Brewski

Beer seems to be the word on a lotta blogs lately, and I guess I’m no exception.

Maybe because it’s good.

Beer BrunchFunny that I developed my taste for wine before I developed my taste for beer, because it seemed like the brews were the drink of choice of most of my friends in my younger years. Maybe it was a foodie snob thing, I don’t know for sure. Don’t get me wrong, I still heart my wine, but I’ve come to appreciate a good beer in the past few years… I guess it’s kinda like my developed appreciation for a good coffee (thanks to Mark and crew). I guess it also helps that beer is generally cheaper than wine, too. 😉

I do think that wine snobbery helped a bit with this, for I learned a bit about my sense of taste and “Taste Wheels“. BTW, there are taste wheels for coffee and beer, too, which I prolly wouldn’t have ever looked for without my knowledge (albeit a novice knowledge) of wine taste wheels.

I wasn’t really thinking about blogging about beer today, but it’s just funny that as I was thinking about my consumption of malt beverages in the past week or two (and, ahem, its residual effects), I get notified that my department is going out for an early lunch-slash-brunch over at the new BJ’s nearby. Whoo… beer for brunch. I haven’t even finished my cuppa Kona yet, and my cow-orkers are talking about havin’ some beers! Meh… I think I’ll be partaking in the tasty root beer that they have on tap instead. 🙂

The last time I had beer for brunch, it was over at O’Reilly’s with the Reservoir Dog brothers, a.k.a. Andy and Mike… and it was pretty damned good with the Irish comfort food that they serve there.

But it’s prolly not the best idea at 11:30 in the morning during a work day. Heh.

Les Halles

Today, I braved the inclement weather with my good friend Michelle, and we once again went to see another “celebrity chef” over at Sur La Table in Santana Row.

The reason I enclose those words in quotation marks is because the fellow we went to see today, I don’t think he likes to be referred to as a celebrity… or at least, he really does not act like one.

I speak of one Anthony Bourdain. I became a fan of Tony Bourdain a few years ago after reading his book Kitchen Confidential, which is a great, gritty and real look into the culinary world (highly recommended, would do business with again, A++++). I had been eyeing the book for a while, when, seemingly reading my mind, my good friend Toni sent it to me as a gift. I was delighted when he landed his own show on Food Network, entitled A Cook’s Tour. The premise of this show was following Tony around the world, searching out eclectic local foods. It was an awesome fusion of travel and food programming that made a seemingly perfect television show (to me, at least)… honest and compelling, unlike what the networks seem to call “Reality Television” these days. It was refreshing to see a show like this.

Bourdain also published a book based on the show, naturally of the same name, recounting his experiences of travelling the world over a period of two years in search of the perfect meal. I think I do like the book a bit more than the show, for the reasons of the book being a more personal account of his experiences. Plus, he’s a damn fine writer. I haven’t read his string of fiction novels, but I am certainly compelled to pick one up.

So yes, back to today’s events.

Today was a special day because we actually got to see Tony cook. Yes, you heard (read?) me right. It’s kind of a rare thing to see him cook. As Alton Brown said in a Q&A earlier this year, when asked if he was given the keys to Food Network, “I’d produce more documentaries and specials and I’d make Tony Bourdain actually cook something on television, by force if necessary.”

This was also an excuse for me to pick up a copy of Bourdain’s new cookbook, Les Halles Cookbook, to learn a bit more about French cooking (it’s not as fancy as it seems, as a matter of fact, it’s simple and down to earth) and of course, to get his name scribbled in sharpie inside. I have not been to the restaurant of the same name that he is executive chef at, but I would love to. The closest I think I got to real French food was at Mon Ami Gabi, located at Paris Las Vegas (which, according to Kevin, who lived in France for a spell, was pretty authentic).

Oh yeah, here’s the obligatory posed photo:
Courtney, Michelle & Tony Bourdain

During his cooking demo, Bourdain expressed his strong opinions on american foods (Kraft Singles are NOT cheese), other celebrity chefs (“He needs more than a catchphrase. He used to be a good cook.”) and the state of food-oriented television programming (he’s sad about the shape it has taken, very plain vanilla).

Curiously (okay, not really, based on his opinions), Food Network isn’t rotating A Cook’s Tour in their schedule as of late. We were informed today that he is supposedly going to continue his culinary adventures on the Travel Channel come next month! Yay!

Man, this sounded like one big promotional piece. But it isn’t, I swear! I guess it shows how enthusiastic I am for Bourdain and his work. I thanked him today for “Keeping it real”. Celebrity chefs needs someone like him amongst them to keep it real these days.

That all said, I’mma makin’ us some Boeuf Bourguignon tomorrow.

buzzin' like a bee

Two caffeine posts in a row? That’s like, a new record.

Just a short while ago, I returned from the second monthly Coffee Meetup at Barefoot. Since meetup.com changed formats, Andy (the owner of Barefoot) became organizer and is looking to make these get-togethers fun and interesting for all levels of coffee drinkers.

You may be questioning, “There are different levels of coffee drinkers?”

Well, maybe it’s more accurate to say that there are different classes. Not sure how to most accurately describe it. There are espresso drinkers, drip drinkers, casual drinkers, coffee freaks (and geeks), afficionados, home roasters, home brewers, frou frou sweetened coffee-like beverage drinkers and of course, any combination of two or more of the above. There are also many many subcategories that I don’t think I should really get into, but you get the gist.

So tonight, we did an interesting experiment. We tasted a couple of Barefoot’s espresso coffees as drip, and then compared it to an espresso shot of the same coffee. It’s really interesting how a coffee changes with the method that it’s brewed by.

I’m still a bit of a coffee novice, although I consider myself to be a bit more knowledgable than the casual drinker. There is certainly a lot to learn. I had attended one of Barefoot’s periodic coffee cuppings, which are really intense, but you learn a lot (cupping/tasting four coffees within 2 hours) and I recommend it to anyone wanting to know more about coffee and what can make one type better (or worse) than others.

So the idea behind the meetups is that they will be for more casual drinkers that might want to know more, but mostly to just go and taste good quality coffees and chat. I do hope that we can get more people to come, so please do join us if you can.

Oh, and congrats to Barefoot for securing the title of Best Coffee House in the Silicon Valley by Metro readers!

South Bay Bloggers, remember that tomorrow night (Tuesday) is a blog meetup, held at Barefoot (I, unfortunately, will be a bit late). This is our first time trying to hold two monthly meetups (due to popular demand). Thanks to Elke for talking the helm for our group! We’ve been at it for two years now and we’re still going strong!

pigs in a blanket

We are happy to report, with full bellies, that AB‘s “Instant” Pancake Mix is really freakin’ good. Fluffy, buttery, and super yummy. The recipe makes a boatload of pancakes, so invite some friends over to share!

Thanks to Good Eats Community on Orkut, I got the lead on this recipe. Thanks, guys!

on organics

I’ve really been into buying and consuming organic foods lately.

Okay, before you start calling me a card-carrying California Hippie, hear me out.

A recent interview on KQED’s Forum started my quest. Scoff if you must, but plenty of good points were made by Nell Newman of Newman’s Own Organics. Not only are organic foods good for the environment, they can be better for you.

In a Good Eats episode aired a while back, Alton Brown mentioned his use of organic milk (lowfat, not skim, for the flavor is a lot better) in making fresh yogurt from scratch. This prompted me to try a carton of organic milk, especially since the local market had it on sale for an equal price to regular milk. There is a difference! The milk tastes more… milky. It’s a true flavor, maybe even a bit creamy, if you may.

I recently started buying Wallaby yogurt, which is also organic. I bought it at first because it was one of the few yogurts on the shelf that had no corn syrup in it (which, in itself, is a bad thing for you as well, but that’s another blog entry for another day). Labeled as low-fat organic yogurt, it tasted better than many high-fat yogurts on the market.

I could go on and on about my good experiences with organic foods. There’s really no argument from me on what’s best to buy. It’s a win-win situation. You buy foods that are better for you, they taste better, you support small and local farmers, and you’re promoting the well-being of our planet. As easy as it is to pick up the mass-produced products at any old market, the extra effort to find and purchase organics is worth it, IMHO… although most often at higher prices.

totally unrelated side note: this was an entry I started writing last June and totally forgot to finish.