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In the mountains, there is always a remarkable difference between the seasons. Our first visit to the cabin in Skarvheimem was in the Fall. We did some great hiking. This time we visited at the tail end of winter, just before Easter. Here is a short montage about our visit.

We arrived in Bergen…well maybe it was Bergen just in time to pee.

Bergen airport bathroom

Nobody in Bergen is sure about anything

After 20 hours or so of travel, sunset was a welcome sight.

Then it was off to the cabin.

Our now familiar pass

This is where the talk about photography began in earnest. It is not where it ended.

The “path” to the cabin was a little snowy

Home for Easter week.

The living room and bar area

Heat turned out to be kind of important

Outdoor fire

This is us lazing around doing nothing. Note that we were not relaxing (right Gøran?)

Panorama by Anne

The cross country ski area

Way down there is the entire crew

Did I mention there was some talk of photography?

Picture by Amy Barley

The two most important things at the cabin are both liquids.

First, there is water.

Then there is rum

Downhill day

My downhill morning companions

Moon over ice (by Anne)

The view at dinner

Music was a thing again even though the violin was left in Virginia.

Fernet anyone?

More skiing

Pretending to fly the planet

Boo!

Another fire

Two fisted Anne

Somebody is very happy

The visitor

Pancakes and ice cream

Some biathalon

Spring in Norway

Another magical visit to Norway with great friends.

Of course the shower itself was not plastic, since it was nonexistent.

The moonlit view

OK, well, the first one of 2019, but the second one ever.

The Great Belgian Rum Tasting of 2016 was a smashing success. So we decided to do it again some three-ish years later.

What that requires is a flight to Brussels, and a drive out to Lichtervelde.

You may recall that Lichtervelde is home to the world famous Eenie Meenie the goat. Eenie Meenie is getting on in years, and we were glad to see her again while she is still alive.

Eenie Meenie in the house

Things are much swankier than ever at chez Madou, where the bar is well stocked, Liberals are available at all times, and the kids are on track to shake up a mean cocktail.

Makings of a Liberal, including superior bourbon from Virginia

Start em early. Just don’t shake a martini.

Here’s how things proceeded on the rum front.

The lineup of seven rums

Cubay Ronera Central

Cubay Ronera Central: CUBA

Oak. Bitter. Alcohol nose. Under signed. 5 year. Proof 86. SCORE: 6

Havana Club Barrel Proof

Havana Club Barrel Proof: CUBA

Nice nose (no esters). Butter with a twist. Hot. Post sugar not too much. Proof 90. SCORE: 7

Pampero Aniversario

Pampero Aniversario: Venezuela

Venezuela. Post sugar. Balanced. Island style. Proof 80. SCORE: 6

Ron Millonario

Ron Millonario: Peru

Peru. Ester on the nose. Central America style. Brown sugar with ester twist. (Madou like it.) . Proof 80. SCORE: 5

Ron Barceló Imperial Blend

Ron Barceló Imperial Blend: Dominican Republic

Wins for ridiculous bottle. . Over sugared. Over oaked. Proof 86. SCORE: 5

Clément Single Cask

Clément Single Cask: Martinique

Rhum agricole. Great nose. Bitter. Mature Oak. Proof 93.6. SCORE 8

Clément Cuveée Spéciale XO

Clément Cuveée Spéciale XO: Martinique

Too hot. Under oaked. GAH. Proof ?. SCORE 4

Notes were kept.

Verdict is in.

The final order.

The final order:
1. Clément Single Cask
2. Havana Club Barrel Proof
3. Cubay Ronera Central
4. Pampero Aniversario
5. Ron Barceló Imperial Blend
6. Ron Millonario
7. Clément Cuvée Spéciale XO
8. Dettol

Special guest rum

As has become a tradition, a special guest rum was added to the mix just for fun. This year, dreft was replaced with the lemony goodness of Dettol

Special guest rum (slot 8)

Your host and the final order (plus or minus one)

Of course no visit to the new bar Madou would be complete without some tiki.

Yes, that is what you think it is (in Belgium)

Zombie for the tiki win

And no evening would be complete without a Liberal.

WRT showers and places to stay, above the bar is a complete guest suite featuring wood beams, skylights, a sitting area and glass showers. Sorry, no pictures.

Fix showerheads (plus one) for Madou’s new digs. Can’t wait to be back.

Thanks Madou.

A quick stop in at Vitae Spirits was a great end to a day of intellectual pursuit at UVa. Vitae is a new distillery, but their outstanding product belies their young age.

Tasting three products: two rums and a gin

Hard to describe how good the rum is (with no aging at all), especially the oustanding Golden Rum product. Proprietor and founder Ian Glomski is a microbiologist by training and his scientific background really shines through. (Kind of reminds me of Becky Harris from Catoctin Creek since she was a chemist before turning to distilling.)

The remarkable Golden Rum is distilled with grilled sugar cane and molasses. Charcoaled american oak chips give it some interesting characteristics (and its color). Post production sugaring with molassas (fairly standard with many rums) happens when the spirit is brought down to 80 proof from its run up over 150.

The Platinum Rum is also very very good. Some readers may recall from WAY back that the first spirit NPS had under its belt was rum. This one stands up to the range.

The Modern Gin? We’ll just skip talking about that.

The Vitae still is also very interesting—a hybrid pot still/column still attached in-line.

The hybrid still

Though we have never seen a still quite like this before, NPS is told that many craft distillers use hybrids like this.

Pot

Column

The whole shebang

Of course yeast and mash make all the difference in the world. Here is where the microbes do their thing to make beer for the still. The beer only comes in around 4% when it is run. That is low by rum standards, but whatever Ian is doing is really working well.

We also tried some experimental Anisette which is still in experimentation stage. This product is very interesting. Ian is working out a post production infusion plan now (testing regular lemon versus meyers lemon). Thanks for the palate clearing yogurt from your personal stash Ian!

Strong design

The best way to finish a distillery visit is to run out and try the product in the wild. Toward that end, we made a quick visit to the Alley Light where we sampled a drink called Castro’s Ashes
1.5 oz Vitea Golden Rum
.75 oz Cynar
.75 oz sassafras vermouth (maybe ransom?)
4 drops BBQ bitters
stir down. Serve up in a coupe. Flame orange peel and balance on the edge.

Castro’s Ashes from Alley Light

NPS is bullish on Vitae Spirits. Check them out before they get big!

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Want to be near the Pacific in a terrific city? San Francisco can do that for you.

This visit included a bug free stay at the Buchanan Hotel in Japantown where Emily G and her excellent co-workers made us feel especially welcome. Here’s how.

First, the giant tetris game that is specific hotel room request came out in our favor and we secured 416 (the best room in the property with lots of windows and a great bathroom).

Yellow roses

Yellow roses

Second, yellow roses!

Third, a mystery gift…

What's in the bag?

What’s in the bag?

Sleepytime tea, honey, and some pottery mugs. Just like home.

Sleepytime tea, honey, and some pottery mugs. Just like home.

Arrival was delightful.

416 and roses

416 and roses

Notes, sparking water, cheese and fruit.  All good.  Plus tea!

Notes, sparking water, cheese and fruit. All good. Plus tea!

416 has a spacious bathroom with a glass shower. No plastic showers!!

The glass shower cube

The glass shower cube

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A little rain never hurt anything. Especially in drought stricken California. The fact that the weather was perfect for the weekend was, well, perfect.

Rainy day Japantown

Rainy day Japantown

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With the expert help of Jacob, Saturday’s itenerary was outstanding.

Brunch at Foreign Cinema was first. We used the show up at 10:45 and walk right in at 11 hack.

Foreign Cinema brunch

Foreign Cinema brunch

Followed by a quick last minute stint at the Farmer’s Market

Saturday morning market

Saturday morning market

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And a trip to Lands End.

Land's End

Land’s End

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Who's that?

Who’s that?

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Cocktail hour was spent at the always fantastic Smuggler’s Cove for tiki, rum, and conversation. A meeting of the secret book club was held.

Smuggler's Cove is one of the best bars in the world

Smuggler’s Cove is one of the best bars in the world

Dinner was at The Progress. Super fantastic, rollicking fun time. And the food was good too!

Sunday should start with a great brunch, say at the Hillside Supper Club.

And then a trip to Napa on a gorgeous day! Domaine Carneros is a great target, especially if you have club privileges.

One of my favorite wines in the world is Old Hill from Ravenswood.

Pizza evening (due to a 2 hour wait at the sushi place we targetted) was followed by a visit to the delightful Churchhill bar. This is a low key almost dive like neighborhood place with an outstanding collection of serious booze.

In other San Francisco fun NPS gladly notes the following establishments:
lunch (every day) at cafe claude
ramen in Japantown at Waraku
fun and games with superb cocktails at Forgery
world class brunch at Plow
jacques incredible cocktails in a relaxed and gorgeous room at Wildhawk
outstanding food at rich table

About which these twitterz:

Thursday madness was particularly fun this iteration.

Five showerheads with a wink and a nod for the Buchanan where everything went as planned.

NPS cleans the bar

June 30, 2016

Sometimes the bar must be cleaned. Here is a series of tweets from the @noplasticshower stream (follow us today)!

This accounts for about half of the collection. The other half (reserves mostly) are under the bar itself.

What happens in Lichtervelde? Rum happens, especially at Madou’s abode.

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Here is how it went.

Hey guys, what about Eenie Meenie?

Hey guys, what about Eenie Meenie?

Pre-bar chaos reminds me of home in the old days

Pre-bar chaos reminds me of home in the old days

The Lineup: 12 rums

The Lineup: 12 rums

Cartavio 12 Años – PERU

Cartavio 12 Años - PERU

Cartavio 12 Años – PERU

Very oaky. Hot start. Sugar overcome by oak. 80 proof. SCORE: 4

Millonario XO – PERU

Millonario XO - PERU

Millonario XO – PERU

Plenty of oak (again). Sugar more present. Blackstrap molasses. Madou’s choice. 80 proof. SCORE: 7

Zafra 21 Yrs – PANAMA

Zafra 21 Yrs - PANAMA

Zafra 21 Yrs – PANAMA

Banana. Fairly flat. Not hot. Not much curl. Watery. 80 proof. SCORE: 5

Clement cuvée speciale XO (rhum agricole) – MARTINIQUE

Clement cuvée speciale XO (rhum agricole) - MARTINIQUE

Clement cuvée speciale XO (rhum agricole) – MARTINIQUE

Ah. Island rum. Better alcohol content. Balanced finish. Proof 88. SCORE: 8

Clement single cask 9/02 (rhum agricole) – MARTINIQUE

Clement single cask 9/02 (rhum agricole) - MARTINIQUE

Clement single cask 9/02 (rhum agricole) – MARTINIQUE

Super hot but fair. Best yet (after dinner). Balanced and masterful. Proof 93.6. SCORE: 9

Brugal reserve extra viejo – DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Brugal reserve extra viejo - DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Brugal reserve extra viejo – DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Blech. Please mix with anything. Tiki level rum. H2O. Proof 76. SCORE: 2

Coruba blended Jamaica rum 18 yrs – JAMAICA

Coruba blended Jamaica rum 18 yrs - JAMAICA

Coruba blended Jamaica rum 18 yrs – JAMAICA

Terrible nose. But not a bad rum. Banana. Proof 80. SCORE: 6

Angostura premium rum 1824 – TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO + SCOTLAND

Angostura premium rum 1824 - TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO + SCOTLAND

Angostura premium rum 1824 – TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO + SCOTLAND

Nose just hurts. Central America bend at end. Odd and slightly scottish. Proof 80. SCORE: 4

Ron Barceló imperial premium blend #1861 – DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Ron Barceló imperial premium blend #1861 - DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Ron Barceló imperial premium blend #1861 – DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Jasmine nose. Bitter finish. Over oaked. Sugar front. Proof 86. SCORE: 6

Hamilton St Lucian pot still aged rum 9 yrs #813-9CS – ST LUCIA (aged)

Hamilton St Lucian pot still aged rum 9 yrs #813-9CS - ST LUCIA (aged)

Hamilton St Lucian pot still aged rum 9 yrs #813-9CS – ST LUCIA (aged)

Varnish nose. Stagg hot. Melts. Too many esthers. Proof 122.6. SCORE: 4

Samarold rum 2004 rhum (really?) cask #5 bottle 175 – HAITI

Samarold rum 2004 rhum (really?) cask #5 bottle 175 - HAITI

Samarold rum 2004 rhum (really?) cask #5 bottle 175 – HAITI

Good balanced rum. Hot nose. Balanced oak. Whiskey sensibility. Lite. Proof 90. SCORE: 6

Koloa Kaua’i gold – HAWAII

Koloa Kaua'i gold - HAWAII

Koloa Kaua’i gold – HAWAII

Armpit nose. Super flat. Yawn. Water. Proof 80. SCORE: 3

Tasting notes were kept.

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The verdict is in.

Rum re-ordered by notes and including dreft

Rum re-ordered by notes and including dreft

The final order:
1. Clement single cask
2. Clement cuvée
3. Millonario
4. Barceló
5. Samarold
6. Coruba
7. Zafra
8. Angostura
9. Cartavio
10. Hamilton
11. Koloa
12. Brugal
13. Dreft

Special guest rum

Special guest rum (slot 13)

Special guest rum (slot 13)

Of course, we would be remiss in our NPS duties if we did not report on the shower situation. It is excellent. And madou built the shower himself! Five showerheads.

The non-plastic shower

The non-plastic shower

Non-plastic shower technology system

Non-plastic shower technology system

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Thanks madou!

The dark and stormy is a famous drink of sailors worldwide. The usual way to make a dark and stormy is to liberally add a bunch of good rum to some real ginger beer. The more drinks you have, the more rum and less ginger beer ends up in the mix. This leads to talking like a pirate and toe sailing in most situations.

For the house dark and stormy, we’re getting fancy. First off we use Amy’s homemade ginger beer (grated ginger, yeast, sugar, water plus time). Then we add some Angostura bitters and lime to the ginger beer to plus it up.

Dark and Stormy ][+
2 oz Mt Gay Extra Old Rum (could use Goslings)
3/4 cup fresh ginger geer
4 dashes Angostura bitters
1/2 oz fresh lime
Stir the ginger beer, bitters and lime together in a whiskey glass with a big ice cube. Float the rum over the mixture.

Did we party?!

Did we party?!