April 30, 2012

Jammin' all Summer Long under Cooperstown Stars

credit: Professor Good Ales
Ommegang Brewery has released their line-up of Summer Concerts.

I make it to the brewery once a year for their "Belgian Comes to Cooperstown" event at the end of July.
There's plenty of awesome beer.
And no need to drive anywhere.

There's also no light pollution so you can see stars forever.

CAKE June 5th
Death Cab for Cutie July 21st
Lyle Lovett July 27th
WILCO July 28th 
Darias Rucker September 22nd


*Vendors will be there. No outside food or beverage is permitted. Extra fee for camping.

Here Come the Goats: BOCKFEST this Sunday @Slyfoxbeer 11-6

Sad to say- I am missing the Sly Fox Goat Races for the first time in 6 years! My sister is getting married.
I would be missing it regardless, because if I wasn't at the wedding- chances are- I would be in San Diego at the Craft Brewer's Conference

I still maintain that it's the most fun you can have on the first Sunday in May.

I'd love to be there to see how 2011's champion goat, the three-legged Peggy does retaining her title.
Based on the Sly Fox website registrants- it looks like  Dax, the bock from the past is not  seeking revenge...

A few things to keep in mind this year as you get all bocked up-

Free Shuttles are provided 11 am- 6pm
Please don't bring your own beer
Please don't bring disposable water bottles/
However  refillable water bottles are encouraged.
Bring your ID and Cash for beer.

Here's last year's video:

In the Catbird Seat of Nashville's dining scene

One of the highlights of our trip to Nashville last weekend was our dinner at Catbird Seat. Embarrassingly enough, I had to have Lance romance explain the name to me. The first literary reference dates back to a short story by James Thurbur in 1942. Basically, it's where everyone should want to be. Wikipedia explain it as having three strikes with no balls. 

Upon entry, guests find themselves in the smallest of lobbies and do have to go up an elevator to get to the dining experience. You walk into a very white room. With thirty some seats surrounding and open kitchen.
It's sort of like a dining bar. Everyone must sit at the bar save two tables at the back of the room that can fit up to four.

There are no servers per se. Your nine courses are served by the chefs who will explain their inspiration for each dish, and mention any seasonal ingredients incorporated.  Jane, the lovely and most knowledgeable sommelier, will offer you a variety of beverage options. You can do a n/a pairing for $20 ( I was very curious what this entailed), the standard for $30, or reserve pairings for $75.  I think most people did the standard during our visit. You can also order wine by the glass, and by the bottle.

And nine courses is the only option.  But there wasn't one that "I could live without," nor one that was just "ok."
It is a tasting menu for a rather reasonable $100. They will cater to allergies and dietary preferences. There was a pescetarian sitting kitty-corner to us.  The chef duo, Eric Anderson and Josh Habiger had just been named two of Food and Wine's top 12 new chefs of the year three weeks prior. The acknowledgement didn't inflate their egos in the slightest. Their dual-resume includes French Laundry, Alinea, England's Fat Duck and more.

Before I get into some glamorshots - let me reiterate just how nice these talented men are. Let us not forget that we were in Music City. So it's not your run-of-the-mill dinner jazz here. It's roots rock, americana, alternative country, etc...

Reservations are typically made at least a month out. Plan on about three hours for you experience. Then plan on talking about it for years to come.

Amouse Bouche
 Northern Cross Oyster with yuzu and cucumber,
Cornbread with bacon pudding,
and the chefs' take on local favorite "Hot Chicken with spices, dill and wonderbread puree
Beverage: Anna de Codorniu Brut Rose with Quince vinegar and honey syrup

Beef Tartar with capers, mustard, greens, shallots, chiles, and egg

Ramp Vicheysoisse with Grilled Pork Belly, watercrewss, violets, creme de violet foam
Beverage: Montinore 09 Gewurtztraminer, Williamette Valley

Alaskan Halibut with smears of Tarragon, Fennel, Lemon and Beet
Beverage: 2011 Chateau St. Evalie Rose Minervois, France

Pigeon with Hay yogurt, white asparagus, and black trumpets
Beverage: 2008 Clos de la Briderie Taraine Route, Loire Valley

Rabbit with snap peas, morels and a spring garlic cream sauce
Beverage: 2010 Cantine Valpane Barbera del Monferrato

Brillat-Savarin- french Cow cheese with rhubarb and walnut accompaniments. Puffed Wild rice added for texture
Beverage: BEER! Triple Karmeliet

WOW- Cucumber lime semifreddo with toasted rice, thai basil 
Beverage House-made gin cordial with Manna Espumante

Another Wow- Maple Bacon Egg- think custard inside shell with layer of pale syrup
 garnished with a slice of bacon . 

Of course you need three desserts....Vanilla Cake served with Pineapple gelee, cherry crips oak ice cream and
Beverage: 2009 Royal Tokaji Co. "Mad Cuvee," Hungary, Glass first rinsed with 
Black Maple Hill 

April 28, 2012

Mr. Joes

I heard about Mr. Joes for the first time about two months ago. It's a little Italian luncheonette of sorts across the street from Termini Bros (same family). The gent who enlightened me to its existence and location couldn't say enough nice things. Plenty to gush over- complimentary jug wine (one glass with pasta order), House-made pastas, complimentary desserts and of course, Mr. Joe making it all happen. 

It took me like I said- two months- but I finally made it there this week. I started with a Caprese salad. I could never tire of the simple combination of mozz, tomato, and basil with a bit o balsamic. Then I ordered something that wasn't even on the menu but our server told me it could be done... House-made papperdelle with an Amatriciana sauce featuring large chunks of tomatoes and pancetta. 

I went from famished to full in about twenty minutes. So I had to take my pineapple upside -down cake to go.

This could very well be South Philly's best kept secret. I'm too tired to really elaborate on the experience- but I urge you to check it out sooner than later.

Mr. Joes is at 1514 S. 8th st.
They are open for lunch (at the very least) Monday-Friday.

April 24, 2012

TWO TRACK: Naive Melody/This Must be the Place

Sometimes two-tracks take me a while to find.  This time took about two seconds.

It was about 3 weeks ago that I was listening to 88.5, cruising through my day when I heard a catchy song.  And then Helen Leight comes on the radio telling me the band is going to be at Johnny Brendas on April 24th. What? Sweet. I had birthday plans. I could tell from one song that I liked their sound.

They are The Lumineers. The song was "Hey-Ho." I've heard it many times since then but I've also looked up a bunch of other songs. I just got back from Nashville and they will be playing down there next weekend but thanks to my Johnny Brendas buds I will get to see them here. Ironically, I miss Langhorne Slim every time he's in Philly and I got to see him do a free concert in Nashville behind a record store.

Anyway--So I looked up the words "Lumineers cover the ..." and I find a version of "Naive Melody" from the Talking Heads. I can't think of a better birthday two track.


The Talking Heads 

The Lumineers March 23rd 2012

Music City!

Lance Romance took a long weekend and whisked me away to celebrate the uneventful birthday that is 34.
I woke up on Friday morning and heard him call a cab and said "To the airport." To the airport!  I had no idea where we were going till we got to the gate.I had predicted Chicago- but once I knew we were going to terminal F- I knew Chi-town was out of the running. He handed me the boarding pass to get through security and I didn't look at it. We made it all the way to the gate.  He went to pick up a vitamin water and I looked toward the gate and saw a small rectangular sign for Nashville. How awesome is that? 72 hours in Music City.
In edition to a bevy of banjo-playing aspiring music men and women, there's a thriving food scene. Lance did all the necessary research and scored us reservations at two to Nashville's finest, Catbird Seat and City House (these will be reviewed in separate posts).

We also hit up some hot chicken at 400 degrees. I did the 100 degrees. Lance feeling bold in the mid-west- did 200 degrees. He barely could talk. Hot chicken is cooked to order. So even though it seems like it should be fast food- you have to wait about 20 minutes. They had hundreds of magazines to keep you occupied.

Then we headed straight to the Honky Tonks. Lance had spent about 2 hours in Nashville before, so he knew a lil bit more than me. He also chatted with a few people to get the scoop. We started at the legendary Tootsies. It was only about 2:30 in the afternoon and the places was packed. Lots of women dolled up with bud lights in hand.  The amateur band played for tips. They did a good job of working the crowd and getting their bucket full of Jacksons.

We had an early ressie at Catbird seat. Nine courses later- we're off to the Cannery- a music venue to see the Punch brothers.  We make it about an hour into the show, and Lance was under the weather. So we headed back to rest up and squeeze as much as we could out of Saturday.

And believe me we did that. I gotta go now- but stay tuned for A free Langhorne Slim concert, Record Store day, Lucky Bucket beers, cupcakes, City House, yours truly getting sassy on a bouncer, Being losers  at a karaoke bar called "Winners," and the night of a thousand Fat Tires.

April 19, 2012

Happy Belated Birthday Jim Wiggins

Once upon a time -not so long ago- you'd run into him at any given time at any better beer bar in Philly. That changed in December when Jim and his wife, Kathryn welcomed li'l Anna.  Since then- I have to finish my 750 ml myself. But just look how happy he is ;)
(side note: she was very happy that day to-just not in this pic).

A very happy birthday to the man who knows something about everything. And that now includes changing diapers.

First Sips: The Boiler Maker

Finally made it to the Boiler Maker- the new 11th st spot from the folks behind Farmer's Cabinet.  I wanted to check it out  since the opening night-but I've barely been in city limits long enough to do so.  As Murphy's law would have it- when I finally have time- I am about a 6.5 on the health scale. I barely have an appetite, and a beer is not on my "things I need now" list. That list includes Halls, Puffs, water, Alka Seltzer cold,  my cream down blanket and my all-too-comfy couch.

As you've probably heard by now- the downstairs focuses on American craft outside the local region and the upstairs bar is the "Locals Bar." The downstairs tower also features one house beer from the Cabinet Artisanal brewery in Alexandria, VA (Terry Hawbraker's goods) and two guest taps -which our from parts non-USA.

I went with a few ounces of the house beer and enjoyed it as I do all Terry's beers.  Grub wise- I chose Shrimp and Grits, an increasingly popular dish on Philly menus.  The app version will get you two shrimp and a generous portion of the ivory hip-stickers garnished with fried okra.

The beer list included many of my favorites from Green Flash, Bells, Cigar City and Founders. But, there's plenty of room to include some more under-radared breweries too. There  could be a bit more variety by style. Menu includes suggestions on what liquors to sip along what beers, thus the reasoning behind the name. Cocktails are offered  like the classic Mint Julep which tie into the Americana vibe I was getting. Said julep was garnished with a mutant sprig of mint.

Familiar faces are behind the bar, including Alyssa Wegner- formerly of Brahaus Schmitz and Rocco Renzetti. You may have enjoyed his gregarious bartending at Resurrection Ale House some time ago.

I was not surprised at all by the two-week redux on the former Blue Bear. The previous owners put a lot of work into the bar following Doc Watson's demise. And the Farmer's cabinet crew excel at taking a space and furnishing it with a hodge podge of flea market finds and creating an ambiance that attracts nearly everyone, especially those looking for a li'l romance. The space is illuminated by a bevy of red candles. They were thinking goth. I think they definitely created a mood- but I've never been in a "gothic" bar per se, to see if they were successful.

I was there less than an hour but  long enough to see a crowd file in.  They will do well.  I'm looking forward to returning and taking in some live blues on the second floor, trying their house rotisserie chicken, and of course doing that whole shot and beer thing that inspired the bar in the first place.

Running across the river

 I've been a functioning sick person for five days.  Today was the first day that I didn't feel like someone tried to take a razor to my throat. I told my friend Megan that it was as if someone give me a "sick menu" and I ordered "the works."

So I figured  go "full-throttle" as I laced my sneaks for the first time in a few days.  To the Ben Franklin bridge!

I had only run the 9,573 ft bridge once before in my 11 years of living in Philadelphia. My work-out buddy Jonny had never done it. We started out our run not knowing whether or not we would make it across the bridge. We commenced running at 8th and Catherine. By the time we arrived at the western stretch of the bridge we had enough energy to cross. So we did. It was awesome. Try it sometime.

I just found out that they have a bridge race in the fall to benefit the Larc- a non-profit special education school for disabled childred. During this race you get to run across the main drive of the bridge as opposed to running on the side of it. Looks like I have plans on November 4th.

April 18, 2012

Just doing my duty as "campaign manager"

On Tuesday, May 22nd Philly Beer Scene will host the Philly Beer Scene Awards at World Cafe Live.

It will be hosted by columnist/bar owner Joe Gunn. You can vote for your faves and buy your tix here.

Tickets are reasonably priced at $15.

To my knowledge nothing quite like this has ever been done acknowledging the efforts of the local beer industry. Co-Founder Mat Falco has confirmed that over 400 feet of red carpet has been ordered.  So- yes, guests are encouraged to wear their best threads...

Which means Lance Romance is probably not going to sport his Weyermann Red Overalls. But he is in the running for "Best Brewer." If you've enjoyed his beers as much as you enjoy playing Words with Friends with him, give him your vote.

April 17, 2012

Dogfish Barroom Blitz! This Friday, April 20th

Starting at 4 pm- The fishtown craft beer/music mecca will be pouring a bunch of Dogfish including their 75 minute IPA on handpump.

DJs, The Swivel Chairs will be spinning some tunes
AND all beers are $1 off from 4-6. Oysters are half off.

**Namaste -  Belgian white with orange peel and lemongrass
**Ta Henket - Brewed with ingredients and techniques described in Egyptian hieroglyphics!
**Chateau Jiahu - Brew recipe includes rice, honey, and grape and hawthorn fruits
**Pangea - Brewed using one ingredient from every continent 
**Faithfull Ale - Belgian-style golden ale with black currants 
**Aprihop - strong IPA brewed with real apricots
**75min IPA/Johnny Cask 


I was getting a few records together on Sunday night to play at Lucky's Last Chance event.  I picked up my Bay City Rollers album and noticed "Be my Baby," as a track. I also proudly own Dirty Dancing's soundtrack on vinyl- so I can play the Ronettes version as well. I actually have enough  two tracks wax now to play a whole set.

I found live versions of both- but the clamor of fans was a bit overwhelming- so these are just video montages.


Bay City Rollers

April 16, 2012

Congrats PATTY!

My sister ran in the heat wave of the Boston Marathon today.
She finished in 3:44 -putting her in the top 15% for females.
Patty has actually had her foot bandaged up for over a month now- and had to really take it easy during training because of it.

This is her 3rd or 4th marathon.  Hopefully some of that inspiration can run my way in the next two months as I take on the Odyssey half-marathon on May 26th.

Here our my little nugget nephews, Kellen and Tanner- with their father cheering her on from afar.

April 10, 2012

TWO TRACK: Born on a Train

Lance Romance said I could pick a four-day trip for my upcoming birthday.
At first I though- let's look at E-savers and wing it.
Then I was thinking Chicago- then plane tickets went up over $100 within 12 hours. Then I thought Nashville or Savannah as I was craving some southern charm.  BUT then- I went on Amtrak and saw we can travel on the "Adirondack" train from New York to Montreal for $89 round trip...  However- I would be on a train for 20 hours in four days. That's a lot of "Words with Friends."  Anyway-I still haven't made up my mind... but here's  "Born on a Train."

Magnetic Fields - live version from Cambridge, Mass

Arcade Fire-awesome cover by Win Butler and his crew.  He tells the story of how he discovered the song in a shoe store...

BEER SCHOOL this Wednesday with multiple Brendans!

Perhaps by now you've met Brendan Kingston. He's the chap that represents B. United in our fine city. 

If you've enjoyed some crazy Italian beers on tap at the new Alla Spina- you can thank him tomorrow afternoon.

He will be teaching BEER SCHOOL at Resurrection Ale House on Greys Ferry. 4 pm.

They will be hosting these classes on second Wednesdays every month. Sign up for their newsletter to be privy to all this info. I'll make it easy for you...scroll down to the bottom of this page to do so.

He also hosts a Podcast- "The Professional Beer Nerd," one in which he jabbers on with his friends Brad and Tim. Beer is the topic woven between banter. In the most recent episode they wax IPAs and whether or not the "history" of the hoppy beers is even remotely accurate.

Resurrection's Brendan Hartranft will most likely be there with a quip or two.  Class is complimentary. Please arrive prior to 4 pm.