Category Archives: Guest Contributor

Cook Hall’s 2014 Grand Finale Beer Dinner

Cook Hall’s grand finale of its 2014 Beer Dinners was grand indeed, and the pairings with Community Beer Company’s local selections made it even better. We were welcomed at the door with a glass of “bonus” beer (score), putting us all in a jolly mood right off the bat.

1menu

Roasted Cauliflower and Parmesan Soup greeted us shortly after we were seated at the community style tables. I felt right at home because this soup perfectly emulated my grandmother’s signature holiday casserole dish (only much lighter, and sans the two cans Cream of Mushroom Soup). It was fresh and light, loaded with freshly-shaven Parmesan and garnished with herbed oil.  This was paired with Pepe Nero from Goose Island. I found the Pepe Nero to be fairly mild, and a smooth introduction to the meal.

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Out came the Sesame Chicken Nuggets with Black Pepper and Lime Aioli, paired with a Trinity Tripel from Community Beer Company. These nuggets of deliciousness were perfectly juicy, not overcooked, and crusted to perfection. I wanted three plates … but I knew there was so much more to come that I resisted the urge. (Tough life.) The Trinity Tripel was a perfectly golden, citrusy and spicy brew that went nicely with the lime aioli. This was my favorite beer of the night, by far. Shout-out to the local Community Beer Company!

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Just when I thought my palette couldn’t be merrier, the Foie Gras Brûlée with Spiced Fig Jam and Toasted Brioche was presented. It was delightfully buttery and there was just enough salt to cut the richness from the brûlée. The Spiced Fig Jam screamed “holiday”, and that decadent combination was complimented by the Belgian strong dark ale, Inspiration, another Community concoction that boasts a 9.6% ABV. (It’s a damn good thing they serve such a large meal to go with all of this beer.)

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I’m a fan of all ribs … but I definitely love me a good short rib. These glazed short ribs, served with herbs, roasted carrots and puree, were a thing of true beauty. Not only did they melt in your mouth, but they were packed with a powerful punch of sweet and savory and blended perfectly with the Delirium Noel (Brouwerji Huyghe). This beer is a strong, dark amber ale loaded with citrus notes and, in my opinion, was an excellent pairing. PLUS the bottle had cute little pink elephants in Santa hats, so, what could go wrong there?

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It was time for the grand finale of the grand finale … Banana Crème Pie, Walnut Shortbread and what sounded like the most interesting beer of the evening – Voodoo Doughnut Chocolate Peanut Butter and Banana Ale from Rogue. It was interesting, indeed. We were instructed to taste the beer first, alone, and then experience it with the food. I was not a fan of the beer by itself, as it was quite dark, dense, and very bitter. Yet, when paired with the Banana Crème Pie, it miraculously transitioned into a sweet, chocolate cappuccino-like dessert in and of itself. The fresh whipped cream just melted and caramel mixed with walnuts and fresh banana chunks oozed out of every bite.

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At this point, my table seemed to be fading into a heavenly food-and-brew coma, but I was steadfast in my pursuit. I finished it. Every last little bite. Oh, night divine.

Check out cookhalldallas.com to find out when the next Beer Dinner will be hosted … and get your stomach ready for this gastronomic extravaganza.

Whisler’s (Austin, TX)

Written by Jaime Cawyer

Being from Austin, I was over the moon to have the chance to check out one of their newer bars, Whisler’s. Located in ever-growing East Austin, Whisler’s feels like it’s been there forever. The small indoor bar is perfect for small talk with your more than qualified bartender and the outdoor patio would be ideal for you and your group to sip all night. Whisler’s specializes in cocktails that are creations of their very own staff and I was lucky enough to have GM, Cesar Aguilar, concoct some of their latest drinks for me.

whisler's

Aguilar truly believes that he and his staff are never done learning and innovating when it comes to their cocktails. They create the menu by having the bartenders create their own cocktails and submit them to be on the seasonal menu. I had the pleasure of trying the fall menu of winners.

The first drink I tried was the simple and light Eastside Queen (vodka, lemon, and cranberry-rosemary syrup). If you like vodka (and I do!) then this is the perfect cocktail. Needless to say, this was something I would order a couple of in an evening.

eastsidequeen

Next I tried the Pink Lady (gin, apple brandy, lemon, honey, grenadine, and egg white), which tasted like I was drinking a cloud…a delicious, gin-filled cloud. This drink is sweet and creamy- definitely a hit with me. I probably would have claimed this one to be my favorite … until I found the next drink.

pinklady

My last drink was the I Yam What I Yam (butter-rum, meletti amaro, sweet potato shrub, and bitters topped with a roasted marshmallow). Yes … yes, you did read that right: Thanksgiving goodness … in your mouth in an easy-to-consume liquid form. (Stretchy pants not required.) This was, by all means, my favorite cocktail of the night. Sweet potato shrub is not something I had ever tried (or really had ever heard of) and I was apprehensive. I wasn’t sure it would translate into a cocktail. Foolish! It adds just the right amount of savory to counter the butter-rum and when you take a sip, while smelling the just-roasted marshmallow … well it’s just heaven.

iyamwhatiyam

The last thing we’ll mention is Whisler’s Oaxacan-style mezcalería, Mezcalería Tobalá. It’s a smaller bar upstairs carries a plethora of mezcals in half-pours to taste or full-pours.

Whisler’s is open everyday from 4pm-2am and is currently still serving their fall cocktail menu. Be sure to stay tuned for all of their future sure-to-amaze seasonal cocktail lists and be sure to ask who created your drink!

WHISLERS
whislersatx.com | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
1816 East 6th Street, Austin, TX 78702
512-480-0781

Frankie J + Dr. Pepper at the House of Blues

Frankie J. performed an intimate concert during the Dr Pepper One Of A Kind Concert Powered by Pandora at the House of Blues on October 22, 2014.

The eventful night was kicked off by DJ Big Syphe, and the fun continued with an open bar and photobooth. Frankie J had the crowd dancing with old favorites along with new songs off his latest album “Faith, Hope y Amor”.

Thanks, Pandora, for the fun evening!


About Frankie J | 
Frankie was recently nominated for 2 Premio Lo Nuestro Awards and a Grammy and is currently in the studio working on a follow-up to 2013’’s Faith, Hope y Amor, which is slated to be released later this year via Universal Music. This album also marks the reunion of long time friends and producers Happy Perez (Miguel, Mariah Carey, Mary J Blige) and Play n Skills (Lil Wayne, David Guetta, Pitbull).

Carly LeMay
Written by Carly LeMay

Event Recap: La Marca Happy Hour at Times Ten Cellar

I am lucky to have some friends who can pinch hit when my day job heats up.  Thanks to Rachael Kohler for stepping in! (She’s also a legit sommelier, so her notes are going to be better than mine ever could be anyway!)  


written by Rachael Evans Kohler

Times Ten Cellar hosted the event, and was as rustic yet elegant as ever.

I was lucky enough to grab a minute with Carmen J. Castorina, Director of Communications for E&J Gallo Winery, and wine maker of La Marca, Fabrizio Gatto.  Both gentlemen were extremely charming and very enthusiastic on America’s perception of prosecco, and particularly the big interest from Texans!
I had the good luck to sit next to Meredith Steele, a food blogger/freelance food writer.  Her perception of the wine was interesting because she instantly commented on how friendly the wine was to the charcuterie we were enjoying. Not all wines are pleasant around cured meats, aged cheeses, and spiced sauces!
  • La Marca is now a DOC* and produces 35% of all prosecco in it’s designated region- biggest producer
  • They only produce this sparkling wine using the Charmat method, basically fermenting the juice in large tanks rather than inside the bottles as they do in Champagne.  This keeps it very light, fruity, and fresh.
  • They are not  trying to make a serious, intense, yeasty champagne-style wine, but rather a fan-pleasing style that goes with anyone, any food, and any time.
  • They’ve come a long way in the last 8 years, from two guys driving across the US trying to sell this unknown wine, to flying around the country to meet the demands of interested buyers.
  • The blue label and packaging are extremely close to “Tiffany Blue”- a point they swear is just coincidence … but one that works in their favor!
For the hour that I was there, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  La Marca accomplished its intensions by opening up conversations, turning strangers into friends, and the demise of a delicious appetizer by everyone at the table.
*DOC means ”controlled designation of origin”.  Basically it is a classification of where a product came from. Read more.