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Epicurean Ramblings - February 2013 Archives

Thoughts on Beer & Food, Home & Away

Beer, Goat & More Beer
Posted Monday, July 2nd, 2012 by thewimperoo

Many months ago, I asked my wife where she wanted to go out for her birthday knowing that many of the places that she'd be likely to select would need a reservation made at that time.  Her choice was Girl and the Goat.  A trendy restaurant located in the West Loop on Randolph St.  Girl and the Goat is most noticeably famous for its "celebrity" chef.  Top Chef Season 4 winner, Stephanie Izard.  Even prior to Top Chef, Stephanie was putting out remarkable food at now shuttered Scylla.  Her style of cooking is rustic, mixing together many ingredients that you wouldn't think of putting together.  Enough background, this past Saturday was the night and here's a recap.

With traffic what it can be, we left home a bit earlier than usual to head down into the City.  Surprisingly it wasn't as bad as expected so we had a little bit of time before our reservation to relax.  Considering Haymarket is mere steps from G&tG, it made for a a nice place to have a beer or two before dinner.  A rare treat was on tap, Indignant; a Templeton Rye barrel aged Imperial Stout.  The base beer had been sitting in barrels for the past 7 months.  The beer was quite barrel forward in its aroma and flavor.  A definite sipper for sure, paired well with the 90+ degree weather.  A few other tastes were imbibed.  An all Cascade IPA (very citrusy, highly drinkable), a Porter (solid, if nothing else) and the always delicious Mathias (Citra bomb of a DIPA).  After those drinks were consumed it was time to eat.

The G&tG menu consists for 3 main sections, V, F, M as well as a special for rotating goat dishes.  Everything is small plates meant for sharing.

 

The beer and cocktail list are solid.  Only 4 draft choices, but at least 1 is usually a Floyds product.  Bottle list is interesting, but overpriced as most restaurant lists are.  I figured on a hot night, I'd stick with an easy drinker that pairs well with most anything.  Gumballhead

 

You order all of the dishes that you plan to eat right at the start, and then the kitchen paces the meal from there. They recommend 2-3 dishes per person. Since we've been there before we know that it's better to lean towards the lower side as they are not stingy with the portion sizes.

First course that they brought out was Ham Frites.  These are standard Belgian style frites, dusted with a Ham Salt and served with two dipping sauces.  One a smoked tomato aioli and the other a beer cheddar sauce.  I'm a sucker for frites/fries of almost any persuasion.  Top them with ham salt and well, let's just say it wasn't a tough choice.  The smoked tomato aioli was killer.  One thing I'd say is that while the frites were delicious, I wouldn't ever order them again unless I was with a much bigger group.  The amount they serve you is huge.  We only ate the frites down to where the top of the bowl started and felt like that was more than enough.

Next course was grilled goat loin on top of a ratatouille of zucchini, summer squash, onions and tomatoes with a tarragon sauce.  The goat was cooked to a perfect rare/med rare.  Very tender with excellent "goaty" flavor.  

The third course was one that we debated back and forth when trying to decide what to select.  It was between a crispy braised pork shank & wood grilled chicken with fried pickles and naan.  The wife finally made the final decision to go with the chicken.  Even though chicken is such a common item, when done well it can be a real delight.  This dish was just that.  Half a chicken grilled over a wood fire, with a sauce of Asian flavors. Simple, but bursting with flavor.  The naan was a great utensil for sopping up all of the delicious juices and sauce.  A complement to the dish was tempura fried pickles with a yuzu harissa and scallion aioli.  Really enjoyed the bright flavor of the harissa.  

The fourth and final savory dish of the night was grilled broccoli with Rogue's Creamery Smokey Bleu and spiced crispies.  I was a big fan of the vegetable dishes that we had in my previous visit so we wanted to get a different one this time and the broccoli didn't disappoint.  I'm not a huge bleu cheese fan, but this preparation made for a milder flavor that complemented the broccoli quite well.  

After these dishes, we were feeling quite good. So we decided to select a dessert.  The most interesting item was a zucchini cake with eggplant, lemon mascarpone and a dried tomato caramel powder.  A combination of ingredients that sound a bit weird, but really came together.  I'm not huge on dessert, but something like this that isn't super sweet or heavy is what I lean towards every time.  

I would be remiss if I didn't mention a couple of other dishes that, in my opinion, are most order plates for your first visit.  The Cauliflower dish (grilled cauliflower, pine nuts, pickled peppers and mint) and Pig Face (roasted pig face, sunny side up egg, tamarind maple sauce, and potato stix).  

To conclude the night, we drove up to the taproom in the new Revolution Brewery on Kedzie.  A really nice space, walled and chain link fenced off from the brewery.  The wood of the long bar looks similar to the one at the brewpub.  The stools are comfy leather backed chairs.  Only problem was that I overlooked the fact that since this is in a giant brewery warehouse, there was no air conditioning.  This meant a much shorter stop than anticipated.  A glass of Double Fist and a few samplers and we were on our way.  For now I'll continue to frequent the brewpub as often as possible, but when the weather cools down, I'll definitely be back.  

I'll probably blog the StL trip that Dave and I are taking in a couple of weeks, and then Great Taste.  Looking forward to both.  Thanks for reading!

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Whirlwind SF Trip Recap
Posted Sunday, May 13th, 2012 by thewimperoo

 

Photos and rambling recap of my 6 days in the Bay Area

 

Day 1 in SF (Sunday)

Snuck out of the conference schmoozing event and hit up ChurchKey.  A real chill place, that had a decent tap list.  They had just done a Heretic event so most of their taps were taken over by them.  The red and DIPA were pretty good, porter not bad.  Stellar, the bartender, was punk rock, pink hair, tats and piercings.  Really cool.  A bunch of drunk ass regulars.  Nice introduction to the SF bar scene.

 

Day 2 (Monday)

Had the conference all day and then an event at night, but afterwards I grabbed a cab to Toronado.  Not too busy, was able to easily grab a seat at the bar.  Started out with a Blind Pig.  Gruff, but competent service from the bartender.  Worked my way to a Bombay by Boat on cask.  Wanting something sour, but still working my way to asking for Cable Car, I ordered a Jacobins Rouge.  Finished the short pour in no time.  Asked for a Cable Car, but was quickly rejected.  Finished out the night with a High Water Hop Riot, really enjoyed that beer.   

 

Day 3 (Tuesday)

Conference got done around 2, made my way to my new hotel, checked in and then armed with my camera, I hoofed it to get some lunch.  Fatted Calf was the spot.  Awesome butcher shop, just made me wish I had a kitchen there and could cook all night long.  Lamb sandwich was long gone by the time I arrived, so I had to decide between the Pulled Pork and Meatball.  Rolled with the Pulled Pork.  Delicious and filling.

 

 

After lunch, I had about 3 hours to kill until I needed to meet my wife at the airport.  Due to its proximity to the BART, I walked to Monk’s Kettle.  A tiny spot with a bunch of taps and a wall of glassware.  I knew this would be good.  Started off with a Sculpin. Worked my way through their Moonlight beers…Reality Czeck, Death & Taxes and Misspent Youth. Checked the vintage list hoping they’d still have bottles of batch 2 Beatification, but woe is me it listed no such thing. Next choice was a Reef Rye from Ballast Point, a brown ale with rye, never heard of it before but it was solid. Pliny keg blew and it was replaced with Happy Hops.  It was an awesome way to end the drinking session.  Really enjoyed my time at Monk’s Kettle.  Prices were a bit high compared to the other spots I hit up, but the service and proper glassware pours made up for it imo.

 

 

Bewbs and she wasn’t afraid to show them off

 

After getting the wife safely to the hotel, we headed out to dinner at Zero Zero.  Heard really good things about the pizza here so we had high expectations.

 

Before the pizza, we looked over the small plates for a precursor.  Pork belly and poached egg rarely steers me wrong, so that was the choice.

 

Money Shot

 

Fillmore Pizza - Hen of the Woods Mushrooms, Leeks, Mozzarella, Parmesan, Pecorino, Fontina, Garlic, Thyme

 

Food was excellent and stood up to the tall expectations.  And with that it was bedtime as we had a long day of eating and drinking to come.  

 

 

Day 4 in SF (Wednesday)

The day started off by waking up early and catching the bus down to Dynamo Donuts for breakfast.  The selection was diverse, and difficult to narrow down.

 

Decided on 4

Apricot Cardamom

Strawberry Earl Grey

Maple Glazed Apple Bacon

Sticky Bun

 

If I had to rank the 4 donuts, I’d say: Strawberry Earl Gray, Sticky Bun, Maple Glazed Apple Bacon and Apricot Cardamom.  The Strawberry Earl Gray was most excellent, loved the combination of flavors as well as the more cake-like texture of the donut.  

 

Full of donuts we public trans’d our way up to Golden Gate Park to wander around until the California Academy of Sciences opened up.  

 

Great scenery

 

Old Asians doing yoga, tai chi, whatever

 

Time to get our knowledge on

 

Greeted by some dino bones

 

A lot of good animal exhibits…albino alligator, turtle, penguins, sting rays, lots of fish

 

Planetarium was real cool, and the living rain forest was also nice.  It was a good place to spend a few hours.  After walking around the museum it was time to get some lunch and Alembic was the spot.

 

Beer list was a little lacking on this day as they had a bunch of empty taps at the time, but the Almanac was calling my name.

 

Food menu mainly consists of snacks and small plates for sharing.  We decided on a few dishes and they were all delicious.

Shishito peppers with house smoked salt

Pork Belly Slider with kimchee

Baby Back ribs, smoked maple glaze, celery root-apple slaw, pickled jalapeno

 

With the beer selection lacking, but an insane amount of spirits, I asked for the bartender to make me a drink of his choosing.  He made me an excellent version of a sazarac

 

 

Sated and happy it was time to move on.  Just continued walking down Haight to Magnolia.

 

Magnolia was a nice spot, lot of beer on tap, relaxed vibe for some afternoon day drinking.  

 

Started off with a Cole Porter on cask.  Nice

 

Proving Ground IPA was next.  Solid West Coast IPA

 

Last beer was a gruit.  Never had one before so I figured I had to try it.  It was interesting and tasty.

 

After chilling at Magnolia for a few hours, we walked to Nopa for dinner.  Bar seating for walk-ins was the only way we were getting in so we arrived right as they opened.  Prime seats at the end of the bar right next to the kitchen was better than sitting in the dining area anyways.

 

Rotisserie chickens were very tempting, but alas we passed

Cute bartender making drinks

 

First course: Fried asparagus with garlic aioli

 

Second course:  Goat cheese bread pudding with pickled beets

 

Third course: Roasted cauliflower, kalamata olives and blood oranges

 

Fourth course: Burger w/ Aged Cheddar, Bacon, Pickled Onions and Chipotle Aioli

 

Fifth course: Grilled Pork Chop, Roasted Carrots, Snap Peas and Watercress

 

An absolutely phenomenal meal.  Every dish was great.  I couldn’t recommend this place more.  Would love to go back and eat all of the other dishes that we missed.

 

Completely full it was time to make a return effort to Toronado and give the Cable Car one more shot.

 

Long story shot, fail boat express on the Cable Car, but still another good night of drinking some good beers on tap.  Around 9, the wife gave the look that we all know, so it was time to call it a night and head back to the hotel.  

 

 

Day 5 in SF (Thursday)

The day started off with a walk to Dottie’s True Blue Café for breakfast.  It’s not in the best area of San Francisco, but it made for some nice people watching at 7 in the morning while we waited for Dottie’s to open.  Crack heads hanging out on the corner, pimps and hoes walking down the street…good times.  Anyways on to the food.

 

A vast menu with lot of choices in addition to a specials board with fresh baked good made for tough choices, but I managed.

Pulled Pork, Roasted Onion and Jack Cheese Scramble with Home Fries

 

Fresh baked Buttermilk Dill Toast that was a really great flavor combination

 

Wife went boring and just rolled with pancakes, although the added cinnamon and ginger in the batter did add a nice hit of flavor

 

After breakfast we made our way to the rental car spot.  Ended up with a Yaris, which got the job done for $15 a day.  Hit the road north, drove over the Golden Gate Bridge, and were in Santa Rosa by the time Russian River opened at 11.  

 

Orange signs on the door nearly gave me a heart attack, but thankfully it was just to say that only the kitchen was closed on that day not the whole place.  Crisis averted.  Time to get down.  First things first was assessing the Beatification situation.  They only had a few bottles remaining when I first arrived, so I said give them all to me.

 

However, a little bit later the reserve supply arrived from the brewery, so a case was available for purchase.

 

With that bit of business taken care of it was time get the drink on.  Checked out the selection available for drinking

 

Pub only beers seemed like the smart thing to do

Russian River IPA to start

 

Nice coaster to mark your territory

 

Moved onto the Russian River Porter. This was excellent

 

Enough waiting around, let’s get to the Beat

 

And to round it out, a Supplication

 

 

In addition to the great beer, the brewpub is a pretty cool place to hang.  Sure there’s some out of towners like we were on this day, 3 other people from Chicago were also visiting while we were there, but the place really is a spot for Something I love when it comes to a drinking establishment.  Kitschy memorabilia gave it a real homey feel.

 

Really wanted to get this shirt for P, but they didn’t have any big enough  :(

 

In addition to great beer, also Jew friendly  :lol:

 

 

Hungry, we decided to call it an afternoon at Russian River and head back down towards Petaluma to enjoy Lagunitas. Quick pit stop at In-n-Out burger for food.  Figured we had to do it since neither of us had partaken before.  Double Double animal style with fries.  Burger was in the upper tier of fast food, but really nothing I need to eat again.  Fries were turrible.  I thought you couldn’t go wrong with fresh cut, but these proved me wrong.  Not double frying was the problem.  

 

Ready to partake in some more drinking, we arrived at Lagunitas around 3.

 

In addition to the tap room, they have an awesome outdoor beer garden.  Covered by a clear roof to keep the rain out, but let light in.  Could see spending many a days here if I lived nearby

 

Walking into the tap room, we were greeted by this sight.  Even the wife said it needed to be documented 

 

Beer list, lots of interesting choices

 

Decided on a taster, awesome value at $5.50

The BA Gnarlywine and Waldo were great, BA Imperial Stout was quite good, while the Gueuze was not that good.

 

Some pics of the scene

 

Had to get a full glass of the Waldo since it was so good

 

Also partook in a hand pull of the Lucky 13.alt

 

5 o’clock rolled around and we decided to jump into the tour.  Cute girl leading and all, why not.  Turns out she’s from the Chicagoland area, so she might move back to work at the new brewery.  

 

Very much under construction as you would imagine, but we were still given pretty good access to all areas of the brewery, so it was nice to explore and take some pics.

 

You can see some barrels hiding back there

 

Full set of pics from Lagunitas: http://"https://picasaweb.google.com/100084739448604068575/LagunitasBrewingCompanyPetalumaCA

 

All in all a really cool place, maybe my favorite of the entire trip.  I’d love to live nearby and hang out in that beer garden on a regular basis.

 

Left Lagunitas, drove back up to Santa Rosa to check into our hotel and decide what we wanted to do for dinner.  After some menu consultations, the wife agreed to Flavor Bistro as the spot.  Excited about this as I had heard plenty of good things about the place.

 

The Official Unofficial home of Moonlight beer, had to get a Misspent Youth

 

Wife went with the Duck Ravioli with Gorgonzola-Walnut Sauce.  The few bites I could swipe, were delicious

 

I ordered the Beef Short Ribs with Butternut Risotto.  Whoa flavor in the short ribs, risotto was “on point” as a d-bag from Santa Rosa once said.

 

Would recommend as a great eatery.

 

Since the night was still young, we decided to swing back to Russian River for a sample tray.  Unfortunately, 2 taps short of a full boat

 

Thought about another Beatification, but it was late so I passed.  Good judgment, maybe.

 

Day 6 in SF (Friday)

Not much in the way of beer happenings on this final day.  So if you're only here for the beer, you can stop now.  
Early breakfast in Santa Rosa at Dierk's Parkside Cafe, so that we could get back to SF in reasonable time.
Despite the lowly diner look, the menu was full of more uspcale offerings
Fry Bread to share
Duck Confit with Hash Browns, Scrambled Eggs and Warm Apples
Breakfast Burrito filled with Grilled Chicken, Cheddar Cheese, Black Beans and Red Rice.  Topped with fresh salsa
The duck confit was awesome.  Right up there with the confit hash at Marigold Kitchen in Madison.  Really enjoyed the food here, definitely a good spot to hit for breakfast.
Looking to do a little bit of photoing, we stopped at the Marin Headlands on the way back down.  Just an absolutely gorgeous place.  Lots of great views of the ocean, hills and Golden Gate Bridge.  Got some ok shots, probably would have benefitted from a UV filter, as the haze washed out a lot of the color of the bridge even though it was only about 9 in the morning.  
After taking in all of the natural beauty, we took care of some more boring tasks like boxing up the Russian River haul, dropping off at Fedex and returning the rental car.  During that time we did make a quick stop at City Beer Store. Wasn't able to sit down and partake in the bar section, but the to-go store had some decent choices.  Wish bottles of Framboise for the Cure would have been available, but thems the breaks sometimes.
Once the rental car was returned and we checked back into our hotel in SF, we made our way to AT&T park for a Giants game.  Heard good things about the Public House connected to the park.  We arrived a couple of hours before the game and it was already a madhouse so there was nowhere to sit.  The tap selection was pretty solid and nicely priced. I had an Old Rasputin on Nitro.  We ate some tacos from the Mexican restaurant connected to the Public House.  Pretty mediocre and expensive.  
Pics of the stadium
Game was decent.  Linecum kind of sucked for the first couple of innings.  Giants lost, but fans in our section didn't seem to care to much about the game anyways.  
This brought an effective end to our trip.  We caught our flight home the next morning.  Could have used another week to hit all of the beer spots and food spots in the area, but I guess that will have to be for next time.  
Thanks for reading if you actually made it this far. 

 

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