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June 30, 2005

Phils Finest Hour

No, I don't have anything to say about anyone called Phil.

This is about a great band I discovered today whilst looking for some new music to listen to, using a neat tool I also recently found. Most of the time, finding new music can be a real drag, taking a lot of hunting to come up with something good. But I have started playing with iRATE, a system which feeds you free music from around the net, and your ratings determine what gets downloaded.

Whilst listening to this, and tossing out a lot of music I found to be garbage, up popped a song by a band called Phils Finest Hour. Having heard their track called Bobs Theory of Ten Storied Houses, I hunted around for more and came across them on mp3.com.au. Their EP has a great combination of rock and piano and I've become hooked now! And they're from Australia also (Perth to be precise but I'll forgive them!).

Now known as The Howling Youth, I eagerly await more releases in the same style as Walk On In.

Rating is 4 **** out of 5! And it's free music!!

Posted by Ben at 09:16 PM | Comments (2)

June 27, 2005

Stroh 80 Rum

After several years of enjoying various whiskies on occasion, I've found that I have gained a wonderful skill of being able to discern the fine flavours of strong spirits without gagging on the strength of the alcohol.

To me, many standard strength spirits (40%) such as vodka and rum are very mild and they've got very little kick in them. Some cheap vodka can be like water to me. But this does really bring out all of the flavours within.

On the weekend, I happened to be passing by the bottle shop in Utrecht station, where they have a large variety of minatures for sale - I'd guess they have one or two hundred. At around 2 euros a pop, it's a cheap way to sample new varieties of grog. One day I'll get a photo of them all.

Wanting to revive the memory of a delicious drink I had, I spotted amongst the collection a minature of Stroh 80 Austrian Rum. This is probably the strongest stuff I've ever tasted.

It's 80% alcohol - that's 160 proof! Keep away from naked flames. What follows is a brief review...

For those who aren't so brave, they also make a 'lite' variety. Only 60%.

Known as The Spirit of Austria, sipping the stuff is an absolute intense experience. It completely tingles the tongue, warming and numbing the mouth and when you swallow it, you can feel it running all the way down your throat. It's a very sweet red rum, with caramel, vanilla and cinnamon flavours. Surprisingly it has no harsh flavour or alcohol burn. The spirit numbs the mouth and throat, leaving a lovely tingling sensation to be enjoyed to the last drop.

I'm gonna buy a proper sized bottle of the stuff - poured over ice cream, I know it will make the perfect dessert! Apparently they make a liqueur cream also...I know who will like that! ;)

Posted by Ben at 03:37 PM | Comments (0)

June 17, 2005

The charm of the Cologne brewery

There's something really charming about breweries in Cologne. I discovered it last weekend.

Snow and myself headed down to Cologne for a couple of days. We were meeting K and also wanted to visit the city a bit more. We've been to Cologne before, but only for a day. This time we got to see how hospitable she was overnight.

The first night we were there, we headed to a little Japanese restaurant and has some amazing food - octopus salad and grilled beef on a hotplate, naturally with sushi. After being gorged on food (the servings were a lot bigger than we'd thought!) we settled into a coctail bar where we ended up with 4 cocktails for €14 total. Yum!

The following day we met up with K and wandered around for a bit, loading up on coffees. Lunch followed in the Paffgen brewery, on the Friesenstrasse. This is where Colognaise (Colonic??) hospitality really shines. As we took our seats at the table, you'd normally expect the waiter to come up to you and ask what you want to drink. Not there! The waiter merely leant over to confirm "3 Kolsch?", starting an afternoon of Cologne brewery pleasure. Kolsch is the local beer variant.

And the beers flowed! When we had drained one glass, the waiter came by and swapped the glass for a full one. No need to ask, it just comes! In the entire time there, we downed about 11 beers, and not once did we actually ask for a beer. Though he did seem a little perplexed when we asked for a soft drink for Snow...

Next to the free-flowing beers came the quaint custom where the beer tab is not kept by the waiter, or behind the bar. The beer coaster serves as the tab. Don't get it too wet, ad dont tear it up!

For food, I had haxen, which is pig knuckle. roasted with a great gravy. Lots of hammy goodness, plenty of chewy fatty skin and lots of picking out meat with a fork, but ever so filling.

Snow ate the Fish of the day, which that day was a mixed grill of beef and pork. Very perplexing indeed...perhaps being far away from the sea, the Colognese have to substitute.

Posted by Ben at 10:02 PM | Comments (0)