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drinks: summer of fruit beers

despite summer’s lackluster performance this year… i declared summer of 2012 the summer of fruit beers.
previously i mentioned this in my canada cup of beer post
but i’ve since done a little more homework.  you know… in case i wasn’t sure.

definitely a reigning champ of fruit beer awesomeness is the granville island raspberry.

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i mean… it’s kinda obvious.
granville island makes a damn fine beer on any day of the week, but you throw some raspberries up in there and you have a winner.
it’s a great “intro to fruit beers” in that its the familiar distinct flavour of granville island that we all know and love, but with a nice raspberry edge.  so it’s not reinventing the wheel… it’s just greasing it up with something extra.

there’s a couple raspberry offerings this year… and phillips made a solid contribution to the genre.

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disclaimer: i am a total whore for phillips beer.  i LOVE their stuff.  with the exception of their mad hopps creations, i am pretty much down with everything they’ve ever touched.
their blueberry pail ale is one of my all time favourites.  but alas, i did not get one this year… so i had to settle for the raspberry wheat.
its yummy.  and very berry.
while the GI rasp is more “raspberry flavoured”, this one is like drinking mashed up berries.
its a very authentic berry flavour.

this year’s “fruit beer game changer” is totally the parallel 49 seedspitter watermelon wit.
never has a single beer divided a friendship circle so sharply.

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you want to talk a about a LOVE it or HATE it beer?
this is it.

i, am absolutely on board 100% on the love wagon.  the capital LOVE wagon.
as is my husband, moonbeam and loads of our other friends.
some, however, think this is the most foul thing they’ve ever tasted.

i have had clerks at the liquor store try to talk me out of buying it.
my brother told me he took one sip of the one i left him and dumped the rest.

there is no middle ground with the watermelon beer.

for me, i could happily drink this one non stop all summer… and i pretty much have for the last month.
i have a few 6-packs squirreled away because i’ve heard they’re about done for the season.
there’s 4 in my fridge.
i’m thinking of opening one right now, lol.

i. love. this. beer.
but i understand how others can hate.
it’s a strong, no holds barred watermelon assault that rides a mellow very drinkable wheat beer.
its different, its refreshing and i just flat out like the way it tastes.

the last one i want to mention on my fruit roundup is the whistler pineapple express wheat ale.

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i’ve really come around to love whistler’s beers.
or maybe their beers are just getting better.
either way, i like what they’re into right now.

their other fruit offering, the grapefruit beer is in high rotation in our house.  my husband is a huge fan.
and this pineapple one was good… but didn’t make me forget the grapefruit.
i liked that it was a very subtle pineapple flavour.  not too aggressive at all.
good patio change-up beer.

lastly… this is about as far from fruit as one can get… but i realize i never featured it on the blog and it definitely warrants a mention.
if for no other reason than for sheer WTF-ness.

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ya, thats right… a beer based on a maple bacon doughnut.
and not just any one… the famous voodoo doughnuts maple bacon doughnut that was years ahead of the trend.

i’m not sure what to entirely say about this beer except that it legitimately tasted like a bacon maple doughnut.
like smoky bacon and real maple syrup and yeasty doughnut.
it was… weird.
one of those flavours where you sipped, stopped, looked at it and said, that was weird.
crazy times.
not a beer you’d drink all night… but one i was glad i can say i’d at least tried.

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travel: eastern europe with contiki

you know when sometimes something TOTALLY AWESOME happens and you totally LOVE your life?!
that was me today.

I’m very very very excited to be heading off in a few weeks for my very first travel agent familiarity trip courtesy of Contiki.
I applied and really really hoped i’d be chosen and somehow all my happy thoughts panned out and it happened!

so, a mere 5 days after flying home from italy, i’ll be back on a plane to europe, with my destination as prague.

this is a very fast trip.  i am 6 nights in destination total… 2 nights in prague, 2 nights in vienna and 2 nights in budapest.
and i am absolutely losing my shit with excitement.

i booked my flights today (thank you KLM for the awesome deal!) and i am locked, cocked and ready to rock.

Day 1 – Friday 19th October Prague

Make your way to the hotel and meet up with your fellow travellers and Contiki team. This afternoon explore Prague on a relaxed city bike ride past Municipal Haus, National Theatre and stopping off in the iconic Jewish Quarter. The rest of the day is yours to explore this medieval city’s maze of cobbled streets and Gothic architecture.

Tonight we will sample traditional Prague cuisine before kicking off the nights activities with the traditional Polka dance. (D)

Day 2 – Saturday 20th October Prague

This morning we start the day with a city tour. Our local guide will show us Hradcany castle, the Cathedral of St Vitus, Charles Bridge and Wenceslas Square. This afternoon is at leisure to enjoy the city. A chance to taste the local beer or shop for Bohemian glass, the choice is yours! Dinner will be on your own, so you can experience the local culture and cuisine. (B)

Day 3 – Sunday 21st October Vienna

We start today travelling through the Czech countryside via small town Kutna Hora and onto Austria’s cultured capital, Vienna, home to Mozart’s music and of course Apple Strudel!

This afternoon take the time to stroll through this beautiful city – stopping for delicious pastries and coffee along the way.

Tonight we will cruise along the historic Ring Road in Vienna where you will be able to see the Hofburg Palace, St Stephen’s Cathedral and the State Opera House. Dinner will be on your own, so you can experience the local culture and cuisine. (B)

Day 4 – Monday 22nd October Vienna

This morning start the day with the chance to stretch your legs with a walking tour in the city. See the various courtyards of the Hofburg Palace and the famous Kartnerstrasse – before stopping by at the iconic Swarovski Shop for the chance to view the fantastic world of crystal.

This afternoon we will stop by the Old Vienna Schnapps Museum, for a little insight into the tradition of the distillery craft and a chance to sample the product in true Austrian fashion!

After some Schnapps it’s back to the hotel to get glammed up for a night with Mozart. Dinner will be at the beautiful Schonbrunn Palace followed by a Mozart classical music concert in spectacular surroundings. A magical last night in stunning Vienna. (B, D)

Day 5 – Tuesday 23rd October Vienna

Departing Austria this morning we travel into Hungary and onto the Paris of the East – Budapest. On arrival our local guide will give you an insider’s perspective of one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. You will have the opportunity to see hilltop Buda, bustling Pest, The Royal Palace, the Church of St Matthias, the Chain Bridge and Fishermans Bastion. Dinner will be at a restaurant where local cuisine will be served. (B, D)

Day 6 – Wednesday 24th October Budapest

This morning we will check out the Budapest Parliament Building at a leisurely pace – regarded as one of the most beautiful parliament buildings of the world. On the tour you will also have the chance to see the Holy Crown of the former Hungarian Kingdom up close.

A chance this afternoon for you to experience ‘bathing’ in this famous spa city. Your Tour Manager will show you the best baths to visit if you wish, where you can try the steam baths, saunas, massage services and other therapies. For those of you who don’t wish to try the spa, the afternoon is at leisure for you to explore this amazing city.

Tonight we enjoy the city by night with a traditional Hungarian dinner served while you are cruising down the Danube River, taking in evening views of Buda and Pest. (B, D)

Day 7 – Thursday 25th October Budapest

A final farewell to your new friends as we transfer you to the airport for your flight home. (B)

kitchen gadgets

last weekend i picked up a new toy.

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not gonna lie, he’s a pretty handsome addition to my countertop.
but i haven’t had a chance to use it yet, so today will be a day of playtime.

i’m going to bust up some cauliflower for a big old batch of paleo fried rice for my lunches this week…
and i might even make some more larabar-type treats.  i’ve got some fancy dried fruit and loads of coconut and such in my cupboards so it seems like the right thing to do.
and maybe make some pesto or something… just for fun.

i’ve never actually owned a food processor before, so i haven’t quite wrapped my head around all the possibilities.  things like chopping & slicing vegetables and grating cheese will take some time to get used to.
although, the vegetable chopping thing is pretty exciting because this thing does adjustable slices.  so i’m definitely looking forward to using that to save some time.

this guy also has the mini bowl that sits inside the big bowl.  so when i want to make a mayo or pesto or whatever, i don’t have to clean out the giant big bowl.  that was important to me.

anyways.  clearly this was in no way a “necessity” purchase… but i have long lusted after one.  i’ve read recipe after recipe that uses food processors and it seems that especially in the paleo world they’re a well used item… and while i’ve certainly gotten by without one, dammit, i’m an adult and if i wanna buy a shiny toy, i’m gonna go ahead and do it.

speaking of shiny toys… i am THISCLOSE to buying myself a soda stream.

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here’s the thing.  i don’t really drink much pop, so its not really about that… but i drink a shit-ton of club soda, perrier, san pelligrino and whatever sparkling water i can get my hands on.  i love that shit.
in fact, i’m drinking a bottle of perrier right now as i type this.
and i’m getting super tired of all the packaging that comes with this habit.

if i get a soda stream, i can just carbonate my tap water and be totally happy about it.

and i have friends that have one and they love it.  they use it for water but also for pop… and i’m sure my husband would get into some root beers and cola and such…
but i like the possibilities of making some fancy sodas too.  infusions of fruits & herbs… you know, getting crazy and creative.  and the best part is being able to ultimately control the whole process.  no worries about sodium from club soda and too much refined sugar or corn syrups of whatever garbage…

so yes.  if i find one on sale one time, there’s a good chance its coming home with me.

food: charred corn salad

okay,so i’ve pretty much been the worst for posting over the past few weeks… part of it has been because i’ve been busy and the other part has just been a straight up lack of anything good to say.

but i do have a recipe post for you…

last weekend i made a charred corn salad from my bon apetit magazine and it turned out, by all accounts, to be quite yummy.
i say “by all accounts”, because i didn’t actually eat any of it.
i’m trying to steer away from the corn and i don’t like tomatoes and onions. so this was really not something i made for *me*
which is fine. because it was meant for bbq sharing.

anyways, it was a little more time consuming than i thought… lots of tiny chopping and grilling the corn and shucking it ect… but it yielded a GIANT bowl of salad and was fresh & healthy and all that good stuff.

the recipe is here but i downsized it a little and only used 10 ears of corn, which i felt was PLENTY.
i also decided to go for a “everything chopped the same size” feel to the salad. so, mine looked a little different than theirs.

Charred Corn Salad with Basil and Tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 12 ears of corn, husked
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup (loosely packed) fresh basil leaves, large leaves torn
  • 1/3 cup (or more) fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

Preparation

  • Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill, or heat a gas grill to high. Rub corn with 1 Tbsp. oil. Grill, turning frequently, until corn is charred and heated through, 10-12 minutes. Remove from grill; when cool enough to handle, cut kernels from cobs and transfer to a large bowl. DO AHEAD: Corn can be made 3 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.
  • Place onion in a strainer and rinse with cold water to mellow its flavor. Drain well. Mix onion, remaining 5 Tbsp. oil, tomatoes, basil, 1/3 cup lime juice, and thyme into corn. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and more lime juice, if desired. DO AHEAD: Salad can be assembled 1 hour ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

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baking: paleo zucchini muffins

if there’s one baked good that i have a serious soft spot for it’s a really nice zucchini bread.
preferably the kind with chocolate and/or chocolate chips in it.

and wouldn’t you know it… it’s zucchini season.

sadly, my 3 zucchini plants are not yielding bounty like i had hoped.
they appear to have some sort of pest… maybe a fungus? i don’t know.
but all my zucchinis get about an inch long and then shrivel up and die.
so it’s a good thing that zucchinis are local and cheap right now – $.69 a pound – bargain!

so… i kinda bought 2 pounds of them. and then another pound of yellow zucchinis.

but i have plans.

i found this recipe that sounded seriously yummy.
and i thought it was worth testing out.
after all, it did come to my inbox courtesy of nom nom paleo, which never steers me wrong…

Recipe: Perfect Paleo Zucchini Muffins

Ingredients

  • 2.5 cups almond butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 c. shredded zucchini, strained or squeezed
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon (GOOD quality makes a huge difference)

Instructions

  1. Add all items to a mixing bowl in order and stir.
  2. Pour into paper-lined muffin tins (trust me, this is a step you don’t want to skip).
  3. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes or until slightly brown on edges and passes the toothpick test.
  4. Makes 12 muffins.

ummm… ya.
these muffins are fucking incredible.
this is probably the best baked zucchini item i’ve ever had.
period.  paleo or not.

i did make a few slight tweaks to the above recipe…
i added about a tablespoon of raw agave syrup for a bit more sweetness and i also added a 1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips.
and i didn’t have 2.5 cups of almond butter, i only had 2 cups.  but it still worked magically.
i also used trader joe’s almond butter with sea salt in it because it was all i had.
the only real difference was that i had to cook them for 21 minutes before they were done.

but i just absolutely annihilated one.  …and i’m thinking about going back for a repeat performance.
they’re light and cakey and sweet and chocolaty and so frigging good!
i’ll admit that there’s been a bit of my paleo baking adventures have netted me some puck-like results… but this was not one of them.  in fact, i would bet money that not very many people would peg this as a flour-free product.

i’ve never cooked with almond butter before… although i’ve cooked with almond flour lots… i just didn’t realize this was a “thing” that one could do.
so, awesome learning experience.

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