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.

How I’d like to survive summer

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Hello, summer.

How any of us musters the will to do anything at all in this sweltering, suffocating, New York city summer heat is beyond me. Showing up to work, going to the gym, running errands, riding the God forsaken moving sweat lodge that is the subway— I don’t wanna do any of it.

All I feel like doing from now till October is sitting in the shade with a frosty drink in my hand and a spread of summery food in front of me and some good company to enjoy it with. That’s not so much to ask for, is it?

It’s what I did recently at Red Hook’s Brooklyn Crab and let me tell you, it was pretty freakin’ spectacular. It was what every summer day should be like.

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THIS! This is how I wanna do summer.

A couple of friends and I sat on the top deck of the open seafood shack, where there was enough sun that we needed sunglasses but also a breeze coming off the water to make it bearable. We had frozen margaritas out of bendy straws, a cold pitcher of beer and lots of delicious, garlic-buttery seafood: a whole platter of Alaskan king, Snow, and Dungeness crabs, and lobster, too, with coleslaw, corn on the cob, roasted potatoes and jalapeño cornbread to go with it. There were oysters and peel-and-eat shrimp and fried calamari, as well, because sometimes, well… it’s summer and you have to celebrate.

It’s too hot to do anything else, really.

Das ist gut!

Those Germans knew what they were doing when they brewed this up.

For my 24th birthday, while I was still living in Italy, a few friends and I went on a roadtrip to Munich. My birthday, which falls on the first week of October, also happens to coincide with the last week of the mother of all beer fests, Oktoberfest. Five of us loaded up into a van and drove the 7 hours overnight from Florence to Munich. When we got there, we spent three days drinking delicious German beer and eating nothing but pretzels, sausages and all sorts of other German carnival food. Needless to say, it was a pretty fantastic birthday.

I was sort of indifferent about German culture and food before going, but after those three stein-swinging, ein-prosit-singing, schnitzel-munching days, I became a fan of all things German. So this Friday, when Flaneur suggested we go to Loreley, a Lower East Side German restaurant and beergarden, I was all for it.

Loreley has a full menu of German eats and brews, and thankfully, lots of English explanations of what all the German means. Afterall, I do not sprechen sie deutch.

Beer and pretzels... simple pleasures

We started off with Drei echte Laugenbretzeln mit Senf which is German for uber tasty, fresh-out-of-the-oven warm and delicious pretzels with a side of spicy, golden mustard. And because it was Friday and time to unwind, we got beers to wash down our bretzelns. Gaffel Kölsch, a Loreley specialty ale from Cologne for Flaneur, and a Schneider Weisse Original, what the menu said was the “Queen of all beers,” for me.

Drinking good beer in big tall glasses really makes you want to swear off drinking things like Bud Lite and really makes you wonder how in the world you were ever able to guzzle cheap beer out of plastic cups all through college. Or at least that’s the effect it had on me.

After practically inhaling the pretzels and all but chugging the beers, we decided to go for round two. This time Flaneur ordered Hofbräu Bock, which is what we drank for those three days in Munich, and it even came in the same stein we had swung around so many times at those long communal tables of Oktoberfest.

Mulled wine and bratwurst.... JA!

I on the other hand, strayed from the beers and ordered a winter time traditional German drink, Glühwein, or mulled wine. Seeing as how New York had gotten pounded by snow the past couple of days, it just made sense to order something that menu specifically said was “perfect for cold days.” And when it came, the warm aroma of cinnamon and nutmeg wafting in the air made me almost forget that I was in the  city and not sitting around a fireplace in a cozy German cottage. Mulled wine for some reason makes me think of cottages, fireplaces, and inexplicably, elves. There were none here, but I’m just saying.

To go with our drinks we ordered another appetizer, Bratwurst mit Brot, a juicy bratwurst sausage with rye bread and the same spicy yellow mustard that had come with the pretzels.

After we finished, full, toasty and warm, we braced ourselves for the cold street again as we put all of our layers back on —the scarves, hats and coats. It was a ways away but I started to wonder if it’s too early to start thinking about a possible birthday in Munich again.