About Me

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TARZANA, CA, United States
Hello food, wine & beer pals! Welcome to my photo-journal of food, wine and beer adventures. I'm pictured on the right and my home brewing pal, Aron is on the left. Years ago I started watching the Food Network, saving recipe's, making recipe's, trying new things, tasting new things, and it's all blossomed from there, including the weekly tastings (beer & wine) at BevMo. I'm hooked on variety and continuing my search for tasty goodness all over the world. Please feel free to email me with comments and ideas at FoodieWinonBrew@yahoo.com Bon Appetito!

Thursday, October 14, 2010


This is me and my uncle Conway at The Bier Stein in Eugene.  What a fabulous place!

 If I were to die tomorrow, I would hope that there’s a Bier Stein in heaven, especially since that’s what it felt like being there. Visiting my uncle last week brought me to this haven; the only vexation is I live in Tarzana, California. If I only lived in Eugene! [Sigh!] I was inspired to order--by Yelp advocacy—their “Beer-Cheese” soup. My soups rich, creamy, fondue texture was amplified when I dipped the sourdough bread into it. God, it was good. I’m going to try and recreate it at home for a fondue party in future. Along with that I had the Gouddhist Panini on a crunchy grilled chiabatta with turkey, smoked gouda, tomato, pesto and garlic aoli. I paired that with Laurelwood Public House (a brewpub in Portland) Workhorse IPA, which was on tap. In the Portland Airport, Laurelwood Brewing Company has a small restaurant/brewery stationed there, on my flight “stop-over” I also tried their Hop Monkey IPA which I preferred to the Workhorse IPA for it’s balanced hops. I wish there was a Laurelwood Brewery near my place; that Hop Monkey is still on my mind. Maybe I can find it at BevMo....hmmmm.
The Bier Stein’s mind-bottling (pun intended) selection of over 800 bottled beers was another vexation that I don’t live in Eugene, so many beers in one place. A great variety of German beers (a homage to the name sake) mixed with a healthy number of national micro breweries, many I recognized some new to my knowledge. And there was also a wall filled with a lovely selection of Belgian brews.
I had the opportunity to chat with Eric, one of the employees there that was also a beer enthusiast. I was checking out their refrigerated selection when he approached me for help. I asked about Pliney the Elder, a Russian River Brewing Company double IPA that’s eluded me (a friend recommended it years ago) only to learn they didn’t have it in bottles but were serving it at a tasting Thursday, October 14th. Another vexation! My stay in Eugene would be over then. By the way, if you buy bottled beer there to take home it’s 15% off; the other option is drinking it there without the discount, but still a value.
One of the cool novelties of the Bier Stein are pub glasses (including a ½ yard glass) available for purchase at the front; I wanted to buy a few for my collection. There’s nothing like a frosty glass with the name of favorite brews at home to enjoy your favorite brews in; you feel like you’re in your own private pub!
Oh Beer Gods, please make a Bier Stein within staggering distance of my home!
Craft Beers and Breweries of the Pacific Northwest: A Beer Lover's Guide to Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia


I have to say that if there was an amazing bucolic place to “settle down,” the landscape that is King’s Estate is a little bit of paradise.  My uncle and I were blessed with a sunny Oregon day, which displayed green as far as the eye could see and the facility of the winery looked like a French country castle.   Equally beautiful inside was the tasting room, located just inside the main entrance, in a vaulted ceiling room, covered in wood finished walls.  You couldn’t ask for a better place to taste wine, unless you stepped outside and see the amazing view, wine tasting goes good with that too.  It’s definitely a wonderful location for weddings, corporate parties, or just a day trip to restore your soul from the daily grind (“my case” scenario).   I was able to taste a number of their white wines and six different King’s Estate pinot noirs; all very focused wines in their structure, well executed and worth tasting again and again.  Unfortunately I didn’t have the time to try the heavier reds; perhaps my next visit will yield a more extended tasting.  I did get to experience the free tour of their state of the art wine making facility.  Part of the tour involved walking into the temperate coolness of the barrel room, and when entered, gave off an air of wine infused French oak.  I inhaled deeply, an uncontrollable reflex, I had to have more of that sensual aroma like no other.  Later I had lunch at the restaurant, a nice touch to the property and also, a great way to pair lovely wines with other Oregon offerings from organically grown estate gardens.  I only wish I could have spent the day here, tasting all the wines and having both lunch and dinner.  Next time…   If you’re in the Eugene area, make King’s Estate one of your stops, you’ll be glad you did, and perhaps stop by again.  Check out their amazing website for a virtual tour.      

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Anderson Valley Brewing Company is doing a few things right as I sip one of my recent love affairs of taste in the form of their ESB (Extra Special Beer/Bitter). On the label is a seal Gold Medal Winner, and on the website the beer boasts 4 TIME Gold Medal Winner, which doesn’t surprise me when I taste it; the beer upon inception is a full mouth feel, mingled with sweet barley, then bitter, balanced sweet citrus, with the fantastic dry salt hop finish. It’s complimenting my halibut in a tomato basil sauce nicely; in fact it’s stealing the culinary show tonight. Every sip is a lovely complex arc of taste that screams gold medal and taste vacation. Take your time drinking this brewed art work of texture and story. I have a feeling this won’t be the last time I review this brewery. All due respect to Anderson Valley Brewing Company noting on the bottle cap it reads “solar powered brewery” which means a nod to sustainable production. I also noticed that the biography of the Brewing Director, David Gatlin, mentions he worked for Firestone Walker, who makes one of my favorite IPA’s, Union Jack—that might be another reason this beer sits so well with me in terms of balanced hop taste. Love the beer, and it’s definitely worth a try for the true blue “hophead.” Boonville, California where Anderson Valley Brewing Company is located, is about two and a half hours north of San Francisco. Makes me proud to be a Californian! Big Smiles!

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Color: rich amber
Alcohol by volume: 8%
Bottle size: pint
A friend recommended this new Double IPA out of San Jose's Hermitage Brewing Company, however I can't find their website online. I think the brewery is so spanking new they haven’t gotten to that yet, but I could be wrong. Let me know if you find a website for them. I’d love to look at their line of brews and I look forward to acquiring more beers from them over time after trying their HOPTOPIA Double IPA. It brings lovely rich malt sweetness to the mellow balanced hops with a juicy finish. I found it extremely easy to drink for an IPA lover and also a great way to start Happy Hour. I also love the mod "space age" design of the label; reminds me somehow of the entrance to “Tomorrowland” at Disneyland. I recommend you dig this with your favorite drinking buddy! Drink up!

Saturday, July 17, 2010


If you want products from the UK that you can't find in the Valley this is the place to stop by and check out! Located in Tarzana just east of Reseda Boulevard on Ventura Boulevard, at the back of the strip mall there.  I've just bought some English and Irish bangers, baked beans in tomato sauce and a jar of lemon-lime Scottish marmalade for a nice little "English Breakfast" tomorrow morning. I like to stop by every now and then to see what Jean (the owner) has in stock. One time I found this great apron with a Mini Cooper and British flag motif on it. It's my favorite apron to cook in!  It's a friendly little shop and I love it!  If you love things British, stop by; you never know what you'll find.

OH Fancy That British Gifts
18399 Ventura Blvd, Tarzana, CA 91356
(818) 996-4405


Thursday, July 8, 2010


St. Peter’s Brewery again, virtually—I bought a pint from BevMo http://www.bevmo.com/, but I wish I were sitting in an English pub sipping this as opposed to Los Angeles. I’m trying their Cream Stout that brings lovely deep complex character with “shout outs” from English toffee, caramel, licorice, malt, and a smooth smokiness to the finish. You should pay careful attention, this stout can disappear quickly after you swallow, so give your palate a treat by swirling it with your tongue, almost like wine but watch the active carbonation which is a nice flavor facilitator. I dig it; a very drinkable stout indeed. I plan on trying all the brews that BevMo offers from this brewery, so far I’ve enjoyed the Organic English Ale (see “Anglophile Strikes Again” post from June 2010) and this lovely stout. I do also have the Sorgham Beer in my fridge at the moment, awaiting its future post “close-up.” If you go to their webpage, check out their “Recipes etc” tab. It might inspire a “treat yourself right night” at home, complete with beer pairing suggestions.

Bring a little "UK Pub" feel to your home experience, drink out of an inspiring pint glass.

Monday, July 5, 2010


Francis Coppola Sofia Rosé
2009 Monterey County

I always love picking up a bottle of Sofia Rosé when the weather warms up in spring and especially summer. Sofia is a lovely wine for summer.  Part art (I just love the shape of the bottle), part simplicity, part elegance, part soft pink of rose. On the palate comes raspberry, strawberry, apricots with an earthy dry finish.  The alcohol by volume is 12.5% so you may want to pick up more than one bottle.  Especially when it goes on sale at BevMo for $13.99 a bottle.  Perfect with salad niçoise, lemon garlic grilled chicken, French potato salad, dark greens or brunch quiche!
Francis Coppola is another hero of mine. When I first heard of his making wine I was interested to see if the film artistry equaled his talents of the vine. I’ve tried a few bottles of Coppola in past years sporadically, mostly reds, and the Bianco Pinot Grigio. I’m really glad he came out with the table wines, since I love the efforts of his other red endeavors but can’t always afford them, specifically Rubicon. So far I’ve enjoyed the focused efforts of every Coppola wine I’ve tasted. And look forward to enjoying them for years to come.

Sunday, July 4, 2010


“The flavor of hops from England’s finest hop gardens…”

I’m celebrating “Independence Day” by drinking brew from the country we fought to be independent from, Britain. And only through Britain’s colonizing of India (theoretically) have we been blessed with the India Pale Ale, true bitter glory of hopped up brewing. India, another country that was a “British Colony” that won it’s independence the hard way as well.  I’ve selected an India Ale also because of the "independence" common denominator.

I’m also very much aware that without the great tradition of brewing that came from England along with the first Colonists, we’d be without beer. A sad commentary indeed!  The one swell thing about America I want to celebrate this year on "the Fourth" is that we've never been without beer, thanks to where this country got some of its brewing roots.

When I was in the UK years ago, I stopped into a London pub not far from Parliament to have a pint and wait out the uncomfortable Tube rush hour traffic. I rationalized I’d been on my feet all day working as a tourist and needed a little tonic for my joint aches and pains. The pub I found had Samuel Smith’s Pure Brewed Lager on tap, and the fantastic hour-glass shaped pint glass with pictures of growing barley and hops was my “selling point.” I wanted what everyone else was having out of that magnificent glass. Two pints later I was in love with everything English, including waiting on the Tube platform amongst the remnants of rush hour. The only buzz kill was the detours on the Tube due to lines “out of service.” Nonetheless, the magnificent buzz off of that lager created a glorious memory of my experience, and when I was back in California, I found out that Samuel Smith was available in retail liquor stores—specifically BevMo which has most of their bottled imports.  http://www.bevmo.com/

Because of colonization by the British, there was a considerable trade in beer to India in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The only way ale could be preserved for the three or four month trip around the Cape of Good Hope and through the Indian Ocean to Bombay was to add quantities of hops while brewing, distinguishing the IPA (India Pale Ale) style.

A pure filtered amber color draws you to the tasting experience of Samuel Smith’s IPA: a balanced restraint of malted hops with a lingering mid-palate rich honey malt finish. This is one of my favorite kinds of “sipping ales”—a kind of luxury where all you need is the brew in front of you and a few good mates to drink with. The rest is pure enjoyment of what pub brewing is all about.

Give Samuel Smith brews a try and get to know great British brewing tradition.

Also, for your viewing pleasure I found a cool virtual vacation website featuring the Great British Beer Festival 2009, and some of the local notable pubs: http://www.classiccitybrew.com/gbbf09.html

Here’s the link for the Great British Beer Festival, Earls Court, London, 2010:

Put a little bit of "British pub" in your glass collection for the luxury of enjoying imported brews...

Saturday, July 3, 2010


When I was a kid in the 70’s my grandma taught me how to eat a grapefruit—the yellow kind. It wasn’t so much that I had a choice; it was because that was breakfast, plus toast and butter, milk or juice. Back then the Ruby Red Grapefruit didn’t exist; only the pure tart “Greyhound” type grapefruit was available. The way she made the “sour” fruit palatable for us was sugar. After slicing the fruit in half, in bowl, she would be in charge of the “sugar sprinkling”—for some reason we weren’t allowed to sprinkle the sugar, maybe because we were “reckless kids.” In my mind, the correct amount of sugar, a.k.a. my “palatable criteria” was the appearance fresh fallen snow on top, obscuring the yellow sour bomb underneath. Then she brought out the most glorious of utensils: the serrated spoon! For some reason I thought it was an amazing tool—jagged edges on a miniature spade. I perceived it as the most wonderfully teasing of childhood play-toys; forbidden to play with because it was a functional household item used only for cutting into grapefruit. I wanted to dig for sure with this wonderful tool, providing another attraction to devouring grapefruit. Her method was sawing each pulpy triangle section free inside the rind to make “dishing out” easy. For some reason the taste grew on me, and perhaps that’s the reason I still have a taste for grapefruit. Especially nowadays, since we have the genetic masterpiece known as “Ruby Red,” something I wish grandma had been around to taste. Now they even make things like Ruby Red Grapefruit pies! Maybe I’ll try making that at some point, but for now I’m just paying tribute to the grapefruit—especially since my fondness for IPA’s has to do with what I refer to as “the ruby red grapefruit factor”—something I love tasting in a hop-pronounced ale.

Earlier this year I discovered that New Belgium Brewery started “getting hoppy” with their brewing production, specifically their seasonal ale “Mighty Arrow” and also, their masterpiece of an IPA, RANGER.
Driven towards “sustainability” and “community” New Belgium Brewery located in Fort Collins, Colorado is a humanitarian effort. Check out their awesome website and fall in love!

Color: Liquid-gold-amber
6.5% alcohol by volume (ABV)
Awesome burp factor (ABF): the burning eruption of returning flavor, highly appreciated
Tasting notes: Lingering slightly-juicy ruby red grapefruit, with a mid-palate dry-hop-pepper
Pub notes: I wish this was served on draft at every pub and bar in the world—world peace through the IPA!!!

Monday, June 28, 2010


Some days the idea of coming home to a lovely, balanced, ice-cold bitter beer is alright with me; “don’t mind if I do!” And my all-time favorite India Pale Ale (IPA) is Firestone Walker’s Union Jack--it was LUH-ve at first sight and taste! At sight: mesmerizing pure honey-amber in pint glass. At taste: bitter IPA, with a robust hopped up malt of sweet-tart bitterness reminiscent of Ruby Red Grapefruit; bitter hops with balanced lingering malty sweetness. The association got me wonderin,’ “what would happen if I put a shard of Ruby Red Grapefruit in an IPA, such as Union Jack?” Well, I did, and damned if it weren’t somthin’ special! Another amazing nuance of Union Jack is its taste at room temperature: mellow and warm-honey-pepper-hop tones singing of pure lingering texture—the signature of artisan “brew that is true.”

By the way, I am listening to Helen Reddy’s “Ruby Red Dress” a.k.a. “Leave Me Alone.” It’s “L.P.V. Night” when I spin my Long Play Vinyl, and Helen Reddy’s Greatest Hits is on now baby! Ironically enough, you don’t want to be bothered when drinkin’ Union Jack—it’s a savory vacation, weighing in at a respectable 7.5% alcohol by volume. So “take it easy,” and savor a true India Pale Ale masterpiece, Union Jack. “Once you’ve tried U-Jack, you never go back!” Har-har…


ABOVE:  The "dough" is ready to go...
50 minutes later...golden goodness!
Check out the close up of the craters!  Just like the moon...
Sliced and ready for butter...
Remember the “bread box?” Well, this installment in the Soda Bread Saga is a bunch of flavors that go so well together I had to experiment with the original Irish Soda Bread recipe, courtesy of Ina Garten. My first attempt was a feverish preparation of pressing garlic, shredding cheese, crushing rosemary and forgetting to add the baking soda—DUH!!! --I like to watch the bread rise in the oven when baking, and that loaf never rose.  To my horror, I realized the crucial ingredient I left out, I was a little devastated. There was some work involved, money and fresh ingredients that all had to be trashed. I shook it off and came back strong—especially since the amazing aroma from the “unleavened bread” that permeated the house was an indication of the flavor I was missing out on. Last night proved more successful, as the only ingredient I forgot was salt—it did need a little salt upon tasting to balance out the sugar and other ingredients. Yeah, can you believe I forgot to put in another ingredient? It might be an indication that I’m over complicating the recipe to distraction—forgetting to put the basic ingredients in, outside of the “fancy twist” ingredients. The other thing I noticed about the baking was after I cut into the bread. It was a tiny bit doughy on a top area, which I didn’t realize until I cut into it. The testing knife had come out clean, so I thought it was done. I guess the extra ingredients pushed the baking time longer. The previous loaves were all baked through, but then again, there was only 1 extra ingredient in those loaves (i.e. the dried blueberries, the chocolate chips, the cheese—three different versions of the soda bread I baked before). So I’ve bumped up the baking time longer. Anyway, this is an intensely flavored bread that is heavenly with a touch of butter. For a side to a salad or on it’s own for breakfast or lunch—you could make a sandwich also out of this bread: think deli mustard and ham, or Dijon mustard & turkey with romaine crunch! However you slice it, it will be lovely! Enjoy!
Modified from Ina Garten recipe

4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for cheese
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice.
1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken
1 extra-large egg
1 ½ cup cheddar grated
6 cloves of garlic pressed
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary chopped
Parchment paper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and chopped rosemary in a large mixing bowl, mix with spatula by hand. Add the butter and mix until the butter is mixed into the flour. Add the cheese and mix well so the cheese gets a good coating of dry mix to prevent clumping.
Into a small/medium sauce pan press garlic cloves and add 1 tablespoon or so of olive oil, sauté until tender for about 5 minutes. Put aside to cool.
With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg, and garlic together in a medium mixing bowl.
Mixing slowly by hand add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. When mixture is too difficult to mix with spatula, dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan parchment paper and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound.
Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.


This quiche above is my latest baby....
I’m just about over quiche making for a little while—don’t get me wrong, I love quiche, its fantastic to eat but rich and fattening as hell! So now I must be moderate in my quiche making and eating. Here’s the last production for a while in my “quiche history”—its been a pleasure getting to know crust-less Quiche-Ville. Enjoy this recipe if you’re looking for an easy delicious quiche to make—I’ve made about 4 or 5 versions of this recipe with different variations on the website, so whichever flavor strikes your culinary fancy, go for it!

This simple-to-make quiche is great for a simple dinner or lunch with green salad. Recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit (January 1981).
SERVES 6 -8 , 1 9inch quiche

2 tablespoons olive oil
½ Spanish (yellow or white) onion, chopped
1 (10 ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed
5 eggs
3/4 lb muenster cheese grated
¾ cup chopped mushrooms (optionally delicious)
1 clove of garlic pressed/minced.
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper

Preheat oven to 400-degrees F.
Spray 9-inch pie plate with non-stick baking spray. (Use a corning ware quiche dish or round baking dish). Put dish in oven on cookie sheet to warm.
Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat; add onion, mushrooms and “pressed” garlic, stir occasionally until tender (5 min).
Add spinach; cook until excess moisture evaporates. Put pan aside.
Beat eggs in bowl. Add cheese.
Stir egg-cheese mixture into onion-spinach-garlic mixture; season with salt and pepper. Pour into hot quiche pan, spreading top evenly.
Bake until top is browned and “tester” (use sharp knife or toothpick) comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

RUBBING THE MEAT (snicker, snicker...)

I’ve actually been wanting to bang-out this “bad-boy” of a dry-rub recipe for some time—ever since Anne Burrell told the story on “Secrets of a Restaurant Chef” of how the meat delivery guy (for her NYC restaurant) said: “What do you do to your meat?! It tastes SO GOOD!” Anne’s recipe calls for 1 to 3 day marinade on the rib-eye for an “aged beef” affect, however, I’ve experimented a little with this recipe, making it 5 different times. I’ve simplified it based on my experimenting and I really feel that 1 hour for the dry rub to flavor the rib-eye is enough. The seasonings in the rub are full-flavors, which means a little goes a long way. I’ve found that just taking the meat out of the fridge, rubbing it, wrapping it and putting it aside to acclimate to room temperature (an additional tenderizing technique) is enough time for the meat to “get the flavor” before grilling. Also, I didn’t use a “bone-in” rib-eye any of the times I made it and the size of my steak compared to what she called for was a bit smaller. I made it and ate it, using Alton Brown’s pan searing instructions (I wanted a quick way to cook it)—and I never ate red meat so greedily in my life—I knew what the meat delivery guy meant—it tastes TOO good! Better than red meat has a right too! Cholesterol be damned!!!

I also just made the Rib-eye Love Supreme yesterday again with my Simi Valley drinkin’ buddies, hence the grill picture. The first picture of the meat is on my grilling pan the second time I made it.  The next picture of the meat (three steaks, one has it's "close-up") is on my buddy’s grill. The vote on the rub was unanimous once again, giving the rub a big double “thumbs-up.”

I bow to the rib-eye rub recipe and the joy it brought my taste buds last night again. I don’t eat red meat that much for health reasons, but I will not hesitate to volunteer this recipe to all my grilling buddies—this is sure to be a staple in my recipe repertoire, a real “love supreme.” Thanks Anne!

Modified from Anne Burrell’s recipe

2 tablespoons salt
5 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon pulverized crushed red pepper
2 teaspoons pimenton (Smoked Spanish Paprika)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Oil, for brushing grill
2 (22 to 24-ounce) bone-in rib-eye steaks
Extra-virgin olive oil

Combine all of the dry ingredients in a bowl. Use your fingers to make sure that all of the ingredients are evenly distributed. Rub the outside of each steak generously with the rub. Wrap each steak in plastic wrap and put aside, while letting meat acclimate to room-temperature.

Place 10 to 12-inch cast iron skillet in oven and heat oven to 500 degrees. Bring steak(s) to room temperature. When oven reaches temperature, remove pan and place on range over high heat. Coat steak lightly with oil and season both sides. Immediately place steak in the middle of hot, dry pan. Cook 30 seconds without moving. Turn with tongs and cook another 30 seconds, then put the pan straight into the oven for 2 minutes. Flip steak and cook for another 2 minutes. (This time is for medium rare steaks. If you prefer medium, add a minute to both of the oven turns.)

Remove steak from pan, cover loosely with foil, and rest for 2 minutes. Serve whole or slice thin and fan onto plate.

Preheat a gas or charcoal grill. Brush and oil the grill to loosen and remove any crud. Remove the steaks from the refrigerator about 20 to 30 minutes before cooking. Right before cooking remove the plastic wrap and lightly oil the steaks. Place the steaks on a very hot grill to put a char on both sides of the steak. When both sides of the steak have become well charred move the steak to a cooler part of the grill to continue cooking for 6 to 7 minutes per side for medium rare. Remove the steak from the grill and let rest in a warm spot for 7 to 8 minutes. Cut the steak off the bone and slice on the bias across the grain. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and serve immediately.


I’d like to bring your attention to the brewing efforts of one Ninkasi Brewery in my uncle's "hood" Eugene, Oregon--and the beauty of my favorite kind of brewing—hopped up! Yep, I love “hoppy brews”—I think I mentioned that before. Today’s beer tasting brings us to the seasonal Spring Reign Ale, which is still on its majestic throne, since I was able to buy it at BevMo last Saturday. Its’ gold-amber unfiltered look is extremely inviting at the end of a hard day. And since it’s only retailed in 22 ounce bottles you could call this a lovely entre meal in itself. At first taste is full malt and hops with a lingering balanced salt-yeasty goodness that keeps my palate affirming: “I would like some more please…” The 6% alcohol by volume gives this brew buzz a mellow one once you’ve imbibed it. Upon my next visit to Eugene I will make a special effort to see the new Ninkasi Brewery—I hear they’re building a bigger brewery! Ninkasi—the Sumarian matriarch goddess of beer--be praised! I hope that they will make Spring Reign a year round brew—it’s my favorite of the retail brews available from Ninkasi--all due respect to those other magnificent efforts of which I will review in due time. One last mention of how I appreciate the reasonable 22 ounce price: I can pick up this for $3.99 at BevMo—for the quality of this beer this is a “capital investment” worth risking. All you “hop-dawgs” out there should check it out.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


In case you were wondering about my slight obsession with quiche’s at the moment, don’t worry. I’m just playing with the ingredients which have led me to the latest addition in my quiche repertoire: Crust-less Jalapeño & Black Bean Quiche—great for brunch or lunch. The idea had its genesis with my uncle who used to make a “Crust-less Jalapeño” quiche for his work potlucks. I mentioned I was making a crust-less quiche and he told me about his ol’ standby: “I used to make a crust-less quiche to take to work for our special potlucks. Grease a baking dish or pan (I used a lasagna dish). Grate a pound of sharp cheddar and layer it on the bottom of the dish. Pour a dozen beaten eggs over the cheese and sprinkle 4 oz. chopped jalapeno chilies on top. Bake at 350 until the center puffs up. Simple, easy, and tastes great. I sometimes added sliced black olives.” My version of the “jalapeño quiche” is a little like a 7 layer bean dip with eggs. That may not sound like much but it tastes pretty great and the house smelled like a Mexican restaurant—fantastic! I couldn’t wait to taste it! It wasn’t very spicy at all, just the great flavors of Mexican cooking. Give it a try, it’s easy and delicious!

2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ red onion chopped
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 Jalepeno (take seeds out and chop fine—put gloves on to handle chili, to avoid contact with eyes & face, contact after touching chili will burn face & eyes—especially contact lens users! Warning!)
Pinch of coarse kosher salt
¼ teaspoon of fresh cracked pepper
5 eggs beaten
¾ cup drained black beans
2 cloves garlic (through garlic press or minced)
1 cup half & half or cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray 9” inch diameter ceramic quiche cooking dish (baking dish) with “stick-free” spray and put on tray in oven while preheating.
In a medium sauté pan combine oil, jalapeño, chopped onion, pressed garlic, and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally until onions are tender. Put aside when done.
In a large mixing bowl combine eggs, cheese, salt, pepper, drained black beans and half & half. Stir in sauté pan mixture evenly. Take tray with pie dish out of oven and pour contents of mixing bowl in dish.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until center is done through. Let cool for 5 minutes, slice and serve.

Ways to lighten-up this recipe calorie-wise and cholesterol-wise: use 8 egg whites instead of 6 whole eggs. Use “percent” milk instead of “half & half” (half milk, half cream).

Monday, June 21, 2010


I'm a confessed anglophile: I love things English. My mom used to tell me about our genealogical ties to England and I was fascinated. Years later I spent a month there drinking my brains out…literally. Before I got to the UK, I was a minimal drinker, but for some reason, when I was over there, I drank everyday…although I have to say I was on vacation. I like to imbibe when I’m on vacation because I'm on vacation. My friend who lives in London said that when she had other visitors they said the same thing: they were occasional drinkers, however in London, they were drinking everyday, like they’d be hypnotized to do so. It’s not hard to notice the overflowing pubs—literally into the street--at “Tube rush hour.” The other fantastic attraction to “drinking every day in the UK,” are all the regional pubs that brew something different that you’ve never tried. As part of your vacation you get to drink the magical local potions of ale! As part of my beer tasting ritual at BevMo on Fridays I cruise the beer aisles, looking for new attractions. Sometimes I can’t resist. This time I was drawn to the pint size, oval shaped St. Peter’s Organic English Ale, in a hunter green colored bottle. It had an “old school” air that charmed me, and once poured, went well with my spicy garlic mashers. Further pairing research (as in purchasing another pint) may be required, to determine if the pint was as “bloody good” as I thought it was. “Haha”—I used a “colloquialism.” Like I said, it went well with my spicy garlic mashers (that’s garlic mashed potatoes with Del Taco “mild sauce” splashed on them, creating a “crime scene” effect). Made in Suffolk (UK) St. Peter's Organic English Ale will not disappoint if you like a medium bodied, malt barley pitch that lingers in bucolic reverie. Yes, this one does, and is another reason why I love the UK—it’s the country that keeps on giving.  Another great sign of quality is the way this ale reacts to room temperature; it maintains it's taste structure as it warms up.  Many great ales do this as a sign of brewing quality.  This won’t be my last “pub ale” from the UK. Three cheers! Hip-hip, horay! Hip-hip, horay! Hip-hip, WHO-RAY!!!  I may have to stop by their pub next time I'm in London...hmmmm.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


I’d like to take this auspicious date to share a few things; first, it’s the 38th anniversary of the Watergate break-in! Second, it’s my sisters birthday and also, two of my co-worker’s birthdays, and also, my co-worker’s friends’ birthday, of whom I’m not acquainted but my co-worker mentioned it. And lastly, it’s the wedding anniversary of my “FBI buddy ol’ pal!” A funny little story of how I and my FBI pal met: about 12 years ago I was a bartender—yeah, I know it’s predictable, but I was. And one fine bartending day, two dapper gentlemen dressed in swell looking suits saddled up to Harry’s Bar & Grill in Century City--when Harry’s used to be there. I thought nothing of it, other than “those are two fine looking distinguished gentleman.” That day my niece was mooching free drinks off me at the bar and so we struck up a friendly conversation with the distinguished gentlemen. One fellow was drinking Grolsch—a fine Dutch lager and the other fellow was drinking a Stoli martini, straight up. So went the conversation as I remember…

Fine looking Gentleman #1: “So, are there any fun dance clubs or bars close by?”
Niece: “Yeah, there’s ‘put trendy bar name here’ across the street.”
Fine looking Gentleman #2: “Do we look dressed appropriately?”
Bartender: (Laughs) “You look like a couple of Federal Agents!” (Bartender laughs again.)
And that was “the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” I don’t know why the words “Federal Agents” came out of my mouth, it just happened, and before I realized what I was saying, the two of them were laughing hysterically. They didn’t tell me until Wednesday (they came in on a Monday night) that they were FBI (they’re supposed to keep a “low profile” haha!) but they came in every day after work for drinks and appetizers, and we caught on like a house-fire talking about this and that, nothing political or anything about what their job was, just casual fun talk about things like where to get good cigars, good drinks, food, and sights to see in Los Angeles.
Ever since then I’ve kept in touch with one of them and we’ve been drinkin’ buddies ever since, emailing or visiting if he’s in town. “A fine gentleman indeed” all these years later. Today’s his 38th Wedding Anniversary and I’d like to raise my glass of New Belgium’s “Mighty Arrow” Pale Ale in his honor. We may live on opposite coasts, but we’ve remained pals. Here’s to you on your Anniversary Dave! Here’s two Irish Blessings on your special day:
May God be with you and bless you.
May you see your children’s children.
May you be poor in misfortunes
And rich in blessings.
May you know nothing but happiness
from this day forward.
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
And the rains that fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

“To your health!”

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Right now at BevMo is the "Nickel Sale" where you can buy a selected wine (of many) and get the same bottle for 5 cents! It's quite the bargain and also, a great opportunity for us "$10 or under a bottle" drinkers to justify the expense of paying over $10 for a bottle--because it's simply a great deal! And the marketing geniuses at BevMo know it. (Confidentially—haha, not anymore--my sister pronounced it "BEEV-MOE" until I corrected her: it's short for "Beverages and More!"..."Bev-Mo." She still pronounces it "BEEV-Moe" for ol' times sake.) This "Super Tuscan" California red is a blend from 3 different vinyards, bringing a medium-full body sweet “butter-bomb” goodness to the palate. Cosentino Winery, vintage 2006 Sangiovese, Il Chiaretto, is a lovely ride. With alcohol hitting 14.9% you’ll feel the lovely mantra of “feelin’ fine as wine”—one of Baretta’s favorite quotes (remember the TV series Baretta?) Notes of black cherry, dark chocolate, with ripe berries and plumb dance about with a subtle touch of oak finish. “Good times are had by all” when drinking this lovely red while enjoying the “RIB-EYE LOVE SUPREME!” Coming soon: “RIB-EYE LOVE SUPREME” recipe!

Buon Appetito!

Saturday, June 12, 2010


For some reason I got a “quiche bug” over the last week incubating and I made it this morning; mainly, my sister had given me a quiche cooking dish that had a recipe for “Quiche Lorraine” on it gathering dust. However, I wasn’t in the mood for the ingredients in a quiche Lorraine, so I mixed it up to my mood. Looking for a simple recipe online I found one that worked well with my own agenda of “quick and easy.” I’ve never made quiche before but for a first-timer I was impressed at how good it turned out. Who knew quiche could be so easy? I thought it was some complicated chef creation only served at champagne brunches. Turns out if you can break an egg, you can probably make this, just try to keep the egg shells out of the mix. The other thing is this quiche required no crust and you don’t miss it as far as I’m concerned--I’ve always been the type to take the crust off my Trader Joe’s quiche after baking to minimize carbohydrates, calories and wheat intake, so finding a recipe like this was a revelation. The recipe is actually a variation of about 4 recipes, so credit where credit is due. I only used half & half because I had it on hand and thought it would add some extra goodness. The house smelled amazing while the quiche was baking as well as the dish looking amazing: that browning of the edges away from the pie dish, raised up in all its egg glory. I was so excited to try it I forgot to take a picture first—one of the reasons I bought a camera was to take pictures of my foodie adventures including kitchen creations. So the picture is a little different from what it looked like when it came out of the oven, but I will be more of a shutter bug in future to capture the “first look” for effect and evidence of its goodness! If you’re looking of an easy quiche recipe that you can throw different ingredients in (one of the recipes had spinach in it) for variety, I recommend this one. Best wishes for the next foodie adventure!


2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ red onion chopped
1 ½ cups cheddar cheese
Pinch of coarse kosher salt
¼ teaspoon of fresh cracked pepper
6 eggs beaten
1 cup mushrooms chopped
1 clove garlic through garlic press or minced
1 cup half & half

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray 9” inch diameter ceramic quiche cooking dish (baking dish) with “stick-free” spray and put on tray in oven while preheating.
In a medium sauté pan combine oil, chopped onion, pressed garlic, mushrooms and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally until onions are tender. Remove pan from heat when finished.
In a large mixing bowl combine eggs, cheese, salt, pepper, and half & half. Stir in sauté pan mixture evenly.
Take tray with pie dish out of oven and pour contents of mixing bowl in dish.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until center is done through. Let cool for 5 minutes, slice and serve.
Ways to lighten-up this recipe calorie-wise and cholesterol-wise: use 8 egg whites instead of 6 whole eggs
Use “percent” milk instead of “half & half” (half milk, half cream).

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Ruth Reichl (RYE-shil)


This is a genius website and the website of a genius. I’m a little prejudice in her favor since she is a personal hero of mine.  Some how I was turned on to "Comfort Me With Apples."  Once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down.  I knew I was going to read "Tender at the Bone" next.  After finishing that "Garlic and Sapphires" had just come out in hardcover and that book is one of my all time favorite reads.  The first chapter begins with her flying to New York City to interview for the New York Times Food Critic job, which she has no idea what she's getting into.  A lady sitting next to her on the plane, eye-balling Ruth's food says "are you gonna eat that?"  Ruth says "no" and the lady says "I'd be surprised if you did.  I know who you are..."   Ruth had no idea who this stranger was but the woman continued saying "you're the new Food Critic for the Times, you're worth millions of dollars."  I'm seriously paraphrasing the exchange but she realized that there was no way to give an unbiased review of restaurants unless she wore disguises!  Yeah, that's right--and it's a fascinating read of social commentary about food and people.  I recommend it to anyone who loves food, or considers themselves "foodies."  Get your "Foodie On" and read her books, you won't regret it. 

On Ruth Reichl’s website you can watch her lecture (slides included) and get a peak into a little known universe of food history. Eating to survive is one thing—watching food passionate people is another. I invite you to discover Ruth Reichl through her books, magazine http://www.gourmet.com/ and lectures.
"Bonne continuation!"

Friday, June 4, 2010


Yes, I’m giving you Spud-heads a "heads-up" that there’s a mean beer sale at Rite Aid right now—lots of great imports for only $11.99 a 12 pack. That’s like $1 a beer—unheard of at most bars! Some of the classics: Bass, Heineken, Newcastle, and some of my staples: Long Hammer IPA and Red Hooks ESB, which is lovely in it’s pleasant summer beer goodness—oh sure, ESB stands for “early spring beer” but this is one that you could drink all year. Stop by Rite Aid to see the magical prices before the go away…
Cheers Pals!

Thursday, June 3, 2010


BEVMO—Beverages & More! http://www.bevmo.com/
I thought I’d give a “shout out” to a place where I’ve spent many an hour and “pretty penny” shamefully & shamelessly. There are a lot of great things about BevMo, 2 of them being the $2 wine tastings on Saturday, and $1 beer tastings on Fridays, conveniently at “happy hour” time: 4-7pm. Check your local store for times. I owe a lot of tasting knowledge of beer & wine to BevMo and the people who are also at the tastings can be an encyclopedia of information about wine, beer making, beer festivals, wine festivals, wine country, etc. I first fell in love with IPA’s at BevMo (I should mention my favorite: Union Jack from Firestone Walker—most of the time that sings beautiful tasting notes to me), and also, rosé wines (I should mention Coppola’s “Sofia” Rosé), both of which I had no knowledge of before I discovered them at BevMo. I will be singing future praises of the tastings as those occur (or, as I’m impressed to do so). As for the general praises of BevMo, they have competitive prices in beer, wine and liquor. I often look for a cheaper price on Guinness, or Newcastle, some of my beer staples when I’m in the mood and sometimes after my tastings I buy. I have to say that marketing idea is some special kind of genius—get ‘em liquored up to shop! Well, it worked on me, and depending on how much you spend you get a 5% discount coupon periodically—I think it’s after you spend about $200 or so, and I’ve earned a few discounts in my 3 years or so frequenting BevMo. I worship at BevMo, it’s my Friday/Saturday constitutional…if the mood permits.


[Breadbaking is] one of those almost hypnotic businesses, like a dance from some ancient ceremony. It leaves you filled with one of the world's sweetest smells... there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of meditation in a music-throbbing chapel, that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread. ~M.F.K. Fisher, The Art of Eating

Pictured is a local Irish bread referred to as "wheaten bread."  If wheaten bread has a cousin, it's "soda bread," easy-to-make, and easy to eat!  A few weeks ago I was inspired to make something that I saw the Barefoot Contessa http://www.barefootcontessa.com/about.shtml make on the Food Network: Irish Soda Bread. Since then I have made six loafs with different takes on the classic. Ina’s Soda Bread has currents and orange zest which brings out a fresh sunshine taste to the bread, that’s the only way I can describe it.
I’ve modified the loaf slightly since I didn’t have the fancy $300 blender that Ina was using on her show. I figured the Irish have probably been mixing by hand for centuries and hand mixing should work just fine. I found this recipe to be simple and fast and I’ve pasted it here with the modifications. This was my first attempt at baking from scratch and I’m very happy with the results. I’ve only done pre-fabbed cake mixes before from a box. In the last few weeks I’ve made the Ina Garten version (substituting dried blueberries for lack of dried currents) twice [loaves 1 & 2) to use up the leftover dried blueberries; then semi-sweet chocolate chip and tangelo zest bread [loaf 3] (for lack of oranges and because there’s a tangelo tree in the back yard); then double cheddar cheese soda bread [loaf 4] (Irish Cheddar and English Cheddar with chives, about a cup and a half total of cheese); then I went for a all chocolate chip loaf, again using semi-sweet chips this time Belgian chocolate [loaf 5] Yes, Belgian semi-sweet chocolate chips, Ralph’s Select. And finally, a plain version of the Irish Soda Bread [loaf 6], which is multifunctional since you can dress it either way: salty or sweet, as my Irish acquaintance pointed out. Her review after trying my first endeavors was “This is really, really good…” and after saying that a few more times added “it made me tear up…” I was inferring that she was tearing up in a good way, as in “I miss the home cooking of Ireland” tearing up. When the last verdict was pronounced (“You’re amazing!”) I bid a grateful “thank you,” and let it go at that. My Irish acquaintance recommended I also try Potato Brea and Wheaten Bread.  I did make the Wheaten Bread--hence the picture--and the recipe was very similar to the soda bread, just substitute 2 cups of wheat flour in the recipe below [2 cups all purpose flour & 2 cups wheat flour], and you have your Wheaten Bread.  This bread goes great with cheddar, eggs, bacon, ham, etc., like a breakfast sandwich or just add some fantastic marmalade.  The wheaten bread is some of the best wheat bread of ever tasted. 

1 loaf
• 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for currants
• 4 tablespoons sugar
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
• 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
• 1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken
• 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
• [optional: 1 teaspoon grated orange zest]
• [optional: 1 cup dried currants]
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl, mix with spatula by hand. Add the butter and mix until the butter is mixed into the flour.
With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg, and orange zest together in a measuring cup.
Mixing slowly by hand add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. [Optional: Combine the currants with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into the dough. It will be very wet and clumpy.]
Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound.
Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.