Saturday, December 03, 2016

Atlantic Avenue

Atlantic Avenue, a scant two short blocks from where I live, is probably one of the most diverse avenues in the United States, if not in the world. At one end is the Brooklyn Bridge Park and miles away at the other end, as it crosses the Van Wyck Expressway, it morphs into 94th Avenue. But my stretch is anchored by two bars, Montero's Bar & Grill and Hank's Saloon. In between you have everything. More bars than you can shake a stick at, restaurants of every kind, from Middle Eastern to French, to soul food, to..., well, you name it. And you can find food stores ranging from your typical New York deli to Trader Joe's to Sahadi's Middle Eastern Grocery, a sprawling store that stocks just about every exotic ingredient that you could imagine. And if they don't have it, there are another half-dozen Middle Eastern stores that do. You have stores to serve your every need. And everyone lives in harmony in this stew of diversity.

I have decided to restart my blog that formerly chronicled my journey through a thousand bars in a single year to document this, to me, most fascinating of places before it irrevocably changes. As the neighborhood gentrifies, as so many do, many of the old places are leaving or changing beyond recognition. Change is inevitable. Atlantic Avenue, when I moved to Brooklyn, was a stretch you might not feel comfortable strolling about after dark. Some of the bars were downright dangerous. Now the danger is getting nicked fourteen bucks or more for a cocktail prepared by a mixologist who uses more ingredients than a chef uses for most meals, and bars that look like chemistry sets cluttered with bottles of special house bitters and who knows what else.

Now don't get me wrong, I can dump down a  Dolores Del Rio (JalapeƱo Infused Blanco Tequila, Aperol, Passion Fruit, Lime Juice) at the Long Island Bar as well as anyone. But I also remember when the Long Island Bar was pretty much a beer and a shot place. I want to document my stretch of Atlantic Avenue as it is now, before it changes even more. And maybe throw in a memory or two of what it was like.

I hope you will enjoy this trip as much as you enjoyed the last one. I am sure I will have as much fun. And I encourage anyone who has their own memories of, or thoughts about Atlantic Avenue to share them.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Early Labor Day Barbecue

Well, not too early, just a day. It was a combination Labor Day and birthday barbecue. A birthday for a sister-in-law and a niece. I fired up my Napoleon Smoker, a gift from the Mysterious Chinese Woman and her family, but I suspect a gift with an ulterior motive. My old smoker just wasn't big enough to smoke everything they wanted to eat. They are a voracious bunch.

My Napoleon Smoker


I did a couple of racks of spareribs, a boneless leg of lamb, a duck, and a chicken. The boneless leg of lamb I just used a liberal amount of Trader Joe's South African Smoke Seasoning Blend. I use this stuff a lot. Lot's of flavor but not too much heat. I also sprinkled on a fair amount of Kosher salt.

I brined both the duck and the chicken. The duck I brined in apple juice, Kosher salt, and garlic. The Chicken I brined in orange juice, Kosher salt, and honey ginger tea. The honey ginger tea is thick with shredded ginger and is meant to be added to hot water to make, well, honey ginger tea. But it also works well in this brine.

Honey Ginger Tea


I brine them overnight and then before I put the chicken and the duck on the grill I slather them with more of the stuff as a glaze.

Pre-Smoking



Post-Smoking


I make my own barbecue rub and have a variety of recipes but most are a variation on a theme. I removed the membrane from the spare ribs and rubbed them down the day before and and then let them sit in the fridge overnight. Took them out early enough to come to room temperature (well, close) and then put in the smoker.

Before Smoking


After Smoking


I was pleased with the way that everything came out and, considering the gusto with which everything was consumed I think everyone was pleased. It makes me happy to smoke for an appreciative family. And the mother-in-law contributed with dishes of her own, lobster, shrimp, noodles, vegetables, soup, so we had plenty to eat and a great day. Oh, and a delicious salad from a sister-in-law and a couple of ice-cream cakes. Champagne and raspberry wine as well. A great feast.






Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Grand Army

A new place opened up not too far from me on State Street and Hicks. I have been there twice and it is quite nice.


Beers are a bit on the pricey side and you don't get a pint like in most places. But they have a decent beer selection. Next time I will post it but didn't get a clear picture. But, as you can see, I enjoyed my beer.


They have $1 oysters during happy hour, something of a trend around the neighborhood and one that I am happy to see. And they serve them with an interesting selection of sauces. I could use a bit of just plan horseradish, though. But these were quite good. I liked the chipotle the best.


I slurcked them right down. Not sure what kind they were. Bit of an unusual shape, elongated. But they were very good and decent sized. No complaints from me.


For dinner I had the smoked octopus and it was excellent. I would return just for that, but next time I am going for the steak tartar. If they prepare that as well as the octopus it will be dynamite.





I can't remember for sure what the Mysterious Chinese Woman had but I am guessing it was the striped bass. They don't have a real extensive menu, but what they have, at least what I had, was really good. And she really liked whatever it was she had.


 I apologize for the quality of the pictures. I forgot my camera and so the pictures were taken with a new iPhone and I don't think I had the settings correct. But you can see more by clicking the link.

Grand Army

Stay tuned, I plan on posting more frequently, but certainly not as frequently as I once did.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Birthday Party For Arden

Went to a fun birthday party for my friend Arden. He is one of the many regulars from Pete's Waterfront Ale House who are kind of like an eleventh lost tribe. We tend to congregate wherever a former Pete's bartender is working or for special occasions. This was both and we congregated at the Hop Shop on Columbia Street in Brooklyn.


The Hop Shop is kind of waterfront if you consider the water to be the East River and the front to be across the street from a container terminal.


But hey, who goes to a bar for the view in Brooklyn? Well, maybe if you go to Ruby's in Coney Island. This is the view I was most interested in.


I started out with a Fire Island Sea Salt Ale. Not too strong (5.2% ABV) and a fairly hoppy IPA. Dry and crisp but I didn't notice any salt. And I sometimes put salt in my beer, especially 3.2 beer. Not bad. That was followed by a Sly Fox Saison that had more of a kick (6.9% ABV). A very good hot-weather beer. But enough about the beer, this was about Arden, the birthday boy.


Quite a crowd turned out because Arden is a crowd favorite. And quite an accomplished photographer. I have been going to Pete's Waterfront Ale House since it was across the street from where it was before it closed. Arden has been going there when it was down the block, just Pete's, and was an ice-cream place.


And no birthday party is complete with out cake or, in this case, cakes.


So for Arden this was great, two of his favorite things, cakes and taking pictures of cakes. Just doesn't get any better.


And food. The Mysterious Chinese Woman and I were heading out to dinner so I limited myself to a small Sloppy Joe and an excellent deviled egg brought by a former Pete's Waterfront Ale House cook. Just the deviled eggs. Not sure who brought the Sloppy Joes.


The Mysterious Chinese Woman had two pieces of cake. You can't stop her, you can only hope to contain her. She wouldn't let me take a picture of her eating it, but this is her with our friend Susan.


And here is Arden with more of his admirers.


The Hop Shop doesn't have a kitchen, yet. They are in the process of putting one in. It does have a nice little outdoor area, though. I will probably re-visit when they start having food.


After the party was over The Mysterious Chinese Woman and I headed to a very nice restaurant that could easily become one of my favorites.


La Cigogne is an Alsatian restaurant and Alsace is known for their storks as well as for their food and wine. La Cigogne means stork in French but, disappointingly, there was no stork on the menu. I had a delicious beef stew over spaetzle but ended up taking most of it home. A couple of beers, the Sloppy Joe, as small as it was, and deviled egg kind of filled me up. The Mysterious Chinese Woman had no problem polishing off her pistachio coated salmon though. I don't know how she manages to do it. She only had one beer, but I don't really know what she ate at the birthday party other than the cake.

We had a nice time at the party, the meal at La Cigogne was very good, and even the Knicks game I recorded was okay. Only second-tier and newer players played, but Porzingus looked pretty good, twelve points, three rebounds and two blocks in eighteen minutes. Good free-throw shooter as well, which is somewhat unusual for a big man, for some reason. The game was worth watching just to see Clyde in a polo-shirt instead of one of his more flamboyant outfits. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Beers at Dive Bar

Dive Bar is affiliated with Tanner Smith's and has been around a lot longer. Twenty-seven years longer. Great place and one I had never been to before. New York City is like a lot of different villages and this is one I don't get to very often. Upper West Side about a block from Central Park.


This place, like Tanner Smith's, was packed. Pretty much a sports bar with a lot of televisions and a bunch of softball teams drinking pitchers of beer.


 A representative from from Central Waters Brewery was there showcasing some of their offerings. I only had one of their beers though because, well, the one I had, Bourbon Barrel Cherry Stout, was 10% ABV and they went up from there.


This was quite the beer, and you will probably never have a chance to drink one unless you hurry. Only four kegs were shipped to New York, and only two to New York City. Dive Bar got one. I think they do sell it in bottles, though.

This beer had more flavor than just about any beer I have ever had. Lots of toffee and coffee with just a hint of cherry. And the flavor just stayed in your mouth for a long, long time. It would be a great winter beer, but I can't see drinking more than one at a sitting. Well, I can, but I would probably regret it. Aw, hell, Who am I kidding? I wouldn't regret it at all. It is aged in used bourbon barrels and at the end aged for another week or two with cherries.

I had an Elysian Split Shot Espresso Milk Stout (5.6% ABV) afterwards and under normal circumstances I would have thought that was a flavorful brew. After the Bourbon Barrel Cherry Stout, though, it tasted thin. The (Mysterious Chinese Woman) said it looked like a Guinness, and she was spot on. Like Guinness it is kept under nitrogen. This is brewed with Stumptown coffee and the flavor really comes through.

Started out the evening with a Bell's Amber Ale (5.8% ABV) and that was also quite good. Like Tanner Smith's they have a really nice beer menu here. I was going to just have a half-pint but it was happy hour and the waitress said I had to have a pint for the same price. Who am I to argue?

Food here was really good as well. We started with the bourbon chicken wings, spicy and tasty. Then we had a catfish taco that was also very good. I will be back even, though it is a bit of a subway ride.

Now this wasn't your traditional dive bar, but there was a dive theme to it.



Not sure how the moose fit into the theme, though. Maybe one of the owners shot it, or had it for a pet, or something.



I hope they aren't heavily into recycling here. And I hope that just drains and doesn't go into one of their beer lines.


Had a great time and now I will have to try the third bar these guys own, Three Monkeys.

Dive Bar

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Great Beer Tasting At Tanner Smith's

I was invited to a beer tasting last night at a fairly new bar and restaurant, Tanner Smith's. I was quite impressed. The place was packed when I got there, but not with people for the beer tasting. There were only about eighteen of us at that. It was for people who blogged or wrote about beer. I guess I got grandfathered in, somehow.

It was a nice tasting, eight different beers and each paired with a small dish. First, let me say the small dishes were excellent. They make everything (well, not the beer) on the premises and I will definitely make a return visit. An owner of the place introduced himself and the person conducting the tasting was a nephew of the owner. Very friendly people.

But on to the beers, in the approximate order that I remember drinking them.

First was Tricycle Grapefruit Radler from 49th Parallel Brewing. This was a low alcohol (3.5% ABV) that tasted pretty much like grapefruit juice. I could not really discern any alcohol at all. It is refreshing, but I would just as soon have a Greyhound with a bit of a kick to it. At Tanner Smith's they use it as an ingredient in some of their cocktails, but I think plain grapefruit juice would work just as well. Not exactly my cup of tea.

American Honey Blonde from Yonkers Brewing. A bit stronger (4.5% ABV) and made with Hudson Valley honey. It isn't sweet and I didn't discern any notable honey flavor. It is a bit tart with nice maltiness and a bit of hops back-end. A nice drinkable beer.

Downright Pilsner from Port City Brewing. Moving up a bit in alcohol (4.8% ABV). I found it to be quite dry. Has a bit of a murky color and didn't really appeal to me.

Labrador Lager from Thirsty Dog Brewery. Now this one I really liked. This was a beer with some meat to it (6% ABV). It was very smooth with what I thought was a dry, faint citrus, after taste. It is a Dortmunder style lager which is similar to a pilsner but the water they use is a bit sulferic (not that you would notice) and that is supposed to bring out the hops. It is also a bit more carbonated than the average beer.

Citradog IPA from Thirsty Dog Brewery. This beer has a lot of citrus notes to it, all from the Citra hops that are described as a high acid alpha hop (not sure what alpha hop means) with a strong, yet smooth, floral and citrus flavor and aroma. It was both citruy and hoppy and had a bite to it at 6.5% ABV. Very drinkable but citrusy beers are really not my thing.

Simtra Triple IPA from Knee Deep Brewery. Well, this could get you knee-deep in trouble if you drank much of it. Quite strong (11.25% ABV) and very bitter, as you would expect a triple IPA to be. It uses the Citra hops along with Simcoe hops, and hops you will taste. It is a real stomach warmer and I quite liked it. Probably would never have more than one, though. A pint would do a job on you, especially if you drank it like a beer instead of sipping it like a wine.

Mudpuppy Porter from Central Waters Brewery. This was a nice, mild (5.5% ABV) that went down smoothly. One of those porters that you could drink on a hot day. Your basic porter taste, somewhat coffee and chocolate, but nothing over-powering. Very drinkable.

Siberian Night Imperial Stout from Thirsty Dog Brewery. Now this was kind of like a good balance between the Sinatra Tripple IPA and the Mudpuppy Porter (9.7% ABV). You get plenty of flavor, chocolate, coffee, and toffee with the bitterness of an IPA. I liked the bitterness because often Imperial Stouts can be a bit too sweet and cloying for my taste. This was most excellent and would be a nice after-dinner drink. It would pair well with a chocolate dessert. Or you could just guzzle a couple of pints like I would probably do.

My hats of to Tanner Smith's for throwing a most excellent beer tasting. I had never even heard of, let alone tried, any of the beers before. The hosts were very friendly and knowledgeable and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The owners have another bar, Dive Bar, on the upper west-side of Manhattan and I plan on visiting them tomorrow night. I will try to take some pictures this time. My camera battery went dead and I didn't have my cellphone with me. My bad. They also own Three Monkeys Bar on 54th so that is also on my list for a future visit.

By the way Thomas "Tanner" Smith was somewhat of a rogue, the founder and leader of an Irish gang called the Marginals who met an untimely demise, shot in the back while playing poker.

Tanner Smith's
high alpha acid hop with a strong, yet smooth floral and citrus aroma and flavor. - See more at: http://craftbeeracademy.com/hop-of-the-week-citra/#sthash.XcjhFMOt.dpuf
high alpha acid hop with a strong, yet smooth floral and citrus aroma and flavor - See more at: http://craftbeeracademy.com/hop-of-the-week-citra/#sthash.XcjhFMOt.dpuf
high alpha acid hop with a strong, yet smooth floral and citrus aroma and flavor - See more at: http://craftbeeracademy.com/hop-of-the-week-citra/#sthash.XcjhFMOt.dpuf
high alpha acid hop with a strong, yet smooth floral and citrus aroma and flavor - See more at: http://craftbeeracademy.com/hop-of-the-week-citra/#sthash.XcjhFMOt.dpuf

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Drink Like A Thirsty Swagman



Not everyone can drink in one-thousand bars in a single year, and lord knows I will never be able to do it again. But that doesn't mean you can't do some legendary drinking. A fellow I ran across via Facebook runs some tours that involve some pretty legendary drinking in some legendary places. The fellow's name is Kenneth Hart and his Tour/Drinking company is Thirsty Swagman. As you may guess from the name, it is based in Australia. Drinking beer with Australians is always a risky business. Kind of like drinking Vodka with Russians.

Anyway, he has an upcoming tour in August, the Ale Of Man tour, that looks like fun. Ireland, Scotland, the U.K. A few others scheduled for next year as well in Asia and Spain. You might want to check them out.

You can find all the information you need the Thirsty Swagman website which you can access by clicking on Swagman Pubcrawls under My Favorite Links to the right, just under the picture of the Mysterious Chinese Woman.