Place: Cure (Upper Lawrenceville)
Date:1/27/12
BYO'd:  1 growler East End Brewing "Big Hop", plus various bottles left over from the holiday season
Corkage Fee:  $3/person
BYO Buzz: Really cool space, good vibe, and great food.  Not for the vegetarian at heart.

Atmosphere: Cozy-farmhouse.  Loved the wood and metal feel (and the hidden little pigs everywhere).  Open kitchen and coat rack made of what looked like something you might see in an actual slaughterhouse. (hence, the name of this blog was born...)

couldn't be happier the great Lawrenceville expansion keeps moving closer to the East End!

Service:  Service was good, we definitely needed a few items on the menu described and our server was very helpful and well educated on the unusual menu.


We had a special treat on this adventure! the husbands joined for the first time ever in BYOBurgh history.  Maybe it was the lure of a new spot, specializing in meat?

Apps

Salumi-lardo , mortadello , pate Campagnola , ciccioli ,chicken rillettes , cornichon, mustard, red onion
We started with the Salumi appetizer (not to be confused with salami) This was one we needed a little help deciphering the listed cured meats on the chalkboard menu, and even after it came out, we weren't entirely sure what we were eating.  But it was good!  There was a bologna with pistachios in it, pickled beets and red onions, grainy mustard, whipped pig lard  "butter" (which tasted surprisingly light), a classy spam that was made up of "pig parts" (thankfully tasteless since L was a little afraid to try the "parts") oh yeah, and rabbit liver.  At least this is what we believe we ate.  It was all interesting pretty tasty. 
Butternut Squash Soup – Venison chorizo , kale , goat cheese , crispy shallots
Still one of our favorites from the night - a creamy, velvet-y butternut squash soup.  perfect thickness for a cold rainy day, huge glob of creamy, rich goat cheese to mix in at your own preference and pieces of kale with just a slight crunch was a great match. It also had a spicy venison chorizo that added a kick to the smooth flavor of the soup. L absolutely loved it and may consider calling it the best butternut squash soup in the "burgh'.  Actually has inspired A to attempt to make a butternut squash soup this weekend.... she'll report back if it goes well....

One really neat thing on the soup was the presentation, the goat cheese and kale fixings came in the bowl and our server poured the hot soup from a cool little kettle thing right on top!

Main Courses

A went with the chicken - really good taste, rustic style, with a weird vegetable that tasted a little like mushrooms, but better (in my opinion)  Also on a bed of black olive polenta - where i totally lucked out and didn't have to share since no one else at the table liked black olives.  And hidden in there were a few cheese curds.  all-around, great stuff.
Pork Rib Roast –apple mostarda , salsify, carrot , bacon, maple
L's hubby went with the pork rib roast and when ask to comment on the taste he said that "it tasted like pig".  Thanks goodness his wife , with a much more sophisticated  palate had a taste.  My opinion is that it tasted like ham.  Just kidding :)  My bite was a very dense and fatty  piece of meat slathered in the salsified carrot, bacon and maple.  Again, another great flavor combination. 
Braised Duck– spaetzle , melted cabbage , mustard, apple
Both L and A's husband went with the duck leg/breast.  The duck was fabulous.  The duck had a crispy skin that provided a crunch while the duck seemed to melt in you mouth.  All who had a taste enjoyed!

Dessert

Pennsylvania Farmstead Cheeses
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chocolate souffle cake with pistachio butter
with one at the table who doesn't like your typical dessert, the cheese plate was a no brainer option, and of course, there's no resisting a chocolate cake either.  The cheese plate included 3 types - a soft brie-like cheese (least fav), a harder cheese, and a blue cheese-ish cheese (fav).  along with a honeyglaze soaked prunes and almonds.

The cake was superlight and fluffy, with a molten chocolate center.  the pistachios butter with sea salt and olive oil was interesting, in color and taste, a little thick and added a lot of rich savory flavor to the dish. another nice taste combo: salty and sweet.

The Drinks

A long time favorite of the groups - our local neighborhood brewery (East End Brewing)'s Big Hop.  Perfect mix of crispness and hops.  Growler from last year's Steel City Big Pour, annual event attended by the gang.

SOOOOO to recap we ate numerous animals this night :  pig, in almost every form, rabbit, deer, chicken, duck.  Needless to say we got our protein in for the day :)
Cure on Urbanspoon
 
 
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As soon as September rolls around, thoughts of college football, Starbuck's Pumpkin Spice lattes and of course, harvest and pumpkin falls beers begin.  Lovers of pretty much all things pumpkin, we thought we'd use this blog as our excuse to have our own taste test of whatever pumpkin beers we could get our hands on over the course of the week.  We ended the shopping trips with 14 beers to try. The night was extremely fun and something we plan to try for "Christmas" beers as well.  However, this time we will know what to expect the next morning...and our readers will know to expect quirky descriptions.  Our way of describing the beer flavor is a lot like the way L gives directions: drive to the red house, make a left and go straight until you see the one place we went to that party that one time where you feel down the stairs, then make a right...scatteredand hilarious .
                                                                                                ENJOY :)

Notably missing from the list: infamous pumpkin beers - Dogfish head Punkin (very good one! but couldn't find at a bar/6 pack shop any where around here) and Southern Tier's Pumpking (A isn't too much of a fan, although it might be the MOST pumpkin pie like beer, the sweetness and strong alcohol aftertaste are negatives to me).

Also notable - guest event attendee and avid BYOBurgh reader Ashley2 also shared in the fun and helped us breakdown all 14 brews.

(the findings on Friday night were worth the headaches on Saturday)


Place: A's house
Date: 10/14/11
BYO'd: 14 pumpkin beers & 2 large Pizza Sola pies
Corkage Fee:  belly scratches for Barley, A's 20lb schnoodle
BYO Buzz: Except for 3-4 brews, it was seeming like all pumpkin ales taste a lot alike

Service:  We treated ourselves pretty well :)
Full Disclosure: Comments should be taken with consideration after about the 6-7th brew tried as our "judgment" may have gotten a little hazy.  You might be able to tell which ones were the last few just by the comments noted.

The original thought/measurement system was to grade each on a scale of 1-3 in the Pumkininess, Spices, and overall beer taste categories, but we kinda forgot to do that so it turned into just a bunch of adjectives worthy of giving you the real deal on these guys.  However we never forgot to swirl it around in the glass and swish it around in our mouth.  True connoisseurs.


(Our Set up -Work in Progress)
In No Particular Order (mostly because we can't quite remember)

SmuttyNose Pumpkin Ale (Utica, NY)
Hoppier, Much more IPA taste.  It definitely had enough pumpkin to distinguish it from other IPAs, but not a ton of pumpkin flavor.  ditto on the spices.  Overall, drinkable, good for those who enjoy plentiful amounts of hops in their beers.

Blue Point Pumpkin Ale (Long Island)
Weaker beer (= easy to drink, watch out!), very little pumpkin taste (as noted by L's husband "I'm not getting any pumpkin here," also nicely referred to as Pumpkin Water... but in a good way.

Hoppin Frog Double Pumpkin Ale (Akron, OH)
This is the big, 22oz bottle in the pic at the top.  Good taste overall,  hint of granny smith apples maybe, very seasonal.  STRONG!  Also taste of cloves present.

Thirsty Dog Barktoberfest (Akron, OH)
This might have been #14 of 14 we tried,  although not a pumpkin beer, how can you resist a fall beer named Barktoberfest?! Plus Thirsty Dog makes some great beers (shout out Akron!-A is an Ohio girl) our thoughts here were it tastes very seasonal, Something you'd want to drink wearing a wool sweater, stouty, tastes like Fall in a Bottle, and a favorite comment on this one: Tastes like raking leaves (but in a good way)

Wolaver's Organic Pumpkin Ale (Middlebury, VT)
Brewed with Vermont Pumpkins! well you can definitely taste pumpkins in this one, wheaty, pale-ale version of a pumpkin beer. Fondly referred to as "Dirt that Works", we think they might have thrown the entire pumpkin, stems and all into the tank for brewing, there was a distinct earthly taste here.  fav comments on this one: something you might drink while in the field spiking pumpkins and wearing a tie-dye shirt and socks with sandals mmmmmaaaaaannnn ; ). 

New Holland's Ichabod Pumpkin Ale (Holland, MI)
While low on the pumpkin flavor scale, this ended up being one of the better all around fall beers.  Good spice level, darker beer... seemed dangerous (based on the headless pumpkin man on the label)


Sarnac Pumpkin Ale (Utica, NY)
"The Natty Light of Pumpkin Ales"... but in  good way.  Light, not real pumpkiny.  More wheaty or yeasty than others.  Good autumn taste though. not heavy on spice either.

Shocktop Pumpkin Wheat (St. Louis, MO)
This was a lighter, most crisp tasting of all beers in this sampling.  Would be good for those warm fall days, not as spicy as others, had a clean, refreshing taste, little pumpkin, more harvest-taste though. Could be a good everyday beer when you want something with more flavor in your wheat beer.

Michigan Brewing Screamin' Pumpkin Spiced Ale (Webberville, MI)
This is DEFINITELY one of those few that stood out from the crowd in Pumpkin ales.  There was a very Holiday taste here, think Thanksgiving + happy hour all rolled into one.  This is one that you can drink slowly and enjoy.  (since it is so flavorful, you probably wouldn't drink more than 1-2 at a time) We could taste vanilla, cinnamon, something that reminded us of cream soda or rootbeer.  Even the smell took your thoughts to turkey, stuffing, and pies.

Buffalo Bill Pumpkin Ale (Seattle, WA)
This was voted "Most Likely to Succeed" by L. although we're still not sure why.  (this might have been beer #10 in line, the notes are getting harder to read).  Good flavor, left you wanting a little more pumpkin, good cinnamon flavor made it nice for early October.  Smooth.  Tasty.  A & A2 "Tastes like beer.... with a little spice"

Taking some creative license after a few rounds:
Brooklyn Brewery Post Road Pumpkin Ale (Utica, NY)
This was also very close to the end... Notes: If you like beer, you'll like this.  Tastes like all the other pumpkin beers.  Tasty, nothing special to call out on spice or pumpkin.  lighter in color and taste

South Hampton Pumpkin Ale (Saratoga Springs, NY)
Good beer taste, seasonal, authentic, ale-y in flavor. Tastes like pumpkins picked at the beginning of harvest, not really ripe or sweet.

Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale (Easton, PA)
THIS WAS BY FAR THE LEAST FAVORITE.  Strong alcohol taste, "cardboardy",  clovey, just ok drinkabliity,   more Christmas than fall holidays.  After going back through all 14 for their second try..."its not SO bad..."

O'Fallon Pumpkin Beer (O'Fallon, MO)
Another one that kind of blends in with the crowd.  Good, seasonal.  notable spice (cinnamon, clove, autumness), lacking in pumpkin flavor.  overall a good one.
After all was said and done, these 5 were the winners in our very humble, slightly tipsy opinion.
From L-R
O'Fallon, Buffalo Bill, Screamin' Pumpkin (Michigan Brewing), Post Road (Brooklyn Brewing) and SmuttyNose
 
 
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Place: Kline's Wine Cellar/Shop
Date: 4/24/11
(Pardon the photography, taken in dimly lit basement with iphone3)

To celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary, my parents took their love of wine (and each other… aww) to Napa Valley, CA.  Definitely a place on my list of things to do as well – 7 years later they still talk about their trip and different wineries they visited and the food.  And of course, best part which we get to reap the benefits from – shipments of wine from their favorite wineries –Biale, Vincent Arroyo, Chapellet, Kosta Browne and Pride.  So Easter Sunday morning while all the other kiddos got to search for lame eggs,  my dad allowed me to “shop” his collection, I was a little more than thrilled.


Of course there were the “that’s my favorite, don’t take it”, “don’t even think about it” and “oh yeah, that’d be a good one for you, we have lots more ,“ but definitely came back with a nice little sampling (except Pride – they aren’t giving up those, but we do have a bottle my parents gave us for our engagement waiting for our anniversary to pop open.)
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Look for them to be featured when we BYO them soon!

(PS the Easter bunny also brought Brian a nice surprise, the “OHIO Microbrew sampler” featuring beers from Great Lakes, Thirsty Dog, Buckeye Brewing , Cellar Rat, Fat Heads and more, they’ll be sure to get some face time as well)