Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thank you. Come again!

The rules are simple.  In ten minutes put together a list detailing as many things as can think of that you'd like to show thanks for. It sounds simple but when the pressure is on it’s harder than you’d imagine to come up with a list. So, without any further adieu, here are the beer and blogging related odds and ends I’m thankful for.

  • My wife for trekking around with me from brewery to brewery always being willing to try something new.
  • Belgium for creating some of the worlds most creative and tasty beers all inside one tiny little country.
  • Germany for sticking to the Reinheitsgebot and making this Helles lover happy.
  • Friends and Family who encourage me to write.
  • Maryland breweries all too happy to welcome tiny bloggers inside their business for a closer look.
  • Beers brewed to style.
  • Brewers that say style be damned.
  • CCMABBD (Continental Congress of Mid-Atlantic Beer Blogger Doctors) for being a great group of trusted beer bloggers and friends
  • Oliver Gray for being a level headed thinker and wizards of words.
  • Bryan Roth for looking to data to backup andecdotal claims and being the first blogger I noticed doing this thankful game.
  • Jake Scholan aka Hipster Brewfus for being funny as hell and having the courage of his convictions.
  • My brother Matt for brewing beer with me despite major shortcomings in my brew game. 
  • My readers.  Because everyone likes an audience.
  • Generous restaurants and breweries who help make doing a blog like this a little extra rewarding
  • Union Craft Brewing Old Pro Gose
  • Cask Ale without cookies
What are you thankful for? Your

For more giving of the thanks check out these blogs:

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Little Havana

You may have noticed that restaurant reviews have been popping up less and less on Baltimore Bistros and Beer.  As recently as a few weeks ago, I actually stated out loud to my wife that I thought I was done writing about food. It’s not that I don’t like writing about restaurants, but taking pictures and notes in the middle of nearly every meal has become something I look less and less forward to each time we go out.  I didn’t want to put anymore conversations on hold while I did my blogger due diligence, because quite frankly, it’s not an ideal way to enjoy dinner. I’ve got this thing where I like to be in the moment as much as possible and while I’m definitely at one with the food, I’d rather be focusing on the people sitting across from me at the dinner table. 

And then we ate at Little Havana and tried Ropa Vieja. It was fantastic. In fact, it was so tasty that in the middle of eating their Ropa Vieja I decided to compromise with myself. If I went to dinner and had a truly exceptional experience or tasted something that really went above and beyond the norm, I came to the conclusion that it’s only right that information finds its way on to my blog. The whole point of this blog (from a food/restaurant POV) is to help give people an idea of what’s good around Baltimore and have them try new things and so that's what exactly I'm going to continue to do (just maybe in a slightly different format).

Little Havana’s Ropa Vieja is one of those food items that deserves your special attention. But does that surprise you? Slow cooked meat is a gift from the gods. If it has to sit around cooking for hours on end before it’s ready to eat you know it’s going to be good.  This version of Ropa Vieja lives up to those expectations.  The tender strands of meat are flavored with tomato and cumin and come across as an alternate to texas style chili with a heavier focus on the tomato flavor and less on the spices. But what really sets this Ropa Vieja apart is the yuca it’s nestled all over. I’m not sure if I've had yuca before, but I loved it on this night. The texture of the melt in your mouth meat and firm but creamy yucca was something to write home about (or blog about).  When the last bite was consumed, sadness poured down over me. 

But the sadness was short lived. After the Ropa Vieja was gone and my carne tacos were inhaled a piece of key lime pie magically appeared in front of me. That pie was some of the best pie I've come across in a restaurant setting. The pie itself had a uniquely creamy texture that can’t be found just anywhere and that alone had me going in for bite after bite despite the fact that I was already stuffed to the gills. And the crust was equally fantastic and almost as half as thick as the pie itself.  Creamy pie, crunchy buttery crust.  It’s not a sentence, but that says it all. Or maybe it doesn't? The flavor of the pie was also stellar. It was tart but not too tart and sweetened just the right amount creating a happy balance between the two dissonant featured flavors.

As the days get colder I can think of few things more ideal to warm me up than a plate of Little Havana’s delicious Ropa Vieja . And if it’s exceptionally cold their Key Lime Pie and the fantasy of eating it on the beach will surely do the trick. Get there soon. Little Havana awaits.

Little Havana Restaurante Y Cantina Cubana on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 7, 2014

Beer is the Gateway, Not the Destination.

One thing I've learned about beer over the past few years is that beer is the gateway not a destination. When I first started getting into this beer thing I used to travel to breweries just to say I've been there. Tasting the beer wasn't good enough for me, I wanted to be able to say "Yeah, I've been to XXX Brewery. You should get there if you have the chance." I found myself victim of the weird competitive pissing contest that develops within certain hobbies. It was never anything I took too seriously, but I'd be lying if I didn't get some sort of satisfaction when I could point out that I had been somewhere that someone hadn't.

And then I learned that beer is beer, stainless steel is stainless steel, and tours of breweries almost always seem to bleed together (a few shining exceptions exist, of course). I wouldn't say they were boring or not worth the trip, but they weren't necessarily making my beer taste any more enjoyable simply because I was drinking them on site.

The reason I travel for beer is because it opens up a gateway to experience everything else. Recently, I took my honeymoon to France and Belgium. Beer is precisely the reason Belgium made it on our itinerary, but it's not the main reason I fell in love with the country. The people, the art, the architecture, the landscape, the brought me there, everything else will bring me back. That's why I travel for beer.

This post was inspired by The Session. The Session takes place on the first Friday of every month with bloggers from all across the world getting together to discuss a single topic. This month's Session was hosted by The Roaming Pint.