Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Beer Wench Keeps Cooking: Fall

Since Mid-Summer  I have, apparently, been unable to stop cooking.  I've raided my mom's and cousin's and great aunt's gardens, accepted friend's overflow of their family's garden goodness, ordered multiple CSA boxes from Fresh Direct and been to the Union Square Greenmarket every Wednesday.  I can't stop.   My roommate is not complaining.    

With the start of Fall and the gray weather this week, I felt inspired to actually use my oven.  An important seasonal switch, if ya ask me, because once that sucker's on my apartment's climate rides the line between tropical and Hades.  My jaunt to the Greenmarket had yielded one gigantic 5 pound butternut squash, an equally mammoth Jonagold apple, a yellow onion, some beautiful oyster mushrooms, and a loaf of extremely dense Hawthorne Valley Farmer's Bread.   I split the squash into three pieces, scooped out the seeds and set them aside.  After pre-heating the oven to 425, I brushed the squash with melted butter and put it in to roast for an hour (or until it's fork tender).  While waiting for it to cook, I rinsed the seeds, patted them dry and tossed them in olive oil, diced the apple and half of the onion and caught up on Sons Of Anarchy.  After an hour of motorcycles and mayhem, the squash had softened enough.  I set it aside to cool while I sautéed the apple and onion in butter and sage.  I spread the seeds on a baking tray and popped them in the oven for approximately ten minutes to toast. 

    Once the apple and onion were soft, I scooped out the flesh of the roasted squash and added it to the pot with 4 cups of vegetable stock, a pinch of salt, pepper, and a dash of cumin, cinnamon, and cayenne.  Since the oven was already on and I was eating at home with my roommate, I decided to roast a head of garlic with olive oil and sage to spread on the Farmer's Bread.  Garlic in, seeds out and tossed in salt and chili powder, the soup pot was beginning to boil. I reduced it to a simmer to allow the flavors to get to know each other.  My apartment might have been a balmy 80 degrees, but it was starting to smell delicious!  

   When I cook, I like to employ the Julia Childs method and sip while I stir! The cooler weather brings with it the chance to enjoy dark rich beer and spicy full red wine.   For the roasted butternut squash soup, a perfect autumnal pairing could be a warming Smuttynose Brown Ale or a toasty Sam Smith Nut Brown, or take a different route and go for a Bell's Two Hearted IPA.  


My roommate was in charge of beverages and opted to celebrate the change of season with a bottle of Rioja.  Half a glass later, I took the soup off the heat and added 1/3 cup of coconut milk.  I sliced up the Farmer's Bread to toast it in the oven and, after seeing how dense of a bread it was, opted to brush it with olive oil first.  The oyster mushrooms also got drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with sea salt and put in with the bread.  

Bread and shrooms toasting, I grabbed my handy immersion blender and pureed the apples, onion, sage and squash mixture.   The garlic came out perfectly caramelized and buttery, I put it in a small bowl with olive oil and cracked pepper.  The soup got ladled into bowls and topped with the toasted seeds and mushrooms.  Wine poured, we started eating. My roommate looked at his bowl and said "yeah, I'm ok with October now." 


 Want to celebrate fall with Roasted Butternut Squash Soup? 
4 or 5 pounds of butternut squash 
1 large apple, diced 
1/2 yellow onion, diced 
8 sage leaves, torn 
4 cups vegetable stock 
1/3 cup coconut milk (or heavy cream)
 salt pepper cayenne cinnamon cumin

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Beer Wench Goes Home

It's been a crazy few months--holiday season, NYC Craft Beer Week, hosting a surprise birthday, my birthday, and my best friend's baby shower, competing in the NYC Hot Sauce Expo's Bloody Mary Mixdown (second place in Queens baby!), not to mention attending the first two of seven weddings I've been invited to this year, the second of which necessitated a trip home for me.  Home, you ask? None other than the Sunshine State my friends, that gloriously weird southernmost penis shaped area of the country that, when it makes the news, often leaves the rest of us shaking our heads in wonderment.  I'm from a very special little area in Florida, the one, the only-- Daytona Beach: Birthplace Of Speed, Spring Break, drive in churches and drive-thru liquor stores! Amen.

Every time I make it home (roughly about once a year) I like to observe a usual routine: lunch at the Ocean Deck, walks on the beach, subs from Publix, and a party in my Dad's backyard.  If I have time, I make the trip up A1A to Snack Jack's.  Since this particular trip was centered around a family wedding and I'd brought a plus one who'd never been to Florida before, my usual routine got vaguely tweaked.  I did pick the Ocean Deck as our first lunch spot and were greeted by five bus-loads of inebriated college kids in swim suits singing along to Jason Mraz.  For the first time EVER I sat in the upstairs dining area of the Ocean Deck, according to my dear old disgruntled dad it has changed owners and he no longer frequents Reggae Sundays.  My Mahi Sandwich was excellent, as always, and my date's Bahama Mama tasted of the beach.      

Since my sister and her boyfriend had called dibs on the cabin in Dad's backyard, we'd been exiled to my Dad's girlfriend's rental house.  It came with a roomate.  He came with a schedule.    Clearly my usual routine of backyard get-togethers would have to be rescheduled.  I'm accustomed to sitting on my back deck, listening to the river and my friend's stories til all hours of the night while drinking my Florida go-to beer: Red Stripe.  Instead I was in someone else's house with a fridge containing home-made hummus (delicious, by the way) and a six pack of Beck's April.  What's a wench to do?  Luckily for me, my hometown has recently begun spawning breweries.

I first heard of the Ormond Brewing Company back in the fall and it made me ridiculously excited.  Since I'd been planning to check out the brewery anyway, I decided to make that my meeting place.  My family makes fun of me rather frequently for the fact that I haven't driven in years--hey, I live in New York--the reality of the situation is that they don't give me their cars, which I am more than capable of driving.  They seem to think that, since I haven't gotten behind the wheel in years, I am unable to navigate; they seem to forget that I have made my way through most major cities and a few international destinations in my day, not to mention Daytona is where I learned to drive.  The Ormond Brewing Co. is located down a side street, over some train tracks, and through a warehouse parking lot--everyone was convinced I'd steer my driver a.k.a date in the wrong direction, since most of my family friends who had ventured to the brewery had managed to get themselves lost.  I found it on the first try, I even took the backroads to get there!  You can take the wench out of Daytona know.  

On first glance, the space was instantly inviting: twinkly lights strung from the trees beckoned over the top of the homey wooden fence and the antique beach racer logo harkened back to our hometown's history.  The taproom itself was clean and minimalist, decorated with historic photographs of Ormond and Daytona--the early days of car racing.  We grabbed pints of their Cool Me Down Brown Ale and their Backwater Black IBA, moving into the backyard where my friend Travis was waiting at a table by the fire pit, sipping a pint of Hop Hazard IPA.

I instantly fell in love with the beer garden area--kids battled each other at an enormous Connect Four board and a few dudes played a leisurely game of Gators vs Seminoles cornhole (why the hell is it called that?!).  There was an immediate sense of community, a mellow departure from most of the beachside bars.  Travis and I were able to catch up without screaming over loud music and drunken tourists, and the overheard conversations made me wonder about how rapidly my hometown was changing.  Was I really listening to a conversation between a few Florida boys about the best yoga class around?

Since the brewery doesn't serve food, we ordered delivery from Genovese's (my favorite pizza in Ormond).  We also opted to go for flights of beer so we could sample the Full Steam Honey Cream, The 40 Weight Dry Stout,  Pepin Le Fat, and a mysterious yet amazingly naughty bourbon breakfast brown ale that was brought out from the back.  The patio had it's own service bar window with the beers listed on a very small dry erase board and, while ordering, I misread  $5 Wine, Citrus IPA as "Swine Citrus Ipa" resulting in some odd looks until the woman next to me pointed out that what I thought was an "S" was, in fact, a 5.  

No trip to Daytona is complete without a trip down Seabreeze Ave to view the local Friday night wild-life.  We happened to be in town during the cheerleading championships and watching drunk 20-nothings wearing next to nothing attempt to walk in heels was highly entertaining.  Our family friends, knowing my love of good beer lists, asked me to meet them at the Daytona Tap Room for a few pints.  The Taproom's beer list took up the entire wall, and their tap handles stretched from one end of the bar to the other. A funky little cover band played a tad too loudly in the corner, making it hard to catch up.  Next door to the Taproom is their sister bar, an odd little whisky joint with a stripper pole and all of four patrons.

Finally the day of the wedding arrived!  My family drove out to Deleon Springs (home of my former summer camp) to the farm that was hosting the event.  Canoes filled with ice, Miller High Life and PBR lined the reception area and caterers poured wine made especially for the bride and groom.  The day was out of this world gorgeous and the bride--my little sister's best friend--looked insanely beautiful.  Cheers Sunie and Ruby!

p.s. Yes... I wrote this back in April, since then I've worked on and completed a short film for competition, attended awards ceremony for said competition, and made my way through awesome events for Queens Beer week (more on that soon) 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Beer Wench and The Bloody Mary Mixdown

This year I had the honor of competing in the second annual NYC Hot Sauce Expo's Bloody Mary Mixdown sponsored by Stoli. Preliminaries were held in every borough, where three finalists were chosen to compete on stage at the Expo

The Queens' preliminary was held at the former Hell Gate Tiki (formerly known as Hell Gate Social and soon to be known as Pop bar) and it happened to coincide with my boyfriend's little brother's first day in New York. He flew straight from the Big Island of Hawaii to the Big Apple and landed just in time to watch the competition.

Nicci Carnaggio and I both competed representing Sparrow Tavern and the poor contestant stuck between us in our round had the uh..pleasure..of listening to our banter for the ninety seconds allotted to make our Bloodys. I developed a new recipe for the occasion using NYC Hot Sauce Co. Hot Sauce, Rick's Picks Mean Beans, and a homemade horseradish and black pepper infused Stoli.

After the panel of judges tasted our Bloody Marys and Jimmy (of Jimmy's 43) warmed up the crowd with the raffle drawing, the winners were announced. I was already pumped that my man had won two VIP passes to the Hot Sauce Expo so when my name was called for second place, I was genuinely surprised! 

The Daily News misspelled my name, but the picture is great! The reporter was a judge...maybe he'd had too many Bloody Marys...

I thought it was pretty amazing that the NYC Hot Sauce Expo happened to fall two days after my birthday. I woke up jittery, managed to pack my cooler and shove breakfast in my face before heading into the city. Last year, the Hot Sauce Expo was held outside in Brooklyn. This year, the Expo found its home at Penn Plaza which, since it was chilly and raining, was a welcome venue. 

Inside, all twenty one bartenders checked in and milled the hot sauce booths. Food vendors and beer stands from Lagunitas were scattered around the giant space. In the VIP section, a variety of liquor brands handed out samples and the Sailor Jerry girls gave pin-up style makeovers. Tickets for the Expo had sold out by 2pm and the line to get in wrapped around the block. After what seemed like an eternity, the Mixdown was about to begin. Each bartender drew a random number, then waited for that number to be called. My anxiety was through the freaking roof! While I waited, I sipped a Lil' Sumpin, chatting with my boyfriend and our Queens' champion: DiWine's Josh Woody.

Just as my jitters were about to get the best of me, my number was called. I set up my little station: my "I Put Hot Sauce On My Hot Sauce" bumper-sticker from East Coast Taco proudly displayed on the front of my tray, which was full of ramekins containing freshly squeezed citrus, worcestershire, freshly grated horseradish and salt and pepper, my NYC Hot Sauce and Rick's Picks ready to go and, of course, my infused Stoli. 

The following minute and a half was a total blur, but I do know that I finished early and was able to wave at my friends in the crowd, high-five my fellow competitor Charlie, and proudly display my Bloody in its custom made " Drink Local" glass before handing it in.


Sadly, my friends, I did not place at the Expo. The winners all hailed from Staten Island and Long Island and, since we didn't get to try each other's, I have no idea what made their drinks awesome! One of the finalists did turn in a crazy Bloody that was smoking from dry ice, but that's really all the intel I have. The winner's recipe will be published in this year's Stoli recipe book.


After the Expo ended, I headed over to the Pearl Theater to see my man's play reading. Every so often the Pearl hosts a "Pick Your Poison" play reading series, sponsored by Sixpoint. The audience watches three five minute previews and then decides which to watch in its entirety by applauding. It's always a fun evening and did I mention it's free?

Like theatre and Sixpoint? Come check out the Pearl reading of Lady Fredrick Sunday, May 11th at 7pm!!


Want to make my Hot In The City Bloody Mary?
You'll need:
1 bottle of Stoli
1 horseradish root
1 lemon squeezed
1 lime squeezed
NYC Hot Sauce Company Hot Sauce
Rick's Picks Mean Beans
Worcestershire sauce
Freshly ground black pepper
Sacramento tomato juice
*I also used the Mean Beans' brine to pickle rainbow baby carrots for garnishing

Peel horseradish root and cut roughly ten narrow strips, leaving some of the root to grate.  Pour out some of the Stoli to make room in the vodka bottle--use extra vodka for a cocktail while you prep.  Place horseradish strips in bottle, add 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, seal and shake bottle.  Allow Stoli to infuse for 1 week.

Hot In The City Bloody Mary

2oz infused Stoli, 1/4 oz lemon juice, 1/2 oz lime juice, 1/2 oz worcestershire, splash of Mean Beans' brine, 1/4 oz NYC Hot Sauce Co. Hot Sauce, pinch salt, pinch ground pepper, top with tomato juice.  Gently pour between two shakers and back into an ice filled glass.  Garnish with Mean Beans and pickled carrots.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Beer Wench and Brown Paper Tickets: NYC Craft Beer Week


During NYC Craft Beer Week Brown Paper Tickets asked me to attend (and write about) one of their events. Being a super dork, I chose to go to a panel discussion on NY Beer and Brewing History at the brand new Covenhoven:

NYC Craft Beer Week: Beer and Brewing History With The Beer Wench

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Beer Wench Gets Clean

Let’s face it: the life of a Beer Wench can be exhausting. To make it to every event, tasting, date and work shift all while attempting to write can take a lot out of you. And all those tasty beers? Yeah, they can take a lot out of you, too. So a few weeks ago I decided to take a week off and be nice to my liver, for a change.

Before deciding exactly how to approach cleansing, I emailed my cousin Brooke, a Naturopathic Doctor in California. I also spoke with the awesome ladies at Fresh Start Market on 23rd ave and did a little Internet research. Brooke wrote me back a basic week long liver detox outline, which, to me, just seemed like a long list of “no’s”. Not that I was surprised, the Internet had told me the same thing. She also sent me a list of supplements to take and recommended going for massage and bodywork—like I needed an excuse to make an appointment for a deep tissue massage at Blossom.

The list of “No’s”
No caffeine
No nicotine
No sugar
No corn
No dairy
No gluten
No wheat
No soy

I should mention that in my quest to cleanse I had tried to enlist several partners in crime, both my coworkers seemed really excited and into it—until Day 1 rolled around and I caught one with a cigarette and the other with a margarita. My boyfriend was the only one who stuck it out with me, even though he admittedly cheated and scarfed a string cheese on Day 3.

But Wench what the hell did you eat? Brooke said it was important to follow an organic diet during the cleanse: all organic produce and lean organic/wild caught protein. Green tea was also ok, as the caffeine existing in the tea is miniscule and also may help the major coffee-withdrawal headaches I was experiencing. Sugar was a “no” but Grade B Dark Amber Maple Syrup was ok. Let’s just say I read a lot of labels. I am amazed how many products contain one of the “no’s”. Hummus with soy oil, hot sauce with sugar, and corn—corn is in freaking everything!! Even though everything at work is organic, my staff meal became even more limited because we have no fish and most vegetarian options contain dairy or corn tortillas—which are gluten free but also on the “no” list. Sigh.

Day 1
I woke up with a massive hangover due to celebrating my girlfriend Angie’s birthday a tad too hard after the Vegetarian Nonsense Beer Pairing Dinner at Jimmy’s No. 43. All I wanted was a coffee. And a pizza. And a lobotomy. Having to serve people beer and make espresso almost killed me.

Day 2
On my way to Hardcore Pilates in Union Square without my usual morning coffee, I almost lost my shit. I remembered Brooke saying that green tea was ok so, in a last ditch effort, I ran, twitching, into the nearest teahouse.
“And how can I help you?” the overly friendly barista asked.
“Iced green tea please.” subtext: make it fast before someone loses an eye.
“Do you have a rewards card?”
“What’s the opposite of yes?” He smiled, smugly unaware that I was plotting his death.
“No.” Was this guy for real? Did he escape from Disney?
“Someone get some butter because you’re on a ROLL!”
Thankfully the tea girl called my name before things got ugly.
Dinner from Union Square Greenmarket: fajita style zucchini and peppers on a sautéed Portobello cap with homemade pico de gallo

Day 3

I tried to convince my roommate to jump on the cleanse wagon—he popped another Bluepoint and said he’d think about it. That morning he had also made coffee, and forgotten to turn off the pot when he left for work. I cleaned it up, silently cursing his coffee drinking, beer guzzling freedom. I’d been doing eggs and vegetables cooked in coconut oil for breakfast, salads for lunch, possibly a vegetable juice as a snack, and salads and hummus for dinner.
I integrated as many raw foods as I could into my diet and quite possibly made a serious dent in the avocado crop. In lieu of coffee I was chugging dandelion root or milk thistle tea—both herbs are liver purifiers—in addition to my iced green teas that I was making (I refused to take any more chances on chipper counter folk). I also tried to add in a lot of beets, which are also liver purifiers.
I got to watch my coworkers sample new beers in front of me, and yes, they dramatically rubbed it in while I sipped my dandelion tea.

Day 4

Day 4 of the cleanse was also the first day of the Astoria Art Festival and my job just so happened to be hosting the after-party. Not only did I get to serve beer and cocktails to random customers but now I was also surrounded by all of my friends involved in the festival—and they’d been drinking all night. Oh temptation! On the upside, every single friend who hugged me commented on how great I looked. Apparently, my skin was glowing! After work I checked it out in the mirror and had to admit, they had a point. The lack of sugar, wheat, and late nights had eradicated my under eye circles and made my face look brighter.

Day 5

The true test of will power: working a brunch shift with no coffee and no post-brunch shift drink. My pre-brunch breakfast pre-cleanse used to consist of a Greek yogurt with honey so I had had to do a little searching for something quick and filling that fit the rules. I picked up a Chia Pod made with Chia seeds, coconut milk, and bananas. It was $4 and it tasted like shit.

After making it through brunch my man and I decided we were brave enough to eat out and still avoid temptation. Thankfully Fatty’s Café makes the amazing 300 Salmon Meal: grilled salmon with zucchini, yellow squash, chimichuri, and avocado. We threw in a side of black beans and hot sauce (after reading each hot sauce label to make sure it didn’t contain sugar). Dinner was amazing and completely satisfying, but the second we got home my dude wanted desert. Since his usual go-to of ice cream and chocolate was out, I grabbed a Granny Smith. After slicing the apple, I sautéed it in coconut oil, cinnamon, ginger, and a pinch of sea salt before tossing the slices in Grade B Dark Amber Maple Syrup. The result tasted like apple pie filling!
There is no photo of aforementioned dessert, as it did not last long enough.

Day 6
We woke up on Sunday wishing we could go day drink over brunch—instead I made eggs with sautéed vegetables and a pot of tea while he made an appointment for a couple’s massage. An hour long deep tissue massage at Blossom left the two of us completely relaxed and starving; thankfully, Bare Burger makes great salads and was on the way home. Later that night, we guzzled club soda at a going away party at Sweet Afton while our friends swilled beers and pounded shots. Trying to maintain conversations with our friends as they reached inebriation became more and more trying so we excused ourselves to take a walk. We managed to enjoy a kale salad at Mar’s without imbibing any Flying Dog Oyster Stout or Fire Island Sea Salt Ale, no easy feat considering they are two of my favorites.

Day 7

I had an appointment with my chiropractor in the afternoon and was pleasantly surprised that, not only was my alignment great, but the inflammation caused by an injury sustained to my tailbone a few weeks prior had gone down. My chiro said that cutting sugar helps reduce inflammation, which could explain why my muscles were feeling so much stronger.
Since it was our last night, I decided to make dinner. I bought salmon at Whole Foods on my way back to Astoria and then picked up rainbow chard and a butternut squash at Greenbay Organic Market on Broadway. We also decided to toast the end of our week off with a Pinot Noir, which, after one glass, left me feeling a little buzzed. I marinated the salmon with cilantro, hot peppers, paprika, cumin, lemon, turmeric, garlic and salt before pan searing it. I sautéed the chard with fresh squeezed lemon juice and garlic and baked the squash with freshly grated ginger and fresh orange juice. My spin on Moroccan spiced salmon was so successful that I’m pretty sure my boyfriend inhaled it. After his plate was clean he began eyeballing mine.
So we made it a whole week. I missed coffee. I missed beer. I learned that dandelion and milk thistle capsules are (a) available at health food stores and (b) awesome for your liver when you’re drinking—seriously, these things help assuage a hangover like whoa. I also got a chance to hone my cooking skills and get creative in the kitchen. I won’t be trading in my beer, coffee, or cocktails for good but taking time off every now and then isn’t as hard as I initially thought. Sure the first few days royally sucked, but after the caffeine withdrawal faded and I stopped dreaming of beer, I actually felt pretty great! I even lost two pounds! It was a huge bonus that my bar tapped a keg of Allagash Curieux the week after my cleanse and yes, it was freaking delicious.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Beer Wench Gets Cookin': Date Night

I believe I have already mentioned a certain birthday celebration a few weeks back that left me almost too hungover for wine tasting. While we all know Ale Wife for their dizzying beer selection and out of the way location, I’d like to bring something else to the table: their mussels. You see I am a huge fan of shellfish, especially if they are cooked in beer. When I saw beer mussels on the menu I didn’t bother looking at anything else. My date, however, was not so excited. “They’re just chewy little pieces of flesh”, he said, but eventually my excitement got the better of him and he caved. I’ll be damned if Ale Wife’s mussels didn’t prove him right! The only redeeming part of the meal—the garlic fries—couldn’t even make the broth tasty. I decided right then and there to redeem the beer-cooked bi-valve and prove to my man that, if cooked correctly, he most certainly would enjoy mussels.

Before beginning to shop for dinner, I like to brainstorm my options: what’s seasonal, local, fresh, and pairs well. Since I was preparing a late summer dinner I opted to go with a Hefeweizen as my base for a lighter, fresher feel. I also wanted to prepare dishes that would be ready at the same time and be relatively easy to prep in advance, dishes that would effortlessly complement my main dish. What goes better with beer mussels than French fries? A quick trip around the Union Square Green Market and I had found some lovely spuds, gigantic heads of garlic, shallots and beautiful fresh green beans.

Next up: local shopping. I love our neighborhood for it’s abundance of bakeries, ethnic markets, butchers, and fish markets. I grabbed my granny-cart and set off for EuroMarket on 31st in hot pursuit of beer. Their fridges yielded a bounty of brews—it was almost too difficult to choose! Thankfully I had made a list and found the will power to stick to it: Ayinger Brau-Weis for my broth, Jenlain Farmhouse Ale and Saison Dupont for pairing. I also left EuroMarket with excellent olive oil, Irish butter (unsalted), and Lindeman’s Framboise (for dessert). Meandering up 30th Ave I grabbed parsley and lemons at a vegetable stand, a whole-wheat baguette at Astoria Bakers, and finally made my way to Best of The Sea. Most websites I’ve found tell you to plan on 1-½ pounds of shellfish per person so I purchased two 2lb bags of mussels. Make sure you check each bag for broken mussels!

When I’m cooking for someone special, I like to have all of my slicing and dicing done before they arrive. My kitchen is too small for two and hey, I want to look oh-so-fabulous while effortlessly preparing a culinary masterpiece. The day before dinner I cut all of my potatoes into evenly sized wedges, sliced the ends off my green beans, and diced my garlic and shallots. I removed the mussels from their mesh bags, checked to make sure none of them were broken or dead, and put them in a large bowl covered with a damp cloth on the bottom of my fridge.

Date night finally arrived. I had soaked the mussels in salt water three times after scrubbing and de-bearding them to remove any grit. I donned my favorite floral apron and waited for the buzzer. My man arrived bearing cheese from Astoria Bier and Cheese and a surprise dessert! Screw flowers, the way to this wench’s heart is something delicious and edible! I already had the oven preheated to 400 so we were ready to rock.

Step 1
Put the potato wedges in a large Ziploc bag and toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, one clove of chopped garlic, crushed red pepper and parsley. Spread evenly on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Cook twenty minutes on each side. I also alternated between the top and bottom racks after ten minutes.

While the potatoes were cooking on side #1 we opened the Jenlain and nibbled on the cheese he’d brought. Smart man, he’d foraged for one that would pair well with ales—slightly sharp, yet not overpowering.

Step 2

After flipping the fries, grab a large soup pan and sauté 2 chopped cloves garlic and 2 diced shallots in olive oil. Once they soften add a handful of chopped parsley, a pat of butter, and some salt, pepper, and cracked red pepper. Gingerly pour in your mussels and add hefeweizen, about half the bottle—you want to steam the mussels, not boil them! Throw in two more pats of butter and the juice of two lemons. Cover.

Step 3

In a frying pan sauté one chopped clove garlic in butter, add green beans, the juice of one lemon, a splash of the hefeweizen, salt, pepper, and some cracked red pepper. Cook over medium heat, making sure to rotate the beans. Wrap sliced baguette in aluminum foil and stick in oven with potatoes for the last five minutes.

Step 4

By now the potatoes should be crispy on the outside and cooked through the middle, remove from oven, place on serving dish. I sprinkled them with extra salt, chopped parsley and chives. Go ahead and plate the green beans too (I like them on the crisp side).

Step 5

Check the mussels, they are done when they open. I used a large serving dish for the shellfish and a side bowl for the amazing beer broth (fries dipped in beer broth=divine).

Step 6 is the best part:
Open the Saison Dupont and eat your feast! I’m going to go ahead and pat myself on the back for this—everything was delicious. However, my opinion of my moules frites wasn’t the important one; had my culinary endeavor changed my man’s opinion on the mollusk? Well, he was eating them while commenting on their structural strangeness. He was dipping fries in the broth of his own volition! The green beans had all but disappeared and the bowl of discarded shells was filling rapidly.

“They look so weird,” he said. But he was still eating them.
“Well, are they still just ‘chewy pieces of flesh’?” I asked.
He popped another one in his mouth, “Well they are always going to be weird looking but Babe, these are delicious! I’m full off of things this big! Seriously, I can’t stop eating them!”
That may have been validation enough for my cooking ability, but the fact that he ate too many mussels to even think about eating dessert didn’t hurt either.

I used the leftover potatoes for breakfast the next morning—they made epic home fries!

Want to follow my recipe and make Moules Frites at home?

Here’s my shopping list:

1 head garlic
2 shallots
Green beans
2 large roasting potatoes (or 4 small)
3 lemons
Irish butter (unsalted)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Whole-wheat baguette
1 bottle Ayinger Brau Weiss
Mussels (1 ½ lbs per person)
Saison for pairing (I used Saison Dupont and Jenlain)
A hot date