Sunday, March 30, 2014

HHH Review: Crabbie's Ginger Beer

For those uninitiated to the deliciousness of Moscow Mules, Dark and Stormys, and ginger beer in general, the fact that ginger beer contains no alcohol often comes as a surprise. But similar to root beer, ginger beer is beer in name alone. Well, usually anyway.

Enter Crabbie's Ginger Beer. Made with real ginger and boasting a 4.8% abv, Crabbie's Ginger Beer is the first alcoholic ginger beer to be distributed in the U.S. The brand built a successful following in the UK before beginning distribution on this side of the pond a few years ago.

I first tried Crabbie's Ginger Beer at last year's Monterey Brew Fest. I remember our group being impressed with how good it was, but you know how beer fests are- things can get a little hazy. I was happy to oblige then when Crabbie's reached out to see if Kel and I would like a sample to review, .


We decided to include a tasting of Crabbie's as part of our March SALEP meeting. The reaction was certainly a positive one. Everyone agreed that Crabbie's packed a pleasant spicy gingery punch and wasn't as sweet as we expected it to be (that's a good thing). We liked how refreshing it was on its own but also thought it would be equally good as a substitute for regular ginger beer in cocktails.

If you'd like to try Crabbie's for yourself, it's available locally at most Fred Meyers and New Seasons as well as some independent retailers like Belmont Station. It's also available at several local bars including East Burn and Quimby's at 19th.

And if you want to make a cocktail using ginger beer on your own, here's the recipe for our two favorites:

Moscow Mule
- 2 oz vodka
- 1 oz lime juice
- Ginger beer

Dark and Stormy
- 2oz rum
- Ginger beer
- Lime wedge

Cheers!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

IZZE Event: A Spark of Spring on Friendsday Night

What: A Spark of Spring on Friendsday Night
When: March 19th, 2014
Where: Rooftop of the Eastside Exchange
Honeys Heart: The whole night!

At family gatherings we often played a little game of "High-Low" where you share the best and worst part of your day. Last week at IZZE's "A Spark of Spring on Friendsday Night", my high was getting to attend and sample amazing food from Naomi Pomeroy of Beast and cocktails by Kyle Webster of Expatriate. It was apparent that these two are extremely excellent at their crafts. My low was not having Katie there with me! My lovely co-blogger had a prior engagement and most of the time I was thinking "Katie would love this!"

This was my first experience at the Eastside Exchange and the venue felt very urban and trendy. Attendees were welcomed by a fun living wall with the IZZE brand inviting you towards the elevators.


While waiting to head to the fifth floor, Kyle was preparing shots of Becherovka and IZZE Peach on a pretty fantastic ice sculpture (Katie, I suggest you consider this for your wedding...). It was a great way to set the tone for the evening.


Once on the fifth floor, there was a tented and beautifully decorated, though chilly, rooftop with assigned community style seating and a bar. I started my IZZE cocktail experience with the IZZE Granada Cocktail featuring IZZE Pomegranate, Plantation 3 Star Rum, Lemon Juice, Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao, and Campari. Really nice.


Before settling in, I wandered around the intimate venue which was decorated with IZZE bottles as vases and included a DIY candle station where IZZE bottles had been cut down to make homemade candles. I went for grapefruit! 


The menu needs no explanation. Read the below photo and drool. It was pretty amazing. 


Carrot & Clementine Veloute with family style garnishes of herb sauce verte and candied hazelnuts started the food experienceThere were family style dishes that followed the soup which were equally as fantastic, but it's the soup that stands out to me. It was creamy, rich, and flavorful, plus the DIY garnishes added a special and engaging experience. I'm certain everyone pretended to be a fancy chef and twirl the herb sauce verte in decorative circles- or was that just me?


While I got lost in my soup, Naomi demonstrated how to make the BBQ sauce featured on the upcoming ribs out of IZZE Pomegranate. She whipped that up like it was no big deal, obviously.


I don't have a good pic of the ribs and tuna so you should definitely scroll down in Jane's blog, In the Pink and Greenand get a visual. The tuna was perfect.

The family style vegetables included Broccoli Raab, Maitake Mushrooms, and Fregola and Currants. The mushrooms were my favorite part of this dish and I'm pretty sure Naomi picked these up at a local farmers market- cool!


The incredible food being passed around was a strong distraction, but I suddenly realized I had only tried one of the cocktails (this is another benefit of having both of us at events, we can try double the amount of cocktails)! Next up, the IZZE Irish Whiskey Bramble with IZZE Blackberry, Jameson, Lemon, creme Yvette, and Angostura Bitters. I was assured I would like the whiskey, and I did. 


As the band, Fort Atlantic, began playing, Naomi and her team dished up this little Blackberry Trifle Cake with blackberry and lime IZZE sorbet and candied violets.  



I listened to the music, waited for my candle, and then headed home, but not before getting my IZZE swag bag. You know how sometimes the gift bags at events are a bunch of branded stuff that you don't really want and quickly Goodwill? That was not the case here! What a thoughtful bag of useful and quality items!

A huge thank you to IZZE for a fun evening and a re-introduction to their sparkling juices. Major thanks to Naomi Pomeroy and Kyle Webster as well. The evening would not have been the same without their involvement and special food and drink menus!

Friday, March 21, 2014

SALEP Topic: Drambuie

For this month's SALEP meeting (SALEP = Society for the Advancement of Libation Edification and Potation), Brian taught us about Drambuie, a new liqueur to both Kelly and me. Thanks, Brian!!


What is it?
Drambuie is a sweet, gold colored liqueur with a Scotch whiskey base that is accented with the flavors of Scottish heather honey, herbs, and spices. The whiskey is a blend of malts from the Speyside and Highland regions of Scotland.

Etymology:
"Drambuie" is derived from the Scottish Gaelic phrase an dram buidheach- "the drink that satisfies."

Origin:
(Abridged from www.drambuie.com/us/history)
-The story of Drambuie begins in July 1746. Prince Charles Edward Stuart was on the run after being defeated at the Battle of Culloden, thus ending his hopes of restoring the Stuarts to the throne of Great Britain. 

-The Prince was pursued by the King’s men across the Highlands and Islands of Western Scotland, aided by many Highland Clans. Among them was Clan MacKinnon whose chief, John MacKinnon, helped the Prince escape from The Isle of Skye. In thanks for his help and bravery, the Prince gave John MacKinnon the secret recipe to his personal liqueur.

-In 1873, the recipe was passed on to John Ross of The Broadford Hotel on Skye, who started making it to serve in his hotel. Customers who tasted it commented in Gaelic that it was “an dram buidheach," the drink that satisfies, shortened to Drambuie. The name stuck and in 1893, John’s son James registered it as a trademark. 

-Malcolm MacKinnon travelled from Skye to Edinburgh in 1900 to work in the wines and spirits business. He recognized the opportunity that the liqueur offered and in 1909 produced Drambuie for the first time. By 1914 he had acquired the recipe and the trademark and he established The Drambuie Liqueur Company.

-Word began to spread about the Drambuie elixir and it became the first liqueur to be introduced to the House Of Lords in 1916. The following year, Buckingham Palace ordered a case for its cellars. The breakout of WWI interrupted the rise of Drambuie’s popularity commercially, however it did gain favor amongst many Army officers, becoming an Officers Mess staple in the Highland regiments. 


Zesty Irishman:
- 3/4 oz Drambuie
- 1 oz Irish Whiskey
- 1/4 oz triple sec
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Ginger Ale
- Lemon twist  

Find Drambuie at: 

Past SALEP Topics: 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Portland Bar: The Richmond Bar

What: The Richmond Bar 
Where: 3203 SE Division St
When: 4pm - 2am every day, 4-6pm HH ($1 off every item)
Honeys Heart: Justin, our bartender

Lesson learned: Monday night is not the best night to explore new bars. Katie and I planned a date night to Expatriate for cocktails. We double-checked that they would be open and after reading their assertion on their website that they're "open 8 days a week", we thought we were good to go. We stopped at Life of Pie to share a Margherita pizza ($10) and then headed to Expatriate. Upon arrival we discovered a "Closed for a Private Event" sign. Shit. 

Back in the car we did some quick searches and settled on Oso Market and Bar, open until 11pm. As we drove by Oso 10 minutes later we were again confronted with a "Closed" sign. Feeling a little defeated we headed to SE Division determined to find an open bar that we hadn't tried. Katie suggested The American Local, but of course it was also closed. Don't worry though, Katie's knowledge of the Portland bar scene is vast and she suddenly remembered wanting to try The Richmond Bar. It might have been our fourth stop in a driving night tour of Portland's eastside, but our rocky road lead us there and we were thankful. 


We sat at the bar and started with cocktails off the menu. I went for the Beet Down ($9) with gin, beet, lime, simple syrup, and bitters while Katie chose the Juice Box ($9) with vodka, grapefruit juice, orange juice, cherry heering, and grapefruit bitters. So far we were off to a good start.

 

With our empty glasses on the bar, Justin, our trusty bartender, asked if we wanted to stay on menu or go off. We declared that off menu sounded like more fun...for us. Some bartenders act inconvenienced when you say things like "I like boozy drinks with gin and savory flavors" and then expect them to craft the most delicious drink ever. Luckily for us Justin had the opposite opinion. With abundant enthusiasm he encouraged us to go off menu because it's more fun for him too! 


He stayed on the grapefruit route with Katie's next cocktail but took it a little more bitter and used gin versus vodka. We preferred this variation to the first. For my cocktail we went more boozy and he made a Martinez. Predecessor to the martini, it's made with gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur and angostura bitters. Justin used Old Tom gin which is aged in barrels and that definitely gave the drink a deeper flavor, more reminiscent of a whiskey cocktail. Garnished with an orange twist and a giant ice cube, I was feeling pretty fancy. My tendency would be to order a cocktail more like Katie's so I appreciated the nudge to try something classic.

Following our libations Katie had to pick up Doug at the airport so we accompanied our cocktails with a snack. Though the Cheese and Toast ($5) with white cheddar cheese spread, toast, and red onion marmalade came highly recommended, we opted for the Nยบ2 Hand Pie ($7) with butternut squash and goat cheese.

The hand pie was definitely sharable and was served with pickled veggies and two sauces: spicy mustard and a homemade malt sauce. The sauces were good, but we concluded they probably go better with the meat hand pies. 


Cool ambiance, great cocktails, and a totally affordable and (from our minimal experience) tasty food menu. Plus, The Richmond has a great happy hour too. $1 off all items from 4-6pm everyday. We'll definitely be back!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Portland Restaurant: Boxer Sushi

What: Boxer Sushi
Where: SE 20th and Hawthorne
When: Wed - Mon 5:30 - 9:30pm
Honeys Heart: Omakase 

Work travel is pretty awesome when it takes you to cool cities, especially one that your sister lives in, and then you get to go on adventures the following weekend. Like skiing Mt. Snow in Vermont or hitting up Brooklyn Boulders.


It is always nice to sleep in your own bed and get back to a routine though. I flew home from NYC on a Monday and Adam was leaving in the morning, so we headed out for a sushi date night.

Micah Camden, who seems to be building a little Portland food empire with Little Big Burger, Boxer Ramen, Boxer Sushi and Blue Star Donuts, is sure doing something right. We opted for the Omakase, a Japanese phrase meaning "I'll leave it to you," which runs $45 per person. The experience starts with miso soup, then moves to salad, sashimi, nigiri, vegetables, sushi rolls, and ends with mochi.

A few things about the Omakase experience and Boxer Sushi's approach that I really liked:

1.) Eating the fish in this order and taking time with each course was so much more enjoyable than digging into a bunch of rolls at one time and not really appreciating the fish. I also liked having a little surprise each round!

2.) The fish was served with garnishes and sauces that enhanced the flavor. Unlike dipping a roll in soy sauce and wasabi which consequently covers up some of the flavor, each selection seemed to really shine.

3.) I would prefer to always order family style and try a little of everything. I love getting a little bit of many things versus committing to just a few items.


The salad was crisp and firm with some tasty spices on the top.


Miso soup is always nice on a cold day and the tofu in this was a little sweet. I liked the unique variation.


This was one of my favorites. I should have taken notes because I can't remember what they all are, but I have photo documentation so I can just show them that on my next visit, right? On top of the freshness, the plates were all visually appealing with their flavor-intensifying sauces and garnishes.


Okay, this was a favorite too. The clementine and pepper added a sweet and spicy flavor that complimented the fish perfectly. I could definitely go and just have this.


I guess the sashimi is where my heart is. This salmon was also fantastic and next to it was a lump of crab meat, both drizzled with lemon oil and baby cilantro. Seriously delicious.


Following the sashimi selection was a unique plate of veggies. The green beans were covered in miso and were probably Adam's and my favorite. Next to those was spaghetti squash and at the top was pickled onion.


Next was nigiri with seven pieces each. The plate was set up to be eaten right to left with the lightest, less fatty white fishes at the beginning, moving to salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel and eel. I was really into the white fishes, while Adam declared he could eat tuna every single day. Each was slightly different in preparation with either a little garnish, wasabi, or the decision to keep it simple.


The last savory item on the list was a roll filled with crab and asparagus, topped with fish and a pepper. Again, this didn't disappoint.


The meal ended with blueberry and green tea mochi. Blueberry ice creams always remind me of lip smackers so my favorite was the green tea. I love the texture of the rice cake/dough around the ice cream. Boxer Ramen downtown has many flavors and I would recommend wrapping up your lunch there with one of these delights!

After having this sampler experience it would be easy to go and pick just a couple things that I really wanted, or for special occasions I would gladly do it again! Perhaps when the McNany's are in town...