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Posts Tagged ‘Belgian 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.

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????

Where to Drink Beer in Los Angeles

In Drink, On Location: Out and About in L.A. on August 26, 2009 at 8:39 am
photo via fathersoffice.com

photo via fathersoffice.com

We interrupt this broadcast to bring you a scorching hot list of the best beer spots in Los Angeles, courtesy of friend, graphic designer and killer drummer, Ted Byrnes. Ted and I were emailing yesterday about favorite spots for beer in LA, and his recs were so freaking great, I first had to crack open a beer, and then share his encyclopedic knowledge of LA’s best beer-centric watering holes with you…

The Verdugo in Glassell Park – not only do they have a great selection of American and Euro beers, but they also get nice very limited kegs and casks from Stone, Ballast Point and many other fine San Diegan brewers.

Father’s Office – pretty self explanatory – nice beers from CA AND that damn burger!

Pure Luck – I’m sure as you know – it’s a vegan restaurant frequented by the biker punk set (as in fixed gear track bikes, not motorcycles) that has a beer-obsessed owner. This means they stock special bottles like the Stone Collab beers and rare stuff from Jolly Pumpkin and have limited kegs from the likes of my personal favorite newish brewery The Bruery (from Orange County – they also happen to brew Belgian-style beer better than the Belgians, in my opinion). They might get the award for a great edited beer selection.

Lucky Baldwins – this is the most old school of the great beer bars – it’s in Pasadena and has pretty much everything. Brits, Americans, Belgians, French, German… you name it, they probably have it. It’s usually super crowded, and the food is brit style pub food (so not super awesome) but you will be guaranteed some great beers. It should be noted that this is the preferred beer bar of the beer buyer for the Whole Foods in Pasadena, which happens to have one of the best beer selections around in my opinion – nicely edited and gets cellar-worthy stuff.

Blue Palms – this Hollywood spot is much like the Verdugo in terms of the types of beers they offer – nice rare stuff as well as rock solid stuff (like Stone’s Smoked Porter). They also do the cask / limited keg thing – their casks are usually listed on their site in terms of what they will be getting – I think now they have Stone Smoked Porter with Vanilla Bean (which I have not yet had).

photo via elpradobar.com

photo via elpradobar.com

El Prado – nowehere near as good or as interesting as the spots listed above (they have less than 10 taps) but it’s in Echo Park (where I live) and they do rotate and usually will have at least one thing that’s really great. Last time I was there (last week) they had a keg of Allagash’s (from Portland, Maine) Curieux which is a very alcoholic beer that is barrel aged – I believe this one is aged in bourbon barrels. It is very good, and rare-ish to see on tap. It is a tripel-style ale (Belgian style).

The Bruery – they are a brewer in Placentia (Orange County) that has a tap room open on the weekends. They brew the best belgian style beers in my opinion. They do bottle a smallish selection of their beers (the Tradewinds Tripel being the seasonal right now – it’s brewed with Thai basil – yummy) but they have AMAZING shit in their taproom. I no longer really drink Belgian beers as these guys do it great. It should also be noted that I am really not pro-America about anything but beer. I think American craft brewers have pretty much surpassed everyone else in the world, and I think the Bruery is a great example of that, particularly because they do more European style beers. That being said, they also know what they are doing with hops – I just had their Humulus Lager on tap at Pure Luck last night and it was up there on the IBU’s – a great beer!—Ted Byrnes

THE FOODINISTA’S NOTE: Check out The Bruery’s Saison Rue—spicy, fruity and a nice hit of citrusy hops.

Update 8/27/09: Be sure to read the comments for more great recs on LA beer joints!!!

Word: Wurstküche

In Food, On Location: Out and About in L.A. on February 22, 2009 at 10:27 am

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I don’t even know where to start. For those of you familiar with Wurstküche—a “purveyor of exotic grilled sausages”—downtown on 3rd/Traction, you will no doubt pardon me if I GUSH. (Wurstküche is German for sausage kitchen.) I can’t remember the last time I loved a restaurant so much! You walk in and there’s a case of 20 varieties of sausage, ranging from the familiar Hot Italian and Chicken Apple to Rattlesnake and Rabbit with Jalapeño Peppers, and everything in between. The menu options are concise – grilled sausage with a choice of grilled hot or sweet peppers, onions or ‘kraut on a roll and Belgian fries, which you can top with white truffle oil or one of their excellent dipping sauces. They offer 24 beers on tap (mostly Belgian) as well as artisanal sodas (Sweet Blossom elder flower soda, Manhattan Special espresso soda).

Oh – and word to Teri Hatcher, who stormed out while we were ordering like she was being chased by an army of paparazzi (she wasn’t): nobody, and I mean nobody, cares. Especially, by the looks of it, the poor guy you were dragging behind you.

Anyway, I ordered a buffalo, beef and pork with chipotle sausage, topped with grilled sweet peppers and onions, and a Chimay White. My husband got a Louisiana Hot Link with sauerkraut, a Houblon Chouffe pale ale (hoppy fruity deliciousness) and we shared an order of Belgian fries with curry ketchup (on the recommendation of the guy next to us in line, who looked like he knew his way around the menu). 

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Once you place your order, you go down a long narrow hall to this raucous dining room with big communal tables and benches, seating at the bar as well as little bistro tables. So much fun. We’re going back immediately. 

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