From one platform, to another. I've moved my site from WordPress to Squarespace, with a new idea in mind. The blog will be shut down when I relaunch, but the archives will still be available for those with old links, etc. But until then....
My old web host is shutting down, so until I decide what to do with the northspace.com website, I've imported the old Wordpress blog into a Wordpress.com hosted site. Simplest solution for now to keep everything Wordpress based, even if a bunch of the image links are (even more) broken now. This will at least keep an archive of the site alive.
I've mentioned before here the particular oddity that my 2004 post on Milestone's Bellini recipe is hands-down the most popular post in the history of this blog and responsible for my only real presence in Google search results. Now without wanting to bite the hand that feeds me (ok, I don't actually get any ad or other revenue from this site at all), I'd like to just note that the Milestone's (and its Moxies/other chain bar/restauraunt ilk) version of the Bellini is quite far from the original Bellini. In 2005, I was not yet the cocktail
enthusiast snob that I am today, and as far as it goes the Milestones Bellini is still quite tasty, in an alcoholic peach Slurpee kinda way.
In the interests of balance (and to restore some of my karma among the cocktail blogger community), I would like to go on emphasize that the Milestone's Bellini should not be confused with a classic Bellini. One gets older and tastes change, and I'm nowadays far more partial to the Bellini in the spirit of the original created at Harry's Bar in Venice. It's a bit tough in Lapland to acquire fresh white peaches, so we have to settle for canned yellow peaches in their own juice (not in syrup). I also admit that I deviate from Harry's recipe in persisting with a blender instead of a cheese grater. Freeze the frozen peach puree, and then combine about 50-50 with Prosecco (Harry's is one puree to three Prosecco, but we like it a little thicker).
As you can see, this recipe is even simpler that Milestones and avoids the difficulty of procuring the alchemic ingredient of Lipton's peach crystals. One day, I'll find a source for white peaches here in Finland, but for now this is an easy, tasty and no-fuss Bellini. Not quite the original, but for my current tastes, not as sticky sweet as the Milestone's/Moxies bastardization (there, I said it). It's become quite a holiday tradition, as well.
On my recent trip home to Vancouver, one of the best things that happened was my brother and I getting mistaken for European tourists by the salesperson at The Old Faithful Shop ("you guys aren't from Vancouver, are you?"). The well-earned knock against Vancouverites is that they've taken the local climate and outdoor lifestyle as an excuse to dress in baggy fleece and Goretex all the time (blame MEC). Now, there is a small group of Vancouverites doing amazing things in men's style focussed in Gastown (Inventory, Roden Gray, Haven, Lark, Four Horsemen, and the aforementioned Old Faithful Shop), but the general state of affairs on the street is pretty sad. Given my Vancouver heritage, I of course have a few of these legacy pieces in my arsenal. Now as I gradually look to replace key foul-weather items, I am I going for natural fibre equivalents of fleece and Goretex. Namely, wool and waxed/oiled cotton. While these materials are not as lightweight as their synthetic successors, they more than make up for it in durability and aesthetics.
My absolute best "thrift" find ever has been this deadstock 1952 heavy wool Swedish army jacket from a local odds and ends shop for a whopping five euros. The thing is just perfect for all but the coldest temperatures, and has great deep pockets front and back (presumably for carrying ammo). While it doesn't rain a whole lot here in Lapland (most annual precipitation comes in the form of snow), there are still occasions where something a bit more waterproof is called for. I'd been thinking for a while of picking up a second hand Barbour Bedale off eBay, instead I'm going to go for the Seattle equivalent, Filson. Originally made for loggers, ranchers and hunters Filson is now another darling of the men's style blogosphere, still locally manufacturing the same time-tested goods. I think I'll go for the Tin Jacket, to which I can add a zip in Mackintosh wool vest when the temperature really dips. And how cool that I can order it from a real country general store in Williamsburg, MO.
So Vancouverites, and other denizens of the Goretex and fleece brigade, go natural for your next piece of outerwear!
Aside from all the darkness, rain, and slush, this time of the year is pretty great here in the North. The expectation of the first lasting snow and the transformation of mood and landscape into winter. After seeing a good selection of fall and early winter looks out there (Free-Man, Philosophy of the Well-Fed, Up-North), I thought I'd give a shot at my own. Shirt - Gitman Vintage Purple Oxford (Roden Grey) Blazer - Rugby by Ralph Lauren Scarf - John Malloy Belt - Tanner Goods Natural Belt (C-Store) Gloves - Norse Projects x Hestra Tan Staale (GoodHood) Shoes - Tricker's Brown Zug Ilkley (Pediwear.co.uk) Jeans - Nudie Steel Grey Even Steven (Yoox) Down Vest - Penfield (Yoox)
HBO's new Boardwalk Empire hooks you right from the opening credits. In particular, Steve Buscemi (as Enoch "Nucky" Thompson) in his pin-strip three-piece and simply stunning two-tone oxford wingtips. I'm not sure if these are technically spectator shoes or not, since the highlight colour on spectators is supposed to be white. Instead, these have a lovely burnished tan, the middle line of punched broguing is a darker brown, with the heel cap, toe, and lacing area in black.
Really quite stunning, although I'm not sure how I would pull them off as part of my wardrobe (or what to wear with them). This of course hasn't deterred me from checking out what is available. So far, a pair of Forzieri looks remarkable similar (the lighter tan shade could have darkened naturally or from polishing). The search continues.
After trying out a few new Wordpress Themes over the past week, I've finally settled on Mystique. It's quite attractive and very easy to customize. I'll still be tweaking the stylesheet over the coming days. I've also implemented the WPtouch widget to facilitate mobile browsing. Be sure to check it out on your mobile device!
After months of scouring various shoe blogs, and stumbling across the fact that Honolulu is home to one of the top Alden retailers in the world... Leather Soul Waikiki, I acquired my first pair of 'high end' shoes, a pair of Alden Cordovan #8 V-Tips. Thanks muchly to dad for tracking down the UPS guy making the delivery with about 45mins to spare before our flight (and for picking up the tab!). Also thanks to Takuya for many patient email responses about size and availability.
Now I have only the pleasure of enjoying the bliss of having these gloves of perfect leather on my feet. Seriously, I've almost walked in to people because I love to look at my own shoes. Slightly disturbing. Only slightly more disturbing is the fact that I've started to think about my next pair of Aldens. Sure, I was able to vicariously enjoy dad getting a pair of All Weather Walkers last week in San Francisco at the Alden store. Greg meanwhile is contemplating his 'Vancouver shoe' that would also be dressy, yet durable enough for site visits to the prairie dealerships in winter. He's thinking shell chukka with a commando sole. Or maybe in Kudu with a lug rubber sole?
Reading about these shoes only makes you appreciate the care and craftsmanship that go into making a pair, given that most of the shoes I've worn in my life were probably made in ten minutes by child labourers in a sweatshop in Vietnam. The enthusiasm of the retailers like Tom and Takuya at Leather Soul is the face most customers would see, but digging deeper we see the traditions at work in the Alden factory. But move a step further back in the means of production, and the same passion for the product and the production is still evident. The blog of the Horween Leather Company of Chicago is an amazing glimpse into traditional production practices that still persevere today. Here is where you can still observe something called craftsmanship that is largely lost in most of the crap we buy today. Thanks to the good folks at Horween, I have a newfound appreciation for not only the shell cordovan that eventually found its way into my V-tips, but also the amazing processes that go into making the natural Chromexcel that will produce my next pair of Aldens.
Winter is on its way and I can't wait. My latest footwear acquisition arrived yesterday - a pair of classic Sorel Caribou boots. These rate high in the nostalgia factor as I had the same boots as a kid in Prince George. Pity the once proudly Canadian brand is now US owned though.
I admit to sampling, not too disagreeably, the Chilean strawberry infused sparkling "Fresita" when it first came on the market a few years ago. But the degree to which Finns - especially of the female working class variety - have adopted the stuff is truly shocking. It's now sold in little 25cl bottles, which the faux trendy stadi couple next to me at Roberts cafe in Helsinki-Vantaa just washed their morning coffee and pulla down with. That this was 8:30am scarcely matters. The sweetly sticky stuff has become soda pop for adults. It now makes me gag as much from the taste in my mouth as the repeated exhortations of those proferring it that, "it's made with real strawberries." End rant.
I've somehow gone from being very reluctant to ever buy clothes online to a voracious online fashion shopper. Along the way, I'm collecting a small select list of the very coolest online clothes boutiques for us men. Strangely, many of the coolest placest online are maybe not in the places you first might expect. Belfast, Manchester, Aberdeen, and Newcastle (not London), Brooklyn (not Manhattan- ok ok, Brooklyn is already cooler than Manhattan), Malmö (well, also Stockholm), and Ballard... seriously, Ballard?!?
www.blackbirdballard.com/ (Ballard, Seattle)
Today (March 24, 2010) would have been Steve McQueen's 80th birthday. Through my father, Steve McQueen also became a hero of mine even if I barely remember his passing. Like few others of any era, and so rarely today, he simply embodied cool without ever seeming to try to cultivate it. These photos express what has been lost in the decades we've lived without him.
While Teemu and I are slaughtering our fair share of zombies (technically 'infected') in Left 4 Dead, another eagerly anticipated zombie game gets released today... Plants vs. Zombies. This is the latest from PopCap (so it promises to be just as addictive as Peggle) and there's been a lot of buzz, thanks largely to a brilliant teaser music video. In an interview with the game designer, he mentions that the zombie dance moves in the video are modelled after none other than the legendary Åke Blomqvist instructional disco video that went viral a while back. Check it out. [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0N1_0SUGlDQ&hl=en&fs=1&]
I made reference in my previous post to my New York cocktail discovery, the Sazerac. Legend has it that it is one of the oldest cocktails around, although the date of its origin is somewhat disputed. That doesn't change the fact that it is one of the finest, most complex, yet well-balanced drinks I've sipped. The Sazerac is as much about the lore of its once-lost ingredients (like real rye whiskey, genuine absinthe, and Peychaud's bitters) as its taste. Its method of preparation is also something of an artform, best exemplified here by Chris McMillian of New Orlean's Ritz-Carlton Hotel. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfhaxHYb46E&w=425&h=344] My preference actually follows David Wondrich's guide from Imbibe! that uses real gomme syrup instead of a sugar cube. I've finally acquired all the ingredients needed with the final delivery of my Peychaud's bitters from eBay. For those in Finland, Alko carries both Wild Turkey Rye and Kübler Absinthe, but outside of Helsinki you'll probably have to special order.
We're just back from New York, and the Flickr set is now up. Thanks to my old camera crapping out on me I'm now the proud owner of a Sony 200. So the first few photos are when the I could get the CCD in the old Canon point-and-shoot to work.
Our trip was full of great sights, shopping, food and drink - much downtime was spent at the Campbell Apartment sipping Manhattans and my new fave, Sazeracs. We also happened to be there at the same time as Marc and Eva, so we had fun hanging out with them, including a dinner with Pere and Isabel in Williamsburg. Foodwise, we gorged ourselves on everything from a cool little Phillipino cafe (Bayan), and a very nice Korean/Japanese place (Busan) that had just opened around the corner from our hotel (Apparently it's so new that they don't even have a web listing anywhere! How can I promote them if they don't have a web address?).
Music recommendation services like Last.fm do a fairly good job of picking music based on your listening habits, and comparing those sets with similar users. Frustrated with trying to figure out what to rent from the local video store, I looked into similar service for movies. I started out back at IMDB.com, which is ok if you really only want a homogenized general rating of a film. Basically, a high rating will ensure a movie's general public appeal, but not necessarily whether I would personally like it. Like musical tastes, our tastes in movies is a pretty subjective and personal thing. Last.fm's approach of just mindlessly processing consumption habits (number of times listened to), isn't likely to work for movies. A movie lasts a fair bit longer than a song, so I'm unlikely to watch 2001: A Space Oddessy over and over enough to automatically rank it as a favourite film. Similarly, I might have seen Anchor Man based on a friend's recommendation and really disliked it, which would mean I've seen it almost as many times as Dancer in the Dark, one of my favourite films (if only because its content is so heartwrenching to watch). Enter Jinni.com, the online movie recommendation service. I've only been playing with it a couple of days, but there's a lot to like (and a quite a bit to improve yet). It appears that Jinni uses a pretty rich ontological system (contextual relationships between different terms to descibe characteristics of the media in question) to categorize films. You start out by ranking a bunch of films that they've selected to create profiles of different 'taste types'... Social Animal, The Individualist, etc. This information is then used to create a set of recommendations for you. The really cool power of Jinni though is its contextual search, where you can type in words like "historical drama gripping bleak" that describe different characteristics of the kind of movie you want to see and it gives you recommendations based on how movies in the database have been tagged.
It's all pretty fun to play with and the interface is very Web 2.0 (more on that in a bit). One issue I had, was that the recommendations based on my 'Taste Types' and the tag-based 'ontological' results seem to exist in separate domains. The results of the tag-based search don't seem to be weighted by my 'taste types' or take into account movies that I've already seen and rated. Perhaps there could be an option to use personal taste weightings, or turn them off. My main qualms with the site were with its interface. The user interface makes use of a lot of rich-media tricks like dynamic mouse-overs and interactive button elements. This, however, seems to put a fairly high load on the Jinni server as well as my bandwidth. The responsiveness when making selections can be very sluggish as a result, and I had a couple browser freezes while using the site. A more specific niggle is that movie 'synopsis' text in the mouse-over is about 1.5 short lines of text, which often isn't enough to figure out what the movie is about. Clicking on 'more' (eventually) takes you to the movie's entry page... where you actually have to click 'more' again(!) to expand the synopsis.
From what I've seen though, Jinni is real step forward in figuring out what movie I want to watch. It's still in beta, so I trust that many of the technical issues can be worked out, and additional usability features brought online. If you'd like to try it out yourself, fire me off an email and I'll set you up with a beta invite.
Over the years, I've toyed around with Painter, ever since it was made by Fractal Design (now developed by Corel), at a few different periods. Its completely different than Photoshop, as it is made to replicate the experience of natural tools and media. Really, it is only worthwhile when combined with a drawing tablet from Wacom. Even though I'm not much of an artist, I find that I can get pretty attractive and interesting results by combining some of Painter's best 'cheater' functions (like cloning colours from a source photo) and my own amateurish brushstrokes with the tablet. For example, I painted this chipmunk from a photo I took of our little visitor on a hike in Whistler a few years back.