Friday, December 6, 2013

Best of 2013

Here is my Best of 2013 list. Maybe it is too early to publish but I doubt anything will change for me in the next 3 weeks and thought this may be more interesting for people to read now.
  1. Best beer: Firestone XVII Anniversary. This is a blend of several Firestone beers and at $23 from the brewery is pricey but definitely worth the money. Nothing else was even close though the Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout was my second place pick. 
  2. Wine of the year - all of them! I was really struck this year by the amazing quality of most wines. You almost have to try to find bad wine these days. Of course, there is the very low quality bulk wines that are one dimensional and will give you a headache, but, almost anything in the $15+ range is of very high quality.
  3. Best music album: Classixx's Hanging Garden. This is like 80's dance music with the updated 21st century sound. Great beats and hooks. The Disclosure Settle album was a solid #2. This was maybe the best year ever for dance music with many other solid albums in this genre. I could easily list 5 more excellent releases.
  4. Bike race of the year: The Vuelta Espana was so much fun to watch. Amazing climbs, many lead changes, and watching Chris Horner take the GC at the age of 41 was incredible. 
  5. Personal Bike Ride: Rode the inaugural Castle Crags metric century in Siskiyou County. Low traffic roads, unbelievable views of the Trinity Mountains and Castle Crags State Park, and well-stocked and fun rest stops. Funny anecdote that exemplifies this ride was a guy from the Bay Area who I was riding with exclaimed at about mile 30 that he was worried because he had only seen 3 cars since leaving the start line and had become complacent and was using the whole road on the descent into Castle Crags.
  6. Drink of the year is the simple Margarita: 1 part Reposado Tequila; 1 part Orange Liqueur, 1 part lime juice poured over ice. You can shake it first and a half teaspoon of agave syrup can be added if you want the drink a bit sweet though the syrup does tone down the flavors of the components. The Corralejo and Trader Joes Reposado's make a nice drink. For orange liqueur, use the standard and expensive Cointreau or try some of the lesser known like Gran Gala.
  7. Home cooked Meal of the Year and my lifetime was goat chops with a simple oil, herb and lemon marinade seared medium-rare like a lamb chop.
  8. Restaurant meal of the year was at Lone Eagle Grille in Incline Village on Lake Tahoe. Impeccable service, view, ambiance and food along with the fact I had ridden my bicycle from Truckee over to the Hyatt conspired to make this a fantastic dining experience. The group of fellow bike riders also helped make this a fun evening.
  9. Most read Sojkascall post written this year was US Health Care Costs Explained.  The second most hits went to The Real Story About The Washington DC Shutdown.
  10. Book of the year went to A History of the World in Six Glasses.This was human history told through the lens of beverage-making technology focusing on beer, wine, rum, tea, coffee and Coca-Cola. 
  11. Homemade recipe creation of the year was taking the tried and true chile relleno recipe from Hot & Spicy & Meatless and just adding ground chorizo sausage to the filling. We have been getting Don Juan chorizo at our local Winco supermarket for $3 a lb which has been fantastic. The same company also makes a very good hot Italian sausage. I know this sounds very simple and you might think how can this be recipe of the year, but, usually simple is the best! Try it yourself.
  12. Movie of the year goes to Silver Lining Playbook which was released in December 2012 that I watched in 2013. Though I found Bradley Cooper annoyingly cutesy, Jennifer Lawrence was riveting as a fellow functioning bipolar trying to cope in the real world. Excellent screenplay and supporting cast make for an enjoyable and ultimately uplifting movie that transcends my criticism of BC.  
  13. Documentary Movie of the year goes to Dirty Wars by and starring Jeremy Scahill about America's secret covert wars around the world currently with operations in 70+ countries. The description death squads was never used in the movie though my take-away was the US now has the most sophisticated death squad apparatus ever assembled with the President and his advisers making life and death decisions daily for thousands of people around the world completely outside the justice system. Gut-wrenching and eye-opening expose of the secretive and powerful Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC).
  14. Personal accomplishment of the year was learning how to grow lettuce greens. We did not buy any lettuce or greens in the grocery market from about the first of July until Thanksgiving when the first hard freeze finally took its toll. The difference this year was using raised beds and keeping the rows covered all year with agribon.
  15. Blogs of the Year. Politics and Society goes to Contrary Brin due to his consistent thoughtful posts using logic and brilliant analysis. Personal Growth blog of the year is The Altucher Confidential. James Altucher hits the mark over and over with seemingly simple insights and advice on improving your life. Economic Blog of the Year is First Trust Economics written by Brian Wesbury. Brian coined the term Plough Horse Economy to describe our current circumstances and has been right on the money for more than a couple years now - worth following his insights.
What were your "best of" moments and winners in the categories I listed? I am always interested in how the year treated others and what they learned. Thanks for reading!


Tim Irvine said...

I was a bit leery of the "blend of beers" on the Firestone - Walker beer when I saw it the other day. I had a Parabola that was excellent during the summer. Seems hard to improve on that.

Sojka's Call said...

@Tim - when I visited Firestone they were out of the Parabola so I did not compare. Parabola was $35 a bottle vs the Anniversary is $23. The Anniversary I think is around 35% Parabola. My guess is you are correct the Parabola is tops. I am a huge fan of these bourbon barrel aged stout/barleywine type beers. I don't think you would regret buying this beer and would be interested what you think. I had tried the North Coast Old Rasputin Russion Imperial Stout the day before and while I liked it, the Firestone anniversary blend was clearly better. Cheers!