20 October 2018

From the bartender’s corner – Ginger’s Lost Island

Picked up the recipe from Food and Wine magazine. The creator of this is mixologist Bryan Dayton at the Oak at Fourteenth in Boulder, Colorado.

This is an explosion in your palate. Just check out the ingredients. Plus that earthy overtones of mezcal…

Cinnamon, Cardamom, Ginger Liqueur, Agave Nectar, Apple juice, fresh lime juice and of course, mezcal.

The proper garnish would be an apple fan but I am fresh out of apples at home!!

19 October 2018

It has been a long week

Kal raat tanhaa chaand ko
Dekhaa tha maine khwaab mein
“Mohsin” mujhe raas aayegi
Shayad sadaa aawaargi”

The name Mohsin here refers to the poet who wrote this – Mohsin Naqvi. It was common practice to embed the poet’s name somewhere (usually towards the end) in the poem. Not terribly sure but perhaps it was a way of “stamping” or “copyrighting” the poet’s name.

Last night, I saw the moon
All alone, in my dreams
Mohsin, I think my happiness
Will always be in my vagrant ways.

(referring to the lonely but unchained life of a vagabond)

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14 October 2018

From the bartender’s corner – Jewel of Oaxaca

One of the better cocktails involving mezcal. Mango pulp, fresh lime juice, jalapeno muddled, sugar syrup and mezcal.
Before you taste it, you might want to take in the aroma first. It is all mango. Moment it touches your tongue, the palate is all petrichor. But when you have finally gulped it, the sting of the jalapeno all over your mouth for a long time!

11 October 2018

Puzzle on Railways

My brother in India and I recently started new jobs and we both travel a lot for work. We still find time to talk to each other once a day – even if for a few minutes. Almost all his work related travel is by trains. And mine by planes. This morning, I had called him and I could hear the sound of the train horn in the background. Trains are still something I get terribly fascinated by.

Which got me reading up about railway lines today. Learnt some cool stuff and also realized that so many things I was taught during my school years are not true. Or at least not true any more.

Try these.
a. Which country has the longest railway network (in total miles/kms)? This is something I had to “un”learn!

b. Can you think of the largest country that has no railway? How about the second largest country without any railway? Here is a hint – they are neighboring countries. And the first one used to have a railway in its past. But not anymore.

c. Think about the longest distance you can go without ever having to change trains. Can you guess between which two cities that train would be running?

d. Here is something else I knew wrong. What is the longest railway platform in the world?

e. Which is the busiest station in the world? Can you guess the country if you do not know the station name? More people go thru this station in a matter of weeks than the total number of people that go thru the world’s busiest airport in a year!

f. How about the longest railway tunnel? Can you guess the country if you do not know the tunnel name? It is a rather new one. Has been in operation for only two years.

g. What is the longest railway bridge in the world? Want to guess the country name? It is over 102 miles long. For my friends from Durgapur… that is longer than Durgapur to Kolkata!

h. How about the highest railway station in the world? Want to guess the country name?

i. What is the longest railway station name? I do not expect you to know the whole name – although it has a shortened version – but can you guess which country it is in? The name, roughly translates to “St Mary’s Church in the Hollow of the White Hazel near a Rapid Whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio near the Red Cave”

j. Conversely, what is the world’s shortest railway station name? Want to take a guess at how many letters or which country?

8 October 2018

Weird Maths!!

Thanks to my classmate from MBA days – Somshekhar Baksi – I chanced upon one of the most fascinating books I have read in a long time. If you are even remotely interested in maths and wanted to learn about some wide ranging topics – but not so deep that you will get lost quickly, then this is the book for you.

There are some incredible chapters on the 4th dimension (a great example of thinking about somebody living in 2D always and what 3D will mean to them brings the chapter home), Probability, Prime Numbers (you learn how a great breakthrough in prime numbers was made by a professor while doodling out of sheer boredom listening to a uninspiring talk), Patterns (you realize suddenly that there is no straight answer to a simple question like – what is the length of the coast of a country? It actually monotonically increases without end the smaller your measurement tool/unit becomes!), Chess and even Chaos (how the world wide web has become today “Borge’s library of Babel” – together with all the drivel and fake news).

The chapter that interested me most was the one on very large numbers and the concept of infinity (there are infinite kinds of infinities) and why we trip up while thinking about infinity.

It is a fantastic read!

One problem though. This is not available in USA or in the electronic form. I had to order the paper version on Amazon and wait for three weeks for it to be delivered… from India!!

Again, thank you Somshekhar!

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8 October 2018

From the bartender’s corner – Ilegal Mezcal Joven

Region: This Mezcal, like everyone I have tried so far, is also from Oaxaca state.

Agave: This is 100% espadin (specifically anguvstifolia hau).

Roasting: The “pinas” of the espadin agave are slashed and then roasted in underground pits. The pits are lined with river stones to keep the heat in and wood is lit for 5-7 days. The company claims that the wood is bought from certified sellers to avoid deforestation in the state.

Smashing: The slushy pinas are then smashed in the “tahona” by a horses pulling the millstone.

Fermentation: It is then left in vats made of pine wood for 7-10 days for the fermentation process to complete.

Distilling: Like the very first mezcal I had reviewed, the Ilegal Mezcal is also distilled in stainless steel first and then in copper vessels.

This is the Joven version – so it is not aged. It is bottled as a colorless alcohol and sold. They also have the reposado and anejo versions which are aged and therefore, brownish in color. The version available in America is 40% alcohol by volume.

There are stories about how this mezcal found its way out of Oaxaca mostly by smuggling into a particular bar in Guatemala. Of course, now it is done legally.

The petrichor smell is inescapable. The more you let it stay in your palate, the more you will exhale the earthy tones. Once the bite settles in, you can taste some sweetness in the taste.

Tried it chilled one day and one day on the rocks. Rocks is ruled out. It messes up the mezcal. But instead of neat at room temperature, the chilled one was more enjoyable to me.

7 October 2018

Not sure which was better…

Over six hours of out in the mountains on the motorbike with two awesome friends or doing math with Nikita for over four hours. The good news is that it was a virtual tie! The bad news? I have done nothing else today!!
But can I show you how to graph complex trigonometric functions or what? 🙂