Father of Invention

October 24th, 2011

October 21st, 2011

St. Thomas of Villanova Church from behind a stone column

October 20th, 2011
Fear and Loathing in Las VegasRaoul Duke: Let's get down to brass tacks. How much for the ape?

2011 Man Booker Prize Winner

October 19th, 2011

The Man Booker Prize for Fiction represents the very best in contemporary fiction (from the UK, Ireland, and the Commonwealth). One of the world’s most prestigious awards, and one of incomparable influence, it continues to be the pinnacle of ambition for every fiction writer. It has the power to transform the fortunes of authors, and even publishers. In 2004, not only did Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty reach the bestseller lists, but previous winners The Life of Pi (2002) and Vernon God Little (2003) were also amongst the bestselling books of the year.

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

October 18th, 2011
Midnight Over Sanctaphrax by Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell"Sometimes there is truth buried in the old tales," he said seriously.


October 14th, 2011

Cannon Patina

The Litigators

October 13th, 2011

The Litigators by John Grisham

The Litigators by John GrishamThe partners at Finley & Figg—all two of them—often refer to themselves as “a boutique law firm.” Boutique, as in chic, selective, and prosperous. They are, of course, none of these things. What they are is a two-bit operation always in search of their big break, ambulance chasers who’ve been in the trenches much too long making way too little. Their specialties, so to speak, are quickie divorces and DUIs, with the occasional jackpot of an actual car wreck thrown in. After twenty plus years together, Oscar Finley and Wally Figg bicker like an old married couple but somehow continue to scratch out a half-decent living from their seedy bungalow offices in southwest Chicago.

And then change comes their way. More accurately, it stumbles in. David Zinc, a young but already burned-out attorney, walks away from his fast-track career at a fancy downtown firm, goes on a serious bender, and finds himself literally at the doorstep of our boutique firm. Once David sobers up and comes to grips with the fact that he’s suddenly unemployed, any job—even one with Finley & Figg—looks okay to him.

With their new associate on board, F&F is ready to tackle a really big case, a case that could make the partners rich without requiring them to actually practice much law. An extremely popular drug, Krayoxx, the number one cholesterol reducer for the dangerously overweight, produced by Varrick Labs, a giant pharmaceutical company with annual sales of $25 billion, has recently come under fire after several patients taking it have suffered heart attacks. Wally smells money.

A little online research confirms Wally’s suspicions—a huge plaintiffs’ firm in Florida is putting together a class action suit against Varrick. All Finley & Figg has to do is find a handful of people who have had heart attacks while taking Krayoxx, convince them to become clients, join the class action, and ride along to fame and fortune. With any luck, they won’t even have to enter a courtroom!

It almost seems too good to be true.

And it is.

The Litigators is a tremendously entertaining romp, filled with the kind of courtroom strategies, theatrics, and suspense that have made John Grisham America’s favorite storyteller.

This book will be available on October 25, 2011.

Pre-order your copy.

October 12th, 2011
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane SetterfieldThere are too many books in the world to read in a single lifetime; you have to draw the line somewhere.

Nobu - Dallas, TX

October 11th, 2011

I had incorrectly assumed that Nobu is a higher-end Teppenyaki restaurant and Sushi bar, like a boutique Benihana, if you will. The place is much more than that and now happens to be one of my all-time favorite meals. The menu is laid out how they suggest you order: cold appetizer course, soup/salad, hot entrees and finally sushi (the dessert menu is entirely separate).

A neat offering is omakase, which is a chef's selection. Your server apparently asks you a series of questions about preferences and potential food allergies and then depending on how much you want to spend, they will just bring food to you. We did not choose this option, but it sounds like a fun way to spend a night out. I will list everything that we did get.

Toro Tartare. Toro is a marbled piece of tuna belly. That's right, fatty fish. I had heard and read that this is a uniquely wonderful way to enjoy tuna. I'm still new to sushi, but I've had some amazing tuna. I felt that this was exactly the place where I should try a dish like this and I was not let down.

Hearts of Palm Salad w/ Jalapeño Dressing. This was topped with some micro greens, but otherwise it was...hearts of palm with a jalapeño dressing. There was not much to this salad, but it was delicious. In my experience, hearts of palm is supporting cast, but in this dish it stood alone very well. The dressing wasn't too spicy, but just added good depth to the hearts of palm.

Edamame. Admittedly, in my experience, edamame is edamame is edamame. The edamame at Nobu was good, but this isn't something that you must have if you eat here. Nothing set it apart from an order of edamame at any other restaurant.

Seared Sea Scallops. These scallops were incredibly well seared. I've not seen a crust on the scallops like this before and it added a slight textural variation that was nice. You get two scallops for like $28, so unless you are out celebrating a special occasion, this is a hard dish to recommend. That said, they were served with these wonderfully nutty brussels sprout leaves that almost outshone the scallops.

Seared Chilean Sea Bass. This was probably the best thing I have ever eaten. It was served with hunks of black truffles and a mushroom reduction sauce that was sweet and earthy. The fish was perfectly seared and cooked throughout. After getting just two scallops, I was expecting a tiny little piece of fish, but it was a good-sized portion. I think it was about $36, and I hate to say it, but probably worth a good deal more than that. There were so many things on the menu at Nobu that I decided would have to wait until the next time I'm lucky enough to eat there, but they no longer appeal to me after having had this dish.

Spicy Scallop Roll. Awesome. Raw scallop, and I understand that some people will be deterred by that, but this was so very good.

House Special Roll. This had some of everything: tuna, yellowtail, whitefish and even more that I can't remember. The roll was huge. I think I preferred the spicy scallop roll, but this was still very good; it was just a lot.

From what I can tell, there are a lot of great restaurants in Dallas and they will compete fiercely for your appetite, especially if you aren't too concerned about how they will lighten your wallet. I had a blast and the food was divine. For the sea bass alone, memories of my meal at Nobu line the walls of my "happy place."

The Different Stag's Leap Wine Makers

October 10th, 2011

One day, as hunters pursued a magnificent stag, the noble creature reached a large promontory in the palisades towering over the Napa Valley below. Trapped between the cliffs and the hunters, the stag paused, considered, then leapt across the chasm to safety. Having eluded the hunters, the stag’s boldness earned him the enduring admiration of his pursuers and their descendants for generations to come.

There are two producers in Napa Valley that have the Stag's Leap name in common, though punctuated differently.

The tale of the stag was also the inspiration for Stags’ Leap Winery, which is located within the Stags Leap District. Established in 1893 as a summer residence and resort, wine production began again in earnest when Stags’ Leap Winery was purchased in 1971 by Carl Doumani. Currently owned by Foster's Wine Estates, a global wine company, Stags’ Leap Winery is principally noted for its Petite Syrah.

In 1970, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars was founded by the Winiarski family in what is now known as the Stags Leap District. The Winiarski’s first brought international recognition to California winemaking and the Napa Valley when their 1973 S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon won the 1976 Paris Tasting. Today, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars remains family owned and operated. It is acclaimed for its Estate Cabernet Sauvignons, CASK 23, S.L.V., and FAY, which are among the most highly regarded and sought after Cabernets in the world.

I think that it is safe to say that if you are caught in conversation trying to remember a wine you have had from one of these two producers, if it was a Petite Sirah it was probably Stags' Leap Winery and if it was a Cabernet Sauvignon it was probably Stag's Leap Wine Cellars.

*All quoted materials are from Stag's Leap Winery.