A Dogfish Head Holiday

Here’s a fun fact: despite eating, drinking, and breathing Philadelphia, I was actually born in Delaware. The “Small Wonder” is known for a few things (other than where I came into this world):

Now, I’m a big Dogfish Head fan. Founder (and James Beard Award-Winning) Sam Calagione is pretty much a rockstar in the craft beer world, and I get a little giddy on those lucky occasions I get to rub elbows with him.

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Philly Beer Week: Bringing Beer Buddies Together!

But last summer I had the chance to do something I’d actually never done before: Visit and explore the home of Dogfish Head AND stay in the historic Dogfish Inn.

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Just over two hours from Philadelphia is the coastal Delaware town, Lewes, that’s home to the Dogfish Inn. The Inn is about 11 miles from the brewery in Milton  and 6 miles from the Brewpub. Perfectly nestled for an epic beer-themed weekend getaway!

Our room was ADORABLE, with a large bed and a cozy little desk area (everything is available to purchase, but the growler was complimentary, perfect for taking on a brewery tour and filling up with the good stuff!)

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Beach chairs for the nearby sandy shores, and a tote bag I still covet

While the thin walls of this charming spot made for some semi-sleepless nights, the kitsch and vibes were so stellar, it was easy to forget. BONUS: Who needs sleep when you can mainline Chicory Stout Coffee in the little lobby-visitor center?

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While we planned our own little tour of the area, and drove ourselves from place to place (don’t worry, we waited until we got back to our room before we enjoyed our growler’s contents), you could always let the DFH team plan your weekend for you, with some pretty epic Packages (from brewery tours & swag to a honeymoon getaway!)

Other bonuses?

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Access to the elite fleet of Dogfish Head’s beach cruisers AND a wonderful little fire pit that fills up with like-minded, beer-loving guests at night!

Now, to answer a few questions I’ve had since my stay:

  • The rooms can range from $209-$349, or potentially more during the weekends. I was lucky enough to WIN a two-night stay during the off-season (mid-September) but it could definitely be a splurge for some.
  • There’s ZERO beer sold on-site. Luckily, there are restaurants and shops nearby so you can stock up on all your DFH beer needs!
  • Yes, there’s beer soap in the showers. Yes, it’s amazing. Yup, I took the remainder of the soap block home with me.

Next time you’re thinking of a beachy weekend (or playing hooky, lots more availability during the weekdays), and wanna soak up some brews and seaside views, consider the Dogfish Head Inn. And then head over to Milton to stock up on all the beers, spirits, and swag you can get your hands on!

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Beer-loving Babes!

Cheers to vacations fueled by beers!

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Philly Beer Week 2017 – 10 Events You Can’t Miss!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year….

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: Philly Beer Week – There’s nothing quite like it. And, with ten days (or less, who knows when you’re reading this) until Opening Tap, the city’s beer bars, reps, and drinkers alike are gearing up for Christmas in June.

2017 marks the 10th Year of this 10 Day Beer Bonanza (“week” is a relative term, right?) and I’m pretty sure that folks are pulling out all the stops to make it the most memorable year to-date. As I did before in 2015 (missed most of last year due to a poorly timed Whole 30), I spent an unreasonable amount of time poring over the lineup of events. I recognize that not all the events are released yet, but I think enough are out that I’ve crafted a pretty dynamite list.

I wouldn’t recommend attending all 10 of them. But, if you do, best of luck to you and your liver.

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May the odds be ever in your favor…

  1. For the person who takes Thursday off… The Hammer of Glory Relay – June 1st, ALL DAY
    For $10, you can hop a seat on a double decker bus and follow the iconic HoG (Hammer of Glory) throughout the city, watching as it passes from spot to spot using themed vehicles, roller derby gals, weird man-powered machines, and ridiculous costumes. Most of the stops, coincidentally, are bars, so if day-drinking is your thing, you can’t start the “week” off any better.
  2. For the one that likes to run for fun… Red Owl Tavern / Founders Brewing Almost 3k – June 3rd, 10am18527242_1358343947548692_3634553842382043062_o.jpg

    Y’all. 3k… that’s not even 2 miles, so no excuses. $30 gets you your first beer, your last beer, a glass, and a t-shirt. PLUS FITNESS! The run is around Independence Mall, and you’ll be hanging before (and hopefully after) at Red Owl Tavern sipping on tasty Founders brews. The ideal way to start your PBW Weekend!

  3. For the one who loves Sunday Funday… Poppin’ Wheelies and Doing the Hula June 4th, 12pm-7pm 

    Two parter – Part 1 – Noon, get some hair of the dog whilst at Drury Beer Garden for some epic Big Wheel Races in the back. Or just laugh and laugh while sipping Evil Genius offerings.
    51PQ9835YGL.jpgPart 2 – 3pm Head just a few feet over to Tiki for an all-male hula contest. Just try to keep your 2SP beers down as these hairy, bearded brutes shake their groove things…

  4. For the nerds who love brews and views… Raven Society Rooftop Biergarten with Sam from Dogfish Head, June 6th, 6-9pmScreen Shot 2017-05-23 at 2.25.05 PM.png

    The Dogfish Head will be flowing, Sam Calagione (founder and owner of Dogfish Head and recent James Beard Award recipient) will be speaking, and the sun will be setting. This will likely be one of the most Instagrammable events… Just saying.

  5. For the one who never wakes up early enough for brunch… Breakfast for Dinner with Rob from Allagash – Jose Pistola’s, 9pm-midnight 

    If you’re like me, you might prefer your eggs served alongside kegs. And if you’re NOT like me, you’re not really a morning person. Head over to Jose Pistola’s to have your (pan)cake and drink beer, too.

  6. For the karaoke all-star… LIVE-Band Karaoke at Johnny Brenda’s with Yards! June 8th, 8:30pm
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    Yeah, I’m sure you’ve done karaoke. But have you ever done karaoke with a live full band?! Let the Yards brews give you the liquid courage you need.
  7. For the Mrs. Doubtfire fan… Left Hand Brewing’s PBW Drag Show Taproom on 19th, June 8th – 8-11pm
    Taproom on 19th is known for their burgers and beer year-round, so you can be sure that the draft list is going to be incredible when they’re highlighting Left Hand Brewing. But, let’s be honest, you’re not just coming for the drinks.18274940_1368095863272820_3503969321176695260_n.jpg
  8. For the one that still can’t stop singing “I’m on a Boat“… Beers & Boats at Bartram’s Garden June 8th, 4-8pm
    This is always a crowd pleaser AND has been known to sell-out, so get your tickets fast! $15 gets you a 30-minute kayak rental & your first beer. PLUS, on the Schuylkill, you can sing as loudly as you want (important if you’ve already indulged in a beer or two…) Don’t worry, lifejackets are mandatory!
  9. For the Picasso of Pilsners, or the Kahlo of Kolsch… PBW: The Art of Beer at Frankford Hall, June 6th, 7-9pm
    A picture’s worth a thousand words, but that art on bottles and cans… that’s priceless. This event is a panel discussion on beer label design featuring the artists behind Tröegs Independent Brewing Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company, Hill Farmstead Brewery, MikkellerForest & Main Brewing Company and Highway Manor Brewing! Edutainment at it’s finest.
  10. For the grand finale… Tailgate Olympics at Devil’s Den, June 10th, 12pm-6pm
    No better way to kick off the last weekend of PBW 2017 than with games galore. Giant Beer Pong, Washers, Huge Jenga, & Cornhole to name a few… Bring out your inner jock and soak up the Saturday sunshine with your friends from Free Will, Yards, Evil Genius, 2SP, and Weyerbacher!

There are TONS of events this year, really with something for everyone. Whether you’re a foodie, in it for the games (keep your eyes out for the goldfish and turtle races), a sweet-tooth, or looking for super rare brews… You’ll have a harder time not having fun during the first 10 days of June than you will finding a beer-focused way to spend your days!

Ghost Bottles with Garrett Oliver

The ever-wise UrbanDictionary defines fangirl as such:

A rabid breed of human female who is obesessed with either a fictional character or an actor. Similar to the breed of fanboy.

I don’t consider myself a fangirl too often. There was that one time with Jason Segel, but he and I both agreed not to dwell on that too much. However, when the opportunity presents itself to geek out over incredible beer with one of the humans that defines the craft beer industry (he, quite literally, wrote the book on the stuff. And then wrote the other book on beer [and food, COME ON!]), I can’t help myself.

I go a little gaga.

Well, guess what I did on Monday?

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You’re damn right I did.

You might remember me obsessively following Brooklyn Brewery’s events during their annual Philly Mash this summer. But Monday was something especially special.

The entire evening at City Tap House Logan featured a full-fledged Brooklyn Brewery tap attack. They had slews of those rare Ghost Bottles RIPE for the drinking. Proceeds from the sales of these bottles went to Philabundance. (This made me feel especially charitable when, between the roomie and myself, we sipped every single one.)

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I’d love to describe the beers to you, but I’m not cruel. See, chances are, unless you’re stalking all of Brooklyn’s events or a close personal buddy with one of the brewers, you may never see these bottles in your life.

I will say: they were fantastic, complex, and I can’t believe my tongue was #soblessed to taste them.

Then there was a panel of beer bros discussing the industry:

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Sorry for this shot, Curt. But doesn’t Garrett look SO CUTE?!

They talked shop. Highlights of this included:

  • Garrett Oliver comparing the beer industry to a) The Cage/Travolta classic, “Face/Off” AND b) Dick Cheney [had to do with him shooting you in the face, but being honest about it… You get it, right?]
  • Lew Bryson reflecting on how folks that exclusively drink “craft beer” putting back major brands’ spirits without giving it a second thought.
  • Garrett explaining how, when he hears someone mention “I’m thinking about starting my own brewery,” his first thought tends to be, “Of course you are.” I feel that.
  • How many brewers approach the industry for the love of money (there was a moment where it sounded like they were discussing an episode of ANTM).

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    We get it

  • Craft beer in the US: Sours make up like, 1/3 of 1% of sales, but about 80+% of talk.

There was a Q&A session during which I, giddily, asked Garrett Oliver what he would pair with the Philly classic, the Roast Pork Sandwich.

His answer was their Galahad (Local 1 aged on cider lees in bourbon barrels). I was drinking that beer at this exact moment. FATE! So we took a photo together.

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Garrett, myself, and Miles Moser, local Brooklyn rep AND fellow Tar Heel

I’m not saying that my heart was racing the entire night…. but I will say, it was tough to go to sleep following all the excitement.

Garrett, you beautiful brewer, you eloquent author, you magical man…. thanks for coming out. I’ll see you in Brooklyn soon, I hope. You bring the ghost bottles, I’ll bring the unending buckets of enthusiasm.

Summer Suds: BBQ Favorites with DuClaw Brewing

Disclosure: I received promotional consideration by DuClaw Brewing Company.

11537717_10102852820955758_8798687809808561519_n-1In life, sometimes stars align. And, in this case, those stars aligned in the most delicious fashion possible. DuClaw Brewing Company’s got two new summer brews, 4th of July is DAYS AWAY, AND they asked if I’d give them a try and pair these treats with some summer BBQ favorites.  The contenders:

Funk: A traditional American Wheat Ale serves as a solid baseline, but we couldn’t be content until we tore the roof off this sucker! Funk, our Blueberry Citrus Wheat Ale, sets the rhythm with a soulful fusion of American wheat and hops, before unleashing a stunning encore with big notes of blueberry and Meyer lemon. It’s no jive, you’ll just dig it!

And, of course, a wonderfully named blonde ale.

Morgazm: A refreshing, citrusy twist on one of our most popular brews of all time. The medium body, mild hop character, light fruity taste, and smooth drinkability of Bare Ass Blonde Ale is infused with grapefruit zest and dry hopped with Citra hops to add notes of lemon, grapefruit, and an overall tart character to the beer. The result is a highly drinkable, highly refreshing Blonde Ale with big citrus flavors and aromas that will leave your palate in ecstacy… but wanting more.

I thought, and I thought. A blueberry citrus wheat ale. A grapefruit zested blonde ale. And then my mind shifted.

See, the Game of Thrones finale was on that night, and I was a bit distracted. And then it hit me. I didn’t have to choose. I could have my beer, and eat stuff (related to Game of Thrones), too.

My buddies and I… We go hard when it comes to themes. So, when a Game of Thrones feast finale was proposed by some brilliant mind (COUGH me. COUGH), everyone jumped on it. So I won’t share every little bit, because we got nerdy and there’s some eats that would take far too long to understand. But let’s get to the beer pairings, eh.

Bread and Salt: Guest Right!

Bread and Salt: Guest Right!

Once guest right was invoked, we were ready to get to work.

In honor of Arya - Oysters Clams and Cockles (but just clams)

In honor of Arya – Oysters Clams and Cockles (but just clams)

Beer-steamed clams are not anything world-rocking. However, instead of a traditional lager to steam, we added a bottle of the Morgazm. With a beer-to-drink in one hand and about 50 clams on the table, we poured this zesty citrusy blonde over the little clams, thanking them for their contribution for the meal. And while some opt to boil these bad boys in a pot, we went for an oven-steam, since the oven was already on and our initial goals of outdoor grilling were squashed by an unwelcome guest.

Rain, rain, go away!

Rain, rain, go away!

And before we were ready to enjoy our clams, there were a few options to go with the blueberry citrus wheat. FIrst: Sansa’s favorite, lemon cake!

The Funk's on ME!

The Funk’s on ME!

Lemon desserts are ubiquitous in the summer, and this pairing of the tart lemon cake (featuring blueberries in the icing!) was outta this world. The aroma of the blueberries in the Funk was strong, but the taste was subtle, and this beer would pair nicely with any tart, bright flavored dessert.

While my buddy made the cake, some similar recipes are here:

The Funk, a blueberry citrus wheat, would also pair well with some seafood, and I may have enjoyed a few of these “dragon eggs” (sticky rice, avocado, and eel!) with the brewski.

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Khaleesi would be proud.

After a long time (maybe we SHOULD have boiled the clams, but we were in no hurry), our clams were ready!

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All of the sudden, that crusty bread makes a lot more sense, as it was the perfect way to soak up the juices from the lemon, the Morgazm, and all sorts of clammy goodness. For this one, there’s also not really a recipe for this one (add stuff into pot or pan, put over heat, wait for clams to open, gorge!) but if you’re jonesing for one, here ya go.

We also really liked the Morgazm with a marinated grilled chicken AND Theon’s favorite plaything (sorry, promise that’s all the nerding out).

10351393_10102852820766138_4234394620136596503_nThese beers would both make excellent additions to any summer celebration, but if you’ve already got the grill going…. why not just get them for this weekend’s 4th of July festivities?! While they wouldn’t be the FIRST beer I get at the store, they’re definitely beers for the beach, the BBQ, and the summer.

Thanks, DuClaw, for the opportunity.

Thanks, my GoT crew, for throwing down the gauntlet and grilling in the rain.

Thanks, George R.R. Martin, for HURRYING UP ON THE WINDS OF WINTER!

Off to dream of dragons…

Two Dames Do Dogfish Head

When I visited the Great American Beer Festival a few years ago, I was impressed with lots of things. The hoards of bearded beer bros. The wonder of Denver. The tartness of sours. The bitter hops that can be packed into imperial double ULTIMATE IPAs!! But something else struck me… The line for the Dogfish Head stand. It seemed to span a mile! WHAT WERE THEY ALL WAITING FOR?!

See, though I’m just mad for the brews produced by Dogfish Head, I was born in Delaware. I grew up there, and though I migrated to Pennsylvania when I was 10, it was “Delaware County”, a stone’s throw from Wilmington. It’s no surprise, then, that DFH was never perceived to me as “rare” or “special” merely…. present. Ubiquitous, even. That said, I get it. If you’re someone who doesn’t have access to the tasty beers from the First State, they become something to seek out. Rare gems. And where better to pan for gems than the source? (That was my best try at a segue. Don’t hate me.)

Paradise

Paradise

My dear buddy Claire came down right after the new year cracked so we could take a journey south to Milton to visit the brewery for the day. We were promptly greeted with tickets to the tour and four sample pours. I chose the four I hadn’t tried before, and we enjoyed a little pre-tour tasting

Working my way through the ranks

Working my way through the ranks

Beer's better with buddies

Beer’s better with buddies

Before I’d even started my fourth pour, it was time to tour!

And I have a confession….

The tour was (at least the portion we were on) dreadfully dull. I have a feeling it isn’t always this way, but we got shafted by a tour guide who somehow managed to make my absolute favorite topic boring, while periodically making me feel weirded out… Claire put it best, saying that Lars (our tour guide) left us feeling like his entire spiel was a long joke that never got the punchline, and never really taught us anything about what makes Dogfish Head special.

Not for lack of looking!

Not for lack of looking!

It’s okay. Their website can tell you plenty. All we knew was that, after about 30 minutes of saying what felt like nothing, we had to get outta there.

We left the tour early for greener pastures (after one last beer…)

One day I'll get a new hat. but that day isn't today.

One day I’ll get a new hat. but that day isn’t today.

Lucky for us, Dogfish Head’s Brewpub is in Rehoboth Beach, a mere 25 minutes away. So we hit the road for some eats and dranks.

Tapas, anyone?

Tapas, anyone?

Pickles, cheese, olives, and beer: What else could two gals ask for?

The beers were brewpub exclusives, Pennsylvania Tuxedo and Analog, and they were world-rocking. Claire had the higher ABV since I was driving, but we both made sure we didn’t leave empty bellied….

Oh baby.

Oh baby.

We each got a porchetta sandwich with MORE PICKLES (quickly becoming something I seek out, don’t offer to dining partners! #growingup), arugula, roasted (or was it “blistered”) red peppers, and a rich aioli that I don’t even really remember beyond just stifled moans of enjoyment from both of us.

We both left proud members of the clean plate club, stoked that our DFH dreams came true, just a little distance away from where we thought they would.

I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for those off-centered ales, and with a setting like this outside…. well, I still recommend a visit!

Steampunk Treehouse, anyone?

Steampunk Treehouse, anyone?

It was still a solid day trip, and if you’ve got the time (especially in the summer) worth the trek!

Best brewery tour you’ve ever taken?

New Belgium still has my heart…

Eat. Drink. Denver.

In a rare moment of freedom during Philly Beer Week, I figure that, since I don’t have an actual beer in my hand (an odd feeling during this most holy of beer weeks) I should write a post about…. all those other beers I drank.

Lemme rewinds a bit: Upon realizing I would, in fact, graduate and have gainful employment, my first thought was I SHOULD TAKE A HUGE ENORMOUS TRIP TO CELEBRATE!! Then, I remembered I gave all my money to Penn for that fancy degree, so perhaps the better move would be a smaller, equally exciting trip that might not break the bank. Enter: Denver!

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What better place to visit than the first spot I vacationed DURING my grad school career? You might recall I headed out to Denver in October 2012 for Great American Beer Festival, arguably the coolest beer event I’ve ever been a part of since falling in love with suds… But this weekend, I wanted a little bit more relaxation. A little bit less scheduled events. And probably the same amount of delicious beer.

No surprise: Denver delivered.

Highlights included:

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Great Divide Brewing Company: Located in the heart of Denver, this was one of those spots you enter and you immediately feel at home. The speakers were blasting “We Built This City“, the bartenders were singing and dancing along with it, and the taproom was full of all types of folks. Bachelor parties, gal groups, older couples, there were even a few little ones scampering around (don’t worry, they were carded and forbidden to booze.) Friday afternoon was an excellent opportunity for a little brewery tour and happy hour of our own, so Melissa and I enjoyed a tasting flight of 6 beers before entering the touring area.

Spoiler alert: if you’re wearing flip flops, and don’t have glasses on, you’re in for a treat.

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That’s right. Jordan Maura Price rocking…. Crocs. *Shudders* Hopefully, never again. But, I get it…. safety first. Style: last.

The tour itself was pretty basic, very little new knowledge to the seasoned brewery tour vet like myself…. but the beer at the end (and at the beginning): woo, baby! Their Rumble IPA toed the line between hoppy, sweet, and complex. An IPA aged in oak? I can get behind this stylistic trend. Up next…

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Crooked Stave – An artisanal brewery/taproom located at The Source, this space was gorgeous. The pickins, unfortunately, were a little slim for us, but their sour ale/kombucha blends were refreshing and interesting and, when it came to a more classic sour style, tartness was brought by Between the Staves, a wild ale aged in cognac barrels. A nice boozy bite, I, clearly, was a fan.

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I shared SOME with Melissa…. but honestly, I get selfish around sours. SORRY NOT THAT SORRY!

Oh yeah, we also ate some stuff.

ImageJust an INSANE banh mi from D’Deli, Golden, CO’s premiere deli sandwichery, is a hop/skip/jump away from the Coors Brewing Factory. Which really didn’t mean a lot to me, since we didn’t go there, but it’s ALSO right around Mount Falcon and Red Rocks, where we enjoyed a casual 6 mile hike featuring a run-in with a rattlesnake and playing “dodge the mountain biker”. It involved drenching myself in sweat and caking my body in dirt. LOVE NATURE (I’m only 80% sarcastic right now.)

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After all that hiking, we really felt as though we earned those sammies. And as sloppy delicious as they were…. they really paled in comparison to the true (non-alcoholic) treat of the trip.

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OMG OMG OMG VOODOO DOUGHNUTS! Clockwise from the top right: Old Dirty Bastard (Raised yeast doughnut with chocolate frosting, Oreo’s™ and peanut butter!), blueberry cake doughnut (blueberry dough with a glaze), and the coup de grace, the Memphis Mafia (Fried dough with banana chunks and cinnamon covered in a glaze with chocolate frosting, peanut butter, peanuts and chocolate chips on top!)

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Me, for scale. That bad boy was about the size of my head…. and tasted far better than I imagine my head would taste.

I got back to Philly around 1 a.m. Sunday night (err… Monday morning technically?) and crashed the hardest. But not too hard… See, there’s this little Philly Beer Week thing with like, a thousand events, and I couldn’t very well miss that.

Cheers, Denver. You were good to the last drop/bite. I can’t wait to head back!

 

Di Bruno Brothers After Hours: MINE, ALLLLL MINE

The Year of Cheese is in full swing over here in Philly.  And, though I’ve been writing somewhat less (grad school coupled with a DSLR in dire need of repair is a lethal combination for blogging), it’s not for lack of eating delicious things and drinking incredible beers. However, I did round up an old point n’ shoot (is that what the kids still call these non-fancy cameras?) because in honor of my 26th birthday (and, of course, the Year of Cheese), I decided to celebrate with eight close friends at none other than Di Bruno Brothers’ Italian Market location for our very own After Hours party.

Hey, kid. quit throwing balls at my photo subject!

Hey, kid. quit throwing balls at my photo subject!

In case you aren’t aware, Di Bruno Brothers is basically a mecca for cheese lovers (or food lovers, wine lovers, Italian lovers, and even just a pair of actual lovers who want a set of romantic treats to eat). It’s been my go-to spot for exploring new cheese and the cheese mongers KNOW THEIR STUFF. And, if you’re a foodie who has at least 7 friends (or can find 7 strangers who have some dollars to spend on a culinary adventures), you can hit up DB’s Italian Market location for a most incredible evening.

Hello, adult beverages

Hello, adult beverages

Here are the deets: For two hours, from 7pm-9pm, after the store has closed, you and your 7 buddies (you can add more if you’d like, though it’s a small store so I wouldn’t push it too far) can grab any beverages you want (we went with wine and beer) and are invited on a cheese and cured meats tour de force presented by the mongers. You can sample cheeses that aren’t on the prescribed cheese journey, but pace yourself because the samples may seem small, but the richness is big, and the flavors go hard on the tongue.

Clearly, I was not excited at all.

Clearly, I was not excited at all.

The epicurean excursion begins with a cheese spread (a very spicy one initially) while your guests arrive. You can explore the diverse racks of ingredients and items and think of what you’re going to buy (and I say this because you’re definitely going to buy something. You get a 10% discount on everything you purchase that night, so choose wisely.) And the best part is, other people will try to enter the store.

But they can’t.

For that night, the store is ALL YOURS!

After the spread, you face another spread. That spread is any and every olive imaginable. Stuffed with everything from gorgonzola to feta to peppers to prosciutto. I wouldn’t call myself an olive fan…. that was before my night at DB Brothers.

Glorious

Glorious

My personal favorites were the gorgonzola stuffed and the peppers stuffed with provolone and prosciutto. But honestly, it all was incredible. And then, the formal tasting began.

What could be more formal than a ball of burrata?

Pour some SUGAH (er... salt) on me!

Pour some SUGAH (er… salt) on me!

Oh, just a ball of burrata drizzled with the fanciest olive oil known to mankind and sprinkled with this insane red (lava?) salt. I may have had my fair share (and two other people’s share) of this. Incredible.

This evening made me a little greedy.

Next, our mongers jammed some peppadew peppers with Capricho de Cabra, an unreal goat cheese, then drizzled the whole thing with chestnut honey and sprinkled with DB’s infamous Black Lava Cashews. That may sound like an aggressive description for an appetizer.

Well, it was an aggressive flavor explosion.

Come at me, bro.

Come at me, bro.

Ever imagine what it’s like to have someone present you with not one, not two, not three, BUT FOUR different prosciutto options?

Imagine no longer.

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And then, the mistresses of mongers laid out my favorite platter: The beer and cheese pairing party!

Dreams coming true

Dreams coming true

I brought to the table:

The IPA, though not at ALL coconutty, cut nicely through the cheddar. I wish I could tell you what it was, but the mystery remains. All I know is that the mouthful of curried cauliflower, cheddar, and IPA was on POINT. I don’t think I loved this beer alone, but with the mixture of flavors…. I’m into it.

I will lead the next one with the a recognition that I do not like Belgian Trippels, as a general rule. But paired with the washed rind, semi-soft  butteriness of the Willoughby, and my mind was changed. I shall submit to future trippels as long as there’s a spreadable cheese nearby.

Unfortunately, the Brett Beer was underwhelming and I ended up liking the cheese far more than the beer. Nutty and dry, with a little sharpness, this cheese was easily accessible and DELISH. The beer…. was forgettable.

And dessert?

S’mores.

Dreamy

Dreamy

The combination of two of my favorite edibles on the planet: s’mores and CHEESE! Namely, Scharf Maxx 364, a tangy, sharp swiss, paired with dark chocolate and Italian Torrone.

Yes, we went there.

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Obviously, I hated every second and had a terrible time.

But, real talk, I would do this again in a heartbeat. It worked out to be about $50 per person, and we each came away with a Di Bruno reusable tote, full bellies, a take-home treat (each person’s was different) and 10% discount on all the goodies we picked up that night. That, to me, feels like a deal.

Yes, the Year of Cheese continues strong.

Chicago in the Summer

Have you ever touched dry ice before? Suddenly, there’s a searing cold that borders the line between freezing and burning, and you’re not sure if you want to scream or curl into a ball and rock back and forth silently.  That’s the feeling that I associated with visits to Chicago before this weekend.

Yes, I could mostly thaw my bitter heart with the warmth of my friends and loved ones that I was staying with, but as a Carolina girl for seven years, my delicate sensibilities regarding temperature were finely tuned to mild winters and scorching summers. I could handle that. “Cold” in Chicago is a different beast entirely. There aren’t enough layers I could possibly wear to prepare me for outdoor adventures, and I become bear-like in my desire to hibernate in a cave (or near a fire place, if the opportunity presents itself).

I'll just be over here reading. Seeing the sights be damned.

I’ll just be over here reading. Seeing the sights be damned.

This weekend, I emerged from my Chicago cocoon, shedding puffy jackets and elbow-length gloves in favor of thigh-grazing jorts and sheer, gauzy tops that cling to your skin, giving the illusion of wearing nothing at all (I wore bandeaus and tank tops, though, because nip slips aren’t cute in any city). The blossom of the city of Chicago opened up and presented me with a fragrant, vibrant experience rich with sights and sounds. Dogs barking, birds chirping, children pushing the buttons of their handyman father who desperately wanted to use Sunday afternoon to fix that loose step on the deck.

The beautiful backyard at Bang Bang Pie Shop

The beautiful backyard at Bang Bang Pie Shop

Due to some leftover points from Southwest and a freebie I obtained earlier this summer from Spirit Airlines, I managed to visit four airports in an equal amount of days (Atlantic City to O’Hare, Midway to Philadelphia) in a super cheap trip to that old Windy City. True to form, the city continued to be delicious, but the escapes from the confines of Caitlin’s condo were more frequent, and far more enjoyable.

Mmm, pork.

Mmm, pork. 

Our weekend began the way most excellent weekends should: with a giant pile of meat. A trip to Lillie’s Q was in order to reconnect with the gals I met on my last visit as well as my inner cave-woman who likes her meat like she likes her men; served on a slab and accompanied by various sauces and gooey mac & cheese (and now you know what most of late-night fantasies revolve around.) Everything was delicious, and then acted like an edible lullaby as I knocked out the moment I hit the pillow.

Sing me to sleep, sweet potato fries.

Sing me to sleep, sweet potato fries.

The rest of the weekend was filled with delicious treats and lots of outdoor time (a concept that seemed novel in trips previous to this one).

A trip to Revolution Brewing‘s tasting room was inevitable.

Hardcore

Hardcore

Rosa (Hibiscus Ale), A Little Crazy (Belgian Pale Ale), Black Power (Stout, baby)

Rosa (Hibiscus Ale), A Little Crazy (Belgian Pale Ale), Black Power (Stout, baby)

Logan Square Farmer’s Market for tasty treats

Tacos... for BREAKFAST!

Tacos… for BREAKFAST!

Retro on Roscoe, a throwback-style street festival featuring cool jams from the 90s, and shenanigans from NOW!

Thanks, Instagram!

Thanks, Instagram!

I even got a textured football for impromptu back massages.

Looks like it feels good, right?

Looks like it feels good, right?

And we ended the weekend off in the best POSSIBLE way: a jaunt to Bang Bang Pie Shop for (what else) PIE! And a biscuit.

Want this. Stat.

Want this. Stat.

"Summer Pie" featuring a graham cracker crust, sage ice cream, lemon curd, macerated blackberries, and a little of my drool on top because of extreme salivation.

“Summer Pie” featuring a graham cracker crust, sage ice cream, lemon curd, macerated blackberries, and a little of my drool on top because of extreme salivation.

Now that I’ve been spoiled by a Chicago summer weekend, I’m not sure if I could bear to return in the dark hours of winter…. Though there’s one thing that always keeps me coming back.

True Love: Friends since Tockwogh!

True Love: Friends since Tockwogh!

Now, to go bask in the remaining days of my “summer” in Philly (is it summer? Because this weather feels very Autumnal…)

 

 

 

 

 

Philly Beer Week 2013 from a Phirst-Timer

This time last year, I was JUST getting geared up to move from NC. I ogled Philly Beer Week 2012 from afar, following Twitter and Facebook like a stalker. Fast-forward to 2013 and I was ready for what was touted as “The Biggest Beer Week in the Nation”. With over 1,000 events during the course of 10 days (because 7-day weeks are for suckers and saps), I had to curate my week carefully (and, you know, continue to attend class, do homework, work at my internship, and maintain some semblance of responsibility). Luckily, I’m Type-A to a T and had lists on lists of beers I wanted to try, events I wanted to hit up, food pairings I was interested in, and a careful spreadsheet of my REM cycles to maintain appropriate homeostasis to sustain life (Fine, I didn’t track my REM cycles. But I DID fully engage in several naps to make up for lost night-sleep).

My first sight of PBW2013!

My first sight of PBW2013!

Friday, I had a whole schedule planned. I’d mapped out where I was going, had a time-frame, and a buddy to escort me from place to place. But you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men, so after a quick bite to eat, my beer buddy got a bit of tummy troubles and I was on my own.

One is the loneliest number (though Sixty-One by Dogfish Head does help the loneliness a bit)

One is the loneliest number (though Sixty-One by Dogfish Head does help the loneliness a bit)

Luckily, this was not an issue. Because during Philly Beer Week, if you’re a fan of beer, you’re NEVER alone.

Varga Gals and The Hammer of Glory make great buddies

Varga Gals and The Hammer of Glory make great buddies

And over the course of the next ten days (only 6 of which I partook in any beer shenanigans, a girl’s gotta rest sometimes) I basked in the glory of Philly Beer Week and all that it had to offer.

Let’s try this by the numbers (well, a few numbers)

Number of New-to-Me Beers Consumed: 27

Best Beer I Tried: Allagash FV13 Tart, rich in flavor and body, beautiful copper color, can’t beat it.

Worst Beer I Tried: Evil Twin Blind Eye PA Belgian IPA? I don’t think so. This was a mistake to order with dinner, and a bigger mistake to drink the whole thing. Some things just don’t go together. This is one of them (IMHO).

Number of Times I Visited Varga Bar: 4. I think I’ve established my new favorite bar in Philadelphia for beer, ambience, and cheese fries (that I need to try according to the internet)

Coolest Event: BBQ (Broads, Brews, and Queens) at Smokin’ Betty’s

Oh hell yes.

Oh hell yes.

Nothing goes better with beer than drag queens

Nothing goes better with beer than drag queens

Ultimate End of Beer Week Event: Bathed in Victory Beer and Cheese Pairing at Dibruno Brothers

Talk about some Summer Love.

Talk about some Summer Love.

And here's your cheese pr0n for the day.

And here’s your cheese p0rn for the day.

And this is how I felt at the end of the week:

WIPED City, USA!

WIPED City, USA!

Full Disclosure: It was an INTENSE week, and I didn’t even participate in all the days I could’ve… Looks like I’ll need to train a little harder for next year. But I don’t think I’d rather train for anything else.

Cheers to everyone who made PBW2013 incredible, to my new friends, to my new favorite bars and my new favorite beers, and to a year to prepare for PBW2014. That’s right, the dates are set and starting May 30th, we’ll do it all over again.

Swing, Swing Together

When you love a person, it is the simplest thing to blind yourself to everyone else around you. What happens, then, when you fall in love with an entire group, a tightly knit band of men and women, without whom you can’t imagine your life? And what happens when, during a few blissful, choice weekends, you get to bask in their glory as a whole?

God save the Delta Psi.

God save the Delta Psi.

Well, if you’re me, there is lots of crying involved. Tears of joy, of course, because your heart feels certain it will erupt and spill emotions all over the floors so caked in glitter from the years that the shine has become permanent. And you don’t feel blind to anything else around you, but hyper aware that these are kindred spirits flitting and floating through rooms and fields of vision and you want to make sure you don’t miss a second.

My trip to North Carolina was complete with gorgeous weather, gorgeous people, and ducks.

Fraterni-ducks.

Fraterni-ducks.

There were old friends and new. Many of these people I haven’t seen since June, making it the longest amount of time I’ve been away. Since I graduated and moved just down the road (8 miles? chump change), I’ve always been lucky enough to just drive a few minutes to see my beloved fraternity. This was the first time I felt like one of those far-flung alums who comes home to revisit her glory days. I kind of had this fear that I’d feel left out. Like I’d be out of place since my past few occasions spent in NC weren’t focused on meeting the new people, and now they’re all new people.

As if.

It was just that: coming home. And who feels left out when they’re home? Certainly not this chick.

I flew back to Philadelphia Monday morning with a lightness in my heart (and a heaviness in my bag, as I smuggled about 4500 mL of beer back North). A lightness that reminds me that you can always go home, wherever home is. And, chances are, your family will be waiting with a song on the stereo and beers in the cooler. It’ll be just like you never left.

Yup, this must be the place.

Yup, this must be the place.

Thanks, North Carolina, for welcoming me back. I’ll see you soon, though not soon enough.