Thursday, May 06, 2010

Beer Is Good

A friend recently showed up at my door with a six-pack of domestic, light beer in hand.

Now, I'm certain that he was well aware of my beverage stockpile, which includes a selection of some very fine malted beverages. His comment was, "I know you like that brown beer."

Guilty. However, if I were to appear at your home, and you handed me a cold Coors Light, I would accept with honest gratitude. My favorite beer is free beer.

I'll even admit to a certain fondness for regular, old Budweiser. It reminds me of a certain time and place in my life. I'm no more a beer snob than I am a wine snob.

If anything, coffee is the one beverage I refuse to compromise on. I'll go without instead.

As the weather quickly turns from warm to hot here in S.C., I'm craving a cold beer more often. And since "brown beer" isn't always what I want on a hot day, I need a good, lighter-style beer.

Oskar Blues Brewing Mama's Little Yella Pils, $10 (six 12 oz. cans), Green's

This is summer (or late spring) in a can – crisp, carbonated and low-octane (5.3% ABV) with flavors of lemon, grass, yeast and a touch of sweetness. If one can doesn't convince you...the second will.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Winging It

Let it never be said that E isn't a good sport when it comes to my cooking.

Yes, she does occasionally give me the "who farted?" look when I suggest a particular combination, but she goes along and usually ends up liking it. There have been only a couple times when she's given me the thumbs-down.

She's in Charleston tonight on business, so I'm cooking for one. It gives me a little more room to experiment, because I know that I'll be the only one eating if I screw it up.

I've been craving comfort food, especially food involving cheese and pasta. However, my blood is running a little thick with LDL these days.

With that in mind, here goes my stream of consciousness approach to creating some dinner.

My first urge is to make something akin to mac-n-cheese, but without E to call 911 when I go into cardiac arrest - that seems like a bad idea. Something I picked up from a recipe in the New York Times is to use a mix of tomato sauce and cheese to lighten it up a bit.

I chopped up a shallot and minced a couple cloves of garlic. I gave them a quick sauté in a medium sauce pan with some olive oil. I added a splash of red wine and a box (26.46 oz.) of Pomí chopped tomatoes (very good quality).

With a pot of water heating on the stove and the sauce simmering, I chopped up a mess of fresh oregano. I've got more than I could ever use this time of year, so I've been wanting to cook something that uses a bunch. Oregano is basically a very tasty weed.

I tossed a heaping 1/4 cup of chopped oregano into the simmering sauce. Once the sauce had thickened and the water was boiling, I added half a pound of elbow macaroni to the pot and added some cheese to the sauce.

I would have preferred to use goat cheese, but I had none. I did have a small chunk of Cream Havarti. Into the sauce went the Havarti and some Parmesan – about a 1/2 cup of each.

When the pasta was just before al dente, I drained it and tossed it with the sauce and a little salt and pepper to taste. The mixture went into an oiled 2-quart dish. The last step was to toss about a 1/3 cup of fresh bread crumbs (I keep some in the freezer for just such an occasion) with a tablespoon or so of olive oil and sprinkle the bread crumbs on top of the pasta.

After 35 minutes in the oven (uncovered), I let it sit for 10 minutes and plated some up on a bed of baby arugula, which needed to be used and gave some much-needed color.

The only thing missing was a glass of basic Italian red.

Stella Montepulciano d' Abruzzo 2008, $7.99, Green's

Sometimes Italian wine really delivers. This is one of those times – black cherry, licorice, smoke and a nice, dry finish – and a bargain to boot. Add a little Duke Ellington and you've got a respectable dinner for one.

Cheers, y'all.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

What's It All About?

My recent posts have been all over the map – even by my usual standards. As I’ve returned to posting more often, one of things I’m struggling with is what this blog is about.

When I started writing Brim, I thought that my audience would be local and that I would write about wine with respect to my small corner of the world. I quickly realized my readers were from coming from all over the U.S. and even overseas. It wasn't what I expected, but I was thrilled all the same.

So I started writing for a more general audience of wine lovers. That went okay for a while.

Then my ADD kicked in. A quick look at my résumé reveals that I have difficulty focusing on any one thing for very long.

Writing exclusively about wine seems so limiting, so I started writing about my adventures in cooking – which led to some summer posts about gardening. And, it’s difficult for me to write anything without talking about my dogs.

I certainly couldn’t write about wine without writing about my wine drinking partner, E. On several occasions, she has pointed out that Brim has become a journal (albeit alcohol-centric) of our life.

I have to say that I admire some of my blogging colleagues who have found success blogging exclusively about wine. (I’m looking at you Sonadora and Dr. Debs.)

Brim has turned into an outlet for me to write something other than the corporate-speak I get paid to write. I’m grateful for the small group of loyal readers who have stuck with me. I like writing, and I miss it when I stop.

Going forward, my goal is to keep mixing it up.

I’ll write some short posts about wines I’m drinking and where to get them for my local readers, along with some other local, beverage/dining related stuff. I’ll also write some longer posts about my take on wine, beer, spirits, cooking and gardening. And I’ll write some completely random posts on other stuff that's on my mind, although I promise to avoid topics such as stupid politicians, bad drivers and celebrity gossip.

And I’ll keep writing about dogs.