December 24, 2010

Señor Don Gato (with Video, Music and Lyrics)

Senor Don GatoFew songs I sang while yet still a young prince in Brockeimia were as passionate as this sad love song. A cat reads a love letter, falls, dies, but finds new life thanks to his equal passion of fish.

My heart still breaks... meow meow meow... when I listen.

Señor Don Gato



Señor Don Gato was a cat,
Meow
On a high red roof Don Gato sat.
Meow
He went there to read a letter,
Meow, meow, meow
Where the reading light was better,
Meow, meow, meow
T'was a love note for Don Gato.

How he adored the lady cat,
Meow
Who was fluffy, white, and nice and fat.
Meow
There was not a sweeter kitty
Meow, meow, meow
In the country or the city
Meow, meow, meow
And she said she'd wed Don Gato.

Oh, Don Gato jumped so merrily,
Meow
He fell off the roof and broke his knee.
Ow!
Broke his ribs and all his whiskers,
Meow, meow, meow
And his little solar plexus,
Meow, meow, meow
 "Ay carramba!" cried Don Gato.

Well the doctors all came on the run,
Meow
Just to see if something could be done.
Meow
And they held a consultation,
Meow, meow, meow
About how to save their patient,
Meow, meow, meow
How to save Señor Don Gato.

But in spite of everything they tried,
Meow
Poor Señor Don Gato up and died.
Meow
Oh it wasn't very merry,
Meow, meow, meow
Going to the cemetery,
Meow, meow, meow
For the ending of Don Gato.

As the funeral passed the market square,
Meow
Such a smell of fish was in the air.
Meow
Though the funeral was slated,
Meow, meow, meow
He became re-animated,
Meow, meow, meow
He came back to life Don Gato.

December 13, 2010

Tasty But Not Overpowering Coffee Candy, Fit for a Picnic

I unwrapped a piece of United Coffee Candy while Nancy and I sat for an afternoon in a park. Dulcet, yet strong flavors filled my imagination as we cleared the branches for our blanket. The candy's metallic maroon wrapper soon lay tossed in a pocket, or a bag, who knows where?

A mid-city stream during a quiet picnic can be as cacophonous as a mid-state river. Rapids, wind, gulls all called out to each other as autumn began its march through the wane of summer. Undeterred, Nancy and I read the poetry of the day: our own, and that found in an old professor's reading list. Many hums and other murmurs of agreement brought us through a dozen pages and an hour of reading.

We asked, "Is that a complex form or does it just organically resonate mellifluously?"

Not all questions can be answered while distracted by the pleasant confluence of her eyes, the falling leaves and the coffee candy. All blended into a gentle sweetness: to see, to smell, to taste.

Now, three months later, I find the wrapper in my satchel, and the stream rushes just as hard. The gulls are gone, but the poetry remains. May your bag of United Coffee Candy reach as deeply, taste as complex, and remind you of poems read on a bank.

--Brockeim

For Coffee Lovers and Grievers of Juliet: review Chantal Ceramic 20-Ounce Ring Mug, Semi-Gloss Garden Green, Set of 4

My Chantal ceramic mug brought more pleasure than most men have known, and, may, if all is right in your heart, bring to you such as well.

Tresses, none had she. She wore only a sweet drink inside that she gave when I pressed my lips to hers. The blondest or darkest coffee, or the cool caress of filtered water is what we most often shared. But on those saddest nights when the moon was farthest, between the time of sun's setting and rising, she took within whiskey or brandy.

One night in June, when the night is shortest, she took too much, then, gave too much. As I read, I sipped, and, this night, I read long, deep into Romeo and Juliet, and raged at their great loss. When Juliet cried, "O happy dagger!" I flung my kind cup from clasped fingers to the wooden floor.

My lovely cup (there was none more so) broke into three large pieces, with shards of ceramic shining like teardrops all around. What was once smooth and inviting was now sharp and angry, unwilling in all regards. All because of the drink, and because of the childish, foolish passion of Juliet, and because I, on a lonely night, sought Shakespeare and cognac to fill my cup.

Buy a set of the Chantal Ceramic 20-Ounce Ring Mugs, and pour your coffee frequently, but, for your reading, choose instead Mark Twain, not the bard.

--Brockeim

December 12, 2010

Protects Filet Mignons and My Heart - Ziploc Freezer Bags Reviewed

Ziploc Freezer Bag, Quart Value Pack, 40-Count (Pack of 3)

I only needed two bags. You'll find 40 in this pack. I used the other 38 for more pedestrian purposes.

In my freezer now, just as has been for two years, are two 6 oz. cuts of filet mignon. They are seasoned. Some garlic, onion, ground pepper (I ground it myself), and the smallest speckle of salt. That's all.

Soon, I will unzip my Ziploc Freezer Bags to reveal two filets, and she and I will dine, shadowed by glimmering candles brightened against her eyes, increased by her smile.

My grill was hot with pecan wood, smoldering and smoking, waiting. She said she would here at 7:00 p.m. It was a Friday night, and when 7:00 passed, I guessed traffic slowed her down. When 8:00 passed, I thought she mistook the time. When 9:00 passed, I believe she wrote down Saturday instead of Friday. When Saturday passed, I knew she would come by next Friday.

A week, a month, two years have passed. She'll call. I'll be ready. A bottle of Bordeaux is in my cabinet, below where two glasses sit prepared. Plates and silverware are on the table all shined and dusted, candles stand in their holders wanting to burn, and I sit poised by the phone and computer expecting her to call or IM.

The other 38 bags, all used in these last two years, went into work as fresh keepers of pretzels, storage of loose rubber bands, and sandwich carriers on my way to work. None have as noble or as urgent employment as those protecting my two filets and my heart.

Ziploc Freezer Bags

Brockeim's Reviews on amazon.com

November 24, 2010

Pleasant, But Ordinary Vanilla Coffee for a Cold Day,

Starbucks Natural Fusions Ground Coffee, Vanilla Flavored, 11-Ounce Packages (Pack of 2)
The doorbell rang on a frozen rain-rattled November afternoon. The postman left a box of Starbucks vanilla flavored ground coffee.

Raggedly tired from the day, from the week, from the month, finding later autumn is rarely pleasant on its own merit, this was a good surprise. While plenty of coffee I had stocked in readiness for the first dismal days on winter, packages in the mail are like Christmas day presents. Eager, though already knowing what was inside, I smiled at the scent. Familiar. It reminded me of inexpensive coffee I bought before late novel-reading nights in college.

Brewing quickly four cups, I poured the first taste into an old mug one of my first clients gave me, the one with pelicans on a sunny pier.

Holding the mug with two hands, I sipped as anyone would hot coffee. Was it better, I wondered. No. Just ordinary. The vanilla was the same. The coffee was the same. Only the label was new. As it was already ground, it missed the freshness I can find even in any grocer who will grind the beans.

I will finish the bag, and be glad I did, but having found nothing to compel me to look for it, I won't. If you have had vanilla flavored coffee, you have had this one.

--Brockeim

November 21, 2010

Video review: Sweetens Toasted Bagels and Rainy Days: Great Lakes Select Honey, 32-Ounce Plastic Flat (Pack of 3) review



Great Lakes Select Honey, 32-Ounce Plastic Flat (Pack of 3)
(video review here)


The sun had not risen, and it would not rise. This day was the kind that never sees light, and knows only rain. Any flicker from lightening was blocked by water plating the window. Coffee could not cure this morning. This took something nature delivered on a brighter day, the highly caloric and twice as sweet gift of honey.

Nancy, my neighbor across the way, smiled from her balcony as we both saw our sunrise walk and breakfast in the park draining with each raindrop. Her yellow sundress belying the circumstance danced as she turned toward her apartment. She signaled me over.

Two bagel halves newly crisped in a convection oven, were browned and ready on a napkin. Great Lakes honey stood at 32 ounces of attention, knowing the bold task ahead. From bottle to spoon to bagel, I brought the honey to its better place, and ate.

No solution could stop the rain, but honey on a bagel in the presence of a friend a morning in May lifted my temper. We laughed until noon.

May your rainiest of days be offset by the sweetest of mornings with Great Lakes Select Honey.

--Brockeim


November 20, 2010

Finds Storied Romance and Forgets Coffee Spill: Red Retro Metal Lawn Chair review



Red Retro Metal Lawn Chair

Left like a teardrop at the bottom of my empty cup was the last reminder of a morning to remember. It is noon now, and I am just up from where I sat since dawn, where I sipped coffee and read.

A good chair forgets itself, and the one sitting forgets the chair. And so I did. Thumbing through old magazines, reading yesteryear's news, hours passed. Music, romance and poetry all passed before me this morning in the chair. As I read, Michael Jackson's "Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough" played everywhere. Audrey Hepburn's second husband died. A book about Pablo Neruda, "Ardiente Paciencia," was published.

The chair survived honorably a coffee spill, wiping clean with a towel. Unstained yet willing to take on harsh weather, the chair has served me through many more sunrises, and will be here for ten thousand more.

As I finished my drink, the sun lifted, and the breeze of morning became the hot wind of summer. Uncomfortable for reading, I pushed the chair against the wall, ready for tomorrow.

May your lawn chairs, like this Red Retro Metal Lawn Chair, meet you daily to greet the day, and to wander with you through many a volume of forgotten lore.

--Brockeim

November 10, 2010

Familiar Like the Girl Next Door: Latte Macchiato Meets a Delicious Need: review: Latte Macchiato via Nescafe Dolce Gusto Single-Serve Coffee Machine

A Latte Macchiato.
The product of my
Nescafe Dolce Gusto Single-Serve Coffee Machine.
My Nescafe Dolce Gusto Latte Macchiato was born on my counter, not royal, nor so humble that I would not enjoy her company. Finding companionship with wine glasses, she smiled at me, and together, we ran through the morning with celebration of sugar, caffeine and artificial milk. It lacked the superb richness of a true, cafe-birthed Latte Macchiato, but brought me a plebeian convenience, like a girl next door's beauty and familiarity.

The process for her creation was three-step. First, the mere heating of the machine. Second, the insertion of the milk-foam capsule and pulling hot water through it. Third, and lastly, inserting the espresso-like coffee capsule, and likewise pulling it.

I can, and often do, make a more sophisticated latte macchiato, but the time it takes, though worth it, is not always available. I enjoyed tasting this drink, knowing fully what it could be, but accepting it as it was.

--Brockeim

Nescafe Dolce Gusto Single-Serve Coffee Machine review: Good Coffee Drink, Hard to Find Pods

Do you remember watching old Star Trek reruns, and seeing the special effects were not on par with modern techniques, but loving the show anyway? The end product, all of it together, from Captain Kirk to the Klingons, the story was good and often insightful. The Nescafe Dolce Gusto Single-Serve Coffee Machine is like that. It cannot equal the carefully made latte or espresso produced with a $1,000 machine using the finest beans. It makes no pretense of doing that either. Its sell is its quick and easy-to-use convenience, with enough quality to satisfy the average coffee drinker.

Why do I like it? When friends come over who are casual coffee drinkers, who might not appreciate the difference between a French and Colombian roast, but would like a hot tasty drink, this helps me serve them quickly. Like other single-serving machines, like Keurig's devices, it delivers coffee speedily, and can do so to the unique tastes of my guests. I can make a fresh pot of standard coffee, or espressos, but to offer variety without adding flavored syrups or taking a long time, I need a single-serve machine.

Nescafe KP210050 Dolce Gusto Single-Serve Coffee Machine, BlackSome drinks require two pods: one for the milk-like foam, and the other for the coffee itself. First, make the foam, then, make the coffee. Others only need on pod, and from it (depending on the pod), you can make either regular coffee, or an espresso-like drink. The directions are clear for every kind of drink. For anyone who finds Caribou or Starbucks acceptable, this will provide a smile. Because Nescafe controls the amount of coffee and the grind, the drink is the same every time.

Pods are not as easily accessible as Keurig's are, as various coffee producers do not seem to make theirs to fit the Dolce Gusto, and so I cannot give this top ranks.

True, my favorite cafe's business will not be challenged, but as I can find the pods, I will keep a stock on the ready when unexpected guests arrive.

--Brockeim

September 14, 2010

Excellent For Use on Train Rides at the Cusp of Summer and Autumn Apple iPod shuffle 2 GB Blue (4th Generation) NEWEST MODEL review

The last vestiges of summer are eking out the daylight glory that is waning. Soon, the dull overcast of autumn will take over the brilliance of June, July and August. Within the space of the cusping transitional days, there will be cool music. The Apple iPod Shuffle will maintain and supply that music as you, like I, examine how many permutations of red and yellow can be tasted in a sunset.

With 500 songs, you can listen from the corking of Port wine at the first sundown, through the first coffee after the second sundown. Around 27 hours will be enough if you choose your music well. It comes in several colors, matching what you wear like a flower on your lapel, or a discrete tattoo above your belt. Where it lacks comparatively in functions found on larger iPods, it brings currency and portability.

Lengthen summer's last sunset and your pleasure of listening by taking a train west. Watch out the window, absorb the convergence of seasons, and be there when the next one arrives. The conductor will understand.

Apple iPod shuffle 2 GB Blue (4th Generation) NEWEST MODEL
Whether Carlos Montoya's The Art Of The Flamenco (Digitally Remastered) dances with sound through his flamenco guitar, or Andrea Bocelli's Sacred Arias glorifies the moment with his aria Gloria a te, Cristo Gesù, the Shuffle will satisfy.

May the grace of autumn be met with sound and color, tuned into music and scenery worthy of now.

--Brockeim

Apple iPod shuffle 2 GB Blue (4th Generation) NEWEST MODEL

July 26, 2010

Quenches Popcorn Thirsts on Hot Days, and Continues Carnival Romances (review) A&W Root Beer, 12 oz Can (Pack of 24)

A&W Root Beer. Cold, with aged vanilla. The taste is familiar, sweet... a flavor we all knew just moments after leaving the womb. The can's metal has changed throughout the years, but its inner truth remains. My mettle, though, to sip from it again quivers.

In my hand is a crushed can. Empty, of course, as it has been for three years when it fell half full. I found it almost buried under mud and thistle, barely revealed in the sun.

Until yesterday, the can rested aside the bench near where the popcorn stand barkers clamored their chorus. I met Nancy in line just as the county fair was closing for the season. She was traveling, she said, through town on business, and I was just traveling, though this was my hometown. I never learned which town was hers, or what she did, but I knew she loved gardenias. She had never seen one, but was sure she would if she did. I never met anyone with her quiet smile, and stammered in awe that we might sit for a while. We did.

The heat of August, and the popcorn's salty butter gave way to root beer. There is no nutrition in A&W Root Beer. Just 170 calories and a bit of sodium. Not much more. I bought us each one, and we talked until the light's turned off. She looked at her watch, and ran, dropping her drink. She never said good-bye.

No one has sat there since. Why would they? The fair moved elsewhere, and now, it is just a lot with occasionally mowed weeds. I found it while wandering.

I hosed the can off, now flat and wrinkled but fully colored. "Since 1919" it says in brown letters. Three years is long enough. 91 years? I don't know what to do with it. I never did.

May your root beer always be cold, and your time be eternal.

--Brockeim
   

A&W Root Beer, 12 oz Can (Pack of 24)
A&W Root Beer, 12 oz Can (Pack of 24)

May 19, 2010

Effectively Opens Difficult Wine Bottles, Pedrini Wine & Bar 8-Inch Corkscrew, Soft Finish reviewed

The eight inches of my Pedrini corkscrew pierced the soft woody cork, pulling open the 750 milliliters of burgundy. A recent evening, in mid-May, we would toast the year. This was the twelfth month, and the last, before Nancy would leave. We always knew this bottle was to be shared, but hoped somehow it wouldn't open. It did.

Standard in its use, the corkscrew was twisted, then the arms are pushed down while the cork is lifted. Simple, and unfortunately, trustworthy. Its ease of use belied how daunted I was to employ it.

I poured the wine without even the dust of cork floating into the bottle.

Nancy, tonight, was as she always was, as she was the previous May when I met her in the cafe reading Beckett's "Waiting for Godot: A Bilingual Edition: A Tragicomedy in Two Acts (English and French Edition)." She, then, set down the play to smile, and we talked of her dreams of France.

Her lips had a whiskey tilt and Cheshire smile, disappearing with each grin and sigh. But her eyes saddened with a chardonnay tear, sweet with legs, but trickled down her wineglass figure, to the grim carpet below. The flight to Paris was the next morning.

It was not good until the last drop. But, if a corkscrew is needed that you can depend on when you do not have the strength to open the bottle, this is the one.

--Brockeim

Pedrini Wine & Bar 8-Inch Corkscrew, Soft Finish

March 17, 2010

Wonder's Salute to Great Musicians Upbeat, Yet Sad, Review, Sir Duke by Stevie Wonder

Sir DukeWonder's Salute to Great Musicians Upbeat, Yet Sad

I understand Rick Blaine. He knows which song he never wants to hear again. But there he is, in his cafe, sheltering his drink and his sorrow, asking Sam to bring him where he doesn't want to go. Longish moments surround him as he dreams of Ilsa, as he listens once again to "As Time Goes By."

I have never been to Paris during wartime. And her name wasn't Ilsa. The song? Must it be this one? Must it be "Sir Duke" by Stevie Wonder? When I hear it, she is farther from me, yet closer than she has been in years. But it is their song now. What we sang with abandon that day in December is now the one they hum.

Wonder's praise to great musicians who came before him should remain upbeat. Everyone else can sing along with a dance in their hearts. Stevie Wonder is a master honoring masters Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Glenn Miller, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. This song is right.

The bass line, lyrics and keyboard are all in sync with Wonder's playfulness. It is a happy, effervescent song worth singing along to. I often do.

Few things are as sour as knowing it is their song, too. May it always be only yours.

--Brockeim

As Time Goes (Ilsa hums, Sam plays, Rick comes in) from Casablanca


Sir Duke by Stevie Wonder

February 24, 2010

For Sizzling Soiree and an Extra Cooking Platform: Cuisinart GR-4NAM Griddler reviewed

The soiree was brief. Modest in all ways had the fewest array of guests, but no less filled with the warm aroma of burgers, both meat and veggie. Eight burgers in all, each securing a spot on my new Cuisinart Griddler. Mushrooms and sliced onions filled in the spaces between.

Not more than three spices brought fragrance and flavor to the burgers: pepper, onion and garlic. No wine. No candles. No background music to wrap around the night. Just burgers packaged in buns, graced with ketchup and mustard, washed down with water. All and only, it was simple meal shared at a table surrounded by those most loved.

The griddle has two sides, each with two sides. That is, it butterflies open, displaying two cooking surfaces that can be individually flipped for griddle or grilling. I used the grill mode. Flipping the burgers resulted in grease spattering on my counter. Better engineered edges would resolve this. Grill lines, though, looked official and proper. Grill master Steven Raichlen would be impressed. I was. The cooking aspect was satisfactory. The meal was cooked thorough... no complaints.

Smiles were found throughout our time together. As the sun gave way, and dinner was over, no attention was paid to the Cuisinart Griddler. It quietly served its purpose. May your meals be as socially and culinarily satisfying.

In the future, I see using this as an auxiliary device, whether outside or inside, but not as a main cooking tool.

--Brockeim
image: pre-veggie burger, mushrooms and onions