Many of you know that the our “Low Budget Review Guy” is likely to review a cadre of things…films, travel, shopping experiences, you name it, all in the name of the what usually the less expensive experience. Well, LBRG is a rum guy. Big time. So he weighs in with his latest rum review, with comment by me of course:

My latest rum project is called, “Flor De Cana”, a product of Nicaragua. Per their label, they have been making rum since 1890. This 80 proof dark rum comes marketed in years aged of 4, 5, 7, 12 and 18. I purchased the Grand Reserve 7 years. The manufacturers state their rum has won 72 international awards in the past 5 years. You never really know how accurate those statements are, but I had read a good review, so I tried it. Those that have read my previous rum reviews know that I have migrated over the years from the white, or silver rums, to the golden and/or dark rums. I have found that the darker rums have a stronger “rum” taste, and although maybe don’t mix as well with some fruit juices or for Boat Drinks, the darker rums mix great with cola or diet cola (or my current fav Cherry Coke Zero). If you find a fruit juice or party mix that blends well with the darker rums, the end product can be sensational. So, for my palate, you may have a roller coaster– some lower lows but the highs are exhilarating. This Flor de Cana is a moderate priced rum, about $20 at my local Twin Liquors. As always, first I pour a shot to sip straight, slowly because 80 proof is 80 proof. Most rums are 80 proof, but I have seen a few lower and some that are 92 proof (scary). I like to try a straight shot to actually taste the rum. It has a forceful “bite” but not overpowering. It has elements of vanilla, and a backtaste of blackberries. It caresses the tongue, slowly before a strong finish. I would not recommend it as a sipping rum. But most rums are not, nor are they distilled that way. Rums are made to mix and match, to mingle and jingle and dance the sun down. Or, in my brother’s case, to salute the sun as it comes up. Mixed with cola, this rum is very pleasant. Mixed with fruit juice, it blends well. I will try it with a party mix in a blender this weekend. In short, a pretty good, but not great, rum. A good rum value for the price. My top 3 favorite rums are still:

Plantation Grand Reserve
Goslings Black Seal

The Quest Continues….

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Low Budget Review Guy Strikes Again

On May 5, 2010, in Travel, by admin

Only this time, it is a geo review of small town Texas. Have a look:

Brenham is a town of approx 15,000 that lies 2 hrs east of Austin on Tx Hwy 290. It is a little more than halfway to Houston in the middle of very gently rolling terrain. The first thing that catches your eye is how green it is. It gets considerably more rain than Austin and the Hill Country. Coupled with a cool wet winter and spring, you notice all the stock tanks full and plants green and growing. The Brenham area was once all cotton growing, the one cash crop from early Tx independence days until the late 60’s when prices dropped. There are still cotton fields, but you are as likely to see corn, milo, soy beans as well. Also, lots of cattle and a few goats. Brenham is just a few miles from Washington-On-The-Brazos, which for you non-Texas history majors, was the cradle of Texas independence. Brenham itself is the quintessential small Texas town, with a large courthouse square (alas, the building itself looks like it was built in the 50’s, ugly, utilitarian, not like so many grand Texas courthouses built in the 19th century and preserved.) Unlike a lot of Tx towns, with empty store fronts and cracked sidewalks, Brenham’s downtown was full of shops, restaurants, stores. On Sat afternoon, almost every parking spot for two square blocks was filled. We found a restaurant which caught our eye, JT’s Longhorn Saloon and Steak House. The bar was built back in the 1880’s and was impressive, but the back bar area, with hand milled wood wainscoting and a huge mirror was a tribute to bygone days of woodworking craftsmanship. They had Shiner Bock on Draught (which I think is the law in Texas) along with 7-8 others, including Guinness. The building appeared to have the original wooden flooring and pressed tin ceiling. After a very good lunch (chicken-fried steak, thank you very much) we cruised around the town a bit before heading out to the Blue Bell Creamery. That is correct, the home of world-famous Blue Bell Ice Cream. We were there on a Saturday, so we didn’t get to take a tour of the facility, but did visit their gift shop, saw a 15 min video of the tour and then, for $1, got a huge cup of delicious Blackberry Cobbler Ice Cream. Sigh….From Ice Cream to Roses was our next destination. A few miles outside of town, we stopped at the Antique Rose Emporium. This business features not only roses from around the world but many other types of plants as well. They specialize in antique roses, versus the hybrid tea roses because antiques are hardier, need less attention, are more bug and disease resistant. Since the wife has numerous roses and was in the market for a couple of new ones (Who’d a thought, what a coincidence, huh?) to put in a new flower bed, we spent the next few hours in this large facility browsing and “discussing” which ones to get. The Emporium has a chapel, and several beautiful outside venues, surrounded by flowers, where weddings are held practically every weekend. We finally settled on some plants and rolled down the highway. Just minutes away is the town of Independence, birthplace of Baylor University. Being BU graduates, it was kinda cool to see the remains of the old school. BU moved to Waco around the late 1890’s. From Independence, we took some back roads back to Hwy 290 and home.

Most of you are aware that Texas weather, from late May to late October, can be brutal. Highs from mid 90’s to 105 and higher are normal. Winters are generally mild, except in north TX and the panhandle. But springtime, ah,springtime in Texas can be magical. With the right amount of rainfall and cool weather in the fall, and late winter early spring rains, Texas is blessed with wildflowers. Blooming anytime from usually late March through late April, the roadsides, fields, farms, are coated with Bluebonnets, Indian Paintbrush, Indian Blankets, Purple Verbena, Texas phlox, and dozens of other varieties and colors. This year was the best wildflower season I have seen in my 30+ years of living in Texas. Although it was late starting, due to a late cold snap, the volume and colors this year were spectacular. Even last weekend, the first of May, we saw fields that looked straight out of a French Impressionist portfolio. While the Hill Country gets the most publicity for Wildflowers, I recommend HWY 290 and environs. What a spectacular trip. Brenham has much to offer for a day-trip. There are wineries, lots of antique stores, a monastery that raises miniature horses, a large recreational lake a few minutes away. All that and Blue Bell, what a deal.

Well there you have it.

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