Yards Brewing Co. Steps It Up as Food for Thought Beer Sponsor 


On March 23, ACHIEVEability is hosting its 2013 Food for Thought fundraiser in the Philadelphia Navy Yard. The night will be filled with amazing small plates from more than 25 of the top chefs and restaurants in the City of Brotherly Love, and for all you beer lovers out there, you’re not forgotten: Yards Brewing Co. is the event’s exclusive beer sponsor.

If you’re a Philly beer fan, then you know and love Yards–their beers are solid classics. Not a lot of muss and fuss, no strange ingredients, just hitting all the notes in styles ranging from pale ales to stouts and porters and a spring-time favorite, saison.

The brewery with its brewing roots in British-style ales will be pouring 2 favorites: the Philadelphia Pale Ale (a favorite of mine … so crisp!) and Brawler.

But here’s an even more exciting tidbit: If you happen to find yourself attending Food for Thought (which you really should … it’s SUCH a great cause), then don’t miss the pairing that Yards and Alla Spina have in store for you. Yards will be pairing their IPA with Alla Spina’s mortadello hotdogs, which are typically served at the restaurant with spicy pickles and cabbage relish. And we all know how well IPAs pair with spicy foods, so this is going to be a real treat.

Food for Thought

ACHIEVEability is an agency that permanently breaks the cycle of poverty for low-income, single-parent and homeless families. ACHIEVEability provides housing and supportive services so parents can pursue higher education and become self-sufficient. Everything the organization does promotes accountability for families. This year, ACHIEVEability is celebrating 31 years of helping families achieve self-sufficiency.

The event is a dream for those who love the great food of Philadelphia. Attendees will be able to sample food, using sustainable VerTerra plates and flatware, from more than 25 of the top chefs and restaurants in the city. There are a lot of my favorite restaurants and chefs on the list, but I’m most excited to check out some that are new-to-me:

Jonathan Adams / Rival Bros 
Joseph Baldino / Zeppoli
Michael Deganis / Alla Spina
Dana Herbert / Desserts by Dana
Karl Isaiah / Cake Boulangerie
Ben Puchowitz / Matyson and Cheu Noodle Bar 
Kevin Sbraga / Sbraga
Sylva Senat / Tashan 

Aside from Yards being the exclusive beer sponsor, Capital Wines & Spirits is the wine and spirits sponsor for the event.

Now, on top of all the food and beverage goodness, there will be music and dancing, and an auction containing fantastic prizes, such as a romantic week for 2 in Belize.

The event is hosted at Urban Outfitters’ headquarters at the Naval Yard in Philadelphia (check the site for driving directions).

Purchase your tickets here and be prepared for a wonderful evening benefiting a great cause and a full belly!




Video: SAVOR 2010 Highlights I Guess 

Scintillating video that I shot with my iPhone at SAVOR 2010. Some of the language may not be safe for work depending on where you work, so make sure to turn it up super loud.




Beer and Talula’s Table 

Talula's TableA little over a month ago, Ray and I were given the immense privilege of sitting down to a farmhouse table with 8 other individuals — sounds nice, but no biggie, right?


We were dining at Talula’s Table. The same restaurant that is considered one of the five toughest reservations to get. And we have our friends Jen and Derek — the latter of whom is the mind behind The Best Food Blog Ever — to thank for it.

Now, I’m not going to regale you with what possibly was the most amazing meal of my life — not because I can’t, but because I think Derek says it infinitely better. And he took notes, so he gets the credit. But what I will tell you is how excellent an opportunity it was to bring four 22 oz bottles of our beer to a table of strangers (save J & D) and have them give us honest opinions. And these were not all necessarily beer geeks.

Natural Chester County Veal Cannelloni, Chanterelle Blanquette, and Ricotta Stuffed Squash BlossomsI had spent an afternoon of my daily train commute pouring over The Brewmaster’s Table by Garrett Oliver, comparing Talula’s menu to the book, cross-referencing and jotting notes. It wasn’t the easiest thing to pick out four perfect pairings, but I heeded Oliver’s advice, and more often than not, went with my gut. I asked myself “What would I want to drink with the Wild King Salmon, Smokey New Potato Sauce, and Red Trout Caviar? Hmmm … salmon … our Dry Humour Dry Stout should go well with that.” And it did!

Along with the stout, we brought our Bee Sting Ale, Sweetheart Kölsch and Hefe the ORC. The pairings all went surprisingly well, and both Ray and I had the chance to formally introduce each beer to the table as it was served. And that was possibly one of the coolest things I have done all year.

For an in-depth look at the evening, including descriptions of each course and the beers we brought with us, check out Derek’s post at The Best Food Blog Ever.




Session #30 — Brewing Up Dessert 

Session Logo -- High-ResWelcome to The Session, a monthly event for beer and brewing bloggers! This is Session #30, for which Beer 47 writer David  have chosen the topic “Beer Desserts.”

Ahh dessert. The realm where I feel most comfortable because it’s one of my specialities — so much so that I just left my desk to go bake my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, although it doesn’t contain beer.

I have made 3 beer desserts I can recall. My first was a spice cake using Victory’s Storm King Imperial Stout, frosted with a quadrupel-spiced buttercream. I baked it for my 26th birthday, and guests seemed impressed.

We’ve made stout floats with Stone 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout and a mocha java chip ice cream — and I think we’ve also used North Coast Brewing’s Old Rasputin and Stoudt’s Fat Dog.

Geeeez, those were some delicious floats.

I’ve also baked with liquid malt extract in place of molasses, creating my cherry oatmeal cookies, which were insanely good. Mmmm … cookies.

While baking my chocolate chip cookies and pondering beer desserts, I picked Ray’s brain for ideas. He thinks that any Belgian Strong, Tripel, Dubbel or Barleywine could be used with fruit somehow — so I suggested their use in a pie filling. Hmmm … a mincemeat pie dressed with a little English Barleywine in the filling? It could be delish. Ray also suggested making a reduction of a beer with some brown sugar and serving it over warmed fruit, with a spot of fresh whipped cream.

As for desserts we’ve ordered out, we have to tip our hats to the folks at Dogfish Head. We have shared the  Chocolate Chicory Stout Cheesecake, which interestingly enough, is made with blue cheese and is insanely rich, and we have also shared the DFH Stout Sundae, which consists of vanilla ice cream, Chicory Stout chocolate sauce, whipped cream, and a hop-infused brownie.

What I think is important to consider when creating a beer dessert is that you must have a plan of action for dealing with the bitterness. Balance is crucial. If you’re going to reduce a beer for a sauce, you don’t want to reduce it to an unappetizing sticky mess.

So I think this might mean no IPA-infused cookies. Nevertheless, I’m sure there’s a place for bright, grassy beers, just maybe not dessert.




Pulled Pork in Kolsch Sauce With Sauerkraut 

Pulled pork, sauerkraut, and dandellion greensPulled pork is the classic barbecue dish amongst classic barbecue dishes. Flaky, tender morsels of juicy, slow-cooked meat; tangy, spicy sauce soaking into a soft, fresh kaiser. All it took was a sale on pork shoulder at Shop Rite, and I knew what my all-Sunday-afternoon production was going to be.

Our condo association doesn’t allow grilling/barbequeing, so I grabbed a bottle of our kolsch and decided to braise the shoulder in it for a few hours with some rosemary and star anise. Once the meat was sufficiently tenderized, I strained out the herbs and simmered the beer with some brown sugar and garlic to create the sauce while I shredded the meat. Mix in a long list of spices, heat up some sauerkraut and onions, and you’ve got yourself a sweet and succulent sandwich perfect for a cool spring night.

We also had some dandelion greens that we got from the local farmer’s market. It doesn’t say so in the recipe, but Mel cooked those with some onions, garlic, dried chiles, salt, and pepper. The bitter dandelion greens went great with the sweet onions and garlic.

The recipe here calls for kolsch, but any malty beer will do. Your best bets are probably kolsch, anything Belgian (especially dubbel), brown ale, malty English beers, and sweeter stouts (perhaps even a coffee stout).

Pulled Pork in Kolsch Sauce With Sauerkraut

3 lbs Pork shoulder
12 fl oz kolsch
3 or 4 star anise pods
2 tbsp dried rosemary
4 or 5 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste

3 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tbsp minced garlic

1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 Tbsp coriander
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cayenne
freshly ground nutmeg to taste

1 15 oz can sauerkraut
1/2 c minced onion
1 Tbsp olive oil
A few pinches salt
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard

Cut pork shoulder into 2″ steaks. Make sure to cut perpendicular to the grain so the pork will be easy to shred when it’s cooked. Season liberally with salt and pepper.

Combine shoulder steaks, kolsch, star anise, rosemary, and bay leaves in a large saucepan over low heat. Cook for at least three hours, flipping the pork halfway through.

Remove pork and set aside. Strain herbs out of the kolsch and scrape the bits of cooked meat stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add brown sugar and garlic and simmer over high heat until thickened and caramelized. It will smell like burnt sugar when it’s ready.

While the sauce reduces, shred the pork. The easiest way to to this is to hold the meat in place with tongs, and use a large-toothed steak knife or bread knife to gently pull the meat apart. The slow cooking will have weakened the connective tissue, allowing you to shred the meat without much force.

When the sauce is dark and thick, add the spices and stir. Return the pork to the pan and turn it with tongs to coat it evenly with sauce.

While the meat rests, prepare the sauerkraut. In a separate pan, combine oil, onion, and salt and cook over medium heat until the onions are tender. Add sauerkraut and mustard, mix until ingredients are evenly distributed, and cook over medium heat for five minutes.

Serve pork on toasted kaiser rolls with a little bit of sauerkraut.




Tria’s Sunday School—Part II 

My last entry about Tria was really only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the late Sunday afternoon we spent there. Aside from the Sunday school beer and cheese offerings, Ray and I ordered the Herbed Potato Chips with Truffle Aioli and Roasted Beets with Bulgarian Feta Cheese. The beets had a very earthy-topsoil aroma that was very interesting, but I was not crazy about; Ray, however, quite enjoyed them. The herbed potato chips were simply divine and could easily be eaten by the pound, with or without the aioli.

For my entree I ordered the Mixed Greens with Mission Figs, Gorgonzola, Pine Nuts and Gorgonzola-Pine Nut Vinaigrette. It was the perfect portion, had just enough vinagrette, and extremely crisp greens. The only issue I had was that I think I reacted to the pine nuts — the roof of my mouth felt quite funny, and Ray’s mouth also reacted. Oh well. I ate it anyway, and rather enjoyed it. Ray ordered the Spanish Tuna with Black Olive-Red Pepper Tapenade and Arugula Sandwich and was also happy with it, despite having to spend five minutes in the bathroom trying to wash all of the oil off. For beverages, I ordered Bell’s Special Double Cream Stout, which came in a fantastic bottle. At 6.1 ABV it’s not too strong, and on the web site it’s described as “sweeter and smoother than the Kalamazoo Stout.” Well I was sold.

Ray was able to order a brew he had been very eager to try: Weyerbacher’s Harvest Ale, and he did a proper tasting of it:

Appearance: White head with lots of lacing. Clear amber gold.
Nose: Super-floral and sweet. Hops are clearly the focus, but are somehow mellow.
Taste: Bitterness is subdued, giving the stage to the hops’ flavor, which is citrusy and slightly earthy/grassy. Again, subdued despite being so prominent.
Mouthfeel: Crisp, bitey, very refreshing. Hop bitterness lingers on the back of the tongue and throat.

To end our trip, we ordered dessert, as well as the Meantime Coffee Porter to share. We ordered the Rogue Chocolate Stout Bread Pudding with Allagash Cherry Sauce and the Nutella Panino. According to the bottle, each serving of the British coffee porter is equal to one cup of coffee, caffeine-wise. We noticed it had a hint of sour to it, but were not sure if it was intentional. I think Ray enjoyed the beer, while I wasn’t terribly crazy about it.

Our servers were knowledgeable and friendly, and we even scored some swag! Cape Ann’s brewer Jeremy had one of Tria’s staff bring us a baseball cap and a t-shirt from the brewery. “For the homebrewers …” the staff member (I feel like he might have been the owner?) said with a smile. So cool!

We joined the Tria loyalty club, paid our affordable bill, and then headed out into the early autumn night, elated that we found a new place to get lost in … maybe every Sunday.




Apple Turnovers with Palo Santo Marron 

I really enjoy getting my Bon Appetit magazine, and the most recent issue had a seemingly easy recipe for apple turnovers that I had to try. Lucky for me, the recipe was simple. The only obstacle that came up was I ended up using puff pastry that had vegetable oil in it — the recipe called for puff pastry made with butter, which would have given it a more traditional French taste, but I didn’t have all day to run around looking for it.

The recipe seemed to yield more apple filling than necessary, but I used it all anyway. The effect was apple often bursting from the seams of the turnovers, but hey, who doesn’t like apples?

I used 2 Granny Smith and 2 Gala apples, though the original recipe called for Granny Smith and Golden Delicious (I can’t stand Golden Delicious). I followed the recipe otherwise, and Ray and I were rewarded with warm, flaky, apple-filled delights. I decided to pull out the 12 oz bottle of Dogfish Head’s Palo Santo Marron we had been saving since early June, a bottle I had selected when creating a very expensive “make your own 6-pack” at The Foodery in Philly. We split the bottle into two wine goblets, and at first, I pushed my glass away.

The alcohol bite was fierce, and there was a strong Scotch flavor, and I’m sorry, but I can’t stand Scotch. I thought it would be a nice pairing, since Dogfish is known for their malty beers. Ray sipped his glass along with the turnover, and assured me the beer would mellow once we let it come up in temperature.

Of course he was right (see why I’m marrying this guy?). Quoting from their Web site, Palo Santo Marron is “an unfiltered, unfettered, unprecedented brown ale aged in handmade wooden brewing vessels. The caramel and vanilla complexity unique to this beer comes from the exotic Paraguayan Palo Santo wood … ”

I may have finished my apple turnover already, but I’m still sipping away at the Palo. Perhaps a longer tenure in the fridge would have done this better, but I was reminded of how it tasted at Savor, so I took a chance. What’s life like if you don’t?




Cherry Oatmeal Cookies with LME 

Wait … what the heck is LME you’re asking? “The London Metal Exchange? That doesn’t make any sense. Did she sit down and have some cookies with the exchange? And if she did, then wouldn’t they be called biscuits?”

Ahem, anyway, LME is known as liquid malt extract. Since we are not all-grain brewers, we rely on LME for our beers. We had some leftover after brewing the stout, so I put the leftover away until I could stick it in something. LME is somewhat similar to molasses, so I found a new oatmeal cookie recipe that stems from WWII when brown sugar was rationed and molasses was used more readily in cookies.

I must say, I am really happy with how these cookies turned out. The recipe does not call for spices, so I kept it that way — I have a separate recipe for spiced oatmeal raisin cookies — but in lieu of raisins I decided to use the dried cherries I had leftover from a chocolate cherry stromboli I made ages ago.

You could really smell the LME in the batter, and anyone who has sampled LME before could pick out its distinct flavor in the batter. The cookies are also thick with oatmeal — 2 cups — so as Ray said, it gives you plenty to chaw on.

The finished cookie has a great oatmeal texture, the cherries are a nice substitute for raisins, and the LME worked as a great sweetener/molasses substitute. If you have some leftover LME of your own (or molasses I suppose), then check out the recipe below, I think you’ll dig it!

2 cups flour
2 cups oatmeal
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter
2 eggs
5 tbsp LME or molasses
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried cherries

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F
2. In a medium to large bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and oatmeal.
3. In a large bowl, blend together softened butter and granulated sugar until creamy. Add the vanilla, LME, and eggs. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients.
4. Cover baking sheets with parchment paper. Drop batter onto the paper by the teaspoonful, fitting 12 cookies to a sheet.
5. Bake for 10 minutes. Let the cookies rest for a moment before placing them on a wire rack to cool. Yields roughly 48 cookies.

Also, we also managed to score River Horse’s latest Brewer’s Reserve, the Imperial Cherry Amber Ale. I found that sipping it after tasting the batter left a hoppy taste in my mouth; however, sipping the beer after a nibble of cookie did not do the same thing. Weird. Nonetheless, the cookie and beer pair well.

The great texture and balanced chewyness make these cookies addicting!




A Night Out with the Beer Club 

On Wednesday, August 6, I decided to join the ladies of IPA (In Pursuit of Ale) for their somewhat bimonthly gatherings. I met the group’s presiding drinker (it actually says that on her business card — how awesome?!) Suzanne Woods at the Royal Stumble, and after hearing what IPA was all about, I knew I needed to check it out.

She planned a five course pairing menu at The Latest Dish, which is a neat pseudo-hole in the wall on 4th Street between South and Bainbridge. Eight of us attended, and it just so happens that one girl, Amy, was originally from Newark, NY and knew my roommate from my sophomore year at Brockport. Bizarrely small world, right?

I started the night out with Samuel Smith’s oatmeal stout, after trying to order Rogue’s Mocha Porter (out) and Brooklyn Brewery’s Black Chocolate Stout (also out). Their taps were not working that night, so we worked with their bottle list, which was fairly extensive AND organized by region, which was nice.

I really enjoyed the Tempura Avocado with soy syrup and chile oil that was paired with Steelhead’s extra pale ale. The avocado had a great texture of crunch from the tempura mixed with the creamy softness that avocado’s are known for. This dish surprised me, because I’m a little back and forth on avocados. Suz let us know that Steelhead had a female brewer for 17 years, up until 2007 when she headed out on a cross country brewing trip.

The main course, however, really knocked my socks off. Executive chef Scott Schroeder — who took time out at the end of the evening to stop by our table — crafted a divine pork mignon with peaches and Gorgonzola, which was paired with a Corsendonk Abbey pale ale. The pork was amazingly tender, and the Gorgonzola offered so much flavor to this dish, without being overbearing.

If you’d like to know more about IPA’s night out, head over to Suz’s blog. Her post about the evening goes over all five pairings AND has pictures!

I definitely had a great time and will need to see when I will be able to join the ladies again in pursuit of some great ale.




Plum Pleased with Cake and Beer 

Two Sunday nights ago (July 20) I decided I should do a dress rehearsal of sorts for the dessert I planned on bringing to Ray’s parents’ BBQ this past Saturday. I did not want to wait until the day before to try a completely new recipe and result in an epic fail, so a practice run was called for.

I found a recipe for Plum Coffee Cake with Brown Sugar & Cardamom Streusel in the latest issue of Fine Cooking magazine, and aside from the mouth-watering photography, the overall recipe looked good. Plus, I had spent the majority of my childhood hating plums, so it was time to make amends.

Who’da Thunk It?
I learned from the article that there are close to 200 varieties of plums out there. There aren’t a ton of differences in their tastes — but there is a difference in their shelf life. So, if you buy a plum on Monday, there’s a good chance that if you go to buy another plum on Saturday, it will be a different variety. I thought this was kind of interesting.

Before I even decided to make the cake, I wanted to try some fresh plums first, and I purchased one red plum and one black plum. The red plum had a medium-to-deep red skin, and the fruit was a golden yellow, whereas the black plum’s skin was a purplish-black with maroon hints, and its fruit was a red-violet color. They were both about a day away from being optimally ripe, but I tried them anyway and found I preferred the black plum.

When I picked up plums from the store a week later to make the cake, I purchased the only ones I could find, which had a sign that said “tree ripe plums.” They had a darker skin, so I was guessing they were black plums; they weren’t, but that’s okay. Instead the fruit inside was the same golden color as the previously mentioned red plums. Que sera, sera.

I set myself up in the kitchen and made the streusel first, using heavy cream in lieu of whole milk (I couldn’t find a container of whole milk at the store that wasn’t smaller than a half gallon, and there is no way in hell I was going to consume it otherwise.). The streusel had a nice, clumpy consistency to it. Once I had that done, I stashed it in the fridge to chill while I made the cake batter.

The batter was fairly simple, though I didn’t have a pastry blender, nor did I know what one was, nor did I bother to google it. Instead I took an immersion blender to the dry ingredients with the pats of butter, and got roughly the same effect that the recipe was calling for. I folded the wet into the dry, mixed it up, and gave it a taste. Wow! Right on! You could taste and smell the cardamom. I poured the batter into my square pan, crumbled half of the streusel into it, added the quartered and pitted plums, and then topped with the remaining streusel.

Doesn’t this look freaking delicious?

Ray agreed to be my guinea pig on this one, and we each had a piece of the cake paired with River Horse’s Brewer’s Reserve Belgian Double White (2W). The cake was balanced — not too moist or dry, not too sweet or dull. The fruit texture complemented the texture of the cake and the streusel. Overall, we felt it made a delicious cake.

I have made the cake twice now. The second time did include some black plums (unfortunately, not all the ones I picked out of the “black plum” bin were truly black); Ray bought a pastry blender for me; and when we had it after dinner, I had Ray’s mom warm it up in the oven for a little bit.

The results were astounding! We polished the cake off, with Steph taking a tiny extra piece, and Ray and his dad splitting the rest of the leftover piece. Everyone liked it, and even Tim really liked it, and he typically hates cake! Whoo! Mission accomplished.