Tag Archives: lambic

L’Albatros

23 Dec

Just woke up from a killer food coma, thanks to dinner at L’Albatros with the fam.  The recent addition to the Cleveland restaurant scene has taken up residence in the old That Place on Bellflower.  Great ambience, friendly and intelligent staff and food that blows the mind.  I’m just coming off finals week and therefore have averaged maybe 8 hours of sleep in the past week, so I’ve been eating cereal and crack.  That said, today was a total reversal of that routine: prato misto and a Young’s Double Chocolate Stout at Sergio’s and at L’Albatros; escargot, cassoulet and a canalé with cherry compote and a Reissdorf Kölsch.

L’Albatros has a decent beer list with some Great Lakes, Orval, Duvel, Old Speckled Hen, Gavroche but with LINDEMAN’S!  I have such a pet-peeve when places try to offer lambics but then offer the MOST crap one.  Ok that aside, the food is to die for and you’ll be fighting off the “itis” before you know it, but in such a good way.

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In Praise of Foie Gras

30 Nov

It’s a beautiful thing and all you have to do is force feed a duck to fatten up its liver for it!  Sometimes I wish I could feel bad about that, but then Anthony Bourdain does a little expo and shows that it’s not so bad and plus it’s just so scrumptious that the sinner in me is a happy to be ingesting such a smooth delight.  I had only one bad experience with foie gras and that was in a very lovely little ristorante around the corner from my apartment in Milano.  Apparently, in Milan and perhaps most of Italy, foie gras is prepared very differently — it’s not the deliciously hot grilled fatty lobe I’ve come to love.  I believe it was a paté and I’m sad to report I really just couldn’t finish it: the richness alone and in that quantity was overpowering and it was cold which threw me off too.  With the kind of foie gras I love I feel like a nice lambic or maybe even a sour would be a fitting pairing with this creamy, fatty, buttery gift from the gods.

However,  I had a gorgeous rendition of the heated type in Toano, VA at Dudley’s Farmhouse Grille.  If you’re ever near this place, go!  They specialize in wild game and have a small seating area which provides for a more intimate atmosphere, which is furthered by the owner who is also the chef.  I wish my liver could wind up in such a happy state after I’m gone.  Anyways, the foie gras was my primo and my secondo was a mixed plate of venison, wild boar and quail.  Then I slipped into a loverly food coma.

The Joys of Lambic

29 Sep

I cracked a Cantillon Iris the other night after holding on to it for several months.  It’s an unblended lambic, meaning this particular style is the original lambic.  The Iris did not disappoint: really lovely lighter medium orange color with lots of carbonation. Fluffy, super fizzy off-white head that starts off aggressive and then fades pretty quickly. The head sparkles so much you can hear it.  Smell is true to lambic funkiness and wonderful sour white grapes with a woody background. This is seriously drinkable, the flavor is much lighter than the color or aroma suggest. Sour white grapes and lemon in the flavor with a lemony acidic aftertaste that is pleasant. The mouthfeel is bright and fizzy. Loverly simply loverly.  The Iris is a great example of the all-encompassing beer: the bottle, the label, the beer, the aroma, flavor and the sound it makes from popping the cork to the sparkling pour — all senses are stimulated.

cantillon iris

This is a beer style that has become a serious personal favorite.  The bottles, the labels and the good stuff inside make it an all around hit.  Unfortunately, when confronted with sharing these behemoth 750s my alter-ego beer geek comes out in full force.  So embarrassing.  I wax rhapsodic about the wild yeast only found in Brussels and in the precious aging barrels of Cantillon, how only this area produces this style.  I end up talking off some poor soul’s ear for a solid 45 minutes then realize I just exposed the dorkiest side of me.  Everyone beware, don’t ask about the lambic you can’t believe is a beer you’re drinking unless you’re down for a big fat dose of geekdom.

Pseudo feijoada

22 Jul

As a way of saving money and still eating well in Milan on a student budget, I began to create one-pot stews enough to last me a week.  I am a slim woman but with daily stops at the local gelateria, pasta out the ears and panini for lunch I managed to put on 10 lbs.  So not only was this a economical choice but also a healthier choice.  My first try at a stew was feijoada — my absolute favorite Brazilian dish — which taught me the basics of making a bean and meat stew while allowing me to adapt and experiment with the recipe.  My second foray into the stew world was a twist on traditional feijoada using lentils instead of black beans.  Lentils are one of those superfoods with which you just can’t go wrong and such a stew as this is comfort food to the max.

LENTIL STEW:

(Shopping List)

1 bag green lentils (at home, rinse and drain, pick out bad beans)

1 large can whole, peeled tomatoes

2-4 bay leaves

Srichacha chili sauce

Ground cumin or cumin seeds

Chorizo or spicy italian sausage

Andouille Sausage

2 cloves of garlic

1 large red onion

2 shallots

The Business:

Dice shallots, garlic and onion.

Warm large stock pot on stove at medium heat with a enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan.

Toss in shallots, garlic and onion and saute until golden brown.

Next  throw in the bag of lentils, minus the plastic of course! and the can of tomatoes with their sauce.  Stir and keep an eye on the water level: the lentils will soak up the water from the tomatoes and soften and the rest will cook off.

While all that’s going on, in a skillet brown up the Andouille sausage (you can either cut them into 1/4 inch circles before or after you cook them).  If you want, you can take the chorizo or spicy italian sausage and slip it out of its casing and brown in the pan as you would ground beef for tacos or slice it with the casing on the same as the andouille.  The idea behind just browning the meat is that you don’t want to cook it completely because after it’s been browned you will throw it into the stew pot and let the heat of the water/stew cook the meat the rest of the way while it soaks up all the flavors.  Once the meat is in the stock pot, toss in your bay leaves and cumin, as much Srichacha (or Defcon for that heat) as you can handle, lots of ground pepper.  This is mostly a waiting game once you’ve got it all together, usually an hour, so don’t be in a rush.  This is one of those dishes that is always better the next day.

End goal:  lentils that are al dente and not crunchy, a stew that is thick and not watery or soupy.  Eat hearty and drink up.  I would recommend a really tart gueuze or a saison with this to take some of that heat off the tongue and clear your palate for another helping, such as Cantillon Gueuze or Saison Dupont (incredibly versatile beer with food).

*Browning meat is like giving it a sun tan – the skin touching the pan heat will turn a different color than the insides but you don’t want the whole piece to be that color. So when one side gets a touch of that sun tan, flip it and let the other side have a chance.  This is a very quick process, we’re not talking minutes in the pan.*

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