For reasons obvious and not obvious, Pumpkin Friday will be pushed back to Sunday this week. In the meantime, I encourage you to do 1 or all of the following:
- get your Halloween costume together (I defy you to make it more ridiculous than mine)
- stock up on Pumpkin/Oktoberfest beers before they’re off the shelves
- see Saw 3D (the embodiment of all that is wrong and right with American cinema)
Until next time…
First off – thanks go to Dennis and Jiggy for their comments. Not only was it great hearing from both, the beers they suggested were really good (as is the flavor-profiling website that Jiggy pointed out). It would be very cool to turn this beer list into more of an open forum – throw me whatever advice, suggestions, or questions you can think of.
And now on to the beer… Continue reading
This past Friday, I lost one of the greatest people I’ve ever known: my grandpa. Along with my grandmother, the love of his life, he was an absolute rock to the family – a constant pillar of support, grace, and love. I never quite understood how a man so small in stature and so gentle in demeanor could seem so larger-than-life, but it’s a testament to the size of his heart and the strength of his character. He has always been one of my favorite people on this earth, and I’m going to miss him so much.
Now I never fully appreciated this until recently, but my grandpa was a fantastic eater. That’s not to say that he had the most refined palate, or the absolute healthiest habits – but he used food to connect with the people he loved and the world around him, and I’m convinced he enjoyed every meal he ate.
With food as with everything he did, Grandpa was nothing if not consistent. When he had beer it was Budweiser, when he had wine it was red. There’d always be fresh-picked tomatoes on the counter, soda in the cellar, and ice cream in the freezer. And when he went out to eat – which was often, and usually Italian – chances were good he’d be getting one of his favorite dishes: Shrimp Fra Diavolo. In remembering Grandpa, I wanted to learn more about this dish he loved so much. What I found was a story that reflected his own.
As I’ve been paying more attention to pumpkin carving lately, I’ve been increasingly amazed by the stuff people are doing out there. By far the most impressive to me are the ones that aren’t carved so much as sculpted – by using the thick flesh of the pumpkin, artists create three-dimensional creatures. When done well, the illusion is visually arresting and impossibly cool. Check out these insane examples: (if you look at them all in succession, it sort of tells a tragic and ultimately disturbing story… sick!)
Standing the test of time, I guess.
Week 2 of the Beer List saw another wide range of styles and breweries. It started off where week 1 left off – testing out some pilsners. Pilsners are a style of light lagers, which get their name from their town of origin: Pilsen, Bohemia. The first batch of modern pilsners were created by Josef Groll on October 5, 1842, and incorporated pale malts, Saaz noble hops, and Pilsen’s exceptionally soft water. Sunday’s Pilsner Urquell comes from the same town as Groll’s first experiment. A Czech Pilsner, it’s lighter and less bitter than its German counterparts. I didn’t find the Dolomiti to be noticeably more intense than the Pilsner Urquell, nor did I find either to be especially compelling.
Find this beer!
On Wednesday, I had one of my favorite beers out their – Southern Tier’s Imperial Pumking Ale. I’ve made it a point to try as many pumpkin ales as I can get my hands on, and this is by far my favorite. It’s visually beautiful, has probably the most delicious nose of any beer on the market, and has a terrific flavor of vanilla and nutmeg without seeming overly sweetened. It’s a hearty, cool-weathered beer and absolutely the real deal. They’re a little hard to come by, but I definitely recommend going to Whole Foods (or Dive 75, says my roommate) to try some while its still in season.
My schedule is changing a bit this week thanks to a new job… instead of having Friday morning’s free to carve to my heart’s content, I work. That means 1 of 2 things has to happen to Pumpkin Friday: I carve the pumpkins on Thursday night, or it just becomes Pumpkin Monday. I tried the first option this week.
And so, I give you the first of the communal pumpkins carved after dark: Rivington. Rivington was a combination of ideas from Matt and Laura (my other roommate, Dan, was around but contributed close to nothing). Matt suggested a monocle and Laura thought it should have a matching mustache. I know now that monocles and mustaches are both really hard to convey through gourd. Regardless, I think Rivington came out great and I hope to have pictures soon of his beautiful mug in the daytime light.
The Beer Room... take it in.
Of the many gifts life in the Lower East Side has to offer, one of the finest has to be the Beer Room at the Bowery Whole Foods. It may not be bigger than the average garage, but it is packed with interesting, obscure, and delicious beer from across the globe. Since moving here, I’ve discovered some fantastic domestic breweries (Southhampton, Southern Tier, and Two Brothers to name a few). But even though I’ve been trying new stuff, I hadn’t ventured that far from my comfort zone. At first I’d just get IPAs – my favorite style. Eventually, I branched out just a little to include some seasonal beers like summer ales and hefeweizens. Still, I wouldn’t touch lagers (hate them) and wouldn’t even look at the imported stuff (Weihenstephaner? Say what?).
It was a couple weeks ago that I realized things had to change. I couldn’t keep living near such a sud-sanctuary and not take advantage of it. Nor could I keep writing a blog about the joys of eating, keep reading articles about the benefits of moderate alcohol consumption, and not put 2 and 2 together. Something had to be done.