29 December 2007
I've already well established that Bell's makes a fine beer; where it particularly succeeds is in the stouts, but it doesn't fall down elsewhere. That being said, the Amber Ale - while a solid copper ale, hoppy and not too sweet - comes nowhere near the "best of breed" status enjoyed by its darker siblings. Like I said - a good beer, but given the wide variety of amber ales and ESBs out there, not an essential element of your pantry.
27 December 2007
From the annals of strange explanation text, Bell's Winter White Ale says of itself, "A seasonally nuanced wheat ale that is both stylish and refreshing." I'm not sure what that means, but it is a refreshing beer. It's got a little more of a kick than, e.g., Hoegaarden (unsurprising - it is a winter white ale), but goes down easy. Another limited-release worth checking out if you get the chance.
26 December 2007
Beautiful. Let's have a closer look at that lovely label, eh?
Ahhh. And as to the golden lovely ale itself - Bell's calls it "an American Triple" - it delivers on all counts. Light and refreshing despite the 9% ABV, it has a satisfying mouth-feel and just enough (but not too much) Belgian aftertaste. Perhaps the best Bell's non-stout I've so far tasted - but there's more to come on both the stout and non-stout front, soon.
21 November 2007
Kids, listen to your beer-buyers. I've struck up a conversational relationship with Weaver Street Market's friendly beer-buyer these last months, begun over our mutual appreciation of the Best . Beer. Evar. So today I step up to a newly-full case at the Weave, and ask him, "What's new? What's good?" There were some intriguing, more generally November-appropriate beers newly on offer (a Sam Smith's holiday ale, for one), but given that the mercury popped into the mid-70s today, the brew that caught my eye/ear was Golden Pheasant. I probably would've been familiar previously with it if my Eastern European travels had taken me through Bratislava - it's a Slovak beer - but they didn't, so I wasn't. It was described to me as a "real pilsner," and what the Czech beers were before mass production made everything go frowny-face and insipid.
Like I said - listen to your beer-buyers. Golden Pheasant is pleasing from the first drop out of the bottle, as it's above all else golden, a deep rich gold like... well, I'll just say "good beer." Without being heavy, it has a rich, malty flavor but still keeps the crisp, clean, hoppy ending of a great pilsner. Highly recommended.
31 October 2007
1554 - just delicious. Chocolately malt, not too sweet or bitter - very smooth, very tasty and, as they say, "Other than being dark in color, 1554 has little in common with Porters or Stouts." At a certain point of excellence, you can't say much more. Buy this beer whenever possible (which for me is... not often); come to think of it, buy pretty much any and every New Belgium beer whenever you can. Maybe the best Colorado brewery, and that's saying something.
30 October 2007
With all the (overwhelmingly positive) developments in microbrews these last years, if there's one area of beers that can be said have been neglected it's that most American of brews, the humble lager. There are of course exceptions - Pilsners (a subspecies of the lager) are fair game for innovation, as the much-praised-here Victory Prima Pils shows, and Great Lakes (sadly unavailable in NC) produces two of the best American lagers, Dortmunder Gold and Elliot Ness Amber. Mostly, even when lagers are made they're Helles lagers, Vienna lagers, Czech-style pilsners - remakes of successful and proven formulae. America's leading edge of beer (the West and Northwest), focus most of their energies on ales - not that I'm complaining. But it was a nice surprise to receive in my birthday Colorado variety pack (thx MKD!) a Z Lager from Ft. Collins Brewery. The first impression (after the excellent, creamy head) is its smokiness - as the label says, it's not overpowering and does blend nicely into the malty, creamy body of the beer. Not an every-night kind of beer, but it's a nice change of pace, both for a microbrew and from lagers generally.
25 September 2007
24 September 2007
Monkey Shoulder: a blend of small-batch single malts from three Speyside distilleries, casked in batches of 27. Because it’s a blend, you shouldn’t be afraid to mix it — straight, it has strong vanilla notes, and a long honey and malt finish. Powerful Speyside nose to it. Also good for replacing your blood with. As I am, right now.
18 September 2007
Researchers in Bangladesh say that a new strain of rice may be able to withstand the floods which wreak havoc there every year.
Researchers at the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute say that the rice type, called Swarna Submergence One, can survive up to two weeks in water.
Every year, about one-fifth of Bangladesh disappears beneath the monsoon rain waters.
The floods cause huge destruction to the country's staple crop.
The government reckons that this year's floods - the worst in years - have so far caused losses worth up to $290m, hurting rural communities and pushing up food prices in the cities.
Scientists at the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute say that the new strain survived the recent floods.
The institute's Director of Research, MA Salaam, told the BBC that Swarna Submergence One type rice plants they were growing on two farms in northern Bangladesh lasted more than 10 days under water.
Other rice types might benefit from being submerged for two to three days, but after any longer, they begin to die.
The new strain, a high-yield variety invented in the Philippines, has obvious benefits.
Dr Salam said that next year, the test will be greatly expanded and if that too proves successful, the rice may then be made widely available.
We definitely don't know enough about the long-term consequences of GMOs. Nor do we know just where global climate change is going. But the simple fact of the matter is that just as science has been a hugely contributing factor in getting us into the mess we're in, it's also going to have to carry the load in getting us out of it. People need to eat, and an abstract moralistic
stance against GMOs because we "don't know enough" or shouldn't be "playing God" frankly doesn't play with me.
12 September 2007
The crackers themselves are very good, not too sweet though not quite as lemony as the best crackers I’ve had. And as I noted after eating several handfuls, they do feature the shapes of “Winnie the Pooh” characters. Curiously, the words “Winnie the Pooh” appear on the box only for purposes of copyright clearance, and are not accompanied by any of the characters’ names.
11 September 2007
Near North Fork Lemah Creek
August 25, 2007
BREAKFAST: 2 pc french toast w/ blueberries, strawberries, bananas, whipped cream. (1200 cal est.)3 c coffe w/ half and half (40 cal est)1/3 bag plain ruffles (970 cal)LUNCH: Cranberry Apple Cherry Clif Bar (230 cal)9 squares Cadbury chocolate bar w/ caramel (300 cal)DINNER: 1 box Annie’s shells and cheddar w/ 1 tbsp olive oil, dry pesto sauce (600 cal).4 oz Jello instant pudding (400 cal)SNACK: 4oz chili cheese Fritos (640 cal)TOTAL CALORIES: 4,380
Glacier Pass, Mile # 2,615
Saturday, September 1, 2007
BREAKFAST: PB&J granola mixed w/ carnation instant breakfast and instant coffee (895 cal)
LUNCH: Chocolate Chip Peanut Crunch Clif Bar (250 cal)
9 Squares Cadbury Caramel Bar (300 cal)
DINNER: Annie’s shells and cheddar w/ olive oil and pesto sauce (600 cal)
Jello Instant Pudding (400 cal), 1 bueberry bagel (100 cal)
A few salted mixed nuts (50 cal)
SNACK: 6.6 oz regular goldfish (840 cal), 2 blueberry bagels (200 cal), Bear Naked High Sierra Trail Mix (1,120 cal), Granola bar (160 cal).
MIDNIGHT SNACK: 4 oz regular Fritos (640 cal)
TOTAL CALORIES: 5,555
NOTES: I awoke at midnight last night with sharp hunger pangs. Try as I could, I was not able to get back to sleep and knew that I would have to eat something in order to sleep. I walked over to my food canister and, rationalizing that Monday was going to be a short day, pirated my Monday snack. So there I was, sitting alone on a log in the middle of the dark, tearing into a $.99 bag of Fritos like a wild animal. I got to sleep. They tasted awesome. This morning the hunger had subsided and I was feeling much better. As I was leaving camp, I nearly ran right into Jen, who had come back onto the trail from Stehekin yesterday afternoon and ended up camping just 3/4 a mile behind me. Right away I told her about my food shortage and she readily offered up two Clif bars she had extra. Later that day, we ran into other hikers heading home from various trips who were more than happy to give me their extra food. Soon I had a bag full of trail mix, nutrition bars, and other stuff. It probably weighed three pounds before I started munching it down. So I’m all set with food.
Pretty intense. Oh, and - congrats to Podin for successfully completing the PCT. I've been reading since the beginning and the last bunch of entries read like the end of an especially enthralling book - you keep reading faster and faster, both wanting to reach the end and knowing that you're almost through with a great story.
10 September 2007
- 2 lbs. potatoes
- bag o'spinach
- can o'peas
- lotsa garlic
- Heat water to boiling in pot; boil potatoes for ~10 min., and set aside
- Chop garlic and ginger
- Heat skillet to medium-high with butter; add garlic and ginger and sauté for a minute or two
- Add spinach, turning and covering in butter, ginger, garlic; cook until spinach is sauteéd down, and set aside
- Chop boiled potatoes into 1/2" sections
- Add more butter to same pan, then potatoes
- Cook potatoes for several minutes over medium-high heat, adding cumin and some milk
- Add peas, adding milk, yogurt, cumin to desired consistency
- When potatoes are softening, add spinach back, lower heat to medium-low and again add milk and yogurt to desired consistency.
09 September 2007
- 2 lbs. sweet potato, chop into 1/2" cubes
- 1 large onion, sliced lengthwise thinly
- 3-4 medium tomatoes / large can of tomatoes (diced, crushed or whole), diced
- garam masala
- Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F
- Place sweet potatoes in baking pan; cover in garam masala and cumin
- When oven is ready, place pan in oven; bake until charred and slightly softened, and set aside
- Heat butter in large skillet; add onions and cumin to taste, cook until softening
- Add tomatoes and milk; cook down to sauce, adding cumin and garam masala to taste
- Add sweet potatoes and yogurt to thicken sauce; cook until sweet potatoes are softened further, adding yogurt and milk to desired creaminess of sauce, and salt to taste
- Serve with rice
04 September 2007
A SOVEREIGN FOR SOUL-DELAY
posted 5:03 AM
Yesterday morning I walked around the corner to Neils Yard Dairy and bought myself 200g. of the Montgomery's unpasteurized cheddar.
Asked for it by name. The clerk, in a proper cheeseman's cap, wrapped my interestingly discoloured wedge in that special white paper they use, glossy on the inside, folding it that way I can never quite master.
Now it's 5:23AM PST, back in Vancouver, and the Montgomery's cheddar really *is* a sovereign medicine for jet lag. And that is the reason it costs almost as much as heroin, in America.
27 August 2007
If I may add also, it was a wonderful wedding, and I was extremely lucky to witness two of my best friends from college get hitched finally! I will get a list of the very good wines soon to post on this blog (let them finish their honeymoon!). I remember some Spanish champagne (tasty, less sparkling than what I've tasted from Reims)... And as pre-desert we had the excellent chocolates by Gail Ambrosius, with flavors like rose, passion-fruit, caramel with sea salt, and dark-dark-dark. (I also highly recommend her chocolate bars, and the green tea-infused chocolate buddhas). Hands down, the best chocolate I've ever had.
* Source: persianmirror.com
19 August 2007
11 August 2007
And the espresso (a single) was excellent - solid crema, rich and smooth. The filter coffee - all fair trade organic (as is the rest of their product "whenever possible") - was also good, and came in three gradations of darkness, all house blends (as was the espresso). Didn't have the bread but it smells excellent - everything is made in-house - and the staff is a good one. If ever you find yourself in Banff, this is
The Lake Agnes Teahouse, sitting on Lake Agnes above Lake Louise, AB, is an absolutely wonderful marriage of food and place. It takes a medium-length-but-not-strenuous hike to reach it, ascending from Lake Louise and its attendant Fairmont Hotel on the valley floor, up past the smaller Mirror Lake and the falls that feed it from Lake Agnes, to finally reach Lake Agnes and the teahouse.
Once there, the teahouse itself is homey and bustling, with a (young, of course) staff that lives in a loft in the single building and comes down once a week ("for a hot shower"), attending to all of the functions of the teahouse in the interim. The tea menu is extensive - a few dozen varieties - with a few soups, sandwiches and tea-biscuits to accompany. And of course, the tea is fresh boiled from lakewater.
We went with the Irish Breakfast (excellent), and split-pea soup. The soup was less thick than a split-pea normally is, but then, they have to bring everything in either on their backs or a horse's. The bread was fine, but the main point of the exercise was a relaxing fill-up of hot liquids and some solids as it rained outside on top of a mountain. Not bad.
08 August 2007
At any rate, I sure think I like coffee, and sitting in coffee shops contemplatively - with or without masses of people, with or without the loud noise of a city, of civilization. As it happens, I’m getting the best of all possible worlds right now, a beautiful mountain view in the distance, a busy coffee shop around me, a sidewalk full of humanity passing by outside and then, just past the sidewalk, absolutely hellish amounts of noise from a Cat shovel tearing up the street. It’s glorious - the quiet of the mountains is wonderful, but a week of it has found me craving the awful, glorious succor of humanity’s destructive noises. Trains passed by the lodge last night, and that was a start, but the diesel and electric and metal and stone and dirt is rattling the table here, and that makes me happy. And now there’s the smell of cigarette smoke wafting in from outside, which is really nice.
The coffee: I really need to stop ordering double espressos, as each one I’ve had here has been dumped into a cappuccino cup, allowing whatever crema there’s been to disperse into islands around the inky black. The taste - not bad, but I should really go with a single next time to actually judge the quality.
UPDATE: Had the single. Still not good. The baristas are... not particularly committed to their craft.
There’s a vegetarian restaurant in Banff, and I’m curious if they’ve got a veggie poutine - maybe mushroom gravy over extra-silky tofu and fries?
UPDATE: Photo below. No veggie poutine yet.
Rocket Ridge Raspberry Ale: “Yep, tastes like raspberry. Very nice,” said JD. Hoppy presentation but not taste; raspberry-y but not too sweet, and not gimmicky. One of my favorite non-Lambic fruit ales.
Liftline Cream Ale: best cream ale I’ve had in a while - very much like a Sierra Nevada, actually, but less hoppy and less carbonated.
Honey Bear Ale: actually pretty good. A little weird - local honey, cardamom and orange peel (but the honey was mostly what showed up), served with a slice of lime. JD didn’t like it; very aromatic, I found it clear and refreshing. Dunno if I’d want a lot of it, but an interesting beer.
Rock Hopper IPA: hoppy and a little bitter (in a good way), not too carbonated and just flowery and sweet enough (i.e., not very). A good IPA - JD’s 2nd favorite.
6060 Stout: a solid, chocolatey stout - the roast came through strong, dry and satisfying. Not Guinness but definitely multiple-pint-worthy.
B Hill Pil: a local favorite, JD rated this “Not overly bitter but with a tanginess. Full of flavor and with an effervessence.” Clearly the best beer of all of them, a big flavorful pils that’d be a regular drink of mine were it available.
05 August 2007
Grasshopper (wheat)- "This beer doesn't have much taste," says JD. She's not all wrong, though I can see where they were going with the wheat beer - it's just not the distinctive wheat-y goodness of an Allagash (or even a Blue Moon), let alone the Belgians. Inoffensive, but doesn't bring much to the table.
Honey Brown - "Very smooth, pretty clean finish - fairly solid, middle-of-the-road lager. Nothing outstanding about it. It's got the hint of honey in there, yeah," says MKD. "Dark enough so you can *almost* chew on it. Actually pretty damn similar to [JW Dundee's] Honey Brown, but a little smoother." This assessment doesn't do much to recommend this beer to me, though that might have to do with my particular history with JW Dundee's Honey Brown. A sip generally confirms my wariness - Honey Brown and Newcastle have conspired to turn me well away from sweet brown ales.
Traditional Ale - Hoppy, flavorful and not too sweet. The can-spinner locates this as an "English Brown Ale" but that's a category too populated with overly-sweet brews (e.g., Newcastle Brown) to be a good guide. This is a good, medium-dark ale, not too dissimilar from Duck Rabbit Brewery's Brown Ale (to my mind, one of the best brown ales I've had), though without the hint of sweet and with a little more carbonation. And in a can, though it's also available in bottles.
Warthog (ale) - MKD ranks this as his second-favorite (behind the Traditional Ale), and it's a fine enough ale though without any particular distinction.
Jack Rabbit Light (lager) - "It's Miller," sayeth MKD, and that's pretty much the idea, I'm guessing. It could've been worse - he could've said Beast.
Below - the winner, can and pour.
04 August 2007
There was, however, a boozer two doors down that carried - to my and MKD's delight - Castle Lager. In tall boy cans no less. Also purchased there were some local beers and a Canadian bitter - Alpenbitter - reviews of which will follow.
Also, below, is from a deli case in Jasper. Apparently in Canada, rather than call something "New York" when you mean "Jewish," you say "Montreal." There is and has been for a while a sizable Jewish community there, so this makes a kind of sense. Still a little odd.
02 August 2007
I went with a Tofu Sate Sub, which was enormous on a perfectly toasted bun, and at $5.95CN was definitely a bargain. The tofu was fried crispy outside, tasty and tender inside, and the sub was piled high with sliced carrots, bean sprouts, cilantro, peanuts and cucumber slices. Topped with the sweet and savory tamarind sauce and the a-bit-sweet-but-not-way-too-spicy chili sauce, it was pretty much exactly what I was looking for.
MKD went with #52 - pork chop and fried egg (two of each) on rice - and was quite satisfied, the eggs barely sunny side and fairly seeping into the rice from the first; JD with the shrimp wonton soup, a nice mild broth and wonderfully delicate wrappers on the wontons; and BK with the Bun Nem Nuong - grilled pork balls and spring rolls on vermicelli. More sausage or salami-y than "balls," he nonetheless walked away happy.
The only slight disappointments were fried spring rolls that didn't off too much beyond being hot from the frier, and Vietnamese iced coffee that came pre-prepared and wasn't either that strong or that sweet. MKD's jackfruit bubbletea, however, was "just like" he remembered jackfruit from Hawaii.
This will, I'm guessing, be the only Vietnamese food on this trip, but I head out into the prairie with at least a modest fortification of veggies.
23 July 2007
The best way to rediscover sardines— and overcome residual aversion based on the tins of childhood—is to eat them fresh, just as diners graduated from canned tuna to grilled tuna to tuna tartare. (“It’s phenomenal how it spread,” Nancy Oakes, the chef of the popular Boulevard, in San Francisco, told me during the tuna expedition. “People don’t eat much cooked tuna anymore.”) Almost any ambitious restaurant has grilled tuna on the menu, cooked to remain raw in the middle. My uncharitable theory is that people like grilled tuna or salmon because it’s good for them and has very little flavor—just a bland richness. Sardines do have flavor. The fresh sardines that come to restaurants are about 6 inches long, and with their slim bodies and silvery skin they arrive on a plate looking as pretty as trout. But the taste is trout with character. (The trout you get in restaurants and markets is farmed and pallid.)I'll admit I'm not chomping at the bit to go out and get some tinned sardines, but I have had several very good experiences with the li'l guys, esp. in tapas form and on salads.
I go frequently to Rendezvous, a restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Steve Johnson, the chef, almost always has grilled sardines on the menu. The height of the season is summer, but he also buys sardines frozen, and always from the same Portuguese fishmonger; the fresh sardines available on the East Coast come from across the Atlantic and from the Mediterranean. Johnson, himself an “amateur fisherman,” defends oily fish like mackerel and bluefish, a great Northeast treat: “When they’re really fresh, they’re pristine, and they smell the way they’re supposed to—clean and like the sea.” Johnson serves sardines with classic accompaniments to oily fish, such as a fennel and black-olive salad with preserved-lemon vinaigrette, and he likes them with smoked paprika, too.
Most home cooks, of course, can find only canned sardines—and some chefs are not above serving them. Gabrielle Hamilton, the chef of Prune, in New York, serves unclichéd food you might eat at home. But one cliché she likes, and has made a specialty, is canned sardines on Triscuits with mustard. “They got me through some very lean times,” she told me. Now she charges $5 for a whole tin’s worth with Triscuits, Maille brand Dijon mustard, and cornichons. The brand she chose after extensive tasting is Ruby, from Morocco. I, too, found Moroccan sardines to be my favorite after I tasted every kind of canned sardine I could find (see sidebar, “Unpacking Packed Sardines”).
(via Matthew Yglesias)
22 July 2007
- Make simple syrup - equal parts water and sugar - by heating on a stovetop, and while dissolving sugar add basil. Once sugar is dissolved and basil blanched, remove basil and pour combination into pitcher.
- Add not-quite-equal amount of lemon juice (approx 3:5 ratio)
- Add water to fill pitcher. Stir, adding lemon juice or simple syrup to taste.
- Add ice and serve.
11 July 2007
1 Carr whole wheat cracker
1/4 radius peach slice, thin
1" x 1/2" slice Bulgarian feta
1/2 large raspberry, sliced
Stack, with cracker at bottom, peach, feta, then raspberry on top. Eat in no more than two bites, preferably with each element in each bite. Probably would go nicely with Prosecco.
10 July 2007
Today, Indian consumes more whisky than any other country, and United Breweries is owned by an Indian tycoon, Vijay Mallya. In May, Mallya flipped the reverse-imperialism switch, and purchased one of Scotland's largest breweries, Whyte & MacKay.
Here's the best part. Scotland may be the largest exporter of whisky in the world and India the largest consumer, but the flow of Scotch whisky to India is constrained by huge (550 percent!) tariffs in India, and the flow of Indian whisky to the European Union is forbidden because the E.U.'s definition of "whisky" does not include liquor made from molasses.
So both sides are accusing each other of being protectionist.
How the World Works would never be able to tell, by tasting, whether a whisky was made from molasses or barley. But we like what Neelakanta R. Jagdale, a managing director at Amrut Distilleries Ltd of Bangalore, India, said when questioned about the controversy.
Cross-culture insemination is the fundamental theme of globalization. This means whisky as produced in different ways in different countries should be freely competing against each other.
Cross-culture insemination! You can't stop it. You can't even hope to contain it.
Quite. And while Piedmont Review of Food has never had Indian whisky (though anyone with a spare flask can feel free to send it my way), I don't think I'd have much difficulty distinguishing it from Scotch, which to my barbarian American palette tastes most like moss. In a good way, but still - for me, the most superior whiskey is your sweet, sour, deliciously-like-gasoline corn mash.
09 July 2007
We decided on Pepe's, and a midsummer Sunday afforded both a not-bad wait and some excellent people-watching, ranging from the cartoon-character late-30s Italian couple ahead of us (shockingly overtanned, him in a semi-buttoned black buttondown shirt revealing an A-Shirt underneath, chewing gum, white sneakers), to the preps returned from the beach across the street (one in aviators, baggy plaid shorts and a big gray scarf), to the Korean girls behind us and the so-"helpful"-he-was-incredibly-rude guy from Kansas talking down to them and telling them how to experience America. Good stuff.
But not as good as the pizza. Many a word has been written on the pizzas, so I'll keep it brief - this was as close to a perfect pizza a I've had outside of Italy. Thin crust crunchy and slightly charcoal-y at the edges, covered in a thin, perfectly-sweet-but-not-cloyingly-so tomato sauce, just enough cheese but not overflowing with grease. We added mushrooms and onions, and both were prepared to perfection - the mushrooms cooked but not greasy, the onions translucent but still crunchy, chunked rather than sliced. I was driving, so had a Coke rather than beer (still a good accompaniment), but was pleased to see Long Trail Ale on tap - definitely would've been a good choice, as well.
And, of course, super cheap - we took down half of a medium and were quite full, and now have leftovers to look forward to. Road food can't really get better than this.
29 June 2007
27 June 2007
24 June 2007
This is the Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout. It’s gotten excellent reviews from both RateBeer and BeerAdvocate. And what do I think of it, you ask?
Well, it’s nice. It’s a very smooth stout, it has a deep, rich color, and a smoky odor. And oh yeah- it has a 9.5% alcohol content! Yum!
And yet… it leaves something to be desired. Personally, Brad has been very, very spoiled over the years by by Rogue’s Shakespeare Stout and Avery Mephistopheles Stout over the years. Frankly, he thinks those two stouts are the best in the entire world, and it would take an awfully special one to knocked them off their throne.So in the end, I give the Oak Aged Yeti Stout four out five pint glasses. It’s very nice stuff, but I just can’t justifying putting it up there with the best of the best.
I echo in full the high marks given to Rogue's Shakespeare Stout, though I'm not familiar with either the Avery entry (though I've enjoyed all of their line I've had) or the Great Divide (whose beers I tend to find good-if-not-great). My recent trip to Seattle gave me the opportunity to have a pint of the Rogue's Shakespeare Stout on tap (and fresh), and it was one of the finer stout experiences I can remember. Unlike most American stouts (including, it seems, the Great Divide Yeti), the Shakespeare actually goes for - and nails - the flavor and mouth-feel of an Irish stout. Specifically: it's the best non-Guinness Guinness I've had outside of Castle Milk Stout. And while there is many an American variation on stouts that I find superior (see, e.g., pretty much the entire line of Bell's [how great is that page?], most esp. the Double Cream Stout, more or less the best beer evar), there is certainly something to be said in taking lessons from the master. Especially when the lesson sticks.
22 June 2007
Cream sugar and butter. Add egg, bananas, honey and milk. Add the combined flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt (like a dash or two) and oatmeal. Stir until blended. Add nuts and raisins. Spoon in greased muffin tins. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Yes, you should have preheated it before combining your ingredients.
-I've been experimenting with flour, not in overall quantity, but in proportions. Instead of using just all-purpose flour, I'll use cut that to a smaller proportion and add three tablespoons of rice flour, or buckwheat flour, or whatever flour I find in the cupboard that strikes my fancy (though not corn flour). It doesn't affect much to the consistency or flavor, not in such small proportions, it seems.
-Not all ovens are created equal. Some heat more than their thermostat tell you, or less, some heat more at the bottom than at the top, or at the back than at the front, and so on. Get to know your oven, so that when you read a recipe that says, 'Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes', you know that for your oven it translates into 'Bake 375 degrees for 18 minutes in the middle right corner of the oven and rotate the muffin tray halfway through'.
-Sugar is overrated, and over-used. As a rule of thumb, any baking recipe I find (unless it's bread), I will cut the sugar by 20-30%, and everything turns out fine. (Especially in this case where the raisins and/or cranberries add their own sugar) Besides, if a baked good isn't sweet enough, it is easily corrected at the consumption end of the spectrum by eating it with jam or Nutella...
21 June 2007
After only a few minutes' deliberation, I settled on the special, pretty sure that I'd never had BBQ pork chops before. They didn't disappoint. Incredibly tender and with the flesh pink not from undercooking but from something in the cooking itself, they were coated with a slightly thicker and fuller version of Allen & Son's vinegar-heavy (natch) BBQ sauce and, while they didn't quite fall off the bone, there wasn't any problem separating the flesh. The sides delivered, too - sweet and savory yams with copious brown sugar and cloves; butter-soaked peas and pearl onions; and deep-brown hushpuppies, just a bit sweet. The tea was sweet-but-not-too-much, and perfectly refreshing. And the whole package - including an innocuous palate-cleanser of iceberg lettuce, Bac-O, flavorless carrots and tomato salad - was, as the special, $6.80.
Hard to beat, and I've finally had my fix of excellent NC BBQ.
20 June 2007
A visit to Saranac's web site also reveals a new semi-regular line of beers:
NEW!Clearly, Saranac is feeling a push from the higher-end regional brewers (e.g., Ommegang and Allagash), but I'm not sure that pitching their products against the craft brewers' is a good idea. Saranac to me has always been notable as a microbrewery that makes beer at more or less the same price point (and often the same style) as many other mass domestics but with notably higher quality. What it isn't is a high-end craft brew - but that's fine. Saranac has been able to pull the trick of maintaining a pretty solid level of quality even as they've moved to a national distribution footing, which is quite a trick to pull. The craft brewers do make beer that is often better, but I'd never find myself making my way through more than one or two pints of Allagash (save for the White Ale), Ommegang, Dogfish Head et al. - and Saranac should realize that most of those beers will never sell that many cases, in any event. Saranac is, and remains, a solidly drinkable line of beers. The Kölsch Ale shows the brewery at its best.
(Big Beer Series)
We are pleased to announce that Saranac Imperial IPA, the first in our “High Peak Series”.
The Saranac “High Peak Series” is a series of Special Beers, limited to one single batch. These beers will be much bigger, more complex, and targeted to craft beer aficionados.
This is a beer to be sipped and savored; a “real show and tell . . . blow your head off beer”
The first of our series, Saranac Imperial IPA, is brewed with 10 different hops and 10 different malts and is 8.5% alcohol and 85 IBU’s.
Look for Saranac Imperial IPA at your local retailer!
From a consumer's point of view, should we be eating fish at all?
I didn't say in my book, "Don't eat fish." I say, "Don't eat certain fish, don't eat endangered fish." If a fish takes 20 years to double its population, that's a long time. If it takes 30 years before it breeds, don't touch it. But if you eat something that's fast reproducing and not overfished, you should be all right. And there's quite a lot of those species out there. You can eat a hell of a lot of shellfish, a huge amount of mussels and oysters, and your deep-water scallops, with a clear conscience. You can have a really nice fish stew, it's not a problem. But why eat endangered fish? And the slow-reproducing ones are probably going to have mercury in them anyway, so it's a win-win.
You also uncover a hidden secret about McDonald's Filet-O-Fish sandwich: that the fish comes from two fisheries actually certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council. In other words, McDonald's fish sandwich is more sustainable than Nobu's tuna sashimi. Did that surprise you?
Not really. McDonald's is sustainable because it is a big company and needs continuity of supply, but isn't that arguably a definition of sustainability?
Buying Alaskan pollock as McDonald's does is not a bad practice -- except that they don't seek to advertise their MSC connection, which might mean they would have to pay for the logo. Gambling you can make your fortune before you run out of exotic fish is an individual decision and one Nobu shares with many restaurateurs from Asia.
But why has it gone right, say, in Alaska? In the U.S., we always hear how good the wild Alaskan salmon fishery is.
I think it's like Iceland: When you've got nothing else, you look after it. When you're an island surrounded by cod, if your cod goes down, you are stuffed. I think it's pretty much the same with Alaska; they understand they have a resource they haven't destroyed yet. They were able to act on the basis of other people's mistakes. Sooner or later the message gets across that mistakes have been made and if you're the last one starting out, maybe you're going to make slightly fewer than anyone else....
If you want to invest in anything else you put loads of people and money in -- but with fishing it's the opposite. It's an extractive industry.
That's what was interesting about the marine sanctuaries you write about in New Zealand, where fishing has been completely banned. Not only have the fish populations recovered, but they have reached a level of growth and biodiversity the scientists never imagined was possible.
If we did that with the cod we'd be caught up to our eyeballs. I don't see why you can't have a low-impact fishery, a buffer zone, like you do for land-based parks in Africa. It keeps everyone happy, and you keep everything protected.
The whole thing is worth checking out, as is, I suspect, Clover's book. I won't read it because I like my doses of rank pessimism to come concentrated in short bursts rather than drawn out across a whole book, but if you're a long-form nonfiction reader and either addicted to reading about fisheries collapse or want to learn more about it, this seems like a good place to start.
19 June 2007
Recipe: Cursory Google search turned up several intriguing possibilities, and I went with this one because I'm generally a sucker for anything that says "caramelized" and I already had the requisite pasta (though a spaghetti-linguine blend, which would prove a bit problematic) in the fridge. The recipe:
Rainbow Chard and Carmelized Onion Pasta
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 C. chard stems, chopped finely
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. salt
2-3 large yellow onions, sliced thinly
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. sugar
2 C. torn chard leaves
2 Tbs. port
12 oz. egg noodles or fettuccine
2 C. veggie or chicken stock
Heat the oil and butter in large skillet over med. heat. Add the onions and sauté them for 5 minutes. Sprinkle the onions with the sugar, reduce heat to medium-low and sauté the onions, stirring occasionally, until translucent in the center and browned at the edges, about 15 min. Pour the port over the onions and stir. Remove from heat. Remove onions with slotted spoon to a plate. Do not rinse or wash skillet.
Bring large pot of water to boil. Return skillet to the stove when water almost boils. Add the stock and chard stems to skillet and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 min. Stir in salt and pepper, and keep warm over low heat.
Add noodles to boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain and add noodles to skillet with stock. Add chard leaves and onions and cook for 5 min. until chard is wilted and pasta is heated through.
Results: In retrospect, the substitution of my cooked pasta for the proscribed semi-cooked pasta was one of two things that undid the recipe - I also didn't sauteé the chard quite long enough, and it overwhelmed everything a bit with its semi-rawness. As per usual, I didn't add salt or pepper, and again probably should've. A bit.
To accompany, I had parmigianno reggiano, several slices of a loaf of potato bread with onion and rosemary (also from the Weave, on clearance) and the balance of a bottle of Dr. Beckermann's Liebraumilch Qualitatswein (a Trader Joe's 4$-a-bottle stalwart). The wine is... very sweet, but somehow not saccharine. And not a chardonnay. It was very hot today, and the wine went down easily (esp. at only 9.5% ABV). The cheese was fine but not quite the right call with the pasta. But the bread was an excellent, excellent addition - good enough that I'll probably be fishing through the leftovers of the pasta for the chard and onions to pile on a few slices of the bread for a sandwich tomorrow.
Conclusions: I overreached with this recipe and the audibles. For now, chard and the various other tougher greens move back into the "as a simple side-dish only" category until I can figure out their mysterious ways more reliably.