Oktoberfest Y’all

“I’ve decided to retire and let myself go. I’ll have potatoes for lunch and potatoes for dinner and beer. God, I love beer! And treacle pudding and cherry tart and cream, cream, cream, cream, cream, cream … as god is my judge, I’ll never eat a lettuce leaf again.” ~ from the movie “Being Julia”

oktoberfest-zinzinnati-logoYou can smell it in the air.  You can feel it in your bones.  Those crisp fall mornings that whisper Fall is on her way…those are the mornings I love.  Just recently Summer has been wearing out her welcome here in Cincinnati, and those cool mornings are the ones that greet me as I head to the gym before work.  And I for one, could not be happier.

This past weekend, Cincinnati, or Zinzinnati, ushered in Fall as only Zinzinnati can…Oktoberfest.  Touted as the biggest and most authentic Oktoberfest this side of Munich, I could almost smell the potato pancakes, bratwurst, and strudel from my office on Friday.  I love that Cincinnati does this.  What better way to ring in my favorite season of the year.  Plus…there’s beer.  Fall beer.  Oktoberfest beer.  What could be better.

ImageSince our office is right on the square, during lunch, we went to go watch the Running of the Wieners.   This event kicks off Oktoberfest, and yes, it was as great as it sounds.  From what I was told, if you have a wiener dog, you pay $50 to get a hotdog uniform (either mustard or ketchup) and a shirt that declares, “I’m a Wiener”.  Then you get placed in a heat, bring your pup to the square, and watch those little legs run.  It was hilarious.  These little pups were like celebrities.  I felt like I was watching the opening credits of 101 Dalmatians.  Each owner looked exactly like his or her pup.  I just couldn’t get enough.

Since the Husband has three tests coming up this week, we weren’t able to take part in Zinzinnati Oktoberfest more than an after work Sam Adam’s Oktoberfest.  But that doesn’t mean we didn’t help welcome Fall.

So while some in Zinzinnati welcomed Fall wearing  lederhosen, stein in hand, we welcomed her with football, walks along the trail way, and a fall feast.  I love everything fall, the boots, the sweaters, the books, but I especially fall flavors.  Even though we couldn’t go have a brat on the square, I wanted to come up with something fun to make while we watched football Sunday night…ahem…while we watched the Steelers try to play football Sunday night.  But that’s besides the point.  Enter Jenna from Eat, Live, Run.  I started reading her blog in law school and whenever I had time to try a new recipe I tried one of Jenna’s.  In this household, we’re Jenna fans.  So of course that was the first blog I visited.  And low and behold, she dishes up another winner: Beer Brats with Caramelized Onions.

Perfect.

IMG_1351We made sweet potato fries to go with them and it was the perfect fall dinner.  We’ve been eating pretty clean here at the McGlothlin household recently so typically I would use olive oil to coat the sweet potatoes, and I normally would have used turkey sausage as a substitute for the brats.  But it’s Fall.  And let’s be honest, sometimes you just have to bring it in for the real thing.

Jenna suggested a holiday beer or pumpkin beer to soak the brats.  I used Southern Tier Pumking, which ended up being a bit too sweet once it cooked down.  You’ll want a full, flavorful seasonal with a little kick.  I think next time I might try Dogfish Punkin or Buffalo Bill’s Pumpkin Ale.  Or if you want to pick up the beer while you’re getting everything else on the list, Sam Adam’s Harvest Pumpkin Ale would be a good bet.  Whatever you choose, make sure you get enough so you can enjoy some while you cook.  Prost!

Beer Brats & Caramelized Onions
Originally from Eat, Live, Run

Ingredients
– 1 lb. bratwurst
– 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
– 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
– 1 bottle beer (12 oz)
– 1 Tbsp olive oil
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 1 Tbsp light brown sugar
– 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Directions
– Turn on the grill outside and let it heat up.
– Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan.
– Once hot, add the onions and saute for about 10 minutes, until golden.
– Add the thinly sliced garlic and saute for another three minutes until toasty.
– Add the bratwursts to the pan, along with the beer. Stir and bring to a boil.
– Cover, reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the brats turn white.
– Remove the sausages and place on a plate.
– Turn the heat to high so the beer mixture boils again.
– Add the salt, brown sugar and Worcestershire.
– Stir well and continue boiling.
– While the “sauce” is boiling, grill the sausages for only about 5 minutes, you just want to finish them on the grill.
– When done, bring the sausages back inside and place them back in the beer sauce and spoon sauce over.
– Serve brats with sauce and onions on top. (We toasted some buns and ate them that way…if your grocery store has pretzel buns, definitely go for those).

I'm sorry, I just can't get this image out of my head.

I’m sorry, I just can’t get this image out of my head.

Sweet Potato Fries

Ingredients
– 1-2 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
– Melted butter (just enough to lightly coat the potatoes…and don’t skimp here.  For some reason olive oil just doesn’t have the same effect taste-wise and baking-wise)
– A couple shakes of course sea salt

Directions
– Pre-heat the oven the 375
– Mix the potato slices, melted butter and salt together
– Spread the potato slices on a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes
– After 10 minutes flip the potatoes and cook for 10 more minutes
– Serve with a dollop of wasabi mayo

Oh, and for those who want to see the Running of the Wieners, check out the video on Instagram.

Have a great week!

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Old Haunts and New Favorites

“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” ~ Lin Yutang

To be honest, I’m not really sure where my old, familiar pillow is at this point in time.  Recently, I feel like my bags are constantly packed and ready by the door.   However, I have realized the beauty in not only traveling and finding new places, but also seeing old places, with new eyes.

The Boy and I have been having a blast together exploring his hometown here in Cinci and seeking out new favorites when I’m in Nashville amidst visiting our go-to’s.  This past weekend in Nashville was no different.

After a morning run and taking Caesar to his yearly vet appointment (always an adventure) we decided to head to The Flying Saucer, one of our favorite spots, to try a new Dogfish Head they had in.

Then it was off to East Nashville.  I was really excited to head across the river to try some new spots and hopefully visit one of my favorite Mexican restaurants in Nashville.

One of the places on our list to try was Cooper’s on Porter, a place we heard about at the East Nashville Beer Festival this Spring.  We ended up getting there a little earlier than the 4pm open time which was fine by me because that meant there was time for a late lunch at Rosepepper.  Perfect planning in my book!

After a steamed vegetable quesadilla and one of the best margs in town, we ended up walking around my old stomping ground for a bit and then headed back to Porter to check out Cooper’s.

We heard about Cooper’s as it relates to beer but it turns out as we learned from the bartender, owner and chef Cooper Brunk, places much of the emphasis on food.  However, since we had already taken care of the food side of things, we just decided to check out the beer.  They have 25 rotating taps and plenty more in bottles and cans.  Although you won’t find anything crazy on tap at Cooper’s, what they do offer is a killer line up of solid craft brews including Schlafly, Brooklyn, Sierra Nevada, New Belgium, and of course, local favorites like Blackstone and Yazoo.  The best part, at least in this law student’s book, is that every Tuesday-Saturday from 4-7pm, all drafts are only $3.

After that we decided to check out another new kid on the block, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream.  This just might be one of my new favorite places. This should not surprise you since I’m pretty sure ice cream was my first solid food as a child.

But this is like no other ice cream you’ve ever tasted before.  I mean, come on.  Check out this flavor list.  Cherry Lambic Sorbet, Queen City Cayenne, Brown Butter Almond Brittle and what I ended up going with: Salty Caramel.  Salty and Sweet.  Again, this should not surprise you seeing as I probably single handedly bought out all of Starbucks Salted Hot Chocolate drinks while they were available this past winter.  The Starbucks that I consumed during finals was just downright frightening.

Anyway, the Boy tried the Cherry Lambic Sorbet and although I tend to be very skeptical when it comes to sorbet…that too was delicious!  We decided to get two pints to-go and I’m sure they will not be our last this summer.

The great thing is that although they only have shops in Northern Ohio and now Nashville, you don’t have to go there to get Jeni’s truly splendid ice cream.  Luckily, you can find them in Whole Foods, Jungle Jims and other markets across the US.  You have to try this stuff.  I promise, you’ll thank me later.

Even though, like all other weekend trips, my time in Nashville seemed too short…it was a blast.  It was the first trip where I felt like I had shaken off law school for the summer and didn’t have to worry about deadlines, briefs, or homework to be done when I got back.  I enjoyed and loved every minute of it.  After a jam packed 1L year, the summer is a welcome break and the relaxation it brings is intoxicating.

To me, there’s just something about summer that whispers adventure.  It’s time to go see things you’ve been wanting to all winter long, it’s reading those books that your friends can’t stop talking about while lounging on the porch enjoying a warm summer night.  It’s catching up with old friends over delicious food and relaxing with family.  It’s indulging in your old favorites while finding the time to seek out new ones.

So here’s to ice cream, a cheap pint of beer, good company, lazy summer nights, and adventures, both new and old.

What will you be doing this summer?  What’s your adventure? Where are some places you want to go and are they old favorites or new?

Beer on a Budget- Schlafly APA

“Milk is for babies.  When you grow up you have to drink beer.” ~ Arnold Schwarzenegger

If you can tell me how to pronounce this correctly, you win the prize

So here is the deal my friends, there is nothing better on a summer Friday afternoon, than coming home, kicking back on the porch and having a nice cold beer.

I haven’t blogged about it much, but myself and the Boy in the past year or so have really enjoyed learning about and tasting craft beer.  We’ve tried more styles and more beers than we can count, the Boy has actually started brewing, and it’s become one of our favorite games to hunt down beers we haven’t had and give them a spin.

All of that said, craft beer is delicious but it can be expensive.  Hence, Beer on a Budget.  Now that I am in law school and living off of money that is not mine, I haven’t really been allowing myself to indulge in my favorites.  During school, with all the traveling, it made sense, but this summer I thought it would be fun to allow myself to once a week, hunt down the sales on craft beer and introduce the flavor of the week.

I feel like most people just pick up what they see in the grocery store, because it’s cheap and they know what they’re getting, which is exactly what I used to do. With Beer on a Budget, I hope to introduce you to new breweries, new styles, and new favorites, all without breaking the bank.  It’s a beer you can afford to grab a six pack of, invite friends over and savor those summer nights with.

The Boy is the real expert on craft beer, and although I don’t know as much yet, I have absolutely loved learning about it with him.  The craft beer industry is as interesting and colorful as the beers they create.  So while introducing you to what’s in my frosted glass on a given week, I hope to learn along with you.  And hopefully, those who are much better versed in the craft beer industry will chime in and give their take.  So, without further ado, week 1 of Beer on a Budget, featuring Schlafly APA.

Schlafly American Pale Ale

The first time I had Schlafly APA was at one of my favorite watering holes in Nashville, 12th South Taproom.  It was on draft and it was love at first sip.

It was not long before that I was first introduced to Bell’s Hopslam, a double IPA that was sweet as honey and just seemed to melt in your mouth.  The Boy and I got it by the case because we quickly learned that people traveled across state lines every winter when this delicacy came out to stock up.  After tasting it, I knew why.  Since having Hopslam though, I hadn’t had anything that resembled that delicate citrus or floral flavor, until I was introduced to Schlafly APA.

As I said, I am not an expert, but to me, this year-round American Pale Ale from St. Louis seemed to be my solution for the spring, summer and fall while Hopslam was not on the shelves.  Although Hopslam is a Double India Pale Ale and Schlafly is an American Pale Ale, even untrained tastebuds like mine were drawn to the subtle similarities in both.  There was something I liked there.

A couple of weeks later however, when I ordered a bottle of Schlafly APA somewhere else and  I was greeted with a much more bitter taste. That was not what I remembered.  I was so disappointed.  Since, I have been a bit skittish about purchasing it.

Last Friday however, on my way home from work, I stopped at Cork ‘n Bottle, one of my favorite places to find good beer here on my side of the river.  They have amazing specials and I had seen them tweet earlier that Schlafly 6-packs were on sale for $6.99.  You can’t beat that for craft beer people.  So of course I went over.  I had intended to try a different style but the APA was staring me in the face and heck, I’m all for second chances.  Remembering a conversation I had with the Boy, I decided to see if I could find the bottled by date to see how fresh it is.  Yes, I like you, didn’t know that mattered for beer but turns out it does.  Oh the things I’m learning!

Cork ‘n Bottle receives a fresh shipment of Schlafly weekly and I was assured it was one of the freshest beers on their shelves, as was witnessed by the bottling date.

As soon as I took it home and popped open the bottle, I knew this was the beer I remembered from the porch of 12th South.  It was fresh, citrusy, hoppy, and had just the right amount of bitterness.  This was just what I had wanted and at a bargain price!  At 5.9%, this is the perfect beer for those summer nights with friends, cookouts and neighborhood parties in the park.

As my ancestors in Italy would say, Cin-Cin, or to your health!  And your wallet as well in this instance!

Cascade Hops

What I’ve learned about American Pale Ale (APA):

Many consider APA’s the bolder and hoppier American cousin of traditional English Pale Ales.  APA, a style that was pioneered by the likes of Sierra Nevada, is normally crisper and generally more hoppy than the typical India Pale Ale (IPA) and has a distinct American hop character.

Schlafly APA for example is dry hopped with whole cone American hops including Cascade, Chinook and Athanum hops.  Dry hopping, as I’m learning, is a process where hops are added after fermentation and are left to soak, in Schlafly’s case, for 7 days.  This significantly increases the hop character of both the aroma and flavor of the beer without increasing the bitterness.

This process, used by both Schlafly and Bells, adds that delicate floral and citrusy taste that I love.  When buying an APA, I would suggest looking at the bottled date because in this case, the fresher the better!