It’s Punkin Time!

Oh, yes, it’s (almost) fall, football is here, which means another round of seasonal brew is due.  That means Dog Fish Head has Punkin Ale!

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Great stuff (along with many other pumpkin brews).  Went to the tapping of it last week at the Dog Fish Head restaurant in Falls Church.

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It was so fresh on tap that they hadn’t even posted it on the (chalk) board.

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Ordered one and started to enjoy.  I finally got around to looking up this morning why they call it Punkin.  It’s based around the local Punkin Chunkin on Discovery Channel.  Hilarious show!  Well, the beer was perfect, its normal pumpkin and spice taste, as one would expect.  And, the bartender wasn’t totally sure the ABV, but I had look it up, and it’s on that previous link, 7%.  Fall, Halloween and Thanksgiving will be here before we know it.  Cheers!

 

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Two New (Tasted) Brews

Checked out Mussel Bar in Bethesda the other day (hadn’t been since literally the day they opened) for some good beer on tap.  They have quite the selection!  Almost too many good ones to pick from.

Opted to first try the Oskar Blues G’Knight Imperial Red

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Per the menu: “Our “Velvet M-80” is a hefty, dry hopped double-red ale with a nose full of aroma, a sticky mouthfeel, a malty middle and unctuous hop flavors. G’Knight sports a surprisingly sensuous finish for a beer of its size (8.7% ABV, 60 IBUs)…”

Very nice and smooth, not too hoppy.  Great for a summer night outside.  Did not taste like 8.7%…

After awhile decided to sip on another and went for Dogfish Head’s Sixty-One.

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From the menu:  “The name Sixty-One is a reminder that this beer is Dogfish Head’s best-selling 60 Minute IPA plus one new ingredient: syrah grape must from California. The label, painted by Sam, is a twist on a typical watercolor…”(6.5% ABV, 60 IBU)

Could definitely taste the grape in there.  A bit sweet, but not overbearing.  However, definitely couldn’t drink more than one of these.

Great to try these new (to me) brews.  And it was a perfect night out so got to enjoy them outside.  Has anybody had them or had others they can share feedback on?

Multiple Continents of Tastings

I figure since you can’t easily travel the world (time, money, etc), why not just grab a bottle of wine to check it out.  So, the past few weeks I’ve explored most of the world.  Between the Georgian wine I posted about recently (have some new bottles to be opened soon…) I have also checked out the following great vinos…

1) Chateau St. Jean, Pinot Noir, CA — (though this is Sonoma, think of Napa and support the locals by buying a bottle of Napa wine.  They’ve had aftershocks after the big quake on Sunday.) Amazing, amazing CA Pinot — cherry and some leather.  Was enjoyed with salmon.

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2)  Phebus, Malbec (Reserve), Mendoza, Argentina.  Very nice.  Berries, some chocolate.  Can find it for about $10.

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3) Klein Steenberg Sauvignon Blanc, South Africa.  Light, pineapple, peach and grass notes.  Great for enjoying on a sunny afternoon or with fish or salad.  And, screwtop for easy access.  About $12.

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4) Pfeffingen Weilberg Riesling, Germany. (Note: that site doesn’t stay in English the whole time)  Nice and dry!  Some stone fruit, various other amazing mineral flavors.  Paired it with a pea and garlic gazpacho with grilled chicken.  Perfect!  It’s been in my wine rack for awhile so not sure the cost, but online I’m finding about $30.

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From Quinoa to Cookie

I make birthday cookies for my friends and for a recent one I emailed her with an idea because of dietary concerns.  I know she’s big into quinoa and I looked for (cookie) recipes with quinoa in them.  She was kind enough to send me a link to the cookie (recipe) she would like for her birthday goodies.  They where basically simple chocolate chip cookies, but with a coconut kick.

As I investigated the recipe, it of course called for quinoa flour.  I went to Whole Foods and they had it (I was just talking to them about it, didn’t actually see it but could only fathom the price — just googled it $10-$13).  But then I thought, there has to be a way to make this stuff.  Of course!  This makes it much more fun, and beyond less expensive.  You pay $3-$4 for the quinoa and you’re set.

So, found a great recipe for it on Homemadeadventure. You just take 2 cups of quinoa and put it in a skillet over medium heat.

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Toast it for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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The quinoa will start to make a light popping sound, kind of like popcorn, when the toasting starts. You want this sound for about a minute or two.  Then it gets nice and brown.

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Let it cool then put it in a food processor.

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IMG_0412Then baking started!

The recipe was from Ambitious Kitchen and named The BEST Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups quinoa flour (homemade or store bought)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled (Trader Joe’s has great stuff)
  • 1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • coarse sea salt, for sprinkling

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Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In large bowl whisk together quinoa flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. (I always tend to just put this on top of the wet mixture later).

In bowl of an electric mixer beat together melted coconut oil and brown sugar until smooth. Add in egg, egg yolk, and vanilla; beat again for 2 minutes or until smooth and creamy.

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Add in flour; and mix on low speed until just combined. Slowly add in chocolate chips.

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Roll dough into 2″ balls and place on cookie sheet leaving 2″ apart. Love the Silpat mat!  It didn’t say whether you would spray the cookie sheet or not so glad I have it.  Bake 8-11 minutes or until edges just being to turn a golden brown.  If you noticed that your cookies are baking flat, then you may want to chill your dough for 10-20 minutes.

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Remove from oven and let cool at least 5 minutes on baking sheet. The cookies will need to set and will be very fragile at first so you have to be a little patient for the edges to harden a bit before removing them. Once the edges and bottom harden a bit, transfer to wire rack to finish cooling. Makes 18-20 cookies.  I got about 2 dozen out of this recipe!

 

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My friend loved the cookies and not sure how many are left.  Very coconut-y and the great chocolate in there.

New Gazpacho

Was looking for something new to make last weekend and had been eyeing this gazpacho recipe for awhile so finally got around to giving it a try.  It was Fresh Pea and Garlic Gazpacho from Cooking Light.  Pretty simple, as with most gazpacho.

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups shelled fresh English peas*
2 1/4 cups ice water
1 1/2 cups chopped peeled English cucumber
1 cup (1/2-inch) French bread cubes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar**what would we do without the ability to research info at our fingertips (see * info below) — I didn’t want to get a bottle of this stuff and found several substitutes, and the one I knew I had was white vinegar (I almost used rice vinegar, though it was rice wine vinegar that was recommended)
2 garlic cloves — MORE!
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
—–
Fresh pea shoots
1 tablespoon small fresh mint leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

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Prep:

1)  Cook English peas in boiling water 4 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water until cool. Set aside 1/2 cup peas. *I did some research on English peas while in the store(oh, smart phones, how we love you).  Long story short, I deduced that they are the same as frozen green peas.  Efficiency! You can eliminate this whole step.

2)  Combine remaining peas, ice water, cucumber, French bread cubes, 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, sherry vinegar, and garlic cloves in a blender; process until smooth. Stir in salt and pepper.

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3)  Ladle 1 cup soup into each of 6 bowls. Garnish with reserved peas, fresh pea shoots, mint leaves, and 1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil.
I opted out of the garnishing for a few reasons — there was no mint at the store, I didn’t use the fresh peas, hence has no shoots and finally, I was eating alone so who did I have to impress with decor?  I just put my own good stuff in the gazpacho — tomatoes, olives, manchego and grilled chicken.  Very nice, refreshing soup.  It did seem to be missing something and I still can’t place it.  Might be lemon or a bit more salt.  But, still a nice twist from the normal gazpacho.

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Man’s Best Friend

I get a call from a friend the other night telling me she has to put her 10-year old black lab down today.  Slam!  Not what I was expecting, or wanting, to hear.  Needed to go over to see her, and him (the dog), man’s best friend, one last time.  My friend picked up some wine to honor him — LAB.  It’s a winery in Portugal and they have 2 blends, a red and a white, both screw tops.  The red was fruity and had a bit of spice to it.  The white was crisp and citrusy.  And, both under $10.  I would give you a link to the site but it’s under construction.  We enjoyed this while playing with the black lab one more night.  May man’s best friend rest in peace.

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Wild Horses

Over the past several months I have started a part-time job as a wine taster/pourer.  So, 1-2 times a week I get to go to a variety of locations and be that person who pours different wines for the customers to sample, while of course sampling them myself to be educated about them to properly inform the shoppers.  It’s a win-win situation — learn more about the wine and talk to people about it!  It occurred to me the other day — why don’t I write a blog about all my tastings?  It has to start sometime, right?

Ok, so Friday night I was doing a tasting for Wild Horse Winery, which is located in the Central Coast of CA.  Very nice, affordable wines.  I had 3 varietals.

1) Wild Horse Chardonnay.  Oaked, but not overkill on it.  Very smooth, green apple, pear and vanilla notes.  Perfect with fish.  Price is around $15-$18.

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2) Wild Horse Pinot Noir.  Light Pinot, smooth, had both fruit and earth notes, with some mushroom in there.  Pretty nice.  Would pair well with salmon, grilled vegetables, chicken.  Price is around $16-$20.  (for some reason they don’t have this one on their site).

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3) Wild Horse Chardonnay.  Hello happiness, where have you been?  The body, the flavor…cherry, berry, cocao.  WOW!  Wow.  Go find one, buy it, open it, drink it.  Would be great served with a pizza made on the grill or some steak.

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If you go pick any of these up or have had them in the past, let me know what you think.  Cheers!

 

 

These Chips are(n’t) BS!

Was in Whole Foods the other day roaming through the chip aisle to grab some pita chips (of course, right?).  I always have to see what else is on the shelves that I really don’t need.  Well, a couple years ago I had some chips after running a race that were so good! They were just so unique and I haven’t been able to find them again.  I couldn’t quite remember what they were, unfortunately, so have been on this endless hunt.  I see these sweet potato chips and try them and realize they aren’t quite right.  Well, finally I have found what I was looking for!  Garden of Eatin’ Butternut Squash Chips!  They are and aren’t BS!  So good!  The bag says NEW, no, they were around a couple years ago and now are finally back!  The chips are made with corn, butternut squash and some spice.  They have a bit of sweetness, they’re crunchy and something unique to them.  I don’t even think they need salsa to pair with them.  I did put some hummus on them once or twice, though — the pita chips didn’t have to get all of it, right?  They are also gluten free and dairy free.  Check them out, let me know what you think.  And, if you find them at different stores, let me know.

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Georgia on my Mind

When you read the title, is this the first thing that pops into your head?

Well, Ray Charles, while you’re thinking about a lady, I am exploring the world.  Some people equate Georgia to peaches.  Last night I equated it to grapes.  And I’m talking about jumping across the Atlantic to a new country and trying some very unique new wine, not just simple fruit.

First, we likely know where the state of GA is but can we pinpoint the country?  Crash course:

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Until a few weeks ago I had never heard of Georgian wine.  Apparently, Georgia is about the oldest wine region in the world.  It’s where the world’s first grapevines were cultivated, oh, some 8,000 years ago.  But who’s counting?  They have about half a dozen key wine regions in the country.

Last night my first sampling form the country was Teliani Valley Saperavi.  It was about $10 bottle from Total Wine in VA.  The nose has leather and smoke.  When drinking it, medium body, with some light fruit notes.  Just very, very unique.  For ten bucks, totally worth it.  There were several others at the store, about $5 more, so will have to check them out.

If you’ve had Georgian wine(s), please share your thoughts!  Would love to hear what you think about them.

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What (wine) do you have on tap?

There is a great pizza place in DC that has expanded and now has several locations — Matchbox.  I’ve been to the one in Merrifield/Mosaic District recently.

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Before enjoying their delicious pizza, I had to try their wine on tap.  It’s not available at a lot of restaurant so I couldn’t turn it down.  I scanned the menu and it was a tough decision.  Hot as heck outside, freezing cold AC inside.

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I opted for the Gotham Project Zin.  Nice nose all around.  Fruity, very fun for a wine on tap.

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My friend arrived later and we were ordering some nice pizza and we opted for a white to accompany a prosciutto and fig pizza.  We opted for a white on tap.  We went with the Tangent Sauvignon Blanc.  Very fruity and fresh, perfect for the meal.

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Such a fun new way to enjoy wine.  Can’t say that it was than much different than a normal glass, but simple changes and simple pleasures!