Sunday, April 12, 2009

This Beer Wagon Kills Flies

*Boredom alert: there are pictures of food below*

My windshield is covered in the gritty dreams of flies and bugs from hives and hideouts all over the East Coast. I haven't been in my apartment since 4/2. I'm not going to be there until 4/19. What's the occassion? Golden Cap Saison, our new spring and summer seasonal. A delicious farmhouse ale made with spelt from our farmer friends in Washington State.

The swing into Virginia was unfortunately delayed by a bit of sickness, most of you reading this probably got it. I think everybody got it. I may have caught it just by reading about it on the internets. Anyhow, i missed what looked like an amazing New Holland Beer Dinner at Can Can in Richmond, VA. Mr. George held things down at the dinner while i wondered how cold you can feel and how much of a fever you can have at the same time.

So on then to NoVa. Northern Virginia is full of great beer spots, from bars with mile long walls of taps to classy brewpubs to a flagship Whole Foods in Fairfax where you can sit down mid-shopping and have some crab cakes or ribs and have a craft beer on tap. The day we stopped by New Holland, Stone, and Weyerbacher had three of the four taps. That's umm...well guys, that's next level. Whether this type of thing makes it to PA i'll have to ask Mr. Bryson about (i am way behind on my PA grocery, six pack, etc sales reading), but i can tell you for sure that my trips to both Whole Foods and Wegman's on this trip found stores very focused on serving up craft beer.

Another hotspot for me was Carpool's Reston location, a fun bar with many great craft beers on tap. Let my extensive quality control efforts assure you all: The Poet is pouring just fine in there. Whatever you do, don't challenge Rama to a game of shuffleboard, the man is a hustler.

On to The Triangle. The Raleigh/Durham area is packed with great places to grab a bite to eat and a good beer. They've got big places like Tyler's who are known for their many great beers and savy staff. Flying Saucer has their anchor dropped in town as well. Then there's a slew of up and coming bars doing great things for the area. Places like Sitti, Busy Bee, and The Borough, and The Raleigh Times Bar are all pulling the weight of resurgence and doing a mighty fine job of it. The Raleigh Times is serious. They have a beer list that could stop a truck full of BA's dead in their tracks. Marraige Parfait, JW Lee's, the list goes on. I spent the night (all but the sleeping part) at Raleigh Times for a Dragon's Milk and Poet promo and had a blast. They have some amazing ideas and an amazing attitude towards their business and the potential of craft beer throughout the entire Raleigh area. A bunch of thumbs up from this guy. Oh, the looks delicious.

Still going (I'm on the road here, remember?) on down to Charleston, SC. Have you been here? Holy smokes, this place is amazing. I hit town with just a hot second to get settled in before a Growl and Greet at the new beer outpost, Charleston Beer Exchange. Should you find yourself in Charleston, stop in and say hi to Rich and Scott, these are great guys who are very serious about beer. They've already gathered a loyal following and its due largely in part to their great service, great selection, and exciting specialty beers. So this is where i get jealous about the retail beer situation in other states. This is one little shop and it works simply like this: Walk in, buy single bottles, buy six packs, get a growler filled and be on your way. I mean what these guys are able to serve with their limited space is pretty incredible. Think Capone's with no bar, but growlers still available. It is le' bomba.

A new beer friend recently told me about a Philly tansport down to this area. Stefan Visilis stepped out of the Triumph Old City brewpub and came down the coast to open Farringdon Bistropub with his wife and their friends Dan & Amy. The whole mess of them are Charleston restaurant vets and are bringing craft beer and well thought out food to Summerville, SC. They're already a hit among the beer contingent. I had some fine beers and a great chicken salad sandwich (with apples, raisins, and yellow curry) over lunch and a great beer chat with owner Dan and bartender Michelle. They are committed to supporting local products both on their taps and in their kitchen. Look up Low Country Local First and the Sustainable Food Initiative for more info.

And that brings me to the finest meal of my trip so far....take thee to Chai's on King Street. Chai's is a great combination of comfortable surroundings, classy decor, and a great list of tapas that's pulled off just incredibly. The beer list is well put together and there were some goodies left over from a recent Allagash dinner that made our stop even more exciting. I am going to borrow Gina's hat here for a hot second and take you through.

We started with a pint of Hop Art from Coast, we'd been on the hunt for this beer since Friday evening. The Coast guys do a great job with their beers. A quick relay of the night's specials revealed our first course...

Bread Salad with Heirloom Tomato, Arugula, Feta, Balsamic, and a fried Pancetta wheel

We got a taste of some special things that were hanging in the kitchen as well. Deep fried ginger? Tasty, interesting. Then a great ice cream made with Allagash black. Wow, amazing flavors, amazing idea.

A little Micros slip led to our next plate...

Yellowfin Tuna Sashimi on an oil dipped ciabatta crostini with daikon sprouts and a sriracha aoili.

More raw stuff coming at you...

Tartare Trio - Tuna, Salmon, and Beef with Wonton Chips.

The return of the belly:

Pork belly over spaghetti squash with a reduction of its own braising liquid. My butter knife practically fell through the belly.

The meat wagon did not stop its wheels yet either, next up:

Lefthand Juju Ginger braised short ribs and rice. The meat and the bone hardly even knew each other anymore. Amazing flavors, nice soft texture, really really delicious.

Finishing up now...Duck confit lettuce wraps. As with everything before...delicious.

No comments: