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Posts Tagged ‘beer’

Belgium Revisited

In Drink, Food, Out of Town on May 17, 2011 at 10:00 am

Talking about the kriek and lambic beers the other day got me a little nostalgic for Belgium. My husband and I went to Brussels and Bruges for a week a couple years ago to research a story that ran last May in Bon Appétit magazine. I realize I never shared my pictures from that trip. Wish I could teleport myself back to a table at Viva M’Boma in Brussels, above—which means long live the grandmother—on this rainy day, and tuck into a dish of Carbonnades Flamande, sprinkled with gingery speculoos and Italian parsley, below:

Or hide out in the Fleur en Papier Doré for a few hours, Magritte’s favorite watering hole and one of my favorite bars on the planet. So romantic and Old World, and a great beer selection.

Or maybe I’d head off the beaten track to the Saint-Gilles neighborhood, and sneak down to the private basement cellar of Chez Moeder Lambic with owner Jean Hummler and taste our way through his stash of 300-some Belgian beers, what is arguably the best beer bar in the country. Here’s a look at the cellar:

And I loved the plate of local goat cheese with toasted barley that he served us. The perfect tangy counterpoint to a spicy glass of De Ranke XX Bitter.

Check back tomorrow and I will post pics of the chicest bed and breakfast in Bruges, where the husband nightly cooks up a superb dinner that rivals the country’s best restaurants. Now, is it too early to tuck into a pint of this?

Pink Beer

In Drink on May 15, 2011 at 8:02 pm

On Thursday night I had a few girlfriends over to drink pink wine while Mr Foodinista was away at a conference. My friend Anna instead brought a bottle of dark pink beer from Belgium. I had my fair share of “kriek” (cherry beer) when we were in Bruges a couple years ago, but not the coveted Liefmans Cuvée Brut, which is brewed once a year and then aged for several more and sells out faster than you can say beer me. It’s wonderfully tart and slightly sour and if I could drink it every night, I just might.

Super Bowl Food

In Food, Recipes on February 5, 2011 at 1:14 pm

Tomorrow is game day, and while I’m having trouble getting excited about Super Bla 2011, I am super excited about the food. We’ll be doing chili and my dear friend René’s EPIC clam dip, but I thought I’d share links to some of my favorite foods for game day.

Bruce’s Buffalo Hot Wings—best damn wings you’ll taste outside of my mom’s hometown.

René’s Clam Dip—a recipe from one of my dearest friends for the ultimate game day dip. You can’t serve this without your guests demanding the recipe. Or without Ruffles Original Potato Chips.

Texas Beef Brisket Chili—What is the Super Bowl without a Super Bowl??? Here’s my go-to chili from Bruce Aidells. Heads up: this one simmers on the stove for hours so be sure to leave plenty of time to get that brisket melt-in-your-mouth tender.

Football Sandwiches—a killer sandwich from one of my favorite new blogs, Dixie Caviar. These ham and cheese sammies use Hawaiian sweet rolls drizzled with a mustard sauce and are warmed in the oven for melty goodness.

Pimento Cheese (aka Southern Pâté)—this AWESOME recipe comes from my friend and Bon Appétit colleague Andrew Knowlton. He suggests serving this Southern classic with celery sticks and Ritz crackers, or spread it on white bread for a sandwich. It also makes for a damn fine Grilled Pimento Cheese Sandwich.

Pigs in a Blanket—go ahead, judge. But there is little better than a Lil’ Smokie wrapped up in cheese and a crescent roll “blanket.” Over here, we’re all about the mustard. Get the hottest you can find. For us, that means the rip-snorting stuff from Philippe the Original in downtown L.A.

Beer. And finally, the beer. It must be in cans. Here’s a link to a story I wrote for Bon Appétit last year about why beer in cans tastes better (it does) as well as some recs for my favorite craft beers in cans. And as an added bonus for you Giants fans, the story includes some Giants love. Happy Super Bowl!

Update: And for dessert? Just saw this on my friend Jessica’s blog. Must. Make. This. Red Velvet Skillet Cake. I mean really.

Red Velvet Skillet Cake via JessicaCollins.tv

On Top of the World

In Food, Out of Town on June 14, 2010 at 1:06 pm

Few things compare to a Lost Arrow sandwich (turkey, Swiss, lettuce, tomato, cranberry mayo) from Degnan’s Deli, eaten 5 miles above the Yosemite Valley floor. This past weekend my family gathered in Yosemite, an annual tradition my father’s family has honored since 1949. It’s my very favorite weekend of the year, and even more so now that my husband and I are there with Tiny G, who was tearing around the park with his grandparents like a munchkin possessed!

On Friday morning, my sister, our friend Michelle and I hiked to the top of Yosemite Point. It’s a killer—in many ways more challenging than Half Dome—and I’m still feeling the effects today. I read that it is the equivalent of climbing stairs straight up the distance of over two Empire State Buildings. See that high point to the right of the falls (below)? That’s where we ate lunch.

And let me tell you, nothing beats one of Michelle’s homemade chocolate chip cookies 7,000 feet above it all!

Nor an icy cold brew waiting for you back at the cabin…

The Refrigerator Personality Test

In Food on April 8, 2010 at 10:18 am

“Show me what you store, and I’ll tell you what you are,” wrote Los Angeles Times Food Editor Russ Parsons in a column last year entitled “The Refrigerator Personality Test.” I’ve known Russ for over a decade, and worked with him for at least half that long, but after reading that column learned a little more about this superb human being. Like that Russ is sentimental and hangs onto hot sauce for 20 years. That he is perhaps also fickle in love, which explains the fleeting flirtation with a tube of cast-aside yuzu-koshu pepper paste. I’ve never forgotten the story, and was reminded of it again this morning when I was looking for something as simple as a jar of Dijon mustard (we’re out) and instead found a random of assortment of condiments that included four spicy mustards of varying heat, jars of capers, lemon curd, fig paste, pomegranate syrup, two jars of Nuttzo (god forbid we run out, but seriously, it’s great in a smoothie), almond butter, pistachio and walnut oils, Sriracha, tubes of anchovy and tomato paste and several bottles of apéritifs and rosé in the refrigerator door alone. They are joined by less esoteric tubs of mayonnaise, ketchup, maple syrup, soy sauce, Diet Dr. Pepper and butter.

My refrigerator shelves reinforce that I am far less imaginative than Russ, whose fridge boasts caramelized onions, olives he’s cured, undeveloped rolls of film, Spanish pickled anchovies and Cougar Gold canned cheese. In my own icebox, I find enough dairy to start, well, a dairy: milk, buttermilk, cream, eggs, plain yogurt (sheep and cow), mascarpone, and more cheese than I could ever eat (which is a lie; I will eat it all: parm, goat, feta, blue, pecorino, Swiss, Vermont cheddar, fresh ricotta, cream cheese, shredded pepper Jack; string cheese for Tiny G). There’s more rosé, Madeira, several bottles of Japanese and Belgian beer, a bottle of Henriot, half finished jar of chocolate sauce, a jar of my aunt Margaret’s homemade peach preserves, two kinds of hummus, puréed squash and ground chicken for Tiny G’s lunch, his sippy cup of milk unfinished from this morning, bacon, a ribeye (for Mr Foodinista’s dinner while I’m at book club tonight), radishes, green onions, cured green olives, a bag of flax seeds, half a red pepper, broccoli, asparagus, basil (most other herbs come from the garden but we need to replant basil, which got attacked), cold cuts of roast beef, a couple bottles of mineral water, huge jar of Bubbies bread and butter chips, blood orange juice, tortillas, strawberries, cantaloupe and a bowl leftover cherry tomato and bocconcini with basil salad from last night’s dinner.

Now that I write that all out, it sounds like a LOT. I guess it is a lot. But in reality the depth of our fridge is pretty shallow, which I love. Items are less likely to get lost and go to waste. (Our freezer drawers are another story for another post.) And after cataloging the contents above, I think I’m going to try to cook my way through our condiments. And cheese, of course. Any ideas? And while we’re at it, what’s in your fridge????

The Ramen Diaries

In Drink, Food on February 14, 2010 at 9:01 pm

Where to begin? The lost hours shopping for ingredients in Little Tokyo, the multiple visits to Jacob at Huntington Meats in search of pork bones, the phone calls and texting between me and my coconspirator Alex, the recipe that redirected us to no fewer than seven other recipes, or the mountains of dishes occupying every last inch in our kitchen? Well, let’s begin at 7:30 am yesterday, when I ignited the gas flame on our monster of a Wolf range and started this damn broth.

7:30 am Chang’s ramen recipe begins, apparently without irony, by saying “First, get everything ready.” Yeah, thanks. So the way Alex and I divvied up labor meant that she spent the previous evening slow-roasting pork butt and belly for HOURS on end. I was starting a broth that would take over 10 hours to make. It begins with rinsing konbu and then simmering over high heat.

8 am … feed Tiny G breakfast, remove konbu…shiitakes simmering for 1/2 hour.

8:30 am … spoon out mushrooms with a spider…chicken legs go into the broth, pork bones go into the oven to roast for an hour

9 am: flip pork bones, back into oven

9:30 am: pork bones come out of oven

9:45 am: chicken legs come out of the broth; pork bones and bacon go in. Mr Foodinista and I walk over to Larchmont for bagels and run into GastroKid’s Hugh Garvey with Violet and Desmond at Sam’s Bagels, continue up street and run into Alex and her kids. Alex pulls a tupperware of pickled vegetables for our dinner from her daughter’s stroller for us to try. They’re insane! Particularly the pickled Asian pear.

10:45 am … back home in time to remove bacon (don’t worry – Tiny G and his Aunt Claire were at home keeping an eye on the broth)

11: 30: Tiny G goes down for nap. Shower. Drive to….

12 pm: Chanel “Blue Satin” manicure with Sandra on Wilshire x Crescent Heights (310-292-2263)

1 pm: bring dashi and mirin to boil, simmer pistachios for one hour (for salad course)

2pm: fry ground chicken patty, reheat puréed cauliflower and chop apple for Tiny G’s lunch

2:10 pm: drain braised pistachios and purée with water … chop radishes and toss with salt and sugar (for salad)

3 pm: write out place cards and set table for 10.

4:30 pm: chop two bunches collard greens and simmer with water, soy sauce, sherry vinegar, brown sugar for 40 mins.

5:20 pm: change into Dolce & Gabbana ghetto gold leaf bracelet, J Brand black twill and an Anna Sui top—the latter is not only Chinese red but a nod to Chinese New Year!

5:30 pm: add scallions, chopped onion and carrot to broth

6 pm: test water for temperature (140 – 145 degrees) and add eggs to slow poach for 45 minutes—Chang’s signature technique is also known as onsen tamago, or “bath eggs”

6:15 pm: Alex and her husband Greg arrive with roasted pork butt and pork belly. I remove bones and veggies from broth and strain thru cheesecloth into pot. As you may have ascertained, I’ve also uncorked a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc…

6:25 pm: Alex removes layer of fat from pork belly.

6:30 pm: Greg preps sashimi course with spoils from Fish King in Glendale:

6:45 pm: Remove eggs from hot water and put into ice bath. My sister’s date arrives to take her to Avatar at the Cineramadome and a late dinner at Street. Claire has spent most of the afternoon outdoors so as not to smell like rendered fat when he picks her up…

7:05 pm: Neighbors Martha and Alex A. arrive with Sapporo.

7:10 pm: Neighbors Alyssa and Chris arrive; Chris is pulling his kids’ radio flyer wagon with a cooler full of assorted Hitachino Nest beer. Here he is serving our very chic neighbor and documentary film producer Martha.

7:10 pm: Tokyo expats and neighbors Whit and Jen arrive with Yebisu beer and sake. Jen designs the MOST amazing Japanese baby clothes under her NOKO label.

8 pm: Sashimi course, beautifully assembled by Greg…

8:20 pm: Fry oyster mushrooms in grapeseed oil and finish with sherry vinegar. Plate salads…pistachio purée, radishes, oyster mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, radish greens, pickled sunchokes and braised pistachios…

8:40 pm: Whit delivers treatise on saké. He knows his stuff. And we toast to living on the greatest block in all of Los Angeles!

9 pm: Alex D. and I sneak out to kitchen, aided by Jen, to assemble ramen. Water boiling for ramen, running long poached eggs under hot water, seaweed torn and distributed among bowls, broth ladeled into bowls, stewed bamboo shoots (prepared previous evening) reheated and distributed among bowls along with ramen, chopped scallions, collard greens, eggs, INSANELY good roasted pork belly and pork butt…

9:10 pm: And here’s a funky one of me peeling and liberating all those damn eggs…tricky…

9:20 pm: Ramen is served! Was it worth it? OH. MY. GOD. YESSSSSSSSSSSS. What followed involved mochi for dessert, an ill-advised late-night decision to crack some Champagne, 30 Year Balvenie single-malt for some, vodka + tonic for others, more beer and Cuban cigars. Yowza.

1 am: And the aftermath? Happy Valentine’s Day!

Beer In Cans

In Drink on February 6, 2010 at 1:00 pm

If you think the best beer comes in bottles, think again. Check out my story on craft beer in cans (“The Beer Can Revolution”) on bonappetit.com. And if you don’t believe it, try the same experiment at home that I tried in the office with a bunch of hardcore beer drinkers. Pour a can of Fat Tire into a pint glass, and then pour a bottle of Fat Tire into another glass. Taste both. You will be blown away, I promise.

Here are 10 of my faves. I think tomorrow for the big game we will be enjoying some Dale’s Pale Ale in cans and be rooting for…

Baby, You Got a Stew Goin’

In Food, Recipes on November 2, 2009 at 10:26 pm

carbonnade beef stew

Fans of Arrested Development and Carl Weathers will no doubt agree that it’s officially that time of year to get your stew on. The other day, I riffed on Carbonnade a la Flammande—a Belgian beer stew—using a recipe from The Jimtown Store Cookbook for inspiration. Theirs includes bacon for smokiness and parsnips and carrots for sweet depth of flavor. You won’t believe how fantastic the house smells while this bakes in the oven for hours on end.

Stout Beef Stew

Adapted from The Jimtown Store Cookbook

Serves 4

10 ounces slab bacon, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

3/4 lbs yellow onions, sliced 1/2-inch thick and separated into rings

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 lbs beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes

6-8 ounces stout (I used Guinness from a large bottle, and drank the remainder while cooking)

1 cup water

Leafy tops from rib of celery

3 springs fresh thyme

Bay leaf

8 whole black peppercorns

5 ounces red pearl onions, blanched and peeled

1 large carrot, chopped

2 parsnips, trimmed, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces

Position rack in middle of oven. Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add bacon, onions, olive oil. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until onions are tender and caramelized, and bacon is browned (but not burned), about 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer onions and bacon to bowl.

On a plate, mix together flower, pinch of salt and cracked black pepper. Dredge half the beef cubes in seasoned flour; shake off excess. Cook beef in bacon drippings, turning occasionally until well-browned, about 7 minutes. With slotted spoon, transfer to bowl with onions and bacon. Repeat dredging and browning with remaining flour mixture and beef.

Return beef, bacon, onions, and any juices from bowl to casserole and set over medium heat. Add stout and 1 cup of water.

guinness stew

(Yes, I totally need a new manicure.) Wrap up celery leaves, thyme sprigs, bay leaf and peppercorns in a small cheesecloth bundle and tie with string.

thyme peppercorns

Add this to casserole. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a simmer, cover and set in oven. Bake for 2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes.

Stir the pearl onions, carrots and parsnips into stew.

beef and parsnips

Continue to bake, covered, stirring every 30 minutes until the vegetables and meat are tender, about 3 hours, adding a splash more beer or water if stew is reducing too quickly. We enjoyed this rich, comforting stew over buttered egg noodles. It would also be killer spooned over mashed potatoes. And baby, you got a stew goin’!

beef stout stew


Texas Beef Brisket Chili

In Food on October 4, 2009 at 10:42 pm

texas brisket chili

My sister and I have both been knocked out by a wicked cold for days now, and have been craving some serious comfort food. Last night we made a pot of my favorite chili, a recipe that bills itself as Texas Beef Brisket Chili since it’s all meat and no beans. It simmers in the oven for almost four hours, and the whole house smells incredible. However, the best part of this recipe is a surprise ingredient that I can’t recall ever having encountered in any other Texas chili—and that’s butternut squash. The recipe, from last year’s October issue of Bon Appétit, is from “The Sausage King” Bruce Aidells and it is perfect as written. I like to garnish with avocado, cilantro and a little grated cheese. This batch accidentally included a most scandalous ingredient, and that’s Spaten Oktoberfest beer instead of, say, Negra Modelo. I don’t even know how a lone bottle of Spaten got into the fridge. Weird. We are not beer bigots by any means, it’s just that we usually gravitate toward American and Mexican brews. But no complaints. In fact, this was one of the better batches I’ve made of this chili. Prost!

beef onionschile garlic pastechiles tomatoes beefspaten

Beer Float

In Drink, Food, On Location: Out and About in L.A. on September 4, 2009 at 9:58 am

beer float

Allow these two words to sink in: Beer. Float. I don’t know where to begin, other than that this is the most genius dessert ever. Yesterday my friend Anne and I met for lunch at The Golden State on Fairfax for some bratwurst and fries. The dogs are courtesy of Let’s Be Frank, and are made with humanely raised pork.


But back to the matter at hand, namely beer + ice cream. Anne ordered us each a beer float—made with Old Rasputin imperial stout and a scoop of brown bread ice cream (they feature several flavors from Scoops—another post for another time). The malty stout mixed with this truly insane ice cream is just heaven in a pint glass. I think I might riff this weekend at home with some Guinness and chocolate gelato.