Saturday, June 25, 2011

Russian River @ The Tasting Room

We were lucky to be part of a small group of beer lovers to try some Russian River brews. Considered to be one of the best beers in the world, they are very hard to find. Thanks to Jim for bring this in for us to try them out.

We started out with a Rogue Juniper Pale Ale, quite light but we want to condition our palate for the RR beers.

As the rest arrived, Jim started pouring the first one, with millimetrical precision. We only had 3 bottles of each and we were 9 so the pouring was serious stuff. (look how serious Jim looks as he opens the first batch )

The first one we tried was the Temptation. A wild ale aged in Chardonnay barrels. This was very fruity, acidic but quite refreshing. It was more like a bubbly wine to me. The third bottle was one year aged, which made the wine less acidic and easier to drink.

Next was Consecration, another Ale but this was aged in Oak Barrels with Currants. Much darker in color, this w as also quite acidic, with hints of sweetness coming from the currants. This to me tasted more like a Lambic. Not really my type, but this was an educational tasting.

Last of the RR beers was Pliny the Elder. This is a double IPA and considered to be one of the best in the world. This is really my type of beer: tons of hops, very fresh (this was bottled less than 2 months ago) and lots of mango, peach and many other fruits. This is beat taken fresh so if you have any of this, drink up right away.

After the RR tasting, Jim opened one last bottle, a sort of a pre release: Ballast Point Sea Monster Imperial Stout. I loved this stout, lots of chocolate and coffee notes, not as powerful and full bodied though as other stouts I've tried. Thanks Jim I will definitely stock up on this.

Many other beers were then opened. I left quite early so I was only able to catch the first 2, one of which I had already tried.

This was a great tasting. Thanks Jim for bringing the RR beers in and for the rest of the stuff.

Til the next one!!

Friday, June 3, 2011

And the pasta obsession continues...

After obsessing about authentic Carbonara, having brought back authentic Guanciale and Pecorino, my obsession with traditional simple pasta continues. A few days ago I decided to try to make my own Guanciale at home (in 45 days I will let you know how it came out).

Today was the turn for another simple traditional Roman style pasta: Pasta alla Gricia. It's a basic Carbonara (without the egg) with pasta water used to make a semi thick sauce that holds the whole dish together.

The Guanciale:

The pasta:

The Guanciale in the pan. You font want to overcook this or make it crispy, just very low heat until it's brown, fat has rendered and us transparent.

When it's halfway cooked, add a couple of tablespoons of pasta water. Keep on adding while you ate cooking the pasta to maintain the pork moist and a little saucy.

As soon as the pasta is 'al dente', save some pasta water, drain the pasta and dump the pasta in the pan with the Guanciale. Kepp moving the pan.. You have to hear that popping sound then add more pasta water. The pasta water is the key ingredient for this dish. The combination of the starch, water, oil and fat will render a nice, creamy super tasty coating to the pasta.

Give it a couple of minutes, put the pasta in the plate. Sprinkle with some pecorino cheese (don't get tempted to put too much) as it would definitely overpower the dish. Add some pepper and salt to taste.

The finished product. Had it with a Stone Pale Ale. The beet was a good match with the pasta.

For me, this is what Italian cooking is all about. Simplicity and top notch ingredients.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Gustavus Steak House

Lunch this week was at Gustavus in Makati. I've heard about this place before, but never had the chance to go. Noel then invited us and since he had eaten there 4 times in the span of one month, I figured this had to be a great place.

It's quite a small but very cozy restaurant and with a very friendly Manager/Partner, Mike Gayoso. We started off with a couple of platters of fresh oysters. With that I brought a bottle of GBEX's Rogue Double Dead Guy Ale. The beer was quite strong for the oysters but I still enjoyed it. The Oysters were great, very fresh. Although it comes with 3 different sauces, I just had my plain with a dash of Tabasco.

As the others arrived, we proceeded to order the mains. While waiting though, we still had some Oysters with my favorite Italian white wine, Bruno Giacosa Roero Arneis. We also ordered their special burger, which we all shared as an appetizer(no picture though..).

For main I had The Gustavus Cut Ribeye, rare. The steak was perfectly cooked, and rare as I had ordered. As per Noel this is one of the best things this place has. They are quite consistent in serving the meat the way you order it, wether rare or medium rare.

For sides, I had gnocchi. This was delicious. Slightly crusty on the outside but buttery soft inside.

For wine, we had 2 bottles of red. A 1981 ViƱa Bosconia which Noel brought back from his last trip to HK, and a 94 Montelena from Rene. The Napa held up really well with the steak, and I enjoyed the Rioja with the gnocchi.

Dessert was sinful and deadly. Chocnut Ice cream with bits of brownies and topped with Chocnut. I said I did not want any dessert but I simply could not resist this one.

After lunch, a quick stop at the tasting room to wash down all the food we had. I had a Stone IPA. Perfect way to end the afternoon.