Monday, August 29, 2011

Food Truck Madness

The excitement was unmistakable.

From the minute the email went out announcing that the First DFW Food Festival would be happening in the Sigel's Greenville Avenue parking lot, the excitement was there. For that matter, it started when the first truck hit our lot earlier this summer. But the festival was different.

I was immediately flooded with RSVP's. Some were the familiar names we see at our wine tastings. But most were new. And they were for groups of 5, 6, and 8, as high as 15. The normally empty comment line was buzzing. "Awesome." "So excited." "Can't wait." And they kept coming. And coming. And coming. Even through Saturday afternoon. A reporter from the Dallas News came by when the count was 850. It was 925 when she left. By the time the event was over we totalled 1110 confirmed RSVP's. The normal ratio is that attendance is double the number of RSVP's, but nothing was normal about this event. Kind of like waiting for a hurricane.

Two things we didn't expect when plans started a month ago. 1. That the temperatures would still be solid triple digits (at least 110 out on the parking lot.) Two, that we would have near this many people. We tried to get the word out to the media that parking was going to be very difficult. (The Lover's Dart Station is a long half block from the store.) We told the trucks to bring extra food. They did and stored the containers in our walk-in cooler.

All in all, I think things went OK. The problems we had were simply due to success beyond our wildest expectation.
The most remarkable thing was the patience and attitude of those in attendance. After my first walk through the crowd I was reminded of the energy of the State Fair. Only there were only great food vendors and no rides!

The Nammi truck was last to take their place and the last to open. When I walked by there were fifty people waiting in line for a truck that wasn't even serving yet. It was then that I began to realize that everyone here was just participating in a Food TV reality show. The event was just like something they'd seen on TV. They knew the drama going on inside that truck as the harried crew struggled to get their food ready for the crowd outside. And of course when the patient customers finally got their food, well, Nammi makes a damn tasty bahn-mi!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Buffalo Trace Single Oak Project

It's the one of the geekiest marketing schemes I've experienced.

Choose 96 white oak trees. Cut barrel staves out of the top of the tree and out of the bottom. Vary the seasoning. So, 2 two barrels times 96 trees equals 192 barrels. Make 4 recipes of bourbon, 2 with rye, 2 with wheat, vary the entry proof and the aging regimen for a total of 7 variables. 192 barrels. Then bottle and release 12 barrels every four months. That's half bottles (375 ml) for between $55 and $89 according to my latest Google search. What!!!!

Scam or serious?

Buffalo Trace says they want to find the 'perfect' or 'favorite' bourbon. Purchasers are invited to log on to the Single Oak Project home page and register their own tasting notes in a structured format. Even better, the tasters can find out all the particulars down to the last nitty gritty about their particular bottle. And see other tasters and compare notes. At the end of the Project, when all the barrels have been released, Buffalo Trace will have amassed an enormous amount of data. They say they will put the favorite into production!

They sound serious. The bottles are all hand wrapped and hand numbered. The bottles are expensive, but so are the production values. I guess that it ultimately comes down to the whiskey.

I chose a bottle from barrel 67.

Why? Because I did my Internet homework and knew that it was a high-rye recipe from a barrel from the top of an average grained white oak tree. I like high-rye bourbons. And according to what I read, barrels of coarse-grained oak from the bottom of the tree and the MOST effect on the whiskey. Conversely barrels from fine-grained oak from the top of the tree have the LEAST effect on the whiskey. So my whiskey should have some, but not a lot of oakiness.

And how was the whiskey?

Delicious! Rich golden amber in color. Aromas of vanilla, butterscotch, burnt spiced orange peel and delicious whiskey waft langorously. Texture is heavy, rich and unctuous. Flavors of orange, cinnamon, caramel  roll over the tongue and coat the mouth with butterscotch and bright little suggestions of anise. Finish is long. Luxurious whiskey. Lets the taster know that life ain't all bad!

There is the possibility of a small Single Oak Project community fueled by the Project web-site, ebay, word of mouth and an ever increasing number of whiskey drinkers with blogs praising some barrels and damning others. I hope the experience of all those who succumb to the geekiness have as rewarding experience as I did. If they do, the rest of the project will be presold and fought over. If not....

Thursday, August 11, 2011

We're Not Going to Make It 1.0

Sometimes I think we're just not going to make it. I received a phone call the other day.

"Dave, do we carry sparkling Prosecco?"

"Hm, Prosecco is by definition sparkling."

"Well, do we carry any?"

"Yeah, we carry five different Prosecco's. Two are Brut and three are Extra Dry, a little sweeter."

"Well, they want to taste Aperol this weekend and want to mix it with Prosecco and soda. Will that work? What does Aperol taste like, anyway. I've never tasted it."

"The drink will work fine. Aperol is sort a less bitter Compari. But bitters are flying! Everyone's drinking spritzers with bitters this summer."

Hm. Ok. Thanks"

The marketplace is more competitive every day. How are we going to make it when those in leadership positions don't know the products?