in a Chinese-Australian style.  I love authentic Chinese as well but fusion recipes can be really fun.  BTW, if you’re ever in Dublin, Hang Dai does very similar stuff.  Anyway, the service reminds me of Upstairs on the Square (sadness!) – very sophisticated but unpretentious and delicious.  We usually get the “banquet” which is a bunch of dim sum style starters, rice, veggies, fish, and duck.  The duck is deep fried and it’s sublime.  Don’t be afraid of frying – it just provides some texture & extra flavor to the skin and goes really well with the acidity from the plums and blood oranges.

For sides, we did rice and a snow pea, zucchini, and asparagus salad with mint and hot sesame oil. The key is to put all the ingredients together and drizzle hot, not spicy sesame oil over it.  The heat collapses the mint and gives the veggies a nice summery flavor once it all cools down.

Accompanying wine:  Taittinger Rose


As you can imagine, we had a ton of food leftover.  The next day was a picnic of sorts with the white & rose Bulgarian wine from what our other friends call LIQUOR FANTASTICO!!!!.   So cheap! So much variety! So many free tastings!  I bought them on a whim, not knowing how they’d be.  They were great, holding up well to all the strong flavors.  They also stored well after being opened.  In general, I tend to recommend Central/European wines (German, Czech, Hungarian, etc.) for game meats & birds and the Bulgarians did not disappoint…even the white.

Like I said if you need pictures or recipes, hit me up in the comments.



Qu’est-ce que c’est ce “pet-nat”?

My friend posted that question to the above photo on the socials. Pet-nat is the shortened version of petillant natural, i.e. the old school way of making fizzy wine…before champagne, before prosecco, before the sodastream (no joke – many cheaper fizzy wines are run through a sodastream to give them bubbles).  Basically, wine that hasn’t finished fully fermenting is bottled and sealed.  The carbon dioxide from the chemical reaction gets captured within the bottle, making the juice fizzy.  Often, the winemaker will use some kind of wild yeast, which can make for a really unique flavor profile that you won’t get with mass market wines.

As you know, I LOVE Australian wines & winemakers.  Most of the really innovative tastes are coming from there, imho.  I actually feel like that can be said about their art, music, fashion, food – anything really.  There’s something about Australia that’s so unique and it comes through in so many things.  Anyway, the last 4 or 5 pet-nats I’ve had have been from Australia.  In general, it seems like they’re not super easy to come by here or in Australia.  If you’re interested, I have seen some French ones at some boutique wine shops in Boston.

This particular one that we had yesterday, is from Jauma Vineyards in McClaren Vale, SA and it was SO good.  On its own, it reminded me those Swiss blackcurrant pastilles with alpine herbs and was very dry.  Oddly, the cheese we paired with it completely crushed it.  I was really surprised.  Although, the truffled gouda from Whole Foods had very pungent truffle shavings.   When P unwrapped it, you could probably smell the truffle down the hall & out the front steps.  It’s the only time I’ve ever had a truffle crush a wine.

Because it was so organic & local to its region, I assume it would go best with bread & cheese from SA.  I did rummage through my cabinet & found a bag of salted potato chips made in the Pacific Rim (potatoes grown in Japan), which were amazing  with it.

Verdict: delicious, light, dry & perfect on its own or a pairing with organic Australian food, if you can find it.


Japan Vacation Advice (Sort Of)

In general, I get asked a lot of travel questions – everything from my opinion on certain lodgings to troubleshooting itinerary snafus.  Before I answer anything, I always try to determine what the emotional needs or desires around the trip are.  What kind of trip are you doing? Is this a vacation or something else? Is seeing as many sights as possible more important than resting?  That kind of thing.

The one place I get asked about more than others is Japan.  While I have been there multiple times, I rarely give advice on it.   From a practicality standpoint, Tokyo itself encompasses 2500 square miles.  It’s huge.  From a cultural and amusement standpoint, there are so things that you could do that I wouldn’t even know in which direction to point you.

So, instead, I give 3 pieces of advice.  First, think about what you like and find things that match your interests.  There is always more going on than you could reasonably do.   Second, English is not a primary language, even in the big cities.  Depending upon your comfort level, it may be easier to stay at an international hotel and book some English speaking tours.  People do speak English but it’s best to assume that you may not readily find someone who can help you on the fly.  Third, read up on as much of the culture as you can.  The more you are cognizant you are of things like train manners or what to do with your chopsticks,  the better your experience will be.

Having said all that, there are some great sites that can help you plan a dream trip:

Airbnb Experiences – one on one cultural experiences at a fair price

Viator – Tours and excursions of all kinds

Trip Advisor – reviews & forums for anything travel related

JNTO – for tourist advice & discounts for visitors


Be sure to turn the lights off as you go…

I seriously thought I was going to die in this building.   Actually, something did happen last Spring where that was a distinct possibility…but I had that day off.  So, here I am.

After a super long run, I’ve decided to leave The River.  It wasn’t a quick decision or prompted by a singular event.  Over the past couple of years, the logistics of traveling close to 100 miles round trip by car or taking an expensive, unreliable, inconveniently scheduled train just started to chip away at my overall enjoyment.   After working a really long work week, facing another long day, made so because of transportation, became daunting.   In the Fall,  I just threw it out to the universe that I was open to something new.

From time to time, I get pinged by radio people in and out of the market, asking me if I am interested in any “potential opportunities”.  Despite having passing regrets about not taking that morning gig in Dubai in 2002 or that thing in California in 2005, I’ve been relatively satisfied with my choice to stay at The River.

The Fall passed in a blur, with me working, working, working at both jobs.  The week before Christmas, around 8p, my boss pulled me into her office and told me I had to take my vacation, starting now.  I had accrued 3+ weeks and taken one day (oops!).   All of the sudden, everything in my life just went quiet.   10 hours later, I had an “inquiry” in my email box from a station that I had been into for years.

After a few conversations and a meeting, I decided to take the new gig.   The acceptance timed out with a planned vacation; therefore, I was able to sneak away without being disruptive.  Plus, I hate goodbyes, so, it really worked out.  Initially, I just felt relief because I would never have to sit in a random yet regular Saturday morning traffic back up on 495 or pass time on a 2 hour train ride.  Although, the more it’s sinking in, the more excited I am about the idea of doing something new and making new friends.  I am all about the adventure and I know this new opportunity is going to be full of them.

Ultimately, I loved my time at The River.  I met so many great people – both coworkers & artists.   In the end, I simply had SO MUCH FUN.  SO MUCH FUN.  More fun than I ever imagined.  Even though the building sits on a giant sinkhole, it has a pretty cool vibe.   As I was leaving for the last time and turning off the lights, I meant to say thank you for all the amazing experiences.  Since I didn’t say it then, I’m saying it now.  <3

Hello world!

This blog post was already here when I when I imported my blogger blog today.

Since I say “Hello” to the world at least once a week via the broadcasts and the interwebs, I figured this is probably the best photo for this post:

Big props to my mother-in-law for finding this card at Trader Joe’s & surprising me with it in the mail.

New World vs. New World being Old World

Back in the Fall, I found myself with some free time to plow through my stacks of Netflix dvds & books.  Over the years, I’ve been given some crap that I still get the dvds, but they never stream indie or foreign films. So, je n’en ai rien a foutre.

One of the dvds was “Blood Into Wine”, the doco about Maynard James Keenan’s vineyards in Arizona.  Overall, the documentary was an interesting perspective on wine as it was half about the artistry of wine and half about responsible farming & environmental issues.  The real star was in Eric Glomski who was a river ecology major, which translated into restoring the land in Arizona.

After watching the movie, I purchased 4 wines from Caduceus – a red, a white, a rose, & an orange.  The first one we dipped into was the Primer Paso red blend, which was made in the style of Cote Rotie.  As a comparison, we cracked open a Field Theory Aglianico from Paso Robles.  The comparison I was after was not grape to grape but more new world trying to be innovative vs. new world trying to be classic. For a meal, we decided to do Pacific Rim style duck, i.e. roasted with soy sauce, molasses, and orange.

First, we tried both on their own:

The Field Theory (right) was much fruitier and simpler than the Cadeceus.  The Caduceus was complex but subtle, rich, and bit spicy with ripe purple/red fruit.  Both were really good but you could tell there was a lot more deliberate technique with the Caduceus.  BTW, the Caduceus was $50 and the Field Theory was $18.

Since the alcohol content of both were >13%, we decided to have some snacks while were cooking:

We chose truffle potato chips from MA France and white corn chips from Wegman’s.  Perhaps not surprising, aside from the salt, neither chip held up to the wines.

For the main course, we did the duck, fries with French aioli, and green salad:

Both wines complimented the duck well.  The Field Theory kept it’s fruit, whereas the Caduceus veered more dry & spicy.  Oddly, we felt that Caduceus made us feel like we were eating in Europe & the Field Theory like California.

Verdict: Either! Depends on budget and where you’d like to “go” for dinner 🙂

2017 Review

1. What did you do in 2017 that you’d never done before?
Rode the Surfliner up the Pacific Coast.  I had wanted to do it when I lived out west but never got around to it.  It surpassed my expectations – I loved it.

Visited Chicago for the first time – great city.  Loved the architecture.

Sat in an outdoor thermal pool while it was snowing. So cool, Literally.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for this year?
I never make those.  I feel obligated to so many things that I can’t add one more thing to the pile.  Although, it’s pretty clear I have loads of things to improve upon!

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
One friend had the cutest bebe & I got to snuggle her when they visited me at work.

4. Did anyone close to you pass away?
A friend who was like family.  

5. What countries did you visit?
Australia, Japan, Mexico (first time!) & Canada.

6. What would you like to have next year that you lacked in this one?
More peace of mind. The past couple of years ended up being really transitional. When all was was said & done, I stayed on and permanently landed on my feet in a much better place personally & professionally. Now that I’ve “arrived”, I should probably stop the constant contingency planning. 

7. What dates from this year will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
1/1 – Shrine visit; 1/2 – met my niece for the first time; 1/12 – final job interview; 7/2 – met my my other niece for the first time. BTW, being auntie is pretty much the BEST gig ever!! <3!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
So nerdy.  Implementing a completely unfamiliar database for my department basically on my own. 

9. What was your biggest failure?
Any number of things on a regular basis! 

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Garden variety colds and the usual stress stomachaches.  Otherwise, I’ve been blessed with superhuman health. 

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Warm winter boots with ice picks in the soles. I can’t take the cold but Canadians have great tools to make it more manageable!

12. Where did most of your money go?

13. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The possibility of moving back to California.  I never wanted to leave in the first place but practicality brought me back East.  As time had progressed, I had relegated myself to the fact I probably would be in Boston until further notice.  Honestly, my quality of life is super high & there’s lots of opportunities. So, there was no reason to up end anything, especially since I was still paying off my student loans (This whole thing of struggling with student loans has always been thing, at least in my circles.  I’m glad people are finally paying attention to the fact that most salaries won’t enable you to pay them back in a timely fashion, never mind “live the American Dream” or take on a “dream job” #radio #haha).  Anyway, a couple of years ago, I paid the loans off & ended up with a skill set in relatively high demand . 

This past summer, I did a quick drive by of my old hometown with Phil. He loved it way more than I ever could.  Now, he wants to move there 😍.  We may never do it but the fact that it’s actually possibility has brought me an amazing sense of peace that I didn’t know I needed.

14. What song will always remind you of this year?
Bike Dream – Rostam
Sooooo romantic!

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?


b) thinner or fatter?
About the same

c) richer or poorer?
about the same – well, maybe richer since most of my $$ is going into savings

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Complain.  Even I find my whinging rather boring, pointless, and complete waste of energy.  Like I start whinging, and I’m all, “why I am doing this?”.

18. How did you spend Christmas?
Made radio magic 

BUT…I did see so many friends around the actual day. My social life was robust around the holidays and I loved it!

19. Did you fall in love this year?
The longer we’re together, the better it gets.  I never thought it was possible but I love him more & more every day.

20. What was your favourite TV program?
I loved the second season of “Master of None”.  The “Thanksgiving” episode gave me allllll the feels.  All of them.  “Cute and smart! You don’t get those together.”,

The best show – hands down – “Offspring”.  If you were ever curious about how my mind works, Nina Proudman is where it’s at.  Most of the story lines & 100% of the internal dialogue. 

#subtleperve #becool #coolwithaK

21. What was the best book you read?
I have a massive stack of books on my bedside table.  There were 3 I couldn’t put down:

L’Appart by David Lebovitz; Ever dreamt of moving overseas & getting 100% settled into your new homeland?  Bring a sense of humor.

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance: I would never want to be president of this county.  We are  front & foremost capitalist, along with being huge, which gives way to many different pockets of culture.  There’s no way you could ever unify everyone…maybe if everyone had a stable income that allotted for basic security?  Who knows. For now, I’d rather have a career of picking up trash with a stick that has a nail on the end of it than lead the free world.  Anyway, this quick read gives a voice to people who don’t often get to step up to the podium.

Gjelina by Travis Lett:  My friend sent me this as a gift and it will forever remind me of sitting in the back of Gjusta, eating off each other’s plates on a warm night. <3!

22. What was your favourite film?
Scoop!: I saw it on a plane but is totally worth tracking down.  It’s about a paparazzo journalist who ends up with this amazing story.  Lots of great shots of Tokyo.

Papa ou Maman: This a French film that would probably never get made here.  A set of parents are divorcing and they are letting their kids pick the parent with whom they’d like to live.  Both of them go out of their way to behave horribly to make them choose the other parent.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I worked on a tv commercial for work! Extra long day but fun way to enter year 44.

24. What kept you sane?
Walking?  Because the T is such crap, I end up walking home usually.  It’s a good way to clear the cobwebs & get caught up on music or podcasts.

25. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Matthew Le Nevez #damn

26. Who did you miss?

My grandmother.  I miss her every day.  It’s been 14 years.  I guess you learn to live around the feelings vs. getting over them.

On Job Searching

Over the past couple of years, I’ve changed jobs a bit more than I have in the past – all for normal reasons, nothing shady.  While I wouldn’t consider myself an expert in looking for a new job, I’ve been hit up for advice lately.  So, here goes…

Before any of this job search stuff started, I had a couple of resources in reserve:

  1. Emergency Savings – While I had severance, it took MA Unemployment a while to process my first check.  Even though I didn’t tap into it, the savings helped everything feel less urgent.
  2. Examples of My Work – As I worked on projects, I would bcc myself on reports, decks, scope docs, anything.  If somebody wanted an example of my work, I had a whole library of items to bring with me to an interview.
  3. Part Time Job & Volunteer Gigs –  Those got me out of the house & engaged when the walls closed in.
In general, the biggest struggle I had with “being on the market” was the emotional piece.  From changing my daily routine to being asked inappropriate questions during interviews that lasted 6+ hours, it was exhausting.  While I couldn’t control the outside forces of apply/wait/return call/decide whether I wanted the job/think about whether they wanted me, I could contain it.  Every morning, I’d wake up at my usual time & spend the next 6-8 hours doing work “stuff”.  I’d update my resume, apply for jobs, schedule interviews, take online classes, etc..  Then, unless something extraordinary came up, I’d finish my “work day” around 3 or 4 and use the rest of the day to do whatever I wanted.
From a tactical standpoint, I availed myself of all free resources.  MA has some great career centers. I recommend using one located in the area where most of your jobs are located.  I live in an industrial city; therefore, my local career center specializes in things like mechanics, construction, etc.. So, I used Career Source in Cambridge as most of their training & listings were in the tech field.  If you want to learn something new or need some skills upgrades, libraries offer classes for free.  Each time I was looking, I took a class to learn a “hot” new software program, like SQL or Balsamiq.
To get your resume through the bots, I recommend including all the software programs you know as “tools” & list your successes/accomplishments as your experience vs. tasks performed.
For referrals, at one point, I could walk into HR and recommend somebody for a job but that’s not the case anymore. Unless a resume matches the programmed criteria, nobody will see the application.  I tell people to apply as directed & call me as soon as they hear something.
Ultimately, if you feel like you could use some extra help, there are plenty of recruiters out there who are willing to meet & review your resume for free.  They tend to be the best source of the latest trends in applying & interviewing.
Good luck!
Total P.S. to the story as somebody asked me about this yesterday.  Between both times on the market, I spent about 6 months total, around 3 months each time, looking for a new opportunity.  Since I had to keep track of all my actions…on average, I applied for 10 jobs a day, i.e. 70 jobs per week or 1800 jobs overall. On a normal week, I had about 10 contacts, follow ups, interviews, or unreasonable offers, i.e. 260 contacts.  Those resulted in 2 reasonable offers.  Basically, the success rate is 1 usable offer for every 900 applications, or 1 offer for every 130 contacts to score a highly technical, middle management, fully benefitted, market fair salary in the city.