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Archive for March, 2013

It’s All About the Pie – Makes Me Wanna Shout Pie Competition in DC

March 26th, 2013 • No Comments

This one takes the cake..I mean pie!

This was my “judging” (attendees got to judge – so VERY unofficial!) of an entertaining fundraiser for Martha’s Table called “Make Me Wanna Shout Pie Challenge” held on Saturday, March 23rd, 2013.

First a confession – I’m not much of a dessert eater, and I probably eat less than a dozen pieces of pie in the average year. Pies to me are SO filling and full of sugar normally, that they make me feel stuffed. Still, having been a wine judge, a chocolate judge and who knows what else, I felt I could do this..I mean, taste is personal, and I’m in tune with my own palate. I may not be able to detect every nuance in wine or for that matter pies, but I do cook and bake, and I know how ingredients taste when they come together well.

But I also have a slight bias – I prefer foods with a balance of ingredients and decent acidity – if you gave me a chocolate covered piece of chocolate cake smothered in chocolate sauce, that would score VERY LOW to me – and I would call that a “heavy” cake..The same with pie – things that are truly delicious on their own – chocolate sauce, fudge, peanut butter, gooey sauces – can overwhelm my palate when combined. When I was a kid, I LOVED Chocolate Reeses Peanut Butter Cup Cookies, but today I could probably only eat 2 bites – that is simply too heavy for my palate..now if you add a citrus or sour flavored sauce to that, different story!

SPOILER ALERT – Here are the Actual Winners (5 Total)

2013-03-23 14.41.33Pie #6 – Triple-Crust Cast-Iron Skillet Apple Pie This was heavy – heavy/doughy crust, heavy filling and the apples were chewy and didn’t seem acidic enough. This was a “heavy” pie – but of course, made in a Cast-Iron – so you might call this a “country pie”.

2013-03-23 14.34.05Pie # 4 – Old-Fashioned Vinegar Pie My favorite pie or a tie with my other favorite pie which was #3 – Raspberry Rhubarb. I’m not sure if this was the first Vinegar Pie I ever had, but it had a wonderful tartness of cider vinegar against the weight of the eggy filling..ohh, and the crust had tons of butter – Gooood!

2013-03-23 14.33.43Pie #3 – Raspberry Rhubarb – This pie was one of my favorites – both tart and sweet and even rich – according to the pie baker, they use tapioca pudding which acts like a gelatin to give the ingredients some weight..Yummm! Excellent pie crust too, lots o butter..

2013-03-23 14.31.00Pie #2 – Peach Cobbler This was very sweet and on the heavy side..needed some acidity – maybe work on presentation too – but all-in-all very authentic and homey..

2013-03-23 14.29.56 Pie #1 – Fruits of the Forest Pie VERY tart, but I tasted it right after a really sweet dessert and it just seemed a bit too tart/acidic..which normally just means add some sugar! Beautiful presentation..

 

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2013-03-23 14.54.46Pie #10 – Chocolate Chess Pie These were mini-pies and I was pretty full at this point. They tasted like pecan pies without the pecans..but I couldn’t detect any chocolate. Not bad, enjoyable, the crust was good too.

2013-03-23 14.57.31-1Pie #12 – German Chocolate Pie This came in 3rd in my tasting (tie for 1st mentioned above) – it had pecans on top, but was not a pecan pie. I would call this one of the “rich” pies – dessert as a meal in my book – but it had a few real positives which included texture, crunch and a very good crust – this was the only of the “heavy” pies that I gave a top vote..

2013-03-23 14.49.32Pie #9 – P-Chocobana Pie Visually, over the top – and the
2013-03-23 14.50.02The Next Food Network Star?presenter was so Bubbly! It was about 6 inches thick and Rich, rich, RICH! A “heavy” pie with a peanut butter custard filling. Great looking, decent crust, this would go over GREAT for a kids party.

2013-03-23 14.46.02Pie #8 – Dottie Sweet Potato Pie Traditional – this was a very steady original version of this – the maker actually said this was a “slavery recipe” from the 19th century..I would have given this a winning vote, but it is a very simple delicious pie with a very good crust – give it 4th place or 5th place – having said this, there was nothing wrong with this pie – solid!

2013-03-23 14.44.05Pie #7 – Cheryl’s Nice and Naughty Sweet Potato Pie This was good, but very modernized version of Sweet Potato Pie – it was almost a cheesecake with cream cheese added..I liked it, but I wanted whipped cream on top of it – shame on me!

So You Wanna Throw a Beer Festival?

March 25th, 2013 • No Comments

Things don’t always go right when you plan a Big Event – especially in Washington, D.C..

Packed and Chilly..

Packed and Chilly..


So I had an “interesting” conversation with the organizer of the inaugural DC Beer Festival a few months before the event. The Organizer was frankly quite cocky about his ability to fill up the event (which he did – pretty unbelievable for a first year event without using Groupon/LivingSocial!) and when I mentioned that he “might not be the first and only beer festival ever”
Lots of Characters Pouring!

Lots of Characters Pouring!

here in our fair city, he didn’t seem to hear my words..but what caught my attention more than anything was the date and the fact that this was pretty much an outdoor event at Nat’s Stadium..he said “and end of March is a good time, we can expect better weather..” – HA – he doesn’t know DC!! Originally meant to be a one day event on Saturday, March 23rd, 2013, the Organizer added Sunday because sales were so strong – One Problem – the weather – snow was predicted for Sunday evening and that meant cancellation of that evening’s session, the one I had planned on going to..Thus, photos of the Saturday evening event..

Oliver's Cherry Blossom Ale..it was quite good!

Oliver’s Cherry Blossom Ale..it was quite good!

Doing Events in DC is Difficult – I spent 14 years organizing events here and I can tell you that it’s very tricky, especially pertaining to weather: rain, snow, hurricanes, you name it..oh, and let’s not forget post 9-11 Security..tough! I’ve been snowed out of a few events – the Israeli Embassy wine tasting comes to mind – and how do you cover your catering costs? I mean, I ordered $3,500 in food from a kosher caterer, do I expect them to keep the food? At the last second we both compromised and I paid them 50% – which probably covered their food costs and gave them a little extra. How about cancellation and refunds? Oh, and forgot to mention, that the freak snow storm that cancelled the Israeli Embassy event made it very difficult to confirm all the refunds..some people literally came to the event even though we tried every way to tell them it was cancelled..they ignored the blizzard, howling winds and impossible conditions!2013-03-23 18.20.33

Deciding when to limit ticket sales is the balance between profit and insanely crowded..As a promoter, I know how it is – you need to maximize profitability, but you need to consider the attendees experience. Overall, crowding is less desirable to attendees as they get older – they don’t want to be hassled, pushed, shoved or wait in line. The younger crowd actually desires “some” lines – just as in clubs/lounges, this suggests its the place to be!

Choosing the Right Beers Can Make a Statement-Everyone’s into local – Locavore, local beers, local chickens, on and on! DC Beer Festival had a very good mix of beers – Beer List DC Beer Festival. Unfortunately, I don’t have the Beer List, but there was a good selection of many craft beers – even Burley Oak, a relatively new craft beer from Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The trick with Beer Festivals is to promote the local craft beers like DC Brau, Chocolate City and 3 Stars with some of the nationals like Sam Adams and Harpoon..the trick is to include the bigger names without making the event seem like a pure marketing play for Big Beer – it’s really a “craft” beer festival an organizer should go for..

Make sure there is sufficient food Not a problem for this event – many of the Concessions like Ben’s Chili Bowl were open and serving the perfect food for the conditions – chili cheese fries and dogs! Food Costs usually aren’t an issue for Beer Festivals – they simply don’t include them in the price – but normally beer is unlimited or significant amount of tastings. Each jurisdiction has different laws (for example, Virginia does NOT allow unlimited beer tastings at festivals for a fixed price, so people are normally purchasing sampling tickets). Of course, unlimited beer samplings can create drunkenness issues – especially with today’s high alcohol craft beers – so having a small sample glass, and actually some wait for each beer is a good thing. I will say this – drinking beer in excess is somewhat easier to control than spirits – whiskey festivals can tricky to manage crowd control!
Hope this gives an overview of “some” of the issues pertaining to organizing beer festivals and events in general in the DC Area – Cheers!
2013-03-23 20.55.25

Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler

Upcoming Festivals:

Taste of Japan, Thursday April 4th, 801 K Street, NW , Washington DC
Washington City Paper’s Best Of 2013 Fete Presented by Verizon Wireless, Wednesday April 10th, 801 K Street, NW, Washington DC
Decanter: A Celebration of Maryland Wine and Racing, Saturday April 20th, Pimlico Race Course 5201 Park Heights Avenue , Baltimore MD

Jancis Comes to the Smithsonian

March 22nd, 2013 • No Comments

From Jancis Robinson…”the thing I hate is limiting the mouthfuls”….of wine that is 😉

It was a fascinating evening of back and forth banter on Thursday, March 21st, 2013 when Jancis Robinson “performed” at the event “Jancis Robinson Toasts American Wines at the Smithsonian”

Jancis Robinson

Jancis Robinson

Dave McIntyre of both the Washington Post and his own Wine Line Blog interviewed and cajoled Jancis on a comfortable stage setting – the two seated in “comfy chairs” (OK – bad Monty Python reference! )

Jim Law, Linden Vineyards, Virginia

Jim Law, Linden Vineyards, Virginia

The discussion related to wine, specificially American, and Jancis’ latest book (with the fellow authorship of Linda Murphy) American Wine: The Ultimate Companion to the Wines and Wineries of the United StatesJancis has a very British speaking style and a dry wit that is best appreciated with a glass of wine. She mentioned that there are now 8,000 wineries in the US – the majority outside of California – and this is part of why America has become a great wine producing region on the international scene. I haven’t read the book, but she mentioned that it was primarily written by Linda Murphy who is a sports writer – and there is very little technical information about wine, the book was designed to be a fun read. I want to say – it is VERY difficult to make talking about wine interesting..Dave McIntyre did a very good job by broadening the topic from just American wine into lifestyle (mentions of wine tourism and also Dave’s own organization DrinkLocalWine ) as well as an interesting word association back-and-forth at the end:2013-03-21 21.00.33

Dave: “Natural Wines” ?
Jancis: “Very trendy right now..They have to be good!” (approximation of a quote!)

The Lovely Rachel Martin, Boxwood Estate Winery, VA

The Lovely Rachel Martin, Boxwood Estate Winery, VA

Overall, an excellent evening and the finish was a wine tasting in the famous Natural History Museum Auditorium with the elephant..nobody probably noticed, but the famous dinosaur Shark Jaws were hiding behind the wine exhibition..sort of like the evening – a subtle discussion of wine with amazingly delicious wines by American wineries from Idaho to Virginia – is America “biting back” at the French/Italian wine dominance of the past? Who knows – Cheers!2013-03-21 21.29.13
American Wines take a BITE out of Europe's Dominance!

American Wines take a BITE out of Europe’s Dominance!


Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
Wine from Idaho!

Wine from Idaho!


Wine Events Coming Up Over at TasteDC:

marylandwinelogoDrinkLocalWine Conference, Saturday April 13th, Tremont Suites Hotel, Baltimore MD
Local Wines from Local Vines, Thursday April 25th – Anne Arundel Community College
winesofportugallogo2Wines of Portugal 2013 Annual Grand Tasting (Special Discount..) National Tour comes to Washington, D.C., Thursday May 2nd, “W” Hotel Washington D.C.

DC Whiskey Walk – No Green Beer Here!

March 17th, 2013 • No Comments

I expanded my Irish Whisky tasting experience by 111%..
dcwhiskeywalk

Whiskey #1: Tyrconnell Whiskey at James Hobans

Whiskey #1: Tyrconnell Whiskey at James Hobans

The DC Whiskey Walk came to Washington, D.C. on Saturday, March 9th, 2013 as a first time event. The concept was developed by the original promoters of the Beerathon which began in New York City, but has since been launched in many cities including Washington, D.C. – The DC Beerathon.

I actually hadn’t really intended to go on the tour, but when I stopped to say “Hi” to Daniel (the DC Based Organizer), he told it would be fun..so I signed up and went for my first shot!

Overview of the event-this was essentially a crawl: each bar had a set whiskey shot pour of about 1 oz. (sometimes they were larger!) and 1 Irish Whiskey to choose from. Each attendee wears a laminated card with a list of bars and shots on it (so it’s hard to get lost) and each establishment punches a hole in the card so that no one can return and sneak an extra shot. There were also beer specials for people on the Walk at each stop..sometimes a beer settles the tummy a bit!

Shot #2: Powers Special Reserve 12 Year at Science Club

Shot #2: Powers Special Reserve 12 Year at Science Club

Shot #3: Jameson's at Mackey's

Shot #3: Jameson’s at Mackey’s

The Audience – As you would expect, this was mostly a 20 Something crowd and many were in groups. There are two kinds of people on this tour: Sippers and Shooters. I was just enjoying sipping, hanging and walking, the tour took me about 5 hours to complete, no rush. The Shooters were quicker at both drinking their shot and travelling to the destination bars. Overall, this event is really for younger people in groups – I would call it a more upscale crawl then many of the Irish pub tours in town, but all in all, it is still an excuse to get a bit tipsy as a St. Patrick’s celebration!

Shot #4: Red Breast at Irish Whisky House

Shot #4: Red Breast at Irish Whisky House

I’m also the Administrator of DC Whiskey Drinkers on Facebook, so I felt a need to give this event, well, uhh, a shot! Overall, I really enjoyed the Irish Whiskies and I would say that there is value to aging them like Scotches. Because 8 shots

Shot #5: Jameson 12 Year Special Reserve at Madhatter

Shot #5: Jameson 12 Year Special Reserve at Madhatter

is a wee bit of a challenge (but it took me almost 5 hours..so that’s reasonable!) I would say my palate was slightly challenged near the end. There is little or no peat in any of these whiskies, so you get the whiskey caramel, bite and finish..overall, Irish whiskies are pretty “clean” – direct flavors and easy smooth finish.

Shot #6: Kilbeggan at the Board Room

Shot #6: Kilbeggan at the Board Room

Hey, you can even see this event reviewed on Yelp!

Conclusion:The quality of whiskies was very good, but maybe the time was a bit spread out – the first few hours had few people and then around 3 pm I began to see larger numbers of people. I’m sure the Organizers are concerned about people rushing their drinking, so I understand the fact that the event goes from Noon to 2 AM. Some bars were more accomodating than others (one of my favorite bars Maddys ran out of glasses and served us our shot in a plastic condiment cup!)

Cheers!

Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
Buy the Book on Amazon – I Drink on the Job

Upcoming Whiskey and Spirits Events at TasteDC:

Shot #7: Jameson 12 Year Special Reserve at Maddy's - C'mon Maddy's, what's with the plastic cups??

Shot #7: Jameson 12 Year Special Reserve at Maddy’s – C’mon Maddy’s, what’s with the plastic cups??


-April 10th, Wednesday – DC Whisky Guild Cruise 2013
-April 11th, Thursday – 1.5-Hour Scotch Whisky Tasting (LivingSocial)
-April 25th, Thursday – The Rum Diaries: An Introduction to Rum

Shot #8: Powers Gold Label at Buffalo Billiards

Shot #8: Powers Gold Label at Buffalo Billiards

I Forgot to Spit! 80 Sips Comes to DC..

March 15th, 2013 • 1 Comment

Professionals Spit Their Wines Out for a Reason..

How many times have I heard at a wine tasting – “why should I spit out or dump my wine out – I paid good money to attend this event?” Well, at a recent wine tour that came to DC Around the World in 80 Sips presented by Bottlenotes everyone behaved pretty orderly, but I had to recant tales to fellow wine lovers what the point of the spit bucket is – to prevent being bombed! What I always find entertaining about 100+ person walk-around wine tastings is how formal people are at the beginning of an event..maybe even a bit uptight..but how much they loosen up after the first hour or so.2013-03-14 19.09.49So Is There Proper Etiquette at a Wine Tasting?

Astrolabe SB was so Gooseberry and Minerally!

Astrolabe SB was so Gooseberry and Minerally!

You know what they say about Americans – Anything Goes we take our democratic freedoms seriously, and we don’t like when people tell us to behave. Having said that, Americans often feel directionless when it comes to cultural events and particularly wine – what is the “proper” way to behave at a wine tasting? Believe it or not, I think many people are TOO polite at wine tastings, so here are some fun rules which you may feel FREE TO BREAK:

Rule #1: “Thou Shall Not Drink Everything In Thy Glass” The purpose of a spit bucket is 2-fold: first, so you can spit out wine so that you can drink more and not get drunk; second, so you can dump out excess wine for the same reason – not to get drunk! The wine professionals pouring the wine EXPECT you to dump out excess wine..they’re hoping you do so, they don’t want people to drink too much! Maybe it seems wasteful to Americans to throw away wine, but there’s a reason these are called “tastings”..dump away..

Rule #2: “Thou Shall Rinse Thy Glass Between Wines, But Not With Water” You rinse your wine glass so that the next wine tastes like the wine should. If you rinse your glass with water, that water will DILUTE the wine you’re about to taste..and it’s usually a pretty small pour. The way the PRO’s do it, is we ask for a little pour of the wine we are about to drink, we swirl and pour that excess into the bucket, and then we wait for the wine to be poured..in this way, the wine you’re tasting tastes like the..well, uhh..wine you’re tasting – not a blend of water/wine or wine and something else..I know, it seems like YOU’RE WASTING WINE..get over it..2013-03-14 19.40.03

Rule #3:“Thou Shall Move Close to the Pourer and Put Thy Wine Glass Out To Receive a Pour” I actually have a funny story in my book I Drink on the Job about a woman who walked up to receive a pour of wine, but never put out her glass..she just stood in front of the table..thinking..about what, I have no idea, but when she was offered a pour of wine, she acted like it was an offense! Don’t use your time at a wine tasting to ruminate..you’re there to taste (NOT DRINK) wine..yes, of course take a few breaks, talk with your friends, get some food, etc..but use your time EFFICIENTLY. Walk up to the wine table and find a little space to stand, put out your wine glass (do not hold it close to your body..this is how you get wine on your clothing, and that’s a BAD THING!), and either wait for the wine to be poured or request a wine to be poured..this is NOT RUDE – this is actually proper..it’s efficient too..Personally, I’m a machine when I taste: stand, offer glass, swirl, look, sniff, taste, spit or swallow, spend moment in reflection on the wine, dump wine, REPEAT..

Rule #4: “Thou Shall Not Wear Perfume, Cologne or Anything That Has an Aroma at a Wine Tasting”I’m smelling coconuts in my wine..but, it’s not emanating from the glass – somebody wore a body lotion that smelled like coconuts! Actually, I spoke with her and she was very nice, but whenever she was within 5 feet of me..ALL I COULD SMELL WAS COCONUT LOTION!
2013-03-14 19.09.58
Hopefully, you take this post with good humor – none of the above mentioned Rules is really written in stone. We Americans love our independence and freedom, but when we try to behave at a cultural event, maybe we’re actually too polite..I’m not saying you should be a hillbilly and come into a wine tasting with a cavalier attitude, but it’s OK to loosen up, enjoy, and even have lively banter at a wine tasting. Within the confines of a wine tasting, there is room for self-expression, creativity, and of course conviviality, but it’s best to get the etiquette down pat first – Cheers!

Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler

300+ Wine Tasters

300+ Wine Tasters

Some Upcoming Wine Events on TasteDC:

4-Course Wine and Soul Wine Dinner, Tuesday, March 19th at The Fairfax Hotel at Embassy Row

Cheese Class with Rogue Creamery’s Cheese Maker, Wednesday, March 27th, Ici Urban Bistro, 806 15th St., NW, Washington DC 20005

Wines of Portugal 2013 Annual Grand Tasting (Special Discount..), Thursday, May 2nd, W Hotel Washington D.C. 515 15th St NW , Washington DC 20004

20 For 20 at Redwood – Wine Tasting Hits the Numbers

March 13th, 2013 • No Comments

Sometimes You Get More Than You Expected at a Wine Tasting..

2013-03-12 17.55.11

2013-03-12 17.58.38
2013-03-12 18.21.06I’ve been to alot of low-priced wine tastings – and normally, the price of the event and the quality of food/wine/ambiance match – but not this time! Redwood Restaurant in Bethesda, MD which is right in the heart of the burgeoning retail sector on Bethesda Ave (anchored currently by Barnes and Noble) is a beautiful high-ceilinged restaurant with plenty of redwood (surprise!) and glass fronting on a lovely outdoor open-aired pedestrian atrium.

The Setup:
Although there was not actually a private area for this walk-around tasting (no seating) it was in the back of the restaurant and began at 6 pm before the hordes of diners and bar loungers came in. It was a simple basic setup of regular tables with wine reps pouring a selection of their wines at each table based on a theme: Table 1 – South Africa, Table 2 – Italy, Table 3 – France/Germany/Spain and Table 4 – Argentina/Australia/California. Each table had 5 wines, so that adds up to 20..the 20 wines for $20 title..but really, this event had more: generous hors d’oeuvres! Unfortunately, I couldn’t take photos of the food, but it was well-prepared, presented by servers with a napkin (nice touch..funny how important a napkin can be when you are trying to drink wine in a glass!).
2013-03-12 18.23.42The Wines (my apologies for forgetting vintages!): Since I find reviewing wine boring and frankly hard to follow, I’ll focus on what caught my attention. I started at the South African Table with wine rep Matt Leemhuis of Cape Classics, a well-known importer from that region. Two wines were really noticeable – the Kanonkop Pinotage and the Detoren Fusion V, both over $50 retail in Montgomery County. Pinotage is a funky, earthy smokey kinda wine, but it goes great with food. Detoren was it’s polar opposite with a Bordeaux Blend that was luscious rich black fruit and soft tannins and extremely accessible.

At Table 3 which was a mix of European wines, the Leitz Dragonstone Riesling really stood out – all the things I like about a German Riesling with a hint of petrol, but lots of minerality and acidity to balance a bit of sweetness – although Rieslings are great food wines (think Asian food), this one was actually so vibrant on the palate that me a Red wine drinker was just savoring it!

At Table 2 Italy, there was a very interesting white, but I was really enjoying the Argiano Non-Confunditor which is a blend made of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Sangiovese – a Super Tuscan wine, and it actually tasted like a blend of Old World and New World – earth and soil from Italy, but roundness from Cabernet – a really interesting contrast!

Table 4 had contrasting Malbecs: Finca Sophenia Malbec Reserva vs Voodoo Moon Malbec – the first was pretty traditional with a touch of rough tannins and earthy overtones, while the latter was all perfume and weirdly candy-like – unexpected but delicious!
2013-03-12 18.23.37Food: I didn’t try everything, but all hors d’oeuvres were passed – the chicken wings were especially good and enormous – they were in a sweetish BBQ sauce that was decadently good, thumbs up (I ate them to the bone!). The fried foods were served hot, an although the pimento cheese biscuit was only OK, I was overall impressed by service and the food in general.

2013-03-12 18.48.31Conclusion:If they do another 20 for 20 event, snap up a ticket – it’s a great deal, great food and really decent setup and service. If I could Yelp this event (I probably could!), it would be 5 Stars, no caveats. Forgot to mention..even the wine glasses were very nice and big allowing for good swirling..Cheers!

Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler

Upcoming Wine Tastings at TasteDC:

Jancis Robinson American Wine Tasting at the Smithsonian, Thursday, March 21st, 2013 ,

Clay Mauritson Wine Dinner, Thursday April 25 at Crush Kitchen & Wine House 114 West Street, Annapolis MD 21401 ,

Wines of Portugal 2013 Annual Grand Tasting (Special Discount..), Thursday, May 2nd, 2013 at the W Hotel DC ,

2013-03-12 18.49.56

DCBrau Beer Dinner with 1905 Restaurant

March 10th, 2013 • No Comments

DCBrau Needs More Beer Dinners..

Guest Post by Christina Portz “Just the Bottle” Blog:

Did Somebody Say Beer Dinner?

I have great respect for DC Brau. The founders are hard working and passionate men. I remember after they first opened, I tried to find The Public Ale. It was amazing having that first beer. I had a friend at the time who had just moved to San Fransisco and took photos of DC Brau. He eventually made his way back home and loves DC Brau.

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This past Thursday DC Brau held a beer dinner at 1905. The event was featured on TasteDC’s calendar (4-Course DC Brau Beer Dinner )among other great sites. Before the dinner, they held a release happy hour for their Saint Joseph’s Tripel. The beer is named in honor of Joey Belcher. They also donated a portion of the proceeds of the happy hour as well as remembered him fondly during the dinner.

I missed the happy hour as I was catching up with a friend at Vinoteca. It’s another great spot in the area that never gets too packed for weekday happy hour and offers several wines by the glass for $5.

I showed up shortly before the start of dinner. I was greeted by the wonderful staff of 1905 including one of my favorite bartenders, Lyn. She’s a sassy lady with amazing taste in beer and food. I also was lucky enough to meet one of the DC Beers crew, John Fleury.

Let’s get started with this tasty dinner. Nom nom nom.

Amuse Bouche

Oyster Shooter

DC Brau Citizen, Horseradish, Lemon Juice, Pickled Okra
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The amuse bouche featured the DC Brau Citizen as an oyster shooter. I am not the biggest fan usually of oysters, but the spice and acid notes were perfect. The DC Brau Citizen had a balancing effect.

First Course

House-Smoked Pork Belly

Brined in DC Brau Penn Quarter Porter, Maple Glaze, Bacon Collards, Littlenecks

Paired with Penn Quarter Porter (5.5% ABV)

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My preferred beers are stouts or porters. I love the Penn Quarter Porter. The pork belly was succulent. It was so creamy along with the beer it came out very luxurious. The collard greens with bacon added an element of salt.

There were amazing chocolate notes in the porter with some smoke towards the finish.

Second Course

Brau-Brined Salmon

Lemon-Pepper Creme, Deviled Crawfish, Pickled Fennel

Paired with Saint Joseph’s Tripel (10% ABV)

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This was yet another amazing dish. The tripel made delicious sense with the salmon. As Jeff presented the dish, he spoke of having beer compliment or contradict your food. It’s a great aspect of dining with beer.

The salmon was cooked perfectly. It was incredibly moist and sort of fell apart in my mouth. The deviled crawfish and pickled fennel added a nice sourness that was a palate cleanser.

The tripel was a great homage to the Belgian tripel. It wasn’t as overpowering as I find Belgian tripels (possibly food would help). It had lovely citrus notes, some toast and mild sweetness.

Third Course

Crisp-Skin Duck Breast

Housemade Kraut, Sorghum Mustard, Barrel-Aged Ghoul’s Night Out Beer Salt

Paired with Barrel-Aged Ghoul’s Night Out (11% ABV)

Aged in Catoctin Creek Grape Brandy Barrels

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Next we moved onto the duck, which to quote my man friend was “quacktastic”. The sorghum mustard added spicy notes combined with the barrel aged ghoul’s night our beer salt and beer itself. The beer had amazing caramel notes that brought out additional flavor in the duck.

Even though I prefer heavier beers, this may have been my favorite. It reminded me somewhat of a doppelbock with caramel flavors and a lovely smoothness.

We also had the opportunity to sample the Catoctin Creek Brandy to have a better understanding of how the beer was aged. This may be my new favorite brandy. It was very smooth with great vanilla notes and hints of molasses.

Final Course

“Coffee & Doughnuts”

Paired with Barrel-Aged Penn Quarter Porter (5.5% ABV)

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Obviously, I love donuts. I went to the donut party. One can never have enough donuts. As we finished our dinner, we were treated to donuts with light powdered sugar, chocolate ganche sauce, Barrel Aged Penn Quarter Porter and a coffee styled chaser.

The donuts were light, fluffy and warm. That’s a key to donuts is conning the mouth into thinking they are eating something that hasn’t been fried in grease. At least, that’s what I tell myself.

The barrel aging added more vanilla and toasty notes with hints of whiskey to the beer. It rounded the finish.

This was an amazing dinner with great people both attending and working the event. I always love my visits to 1905 and hope to go back soon.

Oh and DC Brau! I’m calling you out. Have more beer dinners!!

Oooh, la La..Champagne & Sparkling Wine Tasting on Barracks Row

March 5th, 2013 • No Comments

Everything Tastes Better with Champagne..

Champagnehillcenter4I attended a really fun Sparkling Wine Comparison Tasting of Champagne vs. The Rest at the Hill Center as part of the Barracks Row Culinary Crawl on Sunday, February 17th, 2013. There were actually 2 speakers at the event: Burnie Williams of Chat’s Liquors who did most of the educational component of the event and a French gentleman I only remember as “Charles” who spoke about the specifics of the 4 wines we tasted because he imported them.
The Setup: We sat in a U-shape at tables with each of getting 4 flutes of sparkling wine. I thought the black table coverings were a nice touch even though traditionally you look at wines through a white background (and tablecloths) – but why? The colors of the wine show exceptionally well against a black background – maybe for red wines a different story, but we only had one rosé, so no issue here. The Frenchman opened each wine and came down the interior of the “U” and poured each glass individually – as you can see on the left, it’s a visually pleasing way of pouring wine/presentation!

The Wine: There were 4 sparkling wines poured of which 2 were non-Champagne (one Italian, one French Cremant) and two “true” Champagnes. (I’ve included “suggested retail price” which usually means you can get them for a bit less..)

    1. Ca’ dei Zago DOC Proseccor Coi Fondo 2010 – Prosecco is actually made in a less expensive method than traditional Champagne – the Charmat method, where the second fermentation is done in tank. This was also a pretty dry version of Prosecco – they usually are a bit more sweet.
    2. Klein “Cremant d’Alsace” Chardonnay Extra Brut (Alsace, France), $29.99 – very nice Chardonnay based sparkler – pretty good value.
    3. Champagne Francois Diligent Rose Cote de Bar, NV (Champagne, France), $36.99- this wine was a bit funky, but I think the cork had ruined it..
    4. Laherte Freres “Les Vignes d’Autrefois-A Chavot” Extra Brut, 2006 (Champagne, France) $74.99 – My favorite by a long shot – price doesn’t always determine quality, but this wine had the wine on the lees for 3 years in bottle and this created that nutty, smokey, yeasty complexity that I LOVE in Champagne – by this one for me!

The Education: Burnie Williams, the owner of Chat’s Liquors did an excellent job of covering a pretty involved and complex topic. You see, sparkling wines are created different from other wines – they must go through a second fermentation to create the bubbles, the first fermentation creates the “wine” and alcohol. He did an excellent job of covering both the history (yep, Dom Perignon was NOT the inventor of sparkling wine!) and the process of making sparkling wines. I’ve attended many sparkling wine classes so rather than bore with you with all the details, the most interesting parts of making this type of wine are:

Lees – these are the dead yeast that drop to the bottom of the barrel or bottle, depending on how you’re aging your wine. If you let them stay with the wine and age, they create a yeasty/nutty flavor and aroma, if you take them away (slightly different than “filtering” a wine, but similar process), then the wine will have a cleaner more fruit-driven expression.

Riddling – this is the process of turning the bottles a few turns every so often for maybe a year or two to get the dead yeast from the 2nd fermentation out of the wine. This was once done by humans wearing cages on their face to prevent chards of glass from cutting their faces if the bottles exploded (19th century bottles had poor technology!), but now often done by machines.

Disgorging – After riddling, the dead yeast/lees are now upside down in the bottle and form a plug of..dead yeast! This has to be removed or “disgorged” – the way it’s done today is by freezing this gook but putting the bottles part way into an ice bath with salted water – the low temperature freezes only the plug and thus it is pulled out.

Dosage – This is after the dead lees are taken out, the final flavor and sugar level is added back – Brut is less sugar than Extra Dry, so the type of flavor/sweetness is determined at this point.
ChampagneHillCenter3ChampagneHillCenter1Overall, had a really fun time at this event and it was a helluva deal at such a low price! I’m chatting it up with Chat’s Liquors to do more tasting events – DC has very few wine tastings right now, and the demand is there. As always, keep drinking good sparkling wine, Champagne or whatever is in your glass..you only live once – Cheers!

Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler

If It’s March, It Must Be Beer Time!

March 5th, 2013 • No Comments

It seemed that beer classes and beer dinners had disappeared..

anchorbrewinglogo5-Course Anchor Brewery Beer Dinner with Brewmaster Mark Carpenter w/Top Chef Sprissler’s Dishes – Wednesday March 27th

It may seem unusual, but DC was full steam ahead with beer events over the past few years, but it just kind of stopped late 2012..I can’t explain it, but beer dinners disappeared, beer classes were impossible to find, and you really had to search out beer events other than tap takeovers (maybe it was a hangover from too many recent beer festivals?)..Well Great News – as of March, 2013, that all has changed! One of the reasons is that the American Craft Brewer’s Conference is in Washington, D.C. this year and so many great American Craft Brewers will be here from March 26th-29th.
dccraftbeerbustour

Here’s a List of upcoming DC Beer Events (no affiliation with DCBeer.com – but they are an excellent resource!)

 

March 6th, 7-9 pm – La Cuisine du Québec: Exploring the Passion and Depth of Québec’s Emerging Microbreweries, $30/per person, Smithsonian – Celebrated beer sommelier Sylvain Bouchard joins us from Québec to showcase the microbrewery movement and the wealth of variety that defines craft beers in Québec.

March 7th (Thursday), $75/per person, 4-Course DC Brau Beer Dinner, 1905 Bistro & Bar 1905 9th Street, NW, Washington DC 20001 – This is inaugural Beer Dinner for 1905 with DC’s own 1st Brewery DC Brau

March 9th, Noon – 4 pm – Real Ale & BBQ Fest at Heavy Seas Brewery, $49/per person – In addition to your Heavy Seas favorites from 10 taps, our award winning brewers will be creating many one-of-a-kind casks! We’ll be pouring real ale from 10 firkins, including from the wood.

March 11th 6:30 pm, Italian Craft Beer Dinner, Pizzeria Paradiso, 3282 M St., NW, Washington DC 20007 – Paradiso is matching food to Italian Beers

Bourbon Beer School – Series of 6 Classes, each is $25/per person, Bourbon Glover Park, 2348 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington DC 20007
Session 1: Fermentation & Yeast (Only on 3/12)
Session 2 Hops (3/19 & 3/26)
Session 3 Malts (4/2 & 4/9)
Session 4 American Craft Beer (4/16 & 4/23)
Session 5 German Beer Styles (4/23 & 5/7)
Session 6 Belgian Beer Styles (5/14 & 5/21)
Each Class is a Stand-Alone Class (no Prerequisites) – a series of educational beer tastings led by resident beer expert Rachel Murray – 6 Beers are tasted at each event.

March 13th, March 21st & March 27th (3 Separate Classes) Local Charcuterie, Craft Beer, & Cheese, $59/per person, Righteous Cheese, Union Market 1309 5th Street NE, Washington DC 20002– We’ll explore the world of cheese pairing by tasting 4 cheeses and 4 local craft beers along with a bounty of charcuterie from local producers Red Apron Butchery, Three Little Pigs and Seasonal Pantry

-March 23rd & 24th (Weekend), DC Beer Festival, $40/per person, Nationals Ballpark, 1500 South Capitol Street, SE, Washington DC 20003– The inaugural DC Beer Festival brings together dozens of craft and international breweries, as well as DC’s best local breweries.

March 25th, 6 pm, Cheese and Beer Tasting with Janet Fletcher – Cowgirl Creamery is pleased to welcome Janet Fletcher, author of the brand-new guide, Cheese & Beer. Janet’s weekly cheese column for the San Francisco Chronicle has made her a nationally recognized cheese authority, and we’re the first store in the nation to have her beautiful new book. Come meet Janet at this private, walk-around tasting. You’ll sample a selection of the best American craft brews expertly matched to their cheesy soul mates. Ticket price includes a signed copy of Cheese & Beer. Space is limited. Reserve now for this tasty and educational evening.

March 25th, 7 pm, The Craft Brewer’s Conference Beer & Food Experience at Birch & Barley, 1337 14th St., NW, Washington, D.C. – I haven’t gotten the list of brewers, but this is going to be some shindig! 5 Craft Brewers in town for the CBC (locals DCBrau and Flying Dog will be there..)

March 26th, 6:30 pm, Belgian Beer & Cheese Inspired Dinner, $49/per person, Belga Cafe, 514 8th St., SE, Washington DC 20003 – Enjoy tasting menu and a very special line up of Belgian “rock star beers”

March 27th – 5-Course Anchor Brewery Beer Dinner, $55/per person, Mayfair and Pine, 2218 Wisconsin Ave., NW -Mayfair & Pine and Anchor Brewing would like to invite you to an exclusive food and beer pairing dinner! Executive Chef Emily Sprissler and Brew Master Mark Carpenter will be your hosts during this elegantly casual evening. Chef Sprissler has chosen her pairings to develop a unique experience to create palate pleasing plates! Each course is accompanied by seasonal and perennial favorites crafted by Brew Master Mark at America’s first craft brewery in their traditional copper brewhouse. Souvenir Anchor Brewing Pint glass included! (See Complete Menu)

March 28th, Beer & Cheese with Oxbow & The Bruery, $45/per person, Meridian Pint 3400 11th st NW , Washington DC 20010– The 6 PM seating is $45 (tax and gratuity included) and will feature Tim Adams, Oxbow Co-Founder and brewer, and at least one representative from The Bruery. Michelle Gardner

March 28th, DC Craft Beer Bus Bar Tour, $65/per person, 801 Mt Vernon Pl NW, Washington DC 20001   – Featuring 5-6 Stops at various DC Beer Establishments (you’re on a Bus) – 21st Amendment, Elysian, Ninkasi, No-Li & Uinta Breweries plus a few surprises

Suthn Cookin’ at Union Kitchen in DC

March 4th, 2013 • No Comments

I wanted to learn how to make the juiciest fried chicken and fluffiest biscuits in DC..

Chicken in the Fryer..

Chicken in the Fryer..

Fried Chicken..Yummy!

Fried Chicken..Yummy!

I had the really great luck to attend a cooking class on Thursday, February 28th, 2013 at a totally new facility in DC – the Union Kitchen. So you may ask what exactly IS Union Kitchen? That actually might be hard to explain, but let me give it a try – it’s a place for Start-Up food businesses to go the next level in production and ultimately business success. But not always..it’s also a commercial kitchen for Food Trucks and other food producers who can schedule a time and then produce their product for commercial purposes..but it’s also one more thing – a potentially excellent venue for hands-on cooking classes and events. In a nutshell, it’s an exciting opportunity for food ventures in DC to go to the next level – I was PSYCHED to go to this event! (Note: Here’s a really good explanation by City Paper )

Union Kitchen - DC's Newest Food Business Incubator!

Union Kitchen – DC’s Newest Food Business Incubator!

The Chef: I stole this from the Chef’s bio on her website, but I also would like to add that the chef was excellent at organizing and teaching a cooking class – she had wonderful rapport with the 10 attendees and she was very organized and straight to the point of the class – let’s get cookin’! Jessica also mentioned to me that she’s working on a commercial recipe for her Southern pimento cheese ..but I didn’t get much detail, I’m sure there will be more to tell..From her page: Jessica O’Neal started JLOkitchens to share her love of Southern cuisine with the District. She teaches cooking classes at CulinAerie, is a personal chef for a very tall man and is currently developing a line of Southern food products at Union Kitchen. She will gladly trade you her tasty pimento cheese for honest feedback and/or champagne.

The Class: This class was held in a commercial kitchen, so we used the same industrial equipment that all of the commercial businesses use, but our recipe was for producing similar amounts to what we would make at home. We got right down to cracking eggs, adding them to the flour with hunks of butter and making biscuits. The basic format was that we were shown how to make each dish with basic recipes and then broken down into groups to cook for the group.

The Secret to Great Biscuits: 1) cut in half..

The Secret to Great Biscuits: 1) cut in half..

Step 2: Layer and Press!

Step 2: Layer and Press!


The Menu:

Sweet Potato Herb Biscuits with Honey Butter – I finally learned the secret of making great biscuits – hunks of butter and folding the flour and compressing to create layers for steam and flakiness..
Buttermilk Brined Fried Chicken – I actually missed the recipe for this part and basically all I did was flip some fried chicken (my fault – I was off on a tour of the facility!)-a much longer than expected slow fry in the oil made this chicken both crispy and cooked through..but the meat was really juicy – I ate it down to the bone!

Grits..

Grits..

-Creamy Cheddar Grits with Smoky Greens – this is actually 2 dishes, but they were combined. The secret is in both the type of corn grits and in the way they are ground – stone ground is best. And cheese was added at the very end only as a topping, rather than in the cooking process. We used curly Kale, but any green works for this dish.
Cornbread Custard with Berry Coulis – this was a very simple dessert essentially using store bought corn bread, breaking it up and adding eggs and milk into a custard and heating at a relatively low temperature – simple, but classic comfort food!
-Bourbon Whipped Cream – real Bourbon..I should know, I was sipping some of that Jim Beam during the class..

Good Eats!

Good Eats!

Charlie Adler..cooking on the Job!

Charlie Adler..cooking on the Job!

Conclusion: This was a really fun event in a great location..I was warned about this neighborhood, but when I found the space (it was a little hidden – but it’s an old warehouse building, c’mon!) and parking in front, I began to think – people are just living in the past..this facility IS the future of DC and the entrepreneurs who run it are the next wave for DC. Jessica gave a great cooking class and the facility is perfect for a multitude of events – there’s even additional spaces for Pop-Up Dinners, wine tastings and more culinary endeavors. OK, so it’s a bit edgy, but you know the expression – you gotta break a few eggs to make an omelette – Cheers!

Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler

The class is just getting started..

The class is just getting started..

The Setup

The Setup

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