Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Summer of Beers

Since making the first gazpacho of the season, my creativity has not been at it's height. My days have started off with a carrot cake smoothie, lunch is a sandwich or salad, and dinner is broken into two parts with something before walking the dog, and then something after yoga. If you take anything from this blog, it should be: don't eat too much before yoga.

The weather has been delicious, on-and-off of course in typical Canadian style. This has made for a busier social life, often involving a patio. In celebration of the arrival of patio, I will focus on the microbrews that Ontario and Quebec have to offer our palates. I am in no way a beer expert, I just like the stuff. I love to try new ones, especially microbrews. I will share with you the beers that I enjoy with friends, and my interpretation of the flavours.

For May long-weekend, I headed to a cottage with some friends, located in Ontario's Cottage Country. This of course was the perfect opportunity to take the first shots of frothy goodness. We picked up a case of a proud "cottage brewery". It would appear that they are really relaxed up there, or we just got there too early and they were trying to get rid of last year's stock:

See the irony? A past expiry date (purchased May 22), right next to their declaration of Committed to Freshness.

We'll move on. Creemore Springs has become a pretty well known beer over the last few years, it's got a rich, creamy texture and flavour. It's now widely available on patios throughout Ottawa, or if you're heading to a BBQ, you can pick up an eight pack of cans. While browsing the selection on the way to the cottage, my eyes fell upon this:

Kellerbier. The can does not lie, it IS generously hopped. It really went well with that afternoon on the dock, with the occasional jump in the water (don't worry, the beer chose to stay on the dock, not a drop was sacrificed). It has almost a coffee flavour to it, not overwhelming; you could have two of these and not be complaining that it's too heavy.

Overall, the Kellerbier by Creemore Springs is a must try for this summer. Invite yourself to a friend's place for a BBQ and bring some, you'll be allowed to invite yourself back!

Friday, May 13, 2011

The first gazpacho of the season

The weather here in Canada's capital this week was glorious. Temperatures hovered around 20, it was sunny with a light breeze. My neighbour J and I recently bought bikes, I call mine Jean Bean the Flying Machine:

Isn't she glorious? Neighbour J and I coincidently work together. On the Dark Side. Monday morning she texted me at 7:00am asking if I wanted to bike to work. Ok, let's do it. Her bike is the same 7-speed cruiser as Jean Bean, only in PINK. It's a 20-minute ride across the river to our cubicles. On day three, after making a previous-night's trip to the supermarket, it was time for the first gazpacho of the season.

Gazpacho, you say. It's a cold, tomato based soup from the south of Spain. It is an essential at lunch during summer in Andalusia, often served in a glass. If it is served in a bowl, you sometimes have the option of toppings, like chopped up veggies, to sprinkle on top. Not to mention piquitos, which are small breadsticks. I learned a lot during my time in Spain; Spanish should probably be listed as the most significant. How to make a mean gazpacho is a close second. Spanish J and I spent many hours, tomatoes and assorted vegetables in our attempts to get the perfect blend of flavour and texture. For BBQs we would make 3+ litres of the stuff, and it would be gone with our friends asking for more. I am now attempting that amazingness in the Magic Bullet. Single serving fresh gazpacho? Yes, please!

You can see the morning light coming through the kitchen window in this prep shot:

A list of what you see in that mug:

2 tomatoes, quartered
1/4 red pepper, sliced
1 clove garlic
1 carrot, cut into chunks
a hearty dose of olive oil
a healthy splash of red wine vinegar
a dash of salt
cold water, to the top of the glass

Put the blade on, and zap until smooth. Result:

For the first time, I employed the Magic Bullet cover. This is where the bike comes in. I then put the gazpacho into that cute wicker basket you see on the front of Jean Bean, and rode to work. It all sounds so romantic, right? Much nicer than something like: "I packed my lunch in some Tupperware and ate it on the Dark Side."

Gazpacho makes the world a brighter place. Or maybe it's the sunshine that allows for the maturing of rich, flavourful tomatoes that can be made into yummy lunches. Add some tinto de verano in there, and you may as well have yourself a day at the beach!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Carrot Cake Smoothie? Yes, please!

A few weeks ago, my birthday and Christmas came early. I went to the post office and picked up a package that I could smell from a few metres away.

I'm sure you've all heard of Living Social Deals at this point. They had one for tea a while back, as I went to check out the website for tea, I realized that the company offering the deal is actually focused on the Nectar of the Gods. "Freshly Roasted Whole Bean Coffees & Loose Leaf Teas Delivered to you door" they promised. Sold. I called Be'ato and asked for some recommendations before ordering. My selection:

That's right, I ordered 3kg of coffee and three assorted teas. I'm making my way through the dixie voodoo. I do not have a fancy coffee maker, I use my Magic Bullet grinder, and I drink the stuff black. It's got a fantastic, rich flavour, and half a litre insists on making it's way into my system before leaving in the morning. If you're thinking about ordering coffee online, definitely try Be'ato. They're from Calgary and have a $13.95 shipping fee if you're outside of Alberta.

For Oslo lovers out there, he would like you to know that he loves carrots. Here he is enjoying one this morning:

Ears back, chops out, paws spread. That's love. I know what you're asking: Why was he eating a carrot at 7a.m.? Isn't that peanut butter time?

It normally is, my friends. But yesterday, I was inspired to come up with a new smoothie. The Carrot Cake Smoothie. At this point you may be reminiscent of the Pumpkin Pie Smoothie. Back in the pre-Magic Bullet days.

Carrot Cake Smoothie ingredients:
1 carrot, peeled, top given to the dog
1 banana
vanilla almond milk
2 spoonfuls of tofutti cream cheese spread (or Philly if that's your style)
cinnamon and nutmeg to taste (I put about a tsp and 1/4tsp respectively)
a little bit of maple syrup

Drum roll please....

This turned out to be a blissful marriage of carrot cake and smoothie. It'll give you the energy you need to ride public transit in the morning, or whatever else you might be doing. It'll satisfy that sweet tooth that's been aching. It'll be even better than that cake that you bought just cos it had cut little icing carrots on top. I may have to send this recipe to the NDP as a suggestion for their official drink. With a promise for coffee subsidies of some sort of course.