Best Of Beer and Cheese 2013

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There are just a handful of days left in 2013. Where’d it all go? And how much time did we spend swilling in bars — not a god damn ‘nuff. We recently took a trip down memory lane, thinking of the best beer and cheeses we had this year. We are not immune to listacles. What follows are the best and weirdest pairings of the year.

ONE

Beer: Surette, Crooked Stave Brewing. Alex swooned over this Saison on a recent trip to the Centennial State. It’s a farmhouse sour brewed with barley, wheat, oats, rye and spelt, Brettanomyces and Lactobacillus. It’s wood aged and limited release. Unlike most pucker Saisons, the fruit flavors bright lemon and mandarin — way winter.
Cheese: Salers is a super esoteric giant from the mountains of Auvergne, France. The production is so fuckin’ analog that it makes the FDA shit blood out their eyes. Cheese mules technically smuggle it in – well that’s not true, they call it something else that the government thinks is benign… so they’re pretty much straight up smuggling it. It’s rich, fermenty, smooth, immediately melting across the palate.
Soundtrack: Nine Inch Nails, “Copy of A” (Hesitation Marks, 2013). Themes of imitation and re-creation are rife on this slightly acerbic album, making it a perfect for an aged sour beer that’s an old fashioned style.

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TWO

Beer: Naughty Sauce, Noble Ale Works. Easily the weirdest beer we’ve ever paired with cheese mainly because it tastes like drinking a malted, thanks to the milk sugar it’s brewed with. It’s technically a stout but it’s golden. It’s super creamy and has 3 pounds of Guatemalan coffee beans in each barrel. It’s confusing and playful — it’s a stout but it’s sweet and light. It’s coffee but it’s got no color.
Cheese: Couronne de Touraine. Coffee and donuts! Feast your eyes on the Goat Doughnut, well its really called Couronne de Touraine, but we call it the goat doughnut. Sweet, crisp, dusted with vegetable ash. Love us some stouts with Chevre. Also, note the scrotal appearance of the rind.
Soundtrack: The Knife, “Full of Fire” (Shaking the Habitual, 2013). Hands down the most demonic EDM of the year, complete with super-sexual, gender-bendy vocals and gender dysphoria themes.

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THREE

Beer: Gift of the Magi, Lost Abbey. “Christmas in a glass.” Word has it, that this golden ale is brewed with the bark of Frankincense, and trace amounts of myrrh. We’re skeptical, but we love this seasonal. It’s a 10% holiday spiced version of their hoppy bier de garde. And the 2013 batch is particularly good n’ balanced.
Cheese: Puits D’astier. This is another doughnut shaped cheese actually, but this one is a big fucker from South Central France made of sheep’s milk. It grows a neon-green micro-floral coat and tastes like potatoes. Pretty fucking sick.
Soundtrack: Omar Souleyman: “Wenu Wenu” (Wenu, Wenu, 2013). Picture a Quentin Tarantino version of the Three Kings, and this would be your soundtrack. On his new album, the Levant’s favorite wedding singer gets super neon and synthy.

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FOUR

Beer: Green Bullet, Green Flash. Named after a New Zealand hop varietal, this is another 10% monster. First made in 2011, this is the first year it’s been available as a seasonal. Better balanced than most Triple IPAs.
Cheese: Kinsman Ridge. This is a raw milk French country tomme from NEW HAMPSHIRE, made by a swell pair of old school dairy farmers who’s transition to cheese literally saved the farm. Earthy, funky, totally rad. Alex has been waiting 2 years for this cheese.
Soundtrack: The National, “Pink Rabbits” (Trouble Will Find Me, 2013). Best heavy drinking anthem of the year.

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FIVE

Beer: Jubilee, Eagle Rock Brewery. The whole thing about Jubilee is that it’s gingerbread spices. But this year they took a gamble and decided to omit cloves because fuck it. Everyone uses too much clove. The result is a really subtle winter warmer, where hints of all spice and ginger get to shine.
Cheese: Rogue River Blue. It’s not new this year, but it totally rules. Raw cow’s milk from summer grazing, aged out wrapped in grape (petite Syrah) leaves that have been macerated in clear creek pear brandy. This is a goddamn fireside chat.
Soundtrack: Glass Candy, “Warm in the Winter” (After Dark 2, 2013). This dance hit is Exhibit A in the argument for all of Portland just giving up already and moving to Southern California.

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YACHT’S TOFU SCRAMBLE SECRETS

Our friend Jona perfected Tofu Scramble over a decade of eating vegan on the road. We spill his secret.

Our friend Jona perfected Tofu Scramble over a decade of eating vegan on the road. We spill his secret.

Chances are you have one dish you’ve made more than any other. A dish you can make without consulting a recipe. A dish that you make better than 99% of other people who might try. (What’s yours? Tell us in the comments…)

YACHT frontman Jona Bechtolt is a scramblin’ man. By which we mean his dish is Tofu Scramble: hot,fluffy soy cooked up with herbs and vegetables until it resembles a hearty egg dish. To be honest, Tofu Scramble is exactly the kind of “by-the-book” vegan classic we’d normally avoid on a menu because, well, it’s usually boring. But we also know something about Jona. He is a perfectionist. And since he’s spent more than a decade eating vegan on tour around the world, if anyone’s going to perfect the Tofu Scramble, it’s him.

In fact, we’ve bugged him for the recipe for years. This is a picture of us in 2010 eating Jona’s scramble for the first time. The problem is he doesn’t have a recipe, written down, memorized or otherwise. Each scramble is different. He vibes over the non-stick pan like he would tinker on the computer for a song. Finally, we made a deal: “You put us to work chopping and mincing and we’ll simply observe what you do in the pan and take notes.” That’s what we did.

The result is the recipe for Jona’s Famous October 20th, 2013 Tofu Scramble…

ingredients

For the most part, the ingredients are static, though the amounts may vary. They include: olive oil, Bragg liquid amino, about half a cup of nutritional yeast, 2 cartons of “firm” tofu, garlic, hot chilies, a shallot, a bunch of parsley, a handful of cherry tomatoes, fresh cracked black pepper, Daiya vegan cheese (Mozzarella, shredded). Gimme Lean vegan sausage is an optional ingredient. As far as we can tell this is determined by how hungry Jona feels. This day was a Gimme Lean day. (He may or may not have added salt in addition to the liquid amino. Reports are conflicting)

Jona puts a large non-stick pan on medium heat and adds a few tablespoons of oil, minced shallot, a couple garlic cloves, and a couple hot chilies. Today he’s got Thai chilies from the farmer’s market. These chilies are too hot so he only uses one. He lets this start to sizzle and smell good. Then comes the tofu. The single most important technique in this recipe is the squeezing of the tofu, so it’s Rule #1.

one

He carefully removes the tofu cubes from their cartons drains the liquid and one cube at a time he holds it over the pan and slowly but thoroughly crumbles it by squeezing it through his fingers.

two

The second important technique is what we’ll call “repetitive seasoning.” Rather than add all the ingredients at once, Jona adds the seasonings in stages. He shakes enough nutritional yeast and cracks enough black pepper to evenly cover the tofu. This is probably a little less than 1/4 cup yeast and a little more than a teaspoon of black pepper. But it depends. He squirts a teaspoon or so of Bragg liquid amino. He walks away and lets this cook for a couple minutes without touching it. Then he stirs it with a spatula to disburse the yeast, letting it cook for another 5 minutes. By the very end he will have added just over 1/2 cup yeast. Which is a lot. He says this technique came from the tofu scramble at Bouldin Creek Coffee House in Austin, Texas.

three

The third trick is one we call “more parsley than seems right.” Jona holds a whole bunch of parsley over the pan and snips it with scissors. He saves a few sprigs for garnish. He says this came from Bijou Cafe in Portland, Oregon. The result is two-fold. The color is nice, with lots of flecks of deep green, and the flavor is boosted.

four

At this point, he repeats the yeast, black pepper and Bragg coating. Walks away and lets it bubble. Then stirs. This lets the tofu and yeast develop a crust and almost stick to the pan, helping to create the kind of clumps that resemble cooked egg. At this point, he slices up about 10 ripe cherry tomatoes into quarters and adds them to the mix. Then Jona takes the log of Gimme Lean sausage and breaks off about a third of the log and he rolls it into about a dozen small balls and plops them into the scramble. He credits this optional addition to Juniors Cafe in Portland.

five

A final coating of yeast, pepper and Bragg is added (about half the first two coatings) and then a healthy sprinkle of Daiya cheese. Let’s say 1/4 cup. He does this on this particular morning even though his friend Jeff is coming over for breakfast and Jeff doesn’t like Daiya. Jona cites a commitment to the right kind of clingy curd-like texture. Sorry Jeff. No rules.

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Our Oktoberfest Thunderdome

The ceremonial weighing of the sauerkraut. All photos by Bernie Wire for Friends of Local Beer.

The ceremonial weighing of the sauerkraut. All photos by Bernie Wire for Friends of Local Beer.

Feats of strength. Five gallons of sauerkraut. And a bubbling cauldron of Limburger. All of it made this past weekend’s second-ever “Over the Top Oktoberfest,” a brutal orgy of salt, yeast and ale that lived up to its name. For one night, Eagle Rock Brewery’s tank room was totally transformed into a sweaty Bavarian beer hall. Below are our beer-stained field notes and scorecards from the front lines. First, a toast to end Oktoberfest!

Here’s to the girls of the American shore,
I love but one, I love no more,
Since she’s not here to drink her part,
I’ll drink her share with all my heart.

Words of wisdom from our friends at Pacific Stacks, an e-books publisher that just released “The Toaster’s Handbook: Quotations & Rhymes For Spirited Occasions” as part of the Over The Top Oktoberfest trilogy, which includes prohibition prose fromn 1918, and authentic brewing instructions from the 18th century. Peep it here as a FREE download on your iPads, Kindle or Kraut-tablet.

Limburger nachos

Limburger nachos

For our part, Hot Knives was serving up German Nachos. What’s that? We chunked up several limestone-colored stink bars of Limburger cheese. We threw it in a slow cooker on high heat and let it melt into a thick gooey dairy paint. The room smelled like hot feet. Baskets of corn chips got a heavy Silly String-sized dose of the cheese, followed by a flick of sliced scallions, super hot chilies, sweet red bell peppers, and a slurry of Purple Dijonaise (secret ingredient: wine must mustard).

Ringside for the kraut contest

Ringside for the kraut contest

On to the real gross-out of the night! The Sauerkraut eating contest (not a traditional German thing, but it should be.) Alex weighed out 2 pounds of kraut on a plate for each competitor. Evan competed with 7 other idiots in eating as much pickled cabbage as possible in 5 minutes. What’s that like? Salty, cold and stringy. Somewhere between eating a bad meal and being waterboarded, because the real danger is not retching, it’s choking! In the last 60 seconds, beer blogger Dave Stickel nosed ahead by picking up his cabbage pile, squeezing the lactic-juice out of it, and gnawing on it like a hamburger. He won with more than a pound of kraut ingested.

krautgroup

And then there was the main event. The first-ever Unity Cup, an arm wrestling invitational pitting the best local brewers against one another. In between toasts, jeers and cheers, we watched friends and colleagues become foes. Taunting ensued. Here’s how it went down play by play. The first match of the night was an internal power struggle, and it only got uglier from there…

Jeremy Raub falls to fellow brewer Erick Garcia

Jeremy Raub falls to fellow brewer Erick Garcia

Jeremy Raub (Eagle Rock Brewery) sat across from fellow brewer Erick Garcia (ERB) who took Jeremy down. Next, Bob Kunz (Highland Park Brewery) lost to Simmons Borchert (Bruery) which sent Erick head to head with Simmons, who made it to the semi-finals. Devon Randall (Pizza Port) took on Ting Su (ERB) and was taken down, sending Ting to the next round. There Ting took on Cambria Griffith (Bruery) and dispatched with her as well, going on to the women’s semi-finals. Next up, Lee Bakofsky (ERB) going by the name of “Murder Face” took on Cole Hackbarth (Golden Road) and slayed him to also reach the semi-finals.

Steve and Dieter

Steve and Dieter

Dieter Foerstner (Angel City) went head to head with Steve Raub (ERB) in the first declared tie of the night. After reaching a hard-to-watch standstill the two took a breather and returned to the table for a nail-biter. Steve walked away victorious. When two late additions showed up, Tim Harbage (Golden Road) was pitted against Nate “The Islander” Soroko (Modern Times Brewing/Toronado) and it was a 3-second match. In “Murder Face” vs. “The Islander,” the latter was victorious. We had our mens finalists.

Cyrena,Ting, and Jess and tied for first-place in the Unity Cup

Cyrena,Ting, and Jess and tied for first-place in the Unity Cup

Back in the women’s competition, Cyrena Nouzille (Ladyface) took on Jessica Davis (Bruery), and they stalemated not once but twice. In the re-match, the judges were forced to call it off after a 3-minute standoff. With no semi-final winner, we reluctantly declared a 3-way tie.

Unity Cup 2103 Champion, Nate Soroko

Unity Cup 2103 Champion, Nate Soroko

The last match of the night was Eagle Rock Brewery’s Steve Raub vs. “The Islander.” In the end, the home court advantage was not enough. Ding, ding, ding. We had our winner. Anyone who doubts the strength of the LA beer scene missed one helluva night. With biceps begging for oxygen, and our kidneys shutting down from the salt intake, we called it a night. And our slow cooker is still soaking. See you next October!


He who goes to bed, and goes to bed sober,
Falls as the leaves do, and dies in October;
But he who goes to bed, and does so mellow,
Lives as he ought to, and dies a good fellow.

Go here to like Friends of Local Beer

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Best Food Blog? Vote Yes!

Photo: Los Angeles Times

Photo: Los Angeles Times

The two of us are excited and grateful to be nominated by our local rag LA Weekly in their Annual Web Awards. Hot Knives is up for Best Food Blog!

Let’s take a minute to remember 2013 so far…

We researched the “perfect vegan mac n’ cheese” and then we created it (we heard lotsa feedback from many of you who made it so we know it was a hit).

We taught you everything you need to know about making fresh nut milks and even what cocktails to make with them, thanks to our contributor Lake Sharp.

We drank our entire beer cave after stocking up for years.

We found a way to smoke pesto.

And when we won that vegan chili competition in winter, we dutifully gave you the recipe! All 300 steps of it… Oh and and we found time to put out a cookbook. So in summary, 2013 has been a pretty good year so far. We may go so far as to say the best year since 2005 when we started blogging here. That’s long enough we think we deserve a medal. So show some love!

—————–> CLICK HERE TO VOTE <------------------

Today is the last day to vote. You don’t have to be in Los Angeles for your vote to count so click on the link above and vote for Hot Knives! We need your help to represent vegan/vegetarian food ideas on the Inter-place-sphere.

Thanks guys!
May your summer be lusty

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How to Party This Summer

pies

This weekend we got to mouth off on the radio about everything from how to grill the perfect corn to cooking for girls to making pickle power bars for hiking to how to throw a “pizza pool party.” Yes, we’re touring the party tip circuit, so we took all our prized advice from “Lust For Leaf” and jammed it into into 7 minutes of ad-libbing in the studios of KCRW’s “Good Food” with Evan Kleiman. If you missed it, it’s right here.

What’s EVEN BETTER than that? Next month we’ll be mouthing off live and in person at what’s certain to be a rad book party at Poketo in downtown LA’s Arts District. We’re totally stoked to be throwing a summer party with them down at 3rd and Traction on Sunday, July 14. The boutique is one of our favorite new shops in LA, it’s adjacent to good beer, and they’ve been kind enough to sling our books. We’ll be doing a brief demonstration on how to make our “Booze Holes” recipe from the new book, and talking about how to throw a summer party. Plus our friend Clara Cakes will be there with way more vegan goodies. Mark your calendars, skip your vacation, see you there!

WHAT, WHERE, WHEN

Hot Knives Book Release Party
Date: July 14 2013 (Sunday)
Time: 2pm – 5pm
Location: Poketo Store, 820 E. 3rd Street, Downtown LA.
Phone: 213-537-0751

Posted in Gastronomy | 2 Comments

How to Smoke Your Pesto

pistachio

We have done lots of things to pesto. We’ve made it with sage and winter spicing. We’ve made it with illicit herbs. We’ve made it with recycled vegetable fiber. But this is one for the Bookmark tab: Hickory-smoked pesto.

We were strolling the Santa Monica farmers market last week when we got assaulted by the sample lady at the pistachio stand. One nut later and we were lost in our thoughts. “Buy one bag. Shell them all. And blend with cheese and oil.” All we did was sub these insane hickory-smoked pistachios for the pine nuts in a white-bread recipe. The rest is history. Thank us later.

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Hickory Pesto
(Makes 1 cup)

1 bunch fresh basil (about 3 cups)
40-50 hickory-smoked pistachios (about 1/2 cup)
2 oz. shredded Parmigiano Reggiano
1/3 cup olive oil
pinch of sea salt
fresh black pepper
A squirt of fresh lemon or 1/2 tsp. cider vinegar

1. Wash and pluck your basil leaves. Toss into your food processor with shelled pistachios, cheese, salt, pepper and lemon.

2. Pulse for 30-45 seconds, adding olive oil in a slow drizzle.

3. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as desired. (At this point you can slather it on anything, including potatoes, salad, toast etc.)

4. Our preferred vehicle is a simple bowl of pasta. Toss cooked pasta of choice with the pesto, add roasted mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and thin slices of fresh green garlic.

Soundtrack: Animal Collective’s “For Reverend Green”
Beverage: Deschutes Summer Ale

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The End of the Beer Cave

beercave

It’s almost 2 am in the beer cave. Last call. The cave is closing. (One of them anyway.) These are the last three bottles left, and by the time we finish writing this, well, and then there were two.

It all goes back to one Saturday afternoon in 2007. We biked 40 miles with a motley crew on a single mission: gather 99 bottles of beer and drink them all. We failed (at the drinking part). Whatever was left in the ice bucket made its way to the fridge, and then when there wasn’t room in the fridge it got shoved in the pantry — eventually it all had to go in the bedroom closet and a cabinet in the living room. But that wasn’t dark enough. So we ended up investing in a couple of trunks. Project Beer Cave was born. Our new goal was to slowly rebuild the arsenal and never fall below 99 bottles again. You drink a bottle, buy a bottle. Goals are important.

Hoarding beer is the adult equivalent of trading baseball cards. Doggie Claws is Frank Thomas. Hardy’s Ale is Barry Bonds. Trader Joe’s Unibrou series is Jose Conseco. (What’s Cal Ripken?) What happens is you stop thinking like a consumer and you start thinking like a collector. We knew we were in deep when we found ourselves going to the store on a Wednesday afternoon and coming back with a dozen bottles in tow. One time a 7-11 beer run cost more than $100. That was a good beer run…

The thing about our beer hoarding that you have to understand is that in 2006 and 2007 Los Angeles was a very different place. There was no Eagle Rock Brewery or Smog City or Golden Road. The Bruery didn’t exist. Ryan Sweeney was getting ready to open the Verdugo Bar, but there was little else between Father’s Office in Santa Monica and the Stuffed Sandwich in San Gabriel.

So we had to look to the horizon. Our only allegiance was to San Diego; and our fascination was Belgium. Our beer caves were the one way we knew how to ensure that if we felt like a decent 750 ml, we had one at our disposal. And since our beer tastes were moving ever darker, heavier and sludgier with the same ferocity as the 1990′s catalogue of Ministry albums, the beers we were drinking just happened to be perfect for cellaring.

beercave2

By 2009, we had a full-blown problem. We were getting invited to man caves around town to oggle mini fridges stocked with bottles of Black Tuesday. Financially speaking, we were out of our element. So, we did what one does when one can no longer viably compete. We watched and took notes. We printed their secrets in the newspaper.

Alen Mirzakhanyan, a Raytheon engineer from Glendale, doesn’t have a cellar, so he re-wired two kitchen fridges to keep his beer at 55 degrees and installed beams to support the shelves from buckling under the weight of 400 bottles. Some of them, such as Cantillon’s Blabaer, made once a year for a cafe in Denmark, are impossible to find except by trading over the Internet with European collectors.

But a funny thing has happened over the last few years. There’s more space in the trunk. We’ve stopped buying beers like collectors and started drinking like consumers again. We go to the store for a bomber or stop by for a growler fill. We’ll snap up special bottles but it’s more likely to be on the dining room table within 24 hours than in the sock drawer for 24 months. And that’s OK. We still like the sludgy shit, but we’re more apt to be sipping a Unionist Belgian-style ale from Glassel Park straight from the tap than lickin’ up yeasty Euro floaters that traveled 3 months by ship.

So where does that leave us? With a couple bottles that are older than the Obama presidency… We’ll let you know how they taste.

Beer Cave Countdown
2x Firestone Robust Porter (Oct. 2008)
2x Port Santa’s Little Helper (March 2008)
2x Paradox Glen Grant (Aug. 2008)
2x Stone imperial Russian stout (Nov. 2008)
2x Traquair House Ale, (Feb. 2008)
2x Bourbon County Brand Stout (Dec. 2008)
De Proef’s Signature Ale (Feb. 2007)
Drakes Imperial Ale (Feb. 2008)
Coniston Brewing Old Man Ale (Feb. 2008)
Russian River Supplication (April 2008)
Barbar Ale (2008)
Westvletteren 12 (June 2008)
Westvleterren 8 (June 2008)
Harvieston Ola Dubh 12 (March 2008)
Malheur Ale (2008)
Abbaye d’aulne (March 2008)
Alba Scots Pine Ale (Feb. 2008)
Kemelbier (June 2008)
Allagash Curieux, (Feb. 2008)
Trappistes Rochefort 10 (Feb. 2008)
Echigo Stout (March 2008)
Port Older Viscosity (Feb. 2008)
Konings Hoeven Quadruple Ale (Feb. 2008)
Ebulum Elderberry Black (Feb. 2008)
Hardy’s Ale (Feb. 2008)
St. Bernardus ABT 12 (Nov. 2007)
Firestone Walker XII (Dec. 2008)
Lagunitas Gnarleywine (Aug. 2008)
Duchess de Bourgogne (March 2008)
De dolle Oerbier (Oct 2008)
Hitachino nest (Oct. 2008)
Harvieston Ola Dubh 16 (Dec. 2008)
Avery Fifteen (Aug. 2008)
Oude Kriek Boon (Oct. 2008)
Black Albert (Oct. 2008)
Unibrou Quelque Chose (March 2008)
Avery Kaiser (Oct. 2008)
Allagash Four Ale (Oct. 2008)
Stone Vertical Epic (July 2007)
Port’s Santas Little Helper (Oct. 2008)
Unibrou Chambly Noire (Feb. 2008)
Central Coast Brewing Scotch Ale (2008)
De Proeff Saison Impreiale Saison (March 2008)
Lost Abbey Gift of Magi (Oct. 2008)
Alesmith Old Numbskull (2007)
Bison Brewing Winter Warmer (2008)
Flemish Prim Wild Ale (Feb. 2008)
Unibrou 17 (March 2008)

Grand Cru of Emperor (April 2008)
Harvieston, Old Engine Oil (Feb. 2008)
Hair of the Dog Doggie Claws (March 2008)

Posted in Gastronomy | 3 Comments

Cherry Bomb

logsden 1

At a recent semi-clandestine beer-drinking party, a great deal of heft was dealt in the direction of remembering. As you now come to expect, your fave Knives wax water-eyed about drunken memory with great consistency (like, all the time). After all, sense and its lasting sensations generate the most inspirational data we cull to craft our slobbery missives about the beers we, well, love. This past Sunday, a gang of 60 witnesses watched four prominent brewers drink their own beer atop a mellow platform and fall quite amicably into the same, sweet-hearted dope zone that we do whenever we write about ale.

Of what insane beer meeting do we speak? Take a pause to sip a beverage, and read this. You done? Cool.

Like, without being TOO serious, we turn our toasted scope North. Logsden Ales, maker of Cerasus kriek, are a shimmering example of the idealism that is fermenting around us in LA. Beer, thankfully, is HUGE now. But not every producer in the yellow signed liquor shop can boast the same qualitative Majesty as the glass of bubbles pictured above.

Produced by one of the originals at Full Sail Brewing, and who’s life partner founded one of the most prominent yeast labs in the world, anything produced out of this literal farmhouse is unfair in its goodness of character and quality. You know that one kid in college who was so nice it was scary? That’s Logsden. All of it. These beers verge and/or dilly-dally on the Whole side of Wholesome. They could give milk.

logsden 2

Composed of 100% Oregon Tilth Certified Ingredients, these beers are basically made Platonically. House-cultivated yeast strains. Well water. An actual Barn where the brewing takes place. Longhaired Scottish Highland cows (that still have their horns) romp about, munching on grass and waiting for spent grain from brewing. The two pounds of cherries used for every gallon of beer? Yeah those are from a small orchard of Sharbeekse Krieks – you know, the cherries that they grow and use in East Flanders for making beer. They imported, quarantined and grafted them on local cherry trees just so the beer would be right.

Coming to a point: Cerasus fucking rules. This is a beer to seek out, hoard or share whenever possible and hopefully with great frequency. For us, the flavors teleport us back to the time we gave Duchess de Bourgogne a second chance (the first time it was too weird for our freshly post-teen palates). Unlike Mary the Rich’s namesake, Cerasus is notably light on the palate and less heavy handed on the sweet and syrupy. Slight copper and/or blood notes zip around after teeny tiny bubbles scrub up most if not all of your gross tongue papillae. Those Belgian cherries sing though the layers of year-old, ale-sopped wood, all tinged with a bacterial edge that whispers micro-floral magic into your brain.

Time stands still and we’re in Galco’s in 2007 brushing shoulders with Mike Meanstreetz for the first time. All because a couple of nerds who knew everything decided to make their work as specific and hard as possible every step of the way. We remember the first time we had Rodenbach. The first time we had Chez Monieux. The first time we had Oude Tart. The first time we had Yearling. The first time we had Ursa Minor. We remember how we once never liked barrel aged beer and now it possesses us like a delicious parasite.

We sincerely hope you let this nice guy bite you.

Soundtrack: Yo La Tengo’s “Cherry Chapstick
Cheese: Winnimere, a raw milk, bark wrapped, lambic ale washed stinker from Jasper Hill Farm

Posted in Gastronomy | 2 Comments

Yellow Oysters Ceviche

photo(1)

One of our weekly produce haunts is the Atwater Farmers Market. And our only gripe was that this particular market didn’t have a mushroom vendor. Last month our dreams were answered and then some — and not only are their mushrooms, Kane’s Family Farms is a stand that grows yellow oyster mushrooms.

When first saw this suckers, one word crossed our mind: ceviche. Yellowtail that grows on a log. This week we adapted our recipe for Mushroom Ceviche from the upcoming and pre-orderable “Lust For Leaf” by using these yellow fuckers. The result was sublime. A combo of dainty lime cured shrooms and their larger, lightly roasted relatives sings with textural conundrums and screams for fresh chips and guac, or just a warm tortilla and some hot sauce.

(Serves 12)
4–6 king oyster mushrooms
8 ounces yellow oyster mushrooms
8 ounces white beech mushrooms
8 ounces brown beech mushrooms
8 ounces crimini mushrooms
1 bunch radishes
1 bunch cilantro
2 jalapeños
2 red fresno chiles

Citrus Marinade
1 1/2 cups lime juice (about 10 limes)
1 cup olive oil
3 teaspoons sea salt
2 red onions, diced

1. Select 350 on your oven.

2. Juice all them limes and combine in a mixing bowl with olive oil and salt. Whisk. It.
Good. Then add the diced onions and let sit.

3. Place your chiles on top of your stove top burner and turn the flame to high. Let ’em
sit on the fire for three to five minutes and then turn them with tongs to expose each of their sides to the flame. You’re shooting for solid black all over; don’t be afraid to burn.
When blackened, place the chiles in a paper bag, crimp it, and let ’em sit.

4. Tear the yellow oyster mushrooms. For the kings, trim their woody ends and then slice in half down the middle lengthwise, then turn and slice both pieces into a handful of thick half-moons. Place oysters on one side of a sheet pan and king oysters on the other, spray with canola oil, and lightly toss to coat. Shove it in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the kings get some color and the oysters get crispy around the gills.

5. Trim the ends off the brown and white beech mushrooms and slice in half. Trim the ends of the criminis and slice as thinly as your knife skills safely allow. Do the same with the radishes (if you’re looking for a real ripping pink, mincing the radishes works even better). Pick the leaves off the entire bunch of cilantro and combine all of the above in a large mixing bowl.

6. Remove the chiles from their paper knapsack. Rub the charred skin off with your finger tips and discard. (Do not wash, the extra char residue, while probably carcinogenic, tastes good.) Depending on your heat tolerance, seed one, two, or all or all the chiles by gently slicing the outside “walls” of the pepper, and cleaning out the connective membranes and seeds. Add to the mushrooms bowl.

7. Dress with the citrus marinade, toss, and check for seasoning adjustment. Then wrap it up and let rest in your fridge for at least two hours. Serve with chips, or fresh corn tortillas.

Beverage: Oskar Blues’ Mama’s Little Yella Pils
Soundtrack: Donovan, “Mellow Yellow”

Posted in Gastronomy | 1 Comment

Make It Yourself: Nut Milk

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We recently stopped drinking water and have been surviving entirely on homemade elixirs perfected by esteemed friend, health guru, Hot Knives contributor (and Alex’s life partner) Lake Sharp. As a public service, we decided we must cede the blog to her for a guest post.

Drink this now! Take it away Lake…

Thing is, I love beverages and not just alcoholic ones. And — being a lady of the Times — I am waaaay down with the latest beverage craze of making NUT MILK. I was a full-throated supporter of homemade Kombucha, which seems to regain popularity every 20 years … just like fashion. But unlike those horrible pants you used to wear, this beverage has staying power. Allow me to throw down.

BEHOLD: Homemade Nut Milk. I defy you to bring me store bought nut milk (my keyboard wants me to write butt-milk) that tastes as good as this homemade version. Plus, it’s easy, people. How easy? Like, you-can-sleep while-all-the-good-shit-is-happening easy. You take your raw nuts, you soak them overnight, you blend them with water and strain them. BOOM! NUT MILK!

You can get fancy with what you add for your own nut-busting pleasure. First though, here is homemade nut milk in it’s truest form…

Basic Nut Milk
(Makes about 1 quart)

1 cup raw nuts soaked 8 hrs
4 cups filtered water
a pinch of salt

1. Strain nuts and water your plants with the leftover soaking water
2. Blend your nuts with fresh filtered water for 30 seconds
3. Pour blended liquid through a nut bag into a pitcher and squeeze the bag as much as you can.
4.Save your nut pulp for future use.

Let’s get sur-ius. In the video, I make Almond Milk and instead of regs water I use coconut water which naturally sweetens the milk and gives it a super creamy round finish. Also, it’s mind blowing. Your mind will literally blow up in your skull. Then you’ll be dead. From deliciousness. Actually, not literally, just figuratively. But the deliciousness is real and life is about choices.

Alternative Milk Styling

You don’t have to use coconut water. You can use plain-ol-H2O and if you want to sweeten it, throw a couple dates into the blender. They are a perfect natural sweetener. You could also sweeten with honey or maple syrup ….but fuck sugar. WHY? Cuz it’s bad for you, B. Ask your doctor. You can also opt in or out of adding a teaspoon of vanilla extract, which (as you know) is really nice with almonds. Though not necessary, I highly recommend adding a pinch of salt. There’s something about the alchemy of adding salt that, like other white powders, bumps up all the flavors. I also recommend getting a nut bag, a small nylon sack specially made for milking your sweet, sweet nuts. I got mine online, some health food stores carry them as well … Google it. IF YOU DON’T HAVE A NUT SACK, you can use an old t-shirt or the foot of a pair of tights … just make sure they’re clean, dildo!

So Almond Milk gets all the glory, but I have to tell you that many other nuts, seeds and even grains can also get milked. And blends rule!

WALNUT MILK: Ha-mazing! Buttery, light, good for your brains.
PISTACHIO MILK: Eggy color, so good in smoothies.
BRAZIL NUT MILK: Haven’t made it yet, but sounds awesome, right?
PEANUT MILK: Also on the todo list
HAZELNUT-SUNFLOWER SEED: Very earthy!
ALMOND-SESAME SEED: Sesame seed milk on it’s own is kind of bitter. Combined with the sweetness of almonds, it makes for a complex and interesting bev.
OAT MILK: Very comforting, blends really well with walnuts and almonds. Also, you can definetly bathe in this if you get Poison Ivy!

Once you have your delicious milk, get creative. What’s stoping you from milking peanuts and muddling them with strawberries for liquid PB&J in your mouth?! You can use your milk as a mixer in smoothies and cocktails, in cereal, or pour it all over your lovahs bahday! Now I’m just riffing, but you get my point. Nuts weren’t just made to be cracked, they were made to be tenderly milked by hooligans like you and me. There is no wrong combination. Unless it tastes like shit. One fav drink of mine that most definitely does not taste shitty is the Almond Fizz…

Almond Fizz

1. Muddle a few berries of your choice in the bottom of a glass.
2. Add your coconut almond milk
3. Top with soda water, mix it up. It’s a delight!

So what are you waiting for? Go Bust a Nut, you nut-milking-motherfuckers! STAY TUNED for the next installment: What to do with all that nasty nut pulp you’re going to find yourself with….

Beverage: Almond Milk White Russian
Soundtrack: Aphex Twin, “Milkman”

Posted in Gastronomy | 9 Comments