Fall is upon us. Football is in full swing, school is in a routine, and the temperatures are starting to drop (I love sweatshirt weather). It’s my favorite season. Yet, Summer is great too. It’s a time to spend with the family. Since we didn’t go on a trip for our 16th anniversary, Wifey and I decided to get out alone more on “dates”. One of the places we decided to go to for an afternoon was Frankenmuth Michigan.
Frankenmuth holds a special place in my heart. A dark place. My best memory of Frankenmuth is beating their football team in a huge rivalry game as a senior in high school . . . and playing the Chicken Dance song. You see, I grew up near Frankenmuth (otherwise known as Chicken City). They were rivals. They hated us. We hated them. They looked down on us. We called them snobs. They called us hicks. We thought they might secretly be brilliantly disguised aliens with orders to take all of us prisoners and make us their pets. At least that’s what my teammates and I came up with.
It’s funny, you would think that time would erase those feelings. You know, time heals all wounds and such. It may heal wounds with those you are around every day, but those you don’t see anymore? Not so much. One of the things I have noticed being a teacher is that I remember my students as I had them. I get former students that come back to see me and I’m always impressed how they have grown and changed. Much like my former students, I still picture that town like I remember it. Just like in the glory days, the tourists are still lined up like sheep to take a picture of the glockenspiel. The year round Christmas store Bronner’s, and the restaurants Zehnder’s and The Bavarian Inn (hence the nick name Chicken City) are still the heart of the town. My son’s youth football team played Frankenmuth a few years ago and I think I was more pumped than they were!
Well, I found out much has changed in 21 years since I graduated high school. They had an art fair going on. They have a whole new outdoor mall area with some interesting shops (Grand Traverse Distillery and a shop that won an episode of Cupcake Wars, Sugar High). They have a Military and Space Museum. Many of the shops I remember are gone, replaced by new ones. It has grown tremendously. I’m ashamed to say that we thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Frankenmuth. I suppose I will take some gruff from my former team mates for this post, but I would return with Wifey.
One of the places that has grown is the Frankenmuth Brewery. They have put in quite a nice restaurant and they give brewery tours. We took the tour and than I tried out one of their brews, a black ale called the Tornado.
On my notes I took:
Taste – Malt beginning and end with a hoppy bitterness in the middle. Slight hint of chocolate in the aftertaste.
Smell – Bitter chocolate, malt, and a hint of floral tones
Mouth Feel – Smooth, full bodied but not thick, feels like a stout, but not as heavy, foam has almost a creamy feel
Look – Great look. Dark with thick, beige foam.
They give you a great beer list and what to look for in their beer (I didn’t use this, just sayin’).
It’s a very satisfying beer. Then again, I do love black ales, but this is one of the better black ale’s I have had. Brewed right on the premises, it was fresh and flavorful. The tour was great. The Brew Pub, sits right on the Cass River, so the scenery was beautiful (we did sit at the bar inside).
The only issue I have with the beer is that it’s only available at the restaurant. It would be a regular of mine if it were available at my local purveyor of fine malted beverages. Are you listening Frankenmuth Brewery? Maybe bottling Tornado would go a long way in putting a bright light in that dark place in my heart.
Sometimes you’ve just got to try something new. White Russians and Onion Juice can only go so far and Wifey and I wanted to expand our palate. Tradition says we just go into the cupboard ‘o booze try and find something to mix. I pull out the creme de cocao and Irish cream. Looking deep into the cupboard, I see some vanilla vodka. Nice start on this one. I remembered we had bought some Chambord a couple of years ago for a recipe, and I thought it would go well the other ingredients. We mixed it up and after a few trials, this is what we came up with:
1 part Creme de Cocao (Kaluha would work with this as well)
1 part Vanilla Vodka (regular vodka is fine)
1 part Irish Cream
1/2 part Chambord
Fill a drink shaker with ice and add the ingredients and shake for 30 seconds. Strain into a cocktail glass and enjoy. Watch out, though, they will come up and bite you real quick!
Having a couple of drinks with the wife can difficult sometimes. You see, I’m a beer snob (a music snob, and a football snob as well) and like my “craft” beer. The wife does not like beer one bit. Wine is good, but we can only do that every once and awhile. So if we are going to have a couple of drinks together, we have to get creative! One I have found is kinda trendy, a Mojito Slushy. I have even come up with a few drinks of my own like Onion Juice. I have also come up with a frozen fruity drink that is very versatile. I call it a Caribbean Blizzard.
This is what you need:
3 cups frozen strawberries
2 frozen bananas cut into slices
Juice of 2 limes (or 1 lemon)
¼ cup Triple Sec
½ cup Light Rum
Add the ingredients into a blender and mix. There is enough for two “drinks” when put into a margarita glass. You may have to add more water (or rum/triple sec) if you like yours a little thinner. I don’t mind eating mine with a spoon. These are really good, though, so you have to be careful. The great thing about this one is you can change the ingredients to fit what you like or, more importantly, what you have. As long as you have the two frozen bananas, the lime/lemon juice, 3 cups frozen fruit, and an additional 1 and ½ cup liquid, you can make anything! We have made this with watermelon, OJ, with no booze. You can add tequila instead of rum. You can even add dark rum if you like. The only limit is your palate (and your pantry/freezer).
Hopslam. The name is gold for many a beer snob. I’ve seen people on facebook and talked to people who look forward to the day it’s released. Actually, it’s a mad rush to the store to purchase it. Well, I had never had one before the Wifey and I had our annual tax day date. We ventured to the Fenton Hotel and had a very nice meal. During that wonderful evening, I tried a Bell’s Hopslam. Wow, was it good. I’ve had some pretty exclusive Michigan beers before. In my opinion, Hopslam bests them all.
It has a very hoppy taste (duh, the name tells you that), but it’s not overly bitter like other pale ales (it’s a double India pale ale, for you beer snobs out there). It has a strong hop taste at the start. The middle has a slight tart, citrus taste while the finish has nice, mild hoppy bitterness to it. Now, I am a fan of the Two Hearted Ale by Bell’s as well, but this is much smoother. If drank from a glass (like all quality beers should be), the aroma has a strong but pleasant bouquet of hops, citrus, and even a slight floral tone. One note: this is a very strong beer. It contains 10.0% alcohol, so you have to be very careful as it doesn’t taste like it’s that strong.
This beer is not cheap. I found it at my local market for $17.99 a six pack. I bought one and it was well worth it. If your local purveyor of quality malted beverages has any left, buy a six pack and enjoy. I did.
So, sorry it’s been forever since my last post. School has started and so has coaching and my time is at a premium. Things will be a little sparse until football is over in November. I will try to get some small posts in, but they will not be coming in on a regular basis. For today’s post, I won’t be giving you a recipe, but a question: Where have all the good pumpkin ales gone? I’ve tried a few and they are all, well, unsatisfactory. I’ve tried a few, but they all leave me . . . wanting. Some, like Busch’s Jacks Pumpkin Spice Ale tastes like beer soaked pumpkin pie. Sweet beer (like sweet wine) is not good. Some, like Sam Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale tastes too much like their Boston Ale. The Blue Moon has a nice nice orange color, but tastes like any other ale. Someone please help me!
Soooooo. . . I guess I spilled the beans on the Wifey’s grade on our History of Mexico class. My wife was never was a fan of history, more of an artsy computer geek, if that’s possible. I don’t think she was too mad, but I guess I still needed to make amends. With the older kids gone to Grandma and Grandpa’s, it’s time that we kiss and make up. What better way to do that than a little wine and dine? What makes a nice romantic dinner? Shrimp Pasta? Check. Wine? Check. Mixed drinks? Check. Sounds good to me.
On a side note, I have learned one other thing about myself writing this blog: I must have a thing for Giada of Food Network. The shrimp pasta I made was based off of her recipe just like the fajita meal was.
Anyway, this is what you will need:
1 lb Shrimp, peeled and deveined (I like the 21-25 shrimp per pound)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
6 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Small Onion, roughly chopped
1 TSP Ground Black Pepper
¼ Cup Fresh Basil, chopped
¼ Cup Fresh Parsley, chopped
½ Tsp Salt
¼ Tsp Crushed Red Pepper
¾ lb Penne Pasta (3/4 of a box)
1 ½ Cup Dry White Wine (or 1 cup white wine and ½ cup Grand Marnier)
1/3 Cup Clam Juice
3 Tomatoes, Diced
1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
¾ Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 Lemon cut in half and thinly slice ½ of lemon
A note on this dish: prep everything beforehand. Chop and slice everything that you can. Things get added very quickly and prepping in between steps can lead to overcooking.
Bring water in a large pasta pot and cook pasta and cook as directed on package. Drain and set aside. Pour four turns of olive oil around a large, high walled skillet or stock pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it starts to turn transparent, about 3-5 minutes. Throw in the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook for 3 more minutes. Place raw shrimp in pan and cook until pink and heated through, about 4 minutes. Don’t cook too long or they will dry out. Remove shrimp and set aside.
Add wine and Grand Marnier (if using) to the pan and reduce for about 4 minutes, cooking the alcohol out. Add the clam juice, black pepper, basil, parsley and tomato. Squeeze the juice out of the unsliced half of lemon and add the lemon slices. Cook for about 3 minutes and add the cream. Bring to boil and simmer for about 9-10 minutes, or until sauce thickens. Remove the lemon slices and add the shrimp, pasta and Parmesan cheese and toss until all the pasta is coated.
This is a great meal that takes some prep time, but is easy to make. It tastes like it’s from a restaurant, but can be made in less than an hour. I like to use Pinot Grigio in the meal and pair it with the same. The crispness of the wine goes well with the creamy sweetness of the sauce. Chardonnay would pair with this well, but Wifey and I are not big fans of it. Play with the wines you use. If you like, grill the shrimp instead of sauteing them.
A nice mixed drink with this an amaretto stone sour, a great, refreshing summer drink. Very easy to make, this is a light drink that won’t hit you too hard.
How to make:
Fill an Old Fashion Glass with Ice and add:
2 oz Amaretto
2 oz OJ (the stone)
Fill to top with 7up and enjoy!
All in all, a great way to kiss and make up and get out of the dog house.
Chocolate coffee, orange, and Irish cream, Sound good? Well it is . . .and it almost never was. One night we decided we were going to have a cocktail and I went to make the usual at the time, White Russians. When I went to the Cupboard ‘O Booze, I discovered that we were out of vodka. Now, that stuff is pretty expensive and I really didn’t want to go out anyway. So I looked deep into the cupboard (it’s really quite small) to find a substitute mix. What came out was Kahlua, Triple Sec, and Irish Cream. Now, I’m not bartender, let alone a mixologist, but this was actually pretty good. Here goes:
2 oz. Kaluha
2 0z Irish Cream (I use St. Brennan’s. It’s good at half the price of Bailey’s)
2 oz. Triple Sec
Mix with ice in a shaker and strain into a martini glass.
The shaking gives it a nice, frothy texture and the sweetness of the triple sec blends the Irish cream and Kaluha well. It tastes like the old Valencia mocha Starbucks used to make with a kick. At least that’s what my wife says. Just think, if we had that vodka, my Onion Juice would never had made it.
Oh yeah, the name Onion Juice has meaning behind it. My son asked what it was. We told him onion juice. Now, when ever he sees us drinking it, he screws up his face and says “I can’t believe you are drinking onion juice”. The name stuck.