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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

WGN: Voices of the Future

My niece, Aurea Eliza Agosto,
and her choir were featured on WGN recently. She is at the bottom right of the screen.

Angel Food Bakery

Angel Food Bakery is owned and operated by a fellow Beloit College Alum (Stephanie Samuels)....I first heard about her bakery/cafe via the Beloit College Alumni News Magazine. I have now eaten there 3 times...this time I took along my St. Bartholomew Chorister buddies: Sylvia (wife extraordinaire),  Sr. Kevin and Kathy. We enjoyed ourselves completely. Great food! Go get some! DM

When the oven is on....go on in!

Below: Sr. Kevin and Kathy enjoying the great coffee!

Below: Sylvia in deep conversation, while enjoying the company of choir friends while at Angel Food Bakery Restaurant.

This is their "simple" grilled cheese sandwich! Smoked Gouda oozing out the side, caramelized onions,  home made        7 grain bread...and a salad of many mixed greens with thin slices of apple.  I am hungry and too far away to order me one...but soon, very soon.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Glenfarclas 21 Tasting Notes

Glenfarclas 21 Tasting Notes

This is my first experience with any of the Glenfarclas single malt Scotch varieties.  I like it.

The alcohol by volume (ABV) is 43% ...right in the range I like it to be.


Color: Dark amber with the hint of burnt gold.  When you swirl it in your nosing glass, it leaves a barely discernible footprint. It clings but for a short time.

Nose: Firm, the more deeply you inhale...the strength manifests with a slight peppery sensation , full of aromas of variable strength - fruity, citrus notes at the end, some sweetness.

Flavor: Full-bodied rich, firm, warm, you know you are drinking whisky. A bit of spice.

Finish: Very long-lasting, smooth, a bit of a bite. Warmth from the first the last...from the tongue to the gullet. Amazing.

Add a wee bit of water.

Color: Dark amber with the hint of burnt gold.  Thins very so slightly.

Nose: Even though I just diluted is even more firm, warmth from the first inhale of the fumes, the peppery sensation for some reasons seems intensified , the aromas become slightly muted but you can still note mild fruity, citrus odor....the sweetness is mellowed.

Flavor: I do not know why...perhaps the water opens the whisky even more,  but you seem to feel the "heat" more remains firm, warm for a very long time. The bit of spice remains.

Finish: Surprisingly, the addition of water makes the finish even more long-lasting. Many minutes passed before the flavor subsided. The smoothness remained, as did a mellow bite. Increased warmth from the first the last...from the nose to the tongue to the gullet. Still amazing for long after the glass was empty.

MainosMusings Rating? 5M's of course!! MMMMMs

I think I like Highland Scotch the very best....but will keep you posted! DM

Friday, January 27, 2012

Haggis, Friends and 30 Year Old Scotch

This evening was close to perfect.  On second thought it was perfect.

I was with my old time college buddy George and his lovely wife (Katarzyna). We spent the evening experiencing the Burns Supper.

George is quite the chef and makes one of the best Haggis I have ever eaten (of course I have only eaten his Haggis). The recipe for Haggis varies (and you cannot get "lungs" in the USA), but George's recipe is awesome. Very flavorful...with just a bit of peppery spice (and a touch of nutmeg I hear).

We also had smashed potatoes and turnips (with lots of butter) and a salad.

Just prior to this Scottish feast, I opened my bottle of 30 year old Glenfiddich (a gift from the family of one of my patients).  I then took 3 nosing glasses and filled them with about 2 fingers worth of this magical elixir.
Single malt Scotch has been called the aqua vītae in Latin or in  Scottish Gaelic: uisge beatha. This certainly proved to be true for this 30 year single malt wonder.

Whisky Nosing Glass
I taught my dinner companions how to "taste Scotch" via the Richard Paterson methodology (except for the part where you deliberately throw perfectly good (and not to mention expensive) Scotch on the floor. 

Holding the nosing glass by the stem, I held it up to note the color and clarity. The color was a Coppery ... Amontillado Sherry  ... going towards Madeira  amber. Clear...but dense.

As I swirled the aqua vītae I noted how it coated the inside of the nosing glass. You could tell the Scotch held to the glass, but just barely...not oily, but smooth.

At this point, you swirl once more and place your nose into the opening of the glass. Inhale slowly, deliberately and with some care if you are not familiar with the Scotch. (Cask strength Scotch with high alcohol content has been known to anesthetize your olfactory abilities at least intermittently.) Breathe in. Fanning the fumes towards your face. Stop. Experience. Think about the aromas you have just experienced. Smile. Repeat. Repeat at least once more.

The nose was mild. Hints of fruit. Mild Sweetness.Sherry. Firm. Present but not overpowering.

Next take a sufficiency amount of the Scotch into the mouth covering the top, sides and bottom of the tongue. Hold it there. Gently move your tongue so that the liquid moves across its surface. Swallow. Breathe in slowly. Wait. Wait. Now what does your palate tell you? 

 I noticed that the overall response was greater than what the nose would have suggested. Bigger, slightly bold, firm upon the tongue. Good warmth, but not over powering. Spice, cinnamon, orange zest all present. Smooth, very smooth.

The finish was more mellow...but nicely sustained upon the palate over time.

I now added a bit of water. I swirled the whisky/H2O combination slowly, delighting in the reflected golden light coming from the glass. The nose became so subdued that I had to intently concentrate on the experience. The palate now, however, had become a bit more aggressive. The warmth, the heat of the whisky more noticeable.....and it stayed through the finish. Comfortable. Warm. Satisfying.

I give this fine Scotch a 5M + rating  MMMMM+

We then proceeded with the meal. Eating the Haggish, potatoes, turnips and salad in between sips of Scotch. This bottle of 30 y/o single malt would go with any meal....but it was particularly suited to celebrate the birth of Robert Burns.

As the meal was coming to that special part we call "dessert". I wondered what could possible make this already incredible experience even better.

I opened a second single malt, Benromach Traditional. This is a very different single malt. The color more pale. Sightly darker than a Fino Sherry, but not so dark as a Chardonnay...

The aroma was slightly smoky, slightly peaty....with a hint of fruit. The palate very similar. Not complex. The finish...more of the same. After adding water, the smoky, peaty flavor was enhanced and became more evident. More than I usually enjoy.

Now we joined this taste with Belgian Chocolate Thins made with almonds. They looked like chocolate covered potato chips....but were so much better! The taste of the Scotch changed,,, for the better, mixing with the chocolate, almonds...crunchiness, less peaty....

I rate this single malt 2Ms  MMs

Upon completion of dinner my hosts made a to die for espresso.

Later, while we sat in big, comfortable chairs, we sipped home made arancello and talked through out the evening. Good friends, Good food. Great Scotch. 

My thanks to my wonderful friends. May we do this again....soon. what Burns had to say about Haggis.....

Address To A Haggis

Robert Burns

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the puddin-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy of a grace
As lang's my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hudies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o' need,
While thro' your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An' cut ye up wi' ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reeking, rich!

Then horn for horn, they stretch an' strive:
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive,
Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
'Bethankit!' hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi perfect scunner,
Looks down wi' sneering, scornfu' view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As fecl;ess as a wither'd rash,
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Tho' bluidy flood or field to dash,
O how unfit.

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He'll make it whistle;
An' legs, an' arms, an' heads will sned
Like taps o' thrissle.

Ye pow'rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o' fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware,
That jaups in luggies;
But if ye wish her gratfu' prayer,
Gie her a Haggis!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Let Students Get Theirs the Way I Did

Let Students Get Theirs the Way I Did

When I was President of the Illinois College of OptometryAlumni Association, I received numerous correspondences from our membership. The vast majority of which was in support of the ICO Alumni Association’s efforts to improve the Illinois College of Optometry and the life of our students. Occasionally I would receive somewhat negative and/or misguided missives. This is one of those that I believe to be somewhat misguided:

Dear Dr. Maino;
To not reply, you would have thought I ignored your request for support of the scholarship fund. I haven’t.   ME: Maybe I should have been class of 57 or 58; or 59. No class of 60. While attended ICO, I supported a family of 7. No matter what they have to eat. I was the only part time student at ICO, working night. When the economy tanked, no evening-night jobs.  Stop ICO, work days. My time was extended to 1960. No loans, no grants, no scholarships, only those by the sweat of my brow.
So I feel you have a good purpose, but let the students get theirs the way I did…

Please note that I did not change a single word of this letter. You are reading it, the way it was sent to me.
I obviously do not know all the personal circumstances surrounding this doctor’s life. I can only wish him and his family well and that his choice of optometry as a profession was, is and will continue to be a good one for him.

I am deeply saddened that he has, because of his life experiences, chosen such an inappropriate response to a call for support of our students. Our students deserve support. 

ICO’s current curriculum is significantly different from that experienced by the writer of the missive above.  I am often in awe of how well our students do when placed under incredible pressures. They not only have all the stresses of a highly demanding academic program, but must diagnose and treat the most medically challenging patients. Our students also travel all over  the world when sent to various diverse externship programs. These venues are at numerous Veteran Affairs Hospitals and Medical centers, tertiary care centers, and private multi-doctor practices around the country. ICO students have seen patients in China, Australia, and Dubai, as well as several other countries and have experienced and have had to adapt to cultures very different from ours. Before they leave ICO, however, students experience 95,000 patient visits at ICO’s clinical teaching facility, the Illinois Eye Institute. In the Pediatrics/Binocular Vision Service, where I spend most of my time, they experience 10-12,000 patient contacts alone.

The Illinois Eye Institute’s patient population tends to be comprised of those in most urgent need of care. They often delay any health care needed because our patients lack the ability to afford high quality and easily accessible care. We examine, diagnose and treat a significant number of patients with previously undiagnosed diabetes, hypertension and other medical anomalies; as well as considerable refractive errors and quality of life affecting binocular vision anomalies and learning related vision problems.

Despite all we ask of our students they routinely score the highest of any of the optometry schools in the country on National Board Examinations, seek out post graduate residency programs at high rates, and in general, are successful personally, professionally and fiscally. (Recently, one of our students scored the highest out of all students taking the NBEO nationally.)

Before our students ultimate success, however; comes a great deal of sweat upon their brow as well.
Since ICO’s program is so challenging and geographically diverse, most of our students cannot work. If they do work, it is usually on campus in a work study position. There is no such thing as a “part time student” at ICO. When you realize that the student’s financial investment is significantly greater than when the writer when to ICO, you know that asking our alumni to provide support for students is not only necessary but essential.

We all have our stories to tell. If I ever meet the writer of that letter, I hope he reminds me to tell him about growing up in a trailer and literally packing up and moving our home every few months so my dad could find work. I hope he reminds me to tell him stories about being poor, but not realizing it. I hope he reminds me to tell him how because of my experiences, I know how vital it is to support optometry’s students.

Let Students Get Theirs the Way I Did? Not if I can help it.

If you feel the same way, give of your time, talent, and yes, your treasure to the Illinois College of Optometry or whatever school/college of optometry from which you graduated. 

It is the right thing to do. The act of giving is deeply ingrained in the American culture so that the next generation has it a bit easier and a bit better than we did.

Support our optometry students. Give. Do it. 

Dominick M. Maino, OD, MEd, FAAO, FCOVD-A, Immediate Past President, ICO Alumni Association

Please note that the opinions expressed are mine and mine alone. Any organizations or institution with which I may be affiliated are not responsible nor can be held accountable for what has been written here.