The food abides…

Archive for December, 2015

Merry Christmas from the Food Dude!

As I said last night, I was unfortunately not able to spend the holidays in Connecticut with my family again this year. However, I was lucky enough to be able to spend them with some great Tampa friends whom I’ve had the pleasure of knowing for over 20 years now.

Christmas Dinner 2015

My friends hosted an incredible Christmas dinner in their Westchase home and I’m still drooling over the grilled honey-glazed pineapple, the gruyere scalloped potatoes and the pear and bleu cheese salad in addition to the Christmas turkey with all the fixings (I swear I’m like Ralphie’s father in a Christmas Story with turkey).

Christmas Limoncello 2015

My friends also made some homemade limoncello. Limoncello is my favorite after-dinner sipping drink and this stuff may be the best I’ve ever tasted. It most certainly beats the hell out of anything you could buy in a store.

Christmas Limoncello 2015-2

Not only did they serve their chilled Limoncello throughout the day, but they made a batch big enough to send everyone home with a bottle. I do not expect this to last through New Years.

Nib Smuggler and Tinsel

And speaking of gifts, my friends are as avid zythophiles as I am, if not more and we almost always give each other something booze-related. This year they knocked it out of the park with Barley Mow’s Tinsel Holiday Spiced Ale (which I JUST had last week at the Brass Tap and loved) and Funky Buddha’s Nib Smuggler Chocolate Milk Porter. Can’t wait to dive into a couple of these while I’m on vacation this week.

Christmas Toys

And last, but not least, I leave you with something entirely non-food-related. A photo of my dog Kira on Christmas morning, passed out among some of her new toys like Randy from a Christmas Story. Because who couldn’t love that. And yes, I realize I’ve now made two references to a Christmas Story, but it’s been on for the last 24 hours and I haven’t changed the channel once so it was kind of unavoidable.

With that, I leave you with a heartfelt Merry Christmas from the Food Dude. I hope you’re all savoring each and every the flavor that the holidays have to offer and even better, sharing them with the people you care about.

And remember… the food abides…


Merry Christmas and Happy New Beer Friday!

It’s just a few minutes after midnight which means it’s officially Christmas. It also means the Southern Tier 2Xmas Ale I just cracked open officially counts for New Beer Friday! Funny how things work out like that.

2Xmas Ale

Really digging this beer. Brewed in the style of a traditional Swedish Glogg there is a LOT going on in this one.

2Xmas Ale pours a deep ruby color with about an inch of head that dissipates quickly and leaves very little lacing on the glass. There’s a subtle dried fruit aroma with heavy spices (most notably nutmeg) and just a slight hint of pine.

On the initial pull there’s a distinct brown sugar and allspice flavor which is followed by a fruity fig and plum note mixed with heavy spices. This is not a bad thing and I’m picking up almost all of the holiday spices; cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and cardamom. The flavor rounds out on the back-end with some orange zest and just a touch of ginger. Threaded throughout is a pleasantly warming alcohol feeling and while I’ve never tried a Swedish Glogg before, I’d have to assume this is traditional.

With so many flavors packed into one ale you would think this would be somewhat of a schizophrenic beer but it’s not. This is a rather well-balanced brew and it’s most definitely what I would consider to be a perfect holiday beverage. For those not in the know, we’re currently experiencing the hottest Christmas on record in Florida, and this beer is making me forget that it’s currently 87 degrees and insanely humid outside right now. Mission accomplished Southern Tier… mission accomplished.

Tried Southern Tier’s 2Xmas Ale? Leave a message in the comments section below!

And remember… the food abides…

Christmas Eve 2015

Whenever I’m not in Connecticut with my family for the holidays I always host Christmas Eve dinner for my friends down here in Tampa.

Christmas Eve 2015

A table full of great people, a gigantic pot of linguine and white clam sauce, some holiday tunes and a good craft beer. That’s my Christmas Eve. Hope everyone is enjoying theirs as well!

And remember… the food abides…

64 oz. Growler from the Portland Growler Company

Being a fan of craft beer, you will inevitably come across a brewery that doesn’t bottle or can all their offerings (I’m looking at you and your freaking delicious Oktoberfest, Big Storm Brewing Co). If you want to enjoy some at a later time, you’ll need a growler.

In case you’ve been living under a rock or you tend to read my ramblings solely because of the food, a growler is simply a resealable container that allows you fill up your favorite beers at a taphouse or microbrewery for consumption at a later date. Since Florida finally eliminated the asinine ban on the 64 oz. varieties in May, these containers are becoming more and more commonplace.

With the holidays around the corner you may be looking to get yourself or the craft-beer-lover in your life a growler or two of some favorite brews. If so, you’ll likely be tempted to buy one from the microbrewery where you purchase the beer. Don’t.

Make no mistake, I am not discouraging buying brewery-branded growlers at all, just do that on an average Tuesday. For the holidays, if you’re looking for a growler as a gift for yourself or for someone else, look no further than one from the Portland Growler Company.


These growlers are handcrafted pieces of art; a remarkable combination of form and function. Portland Growlers come in a variety of designs and colors with a number of different options and add-ons like logos, leather leashes and carrying crates for transporting more than one.

Form: I went with the 64 oz. design called the Loop in the satin gray color pictured above. I chose the logo (because I personally think their tagline is clever) and went with a second on the cap. I won’t lie, when I put this down on the bar at my favorite taphouse, a number of fellow zythophiles commented on how cool it looked. I’m the last person who cares about that sort of thing, but this growler definitely gave me some street-cred.

Function: Being ceramic, this bad boy has some weight to it, even empty. That translates to a heavier load to carry but the tradeoff is that this growler keeps your beer chilled longer than any metal or glass variety I’ve ever seen. To me, that’s worth its weight in gold because I sometimes travel an hour or more to visit some of my favorite breweries. The only thing glass has over it is being able to physically see how much liquid is left. However, anyone with basic math skills can figure out how many beers the bottle holds (and with simple subtraction, how much is left) so that shouldn’t even be considered a con.

Cards on the table, these growlers are not really what I’d consider inexpensive, but neither great art nor superior products ever are. Craft beer isn’t cheap either so if you’re only frequenting your local sports bar for 99 cent drafts, you probably have no need for one anyway.

Worth every penny in this zythophile’s humble opinion.

Own a Portland Growler? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!

And remember… the food abides…

New Beer Friday! – Goose Island’s Festivity Ale

Goose Island Festivity

I was a huge fan of Goose Island’s holiday offering a couple of years ago, Six-Geese-a-Laying (so much that I think I still have one or two squirreled away in the back of my beer fridge). For some reason, no one carried their holiday beer down here last year so this is the first one I’ve gotten to try since then. It did not disappoint.

Festivity pours a dark brown with about a half an inch of brown head that dissipates with just a slight lacing on the glass. There’s a heavy aroma of nuts and brown sugar which is very pleasant.

Mouth feel is more carbonated than I would have expected but that’s not a bad thing. The first pull really hits you with some strong, caramel and toffee notes. They carry through to a toasted nutty flavor before finally rounding out on the back end with fruity hints of plums, figs, dates and what I believe taste like currants. The flavor combinations compliment one another rather well.

This is exactly what I expect for a Christmas beer and I’m really enjoying this one. If you can find it, I definitely recommend making some room for it at your holiday tables this year.

Tried the Festivity Ale? Leave a message in the comments section!

And remember… the food abides…