Saturday, January 15, 2011

Are there gators in Liverpool???

Questions abound.

I mean I know life is going to change...dramatically. I know what I think is important now [including football (of the American persuasion), football (of the rest of the world persuasion), beer, golf, good food] will likely not be so important 3 - 4 months from now. But what will? I am sure that sleep and sanity will be hot commodities for Team Albright, but how much of yourself get's to stay? I like a lot of my personal interests, but also recognize that the addition of a wee Albright will put many others in perspective. Just which ones will remain? Will I be too sleep deprived to properly introduce Shimmers to my Gamecocks or my Blues? Or will my need of rest mean that Shim ends up a Liverpool supporting Gator? I'm willing to become a tee totaling vegan if it means that won't happen. And I'm pretty sure we have to leave Stockholm before Shim gets any sort of association with AIK.

So, in summary, I guess you'll be happy to know that my only concerns about our coming addition is his/her athletic allegiances. It may seem silly, but it's true. I just don't know how I'd deal with a Pool supporting Gator.

b



Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Press Release: The newest recruit

Jan. 11, 2011 - For Immediate Release

At a press conference in Stockholm, Sweden yesterday, representatives for Team Albright announced the recruitment of a long sought after third teammate to join the existing team.

The team's patriarch, Brad Albright, commented on what this new signing means for Team Albright.

"We are truely excited about the addition to our team and are confident our newest recruit will help us become a more well rounded and most importantly, a more competitive family unit."

Ms. Lago Albright, the team's matriarch, commented that the process of bolstering Team Albright's squad was far from a smooth road.

"The negotiations, while pleasant and enjoyable at the onset when we made the decision to bring on another team member, were not without difficulties. So trying was the process that about 2 months in I would find myself physically ill to the point of nausia and crying at the most mundane occurrences". Mrs. Lago Albright added, "I also had to keep crackers by my bed".

It is unclear whether or not the newest addition will be joining the men's or women's squad for the upcoming season. News from team insiders suggests that no information will be forthcoming on this matter until the scheduled signing date of May 8, 2011. Regardless of sex, it is doubtful that this new addition will provide support in the short-term for Mr. Albright's home brewing operations. On the prospects, Albright commented,

"It's too soon to tell. I'm hopefull that after 18 - 21 years of grooming he/she will have developed the pallate to contribute to some truely special brews. These skills take time to develop though and we won't be rushing into anything".

Team Albright is confident however that the newest addition will strengthen their squad in the areas of food consumption and human waste production. Reports suggest that such gains are known to come at a cost. The team's stats in the area of nightly-sleep-hours are expected to take a huge hit in the short term.


For inquiries please contact: Team Albright at www.teamalbright.blogspot.com

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Year in Beer: Best of 2010

A buddy of mine has a tradition of putting together a "best of" list for music every year (http://www.youknowthisaboutme.blogspot.com/). He also puts together some pretty enjoyable soundtracks for lazy Sundays. Peep it. He convinced me I need to put together a top 10 beer list.

The rules: I had to try these beers for the first time this year. That's the only rule. This has excluded some like N'Ice Chouffe, which I first tried last Christmas but it has easily become my winter warmer standard. But I'm a stickler for the rules. As a side note, my spell checker is set to Swedish and I can't change it. These past 2 years have taught me that I have a finite capacity for language. Every advance in Swedish has come at the expense of my English. So you'll just have to deal with any type-o's.
But first, I'm doling out a couple side awards...

Best session: Place: My apartment. Beer: Anchor Steam Liberty Ale. What happened: US v Algeria. Landon Donovan. You say stoppage time, I say crazy time.

Best non-drinking beer related experience: Hearing my home brew bubble for the first time. Me to my wife in complete seriousness, holding back tears of pride: "I don't think I'll be this happy until I feel our first born kick in your stomach." As I have yet to experience the latter, I can't say whether or not that statement is true.

And now to The List...
#10. Gotlands Bryggeri - Wisby Sleepy Bulldog Pale Ale: I had to get a Swedish brewery in here and Gotland puts out some nice high quality stuff. Nothing too earth shattering, but this one was my standard summer session beer this year. Refreshingly hoppy with strong citrus notes.


#9. Pontoon Brewery - Hop on Board IIPA: There's no picture for this one as it was a very limited release of 55 bottles, of which I drank approximately 50. That's right, it's my beer. To be honest it was fantastic. A super hoppy double IPA, dry hopped with Cascade...mmmmm. Could be a case of being blind to my own shortcomings, but I loved it and that is what this list is about. So shut up.

#8. Mikkeller - Texas Ranger Chipotle Porter: The first of 3 Mikkeller beers on this list. When it comes to Mikkeller, I'm somthing like a combination Beiber/Twilight crazed tween (sidenote: Thank you Atlantic for keeping the Beiber/Twilight histeria off our frozen shores). If you aren't in the know about the father of Gypsy Brewing, check out this article in the Washington Post. Back to the beer. I've had a Chipotle Porter before at Rogue in Portland. It was very much a novelty beer and heavy on the spice. Since pretty much every beer Mikkeller brews is a novelty beer, there's an attention to detail here that really works. The peppers act as sort of a substitute for hops, cutting the maltiness and only appearing as a faint burn on the way down. It really made me sad to finish the bottle.

#7. Rogue - XS Imperial IPA: Had this one at the Stockholm Beer and Whiskey Festival this year. I had eyed it for a couple years but could never justify the pricetag. A combination of homesickness and the fact that I can't buy Rogue here made me pull the trigger. My drinking companion was a Swede we met in Seattle who has since moved here, and at first sniff we were transported back to the Emerald City. That's why this one gets on the list.

#6. Mikkeller - Vesterbro Red: On tap at the Mikkeller Bar in Copenhagen. This one wasn't my first choice, but a crowded bar led to a misunderstanding with the bartender and this was the result. Perhaps it was his way of telling me I was about to make the wrong choice and he took measures into his own hands. Thank you Lars or Kjell or Anders or whatever your name was. This amber ale was spot on. Crisp, hoppy and a touch of sour. I went back and had another despite the excellent range of beers on tap.

#5. Nognes - Imperial DunkelWit: I don't know what kind of beer this is. Dark, syrupy, hoppy, citrusy, cardamom, but at the same time it has characteristics of a light Belgian wit. It's that combination and undefinable taste that makes is so damn interesting. And at 10% ABV, you don't have very long to try to figure it out before your senses start to go. This Norwegian brewery puts out some pretty wild stuff so keep an eye out for them.

#4. Great Divide - 16th Anniversary Wood Aged IPA: I wasn't sure about this one, but special edition US micro's are few and far between over here, so I had to pick it up. I think I was expecting a crisp hoppy IPA with hints of oak. What I got was an IPA that was equally as malty as hoppy. It was interesting enough that I had to go back for another to try it out without any preconceptions. In the end I really enjoyed that balance of sweetness, hoppiness and high octane. A very enjoyable sipper.
#3. Brouwerij De Ranke - Guldenberg: When I'm not drinking something on the crazy experimental US side of the spectrum, I'm seeking out the time tested Belgians. This one is a fantastic example of the Tripel style. One of De Ranke's few non-sour beer offerings, they got it so right they didn't need to muck around with anything else. Although thier Bitter XX does get an honorable mention this year.

#2. Gouden Carolus - Cuvee Van De Keizer Blauw (2010): This Belgian dark strong ale is up there in best of style. Brewed once a year on Charles V's birthday, taking the regular Gouden Carolus as a base, the quality of ingredients and ABV gets a kick up with fantastic results. Great for cellaring and I have 2 of these puppies ripening right now. Plan is to pick up a 2011 and 2012 and try a vertical tasting in a couple years. At 750 ml a bottle, I'll need some help, so book your tickets to Stockholm.

#1. Mikkeller - Beer Geek Brunch Weasel Imperial Stout: This was also the last craft beer I've had this year and was a pick-up from my recent trip to Copenhagen. Coffee & chocolate dominate with a little kick of spice and vanilla. There's the added bonus of knowing that the coffee beans used in this one have passed through the digestive tract of a Vietnamese weasel creature. There are flavors and nuances here I guarantee you have never experienced in a beer before.

Honorable mention: De Ranke Bitter XX, Mikkeller Santa's Little Helper, Mohawk Barley Wine 2010, Pontoon Brewery Stockholm Amber, Mikkeller American Dream, Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti.
Until next year, SKÅL!!!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Vacation weeks 2 & 3 (of 3)

Just got back to Stockholm after our Southern/West Coast swing and am getting ready to pack up and head out on the final leg of my long vacation to Seattle for a few days.

After the first week of boating and messing around at the summer house, we took off for a week long road trip to the Southern part of Sweden, Skåne and Österlen. It's truly a beautiful part of the country, and a bit different than any other part. Reminds me a lot of Nebraska by the sea oddly enough. Wide open fields right next to rocky seascapes, and the weather seems to be a bit more temperate than the rest of the country.

We started off with a 2 night stay with some friends of Cecilia's parents outside Malmö. In addition to their fine hospitality, we enjoyed a round at Bärsebäck Golf & CC, site of the SAS Masters Cup (which just finished). My golf season kicked into high gear here and I shot my best round ever, a 9 over par 80. It was enough to drop my handicap to a respectible 14, which subsequent rounds would show is probably too low. Crappy thing about the Swedish handicap system is that you can lower your handicap pretty easily with a good round (I went from 18 to 14.1), but when you play 3 crap rounds after that (which I did), you don't raise it nearly as quickly (I'm now at 14.3 despite 3 horrendous rounds). So with my one-time fantastic round, I basically shot myself in the foot for the upcoming company tournament in September where I'll have to play on a 14 handicap.

After our stay north of Malmö, we pointed the Volvo east towards Simrishamn to meet up with some of Cecilia's old friends and tour the countryside, including a beach stop, tour of an apple orchard, a couple small fishing villages and ending at a great little B&B in the middle of nowhere where we enjoyed a great dinner. Highlight was the parmasean cheese sauce served w/the steak Cecilia had. Tasted fantastic and the chef gave me the recipe which is embarrassingly easy. Cream, paramsean cheese and a bit of lime juice. I'm going to give it a go tonight to see if I can recreate it.

We took off early for another round of golf among the apple orchards and along the sea at Lila Vik. Not the worst round in the world, those would come later. Cecilia did have a brain fart which made for a good laugh around the 13th hole (see picture below for explanation).

After our round, we meandered along the coast south towards Ystad, stopping at about every antique store and flea market on the way before finally arriving in Ystad. It was sort of a last minute decision to stop here and we booked a room a couple days in advance. A wildly popular detective series ("Wallander") was filmed here, and now the Brits are doing an English version. All English actors speaking English, but its set in Sweden and all the characters have Swedish names. If it doesn't sound strange, take my word for it, it is. Anyway, the cast and crew totally booked 2 hostels for about 2 years and that on top of it being high season, we were left with the one hotel room left in an ancient hotel on the main street. Sounded good, until we got there. The receptionist said it wasn't a double, but 2 single beds. "Fine", we thought, "we can just push the beds together". Wrong. The room was essentially 2 closets they combined. 2 single beds, with a 1/2 wall separating them, and, the kicker, 2 mounted TV's on either side of the 1/2 wall. The 2nd kicker, the toilet was in a closet. 3rd kicker, so was the shower, only a different closet. By far the strangest hotel room we ever stayed in.

A nice meal and we were off the next day for some outlet shopping on our way back to Stenungsund. Our final week there was spent at the summer house just relaxing and doing a bit of gardening, which continuously surprises me how much I enjoy weeding. I could sit there all day just turning dirt. Cecilia and Carl-Axel kept interrupting me with dinner and other small trips though. In the end, I got most of one entire flower bed done and it's looking good considering it was basically a lawn when I started.

That was it really, 3 weeks and we made a few trips, but in the end it felt like we didn't do too much. I don't think Cecilia was ready to head back to work today, but I think I will be when I get back from Seattle. That said, I need to do a bit of packing before I leave tomorrow.




Cecilia doing her impression of the Turning Torso in Malmö


Another shot of the Turning Torso. Its an apartment building apparently.

At Clas & Kerstin's house outside Malmö. Theme for the vacation: Pimms Cup.


Enjoying some freshly made Gaspacho after meeting Cecilia's old friend Maria and her boyfriend Frederik. I don't remembering it being quite as blissful as the expression on my face would indicate. Good though.


Cecilia sampling some of the Applemust from Kivik's Musteri


Relaxing and deciding what to have for dinner at our B&B in Österlen.

Golf at Lila Vik.




Even though I look good, I don't think I hit the green here.




So there was a little sign next to this green "contraption" advertising smoothies. Cecilia was disappointed when, despite her best efforts, no smoothie came out of it. "It" being the BALL CLEANER. Cecilia is catching on to golf quickly, but apparently still has a way to go.


Cecilia was a bit overly enthusiastic about the poppies we found. I did check her bag for contraband.


The hotel. You can see the double TV's hanging on the wall.



Ales Stenar - These extremely old rocks in a formation that no one know's definatively why they are there.





Down the hill from the rock circle thing towards a little harbor where we enjoyed a fantastic lunch of....


Fresh Ale (shelf life 3 months), potato salad, shrimp salad, 2 kinds of smoked makerel, and freshly baked bread. Delish.

Back at the summer house, admiring my flower bed work.

It don't get more Swedish.

Crayfish dinner before we left the West coast. Delish.


Wine on the train. I'm finding I love riding the train between Stockholm and the west coast. Even though we rode the slow "milk train" and it took almost 5 hours, it's more enjoyable than flying.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Swedish vacation (week 1 of 3)

(don´t judge grammar or spelling, this was hastily put together on our way out the door...) *



The first week of our summer holiday in Sweden has come to a close. If the first week is any indication, the remaining two are going to be fantastic.

We began last Saturday with a comfortable ride on the fast train from Stockholm, first class. Apart from the free coffee and slightly wider seats, I'm not sure what makes it first class. Crossing the breadth of the country in 3 hours is nice (it would take considerably longer to cross the length but we'll save that for another vacation).

A (terrible) round of golf at our home course in Stenungsund Sunday morning before readying the sailboat for our trip to Åstol, a small island in the western archipelago. We had a pleasant 2 hour trip to the island Brattön, where Cecilia's sister and family have their summer house. Cecilia and I spent our first night, which for me was one of fittful sleep, on the boat, and we departed for Åstol just after lunch. With I at the helm and Carl Axel as navigator we made the hour and a half trip through some relatively choppy waters and arrived at the disgustingly picturesque harbor. A few Pimms Cups (the quintessential summer drink) and a change of clothes and we were ready for what brought us here: Daniel Lemma at the smokehouse.

For those of you who don't know, Daniel Lemma is a Swede of ethiopian descent who's rise to fame (in Sweden) came when he penned the soundtrack to a hilairous film here. He's enjoyed moderate success with his subsequent releases but hasn't quite made a name for himself outside his homeland. I've been a fan ever since his first release and his song, "If I used to love you" was what Cecilia and I had our first dance to at our wedding (5 years ago in August!!!). The venue for the show was a 75 or so capacity dining room at a retaurant where smoked shrimp are the specialty. Between the friends/family, all you can eat shrimp, and the fact the venue was so small I could have refilled Daniel's water glass without getting out of my seat, it was easily one of the best musical experiences of my life. After the show I had a beer and a chat with Stephan, Daniel's very talented muti-instrumental backing musician aboutBreaking into the US and the music industry in general.

The plan was to leave the next day, but the weather was so fantastic and having nothing really to do, we poured a few more Pimms Cups and laid back in the harbour and relaxed for another day.
After making it back to the mainland, we loaded the car up and headed out to the summer house at Råö, which has been in Cecilia's mother's family for 3 generations. Cecilia is taking up the project of interviewing her grandmother about the history of the house for a coffee table book to be published in a very limited run (of 1, so don't be looking for it in your local Barnes & Nobel any time soon). We spent the next 2 days gardening and doing odd jobs around the house and its looking pretty good.

Today we are taking off for a roadtrip down south to Skåne, where the dialect boarders on Danish, for some golf and sightseeing.

The Swedish is coming along now. I can more or less follow any conversation I hear, with varying degrees of comprehension. I can almost always figure out at least generally what people are talking about. Speaking has proven to be the most difficult, but my interactions with Swedes have ceased to begin with "Pratar du engelska?/Do you speak English?" and I'm taking a stab at getting my message across, with varying degrees of effectiveness. When things get a little over my head I just pretend I know what people are talking about and just nod. It reminds me of how David Sedaris described learning French. Whenever someone would say something, he'd reply, "d'accord/ok" and see what happens. Fortunately I haven't found myself in my underpants in a doctors office waiting room, surrounded by fellow fully clothed "waiters" as a result of my faked comprehension, unlike Sedaris...yet.

Enjoy some pics from the last week...and the video of DL playing at Åstol at the bottom (if it ever finished loading...)

*computer froze so this is getting uploaded a week after it was written...(Cecilia)




a lovely couple.



Captain and skipper



Daniel Lemma and Stefan





Åstol...what you see is the extent of it.



It looks nice, but not nice enough to tempt me. Its not the Florida or South Carolina or Indonesia bathwater temperatures I am used to.


The family enjoying mackerel at the summer house.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Summer houses, 1/2 marathons and world records

So not much new has been going on in these parts. I ran Göteborgsvarvet, the 1/2 marathon in Göteborg over the weekend. I set 2 records.

1. Largest 1/2 marathon in the world with over 60.000 runners. It showed. I was in the last starting group and was constantly hopping hither and yon about the course avoiding the slow(er) runners. Needless to say, I wasn't entirely pleased with my time, but considering I only trained 3 days for a 1/2 marathon, 1:51 is fine. It wasn't enough to beat the 3 other guys I was running with, which meant taking charge of the kitchen for the making of the paella after the race. T'were good.

2. Largest Ukulele ensemble playing the same song for 5 minutes. We played some song that aparently Scando's know but I have never heard it. "Rock around the world". Cecilia even picked up a spare uke, learned the 3 chords and joined in with over 650 other ukers. T'was fun.

Jaime and Laura (friend from HS) are coming over Kristihimmelsfärdsdag break. That's Ascension day for you not in the know or as I like it, the literal translation of "Christs Sky Journey Day!" I have a 4.5 day weekend because of it. We are heading out to the Archipelago and are praying for sun.

Oh I guess I haven't blogged since going out to the summer house. It was awesome. Hasn't seen many visitors in the past year and a half so there was a lot to be done. Found out I actually like gardening. Who knew. Throw the iPod in, some tasty jams (the Staple Singers or 70's Ghanian funk will do the trick) and I can weed with the best of them. Really looking forward to spending some time out there this summer. That and golfing (as soon as our damn shipment w/my clubs gets here).

K. Must clean before Jaime gets here tomorrow. Hej då!

Walpurgis(!!!) night. Wikipedia it. I don't know what it is, but it involves fires and like all good Swedish holidays, copius amounts of booze.

I basically weeded the whole time we were there. I guess you could say I was the Constant Gardener.


...see

View out over the water from behind the house. It's nice in case you can't tell (and I'm still weeding down there by the Volvo).


Swedish brine shrimp and a little Rose. Pre-grill staples.

Amped for the world record try (w/Camila's sambo Eric, dressed in hideous GAIS colors)

Ceecers picking up the chords
video


"High five for great success!!"

Paella and sangria while watching the Eurovision finals (which were crap). I won't even bother explaining what it is for the North Americans, but ABBA won it with Waterloo a long time ago.

What one looks like after 21km and a few drinks...not so patiently awaiting the 2am korv.


Friday, April 24, 2009

The Daily Show

Found this link on the English language Swedish news site I follow over here. Man I love the Daily Show.

http://www.thelocal.se/blog/20090423/436/