Victorian Square, Sparks

23 09 2010

Is it gilding the lily to prolong a vacation that was already a month long?  One that has now been over for almost three weeks?  Maybe so, but I’m doing it anyway.  I still have vacation food photos to share, and they’re of some of my favorite places and foods in the world.  This one leans more toward favorite places, but you know the food is good, too, or they wouldn’t be my favorite places.

Some of my favorite eating and drinking establishments
1. The Nugget 2. Blind Onion Pizza 3. O’Ski’s Pub 4. Great Basin Brewing Co.

Sparks, Nevada (the middle “a” sounds like the one in “hat,” not “blah”) has been a sort of home-away-from-home for me for a long time.  (Except for the half-year I lived there, right after moving back to the US from France for the first time.  You can imagine the culture shock.)  Victorian Square, aka B Street, was the epicenter of my life there.  I spent many a happy hour at the Nugget Casino’s Orozko bar, drinking half-price drinks and eating tapas, and a few late nights at their blackjack and roulette tables.  I worked at the Great Basin Brewing Company, and I go back for a few pints and meals every time I’m in town.

Black and Blue burger at Great Basin Brewing Co.

I always have a hard time deciding between the signature Black and Blue burger and the fish and chips.  On this particular occasion, I went with the former – a juicy burger seasoned with Cajun blackening spices and topped with blue cheese.  It was every bit as flavorful as I remembered it.  Since this was our second lunch there in a week, and I’d had a chance to chat with the head chef, Nick got a special experimental sandwich he was working on.

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Lunching in Dublin

20 08 2010

What do you do when you have a transatlantic flight and you are pretty sure you don’t want to eat the airplane food?  If you’re me, you bake two batches of cookies in anticipation of mid-flight snackiness.  If you’re Nick, you book your flight such that you have a three-hour layover in Dublin where you can fuel up with some (hopefully) authentic pub grub and a pint or two of Guinness.  Luckily for both of us, we travel together.

Ahhhhh.

Naturally, our plane from Paris to Dublin arrived late, and with all the customs and security holdups, we ended up having much less time than we had hoped for lunch.  Add to that the time spent wandering around the airport looking for something that wasn’t just fast food, and the fact that the only real restaurant we could find refused to take food orders until 12 noon, and it was nearly a stressful experience.  Thank goodness for Guinness.

A pleasant surprise

I was heartened by this note on the menu as well – just because you’re in an airport doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a good meal.

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Worthwhile French Beers: Le P’tit Klintz

9 08 2010

Despite the long interval since my last Worthwhile French Beer post, I seem to have found the most similar possible beer to write about this time. 

Le P'tit Klintz - Alsatian honey beer

As you can see, this one is also organic, also from Brasserie Uberach, and also has “Klintz” in the name.  But if La Klintz blonde is the mama bear, and Le Klintz brune is the papa bear, then this little honeyed number is the baby bear of the family.

The bottle had been sitting in our fridge for quite a while, and a noticeable layer of sediment had accrued at the bottom.  When Nick opened the beer, it foamed vigorously and for some time, even though it was cold and relatively undisturbed.  Strange.

It poured out cloudy and yellow – definitely an unfiltered beer – and the bubbles kept coming, forming a thin, patchy white head.  My nose sensed an herbal quality, woodsy and rosemary-like, perhaps even pine-y.  Aromas of fresh bread wafted up as well.

On the palate, the continued effervescence gave it a very light feeling, and the bright citrus notes make this a very drinkable beer.  As I got deeper into the glass I noticed some hints of spice coming through, particularly coriander and clove, while Nick observed a presence of banana esters.

Overall, Le P’tit Klintz is a refreshing beer, one I wouldn’t hesitate to drink again.  It makes me happy to know that breweries like Uberach exist in France, making an effort to produce quality, organic beer in a country whose first love will always be wine.

More Worthwhile French Beers:
Ninkasi IPA
Kohler Rehm
Thomas Beckett Bière de Noël
La Mandubienne Blonde
Page 24
3 Monts
Britt
Étoile du Nord
Les 3 Brasseurs
Félibrée
Moulins d’Ascq
Hellemus

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





Worthwhile French Beers: La Klintz

8 03 2010

I had last week off work, and while I didn’t manage to stockpile blog posts as I had hoped, I did manage to stockpile material for blog posts, which is almost as good.  I also spent a lot of fruitless time looking for a new apartment, about which I won’t bore you further, until I move and I inevitably hate my new kitchen, at which point I will bitch and moan.  But this post is about beer.  Specifically, La Klintz, an organic blonde from Brasserie Uberach.

Brasserie Uberach's La Klintz Blonde

I met Nick for lunch last Thursday, and we went to a delightful little bistro near Montparnasse (more on that later).  We were delighted to learn that the restaurant’s only beer offering was “an artisan beer from Alsace.”  So we ordered two.  Negligently without any kind of notepaper (I prefer to let my camera do the note-taking), I resorted to jotting down our tasting notes on my phone.  (Hey, it’s worked before…)  Looking back at them, I find the shorthand almost poetic.

La Klintz
smells grassy citrusy
Unfiltered cloudy
Gold. V good.
Wheat?
blonde, bio
Clean sparkly flavor.
Yeast.
Almost saison
Light spice,
maybe coriander.

So yeah, we liked it.  I’m glad to see that it’s available at La Cave à Bulles, an excellent beer store which features French craft beers and is much closer to my apartment than this restaurant.  They also stock a number of Brasserie Uberach’s other brews, which I am now very interested to try.

On this day in 2009: Tommes de Savoie

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





Worthwhile French Beers: Thomas Beckett Bière de Noël

24 12 2009

As Calvin’s Dad once said, “I think Santa would rather have a cold beer.”  (Enjoy that link, by the way.  Terribly distracting.)

Bière de Noël

According to the brewer, the Thomas Beckett Brewery, which is based in Bourgogne, this Christmas brew is part of a tradition born in the north of France.  The master brewers of the region got into the habit of concocting beers enriched with spices such as coriander, cardamom, and cloves.  They shared these special seasonal brews with their best clients and closest neighbors.

Luckily for the rest of us, they eventually decided to start sharing with a broader audience.  This beer pours out in a clear, chestnut/mahogany-colored stream, and settles in the glass with a fluffy, pillowy, tan head.  It smells of dark roasted malt, reminiscent of molasses or chocolate, with hints of chestnut and spice.  In the mouth, the tiny bubbles announce and incredibly smooth and balanced beer, with a roasted, slightly sweet flavor.  Vanilla and tobacco make non-obtrusive guest appearances, and an ideally subtle warm spiciness (notably clove and nutmeg) imbues the whole without ever becoming overpowering.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





Worthwhile French Beers: Ninkasi IPA

20 12 2009

Nnkasi IPA

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Worthwhile French Beer post.  Not for lack of tasty French beers, but mainly for lack of patience for taking tasting notes when I’d rather be playing Cribbage or MarioKart.  Being a big fan of the IPA (India Pale Ale) style, I definitely wanted to record this one, though.

Ninkasi is a brewery/brewpub based in Lyon, with another location in  St. Etienne.  It is named for the Sumerian goddess of beer.  And they have not let her down on this one. 

Pouring it out into glasses, we noticed the beer was slightly cloudy, though it is likely that this has more to do with our storing the bottle on its side than anything the brewers intended.  However, the cloudiness does indicate the presence of yeast in the bottle, which in another life Nick would have harvested and cultured for his own brewing purposes.  Nonetheless, the color was a beautiful light caramel, with a bubbly, off-white head.  The floral hop nose gives way to a sweet, medium-roasted malt flavor and smooth mouthfeel, which segues effortlessly into a nice, sharp hop finish whose bitterness lingers, but doesn’t overstay its welcome. 

We were pleasantly surprised at how good this beer actually was, which makes me eager to try some of the other offerings from Ninkasi.  Or maybe even check out the brewpub sometime.  Could be time soon for a weekend in Lyon…

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





Worthwhile French Beers: La Mandubienne Blonde

31 10 2009

This is pretty much the last post I expected to write in Burgundy Month.  But yes, Nick and I did stumble across a locally made beer while in Dijon.

A glas of Burgundian... beer?

When we go on these weekend jaunts, I research the dining options, and Nick finds out about the beer scene.  He found a neat-looking place called Le Cappuccino that he wanted to check out, so we headed to a less-touristed part of town for a little local flavor.  Inside, we found that they even had a local beer on tap – La Mandubienne.  They even had brochures from the brewery, Brasserie des Trois Fontaines, which we unfortunately did not have time to visit.  In any case, we enjoyed the beer, and Nick wrote up a review for the website Beer Advocate.  He writes:

Color is opalescent wheaty-yellow to dark straw. Good high head that eventually settles into a nice lace over the beer. Aroma is rather full of esters (banana & pear mostly), but not over-the-top Jolly Rancher by any stretch.

Read the rest here.

Originally published on Croque-Camille.








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