Category Archives: beer

Beer float

It is a pretty simple formula: Beer + Ice Cream = My new favorite dessert.

Ms. S&C isn’t a fan of root beer, but given the amount of craft beer consumed in her household, she can’t believe she hasn’t tried this dessert cocktail before. Her stout beers of choice for this heady concoction include: Brooklyn Brewery’s Black Chocolate Stout and Williamsburg Alewerk’s Coffeehouse Stout. Both beers are strong with roasted malt and well-suited for coffee flavored ice cream (or gelato!).

Stout & Ice Cream Float

  • Split a bottle of stout beer among two glasses
  • Add 1/2 cup coffee ice cream to each glass

Want another variation on the traditional root beer float? Try Bobby Flay’s adult version with bourbon.

posted  by Ms. S&C

Live with Top Chef–or–Nigella Says

We’re skipping our usual Top Chef recap/drink pairing, and blogging about this week’s show in real time.


I’ll start with the obvious — this has to be Robin’s week to go, right?

For the Quickfire Challenge — it is breakfast in bed with Padma and Nigella Lawson. Eli describes Nigella as a “modern, updated, less French version of Julia Child.” Kevin tells us that Gordon Ramsey named a turkey after her, so she is legit. I’ve always had a thing for Nigella — I think she is totally girl-crush-worthy.

Nigella calls Eli’s reuben benedict a “great hangover breakfast.”

Jennifer makes cream chipped beef. Interesting choice.

Least favorite dishes: Bryan — Nigella couldn’t cope with vanilla and king crab in the same dish. Robin — she was a little too “one note.”

Favorite dishes: Kevin’s steak and eggs and Eli’s reuben benedict. Eil wins. There’s no immunity, but he gets a nod in the next Top Chef cookbook.

For the Elimination Challenge — Padma says they will celebrate the “crown jewels” of Las Vegas – the Strip. It goes something like this:

  • Bryan Voltaggio: Mandalay Bay
  • Eli: Circus Circus
  • Michael Voltaggio: New York, New York
  • Kevin: Mirage
  • Jennifer: Excalibur
  • Robin: Bellagio

Michael Voltaggio says he will pay tribute to firefighters in his dish. Jennifer visits the “Tournament of Kings,” and says she has no clue what to do. Bryan Voltaggio visits the Shark Reef for inspiration, and buys his son a shark plush toy. I predict he is either going to rock it or go home this week.

I’m ignoring Robin. Kevin says a bunch of thoughtful sh*t about his take on food. Sounds like tropical oasis will be the focus of his dish. I love Kevin. Eli visits Circus Circus and appears to be confused. And, he’s kinda scaring me with his peanut, apple, popcorn soup.

Jennifer’s “sword and the stone” dish is not well received by Nigella. She says she is ready to be in “winch mode.” Yikes.

Judge’s like Kevin’s salmon, compressed vegetables and tomato water.

I don’t know why Robin even bothers to show her unusable sugar stained glass.

Micheal cooks a boneless chicken confit with a blue cheese dressing. Not sure about his firefighter connection, but the judge’s like it.

Bryan’s halibut has “fantastic balance” says Nigella.

Toby says that Eli, like most people who come to Vegas, “has gambled and lost.” It sounds like Jennifer may be safe.

At the judge’s table — Kevin, Michael and Bryan are the top three. Michael wins with his fancy take on the buffalo chicken wing.


Michael Voltaggio’s Boneless Chicken Wing Confit
with Curry and Blue Cheese Disc

That leaves Jennifer, Robin and Eli on the bottom. Nigella says: Every part of Jennifer’s dish was disappointing;  panna cotta is “child’s play,” and Robin should have known how to make it; and finally, she would rather eat sawdust than Eli’s dish. I think I’m renaming this post “Nigella Says.” I could listen to her all night.

Wow. Robin does go. While I think she deserved to get the boot weeks ago, I’m not sure how Eli survived this round.


For the drink pairing — since Michael’s inspiration was New York, sobrooklynlager is ours. Brooklyn Brewery is one of our favorite beer makers. They have a great range of beers for you to fill your glass. Core brands include the brown ale, pilsner, pale ale, among others. Seasonal beers include their potent monster ale, black chocolate stout, oktoberfest, and more. Brooklyn Lager is their award-winning flagship beer. As with most lagers, it is versatile with food, and the fine balance of malt (for sweetness) and hops (for bitterness) make it a refreshing match for spicy chicken.

Author’s note: Blog post updated with pictures and links after the show. Also corrected a few grammatical errors.

posted by Ms. S&C

Top Chef keywords

During last week’s Top Chef episode, the cheftestants played a slot machine to choose three keywords, which they used as inspiration for a dish. The keywords were words like –> Stressed, Hot N’ Spicy, Asian. Those happen to be the ones Kevin selected for his winning Quickfire dish. Here’s another keyword for you –> Unbearable. And, that happens to be Mike Isabella.

After the slot-machine-keyword challenge, the chefs partnered up for a family-style-dinner-party challenge. Their dinner party guests were members of Macy’s Culinary Council: Tyler Florence (also guest judge), Tom Douglas, Nancy Silverton, Govind Armstrong, and Takashi Yagihashi. –> Strategic Marketing

Here’s how it went down:

  • Mike Isabella was partnered with Robin.  –> Sweet retribution
  • Micheal Voltaggio was almost sent home because he overcooked halibut.  –> Whew
  • Ash compared Michael V to Picasso, and said he’d be willing to wash his brushes. –> Embarassing and Uncomfortable
  • Ashley undercooked precious prawns and had a role in oversalted gnocchi. –> Eliminated
  • Jennifer and Kevin served the best dish of the night: Korean style barbeque, and Jennifer was crowned the overall winner. –> Dream Team

TC-kobe-beefJennifer and Kevin’s BBQ Kobe Beef with Cardamom, Tomato
and Ginger Broth

When I’m dining on Asian food, I usually drink a lager style beer or hitachino-alewhite wine. I’m afraid to experiment, as I don’t want anything to conflict with the flavors in my often-spicy food. When considering the drink pairing for Jennifer and Kevin’s dish, I checked out Takashi Yagihashi’s drink menu at his Chicago restaurant, and ran across the Hitachino Nest White Ale. Hitachino, from a Japanese brewery (Shuzou), is a white ale, similar to many Belgian whites, with hints of coriander, nutmeg, and orange peel. Jennifer and Kevin’s dish includes flavors and ingredients such as: orange zest, ginger, fennel, and I think the Hitachino would compliment nicely. Not to mention –> Refreshing.

Ms. S&C wants to know: What keywords would you use to describe the Top Chef contestants and their dishes?

posted by Ms. S&C

Roughing it

Cactus, camping, and cowboys — that’s what last week’s Top Chef episode brought us. The chefs left the Vegas strip and headed to the desert. Tim Love, whose website describes him as a chef of urban Western cuisine, was guest judge.

The Quickfire challenged the chefs to cook with cactus, and Mike Isabella won. In addition to knowing that risotto is a way of cooking, he apparently knows how to make cactus less slimy. Good for him. For the Elimination Challenge, the chefs went camping and prepared an outdoor lunch for cowboys. I’m sure the desert heat was brutal, but I felt the chefs were a little too whiny about this challenge (Eli and Michael Voltaggio included). I don’t think it’s too much to ask professional chefs to cook something on a grill, which is why I was so baffled that two people prepared ceviche, (Mattin was sent home as a result), and no one cooked steak.

BV-pork loinBryan Voltaggio’s Roasted Pork Loin with Corn Polenta,
Dandelion Greens, and Glazed Rutabega

The Voltaggio brothers found themselves in their usual spot at judge’s table — at the top. For a second time in a row, Bryan won. His Roasted Pork Loin with Corn Polenta, Dandelion Greens, and Glazed Rutabega captured the spirit of the challenge. In addition to being a talented chef (obviously), he appears to be incredibly organized. If that isn’t enough, he’s totally likable.anchor_bottle

For the drink pairing – when you’re outdoors, in the heat, and grilling — you want a cold beer. You’re not going to bother with simple syrups, crushing ice, and garnishes. And lord knows, you don’t want that coconut mojito that Ron made. Anchor Steam, the flagship beer of the Anchor Brewing Company, is my choice for Bryan’s pork loin and polenta. Steam beer, also referred to as California Common Beer, is an unique beer. The brewing technique is a combination of ale and lager methods (brewing lager yeasts at ale fermentation temperatures). This technique gives the beer the easy-drinking quality of a lager, but it has the noticeable hop flavor and amber color of an ale.

posted by Ms. S&C

A Different Kind of Pairing

Earlier this week, Miss Mojito had the chance to take a break from her cocktail-imbibing to partake in a most dogfish1delectable beer tasting dinner that paired Dogfish Head Beers with a delicious menu at Comfort Restaurant in Richmond (read more about it here). An evening full of new and exciting beers got me thinking about how I can integrate more beer into my tasting repertoire.

For me, one of the best part’s of the evening (beside the great food and drink) was hearing from the chef and the rep from Dogfish on why that had picked a particular dish to pair with a particular beer. They chose beers that would show how far beer is willing to go to shock the palate with different flavors. These were not your everyday beers we were tasting. Most had high alcohol contents of around 9 percent alcohol-by-volume or higher (in fact, Dogfish specializes in beers with high alcohol content). And all had flavors that I’d never sampled before in a beer.

Another goal of this kind of pairing dinner, they explained, was to give beer validity, a goal they accomplished in spades. Before this dinner, my most sophisticated beer pairings usually involved pizza or hamburgers. Don’t get me wrong: these are still combinations that are close to my heart (or, in this case, stomach). But it was eye-opening to sip a different ale alongside some truly gourmet cuisine, and to imagine what types of dishes I could throw together myself that would bring out a beer’s flavor.

Most of us are familiar with the traditional (and, some might say, outdated) rules for pairing wine and food: white with fish, red with beef. But a beer pairing allows for a bit more freedom. While in many wine pairings the goal is to contrast the flavors, in beer pairing, I learned, the goal is more frequently to mimic the food’s flavors. In this past Tuesday’s menu, for example, the chef chose venison to accompany the juniper flavors in the Sah’Tea ale. Juniper is a classic pairing for the venison because it compliments the clean flavors of the meat, and the beer pairing follows the same rules. A shrimp dish with arugula and preserved lemon salad was served alongside of an equally acidic beer, the Festina Peach. This seasonal beer is intentionally tart (from lactic acid), and is closer in style to a cider or even a champagne. The acid in the beer complemented the acid from the preserved lemons in the salad.

What are some other rules for pairing beer with food? Spicy and bold flavors pair particularly well with beer, because they can stand up to the heat or heaviness. But really, beer pairing is a world open to experimentation. Check out this great Web site that addresses the subject: Another excellent resource is the book He Said Beer, She Said Wine, which explores and compares different types of pairings from the points of view of a sommelier (Marnie Old) and a brewmaster (Sam Calagione).

When it rains it pours, and on August 17, TJ’s Restaurant here in Richmond will host another beer tasting menu, together with Terrapin Beer. Slated for this menu are mussels and a farmhouse ale, pork raviolinis and a rye pale ale, horseradish crusted beef and an Indian brown ale and (perhaps most enticing, in Miss Mojito’s opinion), Nutella and brioche bread pudding with a vintage coffee oatmeal stout. Pretty tempting, huh? It might just be the excuse I need to put my new lessons learned to the test! (If you plan on being in the Richmond area on the 17th, be sure to give TJ’s a call to reserve your spot for the $60, all inclusive dinner: 804-649-4672.)

Miss Menu wants to know: Do you have any beer pairing experience? What’s your favorite beer to serve with a meal? Share your feedback in the comments area below!

Posted by Miss Mojito.

Sapphire in the mud

After reading Garlic and Sapphires for my book club, I’ve been craving Asian food like something intense. Ruth Reichl’s exploration of Japanese, Korean and Chinese restaurants, while restaurant critic of the New York Times, was remarkable and mouth-watering. While at the NYT, she was criticized for her time spent reviewing small, ethnic establishments, but I admire her attitude toward food — especially her view that she didn’t have to review restaurants just for rich people.

Desperate to satisfy my craving, friends and I tried Yechon over the weekend. Located in the suburbs of Washington, DC, in an area engulfed by strip malls, I knew ahead of time that looks would be deceiving. It did, however, meet every expectation of deliciousness. Truly a sapphire in the mud, whether that was T. S. Eliot’s intention for the phrase or not. For dinner, we shared the bul kalbi, beef short ribs marinated in chef’s special sauce. The meat was a little sweet and a little salty, and grilled right at the table. Wrap it in crisp lettuce with fiery cabbage kimchi and you wonder why you haven’t been eating this food all along. The bowls of panchan were plentiful, and maybe next time I’ll get the nerve to ask which each of them are. Like the kimchi, they are the cold dishes Korean restaurants offer with every meal.

And, what do you drink with a feast like this? White wine and lagers are the most fitting accompaniments. The food is spicy and flavorful and you’ll be happier with a refreshing beverage. Most of us drank Hite and Kirin, beers of Korea and Japan that taste just like American lagers Budweiser and Miller. We also tried Soju, a traditional Korean liquor similar to vodka but sweeter as it is distilled from sweet potatoes. Soju is served chilled and in shot glasses, and should be consumed in one gulp, preferably after toasting to good friends around the table.


Our beverages at Yechon: Soju, Korean beer Hite
and Japanese beer Kirin

posted by Ms. S&C

Green with envy

Forget the parades, shamrocks, and leprechauns for your St. Patrick’s Day celebration. There are green shoes to be worn! And the variety is incredible — floral, t-strap, patent, snakeskin, flats, platforms, sneakers and rainboots. The strappy sandals are my personal faves. They are flirty and fun, and I can see them having a place in my spring wardrobe long after the Irish festivities are over. Quick reader quiz — who can spot the $1,000 pair and which are eco-friendly? Share your guess in the comments section.









As far as imbibing on this occasion, beer is traditionally the favorite. And, like shoes, there are more choices than you think.

1. Irish beer, such as Guinness or Harp

St. Patrick’s Day is the only day of the year when I’m tempted to drink a Guinness or a Harp or both. I like the half-and-half combo which yields a Black & Tan.

2. Green beer, as in beer that is the color green

Green beer, even on St. Patty’s Day, doesn’t really appeal to me, but I thoroughly enjoy that others consume it. In the event you ever want to mix up your own batch, Mix That Drink outlines, step-by-step, how to make this concoction.

3. Green beer, as in beer that is eco-friendlygreen-beer

Drinking beer is good for you and the environment. Well, not exactly. But it still sounds like a cause that many of us can get behind. The Sierra Club has a few recommendations for beers made by companies who are working to lighten their carbon footprint–Sierra Nevada and Brooklyn Brewery are included. This way you can drink green beer today and any other day.


posted by Ms. S&C

Last supper

We’re down to the final five cheftestants on Top Chef. Last week’s episode was the last one in New York City and included an array of culinary experts. Wylie Dufresne was guest judge during the Quickfire Challenge, which involved one of my favorite proteins – eggs. Come-out-of-no-where-Carla won it with her playful green eggs and ham dish.

Time for the Elimination Challenge, which was billed as the proverbial Last Supper. Each cheftestant drew knives to find out what renowned culinary authority’s favorite dish they were to prepare – as if it were going to be the last dish they would eat. I was pretty surprised at how ordinary the dishes were. I mean, they’re classics, but shrimp scampi and eggs benedict for the last meal of your life — really?

Anyhoo, here’s what was served:

  • First course: Leah undercooks eggs benedict for Wylie Dufresne
  • Second course: Stefan overcooks salmon with spinach and roasted potatoes for Marcus Samuelsson
  • Third course: Hosea under-seasons shrimp scampi with tomatoes provencal for Susan Ungaro
  • Fourth course: Fabio perfectly roasts chicken for the Italian lady, Lidia Bastianich
  • Fifth course: Come-out-of-no-where-Carla almost wins with squab and fresh peas for Jacques Pépin, who may have out-Eric-Ripert-ed Eric Ripert as one of the nicest chefs around.

Carla and Fabio were the faves, with Fabio winning what may have been his first challenge. Stefan’s ego was taken down a notch, but it was Leah who packed her knives.



There are a lot of drink options appropriate for Fabio’s roasted chicken dish. Keeping with the theme — if there was only one beer I could choose to be my last one, it would definitely be Anchor Liberty Pale Ale. Aromatic, full of hop flavor and a rich color, Anchor Liberty is a great, great beer.

posted by Ms. S&C

S&C diversion–more funny stuff

Advertising execs can’t get enough of the phenomenom beer-is-to-men-what-clothes/shoes-are-to-women. Last week, I shared the Goldstar Beer chart. Here’s a Heineken beer “freakout” ad that is sure to be a viral hit.  The video is in Dutch, which may make it that much more enjoyable. The language of beer is universal.

posted by Ms. S&C

S&C diversion–cheap jokes

What goes through your mind when someone says “Let’s go for a drink”?


A friend of mine forwarded this clever ad from Goldstar Beer. While it is the equivalent of a cheap joke, depicting oversimplified cliches about men and women, I giggled. There are two more flowcharts in the ad campaign that involve toliets and relationships, but my good conscience keeps me from posting the images here.

posted by Ms. S&C