Thursday, April 28, 2011

We've Moved!

This blog has been a lot of fun, but for the time being, we are moving on to our new project:

Food and Brews contains much of the same content, and will be regularly updated with new recipes, food thoughts, beer reviews, and homebrew experiences. Please visit, and let us know what you think!


Elizabeth & Alan

Monday, April 18, 2011

Caldera IPA

Caldera Brewing's IPA
by Alan

As I was browsing around Whole Foods looking for something I haven’t tried, the Caldera cans practically burst off of the shelf with their brilliant colors. High end beer in a can? Who am I to judge until I give it a try!

Caldera's description: 

An American-style India Pale Ale brewed with plenty of body and an assertive hop profile. Malts: Premium Two Row, Munich, Crystal Hops: Simcoe, Centennial, Amarillo; Alcohol by Volume: 6.1%; IBU 94, SRM: 10.1

My tasting notes: 

  • Appearance — Rich gold color with a light tan head, excellent head retention
  • Smell Citrus and floral hoppy smell with from herb notes, fresh grass. Some sweet malty smell
  • Taste Bitter hopiness up front, then the resinous hop flavor shines though. some good toasted malty flavor with it
  • Mouthfeel Crisp, well carbonated nice and smooth
  • Drinkability Great session beer, easy drinker for an IPA

This has made me a believer in the can. While I’ll never shy away from some inexpensive PBR or some High Life, it’s great to see some high quality, high flavor brews in the same light compact container. These will help make by baseball season full (and my wallet empty).

$9.99 for a 6 pack at Whole Foods (prices may vary)

This brew would go perfect with some grilling, and the can is perfect for some outdoors action.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Paulaner Salvator DoppleBock

by Alan

Paulaner Salvator DoppleBock
I thought I would branch out and try something international and not an IPA. With so many options to choose from, I started with a lower price point and worked my way up. Low and behold, the $2.49 Pint of brew was called out my name.
Paulaners description:

"Paulaner Salvator is the founding father of all Bavarian stouts, and the originator of all "-ator" beers. With an alcohol content of 7.9, it is not only the strongest beer brewed by the Paulaner Brewery, but also has the most tradition: Paulaner Salvator has been brewed from 100% Munich malt to a handed-down recipe for 375 years. Today, it is the highest-selling "Double bock" beer in Germany.

Paulaner Salvator is dark, full bodied and strong, and wonderfully malty in flavour and aroma - a perfectly balanced, round, quaffable stout specialty."

My tasting notes:
  • Appearance — Dark copper Amber with a tan colored frothy head. Low head retention
  • Smell — Buttery sweet, Nutty, malts dominate
  • Taste — The Munich malt shines, nice sweet malty flavor bread and honey. Crisp with some alcohol heat in the finish
  • Mouthfeel — Crisp, full bodies, flavor stays with you all the way though. Nice warm drinker with medium to light carbonation
  • Drinkability — with the alcohol content, I probably wouldn’t drink more than one in a sitting, but this is a tasty sipping brew. Great for some cold weather

  • 1 pint .9oz bottle, 2.49 at Whole Foods (prices may vary)
  • ABV 7.%

Grab yourself a Bratwurst and some sauerkraut—this brew needs something with a fair amount of flavor to play off of. Any kind of grilling would be good, or some nice roast beef. Can’t beat the price.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Reviewing Jamie Oliver's 20 Minute Meals, Day 5: Grilled Pork Chops with Broccoli and Beans

by Elizabeth

Grilled Pork Chops with Broccoli and Beans
When we're feeling rich and fancy, we throw in a hearty meat dish into our dinner rotation. At first glance, this meal sounds a bit boring, but it's actually very tastey. I was not able to locate the Purple Sprouting Broccoli that the recipe calls for, so I just used regular 'ol broccoli.

Once again, I wasn't able to get my meal on the table in 20 minutes. It was more on the side of 40 minutes. My pork chops were really thick, and they took significantly longer to cook that the recipe stated. Again, I don't think 40 minutes is bad for a great dinner, but the advertised 20 would have been nice too!

This meal was the second most expensive, $12.35—$8.00 of that was the pork chops. We could have gone cheaper with them, but like I said earlier, we were feeling rich and fancy. Still, the price isn't too bad, we made 3 pork chops, so my husband has a good hearty lunch to take to work today.

I'm not a big meat-eater, but this was very good. I think my favorite part was the Cannellini Beans sauteed in oil, garlic, and chile. They were so creamy and rich - the perfect side for a gnarly pork chop! The broccoli is finished with a squeeze of lemon juice, which keeps it bright so it can hold its own with the rich beans and grilled meat. Time aside, I'll be making this one again.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Reviewing Jamie Oliver's 20 Minute Meals, Day 4: Gorgeous Greek Salad

by Elizabeth

Gorgeous Greek Salad
Once a week we usually throw a "big salad" in the mix for our weekday dinners. It's a great way to keep things light, fresh, and fast. Jamie's Gorgeous Greek Salad is full of flavor, colors, and just plain yumminess.

Even considering this meal was a salad, it took me about 40 minutes to get it on the table. Again, I'm mostly being slowed down by prep. There are a lot of items to chop, but this meal is well worth it. The dressing is made bright with lemon juice, and red onions marinated in red wine vinegar give an additional burst of flavor to the salad.

So far, this has been the most expensive meal coming in at $14.65. The pricey items were the avocados, tomatoes, feta cheese, and ciabatta bread. The ciabatta was $3.50, but it was a delicious grilled treat within the salad.

This salad has lots of fun ingredients, loads of flavor, and can stand alone as an actual meal. I did make one little change—I know, already making changes to a recipe—I added sliced cucumber. Cucumber is one of my favorite salad ingredients, and I couldn't stand to have a Greek Salad without it!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sierra Nevada 2011 Hoptimum Whole-Cone Imperial IPA

by Alan

Hoptimum, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
For this beer, we really have to start with the label. Being new to home brewing, I picked up a copy of the Jan/Feb issue of Brew Your Own, and that's when I got my first glimpse at Hoptimum. The label just popped off the page, and I started keeping an eye out at local shops to see if I could get my hands on some of it. As soon as it was available I bought a couple bottles. I immediately drank one, and saved the second for a review.

Sierra Nevada's description: 
"A group of hop-heads and publicans challenged our Beer Camp brewers to push the extremes of whole-cone hop brewing. The result is this: a 100 IBU, whole-cone hurricane of flavor. Simply put —Hoptimum: the biggest whole-cone IPA we have ever produced. Aggressively hopped, dry-hopped, AND torpedoed with our exclusive new hop varieties for ultra-intense flavors and aromas.

Resinous "new-school" and exclusive hop varieties carry the bold and aromatic nose. The flavor follows the aroma with layers of aggressive hoppiness, featuring notes of grapefruit rind, rose, lilac, cedar, and tropical fruit—all culminating in a dry and lasting finish."

My tasting notes:
  • Appearance—Pours a clear golden amber with a foamy off white head. Great head retention
  • Smell—No surprise here, lots of hops up front. Grapefruit notes, nice and floral
  • Taste—Lots of hoppy bitterness, with a fantastic malty sweetness. Powerful hoppy flavor throughout with a clean dry finish. As you drink, the sweetness really shines and the floral notes come out more and more
  • Mouthfeel—Smooth and creamy, medium light carbonation with some heat from the alcohol content
  • Drinkability—This is a fantastic IPA for hopheads, not too cheap, and probably not too easy to find. If you can get your hands on some, I highly recommend it 

  • 24oz bottle, 9.49 at Whole Foods (prices may vary)
  • Bittering units: 100
  • ABV 10.4

I'm hoping Sierra Nevada makes this brew annually as a special release. They are doing some great things with their own proprietary hops, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next. This was just an all around fun brew.

For a food pairing, you'll need something to be able to stand up to the bitterness. Any kind of spicy food would probably be the best although the hoppiness may enhance the heat a bit. Most BBQ beef would stand up great with this.

Reviewing Jamie Oliver's 20 Minute Meals, Day 3: Szechuan Stir-Fry with Jasmine Rice

by Elizabeth

Szechuan Stir-Fry with Jasmine Rice
Stir -fries are one of my favorite meals—they're healthy, relatively fast to make, and are a fun way to change up the weekly dinner menu. Jamie's Szechuan Stir-Fry makes use of chicken thighs, which is the perfect meat for this dish! The dark meat has more flavor, and really holds up the the spices and herbs in this dish.

This meal didn't make it to the table in 20 minutes, it was a bit more like 45. I'm just not as fast at the food prep as Jamie Oliver! Once all of the food was chopped and ready, the stir-frying was really fast. Jamie once again busts out the use of chopped herb stalks—I gotta say, I'm a fan. It adds so much flavor to the food—try it next time you're working with fresh herbs.

The price of this meal was $9.50, which only came out to two dinners. No leftovers this time, but still, where can you get a fresh and healthy dinner for $5 per person?

Taste-wise, this meal was superb! The use of dried red chile, Szechuan pepper corns, and sweet chile sauce compliment the chicken and red bell pepper wonderfully without overpowering your taste buds. Then you get the background flavor of garlic, ginger, and scallions, oh my...a great thing. Not to mention the lovely aroma of Jasmine Rice as it all comes together.

I'm pretty sure I'll be revisiting this meal in the not-so-distant future—I think it has also taught me some other tricks to try on my standard broccoli, carrot, and tofu stir-fry.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Reviewing Jamie Oliver's 20 Minute Meals, Day 2: Spicy Cod with Lemon Zucchini Couscous

by Elizabeth

Spicy Swai with Lemon Zucchini Couscous
When it comes to fish, I tend to get stuck in a rut where I limit myself to baking it in a dish with some lemon and butter or pan-frying it for tacos. I've never cooked fish fillets like this before, and I'm so glad I did!

Time-wise, it took me about 50 minutes to prepare. I set a timer for 20 minutes, and it was half-way through, and I was still fiddling with my cilantro stalks. I found that the prep for this one took longer than I expected. Also, the step where you fry up the onion and zucchini took longer than it alluded to in the recipe.

The recipe was also incredibly inexpensive to make, coming in at $7.75, it made enough food for two dinners and muchos leftovers. Jamie notes that you don't have to use cod, any white fish will do. Our grocery store was having a special on Swai, and it worked out just great. In this recipe, Jamie once again makes use of the stalks from the herbs. This is something I've never done, but by adding chopped herb stalks to you sauteing veggies is a great thing!

Time aside, I will definitely be using this recipe again. The fish was so delicious in the tomato-based sauce, and lemony zucchini couscous was a great base to catch all of the goodness.

NOTE: If you are viewing this recipe from your Android, I noticed an error in step 10 (for 4 people). It says to add 3/4 cup of boiling water to your 14 oz. of couscous - it should be 1 /1/2 cups of boiling water.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Reviewing Jamie Oliver's 20 Minute Meals, Day 1: Tuna and Tomato Rigatoni

by Elizabeth

Jamie Oliver's Tuna and Tomato Rigatoni
Being a pasta-loving Italian-American, it's of no surprise that my first recipe from Jamie Oliver's 20 Minute Meals app is a pasta dish: Tuna and Tomato Rigatoni.

This dish was so simple to make, yet the use of red onion, red chile, and chopped basil stalks made it complex and delightful. That's right—chopped basil stalks! The best part is, it was very much done and on the table in 20 minutes—5 minutes of prep time, 12 minutes of cook time, and about 3 minutes to get it plated and in front of a hungry husband.

Price wise, this meal cost $9.75—not counting items usually in the average pantry, such as olive oil, spices, etc. Not bad for a dinner and leftovers for lunches too! All of the ingredients were easy-to-find items that you can get at your grocery store. Jamie's recipe calls for a jar of tuna in olive oil, but I was able to locate tins of tuna in olive oil at Trader Joe's. I'm sure regular tinned tuna at the grocery store would work just fine in a pinch.

The pasta looked beautiful and appetizing—I was proud to put it on my table. It was even better to eat, we tucked into it like nobody's business!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Russian River: Pliny The Elder

by Alan

Pliny the Elder, Russian River Brewing Co.
On most Wednesdays, our local Whole Foods gets their small shipment of Russian River. Sometimes we get some Blind Pig, sometimes we get some of their Belgian stylesDamnation, Salvation, and Redemption—but we almost always get some Pliny the Elder. I do my best to make it in for the shipments and get whatever might be new as well as some Pliny the Elder.

I couldn’t find a specific description of Pliny the Elder from Russian River Brewing's site—not that it needs one. Pliny the Elder and Blind Pig both fall into the heavily hopped California ale styles. If you're an IPA fan from California, you probably know this beer fairly well.

My Tasting Notes:
  • Appearance—Brilliant gold with a bright fluffy white foamy head, perfectly translucent
  • Smell—Fantastic floral hops with some citrus notes, Orange/Peach
  • Taste—Some sweet maltiness before the hops smacks you in the face. Wonderful balanced bitterness with great hoppy flavor. The hops bring out some grapefruit citrus notes
  • Mouthfeel—Very smooth medium bodied with perfect carbonation. Some light alcohol heat. Very well balanced
  • Drinkability—This is a world class beer, I continue to buy this whenever I can get it

The folks at Russian River make some fine brews, and there will be many more reviews as I get my hands on more of them. Hopefully I can make my way up to the brewery sometime to enjoy some right from the tap.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Food, Meet Technology

by Elizabeth

Last week while I was browsing my Twitter feed, I saw that Jamie Oliver (@Jamie_Oliver) posted that his "20 Minute Meals" app was on sale for Android. Being a proud owner of an Android phone, I thought - "what the hell, let's give it a try." This is actually the first app that I've ever paid for on my phone. I'm a cheap S.O.B, so this is kind of a big deal to me.

Image from

After spending some time browsing the recipes 'n such, I decided it would be fun to test these out during the week. My husband and I both work full time and go to school, so 20-minute meals are sort of our thing. Starting tomorrow, I'm going to test a dinner recipe each day for five days. The recipes will be reviewed based on:
  • Price of ingredients
  • Ability to locate ingredients
  • Time to cook- was it really done in 20 minutes?
  • Loveliness of the food
  • Yumminess of the food

I'm very excited about this experiment. From the looks of the recipes, I think it's going to be great. I love Jamie Oliver and his passion for cooking with quality ingredients. And if it's done in 20 minutes, even better - cheers!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Rogue Morimoto Soba Ale

by Alan

I'm a big fan of beer, and I have been a big fan of Morimoto since I started watching the original Iron Chef many years before they brought it to America. I had not heard of the Morimoto series of beers until the beer buyer at our local Whole Foods alerted me that they were getting some of the Soba Ale in stock. I've been saving this for week or two, and after a big sushi dinner with the wife, this seemed like the perfect beer to crack open.

Rogue Ales Description:
The delicate flavor of our roasted Soba brings a nutty finish to this light and refreshing ale. A perfect accompaniment to lighter cuisine.

8 Ingredients:

  • Malts - Roasted Soba, Harrington, Metcalf, Munich & C-15
  • Hops -  Crystal
  • Yeast & Water - Rogue’s Pacman Yeast & Free Range Coastal Water

My Tasting Notes:
  • Appearance - Light Amber, with some small bubbles. Not overly carbonated, nice and clear but very light head
  • Smell - Earthy smell which makes sense with the Soba. Lighy sweet smell, peachy
  • Taste - You can certainly taste the earthy buckwheat from the Soba, but its not off-putting or overpowering. Some lightly citrus tones, quite refreshing
  • Mouthfeel - Smooth, Medium body, average carbonation, finishes dry
  • Drinkability - Great pairing with some sushi, easy drinker and refreshing

I certainly enjoy soba noodles, and I'll be picking up another bottle of this for some warm summer days for a Soba dinner. If I could find it on tap or in the bottle at a Sushi restaurant I would gladly order one up. This was an interesting beer, very enjoyable.