Fig Picking & Fig Jam (a.k.a. FIGJAM)

August 18, 2010

As if solar panels weren’t enough. The day after the solar PV system was completed we picked our first harvest of homegrown figs.

Well, I call them ‘homegrown’ but that term implies that the people in my home did something to grow them. But that’s just not true. All we did is wait and watch to see when the fig tree in our front yard would produce some fruit. Then, once we saw the birds and squirrels chowing down we figured it was time to pick.

So happens we were having a family reunion right when the figs ripened so I had plenty of help from my nieces, nephews and cousins’ children (are they second cousins or cousins once removed?). And fortunately our friend and neighbor Richard was home who came right over with his ladder.

Richard arrives with ladder and handy fruit picking basket.

My youngest nephew Peter don't need no stinkin' ladder. He climbed right up the tree.

Over at Richard and Andrea's, Andrea and Seung cut of the stems in preparation for fig jamming.

Andrea introduces us to the acronym FIGJAM – Fuck I’m Good, Just Ask Me.

The figs stew for about an hour with a bit of honey. Then they go in jars and get called fig jam.

Next year around this time I’ll have honey from my own hive to add to the fig harvest. Can’t wait.

Slow Beer Tasting with Beer Activist at District Chophouse

March 11, 2010


Thursday, March 25, 6:30 – 8 p.m.

District Chophouse, The Vault Room
509 7th Street NW,  Washington, DC 20004

Brewer Barrett Lauer presents seven hand-crafted ales with appetizers as beer activist Chris O’Brien discusses how drinking slow beer builds community and a more sustainable world. O’Brien, co-owner of the Seven Bridges Organic Brewing Supply Cooperative and Director of Sustainability at American University, will sign copies of his award-winning book Fermenting Revolution: How to Drink Beer and Save the World and answer all your questions about beer.

Slow Food DC Members: $25

Nonmembers: $28


Goo-Goo for Gonzo

September 12, 2009

Looks like rain. Raining beer, that is, at GonzoFest in Frederick, MD at Flying Dog’s annual party.

In past year’s the music stage was in a decent-sized tent, so don’t let that little rain keep you away. In fact, you know the number one ingredient in beer, right? Water. So thank Ninkasi for the rain and come on out and drink some beer.

Duff, of Charm City Cakes, will play in his band soihadto at the GonzoFest today.

Cake fans will be pleased to know that Duff, of Charm City Cakes in Baltimore — you know, the people featured in that Food Network show Ace of Cakes — will be playing bass in his band “soihadto” at 7:30. No idea how these guys sound. I can definitely picture a guy like Duff drinking beer (I mean with a name like that, right?). Playing in a band, though? Well, maybe on bass. We’ll see.

Tickets are $30 at the door and include the cost of beer. Details about the beer, the venue, the bands, the chili, and more are online here.

Duff, of Charm City Cakes, will play in his band soihadto at the GonzoFest today.

Aroma of Nailpolish Remover — In a Good Way

January 4, 2009

We gathered a few folks for a holiday beer tasting last Friday night. One of my favorites of the evening was the Gouden Carolus Christmas beer from Het Anker. This beer has a distinctively slick mouthfeel that I really enjoy. As we tasted it, Matt (pictured below on the right) exclaimed “yeah, there’s that nail polish remover.” I think he meant it in a good way. I learned that the compound responsible for this is amyl acetate, an ester produced during fermentation. It is the same compound that occurs in bananas and apples. Maybe that helps explain why I like banana-like flavors in weiss beers so much?

Richard, co-conspirator; Tom, Select Wines; Matt, Flyng Dog

L-R: Richard, co-conspirator; Tom, Select Wines; Matt, Flying Dog

Seung, my partner in tastings and in life; Scott, neighbor and homebrewer; Kathryn (sp?), she hangs with Richard.

L-R: Seung, my partner in tastings and in life; Scott, neighbor and homebrewer; Kathryn (sp?), she hangs with Richard.

We ended the tasting with a Choklat Stout from Southern Tier Brewing in Lakewood, NY, paired with my new favorite recipe: beeramisu. Yum!

CityZen DC

December 30, 2008

It was a quiet day in the office. So I did something I rarely do — crank up the tunes while I work. I was listening to The Briggs. Samantha stopped into my office, heard the racket and commented: “interesting choice of music.”

“Yeah, I’m actually a punk rocker, but people in the office don’t really know that. I used to shave my head a lot. I still listen to vinyl records and rock out at home,” I replied.

Later in the afternoon I decided to finally get a haircut. It’s been several months and it had gotten so long that it was a hassle. I’ve lived in Maryland for three years now (having always lived in the District before) and since moving here I haven’t been able to find a place for a decent haircut, so I get them grudgingly and few and far between. So I tried a new place today, right down the street from the office in Takoma Park. An old school barber shop. It had a good vibe. Couple middle age black guys with pictures of Muhamed Ali’s Rumble in the Jungle, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King on the walls. The barber had handed me a card on the sidewalk months ago inviting me to give them a try.

andy-chris-cityzen1Well, since I haven’t been happy with the five other places I’ve tried in the area, so I tried this guy out today. When I came back to the office, Sam stopped by my office again and did a double take. “Yeah, they shaved my head,” I explained. “Why?” She asked. “Well, I told the guy to go pretty short but I didn’t know he was going to shave my frickin head. I guess it’s kind of funny that I had just been telling you about how I used to shave my head. I haven’t done that for at least ten years. I mean seriously, I could have pulled out the clippers and done this myself, why would I go to a barber and pay for this? Oh well, happy new year.”

That’s why I look like a killer spy in the picture on the left. That’s me and my friend Andy Myers, the sommelier at CityZen (one of the few four-star restaurants in the DC area). Seung took me there tonight for a special birthday dinner. Andy happens to be high school friend of mine so I let him know in advance that we were coming and he pulled some special beers for us — if you know the guy in charge of the drinks you have to make the most of it.

The bottle in the left foreground is Deus. I’d never heard of this — a champagne-style Belgian beer brewed by Bosteels Brewery in Flanders. It was fucking great. More words will only detract.

dales2I proceeded with the Chef’s tasting menu…six courses paired with beers chosen by Andy. He said this was “the first time I’ve ever done a full menu pairing with beers.”

Yeah. That’s how special I am. Hey, it’s my birthday dinner okay — let me bask in the glory.

I really enjoyed getting a can of Dale’s Pale Ale literally served on a silver platter. I could go on and on about the amazing dishes and pairings, but what makes eating and drinking special for me is the company. Seung is my baby. Andy and I used to listen to punk rock together in high school and I think he even shaved my head once.

It was a very good birthday dinner.

Organic Beer Happy Hour

June 13, 2008

Oxford OrganicThe big news today was the proposed hostile takeover of Anheuser Busch by rival InBev. But the Washington Post ran a second, more reassuring piece on beer today that helped turn my frown upside-down.

Busboys and Poets, the Washington area bookstore-cafe with locations in Shirlington and near U St., is running an “Organic Beer Happy Hour” that, according to the article, was inspired by . . . me! Now that’s change I can believe in.

A few months back, Busboys hosted me for a book signing and talk. It seems the talk was received well enough that it inspired them to feature a weekly happy hour every Wednesday featuring specials on organic beers. According to their website, they are offering the following beers for $4:

  • Wolaver’s Brown and Farmhouse Ale
  • Brooklyn’s Winter Ale (hmm, this one’s not actually organic, though Brooklyn Brewing is wind-powered)
  • Peak’s Amber
  • Clipper City’s Winter Storm

That last one isn’t organic either, but maybe they meant Clipper City’s Oxford Organic Amber, which I’ve been helping to launch in the regional market through organic beer dinners such as the one being held at Great Sage on June 26, 2008.

Now you have two great excuses to come on out and have an organic beer here in the DC area.

Vegetarian, Organic Beer Dinner

June 2, 2008

After last month’s successful pair-up at Magnolias Mill, I’m happy to announce that I’ll be joining Clipper City Brewing again for another beer dinner celebrating their newly organic line of Oxford Ales.

Great Sage

In addition to being a great excuse to get out and drink some organic beers from a local brewery (while listening to me yap about sustainability and beer), this beer dinner will be extra special because all the food will be vegetarian!

Last time, at the Magnolias event, Clipper City representative Tom Cizauskas explained to me that despite participating in dozens (hundreds?) of beer dinners over the years, he’s never been able to eat a full meal because he maintains a vegetarian diet. Now, with cuisine cooperation from the friendly folks at Great Sage restaurant in Clarksburg, MD, he’ll be cleaning his plate!

Oh, and did I mention the Organic Amber Ale would be served from a dry-hopped cask? Come on now! Could it get any better than this?

Here’s the tentative menu for this June 26, 2008 beer dinner:

Welcome – Clipper City MärzHon (draught), the nation’s best Vienna Lager, two years running.

1st course
Roasted Shitakes, over Spinach with a Tomato Fennel Vinaigrette.
Paired with fresh cask of Oxford Organics Amber Ale.

2nd course
Asparagus and Roasted Red Pepper Filo Purse with a Creamy Goat Cheese Sauce (or without, for vegans)
Paired with Small Craft Warning Über Pils (bottle).

IntermezzoOxford Organic
Raspberry Sorbet with Oxford Organic Raspberry Wheat Float (draught).

3rd course
Thai Yellow Curry with Vegan ‘Beef ‘Tips and Mangos
Paired with Loose Cannon Hop3 Ale (bottle).

4th Course
Aztec Chocolate Mousse (dairy-less chocolate mousse with a hint of chili peppers!)
Paired with Peg Leg Imperial Stout (bottle).

Read a good review of Great Sage in the Washington Post. Visit the Great Sage website for details and reservations.


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