Friday, September 14, 2012

Hot and tasty way to begin a memorable meal

Let’s forget about all the wondrous high-tech stuff I came across on my recent visit to Indianapolis and focus on the really important stuff – food! Specifically, I’m thinking about the shrimp dish that burned its way into my life at a well-known and happening eatery, St. Elmo Steak House.

Josh, my son-in-law and high-tech guru extraordinaire, suggested we begin our adventure in Indy by scarfing down as much protein as possible, an energy boost to help us work our way through the high-tech expo that spilled across the city’s convention center last week. He had visited St. Elmo’s a year earlier and had only good things to say about the restaurant. It’s in the heart of the city, conveniently located on the same spot it’s called home for the last century or so.
Timing was the only problem. Turns out lots of folks had the same idea we did and the only available reservations were either in the late afternoon or after 9 p.m., an hour when I’m thinking more about slipping off to bed then digging into a juicy hunk of steak!  But, hey, I’m nothing if not flexible when it comes to food.

And so it was that we pushed our way into the restaurant as the moon hung heavily on the horizon. The place was filled with patrons, good cheer and the savory smell of cooking beef. We had to wait only a few moments before being summoned, seated and watered! The menu was presented and featured, well, beef – New York Strip, Filet Mignon, Porterhouse, Ribeye, Prime Rib; you know, all the usual stuff!
The usual stuff also means a shrimp cocktail, the ubiquitous item at steak houses that, occasionally, sets the tone for the meal and defines the experience. That’s certainly the case at St. Elmo’s! I did mention this was a fiery happening, right? I’ll explain.

The cocktail is a euphonic blend of huge shrimp deeply buried in a creamy sauce that has the texture of rich mustard and the color of a fine rosé. It packs a wallop! Only the uninitiated – that would be me – spear the shrimpy meat, slather it with sauce and bite away. I found out it bites back!
The experience will be lingering in my mind for years, a fiery rush that spilled through my nose and spread across my sinuses. It had me leaning back in my chair; eyes shut tight, beads of sweat popping out over my brow and noggin. Oh, it was also tasty!

It turns out the cocktail’s creamy sauce is a mixture of fresh horseradish, a splash of tomato sauce for flavor and color, more horseradish and, just to provide an added punch, a bit more horseradish. Apparently, the chefs at St. Elmo adhere to the ancient Talmudic belief that you can never be too rich, too thin or use too much hot stuff when preparing sauce for its signature item. Go figure!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

CEDIA Expo: Woofers, tweeters and high-tech racks!

I’ve just returned from a huge AV expo in Indianapolis and can now reveal that I’ve gotten an up close and personal look at the future. I’m not at all certain what I’ve seen, but I think I can report that it’s pretty darn impressive and headed in our direction.

The price of admission was simply being willing to leave my comfy home in the Land of Cotton and travel to Indiana with my son-in-law Josh to something called the CEDIA Expo, a massive trade show featuring 400 exhibitors from around the world focusing on hot and new stuff for the home automation market.
Josh, fortunately, speaks the lingo and helped me understand all the magical new products that will be spilling onto the market in coming months. For instance, a major manufacturer of entertainment systems and other such stuff, and a high-tech outfit that manufactures, ah, high-tech control systems, offered me all the free booze I wanted before announcing they’ve partnered up on a new audio video receiver featuring a complete home automation system. I’m thinking this is a good thing!

At a lavish, pre-expo gathering, honchoes from the two companies explained that the STR-DA5800ES and STR-DA2800ES both contain the full software suite offered up by one group and differ only by their levels of AV performance. I haven’t a clue what any of that means. Meanwhile, I also learned that the 5800, the ultimate home theater, will feature 180 watts per channel, 9.2 channels, wideband amplification, a new circuit board grounding system and new DSP technology. Fortunately, I also learned that there were brownies and lemon squares for dessert and that the open bar would, ah, remain open after the presentation!
After a good night’s rest, Josh and I joined with a few thousand other AV specialists from across the country, and were greeted at the doors of the convention center by a bevy of really tall women in really tight dresses showing off their woofers and tweeters! They, and a bunch of guys in color-coordinated polo shirts, also showed off the latest in flat screen TVs, speakers, control pads, home entertainment systems, remote control units, keypads, touch screens, home control eco-systems, projectors and dimmers. That pretty much got us through the first of a dozen or so showrooms! I did mention there was booze, right?

On the last evening of the show I started to believe that I could understand some of the high-tech talk that was spilling about me. For instance, I learned that Xantech (I’m not making this up) was planning to introduce Xtranet, its next generation of wired and wireless products for integration into commercial and home AV systems. I actually understood the words wireless and commercial in that annoucement. Truth to tell, I was just happy to hang out with the tall babes at the free bars. As I recall, we spent most of our time chatting about their new, easy to mount racks!