Friday, December 30, 2011 50 Words or Less: Lagunitas Maximus IPA

Lagunitas Maximus IPA
For 2011's last beer purchase, wanted to pick up an IPA. Figured, "Why not make it a Double?" Then thought, "Why not make it one by the best brewery currently working in America?" Doesn't disappoint. Intense, beefy hop flavor. Scent of citrus and sugar. Majestic copper color. Perfect beer experience. 50 Words or Less: Troegs Pale Ale

Troegs Pale Ale
Sometimes, when I'm shopping for beer, I see Troegs and shy away. Why? Dunno. OK, I do. Don't love their labels. Maybe it's the weathered look? The fonts? The busy designs? Maybe this isn't a visual masterpiece! But it has perfect amber color and hoppy flavor balanced by subtle malt.

Booze ... in 50 Words or Less: Stillwater Folklore Belgian Stout

Stillwater Folklore Belgian Stout
When my two favorite types of beer blend into one, it's a good thing. This is no exception. Smooth, coffee-flavored stout with Belgian-style spices combine for refreshing yet substantial taste. Bit of a chocolate, dried-fruit thing going on. Finish is a tad smoky. In a nice way.

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The full pie: 50 Words or Less: Cigar City Jai Alai IPA

Cigar City Jai Alai IPA
I don't believe that Florida is considered to be a beer hotbed. Retirees? Yes. Hurricanes? Yes. Smug basketball players? Definitely. Beer? Don't think so. But then there is this Tampa-based gem, which contains a significant hoppy punch and traces of balancing grapefruit. Powerful yet crisp enough for session drinking. 50 Words or Less: Half Acre Daisy Cutter American Pale Ale

Half Acre Daisy Cutter American Pale Ale
Went to TJ's in Paoli for lunch. Ordered a chicken andouille meatloaf sandwich. Tasty. Copped this beer without knowing the brewer because the menu said an APA went well with the sandwich. Didn't love the Chicago-based offering. A bit fruity (raspberry?) and light on the hops.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Association to Garces Can't Save Guapos Taco Truck

I unwittingly ordered a mushroom taco.

That pretty much sums up the experience I had at Guapos Taco Truck, the Jose Garces-owned lunch spot/tourist trap with wheels that is parked in the area of Philadelphia’s Love Park. I was walking over to the Academy of Music one day for the purpose of nailing down my seats for the Philadelphia Ballet’s annual showing of The Nutcracker when I saw the truck. I had heard about it, but had no idea it was so close to my place of business. I rarely traverse more than a block away from my workplace when looking for mid-day nourishment. Plus, the whole Occupy Philadelphia thing had me a little skittish when it came to approaching the City Hall area. I always felt like I might get attacked by a flash mob for the horrific crime of carrying a pricey burrito in the vicinity of such squalor. However, when I came upon the truck during the carrying-out of my daily tasks, I felt duty-bound to give it a try.

So why don’t I just jump straight to the whole mushroom taco debacle: I had $12 in my pocket. The first thing I ordered was the Green Chile Chicken tacos. Those were six bucks. I had a feeling that this was most likely going to be seen as gourmet dining due to the Garces name association. This translates to “not filling.” So I wanted to get another order of tacos. The Carnitas tacos were $7. So were the short rib versions. This left me with one other choice in the $6 category. It was called Hongos con Rajas. I don’t speak Spanish and I could not spy a menu. While a rational man probably wouldn’t have taken the leap, I simply assumed it was something like rice and beans. I was utterly shocked when I discovered that what I was actually expected to eat was a combination of poblanos (OK!), queso blanca (sure!), a fine salsa (excellent!), onions (not my favorite, but fine!), and MUSHROOMS (F*CK NO!). Anyway, after drowning those puppies in hot sauce (that was disappointingly made for gringos), I suffered through one. It tasted OK surprisingly, but that was due to the fact that the salsa that came with the taco was quite liberally applied. The texture of the mushroom was horrible, like trying to chew condensed rubber. Seriously, I have no idea how vegetarians do it. After I choked down the first one, the soft shell for the second one began to fall apart so I decided to drop it out of its cocoon and try to avoid the mushroom with a fork. But, oh yeah, the mushroom was the MAIN INGREDIENT (Mr. Garces, can you please put that on the cart’s main signage for idiots like me?). I quite wisely dumped the contents of that second taco into the closest trashcan. At least I can say that I have now tried a mushroom that wasn't baked into a brownie. And that I will never EVER do that again.

For the overall impression I had of the cart, I will focus on the Green Chile Chicken tacos. After all, I knew what was in this dish and ordered it of sound mind and body. While it was an improvement over “complete revulsion,” I would have to say that my feeling about the Chicken tacos was “Eh.” I’m sure they were “authentic” as hell , but they didn’t supply much in the way of flavor. The chicken was accompanied by white onion, radish, cilantro, crema, and queso fresco, yet, despite that seeming cavalcade of accoutrements, it just tasted bland. Even the hot sauce I showered the dish with could not bring it to life (because, as I mentioned before, it was virtually heat-free). Not good when you consider that you are spending a Washington and a Lincoln for two tacos that are thin enough to make you want to order Chinese food ten minutes later.

There are positive points to Guapos Taco Truck. The staff was very friendly. The truck was very pleasing to the eye, what with its color deriving from a host of different colored beer bottle caps adhered to the truck's body. The mushroom taco may even give you a wonderful internal cleanse due to its ability to induce vomiting in the strongest of constitutions. However, it is hardly worth citing these positives when you consider that the food doesn’t really taste exceptionally great, it is relatively expensive, and, even if bland chicken is your thing, it isn’t filling. Mushroom or no mushroom, my excursion to Guapos Taco Truck was a flat-out bust. I won’t be going back.

Guapo's Tacos (Mobile Cart) on Urbanspoon


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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Growler Wars: Rock Bottom vs. Rock Bottom

Two growlers. Two beers. Two frosted glasses. One winner.

Rock Bottom IPA
The beer has a robust, powerful scent and you can definitely tell that it is a heavyweight. You can taste the hops, but while I enjoyed the beer I also felt that the hops were simply ample. It's missing an off-setting element to create a full sense of flavor.

Rock Bottom White Ale
While the scent of this one is not as strong or pleasing as the IPA, it does feature generous Belgian spice notes that slowly dissipate after first pull. There is a wonderful taste of citrus, even if the flavoring can be a little too subtle at times. Very crisp with a lemony, peppery feel. I could knock back a bunch of these on a sweltering summer day.

The Winner
There were positives and negatives in both of these beers, but overall I believe that Brian McConnell, the brewmaster for King of Prussia chain restaurant Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery, does a terrific job putting together interesting barley-and-hop-based concoctions for the Sears-and-JC Penney crowd. I've been there several times and have often been impressed by the establishment's beer offerings (as well as their Chicken Fried Chicken, which is a little dangerous). I should also say that the reason I hit up two of their growlers on a Monday night was that they are running a weekly promotion, filling your growler - whether it be from Rock Bottom or Chap's Taproom or Whole Foods or wherever - for $6. That, my friends, is what those in the know call "a theft." If I were to pick a winner here, I would go with Rock Bottom White Ale. Like I said, I enjoyed - and found flaws in - both, but felt the White Ale was the more accurate and imaginative representation of what a Belgian white is supposed to be.

Growlers purchased at Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery.


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Deal Alert: Garrett Hill Pizza in Rosemont and Uncle Oogie's in South Philly

LivingSocial is featuring two pizza deals today:

Garrett Hill Pizza
Today's deal offers $25 of food and non-alcoholic drinks at Garrett Hill Pizza for $12. Main Line Today calls this cozy Rosemont eatery and Villanova student hotspot home to the best traditional pizza. Using the tried-and-true recipe of a crunchy, thin crust and fresh toppings, you'll find classic options such as plain cheese, Margherita, Steak Supreme, veggie, and upside down (sauce on top of cheese), or the more adventurous chicken fajita. Or, dig into what Philadelphia Magazine claims is the suburb's best cheesesteak, served with gooey mild provolone.

Get the deal >>

Uncle Oogie's
Pay $10 for $20 worth of food and non-alcoholic beverages at Uncle Oogie's in South Philly. Chow down on the eatery's rectangular, thin-crust pies painted with plum tomatoes, garlic, basil, Parmesan and mozzarella cheese, and EVOO. Uncle Oogies also serves up pasta, hoagies, and a specialty breakfast pizza with scrambled eggs and cheese, making this a bangin' bargain at any time of the day or night.

Get the deal >>


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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Your 2011-2012 Philadelphia 76ers (!!!): Detailed Scouting Reports and Obligatory Predictions

The Philadelphia 76ers are back and the Pizza Project went in depth to offer a detailed scouting report on every player on the roster, even the ones who won't be able to find the court without a GPS.

Lavoy Allen
This guy was drafted because he went to Temple. Basically, they are throwing the guy a bone. He will watch the game in a suit and bang up against Elton Brand in practice. For this, he will be able to buy his Mom a mansion in the Riviera or Zurich or whatever vacation spot tickles her fancy. Not a bad gig.

Tony Battie
Won't contribute much. He is old and decrepit as hell. How do I know this? He was born in the same year as I was.

Craig Brackins

If he plays 100 minutes the entire season, I'll go see the next five movies Adam Sandler puts out. Or go to a Turkish bath with Jerry Sandusky.

Elton Brand
Not the player we thought he was (read: this guy's contract is basically the reason the NBA went on lockout), but he will ball hard, pull down a bunch of rebounds, and stick the open 15-footer with consistency. Here's hoping he doesn't end up tearing an ACL attempting to jump over a phone book. The man is to "athleticism" as Bernie Madoff is to "trusted financial advisor."

Spencer Hawes

One night, this gargantuan white dude will pull down 10 boards, hand out seven assists, and get you 15 points by hitting the mid-range jump shot. The next night, he will be fouling out faster than it takes you to buy a $15 Miller Lite at the Wells Fargo Center. You never know.

Jrue Holiday

A tall, lengthy point guard, Holiday often shows flashes of greatness. He finishes difficult shots at the rim with either hand. He knocks down the jumper out to the three-point line. He is a willing passer and gets inside to scrap for boards. The only question is whether he can ever fully thrive while basically sharing the point guard spot with gunner Lou Williams. This year would be the perfect year to receive the answer "Yes" to that question. (OK, that's not the only question. The other question is whether "Drew" will ever learn how to spell his own name. The J version can't be accurate, right?)

Andre Iguodala

If there is one thing for sure about Andre Iguodala, it is that he will continue to be a stud in fantasy basketball. He's going to give you 17-18 points. He is a monster athlete, so he will grab about 7 boards nightly. His quickness will net you two steals per game and at least one block. He can be a nifty passer and will get his teammates open buckets at a very decent clip. Of course, if there are two things for sure about Iguodala, it would be that he will continue to get the ball in crunch time and he will fail. Every time. (See the first game of 2011-2012 season for Exhibit A.)

Jodie Meeks

Don't get me wrong. Every team needs at least one guy who can stick it from the three-point line. However, if that guy can do pretty much nothing else...and he is starting? That is not a championship-contending team.

Andres Nocioni

He's still on the team? If youda told me he was dead, I would have believed you.

Marreese Speights

Might as well be paying rent for the use of Doug Collins’ doghouse. Never watched a basketball game before in your life? Imagine a 6’10” guy who doesn’t want to play any defense and would be more than happy standing out by the three-point line all night firing off-the-mark parabolas. That’s Speights.

Evan Turner

I’m starting to warm up a little bit to Turner’s talents. He can handle the ball well. He stays within his game, preferring to shoot the mid-range jumpers that he excels at hitting instead of looking to stretch it to the three-point line. He gets inside to help the big men on the glass. He seems to want the ball in the big moments, even if, at this point, he isn’t quite ready to take a leadership role. He doesn’t shrink from the spotlight. I honestly expect him to improve over a rookie season where he showed flashes and maybe by next year he will be ready to be a solid starter in this league. And all this better happen. Because they drafted him second in 2010. If he doesn’t turn out, it will send the franchise even further into oblivion than they have already ventured.

Nikola Vucevic

Haven’t seen much of this guy. All I know is he is tall and his name sounds European. Until proven otherwise, I will simply assume that he is softer than Philip Seymour Hoffman’s midsection.

Lou Williams

So there is this guy in the league right now that everybody is excited about. Name is Ricky Rubio. The guy has a ridiculous arsenal of passes. He throws bounce passes with English on the run. He throws them behind the back. He throws them without looking. He throws them length of the floor. He heads into the lane and throws them out for wide open jumpers. Meanwhile, every pass is on the money. Not behind the intended target. Not at the guy’s ankles. Not into the guy in the first row’s nachos. Basically, this guy lives for the assist. His main goal is to make his teammates look better. Why am I telling you so much about this skinny Spanish dude who plays for the Minnesota Who Gives a Sh*ts? Because now that you have an idea about him, just think of the total f*cking opposite and you have Lou Williams. He’s never met a shot he didn’t like or a teammate he couldn’t dump the orange to with two seconds on the shot clock. Then again, while he racks up shots like hookers rack up communicable diseases, at least he doesn’t consistently come up small in the clutch (hi, Andre Iguodala).

Thaddeus Young

I actually love Thaddeus Young’s game. Gets out on the floor. Makes nifty shots with lefty delivery. Has refined post moves. Sticks the open jumper. Lethal first step. A long-armed, quick defender. He could really put up some numbers if he didn’t have to share the floor with the 18 other guys who play the same position for the Sixers.

Fearless Predictions

A 35-31 record.

A first-round matchup with the New York Knickerbockers.

They will lose that series in six games.

Doug Collins’ shirts will consistently be soaked with sweat after games. Seriously, the man is disgusting at those press conferences.

The mascot will be better than Hip-Hop was, even if the Sixers' overlords decide on dressing an alcoholic up in an armadillo outfit and having him molest the hottest ladies in the audience on a nightly basis.

The team will play hard. No joke here. The team definitely gives maximum effort. Which is nice.

Despite reduced ticket prices, the team will continue to play to half-empty houses because Philly fans really just don’t give a f*ck right now. All of their teams seem to have come together in a collective effort to shove a seeming jail shiv into the backs of their hopeful expectations. (Wow, that is more like a blended metaphor than a mixed one!)

Andre Iguodala will fail every time he is asked to do something cluth in the last 15 seconds of the game. That is simply what he does.

Tony Battie will die on the bench. Not because he is old, but because he will enter into shock when he sees Lou Williams cycle the ball around the perimeter to an open teammate.

New television color commentator Malik Rose will be bounced after one year when the team determines that a) he is not ready for the gig and b) they might be better off hiring someone who may not be an ex-player, yet knows how to do more than simply rage about how the officials have it out for the Sixers.

Sixers fans will take to Nikola Vucevic like white on rice because like rice Vucevic is white, and Sixers fans love themselves some token whites. (See Korver, Kyle; MacCulloch, Todd, et al.)

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Time for a Random List: The Top Twenty Songs of 2011 (All Genres Included)

20. "Sister" - The Black Keys
19. "End of Time" - Beyonce
18. "Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall" - Coldplay
17. "Welcome to the Jungle" - Jay-Z and Kanye West
16. "Tomboy" - Panda Bear
15. "Into Your Alien Arms" - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
14. "No Future Shock" - TV on the Radio
13. "Long Burn the Fire" - Beastie Boys
12. "The Words That Maketh Murder" - PJ Harvey
11. "New Lands" - Justice
10. "Jack Sparrow" - The Lonely Island featuring Michael Bolton
9. "Nuclear Seasons" - Charli XCX
8. "Super Bass" - Nicki Minaj
7. "Born This Way" - Lady Gaga
6. "Moves Like Jagger" - Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera
5. "Crystalline" - Bjork
4. "Helplessness Blues" - Fleet Foxes
3. "Claudia Lewis" - M83
2. "Last Friday Night" - Katy Perry
1. "Bloom" - Radiohead

Honorable Mention: "Cruel" - St. Vincent; "Taken for a Fool" - The Strokes; "Do I Wait" - Ryan Adams; "Forget That You're Young" - The Raveonettes; "Holdin' on to Black Metal" - My Morning Jacket

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Monday, December 26, 2011

Time for a Random List: The Top Ten Pop Songs of 2011

10. "Hello" - Martin Solveig & Dragonette
9. "We Found Love" - Rihanna featuring Calvin Harris
8. "Yeah 3x" - Chris Brown
7. "Dynamite" - Taio Cruz
6. "Give Me Everything" - Pitbull featuring Ne-Yo, Afrojack, and Nayer
5. "Marry the Night" - Lady Gaga
4. "Moves Like Jagger" - Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera
3. "Super Bass" - Nicki Minaj
2. "Party Rock Anthem" - LMFAO featuring Lauren Bennett and GoonRock
1. "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" - Katy Perry

Sunday, December 25, 2011

King of the Case: Great Divide Brewing Company

Wherein I will buy a variety case and decide what the best beer in it is.
Great Divide Brewing Company

Claymore Scotch Ale
Features a very smoky flavor. It's a little bitter with coffee notes, leaning toward the taste of a porter, but not quite getting there (thankfully, as I don't prefer porters). While it's described as a "Wee Heavy" on the bottle, it does not feel exceptionally weighty. Also, it is somewhat layered, with the power of the beer coming more on the finish than on the front end. A very interesting offering.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Growler Wars: Harpoon vs. Troegs

Two growlers. Two beers. Two frosted glasses. One winner.

Harpoon Winter Warmer
I'm detecting clear traces of cinnamon and nutmeg. It's almost reminiscent of a pumpkin beer. While the spice in this beer is not what I would call subtle, it also does not overpower. It strikes a fairly nice balance. It gives off a powerful scent and features a fine dark color. Overall, it is much better than I expected it to be.

Time for a Random List: The Top 5 Highlights of a Day Spent with a Two-Year-Old

So, the nibble turned two on Saturday. It's hard to believe it's been two years since he stole our hearts that blustery - and blizzardy - December afternoon. I was having trouble deciding on the better post to commemorate the occasion: sentimental thoughts on his growing up or tips on how to deal with the terrible twos.

But I decided to take it in a different direction. The truth is, the nibble entered his terrible two phase soon after turning one. And while I do not dare suggest that we are done with tantrums, he seems to be learning how to calm himself down more quickly as of late.

The nibble and I spend most of our days together, since I'm fortunate enough to have a career that allows me to do the bulk of my work when he's napping, when he's still asleep in the morning or goes to bed at night, when he's at the neighbor's or with my parents, and when the hubby's home from work. And while some ... most ... some days I'm about ready to pull out my hair by the time the hubby gets home, there is definitely no shortage of hilarious and rewarding moments in our day.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

PHOTO(S) of the Week: Best Pictures: World Photography Awards 2011


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Booze in 50 Words or Less - St Bernardus Christmas Ale

This Belgian Abbey Ale is parfait for a Thursday evening celebration tout seul, or dare share this mildly spiced medium bodied not so boozy Belgian with a mate. Shoulda bought deux! Merde. Santé all the same! 

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The full pie: 50 Words or Less: Stone Brewing Company Oaked Arrogant Bastard

Stone Brewing Company Oaked Arrogant Bastard
This morning, woke up on couch at 4:45 a.m. wondering why I wasn't in bed. The reason? First, had Abita Christmas Ale with dinner. Went to Chap's. Had Ommegang Adoration. Bought Troegs Mad Elf and Harpoon Winter Warmer growlers. Mixed one of these delicious monsters in somewhere. Eh. It happens. 50 Words or Less: Ommegang Adoration Ale

Ommegang Adoration Ale
Ordered one of these the other night. Was served in what I believe would be called a snifter. Hate that. I'd rather pay more for full pint. But maybe they did me a favor. This is a hard-hitting Belgian with notes of banana and citrus. Not to be gulped. 50 Words or Less: Abita Christmas Ale

Abita Christmas Ale
Last I checked with Abita, drank their Restoration Pale Ale. Thought it was fairly bland. This is a major rally. One of the more interesting beers I've sampled recently. Hops and malt both pop. Serious smoky flavor. Detecting bits of spruce and something bacony (seriously). Wonderfully complex!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Ten Commandments of a Successful Office Holiday Party

Thou Shalt Not Complain about the Festivities – Your work used to take you out on the town for an expensive luncheon at a reputable Italian restaurant. There was a delicious spread and an open bar complete with hard liquor and several different sorts of beers. Now the affair has been downsized to a meeting room in your work’s office. The food is OK, but the drink choices consist of two different wines, an indistinctive red and a run-of-the-mill white, and two different beers that can only be described as “less than shite,” Miller Lite and Yuengling Lager. This is grounds for serious complaint, right? It’s indicative of your company’s lack of appreciation for your daily efforts, yeah? Wrong on both counts. There’s a recession on, man! Take what you are given and be glad your company pays you for checking out movie sites half the damn day.

Deal Alert: Tommy's Original Pizza in Edgemont

I don't even know where Edgemont is, so I can't tell you much about Tommy's Original Pizza, but I can tell you that $7 will get you $15 worth of pie or other fare on LivingSocial today. The deal highlights specialty pizzas, including taco, bacon cheddar cheeseburger and stuffed Philly cheesesteak, as well as lighter options, such as grilled tuna steak salad, shrimp marinara pasta, and chicken wraps. Valid for dine-in or take-out.

Get the deal >>

Tommy's Original Pizza
4811 West Chester Pike
Edgemont, PA 19073


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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Freezer Case: DiGiorno Crispy Flatbread Pizza

I know it's been a while since our last post and the other half of Ellio Totino said we better get back in the blogging groove. Plus it's a good reason to use my new MacBook Pro! Blogging in style...

After hitting the gym on a weeknight the last thing I felt like doing was coming home to cook dinner so I stopped at Target and picked up a DiGiorno Crispy Flatbread Pizza Tuscan style w/Chicken. Everything about it sounded delicious but I had a bad feeling that my husband would not feel the same...and I bought it anyway. I thoroughly enjoyed the flatbread pizza. I thought it had a good balance of crunchiness and I liked the cheese to sauce ratio. The only problems were that the toppings didn't seem evenly distributed and I wasn't a fan of the chicken quality. Overall I ate 4 tiny slices and they were pretty tasty. My husband said the pizza was just ok.

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Monday, December 19, 2011

Chain Reaction: Peace A Pizza

It's been a while since we tried a pie from area staple Peace A Pizza. I used to get it quite frequently around work until the one in Liberty Place shut down. Couple this with the fact that Spicy said the location near the King of Prussia Mall was fairly empty on a holiday-shopping Saturday and it had me a little worried for the business's financial security. At the end of the day, of course, it is not my job to worry about how much cash is rolling in for the establishment. I am only here to review their pizza.

We ordered two pies, one a plain pie (which was free with a coupon) and the other a Brooklyn Bridge style pizza, which came with pepperoni, Italian sausage, peppers, and onions. Normally, it would also come with black olives, but we requested that they be left off. While we asked for no extra sauce on the cheese pie, it was still ample and I must say that I do have a weakness for the sweet brand of sauce they use on their pizza. The cheese provided on the pie I found to be the perfect amount, although I would not say that it was incredibly flavorful. Meanwhile, I have always found their dough to be a tad thick, almost to the point where you get a bit of a moist feel as if it can sometimes not be cooked all the way through.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

King of the Case: Philadelphia Brewing Company

Wherein I will buy a variety case and decide what the best beer in it is.

Philadelphia Brewing Company


A very straightforward session beer that is uncomplicated, yet not boring. Incredibly crisp. Could easily drink several in a row. There's a nice little floral kick in the finish. Probably the Noble hops that are stated in the recipe. I'll give it a slight downgrade for a bit of an aftertaste, but would give it high grades as a good craft-beer intro piece.

Pennsylvania Pale Ale
Crisp flavor with sizable hops. More floral punch, almost (but just short of) a little musty. A nice combination of light and hefty. 50 Words or Less: Miller High Life Light

Miller High Life Light
Consider the sheer lack of flavor that emerges from a bottle of Miller High Life. OK. Then imagine it with less taste. That's Miller High Life Lite. Someone handed me one when I was on the dancefloor of my holiday soiree. Could have been poured from a water fountain. 50 Words or Less: Estrella Damm

Estrella Damm
Yesterday, my work had its holiday party at The American Pub in Philadelphia. Waitress did nice piece of salesmanship on us when she recommended that we get five of these in a bucket for $12. Not going to say it wasn't worth $2.40 per beer, but it was fairly putrid. 50 Words or Less: Yuengling Traditional Lager

Yuengling Traditional Lager
Walk into any bar in the Delaware Valley and ask for "lager" and the bartender will likely hand you a Yuengling. That's impressive brand recognition. Especially when the beer really isn't good. Passable in a pinch, but with skunky feel that gets worse as you approach the bottom.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

New York Edition: John Dory Oyster Bar the Lone Negative in a Splendid NYC Excursion

When we decided to stop at New York’s John Dory Oyster Bar during our trip to the Apple, it came near the conclusion of a long and trying day. The wife had walked many miles in uncomfortable shoes. I had pulled Lil’ Saucy out of his stroller about a million times for bathroom breaks that had turned out to be false alarms. We were on our way to Macy’s, the plus side of which is you get to see such beautiful sights as their meticulously designed storefront windows and their iconic Christmas-themed department store. The negative side of this, of course, is having to deal with all the idiots taking pictures of said windows and department store on their annoying camera phones. It was with all of this in mind that we decided to stop at John Dory Oyster Bar for a quick drink. I would like to think that some of this has contributed to what is going to be a fairly scathing review.

New York Edition: Pinche Taqueria Merits Both a Rave and a Word of Warning

Let me quickly knock out a review of Pinche Taqueria because the lag time between food consumption during our New York trip and actual discussion of said mastication is getting absolutely ridiculous. It has been like 18 days since I sampled the grub at this Mott St. eatery – one of two New York locations – and what follows is what I remember about our excursion.

Being that our blog is entitled The Pizza Project, it was our intention to sample as much New York City pizza as possible during our trip. To this end, we entered Lombardi’s Pizza with our sights on a circular, flour-and-dough-based delicacy with oozing cheese and delicious red tomato sauce. We spied an offering that someone was eating at an adjacent table and we immediately commenced salivation, Pavlov’s Dog-style. However, this is where everything began to go awry.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

NYC Edition Tale of the Pie: Keste Pizza & Vino

Okay, so this one is going to be short and sweet. We were winding down our trip to New York (or perhaps in the nibble's case, winding up) and stopped for one final meal at Keste Pizza & Vino in the West Village for a few pies.

I don't know who was more tired or crankier at that point in the day - the nibble or Saucy. Either way, I have to preface this review by saying that Keste didn't receive the usual amount of attention that we would give to a pizza spot we were planning to review.

Monday, December 12, 2011

PHOTO OF THE WEEK - Christmas Come Early

We hit the mother load this week when Reuters announced their top 100 pictures of 2011. With the year almost at a close, there will be many more top lists to share. Enjoy the series below. WARNING: SOME IMAGES CONTAIN GRAPHIC CONTENT OR NUDITY. 

See all top 100 photos >>

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The full pie:

New York Edition: For a Good Spot to Hang Out and Drink Beer in NYC, Try Spitzer's Corner

While dining on lunch at Rubirosa, we somehow got on to the topic of a good place to grab a fine microbrew in the Big Apple. We knew of Blind Tiger, of course, and had been tipped off to a place called d.b.a. by a Twitter friend named @BeerCulturist, but for some reason we decided to do something that we almost never do: we asked one of Rubirosa's employees for a suggestion. A fresh-faced female hostess suggested Blind Tiger, but another guy, looking hip in a flannel and Chucks, threw out the name Spitzer's Corner. Now, I don't know if you have met us but we are nothing if not spectacularly hip. So when the name was tossed out by someone who looked at least as unmistakably cool as us, we decided that we would have to hunt it down and check out the list. When we found it, I ran in to check out the beer list. It revealed that the place had multiple Lagunitas, multiple Stones, and many other luminaries. It was immediately confirmed: We would be returning to the Lower East Side that night for our lone post-sundown adventure on the town. 50 Words or Less: Miller Lite

Miller Lite
Had birthday party for our son. Bought case of this for folks with less adventurous beer palettes. Six got consumed. Gave rest away to our neighbor. Did keep one for this review. Weak, of course, but I feel like I taste something resembling banana? Can't say how vortex bottle helps.

Friday, December 9, 2011 50 Words or Less: Central Waters Brewing Company Glacial Trail IPA

Central Waters Brewing Company Glacial Trail IPA
Had no idea what to expect from this Wisconsin-based beer. Didn't even know it was from Wisconsin. If I had, might not have ordered it. Sorry, Badgers. On basic hop level, didn't love this. Wasn't much of a kick. But there was an appealing strawberry taste. Had me intrigued. 50 Words or Less: Lagunitas Bavarian-Style Doppel Weizen

Lagunitas Bavarian-Style Doppel Weizen
Took a sip of this robust beverage by (in my opinion) the best brewery going right now. Was blown away. Had (duh!) double the power of your usual wheat with an extra element that resembled banana. Gave my wife a pull. She's sort of like, "Eh." I'm getting a divorce. 50 Words or Less: Anchor Christmas Ale (2011)

Anchor Christmas Ale (2011)
When I first heard that our preferred bar, Chap's Taproom, had this venerated holiday beer on draft, I made an appointment to visit. I certainly enjoyed it. But it wasn't as spectacular as I remembered. A nice winter warmer with subtle spruce flavoring. Maybe I built it up too much?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

New York Edition: Big Wong King Boasts Good Food, Great Service, Awesome Pornalicious Name

During last weekend's trip to New York, we stayed in the heart of Chinatown. When you consider this, it was inevitable that we were going to have to get some Chinese food. However, the dilemma was figuring out which one was to receive the honor of our business. Most of the places looked somewhat indescript, with "ingredients" hanging in the window and signage that, quite frankly, I was not able to understand nor decipher.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

PHOTO OF THE WEEK - Momentos - Sleeveface Photography

Sleeveface is an intriguing phenomenon making its rounds on the web. It has become particularly popular on social networking sites. 


The Pizza Project
Just a nibble:
Single slice:
The full pie:

King of the Case: Brooklyn Brewery

Wherein I will buy a variety case and decide what the best beer in it is.

Brooklyn Brewery

Brown Ale
A smooth yet complex ale. Includes hints of caramel and a healthy application of malt flavor. There's a nice finish with a bit of subtle smokiness. Almost has a bit of a porterish feel, but not too much in the chocolate/coffee department. Has a slight bitterness and maybe a tiny bit of a lasting aftertaste.

East India Pale Ale
A pleasing beer, but maybe a little too subtly hopped. It has a nice floral scent and certainly isn't a bad beer. But it isn't terribly distinctive either.

This has a lot more depth and complexity than your usual lager. The malt is fairly heavy and, again, there is some of the caramel that was detected in the Brown. It all combines for a vibrant flavor, one that exceeds the expectations of the usual lager.

Pennant Ale '55
Brooklyn Brewery seems to really stress the malt in its recipes. This one, which is dedicated to the 1955 champion Brooklyn Dodgers, features a sizeable amount, but it's pretty much all there is. Seems to be aiming toward an Oktoberfest, but falls somewhat short.

The Labels
Like the earlier reviewed Flying Fish, Brooklyn Brewery's labels stress brand recognition over adventurous design. Three of the four bottles feature a cursive B in a circular foundation. Surrounded by stars, the only difference is color combination. The Pennant Ale is the only variation, with the circle becoming a baseball and the background becoming a blue-and-silver stripe pattern. I'm going to go with the Brooklyn Lager. The green-and-black color combo is just really classy.

The Winner
It's a close one between the Lager and the Brown. In the end, I am going to go with the Brown, simply because it was both delicious and more complex. However, the Lager is certainly a classic of the genre and one that would make for an exceedingly enjoyable session beer.

The Pizza Project
Just a nibble:
Single slice:
The full pie:

New York Edition Tale of the Pie: Max Brenner

Not a pizza shop, I know. But we did have a slice ... of chocolate pizza to go.

As Saucy mentioned, our NYC weekends once consisted of leisurely Saturday afternoons at the Brooklyn Brewery and Sunday evenings at the Blind Tiger. With a toddler in tow, grabbing a dessert to go from Max Brenner is more our speed these days.

Not that I'm using the nibble as an excuse for slobbing on a slice of absolute decadence in the middle of Broadway. As a true chocoholic, I was happy to leave Saucy and the nibble outside and sneak into the extremely crowded restaurant/chocolate shop to check out their offerings. Almost instantly, I spotted the chocolate pizza. Melted chocolate and toasted marshmallows on a pizza crust? Uh, one slice to go, please.

The wait for our pizza slice was at least 10-15 minutes, a bit longer than I expected. But it was freshly made, with piping hot chocolate and marshmallows oozing over all three sides. So rich, so flavorful and so delicious. And as the three of us stood there chowing down without a word, faces covered in chocolate smears, I thought to myself that this new sort of NYC weekend isn't that bad after all.

Max Brenner
(212) 388-0030
East Village
841 Broadway (between 13th and 14th)

New York, NY 

Apparently, there is also one in Philly (for our local readers) at 1500 Walnut St. (15th St. between Walnut and Locust).

Max Brenner on Urbanspoon


The Pizza Project
Just a nibble:
Single slice:
The full pie:

Monday, December 5, 2011

New York Edition: Blind Tiger a Wonderful Option for a Quick, Unseated Beer

What is there to say about our visit to the stellar Greenwich Village beer stop that is Blind Tiger? Well, in this case, there probably isn’t much to say other than, “Wow, they have a really incredible list of drafts!” We didn't have time to take in much in the way of ambience.

You see, the last time we went to Blind Tiger we were childless so we spent a very decent amount of time at the watering hole. We chatted leisurely while sitting at their sizeable bar. We watched some of an Eagles-Giants contest, cheering for the G-Men because the Eagles had just acquired a scoundrel named Michael Vick. We soaked in the environment of a strangely empty-feeling bar in one of the world’s busiest cities. We may have even sampled some of a specialty chili they had on the specials menu.

And, of course, we downed a lot of tremendous beer.

On our latest visit, pretty much everything had changed. We did not sit at the bar (we now have a kid). We did not watch the Eagles (they were not on and, even if they were, they have now gone far beyond afterthought status in my mind). The bar was not empty (it was a Saturday afternoon, so it was absolutely jammed). And we didn't sample the chili (in fact, I’m not sure we tried the chili last time; we haven’t been there in two years and I am looking at this through a haze created by two years of alcohol consumption and fatherhood, not necessarily in that order).

One thing that certainly did stay the same, of course, was the tremendous depth of choices. With the little guy having fallen asleep in the stroller, we entered into the establishment and posted up at the door. Spicy sent me up to the bar to pick our beers. I saw the name Lagunitas and made a beeline. I have already drooled over the California brewers enough on this blog, but let’s just say that Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale fresh out the tap is a good time. Heavy on the hops, but not without a citrusy backbone that really makes it pop. For the lady, I chose a pumpkin beer that was created via a collaboration between West Coast breweries The Bruery, Elysian Brewing Company, and (jackpot!) Stone Brewing Company. Shockingly enough, Spicy had a sip and I could tell that she was a little underwhelmed. One taste, and I could figure out why: the pumpkin spice was very subtly applied. I loved it because it reminded me of Smuttynose’s delicious yet reserved Pumpkin Ale, but she felt like they could have been a little less stingy with the pumpkin notes. Not disgustingly abundant, like Southern Tier’s undrinkable Pumking, but a little more pumpkin flavor would have been appreciated by her palette.

But in the all’s well that ends well department…one good thing about Wifey not enjoying her beer was that I had even more time than usual to enjoy a second specimen. For number 2, I chose Bear Republic’s Mach 10 Imperial IPA. Now it’s been about nine days since I consumed this beverage, so if you are looking for a detailed description, you will be sorely disappointed. Let’s just say it tasted like someone poured a bunch of hops into a glass, set the water to ice cold, and commenced pouring. Were there other flavors present that made this an enjoyable beer? I’m sure. The fact is though I truly hate it when someone advertises a double IPA and you find that it is basically the power of one of the big boys' singles. This is not a problem for Bear Republic: They brought out the big guns. My father-in-law, an educated hop head, took a sip (we ran into the wife’s parents even after separating to look at some notable hot spots on our individual agendas) and said something along the lines of “Wow.” Not “Wow, that’s great” wow, but more of a “Wow, that’s a lot of hops” wow. When someone is sort of revolted by the amount of hops in a beer, that is a pretty good sign that I am going to really like it.

I would have loved to stick around longer for more scrumptious liquid, but, alas, our son woke up. Suddenly, with his eyes no longer glued shut, it didn’t feel as responsible to be standing in a bar downing suds. So we bid Blind Tiger "Adieu," and got along our way. But not before voicing a silent vow. Like McArthur before me, I pledged to the establishment that I would return. And that will be a promise kept as long as they keep stocking such an adventurous menu of hops-and-barley based options.

Blind Tiger Ale House
281 Bleecker Street
New York, NY 10014-4106

Blind Tiger Ale House on Urbanspoon


The Pizza Project
Just a nibble:
Single slice:
The full pie:

Sunday, December 4, 2011

King of the Case: Flying Fish Brewing Company

Wherein I will buy a variety case and decide what the best beer in it is.
Flying Fish Brewing Company

Extra Pale Ale
This is pretty significantly hopped for a pale. Nice vibrant scent and punchy floral taste. Very crisp, extremely refreshing, and perfectly colored. There's a bit of an aftertaste, but not really a bad one. More of a by-product of the extra application of hops.

ESB Amber AleNot a lot of flavor jumping out here. The recipe is based mostly on malt, yet the flavor is a little weak. It isn't horrible, but it is certainly a little too simplistic. Not much to enjoy.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

NYC Edition Tale of the Pie: Rubirosa

Window on left is where the nibble left his saucy mark.

So my parents generously invited Saucy, the nibble and me to accompany them on a trip to NYC last weekend. We of course jumped at the chance, as we love New York and hadn't been there since before the nibble was born. The two days were filled with plenty of eating and a bit of boozing, so we'll be sharing more in future posts.
We arrived Saturday right before lunchtime, and after leaving our luggage at our hotel (Hotel Mulberry, a great little spot in the heart of Chinatown), we scurried around the corner for a quick nosh on dumplings at a place that shall remain nameless (only because I have no idea what the name of the place is). You certainly can't beat 5 for $1, especially as you watch the owner rolling them herself. Delish!

Better Late Than Never Reviews: Mylo Xyloto - Coldplay

Sometimes it seems like Coldplay has multiple personalities. There's the band that is willing to constantly experiment with their sound. The one who chose to work with 70s ambient guru Brian Eno in order to find new sonic textures (and to be more like Bono and crew). The one whose guitarist, Jonny Buckland, is one of the more underrated shredders in contemporary rock music.

But then you have the band that is willing to fall into the background while Chris Martin croons for the swooning masses. You have the one with the naked commercial ambition, churning out hits for the lowest common denominator. You have the group that freely apes successful bands (U2, Radiohead) who have come before them in an effort to achieve musical immortality. Unfortunately (or fortunately, if you are an optimist), both of these entities rear their heads on the band's fifth studio album, the oddly titled Mylo Xyloto.