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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Oktoberfest - Playoffs conclusions

the results were a little disappointing (sorry for the delay in post).  H-P, Ayinger, Paulaner kicked American behind.

WINNER - Ayinger (somewhat surprising)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Oktoberfest - Playoffs

Here are the brackets:

(1) Hacker-Pschorr___
  (6) Chelsea Fest____|------------------------|

(3) Ayinger________ ____________
(4) Blue Point______|--------|
  (5) Weyerbacher____
(2) Paulaner_______|--------|

Note (1) and (2) didn't have to play in...

O'fest - final bracket (test 4)

Tonight's test was among the two remaining beers in the play-in round - Victory Festbier and Blue Point Oktoberfest.  I was expecting a Victory triumph. A route perhaps of epic proportions and I was WRONG!
Blue Point was the better beer.  I even put a little Cabot Clothbound Cheddar (btw, have you had this cheese?) between tastes and still Blue Point in a upset ROUTE!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Oktoberfest - test (part 3)

Test 3 had two draft beers face-off.

In one corner (and during the first quarter) was ROGUE Oktoberfest.  In the other (second quarter) was CHELSEA Festbier.  One coming all the way from OREGON. The other comes from just over the river.

Well, both were pretty boring.  I felt like the Rogue impersonated some of the massive German breweries and their move to a lighter color, lighter flavor Marzen.  It was pretty bad.  Rogue - we were having such a good run with the XS, Dead Guy Ale, & Tracktown 100 Meter.

Chelsea Festbier is a middler!  It's painfully average.

Winner - Chelsea Festbier

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Tomato Soup

In the northeast, this is the time of the year for tomato soup to shine.  The red, ripe beefsteaks that remain are firm, but fully developed.

So this Sunday was a take on a recipe from the esteemed Deborah Madison.  I liked the recipe because it called for 4 things: butter, good tomatoes, shallots, & salt.

  1. Peel & finely slice 10 shallots
  2. Cut along the equator - 3 pounds tomatoes
  3. Squeeze out seeds
  4. Rough chop tomatoes
  5. Melt 1/2 stick of butter in pot
  6. Add shallots at medium low heat for 10 to 15 minutes - do not allow to burn
  7. Add salt
  8. Add tomatoes and turn up heat
  9. Add salt
  10. Simmer for 30 minutes
  11. Puree in food processor and serve with bread

It was pretty tasty.  She called for a food mill (for which i have none) and that would have solved getting the occasional skin in my mouth - the only problem with this soup.  Otherwise, pretty tremendous.

Oktoberfest - test (part 2)

Test 2

Stoudt's Oktoberfest versus Ayinger Oktoberfest. Usually, I love the beers from Adamstown, PA.  Stoudt's does a pretty fantastic job on all beers.  And this one is good, but not special.

Tasting next to Ayinger's lager, it felt acrid and thin.  Ayinger (not one of the six breweries selling beer in Munich during Oktoberfest) makes a balanced, malty, thick beer that is a fast 16.9 ounces of goodness!  

Winner - Ayinger by a landslide

Oktoberfest - test (part 1)

I figured it may be enjoyable to test some of the Oktoberfest beers I find against each other. Knowing I can't (or shouldn't) be drinking 8 or 9 in an evening. I'm moving along in a bracket method - beer versus beer.

Test 1
Weyerbacher Autumn Fest versus Geary's Autumn Ale. Ok, problem here - Geary's isn't a lager so this isn't a good test.

I proceeded anyway.  Well, the Geary's was terrible.  Ever want to like something, but you just can't.  That's me and Geary's.  No matter the beer - I find it terrible.

Winner - Weyerbacher. But this is one of their lower-quality beers.  It's a win, but not a good one.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


so due to my increased robustness, i needed 2 new suits.  Why shopping for the suits, I started to ask the salesman about suits made in the US and if there was a discernible quality difference.

After a 20 minute monologue, he said that until this year, all suits made in China were terrible.  The suits made in Italy were a mixed bag, but the suits MADE IN THE USA were always "completed properly."  I learned that term to mean the stitch-work was excellent.  Why bring this up?

Well, local is in the eye of the beholder.  I want local basil to have sprouted within 100 miles. But, I consider a USA made (in my case Rochester, NY & Chicago, IL) suit local.

then all homebrew is local

yeah, that's right. beer is 92+% water and so if you use your tap, then homebrew is LOCAL.

P E S T O - pesto, pesto, pesto!

is it really local when the nuts come from CHINA (hey, even if the package says Italy, bet on China), the cheese from ITALY, the olive oil from SPAIN, & salt from MAINE.

well the basil is from JERSEY.  I would not call pesto localvore.  To me, the end product must be 75% (by weight) local.

Monday, September 8, 2008

home as brewery

It's been awhile since I brewed. And to be honest, my last two beers were not worthy of sharing. I think I'm cleaning the primary fermenter and brew kettle too much. The faint scent of chlorine ends up ringing out in the end product, along with way too much head.

So I returned to the first beer style I ever homebrewed, but raised the ante. It's not the most amazing, dynamic, earth-shattering beer. The batch won't be a Saison Tripel IPA. Just good old-fashioned ALE. I did tweak the aroma hops and tried to give the batch a bit more punch.

The batch should begin active fermentation around this time tomorrow. Until then, my apartment smells sweet like malted barley.

Monday - Solid beer, bad name...

I never understood why Dogfish named their Pumpkin Ale, Punkin' Ale. Doesn't it sound stupid? It does. Disagree? let's hear it. Anyhow, that was the big beverage for Monday.

It's actually delicious. I don't get any brown sugar or pumpkin. I smell a bit of spices, but can't make it out to be cinnamom. But the maltiness and crispness of this beer make it an idea session ale (in the American sense that a 7% ABV could be session-worthy). And it would accompany most meals nicely.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Found what? not a liking for this beer

A friend recently relocated to New Jersey.  Yes, some people do this (from Beer Capital of the Northeast - Williamsburg - Brooklyn).  Anyhow, one perk, maybe the only perk is he has access to Founder's Brewing, from Grand Rapids, MI.  As I know, one of the cult beer makers well sought after throughout the land. 

Anyhow, it's not local to me, but I'm including the Founder's he provided in the big week.  Sunday brought out Red's Rye.  To me, this is an unbalanced beer with a thin, white head.   It's bitter but not bitter enough to make you feel like "wow, this is hoppy bitter."  It's malty, but not a malt bomb that makes you chew on each sip.  Just disappointing.

Saturday - welcome my old friend...

There are two defining beers that brought me to love beer. Sure, I drank plenty during high school and some during college.  By senior year of college, we were fixtures every Thursday at Raleigh's.  One Thursday, they poured Pyramid Hefeweizen.  This is enough years ago that, Pyramid was making excellent, excellent beers.  I was in awe and drank about 10 of these. 

Anyhow, what was does that have to do with Saturday?  I returned to Brooklyner Weisse, which I drink about once per year and is the only Brooklyn "core brand" beer I enjoy.  So...

It pours with an amazing, big, aromatic head.   The flavors open up as is warms a bit - citrus, malt, and just crisp.  Every sip begs more food (local corn with a sandwich) and every bite begs another sip.  Just delicious.  See you next year.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Thursday - What happened.

sadly, there was no ale on Thursday.  i failed you.

Friday - Hopfen Magic!

Brooklyn Brewery and G. Schneider released a collaborative beer for the second straight summer - Hopfen Weisse.  It's a hoppy wheat ale that pours with an amazing head and not too strong of a lemon/citrus nose.  That lemon aroma is what bothers me in many renditions of weisse.  I feel like it's taken over!  

Well, this ale is magic. It went perfectly with leftover pepper+corn chowder.  I enjoyed the last bits - at room temperature - as much as the beginning. The beer has a perfect level of carbonation as well - enough to cleanse the palate but not too much to fill the belly.

Too bad I'm a fast drinker and this 16.9 oz beer is $6!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

roasted bell peppers rule

Is there anything that a roasted bell pepper doesn't improve?  The local bell peppers are in and are fantastic.  Usually, our home is swimming in bell pepper and corn chowder (a vegan dish no less).  But as good as the bell peppers are this year; the corn is pretty terrible.  Our favorite corn farmer stopped coming to the Saturday GAP farmer's market (he couldn't deal with the Greenmarket politics supposedly) and now the only farmer we trust has so little that it's picked over by 9am!  

Anyone got great corn?  Bring it over and we'll make beautiful chowder.  and if you post a comment, you'll get a copy of the recipe - free of charge!  that's right!  hard to believe, no?

Wednesday beer - I'm a what? Marron? Same to you!

Palo Santo is some bizarre and exotic wood from Paraguay.  Sourcing some exotic wood from South America and creating massive brewing vessels is definitely not a localvore best practice.

This is a massive beer. The label says 12%, but I would guess it's higher than that.  I can't quite give you a sense of the flavors here.  To me, it's a bit like someone added smokey bourbon to a nice brown ale (like this one).  I like bourbon and brown ale, not the combination. 

note to self: eat a big meal before consuming this beer
note to self2: it doesn't really help to eat a big meal

Tuesday Beer - Chateau Jiahu ('07)

Jiahu cellared in my basement for twelve months.  At six months, the beer tasted off and cloyingly sweet.  At twelve months, the bottle I consumed was malty, sweet, and Mead-y.  I love a good mead, so that's a positive. But, like so many Dogfish beers, it's just too boozy for me to really enjoy with anything.  The alcohol overwhelmed the green chili I made (with local peppers, onions, chicken and garlic).  I saved a bit to enjoy with local peaches, but that also was a poor pairing.

Monday Beer - SLAM HUH-KEL?

Weyerbacher is bringing some very interesting beers to market.  I've been a fan of the Merry Monks and Quad (the only Trippel/Quadrupel duo I enjoy).

So when news got out about the Slam Dunkel, I asked the co-op beer manager to order a case.  The beer doesn't give a strong WHEAT flavor profile, rather has kind of a sweet, malty taste up-front, followed by a strong, boozy aftertaste.  That sounds bad but it's actually quite appealing, so long as you're not trying to compare to Aventinus.


This week, I'll explore a different local beer each evening and provide some thoughts.  I'm doing this solely for you - the reader.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Speaking to me in my sleep...

Few know that I really enjoy being semi-conscious on a Saturday morning while listening to "Speaking of Faith."  While the show covers religious topics that often don't interest me, Krista Tippett is nearly as captivating as my radio crush.  

This morning, the interview was with Barbara Kingsolver.  And the topic was about the morals and spirituality of eating local and naturally.  Mrs. Kingsolver made two excellent points that got me to perk up as I coddled the baby firestorm
  1. Our society has to yet to put a moral value on the suffering attributed to eating foods from faraway places.
  2. Until WWII, eating locally or organic was just the way of life.  In 50 years, we've allowed a few, select food companies and politicians change our perception of eating to the point where Americans don't even find an Argentine pear amazing.

It's a full hour, but the episode is extremely interesting. Kingsolver moved her entire family from the faux city of Tuscon to southwestern VA and ate only the food they could harvest or buy at the farmer's market.  They thought they would discuss going "without" but instead found themselves with abundance.

Tasting off Pilseners

So, I've dedicated June and July to Pilsener.  A few weeks back, I had a 3-lager taste-off.  I tasted Penn Kaiser Pilsner, Troegs Sunshine Pils, & Lagunitas Pils (not local).

The taste-off was a major let down.  Troegs demolished the other two.  Lagunitas was as bland as Coors (at least as I remember Coors from 1998) and Penn tasted skunky.

The next week pitted Troegs versus Brooklyn Pilsner.  A slightly closer contest but still a decidedly better lager coming from Harrisburg.  I've never been to Harrisburg, but dare I say that Troegs is probably the pride of the 'burg in 2008.

To Chris and John - well done!

Pulling mussels from a shell...

Ok, I couldn't resist that title.  A simple local meal can consist of this most delectable, inexpensive, and healthy protein.  At the farmer's market, we picked up sweet onions, mussels, local wine and a loaf of bread (probably made from Dakota flour, but baked nearby).  Simple and delectable.

We also purchased a skate wing that came out famously with the addition of Vermont butter and Capers (from Capri, ok, not local, at all).   As I walked away from the nice fisher-family, I realized we purchased the two cheapest seafoods they had and then 10 hours later and an immensely wonderful meal.  Alice Waters would be proud!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

uh-oh is it spring

Don't look now, but I'm pickling ramps, blanching asparagus, and poaching cage-free eggs!  Finally, something to believe in!

tasty pig's feet

the feet from Veritas Farm are an unquestionable success!  Well, except for a little porcine hair, they are delicious!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Art of Simple Food - meal 2

Another hit parade for Sunday dinner.  This week was all about shallow-frying.  We shallow fried pork shops and cauliflower.  Both were divine.  The recipe for the cauliflower called for making a sauce.  And that sauce was fantastic - a combination of garlic, onions, scallions, & tomato paste.

We also made a lemon tart by combining two recipes - lemon curd and pate sucree.  The lemon curd was made with 3 parts Meyer Lemon and 1 part Blood Orange.  I have to admit to never making a lemon tart before and thus was pretty anxious about it.  Will the curd set? Will the tart shell fully bake?  I realized that anxiety is the opposite of simple.  If you own the process, not the outcome, then you'll probably enjoy more journeys in life.

art of simple food - meal 1

So week one was three aces!  Braised chicken legs, pan-fried potatoes, blanched asparagus, and tangerine ice.  
The braised chicken legs needed four ingredients.  The potatoes only 2!  Each were fantastic.  The potatoes were so tasty that my 4 year old asked, "Daddy, can I have this for my birthday dinner?"

But the highlight was the tangerine ice.  I used tangelos and organic sugar.  Then each hour, we took the mixture out of the freezer and scrapped from the edges in.  After four hours, we let it freeze for four hours.  REMARKABLE.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

mixing it up by getting simple

Conventional wisdom has it that adding to your cooking repertoire requires complex technique, esoteric spices, & unique heat transfer (sous vide anyone).

That's one way, but probably a much harder way.  A friend gave us a cookbook around the holidays - "The Art of Simple Food."  I love Chez Panisse Vegetables and actually I love Chez Panisse.  I don't consider it to be the 'best' restaurant in America, but it's my favorite one.  

Anyhow, my repertoire is growing a little stale.  How many ratatouille, poulet a roti, & bolognese can one family eat?

So, as Spring begins, I'm going to make a meat, vegetable, sauce & dessert from this book each weekend.  Let's see how it goes.

something coming up...

don't look now, but the tulips are pushing out of the soil.

not too long before ramps and asparagus.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

have hoof will travel

So I need about a 1/2 dozen pig's feet in April.  Not smoked, not cured, not jellied - just raw pig's feet.  This is something you can easily find in Chinatown, but it's probably from a factory farm in Iowa or, perhaps even China.  We bought Duck eggs a year ago in Chinatown.  And after coming home saw the "product of China" label.

But thanks to Steven, I found Stephanie at Veritas Farm.  She's a short 2 hours from us and had heritage, humanely raised, pig's feet (frozen, of course).  "Um, yeah I have them but why would you want them?"

"Well, I need them for xue riezi."

"Ah, okay, Anu."

Well, nevermind, we made an agreement for the feet.  Now, I don't have a car.  Stephanie doesn't deliver to New York City.  Thank goodness for farmer's markets.  Our favorite farmer, Ray Bradley, happens to be a good friend and neighbor to Stephanie.  

Now, he'll bring the feet down to Grand Army Plaza.  And I'll pick them up.  How's that for low-carbon footprint.

more on the feet in recipes this April.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Screaming for Ice Cream

On Saturday, I decided to take the girls for an ice cream breakfast.  Questionable?  Definitely.  There's a new ice cream shop on Atlantic Avenue, Blue Marble, that specifies in farm-fresh ice cream.

What a fantastic place!
  •  Instead of the ubiquitous splenda, they offer stevia extract (necessary to sweeten iced coffee)
  • The plates and cups biodegrade in two months.
  • The proprietor offers organic, local, products.

A breakfast of champions (organic, grass-fed cream, organic eggs, sugar)!


Have you seen this in your favorite restaurant's window? This is from The Farm.  Besides a delicious lunch, this restaurant turns all that kitchen waste into fuel. 

Is that renewable?  Man's gotta have fried chicken, right?  And why not turn the waste into fuel.

Trying for a local blanket

So I wanted to purchase my cousin-in-law (originally from Hingham, with deep roots in the Ocean State) a local, warm blanket.  In a recent copy of Edible Rhody (don't ask why), I found an add for Rhody Warm Blankets.  Aha! 

So I called up the RI Resource Conservation & Development Council.  I think I got a personal home.  When inquiring about the blanket, her voice lit up.

I asked, "is this a Rhode Island product?"
She replied, "Well..."  a-ha!
She went on, "See the wool is all 100% RI and from sheep raised organically.  But because there's nobody in the northeast that scours wool.  So we send it to Minnesota.  Then, we have it shipped to Western Massachusetts. There, the wool goes through a loom.  Then, the workable wool comes back to Rhode Island and is made into a blanket."
"Hmm...  Is that really local? I guess so."
"Sir, we the best we can and oh, we're sold out. Do you want to order one for next season?"
"Uhhh, ok."

What do you think?  Local?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Beer - always a local treat

Last Saturday, I met two friends for late-night pints.  In every part of the country, people can drink locally.  I bet there isn't a person living in the lower 48 that lives more than 250 miles from a craft brewer.

At my local pub, I had myriad local choices and selected these three pints.
Chelsea Pier 59 Pale Ale - this was on cask and pure heaven.  This would be my session beer, if I drank out of the home regularly and could find this regularly.  This had all the mouthfeel I look for in a beer and then the perfect balance of hoppy bitterness, malty goodness, & refreshing crispness.  the -ness TRIFECTA.
Captain Lawrence Liquid Gold - majestic and massive.
Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye - ok, not local, but reminiscent of the massive victory in Fort Worth, Texas.