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Braving the Elements

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I’ll have you know, Brent and I did not puss out and let the rain keep us inside yesterday. We decided to head downtown anyway, and after an hour or so, the rain turned to our normal drizzle and all was right with the world. We’ve been trying to get out of our little Queen Anne bubble, so we took ourselves downtown for some shopping and then on a walking tour of Capitol Hill.

After a few miles of walking, we stopped at Quinn’s Gastropub for some beer and maybe a snack. Quinn’s has Happy Hour from 3-5 Monday-Saturday (woot! a HH brent can actually participate in!) so we were psyched for some half price beer, especially when we saw what Brent referred to as “a taste of home.”

Sofie, the saison from Goose Island. So refreshing and we were so psyched to see it because Goose Island has extremely limited distribution in Washington. We miss our midwest beer. The seattlelites love their beer, and claim they have the best beer scene in the country, but umm… we disagree. We haven’t found any breweries in Washington that we like and we definitely miss Goose Island, 3 Floyds, and Bell’s.

Anyway, along with splitting the Sofie, we also ordered some frites because Brent saw them delivered to someone else and thought they looked good. We tend to spy on other diners. That’s a totally normal thing, right? The frites were served with a Fontina fonduta and some kind of demi glace. (Feel free to call it fries with cheese sauce and gravy, Quinn’s. I don’t need impressing).

Assuming that picture loaded for you, you don’t need me to tell you these were delicious. We obviously need to go back for dinner sometime. Or just more bar food and beer. I’m not picky. I would have definitely ordered more food, but we had the makings for pizza at home so we headed back.

Last night’s pizza topping combo was requested by Brent and inspired by one of our favorite haunts in Fort Wayne, 800 Degrees. We were huge fans of their rocket pizza, so I made a pizza (crust from ABin5) with prosciutto, sliced garlic, Fontina and arugula. I just layered the prosciutto  on the dough, sprinkled sliced garlic, topped with a healthy dose of the cheese and baked for 10 minutes. When the pizza came out of the oven, I tossed a handful of arugula on top, just so it barely wilts.

The pizza was great, but perhaps a bit too salty for my taste. Brent could not stop raving about it and ate all of his pizza and quite a bit of mine too. I guess it’s clearly a make again.

For us, it’s another grey, wet day out here, but I’ll be making my way to the Ballard Farmers Market, and maybe over to Bedlam Coffee for a Nutella Mocha. Hope losing an hour doesn’t slow down your Sunday!

Seattle Food and Wine Experience

Experience, right? That really sets an expectation. Not just a tasting, not just a festival: an entire experience. Brent and I made our way to Seattle Center for the Seattle Food and Wine Experience on Saturday. I’m not sure I would call it “an experience” but it was a lot of fun! We ate and drank a ton, so there’s way too much to include here, but I’ll just post some photos and recap some of our favorites.

So much food!

Our favorites of the food:

  • Braised Waygu short ribs with sweet yams mash on crostini from Andaluca.
  • Hot smoked Neah Bay black cod with powdered chorizo, pickled red onion & crispy chick peas from Blueacre Seafood.
  • Kona crusted petite tender with shallot butter from The Capital Grille.
  • Charred flank steak and chimichurri pesto with udad strips from Cedar’s Cafe.
  • And I had a serious love affair with the donuts from Frostology.

And so much to drink too!

Our favorite drinks of the event:

We had such a good time. Between work and his commute Brent is gone a lot more than he used to be so it was a lot of fun to be able to hang out for a few hours without tv and internet distracting us. 🙂

I Have Been Busy

Very busy! In the past couple of weeks, I’ve gone to The Rally to Restore Sanity in DC…

where I found the long-lost twin of Jerry Garcia…

and dressed as a double rainbow with my best friend.

That wasn’t enough traveling for me, so I also headed to Chicago to pick up my mom so that we could roadtrip to Wisconsin to see family. I hadn’t seen my aunt Sherry and cousins in 5 years!!

It was such a great visit, and definitely worth the 16 total hours of driving.

This past Sunday, Brent and I headed to Kalamazoo, MI on another mini roadtrip for All Stouts’ Day at Bell’s Brewery. I love stouts! The Double Cream Stout was definitely my favorite.

I’m finally back home now, and easing myself back into my routine of blog-reading, cooking and , oh yeah, studying – 4.5 more weeks!

Brent is on me again to cut down our eating out budget, an idea that my waistline can certainly agree with, so I’ve made the effort to cook at home this week. Tonight’s meal was the first “new to me” thing I’ve made this week. I tried the Orange Pan-glazed Tempeh from 101 Cookbooks, which I saw on (never home)maker last week.

I forgot the lime and cilantro because Brent and I were too hungry by then, but both would have been very good I’m sure. My only note on this recipe was that it took me 20-30 minutes for the sauce to reduce down to a “thick glaze,” but it worked well nonetheless. Tempeh is one of those foods I don’t eat or make frequently and I’m still on the fence about whether or not I like it. I found it super filling though! I ate 3/4 of mine and Brent finished the rest.

Have I mentioned that I finally bought a rice cooker a few weeks ago? I freaking love that gadget! So worth it. 🙂

Bobby Flay’s Beef and Black Bean Chili

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Last week felt especially fall-like, complete with crunchy leaves and crisp, cool weather – unlike this weekend, with baking hot sun and 85 degree temps. Obviously last week was the appropriate time to make chili. Thank goodness I did it before this heat wave. I knew I wanted chili, but I was looking for something new. I’ve liked most chili recipes I’ve tried, but I have no real chili loyalty, so I’m always on the lookout for something new. Food Network had a bunch of Perfect-For-Tailgating chili recipes on their front page, and that’s how I found this one.

I was intrigued by the beer and the use of ground chiles. It sounded like it ought to be flavorful – that’s Bobby Flay’s thing, right? Big flavor? I hate when recipes say things like 2lbs beef. I don’t buy meat very often, and I know nothing about what cuts are good for what type of things, so I’m always winging it. I think I bought some type of brisket for this. It probably could have used a more tender cut, but after reheating the next day, it was perfect.

This had great depth of flavor, and it had a slight kick to it, but I wouldn’t call it overly spicy. I followed the recipe exactly, except I might have had a bit less meat – like 1.5lbs and a bit more beans. I used Sam Adams Black Lager for the beer, and I was really happy with the way it came out. I would definitely recommend this next time the weather turns cool. I didn’t use the crema or the relish, but those both sound good, so if you’re not feeling lazy and cheap like me, you should probably include those. Oh, and I recommend making some cornbread to go with it. I did not do that, and I really wished I had.

Colorado 2010: The Beer

I’ll be honest. I have no idea how to organize this post. Basically we went to Denver to drink beer. True story. I mean, we hung out with Brent’s brother and stuff too, but our main purpose was to go to the Great American Beer Festival. Brent, Jon and I got tickets for the Friday night session. Beer has always been much more Brent’s thing, but in the past year or so, he’s gotten me really into it too! What’s interesting is that we don’t really like the same types of beer usually. I like malty beers – amber ales, abbey ales, stouts, barleywines and the occasional flavored beer. Brent is king of the hops and sours –  IPAs, double IPAs, wild beers – more stuff like that.

Anyway, I just wanted to record some of the awesome beers we tried on our trip for future reference – especially because so many of them are not available in Fort Wayne!

Although the beer festival wasn’t until Friday, we spent pretty much all week drinking craft beer. Our beer destinations included some of the restaurants listed in my previous posts, as well as:

  • Falling Rock Tap House: We went here last year after some baseball games and decided to make the trip again. Great draft beer lists, and special rotating taps of special beers.
  • Great Divide Brewery: We stopped into their tap room after a long day of walking. They had a special back patio bar area set up with tents and old couches. It was nice to hang out here for a while, and I really liked a few of their beers. I enjoyed Old Ruffian – their Barleywine and the Double Wit, which I think is just a special batch they brewed for GABF week and I loved it! It’s a shame I can’t find it anywhere else.
  • Avery Brewing Tap Room: This was the best tap room I have ever been too. They have a huge selection of beers, and you can get them in pints, 10oz, or 4oz tasters, and almost all the taster portions are $1. Only a few of the smaller batch, higher alcohol beer tasters are $5. It allows you to try so many of their beers! Worked out well since Brent was driving home.  🙂

Brent and I stopped by Avery on Thursday after our hike (after Oskar Blues) and had such a good time. I think my favorite beer from Avery was The Missionary – a Belgian style ale brewed with guava.

That’s a four ounce glass. I confirmed for the millionth time (why don’t I learn?!) that I do not like bourbon barrel aged stouts.

It felt like drinking 4oz of bourbon. Blech! Brent also felt drinking from the tiny glass made him look sophisticated. Three days worth of five o’clock shadow helped too, right?

Fun times. Definitely recommend Avery if you’re ever in the Boulder area.

Moving on to Friday – The beer festival was so much fun! And so incredibly packed! The line for the doors was crazy long (and hot)! It was held at the Colorado Convention Center – home to my favorite piece of public art:

I’m totally obsessed with the peeking beer. Brent does not understand this (and a lot of other things) about me. To prepare for the festival, Brent and I looked online at the breweries attending to decide which booths we wanted to make sure to hit. We wanted to make sure we spent most of our time tasting beers that weren’t available in Indiana. We also spent part of Friday afternoon making pretzel necklaces. Accessories you can eat are my favorite kind.

Please excuse our sweaty, sunburned faces and focus on the cool pretzel necklaces. This allowed us to nibble between beers. You know, to cleanse the palate and stuff. 😉

I have a few photos from the festival itself, but they are super blurry, taken-while-tipsy iPhone photos, so I won’t bother subjecting you to them. Brent and I went through the GABF program and marked the beers we tasted with grades A-F. Below are the beers we gave As.

  • AleSmith Brewing: AleSmith IPA – Brent’s pick.
  • Allagash Brewing: Four – An abt/quadrupel beer. Slightly sweet and super smooth. 10% ABV . Brent also liked their Currieux – aged in bourbon. Gag.
  • Avery Brewing The Missionary: Another Belgian-style quadrupel. One of the rare fruity beers that I love. I don’t know if I could drink a whole pint, but I loved my 4oz taste at the tap room.
  • Bear Republic Factory Five: Brent enjoyed Racer 5 – an IPA, and Racer X – double IPA.
  • Bell’s Brewery: We liked Bell’s a lot, but Brent really enjoyed their Wild One – a sour beer. Brent’s gotten himself onto a sour beer kick and we could not disagree more. Ick. I can’t do a sour beer.
  • Brewery Ommegang Abbey Ale: I love Abbey-style ales. This is no exception. 8.5%ABV. I have a note in my program that says Brent also enjoyed their Three Philosophers as well.
  • Cascade Brewing: Vlad the Imp Aler – another sour for Brent.
  • Copper Canyon Brewery Apple Streudel Tripel: Probably not for everyone, but man – it totally tasted like apple streudel! I really liked it. I don’t think they bottle it though.
  • Firestone Walker Brewing: Union Jack – an IPA Brent liked.
  • Goose Island Sai-Shan-Tea: A Saison brewed with tea and citrus. Surprisingly awesome. Brent and I really love Goose Island’s saisons, and the tea was a very cool addition to this one. Saison season is winding down now. 😦
  • Great Divide Brewing: Old Ruffian and Double Wit, as mentioned above. Brent also enjoyed their Hercules.
  • Hollister Brewing: I didn’t try anything from here, but Brent loved their Hip Hop Double IPA. Defs not my thing.
  • Left Coast Brewing: Hop Juice  – an IPA that feels like a punch in the mouth. Brent’s pick.
  • Left Hand Brewing: Milk Stout – I had this on the nitro tap at Euclid Hall and I love it! So smooth and creamy.
  • Michigan Brewing: Screamin’ Pumpkin Ale: One of the only pumpkin ales I tried and liked. This was less spicy/perfumy and more dessert-like.
  • Minneapolis Town Hall Brewing: Twisted Reality – a tasty barleywine that I really liked.
  • New Glarus Brewing: Abt – I think this was a Brent pick.
  • Russian River Brewing: HopFather IPA – For Brent. He also liked their sour beers.
  • Short’s Brewing: Anniversary Ale – a wheat wine brewed with blood orange! Brent and I both loved it. Key Lime Pie fruit beer – so crazy good. The line for this one was the longest at the festival, and I got the last half ounce! I could not believe how much it tasted like key lie pie. It says it’s bottled with regional distribution (they’re in Michigan), and I really want to find it.
  • Trinity Brewing: Brent liked their sour beers, especially their Old Growth – a wild ale with sour cherries.

Keep in mind, I did not actually drink that much. The tasting pours were about an ounce, and if I didn’t like a beer (which was often), I would just toss the rest of my taste in a bucket, or give it to Brent or Jon. I was surprised how little I felt like I actually consumed. GABF was so much fun. I’m so glad I got the opportunity to go, and I hope we can make the trip again sometime!

Are you a beer drinker?

Pizza, Beer, & Football

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Today I had football practice. Brent claims I wasn’t a total incompetent, but I know he was just being nice. I’m a turd on the field. I run plays in the wrong direction, I duck if the ball comes near me, and I have no grasp on any of the lingo. But it was fun nonetheless. We have our first football game for the Corporate Challenge on Saturday evening. I just hope it’s not 90 degrees out!

Before practice I basically spent the entire day surfing nursing message boards about how it’s impossible to find a job, feeling sorry for myself, eating Cocoa Haze and watching Maury. The epitome of productivity, for sure. I know I don’t graduate until December, but from my understanding, I need to start applying at the beginning of my last semester, which starts next week. I’m trying not to freak out, but that’s not really in my nature. Giving my minor freakout fest today I convinced Brent to take me to 800 Degrees for pizza and beer. They had run out of the first two beers I wanted, so I finally settled on a Bell’s Oberon and Brent and I split the Rocket pizza, with fontina, prosciutto, arugula and sliced garlic. Heaven.

I love this place. Unfortunately Brent and I got into an argument (I really don’t know about what) because I’m still in a crabby mood. I hate when I get like this. Sigh. I’m hoping I’ll wake up a the right side of the bed tomorrow. I think reading Heather’s tips to avoid a downward spiral to the dark side tonight helped. I love the blog community even more at times like this. 🙂

“Damn rapini, you bitter as hell”

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The above quote was said by me while eating lunch today. But before I get to that, thank you for the birthday wishes. I had a wonderful day ending in a sushi dinner that involved me stuffing my face with tuna sashimi and avocado rolls. Couldn’t ask for better, right?

Today, I woke up at the super early hour of 8:30am and started doing some laundry. I waited a bit for Brent to get out of bed. He has a super annoying habit of reading his iPhone in bed for at least half an hour before he actually gets out of bed. I don’t know why this annoys me so much, but it totes does. Once it became apparent he would not be joining me downstairs anytime soon, I made breakfast for myself: a faux “English muffin” made on the cast-iron griddle using half whole-wheat artisan bread dough, sandwiched with a fried egg and smoked provolone, along with a bowl of fruit salad using what was left in the fridge.

Brent and I planned to attend Buskerfest in downtown Fort Wayne this afternoon, and to combine it with a workout, we decided to walk there – downtown is about 5 miles from our house. I’m leaving for Chicago for a week starting tomorrow, so I figured I should try to eat the rest of the produce left in the fridge before I left. For “lunch” Brent sauteed some rapini (broccoli rabe) with olive oil and garlic, and I topped that with roasted beets and goat cheese. Ummm, beets and goat cheese are obviously amazeballs, but this rapini? Not so much. Like the title of the post says “bitter as hell.” Sometimes I talk smack to my food – I’m gangsta like that. I ate most of it, but I don’t think it’ll be making a repeat appearance. Lunch also included an iced coffee. Caffeine was necessary before our long walk.

Then we embarked on our trek downtown. The weather was so much more tolerable than it’s been lately! It was about 80 degrees and super sunny, but we took water with us. Here are some of the shots from our trip. (Everything here on out is courtesy of the iPhone camera.)

Blogworld, meet downtown Fort Wayne:

Look, tall buildings! Shocking, right? That might be a bit uncalled for, but sometimes Fort Wayne really brings out the saracasm in me. We arrived at Buskerfest and watched a few of the performers.

That lunchtime salad did not really hold me over and after 5 miles, I was feeling a bit hungry, so we headed to one of our favorite places in the Fort, J.K. O’Donnell’s. We each got a half-pint of one of the rotating taps, Goose Island “Sofie” – a Belgian Style Saison. I was in love with this beer, and I love that they offer half-pints. Although, after the sandwich, we each ordered another half-pint, but it made me feel like I was drinking less.

We also split the Smoked Salmon Club, served with “chips.” The sandwich is slices of smoked salmon, arugula, bacon and tomato chutney on pumpernickel bread. Unfortunately, they were out of arugula and gave us spinach instead. Totes fine, but the arugula was missed. It adds more flava. This sandwich is always a winner though. I love that tomato chutney.

After another street performance, we made the hike back to the house. It seemed wayyyy hotter on the way back. I spent the last few miles really looking forward to the A/C and the couch! After a bit of relaxation, I started making dinner. Hmmm, when you write a post about all your meals, it really seems like you do nothing but think about food, huh? Anyway, dinner was more of that half whole wheat artisan dough, flattened into pizza dough and topped with some leftover sun-dried tomato pesto.

Then I topped it with three (yes -3!!) cheeses: mozzarella, goat cheese, and Parmesan. I’m a daredevil, I know.

After 12 long minutes in the oven, I was able to enjoy this:

It was insanely delicious. I’m on the couch with a beer and Revolutionary Road playing now, and I think I’m going to bed early, but I wanted to leave you with a funny photo of Larry running like crazy through my in-laws garden (they have a huge 7 acre property).

His flapping, flying ears crack me up!