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About johnb

  • Birthday 11/26/1943

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    Franklin, NC

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  1. Just stopping by for the first time in a long time. I checked but didn't find that anyone here had noted that Chang is a finalist for Outstanding Chef America in this year's James Beard Awards (maybe my lack of search skills?) https://www.jamesbeard.org/blog/the-2022-james-beard-awards-nominees
  2. No it wasn't that one; Engel had bits and pieces of many fine vineyards in those days, including some Grand Crus if memory serves. As I think about it I think it may have been some Corton or other. Somewhere in a box with thousands of others I'm sure I have a label from one of those bottles. If I get really ambitious (not likely) maybe I'll hunt it down. That's another thing about the old days -- they didn't have modern glues back then, so you could actually soak labels off and preserve them. Anyway, whatever it was, it certainly would be more than $4 a bottle these days, probably even more than $4 a sip. Maybe a sniff.
  3. Yes agreed. When I said "good" I was I was referring mostly to high reputation, premier and grand "cru" stuff. That said, based on what I was fortunate to taste over the years, while the "lesser" ones can certainly be good, the big names can be blockbusters. To cite one personal example, the '62 Chambertin Clos St. Jacque of Claire-dau just blew away anything I've ever tasted from among those"lesser-but-good" wines I've had, and it's not alone. What's more, back in the day, you could get wines in that league for under $100 a CASE. The first case of burgundy I ever bought was a '64 Chassagne-Montrachet red Morgeot, and I paid $36 for the case. I'll never forget it. The next case I don't remember exactly but it was from Rene Engel and it was a Premier cru, also a '64, and I do remember I paid $48. Ahh, the good ol' days.
  4. The impact of the frost on quantity is clear -- yields will be way down. But the effect on quality is far less clear -- there may be some fine wines produced. Everything depends on the weather up to the time of harvest, not to mention many other variables. We just have to wait and see. Whatever good wine is produced will certainly be expensive given the reduced quantities. The advice to stick with producers whom one trusts is always good, but of course how can one be sure of whom to trust? Many "trustworthy" producers over the years have been found not to deserve the trust. Wine is always a bit of a crapshoot. Considering how little wine is produced in Burgundy anyway, it's a pretty academic discussion for just about everybody these days. Like those articles in car magazines about Italian supercars -- nice to read but of little practical significance for 99.999% of car buyers. I was lucky to be able to afford good Burgundies when I got started in wine, over 40 years ago, but those days are long gone, frost or no frost.
  5. I was a grad student in NYC in the late 60's and remember that original TGIF, although I never actually went there, being too poor to partake of such places, and anyway it was way over on the East Side, a place difficult to access from my student digs on the upper West Side, both geographically and psychologically. In those days such places were known as "fern bars," and after TGIFridays showed the way they started to pop up everywhere, as the article says. They all looked pretty much alike, with junky decor on the walls and plants hanging everywhere. It was all the rage. The fact that they all looked alike is not surprising, nor it is a surprise that they are changing their decor in lockstep today. These things move in waves, as the pendulum swings back and forth. It's called "fashion," and just like clothing, every interior design follows the same cues. I watch a lot of house flip and restaurant makeover shows on TV, and it's the same thing. Throw out the old clutter, and install cool, simple, clean if not "natural" decor. Every "with it" home kitchen these days is done in grays and has subway tile backsplashes (another NYC echo). But that will soon fade and be replaced by the NEXT BIG THING. Nobody can predict what it will be, but inevitably it will come.
  6. Well, at my stage of life and given where I live, eating out and air travel are less than even moderate. However I do find myself ponying up for some fairly costly cruises from time to time, so maybe I'll be forced to have a look at it.
  7. Whew! Reading through this thread reminds me of why I decided to just get unlimited 2% cash back cards with no annual fee. KISS. From the proceeds I can buy my own airline tickets when needed; I'm also lucky, at least when flying United or other Star carriers, that I have a life membership in their club (bought for $500 from Eastern in the early eighties -- no longer offered), so that solves that problem.
  8. AS long as you have a rating of 760 or so you are in the "best" risk category. Anything higher is just for fun. I actually got a perfect 850 recently, which I may frame and hang on the wall, but hitting that is mostly by chance and doesn't last.
  9. This is different from what bob said above, but in general my understanding is that canceling a card will or may negatively affect your credit score for two reasons: (1) it reduces your ratio of credit use vs. credit available, and (2) if the card is one you've had for a while it reduces the average age of your credit accounts. I don't think the second one affects you in this case, but the first one might. In general, you want to keep accounts for a while and you want to avoid too many credit inquiries such as when you apply for a new card, both of which give lenders comfort that you pay your bills on time and aren't risky. That said, I can't say whether any such negative impact would be material to you. Probably not unless you are contemplating a major borrowing such as a home purchase and the difference in credit rate would have a significant impact. I am wrestling with this right now because I want to cancel the only card I have that has an annual fee and I don't really need it any longer (I have kept it because it offers primary rental car insurance which has value if you rent cars a lot which I don't any longer). But I have had it for over 40 years so it helps my credit rating some, and I'm a credit rating junkie. But I'll probably let it go next time.
  10. If you're a Costco member, the new Costco Visa (issued by Citi) gives 3% cash back on restaurants and travel, but 4% on Costco and other "eligible" gas (whatever that means), 2% on all other Costco purchases, and 1% on everything else.
  11. Personally, I find chasing after better "deals" on points and all that type of thing a hassle and not worth the trouble. I now have two cards that simply give 2% cash back on everything, with no annual fee. One is only available to Fidelity customers, but the other (Citi Double Cash) is available to anybody. No muss, no fuss, no need to remember whether you're in a limited time period to get a bigger percentage on certain things (which I do try to get when I remember, on a Discover Card I also have, but not obsessively). Works for me. I also have a Capital One card that gives me 1.5% back but also has no fee on foreign transactions, so I use that one whenever charging anything not in US dollars, thus saving the usual 3% FEF. In practice, I use the cash back to against future credit card bills. . I think I'm still ahead by having gotten all that previous cash back. If I fly somewhere, I just buy the ticket (and still get my 2% back).
  12. I don't think this has been reported here previously. For those who may be interested in the next phase of John and Karen Shields careers, they are opening a dual restaurant (The Loyalist and Smyth) in Chicago. Smyth was the county in Va. where John and Karen's restaurant(s) were. Linked article gives some information, although the opening date has slipped a bit; Loyalist is in operation and Smyth will open Aug. 26. It's an upstairs/downstairs deal, one casual and one (Smyth) more serious with an 8-course menu at $135. Apr 27, 2016 - "Smyth & The Loyalist will Head for the West Loop in June" by Penny Pollack and Maggie Hennessey on chicagomag.com
  13. Well naturally if a chain (or whatever you choose to call it) has three locations, prior to that it had to have had two. But having two doesn't automatically mean the outfit has aspirations of covering the world with its locations -- that wouldn't apply, of course, if the second location has signage, uniforms, menu, etc identical to the first. But otherwise I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that merely having two locations means they are planning to become really YUGE, particularly if the two places, tho under common ownership, operate under different names. If they are two local stores of a chain with many locations elsewhere, then clearly they qualify as chains.
  14. My thoughts. Take them FWIW. Two links doth not a chain make. I think that would be beyond the pale. Anyway, the important distinguishing feature, for me, of a chain is not number of locations but whether all locations adhere to a formula, i.e. same menu, same signage, same uniforms, same color theme, same interior, etc. As you suggest, there is no doubt an infinity of variations in the makeup of multiple-location restaurant businesses, and in a website like this you can't have a category for all possibilities. My thought would be that any "chain" must have a minimum of three locations -- if it's only two then group it with conventional restaurants. Among chains, I'd have three categories: formula quick serve (McD, Chipotle), formula dinner house (Red L, Carrabba, etc), and non-formula (places with common ownership but not trying to appear the same as the others in the shared-ownership group). Of course there will be some that don't fit any of those well, but you've got to stop somewhere.
  15. For what its worth, I stumbled upon the following article: (I know nothing about the author) "Craft Beer is Dead. Gose Killed It." by Joe Koehane on thrilllist.com Whether one agrees or not, it seems to me to have some interesting comments about staying ahead of the crowd for its own sake.
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