The food abides…

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New Beer Friday/First Day of Fall! – New Belgium’s Voodoo Ranger Atomic Pumpkin

Today would be a day that those unfamiliar with the Law of Large Numbers might call a coincidence. Not only is it Friday, my preferred day of the week for trying new beers, but it’s also the first day of Fall which is my favorite beer season. For today’s New Beer Friday, I’m kicking things off with a literal bang and trying New Belgium’s new Fall release, their Voodoo Ranger Atomic Pumpkin Ale. That’s a lot of “New.”

New Belgium Brewing always has some really creative one-offs especially when it comes to their Lips of Faith series. But like last year’s seasonal, the unusually tart Pumpkin Cranberry Ale “Pumpkick,” this spicy brew is something special. I tend to associate any of their beers tagged with the Voodoo Ranger moniker as an IPA or something similarly hoppy, but that is not the case this go around.

Atomic Pumpkin pours an orange-gold color with almost no head and just a little bit of lacing on the glass. On the nose is a significant bready aroma of pumpkin pie with a hint of vanilla and just the slightest little inference of the forthcoming habanero peppers.

Mouthfeel is surprisingly light and crisp. On the first pull are those solid biscuity pumpkin pie notes complete with the traditional cinnamon, allspice and clove flavors. It quickly mellows into something almost reminiscent of creamy vanilla ice cream. Then on the back end, the habanero peppers hit you right in the craw. It’s not overpowering or too spicy, it’s just there, leaving this pleasant little tickle and a perfect warming feeling (though I dig heat so “not too spicy” to me may mean something completely different to you).

In an age where people roll their eyes every time someone mentions the word “pumpkin,” this is a unique brew. I love both pumpkin and spicy beers and this marriage is something that scratches the itch and simply hasn’t been done before.

If you’re looking for a more traditional pumpkin ale or if you have no taste for spicy beers you may want to sit this one out in favor of something a little safer. But if you’re looking for something new and interesting it’s worth picking this up and giving it a try.

Tried the Atomic Pumpkin? Leave a message in the comments!

And remember… beer is freedom… and the food abides…

 

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Post Hurricane Irma Eats @ Buttermilk Provisions

Post Irma, most retail locations were out of power, food or both. That’s why in addition to being incredibly grateful that we made it through the hurricane relatively unscathed (especially given the devastation it wrought on some of our neighbors to the south and east), I’m also very glad that one of my favorite local coffee and pastry shops, Buttermilk Provisions was up and running immediately following the storm.

The Spinach, Mushroom and Gruyere Quiche was a perfect dish of cheesy goodness. The Vegan Cinnamon and Sugar Donut was surprisingly moist. And I maintain that the Buddy Brew coffee kicks the crap out of anything you can get anywhere else.

The proprietor greeted us with a warm smile and a genuine concern for how we fared during the storm. Between that, and the food, it was a much needed bit of normal after what had been a crazy week leading up to Irma’s Florida landfall.

THIS is why I support local business as often as I can. You cannot get this kind of comfort at a Starbucks.

Hope everyone was as lucky as we were during the storm and if you weren’t that you can get your lives back to normal as soon as possible…

And remember Florida… the food abides… and so do we….


Game of Thrones and a Coppertail “Stash…”

Yes it’s another Another Game of Thrones post so soon after the last, but it’s been a short season. In the glass is a Coppertail Brewing Co.’s “Stash” a Tropical Stout with Pistachio and Vanilla Bean.

This is a really unique brew with a very pleasing texture… and it tastes like drinking a big boozy bowl of pistachio ice cream. Which is a good thing.

Hope everyone enjoys the show!

And remember… beer is freedom… and the food abides…


Review – Cask Social Kitchen

I had very fond memories in the late 90’s of Hospitality Night every Sunday at the old Mangroves on Howard Avenue. Perhaps it was the desire to not tarnish those memories that caused me to avoid any other establishment that was built on that location but I unconsciously steered clear of that area for far longer than I should have. It wasn’t until recently, when a good friend’s birthday dinner was planned there, that I ventured into that spot upon which now resides, Cask Social Kitchen.

While the soul of the old Mangroves is gone, it’s been replaced with a similar contemporary feeling accented with lots of barrels and exposed light bulbs. It has a relatively small parking lot for such a big building so the complementary valet was greatly appreciated especially in an area like SoHo where parking is usually brutal.

As if the name wasn’t any indication, Cask features wine and lots of signature whiskey-based (among other) cocktails, but I was impressed with the amount of local and craft beer they offered. Ordered the Spacegrass IPA from Angry Chair Brewing right down the road in Seminole Heights and it was a perfect starting brew.

They had a wide range of apps, some of which were rather unique. I went with the Buffalo Cauliflower and this dish was spectacular. I honestly couldn’t even tell I was eating cauliflower because it was breaded so well and had just the right amount of heat. I’m not quite sure why it was served with ranch dressing instead of bleu cheese and that’s the only thing I would change about the dish.

Some of my friends ordered the BBQ Short Rib Flatbread with Caramelized Onions, Fresh Mozzarella, Goat Cheese and Roasted Portabello Mushrooms. They could not stop raving about this and just looking at it made me sorry I don’t eat red meat

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By now you’ve probably noticed the “Social Kitchen” moniker tagged onto their name. Cask has a their own take on “family style” serving that they call “social eating.” A good number of the menu items have two prices. One price is for a single serving and another is for a group serving intended to share.

You’ve no doubt read my thoughts on other places that try this concept and my disappointment when it doesn’t quite work out. To this day, I don’t understand how places like the Rooster and the Till can “encourage sharing” with such small portions.

But this is where Cask knocks it out of the park. A single serving is a full portion and a sharing portion is a serving and a half. This is the perfect amount of food and Cask nailed it; this spot-on structure truly encourages sharing. It also helped that the food was prepared extremely well and it had one of those across-the-board menus that has something for everyone, but we all took advantage of this and the passing around of plates felt like a bona-fide communal experience.

I went with the Rock Shrimp & Lobster Ravioli with Fire Roasted Plum Tomatoes and Sweet Basil. There was a ton of seafood jammed into this dish and the sauce was perfect.

One of my friends ordered the Citrus Scallops with Sauteed Spinach, Grilled Sweet Potato, Caramelized Grapefruit and a Citrus Brown Butter. The scallops were huge, the grapefruit was an interesting tropical take and the brown butter sauce was amazing.

Another member of our group ordered the Chicken & Waffles with Vanilla Cream, Orange Spiked Maple Syrup and Honey Butter. Right up there with Shrimp & Grits, Chicken & Waffles is another one of my favorite southern dishes and Cask did an amazing job with it. The orange maple syrup was a nice touch and added a little bit of Florida flair.

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While they did have an extensive desert menu, since it was a birthday, we brought a cake and Cask had no problems with this.

The service was impeccable. Even though there were sixteen of us and we had only one server, he never flinched. He explained the serving/pricing structure in a clear way and didn’t hesitate when I asked him what current beer on tap he would recommend. Food came out on time and not a single order was messed up even though he didn’t write anything down.

I can’t think of a single negative thing to say about this establishment and I’d recommend Cask Social Kitchen to anyone especially if you’re in a larger group. It truly is a social experience, the way communal eating was meant to be.

 

Oh, and if you’re there, make sure you post a pic of what you’re noshing on. Vincent Jackson just might regram your photo. Thanks for exposure #83!!!

Tried Cask Social Kitchen? Leave a message in the comments section!

And remember… beer is freedom… and the food abides….


Winter is here…

Are you ready for the Game of Thrones Season 7 Premiere?

I’ll be pouring Ommegang’s “Bend the Knee,” a golden ale brewed with honey. Theses bottles are so gorgeous I almost don’t want to open them at all. There are three different versions, matte black painted and each adorned with a different house crest (Stark, Targaryen and Lannister respectively).

We can rest assured that someone’s favorite character will come to a grisly end at some point this season but Ommegang’s yearly zythophilan attempt to capture the spirit of the show in a beer is sure to cushion the blow.

Hope everyone enjoys the show tonight…

And remember.. beer is freedom… and the food abides…


Capping off an evening with a blind goat…

Any evening that ends with brews at the Blind Goat after midnight can be considered a good one…


French Toast Double Brown Ale? Yes please…

Oh Funky Buddha… sometimes you just get me…

Saving this bottle for vacation next week. Assuming I can resist the temptation of cracking it open tonight…