Tuesday, March 08, 2005

A Pleasant Tuesday

The weather is clearing so it was a nice day for a walk. I took a stroll across a bridge to the north side of town and walked along Morelos, a street up a block or two from the malecon and a bit further down than I had walked before.

298) La Casa del Tequila

At first I thought this might just be a place that sold tequila. When you first walk in there is a tequila tasting area and they say they have 350 kinds of tequila for sale. It looked like it. They have a lot of tequilas that you just don´t find in the stores and, interestingly, do not have the ones you do find. They focus more on the more unusual and more expensive types. I only sampled one, it was very good, before walking through that area to my real goal.

Behind the tasting area was a very nice and quite ornate wood and metal bar. I thought it was a genuine antique but after talking to the bartender I found out it was only ten-years old. It was, however, made with old planking from barns and doors so it had that antique look about it. The top of the bar had four wood planks about three feet long, one foot wide, and half an inch think affixed to it. The planks were framed in iron bands about one and a half inches wide with large rivets about every three inches. Although the iron looked old and rusted I found out it had been painted with a special paint to make it look that way. The front of the bar was a pounded metal separated into panels with the same type of bands described above. In the center of each panel (except for two where it looked like they had been removed) were brass looking emblems with an agave plant and the name of the bar inscribed. The back of the bar was equally ornate but all wood. There were mirrors and glass shelves that held an impressive liquor selection, mostly tequilas. The bar stools had backs and real leather seats. The bar-rail looked to be twisted wrought iron and was held in place by wide iron bands with ornate curls on each end. The wall behind the bar was painted to look like storage racks of, what I presumed to be, tequila barrels.

There was also a large, bright eating area with several tables. Not too large with overhead fans and those behive lights. I asked a couple who were leaving how the food was and they said it was very good. I saw the little kitchen and the Mexican lady making the tortillas looked like the real deal.

I had a margarita on the rocks and it was one of the best I have ever had.

299) La Casa del Habano

At the end of the block, across the street and up a bit on Aldama, was this interesting place. At least interesting for here in Puerto Vallarta. When I first walked in I thought it was just a place to buy cigars, but the sign out front did say bar. They sell nothing but Cuban cigars and have a very large, walk-in, humidified temperature-controlled room to store them in. A very impressive selection too.

Walking though this area you enter a very nicely appointed smoking room with a small, three stool bar. The bar has a black and red marble top and sits off to one side of the smoking room. Given the number of comfortable chairs and sofas available the bartender thought it was a bit strange that I chose to sit at the bar, but rules are rules.

There were a couple of televisons that were turned off and a lot of books and magazines available for reading while you enjoyed a good cigar and a drink. The pictures on the walls were mostly cigar related and cigar advertisements. There was a large poster of Che Guevera enjoying a cigar. He seems to be second only to Zapata in popularity down here. On one wall was a nice stained glass hanging of people harvesting tobacco and to the left of the bar was a black stained glass hanging with the words ¨Habanas unicos desedes 1492.¨

I spent my time at the bar smoking a small cigar, having my drink, and chatting with the bartender. She was born in Puerto Vallarta and has lived here all her life, 32 years. We chatted about the changes we have seen and she told me about some small towns that I might want to visit. She was somewhat surprised that I had been to several of them already. While I was there a fellow, Wayne, stopped by. He was from Niagra, Canada. This was his first time in Puerto Vallarta and he was going to be here for four weeks. We chatted a bit as well.

I had a Cuba libre.

300) Etc. la Cantina

Back on Morelos and down a block or two from La Casa del Tequila, was this large, but not touristy, bar. The bar itself was a fairly large wooden three-sided affair with a tan marble-patterned linoleum top. There were beer cases and a few kegs being stored there along with the obligatory beer cooler. The bar-stools were plain wooden affairs. The bar rail was seemed to be a large iron tube. The most notable decorative touch were a number of old saddles mounted on the high up on the white plaster walls. There was a bit of orange paint to brighten the place up a bit.

Although this was on a busy street, the back-side of the bar was cool. You could just hear a touch of the traffic through the doors and windows that looked out on the street.

There were a lot of wooden tables and chairs and, from the menu on the wall, it looked like you could order Mexican bar food: Alitas, Burritos, Nachos, Carnes F., Papas F., Camarons, and Cacahauates. I am not sure what half of that stuff actually is, and I wasn´t hungry enough to find out.

There wasn´t anyone in the place but me and the bartender and he didn´t seem to speak English. Maybe the place livens up at night, it was only a little after 3:00 P.M. The bartender was watching a soccer game on television, Chelsea vs. Barcelona. He didn´t seem too pleased when Chelsea scored to increase their lead to 4 to 2 (I subsequently saw on the news that this was also the final score).

I had a Pacifico and headed home.

Not a real milestone like 250, but round numbers are always nice, so with 300 down I now have 700 left to go.

3 comments:

Bruce Carl said...

Congratulations on 300. And you missed the snow in New York.

vkk1_hypno said...

We all know the effects (and after-effects) of beer. But lifting a glass of cool liquid to your mouth on a scorching hot day, have you ever stopped to consider the processes and ingredients involved in making it? Well maybe not but here is the answer anyway!

Simply, beer is a fermented combination of water, barley, yeast and hops. The major variation in any beer is the type of yeast used in the fermentation process.

Let's look at the properties of this beverage.
Water is the main ingredient of beer. In the past, the purity of the water influenced the final result and was specific to the region of the earth from which it came. Today, water is filtered of these impurities, although pure water supplies are still ideally preferred by elite brewers.

Barley malt is an extremely important ingredient in beer as it is the main source of fermentable sugar. Many new breweries use barley malt extract, in either syrup or powder form, as this form ferments much quicker. It also contains many minerals and vitamins that help the yeast to grow.

Without yeast, beer would not exist. Yeast is a unique single cell organism that eats sugar and expels alcohol and carbon dioxide, two of the more recognizable ingredients of beer. Yeast comes in several variations, of which there are two major categories that determine the type of beer produced; Ale yeast and Lager yeast. If yeast alone were used the beer would be extremely sweet and therefore another ingredient needs to be added to reach the final product.

Hops are the flowers of the hop plant, a climbing vine plant that grows well in many differing climates. Hops contain acids which add bitterness to beer. Adding bitterness to beer helps to balance the sweetness, as well as acting as a natural preservative. Add more hops to the mixture and you will get a more bitter taste. This kind of beer is extremely popular in Britian and is simply referred to as "Bitter" (the original names are always the best!).

Variations of these ingredients create different tasting beers as well as having an affect on the alcoholic content.
When making your own beer many good resources are available which provide home brewing kits. It is important to read the ingredients of the packets in order to ascertain which has the best mixture according to your needs. One quick tip which many home brewers fail to adhere to is this: "Use fresh still water"!

Many have often sought information on how to make beer and the basic homebrewing equipment is not very expensive you can get what you need, for as little as $100.
In order to start making beer, you will need the following: A brewpot, Primary fermenter, Airlock and stopper, Bottling bucket, Bottles, Bottle brush, Bottle capper, and a thermometer.
In addition you can even use items from your kitchen to aid in the beer making. A breakdown of all the equipment is as follows: Brewpot A brewpot is made of stainless steel or enamel-coated metal which has at least 15 litre capacity, but it's no good if it's made of aluminum or if it's a chipped enamelized pot, (these will make the beer taste funny). The brew pot is used to boil the ingredients thus begins the first stage of beer making.

Primary fermenter

The primary fermenter is where the beer begins to ferment and become that fabulous stuff that makes you so funny and charming. The primary fermenter must have a minimum capacity of 26 litres and an air tight seal it must also accommodate the airlock and rubber stopper. Make sure the one you buy is made of food-grade plastic, as it wont allow the bad stuff in or let the good stuff out.

Airlock and stopper

The airlock is a handy gadget which allows carbon dioxide to escape from your primary fermenter during fermentation, it is this process that keeps it from exploding, but it doesn't allow any of the bad air from outside to enter. It fits into a rubber stopper, and is placed into the top of your primary fermenter. The stoppers are numbered according to size, so make sure you use the correct stopper for the correct hole

Plastic hose

This is a food grade plastic hose which measures approximately 5 feet in length. It is needed to transfer the beer from system to system, and it is imperitive that it is kept clean and free from damage or clogs

Bottling bucket

This is a large, food-grade plastic bucket with a tap for drawing water at the bottom, it needs to be as big as your primary fermenter, because you need the capacity to pour all the liquid from your primary fermenter into a bottling bucket prior to bottling up.

Bottles

After fermentation, you place the beer in bottles for secondary fermentation and storage. You need enough bottles to hold all the beer you're going to make, the best kind of bottles are solid glass ones with smooth tops (not the twist-off kind) that will accept a cap from a bottle capper. You can use plastic ones with screw-on lids, but they arent as good for fermentation and dont look as well.

Whether you use glass or plastic bottles, make sure they are dark-colored. Light damages beer, i would recommend green or brown bottles.

Bottle brush

This is a thin, curvy brush which is used to clean bottles because of the the shape of the brush it makes it very affective at getting the bottle spotless. We haven't even gotten into how clean everything has to be, but we will, and the bottle brush is a specialized bit of cleaning equipment that you will require in order to maintain your bottle kit.

Bottle capper

If you take buy glass bottles, you will need some sort of bottle capper and caps, of course, and you can buy them from any brewing supplies store. The best sort of bottle capper is one which can be affixed to a surface and worked with one hand while you hold the bottle with the other.

Thermometer

This is a thermometer which can be stuck to the side of your fermenter, they are just thin strips of plastic which are self adhesive, and can be found in any brewing supplies store, or from a pet shop or aquarium. Not everything costs money though even some household equipment can be used.

Household items

In addition to the above specialized equipment, you will need the following household items:
* Small bowl
* Saucepan
* Rubber spatula
* Oven mitts/pot handlers
* Big mixing spoon (stainless steel or plastic)
So there you have the ingredients and the method to make your home brew, all you need now is to get yourself a beer making kit and your on the way to beer heaven.
bar stool

berklingaly said...

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