Monthly Archives: June 2011

Podunkville, USA

TWELVE HOURS on the road today! In case you’re unaware, I’m on the way to Breckenridge, Colorado to work an art festival. The art festival just so happens to be directly across the street from Breckenridge Brewery. I just may happen to be eating every single meal there in addition to touring the brewery and getting some insight into the brewing process and history from the brewers themselves. In order to prepare myself for the amazing foods and brews I’ll be experiencing over the weekend, I needed to visit some crappy little podunk restaurant so I could fully appreciate it. Enter Green River, Utah (aka Podunk-bloodthirsty-mosquito-ville, USA).
Tamarisk Restaurant. On the corner of this:
And this:
You won’t miss it. It’s one of three restaurants in the entire town.
It’s a classy little place. Can’t you tell from the mood lighting?
And the wide variety of wilted greens in the salad bar…
I’m being cruel. It really wasn’t that bad. They at least had three choices of craft beer from a brewery I just recently tried.
Uinta Golden Spike Hefeweizen. I realized after I’d poured it into the glass that there was sediment on the bottom I’d forgotten to agitate. I like a healthy amount of yeast in my hefs.
I poured a little in to give it more depth. Whether or not you want to pour that extra layer of sediment on the bottom in is a personal preference. It doesn’t make it any less “Hef-y” if you don’t. I wasn’t a fan of this beer – there were absolutely no hops aromas and zero bitterness.

I drank it anyway – I’m self sacrificing like that…

I ordered the special of the day: Coconut Crusted Tilapia with steamed broccoli.
Obviously frozen and pan seared, but except for the excessive amount of sodium, it wasn’t half bad. The best part though? Wait for it…
Packets of tartar sauce. Nothing says “gourmet” like processed tartar sauce encased in plastic!

I’ll be heading into Breckenridge tomorrow morning and will get a post of the brewery up as soon as I’m done setting up tomorrey night! Any Breckenridge Brew recommendations? It’s my first time trying any beer brewed by them!
Ohhhh, yeaaah!

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Roman Holiday: Take Two

Two and a half months ago, my cousin Allie and I visited Roman Holiday for the first time. And second time. Yes, it was so good that we went there two days in a row.

When a Screamin’ Daily Deal for Roman Holiday appeared in my inbox, I grabbed at it right away.
We arrived at 3:30: right around when happy hour was starting, of course.
Seeing that it was a scorching eighty degrees out, an icy red wine Sangria seemed necessary.
The second Sangria was also necessary. Just trust me on this.
We loaded up our cards (if you don’t understand what this means, I sum it up in THIS blog post) and went around to the dispensers tasting all the wines. Allie went for some of the rare whites, I went for the reds that had pretty labels. It was a very scientific process.
We opted to go for the happy hour deal ($5 off each platter) and get a combo platter.
Bread…
Cheese…
MEAT! We ordered the heirloom prosciutto, Italian speck, cave aged gruyere, L’Amuse gouda and O’Banon goat cheese along with five condiments on the side: dried cherries, fig jam, raisin/apple chutney with mustard seed, organic honey and Fuji apple slices.
Since we were being all fancy anyway, I decided to try their “Beachfire Margarita” – a mix of tequila, elderflower liqeur, grapefruit juice, fresh chopped cucumber and a dash of smoked scotch with a Kilauea black sea salt rim. This tasted nothing like a margarita, but I loved that it wasn’t overly sweet and the smoky finish was lovely!
Unbeknownst to us, last night was actually Roman Holiday’s grand opening! The place was soon packed to the brim with the Chamber of Commerce and others out looking for a delicious happy hour place. They had the champagne tower and everything, but since I’m so freakin’ short, I couldn’t get a good view, much less a good picture.
That’s what our evening started to look like once they passed out that free champagne… Deliciously fuzzy!
Jeremy was our waiter last night. Shockingly enough he and Chris (the bartender from the LAST time we came in) both remembered us! I showed him that he’d made it into my previous blog. Or his quote did…
“Oh, you know me: just pollinating the customers!”
Possibly my favorite, most memorable quote of all time.

The rest of the night was spent jacuzzi-ing and rocking out to new country music. That’s how we roll!

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Beer Tasting: German Pilsner

Just so you know I’m not a beer expert! I’m in the learning process and absorbing as much alcohol…information as I can. Last night I had lots of studying to do – namely tasting two separate German Pilsners and taking notes on the appearance, smell, taste, mouthfeel and overall impression. I picked up two bottles from the Total Wine import section and got to work!
First up, EKU Pils. This one didn’t get great reviews on BeerAdvocate (which I didn’t look up until I got home. Whoops…) so I decided to taste the “bad one” first.
Appearance: Pours a straw yellow color. 1 inch of head that dissipates almost immediately.

Smell: Clean, slightly grassy/earthy flavor.

Mouthfeel: Medium-high carbonation. Rolls nicely on the tongue. Zesty.

Overall: This beer is very light, bland and clean with a mild hops bite at the end. I’m not a fan of light beers in general, and this one goes on the list of “never try again”.

Lammsbrau Organic Pilsner
Appearance: Pours a clear straw yellow. 1/2 in head that retains.

Smell: Herby (marijuana/skunk) essence on the nose. (This can be due to the use of hops or lager yeast (good) or attributed to the green bottle which allows UV rays through and makes the beer “light-struck” and therefore skunky (bad)). From what I’ve read, the majority of Pilsners do have a slightly skunky essense that’s desirable for that style.

Taste: Very light sweet malt. After the initial maltiness, there’s a hint of lime.

Mouthfeel: Lively, medium carbonation. Allows for the lime to come through at the end.

Overall: A very pleasant session beer. Light and clean but not underwhelmingly so.

As you can see, my reviews aren’t quite up to “beer expert” standards, but that’s the point of learning!
LEARNING IS GOOD!

After those light beers (I had 1/3 of each), I needed something a little more full bodied to end the night with.
By “a little more” obviously I meant “a beautiful facepunch more”. Uinta Brewing Company Seventeenth Anniversary Barley Wine Ale.

A beautiful facepunch indeed.

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Beer Clean

I’ve been doing lots of studying on the beer front lately. Yesterday, I learned how to tap a keg (no, I never learned how to do that in college. I’m a late bloomer when it comes to beer…) and how to ensure that a glass is “beer clean”.

The term beer clean refers to a glass that is free of oils, dust particles or other impurities that would disturb the look and flavor of the beer. I set out yesterday to find a glass that was not beer clean so I could demonstrate for you.
I did this for YOU.

We went to Andres Wine and Tapas Bar over in Ventura Harbor yesterday to enjoy the gorgeous weather we’ve been having. I ordered a Widmer Hefeweizen with NO lemon or any kind of fruits on top. The citric acid and oils in the peel kill the head retention of the beer and also masks the true aroma and taste. Not the greatest (nor the worst) beer around, but it’s perfectly light and refreshing on a warm day!
In the glass above, you’ll notice that there is a rim of bubbles close to the top of the glass, and not much head for a hefeweizen (a hef should have a fairly thick head that sticks around for a while). When a glass is not beer clean, the bubbles that cling to the sides will show you where any impurities are, and the head will not last as long as it should.
In a beer clean glass, there will be an even ring of lacing down the sides as you drink the beer. Above, there are only a few random spots with any remnants of lacing.
I got another, just to make sure that it wasn’t a random attack of regular dishwashing detergent. It wasn’t. The other glass did the same thing, but you can’t say I didn’t give them a fair shot! Again, I did this for YOU!

To get a beer clean glass, don’t even think about using detergent or regular soap. There are a few steps to ensure that you’ll pour a perfect pint every time.
1. Wash your pint class thoroughly with a sudsless soap and a clean bottle brush.
2. Dunk the glass in a sanitized sink full of cold water, making sure to put the bottom of the glass in first so you don’t get an air bubble in the glass which will prevent it from getting truly clean.
3. In another sink full of water and sanitizer, dunk the glass one more time, putting the bottom of the glass in first to ensure that all areas are being touched by the sanitizer.
4. Dry the glass upside down on a well aerated drying rack.

Seems easy enough, right? Here are some tests you can do to see if you’ve truly made that glass beer clean.
1. The Salt Test – rinse the clean glass in cold water and sprinkle table salt around the inside. Anywhere the salt doesn’t adhere to is not beer clean.
2. The Lacing Test – This is the test I chose. Pour a beer into a glass, drink that beer and see if there is any lingering lacing around the sides. If there’s not an even lacing from top to bottom, the glass is not beer clean.
Salt Test on the left, Lacing Test on the right.

OKAY, enough learning for the day? I’ll finish up my recap.

After my study session at Andres Wine and Tapas bar, we sauntered over to Andria’s for some fried fish ‘n chips!
Nothing like deep fried fish with an ocean breeze on the harbor on a warm summer day!
We also found the time to traumatize my dog. C’mon, how could I not???

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LazyChiveFace

I have no idea how or why, but I was featured on TheChive yesterday amongst their Daily Afternoon Randomness (Check out number 26 to see ME! And ignore all the semi-nude pics surrounding it. Unless you’re into that sort of thing… I ain’t judgin’!). Not sure who put me on that, but THANK YOU! I’m enjoying all the lovely comments and views from fellow beer lovers! NOW onto today’s post!

I was out of town for Fathers’ Day this year. It’s completely impossible to make it live up to last year’s anyway, but I did my best!
We began last night at Lazy Dog Cafe. Yes, it is a chain, but they serve Firestone beer, so I’m willing to let the whole “chain” thing slide on this one.
We also had to take our own Lazy Dog with us. She enjoyed her complimentary water and $3.95 (!!!!) hamburger patty.
I started with the sampler. They had a blonde, American hef (which they served with a lemon slice – destroyed any semblence of head and overpowered the true flavor of the beer) , Bavarian hef, pale ale, red ale, and the seasonal – Somersault from New Belgium. My personal fave was the Bavarian Hefeweizen – a slightly smoky aroma with sweet aftertastes of banana and vanilla. I liked it so much, I ordered a FULL glass!
Yeah, you could definitely say I liked it…
We split the Mediterranean Pizzetti, which is something I get every single time I’m at Lazy Dog. Make me ANY dish with goat cheese and balsamic syrup and I will fall in love with you… It’s just a fact.
The celebration carried through into today. Originally, we were going to gorge on Indian food in Ventura and hit up the local Irish pub, but plans fell to the wayside and we decided to stick with some local eats. First  up: Karma Indian (owned by The Taj Cafe in Ventura) and then…

LADYFACE.

If you didn’t guess that right off the bat, then you just don’t know me…
I tried the firkin of the week: Vitamin C. This is the Chesebro IPA infused with orange peel. Now, I LOVE IPAs, but I think the orange peel took this a little TOO much into the bitter side for me. Ugh, never thought I’d say that.
I told you guys earlier this week that I’d like nothing more than to enjoy a chilly glass of Derailleur on the patio while reading a good book. Which I kind of did… To be fair, we STARTED on the patio, but since I was the generous one who offered to sit in the only sunny spot, we soon moved inside. I’m a big whiner when it comes to skin cancer. My Derailleur was enjoyed in the air conditioning instead.
It’s in print, therefore it’s official: Next month at Ladies at Ladyface: Janelle and my suggestion! Bottle sharing and glassware! Every lady will bring in her favorite bottle of beer, or personal homebrew, along with the glass it’s meant to be served in and we’ll be learning the purpose of specific glass shapes.

Oh yes, and there will be FOOD.
GET PSYCHED!
For now, I have some Twisted Sisters Zinfandel that needs to be enjoyed in this beautiful 75 degree weather.
Happy Makeup Fathers’ Day to my wonderful, youthful and handsome pops!!!

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Happiness is…

Happiness is…
Officially becoming a member of the American Homebrewers Association.

My number is blurred so you don’t steal my beer identity. I take beer identity safety very seriously…

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“Fast” Food

Aside from my Starbucks visits while on the road to another show, and my very, VERY rare desire for a McFlurry during long road trip vacations, I tend to stay as far away as possible from fast food. This past weekend, however, I found the new meaning of fast food, and I am in love.
Yelp brought this hole-in-the-wall to my attention. The previous day, I’d discovered Indian Tandoor sitting in a strip mall, and was greeted with the most amazing Chicken Tikka Masala I’d ever had in my entire life – all served on styrofoam within five minutes of ordering. Punjabi Tandoor was the next day.
We placed our order and a few minutes later, had fresh samosas placed before us. These were piping hot and stuffed to the brim with savory saffron-scented potatoes, pearl onions, peas and carrots, and served with a spicy-sweet red sauce that tasted like warmed honey studded with dried red chilies. I inhaled mine and held myself back from licking the crumbs of the styrofoam plate it was served on.
Seconds after I’d finished the samosa, our Chicken Tikka Masala and Baingan Bharta came rolling out. The chicken was delicious, but nothing compared to Indian Tandoor. The eggplant on the other hand… the absolute BEST Baingan Bharta I’ve come across in my entire Indian food-consuming career, and I’ve tried a LOT! It was perfectly cooked with a sweet charred scent, and spicy enough that you’d need tissues, but not so spicy that you couldn’t finish. The freshly baked garlic naan that came alongside burned my fingers because I couldn’t wait for it to cool before using it to sop up the delicious sauces.

The next day, I needed to try more of this non-chain fast-food that is speckled throughout San Diego.
Enter Drift Sushi. Okay, technically they’re a catering service, not fast food, but I watched them make my spicy tuna roll and serve it to me in two minutes, so I think it counts. This is, by far (prepare to roll your eyes), the BEST spicy tuna roll I’ve ever had. Am I getting monotonous? This roll was my breakfast, and I ordered it again for dinner. They generously stuffed it with creamy avocado and fresh cucumber, and even drizzled on eel sauce at my request.
I wish I could tell you which booth served these, but I just followed my nose. I ordered the garlic fries from the unknown booth and watched as they flash fried them and then tossed them in a sauce made of fresh minced garlic and dried parsley. You KNOW fries are good if they bag they’re served in becomes transparent! I ate the top layer and then shared the love with other artists around the show.
And here’s the ONE solitary food disappointment of the trip. My first food truck.
Witty  names, organic ingredients… If only their food lived up to the board.
I got the chicken pesto wrap with speckled lettuce and dry chicken. So glad I shelled out $9 for the experience.
Ora got the Mother Trucker vegan burger which she said was also dry. I was simply mesmerized by the neon pink beet sauce.

Food truck experience aside… I shall remember my “fast” food weekend fondly!

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Ladies at Ladyface: 2

Last night was the second monthly meeting of Ladies at Ladyface: The Fermentables & Comestibles Education & Tippling Society. Our first month was a tasting of their beer selection. Last night, we had a brewery tour.
Of course we had to pick up our beer beforehand! I got a taster of their seasonal release: Derailleur, a biere-de-garde aged in Sauvignon Blanc barrels. This beer clocks in at 8% ABV and IBU 28. This is the perfect summer ale – mildly carbonated, slightly sweet with fruity notes of apple and pear from the wine barrels. I can envision myself sipping this on a warm weekday back on the Ladyface patio, re-reading Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto while I wait for her newest novel to go through the cycle of holds at the library before it finally lands in my hands. In fact, I can see myself doing just that this week!
For last night, however, I went with the Ladyface IPA. A lot of their beers were sold out because of the AHA Conference in San Diego last week – quite an acceptable excuse! Quite a few of said beers even placed in the Los Angeles International Commercial Beer Competition! The list of winners can be seen here.
They recently got a huge shipment of grain in preparation for new brews, but there was still plenty of room to gather around. Cyrena even provided kegs as seats!
We started off with an overview of the brewing process, and passed around jars of different malts and hops to smell (and taste in the case of the grains) the differences.
We got a peek inside their mash tun which is just begging to be put to use again. Well, I’m begging them here to put it to use to make my old favorite beer of theirs from last year, Ladyface Weizenbock.
Cyrena also passed around other flavor additions that they use – bitter orange peel, coriander and chamomile.
We also looked at yeast cells. By this point, I had finished my Ladyface IPA and was a quarter of the way into sipping a glass of Port Brewing Anniversary Ale (10% ABV) so please forgive my lack of description of this particular segment…
We got to try a little of their Saison that was still in the fermenter, hence the ridiculously cloudy, yeasty cup. It’s been fermenting for about three weeks now, and will be racking it off in about a week. The essence of banana and light citrus fruits make you feel like you’re back on the farm in Belgium, relaxing after a hard day herding sheep and working the fields. Ahh, the simple life.
After the brewery tour, fellow Lady at Ladyface and beer enthusiast Janelle and I stayed to talk with Brewer Dave and Cyrena, and figured out what to do for the third ever meeting of Ladies at Ladyface: a beer tasting/glassware education and tippling. Everyone will bring in a bottle of their favorite beer, or a personal homebrew, as well as the glass that is traditionally used for that specific style.

It should be a fun, tippled night, just like our previous meetings!

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Green Flash Brewing Co.

I’ve tried one beer from Green Flash Brewing Co. prior to tonight – the Barleywine. I wasn’t a big fan, seeing that I’d never had barleywine before and had no idea what to expect. Since I’m working down in San Diego this weekend, and since the brewery recently moved to a new place mere minutes from my hotel, I decided to check it out.
It was such a gorgeous day out, I decided to walk to the brewery.
The building is HUGE! I walked into this ginormous cavern that was jammed with people and beautiful beer.
They recently made the move to this building, so there are huge tanks and fermenters that are essentially empty. These casks and the fridge are all that contain beer here so far.
They had 15 beers on tap here. I waited in a loooong line, got my ID checked (really? ME?) and ordered four tasters.
San Diego Saison – A REALLY good saison (and I’m a great judge of those, seeing that I’ve only had one before…). It had a very nutmeg-y essence and reminded me of pumpkin ale – no wonder I liked! Le Freak – A Belgian-style IPA. VERY hoppy, but finishes with a sweet malt. It made for a happy Becki. Hop Head Red – This clocks in at only 45 IBU… Not sure why they’d call it Hop Head. Still, not bad, but not what I was hoping for after reading the name. Double Stout – A rich, smooth, toasty stout. I finished with this one which allowed it to come closer to room temperature, and really warmed up the aromatics. Stouts aren’t my favorite, but this one was luscious!
Respect the lacing.
I hung out at the bar and took creeper pictures of people and the tanks behind them.
There’s still a lot of work to be done here, construction-wise, but their beers need for nothing! I can’t believe I’ve never experienced Green Flash before, but I’m so glad I was able to experience it straight from the mothership.
Then I wandered to the strip mall across the street and had Indian fast food. Frightening? Yes, but so worth it.
Dare I say the best chicken tikka masala I’ve ever had? BEST CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA I’VE EVER HAD! This arrived at my table sizzling hot, rich and full of creamy, smoky tomato flavor, tender bites of chicken and a zesty spice that made my nose run. Indian Tandoor – unassuming, kinda nervewracking to order from, and delicious. C’mon, live dangerously! It’s worth the risk.

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Breaking the Chain: Savory Cafe

This post is part of a series I’m doing called “Breaking the Chain”. Check out previous broken chains like White Elephant, Rúla Búla, Park View Cafe, The Old Place Cornell and Craft & Commerce.

Pancakes. Just the word makes me feel oh-so-happy! I’m always in search of new forms of pancakes, and while these aren’t specifically NEW to me, they’re noteworthy enough that I’m devoting an entire blog to them.
Savory Cafe and Bakery in Ventura. I. LOVE. Ventura. I could honestly spend my life there eating at Andria’s, eating at the Taj, eating at Savory, eating at… you get the picture. Ventura is a cesspool of deliciousness. Yeah, cesspool and deliciousness don’t go together. Deal with it.
We sat on the covered porch, warmed from the chilly marine layer by toasty heating lamps. I was warm enough to take off my superawesomecool arm warmers.
This is actually a picture from a vegan place in Colorado – I just wanted to display my superawesomecool arm warmers.
I found what I wanted immediately. Actually, I found it before we even arrived. I have this habit of reading menus online for fun. It comes in handy at such times as this.
The lighting sucked on my side of the table, but here’s the general idea…
…and here’s the close up! Sweet potato pancakes spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, covered in a rich whipped cream and topped with candied spicy pecans. Oh. Yes. These pancakes weren’t dense, the way my vegan sweet potato pancakes sometimes turn out, but light and fluffy, and it’s impossible to keep from overstuffing yourself unless you have great self control, like me.

That’s such a lie. I demolished the plate.
Along with the three thick strips of crispy bacon that came with. They melted in my mouth. I fell into the happiest brunch food coma of my entire life.

Savory, thank you for being you.

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