Homebrewing, a story of personal growth… #sarcasm

I’ve learned a new language. Here’s a sample:

add strike water to grain bill in tun.
or, allow for conversion by leaving mash covered for an hour
or, lauter until wort exiting tun is no longer cloudy
or, boil wort, cool, siphon into carboy and pitch yeast

This is the language of brewing. I was examining my life a bit, when I realized; I know someone who smokes their own fish and meat, I know someone who makes their own tonic (like tonic for gin & tonics!), and I know someone who pickles everything imaginable from their own garden… how incredible is it to be self-sustaining in the 21st century? It’s a novel concept, and yet it was common practice 3 or 4 generations ago.

I have noticed the trend, and hopefully I am not the only one so excited about it, that singular good producers and service suppliers are reentering the markets, battling with the sometimes terrifying monster that is globalization, but emerging from the past nonetheless. So while I can pick up some fresh milled rye flour and handmade soap from my farmer’s market, a pound of fresh pasta from Dave’s, and any fresh baked loaf from Iggy’s, I can also crack open a bottle of my own home-brewed beer.

It’s so brilliant and so ordinary all at the same time. Now do not read this as a cry for complete self reliance. There is no way I can willingly give up my Piedmont-ese wine, South American 70% dark chocolate, and Ugandan coffee beans. My claims are more of a cry for awareness, for balance. I figured, sure, I can brew beer. And so I did! It was as simple as such. If there’s a farmer’s market near by, go to it. It’s just like a grocery store, but all of the produce is infinitely of better quality because it’s fresh and it’s local.

Regardless of the significance, let me say, these brews are coming out damn good.

The process, essentially:

The first go around was a basic brown ale. It had bright hop flavors co-mingling with caramel roast-y notes. Though über low on carbonation, soda-like carbonation is something we have been tricked into accepting more of from the commercial producers, it’s a result that I am very pleased with and would absolutely enjoy if I had picked it up as a 6-pack from any of my favorite breweries.

the brown ale!

the brown ale!

The second round brewed at home was a English pale ale, classified as an Extra Special Bitter *Extra special…oooh, aaah*. Sipping it right now, for the first time after bottling on Saturday, another success. Imagine you’ve taken a seat at the bar of a pub, maybe not in London, but in some town representative of authentic England, maybe a sort of rural location. The interior’s dark, with weathered leather seating, and an older gentleman polishing glasses behind the counter. This is what’s on draft. You can’t taste the hops, but the bitterness is there as an after taste, the carbonation of fine bubbles imparts a silky sort of feel, and there are notes of biscuity malt and even some of those banana esters. It’s real nice.

This is probably the most shocking aspect of the whole production. This brown liquid, strained off of a pile of milled malt, bubbling away in the hallway upstairs, morphed into some good, honestly delicious, beer. I can’t say exactly what I was expecting, perhaps this reveals my pessimistic tendencies!

This is nice: Craft Beer – A Hopumentary

p.s. I highly suggest clicking the links I provide while writing all these posts, otherwise it’s likely that you can’t understand a fu**ing thing I am trying to communicate. Listen here, I spent the time learning about it all, you could at least take a look ;)

p.p.s definitely watch this > How Beer Saved the World. It’s hilarious and it’s true. Deal with it, beer allowed for human civilization to evolve.

13 Favorite Posts of 2013

It’s been a wild ride here. This little thing, the virtual and unofficial publication of ideas, has morphed almost unrecognizably from my first post in October 2012. The direction it’s headed in? I haven’t the slightest idea. But I will continue to write about issues that inspire, restaurants that excite, and perhaps a bit more on films that stimulate.

Quite a few of these selections are chronicles of my time spent in Europe this summer, really pleasant memories reflected there. I mention this because soon enough I will release the photo album! I’ve been picking away at it for months and it is certainly due for public viewing by now.

Here is the so judged crème de la crème, cream of the crop… do you agree? If you’ve missed any posts, these are the one’s of repute:

Bread & Circus
Very important post in this corner of the internet
Happy People and a Couple of Dreams
passionate, considerate, and altruistic #MCC2013
To Write What Is True
Wine in France, Beer in England, and Whisky in Scotland…
Just a glimpse: Tuileries (Champs-Elysées before, Musée d’Orsay to come)
Edinburgh Festivals!
A little story
This is Life (to me)
Blue Jasmine, and a commentary
Alder
Sam’s at Louis

Very important post in this corner of the internet.

I am going to shamelessly plug a song in here, with a quote, to set a tone: “I’ve had a question that’s been preying on my mind for some time.” Basically, I think about these kind of issues plenty:

Evil is an awfully strong word, but is it a fair description [one so perfectly accurate]? Well here’s a video that details Monsanto’s history and what role it plays in current affairs. Watch this, and you don’t even have to read the text I’ve written below, I expand upon the issues brought to quickly mentioned throughout the video.

And it was a 51% landslide vote! Followed by the Federal Reserve at 20%… what kind of gold and silver medals are fashioned for such a contest?

This is why “organic”, a concept of sustainable practice with conscience of its effects on surrounding environments and the people involved throughout the process, is essential. Forget about the petty arguments of “but there’s no proof that organic is more nutritious than GMOs, and one method is more affordable than the other. Shopping organic is a refusal to fuel the destructive beast that is Monsanto, the company with the largest global share of their industry and with the greatest influence over policy making.

Monsanto: “American multinational chemical, and agricultural biotechnology corporation headquartered in Creve Coeur, Missouri. It is a leading producer of genetically engineered (GE) seed and of the herbicide glyphosate, which it markets under the Roundup brand.

The question of the safety of Genetically Modified Organisms is still unresolved in my mind, I don’t have the means to analyze the studies and determine their validity and objectivity of every single one.

The one thing I ask is for the knowledge to make an informed decision. Since the early 1990′s, GM labeling has been mandatory in the European Union, why is that not in place in the U.S.? It’s such a simple reform… that would affect the profits of these agricultural biotechnology companies, I suppose.

Which is when we reach the concept of “revolving doors”: the observation that Monsanto employees move between corporate employment and government positions so effortlessly. From Monsanto Vice President of Public Policy → Senior Advisor to the Commissioner of the U.S. FDA (Michael Taylor), Supervisor of clinical studies of bovine somatotropin (rBST) → Deputy Director of Human Food Safety and Consultative Services, New Animal Drug Evaluation Office, Center for Veterinary Medicine in the FDA (Margaret Miller), and the list goes on. C’mon! It’s not hard to connect their hand in creation and then their effect of putting into practice. The influence they have in barreling their products into market is frightening, and the amount of money they syphon into affecting policy is absurd.

And then the bees! The cause(s) of Colony Collapse Disorder is not confirmed, and I have no intentions of definitively attributing it to the abundant use of pesticides. I mention it because it’s not an issue that can be ignored. Without bees (and apparently wild insects as well) to pollinate crops that bud, the agricultural system would be decimated; we would be without the seed protecting substances that we consume, also known as fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Click on the photo to find out what would disappear. No way this New Englander will readily give up apple picking in the fall. *Fun fact: WFM University Heights was my Whole Foods of choice for two years while residing in Providence.

Whole Foods Market University Heights' produce department with and without items dependent on pollinator populations.  (PRNewsFoto/Whole Foods Market)

Whole Foods Market University Heights’ produce department with and without items dependent on pollinator populations. (PRNewsFoto/Whole Foods Market)

Here’s the thing about Monsanto. They are the quick fix. That is their Modus Operandi. The scariest example is Agent Orange. Manufactured by Monsanto Corp. and Dow Chemical, this toxic mix of 2 herbicides was used to reduce brush in order to easily see the targets of the U.S. Military, and to kill their crops during the Vietnam War. Cue quick fix. The lasting effects Agent Orange has had on U.S. veterans and the resident populations exposed 50+ years later is unbelievably horrific. I cannot describe it with my words, look at the pictures and you’ll understand and never forget. While Monsanto’s agricultural work essentially results in the increased efficiency of food production, providing food for our ever increasing populations (cue quick fix), that is all only attainable by the dumping of pesticides and herbicides, disrupting surrounding ecosystems. The consequences we will have to deal with from developing herbicide resistance, degradation of the soil microorganisms, surrounding land and water habitats are steadily presenting themselves. Though this is true for much of agribusiness in general, not exclusively Monsanto.

image

It all sounds like a ridiculous Hollywood movie. The amount of corruption and ill-intentions running through the veins of this company echoes fiction, bouncing between the genres of sci-fi and horror. Unfortunately Hollywood is such a successfully distracting machine that the juicier and actually damaging dramas occurring every day are constantly missed. Maybe we’ll soon see a Scorsese directed “Wolf of AgriBusiness”!

p.s. In light of all the NSA issues hitting the news these days, I would like to send a shout out to the very special NSA agent who was undoubtedly alerted by all the red flags of my search history for writing this blog… I hope you enjoy the post! ;)

1/8/13 edit:
Stumbled on this excellent essay (Michael Pollan tweeted it). Addresses the incredibly manipulated reporting and scientific consensus on GMOs.

The lessons I have learned: ART

Something fun and inconsequential:

The writers taught me to analyze everything, to leave no stone unturned for you never know the story lying beneath.

The painters taught me how to find a vision, to direct my focus and attention to a single subject worthy of great consideration and examination.

The con-artists have taught me to be wary with my belief, and to accept little as truth right away.

The comedians taught me to raise my voice and that nothing is off limits, so long as it has perceivable worth.

The filmmakers have occasionally taught me more about life than the experience itself.

And the musicians. They taught me how to enjoy life. There is no such pleasing form of expression than music.

Happy People and a Couple of Dreams

I had a uniquely thought provoking afternoon this Thursday. It resulted from watching 3 Werner Herzog films in succession. Well, technically 2, but all 3 suffering his influence in one way or another. Do not judge my pastimes too harshly, I am on Thanksgiving break.

The first, Happy People. Essentially about trappers in the Taiga, and their existence so [knowingly] removed from the modern world. The Second, Burden of Dreams. An odd documentary cataloging Herzog’s experience filming Fitzcarraldo in the Amazon. Though more like: a documentary cataloging Herzog’s odd experience filming Fitzcarraldo in the Amazon. The third, Cave of Forgotten Dreams. A dreamy depiction of the collections of cave paintings at Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc dating back as far as 32,000 years ago, with pronounced lingering effections (I know that’s not a real word, deal with it).

Happy People, to me, seemed to be the distillation of human behaviors and attitudes in our existing society. Suddenly more powerful because of the very alive connection to nature, and that overwhelming awareness. You are challenged to consider what you personally desire for a satisfactory existence, and what meaning any of it possesses. But must importantly, our philosopher friend ,Gennady Soloviev, treats us to sweet nuggets of wisdom, regarding greed, companionship, dominance, craftsmanship, solitude, and industry. Must watch.

Burden of Dreams was like an outrageous mokumentary, but it’s not. I swear, those struggle and pursuits are all real, and I could hardly believe any of it. I have not seen the film which the documentary is records. but I have never witnessed such genuine irony in any film, writing, etc. as this movie shows. Fitzcarraldo is based on a historic figure, but Herzog’s film turns him into an Irishman dead set on bringing an opera house to the Amazon basin. Here is the story of a foreign man engrossed by his own culture fighting to impose it onto a completely different realm neither aware of nor much concerned with it. And the documentary shows: a German director struggling to film a movie in a wild land of tribal people. It’s excellent, and you get to witness Herzog’s gradual realization of the fact. Must watch.

Cave of Forgotten Dreams is not a movie I will soon forget. Must watch.

I am left with an enduring, vibrant image of these early humans, hands dirtied by charcoal, sketching on the cave walls, guided by firelight… but I have always had a potent imagination.

These are astonishingly striking compositions. They are not crude, they depict habits of animals, illustrate movement, it’s all art. More deserving of attention than much of what is on display in any museum, because they are yet absent of the human pretenses of “making art”, and instead are the deep physical activity of processing external environments. The most important thing actually said in the film, versus shown, is the concept of art (in its various forms) being a means to communicate with the future. It’s hardly a complex idea, but it is fantastically true. Why bother to record anything? It must be captured, to be viewed again, 5 years down the road,

150,

monet

600,

da vinci

2,200,

Nike of Samothrace

32,000.

chauvet

I do not know how Herzog does it, but he is brilliant. Did you think you would find cave paintings so fascinating, or the lives of trappers living in the Russian Taiga so compelling? I certainly did not expect to, but here I am, writing about it all, hoping to share the profound experience with you. Must Watch.

passionate, considerate, and altruistic #MCC2013

I attended a conference this weekend, its main purpose being to address the Millennium Development Goals put in place by the UN and to inspire student networking for organizations working to contribute to the achievement of those goals. While I have never been a socially active person, at least not outwardly so, as I began my studies at JWU, I suddenly found myself investigating the status and current operations of our agricultural industries and food systems (distribution and production). It was the illumination of how this specific part of our world operates that completely shifted my interest, to the operations of all aspects of the world (although the majority of my focus remains in the U.S.). Becoming aware of these issues, and feeling surprisingly passionate about them, has slightly piqued my interest in societal involvement.

The first workshop I attended at the conference was titled “Africa: Perceptions and Reality”, and the discussion that occurred there revolved repetitively on the fact that we feel so ill-informed. That, because of the inadvertent messages we receive on a daily basis, most of us have ended up classifying the entire population of “Africa” into a single people. Malnourished, sick with malaria and HIV/AIDS, desperate for clean water, living in thatched huts and tribal environments. This is obviously not the whole truth, as told by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie:

The single story is a novel concept to me, but it lingers in all aspect of my life, more so than I care to admit. As the session was concluding, one of the visiting professors chimed in with an urge to READ. To not accept any single news story, but to seek out a variety of sources to accumulate a comprehensive coverage. He pointed out directly to Mother Jones, which of course, I will now be taking a closer look at.

I also heard, more than a few times, about how necessary it is to interact directly and receptively with communities receiving aid. It’s a rather simple concept, that the best way to assist most effectively would be to engage and inquire, to determine what the recipient needs most based on what they request. But that’s not how the system really works these days. Instead, organizations will go in with their minds set: “we’re going to send some foreign volunteers to build a school, and then bring in more foreign volunteers to teach kids”, and as a result are contributing to a dependence on foreign aid rather than empowerment which would foster self-sustainment. That’s a decent point, isn’t it?, and it has a lot to do with this “single story” concept. That the communities are not capable of assisting themselves, given proper funding, and an external source needs to come in and provide it all themselves.

Another thing: personal choices matter.
Without being actively involved, there are still ways to be actively involved. Every dollar has incredible power. Either it goes to purchasing some processed food item (primarily composed of corn, contributing to the dependance on pesticides, and in turn polluting the farm land and environments surrounding it), or it can go to a bunch of beets from a farm the next state over which relies on more natural growing techniques. Either it goes to purchasing a cheap accessory produced by factory workers [almost anywhere] in Asia or it can go to a cooperative which directs a much larger percent of the profit to the actual producer. We are used to certain standards and trends that could never allow the complete redirection of purchases to organizations like these, but perhaps gradual shifts can occur, relying on sources such as reweave for alternative and more responsible products, the likes of clothing, jewelry, belts, coffee, tea, chocolate, etc.

I am going to take a stand and say that the most important message came from Nancy Lindborg of USAID, who insisted that we, of the millennial generation, are most inherently equipped to “be the change you wish to see in the world” (sorry for using such a cliché). If I am to understand history correctly: societies have progressed from existing with only the knowledge of themselves, to the awareness of others (and the subsequent colonization and exploitation carried out by authority’s orders), to global interaction between all citizens – which is gradually gaining way in today’s world. I grew up with easy access to hundreds of channels on the television, an innumerable amount of publications and news sources, and now, social media which allows for conversation with people all over world and from varying degrees of social status.

These developments mean that my natural mode of functioning is to seek assorted and indiscriminate opinions and attitudes that lead to my own informed conclusions. We have access to so much more information, to really understand the current operations locally and globally, therefore we can move forward in respectful and constructive manners.

That is all. It was so inspiring to see these “youth leaders” dedicating their energies to making the world a better place. Hopefully that inspiration doesn’t fade too quickly ;) and I look forward to discovering more events like this.

Thank you Millennium Campus Network, for putting this together each year, it was an honor to be present.

Inequality for All

Everyone must see this.

I am almost tempted to leave it at that. But I wont. Robert Reich has created this sort of detailed powerpoint presentation to clarify the current status of the U.S.’s income economy (there is certainly a proper term that can be used here, but I do not know it). It is approachable, easily understood, even a bit funny sometimes, and surprisingly optimistic. Reich might be a short guy, but he has high hopes, the likes of which I have not seen recently.

I do not understand all of the aspects of our government’s functions and current workings. I can see, however, that there is a great injustice being served to most of us (yes, the 99%). Can you feel it to? No matter how much you work, how much time and physical energy you exert, there still isn’t enough. No matter how absolutely I believe I deserve a “higher education”, there are always the questions of how will I afford it? How will I pay it back? Why is Education a privilege? There are cracks and fissures in my daily operations that I cannot make sense of, that I cannot find the logic behind.

Inequality for All serves to illuminate some of those issues. It seems like more of an informational video, exposing the statistics behind it all that you can clearly understand and decide how to respond, how to act.

Is anyone else fed up yet? With the nonsense on TV, the excuses and blatant lies our politicians shamelessly give us. All of it filling our ears and confusing the rationale and coherent reasoning that is supposed to lie there. I think I’m almost at my tipping point, I can hear the roar of the waterfall ahead, and things are not going to be pretty once I get there.

Bread & Circus

For the first time in my life, I’ve made it to 3 sporting events in one month. May not sound like a big deal, but… I’ve never been too interested in the athletic-type activities. I enjoy skiing, it’s just a shame it’s so damn cold in Northeast, I played volleyball for 2 years in high school and I don’t follow the sport but I watch it every once in a while, at the Olympics and such, hiking is fun – especially being in the proximity of the Green and White Mountains, and within the past year or so, I’ve committed myself to being a semi-avid fan of tennis, and my interest has been piqued by national and European club soccer. I’ve grown, I really have.

While I may not keep up with the progression of the Red Sox each season, I am a Red Sox fan. There is no other option for a resident of… well… let’s say New England, just to be safe. The Red Sox fan base in Boston is extreme, the people are dedicated and they feel every win, every loss, maybe a little too deeply, but it is admirable and contagious nonetheless. And when you manage to snag (literally landed in my lap) a foul ball, and you manage to get seats 4 rows from the field, you just can’t help but drink the kool-aid. And then there’s Fenway, an absolute icon in American history, the oldest operating Major League Baseball stadium, home to the Green Monster, stomping ground of Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, and other greats (that I unfortunately do not know much about). If you were born/raised/reside in or around the title town that is Boston, you don’t have to love the Sox, but you definitely have to like them.

Fenwat

Big Papi, in all his glory.

Big Papi, in all his glory.

One of our local celebrities is Big Papi, Mr. David Ortiz. Since 2003, Ortiz has been a staple of the Sox, when he comes on the field, the energy in the stands turns on a dime. He saunters up to the plate, the crowd goes wild, it’s very cool.

Just before my best Sox experience, I made it to my first ever tennis event. 2013, night session – our goal was to witness a chapter of the ever astonishing rivalry that exists between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Unfortunately, Federer ducked out early, and we spent our day at Flushing Meadows a little sad, a bit bitter, but happy to be there nonetheless.

Tennis, I feel, is a different beast all together. There are not many individual sports where you are fighting directly against a single opponent… boxing (and the many international variations of combat), fencing, is that it? This quality makes it a mental game more than anything. There is a certain physical prowess related to excelling in the sport, but if you have the strong mentality to stay calm during high pressure points and the cognitive capabilities to process your opponent’s movements in order estimate the projection of their ball and how you will receive it in order to return it exactly to where/how fast/with the degree of spin that you desire, it’s incredible! All these forces are working against you, and you have to process them all in order to make a return of your own accord. Come on, that’s not easy!

Not quite conducive to noticing the finite aspects of the sport.

Not quite conducive to noticing the finite aspects of the sport.

The U.S. Open (hard court) is our nation’s grand slam tournament in professional tennis. The others occur in Australia (Australian Open/hard court), France (French Open/clay), and England (Wimbledon/grass). The thing is, going to the tournaments is fun, I’d assume a lot more enjoyable if you get to see your favorite player(s), but when it comes to observing the game, there’s no better medium than TV (unless you have supreme court-side seating). The cameras are right on the players, they show every little detail, it’s the best way to get the full game.

If you don’t know who Roger Federer is, if he’s not your favorite tennis player, perhaps favorite professional athlete in existence, it’s time to change that.

In the hands of RF, a tennis ball is not some uncontrollable force. He is a magician, in a matter of seconds, capable of harnessing the rogue energy and expelling it completely by his own accord. The thing goes where he wants, at the speed he wants, with the spin he wants, in astonishing effortlessnessDavid Foster Wallace, hopefully you know of him, was a modern philosopher in the guise of a writer and wrote an incredible piece titled Federer as Religious Experience, that speaks for itself:

“Anything you want to know about Mr. Roger N.M.I. Federer — his background, his home town of Basel, Switzerland, his parents’ sane and unexploitative support of his talent, his junior tennis career, his early problems with fragility and temper, his beloved junior coach, how that coach’s accidental death in 2002 both shattered and annealed Federer and helped make him what he now is, Federer’s 39 career singles titles, his eight Grand Slams, his unusually steady and mature commitment to the girlfriend who travels with him (which on the men’s tour is rare) and handles his affairs (which on the men’s tour is unheard of), his old-school stoicism and mental toughness and good sportsmanship and evident overall decency and thoughtfulness and charitable largess — it’s all just a Google search away. Knock yourself out.”

And then there was the Revolution. Ever heard of the New England Revolution? I didn’t think so. Soccer, especially club soccer, is not big here, goodness knows why. Which unfortunately results in a sort of unimpressive presentation because the players are not world class, and they’re not pushed to be (which is also why I don’t care much to elaborate). The games, however, are still fun. Pre-gaming with the families from our town meant fare exclusively from Whole Foods and tons of kids from the local teams taking over the entire parking lot, which was a very fun and funny environment.

But then there’s these guys, FC Barcelona. Closer to ballerina’s with their fancy footwork, and more like a machine with their incredible cohesion:

All of the spectator sports, not acknowledging them as showcases of exceptional physical abilities, are always reminiscent of the “circus” of the Roman coliseum. Fantastic displays meant to appease the public. To distract, perhaps, from current unrest, and restore a [temporary] sense of unity and solidarity.

Without the aspect of manipulation, however, sports can have a very powerful effect on the participating communities, helping to establish a kindred identity for the actual benefit of participants. There are those certain rare instances like the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. I can’t speak with any first hand knowledge of the subject, but I was listening to a podcast on the current success of Germany’s economy when the commentators suddenly mentioned this event. Nostalgia took over their tones as they fondly remembered the pleasant summer, an apparent anomaly, as they saw their country[wo]men moving their furniture to lounge outside, and singing the national anthem and proudly waving their flag. To think their daily operations were still reflecting the unfortunate occurrences of their past is quite sad, but to then hear of the summer that brought on a distinct but subtle change, that led to a more open, interested, and relaxed society, it’s moving.

I think that’s enough, a 1,000 word post is more than enough. But why don’t we take a moment to celebrate passing 1,000 views on my site! I don’t hear from you guys, but I see the stats, so thank you. I’ve always liked to write, I find it so gratifying to coherently illustrate thoughts, opinions, etc. it’s like a little game for me :)

So thank you again, I hope you receive even a fraction of the incredible joy from reading my posts as I get from writing them.

Beet Salad!

I don’t know about you, but I seem to have forgotten that this little indulgence of mine started out as a food blog… So how about a beet salad, to make up for missed cooking experiences?

I realize beets can be a polarizing ingredient, but guess what, I  unabashedly love this root vegetable, I am Eastern European after all. It is somewhere encoded in our genes to love beets… and pickles… and fermented cabbage… yum ;)

Here’s a great recipe for the transition period between summer and fall. Hopefully you can still find fresh herbs at the farmer’s markets, and root vegetables will be making it onto the scene.

IMAG1532

Beet Salad
Interpretation of a Whole Foods recipe

4 large (~5 medium) beets
1 small red onion
1/4 c fresh dill (loosely packed)
2 t roasted sesame oil
2 T olive oil
salt & pepper (to taste)
dash of allspice and coriander
1/2 T honey

1. wash beets and place in a pot (do not peel, but remove greens if applicable), cover with water and bring to a boil
2. reduce heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes, until you can easily stick a fork in them
3. meanwhile, wash dill and combine with oils, honey, and julienned onion (video tutorial for julienned onion below)
4. once beets are tender, drain the water and rinse under cold running water for 2 minutes or so
5. if beets are cool to the touch, it’ll be easy to peel the skins by hand, maybe using a knife to create an incision. they should still be relatively warm in order to soften the sliced onions once combined
6. cut beets in half and slice, just like the onion in the video, at a thickness around 1/4″
7. combine oil concoction and beets, add spices and salt/pepper to taste

It’s not entirely necessary, but the salad can rest over night, or for a few hours to let the flavors infuse and combine

Wine in France, Beer in England, and Whisky in Scotland… The Studies of a Devolping Alcoholic?

That is just a joke there, though I don’t mean to make light of a crippling disease, but I do have a curious affinity for alcoholic beverages! And after that last post, I could really use a drink.

image

O Château, in the 1st arrondissement of Paris. Very slick wine bar, most notably of the company owned by Olivier Magny, whose book “Into Wine” is essential reading for wine novices and even established lovers (for the purposes of reaffirmation).

The Mont Brouilly of Beaujolais, one of the few regions of  Gamay (a grape varietal). Delicious light bodied stuff, low in tannins, plenty of subtle notes of spices, dark berries, flowers like lilacs/violets, and stone/chalk

The Mont Brouilly of Beaujolais, one of the few regions of Gamay (a grape varietal). Delicious light bodied stuff, low in tannins, plenty of subtle notes of spices, dark berries, flowers like lilacs/violets, and stone/chalk

It’s one of the ways I introduce myself. Hi, my name’s Abigail, you will soon find out that I really like alcohol. Now, I must make a distinction: it’s perfectly plausible and acceptable to prefer to taste versus drink. That’s not to say I exclusively taste, if something’s really good, no way in hell will I waste any of it! I really enjoy the sensory experience, trying to identify recognizable scents and flavors, assessing the texture, the acidity or sweetness. I approach every glass of wine, spirit, or beer with a sense of excitable curiosity.

Crate Brewery: a very cool place. Located in Hackney Wick (London), in an industrial complex, right on a canal, that serves fresh pizza with their fresh, house-made beer... very enjoyable atmosphere, would be a great place to go with a large group.

Crate Brewery: a very cool place. Located in Hackney Wick (London), in an industrial complex, right on a canal, that serves fresh, stone-baked pizza with their fresh, house-made beer… very enjoyable atmosphere, would be a great place to go with a large group.

It’s about engaging a little bit deeper with something that can be, usually is, consumed without much thought. It’s a cool thing us humans have created, and I like to treat it as such, rather than as a means to cognitive abandon.

3384 bottles of whiskey accumulated by Brazilian businessman Claive Vidiz, now residing in Edinburgh at the Scotch Whisky Experience

3384 bottles of whiskey accumulated by Brazilian businessman Claive Vidiz, now residing in Edinburgh at the Scotch Whisky Experience

228L bottle of Famous Grouse blended whisky, we were assured that it's not just colored water ;)

228L bottle of Famous Grouse blended whisky, we were assured that it’s not just colored water ;)

I have the most comprehensive knowledge of wine, but I am hardly discriminatory. So here’s a list of some online and published resources, and some recommendations of what’s worth trying in the market today:

Column to refer to for recommendations and beer info

Blog for wine news, basic info, & tasting notes

Beer Bible, the food pairing version

Introductory wine book

Oxford Companions to Wine & Beer (Spirits is to be composed?)

Stylish blog for mixed drinks, this girl’s totally crashing the Boy’s Club!

Don’t really have any resources for spirits… I basically browse the shelves for new bottles and order those straight at the bar. That way I can figure out what they’re like without having to commit to a $40+ bottle.

Baxter Pamola Xtra Pale Ale - Portland, ME

The beer industry’s weird, I get that the market trend, across all industries, is to release products a bit before their designated season, but it’s just plain wrong to crack open pumpkin beers, autumn ales, and oktoberfests in early August. Even as we hit September, it’s still an average of 80 degrees F outside I want nothing to do with spiced things and dark brews. This pale ale is the welcomed relief, it’s cool/crisp/light, and is capable of refreshing in the lingering hot and sticky weather.

Foolproof Backyahd – Pawtucket, RI

Here’s a completely approachable IPA (India Pale Ale). The most predominant feature of IPA’s is the hop concentration. I personally have a low tolerance for their flavor, which is why I like the Backyahd it’s all subtle and balanced.

Caol Ila (Single Malt Scotch Whisky)

My journey with single malt Scotch whisky has just started and I would like it to be known that it was Caol Ila’s 12 year that sent me down that long, dark road. It is so featured here, in a little narration of one of my nights in London, the perfect example of how square I am. This is probably an introductory level option, so it worked excellently for me.

Portobello Road Gin (…)

Discovered this gin at the Old Ship Inn in London after a day of train > airplane > train travel, and I just really needed a drink. Served in the classic gin & tonic variation, it was delectable and I will definitely be referring to it again. Although I am not sure of it’s availability in the U.S. Plymouth Gin, of the Black Friar’s Distillery is a good option for affordability and I last purchased Hayman’s Old Tom Gin (although that might not be the most authentic?), which was very nice as well. Not going to mention Hendrick’s, everyone seems to love it but I get some kind of chemical taste that doesn’t vibe well with me.

Chartreuse (Liqueur)

Why not throw a liqueur into the mix! This stuff is powerful, I really like it’s medicinal quality. I would insist on pouring a bit to linger over after dinner.

Commanderie de Peyrassol - Provence, [southern] France (Rosé [undisclosed grapes])

It’s worth it to throw one rosé into the mix. Commanderie de Peyrassol was my favorite of this season. It’s really light, and has subtle floral notes that do not appear instantly. I really admired it’s delicacy.

La Collina Lunaris Secco Malvasia Dell’Emilia - Reggio Emilia, [northern] Italy (Malvasia)

I am easily excited by bubbly, all bubbly. I do not discriminate, so long as it’s delicious. And this stuff, well wow, it was delicious. It’s rich and yeasty, there are fruity flavors of apples and pears, but it stays dry and there are notes of fermentation that are perfectly subtle without being off-putting. Provided you’re not surrounded by pretentious/ill-informed company, this is a great wine (around $20) to celebrate the everyday.