Friday, September 30, 2011

Beer Review: Ode to Mercy (Wild Heaven Brewery of Decatur, GA)

Ode to Mercy from Wild Heaven Brewery

Since Wild Heaven celebrated its 1 year anniversary Sept. 14, I thought it would appropriate to devote this week’s beer review to one of their flagship brews. Congrats guys! Here’s to many successful years of brewing in your future.

Origin: Wild Heaven Brewery of Decatur, GA

Style: Imperial Brown Ale (estimate 8.2% ABV)

Color: Dark, rich mahogany…very dark brown, with tinges of ruby red when struck by direct light, but otherwise too dark to see through.

Aroma: Like all beer from Wild Heaven, this one makes a statement from the first whiff of aroma rising up from the glass.  It’s big.  It’s fruity.  And it definitely has a higher concentration of “social lubricant.”  But underneath its bravado, there lurks a pleasantly complex aromatic mix of ripe plums, raisins, and the slightest notes of roasted coffee.

Taste: Upon initially sipping this beer, I was surprised by the fleeting presence of a biscuity/ toffee taste on the top of the palate.  As the taste of the beer progresses, it moves from notes of toffee to a stronger caramel presence; from caramel to the slightest notes of roasted coffee; and finishes with the pleasantly citrusy (stronger notes of orange than lemon) finish.

Mouthfeel: Crisp yet lingering.  The only downfall of this beer is that it does not dissipate quickly enough from the palate. 

Recommendation: This, like the Kentucky Bourbon Beer, is a great beer for sipping by the fire on a cool autumn evening, the operative word here being “sipping.”  However, unlike the bourbon beer which imparted significantly stronger notes of vanilla, this beer would make an excellent addition to a Sunday pot roast, or a coffee rubbed brisket.

Eat good food.  Drink good beer.  And above all, stay classy.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

New Food Wednesday: Sept 28, 2011

What beer would you pair with this cheese?

Today's new food has actually been banned for health reasons... find out why after the jump!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

OGW- After 1,000 Pageviews We're Still Going Stong!

I just want to say thank you to the site's loyal readers and all 6 of its devoted followers.  Today we hit the big 1,000! 

As a special reward, we will provide everyone who visits this site with 100 bonus points.  These points may be used to redeem things like air to breathe or a good night's sleep (sorry I'm still doing this for free, so the merchandising/ advertising budget is exactly $0.00).

Thanks again! 

Recipes: World's Best Snickerdoodle Cookies (IMHO)

BY: Samuel Parks (August 2010)

This recipe first appeared on my facebook wall in August 2010. 

World's Best Sinckerdoodle Cookies (IMHO)

Some new twists on a perennial classic.  This updated version of the classic holiday cookie combines the crunch of demura sugar with a soft, buttery center that conjures mental images of a grandmother’s kitchen.  Like all snickerdoodle cookies, the essence of this recipe is tied to the contrasting textures of the cookie’s center and its crunchy cinnamon sugar coating, and of course the interplay between sweet and slightly tangy. 


1 cup unsalted butter (butter quality is important in this recipe so don’t use the cheap stuff...spend the extra dollar and buy Land O’ Lakes)
1 cup white sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup honey
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon whiskey (of course I recommend Jack Daniels)
2 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt (as with all baked goods, I recommend a good dose of Morton’s Kosher salt)

2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons turbinado or demura sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon


Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit

Let the butter stand at room temperature until softened.  Cream the butter until well mixed.  Pour 1 cup of the white sugar, brown sugar, and honey into the mixed butter and beat until well mixed.  Add the eggs one at a time to the butter/ sugar mix.  Mix in the vanilla and whiskey by hand.  In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt.  Working with a third of the flour mixture at a time, slowly add it to the creamed sugars.  Mix until just incorporated (DO NOT OVERMIX THESE COOKIES!  The entire essence of a snickerdoodle is wrapped in its soft-buttery center, over mixing will undermine this attribute)

Roll cookie dough into a 1 inch diameter ball.  Roll the dough ball through the mixture of white sugar, turbinado sugar, and cinnamon.  Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet or silicon baking mat about 2 inches apart.  Bake for 6-8 minutes until lightly browned.  Remove from oven and immediately transfer to a wire rack

(Remember the entire essence of the snickerdoodle is tied to the contrast of textures found in the buttery center and the crunchy exterior.  By transferring to a wire rack immediately after cooking, you arrest the cooking process, and preserve this contrast). 

Yields:  Approximately 3-4 dozen cookies

Thursday, September 22, 2011

To be Avoided like the Plague…

I would like to provide the following statement regarding this review.  I am not in the habit of writing shockingly negative reviews simply to deride a dining establishment.  Most restaurants, food carts, and dives in America are owned and operated by dedicated and loyal individuals who will devote their lives, and a good deal of money, to the success of their venues.  However, unlike many “reviewers” I also offer my suggestions for improving both service and food quality.  Unfortunately, this review is a reflection of the indifference exemplified by the wait staff. 

Rio Grande Mexican on Urbanspoon
Rio Grande in Boulder, CO

On our last stop of the Non-Bachelor’s Party tour of Colorado, we stopped in the picturesque and hip, mountainside town of Boulder.  As it was our last night we decided that drinks were in order, and spying the rooftop seating area of the Rio Grande restaurant it was an easy decision where to start our journey.  Little did we know that we would soon be headed down the river Styx to the underworld of service-dom.

We were seated promptly in our desired location, which was pleasantly surprising given the popularity of this venue on a Saturday night; but this is where the service really stopped. 

Our waitress was curt, rude, and even uttered the phrase “whatever” when I tried to thank her for bringing a glass of water.  Now, I will admit that my expectations of service may be slightly higher than the average customer (I do live in the South after all, where hospitality and service are regarded above all else in a dining experience), but there is never an excuse to nonchalantly dismiss those who will later be contributing to your wages. 

Needless to say we decided to call it quits after one round of their poorly produced, artificially flavored, and overly saccharine margaritas.  On our way through the exit not a single hostess even bothered to look at us, until I waved good bye and proclaimed “Guest Leaving, Good Bye.”

Come on Boulder, I know that you can do better than this. 

Previously and on this trip I have dined at several establishments nearby, and no matter the level of “hipness” at the venue none of the wait staffs have ever approached the chilling indifference that I encountered on that evening. 

Too bad we never made it past our drinks, the food must be awesome to tolerate such poor service.

Eat good food (just not here).  Drink good beer (avoid the margaritas).  And above all, stay classy (unlike our waitress).

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

You Got Your Fig on My Pizza! You Got Your Pizza on My Fig!

Osteria Marco located on Larimer Square in the LoDo district of Denver, CO

Osteria Marco on UrbanspoonFor my regular readers, let me just say that this is a hybrid post…A cross between our regular “New Food Wednesdays” section and “Restaurant Review Mondays” For you new readers, it probably won’t matter, but you’re welcome to stay and continue reading anyway.

There are few culinary or gastronomic memories that truly resonate with me; the first time I tried Julia Child’s Queen of Sheba Cake, my first time sampling quality brie, or even that one perfectly cooked steak lightly seasoned with salt, pepper, and melted butter.  But after going to Colorado to celebrate the pending nuptials of a close friend, I must confess that my list of memories has exploded!

And as you may have guessed, it all started with a very old-world fruit and a slice of pizza.  The pizza in question was the aptly named ‘Fig Pizza’ from Osteria Marco located on Larimer Square in the LoDo district of Denver, CO.  In the past I have encountered countless recipes for fruit pizzas, but all of these seem to be a rift on the MStewart-90s-Retro appetizer, roasted pears with gorgonzola.  And while I love this classic taste profile, it’s just that, classic and common place.

The pizza from Osteria Marco however, was anything but common place.  As soon as the wait staff approached the table carrying the pizza my nose was tantalized by the faintest aroma of truffle oil; rich and earthy with distinctive appeal.  The crust was ever so lightly charred (I would have preferred a blacker crust, but c'est la vie), and prepared in the Neapolitan manner.  On the crust the chef(s) spread a thin layer of chunky fig preserves, followed by a thin layer of homemade mozzarella, which they then dotted generously with tangy chèvre, crumbled pancetta followed the chèvre, and finally the lightest drizzle of truffle oil brought the flavors together. 

The taste sensation was incredible!  I would have sworn that World War III had broken out right on my taste buds; sweet fig met salty pancetta and tangy chèvre met earthy truffles.  It was refreshing, vibrant, and the flavors were perfectly proportioned. 

Osteria Marco is minimally, unassumingly, yet tastefully decorated restaurant, with its main dining area located in the basement!  And while the décor may be somewhat restrained, the flavors are not.  Try the cheese fritters, made from cheese processed right upstairs, with heirloom tomatoes and you won’t be disappointed. 

As a wise man once said “What’s the only thing better than an exquisite meal? A good meal with one minuscule flaw we can pick at all night!”  Unfortunately, Osteria Marco’s flaw arrived at the table along with the check, and surprisingly it wasn’t the price but rather the after dinner mints. 

So all ye travelers and natives alike, head to Osteria Marco for a delicious slice of heaven.  Just remember to bring your own mints.

Eat good food.  Drink good beer.  And above all, stay classy.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Beer Review: Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale

Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale is Brewed by the Alltech Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co.
Origin: United States (Lexington, Kentucky)
Style: The brewer doesn’t make a distinction, but I would say that it’s almost an Imperial Amber (talk about your oxymorons)

Color: Deep, rich amber with little to no haze; almost crystal clear.

Aroma: The initial bouquet on this beer can be slightly discouraging.  Upon the first sniff of this brew, I was alarmed at how putridly sweet it smelled.  After making sure that the offensive aroma was indeed emanating from the beer like a low cloud of noxious fumes wafting off a paper mill in middle of summer, I decided to let the beer breath while I performed some remedial household chores.  Much to my pleasure, my patience was rewarded by the sweet aroma of bourbon mixed with a malty slice of warm bread (strong upfront presence of toffee and caramel, transitioning quickly to notes of malt, followed by a hint of vanilla, and finishing with the slightest vegetal aroma).

Taste: Complex and mysterious yet familiar.  The initial shock to your taste buds comes from the crisp explosion of maltiness, which is unexpected from such a sweet smelling beer.  This quickly transitions to taste of summer fruits (plums or apricots).  But the final taste is that of bourbon or whiskey, almost like vanilla mixed with coffee and caramel.  The final taste on the palate is the slightest hint of cinnamon. 

Mouthfeel: For the sweetness of this beer, it has an unexpected crispness; though I should note that it is not a dry beer by any stretch of the imagination.  Unfortunately however, it does linger much longer than one would expect. 

Recommendation: This is a great beer for sipping by the fire on a cool autumn evening, the operative word here being “sipping.”  At slightly over 8% ABV this brew packs a surprising punch.  Also recommended is a light palate cleanser prior to imbibing on a different brewski, as it tends to overwhelm even the most experienced of palates. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

New Food Wednesday: September 7, 2011

Ok, so it seems like we've been posting a great deal about the sea and the odd foods that come from its bountiful bosom...

But I warn you today's is pretty gross.

That's one stinky fish!
Find out what it is and who eats it after the jump!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

New Food Wednesday (a little late) August 31, 2011

Ok so I haven't exactly been stoking the blogging fires this week...  Apologies to my 6 fans :)

While I was catching up on food related news this week, I stumbled across a very interesting article in the NY Times.  See if you can guess what's in the cage, I'll even give you a hint and say "it's not shellfish."

Find out what's inside after the jump...