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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A White Boy's Thai Curry

Despite being a Caucasian, I find it quite easy to be influenced by a city where Asian and Latin American restaurants & culture are more prevalent than ever. San Jose, CA is home to thousands of immigrants from Mexico & Central America, Vietnam, India, and Thailand. So whether it's food trucks or sit-downs on the downtown strip, San Jose offers a plethora of foreign cuisine I aim to delve into at home.

Today, I present to you an easy way to cook a Thai-inspired curry using a fairly simple set of ingredients. Curries, from whatever country or region, are complex dishes with a variety of spices and vegetables, but I've found a way to simplify the cooking process and get a similar (and tasty) result.

Nick's "White Boy" Thai Curry (yields 1 dinner-sized portion for a hungry dude):

  • 1/4 cup steamed Basmati rice
  • 0.5 lb skinless chicken breast
  • a handful of brussels sprouts (alternative veggies okay)
  • 0.5 bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 cup Thai curry sauce (yellow used in recipe)
  • salt, pepper, and red pepper powder (other spices welcomed)
I've purchased all these ingredients at Trader Joe's, including the curry sauce, which tastes good and will save you plenty of time.

Overall preparation time will be approximately 45 minutes. You will need two burners, a skillet or saucepan, and a small pot for your rice. I've pre-boiled my rice, but you can simultaneously handle rice and curry.

  • Fill up your steaming bowl and bring it to a boil. Put the rice in and boil for approximately 15 minutes. Then strain and let the rice dry.
  • While your water is coming to a boil, heat your saucepan to a high simmer level and add the curry sauce & spices.
  • Once your curry has warmed up, add the brussels sprouts. You can either pre-boil the brussels sprouts in advance or turn the heat up once they're in the curry sauce to expedite the process. Either way, you'll need them to cook the longest.
  • After 15 minutes, add the chicken.
  • Five minutes later, add the sliced bell pepper.
  • Continue cooking on a simmer-to-low level so that you preserve some of the curry sauce. You'll want the bell peppers and brussels sprouts to be moist and tender.
  • Mold your rice into a mound and pour your curry, sauce and all, over the rice.
Believe it or not, there's rice under all this!
While you're at it, consider serving your curry with a Singha Thai lager or with a floral or citric pale ale/IPA such as Anderson Valley's Hop Ottin' IPA or Firestone Walker's Pale 31.

More delicious recipes and colorful beer commentary to come!

You Stay Hoppy California,

Monday, August 13, 2012

Indeed it has been aeons since I last posted something on CaliBrew. Shame on me for letting down any audience I had left and for leaving my passion for craft beer laying in a vat full of trub!

A resurgence in my interest for beer has inspired me to get back to CaliBrew. As someone with a deep writing background, I see this as an opportunity to become more vocal in the social media sphere and to use my writing to express my ideas and opinions. And what better way to do this than sit down with a pint of...what did I try yesterday...Knee Deep Tanilla Porter...and bust out some good old fashioned prose!

That said, it's going to take more than just beer reviews and brewery trips to make this site work, which is why I'm also going to use CaliBrew as a means for expressing my love for food and for cooking. I'll do my best to relay this back to beer (for example, what beer would I enjoy my beer with?) and not make this a foodie-focused site only, but I believe that, since food and beer are integral in developing a culture, the ways in which we learn to appreciate them both are something I can articulate well. As a matter of fact, it's only fitting I link you to my Yelp page; I'm mostly reviewing eateries around the San Jose area, but I'm open to expanding to other venues should I travel and whatnot.

So cheers and bon appetit to all of you out there! I'll leave you with a little teaser for a pasta primavera recipe I put together. This recipe serves approximately three people: 
  • 1/2 zucchini
  • 1/2 squash
  • 1.5 cups bowtie (farfalle) pasta
  • a handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 6-8 minced garlic / 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper
Begin with boiling your pasta for approximately 8-10 minutes. The pasta should be a little firm so that it holds its shape while it chills. Saute the vegetables, garlic, and spices in 1 tbsp of olive oil.

Combine with the pasta in a mixing bowl and add 1 tbsp olive oil, the balsamic, additional spices, and 1 to 2 tsp grated parmesan. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Serve with fresh basil leaves for presentation.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Happy National Beer Day! Let's make that Beer Weekend...

Hey Howdy Hey,

So over the last couple days I've heard through Twitter chatter that today is Nation Beer Day. Happy National Beer Day to you! This marks the 78th anniversary of the Cullen-Harrison Act of 1933 which ended prohibition. Of course, craft beer did not emerge as a renown alternative to large breweries and pre-prohibition styles of beer until the 1980s, but without beer, where would we be? That said, I invite you to kick back and relax this weekend with a pint in your hand. Beer Day will hopefully become Beer Weekend for many of us out there!

Remember when I brought up a couple new ideas to bring into my blog? Well, things are looking promising! I'm slowly but surely improving my site here and I'm getting more active on Twitter and YouTube. Getting a younger crowd interested in craft beer is one of my goals, and I think it's time to bring that to the forefront while using beer in California as a focal point/standard. That said, I'm conducting a survey as to what young people's beer preferences are. Will they favor IPA or Hefeweizen? Or will more people answer that they don't drink beer, or nothing outside of Budweiser or Keystone Light? From there, I will examine the socio-cultural context surrounding this and shine some new light on the slowly fermenting craft beer culture of the US and California. Looking forward to this. Cheers!

You Stay Hoppy California,

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Skands: a Danish Craft Brewery

Brew Brethren,

Come gather 'round, for I have a story to tell! I figure now would be an appropriate time to take a break from my beer reviewing and focus a little more on beer experience. With that, I take you back to Fall, 2008 in Copenhagen, Denmark. 

Denmark, exporter of Carlsberg and several other well-known beers around the world, is home to a craft brewery scene that, on a smaller scale, mirrors what we have going on in the United States. Small but strong organizations are allaying together to preserve Denmark's reputation as a beer consumer and fuel the innovation that beer has seen elsewhere (particularly in the States). That's my nugget of an intro.

Skands, a small brewery in the Copenhagen outskirts, is one of these breweries that draws on the successes of Denmark's beers and additionally strives to produce some fun, clever varieties. The co-founder, Birthe (pronounced a little like "Beer-duh") Skands, worked for many years at Carlsberg, so she already brings a lot to the table. I had the fortune of visiting this brewery, which volume-wise is about the size of a barn. You have a couple small vats and, as I recall, a bottling line, plus a couple nice tasting tables, and that's about it. I'm not sure if they do any public tours, as like many Danes they prefer to keep their appearances modest. 

I visited this little gem of a brewery with my international marketing class, which at the time was taught by a Danish gentleman who had worked for Royal, another fairly large Danish brewery, and Pepsi out in New York (he was basically the younger Danish version of Michael Cane both in looks and demeanor!). So this could not have come together any better.

In this class I was to create a detailed marketing report as to how Skands could enter an international market. They [Skands] were pretty set in their Danish confines but were working out a deal with a Japanese airline company, thinking it would be good to take an emerging beer market and present to them a tasty standard to hold and appreciate. Skands had already seen their sales increase as well as their audience; at this point, they were distributing their beer to the Whole Foods equivalent, Irma. In addition, Skands was also creating customized brews, for which I'm sure they would charge a pretty penny (it's expensive over there!). Now where have you seen something like this before? Sam Adams Utopias? 55% abv "beer" that comes in taxidermied animals? This is something that, even if on a smaller scale, definitely happens overseas as well.

With Denmark, there is no distinct popular style of craft beer. The Danish pilsner might be the closest guess. It's not spicy like a Czech pilsner and can vary from moderately malty, such as the popular Tuborg, to lightly hoppy. Skands' Danish pilsner, called Hymlefryd (something like "Hoom-leh-fru"), is, to my recollection, more on the hoppy side of a pilsner. I don't remember liking it at the time, but I'm sure I would upon second taste. Danes are also known to import the British and American IPAs as well as produce rye ales. If you look at a previous review, you'll see I found this style of beer out in California. Furthermore, Denmark thrives on "Julebryg," or "Christmas Beer," during the months of November and December. That's a rich story in its own!

Looking at this diverse beer portfolio, we go back to Skands, which incorporates styles from all over the world. From their Danish pilsner, to their English pub ale, to their Christmas beer and dark Czech lager, Skands has just about something for everyone. All you have to do is cough up a couple dozen kroners (Danish currency) at Irma and you will enter a familiar, but unique world of Danish craft beer. I had sampled Hymlefryd, Elmegade IPA, New Stout (Czech dark lager) and a couple others and overall enjoyed them to the point at which I sought them out in my remaining weeks abroad. I even drank a bottle of Elmegade IPA on my 21st birthday over there, and even though I was in my freezing studio in my sweats and had no one with which to consume, I will always remember it as a happy time. Hmm, it seems as if Danish humor has rubbed off on me as well!

You Stay Hoppy California,

PS: I've got more to come, so stay tuned!
Check out Skands!