The Beer List: ‘Tis the Season!

beer lover

What's not to love?

For anyone out there that likes beer and/or social history, I can’t recommend this book I’m reading highly enough.  I know I mentioned it last week, but it bears repeating: Tasting Beer by Randy Mosher.  Not only does Mosher cover all the nitty-gritty details, he conveys the pure, blissful wonderment of beer as a human institution.  Pure, blissful wonderment.  Sounds nice, right?  I’m starting to think that’s what’s most appealing to me about all this.

While beer has been different things to different civilizations – a nutrition supplement, a method of quelling social unrest, etc. – it’s always been a source of regional pride, shared community, and good feelings.  In fact, because the modernized world depends on fermentation much less for things like resource preservation, beer’s role in makin’ people happy has really become its raison d’être.  It exists as a luxury that, due to its price point and social connotations, still remains completely democratic.  It’s meant to be enjoyed, period.  And to the King of Belgium or some kid in a dumpy apartment, beer’s complex flavor, sparkling bubbles, and rich history are no less thrilling.

Pure, blissful wonderment.

Now on to the beerContinue reading

Enlightened Fast Food: Freshii vs. Energy Kitchen

Nothing works as an example of poor eating quite like fast food joints.  They poison the body, warp the mind, and are more ubiquitous than mailboxes.  But in this great city of New York – where anything is possible – there’s a small but growing community of fast food restaurants that are trying to turn things around.  Energy Kitchen and Freshii are two such places.  In spite of the much-needed niche they’re filling, they both face serious uphill battles taking on the big dogs of fast food.  Let’s see if their messages are compelling enough to draw converts. Continue reading

Thanksgiving Recap

Today I took my own advice and seriously over-experienced the hell out of Thanksgiving dinner.  And dessert.  It was awesome and I am still very, very full.

There was tons of good food all around, but I can honestly say my cousin made the best apple pie I have ever had in my entire life.  Thanks Corrie!

Thanksgiving and Digging into American Gluttony

The first line of Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food is as blunt as it is profound:

“Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

The book itself is absolutely fantastic and has had a huge influence on how I think about eating.  An “Eater’s Manifesto”, it’s a must read for anyone planning on incorporating food into their daily routine.  I, for one, intend to for the rest of my life.

If only the pilgrims had microwaves...

Today, though, I’d like to focus on just that middle part of Pollan’s opening line.  We all know we shouldn’t eat too much.  We all do it anyway.  In a way, over-consumption is as much a tenet of the American eating culture as anything else – right up there with drive-thrus and Splenda.  It’s part of the reason why diets are destined to fail.  In many cases choosing to eat less doesn’t just mean changing course, but swimming completely upstream.  You might pull it off for a little while, but it’s nonsense to make it a way of life.

I bring this up because we’re on the eve of the absolute greatest celebration of American overindulgence: Thanksgiving.  A day completely devoted to enjoying as much good food, good company, and good football as the body can physically endure.  Still, while Thanksgiving no doubt extols excess, it does so in a way completely divorced from what has become the cultural norm.

So what’s the deal with this cultural overeating?  And what makes Thanksgiving so different? Continue reading

The Beer List: Looking for Germany, getting lost in Italy, and landing on an Old Man

Ramstein Blonde Wheat

Not great, but points for being from the suburbs of North Jersey.

The week started off with a beer tasting in my apartment. The mission?  To find a delicious Bavarian style wheat beer, brewed in the New York area.  The conclusion?  …inconclusive.  Discouraging, actually.  It wasn’t all bad, but none held a candle – or even tried to, for that matter – to the true hefeweizens of Germany.

On Wednesday, I set my scope a little further south and tried out some Italian beers.  The two could not have possibly been more dissimilar.  The first one I tried – Nuova Mattina (translating to New Morning) – was crisp, dry, and light.  It blossomed as it warmed, with aromas transitioning from sharp black pepper to fragrant honey and ginger.  It was awesome.

Very farm to table.

Now picture La Rossa – a beer the color, demeanor, and aroma of a stabled thoroughbred.  It was big, heavy, and deep dripping barn-door red.  I wouldn’t say it was all bad just as I wouldn’t necessarily describe the smell of a horse as offensive.  It’s pungent, no doubt, but in the right context it could be intriguing – even endearing.  Unfortunately, immediately following the delicate Nuova Mattina was not the right context, and the Rossa just came off as a big, weird animal.  Maybe next time.   Continue reading

Kale Finds

truly "revolutionary"

A couple quick discoveries that have really excited me about one of my favorite leaves:

kale comparison

Massive

1.  The Union Square Farmers Market has massive heads of kale for 3 bucks.  If looking prehistoric isn’t enough (which it is), it’s by far the sweetest, tastiest kale I’ve ever had.  Jackpot.

2.  The cooking time for kale can be cut dramatically by microwaving it before sautéing. Now, instead of cooking it down in chicken stock for 15 minutes until tender, I just zap it in the time it takes for the oil to heat up.  Huge time saver.

So that’s pretty much it.  Just shows to keep your eyes open – apparently, good things can keep on getting better…

The Beer List: Keeping it Local

In addition to another round of enlightenment, I have some pretty cool news in my own little world of beerdom.  This week, I was put me in charge of revamping the beer menu of the restaurant where I bartend.  It’s very cool to see stuff I’ve been doing for eatinggoodly help me out in life outside the blogosphere – and yes, it exists.  For the menu, I’ll be focusing on local New York beers in addition to some selections from Italy, all with seasonality and food-pairing in mind.  As a result, you’ll be seeing a little more from local breweries on the beer-list, so please (I mean it) let me know if you come across any good stuff in the city that you think I should try.

Unlike last week, which saw me struggling helplessly against a relentless onslaught of German wheat beer, this one was pretty much as diverse as they come.  Definitely a nice change of pace.  See the winners after the jump. Continue reading