Monthly Archives: August 2011

Wolf Creek Restaurant & Brewing Company

I took the test yesterday morning and passed with flying colors! WOOHOO!!!! In order to celebrate, I figured it was time to get something I’ve been drooling over for a long time.
I GOT A DigiSLR!!! A Nikon D3100 to be precise. After lots of research, I was deciding between the D3100 and the D5100. Since I won’t be focusing on video, I figured this one would be perfect. I’m in love!

After snapping dozens of photos around the house, I decided to take Nikita aka Nikki aka my new beloved camera, for a test drive.
Allie and I went to Wolf Creek Restaurant & Brewing Company in Calabasas.
The interior is bright, cheery and earthy. I love the rustic wood and gorgeous streaks of ruby paint racing across the walls.
I love the floor to ceiling windows! If you need natural light to test out your beautiful new camera, this is the perfect place for it!
They immediately brought out piping hot fresh bread with a funky purple dipping sauce. I forwent the sauce and just shoveled hunk after hunk of scorching sourdough into my mouth. Drool.
They brew their own beer on site. Awesome!
And the beer! From the top left: Golden Eagle – their blonde ale, Howlin’ Hef – self explanatory, Wolf Dog – A hoppy amber, Wild Angels – a sweet tripel, Midnite Howl – a mix of IPA and stout, and Oatmeal Stout – their guest brew on tap from Anderson Valley. Wolf Dog was my favorite – a nice, dry, beautifully hopped amber that finishes with a healthy bite of citrus hops.
SO good to have more options in local brews!
Allie and I split the Chicken and Brie sandwich – grilled chicken breast, gooey brie cheese, guacamole, sundried tomatoes and chipotle mayo on ciabatta bread. We subbed the sweet potato fries for the regular chipotle. DROOL AGAIN! Any place that has sweet potato fries is a win on my list.
Dessert was – COMPLIMENTARY! The waitress brought out this amazing sculpture of maple ice cream studded with vanilla beans, sandwiched between sweet waffles, drizzled with a maple cream and fresh berries. They served maple syrup on the side, but it was sweet enough without. This definitely cemented my adoration for Wolf Creek.

And to finish, I had to share (with Allie’s permission of course) – Allie (not a fan of bitter beers) tries her first sip of a black IPA.
I love my cousin. And my new camera that was able to capture, in succession, this amazing piece of history.


Filed under brewery

Honey Basil Chicken

I feel… I feel… I feel… HAPPY OF MYSELF!!!!

I was inspired to create a meal to pair with Bison Brewing’s Honey Basil Ale. A few months ago, I’d tried making a balsamic and sesame chicken and figured I could use some of the same techniques to create:

Honey Basil Chicken and Bell Peppers – You can find the printable recipe HERE.
3-4 chicken breasts
3 bell peppers, sliced into strips
The juice and zest from 1 orange
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
A handful of fresh basil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
A splash of olive oil (1-3tbsp)
Pinch of salt and pepper
1-2 bottles Bison Brewing Honey Basil Ale

1. Open up a bottle of Honey Basil Ale and pour into a perfect pint glass to get you in the mood.
2. Wash the fresh basil, then roll it and Chiffonade.
And snap! I mean, and slice thinly…
3. Prepare all the other ingredients, mise en place.
4. In a large baking pan, combine the orange juice, zest, honey, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, minced garlic, salt, pepper and basil, and stir well.
5. Add the bell peppers and chicken and toss to coat.
6. Cover and let sit for 2-4 hours in the fridge, tossing often so all ingredients marry.
7. After marinating, pull the chicken and bell peppers out, and pour the marinade into a small saucepan.
8. Bring the marinade to a boil to kill off all the evil salmonella/raw chicken poisons.
9. Put the bell peppers in a grill pan and place the chicken on a grill over medium heat.
10. After 5-12 minutes (depending on thickness) flip the chicken.
Beautiful grill marks!!!
11. Spoon the marinade over both the chicken and the bell peppers (stirring the bell peppers continuously).
12. After 5-12 minutes, flip the chicken once more and spoon more marinade over the first-cooked side.
13. Remove the chicken breasts from the grill and let rest for about five more minutes while the bell peppers finish cooking.
14. Serve and enjoy on a gorgeous summer evening in the backyard with another bottle of Bison Brewing Honey Basil Ale.
15. Like Bites ‘n Brews on Facebook and then follow me on Twitter. Then eat more.


Filed under beer, recipe

So. Much. Beer.

I have my Cicerone test to become a Certified Beer Server on Saturday, so my day was spent like this:
Healthy monsta to start! We had a peach that was about to pass its prime, so I threw it in the Vitamix. Nothing like getting two cups of spinach in before 9am!
Then I got down to business.
My plan was to start studying at 10am, and not stop until all fifty-six of these styles’ ABVs, IBUs and SRMs were memorized!
But then I started posting pictures of what I was preparing to study for on my Bites ‘n Brews Facebook page and forgot to actually BEGIN the studying part… (I was even wearing my Odell IPA sweatshirt to mentally prepare!)

Eventually, I DID get down to business! I spent a good three hours learning about the off-flavors you can encounter in beer, how adding oats to the brew creates an oily or silky texture to the mouthfeel, that lowering the mash temp will create a thinner, crisp finish, that umami surfaces in beer with a taste of soy sauce, that having DMS (Dimethyl Sulfide) present in the beer creates a canned corn taste…
Yeah. And that’s just a small part of the perception of flavor section.

Luckily for my sanity, I had plans to meet up with Janelle and her hubby, Andrew at Wades Wines for a beer flight night!
There wasn’t a style setup this night, unlike the previous beer tastings we’ve been to, but an introduction to some new beers they have on tap. I’d already tried both of the Heretic brews at Ladyface with Janelle last month, but needed another look.
Any brewery that has their own coasters AND temporary tattoos has made it!
Of all the four beers, the last two stood out most to me. Heretic’s Evil Twin is HOPPY! The Bruery’s Humulus Lager is… different. Big hops on the nose and taste, but they fade immediately after the swallow. Here’s the confusing part: Evil Twin = 45IBU. Humulus = 70IBU. Whaaaa? There’s a HUGE difference in the bitterness of the Evil Twin vs. the Humulus. Evil Twin almost bowled me over, but Humulus seemed pretty tame. I had to come home and find out how IBUs are rated.

I came home, ready to research how IBUs are determined, but I opened my fridge to this:
That’s not including the Dogfish Head Sah’tea and Labyrinth Black Ale I picked up after the tasting tonight… Needless to say, I opened a Boont ESB and promptly forgot about IBUs. Until tomorrow…

Random catch-up time! I asked on Twitter yesterday if pairing a CoCoNut PorTeR from Maui Brewing Company with a super spicy butternut squash and leek soup was a bad decision. Two people responded to me, recommending that I stick with an ESB instead…
I received those recommendations halfway through the bowl of soup and glass of porter. Oops. I’m happy to report that the coconut porter does NOT overwhelm the soup! In fact, I couldn’t detect any of the “hand toasted coconut” in the porter. It smelled like a dense, rich coffee porter stuffed with chocolate malts. I enjoyed a can (or two) to soothe my blazing mouth while I watched Black Swan.
It was an intense night.

And now, I’m going to retire to the soft couch that beckons me from the living room, and rot my exhausted, beer fact-riddled brain and watch a stupid comedy. G’night!


Filed under beer, beer tasting

Jack’s Brewing Company

For the show in Fremont, I hoped against all odds that there would be some type of place in the area that served craft beer. Using my handy BeerWhere application on my phone, I found a brewery! In Fremont! Yessssss!
Jack’s Brewing is a little sports pub in the middle of downtown Fremont. It’s not labeled well and if not for the “Jack’s Brewing Company” van parked out front, I may have never found it.
Their selection of beer was decent. They had the standards: wheat, APA, amber, IPA, porter, plus a seasonal pilsner and double IPA.
Lemon in the wheat. Grumble grumble grumble. Overall I enjoyed the double IPA and amber the best. The wheat was watery, unflavorful and meh, but everything else surprised me with quality! All the beers were sweeter and malty with unfermented sugars, but it wasn’t off-putting. Decent sessionable beers with low ABVs.
I would like to add that this was the best pilsner I’ve had to date! I’m not a fan of the style, but I think the malty body really made me enjoy this pilsner. I’m fairly certain that the SRM is way too high to qualify as a true pils, but I sure enjoyed it!
We split an order of the artichoke dip – holy freaking delicious. I stole all of the cheese and inhaled giant dollops of this on the chips they provided. I was full before we even looked at the entrees.
And yet, somehow, I was able to fit more food in. The grilled salmon salad. I didn’t eat the salad – that’s just filler. The salmon was wonderful! Tender, juicy, caramelized on top from the grill. I love me some salmon!
Dessert? I couldn’t. Pecan-apple bread pudding? Okay, fine! Stop badgering me! We got this plate to split amongst four of us. I ate the entire thing. You snooze, you lose when it comes to bread pudding and me. This spiced bread was studded with candied pecans and sweet, juicy bites of apple, and drizzled with raspberry and caramel sauce. I would have licked the plate, but that would make me appear less of a lady.

After two weeks on the road, it’s so wonderful to be home! I brought back many good memories, and I’m ready to make some new ones.
Stone Brewing Japanese Green Tea IPA – had it last night. Adding green tea to the second dry hop and calling it a green tea IPA? It doesn’t work that way! There wasn’t a hint of green tea in the aroma or flavor. A delicious, wonderfully hoppy IPA nonetheless. I’ll be working through the rest of these soon!

I’m also on the hunt for a good DigiSLR under $1200. Any recommendations? I’m gonna get all professional and stuffs. And then I’ll drink more beer!

Stay tuned for a mass amount of recipes this week! I’m home again and my kitchen needs cooking/baking/sauteing/FOODING!


Filed under brewery, Uncategorized

Skyping with Sonoma

My dog can’t see herself in the mirror. She ignores the television, and her own reflection. If something’s outside of a glass window, she doesn’t acknowledge it. That’s what makes this so amazing. Prepare for cuteness overload!


Filed under Skype

Deschutes Brewery

We stayed overnight in Vancouver, Washington the other day (because I’m the one who made the itinerary), so I found it necessary to visit a brewery or two in Portland, which happened to be incredibly close (because I’m the one who made the itinerary)! After asking for all of your recommendations, I ran like crazy to the bus station, hopped the 105 Express to Portland and went to the brewery that was within walking distance of that bus stop. Enter: Deschutes Brewery!
You know you’ve made it as a brewery when you get your own coasters!
It was around 5pm on a Thursday, so the bar was pretty packed for happy hour. My one complaint: the windows are not big enough to fully enjoy the brewery behind them. Let’s just make the entire back of the bar with glass, yes?
The restaurant is big, open and airy, and full of wonderful rustic wooden beams that give it an earthy ambiance.
The beer list was extensive. I was able to rule out two beers – the Black Butte Porter and the Mirror Pond, since I’ve had them both multiple times before.
That didn’t really make my decision any easier…
I opted for these six and comforted myself with the thought that I could always try something else afterwards.
It’s so beautiful! Let’s see it from another angle…
How about some “Blue Steel”?
Perfect! You were made for the camera, babe!

I’m a nerd.
I ordered a side of sweet potato fries to help keep the tipsyness down, since I had to find my way back to the bus later.

1. Bachelor Bitter – 5% ABV, 43 IBU. This is a traditional bitter. I enjoyed the first sip, but much preferred to let it warm up a little, which reduced the carbonation and brought out more caramel on the nose. A very caramel malt body. Delicious and flavorful!

2. Lebuj Tonip – 6.7% ABV, 60 IBU. This beer had intense raisin on the nose. A very sweet, rich body with a noticeable boozy flavor that ended with a blanket of warmth that slowly melted down my spine.

3. Armory XPA – 6% ABV, 58 IBU. Nice amount of Cascade on the nose. Medium, malty smooth mouthfeel. The hops ended it, but not in an overpowering/biting fashion.

4. Inversion IPA – 6.8% ABV, 80 IBU. This one smelled kind of funky. Not sure if it was the glass or the beer, because the taste was good. Honestly though, the smell distracted me from taking any good notes. Whoops.

5. Hop-in-the-Dark – 6.9% ABV, 90 IBU. This one had a good amount of hops on the nose. The flavor is rounded with slight chocolate and raisin. At this point, my notes were becoming less and less legible…

6. Imperial Hop-in-the-Dark – 9.5% ABV, 85 IBU. I’m going to type, verbatim, what I wrote on my notes for this: Not hoppy on nose. Warmer fnish, not as smooooth as 5. WARM! 😀 (And yes, I did in fact draw a smiley face)

As you can probably tell, I didn’t need to try anything more. I sheepishly thanked the waiter for letting me use his pen to take my elegant and refined notes, and made my way back to the brewery.
I gazed adoringly through the glass doors, drooled a little in jealously, and wandered out into the heart of Portland.
I proceeded to fall in love with the gigantic bookstore, Powell’s Books, but was overwhelmed by the massive amounts of bookage and had to leave to catch my breath and the bus.
Oh, Portland, you’ve also won a piece of my heart!


Filed under beer, brewery

Happy IPA Day!

Please tell me you knew it was International IPA Day today, because our waitress at Sierra Nevada Brewery had no idea. NO IDEA!
International IPA Day was founded by Ashley Routson (aka The Beer Wench) and Ryan A. Ross of Karl Strauss as a grassroots social media effort to celebrate craft beer. As of 5:30pm tonight, it was a trending topic on Twitter in Seattle, Denver, San Diego and a crapload of other cities that I’m much too technologically challenged to find. IPA Day: A genius idea!
Sierra Nevada seemed like a good place to spend IPA Day! While we were too late for a tour, I got to take a look around at their brewing equipment – these are actual copper mash tuns from a defunct German brewery!
Delicious amounts of mass fermentation pipes!
The only Sierra Nevada beer I’ve tried before was the Torpedo Extra IPA. How the heck am I supposed to choose from 16 different beers??
Ooooh, 16 tasters! Why didn’t I think of that? Oh yeah, because I weigh 110 and I’m not completely insane. Oh well, here goes nothing (or here goes 16)!
Yeah, that oughta do it for me…
We ordered to the garlic fries as a cushion for the beer. A helpful hint: When tasting beers, if you want to be able to appreciate the aroma and flavor, DON’T ORDER GARLIC FRIES! Before even touching them, the garlic smell overwhelmed our little table.
One of my favorites: Tumbler. First off: I love that they describe this beer the same way I describe beer. “Light wisps of smoke delicately balanced with a gentle touch…” Awesome. This beer was a beautiful brown-amber, malty and smokey, with just a “gentle touch” of hoppiness on the end. I was tempted to order a pint.
But then I saw Life & Limb. A collaboration between Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada? Look, I know it’s IPA Day, but I had to go for this baby. In my defense, it’s 50 IBU, so it’s technically in the IPA range of hops! It. Was. Epic.
Brewed with maple syrup from the Calagione family ranch. Bottle carbonated with birch syrup from Alaska! 10% ABV. Dude. This beer was heavily scented with maple syrup, full bodied with a warm, boozy essence up front. While you could sense the bite from the hops, it was in no way overwhelming and the caramel/maple malts melted through my veins and pulsed with joy and wonder. No wonder they only offer 10 ounce pours.
I balanced it out with butternut squash ravioli topped with grilled vegetables. Sweet and spicy butternut squash wrapped in a luxurious pasta, topped with a zesty garlic dressing. I had two pieces before I had to stop. Half a basket of garlic fries will do that to you.
After I managed to roll out of my seat and out the door, I waddled around the building to check out the well-lit rooms that displayed their whole-leaf hops. So many hops! I was tempted to break a window to steal them, but I decided to leave them be for the good of mankind.
I be a happy girl!!!
Delicious food, amazing beer (I DID sample two IPAs today, thank you very much!) and a great way to celebrate International IPA Day!


Filed under beer

Elysian Brewing Company

Yesterday was the perfect day. Seriously. I headed over to Seattle again, visited Heaven (aka REI Flagship store) where I proceeded to drool over the lightweight tents and new JetBoil systems, got a ridiculously cheap and amazing massage from Cortiva, then finished up the day at Elysian Brewing Company.
Oh, baby! Okay, so it wasn’t technically the brewery itself, but the pub Elysian Fields in Pioneer Square next to the stadium.
Elysian Fields isn’t the actual brewery, but they do (of course) serve all the beers on tap, plus brew a little bit in the back. I love the garage-style doors. There’s something that screams “craft beer” about breweries with garage-style doors.
I couldn’t decide on which beer to get, so I ordered the sampler – the only way to truly appreciate a brewery’s talents.
And appreciate I did! Five glasses (plus the second porter that Ora gave to me since she wasn’t a fan) of delicious gorgeous-ity! My favorites were the Perseus Porter and the Avatar Jasmine IPA. The porter was the perfect blend of smokey and chocolatey, with a beautiful smokey/chocolatey/coffee aroma – my descriptions are extremely diverse, aren’t they? I’ve already raved about the Avatar Jasmine IPA. So delicate! So unique! So much love!
Luckily, their menu is a little easier to choose from. I actually like that the focus is on the beer and not on pages and pages of food. I’m a very indecisive person, in case you haven’t noticed. When given tons of options, I’ll cower in the corner and beg the server to surprise me so that I don’t have to make a decision based on the massive quantities of delicious possibilities that lay before me.
We started with the side of asparagus that came grilled to perfection – crispy and caramelized in olive oil with just a touch of salt.
I saw this on the menu and was sold! It’s extremely strange, but I’m becoming obsessed with portobello mushrooms – something you’d never expect to hear from someone who hated mushrooms with the passion that I did prior to a month ago.
Too hungry to take a steady picture. Had to eat immediately. This was so good! Soft grilled bread slathered with goat cheese and topped with grilled portobello mushrooms, roasted red peppers and fresh greens. I devoured the sammich, plus a handful of the fries before I forced myself to save some room for dessert.
DESSERT. Oh. My. Geez. I asked our waitress to bring her recommendation. The chocolate torte – made with chocolate chevre on top of a delicate cake and surrounded by rich chocolate slabs.
It was terrible. I wanted to get rid of it as fast as possible. I never wanted to have to look at it ever again. So I finished it. I SHOWED YOU, YOU DELICIOUS CHOCOLATE TORTE!
After finishing my six wonderful beer samples, we had to say farewell to Seattle and get back on the metro to work our way back to Bellevue. Goodbye Seattle, I am an albatross. (That’s an Owl City reference in case you just think I’m insane. Which I might be as well…)
This is me looking sad and artistic in the metro station.

Farewell Seattle! I honestly loved you.


Filed under brewery

A Day in Seattle

I spent a full day doing ridiculous touristy stuff in downtown Seattle. I tend to stray from tourist attractions when I visit places, but this time I decided to embrace it with open arms and a fanny pack. I’m just kidding, I don’t own a fanny pack – but know that if I did, I would’ve been rocking it today!
I took the bus from Bellevue to Seattle and hiked a few blocks to Pike Street.
This market has everything!
Public Market is the longest running, continuously open farmers’ market. They just celebrated their 100th year.
Mmmm, carbs!
Mmmm, lobster butts!
Mmmm, fish face!
How could I not?
Definitely did NOT! The line was around the block and, let’s face it, it’s just Starbucks…
I definitely DID stop across the street at Piroshky Piroshky and got a potato, onion and cheese piroshky. Mmmm, starchy, cheesy carbs!
Oh, baby! Seattle, you’ve won me over.
Touch tank at the aquarium.
Bwahahahaha! My sense of humor belongs to a teenage boy, but I just find this hilarious!
Super Puffin!!!
Super tourism!
In Seattle, many suffer from insomnia.
Deliciously abandoned.
They can do no wrong. Crazy, Stupid, LOVED them in this movie!

GUESS WHAT! I’m gonna receive EVEN MORE money! Seattle is SO lucky for me!

I really don’t wanna be arrested, interrogated or prosecuted for money laundering, so I’d better do as they say…
Mac and Jack’s African Amber. Good Monday!


Filed under Travel