Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Lambic Beer

I went to Brussels a few years back (and blogged about it) and had lambic beer for the first time. It is traditionally brewed in only a few places in Belgium by spontaneous fermentation (from the medley of wild yeast in the environment of the brewery and not from carefully controlled yeast strains), taking several years to make, and has a distinctive sour taste (maybe more winey than beery). Often flavored by fruit, the authentic stuff adds real, whole fruit with a secondary fermentation. The imitators add sweeteners and syrups. Here's a good article I found on lambic, and here's the wiki page.

Some of the best of the real deal comes from the Cantillon brewery in Brussels. Thankfully, it is acquirable in the U.S. The most commonly found 'lambic' in the U.S. is Lindemans. It's dangerously yummy, but if you've had Cantillon at the brewery in Brussels, you will immediately know that Lindemans' not the real deal. It's sweet, never sour.

Given the complexity of the lambic-making process, blending and aging is as important as the spontaneous fermentation. Hanssens Artisanaal is a blender -- buying lambic from brewer before fermentation takes hold and aging and blending in their own cellars.

Which brings us to the beer in the photo: Hanssens Artisanaal's Experimental Cassis. A friend found it in a local liquor store. Fruity, sour, dry, with little aftertaste -- it's great. Here's the Beer Advocate listing. All of the reviews which rate it below an A are written by idiots with no taste buds.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Best Food Day (in Boston) Ever

On Friday, we went to Men-Tei, a tiny hole-in-the-wall Japanese noodle and rice bowl shop near Newbury and Hereford. It was our first time, and it was awesome. I had fried pork chop noodles. It was exactly like the noodles you get in Taiwan -- fried pork goodness and chewy noodles for a good price ($9 in Boston, probably $3-4 in Taiwan).

For special occasions, my Mom makes a roasted duck stuffed with sticky rice dish. Since Sean and I are staying in Boston for the holidays this year, we decided that Sean would try to make it. But my Mom outright refused to tell us how -- she decided that deboning a duck, stuffing it, and sewing it up again was beyond our abilities. (She said she's show us how next year.) Anyway, we compromised and made the duck and sticky rice, separately. The sticky rice is made with sweet rice, onions, mushrooms, chestnuts, and a little ground pork. The key ingredient in the sticky rice, however, is duck fat collected from the roasting duck. For dessert, Sean made raspberry pie. It was a glorious meal:


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Das Räuchermännchen

Sean went to Germany a few weeks ago and came back with a räuchermännchen ('little smoking man'). A figurine of a woodsman or craftsman (is this little guy a shepherd?), there is a little plate in the center of it on which a little cone of incense is burned, and the smoke comes out of the mouth.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Tree