New beer from old favorites

While I fancy myself a pretty adventurous eater, (hello, have you had bull testicles?) I tend to play it relatively safe when it comes to beer drinking. I’m a wheat beer girl, IPAs remind me of the time I accidentally sprayed perfume in my mouth, and anything too red or dark is a chore to drink. At most, I’ll go for citrus notes. I like beers that are light and crisp and go down easy. Boring, even.

:: Shoulder shrug ::

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A few casual afternoon beers

But even though it goes against everything I look for and prefer in a beer, the second I read about Grimm Artisinal Ales’ Sumi Babka— an imperial milk stout inspired by ding ding ding! You guessed it: babka— my mouth practically started watering.

Babka, you see, is one of my favorite things ever, especially the chocolate variety. That soft, doughy swirl of a loaf gets me every time. It’s good with coffee or with tea, topped with ice cream or just eaten one torn-off hunk at a time, and now it turns out, it’s also good in stout form.

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Dark and delicious

Made with cacao, salt and vanilla, the Sumi Babka has a smooth, velvety feel, noticeably chocolatey but not overwhelmingly so, never cloying or syrupy either. At 12% alcohol by volume, it definitely packs a punch but doesn’t taste super heavy or strong. I only didn’t have a second one because Grimm has such an interesting and fun assortment of brews,  I felt I had to make the most of my time and try different ones.

Next time I go, (which I’m hoping is soon because I was a big fan of Grimm’s brewery and taproom) I’ll skip the weiss selections I would normally go for (of which Grimm has several that look good) and beeline straight for that babka stout instead. I’ll just have to bring some chocolate babka with me to complete the experience.

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Beers and brownies… that’s a thing, right?

Side note: In lieu of babka, Grimm does have a pretty delicious chocolate-tahini brownie from nearby Mediterranean spot, Samesa. Speckled with sea salt flakes and made of a creamy, moist chocolate, it’s definitely a bit more on the dessert side than babka, but you know who’s not complaining about that? This girl right here.

Sweet summer lovin’

I’ve hated summer my whole life, dreading its arrival each year and distrusting everything about it, but over the last couple of years, be it cause I’m getting older and wiser or just having better summers, I’ve started to change my tune.

While I still hate, hate, haaaate the heat, the rest of summer isn’t so bad anymore. I like the energy and vibrancy, the feeling of something fun always being just around the corner, the spontaneity in the air, the relief of a cold drink, impromptu picnics, last minute rooftop gatherings, new friends, new loves, new opportunities.

I was walking down east Houston in the Lower East Side, mid conversation with a visiting friend, when we passed Russ & Daughters and a sign in the window that caught my eye: babka ice cream sandwiches! We were on our way to lunch somewhere else but just like that, something new had been thrown into the afternoon’s plans, and after a late lunch a few blocks away, we doubled back for dessert on the bench outside the iconic shop.

Babka and ice cream are having a summer fling and I love it.

Babka and ice cream are having a summer fling and I love it.

A friend introduced me to babka a few years ago and I’ve been a fan of the traditionally jewish loaf-like cake ever since. Sometimes cinnamon, sometimes chocolate, I love the flavored ribbons swirled throughout, making it delicious and fun to pull apart and gobble. And ice cream? Well, ours is a life long love affair.

Russ & Daughters not only used the babka, cut into circular pieces, as the top and bottom of this dessert sandwich, but also in the creamy, cinnamoney ice cream in between. Wrapped up in the same wax paper used for smoked salmon or pickled herring, the babka ice cream sandwich had all the old school charm of this famed NYC institution and a fun, new take on a classic treat.

Like so much of summer it seems, it was unexpected and sweet, a welcome break from the heat, and another fond memory stored away.