Category Archives: Beverage

Redhook Round-Up

Yes, yes…we hear a lot about Redhook these days.  Pretty much every major magazine featured a piece on this neighborhood this summer…but you know what? this area deserves it…it’s this neat little gem nestled into the coziest corner of Brooklyn.  It’s filled with great shops and even better food and when I go there I feel like I am transported to a 19th century portside enclave complete with anchor garbage cans and nautically named locations.

On Tuesdays you can find me helping out the lovely illustrator and shopkeeper, Jane Buck of Foxy and Winston.  You’ll recognize this place by the darling shop window full of onesies and cards – where occasionally you will find Hope… the cutest beagle ever, this is her favorite spot. One Tuesday in July, my pal Cia met me in Redhook and we did a tasting tour down Van Brunt street.  Here are some of the highlights!

I started with lunch at Fort Defiance.  I ordered what I normally order there; the smoked salmon on multigrain bread with crème fraiche, cucumber and watercress (although they are known for their Muffaletta).

We made our way to the Redhook Lobster Pound where we ordered one Connecticut style Lobster roll (warm with butter) and one Maine style Lobster Roll (cold with a little mayo).  Usually I’m all for Connecticut style (seeing as though I’m from there) but their Maine style sure is yummy.

Since we were just steps from Baked we stopped in for a Chocolate Chip Cookie.  SERIOUSLY yummy.

Even though we were pretty stuffed at this point we went to The Good Fork for some cocktails and their well known dumplings.  Annnnnd we slipped in a lovely grilled calamari salad as well.  Couldn’t hurt at this point!

We finished the night with a twilight tasting of Domaine de Canton at Dry Dock.  It was a good day.

I think we covered all the basics, besides IKEA and Fairway that is.  If you haven’t, I hope you can visit Redhook some day. It really is one of my favorite one stop neighborhoods in all of NYC.

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Filed under Appetizer, Beverage, Food Anecdotes, Travel Spot

Homemade Beer – Guest Blogger Bill Kiernan

Music: The Yardbirds – I’m Not Talking (if you only understood the irony here!)

Oh boy do we have a special treat today! Good pal and guest blogger, Bill Kiernan, has decided to share some of his secrets for homemade brewing.  He’s been doing this for a few years now out of his home in LI and recently, he made a batch to celebrate James’ birthday (We called it Jamesonian IPA).  Please enjoy his musings on home brewing and feel free to comment!

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On Long Island, the spring fumbles in this year and I find myself brewing an IPA for James’ birthday. Any excuse to brew is welcomed, and when it’s for a friend, well, insert mush. There are varieties to home brewing, from stove top with a big pot to developing a veritable nano brewery in your garage, I find myself safely wedged into a bracket of the “want to make a good beer” but do not wear my “beeriodic table of Alements” shirt while doing so.  I would prefer to allow you to establish a meaning of the previous analysis.

Here, take a drink: an IPA is a pleasurable beer, especially during the spring and summer. India Pale Ale has unique histories, and one would say histories dependent on whom you speak with: read online and you will learn history of IPA rife with luck of shipwrecks and landlubbers loving the barrels of beer which washed upon shore (I guess I could liken this historical anomaly of human behavior to that first hit from a hypodermic needle that washed ashore on Rockaway); ask your local know it all craft beer distributor “so they made the IPA to survive the voyage from Britain to India?” and he’ll look at your forehead as though a piece of your brain were waving off the comment as an act of the ass rather than his constituents. Regardless, it’s a good beer, which is generally more bitter than a Pale Ale.  The degree of bitterness is measured in IBU’s which is a cute enough acronym for International Bittering Units, which is such a bold and forbooding measurement, it’s best left at IBU.

The bitterness comes from hops, which are  beautiful cone like vine plants, which, forsooth, New York used to be a Mecca of. There are extensive varieties of hops and even more variety to what they can do to your beer. Depending on which hops you use and when you add them to your boil or your beer as you ferment it your beer could be more bitter than flavorful. Add a variety of hops closer to when you end your boil you get more aroma, typically. Let’s just say it can get pretty complicated. Throw in some toasted oats, orange peels, a sprig of lavender from the garden or some st. johns wort, who knows what could happen.  If you are going to do an all grain brew, as opposed to an “extract” set aside a good part of your day, prepare to smell like some hopped up feign, and double check your equipment.  All grain brewing is not as insane as studying neutrinos in Antarctica but it does require a bit of close analysis and attention.

Start with the grain.

For this IPA, we are using 9lbs of Pale 2 Row malt and 1lb of Carafoam malt.

We are using 3.5 oz of Cascade variety hops and 1 oz of Amarillo variety hops.

All your grains are milled together in such a way that the grain gets cracked but not pulverized.

Heat up about five gallons of water to about 175 degrees. In what is called the mash tun, in this case a large cooler, slowly add your grain and scalding hot water from a difficult to manage gigantic six gallon pot of water. Ideally, your water will loose about 10 – 15 degrees in the transfer to the grain. You want your mixture to be apprx 150- 155 degrees.  You really are creating a mash, and at this temperature saccharization, which is a process that converts the starches in grain to fermentable sugars, occurs. Let it rest for an hour to 75 minutes.  The longer the time, the more sugars extracted. Meanwhile heat up another four gallons of water for the sparge. Yes, the sparge.

Welcome back. When you open the cooler you will smell a rather sweet, malty goodness. You want to quckily raise the temperature to about 165 to wash more of the sugars out of the grain. So to do this, you will add that water, which is hopefully around 190 degrees. Check the temp and do your best to get around the strike temp of 165.  Now allow a couple of minutes to pass to allow the grain bed to settle again.

Now take a small Pyrex or other such glass container and drain some of the beer out then pour is slowly and lightly bAck to the cooler. You are trying to create a flow that is free of grains.

Then begin to drain the cooler into a pot which can hold approximately six gallons. You may get as much as 7 -8 gallons from your sparging, depending on how much water you needed to get the temp.

The boil.

If you have considerable amount you might boil it down some before you start your official boil time. But you should  essentially start with about five or so gallons and boil for approximately an hour.  So with this beer our hop schedule (the time we add hops) looks like this;.

60 min add 1 oz of Cascade

30 min add 1 oz of Cascade

15 min add 1.5 oz of Cascade

At burn out 1 oz of Amarillo

You want to adhere to a schedule for the addition of hops because doing so will create the beer that you are aimming for. You can use a calculator to help you determine the all impressive IBU. For an IPA around the mid 70’s of IBUs  good. The hops added earliest are for bittering, whereas the later additions are for flavor and aroma.

After you have boiled for an hour with the addition of your hops at scheduled times, it’s time to cool down. Most home brewers have a chiller which is really a copper coil that cool water runs through. You want to be sure that anything you put in your beer after you stop boiling has been sanitized.

After your beer ha cooled down you want to aerate your beer, usually by pouring it back forth several times using the tub you will ferment in. Now simply add your yeast, sprinkling it on top, close up your fermenter (in this case a five gallon restaurant grade plastic tub with an air lock.  After several weeks the yeasts have eaten all the sugars and pooped out alcohol.

Look, go to these websites for some more specific instructions. You can do this. http://www.homebrewinginstructions.com/

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Filed under Beverage, Drinks, Food Anecdotes, General Rantings, How to..., Recipes

Sunday Dinner – Coq au Vin, Moules Mariniere and Potato Puree

Music: Granada – Isaac Albeniz (played live by Jamie!)

We didn’t watch the Golden Globes but we did eat good French food.  Jamie and Kathryn, our newlywed friends, came over for dinner.  It was a rainy night here in Brooklyn but they don’t live far and braved the weather to enjoy (hopefully) our meal. (I sense a theme, the last two Sunday dinners were a slushy mess too).

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Filed under Appetizer, Beverage, Brooklyn Places, Chicken, cookbooks, Fish, Potatoes, Recipes, Sides, Sunday Dinner

Sunday Night Dinner (on Saturday!) – Happy Christmastide Party

Music: The Waitresses – Christmas Wrapping

On Saturday, James and I threw our (now) annual Christmas party.  We made a traditional Italian dinner of Manicotti and Meatballs.  Does anyone remember Saturday night? It snowed…a lot. And there were a gaggle of Manhattanites that braved the G train to come to our Brooklyn winter wonderland.

It was also our friend Brian’s birthday.  For this occasion I thought I would make him a croquembouche (he has an affinity for French pastry – I guess, who doesn’t?).  I’d been wanting to do this for some time…we had one at our wedding that was scrumdiddlyumptious.  I’ll post a picture but the recipe will come on Thursday.

So we opened our tiny table and put two leaves in to fit 10.  It basically took over our whole apartment but we sat down to a formal dinner complete with Christmas crackers, crowns and some inappropriate conversations and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  We even sang a carol or four (after a couple Kir’s each) in three-part harmony…I love having talented friends (aka, nerds). We finished the night with a Hall and Oats sitting dance party.  Those two are REAL hit-makers! (direct quote from Melissa). Continue reading

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Filed under Appetizer, Beverage, Breads, Food Anecdotes, Meats, Pasta, Recipes, Salads, Sunday Dinner, Uncategorized

Holy Hot Cocoa, Batman!

Sufjan Stevens – Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing (this gets my vote for prettiest Carol this year).

Last night we put up our tree. Tree trimming is not complete without hot chocolate and whipped cream and I made the mother of all winter drinks too. James brought the tree home on the subway – have you ever seen someone do that?  It always makes me laugh. This makes enough for two people.

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Filed under Beverage, Dessert, Recipes