Blog of an aspiring foodie

Archive for July, 2008

Jim Koch rules

Posted by beer_chris on 31-July-2008

I’ve really come to like Jim Koch – even perhaps to enjoy his products and appreciate that he really is a craft brewer, even if the scale of his operation puts him slightly above the majority of industry. His hops sharing program is the best and latest example. What a great reason of why ‘big business’ brewing is something I wish I could be a part of.

Also, just finished listening to a podcast (from Basic Brewing Radio) of him at the NHC in Cincinatti a few weeks ago. Inspiring stuff for homebrewers, that’s for sure.

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Bennigan’s closing

Posted by beer_chris on 29-July-2008

Looks like the parent company of Bennigans and Steak & Ale is filing for Chapter 7, which means immediate closure and asset liquidation. Initial news reports indicate that all restaurants are closing unless they are franchised – is this indicative of a larger trend against corporate restaurants or just the closure of an outdated concept?

I haven’t been to a Bennigans in probably 2 years, and I can’t remember the last time I even thought about going to Steak & Ale. Will they be missed? I think Chilis, TGI Fridays, and Fertita will effectively carry the torch.

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Insanity – dining while suspended from a crane

Posted by beer_chris on 27-July-2008

http://www.dinnerinthesky.com/

…and it costs 38K. Yikes.

A link in the Torontoist blog about it.

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Frozen in Thyme is simply solid

Posted by beer_chris on 27-July-2008

For Christmas, my parents gave Jaime and I a gift certificate to the local meal preparation service here in Clear Lake. The name of the business is ‘Frozen in Thyme’, and after some initial doubts I have really come to appreciate what they do for us. With my current job, I work ~12 hour days. 2-3 days a week I spend most of the evening on the phone with Malaysia. Cooking a meal just doesn’t fit this schedule. Jaime and I were eating takeout 4-5 nights a week. Some nights all I ate was a PB&J. Jaime broke down and went to one of the ‘freezer sales’ at Frozen in Thyme and we’ve been in love ever since. Probably 3 nights a week we eat one of their thaw-and-prepare meals.

This past week reinforced why I have become such a believer in what they do. Jaime dropped in on a Tuesday morning after her therapy, and met the executive chef (Heather King, I think). They discussed the meals we liked and didn’t like so much, and Ms. King went on to lament the current state of family meal preparation, and that even some of her clients were still cooking two meals at home – a FIT meal for the parents and a batch of mac and cheese or chicken nuggets for the kids, as the children weren’t eating the FIT meals. This was the first point she and I are in complete agreement on – althoug I don’t have kids yet, something I think is very important is for children and parents to (1) eat the same things and (2) eat together. Although there is nothing wrong with fish sticks and pizza, that cannot be the limits of what a child is made to try, and certainly cannot be a special meal just for the child – while parents eat something else.

In addition, Ms. King mentioned that another meal preparation service in Houston was including ingredients like canned soup and stock in the meals to-go. She couldn’t believe this, and as very clear that she strives to make and prep everything fresh for the meals from Frozen in Thyme. This is another reason why I love this place so much. I am paying them to do the prep I do not have time to do – which includes making my own stocks, prepping my vegetables and meats from fresh and keeping things as seasonal as I can. Dumbing down to casseroles and boxed meals is something I can do myself. The beauty of the FIT service is that we still eat new and interesting meals without having to invest the time needed to conceive and cook them ourselves.

That, and Jaime is learning the basics of food prep! Hooray!

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Battle of the Michelin stars

Posted by beer_chris on 27-July-2008

Read an interesting article on bbc.co.uk today about the rising acrimony between Ferran Adria and Santi Santamaria. These two men are probably the most famous Spanish chefs cooking today. Both hold 3 Michelin stars, and seem (according to the article), to be at one another’s throats.

At issue is the ‘molecular gastronomy’ cooking style that, if not invented by, was certainly made famous by Adria. As a short aside, the article claims that the this term has been replaced with a new moniker – ‘techno-emotional cuisine’. Not sure what that means, but it has a very post-modern ring to it. At the very least it means Top Chef has a new buzzword for it’s contestants to use when describing why they used liquid nitrogen in a dish.

Santamaria is of the old guard – fresh local ingredients cooked perfectly and in inspiring ways.

Not a bad read, all in all.

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Brief interview with Brock Wagner – the business of beer

Posted by beer_chris on 27-July-2008

Two straight posts on Brock Wagner – wow.

Poking around my own blog, I noticed a reference to a post on another WordPress blog – and an interview with Brock Wagner. It’s brief, but a nice read. The linked blog is called SharingBeer, and is a mirror of a set of forums on a web page called Sharing Beer – apparently dedicated to all things related to the business of microbrewing.

In any event, the interview with Brock reminded me of my conversations with Tony Sullivan at Pagosa Brewing Company. When I spoke with Tony last summer, he and I spoke on the same topic covered in the interview with Brock – what it takes It takes to get a microbrewery off the ground. Tony reinforced how important strng business skills and acumen are, as well as a well considered and funded business plan. Bottom line – it takes a heck of a businessman to start a brewery – passion for beer and solid brewing experience is not enough on their own. The investment that is required combined with the lack of an available capital market to provide it and detailed business planning required to make a go in the market is why there are so few successful microbreweries. The barrier to entry primarily appears to be some level of business genius – which both Tony and Brock clearly have in spades.

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Saint Arnold & Market Square

Posted by beer_chris on 25-July-2008

Today I went to Market Square Bar & Grill for lunch. On the way in I saw Brock Wagner, owner of Saint Arnold Brewing parking his car. I’ve seen him at Market Square before, so it wasn’t surprising when he came in shortly after me and sat down to eat lunch as well. Saint Arnold is running a scavenger hunt campaign at downtown Houston bars, and as no surprise Market Square is on the list (I think the monkey lamps are on the list). A couple came in after my lunch companion and I had been sitting a while and took a picture with the monkey lamp. I don’t even think they noticed Brock sitting just near them. Maybe they didn’t recognize him – but I couldn’t help thinking what a great scavenger hunt add-on it would be to get Brock in the shot.

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Posted from iPod Touch

Posted by beer_chris on 24-July-2008

OK, so I’m laying in bed in the room next to my computer, but couldn’t wait to post using my WordPress app for my iPod Touch.

This seems to work pretty well, and doesn’t seem to need to have an active connection to work – posts are saved in a offline folder for later publishing.

Not as neat as LifeCast, but pretty cool – and free. That’s always a nice surprise with Apple.

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Transfer complete . . .

Posted by beer_chris on 21-July-2008

I’ve taken the plunge – and officially become a denizen of the WordPress realm. I went through the more-complicated-than-it-sounds import process, and have all of my history from LiveJournal now loaded up in this little corner of the web.

I don’t know what I’ll do with the old LiveJournal spot – likely I’ll leave it up as it is for a while longer. I haven’t been exactly punctual about keeping anything current these days. I’ll be working up some links here soon – to represent what I’m reading now (food-wise) on the vast Interwebs.

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Menu from Meena’s daughter’s wedding

Posted by beer_chris on 20-July-2008

Below is the menu from the wedding reception of Vasanth and Komal. Komal is the daughter of a coworker of mine, Meena Agrawal.

Tomato Soup

Tomato Soup in mildly spiced cream

Paneer Jalfrezi

Fresh bell pepper, onion, tomato and paneer stir fired with spices

Chettinad Kara Kuzhambu

Okra pieces immensed in a ricj tomato gravy mixed with numerous South Indian spices

Mint Biryani

Mixed vegetables, spices and mint combined with rice and herbs

Naan

Flatbread made of all purpose flour cooked in a tandoor oven

Methi Paratha

Whole wheat flatbread with fenugreek (methi) leaves layered throughout

Raita

Yogurt with tomato, cucumber and spices

Kulfi

Indian ice cream with falooda (sweet vermicelli)

Caramel Custard

Boiled milk custard dessert with pistachios, almond and saffron topped with caramel

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