Memorial Day weekend – the official start of summer. Â I’m sure, per American tradition, that the rest of you munched on burgers and other outdoor grilled fare this weekend. Â Not me. Â I nibbled on something a little more delicate…
They belong to our new niece, Abigail. Â I assure you, they were delicious…
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My birthday was last week. Â I don’t know how you guys like to be awakened on your birthday but, personally, I enjoy being awakened with breakfast and presents in bed. Â The menu – scones, raspberries, and itsy bitsy peanut butter cups. Â (The Mr. knows that peanut butter and chocolate were my first love.)
He may have enlisted the help of Trader Joe’s for the “cooking,” but the presentation was all him. Â I may have eaten a good bit of it before taking some pics…
After a sufficient amount of breakfast was consumed, there were presents. Â I didn’t get any wrapped shots but, don’t worry, you didn’t miss anything. Â The Mr. prides himself on his bad wrapping jobs. Â In fact, it’s a gift giving signature for him. Â This year, they were wrapped in mismatched sale papers that you get in the mail. Â The ends weren’t taped down despite the yardage of tape engulfing them but, hey, at least it was eco-friendly. 🙂
The wrapping isn’t the important part anyway. Â What’s important is on the inside and, this, he did well with. Â Being the techie guy he is, all of my presents were some sort of gadgetry, but all gadgetry that I needed and wanted.
In case you can’t make that all out, the goodie pile includes: 1) an external hard drive – pink, of course, because it’s a girl’s hard drive, 2) LED lights for my bike, both rear and front, so that I am well seen in not so great lighting, and 3) the piece de resistance – a Nikkor 50mm f1.8 lens for my camera!! Yeah for low f-stops!! Â (I could previously only get down to a 3.5).
The only bad thing about my birthday was that I had to go to work. Â This was the first birthday in probably 7-8 yrs that I haven’t taken it off. (Never again.) Â Good news is that my last evaluation cancelled, allowing me to knock off just a little early…allowing for pre-birthday-dinner beers at World of Beer. Â The Mr. was introduced to this place earlier in the week and desperately wanted me to see it too. Â I’m sure he’ll tell you all about it later.
This month, our local World of Beer is highlighting brews from the Southern Tier Brewing Company, which we tasted and enjoyed before. Â I wanted a Southern Tier Choklat Stout,Â but its keg had run dry. So, I tasted a Southern Tier Creme BrÃ»lÃ©e Imperial Stout.
Wah-hah-hah…THAT was sweet! Â My mouth is puckering now, just thinking about it…days later. Â Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t taste bad at all. Â In fact, it was quite good, just intense…and sweet. Â I might have been able to ingest more of it if it had it been poured over my morning waffles. Â For real drinking, I opted for a the Southern Tier Oat Imperial Stout Â instead.
The Mr. had a Southern Tier Krampus, for reasons that appeal only to him and his odd sense of humor.
World of Beer doesn’t serve food, but it partners with several nearby restaurants who will bring food to you while you sip your brew. Â As novel as that sounds, bar food is not exactly what I had in mind for my birthday dinner. Â So, we polished off our beers and headed Uptown to Dandelion Market ,Â a local Dublin pub-inspired tapas restaurant.
I ate there with girlfriends for another birthday celebration about a year and half ago, but The Mr. had never been. Â I loved the atmosphere as well as the food. Â Check out the lovely table water…
Another really cool thing about Dandelion Market is that it has a deal where for $230 you can order EVERYTHING ON THE MENU. Â That sounds like a lot, but when you go with a party of 15-20 people, it’s kind-of a great deal. Â We did this when I went for my girlfriend’s birthday celebration and, even with the 17 of us that were there, it was a ridiculous amount of food. Â So good, but SO MUCH! Â Needless to say, The Mr. and I did not attempt that on our own.
We split the Pan Seared Ahi Tuna,
the Ale Simmered Sausage Bites,
the Baked Potato Croquettes,
and the Market Mac and Cheese.
It was all fantastic but, I’m here to tell ya – that tuna was out of this world!! Â I almost pulled a “it’s-my-birthday-I-don’t-have-to-share-if-I-don’t-want-to” line but, The Mr. really loves a seared tuna and I just couldn’t keep it from him. Â What can I say? Â I’m a giver. Â Even if I had withheld the tuna, I have no doubt that he would have enjoyed himself. Â You see, I’m the kind of girl who doesn’t really like for my food to touch. Â Him, he’s a combiner…
We finished the evening off with a Guinness-based, ganache-filled birthday cupcake. Â I was stuffed by that point. Â But, a girl has got to have a little bit of cake on her birthday…especially if there is Guinness in the batter.
Despite the ever increasing number associated with the anniversary of my birth, it was a really good day!
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Don’t ya just love fresh herbs?
Last summer, having gotten tired of paying $4 a pop at the grocery store for small plastic containers of herbs that I never fully use before they go bad, I decided to take matters into my own hands. Â I bought two ofÂ these lovely planters from Crate & Barrel, had The Mr. mount them on the railings of our back “porch,” and got my hands dirty. Â I planted basil, parsley, and oregano in one and rosemary, mint, and thyme in the other. Â It sounded like a good idea at the time. Â With daily watering and all that direct sunlight on my “porch,” I had spent less than I would on containers of those herbs at the grocery store and I was gonna keep myself in fresh herbs throughout the summer! Â Those were my thoughts, anyway. Â That is…until we went away to the beach.
I asked our pet sitter to please water the herbs for me daily. Â Well, she did, and I came home to HERBS GONE WILD!! Â They had tripled in size in 10 days time!! Â (Unfortunately, I seem to have deleted this pics I took, so I can’t prove it. Â But I promise it’s true!) Â Horticulturally speaking, that was pretty awesome. But practically, I COULD NOT use them fast enough. Â I put basil and parsley on anything that would stand still. Â I made mojitos like they were going out of style. Â I even infused olive oil with rosemary and mint and made a bath scrub out of it. Â (I understand that all of those things would have made interesting blog posts, but who can write when you are worried about herbs taking over your home?) But the herbs just kept growing and growing. Â I gave all my neighbors permission to just come up on my porch and snip off any amount of herb they wanted. Â I tried to give them away to my friends. Â And still they grew…and grew…and GREW! Â By the fall, my “porch” railing planters no longer housed a lovely, demure little herb garden. Â They had become monstrosities of the highest order, disproportionate in size to their containers, with yellowing leaves from disuse and snaking limbs. Â They were huge and hideous and starting to choke each other. Â So, I did what any self-respecting gardener would do – ripped them all out and planted pansies.
Despite this failed experiment, I still had a strong desire to grow my own herbs. Â I mean, even though they are just herbs, it’s still nice to think that I’m eating something I grew myself. Â Also, without having my own, I’m forced back into my original predicament -Â paying $4 a pop at the grocery store for small plastic containers of herbs that I never fully use before they go bad. Â This year, though, I decided to take a different route – CONTAINMENT!
I was given this sweet little plant stand by a neighbor who moved and wasn’t going to be able to take it with her.
It had been sitting on my “porch” for a couple of months, as I was uncertain about what to do with it myself. Â But then I thought, “Hey, what’s this in my living room?”
A HUGE window with excellent natural light, perfect for plant growing. Â Plant stand, meet ginormous window. Â You both love plants. Â Discuss!!
Hmmm…but what to put in said plant stand? Â If, I put some herbs in smaller pots, and grow them inside through filtered window light, I might just be able to grow the herbs I need without running the risk of them squeezing me out of house and home. Â One problem, though – the orangey-color of terra cotta pots doesn’t exactly mesh with the look I’ve got going in my living room.
What to do? Â Several months ago I saw Martha decorate up some cute little terra cotta pots on her show and loved them. Â I refreshed my memory with an archived video from her website, ordered up some Old Fashioned Milk Paint, and headed to Michael’s for a hot glue gun and some twine. Â I’m usually not the crafty type, but this little project was just calling my name. Â I know I’m no Martha but, they didn’t turn out half bad, huh?
I love the dusty, weathered look from the milk paint and the “Driftwood” color blends perfectly with the color palate of my living room. Â Now I’ve got a window full of sweet little herb pots. They’re fresh and demure, just like I like ’em!
‘Cuz, let’s face it, nobody likes a haughty herb!
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I met my friend, Meg, for dinner at CantinaÂ on East Blvd tonight and look what was right in front of my eyes as I pulled out of the parking lot…
I’m super excited!! Â I’m guessing it’s brand new 1) because of the “Now Open” sign in the window and 2) because I know a interior design boutique used to be in that same location. Â We had a blast in a similar place called Mountain Town Olive Oil in Park City last year. Â We’ve been loving the oil and vinegar we picked up there ever since. Â But, I’ve kinda been dolling it out sparingly, not knowing when I would be able to get more. Â Now it looks like I won’t have to do that anymore. Â I’m running low on olive oil anyway. Â So guess where I’m headed when I do my weekly shopping this Saturday! Â I’ll let you know what I find out.
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I seriously doubt there is anyone out there still reading this. Â If you are, um…sorry about the nearly year long hiatus…we got busy…
Well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Â If you were a reader before, you can tell we’ve had a little site redesign. Â I’m pretty excited about the new look, although there are still a few things still outstanding on the “site redesign to do list” (or since the computer-nerd-software-developing-web-designing hubs is in charge of that stuff, it could also be called the “blog honey-do list.”)
Although we have been total slackers since last May, we both really enjoy this blogging business and are re-invigorated to start it a new. Â We’ve been thinking and there’s something else that is different. Â The hubs still insists that we use pseudonyms for posting. Â Previously we referred to ourselves as the Beer Guy and the Wine Girl, but we’ve been doing some thinking, myself in particular, and we feel that Â those pseudonyms were a little misleading: 1) While we do enjoy good fermented beverages, either hops or grapes, neither of us is an expert in either beer or wine. Â It’s not for lack of trying 🙂 , but there are no formal credentials there. Â 2) This blog isn’t meant to be just about beer or wine. Â It’s about food, travel, learning to use our fancy camera, and us trying to step out of our comfort zone in little ways every day. Â For a refresher on what this delicious little blog is supposed to be about go here or here. Â 3) Â While the hubs certainly knows his stuff when it comes to beer, and I feel I know a fair amount about wine, I’ve come to learn that I actually have a more discriminating palate for beer than I do wine. Â And a nice craft brew is generally my go to beverage of choice. Â I felt like a phony referring to myself as a Wine Girl.
So gone are the days of BG and WG. Â Since we are a married couple enjoying all these little adventures together we thought our pseudonyms should reflect that. Â Henceforth, we shall refer to ourselves as Â The Mr. and The Mrs. Â It’s cute, no? Â But is it as cute as this…
Maybe not. Â But these new pseudonyms aren’t nearly as limiting as the old ones.
Whether you are a new reader or The Mr.’s mom who’s stuck with us from the start – Enjoy! Â We are getting back in the saddle and hope you’ll come along for the ride!
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Last Friday night I had one of the most intriguing entrees that I’ve ever eaten. Â You remember that BG whisked me away for my 35th birthday, right? Â As part off our reservations at the Mast Farm Inn, we were scheduled to have dinner there on Saturday night, leaving Friday’s dinner up for grabs. Â Upon recommendation from the Inn Keeper we decided to try Crippen’s in the nearby mountain town of Blowing Rock.
The weather was perfect, so we opted to dine al fresco in the front garden.
We were warned, both by the Maitre’D and our server that a family of ducks lived there so that we wouldn’t be alarmed if they decided to come fuss at us for dining in their happy home. Â Fortunately they did not decide to fuss, but I was at least hoping to catch a glimpse of them.
I have to say, for a “country inn restaurant” in a relatively small town, this place had quite an eclectic menu and a wine list to match. Â For apps we enjoyed Popcorn Dusted Sea Scallops with Bacon Creamed Corn.
Yes, that’s actual crumbled popcorn on the top. Â We also had a little bread with our choice of three dipping or spreading options: Â homemade butter, white bean hummus, or olive oil infused with a Scotch Bonnet pepper.
Let me tell you, that last one had a kick! Â Of course, no lovely dinner out is complete without a nice bottle of wine. Â Our server told us that all the wines in the list had been hand picked by the chef to compliment the current menu, so anything we chose would be complimentary to our meal. Â We decided to go with an Australian Shiraz.
Of course, I’ve got to do my thing.
It was nice, but given the richness of my entree I think I would have preferred a full-bodied Cab. Â And speaking of entrees…
That’s what this whole post is boiling down to. Â BG ordered a Juniper Marinated Venison Tenderloin.
Oh, and FYI – it was floating in a Blueberry Sauce with Truffle Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes on the side. Â I just want to make sure y’all got all that –
TRUFFLE GOAT CHEESE MASHED POTATOES!!!
The only thing I can manage to say about that is – DDDAAAAMMMMNNN! Â Truth be told, even though they came with BG’s entree, I ate about half of them. 🙂
As awesome as those potatoes were, I have to admit that they were not the star of the show. Â That, instead, would be my entree – the Bittersweet Chocolate Infused Espresso Crusted Beef Tenderloin with Irish Cream Sauce and White Cheddar Potato Au Gratin.
Now, the concept of cocoa, coffee, and steak was not new to me. Â While on our 10th anniversary trip to the Russian River Valley, I enjoyed an Espresso Crusted Filet in a Cocoa Cabernet Sauce at Mosaic in Forestville, CA. Â Let me tell you, that was out of this world! Â Needless to say, I was expecting something similar this time around. Â But what I got…
was chocolate OOZING out of my steak as I cut into it. Â Seriously. Â No, SERIOUSLY!! Â Check out that pick again. Â Please note the oozing!
According to our server, it is prepared by slicing the tenderloin and having a bittersweet chocolate square placed inside before it is then rolled in crushed espresso beans and cooked. Â It sounds weird but it was INCREDIBLE. Â I, of course, let BG have a bite of this unique dish. Â He agreed with me, but stated “It’s hard to tell whether that is dinner or dessert.”
I didn’t care, though. Â How many times in her life does a girl get to say she had CHOCOLATE STEAK for dinner?
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So did you figure it out? You know, the hints…my secret birthday getaway… Well, I certainly didn’t figure it out. Â BG kept telling me that I had all the information I needed to figure it out, but in the end he had to spell it out for me. Â After he finally told me where we were going, I have to say, he was right. Â All the info he gave me adds up to exactly where we landed, although, as he so astutely pointed out, I would have had an easier time figuring it out from his clues if I had remembered them correctly. Â Apparently, I left a couple key words out of the hints that I posted here. Â So let me correct myself and add up the hints for you.
(My version) It’s in the valley of Â “sportiness” and “loveliness.”
(His version) It’s in the VALLEY of “loveliness.”
Ok, important word here is valley. Â Apparently, I merged two hints in my head. Â Note the discrepancy between my version and his version above. Â His second hint was
Hint #2 – It will be a CROSS between “sportiness” and “loveliness.”
Take home message from this hint – cross. Â There was no dispute between his version and my version of the third hint. Â Like I mentioned before, “sportiness” meant that we took our bikes.
Hint #3 – It’s north of Georgia, east of Nashville, south of Ohio, and it’s not a beach.
Based on that one, I had myself convinced we were going somewhere in Virginia. Â I was wrong, but the description fit the bill exactly. Â It’s not my fault, really. Â BG overestimated how long it would take us to get there.
Hint #4 – It’s 3.5-4 hrs from Charlotte .
Not exactly. Â It only took us 3 hrs to get there from Charlotte. Â And, I was right – this was by car. Â Knowing the actual commute time now, I see that Virginia was a stretch. Â We did not leave NC.
Hint #5 – MASTerful!
I was clueless on this one…Let’s add all these up, shall we?
VALLEY + CROSS+ MAST+NC+SPORTY & LOVELY = The Mast Farm Inn in Valle Crucis, NC!!
The website leaves a little to be desired, but the inn most certainly does not. Â Check it out…
And all that is just the outside! Â Inside there was a lovely little bar and place to purchase yummy Southern goodies as well as other assorted loveliness.
Guess what I found when we got to our room…
Don’t think for one second that I didn’t jump in there in the morning and sip my coffee while reading my book! Â And, speaking of coffee, look what was left outside our door at 8am each morning.
Such a lovely little basket of coffee. Â Of course, the REAL treats were served downstairs at breakfast!
I’m pretty sure I gained a pound for every year of my age this weekend. Â Unfortunately, we weren’t able to bring the food or the chef home with us, but we did manage to grab some souvenirs on the way out.
I couldn’t help but notice that these resembled the mugs we brought home from my all time favorite inn and vacation spot.
I think we’ve started a collection!
I’ve got to say, spending the weekend at the Mast Farm Inn in the beautiful NC mountains certainly took the edge off the Big 3-5! Stay tuned! Â There’s more birthday deliciousness to come!
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I have a confession to make. My big 3-5 is looming. That’s right. In less than a week I will be 35 yrs old. How did THAT happen? Wasn’t I just in college? I’m not really bothered about officially being in my mid-thirties. I’m just not all that excited about the fact that I will soon round up to 40. Â Again…how did that happen? Didn’t I just get married? How is that I’m now within arms length of my 40’s? Seriously? WOW!!
This thought process is spurning a lot of self-reflection…you’ll probably hear more about that as I process it.
So, while I’m not all that excited about the fact that my pending birthday will be my 35th birthday, I am excited that it is my birthday in general. I’ve always loved my birthday. My mom always made such a fuss over my birthday and I guess it’s always stuck with me. So, despite the ever increasing number associated with my birthday, I generally start getting giddy at the thought of it weeks ahead of time.
In an effort to ease the blow of this milestone year, BG has decided to whisk me away for a birthday weekend getaway. Much to my delight AND chagrin, he refuses to tell me where he’s taking me. I love surprises, but at the same time I’m dying to know. I beg and plead with him to tell me, then he’ll say “Ok. Do you really want to know? If you do, I’ll tell you right now.” In response to which I take a deep breath, squeal and say “No! It’s not my birthday. It’s not time!!”
BG finds this little dance very amusing. I’m pretty sure that if I actually said yes he’d refuse anyway. He just likes teasing me. So, to either appease my excruciating curiosity or just confuse me more, he’s been giving me hints. See if you can help me figure it out…
Hint# 1 – It’s in the valley of Â “sportiness” and “loveliness.”
From this I’ve gotten him to admit that we will be taking the bikes with us.
Hint# 2 – It’s north of Georgia, east of Nashville, south of Ohio, and it’s not a beach.
Umm…there’s like a million places that fit that description.
Hint #3 – It’s about a 3.5-4 hr trip from Charlotte.
He won’t specify whether that is by plane or by car. Â Although, I doubt he’d torture me by making me fly on my birthday, and I think that since we are taking the bikes it’s probably a road trip.
Hint #4 – Masterful!
And…what am I supposed to glean from that exactly?
He’s been on a business trip for the last three days and promises me a great hint upon his return. Â In his absence, though, I’ve been scouring the internet trying to figure it out. Â Here are some options I’ve come across.
The Grove Park Inn and Spa in Asheville –
(Image courtesy of ashevillenc.com)
Well it sort of goes with Hint #1 in that I hear the inn is just beautiful and there are tons of places to go biking around Asheville. Â But…I think this would be considered more of a mountain getaway versus a “valley.” Â It’s certainly “north of Georgia, east of Nashville, south of Ohio, and not a beach.” Â As far as Hint #4 is concerned, it supposedly has one of the best spas in the U.S. Â I’d think that fulfills the “masterful” requirement. Â But…it might be too close to Charlotte to meet the 3.5-4 hr commute. Â Plus, we’re going to spend a weekend in Asheville in August. Â So, I’m not sure he’d repeat cities that rapidly. Hmm…
What about the Inn at Westwood Farm in Orange, Virginia?
(Image courtesy of http://www.innatwestwoodfarm.com/)
The best I can tell, this seems to be in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Â The Inn looks to be quite lovely…especially as it is within driving distance of Barboursville Vineyards (Oh how I love visiting a vineyard!). Â Plus with all that surrounding beautiful Virginia nature there’s lots of places to bike about and be sporty. Â Location requirements? Â Check! Â According to my iPhone GPS, though, it’s a 5-hr drive from Charlotte. Â This may be too far away to be it.
Speaking of Barboursville Vineyards, looks like there’s an inn on site there.
(Image courtesy of http://www.barboursvillewine.net/winery/the-1804-inn)
The 1804 Inn to be exact. Â Of course, if BG took me there, I might think that I died and went to heaven rather than celebrated yet another year of life.
Maybe I’m looking too far north. What about Charleston?
The term “lovely” doesn’t even begin to do this gem of city justice. Â We’ve been there before, but it’s been a while, and we’ve been talking about wanting to go back. There’s not much about Charleston that I would consider to be sporty, though. Â It certainly fits the regional and commute hints. Although, while not technically consider a beach town, it may be too coastal to be a match. Â And, I’m not sure how the “valley” terminology would fit here. Â Best to keep looking…
Dare I hope and pray? Â Could it possibly be Blackberry Farm?
(Image courtesy of http://www.blackberryfarm.com/farm)
This place meets nearly all the hint requirements…except the valley bit. Â Word of warning, BG. Â If this is it, I may refuse to leave!!
Where ever it is, I know I’ll love it and I’ll be thrilled to spend a long weekend, just hanging with my guy! Â In the meantime, if anybody else has any thoughts or interpretations of the clues, hook a girl up! Â I’M ABOUT TO BURST!!!!!!
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BG was one of those lucky folks who got Good Friday off of work. Unfortunately for me, healthcare does not adhere to all national holidays. While enjoying his day off, BG treated himself to a haircut and apparently got into a nice beer discussion with his stylist. She – aghast that as a fellow beer lover didn’t know about this place – tipped him off to a local beer gem,Â The Common Market. While I was slaving away in the speech therapy world, I got a text from BG at precisely 12:55 pm saying “Going to check out a new beer store in Plaza Midwood.”
Somebody’s enjoying his day off…
Four hours later I got a follow-up text “Beer tasting next Wed at 6:30 – Common Market.” Ok, sounds fun. Have you been there all this time? I returned home to find three new beers in my fridge
and a giddy, smiling husband in my kitchen.
Wednesday finally rolled around and off to The Market we went!
Upon entering, there is a distinct “convenience store” vibe. Â You know, candy aisle, sodas, etc. Â But as you keep walking towards the back a whole new world appears. Â There’s an entire wall of beer – GOOD, CRAFT BEER – not just your typical garden-variety convenience store beer collection. Â Then there are crates and crates of wine tagged with ratings and tasting notes.
These are capped off with a mini Wine Bar/Tap “Room” just before heading out the back door and onto the patio…where you can eat your fresh gourmet deli sandwiches.
To our surprise, the Charlotte Beer Club, which we didn’t know existed (Sign us up? Â Yes, please!) was there for the tasting. Â “On tap” for the tasting were 4 beers from the Southern Tier Brewing Co.
First up was the Southern Tier Hop Sun –
He Said: Pours a clear, pale straw color with minimal head. Wheat taste, with a dry finish.
Even though they gave out free pint glasses, for some reason we started with the plastic cups — so perhaps the “Dixie Cup Ambiance” reduced the head a little.
She Said: I’d drink this in the summer…although it is a smidge dry and hoppy for my taste. Â Nice crisp finish. Â And do I detect a bit of citrus? Â Lemon maybe?
As with all tastings, the pours were small. 🙂
Next up was the Southern Tier IPA
He Said: Pours clear, golden with little head. Crisp and floral, but Iâ€™m having trouble smelling the beers today. Perhaps itâ€™s the Dixie cups, perhaps itâ€™s the North Carolina allergies.
She Said: I can smell ’em! Â Nice floral nose. Â And after the first sip…WHOOO-that’s hoppy! Â Another crisp and light finish. Â I know enough to know this is a nice representative of the varietal but…
WineGirl clarified, â€œIâ€™m generally not a fan of IPAâ€™sâ€.
BeerGuy countered, â€œIâ€™m generally not a fan of Dixie cupsâ€, as he picked up the free glass for the next round.
Round three – Southern Tier IBA. Â That is, the Iniquity Imperial Black Ale.
He Said: Yum! I got this in a snifter when we first walked in. To give away my secrets, the BeerGuy tends to head straight for the bar upon entering a drinking establishment, and then beer in hand, turns to take in the environment.
My one note was â€œGet a Bottle!â€ Itâ€™s too big and black to shortchange, so weâ€™ll write up a separate review.
She Said: By this point in the game I was too busy being sociable to make tasting notes or take pics. Â Luckily a bottle of this came home with us, so, as BG promised, a more detailed review will come later. Â I may not have made a lot of notes, but I do remember that I liked it and was intrigued by the uniqueness of the black ale. Â Third time’s the charm, right?
And finally, the Southern Tier Jah-Va…an Imperial Coffee Stout.
He Said: When I first visited, Thomas (manager?, owner?, enthusiastic beer-dude!) recommended this so highly that I took one home for the WineGirl. We havenâ€™t popped it yet, and I had trouble smelling the sample at the tasting, so weâ€™ll write this up separately. High hopes, though, that weâ€™ve found a new breakfast beer. Â 🙂
She Said: Â Ah…a beer after my own heart! Â Again, no formal notes from the tasting, but there’s a bottle in the fridge!!
Some may say that the star of the tasting show tonight was the Southern Tier Brewing Co., but I say it was the camaraderie. Â You see, this was one of the most
unorganized laid back tastings I’ve ever been to. Â Don’t get me wrong. The laid back vibe totally fit the atmosphere. I’m just saying that usually at a tasting, the pouring is very organized, the beers are brought out on a schedule and the brew master or beer company rep really wants to talk to you about the beer and describe the taste, process, philosophy of the brew. Â Here, the tasters just mingled and socialized and the hosts seemed to randomly decide to open up the next brew, giving a pour to whomever held their glass out the fastest.
While that put my little OCD heart on edge, the mingling allowed us to get to know some of our fellow beer enthusiasts.
We chatted with 1) the head of the Charlotte Beer Club, 2) a naturopathic physician who just happens to brew a little on the side, and 3) the Brew Master of the new NoDa Brewing Co. (scheduled to open in Charlotte’s NoDa neighborhood this fall). Â These people are true beer lovers who want not just to enjoy the beer for themselves, but to share it with others as well. Â To that end as the NoDa Brew Master was describing to us a particular beer he loved, he stopped mid-sentence, grabbed a bottle of it out of the cooler, opened it up, and shared it with us. Â Ladies and gentlemen, meet TINY.
Brought a bottle of this home too…and it gets a post all to itself.
Believe it or not, TINY, wasn’t the only privately purchased bottle someone shared with us out of good-beer will. Â Another fine young lad simply smiled and handed over a bottle of this from his 6-pack after the naturopathic physician complimented him on his beer choice.
We split it three ways. Â Once again, BG has deemed this one good enough for its own post. Â So…stay tuned!
All in all, this evening included three of my favorite things – good beer, good conversation, and good atmosphere. Â Not bad for being out on a school night! Â And, P.S., guess who does wine tastings every Tuesday night? Â You got it, The Common Market. Â After this evening’s success, it is safe to say we’ll definitely be checking that out very soon!
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Happy belated Easter to you all! I hope you were all blessed with as beautiful an Easter Day in your home towns as we were in Charlotte. Simply gorgeous!
To celebrate this joyous day we joined some friends for an after church outdoor brunch. It was potluck. After last week’s potluck fiasco resulting in me showing up to a cookout with store-bought potato salad (gasp!), I knew I had to redeem myself. My foodie/cook reputation could be hanging in the balance…
So, I thought long and hard about what my contribution to this brunch would be and the answer was clear – SCONES!! Â I ask you, what is more “spring brunchy” than SCONES?!?
Once again, I turned to The Foster’s Market Cookbook for inspiration. Â More specifically, I chose to make Sara Foster’s Chocolate Chip Espresso Scones.
I got up early before church to whip these babies up. Â Did I mention that I’ve never made scones before? Â So they didn’t exactly “whip up”. Â They were a little labor intensive. Â Maybe that wasn’t a good idea when I’m trying to redeem myself from a major foodie faux pas! Â I was nervous and in a rush after waking up 30 min later than intended. Â So I don’t have a lot of pics because 1) I hadn’t had my requisite two cups of coffee (which is dangerous in and of itself) yet while I was making these and 2) these scones were stressing me out.
The recipe called for cutting the butter into the dry ingredients mix with a food processor. Â I only have a mini-Cuisinart, not a full sized one. Â So it took me several attempts to figure out how I was going to make this work in shifts. Â Ultimately I cut little cubes of butter into the large bowl of dry ingredients then transfered it into the mini-Cuisinart for some pulsing in 3/4 cup shifts. Â We got through it, but ultimately my kitchen looked like a flour bomb exploded in it.
Once cut and mixed, it was now time for me to add in the wet ingredients…buttermilk with espresso dissolved into it. Â The Foster’s Market Cookbook maintains that it is the use of buttermilk, versus the typical heavy cream or half-and-half, yields a “lighter and flakier” scone.
The recipe called for this to be mixed in a large bowl, so I whipped out the largest bowl I have. Â It apparently wasn’t large enough as I could really couldn’t stir the ingredients without sloshing it all over my already flour dusted countertop. Â So…I dove in with my hands, trying my best to distribute the ingredients evenly.
So as I’m attempting to mix with my hands, thinking “This isn’t going well” to myself, and becoming increasingly aware that I’m running really late, I read the words “Do not overwork the dough” in the recipe. But that’s it. Â No further indication of what action would result overworked dough. Â Clearly, Sara’s target audience has prior biscuit making experience. I’ve said it before – I cook. Â I don’t really bake. Â Which, again, makes me think this wasn’t the best idea for today. Â Don’t overwork the dough?!? Â What does THAT look like? Â How would I know?
I finally get frustrated trying to finish mixing the dough by hand in the bowl and just dump it out on the kitchen counter,
wash the espresso-buttermilk goo off my hands, and head back to the recipe. Â Well, what do you know. Â I was SUPPOSED to dump it out on the counter. Â Maybe I have more “baker instincts” than I thought…
Confident in my new baker skills, I commenced rolling. Â Gigantor chocolate chip cookie anyone?
Incidentally, the recipe makes two of those so that you end up with 12 total scones. Â From here, it’s pretty easy. Â You just cut it into six equal triangles, brush them in an egg wash, and bake them up.
The only problem now is, it’s 9:50 a.m. and I have to serve them at 12:30 p.m. – piping hot! Â Will they be okay if I put them in the fridge for 3 hours before baking them? Â Surely they will right? Â That won’t mess up the baking chemistry will it? Â AAAAHHHH….now I’m nervous again. Â I should have asked somebody about this first. Â I really don’t want to mess up my contribution to a friend’s potluck gathering for the second week in a row!
At this point I have no choice. Â I’m pretty sure that it’s more “dangerous” to leave the raw sliced dough on greased Â baking sheets sitting on my countertop. Â So into the fridge they went. Â And I rushed home from church an popped them into the oven before heading over to brunch…holding my breath along the way.
Well, they look like proper scones to me…
Okay, so we were 20 min late, but we showed up with fresh-from-the-oven, piping hot scones as everyone was sitting down on the lawn to eat. Â Half of them were gone before I could get them to the buffet.
Rave reviews all around! Â Comments from the peanut gallery went something like “Those are awesome!” Â “These are fantastic!” Â “Did you make these from scratch?” Â I am redeemed…which has more than one meaning for me on this lovely Easter Sunday.
So, I think I can safely say that my foodie reputation in firmly in tact!
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