Where’s Waldo (or, in this case, Jordan)?

The past few weeks have been chaotic. So many papers and assignments and applications and meetings. And let’s not forget that from March 21-24, Nordstrom had Triple Points. But really, what’s been keeping me from writing was the other stuff (I’m great at blogging and shopping. Can I go to grad school for that?)

Mostly, I’ve been feeling like this:

Can I just stay down here?

Can I just stay down here?

Luckily, I’ve sprinkled a few fun moments in the mix.

For instance, inspired by Lauren’s Quest, I made my my own quest on the hunt for Pliny the Younger.

FINALLY!

FINALLY!

After waiting for about an hour and a half (the things I do for love…) I finally obtained the hop bomb of my dreams.

Nice photobomb, baldy.

Nice photobomb, baldy.

Did I mention that this all happened at 11 am on a Monday? Nothing like a little day drinking to start a week off right….

I also celebrated the first day of Spring the only way I knew how.

WEEEEE!

WEEEEE!

Rita’s. I am so sorry if you don’t know exactly what I’m talking about.

The day AFTER the first day of spring, it snowed. Go figure.

I’ve also been getting back on my cheese game. God bless the year of cheese.

Promise, that wasn't all for me.

Promise, that wasn’t all for me.

Evalon from LaClare is an incredible goat cheese from Wisconsin that I paired with a dessert wine with some of my buddies last night. Fairly firm, this award winning cheese is almost like a hybrid between a gouda and an Asiago cheese. I bet it would shred well, but instead, we just ate it in chunks like the animals we are. On rice crackers.

Threw in some cheddar just for a bit of variety.

Threw in some cheddar just for a bit of variety.

Other than cheese, I’ve been wolfing pizza and thai food down like a champ. Jumping from meeting to meeting doesn’t always leave the most time for cooking at home. So, this morning, in order to clear my system and start Easter weekend fresh, I hauled my sleepy butt over to Pure Fare for a Green Pineapple Ginger smoothie. And a little calm from the chaos.

Let's do this.

Let’s do this.

I’m not a very religious lady, but I can already see this is going to be a Good Friday.

 

 

 

2013: The Year of Cheese

It’s no secret, I’m a bit of a cheese head. Not this kind of a cheese head. But, maybe, this kind of cheese head:

Ha, get it. Cheese head.

Ha, get it? Cheese head. (Don’t worry, that’s not me. Almost had you, didn’t I?)

I can’t get enough of the curdy, creamy, smelly, salty stuff. And, this year, I decided to legitimize my love in some fashion.  I claim 2013 to be Jordan’s Year of Cheese. Feel free to celebrate along if you’d like, you have all year.

Last year was all about abstaining from something. Soda. No soda for one year. And what did I get from that? An appreciation of soda, to be honest. But, also, the realization that I don’t NEED a Coke with every sandwich, I don’t need soda for energy or as a mixer. It can be an occasional treat that is savored, and not a stable of my fridge or lunch. Great job, Jordan. But I wanted 2013 to be about something else.

I don’t take resolutions lightly, and normally don’t even make them unless I have something I’m really feeling serious about. Well, this year, at this point in my life, I don’t think I’ve ever felt more serious about cheese. And so, with the help of Steven Jenkins and his Cheese Primer, Fromage (the ultimate cheese app for the iPhone, apparently), and the cheese mongers of Philadelphia (and beyond), I’ll be making my way through a self-taught cheese education.

What I've learned so far: These ones are smelly.

What I’ve learned so far: These ones are smelly.

Luckily, Philadelphia has an abundance of cheese mongers just itching for a guinea pig to feed cheese to. And I’m more than happy to oblige.

Also luckily, my friends (whether they intended to or not) have been enthusiastic enablers for this education.

A massive cheese party for me? You shouldn't have. [Side note: they didn't, but it felt like it.]

A massive cheese party for me? You shouldn’t have. [Side note: they didn’t, but it felt like it.]

Though, I’ll admit, after a few too many tiny cups of wine, the cheese was less of an edible education and more like a sponge for vino. But don’t worry, I had plenty of time earlier in the night to enjoy a few specifics.

Primarily: Adelegger, an alpine cow’s milk cheese that is nutty and sharp, washed in white wine (and dusted with angel tears, I think). I originally was looking for Tete de Moine, and Amanda, my very favorite cheese monger at DiBruno Brothers, suggested this gem instead. It had more bite than the TdM, and a lot of body. She implied a nutty flavor, I said it almost tasted meaty in heartiness. And the best thing? We’re both right. Cheese, like beer, is a subjective delight to be enjoyed by anyone and everyone (except lactose intolerant people, whom I pity during The Year of Cheese). Speaking of beer, I paired it with a Belgian Quad, which cut right through that meatiness and made a spicy beer shaped imprint on my heart.

Cheese on Cheese

Cheese on Cheese

I’ve got a few dream cheeses that I’ll be seeking out in the city, and have already found that Reading Terminal Market alone hosts something like 4-5 excellent cheese shops featuring international and domestic cheese options galore. And, since I’m apparently some sort of grownup, people are always suggesting to get together and drink wine. And nothing goes better with wine than cheese. (And sometimes beer, when you refuse to bring wine to a Wine and Cheese party. [cough ME cough cough]).

I’m ready for you, 2013.

Give me your Gouda, your Morbier, your Chevre. I’m looking at you, Shropshire blue, you chameleon of curds. Wensleydale mixed with ANYTHING, and Ossau Iraty, you sexy beast. I’ve got a cheese plate, a set of cheese knifes, and enough lactase in my small intestine to be cheese tolerant for a woman five times my size (which would be over 30 feet tall….)

Come at me, brah.

Come at me, brah.

You trying to try some new cheeses? Just let me know. I’ll be there, cheese in hand.

It’s going to be a good year.

Any recommendations for must-try cheeses?

What’s your favorite cheese pairing (food or drink included)?

The Great American Beer Festival 2012

In all the hooplah of writing about pre-fest hot dogs, my pre-festival sours class, and my post-festival New Belgium tour, I forgot one very important part of my trip to Denver.

The ACTUAL Great American Beer Festival itself!!

I promise, it was more beautiful than this when I walked inside.

Thanks to BeerGram’s generosity, I had tickets to the festival and was able to bring my tiny buddy, Melissa. We also had a girlfriend, Imee, to round out the crew. We were ready for anything the brewers had to bring.

I’m a gentle giant.

The brewers…. they were ready for us as well. There was literally something for every possible tastebud and beer lover.

Goose Island’s Gingerbread Dream? Come to mama.

Prima Pils + Snyder’s Sourdough: Basic Math

One of the very best parts was the beer and pretzel pairing featuring Great Divide, Flying Dog, and hometown hero, Victory Brewing Company! And that’s just the beer…. My long-time love, Snyders of Hanover, provided honey twists, classic Sourdough pretzels, and YUMMY flavored pretzel pieces!

There was the GABF Brewpub Pavilion, complete with samples of snacks to pair with beer.  One of my favorites? Barely Buzzed Beehive CHEESE!

Cheese, please.

Utah, you do good on the cheese front.

I met some fantastic folks.  Namely?

Pennsylvania Pals!

Bill Covaleski, President and Brewmaster from Victory Brewing Company. He’s still working on figuring out the perfect pairing for a Philly soft pretzel….

Another little beer lady!

Andrea Sanchez-Reyes, the founder and CEO of Beergram (and my benefactor!)

And, don’t worry, I repped my friends/family of #NCBeer to the best of my ability.  At one point, dissatisfied with their lack of knowledge about Sexual Chocolate, I actually ended up behind the Foothills Brewing booth, lecturing newbs to the benefits of my favorite Winston-Salem brewery.

Sorry for the phone pic, but we were in the zone. the fun, Foothills zone.

Movember even made a little appearance, a few weeks early.

No Shave November? No shave NEVER!

It was, without question, the most fun I’ve ever had at a beer festival.

It was the first time that I went in with the mindset:

HEY! If you don’t like this beer, just pour it out. Don’t force yourself to drink every sample. When they overpour for you, don’t feel bad pouring some out. You’re not offending ANYONE. Bonus? No blacking out or feeling ill the next day.

The result? I left the festival just as excited and happy as when I came. I was happy as a clown, but (slightly) less silly than one.

There were pieces that weren’t great. I REFUSED to wait in the lines for Cigar City and Dogfish, as they were running anywhere from 30-45 minutes, and that just seemed a little outrageous. I figure I can always take a road trip to DE (and a much longer one to Florida) if I REALLY need to try those beers.

One of the MAJOR highlights? The line for the ladies’ room was like, 1/3 the length of the one for the men’s room. Seriously, this event was a sausage fest.

Hee hee

(at one point, quite literally, thanks to New Holland’s salami samples!)

After getting my fill of all the wild flavors some breweries were offering (gingerbread, green chili, peanut butter cup, strawberry, sage, keffir lime!! WHOAH!) I ended my night the way the only way that made sense; parked in front of the Bear Republic booth, sipping Racer 5 IPA until last call. Couldn’t have been more perfect.

My buddies at Bear Republic let me pose with their sweet ride….

After hot dogs, beer education, and 3.5 hours at the festival, I think it’s no surprise I slept like a baby.  I’m already scheming how I’ll get back next year…. If you can do it, I think GABF is NOT to be missed if you’re interested in craft beer.

What’s the wackiest flavor of beer you’ve ever tried?

I gotta say the Sage Saison from Epic Brewing was pretty wild….

If you’re not a beer person, ever try any of those wackadoo flavored vodkas? 

::shudder::