Craft Beer, Fine Wine, Artisan Spirits, and Mouthgasmic Food.

Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 Great American Beer Festival Media Lunch

One of the highlights of the Great American Beer Festival is the media lunch.  It is also a great time for other writers to convene and discuss the beer scene.  This year's lunch did not disappoint. 

The lunch started off with a butternut squash and poblano chili bisque and ciabatta coca cardona cheese bit.  It was paired with the Flagstaff IPA made by Lumberyard Brewing Company.  This was probably the best butternut squash bisque I've had. 

The intermezzo was pickled pear granita served in neat little push pops. 

The tart and sweet pear was a great palate teaser. 

Next up were the two beers paired with the main course: Local Species by Blue Mountain Brewery and Face Down Brown by Telluride Brewing

The main course was a boneless short rib braised in Breckenridge vanilla porter, rosemary olive oil mashed potato, and applewood smoked bacon and brussels sprouts. 

The meat was wonderfully tender and flavorful.  This is one of the best lunches yet!

The last course was the milk chocolate pumpkin mousse cake with cider apples.  It was a well executed dessert, and paired with The Great Pumpkin by Elysian Brewing

Most of the time, I would say that size doesn't matter most of the time, but it does with this GREAT Pumpkin.  Oh yes, it was also a great beer. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Noble Pig Peruvian Dinner Photo Post

Here's a photo post from Dec. 2012.  If you haven't been to a dinner tasting at Noble Sandwiches, you are missing out!  These photos are from the the Peruvian dinner.  Enjoy the photo food porn, and enjoy the holidays!

Yep.  THAT dude. 

2013 Great American Beer Festival Tour of Denver - Source, Crooked Stave, and Black Shirt Brewing

On our tour of Denver during GABF, we stopped at Source, home of Crooked Stave Brewery.  The space was very, very impressive with an interesting artisan tucked into every corner.  Here's some views of what was inside. 

A Crooked Stave staff member had this awesome tee. 

We did some fun tasting in between exploring Source. 

One of the most interesting design aspects of this venue are the "walls."  The metal bars look industrial chic with a touch of color in blocky text.  Instead of the name of the businesses on the wall, it simply says the what you will find in that store. 

See?  Liquor. 

Along with tacos, coffee, cheese, design, art, and the brewery.

Here's the inside of the cheese mart. 

And the CapRock Distillery who serves a lovely gin. 

I thought it was funny that the maximum occupancy was 82 for behind the tiny bar. 

Before going to Source, we visited Black Shirt Brewing.  They are a new brewpub who produces red beers! 

Aside from good beer, the classes and beer serving contraptions are really awesome.  Lift with the handle, and you can carry around eight glasses. 

And large glass was particularly neat.  I can't speak to whether or not it does anything to enhance the aroma of the beverage within, but it looks neat nonetheless. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Samuel Adam's Cold Snap and the Longshot Contest

Samuel Adams throws an awesome brunch every year.  It is one of my favorite parties during GABF which includes the Longshot contest winner announcement, new beer announcement, and a menu of fantastic beer items. 

This year's highlight was the seasonal cold snap - a crisp beer flavored with subtle spices.  I really enjoyed this beer, and it is one of my favorite Sam Adams beers. It is set to come out in early January 2014, so it won't be long!

I have a confession to make about this brunch.  The creme brulee pumpkin French Toast (tiny piece at 4 pm in the photo below) was the highlight of the event.  It was just slightly crispy on the outside with a golden brown and delicious crust.  The inside was rich, creamy, and pumpkin-y.  That is why my jeans don't fit. 

Even with all the other delicious treats, the only one I can think about is the pumpkin creme brulee French toast. 

Here's the Longshot finalist beers. 

And the Longshot winners!

Monday, December 9, 2013

2013 Great American Beer Festival Snapshots

With the 2013 GABF behind us, here's some snapshots of what went down......... You'll want to try to make it next year.

Before we move onto some fun photos, here's 2013 GABF winners from Texas!  Congrats to all of them for a job well done.

Gold Cedar Creek Belgian Style Dubbel Cedar Creek Brewery Belgian-Style Abbey Ale
Bronze Atrial Rubicite Jester King Brewery Belgian-Style Lambic or Sour Ale
Bronze Blind Jake Pinthouse Pizza Brown Porter
Gold Public Ale Community Beer Co. Extra Special Bitter
Silver Brewers Cut Altbier Real Ale Brewing Co. German-Style Altbier
Gold Black Thunder Austin Beerworks German-Style Schwarzbier
Bronze Saint Arnold Weedwacker Saint Arnold Brewing Co. German-Style Wheat Ale
Gold Bitterama Namaste Brewing at the Whip In Herb and Spice Beer
Bronze Elba Black Star Co-op Pub and Brewery Herb and Spice Beer
Silver Saint Arnold Summer Pils Saint Arnold Brewing Co. Munich-Style Helles

Did you know that the fabulous Sebbie Buhler from Rogue has a brother who brews too?  Dave Buhler is from Elysian Brewing Company!

This is a pretty funny picture: Three John's.  John Knox of HopSafari / WindAddict, John Palmer author of How to Brew, and John Holl from the Craft Beer Cookbook. 

I don't know these guys personally, but a good friend bought my a bottle of their beer from Portland.  Cheers, @EvilGenius12!

I don't know this guy either, but he has a turkey leg around his neck.  YES!  A turkey leg around his neck.  He is my new hero. 

Donuts in the food pairing session.  Yes.  Please. 

And this was an awesome beer by Stone

Part of the typical GABF fun are the parties that happen alongside the festival.  There are tons and tons of events, and there are also some more private events - like this one by 21st Amendment. 

Or the primate in the space suit.  Ironically, GABF was happening during the government shutdown. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Flip Burger in Atlanta

During a recent visit to Atlanta, I stopped by Flip Burger on the recommendation of Peter Tsai.  I saw foie gras shakes on the menu, and their milkshakes are made with liquid nitrogen.  That was enough to intrigue me.  The shake was interesting for sure, but it wasn't drastically different from other shakes aside from the liquid nitrogen smoke on the top.  The mild flavor and richness of foie was satisfying, but not wild.  It is something to try once. 

For my solid foods, I order the burger trio with fries.  My favorite burger was the fried chicken burger and the fries.  The other two were tasty, but I'd probably only order the chicken burger again.  With fries.  The fries are in the top 5 of best fries I've ever had. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Farmhaus in St. Louis

If there was a lunch spot like Farmhaus, I would by giddy with joy.  I didn't get to try Farmhaus for dinner, but I was able to try it on Monday's lunch.  Lunches are a set menu - for a very accessible price of $10, you get to a salad, main course, and tea.

That's right. For $10 you get an extraordinary lunch.  I wanted to visit Farmhaus several more times while I was in St. Louis, but alas, my schedule didn't allow it.

So here it is, my only meal at Farmhaus.  It started with a delicious spinach salad with a sweet onion dressing that made me reconsider my stance on salads.  I don't often have cravings for salads, but this one was darn good.  The dressing was amazing that I asked for the recipe to make at home. 

In addition to the preset lunch menu, I ordered an appetizer of porchetta slider.  It was topped with house made kimchee.  The luscious savory fat of the pork belly melted into the fluffy steamed bun topped with crunchy, tangy kimchee.  Ohhhhhh yes! 

The main course was fried chicken, mac and cheese, and mashed taters.  The chicken had familiar flavor quality that I couldn't quite put my finger on.  It reminded me of having fried chicken at a friend's house as a kid.  It was perfectly crispy, perfectly seasoned, and satisfying.  The sides were really fantastic.  They were well executed, had a subtle gourmet flair, yet they weren't over done. 

Last was the dessert - a baked peach dessert.  The dessert menu wasn't printed so I don't remember the exact name.  What I do remember and will recommend is to enjoy it!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Dad's Cookies in St. Louis

During my trip in St. Louis, we had a little meet up.  It was just a little meet up with beer, wine, and snacks.  I decided to pick up some desserts for the week.  A quick search on the Interwebs reveals a place called Dad's Cookies.  When I first drove by, I nearly missed it as it is located in a residential area. 

Dad's Cookies has been around since 1938, and they sell by the pound.  The cookies are kept in giant bins.  You order your desired amount by weight, and they are weighed out on an old fashioned scale. 

A large part of the charm of this place is the scale, and the history.  The owners also mentioned that these were the original recipes (made with lard).  The original recipes were created prior to the ice boxes being widely accessible. 

I purchased several flavors including the Scotch Oatmeal, Peanut Butter, Double Chocolate, and Chocolate Chip.  The cookies weren't crazy flavors, but good and old fashioned - perfect for a gathering. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Pastaria in St. Louis

One of the delightful things I learned about St. Louis was that their food community was blossoming strong.  The chefs are close with each other, and they have the "rising tides lifts all ships" mentality.  It made me feel, amazingly, like I was home in Austin.  Pastaria, Farmhaus, and Libertine are some of the newer restaurants pushing their community forward.

When I was glancing at the menus, I saw this raspberry black pepper soda.  I've been intrigued with the idea of black pepper in sweet offerings.  This drink had just a bit of berry tang and zing of black pepper with the pop of carbonation.  This is something to would have paired well with a sandy beach and warm sun. 

I saw the chicken ramen on the menu, and I had to try it.  The parmesan broth was intense with flavor, but not overly salty.  The well-executed chicken was well-balanced against the broth and springy noodles. 
My favorite part was the egg.  I've been fascinated with poached, sous vide, or fried; I love eggs with the runny yolks.  I am a bit (actually very) sad that I only got to try one dish.  However, it was my second lunch for the day, and I needed to save some stomach space.  I hope to visit Pastaria during my next trek to St. Louis. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Yuji Ramen in New York City

I recently took a trip to New York City - one that was right around 24 hours long from touch down to take off.  Even in my short time frame, I was able to stuff myself silly.  When I got there, who else but Pichet Ong took me for an eating adventure of the Big Apple.

Yuji Ramen, owned by Yuji Haraguhi, was one place that he insisted on.  He didn't just suggest it.  He insisted.  So off we went to Whole Foods on Houston Street.  Yuji was supposed to be a rotating pop-up on the second floor of this Whole Foods.  But I guess they became so popular that at they stayed.

Here's another write up of Yuji Ramen by Serious Eats.

Something you might find curious about Yuji is that he didn't eat ramen growing up.  It wasn't a part of his comfort food or college food for that matter.  As a result, he says that his ramen is unique and different because he doesn't have an ideal ramen that he's trying to emulate or replicate.

Yuji's history starts with an education in business and then sales at a seafood supplier.  He has no official culinary training so he says, with a shy grin.  I have a plethora of respect for those in the culinary arts who learned it on the job or out of passion - and you can taste that passion.

While we were there, admiring fans would come by for a bowl and smile cheerfully at him.  He's pretty darn lucky as I saw many, many young women exploding with giddiness at the counter.  Oh, what is it like to be a Ramen God? 

The first dish I ordered was the salmon and cheese mazeman (ramen with little to no soup) - a pretty amazing dish.  The goal of his seafood offerings is to "showcase seafood through ramen."  And he hit the nail on the head with this one.  The cured salmon is sweet, savory, and has the flavor of the sea.  The texture was tender yet had structure that said "someone took great care of me!" 

I can't really find words to explain the flavor of this dish.  I can only describe it as a mashup of subtle gastronomy on a bed of noodles.  You just need to try it.  And then you'll understand my inability to describe it.  

The second dish I got was the daily special, a clear fish broth that was beautifully clear and flavorful.  This dish does have the comfort feel of soups that my mother made, and the careful execution that would can impress even the pickiest of ramen connoisseurs.  If I'm back in New York, I'd definitely visit Yuji Ramen again!