|Posted on Thursday, October 3, 2002 - 9:54 am: |
Finally, after all these years, a picture of Christina. Thank you petermarc. She’s just as I pictured her - Perfect!
Of course, I had to export the picture and tweak the contrast and brightness. The picture on the thread was very dark. (at least on my monitor).
|Posted on Thursday, October 3, 2002 - 8:39 am: |
Head - yer back...we missed ya!
|Posted on Wednesday, October 2, 2002 - 6:36 pm: |
though red does play an important part in the history of one french absinthe maker
Is this a teaser for something you're going to tell us later? or is it a riddle... or am I missing something (wouldn't be the first time!)...
|Posted on Wednesday, October 2, 2002 - 5:37 pm: |
IN YER FACE, snobbies!!!
SERPIS FUCKIN' RULES!!!
|Posted on Wednesday, October 2, 2002 - 4:49 pm: |
That's it, now Cristina is no more a mysterious virtual figure ! :-)
I also agree that Serpis 65 is better. And you should have had a shot of Hill's, just to have the pleasure to be free to bitch at it. Honestly, it's not the worst "absinthe" I tasted, some czech are even worst.
|Posted on Wednesday, October 2, 2002 - 1:47 pm: |
so, what are personal favorites? serpis is one…it is the largest selling absinthe in germany, which certainly accounts for the copy-cat german ‘tabu red’ and the czech ‘red’ absinth…federico explained that the red color makes (for the german night clubs) amusing drinks…this seems to reflect the true nature of the popularity of absinth(e) in germany, that it actually being green or clear like the originals is not of the greatest importance (though red does play an important part in the history of one french absinthe maker)…the german market is loaded with absinthe, of mostly poor quality, which makes introducing real quality products much more difficult, as assumptions are made…and what about serpis ‘dry’ made without anis, a flavor, interestingly enough, the germans are not terribly fond of?…federico responded that it was not, for the long run, a good move, taste-wise… i mentioned that i had very little experience with serpis, but, in fact, it was part of my first absinthe order ever, from cristina, 2 years ago, when i sent my brother a sampler of serpis, deva and mari mayans…a year later, when i visited him in chicago for his wedding, he had not even opened a bottle…i then tried to explain to federico and cristina what a cherry slurpee was and how the red seemed to go well with the ‘red’ taste in serpis…i don’t think they understood what they hell i was talking about (as few people do, thanks head) but federico told me the 65° was a better product and maybe i would like to try some? it was 11 am, and of course, everyone knows that the taste buds are best in the morning… so he poured me a small glass and i was surprised…classically spanish, with the fennel/lemon tone, but much better than i remember the 55°, being, and no imaginary ‘red’ taste…could i have had a bad batch of cherry slurpee?
and ‘old way’? ‘old way’ is a personal pet of federico… the sample that crosby had brought to paris was the best spanish absinthe i had ever tasted, and i told him so, along with the fact that it was quite close (in my opinion) to a swiss ‘la bleue.’ i really liked it, except for that outrageous green color that couldn’t be natural… federico smiled, it is natural plant coloring…amazing…he told me what was used, but i can’t divulge that here…the production was quite limited and i said he did quite well, considering no one knew what it was, or where it came from…this will not be the end of that product, i was assured, but it will take on a more formal, complete air in the future (a label would be a good start), and he will be able to postion it as something unique on the market…
i looked at his huge assortment of absinthes, some he sells , some are curiousities…i told him i had tried at least 100 different absinthes, but never tasted ‘hills.’ well, he said, as he grabbed a bottle, here’s your chance! i opened it and gave it a sniff…no, i think i’ll hold out…absinthe snobbery, dear readers…
|Posted on Friday, September 20, 2002 - 11:25 am: |
Oh, she's cute.
I guess we all knew she would be, didn't we?
|Posted on Friday, September 20, 2002 - 7:21 am: |
|Posted on Friday, September 20, 2002 - 7:19 am: |
|Posted on Friday, September 20, 2002 - 6:57 am: |
cristina by the 13th century arch in the cava
|Posted on Friday, September 20, 2002 - 6:48 am: |
|Posted on Tuesday, September 10, 2002 - 1:42 pm: |
When is your book coming out?! No, seriously, do it.
|Posted on Tuesday, September 10, 2002 - 9:55 am: |
more to come...i had thought of this, but federico and cristina told me it was a different
anis and there was nothing in the dictionary they had on it...
|Posted on Tuesday, September 10, 2002 - 6:01 am: |
More to come, I hope?
Matalahuga and matalauva both seem to be Spanish names (regional names, perhaps?) for anis verte.
From an advertisement for distilled anis:
Este delicioso anís es el resultado de la combinación de anisados de BADIANA Y MATALAUVA [emphasis added] de excelente calidad...
Could they in fact be separate subspecies?
|Posted on Wednesday, September 4, 2002 - 5:12 pm: |
what about sugar in spanish absinthe? they all seem so sweet…
actually, federico told me, many don’t use sugar at all…
serpis, deva, mari mayans, were three he mentioned that didn’t (that i wrote down)…i told him i was sure segarra didn’t either…. but it can’t be just anis, i know segarra uses just green anis and absinthe, so is it the combination of green anis and badiane (star anis)?
no, in fact there is a third anis that is used…
i guess this shouldn’t have surprised me and i now know there are other types of absinthe plants that are used in switzerland, that don’t seem to be known in france.
the third man, er... anis is called ‘matalauva’…i asked cristina to write down the name as there was no way i could spell it…neither her nor her brother knew of an english translation for the name and cristina even tried to find one in a spanish/english dictionary for me with no luck…
this is what gives many spanish absinthes the sweet taste, so sweet to be assumed it has sugar added…
so what about the spanish tradition of absinthe? and what happened?
federico finds this subject quite interesting, for obvious reasons…
spain really doesn’t have a big history of taking to absinthe…barcelona, of course, had it’s share, due to the many artists and it’s ties with paris, but for the most part, only northern spain saw any real consumption, and mostly near the border with france…(pamplona, where hemingway drank absinthe before running with the bulls, is actually closer to france than barcelona, and you’d think there would be absinthe around because of it, making a good goring or stomping all that much more enjoyable, or improve the looks of the native women, but i didn’t see any and let's face it, pamplona is not barcelona) it is almost completely unknown in the south.
it seems, back in the 1970’s, the pernod and domecq liquor conglomerates brought in french and british upper-level managers to over-see their holdings in spain…one day, a french guy is looking over the products and sees ‘absinthe’ (or maybe absenta) and says ‘sacré bleu! absinthe is not legal! stop making absinthe!’ and they did…and so stopped every other distillery in spain…because pernod said it was illegal…even the ones that had nothing to do with pernod...gone…like it never happened…and god knows we’ve all tried to find some traces of it…it wasn’t that long ago…(although production at pernod in tarragona quit before that (unless it happened later than we think-i have never seen an exact date) and i would have assumed this would have happened in the 60’s, but at least someone knows part of the story) except… the destilerias montana, which said to the powers that be, ‘show us the law!’ which of course, no one could, so they kept going…and segarra, most likely because his production was small and he was out in the boonies, but it certainly explains his attitude when i tried to get into a discussion about thujone…he didn’t measure it, too difficult, too many things involved when distilling a batch…alcohol, yes, because that is the law in spain, but not thujone…why? because there is no and has never been a law in spain about absinthe…none, never…not on the books…federico likes to say ‘the only thing prohibited in the prohibition of absinthe in spain is the prohibition.’ it was just made up by some freaked-out frenchman at pernod and everybody followed like lemmings into the mediterranean…most people in spain who might know about absinthe today still think it is illegal…
…now that i think about it, and after looking at my little bottle of montana, maybe this is the distillery that my friend from the barcelona bar ‘marsella’ is using for his house brand…they never stopped their production, so it could be claimed as being the same as the original, the distillery is in barcelona, it is 55°, the same quote-highest-unquote strength as ‘marsella-absenta,’ and when i smell and taste a little, it is also quite similar, maybe more-so, as it has a drier taste than lasala...hmmm…anyway, when i asked about this supposed custom absinthe, i was told that no distillery would make something custom for a bar in general, and especially not put it in labelled bottles…not legal for tax reasons, which, as we all know are much more important than thujone and it's supposed health-risks, which is a non-issue for the spanish… absenta montana holds a special place for federico, mostly because they had the balls to say put up or shut up…
|Posted on Tuesday, September 3, 2002 - 11:44 am: |
(the forum is not completely dead after all...Thanks Peter)
|Posted on Tuesday, September 3, 2002 - 11:43 am: |
*impatiently waiting for the next part...*
*and hoping for a picture of Cristina ;-)*
|Posted on Tuesday, September 3, 2002 - 9:47 am: |
Fascinating and very useful to know when defending absinthe against the "You'll go mad with that stuff" crowd.
Just last week, I exchanged e-mails with Federico Halberstadt. He's obviously very proud of Spanish absinthe, and defends its overall quality with an almost nationalistic fervor. I like him.
|Posted on Tuesday, September 3, 2002 - 8:31 am: |
?buonas diaz, senora lafuente, como esta usted?
i struggled out, as best as i could with my mid-west american-bred mouth which refuses to embrace latin accents without a fight, my mentally pre-rehearsed line as we walked in the door…i don’t think she heard me(i was disappointed), but seemed very happy to see us, and immediately was on the phone to announce our arrival…
she asked a young man working there to lead us to the office, the physical address of ‘the fine spirits corner’, since the liquor store was separated from it…if anyone (such as myself, two years ago) comes to barcelona and asks where is spirits corner, thinking that is the name of the shop, you will not find it…the address on the web-site: plaza universidad, no° 5, is the address for ‘la cava de los faros’, but a little logic will tell you this must be the same place: it is located on an obvious corner in the odd-shaped plaza, and the windows of the little shop are crammed full of bottles…we followed the young man for about a block and a half, and went around a corner to a modern ground floor business shop entrance…federico, a good looking, modernly professional type, opened the door for us…we were ushered to the back meeting room and cristina joined us…there was a stack of shelves, 5-high, with bottles, mostly absinthe, i recognised many brands they sell and some oddities that i had not seen, along with several bottles of olive oil…i told federico that i had wanted to put a face to spirits corner, especially cristina, who had corresponded with so many people on the forum (including myself.) i also needed information to pass to benoît noël, to put in his english-language absinthe book, that he is in the process of finishing…
federico explained that they had created the web-site ‘the fine spirits corner’ in 1997, and wanted the it to have an international name…'la cava de los faros' is known in barcelona for having the widest selection of spirits other than wine, and i am sure, the most knowledge of this subject…wine is in the blood of european latin countries and most all stores, that i have visited, carry only limited selections of other spirits, in comparison to wine…though federico still sells more wine, he has definitely made a mark for himself when it comes to spirits, the choice is immense…when spirits corner introduced absinthe on their web-site in 1999, they had only one brand: lasala…once again, i must state it was the first absinthe i ever tasted, and certainly didn’t scare me off from trying others…i really think it is a classic ‘absenta’ in the modern spainish style, and i have found many other products to taste quite similar…although i would not choose it, given a choice of what i know now, if i had a choice between others, i can still drink it and enjoy it for what it is…federico remarked that he also felt it is a much better product than it’s on-line reputation…mari mayans was already being shipped into england at the time, both by the distillery in ibiza and the english importer…but, as he told me(and most of us have come to learn and agree), it is not really absinthe…absente, on the other hand, and federico pulled down two bottles, the first time i has seen both the EU and american version side by side, though not great and with added sugar, is absinthe by legal definition, at least the european version is, as the american one has no absinthe in it…it is interesting to get opinions and analysis from someone who is very strongly tied to the spirits industry, as we all have our opinions about these products, and our own sense of what is or isn’t…federico has tried to include, since their beginning, all spanish absinthes that are of decent quality or better and has recently had to stop adding certain products, since there have become so many, and of so poor quality…there are three methods for making absinthe (and this goes for many spirits):
distillation, maceration and oil-mixing…first of all, and this was news to me, almost NO spirits, including absinthe, are created solely by maceration, filtration and bottling…why? the process cannot be controlled on a commercial scale…so, forget the term ‘maceration’ when you talk about commercial absinthe, because it is mostly likely not used at all, except as an extraction before distillation or in the creation of oils, which most liquor-manufacturers don’t do(or by the individual steeping plants in his bottle of alcohol) …so, what does almost every absinthe maker do? mixes oils…that’s it…it can be controlled and the oils can be easily ordered from a laboratory…in fact, for absinthe, one can order oils in various strengths of thujone and then mix it into the batch to get your thujone level…oils with various strengths of thujone? how do you do that? federico pulled a dry sprig of flowered absinthe off the shelf…the top of the absinthe plant consists of three parts: the stem, the leaves and the flowers…the stem has the highest amount of thujone in it, the leaves less and the flowers even less…absinthe oil is typically made not from a mixture of the plant parts, but each one is created into an oil separately, and the final oils will have different levels of thujone…these oils can then be mixed easily afterwards to get your EU or wherever required maximum legal limit, or jack up the thujone, as is done in eastern europe(this would also give a possible explaination why poor-quality absinthes of the past would have been high in thujone: due to the manufacturer buying cheaper stems and leaves as opposed to the higher quality, more fragrant flowers and top leaves…an absinthe distiller could create a higher quality product with less thujone, if he just used high quality ingredients and production methods-amazing!-this was probably something françois guy found out, after going through great pains to try to find out how to remove thujone by laser, genetically modifying plants, or some other wacky process- unfortunately for the better marks of the past, it was too late when they tried to defend themselves.)
|Posted on Saturday, August 31, 2002 - 6:24 pm: |
|Posted on Saturday, August 31, 2002 - 6:20 pm: |
spanish! we speak spanish here!
i knew i was off to the wrong start, the way i've come to know...
i raised my arms out wide, like christ on the cross...
spirits corner?! cristina?!
the woman, older, very regal, like royalty, untouched by the silliness that is the world of the web, could not have been cristina, pounded her hands down on the counter...
i lost my composure, and my wife jumped in with french and madame responded in perfect french, much better than mine...
yes, this is spirits corner, but my daughter is not here...please, she will be back in the morning, i will call her and you can meet with her...
she made a phone call, her husband arrived, with comforting words, and we were to meet with her and her brother after 10 am the next day...
madame uh, i better say, senora, explained that this was the original shop, it had been passed down in the family, the family Lafuente, which means fountain, and the ‘faros’ were the four children, the ‘light’of the fountain…I was so happy she spoke french, because it was obvious she was a proud woman and my english was not enough…we promised to be back the next day by 10:30 am…
we drove into the square at 10:20 am the next day, and a young man was opening the shop, lifting the gate…we realized we were early, and took our time…
|Posted on Saturday, August 31, 2002 - 2:40 pm: |
someone many of you already know...
|Posted on Saturday, August 31, 2002 - 12:13 pm: |
|Posted on Saturday, August 31, 2002 - 11:31 am: |
|Posted on Saturday, August 31, 2002 - 11:28 am: |