The Beers of Colorado, How I Miss You

While the availability of fine Belgian beers out here on the East Coast is truly impressive, I do miss the daily drinkers that are the Colorado microbrews.  Having spent a good part of my formative years in Fort Collins, my love of the microbrew is understandable.  After all, Fort Collins is home to two of my favorite breweries in the U.S.:  New Belgium Brewing Company and Odell Brewing Company.

New Belgium Brewing Company:  A classic Colorado brewery that has not sold it’s soul like the monstrosity that resides in Golden.  Some of my favorites over the years have included:

1554 Black Ale – One of my favorite beers from NB.  A great everyday drinker!
Abbey Ale
Abbey Ale Grand Cru – My favorite NB beer, which unfortunately is very hard to find and oftentimes not available at all.
Trippel
Sunshine Wheat
Frambozen – A meal in a bottle.  Rich, red, and like liquid velvet.

Odell Brewing Company:  Lesser known, but producing some fantastic beers.  Some of my favorites include:

Easy Street Wheat
90 Shilling Ale
Isolation Ale

I have been lucky enough to sample some delicious beers while being in NYC, but these two Colorado Brewers make me long for delicious beer at a great price.

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Grilled Lobster & Delirium Tremens

Now that we have officially moved to the Poconos I am trying to use the grill as much as possible.  The simple pleasure of grilling has been missing from my life for nearly three years, so I am doing my best to make up for lost time.  As with most of our cooking, we weren’t exactly sure what we were going to have for dinner.  Once we were inside the local grocery store it was hard to miss the big sign touting their Memorial Day sales.  Near the top of the list?  $4.99/lb fresh lobster.  Yes please, we’ll take two.

The first lobster, a good-sized male, weighed in at about 2.2 lbs.  The second lobster, a female since she had the red roe sacks, was about 1.5lbs.  As an animal lover, I’ve always had some issue with the boiling process.  I have learned a technique that makes me feel a bit better though: Put the lobsters in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before dropping them in the pot.  After cooking for about 8 minutes I pulled them out, split them in half, cleaned out the innards, and put them on a plate.

The sauce/spread/marinade I used:

3 Tbsp Butter
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground pepper
1 Tbsp Parsley Flakes
2 Garlic Cloves, minced

I mixed all of those together and brushed them on the inside of the lobsters.  Over a medium/hot grill I placed the lobsters meat-side down, and cooked for about 5-6 more minutes, flipping a few times to distribute the heat.  While I was cooking those, I added some partially boiled sweet corn to the grill.

10 minutes later it was time to eat!  Delicious.  And of course, as the title suggested, I washed all of it down with a nice 750mL bottle of Delirium Tremens.

Ready to eat:

Sievers and the City

New York City in the Spring is a wonderful thing.  The first flowers are blooming, the first leaves are starting to appear, and everyone seems to have a spring in their step as they walk down the street.  We were lucky enough to experience a few of these amazing springtime days with our friends from Colorado.

The trip turned out to be an epicurean feast and we hit the following restaurants and bars:

Q2 Thai – A great little Thai restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen.
Basilica – A tiny Italian restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen.
Valhalla – My favorite beer bar in the city!
Hummus Kitchen – Hell’s Kitchen Israeli restaurant.
Sushi of Gari 46 – Our favorite sushi restaurant.
La Sirene – An amazing BYOB French restaurant in SoHo.
McSorley’s Ale House – The city’s oldest bar.
Caracas Arepa Bar – An awesome Venezuelan restaurant in the East Village.
And of course, don’t forget a delicious Halal Cart meal on the day of their departure!

We also hit various places around the city such as Wall Street, Battery Park, 5th Avenue, Central Park, Times Square, and more!  While the girls were out shopping at H&M and Zara, we were riding bicycles around the full loop in Central Park.  It was simply a beautiful day to be outside and moving.

Another highlight of the trip was when we all went to see West Side Story on Broadway.

Here are some photo highlights:

The Dudes @ Valhalla:

The Ladies:

The Happy Couple in Times Square:

All of us in Times Square:

West Side Story:

And finally… the morning wake up call at our house is when the dog comes in and starts licking your head:

Valhalla NYC, Now Serving Food!

It’s been in the works for months, but as of this past Monday Valhalla is now serving food.  While I am sad that we can no longer bring in our own snacks, or a Sacco’s pizza, the obvious benefit is having everything under one roof.

The Offerings:

Bratwurst –  They have a spicy cheddar, pork, and chicken brat available by itself, or with a “platter” of sauerkraut, red cabbage, gherkin, and german potato salad.  We tried the Valhalla Bratwurst Platter (the spicy cheddar wurst) which is mildly spicy, with hot bubbling cheese and a fantastic texture.  I loved the snap of the casing!  The bratwurst was hidden inside of a roll (see photo below), which turned out to just be way too much bread.  Once I removed half the bread it was perfect.  Also, the side dishes in the platter were all well done.  The standouts are the potato salad and gherkin, which both take me back to Germany.  All for $10.

Pretzels –  Not your typical street corner pretzel, but the Bavarian style served with some spicy mustard.  They are served warm, moderately covered in salt, and had a nice outer part with a wonderfully chewy center.  $3, or 2 for $5.

Dried Sausage – Served in a compressed “stick” style with spicy mustard.  This was awesome.  It reminded me of a BiFi that I would get at gas stations in Germany, but it was even better.  Probably because it was much fresher!  $3, or 2 for $5.

Gherkin – German pickles  $1

With this bounty I was drinking 500mL glasses of Bitburger.  Fitting, eh?

The photo.  I apologize for its lack of clarity, but it was taken with my iPhone in a low-light setting:

The Beers of the Day: Valhalla NYC – De Koninck, Belhaven, Kwak

It was a dark and stormy night.  No wait.  Really, it was.

So there I was in the greatest of NYC beer bars (Valhalla) with my lovely wife talking about the happenings of the day.  It was the first time it had rained in quite some time and it was coming down like mad.  The craziest thing is that the clouds were so low that the huge “GE” sign on top of the Rockefeller building would disappear completely for minutes at a time.  It was the perfect type of night to be inside a warm pub drinking some quality beer.
Speaking of which, on a recent trip I was drinking Hofbrau from a huge 1 liter stein, but this evening’s trip was all about sampling, and less about getting hammered and wearing a viking helmet (there are photos somewhere out there).  These were the lovely draught beers I tried:

De Koninck – A Belgian beer that is very smooth, a bit malty, and not overly carbonated.

Belhaven Wee Heavy – A crazy Scottish beer that was creamy with a nice dark roasted flavor and a touch of sweetness.

Kwak – One of my favorite Belgian beers served in what can best be described as lab equipment.  I love this beer!

New York City – President’s Day Weekend with Friends

The President’s Day three-day weekend is a much-needed reprieve in the middle of February.  My friends, Ian and Mike, came out to NYC for a few days to blow off some steam and enjoy the offerings of the city.  As always, by the time they left I thought my liver was going to explode and my lack of sleep was catching up with me.  Here are the highlights:

Thursday:

Friday:

Saturday:

  • A walking exploration of Chinatown.
  • Had some tea at Mr. Tea, a small little tea and snack shop on a side street in Chinatown.
  • Basilica – a great little Italian place in Hell’s Kitchen.  I had the squid ink pasta with shrimp and a side of garlic toast.  Brie and I split a bottle of Montepulciano.

Sunday:

  • Coney Island The classic getaway for New Yorker’s.  Everything from the boardwalk and the beach to Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs and the Cyclone.
  • NYC Aquarium A decent aquarium, but I would have expected more for a city such as NYC.
  • Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs.  There’s something awesome about a classic hot dog that snaps when you bite into it.  NOTE: Try and not pay attention to the calorie postings.
  • A return trip to Valhalla with some Sacco Pizza.  The beauty of this bar (in addition to the beer selection) is the fact you can bring in your own food.

Monday:

  • Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met)
  • Halal Cart – Street vendors that sell things such as Falafel and Gyro sandwiches.  Our delicious Gyro sandwiches (half lamb, half chicken) were smothered in white sauce and hot sauce.

In addition to the major events listed above, we watched the opening ceremony for the Vancouver Winter Olympics and played drinking games while watching Three Sheets.  As always, it was a great time and we made the most out of the short time and bad weather.  Until next time!

I am also including some of the pieces that struck a chord with me while at the MoMA and Met.

Monet, Hopper, Warhol, Braque, Picasso, Miro, Klee