30 March 2010

Heavy Seas Märzen Beer

Toasty, smooth and with a nice body but neither too light or heavy, Heavy Seas Märzen  suffers only from absolutely atrocious cover art – seriously, there must be about eight different fonts on the label, a cheesy skull-and-crossbones and mid-'90s-sports-franchise-style graphics to top it all off. Great to drink, but maybe pour it into a glass first (where it has a lovely blonde color).

24 March 2010

Anton Bauer Pinot Gris 2006

Generally I'm pretty skeptical of Austrian and German whites – too many are just too, too sweet – but it's a nice sunny day and the Bauer was knocked down from top-line to bottom-line price at Wine Bar, so I thought I'd give it a go. Glad I did – nice little acidity in the nose and to start, leading to a super-smooth but not overpowering vanilla tone and lovely rounded finish, always just the hint of sweetness balanced by acidity. Great glass of wine.

23 March 2010

Spicy Mexican Fried Green Tomatoes

While making Bill Smith's collards (cribbed from the excellent Holy Smoke), I decided to nose about for some other recipes and found a perfect one at the Southern Foodways Alliance, given that I have two green tomatoes and am doing Mexican pork tomorrow.


2 green (unripe) tomatoes
1/2 c. white cornmeal
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. cumin

  • 2 tsp. cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 tsp. salt

  • Canola oil for frying


  1. Slice tomatoes into 1/4" slices and salt both sides. 
  2. Mix cornmeal, flour, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper in a shallow dish. 
  3. Heat 1/4” oil over medium-low heat in a frying pan. 
  4. Dredge tomato slices in cornmeal mixture, coating both sides generously. 
  5. Fry in batches in oil until golden brown and tomatoes are softened. 
  6. Drain on paper towels.
  7. Enjoy!


Astonishingly delicious. Very, very highly recommended.

22 March 2010

(New) Dominion Brewing Company

During my DC days, Dominion was one of my favorite (probably the best, at that time) local breweries - Dominion Ale was just a great beer, and Tupper's Hop Pocket was probably the best DC-area beer, period. A great ale.

Recent years have not been kind – the brewery was sold in 2007 to Coastal Brewing Co. (a mid-major co-owned by Maryland's Fordham [always the poor child of local brews] and Anheuser-Busch) and they discontinued Tupper's Hop Pocket (which, gladly, still appears available on a limited basis).

Moving down to NC has shifted my local-beer consumption and in any event, Dogfish Head long since eclipsed them as the mid-Atlantic's best brewery. But on my last time up to DC I noticed some new brews from Dominion – a Baltic Porter and an Oak Barrel Stout, and it being Maryland they were pretty cheap so I figured I'd give it a go.

Dominion Baltic Porter: in an excellent surprise, it's really quite nice – smooth and not too boozey, understated chocolate tones and a good solid body and pleasant finish. A good beer!

Dominion Oak Barrel Stout: a bad, bad beer. Sickly sweet and over-oaked, over-artificially-vanilla. It turns out it's great for cooking (esp. in my Lazy Man's Mole) but not for drinking.

So, it's a psuedo-brewery imprint now, but at least capable of making a solid beer. Hopefully they haven't screwed up the Ale.

21 March 2010

One-line Beer Reviews

Been slacking on this, so here goes:

LoneRider Deadeye Jack: nice solid porter, dry and chocolatey, reminiscent of English porters.

BrewDog Dogma: very nice and smooth, tasty, but probably won't buy again at its price point

Dogfish Head Aprihop (2010): a serious improvement over last year's dishwater edition, very nicely balanced hops and not overly fruity - perfect for a warm spring day.

Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron (2008): nearly two years' aging has taken this beer from unsubtle and overly woody to dangerously (at 12% ABV) smooth and super-tasty, and from disappointment to big-time winner.

Highland Seven Sisters Abbey-style Ale: very nice and not overly winey abbey-style ale; refreshing and well-balanced.

Mad River Serious Madness Black Ale: a great beer, rich and smooth and not as heavy as a stout or even porter - highly recommended.

14 March 2010

Angove's Nine Vines South Australia Viognier 2006

Picked this up on sale a while back, intrigued by a) the low price, b) the grape (increasingly a fan of Viogniers) and c) the ABV - 15%, which I don't think I'd ever seen in a white before. I finally had occasion to open it the other evening and was glad for it – lovely full body, nice vanilla tones and sweet but not sickly so, and a nice clean finish. Great mouthfeel, and paired well with the tamarind shrimp and spicy kim chi. Definitely worth remembering and picking up.

11 March 2010

Stir-fried Lamb with Green Onions


  • 8 oz. lamb fillet, trimmed and very thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp. light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp  white sugar
  • 1½ tbsp  Shaoxing wine
  • 2 tsp  dark soy sauce
  • 2 tsp  Chinkiang vinegar
  • 1 tsp  sesame oil, plus extra to serve
  • 1/3 c. vegetable oil
  • 2  garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 4  thin slices of ginger
  • 8  green onions, cut into 2" lengths


  1. Combine lamb, light soy sauce, sugar and 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine in a bowl. Season to taste and stand for 30 minutes.
  2. Combine dark soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil and remaining Shaoxing wine and set aside.
  3. Heat a wok over high heat until smoke appears. 
  4. Add vegetable oil, swirl it around wok, add garlic and ginger, let it sizzle until just coloured (8-10 seconds), then immediately add lamb. 
  5. Toss rapidly using a spatula until lamb is partially cooked and slightly charred (20-30 seconds), then add reserved dark soy sauce mixture and mix through. 
  6. Add green onion and stir-fry until most of the sauce is absorbed. 
  7. Check seasoning and add extra sesame oil if necessary.
  8. Serve and enjoy!



02 March 2010

Cilantro Carrots with Cumin


  • 2 lbs. carrots, each cut into 2" long pieces, then quartered lengthwise

  • 6 tbs. orange or other sweet juice (I used mango nectar)
  • 3 tbs. lemon juice

  • 3 tbs. olive oil

  • 2 tbs. ground cumin
2 garlic cloves, pressed

  • 2 tbs. minced fresh cilantro


  1. Combine carrots and 6 tablespoons water/juice in large saucepan. 
  2. Season with salt. 
  3. Cover and boil until carrots are crisp-tender, about 7 min.
  4. Drain off any excess liquid. 
  5. Transfer carrots to large shallow bowl. 
  6. Mix in lemon juice, oil, cumin and garlic. 
  7. Season with salt and pepper. 
  8. Cool. 
  9. Add cilantro. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at cool room temperature.)
  10. Enjoy!

01 March 2010

Dolin Vermouth de Chambéry

I've been a fan of Manhattans for a while now, and in the last two years have even come around on Martinis and a range of other similar mixed drinks. But even as I've experimented with a wide range of whiskeys, vodkas and gins (home-infused and not), and gone so far as to make my own bitters (I'll get around to posting on that one fo these days...), the vermouth has remained the standard off-the-shelf variety. Mostly, because that's about all that's available.

But on a recent visit to 3Cups, I overheard Matt S. extolling the virtues of their (recently-added) AOC Vermouth, Dolin Vermouth de Chambéry. Intrigued, I interrogated further and learned that the staff had done a taste test with the Vermouth, on ice, by itself – and that it'd passed with flying colors. Say no more! I picked up a bottle of the Dry and of the Blanc (sweet and white – never even heard of such a beast before) – they were out of the Rouge – and prepared to give them a test-run that evening when B. and S. came over for dinner.

First, tasting straight-up, chilled.

Round 1: Taste Test

Dry: incredibly delicate and tasty, herbal with a nice bitter finish but not parched. Really does make a great apertif.

Sweet: fuller palette,  still nice herbal flavors but pops a little more without being saccharine in the way your normally think of sweet vermouth.

Round 2: Cocktails

Lately, Perfect Manhattans have been my cocktail of choice and this seemed like a perfect (ha!) opportunity to really put these vermouths through their paces.

Perfect Manhattan a la Carrboro


2 oz. Pendleton Blended Canadian Whisky
1/4 oz. Dolin Vermouth de Chambéry Dry
1/4 oz. Dolin Vermouth de Chambéry Blanc
Dash herbal-citrus bitters
Dash Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters


Add to shaker over ice; shake vigorously and strain into glass


Maybe the best Manhattan I've ever had: balanced, delicate, flavorful with herbal, caramel, vanilla tones all melding together in an absurdly smooth drink. Obviously I can't speak highly enough of the Dolin – totally converted, and can't wait to pick up a bottle of the Rouge.