Politics & Government

Healthcare has passed and the GOP is pissed

And so it begins…. GOP.com is now redirecting to this:

Are there any constructive ideas coming from today’s GOP party? Any? Are there any alternative proposals? Is there anything that the GOP is offering to do for the people other than spit on the opposition, spread hate, vandalize Democratic representative offices and spout general bull shit lies?

Let’s all step back and look at this from 10, 20 or even 50 years out…

Whether you are D, R, I, G, or whatever political party, Obama has sealed his legacy as a President of importance to the nation of Americans. He’s brought back the economy from the brink of collapse, started to wind down 2 wars, returned international respect by the rest of the world powers and has now passed historic legislation to improve the health and financial well being of millions of Americans. Historians will not care how the legislation was passed but that the Democrats and Obama were able to do it for the people in the year 2010. Whether it stays intact, remains to be scene but this is a historic positive to be attributed to a president.

However, the questions still remain. Does anyone really know what was passed or needs to be reconciled? No, of course not – who has time to actually read sources; certainly not politicians, bloggers, Fox or protesters. I found a very good breakdown from the NY Times on each step that’s being proposed. I’ve read through most of this and even I can say I’m not satisfied with all the proposals (mandates, taxes, and how will the insurance firms respond to the increases they’ll have to pay are some of them) but I’m happy to see something come to resolution. Ted Kennedy is proud.

Maybe the people we hired to run our government (all the GOP and those Dems that voted NO) can CONTINUE to turn inward and throw up a big enough mirror to the GOP to show that their efforts are not contributing to a better society. The GOP is in fact creating this:

Is this the type of leadership they would like us all to believe they stand for? I surely hope not.

Sports

This is not Detroit, man, this is the Super…

I watched both the Jets-Colts and Vikings-Saints game on Sunday. The Jets made it close in the first half, until Manning decided to step up and stop playing games with the Jets D line. The more exciting and excruciatingly painful game was the Vikings-Saints.

The Viks had every opportunity to win that game as a team with 4 turnovers going driving down the field the last few minutes of the 4th quarter, and a tied score on the field – the miracle was about to happen. Even the stupid 12 man penalty was forgotten when a field goal for the win was looking to be in reach. When Farve stepped up to throw what might be his last pass of his career:

Paul Allen of KFAN Radio in Minneapolis-St. Paul said it best, Brett could have taken a knee or ran up the field a few yards but did not need to force the throw. Toni Monkovic of NY Times notes the irony of both the blown play and one of the greatest of the season, held by Bret Farve this season.

With the 2010 game being the first Saints Superbowl, I’m on the side of Drew Brees to take the Gold and Black to the title.

Politics & Government

Walk Away From Your Debt!

This NY Times article hails home owners that are well underwater on their homes, to walk from their mortgage. If the big banks can walk from their debt, why shouldn’t you? Well Henry M. Paulson Jr. declared that “any homeowner who can afford his mortgage payment but chooses to walk away from an underwater property is simply a speculator — and one who is not honoring his obligation.” (Paulson presumably was not so censorious of speculation during his 32-year career at Goldman Sachs.)

Of course this action has serious credit repercussions, but cares to hold onto property that won’t reach it’s paid value for 60+ years. If the banks can liquidate bad debt like tossing out a bubble gum wrapper, why shouldn’t you right! We’re no longer a country of risk anymore. Go ahead and buy that new car, on credit even! You can’t afford it but you really really want it (and have convinced yourself you deserve it too).

Phil Collins – “Take Me Home” (12″ Extended Version)

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Lifestyle

Let’s Get Physical

I haven’t written many blog posts for the last few months of the end of ’09. Mostly because I’ve been traveling and visiting with with family and friends I haven’t seen in over 6 months. When I travel my primary way to interact with people is in-person. I check email, social sites and twitter less frequently as I fill my time with meeting people for personal or business reasons. I’ve become aware in both my work and personal life, one of the few problems I have with so much reliance on [social] technologies is it separates people from the in-person nature of relationships.

We write an email, chat and even phone in a call to catch up but I and many psychologists agree that this can never equal the chemical, emotional and physical bonds created when people are engaged at a close proximity or in-personal relationship.

There are five human senses (hearing, sight, touch, smell and taste) and of those, social technologies only cover one, if you count reading someone’s thoughts put down in text some kind of hybrid of sight and sound. Of course video conferencing will bridge some of the sensory intake, but you can’t shake someone’s hand to get a sense of their confidence, smell their sweat if they might be nervous or… well I don’t recommend trying to taste your business partners and friend but there are reasons you may want to taste someone.

The integration of all these senses along with a mysterious 6th, intuition (which can be just as important in nurturing relationships with people), have the ability to create robust profiles of in-person interactions that singular communication via text, web and even video chat can’t substantiate.

Realistically, social networks and internet content services like Twitter are hear to stay (interesting article by David Carr NY Times on reasons why Twitter is hear for good) but we should all keep in mind that these services are still tools to be used to improve information exchange, facilitate personal or business relationships and transactions. However, eventually we’ll all have to step outside the house/apt and have a few pints with friends, catch up with the family over dinner or engage with your mate for some…. carnal knowledge.

Here’s to getting out in public more in 2010.

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Shot at one of many street fairs in New York – most likely between the sock guy and the grilled corn

Yelloman – Physical

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Food

Frank Bruni leaves a void at the Times

food criticPrior to moving to New York 5 years ago, I didn’t read the Times regularly, and when I did, it was usually the Business or the Market sections; I never subscribed to it. Really I still don’t but my neighbor had a subscription that he over paid a year for and has never changed the delivery address after moving, so I’m fortunate to have a free subscription by proxy.

I’ve always been a “foodie” but haven’t had the “disposable” income to explore great restaurants until that move to New York. I use “disposable” lightly because I could have very well cooked at home more and become more financially liquid, however, this isNew York, one of the greatest dining cities in the world; there’s no way I’m going to pass up eating quality, unique and worldly food.

I have 5 years personal in restaurant experience as either a waiter or a chef, and local eating experiences at Bay Area, Central Coast or Santa Monica joints. I never really read restaurant reviews or reviewed my own (Yelp) until my move to NY. I was then introduced to the world of restaurant reviews with my subscription to Time Out NY and then expanded it to include reviews from Frank Bruni, eater.com, Gael Greene, and of course person-to-person reviews on Yelp.

This week Frank Bruni will be leaving the Times and has added a few parting thoughts comparing his favorites in and around New York. He notes some of my favorite restaurants in NY, including the Spotted Pig, Momofuku Ssam Bar, Prune, Minetta Tavern, Locanda Verde, Five Points, DBGB, Public, and PDT, and he’s given me a few more suggestions now for my next restaurant exploration. Give his last column a read.

Entertainment

I’ve become bridge and tunnel

It didn’t happen immediately. It was a slow progression, matched by the progressive elimination of homeless and petty crime in Manhattan. The change over has happened for many in this city as they’ve seen their once epicenter of art, culture, music and independence get washed out by middle American industry, commerce and tourism. The focus has moved away from the artistic scenes in Manhattan as activities that are palatable to tourists have moved in.

With that move, Brooklyn has become the new go to center for quality shows, music, art, urban fashion, and even cost appropriate food. Specific for this discussion, however, is the music scene and the movement of quality electronic, reggae, punk and hip hop artist shows to BK. I’m now a commuter over the bridges or in the tunnels when I want to hear A-Trak, Pharoahe Monch or Against Me! play in New York as they head to Queens or Brooklyn as venues in Manhattan continue to close or cater only to mainstream artists.

The latest quality party I’ve been too is Sunday’s Best is now getting such wide attention that the NY Times put out a story on it. Here’s the article and reproduced here…

LAST Sunday, under a slowly revolving disco ball, a dance floor in Brooklyn was jumping. The German D.J. Losoul spun techno and house, and the crowd — many in it wearing sunglasses — moved, two-stepping and twirling with arms raised. Toward the end of the party, when he let a single beat crescendo for several minutes before abruptly cutting it off, the crowd cheered — and then booed. The fun was nearly over, and it was barely 9 p.m.

Clubgoers at Saturday’s Warm Up event at the P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, which featured the Detroit D.J. Daniel Bell.

The scene could have been at any sweaty club, with velvet ropes and pricey drinks, but instead it was somewhere much more low key: outdoors, on the banks of the Gowanus Canal, in the daytime. The club was Bklyn Yard, a bit of patchy grass with a few dance platforms that has become a destination for electronica fans on weekend afternoons. (The sunglasses were not just for effect.)

On Sunday hundreds of people gathered for a lazy good time, hanging out by the water, on picnic benches and folding chairs, in a landscape that is at once bucolic and industrial.

As the afternoon sun faded, Christmas lights strung through the treetops flared on, giving the increasingly packed dance floor a cozy glow. Not long after the moon rose over the rooftops, the water towers and the disco ball, it was time to go home.

Aficionados of dance music are used to waiting until the wee hours to catch top-of-the-line talent. But especially in summer an array of early parties, some outdoors, offer a respite from late nights and expensive clubs, allowing people with day jobs the opportunity to hear the latest in experimental beats and still be at the office on time in the morning.

“I go to the clubs, but not very often; it’s hard to fit it in for a working person like myself,” said Matthijs Koopmans, 52, an educational consultant from the Bronx and a fan of D.J.’s like Sasha and Digweed and Danny Tenaglia. Instead Mr. Koopmans frequents another long-running afternoon party, the Warm Up series at P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center in Queens. He was there on opening weekend last Saturday to hear the Detroit D.J. Daniel Bell.

“I’ve never seen him before, but I was very excited because his albums are great,” Mr. Koopmans said, bopping his gray head, earplugs firmly in place, amid a sea of exceptionally dressed younger people. “I want to stay in touch with this kind of music. I think it’s worth the effort.”

Along with P.S. 1 and Bklyn Yard, whose parties both end at 9 p.m., the Water Taxi Beaches regularly host daytime dancing with a view, and smaller spaces in Brooklyn and Manhattan do after-work events indoors.

The line-ups at these early affairs, sometimes called tea parties, include established D.J.’s from Europe, Canada and techno hubs like Detroit who normally play to thousands at megaclubs. The glam Été d’Amour party, which is free and starts at brunch time on Sundays on the Hotel on Rivington’s penthouse, has featured Dimitri From Paris and Alex From Tokyo. (The stellar view is the Lower East Side, from the terrace.)

Alex From Tokyo is also scheduled to play next week at a new monthly party, Treehouse, at Frank’s Lounge in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, a scruffy setting meant to counteract the scale and attitude at regular club events. Instead of being “surrounded by a gazillion people who don’t actually dance so much as look for ‘companionship’ and get wasted to the hugest beats around,” the idea was something more like a house party for serious technoheads, Piotr Orlov, a D.J. who started Treehouse with two 30-something friends, wrote in an e-mail message.

The intimacy and the chance to perform for an ultra-devoted fan base help attract headliners like the British D.J. Kieran Hebden, he added, even at the un-witching hour of 9 p.m.

The lower stakes at the day parties — where cover charges are typically far less than the cost of a single drink at a megaclub — also offer the chance to hear new talent. This weekend the Sunday Best party at Bklyn Yard will feature Kyle Hall, a 17-year-old house music phenom from Detroit who counts that city’s best underground D.J.’s as his mentors. (The promoters of the party got permission from Mr. Hall’s father to book him.)

Of course part of the appeal of many of the daytime parties is that they are G-rated. “People can bring their babies and their dogs,” said Justin Carter, a D.J. and promoter who is a host of Sunday Best. Since its start last year it has doubled in popularity, attracting an average of 600 people weekly.

Snacks sweeten the deal at day parties: burgers and the like at P.S. 1 and Water Taxi; a cosmopolitan brunch at Été d’Amour; a gourmet hot dog stand and a taco vendor from the Red Hook ball fields at Bklyn Yard. Kiss & Tell, a monthly party at Rose Live Music in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, does $5 vegetarian pasta dinners and theme nights: Warhol Factory, Revenge of the Nerds and, up next, polka dots.

For after-work parties food is as much the focus as music. Last summer Greg and Darin Bresnitz, 27, twin brothers who are D.J.’s under the name Finger on the Pulse, started a monthly barbecue pairing name chefs and musicians on the patio at Hope Lounge in Williamsburg.

Entry is free; $5 buys a plate of food. Menus have included tacos from the celebrated food truck Calexico and pulled pork from Egg, a beloved local restaurant; indie stalwarts like Tim Harrington of Les Savy Fav have played D.J. (At the next BBQ, on July 29, the chef Sam Mason mans the grill, and the Harlem Shakes, a Brooklyn band, are on the decks.) The mood is chill hipster hangout.

“I would love to say that these are totally wild orgiastic events,” Greg Bresnitz said, “but they’re not. People come in groups and eat a meal together and catch up.” The soundtrack and the low price make it more than a regular night out.

But for most electronica fans the music and the dance floor are all that’s needed. With an early cut-off, daytime parties get people moving sooner, said Rob Jalil, 36, a graphic design firm director and D.J. who came to Sunday Best. “It’s quite a condensed experience,” he said.

New York actually has a long tradition of tea parties, said Derrick Odom, 42, a D.J. and music producer and veteran of the scenes at Body and Soul, Studio 54 and Danceteria.

Mr. Odom, who came to the P.S. 1 opening party in a Paradise Garage T-shirt, is hoping to start his own in Long Island City, Queens. “It doesn’t have to be dark to get people to dance,” he said. “I love to do daytime, go home at midnight and take a shower and be ready for work and be able to say I sweat it out — even though people look better at night.”

Pharaohe Monch – Desire

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7 Deadly Sins

WASPs happy to take back what’s “theirs” in Palm…

Not since the Hamburgler has a crook’s name so explicitly said what he’s going to do. Bernie Madoff has taken the the money of some of the richest people in America and the world, it just so happens that most of his victims, whom tended to invest EVERYTHING in the 10-12% returns, were Bernie’s “friends”, the Jews.

There’s been several stories of ground zero, Palm beach where the barometer of the recession’s impact on the wealth has been closely watched. However, this NY Times article goes further to capture the entitlement, defensiveness, and rank opportunism on display among those in the overclass who have lost fortunes, yet remain wealthy beyond all reason and feel permitted to participate in the national sense of despair over our calamity1.

Experience the pain:

“Customers that can still come in and afford to buy fine pieces of jewelry have this feeling of guilt,” he says, sitting next to a couple of vaults at the rear of his store, H. T. Stuart & Company. “They say, ‘I still want to buy jewelry, but I feel funny, and I have friends and these people know others who got hurt, pretty badly, and they don’t want to flaunt it.’ I have to try to convince them to go on living.”

Down the street, at Trillion, Mr. Neff says his customers will go for rarities, like a $1,200, super 180 wool sweater knitted on something called a 39-gauge machine. Everything else is a tough sell.

“They won’t deny themselves the top top,” Mr. Neff says. “I used to say, ‘I know you have eight blue blazers but look at this blue blazer. It’s an upgrade.’ And any upgrade, they’d buy. This year, they don’t want to seem foolish. Eight blue blazers is enough.”

At a men’s store called Crease Liberty, a longtime customer recently told Jennifer Inga, a saleswoman, that he wouldn’t be buying anything for a while, because his net worth had dropped to $12 million from $30 million.

“He said, ‘Now is not the time.’ It’s mind-boggling to me,” Ms. Inga said. “How can someone with $12 million feel like they can’t afford a new pair of pants?”

So where’s the tension?

Aside from death and money, the topic that preoccupies everyone here the most, and is spoken of the least, is the gentile-Jewish divide. As recounted in “Madness Under the Royal Palms,” Palm Beach was founded in the late 19th century by Henry Flagler, a Standard Oil executive, and for years it was dominated by white Anglo-Saxon Protestants.

In the middle of the last century, A. M. Sonnabend, a Jewish entrepreneur, started buying commercial property, including what became the Palm Beach Country Club, and nouveau-riche Jews suddenly had a hotel, beach club and a golf course of their own. Gradually, enough moved here to be described by the Christian elites as “the other half,” many of them clustered in large condominium buildings south of a place called Sloans Curve, known informally by just about everyone as the Gaza Strip. (That the real Gaza Strip is inhabited by Palestinians is apparently beside the point.)

Read full article here including the almost purchased $2000 Bernie Madoff pants.

(1 John Cook)

Entertainment

Glenn beck is an inauthentic asshole

I wasn’t even going to comment on this hack. I had written a blog a few weeks back about this cry baby, erased it and then I had to go and open the Times this weekend and read their story on Fox News’s Mad, Apocalyptic, Tearful Rising Star. It comments on the spectacular rise to popularity at an unpopular time slot on Fox (5 pm) for a comedian who was fired from CNN to a “preacher” of entertainment politics.

I find it grossly ironic Glenn has regular segments titled “Constitution Under Attack” and “Economic Apocalypse,” when both basis for such discussions are rooted during the entire and last year respectively of W Bush presidency. His, Rush’s, and Hannity’s “inciting [of] rhetoric” as Jeffrey Jones of Old Dominion University puts it, has certainly done more for the conservative base than any of the real (or fake *cough* Palin) leaders of the GOP. It’s such popularity that I too am “mad as hell” more at the audience of these puppets who get their thought, talking points and even political philosophy from talking heads explicitly and apply backwards reasoning to their choices for leaders based on these comedians of leadership.

Here’s a recient clip of this rodeo clown going on about his worrisome love for this country and fake crying as he tries to get his viewers pulled in. He’s definitely touching something, it’s not a passion nerve though:

Shep Smith on Fox also has some great comments about this guy: “We love the program [because it’s on Fox] but we don’t listen to it”:



Beck continually says ‘if you take what I say as gospel, you’re an idiot’ and that sir might accurately characterize the 1.2 million people that tune into you daily to listen. Glenn stay in your fear chamber, where you feel safest and you can’t infect normal Americans with your evangelical bull shit.

UPDATE: Maybe Colbert Says this better:

Lifestyle

How good is your cooking wine?

I had this discussion of the holidays about cooking with wine as I too since inception of my time in the kitchen have heard the phrase “Only cook with the wine you would drink.” My pallet is not as sophisticated to the point I can distinguish all the ingredients in a dish let alone the difference in types of coffee. Then over the week I found this article in the NY Times from over a year ago and recommend it to anyone that’s pondered this as well, and for those that don’t need to spend 20-30 duckets on that wine bath for your food:

It Boils Down to This: Cheap Wine Works Fine by Evan Sung for The New York Times

IN the beginning, there was cooking wine. And Americans cooked with it, and said it was good.

Then, out of the darkness, came a voice.

Said Julia Child: “If you do not have a good wine to use, it is far better to omit it, for a poor one can spoil a simple dish and utterly debase a noble one.”

And so we came to a new gospel: Never cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink.

For my generation of home cooks, this line now has the unshakable ring of a commandment. It was the first thing out of the mouth of every expert I interviewed on the subject.

But it is not always helpful in the kitchen. For one thing, short of a wine that is spoiled by age, heat or a compromised cork, there are few that I categorically would not drink. (Although a cooking wine, which is spiked with salt and sometimes preservatives, has never touched my braising pot.)

And once a drinkable wine has been procured, trying to figure out whether it is the best one for a particular recipe can seem impossible. How much of the wine’s subtler qualities will linger in the finished dish? How much of the fruit flavor? Does it matter whether the wine is old or young, inexpensive or pricey, tannic or soft?

Two weeks ago I set out to cook with some particularly unappealing wines and promised to taste the results with an open mind. Then I went to the other extreme, cooking with wines that I love (and that are not necessarily cheap) to see how they would hold up in the saucepan.

After cooking four dishes with at least three different wines, I can say that cooking is a great equalizer.

I whisked several beurre blancs — the classic white wine and butter emulsion — pouring in a New Zealand sauvignon blanc with a perfume of Club Med piña coladas, an overly sweet German riesling and a California chardonnay so oaky it tasted as if it had been aged in a box of No. 2 pencils.

Although the wines themselves were unpleasant, all the finished sauces tasted just the way they should have: of butter and shallots, with a gentle rasp of acidity from the wine to emphasize the richness. There were minor variations — the riesling version was slightly sweet — but all of them were much tastier than I had expected.

Next I braised duck legs in a nonvintage $5.99 tawny port that reminded me of long-abandoned Halloween candy, with hints of Skittles and off-brand caramels. Then I cooked a second batch of duck legs in a 20-year-old tawny port deliciously scented with walnuts, leather and honey. Again, the difference was barely discernible: both pots were dominated by the recipe’s other ingredients: dried cherries, black pepper, coriander seed and the duck itself.

Wincing a little, I boiled a 2003 premier cru Sauternes from Château Suduiraut (“The vineyard is right next door to Yquem,” the saleswoman assured me), then baked it into an egg-and-cream custard to see whether its delicate citrusy, floral notes would survive the onslaught. They did, but the custard I made with a $5.99 moscato from Paso Robles, Calif., was just as fragrant.

Over all, wines that I would have poured down the drain rather than sip from a glass were improved by the cooking process, revealing qualities that were neutral at worst and delightful at best. On the other hand, wines of complexity and finesse were flattened by cooking — or, worse, concentrated by it, taking on big, cartoonish qualities that made them less than appetizing.

It wasn’t that the finished dishes were identical — in fact, they did have surprisingly distinct flavors — but the wonderful wines and the awful ones produced equally tasty food, especially if the wine was cooked for more than a few minutes.

The final test was a three-way blind tasting of risotto al Barolo, the Piedmontese specialty in which rice is simmered until creamy and tender in Barolo and stock, then whipped with butter and parmigiano. Barolo, made entirely from the nebbiolo grape, is a legendary Italian wine; by law, it must be aged for at least three years to soften its aggressive tannins and to transform it into the smooth aristocrat that fetches top dollar on the international wine market.

I made the dish three times in one morning: first with a 2000 Barolo ($69.95), next with a 2005 dolcetto d’Alba ($22.95), and finally with a jack-of-all-wines, a Charles Shaw cabernet sauvignon affectionately known to Trader Joe’s shoppers as Two-Buck Chuck. (Introduced at $1.99, the price is up to $2.99 at the Manhattan store.)

Tasters preferred risotto made with a cheap red wine.Although the Barolo was rich and complex to drink, of the seven members of the Dining section staff who tasted the risottos, no one liked the Barolo-infused version best. “Least flavorful,” “sharp edges” and “sour,” they said.

The winner, by a vote of 4-to-3, was the Charles Shaw wine, which was the youngest and grapiest in the glass: the tasters said the wine’s fruit “stood up well to the cheese” and made the dish rounder. “It’s the best of both worlds,” one taster said, citing the astringency of the Barolo version and the overripe alcoholic perfume of the dolcetto. The young, fruity upstart beat the Old World classic by a mile.

“I’m not surprised,” said Molly Stevens, a cooking teacher in Vermont whose book “All About Braising” (W. W. Norton, 2005) called for wine in almost every recipe.

“If it had been short ribs, you probably wouldn’t have been able to taste the difference when the dish was done, because meat and wine work together differently,” she said.

This might explain how the chef Mario Batali got away with pouring an inexpensive California merlot into the beef with Barolo served at Babbo, as Bill Buford observed in “Heat” (Knopf, 2006), his account of his work at the restaurant.

In an e-mail message, Mr. Batali said he preferred to cook with Barolo when he would be drinking Barolo, saying that “the resulting comparison of the raw, uncooked wine and the muted, deeper and reduced flavor of the wine in the finished dish … allows more of the entire spectrum of specific grape flavor, a dance on the ballroom of the diner’s palate.” (He did not dispute Mr. Buford’s assertion, however.)

Mark Ladner, the executive chef at Del Posto, Mr. Batali’s restaurant on the fringe of the meatpacking district, sees several hundred dollars’ worth of aged Barolo stirred into its version of the risotto, a signature dish, every week.

“My brain tells me it should matter,” he said, “but once a wine is cooked I’m not sure how much even a discerning palate can tell.

“When I make the dish at home, I use a dolcetto d’Alba — a simpler wine from the same region — and honestly I like it even better.”

The difference between Barolo and dolcetto does reveal one hard rule of cooking with wine: watch out for tannins. Found in grape skins and seeds, tannins are bitter-tasting plant compounds that can give red wine and tea some desirable tartness but become unpleasantly astringent when cooked. (Barolo, young Bordeaux and northern Rhônes are examples of very tannic wines.)

“I wouldn’t cook with Barolo even if I could afford it,” said Bob Millman, a longtime wine buyer for Morrell & Co. in Manhattan.

“Tannins are what get you into trouble in cooking,” Ms. Stevens said, because they are accentuated and concentrated by heat. “For reds, err soft,” she said, and choose a wine with a smooth finish.

Are there any other hard rules for choosing wine for cooking? One: don’t be afraid of cheap wine. In 1961, when Mrs. Child handed down her edict in “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” decent wines at the very low end of the price scale were almost impossible to find in the United States.

Now, inexpensive wines flow from all over the world: a $6 bottle is often a pleasant surprise (though sometimes, still, unredeemable plonk).

“Often customers come in looking for an inexpensive wine to cook with, and when I steer them to our $5.99 and $6.99 Portuguese wines, which are perfectly good for most dishes, they are uncomfortable with it,” said Gregory dal Piaz, a salesman who specializes in wine and food pairings at Astor Wines and Spirits in SoHo. “They think it is just too cheap.”

At the other end of the price scale, the experts agree that it is wasteful, even outrageous, to cook with old, fine and expensive wines.

“Let’s take the most horrifying example, a Romanée-Conti, among the most subtle and aristocratic wines on the planet,” Mr. Millman said. “There is no way that its complexity and finesse will be expressed if you cook it, even for a minute. The essential flavors that make it a Romanée-Conti will be lost.”

Ms. Stevens said that she divides the vast and bewildering universe of wine into Tuesday night bottles and Saturday night bottles, and that she cheerfully cooks with whatever Tuesday wine happens to be open.

“I really resent opening a bottle just because a recipe calls for a quarter cup of something,” she said, “but the acidity of wine in cooking really is irreplaceable. You can’t just leave it out or sub in another liquid.”

Plain dry vermouth, she said, which lasts indefinitely, is her standby white for cooking. (This was also Mrs. Child’s solution. Red vermouth, however, cannot be used in recipes calling for red wine; it’s too sweet.)

Before these cooking sessions, I would have been suspicious of a recipe that casually called for “Sauternes or another dessert wine,” as Nigella Lawson’s custard recipe does. I still would not swap in a sugary ruby port for drier tawny, or pour Manischewitz into a coq au vin — sweet wines and dry should be kept in their places.

But beyond that, cooking with wine is just that — cooking — and wine is only one of the ingredients that give a finished dish its flavor. Aromatics, spices, herbs, sugar and especially meat and fat tend to erase the distinct flavors of wine.

Mr. Millman, the wine buyer, maintains that cooking with wines that have the same terroir as the food produces the best-tasting results, but Mr. Ladner, the chef, isn’t so sure.

“In my head,” he said, “it tastes better and I like it more, but I wouldn’t like to put it to the test. I like the romance of cooking with wines of the region. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.”

Food

SF giants PacBell park has best food in country

I know it’s not PacBell park anymore, but just as 3Com (or is it Monster park) was once (and always will be) Candlestick park, so it the latest SF Giant’s park still PacBell… I completely agree with this NY Times writer that the food at this park is fantastic, from the beer selection, the garlic fries, the sea food selections and even the polish dogs. One of the biggest peeves of both NYC parks is there terrible food offerings – I often don’t even eat when I go to the games. Here’s to hoping the new parks have an upgrade but less than $10 a pop….