Saturday, May 16, 2009

Beef Cheeks, Umm! Umm! Good

Man, it had been over three months since I have been in the Waterfront Ale House. My time in Mexico and that food-stamp diet kind of knocked me off my stride. But I went there a few days ago and it was the same as it always was, and I was grateful for that.

Same Old Same Old

As usual I had a beer at the bar before getting a table for dinner. Sam had a beer under his own name on tap, Sam's Serious Maibock. I didn't manage to get any maibock at the Zum Schneider Spring Festival, so I got a pint of it here. Maibock is, literally, a May bock and is a strong, golden lager meant to be a transition between the heavy bocks drunk during the winter and the lighter fare drunk when the weather is warm. Me, I could easily drink this all year long.

Sam's Serious Maibock was commissioned by Sam Barbieri, the owner of the Waterfront Ale House, and brewed to his specifications by Greg Zaccardi, owner of High Point Brewing Co. It is very tasty, and pretty heady at 8.1% alcohol. It recently won first place at an Ale Street News maibock tasting. Their take on it, “Rich malt up front, but not too sweet. Good hop balance from middle to finish. Full bodied. A bit big for a maibock, but tasty.” I can't argue with them.

By the way, I find it interesting that Sam's last name is Barbieri and he owns a bar that has a fine bier selection. Of course a bier is also a stand on which a corpse, or coffin containing a corpse, is placed to lie in state or to be carried to the grave. I guess Sam could have been an undertaker too. Hey, he could have a combination bar and funeral parlor and specialize in Irish wakes.

All the while I was drinking my beer I had it in my mind that I would have the grilled flank steak that was one of the evenings specialties.

The Evening's Offerings

Then, just as it came time to order I switched to the beef cheek, posole, and sweet potato stew. I mean, you can get hanger steak in a lot of places, but beef cheek stew is a bit harder to find.

A Cheeky Little Devil

The stew was delicious. Nice and spicy. The beef cheeks are just chunks of tender beef, but because they tend to be fatty, they are great in a stew because they don't get tough when you cook them for a long time.

To accompany my meal I had a Rastafarian Rye (that's a beer) from Blue Point Brewery. This was a nice dark beer that stood up well to the spicy stew. Highly recommended, although I think it is a one-off specialty brew.

The Mysterious Chinese woman had one of her favorites that is on the regular menu, the Catfish Po' Boy.

Oh Boy, My Po' Boy

I had stopped in to say hello to my friend Todd on my way to dinner. I was telling him about the bacon infused vodka from Idaho and he told me about a chipotle infused vodka from Hangar One. I stopped and picked up a bottle on the way home, figuring it would be nice in a Bloody Mary. But then the Mysterious Chinese Woman said I could just put a few drops of the Martha's Original Recipe Chipotle Salsa that I brought back from Mexico into my Bloody Mary instead. Seeing as how I brought back four bottles of the stuff this seemed like a cheaper alternative to using the vodka.

But what then to do with the vodka? Well I poured a couple of ounces in a brandy snifter and sipped it straight. Outstanding. This stuff really is too good to put into a Bloody Mary. I will have to try to figure out some kind of a cocktail that I can build around it. Kind of tough though because the chipotle flavor really comes through. It will be fun trying though.

It is kind of overcast this morning but I am hoping everything burns off soon. The Mysterious Chinese Woman and I are heading out to Coney Island to hook up with some friends and do a mini-barcrawl. We are meeting at Ruby's and I plan on wearing my prized mustard stained Ruby's tee-shirt that I was given by the owner several years ago.

Waterfront Ale House on Urbanspoon

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Green Greyhound and an Amazing Coincidence

I posted my recipe for the drink using Crop Organic Cucumber Vodka last night. Now, to my knowledge, that isn't a widely known or wildly popular vodka. Imagine my surprise when, while reading today's am New York I came across this recipe for the Zen Martini:

2 ounces organic cucumber vodka
3/4 ounce lime juice
3/4 ounce simple syrup (half sugar and half water)
1/4 ounce cucumber juice
a fingerful (whatever the hell that is) of mint

Put all of the ingredients in a shaker, add ice, shake vigorously and strain into a cocktail glass.

Sounds good, but why, oh why, does everyone call these concoctions a martini of some sort?

Anyway, most people know that vodka and orange juice is a Screwdriver. Most people, and this includes bartenders, don't know that vodka and grapefruit juice is a Greyhound. Maybe I should name my drink a Green Greyhound. The drink isn't really green, but cucumbers are green and the vodka is organic.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

An Amazingly Good Drink

I don't usually blow my own horn about drink concoctions. I will, on occasion, share my opinion about how a drink should be made. My proclivity for orange bitters in my Manhattan, for example. But this one I just came up with tonight, and I am not sure what inspired me. Perhaps a lack of ingredients and a desire for something lighter than a stiff one.

Anyway, some time ago my friend Todd, who manages my local liquor store, suggested that I try a bottle of Crop Organic Cucumber Vodka. Now I know what you are thinking, organic what? But, if you know Todd you will know he never steers you wrong. And he knew that I liked Hendrick's Gin and that, when I used it in a martini, I added a slice of cucumber. When Todd talks, I listen.

I had this sitting around for awhile though, not quite sure what to do with it. Then, out of the blue, inspiration struck.

The Ingredients

In a fourteen ounce glass I added three ounces of the Crop Organic Cucumber Vodka, two dashes of Fee Brothers Orange Bitters, three ice-cubes, and grapefruit juice. Give it a quick stir or, as I do, just poke the ice-cubes a few times.


This is one dynamite drink, in my opinion. The cucumber comes through just a bit and mingles nicely with the grapefruit juice. The orange bitters brings it all together. Refreshing, but with a bite. Move the amount of the vodka up or down depending upon your own taste. I found that three ounces was just right.

Now all I need is a name for this drink. Suggestions are welcome.

All Good Things...

Ah, last day of our Fishing Opener Weekend. Some people already left this morning and the rest of us head out tomorrow morning. But we couldn't simply waste the day so we did what we had to do.

Play Pull Tabs

Ah yes, I know, it is somewhat pathetic. Particularly so if I told you how much we didn't win.

Cubby The Ringleader, Jon The Instigator

We blamed our losses on Bruce, who kind of was looking like the Evil Emperor in Star Wars. They may have been seperated at birth. Bruce's only super-power seemed to be his ability to affect the pull-tabs.


Evil Emperor

Then we made the mistake of asking the bartender to turn on the television and put on the Twins game. They were up 2 - 0 going into the 7th at that time, but things were soon to go to hell in a handbasket.

When Ken Griffey Jr. hit a two run homer we were forced to take drastic steps.

Now This Is Really Stupid

The Homer Hankys Were Bad Enough

And Waving The Hats Too

But you have to admit, turning your cap upside down really takes the cake. And after all of this the Mariners still managed to score two more runs in the eighth and another one in the ninth. How the hell, couldn't they see what we were doing?

Jon got really excited in the bottom of the ninth, though, when Mauer singled in Punto.

Hey, Hey, We Are On Our Way

Alas, that was the end of the rally and the Twins went down, 5 to 3.

After an emotionally draining afternoon we were glad to be able to recharge out batteries a bit in the little sunlight we did get this weekend.

Solar Powered

And so another fun-filled Fishing Opener drew to a close. But there will be another one next year. There is always another one next year.

I apologize if the pictures look somewhat distorted. For some reason the editing feature of Blogger seems to be hosed up. It no longer tells you the size of the picture when you adjust it using the compose feature, and when you pull a corner it doesn't maintain the height and width ratio like it used to, and like most editing features do. Also, blogger's compose feature doesn't really show you what the finished product will look like. I hope this is just a temporary glitch and not a permanent "fix."

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

And The Opener Continues...

Ah, another day of, well, not fishing. Another tradition is to visit the bar within spitting distance of the Blue Max, the Eagle's Nest Resort. Although, I do believe that resort is stretching it a bit.

Another Tradition

We have been doing this for thirty plus years now and you can tell we are getting older. I remember the days when we would spring up these steps like, well, like younger men. Now we kind of lumber up them.

Jon And Bruce Heading In

Cubby And Chris Close Behind

Cubby, the youngest of our group (hence his nickname, Cubby) had no problem. He actually climbed Kilimanjaro a few years back. Quite impressive, if I do say so myself.

We were greeted by our friendly bartender whose name has totally slipped my mind.

Ready, Willing, And Able..., To Serve

Chris, Gus, And Jerry Settling In

The Whole Crew Minus Rico

Rico went over to visit his friend Skippy so missed out on our day's adventure.

Now, I don't want you to think that all we do is hang out in bars and drink during our Fishing Opener Weekend. Heck no, we also come back to the cabin and drink. In fact Bruce makes a special batch of beer to bring up every year. The one he brought up this year was exceptionally good.

Like A Proud Parent

Bruce came up with an ingenious setup too. Figuring out how to keep five gallons of homemade beer carbonated isn't as easy as it sounds, but this works just fine.

The Beer-O-Matic; Billy Mays, Where Are You?

Just Hanging, And Rico Is Back

Oh, yes, I did promise you a picture of a fish. We caught this bad boy off the dock. It put up a hell of a fight. When it pulled that bobber down all I could think of was Jaws and the barrels going under. A three-foot Muskie was seen lurking under the dock, probably making a meal out of these little guys. You can't keep a three-foot Muskie if you catch one though, they are too small.

Catch And..., Well, It Is Dead

One more day of pictures to post, but don't expect to see anymore fish.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Opener Opens

I got into Minneapolis on Thursday night, went to see some friends play softball and then hit a bar afterward for a hamburger and a few pitchers of beer. Luckily we weren't heading up North until noon on Friday. Unluckily for my friend, Rico, the reason was because he had to go into work until 11:00 AM and had to be at work at 7:00 AM to get in his four hours. I got to sleep in.

As usual, we drive up to Hinckley where we stop for an eye-opener and pick up a few last minute supplies.

Our Traditional First Stop

We didn't stay long though, we had miles to go and friends to meet.

Just A Quick One

I barely had time to get a little cheesecake from old friend Mary.

The Stop Wasn't A Complete Bust

Our traditional gathering place before we hit the cabin is the Blue Max.

If You Ain't Here You Ain't There

A Couple Of Frosty Ones, And Cold Beers Too

We just hang out here until everyone shows up. This year there were eight of us, a good crew.

Well, Where Is Gus?

Still No Gus

One of the things that seem to be popular in the Midwest are meat lotteries. Why, I really don't know. We all threw in a buck though and managed to win a couple of steaks.

Ah, There Is Gus

I liked the signage in the bathrooms. You don't see too many of those "PLEASE DO NOT SPIT SNUFF IN URINAL" signs in New York.

I Kind Of Wish I Had Some Snuff

This sign was a bit of a puzzle, do you notify the bartender if the towel is hanging out?

A Dilemma

After we had all gathered and had a few beers we headed to the cabin where we had an excellent selection of wines.

Blackberry Or Concord?

Our first night's meal relied upon the corned beef and pastrami that I had brought along. We had also brought up rye bread, Swiss cheese, homemade sauerkraut, and Thousand Island dressing to make Grilled Reubens.

Jon Doing An Excellent Job On The Reubens

As usual we drank and talked well into the night but, at some point, it is best to just lose the camera. That would be the point where people start throwing things at me.

Have no fear though, I have more pictures that I will post tomorrow. I think there is even a picture of a fish we caught.