Monday, September 27, 2010

Girls Don't Drink Cask Beer? Get Real! - Get Real NY Cask and Food Fest 2010

Now I warn you in advance, some of these pictures are blurry. REAL BLURRY. Over the course of this awesome 3hr event, I proceeded to imbibe over 12 different beautiful cask and regular beers. TWELVE. And I'm not counting the other ones I drank quickly because I wasn't crazy about them.

I weigh 127 lbs.

The pictures are gonna be blurry. I'm sorry.

Seeing as that it's NY Craft Beer Week, and that I love beer, I knew that I'd have to go to at least ONE awesome event. I decided to make Get Real NY my event because of its focus on cask beers. Cask beers are unfiltered and unpasteurized and served without additional carbonation. The soft bubbles that you feel are from the yeasts that are still fermenting. Apparently, this is how it was done in the olden days before modern kegging and refrigeration.
Flat warm beer, you say? I think not! Time for me to do some drinking.

I got to the Altman Building in Chelsea about 15 mins in, and I was greeted by a fantastic sight.

LOOK AT ALL THAT BEER! 40 damn casks, and I had no idea where to start. I was given a super pretty GRNY glass, and I was relieved that I was getting a a nice full glass of beer, instead of a dinky sample cup. I gave the beer list I was given a look over, and really, the best way to handle this was to walk around and get a feel for everything...then dive in.

First beer up? Smuttynose's Pumpkin Ale. It was....not nearly as pumpkin-y as I'd hoped. Or spicy either. I've been forever searching for the perfect pumpkin didn't need to be sweet, just be delicious! This beer was okay, but I have to admit, I was disappointed.

For my next one, I decided to stay in the same brewery, but try a different flavor. Smuttynose's Chai was definitely different...but totally spicy and delicious. Traditional Chai spices shone in this dark, spirited porter. It was super herbal, deep, and smooth. Mmmhm.

I'm not too sure how I landed a glass of Elland's Beyond the Pale. It was a VIP ticketholder beer, and I wasn't one. Oh well. I'm just glad I had it, because it was fantastic. Light, fruity but not cloying, and it smelled like Christmas. I drank this one quickly, and asked for another glass even quicker. So delicious.FOOD! I decided to give my stomach something to hold onto, and ventured over to the food vendors.

I used to work in the Lower East Side, so I'm more than familiar with Roni-Sue's amazing handmade chocolate. But she was offering...Beer Corn???

Beer reduced to a delicious syrup, tossed with popcorn, pretzels, and mustard seeds. RIDICULOUS. Sweet, crunchy, salty, and tangy pop from the mustard seeds. Utter, beautiful insanity.

I decided to go for a bitter beer recommended to me interesting gentleman. Sly Fox's Chester County Bitter was definitely that. I didn't like it at all, the bitterness was so overwhelming. Blech. Thankfully, a helpful and friendly volunteer pointed me to St. Louis's Schafly Imperial Stout. I'm a huge stout fan, but one cannot live on Guinness alone. This stuff was STRONG and assertive, and I was more than willing to obey.

To supplement all this cask goodness, Brewery Ommegang (one of my favorites) had some of their beers on hand, the cold kind. I was loving how the room temperature really let the cask beer flavors sing, but after a while the flavors were muddling my taste buds. Time for a cold one.

I tried the Maredsous Blonde and the Ommegang Zurr, which was a limited edition. ZURRRRRRRRRR!! Sour! Cherries! Snap crackle pop! I was in love. I was also refreshed by the chilly brew, and was ready to jump back to the casks.

This is when things start to get a little...foggy. I tried another VIP beer, The Bruery's Autumn Maple....YAMS! Rich, with a touch of sweetness. And after another glass of that, things got even foggier. All I remember is that they were delicious.

I had maybe, 4 or 5 beers after that, all different, all served with friendly and informative hands. I was struck by how proud the volunteers and brewers were. You could tell that this was their livelihood. I could taste it.
Thank you again, Get Real NY, for an amazing Sunday night!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Guest Post From Miss Tana (aka Eatinist #2)!

Howdy! Eatinist 1 is recovering from a marathon pie-baking she embarked upon the other night to compete in the Greenpoint Open Studios Pie Bake-Off, so I, Eatinist Bitch 2 for the purposes set forth here, will be your guest blogger today.

Last Saturday my stemom and I were walking through the produce aisle in Wal-Mart when I exclaimed in squeals of exaltation "Key limes! OhMyGod! Key limes!" I had been on the hunt for the elusive fruit for the last two summers in New York but seemed to keep missing their season. I knew they could be found because 1) my boss's wife had made Key lime pie from fresh Key lime juice and 2) it's New York. Of course there are Key limes to be found somewhere.

Either way, I hadn't seen any. And here I am, just over a month in rural Wisconsin, getting used to the fact that I can't find any decent Indian food, and here I've stumbled upon Key limes in the abundant produce aisle of The Evil Empire. I wonder who Sam Walton had to sell his soul to in order to get bags and bags of that adorable little fruit shipped to The Middle Of Nowhere, Middle America.

So I snagged two bags of limes, on the off-chance that this was a blip in the universe and, contrary to my stepmother's reassurances that they have them almost year-round, I'd never see them again. Carpe Diem, etc. But I didn't have a recipe handy and I know that the recipe for the pie is almost important as using fresh Key limes (don't get it twisted-- you want Key limes and you don't want them bottled. Unless you don't really like pie. Then it doesn't matter, does it?), so I didn't pick anything else up. After checking with Eatinist 1 for a recipe recommendation, I finally got to the one place in town that carries sweetened condensed milk (it's a small town), corralled my little brother, Ben, and got to it!

Ben loves to bake. He doesn't get too many opportunities as his mother's not big on baking and my dad's diabetic and loves things he can't want (and usually isn't willing to make things that are diabetic-friendly). But since I'm living with them and get restless when I go too long without presiding over and communing with the oven, Ben and I have begun baking together.

The recipe is from Joy of Baking and can be found here. Because I can never leave well enough alone, I amended it a titch. We'll get there.

Key Lime Pie
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place the rack in the center of the oven.

Graham Cracker Crust
1 1/4 c (25 g) graham cracker crumbs (can use crushed digestive biscuits)
2 tblsp (30 g) granulated white sugar
6 1/2- 7 tblsp (70-85 g) unsalted butter, melted (The original recipe calls for 5-6 tablespoons of butter but my crust came out a little try with 6, so I'd probably add a half-to-a-whole tablespoon more. You can always start with the base amount and add more if you think it needs it.)
About a tsp of ground cloves
About a tsp of ground cinnamon
(I say "About" because I just shook the containers a few times over the dry ingredients until I thought it looked like enough. It's how I roll).

Mix together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon and cloves. The cinnamon you can probably be a little more liberal with, but watch out for the cloves. They'll add a nice depth to the crust and a lovely contrast to the lime filling, but you don't want to overpower the pie. After Ben had mixed the basics together I added the cinnamon and cloves because Ben tens to get a little overzealous when he shakes things and Key Lime Clove Pie is not what we're craving.

Mix in the melted butter. Press onto the bottom and up the sides of a well-greased 9-inch (23 cm) pie or tart pan. If you're feeling whimsical, add another sprinkling of cloves to the top of the crust.

Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill while you make the filling.

3 large egg yolks
One 14-oz can (390 g) can sweetened condensed mil k
1/2 c (120 mL) Key lime juice
2 tsp grated zest
Before you begin to mix anything together, I strongly suggest juicing (or, in my house, "squeezing") the limes. Luckily, I have my Handy Little Brother and he's got strong muscles from junior high football so I assigned him lime detail.

If you're interested in saving time and creating little mess, perhaps letting an 11-year-old handle this part isn't in your best interest. Half an hour later, the table was covered in sticky liquid citrus, half a roll of paper towels was gone, and the limin was finished.

Anyway, while he was juicing, I was mixing.

In the electric mixer bowl, using the whisk attachment, or in another bowl that you use with your hand mixer, as shown below (God, I miss my stand mixer. *sad face*), beat the egg yolks until they are pale and fluffy (2-3 minutes. Perhaps 3-4 with the hand mixer). If you're SOL on the electric mixer AND the hand mixer and you're just using a fork and your forearm, like I did in college, bless your heart.

When the yolks are fluffy, gradually add the condensed milk and beat until you have a light and fluffy mixture (3-5 minutes). Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the lime juice and the lime zest.

You might also consider getting your zest together before you begin mixing things. I mixed the yolks and milk and then used the skeletons of those limes Ben was finished with to grate the zest directly into the mixture. Doing this also means I approximated the measurements. I eyeball. It's what I do.

Remove your crust from the refrigerator where it's supposed to have been chillin' and pour the filling into the crust and don't tell the other people in your house about it, otherwise you might end up with this:

Bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until the filling is set. I went for 15 minutes and it was still a little moist. Who knows why... maybe it was the altitude or perhaps I just didn't preheat the oven long enough. What did we say about me and exact measurements? Precisely. If you have a Handy Little Brother, dispatch him to gently shake and jiggle the pie while he checks the status of its doneness. Ben showed little restraint with the shaking and we were happy it was sufficiently immobile so we turned off the oven and called it done.

Remove the pie from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. I don't have a wire rack, so I set it on top of one of the stove grates. This is my dad's FAVORITE pie so it's not like it was actually going to make it to the cool stage anyway. If you're a traditionalist, though, or just someone cooking for people who have the willpower to wait, cool the pie completely and then cover and refrigerate until serving time. It can be stored in the fridge for up to a couple of days.

Whipped cream:
1 c (240 mL) heavy whipping cream
2 tblsps (25 g) granulated white sugar
In a separate bowl (I used a metal bowl I stored in the freezer for about 15 minutes to make the whipping quicker), beat the whipping cream until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and beat until, once again, soft peaks form. This is another good step for Handy Little Brother to help with.

Give the beaters you used to your sous chef Benjamin and your dad in a vain attempt to keep them appeased until the pie is cooled and ready to serve. Either pipe or place mounds of whipped cream on top of the filling.

And if you're serving other people, for the love of Moses, keep the pie out of reach of this guy:

Makes 1 9-inch (23 cm) pie or tart.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Coming Soon to The Eatinist Bitch...

OH MAN many fun things are a-happenin'!

I've been a busy bee for the past couple of days, but I just wanted to let you in on what's to come...

I was just in a Pie Bake Off thrown by Greenpoint Open Studios @ the Diamond Bar in Greenpoint BK...what a night. Amazing food, people, and prizes. Pics and a post are coming of course.

Speaking of very good friend Tana (aka Eatinist #2) will do a guest post about baking Key Lime Pie, yumm.

Tomorrow night is...LE GRAND FOODING!!!! New York's hottest new chefs are pitted agains San Francisco's offerings at MoMA's P.S. 1 in Long Island City.

And on Sunday...oh baby. I'm going to Sunday's 5-8pm session of the Get Real NY Craft Beer and Food Festival. There are still tickets, so make sure you get one. Also, today is the start of NY Craft Beer Week 2010...I've got my Beer Passport, do you?

Posts to come next week...hope everyone has an amazing weekend!!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hot Plates @The Bell House

I headed into the wilds of Gowanus last Monday for MetroMix's Hot Plates at The Bell House bar/event space, a night where for 15 bucks, one gets to sample a diverse selection of Brooklyn's new restaurant offerings. Now usually, this post would be accompanied by my award winning photography. But since my phone's memory card has corrupted itself once again, and all of the photos (save for one) are lost to the ages, I'll just describe everything, and "borrow" pictures if needed.

Fornino Park Slope’s Chef’s Antipasti

What it Was: Cannellini beans marinated in paprika olive oil, topped with shrimp and cilantro (served room temp)
How it Tasted: The beans were very creamy, and the olive oil was nice and fruity with a little paprika kick. The shrimp was seasoned with a delicate touch, but I think the best part of the dish was the adorable presentation. Overall, not a stunner, but very good.

Mile End’s Cured and Smoked Beef Brisket

Was: Cured/smoked for 11 hours in a house spice blend. Served with homemade wholegrain brown mustard and homemade rye bread.

Tasted: This place definitely earned extra points for everything being made on the premises. The brisket was coal black on the outside and an alarming shade of pink of the inside. Since I abhor mustard, I asked if I could have mine without. They kindly obliged; I still felt like a punk though. First bite: SMOKY!! MELTY FAT!!! The meat was super tender and juicy, but it could have been spicier. I fell in love with the bread. It was bursting with rye seeds and had a tangy, soft crumb.

Osteria il Paiolo’s Gnocchi alla Bolognese and Vittello Donello

Was #1: House made gnocchi in meat sauce

Tasted #1: Now, I am VERY particular about my gnocchi (best in NYC - Supper, in the LES in tomato sauce adorned with garlic cream), so I was really eager to try theirs. The gnocchi itself was pillowy and melted in the mouth. The sauce was good, but a little too salty, and surprisingly thin. Isn't bolognese supposed to be super hearty?

Was #2: Thinly sliced veal with lemon in tuna sauce

Tasted #2: The veal was dry, the sauce tasted fishy and chalky. Ugh. I’m not a tuna fan, but I decided to be adventurous and give this a try. This just didn’t sit well with me.

Carino’s Tamales and Chorizo Taquitos

Was #1: Tamales with pork and sour cream

Tasted #1: I’ve never had tamales before, and I figured this was a good time to try. The mass was nice and creamy, and I loved how flavorful and moist the pork was. But I think would have enjoyed this more if it was actually hot. I figure this was b/c I was really early and the food hadn’t been given enough time to warm up. Other than that, I really liked them.

Was #2: Rolled up, fried tortillas stuffed with chorizo sausage. Sprinkled with queso fresco cheese.

Tasted #2: WHERE WAS THE CHORIZO FLAVOR? I love this particular sausage, and it’s usually spicy and delish. But, I couldn’t really taste anything other than…meat. Okay tasting meat, but just meat.

Branded Saloon’s (MY FAVORITE TABLE) Pork Butt Stew Topped w/Uncle Ricky’s Fried Corn and Cilantro Cream

Was: It was exactly that!

Tasted: Oh Lord, I could have eaten the whole pot. Perfectly seasoned, tender pork butt, tangy cilantro cream, fried corn kernels with BACON; this thing created a flavor parade in my mouth. It was served atop tortilla chips, and that added another texture dimension to the entire thing. I could have eaten this for days. DAYS.

Radish's Long Island Pulled Duck with Kimchi

Was: It was exactly that!

Tasted: I can say without a doubt, that this dish made me love duck.

Twinkling little pools of duck fat glistened on the surface of the gravy. The meat was juicy, smoky, rich, and not gamey in the least. The tangy kimchi brought a crunchy, bright flavor to the party that I adored. Absolutely delicious. Again, this place gets points for using seasonal, locally sourced ingredients.

There were one or two that I missed, but 1. I already had one misadventure with tuna, and 2. I was not trying to eat Humble Pie. My tummy isn't ready for offal quite yet.

Many thanks again to The Bell House and MetroMix for such a fun event!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Oneshot: The Elvis Sandwich

So of course I follow up my ode to Judaism cuisine post with something featuring bacon...I gotta be me. Honesty in all things!!!

Bread toasted in bacon grease, peanut butter, bananas, honey...and bacon. This was reported to be Elvis's favorite sandwich. The man was a druggie, but he sure knew how to eat!!! Sweet, salty, creamy from the bananas...AND BACON!!!

Fry up a couple slicees of bacon and reserve a tablespoon or so of the grease (approx. enough to fry both sides of the sammy). Slather your two slices of bread with peanut butter, drizzle some honey on each side. Take one banana, slice her up, then lay that on top of the honey and pb. Put it together and fry the sammy on medium heat until it's golden, brown, and delicious. I ate this with a huge glass of water, and fell asleep for 3 hours after.

Please don't judge me.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Jew Food - A Love Story

Yesterday was the start of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. With many of my friends getting ready to go to temple and observe, their preparation got me thinking about food. Not just the foods relevant to the holiday like apples and honey (they symbolize sweetness in the upcoming year), but all of the Jewish foods I grew up eating and loving.

No, I'm not Jewish, not even close. In fact, I'm Jamaican American, as well as a native New Yorker. Which I think makes me an honorary Jew.

I grew up a block away from an amazing Kosher bakery, so I was no stranger to rich, warm challah bread. My mother would go early in the morning before she went to work to pick up a fresh loaf for morning toast and another to get stale for weekend french toast. Around Purim time, there was Hamantaschen, the three cornered jam-filled cookies that represent the tri-cornered hat of Haman, the villain in the Book of Esther. sticky, buttery, and so crumbly-sweet. They'd make baby ones and HUGE ones the size of my 8 year old head. I would beg my mom to buy me the "super taschen" and she'd always refuse me.

On Sundays, my mom would make a bizzare egg-matzoh concoction for her breakfast: she'd whisk up eggs, and stirr in broken pieces of matzoh, and fry it in butter and olive oil. Sort of like a omlet. She'd spread it thickly with jam and serve it with, ugh, gefilte fish. The sight of these jiggling corpse-fish was enough to send me running, but she would dig into it with gusto, giggling at me while I made noises of disgust.

When I used to work on the Lower East Side, loads of people would come into the shop I worked in raving about Katz's Delicatessen's pastrami on rye. I could care less about that sandwich (I don't like pastrami), what I went there for was the latkes....oh dear God. Crispy, greasy, and just under the size of a dinner plate. Encased in a layer of tangy sour cream and applesauce, this was one of my favorite comfort foods, along with their chicken noodle soup, which was almost as good as my mother's. Almost.

I'm not sure exactly why I love these foods so much. Obviously they taste good, but there's something more. Maybe it's the history behind each dish, their origin stories. Or the perverse love I have for holiday meals. I think the real culprit is that it connects me to really good memories of my childhood; when I was full in my stomach, I was also full and warm in my heart.

Just don't try to feed me the gefilte fish.