Hops with the Toad

I know close to nothing about beer, but since when has that stopped me from jumping right in, gawking and/or asking dumb questions! So this post is about Custom Brewcrafters' The Old Toad Nut Brown Ale, savored at The Old Toad with Flickr buddies.

Everybody LOVES The Old Toad - beer, british accents and wi-fi all in one place, clear proof that there is a generous and benevolent god. Located in the gorgeous Medical Arts building on Rochester's notorious Alexander St, The Old Toad nestles right next to Gusto. The Toad prides itself on being an authentic British pub and takes its food and drink very seriously. I have often taken friends there and we have always left completely satisfied. Needless to say, their beer menu is exhaustive. Combine equal parts exceptional beer and excellent company! Our Flickr meetups are fun - so much to learn from amazingly talented and creative minds.

In keeping with the local flavor theme, I tried The Old Toad Nut Brown Ale, brewed exclusively for The Old Toad by Custom Brewcrafters. Rich, dark brown and very tasty was my take on it! A slightly more sophisticated review from the Custom Brewcrafter's website: "This is a traditional Northern English Brown Ale that has a nutty malty aroma with a smooth hop finish. The beer is fermented a couple of degrees warmer than our other beers to give it a little more of a fruity winy aroma that is characteristic of the style. Brewed with Pale Ale, Cara-munich, Biscuit, and Chocolate Malts with Kent Goldings and First Gold Hops."

This one goes to Snekse at Gastronomic Fight Club for their Local Brews Event. Custom Brewcrafters has a wonderful history and is located in Honeoye Falls, some 35 miles southish of Rochester. Rochester takes its beer seriously! Allow me to bask in reflected glory - here are my favorite local beer links:

1. Beercraft Blog. Mark hosts Beer School at Monty's Korner! Need I say more?!

2. Calico's Aliurodrome and Alehouse. The best tasting notes. Hands down.

3. Most Rochesterians would like to get lost in Beers of the World!

4. Rohrbach Brewing Company is Rochester's very own microbrewery. Their Bluebeary Ale comes highly reccomended.



In spite of having thousands of miles under my belt, so to speak, I have cultivated a studious level of ignorance about the inner workings of my car. Such auto ignorance, combined with my penchant for road trips makes me a treasure trove of "And once my car went..." stories.

So I was speeding along I-90, taking in a stunning sunset, when I heard a rattle in the bowels of my prized chariot. Applying my astute intelligence and 95th percentile analytical skills, I thought to myself, "Hmmm, this can only be one of two things". Something is wrong with my car or something is terribly wrong with my car.

First things first. Finding myself acutely stressed, I came upon Golden Arches. It had been a busy weekend, lots of travel plans to be made and executed with precision and here I was stuck at a rest stop with free wi-fi and no laptop.


Dove into french fries. Nothing like a little grease to get the old neurons firing. To cut a long story short, gentle reader, I dragged away yet another god-fearing AAA guy from his home and hearth. Cleaned the car while waiting for him. Made small talk after he arrived and revived my brave steed. Thanked him profusely. We said our goodbyes, and I sped off in a whirl of dust.

So it all turned out okay :-)

Same goes for an eggplant that came my way! Simply Ming-ed it. Yes, I just made that up :-D

Inspired by Ming Tsai, this recipe is loosely based on the master recipe using red bean sauce.While trying to come up with a vegetarian version, in a flash of inspiration, I used sweet potato. Infatuation with Vitamin A continues.

Anhoo, heres what I did:
1. Diced eggplant into cubes. Sprinkled some salt and let it sit for 15 mins. Zapped a sweet potato in the microwave.
2. To make the marinade: added sambal sauce and red bean paste in equal portions. Added chopped ginger, garlic and green onions.
3. Chucked the cubed vegetables into the marinade and let them hang out in the fridge for a couple hours.
4. Tossed everything into a skillet and cooked till the eggplant was brown round the edges. The sweet potato is already cooked so it just came along for the ride.
5. Garnished with green onions or cilantro.

I quite liked the end-product, eggplant and sweet potato in red bean paste. For one thing, I finally figured out how to use red bean paste. For another thing, this isn't overly sweet or spicy. The background spices are flavorful without being oerwhelming. Especially like how the sweet potato shines through spices. Worked nicely in a wrap or served over barley. Hope to see more ideas at "Eat the Right Stuff". Since theres still some red bean paste in my fridge, I'm already thinking of tofu and broccoli instead of eggplant and sweet potato and all sorts of combinations with the basic master-recipe.

I'm hoping it all turns out okay!

Quite a stir

I adore the people I work with. As much as I enjoy talking shop with them, its been fun getting to share our hobbies and OCDs. Oops, I meant, cute quirks!

One of my bosses is a huge foodie! A skilled leader and formidable tactician, I thank my stars often that I'm on his team! At a recent get-together, to our collective delight, he rolled up his sleeves and made himself at home in the kitchen.

His salads are spoken of with reverence. His vinaigrettes, born from careful whisking and occasional stirring, elicit veneration. He alluded to our entrée with affection, listing ingredients with intuitive ease. I goggled. I tend to fuss over my cooking. I worry about spices not getting along, about dough that won't rise and soufflés that will collapse...

Buoyed by his relaxed confidence, I ventured forth. I set my sights on Eggplant Parmagiana.

Heres what I did:

- Chopped up an eggplant. Tossed it with a teaspoon of olive oil, added salt and pepper to taste. Chucked in a chopped white onion. Baked till the eggplant was mushy.
- Made bread crumbs from the last two slices of a gracefully aging loaf of multigrain bread. Added a pinch of dried oregano.
- Add parmesan. I made this in individual ramekins and added about one scant tablespoon per ramekin. Top with a sliced tomato and mozarella.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes.

The dish was a resounding success. At our get-together, our conscious carnivore colleagues enjoyed it as much as us vegetarians/flexitarians. Its all about showcasing the creaminess of the eggplant. Cheese, breadcrumbs and oregano serve as a stellar supporting cast.

Trupti, may I send this to you for Spring Fling. What a great idea and FABULOUS gifts! Or Spring Bling as I think of it :-D You are such a generous cook and wonderful hostess!


Spring in my step

A whole week of gorgeous weather! (Gasp) Such good fortune! The sun has been shining benignly. The air is sweet and crisp. Magnolia blossoms quaver modestly, fragile white and satin smooth. Tulips nod in the wind, vivid and friendly.

Rituals of renewal traditionally include recreational vaccuming and other manifestations of 'spring cleaning'. I dug around my music, looking for Raga Basant... I have fond memories of spring concerts by the river. This year's Spring music highlight was The City Concert presented by the Rochester Philharmonic. It was quite a treat - The RPO includes faculty at the Eastman School of Music and the concert was at Eastman Theater! In 'Flower City' style, we ushered spring in to the strains of Beethoven, Strauss, Copland and John Williams.

Other spring highlights included a trip to the Ithaca Farmer's Market. Nestling by the river, the market is truly a colorful destination in many ways! Everybody has kind, expressive eyes. The flavors seem fresher, brighter, somehow.

Suitably inspired, a meal was born: Squash and tomatoes with bulghur, sprouted moong bean and raw mango salad. All I did was sauté squash and chuck in some tomatoes. I didn't add spices because I wanted to showcase the simple, fresh flavors of the vegetables but I am sure some ginger and bay leaves would work quite nicely. Bulghur, the husky cousin of couscous is super-easy to cook. As for the salad, I sprouted whole lentils (moong) and tossed in some chopped raw mango (yum!) and lemon juice. Enjoy!

Join fellow foodies as we shop at our local markets. The season has just begun and I'm looking forward to all kinds of goodies through summer and fall. More Spring things at Meeta's gorgeous blog monthly mingle! Don't miss the round-up!

Boy Talk!

In diametrical contrast to my musings at work, where I spend all my time thinking about empirical stuff, and evidence, and what-not, when I trawl for food ideas, I seek experiential wisdom. By day, the left brain calls the shots. At home, its time to turn the left brain off (that explains a lot, no!)

Bureka Boy is one of my favorite cooks! First of all, the boy is a veritable treasure trove of information. Like many newbies, I adore cooks who are perfectionists and share their love of detail. Visit his blog and you will see what I mean.

My fondness for biscotti led me to BB's recipe for marbled mandelbroit. The instructions were fabulous, accompanied by pictures so I knew exactly what to aim for. I made a couple versions, one with pistachios and the other with almonds. I also chucked in some whole wheat flour but the original recipe was wonderfully forgiving.

They emerged from the oven, golden brown and full of that nutty sweetness. They cooled and their texture was perfect, dry, crumbly and not overly hard. Thank you, BB!! and everyone else out there who blogs and shares their know-how. There are a lot of us who count on your experiences.

Who can resist a little coffee with mandelbroit?! Meet more likeminds at Monthly Blog Patrol.