Prodigal Son Brewing

Last weekend my wife and I popped down to northeast Oregon to go camping. On our way down and on our way back we stopped a new kids on the block Prodigal Son Brewing in Pendleton Oregon.  I’ve been following these guys on Facebook for some time impatiently waiting for them to open.  It’s nice to have another brewery within an hour of Ice Harbor as there really isn’t much of a brewing community over here.  I spoke to the brewer Brian about his equipment, beer, and his new business venture.  So far he said that the community has been very supportive of the brewery to the point of drinking 10bbl of Hef in just one week.  Brain worked for Rogue for two years and then decided to go back to his home town and open a brewery, his experience at Rogue shows in his beer and I was delightfully surprised at how well crafted his Porter was and how he put thought into making a English style IPA rather than a big hoppy NW IPA.

On the way back  from camping we stopped for food and beer this time.  I had the Ploughman’s plate and my wife had the hamburger.  Both where very good and I could tell that the owners really thought about the menu.  The atmosphere is great and Prodigal Son even has a private hangout room and a kids room.  It also looks like they are trying very hard to use local ingredients which is always a big plus in my book.  Brian is doing a great job on the beer, I could drink the hell out of his porter.  I wish them the best of luck, I can see this brewery being a very successful venture.  I’m definitely looking forward to my next visit.  If you make it out to Pendleton I totally recommend Prodigal Son Brewing.

Washington Cask Fest

This last weekend my wife, a couple of friends, and I went to the Washington Cask Fest to pour beer up in Seattle.  We brought a bourbon barrel aged IPA, a Irish stout, and a coconut brown ale.  It seemed like all of the beers where well received and I got a lot of return customers, which is a good sign.  One thing I’ve learned is that if people don’t come back most likely your beer is bad, if there is a lot of beer and a lot of breweries and they still come back, which was the case this last weekend, you know you’re doing something right.  Funny thing was one of the most talked about beers was the Irish stout and I made that beer on my home-brew system using my own recipe, to say the least it was a confidence booster.  Sometimes I’m not sure if opening a brewery is a good idea but then something like last Saturday happens and I know that I can make beer that would be well received.

Visiting Seattle or pretty much any other place than here makes me realize how lame the Tri-Cities is , I mean in Seattle there is more to do in two blocks than there is to do in most of the Tri-Cities.  The people in Seattle are more my kind of people too, sure there are still crazies, but I can wear my utilikilt and actually fit in and not get stared at like I do here.  Did I mention the food, pretty much freeking awesome in Seattle.  For reference I have posted a picture of our breakfast on Sunday at Pikes Market.  If you have never had perogies from Peroski Peroski in Seattle you haven’t lived, oh man the rhubarb perogie was sooooo damn good, I want more.

Well needless to say I had a great time in Seattle, not sure I would want to live there as it’s maybe just a little too big, but if I had to choose it over here well….. you know.  Looking forward to heading down to western Oregon this coming weekend.

The Irish in Me

Last weekend we had some of Katy’s friends from work over to have a early St. Patrick’s Day party (I’m getting too old to do it on a work night I guess).  So I made Irish soda bread and Irish stew, I also made two special beers for the occasion, one being a traditional dry Irish stout and the other being a English pale ale.  This party also gave me the opportunity to try out my new cask ale jockey box that I recently made, so far I am delighted with the results, now lets just hope it holds up for the Cask Fest in a couple of weeks.  St. Patrick’s day always makes me reflect back on our trip to Ireland, I keep thinking I need to get back one of these days.

Speaking of our trip to Ireland, one of the foods I remember eating the most of in Ireland was Italian of all things so today instead of making the not so traditional corned beef and cabbage I decided to make spaghetti sauce from scratch.  Added a little Italian sausage and I must say it turned out quite tasty.  Katy sent me a recipe for beer and molasses bread today so I thought I’d give that a whirl as well.  I like molasses so I upped the molasses addition a bit and lowered the white sugar to get a little more of that molasses taste.  Oh man is this a good bread and it is way easy to make, it sort of reminds me of Otis Cafe’s black molasses bread, not quite as good but close.  The thing I like is that this isn’t a yeast bread so there is no need for prior planning, and it uses beer which is something I’m always trying to use up since there’s a lot around.  I’ll be making this one again simplyrecipes.com is turning out to be one of my favorite recipe sites.

By the way sorry for the sparse posting it’s been hard to find motivation to blog lately, just isn’t much in the way of excitement right now.

Tri-Cities Lame, Or Is It?

Well so far it’s been quite the weekend, it started off with quite and impressive beer and cheese pairing at Cheese Louis on Friday night.  Some of the great brews we had included an Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout from Great Divide, Jubele 2010 from Deschutes, a beir de garde from Lost Abbey, a semi sweet cider from Wandering Angus, Oatis from Ninkasi, and there where a couple others.  We also had a great lineup of cheeses, 30 month aged cheddar, beer cheese, stout cheese, whiskey soaked cheese, and a triple cream cheese that was something like brie but was freeking awesome.  There where 7 of us and still I think maybe we brought a little too much beer especially considering the abvs of many of them, next time I should probably make the lineup a bit smaller or get more people to come.

After a late night I needed something substantial for breakfast, I used to like me a good breakfast sandwich when I was a kid, this usually consisted of two pancakes with a couple of over medium eggs and a couple of strips of bacon in between them all covered with fake maple syrup. All grown up now I used two waffles instead, one egg to keep the cholesterol down, thick cut homegrown bacon and real maple syrup.  It was quite tasty but it was just the start of my culinary pursuits for the day.

Katy and I had decided last week that we wanted to check out the Asian market in Kennewick and Feista foods in Pasco, which is like the Mexican foods super store around here.  Let me just say if you haven’t visited ethnic foods markets you haven’t lived, they are so cool and you always find things that you would never think of, for instance at the Asian market Katy found a package in the freezer case that said “Inverted Pig’s  Bung” need I say more?  At Saigon Market we were greeted with all sorts of oddities and like a true lame American we bought curry, rice noodles, and sardines but I promise some day I’ll buy something interesting probably not pig’s anus though.

Fiesta Foods was our next stop, I was asked by one of my friends the night before “How’s your Spanish?” which I replied to with “Taco”.  True we where maybe only a couple of the handful of English speaking white people in the place but I didn’t find this to be a problem, everything is clearly in English and Spanish and the staff easily transitions from Spanish to English.  When you first walk in the door huge ass displays and smells of Mexican pastries and chillies assault your senses. The produce section is huge, the seafood section is huge, the meat department is huge, it’s just all huge.  They make fresh tortillas that are still warm in the package, of course I had to buy these, oh and they make salsa, I bought that too.  We were really tired and hungry so it was kind of sad but we didn’t buy much, we did get some tamales to eat, which were alright I’m sure I could make better if I knew how to make them but at least I know where to get stuff to make them now.  Needless to say Fiesta Foods will be on our list of places to go again especially since I need to go back and buy the huge solid block of Salt from Ukraine.

Inspired by Fiesta Foods and having a very large package of fresh tortillas I decided to make Carne Asada last night.  I’ve never made this dish before and all I can say is that it was pretty much the best thing ever, picture says it all. I used some of the salsa that I bought from Fiesta as well which just brought this meal together.  So far it’s been a great weekend, we have some great things planned for today too.

Creating the perfect pizza

Well the name of the post says it all I guess, I’m starting to think about possible food options for my future brew pub these days and pizza keeps popping back into my mind because if done well it can be really good and well it goes well with beer.  Trouble is with pizza is that lots of people are doing it and if you don’t do something that puts you above all of those run of the mill pizza joints you might as well just go home.  Pretty much the gold standard in pizza for my wife and I is American Dream Pizza in Corvallis, OR.  It’s not like any other pizza I have had before, I think the problem that most pizza places are plagued with is that they just do the run of the mill standard toppings and run of the mill crusts.  American Dream doesn’t do that, they have lots of high quality toppings like Jamaican jerk chicken and sun dried tomatoes and a hand tossed crust with a garlic butter brushed crust.  Sometimes I get a tear in my eye knowing that I am 5 hours from my favorite pizza, but life goes on.

Today I decided to make pizza again using the crust recipe I usually use, this time I let the dough raise a second time after I rolled it out to get some bubbles in the crust.  For toppings I did one side pesto, sun dried tomatoes, feta, chicken, and artichokes hearts, for the other half I did bbq chicken, red peppers, marinara, mozzarella, and mushrooms.  The toppings where perfect, I’m thinking that they could pass for American Dream quality.  The crust needs some work it’s still a little too bready and really I need a pizza oven so I can get the results I really need.

I’m not dead set on doing pizza at our brewpub I just think it could be an easy way to make good food so I’m keeping it an option, I’d also like to do really good salads too like American Dream if we went the pizza option.  I think it would be cool to make a big clay and stone oven if we go the pizza route.  All I know is that I refuse to have a deep fat fryer, they make your workers feel terrible and they are a pain in the ass.

Beer and Chocolate

Some time ago I got the idea to see if our local chocolatier, Baums House of Chocolates, would put our beer in their chocolates.  The idea really came from them since Rick at Baums had recently released a special wine chocolate with a local winery’s wine.  I had no idea how well this would go over but I soon found out that Rick was very accommodating, Rick is very interested in beer even to the point of once being a homebrewer.  Naturally he jumped at the idea of stepping up to the challenge of making beer chocolates, after drinking a couple of six packs that I gave him and having to bring him more, which I found quite funny, he created what you see in the above picture.

About the chocolates, they are truffles with a soft ganache middle, one contains our stout and one contains our red ale.  Rick and I discussed and sampled the chocolates coming to the conclusion that both types of beer lent some subtle differences to the chocolate, the red ale almost lent a fruity note, and the stout gave the chocolate a robust coffee liquor essence.  We both decided that these would be a hit and I must say I have quite enjoyed them maybe to the point of not sharing them as much as I should have.

The point of making these chocolates pretty much is to sell them at the brewery, have them at beer dinners, and to give them out at tastings.  I took the large boxes to work to have people sample, my main complaint is that no one really would say anything besides that they really liked them.  I’m beginning to realize that if I have an idea I pretty much have to do all the work and the follow through or it won’t get done.  As a result I have decided that the stout truffle is slightly better than the red ale truffle, so by executive decision I have decided that Rick should produce stout truffles for us.

Ravioli

Yesterday I made garlic squash stuffed ravioli and garlic rosemary and chicken stuffed ravioli, they were very tasty but a pain to make.  I’m thinking if I make this a regular thing I’m going to get one of those ravioli rolling pins.