A few random things that interest me which you may (or may not) want to know about ...
Beer has been a second-class citizen to wine for far too long. Most of the blame for this, however, can be attributed to the brewing industry itself, where the "Big End of Town" spent most of the 20th century pumping out bland lager/pilsener-style beers. Over the last quarter century, there has been a resurgence in smaller breweries producing local beers with far more character than you'll ever see in a bottle of VB or Becks or Corona, etc. Most small breweries produce flavoursome beer, in a range of styles, and are well worth seeking out; some of these breweries are even pushing the limits of what it means to be beer.
My all-time favourites:
- Caledonian 80/- (Edinburgh) ... lovely toasty favours ... very drinkable
- Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (Chico, CA) ... classic Cascade-driven pale ale
- Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout (Fort Bragg, CA) ... rich, luxurious
- Boags Honey Porter (Tasmania) ... decent porter, lifted by Leatherwood Honey
My latest favourites:
- Sink The Bismarck (Brewdog, Aberdeenshire) ... 41% ABV ... like "essence of IPA"
- anything by Innis and Gun (Edinburgh) ... matured in oak casks, with sweet woody notes
I love what the Brewdog boys in Scotland are doing ... experimentation on an extreme scale (e.g. "Sink The Bismarck"). Mikkeller in Denmark also doing very interesting things. In Australia, RedOak in Sydney does a wide range of excellent beers. James Squire saves the day in most mainstream pubs, and does some interesting "seasonal" beers. There are too many others to mention. And there are also far too many others to waste your time drinking bland VB-style beers.
I like a wide range of popular music (from Kylie and Madonna (ahem) to Black Sabbath), can't stand opera, and am largely indifferent to most classical (yes, I know, philistine).
Some current favourites:
- TISM ... bleak, insightful, electro-rock from Melbourne, Australia
- Tangerine Dream ... ambient, electronic from Germany
- Karnivool ... heavy progressive rock from Perth, Australia
While I'm a long way short of the people who post their pictures on photo.net, I still like to carry my Canon EOS
400D 7D around everywhere (thus annoying Helen) to try to capture interesting images. Our stay in Scotland (and vicinity) in the second half of 2010 provided a wealth of photo opportunities, a sample of which is available online.
I enjoy cooking (but stick to easy/tasty stuff) and enjoy even more eating food by people who really know how to cook. We've gradually worked our way through Sydney's hatted restaurants (e.g. Quay, Marque, Pier, Tetsuya, Rockpool, Aria). Annoyingly, most of the decent places I find in Melbourne seem to close down not long after I find them (e.g. Fanny's, Stephanie's, Mietta's, Interlude, 1-2-3). However, Vue de Monde is still hanging in there.
Can't stand 'em.