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Fall TV Frenzy! Pairings for Your Favorite Shows

Posted by on September 25 2014 in Drinks, Lists, TV

The arrival of fall brings us the return of many of our favorite shows. Some enjoy the comedies, the cheesy chick flick(ish) shows, and others the thrillers. Regardless of what show(s) you prefer – they’re back! Several hours will be taken away from the time you thought you had in your day as you stare at the tube losing brain cells. The least you can do is feed your body with tasty food and beverages. For you we polled our trusted ES focus groups ourselves to determine the shows that we are looking forward to watching most, pairing them with our own crazy dishes. Plan some parties with your several friends and impress with creative themes and pairings. You’re welcome.

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FOX – New Girl

A show about a girl living with a bunch of dudes (and her ex) but somehow they all get along. Crack open a pumpkin wheat beer that everyone can enjoy together and put together (or order) a buffalo chicken pizza. While some biased people out there liken beer and wings to men, there are plenty of women out there that enjoy it too. Like Jess, find common grounds and dig in.

Drink: Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat

Eat: Buffalo Chicken Pizza

 

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FX – American Horror Story

Always a little creepy, and typically even more disturbing, American Horror Story merits something that will take the edge off while watching. The Séance Saison is a fall seasonal that adds fall spices to the mix to get you in the spirit. Also considering the fact that this year’s season’s theme is circus, we thought the best meal to pair with the theme would be circus food: corn dogs and some air popped popcorn.

Drink: Séance Saison

Eat: Corn Dogs with Popcorn

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Endless Whiskey: Pumpkin Spice Whiskey!

Posted by on September 24 2014 in Drinks

Pumpkins with award

Yes! The moment I’ve been waiting for. Hop-flavored whiskey was good, but I’ve been waiting for this kind of seasonal for a long time. Last year, Sons of Liberty used 4,000 lbs of pumpkin in their fall whiskey seasonal. This year, they worked with a local Rhode Island farmer to use 32,000 lbs of pumpkins  to create two batches of pumpkin spice whiskey. This year’s seasonal offering took one of ten World Whiskies Awards given by Whisky magazine; Sons of Liberty was the only craft distillery to win (with a PUMPKIN whiskey!).

Sons of Liberty paired with facebook volunteers to wash, cut, core, roast, and press all of the pumpkins. From there, the pumpkin juice is blended with a single malt whiskey. Finally, spices including cinnamon, clove, sweet orange peel, vanilla and allspice are added to the blend. Last year, owner Mike Reppucci used his mom’s oven to roast 4,000 lbs of pumpkins. I guess this year he realized his mom’s house may not be plausible, so he rented conventional ovens. Don’t fret though – he still kept it in the family by using his dad’s vintage wine press to press the pumpkins. I have to admit…I kind of wish I lived in Rhode Island just to take part in this crazy event. Here’s the tasting profile: continue reading…


Endless Beers: Stone Xocoveza Mocha Stout

Posted by on September 23 2014 in Drinks

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Stone sends us their most recent collaboration brew: The Xocoveza Mocha Stout. This weird name represents the sentiment of the true engineer of the beer: Chris Banker. Chris won Stone’s homebrew competition in March of 2013, where the champion wins the chance to brew their homebrew at the next level. Stone provides their facilities, expertise, and ingredients to create a bigger and even better version. The name is derived from the idea of a Mexican hot chocolate, which is what the beer is supposed to remind us of – sweet and spicy hot chocolate. Given the Mexican twist, Stone invited well known Mexican craft beer representatives of Cervecería Insurgente  to join in the collaboration.

The suds include malts and specialty ingredients of a milk stout. Cocoa and milk sugars were added during the boil, which adds noted sweet and roasty flavors throughout the brew. Then, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, pasilla peppers, and coffee are added. The end result is a very complex flavor profile. While I don’t taste the chocolate as much as I do a sweet roasted coffee – it does remind me of a spicy hot cocoa. Here are the ES tasting notes: continue reading…


Apples and Honey Gets an Upgrade

Posted by on September 22 2014 in Desserts, Holiday

Apple Honey 300dpi

If fall is in the air, it must be just about time to celebrate the New Year….not that New Year; the one with apples and honey.

This tasty union is a Rosh Hashanah tradition, symbolizing the hopes for a “sweet” New Year. Of course, at ES we like to do that with more than just a kids lunchbox-esque pack of sliced apples drizzled in goo. For this year’s updated Rosh Hashanah take, we’re looking at this honey-glazed Apple Financier Tart — an elevated, Francophile variation on an apple pie.

Pâtissier extraordinaire Francois Payard provided this recipe, in which the moisture of the mix and texture of the apples with the flavor of the browned butter take A&H to a new level.

Apple and Honey Financier Tart

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Endless Beers: He Said He Said

Posted by on September 19 2014 in Drinks

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Not sure you got our memo yet, but: fall has arrived. Get with it. That means that pumpkin beers are nearly gone already and Christmas everything will be out in a matter of weeks. Bah humbug. Until then, let’s enjoy the fall spirit with some more BEER!

The He Said He Said is a collaboration four pack brought to you by 21st Amendment and Elysian Brewery. The four pack offers two beers: a Belgian Tripel Brewed with Pumpkin and Spices and a Baltic Porter Lager Brewed with Pumpkin and Spices.  The four pack tells the stories of how the two brewmasters/co-founders came up with their collaboration pumpkin brews. Of course, as we all would, each brewmaster takes a bit more credit than the other. The result of the clashing stories was two strong but very different pumpkin collaboration brews. Get it? He said, he said.

The first offering is the brain child of Shaun O’Sullivan of 21st Amendment: The Belgian Triple Brewed with Pumpkin and Spices. Of course, this comes from the brewery that brings us beers like Hell or High Watermelon and Back in Black IPA. Special ingredients in the Belgian Pumpkin Triple include pumpkin puree, pumpkin juice, Galangal, and Tarragon spices. Enough with the small talk, let’s discuss the taste:

ABV: 8.2 %

  • Appearance: Orange – the color of a pumpkin. A bright, transparent orange.
  • Aroma: Earthy pumpkin scents complemented by herbs, spices, and a little bit of the belgian trappist yeast.
  • Taste: Has clean and crisp taste of a Belgian Tripel, then pumpkin and spice flavor throughout. It’s a strong brew, but it doesn’t taste as much like alcohol as many Belgian Tripels. The smooth, sweet flavors take away most of the boozy taste.
  • Mouthfeel: Surprisingly creamy leaving a buttery feeling on the roof of your mouth.
  • Overall: Definitely a strong belgian with a decent ABV.  I was able to drink this without feeling full, and instead actually feeling refreshed. The pumpkin flavor is there, but isn’t intensely strong like an imperial pumpkin. Good on a warm fall day, or a Sunday while watching football.

Next up is the other side of the debate of how the collaboration began: the Baltic Style Porter Lager Brewed with Pumpkin and Spices. This is the Elysian side of the coin – the side that brings you pumpkin fests, intense pumpkin beers, and strong beers. The Pumpkin Porter includes special ingredients such as pumpkin puree, pumpkin juice, Vietnamese Cinnamon, and Caraway Seed. While it’s a porter, it is also a lager. BOOM. Here are the tasting notes:

ABV: 8.2%

  • Appearance: Black, opaque. Looks more like a thick stout than a thinner porter.
  • Aroma: Sweet coffee smell with a meaty pumpkin smell.
  • Taste: Coffee flavors along with sweet molasses, but not as strong as expected. The pumpkin flavors come through stronger but do not overwhelm. Fall spices are subtle in this one.
  • Mouthfeel: Smooth, but more crisp than expected.
  • Overall: Carbonation could be better, but other than that it has the sweet flavors of a porter complemented by earthy spices and pumpkin. Lager aspects of the brew are subtle, but it balanced out the beer a bit.

The He Said He Said is an interesting collaboration that offers a different take on pumpkin beers. The porter was good, but reminded me of other stout pumpkin beers I have had before. On the other hand, the Belgian Tripel Pumpkin offered a completely different take on pumpkin brews that I haven’t had before. The Tripel is more of an “anytime beer” than other pumpkin beers I’ve had before. Refreshing yet sweet, strong yet not overwhelming, the brew offers the fall flavors without suggesting it must be drunk after dinner or during a cold, crisp day.

Our ES Suggested Pairings (dare I say…for BOTH?!):

  • Meals: Chicken Tacos (for the tripel) and juicy steak (for the porter)
  • Cigars: Macanudo Maduro or CAO MX2 (for the tripel) and Drew Estate Naturals English (for the porter)

Just Give In: A Pumpkin Spice M&Ms Review

Posted by on September 18 2014 in Rants & Raves, Trends

Pumpkin Spice M&Ms Flavor Taste Test

So, the internet has collectively decided that liking pumpkin and pumpkin spiced flavored things makes you a basic white girl. There have been many online thought (well, “thought”) pieces written about this, including one fairly accurate Buzzfeed list. If you’re really interested in the history of being basic, the truth is that everyone has taken a phrase coined a few years ago and twisted it into something completely different meaning ordinary/boring. New York Mag has a pretty good piece on it, and over on The Awl they have an interesting 2013 read about the fetishization of pumpkin and pumpkin flavor. If you’re interested into delving into this weirdly specific trend/topic.

Anyway, whatever. If liking pumpkin shit and football and boots makes me basic, then basic it is. Pumpkin is delicious, football is an amazing justification for day drinking, and boots keep your feet warm and dry.

All that being said, what up with all the pumpkin-flavored stuff in stores these days! It’s getting borderline ridiculous. Apparently these limited-edition Pumpkin Spice M&Ms debuted last year, but I never experienced them in-person until this year, the year of our lord 2014. SUPPOSEDLY there are also Pumpkin Spice Oreos out there now, but I have yet to see them in stores them despite a semi-intense search at Target last week. But let’s rewind a sec to the M&Ms.

I was in said Target purchasing my new Crock Pot (one more step in my quest to be the most basic white girl in the fall, I guess) when a garish display of seasonal M&Ms caught my eye. Nestled among the Halloween-themed regular flavors were Pumpkin Spice and White Chocolate Candy Corn varieties. Clearly the powers above were sending me a message, and that message was: you must sacrifice your pre-vacation crash diet and sense of pride. You must taste test these cheap, bandwagon-y limited edition candies.

I decided to save the candy corn flavor for a later unfortunate date, but purchased the pumpkin spice kind and tore into them in the car ride home (obv, why would I delay this flavor experience longer than necessary?) To the disappointment of my friend and myself, they were barely pumpkin-tasting at all. If anything, I would describe these M&Ms as “Mexican chocolate,” that is, regular milk chocolate infused with a tiny bit of cinnamon, nutmeg, and generic “spice.”

When I got home, I introduced them to Rob in a BLIND TASTE TEST and he thought I was just feeding him regular milk chocolate M&Ms. Another failure.

But… something strange started to happen. The longer the weekend went on, the more we snacked on these little nuggets of dubious seasonality. And the more we snacked on them, the more we liked them. Soon we were saying things like “You know, maybe I CAN taste the pumpkin spice” and “Well, I actually really like these, they taste like fall” until we were full-on making conversation with each other about how we might be borderline addicted to Pumpkin Spice M&Ms.

What does this all mean? I suppose if the summary of my review is “They don’t taste that great at first, but just keep eating them and eventually you’ll think you can taste the difference, start to like them, and eat way more than you meant to in one sitting” that might not be high praise. But, this is kind of how I feel about pumpkin spice and fall in general. You resist at first, you think you’re better than it, but you’re not. Just give in.


Endless Whiskey: Hop-Flavored Whiskey (Part II)

Posted by on September 17 2014 in Drinks

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If you recall, during the ridiculous winter storms of February, I tried the 2013 SOL Hop Flavored Whiskey. Well, here comes the 2014 version. Founder and owner Mike Reppucci said that the award-winning 2014 version is more hoppy than last year’s and potentially even more mellow.  The single malt whiskey from the north continues to provide the basic flavors of an IPA style beer in the form of whiskey.  After the wash is fermented and completes the distillation process, the whiskey is dry hopped with Citra and Sirachi Ace hops (grassy and citrus hops).

While the flagship whiskeys produced by Sons of Liberty offer either a sweet or smokey taste that many of us liken to whiskey or scotch, the hop-flavored whiskey has more of an “in your face” but refreshing profile. The warming and sweet malt flavors come through at first, suddenly cut by a strong bitterness from the hops and complemented by our good friend ethanol. The citrus and grassy flavors of the hops complete the taste.

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