Saturday, August 30, 2008

Bar Harbor Food

Day One Lunch.
Mid way up the coast to Bar Harbor we made a lunch stop at Gritty McDuff's in Freeport, ME. We had been there last spring and all summer had been looking forward to a certain dish there. It sounds crazy, but is so fantastically good. Sweet Pork Fries. They take sweet potato fries, and then cover them with BBQ pulled pork and a melted jack cheese blend. Of course, we shared this dish, which is on their menu as an appetizer, but is a meal within itself. It comes with a maple sour cream for dipping. I would love to make these at home sometime, but they'd be pretty labor intensive for the home kitchen. I don't have a restaurant kitchen with extra pulled pork and extra fries at the ready...which I'm sure was how this dish was created by some line cook looking for a late night snack from leftovers and fell upon something amazing.

Day One Dinner
After checking in and then a little sunset kayaking, we had a classic downeast dinner at West St. Cafe, but pointless dessert. This was a three course meal included in our hotel package, so I was a little nervous. Yet, it was wonderful. Due to my allergy to clams and therefore the included clam chowder in the package, I had a divine lobster bisque to start (although they did charge me $3 for the substitution). Pure essence of lobster and cream, and silky smooth. The main event was as it should be, perfectly succulent lobster ready to be hunted for through cracking, and a half cob of perfectly sweet corn on the side (we didn't bother to take up room in our stomachs with the potatoes or rice). Dessert was a blueberry pie with a decent filling, but sadly a pasty crust reminiscent of cardboard and glue. Luckily I was too full of the good food in the rest of the meal to care, and chose not to eat it.

Day Two Dinner
I loved Mache Bistro. I wish a similar place was near home. A fine meal, perfect service, with real glassware in a beautifully decorated space (wood! red paint accents! tasteful art!) where we wore jeans and sneakers. Heaven. The seeded and herbed focaccia is house made, chewy with a good crust, but light as a feather. To start we shared an antipasti plate. The requisite roasted red peppers, pepperoncini, and olives where good examples of their sort. Where this dish hit a homerun was with thick slices of nutty asiago and the locally made soppressata. Continuing on, I had crispy duck spring rolls with a balanced ponzu dipping sauce, tart from vinegar, but balanced and citrusy. Matt had chicken skewers with an indulgently thick peanut sauce with a touch of spicy heat, cilantro, and lime. All of the ingredients were exquisitely fresh and of the highest quality. Finishing off this perfect meal was a rich and sweet apple tart tatin. The browned sugar was elegantly cut by a locally made almond ice cream, which was the taste of almonds and cream, not sugar. Perfect.

Day Three Dinner
Wish we had a place like Lompoc Cafe nearby as well. Brewpup with a totally relaxed vibe and bocce court out back. It was tight match and went back and forth, but Matt was the victor in an 11-9 contest. The food was simple and satisfying, which was enhanced by the enjoyment of eating outside on a perfect late summer night after hiking the Gorham Mountain Trail. To start we split a lobster quesadilla with avocado, which was creamy and rich, but not heavy. The accompanying salsa was fresh and bright. The complementary flavors abounded. We than split a pizza with chicken chorizo, chipotle, and the holy trinity of tomatoes, onions and green chiles. A firm crust, sturdy and crispy, but super thin and light.

Our other meals during the few days we were up there were also good, with good service. Although Jordan's was a satisfactory breakfast, it wasn't terribly exciting and is like every other basic town breakfast place. Its prices however are the same as other places in town, such as Cafe This Way with a much better breakfast with more interesting dishes that wouldn't necessarily be the same at your diner back home. On a day trip to Yarmouth, NS we had a good meal at Rudder's.

Beer post is coming!

Bar Harbor

Sorry for the lack of posts everyone, but here's a big one to compensate. I took a few days off while in Bar Harbor. Although I have vague memories of a visit when I was a kid, this was Matt and my first visit to Bar Harbor. We fell in love with the town, the park, the island. Hospitality Aveneger did not need to put her cape on once, so that was wonderful. However, I do have one gripe, and it is one that I've experienced in every tourist town I've been to, and was evident here.

It's called a sideWALK people. Not a side-stand-in-one-place or a side-stop-abruptly. Also, if the sidewalk is only wide enough for two people, it is courteous that when seeing people coming towards you to go into single file. I do not appreciate being squished against doors or run off into the street. Is this really so hard???!!!???

Coming up are two posts about the food and beer we had on vacation. And here's a photo from atop the Gorham Mountain Trail.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Antipasti Panini

This panino came about when a fridge cleaning was taking place. I still had some smoked baby swiss left from its original panini usage, and some roasted red peppers and marinated artichoke hearts left from a pizza night, and a stub of some onion from various uses.

Ecco....Antipasti Panini.
I chopped up the red pepper and artichoke hearts, then blotted them thoroughly with a paper towel (in my experience so far, panini do not like super-moist ingredients). A few slices of the smoked baby swiss, some sliced onion, and black pepper finish off this panino. So far, in all of my panini, I have used butter on the outside of the bread. For this panino I chose to brush some olive oil on the bread instead because I thought it would be lighter in two ways: flavor-wise and health-wise.

Turns out the olive oil is the way to go. I'm not using butter again for panini. The olive oil indeed was lighter in taste and of course healthier. However, more importantly, it created a crisper and more "grilled" essence on the bread. Sticking to the press was a bit more of an issue, but that's why God created spatulas.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Grilled Peach Salad

At the beginning of the summer Matt liked a lot of impromptu "clean out the fridge" lunch salads I was making. So I wanted to make an intense dinner salad that had some warmth to it, but had no meat or seafood. Also, the recent addition of the grill pan to my arsenal meant that I was grilling whatever I could get my hands on. And so I created the Grilled Peach Salad And it is very simple.

First thing, is to take a couple small handfuls of pecans and toast them. While they toast, prep the peaches. They toast quickly though, so keep your nose alert so that they don't burn.

Take two to three large peaches that are ripe, but not too ripe (you want a little firmness still) and quarter them. When I first told Mom about this recipe she was surprised that I didn't peel the peaches. So was I, but since the peaches are not getting really cooked through, the skin doesn't get tough and it is an unnecessary step in this recipe.

Take the quartered peaches, toss in olive oil and a generous sprinkling of kosher salt and black pepper. Place in a grill pan (or on an actual grill you lucky people out there with decks and yards) over medium heat and turn a couple times until all sides have a few grill marks. On my stove with my grill pan this usually means about 2-3 minutes to a side. Don't cook too long or over too high of a heat, or the peaches will get mushy and the skin will toughen. When peaches are done, remove to a cutting board and slice the quarters in half.

Meanwhile...make a vinaigrette of 1:3 balsamic vinegar to extra virgin olive oil. Toss mixed baby greens with a little salt, some black pepper and the vinaigrette. Chop the toasted pecans.

To plate: place mound of greens on plate, arrange peach slices, sprinkle on pecans, a couple spoonfuls of crumbled Gorgonzola, and one spoonful of dried cranberries.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Grilled Pork Shoulder Braciole

Braciole on the Grill? Braciole made with Pork? Yes, yes, and it is an interesting recipe from Mario Batali. This is what Mom requested for her birthday meal. The rest of the spread was comprised of green beans with summer savory..a wonderful herbal addition to the meal, a nutty and tangy orzo and chickpea salad with olive tapenade and just the right touch of lemon, and luscious panzanella (one of the perks of a mid-August birthday is the bounty of tomatoes).

The pork shoulder is pounded out, just like traditional braciole. The filling is made of bread crumbs, salami (we used finnochiona), orange zest, parsley, mint, romano, and olive oil. I used a few TBS more then what the recipe called for and then wished I has used even more. I think I might also in the future put in just one TBS of fresh squeezed orange juice for a little more moisture.

If you follow Mario's instructions on a charcoal grill you will have incinerated rolls. Even with the coals at a "medium high" heat it's tricky to not dry these out, plus pork shoulder is pretty fatty, so there were a lot of flame ups, causing some of the braciole to become blackened. I followed the recipe mostly, halving the times over direct heat and indirect heat and we still had rolls that were too dry. Also, I'm not sure why the recipe calls to cook to an internal temp of 185. Trichinosis dies at 140, which is when I took our braciole off the grill, and they were MORE than cooked through.

Overall, they were tasty. I really like the idea of salami as a braciole filling, and the fennel in the one we used was well complemented by the orange and mint. We had no leftovers, but we all agreed they were too dry and needed a little tinkering.

Think about it...beef braciole is from a tough cut of meat too. But it is simmered in moisture-ful tomato sauce. To cook a tough cut like pork shoulder in a dry method over even medium heat for more than a couple minutes would of course be overkill and drying.

My plan for this recipe in the future is: Grill briefly to sear the outside (I'll be using my trusty Lodge Cast-Iron Grill Pan), then place in a skillet and finish in the oven at 300 until done. Remove and use skillet to make a pan sauce with shallots, white wine and orange juice. I'm thinking to also mount a little butter in the sauce, but Mom thinks that would be overkill. Thanks to my brother-in-law Mark for the awesome photographs with his new spiffy camera.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Smoked Baby Swiss Panini

Amongst other rituals, a trip to my hometown of Walpole, NH for me means that I come home with Boggy Meadow Farm Cheese. Their Baby Swiss is a favorite of mine for snacking. This recent trip though, I came home with their Maple Smoked Baby Swiss with plans for upgrading the recent Saison and Panino Pairing.

I use our everyday bread (Organic Italian loaf from Whole Foods) for most of our panini. It has a tight grain, but is not heavy and two slices make a perfectly sized panino meal.

So, this panino takes two slices of Italian bread, about a 1/2" thick and 1/8"+ thick slices of the smoked baby swiss. I used Brae Burn apple, peeled, cored and sliced thinly. I then tossed the apple slices in a 1:1 mixture of cider vinegar and honey. And of course, onions beer-melized in our Saison with salt and black pepper. (I plan to post specific beer-melized onion instructions in the future). Layer the apple slices between a liberal layer of the onions and cheese. All that's left now is pressing and eating.

Matt and I could not believe the flavor profile of this panini. Smoky and nutty from the cheese, sweet and tart from the apples, spicy and herbal from the onions, all in a fantastically crispy and melty package. Paired with the Saison it was out of this world. Matt stated it perfectly when he said that he did not have to re-calibrate his mouth between bites of sandwich and sips of beer.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Wine Tip from Mom

Since we regularly have high quality home brew on tap and and I'm the only one in this house that drinks wine...I have traded my wine drinking days for beer drinking days. Not that I'm complaining. A high quality craft beer, even if not made at home, is often less money than middle of the road wine. And I've found that food pairings are a little more flexible with beer as well (and more exciting, especially with home brew!).

However, from time to time, I still want a glass of wine. Or better yet, I want to use some wine to deglaze a pan for a scrumptious sauce. But what I don't want is to have to plan multiple days of consumption and cooking in order to rationalize the cost of opening a bottle of wine. At Mom's this weekend (more on the birthday meal later), she poured me a glass of pinot grigio when I arrived. I inquired as to what the label was. Turns out, it's from a box. Specifically, Black Box. Great find Mom!

I picked up a box of it today and I'm so happy to have a glass of wine, but to not feel pressure to have more than a glass or decide what I'm eating and drinking tomorrow because of an open bottle. I would put this wine into what I call "good table wine". It is a classic pinot grigio with light citrus notes and stone fruit, and is not too dry, but dry enough to not be sweet. If I spent $10-12 on a bottle of this, I would have been satisfied in its being a balanced wine without too much acidity or mouth-puckering. Instead I spent $19 on the box, which is 3 liters of wine.

Of course, box wine has been around forever. And although personally, this is my first box purchase, I've tasted plenty of awful, insipid, cloying, and downright vile box wine. I am blown away by the find of this box. This is the perfect solution for single people, or those who are the lone wine imbiber in their household who still want good quality wine without paying good money for a bottle when half of it will oxidize into undrinkable swill. The box states that it lasts for four weeks. It has a very tight spout and the vacuum sealed bag feels I'm inclined to believe it. But I'll put up an update next month and let you know!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Good, Awful,'s very unpredictable!

We go to Beerworks at least once, sometimes twice a month. We have had absolutely sublime meals. We have had awful meals. We have had unremarkable meals. The service? Also a crap-shoot. One time, it was so perfect I called the restaurant the next day to applaud our server to the manager. And then the other times...

What brings us back is the beer. The beer is exceptionally good, with many choices, and even though they don't always have my favorites on tap, I always wind up drinking something I thoroughly enjoy. Matt especially likes their IPAs and Kolsch, I'm a fan of the reds and ambers.

There is also a hopeful bone in our bodies that brings us back. Because we remember the time we had the sausages in an apple cider glaze, which were perfectly grilled, with a satisfying snap and earthy flavor that comes from blending beef and pork. And the server that watched our glasses and brought us another beer as we took the last sip from the first. But then there was the night when we ordered salads to come before our meal and although we were two of maybe 15 people in the place, and there were four cooks visible in the open kitchen....our salads did not arrive for over 15 minutes and when they did, my dressing was incorrect and Matt's Caesar was as soggy as a dog caught in rain.

Lately I have been enjoying their nachos. The first couple times I had them...WOW. No question, the best restaurant nachos I have ever had. Tons of melty, gooey wonderful cheese layered in on each layer of chips amongst generous quantities of jalapenos, tomatoes, scallions, and black olives. This past Saturday night? Over cooked, hardened cheese, very few vegetal accompaniments; below an initial layer of chips and practically ossified cheese...only broken, dime sized pieces of chips and no cheese.

I believe that if Beerworks chefs and managers gave the same attention to detail and high standards to their line cooks and servers as the brew masters do to their brewers....Beerworks' planets would be in perfect alignment any day of the week.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Spicy Chicken Sandwich

Last night was Matt's favorite night. Spicy Chicken Sandwich night. The Spicy Chicken Sandwich is my version of a sandwich Matt used to get all the time at Beerworks. He also says that mine is better, and he doesn't lie. Especially about food. It is not a light meal, for a sandwich that is. I only make this meal about once a month, partially for health reasons, partially so that Matt doesn't get tired of one of his favorites.

Here's how the sandwiches are constructed for two people:
Start with half a red bell pepper cut into 1/4" strips. Saute over medium high heat in some olive oil until tender and season with salt and black pepper. Remove peppers from oil, set aside. Add to hot oil 10 oz boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into chunks, seasoned with Northwoods Fire Seasoning. Cook through. Meanwhile, melt 2 TBS of butter and mix with Franks RedHot. Toss the cooked chicken in the sauce. Cut a demi baguette in half, then slice laterally, but not completely so as to leave a "hinge". Liberally layer over both sides of open baguette some shredded cheese (usually I use the four-cheese Mexican blend). Place sandwiches open faced under broiler until cheese is melted. Place chicken onto one side of each sliced baguette, then distribute peppers and drizzle on a little of the hot sauce leftover from tossing the chicken, then close sandwiches. Take the sandwich to a level of heaven by dipping the sandwich in blue cheese dip, bite by bite, or just slather some inside of the sandwich. I used to make this with chicken breast (the original at Beerworks is breast meat), but the thighs are more flavorful, more tender, and also cheaper than breasts.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Beer Rye Panini

A simple one for lunch today. Beer Rye Bread, sharp cheddar, a little onion, loads of freshly ground black pepper. Next time I'm using red onion instead of yellow onion though. And maybe some apple...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tuna Melts!

Tonight is Tuna Melt Panini for dinner. I mix a can of tuna (drained well) with a couple small ribs of finely minced celery, one finely minced shallot, a couple TBS of mayonnaise, a small squeeze of lemon juice, a tsp of mustard, and lots of black pepper. Spread a layer onto a slice of Italian bread, put on some Huichol or Muy Picante, layer on a few thick slices of Munster cheese, another slice of bread. Butter it up, press, and enjoy!

Off to cook...

Beer Rye Bread

Mom used to make this all the time for me and I missed it so I asked her for the recipe. I figured it would be pretty fun to make bread with homebrewed beer. The saison we have right now I felt was a good choice due to its spice and interesting yeast strain. The saison worked beautifully in the bread, combined with the molasses it has a sweetness that is still savory and also incredibly mouthwatering. The finished bread is malty, with a nice amount of rye (the flour used is half rye, half white), and powerfully tangy and slightly sweet caraway seeds. It is perfect for snacking with a sharp cheddar cheese where the creamy milky-ness and earthy nuttiness complement the malty tang of the bread. (when Mom made this for me I would inhale an entire loaf and block of cheddar in one sitting...I had more self restraint last night, making it an after dinner snack)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Prosicutto Pear Panini

Rarely do I make something without either freshly ground black pepper or red pepper flake. This Panino is so subtle, either would kill it. The clean herbaceous crisp of pear, the perfect touch of sweetness from honey, and unctuous, salty prosciutto play off of tangy fontina, which melts so well it is rococo in its decadence.

For these Panini I used 1/2" slices of Italian bread, generous 1/8" slices of fontina, peeled, cored and thinly sliced Bosc pear, a couple slices of paper-thin prosciutto, and then a moderate drizzle of wildflower honey. This Panino would be improved only if I had Lukas Honey on hand.

And the list goes on...

This weekend we encountered a vast collection of self-centered, self-righteous, and utterly disrespectful people.

We shall start at the ball park. Howard and Jan generously took us to the Futures at Fenway game, and we had front row left field pavilion seats (thanks guys, what a view!). During the afternoon, I leaned forward to peer down into left field and survey the drop down to the box seats. Upon leaning back, WHAM! I was kicked in the back on either side of my spine, directly below my shoulder blades. The person behind me had placed her feet on the seat, so that her arches were on the seat back, and the majority of her feet were sticking out into my back! Matt instantly turned to tell this person what for, but she was about 16 years old, so he stopped. Now, people do disrespectful, irresponsible things...but this young woman was flanked by her parents...who said NOTHING. I have back problems already and was in front of them writhing in pain. And they said Nothing. Again, people make mistakes, especially teenagers, and although the girl muttered a barely intelligible "oops sorry", the lack of concern or even notice from her family for the person their daughter so obviously injured most likely explains her ability to be so careless in public to begin with.

And now onto the restaurant. It is strange, two restaurants in a few weeks and two waitresses ARGUED with Jan. This time at Beerworks the waitress got Jan's order wrong, and when the food runner informed the waitress...she came to the table to ARGUE with Jan about what she ordered! Look, I like to be right (anybody who has spent 2 minutes with me knows that), but when I worked as a server, unless the conversation was over whether or not some one was getting more alcohol...I NEVER argued with a customer. It's pointless and rude! Even if you would bet all of your tips that the woman said shrimp, not still do not argue with the customer.

Littering. It's awful. So, I'm standing at the bus stop yesterday after church in Marblehead. You would think that perhaps the people living and working in this beautiful, immaculate little town would have some more sense. Apparently not. This woman walks up to the bus stop smoking a cigarette (to give you an an idea of the location of this bus stop, it is directly outside a boutique with dresses priced at my weekly salary!). The woman finishes her cigarette and flicks the butt into the street. There is a city trashcan not three feet away from her. I asked her, as kindly as I could, "would you mind please putting that in the trash can?". She sneered at me, and said that it needed to burn out first, and how I didn't need to tell her. Well, apparently I did, because she left it there, even after it burned out (apparently snuffing a cig on her shoe sole or the concrete sidewalk is a foreign concept to her...). Now, perhaps this woman is out writing on her blog about the mean person who asked her to help save the planet...but really, I'm so tired of people's inability to see beyond their own nose.

Which brings us to the drunk hat-stealing woman and the sausage girl! Matt has a regular Sunday night gig with a trio at a place down near Fanueil Hall. He's making his living. The set-up at this gig is that the trio is at the front of the pub, Matt's back is to tall, floor to ceiling windows, which are open (it's summer, it draws in the crowd walking by). During the second set last night, these women (drunk, and old enough to be Matt's mother) start trying to grab his hat off his head! They actually try to take off with his hat in hand! Matt's trying to play his drums, and simultaneously battling these woman to stop touching him! It's insane.

So the sausage girl is also making her living. But I call into question truly if she is making her living legally as Matt is. Her sausage "stand" is a couple folding tables and a can of sterno. I doubt she has a permit. However, that is not what makes this girl's way into the blog's Got A Gripe? section. Twice now, this girl has used the trunk of Matt's car as a table, with sausage in foil pans strewn around it and other sausage accoutrement. She actually has to be told twice (previously by Matt, last night by me) to NOT put things on other people's property!!!

The mind reels.

On a positive spin, I'm planning a new panino today...stay tuned!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Eye-Opening Breakfast for Dinner

So we love the spicy. And I mean really love the spicy. I toast dried tien tsin peppers in olive for the base of spicy shrimp and pasta. For the spicy chicken sandwich I season pieces of chicken thighs with Northwoods Fire Seasoning Blend, and then mix melted butter with Frank's RedHot Sauce and toss with the cooked chicken. I put crushed red pepper in just about everything from panini to my standard tomato sauce.

When I met Matt, I quickly learned about Huichol and Valentina Muy Picante. On a a family trip to Mexico, Matt and his parents had stocked up on various hot sauces including the Valentina and Huichol. Valentina also makes a regular heat level of their sauce, but the Muy Picante is veritably a more indulgent sauce. The Huichol is a little acidic, without being too bright (Matt especially likes it in our tuna melts). It has a classic vinegar-based tang to it, but is more mellow than the old standby of Tabasco. The Muy Picante has a fruity sweetness with impressive depth of spice and heat.

The Muy Picante has a starring role in what we call "weekend breakfast". Weekend breakfast is sunny side up eggs cooked in a honey-chipotle compound butter I make up, with Italian bread toast and bacon. A top the eggs go freshly ground black pepper, a sprinkle of kosher salt, and a liberal lacing of Valentina Muy Picante. We ran out of the Muy Picante months ago, and have been getting by with the regular Valentina. On today's farmers market excursion, we popped into a Mexican grocery downtown and grabbed their only two bottles of Valentina Muy Picante for $1.50 per 12 ounce bottle. Although it is neither the weekend, nor is it morning, we were compelled tonight to enjoy weekend breakfast for dinner and savor the Muy Picante.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Doorman and The Waiter

Today I attended the UU Musicians Network Conference Professional Development Day at the Park Plaza Hotel. Before I get to the doorman and the waiter, I must note that Rev. Mark Belletini is a top notch presenter and I learned a great deal today about UU history, UU hymnody, and my own faith; it was wonderful and worth every penny.

Now, the doorman.
One would expect nothing but class and courtesy from any employee of the Park Plaza in Boston...agreed? Agreed. Then why, did the doorman blatantly and obviously stare at my chest when he opened the door for me. How did I notice this you ask? Because I turned to make eye contact with him and say thank you...but he was too busy bending his neck and staring at my chest! I was not wearing anything considered slutty, and even if I were...this is the Park Plaza!, shouldn't their employees be above this type of behavior??!!?? Now I presume people watching must be a past time of doormen...but one would hope the voyeuristic tendencies of people watchers would become finely tuned enough to do so in a subtle, unnoticeable method.

And the waiter...
Some fabulous gentlemen from the conference and I went Maggione Restaurant for lunch. This is a touristy/business place for lunch with a straight ahead Italian-American menu. I had a B+ sausage sandwich. The service was swift (we felt that we waited a little bit too long for our food, but I think our stomachs believed that and truly it wasn't that long), and the waiter was professional and perceptive (at first). However, upon departing, the waiter inquired as to where people were from. One of gentlemen with us is from the Chicago area. The waiter all of a sudden launched into the fact that Obama is from Chicago (um, yeah, so are the White Sox), and can you believe that guy, and how he's not voting for him, etc. Who asked him??!!?? This is completely out of line. Wait staff should NEVER discuss politics with patrons unless asked a direct question, and still then should be discreet and non-committal. If I wasn't so tired tonight...I'd be making a phone call to that restaurant's manager.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

First Beer and Panino Pairing

This evening I paired our Saison with a wonderful new Panino.

Italian Bread (1/2 inch thick slices), Fresh Mozzarella (1/4 inch thick slices), Brae Burn Apple (peeled, cored and sliced thinly), Beer-melized onions (onions caramelized in Saison), lots of freshly ground black pepper, a slight drizzle of Bariani Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and a little salt.

Place the apple slices between the onions and the mozzarella so that they stay a little crispy. Butter outside of bread. Press and enjoy.

The only change I will make next time is to toss the apple slices in either a little lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to give a little extra tang.

Summer Saison

We have Saison on tap!! This is the first Saison that Matt has brewed (and in effect, the first that I have). After July's Red IPA and Kolsch, we have a wonderful late summer beer to enjoy as we watch the Red Sox come back to life with the assistance of Jason Bay.

A Saison is a Belgian Farmhouse ale. Traditional characteristics are an orange hue ranging from pale to dark, dry, but with a lot of fruit and a nice acidic pucker. A distinct yeast strain is used, one that lends a spiciness to the beer, along with the Noble hops. A commercially available Saison that I like is produced by Ommegang.

Matt was a little worried about it fermenting down all the way (a problem we had with our most recent Kolsch which made it a little cloying), but the addition of a good amount of sugar to the boil to give the yeast something to eat in fermentation seems to have given us the beer we were aiming for.

Upon tasting, I initially smelled notes of melon and apple, Matt pointed out the banana and clove, and I concur. There is a warm spice overtone, but thanks to the dryness of the beer, I am not overpowered by sweetness or spice. The finish is dry with a slightly acidic profile.

We also achieved classic Belgian Lacing which is when the head of the beer shows strong retention throughout the consumption of the beer.