Even though I am co-editing a volume on Mexican elections and lawmaking (which I had once dreamed of having completed before the 2006 election), I have not addressed this Sunday’s election here in some time.
Courtesy of boz’s presentation of the data, I took a look at a series of late polls. Averaging of the nine polls of the week of 23 June gives us the following:
I am not sure of the margin of error on each of these polls, but I know that for at least some of them, it is around +/- 3 percentage points. Applying that margin to each candidate, we get average ranges of:
The polls thus pretty clearly agree that the race is too close to call between CalderÃ³n and LÃ³pez Obrador (“AMLO”), and that Madrazo is in third place. However, at least two of the polls that boz reports (Mitofsky and Zogby) do not clearly separate second and third place. In fact, Zogby does not clearly separate first and third place. Zogby has the race as CalderÃ³n 30, AMLO 27, Madrazo 24. Assuming +/- 3 MOE, that is no different from a three-way dead heat of three candidates at 27%. Zogby also has the largest undecided or “other” (there are two very minor candidates running) of any of these polls (19%), which presumably means they are more conservative in assigning “leaners” to one candidate or the other.
Other polls have a very large gap between first and third, even if none can separate AMLO and CalderÃ³n with certainty. For instance Universal has it AMLO 36, CalderÃ³n 34, Madrazo 26. Milenio and Marketing PolÃtico have Madrazo on 22% and GEA-ISA has him on 20%, but all of these put only two points between the leaders.
While it is hard to concoct a believable scenario in which Madrazo wins, the fact that he has gained a bit in many polls late in the campaign and that his third place is not decisive in several of them is bad news in at least two respects. First, it reduces the pressure on weaker supporters of the PRI to defect, because they may not be convinced that their candidate has no chance. Second, it increases the chance that the candidate who does win might have lost had more PRI voters defected to whichever of the other two is their second choice. My hunch is that Madrazo being in a strong third place (and perhaps second) helps AMLO, on the grounds that AMLO’s image as the rabble-rouser makes him less likely to pick up late PRI defectors than the “conservative” (in almost any sense of that word) CalderÃ³n. More PRI voters sticking with Madrazo means fewer votes shifting late to CalderÃ³n.
It is possible that the PRI vote is under-sampled, given its strength in rural areas, and out of this possibility come the scenarios (unlikely though they may be) in which Madrazo ekes out a surprising win. But I do think this is indeed unlikely, because I still expect few undecideds to go for Madrazo in the end and many soft supporters of the PRI ultimately to vote tactically, and thus to cancel out any under-sampled PRI vote. The fact that a federation of formerly PRI-affiliated unions endorsed AMLO recently throws further cold water on the chances of a late recovery by the PRI.
I would not bet on this election, as it really could go either way between CalderÃ³n and AMLO.
The presidential election is decided by plurality, so there will be no second round even if, as seems likely, the winner has well under 40% of the vote and a very small margin.
The other thing to watch is the congressional race. In 2000, Mexican voters showed some, albeit limited, willingness to split tickets. Thus the PRI in congress could slightly outpoll its presidential result. There is no direct translation of national vote shares to seats in the 500-seat Chamber of Deputies; contrary to some otherwise reputable sources, Mexico’s mixed-member electoral system is not MMP, but parallel.* It is also a rare mixed-member system with a single vote: The voter votes for a candidate in his or her single-seat district, where the plurality prevails, and this vote is also pooled to the separate contest for list seats (closed regional lists).
Because of the single vote for both candidate and list, every party has a strong incentive to run a candidate in every district, even if it clearly can’t win a given district. If it does not have a “face” in a district, it has no way to obtain list votes in that district. And, of course, because of the single vote, there is no incentive for you if you are a voter to defect from your first choice party’s candidate, even if he or she can’t win your district. Thus many districts will be won by narrow margins and much less than 50%, and this will benefit whichever party has the greatest regional spread and harm any party that is regionally concentrated. This aspect of the system is much more likely to give a (small) seat bonus to the PRI than to the PAN, and to harm the PRD.
The system also puts a potential premium on parties’ having attractive candidates, given that the candidates are what the voter must vote for. However, there is not much evidence that voters care much about candidates (there is some, however). The development of a “personal vote” is hampered by the ban on consecutive terms in all elections in Mexico. No incumbents are running for reelection to their seats.
It is very possible that the result could be LÃ³pez Obrador as president with not even one third of congressional seats–the share needed to sustain a veto. If CalderÃ³n were to win, he, too, could be short of one third.
In the 128-seat Senate, all of which is also elected Sunday–there is no chance that any party will have a majority.**
Coalition-building will be even more important to Sunday’s winner than it was to Fox–and likely more difficult.
* The only senses in which the electoral system is not parallel (MMM) are in two ways that will not be triggered in this election: No party may have an overrepresentation of more than eight percentage points above its nationwide Chamber vote share, nor more than 300 seats. Otherwise, it is a pure parallel system.
** Two senators from each state are elected by the leading party in that state, one from the second party, and another 32 nationwide by proportional representation, in parallel.
In a post otherwise about the Texas redistricting case, Rob Ritchie at the FairVote Blog sees a bright side:
Other news out of Texas shows the path we must ultimately tread. Just yesterday the College Regents of Amarillo voted unanimously to settle a federal voting rights case by adopting cumulative voting for its future elections. Cumulative voting is a proportional voting system that allows more than one political grouping to elect a representative in the same constituency.
The statement after “that” in the last sentence is valid, of course. But if cumulative voting is the “path we must ultimately tread” it’s a path to the 19th, rather than 21st, century. In no sense is cumulative voting a form of proportional representation. No classification of electoral systems by any reputable scholar in the field would ever make such a claim, and the sooner electoral reformers stop conflating cumulative voting–which has numerous pathologies that I won’t get into now–with PR, the more they will advance the real cause of fair and proportional elections.
Cumulative voting, like its close cousins SNTV and MNTV, deserves to lie in the dustbin of electoral-system concepts from the pre-party and pre-proportionality era.
UPDATE: Thanks to Steven for noting (in a PoliBlog scion grafted below) that the Democratic majority of the House delegation from Texas after 2002 was actually a reversal of the electoral majority. Republicans had 53% of the statewide votes, yet only 47% of the Texas House seats. In that sense, indeed, the 2004 outcome, despite being almost 2:1 Republican, is a more accurate reflection of the votes (58-39, or about 1.5:1 R). So, the old plan was fundamentally flawed and should have been thrown out. Nonetheless, the real thrust of my argument in this post (and as amplified in my comment below in response to Steven) was not that one partisan gerrymander was worse than another. Procedurally, the two Texas districting plans were equally bad, even if the more recent one is actually less substantively flawed. Rather, my argument was, and is, that the more recent one in Texas has the potential effect of protecting a precarious right-wing House majority from adverse national vote swings, and that was clearly its intention. And a right-wing majority on the Supreme Court has said that is just fine. Partisan assignment of voters to districts, and partisan adjudication of the process. It’s a travesty of democracy.
I don’t want to let the attention given to the Bush administration’s apparent defeat in the Hamdan case completely drown out the far more important victories that opponents of democratization and electoral reform won in two earlier Supreme Court decisions in the past week.
The other two cases both affect the fariness of elections, and thus the essence of democracy itself. They are, in that sense, vastly more fundamental than the question of military tribunals–which the executive may find ways to continue anyway–important though the latter issue is.
The striking thing about the two election-related decisions is that in one case the Court overruled a state legislature and in the other it upheld one. Thus there is no common federalism or states-rights thread here. The Court said that the legislature in Vermont over-stepped its authority in limiting campaign contributions, and thereby accepted the principle that the wealthy have “freer” speech than the rest of us. In the Texas redistricting case, on the other hand, it said that it is perfectly all right for a state legislature to produce a partisan-biased districting plan–even mid-census–and thus further entrenched the principle that politicians should choose their voters rather than the other way around.
It is obvious that the Texas legislature’s act has far more impact on those of us outside of the state in question than does the Vermont act. The Republican party would not have gained seats in 2004, despite losing votes relative to 2002 (and falling below 50%), had it not been for the Delaymandered districts in Texas. Thus the actions of the Texas legislature not only affect the representation of all Texans (something which the archaic theory of democracy apparently still prevailing in this land might permit) but ultimately affect the representation of all of us (something no theory of democracy ought to admit).
The now-overturned Vermont law, on the other hand, would have limited impact on those of outside Vermont. Sure, if it were to spread nationwide–beyond the friendly confines of the home of Bernie Sanders and Howard Dean–it would have dramatic impact, to the immense benefit of ordinary voters. The Court nipped that in the bud.
The common thread of these two cases is support for the further entrenchment of right-wing political forces in this country. If there was any doubt that the US Supreme Court is continuing to assert its role as a bulwark against the advance of democratic representation, these cases should lay such doubt to rest. It did not matter whether the justices had to act to uphold or overturn a state decision; what mattered was acting to buttress the power of those who already have it.
Regarding the Hamdan case, I can’t help but wonder if Bush-Cheney will find a way to defy or override the very institution without which they would not have had their first term in order to continue prosecuting–as they alone see fit–the “war” on which they won their second.
Balkinization has an interesting take on how the government may respond:
So what the Court has done is not so much countermajoritarian as democracy forcing. It has limited the President by forcing him to go back to Congress to ask for more authority than he already has, and if Congress gives it to him, then the Court will not stand in his way.
…by requiring the President to go to Congress for authorization, it gives Congress an opportunity and an excuse for oversight, something which it has heretofore been rather loathe to do on its own motion. [emphasis in original]
Would that the Court really would force democracy, but that’s a fantasy. Nonetheless, Balkin makes a very important observation about putting the whole issue back in the hands of Congress. Is the issue of oversight of the “war” on “terror” something that will make the Party of Power sufficiently squeamish in an election year that they will not act to effectively reverse the Hamdan decision? Or will the Democrats be the squeamish ones, with the Party of Power holding yet another issue with which to drive home the claim of their own indispensibility in keeping us “safe”? The Court, with Hamdan, may have handed down a third decision in one week that will assist the right electorally.
Note: The link to the Balkinization post is actually a link to the blog itself, because when I tried it, the post permalink was not working.
Not only has Ukraine advanced to the FIFA World Cup quarterfinals (in a less than inspiring or encouaraging match), but Yulia Tymoshenko will soon return to the prime ministership, heading a revived ‘Orange’ coalition. That was always the only outcome that made sense, though the Party of Regions, which won the irrelevant plurality in the March elections, is not taking it well, promoting a blockade that forced the coalition deputies to meet in parliament’s movie house.
Tymoshenko will immediately face the pressing issue of the conflict with Russia over gas and is calling for a new deal that does not involve intermediary companies. Today there were protests over gas price increases that BBC reports were as big as the Orange Revolution protests of late 2004.
This ‘Dwarf Manwah’ banana stalk turned horizontal from the weight of the ripening fruit shortly before we left for Montreal. I cut it and we froze the fruit for future use (e.g. in smoothies). Excellent banana.
And this and the other bananas and assorted subtropicals must be thrilled with this week’s weather. Highly atypical for this time of year (or really, any), it has been cloudy and humid with high temperatures the last three days from 35 to 38 (a.k.a. 96 to 101) and even some showers and thunderstorms. Too bad we don’t have this kind of subtropical flow more often.
This beautiful four-year old plum tree is a Kuban burgundy. Ordered from Raintree Nursery, which obtained the variety from Abkhazia (near which there is the Kuban river), it has a quite heavy fruit set this year. Even in the larger version of the photo, the fruit is hard to see, because it is almost the same color as the foliage. It is a very high quality fruit, rather early ripening (relative to any other variety I have grown), and it keeps this foliage color all summer long. A lesser known variety that deserves to be better known!
Also ripening this past week: Flavor Delight aprium and Flavorosa pluot.
Just starting to ripen now: Newcastle apricot.
Coming very soon to a tree near me: Mesch Mesch Amrah black apricot (plumcot), Royal apricot, Weeping Santa Rosa plum and many more!
We really need to know more about the properties of hops. The following paragraph from the interview with local brewing genius, Jeff Bagby (another section of which I quoted a few days ago), is interesting:
I am a big believer in pushing style guidelines while still making a beer that is drinkable. I am starting to think that it is pretty hard to overhop a beer. There is a lot of stuff that we donâ€™t know about the actual chemical processes and physical possibilities of infusing sugar water with lupulin. There is research that has been done that indicates there are only a certain number of IBUs that you can get into a beer at a certain alcohol level. The amount of IBUs that a beer can hold goes up with the level of alcohol in the beer. Even though a lot of us donâ€™t really know a lot about hop thresholds in beer, we are experimenting with it on an art level. Itâ€™s fun but someday somebody will research and publish the science behind it. Weâ€™ll probably look back and laugh! There is a lot more experimenting to be done. The possibilities seem to be endless at this point.
The reference to lupulin (which I recognized as related to the specific name of the hop plant) sent me to Drug Digest for:
Scientific Name: Hops
Other Names: Houblon, Humulus lupulus
Who is this for?
In folk medicine, hops is best known for its calming effects. Supposedly, during the Dark Ages or earlier, individuals who worked as hops growers, collectors, or handlers were noticed to be more relaxed — even to the point of fatigue. Hops began to be used as a sedative and sleep aid. Subsequently, hops gained a reputation for being effective in treating anxiety, insomnia, restlessness, and related conditions. It is still used for sedation, often in combination with other sleep-promoting herbals such as valerian; even though little scientific evidence supports this use.
In a few small laboratory studies, chemicals in hops have demonstrated some additional activity. Humulone and lupulone, weak acid components that give hops a bitter taste, also killed bacteria or kept them from spreading. These same chemicals may help to prevent the formation of new blood vessels, potentially giving them anticancer effects. Hops may also have other protective effects against some cancers. In several small studies of laboratory cultures or animals, hops prevented different cancer types from starting, growing, or spreading. Perhaps more significantly, a chemical derived from hops has caused laboratory cultures of leukemia cells to disintegrate. Whether any of these anti-infective and anticancer effects may apply to humans has yet to be determined.
The fruit was a tad astringent, but good nonetheless. Yellow sapotes, also called canistel or eggfruit, are not juicy. Their best use is to thicken and flavor smoothies, but it is hard to make a smoothy with one little fruit (I forget to photograph the fruit before eating it, but see the above link!). So I mashed it in a bowl with a little milk and nutmeg for a tasty treat. Look very closely at the photo (or its larger version that you can see by clicking on it) and you can see that the tree is loaded with flower buds!
The tree is currently in a large pot in front of F&V HQ. On the right of the photo is another sapote, the Mamey (a favorite of mine from past fruit exploration in southern Florida and South America). It’s the tree with the arching candelabra style branches. To the left is the green sapote.
Growing subtropicals in pots till they develop a good root system is recommended, given the marginality of our climate. That way, when they reach ground, they are somewhat more mature than the 5-gallon size at which they were purchased. The pots also allow one to undertake the back-breaking but plant-saving practice of bringing them into the garage when frost is expected.
Soon, these trees will be planted–up high in Ladera Frutal’s subtropical block, where frost is unlikely and on the eastern slope to minimize exposure to ocean wind. (Can’t do much about those drying Santa Anas, other than water intensively when they are blowing, but luckily the terrain here does not favor the extreme Santa Anas of other nearby locations.)
The fruits are not all that is (sub)tropical these days. We are currently having a very rare (especially for June) ‘Monsoonal’ flow, for humid weather, variable high clouds, and even a nearby thunderstorm yesterday morning. Today the temperature was 33 (Celsius, obviously) before noon. Very odd, but a welcome respite from the usual June gloom.
The Latin names for these fruits are:
Yellow sapote–Pouteria campechiana
Green sapote–Pouteria virdis
Mamey sapote–Pouteria sapota
(There are lots of sweet tropical fruits from the Americas called ‘sapote’ and many of them are unrelated; these three happen to be from the same genus)
The preceding post on Iraq’s UIA factional balance notwithstanding, I have largely steered clear of Iraq since the halcyon days of the constitution drafting and parliamentary election. That country, and the continued lack of any meaningful debate in my own about how we extricate ourselves from the Bush-Cheney not-so-splendid and not-so-little war are just way too depressing. But, courtesy of the Pithlord, I break the silence just for a moment… (more…)
The Hill on 23 June ran an Oxford Analytica op-ed that highlights the factional balance within the alliance that obtained the plurality of seats in the Iraqi parliamentary elections, the United Iraqi Alliance.
The Alliance’s closed list had been set up prior to the election in such a way as to ensure that no one Shiite faction would have more than 20 seats. As Oxford Analytica notes:
In effect, the UIA list put off a truly democratic plebiscite [poor word choice--ed.] on the popularity of individual Shiite factions and instead represented a negotiated settlement between Shiite power blocs.
This is a reminder that proportional representation–even in a highly “extreme” version, such as Iraq’s effective nationwide PR with no legal threshold–does not preclude pre-election cooperation among separate political organizations that see advantages in not competing with one another. And the closed list ensures that such cooperating blocs not only submerge their separate identities within a broader label but also ensure adherence to their pre-election “negotiated settlement” with respect to the balance of legislative spoils.
Subsequent to the election, the Fadhila bloc and Ahmed Chalabi’s group, neither of which holds any cabinet portfolios, have split from the UIA. Fadhila does, however, control the governorate of Basra, though he is under pressure from his erstwhile UIA colleagues, who control the provincial assembly, to resign.
The article goes on to describe the main groups within the alliance and notes that the remaining groups have exhibted generally strong unity in parliament. Yet:
Beneath the surface, Shiite factions have been far less accommodating to each other, leading to increasingly violent jockeying through southern Iraq.
In other words, the “negotiated settlement” did not necessarily settle things, and the separate organizations under the UIA umbrella continue to “negotiate” by other means.
An interesting question to ponder–and I do not claim to have the answer–is whether this ongoing “negotiation” would have been less violent had the lists been open, thereby allowing the electoral value of separate organizational identities and their candidates to establish the balance within the UIA.
On 17 June, general parliamentary elections were held in Slovakia. The list of Smer (Direction) dominated the field, doubling its seats from 2002. Even so, it won just one third of the seats in the single 150-seat national district, on 29.1% of the votes. The runner up Christian Democrats (SDKÃš), whose leader Mikulas Dzurinda is the current premier, won 31 seats on 18.4%. The main Hungarian party (much of eastern Slovakia is populated by Hungarians), which is a member of the outgoing coalition, and the far-right Slovakian National Party each won 20 seats (on identical shares of the vote: 11.7%). 6.7% of the vote was cast for parties that fell below Slovakia’s various thresholds (which vary depending on whether a list represents a single party or a pre-election alliance).
Although the big gainer in votes and the leader, by far, in seats, is a party of the left that vows to “soften” the outgoing government’s economic reforms (which included a flat tax and labor-market liberalization), a coalition again based around the center-right may prove more viable given the overall distribution of seats in parliament.
Slovakia has had a volatile party system since the fall of communism, in fairly stark contrast to the Czech Republic, although that has not prevented Dzurinda from being the longest-serving current prime minister in Central Europe. The party that had won the most votes and seats (though only 36) in 2002, the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) of ex-president Vladimir Meciar, will be represented in the new parliament only in a pre-election coalition with another party, the People’s Party. The joint list obtained 8.8% of the vote and 15 seats.
The party system is so volatile that none of the leading parties in either this or the outgoing parliament ran on the same labels that contested the presidential election in 2004. (Slovakia moved to direct presidential elections in 1999, although the system is mainly parliamentary; i.e. it is a premier-presidential system.)
The Slovak Spectator reports that a civic initiative called New Roma Generation discovered that there were several cases of vote-buying in KoÅ¡ice region (in the far east, against the Ukrainian border) in which Roma voters were offered cash or goods in exhange for promises to vote for a given party list and a specific candidate within the list.
The emissaries offered Roma voters Sk100 (â‚¬2.64) and a bottle of wine if they voted for the NÃ¡dej (Hope) party, and specified a candidate on the party’s list whom they supported.
The Roma group uncovered similar incidents in the villages of Bystrany and Å½ehra (both KoÅ¡ice region), where Free Forum (SF) representatives also offered Roma voters Sk100, while an unknown SDKÃš representative – via Roma intermediaries – offered Roma voters sausages, coffee and cigarettes in the town of Krompachy (KoÅ¡ice region) if they circled his name on the SDKÃš’s candidates list.
That the allaged bribes involved the use of preference votes is interesting. Slovakia, like its Czech neighbor, uses a flexible list that is not very flexible. In fact, in research I have been doing on the use of preference votes in Slovakia, I have been unable to find a single instance in which a candidate obtained sufficient preference votes to be elected when he or she would not have been elected anyway, based on the party-given list rank. In principle, it should not require many preference votes to change a list order, given the large number of candidates on a list in a 150-seat district. However, most voters obviously do not vote on a candidate basis, and instead vote for one of the top-ranked leaders of their chosen party.
Actually, beer does not travel all that well. It is much better that the drinker do the travelling, in order to sample the best of local flavor. And travel we did, and drink we did–in Montreal, Quebec City, and Chicago from 16 to 21 June (and in San Clemente on our way home from the airport).
In Montreal, we visited two brewpubs, both outstanding.
This brewery features mostly Belgian-inspired beers, though has other styles as well. We tasted:
Fumisterie–Rousse Ale Chanvre 5%. The brewmaster’s notes (French only, so I may have missed some subtlety in the description) says this is a mix of British pale and German alt styles. It was very smooth with a good bitter finish. Very well balanced.
BiÃ¨re du Mai–Ale aux conifÃ¨res 5%. It is what its name says: it is brewed in a Belgian May beer style and contains conifers (I assume spruce). You definitely taste the forest. Very long sprucy finish. It may sound weird, and I suppose it was. But I liked it. A lot. I am not sure I would have wanted a full pint, however, but I consider myself very lucky to have tasted such an interesting and innovative blending of Belgian and Canadian flavors.
Blanche du Paradis 5%. This is a classic Belgian biÃ¨re blanche, with subtle flavors of curaÃ§Ã£o and coriander. Perfectly balanced. Had a full glass after the taster. Probably the star of the session, at least until we went for the heavy artillery for dessert (wait for it).
Vausseau des Songes IPA 6%. Not bad, not a standout. You have to love a brewery where the worst beer is an IPA that you’d be happy to drink any evening.
Rigor Mortis Blond d’Abbaye 6%. Uh, well, all I wrote down in my notebook was “I’m speechless.” This was simply mind-blowing. I have travelled to Belgium and visited the Westvleteren abbey brewery and this effort would stand up well.
Rigor Mortis ABT d’Abbaye 10%. Tastes of prunes and toffee. This brewer deserves to be a Companion in the Order of Canada.
The brewery had a couple of other items that we did not get around to tasting. I mean, the nights are only so long and the walk and metro back to Guy-Concordia is a long trip. They also had an apricot ale from one of my favorite east-coast USA breweries, Dogfish Head (appropriately known as an “extreme brewery“). I am sure it was great–a “fruit beer for hopheads“–but alas I missed out. Dieu du Ciel also has food, supposedly just snacks, but these snacks are hearty enough to serve as a full meal and complement the beer very well. The brewing lineup apparently changes often, as the 21 June listing on the website shows several new offerings that we missed (including the IPA on cask, a sour wheat beer with raspberries, a smoked ale, and a barleywine aged one year in keg, while the BiÃ¨re du Mai and some others that we tasted are no longer on).
This brewery features mostly Central and Northern European styles, with some British thrown in for good measure. All expertly done, though the porter was a bit disappointing. (But you have to love a brewery where the worst beer is a porter you would be happy to drink on any given evening.)
The stars of the session (OK, sessions) were their Odense Porter and Imperial Stout. The Odense is a Baltic porter; that is, a dark and intensely malty and somewhat viscous lager. I have never encountered this style at a brewpub before, normally having to content myself to bottled products from Okocim (perhaps the classic Baltic porter for its rather extreme viscosity and chocolate-malt flavor), Zywiec (better balanced than the Okocim, though not necessarily better overall, and apparently no longer brewed), Utenos (an excellent version from Lithuania) and various others from Baltic countries. (In 1994 we encountered Okocim on tap at a place on Krakow’s main square, but in 2005 we could not find it anywhere.) OK, back to Montreal. I take my hat off to any brewer who can master this rare style, and this one can. It was right up there with the best from the Baltic region.
The imperial stout was one of the very best of the style I have ever had. It was like drinking a rich chocolate dessert, and it was the perfect second dessert after the homemade mango and coconut sorbets at Le Piton de la Fournaise (see our main Montreal trip report).
L’Amere Ã Borire also had a Czech dark lager, another variety I have never seen at a North American brewpub that I can recall. It was not exactly U Fleku, but it was excellent.
The brewery website indicates fourteen styles on a “flavours circle” but there were “only” about half that many when we visited.
We did a one-night stopover to see one of Merry’s college friends from their Wayne State days. She now lives and works near O’Hare and was kind enough to pick us up and be our beer chauffeur for the evening.
First stop was Goose Island Wrigleyville. I’ve wanted to go to the Goose for a long time, and while I still have not been to the original on Clybourn, at least I have gotten Goosed now. We tasted:
World Cup Ale 5.7% on cask. This was probably the star of the session. The brewery describes it as having “a slightly sweet malt character â€“ due in part to the addition of toasted applewood chips in the bright tank.” It is dry-hopped generously with Centennial and could be classified as an IPA.
Honker’s Ale 4.3%. This is perhaps their signature beer. Very good, not spectacular.
Nut Brown Ale 4.5%. A very good nut brown, though never a favorite style of mine and could not stand up to the session competition.
Fat Goose 4.8%. Very nice amber.
Matilda 6.9%. A very serious rival to the World Cup for the honor of best of session. This is a Belgian-style strong ale with a special yeast strain and Styrian Golding and “an abundance of Saaz hops.” A real Belgian strong ale would not be this hoppy. And no, that was not a complaint. You have to love a brewer with this kind of sense of advanture! Matilda is one of a series of specialty seasonal beers that are available at the brewery for purchase in bottles (in addition to their regularly distributed bottled lineup), so I took one home.
Unfortunately, they were out of the Dead Goat Porter, which was brewed to “help break the curse on the Cubs” (apparently without success).
By reputation, this just may be the best place in all of Chicago for the beer lover. (Rated #5 in the country at BA, near in rank to several others I know and love: Toronado, Papago, and O’Brien’s). Reputation deserved. We tasted:
Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel 9%. Wow, this is one of the most interesting ‘crossover’ beers I have had in a long time. It is what its name says: a mix of Belgian triple and double IPA styles, and while its level of hoppiness was not anywhere near a typical American double IPA, it had all the fruity and complex flavors you would expect from a classic Belgian brewer and much more intense hop character than anything I tasted in Belgium. This was simply a sensational beer, with perfect balance.
Bell’s Two Hearted Ale (6%) on cask. Oh my!!! I have had the pleaure of this IPA in bottles a few times (not available on the West coast), but it is just mind-blowing under cask-conditioning. Hoppy and smooth. What a combination! The brewery describes the beer as having “an incredible floral hop aroma” and that is no exaggeration. The bartender set it down nearly a foot from where I was standing at the bar and I could immediately smell the hops.
60 Minute IPA. From the previously mentioned Dogfish Head. Hard though it may be to believe, this was probably the star of the session, and it is not as though it had weak competition.
And the various maps that cover all the walls and the geographic-oriented reading material in the copious bookshelves give this place a nice touch in addition to the beer. (They could perhaps turn down the music just a touch, however.)
Returning home via San Clemente
Surely, you did not think we were done, did you? We arrived back at Orange County airport at around 8:00 p.m. and it just happened to be wing night at Pizza Port San Clemente. And, would you believe it? They had Old Viscosity “black barleywine” on tap!! The link refers to brewer Jeff Bagby of Oggi’s, but he left that establishment some time ago and now brews fulltime for the Ports, though he had already been doing so parttime for a while. You have to love a brewer whose philosophy is “I donâ€™t think there is really anything you can do too much of with hops.” In the interview, from 2004, he says about OV:
We wanted to make it strong (12% or upwards) and make something that wasnâ€™t so much of an imperial stout, but black in color. It had a nice hop aroma and fairly nice hop character, but not a bunch of roasted malt or astringency. I think we did an ok job. Iâ€™ve described the beer as a cross between an imperial stout and a barleywine because it has such a high alcohol feel and a barleywineâ€™s mouthfeel and somewhat of a hop character. I wish there was more hop character in that beer. The last bottle I opened was still pretty nice. The beer seems to be different almost every time I taste it. What the hell kind of style it actually is I donâ€™t know. I would love to brew it again.
(As with nearly all photos posted at F&V, you may click the image to open a new window with a larger photo; you may also view our full set of Montreal photos.)
It was too short a trip and I will have to go back soon, but even on a short visit (which also included a really short sidetrip to Quebec City) it is obvious that Montreal has zoomed near the top of my list of favorite cities (along with, in alpha. order, London, Paris, Prague, San Francisco, Toronto, Vancouver…).
Montreal is a great city for walking around and viewing varied and beautiful architecture. The city is loaded with great restaurants (about which more below), has a few world-class microbreweries (about which more in a separate planting), and some fascinating museums (of which the Archaeology and Ramezay are especially notable).
I am a fan of Moshe Safdie’s work,* and the above photo shows his famous Habitat ’67, built for the Expo of that year on a peninsula in Montreal’s harbor.
I doubt there are very many cities where one could dine on Tibetan, Uighur, and Reunonaise cuisine. All these meals (as well as the unforgettable evening sponsored by the conference organizers at La Prunelle) were scrumptuous. I have seen a Tibetan restaurant in San Francisco, and we have always talked about going, but it is far out on Lombard and we are usually in the city without a car. We spotted this one in Montreal while walking down St. Denis on our way to one of the breweries (Lâ€™AmÃ¨re Ã Boire, on which more in a separate post), and for one of the very few times in my life I immediately decided on a detour to a non-beer restaurant while on my way to a brewpub. We were glad we did. As one might expect, the food (or at least the items we sampled) reflect the geographic location, combining some northern Indian elements (yogurt-based sauces) and Chinese elements (e.g. dumplings).
The next day we headed out to an Indonesian restaurant that was indicated in our guidebook. (We often go to an Indonesian restaurant in London or San Francisco when we are in those cities.) The restaurant apparently no longer exists at that location. However, a block away on St. Laurent was the arch for Chinatown, so we decided to see what we could find there.
High on a building I noticed a sign that said Cuisine Uighur. The Uighurs are the Muslim Turkic people of China’s western Xinjiang province, and, as with the Tibetan, the Uighur foods reflect the geographic crossroads–in this case Turkish influence (lamb kabobs and the like) as well as Chinese (more, but very different, dumplings). The experience also provided me more evidence of the Central Asian origin of foods we think of as Italian, as what I ordered looked for all the world like a pizza, made of a nutty and delightfully chewy bread (perhaps a cousin of nan), on which there was some tender stewed and spiced mutton (on the bone).
Then, just around the corner from this very interesting building at St. Hubert and Duluth, we had dinner the last night at Le Potin de la Fournaise.
(The reader with the keen eye will note the truck bearing the logo of a Quebecois beer, though not one I tried, as I do not need to go to Quebec to have an “American-style lager.”)
Named after a Kilauea-like volcano on the island of Reunion (an Overseas Department of France in the Indian Ocean), the restaurant introduces its diners to the amazingly exotic flavors of that island–a real Creole mix of indigenous, Indian, East African, and French influence that is a treat for the taste buds and eyes.
Wow, what a city!
[Too bad I did not know of the Montreal Food Blog before we left, but as you can see here, we did OK.]
And, as I have alluded to several times, the beer was great, too. However, I will put that in a separate planting, as we also stopped over in Chicago and sampled a fair number of beers there before returning home. It this makes more sense to discuss the beers of the trip together. (At least it makes sense to me, and whose blog is it, after all?)
Our time in Quebec City was far, far too short. It is a charming and beautiful city, with its full fortifications intact. There is quite literally nothing like it in North America, and when there it is almost hard to believe you are not in Europe. It is very touristy (for a good reason) but fortunately we were there well ahead of the peak tourist season, so no crowds were over-running the place.
Oh, by the way, the conference was really good, too!
* Which includes the recently built campus of Eleanor Rossevelt College at UCSD, just outside my office, and in which I played the tiniest of roles as a member of the Building Advisory Committee and got to meet Safdie.
If by my laws you walk, and my commands you keep, and observe them,
then I will give-forth your rains in their set-time,
so that the earth gives-forth its yield
and the trees of the field give-forth their fruit.
--Vayikra 26: 3-4