Pokemon GOse & Other Pop Culture Curiosities


The Phoenix Brewing Co, home away from home

When, in a small town such as mine, there are people outside in the city square at three in the morning, smiling maniacally and following their smartphones around like divining rods, you become curious. Are they on drugs? Is it a cult? Have the proper authorities been notified? But more importantly: what am I missing out on?

I hate know-it-alls as much as the next person, but mostly because I am always the smartest person in the room. I was sort of disgusted that this cultural phenomena snuck up on me. Similarly, one day I was blissfully naive and innocent of the gose style of beer, and the next, it was a nationwide sensation.

In the last few months, the style has popped up in breweries all over the country in that same inexplicable way that everyone knows, suddenly, to roll their jeans up above the ankle. One day I realized the gose style was everywhere and I didn’t even know how to pronounce it. Gauze? Goose? Nope: GO-zuh. It is a German style wheat beer, originating in the Leipzig area. They are traditionally tart and refreshing, so I think we may be related. Continue reading

Open-Faced Squash and Goat Cheese Sammies

squash sandwichThere’s a perception that vegetarians are required to worship all vegetables equally. Unfortunately, embracing a meat-free diet does not mean that there are not certain members of the plant kingdom that you’d rather skip. For me, it’s raw bell peppers. For Jason, it’s summer squash, so this is a particularly tough time of year for him to stare down our farm share. As we were cooking on Saturday night, he gave me a sidelong glance over the cutting board and said, “Maybe we only need one squash for these sandwiches.”

“Two,” I said. “Trust me, squash hater. I’m going to do right by you.”

Doing right is much easier armed with some caramelized onions and a few medallions of delicious Quebecois goat cheese brought back from a weekend in Montreal. (Fear not, readers; a poutine post is coming.) Top them with some mint to balance out the richness, and you’re treading in the footsteps of angels.

A half hour later, Jason uttered the words, “This is fantastic,” and he wasn’t talking about the DVD copy of Airplane!  we were watching. Surely, there’s hope for even the most difficult-to-love veggies.

Open-Faced Squash and Goat Cheese Sandwiches Continue reading

Big-Ass Beers & the American Way

You don't get much more American than this Tennessee native

You don’t get much more American than this TN native

I love America. Goddammit, I really do. And I love that I come from the same country as the blues, baseball, Patti Smith, candy corn, and the Double IPA. I love the Jumbotron cam and I love Spencer Tunick (nsfw). I love Dolly Parton’s…hair. At the same time there’s this over-sized American pride makes me really uncomfortable; the kind I associate with monster truck rallies, super-sized grease fests, and SUVs the size of my living room.

Why is it then that the same bigger-is-better attitude I roll my eyes at is precisely why I like American beers so damn much? Because please, throw an obscene amount of hops in my beer — I’ll take two.

The state is conveniently shaped


This contradiction was evident on Sunday, July 3rd at 11:30 in the morning, when I found myself in the Nashville’s Farmers’ Market with two flights of Tennessee beers sitting in neat rows on boards the shape of their state. I had suffered a panicked moment of almost-Millennial FOMO and had to try all of the beers. Of course, I didn’t drink them all by myself; my ever-eager, ever-thirsty father was across the table from me, ready to take whatever I handed him. Some families go worship God together every week; me and Pops, we share a sacred brew of our own. Continue reading

How Egg Creams and Empanadas Will Save Us

Challah making workshop

Are any of these challah makers among the Chosen People? It’s NYC, so we couldn’t care less.

If I had a dollar for every time I heard a tourist in New York City say, “I mean it’s a nice place to visit…”, implying that it’s a terrible place to live, then I’d have at least enough money to buy an unlimited Metrocard for this month. These assertions irk me, primarily because I’m pretty sure that New York is an awful place to visit, what with the getting lost and the questionable smells and the surly raccoons stealing your French fries in Central Park.

But I would also argue that New York is actually a much better place to live than to visit. And no, I’m not saying that only because of the food, though we’ll definitely get to that. One of the things I love is that you’re always running across weird happenings that would be near impossible to find if you were only here for a few days. This weekend, for example, was the Egg Rolls, Egg Creams and Empanadas Festival, celebrating the collision of Jewish, Chinese and Puerto Rican cultures on the Lower East Side.

eggcream-architectOne could get a combo of the festival’s signature foods for six dollars, which was a sucker punch of deep fried goodness with a chaser of dairy—not for the faint of stomach but delicious all the same. A word on egg creams for the uninitiated: there’s no egg! Or cream, for that matter. Just chocolate syrup, milk and seltzer water. Why this naming paradox came about, no one is entirely sure, but they will argue about it anyway, in a very New York sort of way.

The charms of the festival went beyond food. It was run by the Eldridge Street Museum (another NYC plus: there’s always a museum you’ve never heard of before), which is a beautifully restored synagogue built in 1887, and it was pretty awesome to prowl around the building, watching the Chinatown Senior Center Orchestra play in the main sanctuary right in front of the ark and tip-toeing past the tea ceremony in the balcony to admire the stained glass windows. Continue reading

Hoof Hearted Brewing: Artisan Immaturity


Let me tell you about my Inflatable Time Machine

For my father’s birthday, we gave him essentially what every 21-year-old wants: his own pub crawl. I don’t mean to speak poorly of my father’s maturity, but he was thrilled. Because I was put in charge of planning this event — wisely or not — we went to a bunch of places in Columbus, Ohio, whose beer I dig. I almost got us all cheap matching Ts to have the bartenders sign at each stop, but in the end, saved us that embarrassment. Our first stop was the Hoof Hearted Brewing pub. (Go ahead, say it a few times.)

My friend Kate joined us again, and it probably goes without saying that my mother was the stoic, only occasionally disdainful designated driver.

so11We heard the brewpub long before spotting it. The thumping noise outside was incongruous with the generic architecture that seems to speak to whatever the newest batch of yuppies is called. Inside, the four-on-the-floor beat faded under dozens of ironic conversations between bearded and bespectacled hipsters. My clan slunk in, squarely, and wove our way amidst the crowd of afternoon drinkers, which was clothed entirely in thrift store T-shirts printed with slogans the wearers didn’t believe.

Phasion Phil

Phashion Phil, our waiter

We found a table outside where we could watch silly people exercising through the windows of the gym next door. We conferred about which beers to taste, trying to nonchalantly throw around names like Wet When Slippery, Mom Jeans, and Bulgin Musk. Then our adorable and slightly stoned waiter arrived and I tripped over Kill Wai-iti (say: KILL WHITEY!), a Belgian IPA and also ordered an Inflatable Time Machine, a sour. Kate was admirably adroit, ordering her Sidepipin, a farmhouse ale. My father, unsurprisingly, chose the DIPA, South of Eleven. Continue reading

Genealogy and Mushroom Stroganoff

mushroom stroganoffLately, Jason and I have been hitting old episodes of PBS’s Finding Your Roots, because we’re basically elderly people masquerading as thirty-somethings. Besides leaving me with a pretty hardcore Cory Booker crush, it makes me wonder if I’ve been remiss in not exploring my lineage more fully.

Me being me, my impulse is to celebrate those ancestors through food, but unfortunately, my people come from lands that don’t boast the most delicious vegetarian cuisine. I’ve never had any real testing done, but family lore has it that I’m primarily made up of genes from the mushy-pea-and-haggis-rich British Isles. There is one branch of the family that is Hungarian, which remains mostly shrouded in mystery. Could I be related to Attila the Hun? It’s possible. And since I’m too lazy to actually do the research, let’s just say that I am.


You can see the resemblance in the eyebrows.

It’s true that the Hungarians, too, are tremendously fond of meat, but I think they have a couple of advantages, culinarily speaking, over my Irish/Scottish/English forebears: 1) all of the Eastern European countries make some bangin’ pastries, and 2) they have a serious thing for sour cream. The first fact I realized when I went to the Hungarian Pastry Shop on the Upper West Side. Though the staff was somewhat baffled when I asked them about Hungarian specialties and then offered up a Linzer torte, which I’m pretty sure is Austrian, I have to say that the cheese and sour cherry strudel was no joke.

The second fact I have always unwittingly embraced, but it was driven home to me recently when I got a craving for this mushroom stroganoff for which my mother (note: not at all Hungarian) gave me the recipe. Continue reading

Beer: the Stuff of Friendship & Community

I’ve never been much of one for defining things: vocab words, relationship status, my abs. But there are a few things I know to be true. One is that dear friendship is equal parts being supportive, giving sage advice, and keeping your mouth shut while your friend downs six beers during an afternoon-long bitch fest. My own dear friends recently flew me to New York and then further indulged me by not only by taking me to all the Asian restaurants I don’t have at home, but also by going to every brewery and bar patio within stumbling distance of their apartment.

Shannon at Kelso with Black Walnut Stout Barrel

Shannon at KelSo, wishing I wasn’t taking pictures

One other nebulous concept that I’ve nevertheless stuck by like a religion, is that beer is defined by more than style and taste; that its influence on our lives is wider.

The KelSo Brewery, where my friends and I stopped first on this trip, is an example of the impact beer can have in your world. KelSo recently opened a tiny tap room that is carved out of the Brooklyn warehouse where they make their beer. Shannon, Jason, and I sat for quite a while, snug in a nook lined with barrels of conditioning beer.

KelSo has woven itself into the community fabric of Brooklyn by donating their product to a number of organizations they support. No doubt these groups were thrilled be getting free wallet lubrication for their potential donors at fundraisers. More importantly, their movement gained the support of another local business and all the patrons it brings with it. KelSo is also a careful steward of the environment, taking many measures to make the smallest negative impact as possible.  

The name “KelSo” is formed from the first names of the couple who owns it, which makes me trust them, irrationally, but also makes me believe that this brewery is built from their heart, their family, and means more to them than any money — which is one of my several issues with macro beer. Continue reading

Tempted by the Night Market, Sated by Jackson Heights

dr fish

A fish has gotta eat…

When we were living in Asia, it took me a while to warm to the idea of night markets. It seemed like everything on sale, from street food to “Same Same But Different” t-shirts, was priced slightly higher for the benefit of looking at it in very dim lighting. But then the Siem Reap night market gradually won me over as I came to realize two advantages it provided over the daytime markets: 1) everyone feels better about getting drunk, which is really the only pleasurable way to shop for anything, and 2) there was a tank where you could pay to have tiny fish eat the dead skin off your feet, which was even better than drunk-shopping.

So needless to say, when I heard about the grand opening of this year’s Queens International Night Market, I was intrigued. Queens is an empire of ethnic food, from the feta cheese of Astoria to the dumplings of Flushing, so the idea of a night market in such an atmosphere made visions of a super-sized Smorgasburg dance in my head. Maybe it wasn’t even too much of a pipe dream to hope for a spa fish or two. I did some stomach-stretching exercises and set out for the territories near Corona Park. Continue reading

Witbier, Weissbier & Controversial Fruit

This woman is crazy on a number of levels, but would feel at home in Ohio

This woman is crazy on a number of levels, but would feel at home in Ohio

Every year at this point in April, regardless of weather, Ohioans pull on their shorts. Many of these bare and vulnerable legs are an alarming shade of white, which one is well-advised to not look at directly. Ohio winters are long, and at this point we’ve watched all of Netflix and need to get out of the goddamned house. We will sit at a picnic table in a parka and Daisy Dukes, if it comes to that, because it’s time to be outside.

I can’t say this Ohio beer-lover in particular is willing to reveal her alabaster gams, but she is ready for other summer activities, namely, summer beers. The breweries are way ahead of me, and summery wheat beers are already well-represented on the shelves and at the taps. Wheat beers are, by some magic of chemistry, delightfully refreshing, and thus often the style of choice for brewers making a warm-weather seasonal.

So, what is a wheat beer? Well, beer folk are notoriously non-obfuscationary, so your guess that wheat beers are brewed largely with wheat, instead of just barley alone, would be correct. In brewing they are top fermented and bottled conditioned. They are easy to pick out in a crowd: they’re unfiltered, hazy, and have a thick head; their smell will likely be of fruit or cloves; and they wear skinny jeans with slouchy hats while leaning against walls and playing on their phones. Continue reading

Honey-Miso Vegetables

IMG_2608It’s kiiinda like Spring up in NYC. As in it was 80 degrees one day last week and 35 yesterday and 70 today. Folks want their farmers markets back in full swing, though; they’re out at Grand Army Plaza on Saturday mornings looking dismal but dogged on those cold and wet days and buying all those perennials when it’s sunny.

But pickings are slim food-wise. Asparagus and the foraged mushrooms have shown up, but for the most part we’re still heading home those Saturdays with bags of root vegetables. And I’ve been working with them for months. Gotta do something new.

And thus this Honey-Miso Vegetables recipe. Stuck staring at last season’s carrots and turnips and parsnips? This’ll do ya.

Per usual, nothing was measured and units of measure are guestimated after the fact.

Honey-Miso Vegetables Continue reading