24 February 2009

Abita Bock

With a fridge full of stouts, I am usually a happy man, but tonight's turkey burger dictated something more straight-up-drinking-beer. So despite missing the Abita tasting last week at Carrboro Beverage Co., I decided that I'd take Jason's advice and try their Bock - a leap of faith as I am generally not a super-malt-fan. Faith rewarded: very smooth, not overly malty and most importantly not overly sweet. Nice cereal finish, too. All the new Abita beers apparently went over well at the tasting, which I'm glad to hear - they were ahead of the curve some years back, but while they were doing their best not to get drowned out of business, the rest of the US microbrew market went and started making all sorts of crazy, hoppy business. But it seems they're back in the game.

21 February 2009

Larry's Bean Martin

Larry's is an incredibly reliable roaster - their espresso brews up rich and creamy, never over-roasted, and I've had many of their other beans in the past all to excellent effect. Which makes Bean Martin even more disappointing - it was on special at WSM, and as Larry's is always a good bet it was an easy call. But Bean Martin is not a good coffee -over-roasted, unbalanced and ultimately just muddy. I was just coming off of finishing off some overly-old beans with no kick left in them and maybe that's affecting my palette but I don't think so - this is just way too far in the other direction, all roast and no middle. I suppose I'll have to give over my usual biases against milk and finish off the rest of the beans cafe au lait to attempt to balance out a bit.

Don't worry Larry's, I'll be back!

19 February 2009

Lunch: Delicious Sandwiches

Two small sandwiches for lunch.

At top: Giacomo's salami and soppresetta topped with sauteed onions and roasted red peppers; opposite face English coastal cheddar on Trader Joe's Tuscan Pane [an excellent and cheap ($2.29) bread for sandwiches]

Larger sandwich: Giacomo's salami and soppresetta topped on one side by parmigiano reggiano; on other side by sauteed onions and roasted red peppers, also on Trader Joe's Tuscan Pane.

Verdict: Delicious, obviously.

12 February 2009

Kind-of Ma Po Tofu

Inspired by this recipe from a few days ago and with blocks of tofu and unused spring onions (the latter one of many farmer's market lovelies neglected this past week while conferencing), I decided it was time to get a bit more serious about figuring out how to actually make tofu well. I believe I succeeded.

  • 1.5 blocks tofu, extra firm
  • 6 spring onions
  • 4 small dried peppers
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp chili-garlic sauce
  • splash of chili Madeira (optional, obviously)
  • soy sauce
  • high-temp oil (I used canola - use peanut, or whatever you've got, just not olive)
  • 4 tbsp. flour/2 tbsp. corn starch (which I didn't have)


  1. Chop/dice garlic and set aside
  2. Dice spring onions into 1/2" pieces and set aside
  3. Crush dried chilis with sugar and set aside
  4. Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes and leave to steep in hot — but not boiling — water that you’ve gently salted.
  5. Heat the oil in a wok or large saute pan over medium heat.
  6. Add 2 tsp. chili garlic sauce and stir-fry for 30 seconds or so.
  7. Pour in the tofu with about half the water and cook for a minute or so.
  8. Add garlic, cook for another minute
  9. Add the sugar, chilis, madeira and soy sauce
  10. Cover and simmer for five minutes.
  11. Add the spring onions, mixing until covered and continue to simmer for another two minutes or so.
  12. Add the flour gradually so it's evenly absorbed
  13. Serve over rice, and enjoy!


Needed a little soy sauce to finish it off but then - truly excellent. Nice burn but not too much. Perfect comfort food.

08 February 2009

Rajiv-inspired hot chocolate

Rajiv can't handle milk that well. However, after walking back from the Mall to Mt Pleasant for Obama's inauguration, we were both craving hot chocolate.
Once back in my kitchen, the only non-dairy liquids my half-frozen brain could think of were soy milk and coconut milk.
Rajiv provided the powdered chocolate. It turned out to be warm and reminded us of tropics, where we wished we could have teleported to...

I've adapted the recipe a little this morning, after Rajiv sent me this link about vegan hot chocolate.
-one part soymilk (3/4 cup maybe? I just eye balled it)
-one part coconut milk
-two huge tablespoons of cocoa powder
-a teaspoon of brown sugar
LOW heat. Whisk ahead. Do not let it boil or burn at the bottom. Should be thick and "grown-uppy".