Monthly Archives: April 2011

Chop Style: The 10 Second Shoeshine

Maybe you’re the type that doesn’t dress up a lot. Perhaps you’re a lot more comfortable in a pair of Adidas or Converse than brogues or boots. Style is a matter of taste and lifestyle, and at the end of the day it’s to each his own.

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday, and for a lot of you it will represent one of the two or three times you’ll see the inside of a church this year. Or you may just be getting together with family. Or your girlfriend’s family. For most people, whatever they’re doing, Easter is a prime day for wearing the best pair of shoes you own.

Now go home and get your fucking shinebox.

There’s no substitute for a proper shoeshine, but if you’re the sort who usually takes to shoes that don’t need polishing and has only one pair of dress shoes buried way back in the bottom of the closet and reserved for weddings and funerals, you may be caught out tomorrow.

Tomorrow morning when you wake up all hungover and reluctant and pull out your sad sack of a suit and try to remember how to tie a four in hand, you may then notice that your dress shoes have a nice patina of dust, cigarette ashes and beer foam stains, and you’ve got to be out the door in 10 minutes because you hit that snooze button too hard. Even if you had the time to give your shoes a proper shine, you don’t have brushes, cloth or polish, because after all, who the hell keeps that on hand all the time?

Fear not, slovenly friend. The Chop has you covered.

    The 10 Second Shoe Shine

  • Gather 4 paper towels and a can of furniture polish.
  • Spray one towel liberally with furniture polish and coat your shoe leather evenly.
  • Buff it lightly with a dry towel.
  • Repeat both steps on the other shoe.

That’s it. That’s all there is to it. Your shoes aren’t going to pass Marine Corps muster, but they’re going to look a sight better than they did 10 seconds ago, and probably even be presentable. Furniture polish is all wax based, as is shoe polish, so there’s no need to worry about harming your shoes. If they’re in a very sorry state with quite a bit of dust and dirt present, you’d also do well to wipe them down first with one end of a slightly damp cloth or towel and dry them with the other side.

It may not be ideal, but it’s a hell of a lot cheaper and more sensible way to clean your shoes than wasting perfectly good Champagne on them.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Chop Style

Super Art Fight 10 @ Ottobar Tonight

It’s Super Art Fight night again at the Ottobar. Once again, there’s nothing we can tell you here that hasn’t already been said over on their very thorough and entertaining blog. They’ve got more inside baseball stuff over there than the actual Inside Baseball. Check it out.

SAFX is at the Ottobar tonight. 9 pm doors.

Then again, maybe there is one thing we can tell you that they won’t. Perhaps it’s out of modesty, but they’ve made no mention that they’ve been selling out shows left and right lately, and enjoying incredible popularity throughout the region. The last time they were at Ottobar, 450 people showed up. There was a line down to 25th street. If you’re going, and you should, make sure you show up early.

Like, 7 pm and sit in Charmington’s until the line starts to form early.

Leave a comment

Filed under Baltimore Events, Other

Pratt Contemporaries Happy Hour @ Central Library Branch Tonight

Remember the first time you saw Ghostbusters? If you’re like us you were about 5 or 6 and you were riveted to the screen right from the opening credits. You could not wait for them to catch a ghost. And the first legitimate ghost hunt they went on in that movie was at the main branch of the New York Public Library.

Little five year old Chop was standing on the couch at that point, action figures in hand and yelling “I ain’t afraid of no ghost.” And when they made their way down into the depths of the basement and all those stacks where nobody ever gets to go- where the whole of human wisdom is collected and gathering dust, we just kept thinking: Damn that’s cool.

You never know what you might find in the sealed off parts of a library.

Ever since then we’ve been waiting for our chance to poke around in the cavernous recesses of a giant municipal library. Tonight, that chance has arrived. The Pratt’s Central Branch is hosting a happy hour and tour this evening from 6-8 pm.

We’ve always been of the opinion that pound-for-pound, Baltimore stacks up quite favorably to NYC. That’s true of central library branches as well. There are hours upon hours of exploration at the Cathedral Street branch as just an ordinary visitor. Tonight’s tour will be guided by the people who know the Pratt best- its librarians, and represents a chance for a rare behind-the-scenes look at some of the most interesting and historic materials in their collection.

Plus, there’s FREE BEER. They don’t call it happy hour for nothing, and beer and wine will be made available to visitors during the tour. Perhaps as rare as some of the materials on view is the chance to talk in a library, and there will be some of that too. A great chance to mix and mingle with fellow readers, tonight’s event is courtesy of the Pratt Contemporaries. Not your grandma’s library boosters, the Pratt Contemps are the same group of book lovers who’ve brought you events like the Black and White Ball and Brunch with Ira Glass. You can even follow them on Twitter.

Of course, if you want to take it a step further you can join for yourself, too.

Leave a comment

Filed under Baltimore Events, Books and Literature

The Five Best Bottles of Liquor to Give as a Gift

Last Fall when we wrote about How to Stock a Home Bar we mentioned that you should save space for a couple of ‘special occasion bottles.’ You need a couple of bottles of the good stuff; a private stock, if you will. This is the stuff that you’ll break out for special occasions, and that is good enough that it will make any occasion special if you do break it out.

We suggested that these bottles might even be given to you to mark some special occasion. It works both ways though… eventually a friend of yours is going to have a birthday, a housewarming, a Christmas party, or some other milestone worth marking with a bottle. It’s times like these when the usual good stuff isn’t quite good enough. Any drinker can treat himself to a bottle of Makers’ 46 or Tanqueray 10 on payday, but the idea behind a gifted bottle is that it should not only be a liquor of superior quality, but should be something a friend might not think to try on his own.

In any decent spirits shop there’s going to be no shortage of bottles worth giving as a gift. Especially now, in the age of artisanal booze made in small batch copper pot stills there is plenty of variety for a special occasion. These five though are tried and true, and represent the very best spirit of generosity.

The Dalmore 15

The Dalmore 15 year old. Representing the third tier in the Dalmore Range (which includes whiskys up to 50 years old), the 15 is about the best there is in the world before you start spending into the triple digits. The Dalmore’s 12 point stag stands guard on the bottle, ensuring it’s not opened lightly. Aged entirely in sherry casks, this is the stuff that your Grandfather would drink. At his mistress’ funeral. (around $80.)

Barbancourt Estate Reserve

Barbancourt Estate Reserve. Unlike some other liquors, there are plenty of good rums available in the $20 range. Spend twice that and you’re into the realm of world-class rums. What makes Barbancourt’s Estate Reserve so special isn’t just the fact that it’s still being produced in post-quake Haiti from pure sugar cane or the 15 years it spends in oak, it’s the fact that not only do you not need Coke to drink it… you don’t even need ice. (around $45.)

Noah's Mill

Noah’s Mill. We had the good fortune to receive a bottle of Noah’s Mill as a gift once, and can speak directly to its quality. The Chop is first and foremost a bourbon drinker, and Noah’s Mill has supplanted Russell’s Reserve as our top pick. You know this isn’t for everyday drinking, as it’s bottled at a ridiculous 114.3 proof. You wouldn’t ever know it though, because it smooths out nicely after 15 years of aging in charred oak. This is as good as it gets. (around $45.)

Delamain pale and dry XO

Delamain pale and dry XO.Without getting into a whole big lesson on Cognac, let us just say this is the good shit. In this year’s Ultimate Spirits Challenge it placed second with a score of 95, a tie with Delamain’s much pricier “Extra” expression. Whereas an XO represents the top of some brands’ lines, at Delamain this 25 year old Cognac is actually the bottom of the line. Compare it to Courvoisier’s XO, which is the fifth step up their ladder, retails about $50 more, and is not 100% Grand Champagne derived. It is a bit expensive, but it’s also a special occasion. (around $100.)

Chartreuse

Chartreuse. Why are we including Chartreuse in this short list? Is it because we love it? Because we would like to receive a bottle as a gift? Because we wanted to include a liqueur for variety’s sake? These are all good reasons, but we include Chartreuse here because it’s the perfect gift for the vodka or gin drinker in your life. Premium vodka is more or less a scam, and any serious gin drinker has probably already reached the top of the gin pyramid on his own (It’s not nearly as high as the Cognac pyramid or the Scotch pyramid). Chartreuse is best served neat, but if that certain someone still insists of drinking vodka, feel free to pass along our Chartreuse gimlet recipe.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cocktails

Orioles vs. Twins @ Camden Yards Tonight

Tonight is the first Tuesday bargain night of the season, so we’re going to be watching tonight’s game as God intended- in the stands with the die hards. Now that the ball club sucks again, we happily predict that the fairweather types and the school aged kids will be staying home.

A trip to the Yard is always a good time, but honestly, we’ve had more fun watching this last road trip from the upper deck. That is to say… the upper deck of our house. The Chophouse features two decks off the back of it, with an exterior door and a window in the rear bedroom. We couldn’t say what’s taken us so long, but we’ve recently discovered that we can easily move our little office flatscreen to the desk and face it out the window, enabling us to sit on the deck and watch the game in the warm weather with our feet up on the windowsill. Land of Pleasant Living indeed!

And while we’re out there, we’ve been indulging in our favorite summertime old-man drinking snack: pickled eggs.

Pickled eggs... the Chop's favorite baseball snack.

Time was, pickled eggs were as popular a drinking snack as wings and fries are today. No tavern was complete without an egg jar, and pickled eggs were thought to complement beer as well as pretzels or peanuts. Times have changed, and beer has changed (much for the better), but when the weather gets hot and we’re looking toward a light, simple lager or pilsner, we’re also looking toward the egg jar.

When most people think of pickled eggs, they immediately imagine purple ones with a ton of beets thrown in. In fact, there are dozens upon dozens of different recipes to use for pickling eggs. Here’s the one that we favor at home:

The Chop’s Pickled Egg Recipe

  • 12 boiled eggs, peeled
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbls minced garlic
  • 1 tbls salt
  • 1 tsp seasoned salt
  • 1 tsp dried onion or onion powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • Combine everything except the eggs and stir well. Heat brine if desired. Place the eggs in a jar with a tight sealing lid and pour the brine over them. Wait 4-5 days.

    You may be scratching your head or turning up your nose now, but bookmark this post anyway. A week from now when you’ve got a few dozen leftover Easter eggs cluttering up your fridge, it just might come in handy.

    Leave a comment

    Filed under Orioles Baseball

    Best Bets: Using Books as Home Decor

    When we moved into the Chophouse about a year and a half ago, we were basically starting from scratch. We had moved around so much previously that we had accumulated very little furniture, and what we did have was in desperate need of replacement. Since then, we’ve been slowly figuring out how to fill up all this space.

    Roommate moved in and brought his furniture, then moved out and took it away again, so we’re in the strange position now of having a completely bare living room, while at the same time being ready to put the finishing touches on most other rooms. In just about all of our rooms, those finishing touches are going to include books.

    Books should fit into a living space organically, without dominating the room.

    Incorporating books into design is nothing new, and there are any number of ways to go about it. Sites like Book Decor and Books By The Foot will even sell you books in bulk to suit any design aesthetic you like, from goatskin covers to shelves arranged by size or color, or even books wrapped in custom covers. Just don’t try to actually read them though, since they’re selected solely for appearance and may not even be in English.

    We see this as a tacky, slothful solution, and prefer a more organic approach. Books should say something about their owner, and need to pull their weight in any design scheme by actually being functional. If it’s not something we’d want to pick up and idly look over on any lazy Sunday afternoon, then it’s just not worth having around.

    Aside from the library of novels in our home office, we’re envisioning a few choice vegetarian cookbooks living in the kitchen. It’s nice to have some fresh ideas for dinner close at hand, and trying to double check something on a smartphone while three burners are going and your hands are sticky is never a good idea.

    The wine rack in our dining room has shelf space on it as well, perfect for a couple of cocktail compendiums and a book or two on wine. After all, no home is really complete without a copy of Imbibe! or The Modern Drunkard, is it?

    We’ve got some stubborn empty space atop the wardrobe, and we’re thinking the bedroom would be the ideal spot to house a collection of the Harvard Classics or a vintage encyclopaedia set, easy enough to acquire on eBay. We’ve also got two nightstands and have been thinking of a floating shelf or two, which would be perfect for stacking a couple first edition hardbacks.

    Of course, we’re still pretty far away from putting finishing touches on the living room, but there’s no end to the possibilities. Here’s a few we think we could live with throughout the house:

    1 Comment

    Filed under Best Bets

    The HGTV Drinking Game

    Ever since we got into the market to buy our first home, we’ve been watching a lot of HGTV. Whether you’re looking for design and decor ideas for your own house, or just want to gawk at the way other people are living, Home and Garden’s got something for you.

    We especially like to watch on weekend days, which is prime time for domestic projects and a time when there’s typically very little else on the air worth watching. Of course, weekend days are also the best time for brunch, and it’s this happy coincidence that led us to invent the HGTV drinking game.

    The Chop's favorite HGTV show? The Unsellables, of course.

    HGTV features dozens of different shows, but they all basically fall into one of three categories; interior design makeovers, buying and selling, and total renovation. As you’d imagine, there’s plenty of crossover among those categories, so you can still play the game effectively whether you’re watching Color Splash, Bath Crashers, or Property Virgins.

    Since we’re talking about brunch and daylight here, it’s important to note that this game is best played with a Bloody Mary, French 75, Madras, or similar cocktail. No Jameson shots or canned beer shotgunning here.

    Take one sip when you hear the words:

    • backsplash
    • lifestyle
    • entertaining
    • neutral
    • ugly
    • green
    • distressed
    • repurposed
    • walk away from
    • mid-century
    • counter space
    • stainless steel
    • surprise
    • granite
    • short sale

    Take two sips if:

    • the homeowner overpaid during the boom
    • anyone complains about anything in relation to ‘double sinks’ or ‘a true master suite’
    • a homeowner is hit with a surprise added expense during a renovation
    • the room makeover is < $50 under budget
    • anyone demands an open floor plan
    • you spot anything from ikea
    • someone uses a dining room as anything other than a dining room
    • the show is filmed in Canada
    • the homeowner has a stupid hobby
    • anyone makes a cheap headboard from scratch

    Three sips if:

    • anyone has to design around a big screen TV.
    • someone’s parents are paying part of their rent/mortgage
    • there’s a marriage proposal involved in the episode
    • anyone thinks they’re in a ‘bad area’ or ‘dangerous neighborhood’
    • a property is priced over $1,000,000

    Drain your drink if:

    • the show is filmed in Baltimore
    • a real estate transaction falls through at the end of the show
    • someone sustains a fairly serious injury during filming
    • someone cries for any reason

    These are just a few suggestions. You can add more of your own, or even subtract a few if things get out of hand. Ideally, you shouldn’t be passed out by mid-afternoon, but should be just buzzed enough to say “Why yes, I do need to go to Pier 1 and buy a creepy glass head like right now! That’s exactly what I need in my life.

    Leave a comment

    Filed under A Day in the Life of the Chop