Monthly Archives: September 2012

Boston: Part 1

On Wednesday I took off for Boston to attend a wedding. We decided to start our vacation a little early and take some gifts to the good folks at The Chive before catching the red eye.
Of course it was beer, what else would you expect me to take?
Okey fine, oatmeal stout brownies topped with caramelized bacon may have made an appearance too…
Patty, John, Megan, Alex, Emily and Elliot were kind enough to take some time out of their workday to try out the new seasonal beers we’d brought from Enegren.
The beautiful ladies of The Berry and I enjoying some Foliage Pale Ale. And brownies. With bacon on top. Did I mention those yet? We hung out tasting beer for about an hour and then headed off to prep for our flight out.
Beer is prep. LOVE the pour on this – the fill line is completely ignored and no head remains after the faucet was submerged in the glass. Delicious.

The red eye was cramped, hot and nearly impossible to sleep on. I had about two hours of shut eye before we landed in Boston at 6:30am.  After finding the rental car, we took off into downtown for breakfast.
We found this gem after three unsuccessful attempts to find non-chain restaurants that had unassuming names but turned out to be Dunkin Donuts. The Dunkin is big on this side of the country.
Anytime I see bread pudding, I must order it.
Grilled cheesy bread pudding topped with a fried egg and tomato compote. Holy deliciousness. The sweetness of the compote combined with a perfectly runny yolk that cascaded over thick slices of bread pudding studded with generous doses of cheddar made for a VERY happy girl, exhaustion aside.
We walked around the city for a few more hours and visited the Holocaust memorial.
The tattooed numbers of the estimated eleven million who were killed are etched into the glass towers and show up when steam rises through the grates below. These towers are shocking and beautiful at the same time.
We visited the old cobbled streets lined with the original pubs.
I’m ridiculously touristy and not ashamed!
THIS without a doubt was my favorite part of the city. On my Facebook I asked for recommendations of places to visit while in the city. Don is a bartender at Stoddard’s Fine Food and Ale, and suggested I check the restaurant out. Stoddard’s serves FIVE cask ales. I read the word “casks” and immediately wrote it into the schedule.
They have twenty beers of draught. Don was kind enough to let us sample a few of them.
These, however, are the reason we showed up.
I asked Don for his cask recommendations and he put these two beauties in front of me. Wachusset Black Shack Porter and BBC Steele Rail Pale Ale. Absolutely stunning. Cellar temperature and smooth nitro-like carbonation thanks to the sparkler. Utter contentment.
A huge thank you to Don for the wonderful recommendation, helping us out and treating us to some absolutely delicious beers.

Stay tuned for Boston: Part 2… Whenever I have another quiet few moments to write that down. For now – off to the wedding!

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Whole Wheat Sugarless Banana Cake Bread

Exciting news all around: I’m back to baking! I’ve missed having the time and the creativity to whip up some deliciousness in the kitchen, so I’m going overboard with it now.

But first: Friday was my last day at Wolf Creek as assistant brewer. While I had a wonderful few months there hauling grain, scrubbing out mash tuns, brewing delicious beer and having some awesome bragging rights, I truly missed being able to connect with those drinking the beer and being able to explain to them why the beer they were tasting had that citrus or banana aroma, or how adding the hops earlier in the boil makes the beer more bitter, or urging them to visit all the local craft breweries that Southern California boasts to expand their horizons and open their minds and steins to the beauty of the beer. That was a ridiculously long sentence.

A few weeks ago I was at Enegren during the middle of the day when a group happened to swing by. There were beer distributors in this group – something I’ve been wanting to do for the past two years. I asked how they got into distribution, they asked me if I was interested and told me they were looking to hire a craft beer specialist and I had an interview the following week. Beginning October 1st I’ll be working with this distribution company and eventually/hopefully bringing the awesomeness of local craft beer to bars and restaurants in SoCal.

NOW back to baking! I’ve recently begun a new workout regime AND eating healthy. I was perusing the interwebs for banana bread that had no sugar, made a recipe that totally flopped, decided to make modifications and came up with this cake bread.

Don’t be scared: There’s no artificial sugar here and as long as you’re not expecting traditional buttery, extremely sweet banana bread, you’ll survive.
[gmc_recipe 5614]

The riper the bananas, the better. I had a craving for banana bread and just couldn’t wait.
Hydrate ’em!
Drain ’em! Chop ’em!
Mash ’em!
Add ’em!
Stir the raisin bits into the dry ingredients.
Pour the banana mixture on top of the dry ingredients.
Stir until just combined. Do not overstir or you’ll get tough, unfluffy bread cake! That would be disastrous.
Spread into a pre-greased pan. You could probably put this in a loaf pan as well, but the baking time will vary.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let sit for 5-10 minutes, or as long as you can hold out before slicing and diving in face first.
Again, my disclaimer: This is NOT your traditional sweet banana bread! It’s mildly sweet with little bursts of sweet sunshine from the rehydrated raisins, dense and chewy. I’ve been having a square of this with the rest of my healthy breakfast every morning.



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Ladies at Ladyface: 16

This month’s Ladies at Ladyface: The Fermentables and Comestibles Education and Tippling Society meeting came at the perfect time for me. The past few weeks have put me in a wonderful tailspin and all I wanted and needed was a good beer, delicious foods and a night with a bunch of fellow beer-geek ladies.
We had a beautiful view sitting outside on the patio, drinking up the last rays of sunlight that streamed through the screens on the warm end-of-summer day.
That view was okay too.
Janelle brought a loaf of spent grain bread she’d made using the remnants of an imperial stout and black IPA. The bread was soft, dense, chewy and had a subtle sweetness that tasted like more. I grabbed the recipe from her – look for it in an upcoming blog! I feel a baking binge about to occur.
Speaking of Janelle – she brought little Avery to join as well. She’s getting so big!!! I caught this picture right before she completely zonked out at the table. Avery is fitting right in with our group.
It was Oktoberfest/German beer night! Everyone brought a German-style beer and a little info or history about that style or beer.
Cyrena brought out an alestake – Alewives (women brewers/pub owners back in the middle ages) would hang a pole with brush attached to the end would hang over their doors to signify where the brewery was.
They were also sometimes called witches for their “potions” they brewed. Add that the the broom above the door and you’ve got a Grimm Brothers’ tale in the making!
I’d ordered a Blind Ambition amber before I’d seen the array of beers on the table and pretty much stuck to this glass with a few 1/2 ounce tasters of the German beers here and there.
Franziskaner Weissbier – my second favorite weissbier to date next to Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier. I’ll miss the heat of summer only for the memories of sipping these sweet, musty wheat beers tinged with hints of banana and bubble gum.
To balance out the booze I ordered Mary’s Farm Chicken from Ladyface’s new fall menu – ale-brined and roasted chicken with potato puree, glazed cipolline mushrooms, oyster mushrooms and natural ale juice. Drool. Delicate, bursting with flavor and falling off the bone. I’ll be finishing the other half of this tonight. Hooray for take-home boxes!

I ended the evening by splitting the bread pudding with Janelle, but was too busy shoveling it down my gullet to take a picture. It was awesome. That’s all you need to know.

Another successful meeting with the ladies! Next month will be all things pumpkin – pumpkin beer, baked pumpkin goods, pumpkin everything. It’s tradition to overdose on everything pumpkin in the month of October – get cliche and stereotypical and join in on the fun!

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Foods on the Road

Last Thursday I got a last minute call to help out Ora Tamir with an art show up in Mountain View. Recalling all of the delicious foods on the way up, I readily agreed. That and the fact that I wanted to help my former boss out. There was that too.
The Firestone Taproom in Buellton was our first stop! I went for one of their beers that is only served in the taproom – Unfiltered Double Barrel Ale that’s 100% oak fermented.
This beer was out of this world. Most oaked beers I’ve tried before have been pretty high in alcohol, so it was interesting to try one at 5% ABV. The aroma and flavor of oak was powerful without being overwhelming, and balanced with a sweet, clean malt. I’m honestly disappointed they don’t serve this outside of the taproom. Oh well, I guess that means more road trips up to try it!
I ordered a big, greasy burger topped with cheddar, caramelized onions, bacon and chipotle mayo and demolished the entire thing. No regrets.
We stayed in the beautiful Domain Hotel again. I did have to do a little studying while I was up there. Big bummer, but I buckled down and learned everything about the history and profile of Oktoberfest/Marzen/Vienna beers.
Breakfast in Mountain View consisted of freshly baked asiago bagels smothered in cream cheese. Super healthy, but again, no regrets.
One of Ora’s future customers. Absolutely precious.
We stopped at Seaside Cafe and Bakery in Shell Beach on the way home and got a veggie scramble with thick wedges of roasted potatoes and crispy bacon…
…and I got the turkey and brie sammich on housemade french bread smothered with fresh pesto. This was a half order and I couldn’t finish it. It was a workout just to figure out how to consume it as it was. Jaws may have been unhinged.

I also had a chance to swing by Island Brewing Company on the way down and pick up a few of their bourbon barrel-aged beers!
Somewhat pricey, but completely worth it! I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for them to put their World Beer Cup winning Starry Night Stout into a bourbon barrel! Hint, hint…

It was great to be back on the road and be a gypsy again, even if only for a short time. There are some HUGE changes going on in my life, hence the lack of consistent posting, but I’ll be updating you on that soon enough!

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Patty Melts and Beer Studies

Some of the random things I’ve been doing this past week:

One of my nostalgic favorite places to eat: The Waypoint Cafe at the Camarillo Airport.
My parental unit and I used to go here at least once a month when they lived here to enjoy a greasy meal and watch the planes taking off.
The place has been spruced up since the last time I was here. The interior was all gussied up with new tables and booths and a polished bar. Luckily, their menu was still the same.
The patty melt. A must-have to fulfill grease-laden desires with deliciousness. This pairs perfectly with a chocolate malt.
If your finger aren’t dripping butter after each bite, your patty melt just wasn’t prepared correctly. These don’t have that problem.

The only problem I had was that they also had a cheesesteak as a special on the menu… What’s one to do?
One of the many benefits of having a dining companion. Order both…
…and halvsies! When both diners are craving unhealthy sammiches overflowing with beef, everyone wins!
I’ve also created a Beer ‘n Wings group. I went with Kevin and John to scout out the place for our first meeting. Shockingly enough, the local Hooters has craft beer on tap! Stone, Sierra Nevada and Dogfish Head were among the selection. The boys seemed to enjoy themselves there, so I knew it would pass with other members of the group. I enjoy awkward things – going here is one of said awkward things I enjoy.
I headed up to Santa Barbara to get some Cicerone studying done with my buddy Grayson. Of course we had to stop at Island Brewing since it’s on the way up.
Some very kind gentlemen at the bar bought me a Blackbird Porter on nitro, just to be nice. It MAY have been as an apology for telling me that I looked like I was sixteen. That could’ve been it too…
Grayson and I made a terrible mistake and stopped by Keg ‘n Bottle in Isla Vista. My wallet hurts. Those three in the middle would be the 08-10 Vertical Epic series. I have 11.11.11 waiting in my closet to join them in consumption at the end of the year. Black Xantus is simply an amazing robust barrel-aged Imperial Stout and Sucaba looked cool and got good reviews on BeerAdvocate. I repeat – my wallet hurts.
We finally buckled down and got to studying. Feel free to steal our supersecret study secrets.
I also got classy for dinner. Surprising discovery – Cup o’ Noodles pairs deliciously with Valkyrie California Alt!
After a night full of creating a syllabus, “tasting” delicious beers, mourning the sorry states of our respective wallets and studying the malt and hop profiles of different styles we kept it cheap and gourmet. Breakfast Burritos a la Grayson. Scrambled egg stuffed with sauteed bell peppers, onions and crispy bacon wrapped up in a warm tortilla with cheese. Simple and freakin’ delicious!
To restore some mental health after the busy night, we took a stroll along the beautiful Santa Barbara coastline.
Not too shabby of a place to live, Gray.
Not too shabby at all.


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