Event Review – 2014 Philly Farm and Food Fest


 

2014 Philly Farm and Food Fest

This past Sunday, Mrs. G-LO and I dropped the kids off with their grandparents and headed in to Philly for a couple hours of grazing at the Philly Farm & Food Fest (the organizers were kind enough to give us a couple of media passes). For those of you that are not familiar with this annual event, here is a bit more information taken directly from their website:

In 2011 Fair Food Philly and PASA (Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture) teamed up to create a new annual marketplace for farmers and local food producers. Our shared goal was to assist small businesses in growing their bottom line by providing a low-cost venue accessible to a diverse audience of potential customers.

Fest is also a fundraising event for Fair Food and PASA, with proceeds going to support our non-profit educational and technical assistance programs for food producers.

The first Fest was held in 2012 and drew nearly twice as many visitors as expected. Since then Fest had grown exponentially each year. 2014 marks a doubling in size from our first show, and will feature:

      • Over 150 exhibitors
      • Libations Lounge guided tasting of local spirits, beers, wines
      • Shellfish Salon guided tasting of local oysters and clams
      • A distinguished speaker and panelists
      • Cooking demonstrations
      • A Marketplace of select restaurants supporting local farms
      • Health & beauty products, sustainable service providers, and much more

The event was held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center Annex on North Broad Street and was spread out across three different areas on the ground floor. It was essentially a huge Farmer’s Market with an incredibly diverse selection of food and drink made in and around the Philadelphia area. Cookies, bread, ice cream, popcorn, popsicles, coffee, tea, soups, pickles, cheese, jerky, jam, candy, and so much more was available to sample. If you’re the type of person that likes to sample a wide variety of food, then this is definitely the event for you.

Going from vendor to vendor and sampling their wares was great fun, but what intrigued me most about the event was the Shellfish Salon and Libations Lounge…

The Shellfish Salon was an opportunity to sample oysters and clams from South Jersey and the Chesapeake Bay via a tasting seminar hosted by Sam Mink of The Oyster House. During the tasting, we were able to try several different oyster and clam varieties while we listened to representatives discuss the many different aspects of oyster and clam farming. Topics ranged from the health benefits of shellfish to the environmental impact of what they do. It was a very well run tasting and as an added bonus, we were able to sample some truly delicious shellfish.

The Libations Lounge took place on the other side of the room and was essentially four different tastings led by representatives from various Philadelphia area based “adult beverage” producers. Our 3PM session featured Dad’s Hat Rye Whiskey, Frecon Farms Cider, Sly Fox Brewing Company, Stonekeep Meadery, and Weyerbacher Brewing Company. Each representative was given around 10 minutes to talk us through what we were tasting and to tell us a bit about their company.

While the Sly Fox and Weyerbacher beers were tasty, the most interesting parts of the session involved the cider, mead, and rye whiskey, mostly because they all offered something that was very new to both me and my better half. Dad’s Hat brought a barrel aged Manhattan, Frecon brought two different sour ciders, and Stonekeep brought two different types of mead. All were really interesting and we definitely enjoyed the opportunity to expand our “adult beverage” horizons. My only quibble (love this word!) would be with the format of the Libations Lounge. While I truly enjoyed listening to all of the presenters and sampling their products, I thought that it was a bit too formal. I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word lounge, I think comfy seating, dim lights, and a big bar, not banquet tables and upright chairs. Here’s hoping that they tweak the format a bit for next year so that fussy, spoiled, and overindulged people such as myself will have one less thing to whine about.

Overall, Mrs. G-LO and I enjoyed our time at the Philly Farm and Food Fest. It definitely gave us a greater appreciation for all of the hard working and imaginative people that are helping to cement Philadelphia’s reputation as a destination for superb food and drink. We are definitely looking forward to attending it again next year!

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 Many thanks to the good people at Fair Food for providing us with media passes. Cheers to all of you!

Beer Review – Evil Twin Brewing Bikini Beer


Eviltwin Brewing Bikini Beer

Here’s what Evil Twin Brewing of Denmark has to say about their Bikini Beer

Named after atom bomb test grounds, designed by a French car engineer – the bikini was to many a disturbing and degrading creation but fortunately for others a symbol of emancipation. This is attractively light bodied, seductively well balanced and very drinkable Bikini Beer is anything but a sissy beer.

And here’s my take…

I’ve heard of Evil Twin Brewing, but I can’t say that I’ve ever tried any of their beers. Much like Mikkeller, Evil Twin is based in Denmark. Also, much like Mikkeller, Evil Twin is a “gypsy brewer”, i.e. they don’t have their own brewery and essentially use various facilities around the world to brew their beers. Interesting concept, but is their beer any good? That’s what we’re here to find out!

When I picked up this can of Bikini Beer, I had no clue what I was buying. I liked the graphics and the fact that it was in a can, plus it was from a brewer whose beers I had never tried before, so this was essentially a must buy.

When I grabbed the can from the fridge for a Friday night beertography session, I finally read the back of the can to find out a bit more about this beer. When I discovered that this beer had an ABV of just 2.7%, I immediately mentioned this to Mrs. G-LO. Here’s what she said:

2.7%??? What the hell is that gonna taste like?

I gotta admit, that first sniff piqued my curiosity! The nose is very grapefruit pithy with a definite bitterness coming through, but there’s also some lightly sweet biscuity malts in there to lend some balance. As far as the actual taste, I was expecting thin and watery, but was pleasantly surprised that a beer this low in alcohol can have such a substantial mouthfeel (just so you know, Miller 64 has an ABV of around 2.8%, and let me tell you, that beer tastes like flat, beer flavored seltzer. Actually, comparing it to seltzer is an insult to seltzer). Starts off bitter as any IPA should, then sweetens just a touch at the middle. Ends on a slightly bitter and mildly astringent note.

Given the thousands of pieces of Lego that are strewn throughout my house, and the very positive things that we’ve said about that other Danish gypsy brewer’s offerings, I would say that the Booze Dancers are very Denmark friendly (are you listening Bang & Olufson?). Evil Twin’s Bikini Beer definitely shatters my preconceived notion that flavorful beer has to have a high ABV. It’s far from spectacular, but it’s still pretty darn good.

“It’s just the booze dancing…” Turns Four!


dancers

Dancing booze! Yay!

The above photo, which was created by Jon of the Pastrami Basket blog for our 4th Blogiversary, is what the fourth year of “It’s just the booze dancing…” was all about, i.e. collaboration and making connections. While there were plenty of beer and whisky review posts this year, there were also numerous occasions when we had the opportunity to either meet up with other bloggers or have them help us out with a post.

Here are just a few of the collaborative things that happened over the past twelve months:

As you can see, it’s been an interesting and fun filled year on the “It’s the just booze dancing…” blog. Once again, we’d like to thank all of our friends and loyal readers for keeping us inspired throughout the year. We couldn’t do this without you. Cheers to all of you!

Beer Review Poetry – Great Divide Lasso IPA


Great Divide Lasso IPA

A guy named Lew digs session beer,

So that you can drink it for hours with a bit less fear!

When it comes to IPA, this Booze Dancer likes them bold,

With a firm hop bite that won’t leave you cold.

Founders and Stone have gone the Session IPA route.

I have tried their attempts thinking they might be a hoot!

They’re solid brewers with a gold standard line up,

So if they bring something new to the table, you know that I’ll show up!

All Day IPA was thirst quenching and quite a delight,

But Stone’s Go To lacked their signature arrogant bite.

In comes Great Divide with this Lasso IPA.

A session worthy beer is what they did say.

At 5% ABV, you might have quite a few,

And you might even gain the respect of the aforementioned Lew.

While I love how this beer looks with its clear pale orange color,

The aromas are subdued and make me yearn for some other (beer that is).

There’s a wee bit of pine, and a smattering of citrus,

But for whatever reason, I’m not excited to drink this.

Perhaps it’s my mood which is all kinds of fickle,

Or perhaps it’s just my taste buds that aren’t yet tickled.

When I take that first sip, I am somewhat relieved.

This beer isn’t bad, I am no longer peeved!

There’s a smattering of sweet malt and a subtle hop bite,

I’m enjoying this Lasso, it’s quite a delight!

Now this beer isn’t earth shattering, and it won’t blow your mind,

But I still think you should try it, it might just be your kind!

Listen to Us Talk About Irish Whiskey on this Month’s WhiskyCast Virtual Tastings


Mark Gillespie

The great Mark Gillespie at The Barthenon!

Mark Gillespie is either a glutton for punishment, or perhaps he genuinely likes us, because this past Saturday he invited us to record yet another episode of WhiskyCast Virtual Tastings. Not only did he invite us, he even took his show on the road and recorded the March 2014 episode at the Barthenon, i.e. Limpd’s kitchen where we spend a lot of time conducting our extensive adult beverage research.

For this month’s episode, Mark went with an Irish theme and selected three very different Irish whiskies for us to nose, taste, and discuss. Mark brought two of the whiskies, i.e. the Paddy blended Irish whiskey and Redbreast 15 single pot still Irish whiskey, while Limpd raided his basement whisky bunker and selected a bottle of Tyrconnell 14 year old single malt Irish whiskey.

If you too are a glutton for punishment (or perhaps you actually like us and think we know what we’re talking about), click here to give a listen to the Booze Dancing crew and our good friend Miracle Max talk about the goodness that is Irish whiskey.

If you too would like to take part in a future episode of WhiskyCast Virtual Tastings, be sure to email Mark at comments@whiskycast.com (be sure to put “Tasting Panel” in the subject line of your email).

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Once again, many thanks to Mark Gillespie for tolerating our booze infused banter. We had a glorious time!

Boozing and Disney Cruising Part Two


Sunset in Nassau

Sunset in Nassau

If you’re a regular reader, then you are well aware of the G-LO family’s last vacation which was a four night cruise aboard the recently “re-imagineered” Disney Magic. For our second Disney Cruise in under six months (this time around, we went on a three night cruise aboard the Disney Dream), Mrs. G-LO and I decided to leave the kids at home with the grandparents.

Before you start saying things like “You went on a Disney Cruise without your kids? I’ve never heard of such a thing!”, let me begin by telling you that this was a triple celebration, i.e. my better half’s (the legendary Mrs. G-LO!) 10th anniversary of her 30th birthday, my 47th birthday, and our 15th wedding anniversary. Fine dining and drinking were on our agenda, so leaving the kids at home was ABSOLUTELY mandatory!

Your next question is probably, “But can you do any of that on a Disney Cruise? Isn’t it all Mickey Mouse, chicken fingers, and juice boxes?”. And my answer is: Yes, Virginia! You can wine and dine to your heart’s content, and no, it isn’t all Mickey Mouse, chicken fingers, and juice boxes.

Here are just a few of the highlights from our short, but extremely enjoyable vacation delivered to you via a few photos. Since Disney Cruise Line allows you to bring your own alcoholic beverages aboard, I decided to pack a couple whisky samples that I received from Limpd and Aaron. That being said, I will also include some rum and whisky tasting notes.

A Visit to John Watling’s Distillery

John Watling’s Buena Vista Rum

  • Age: 5 years old
  • Barrel: Virgin American Oak
  • Color: Deep amber. I might even call it bronze.
  • Aroma: Caramelized pineapple and banana. Dark brown sugar. Vanilla. Nutmeg.
  • Taste: Very smooth with just enough alcohol burn to remind you that it’s 40% ABV. Silky mouthfeel with a bit of spice mixed with those sweet and fruity notes that I picked up on in the nose. The flavors are consistent from start to finish. Very subtle and easy drinking. I’m far from a rum expert, but I definitely enjoyed my generous pour of John Watling’s Buena Vista Rum. It would be a great after dinner drink to have along with dessert.

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Castaway Cay, Disney’s Private Island in The Bahamas

 

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Whisky Tasting

As you can see in one of the above photos, there wasn’t anything particularly unique or exotic on offer during the 90 minute whisky tasting that I signed up for, but it was still a very relaxing and enjoyable time. The woman that led the tasting did a really nice job of keeping us informed and entertained, and I tried my best to not act like a douchey know it all, i.e. I tried not to comment every time she asked a question.

While the tasting didn’t give me the opportunity to try anything new, packing a few whiskies for sampling in our stateroom more than made up for it. Here are tasting notes for two of the whiskies that I sampled…

Longrow Red Cabernet Cask Peated

  • Appearance: Pale copper color.
  • Aroma: Peaty fruit or fruity peat? I’m not really sure which way to go. Definitely a different whisky. I picked up dried figs, strawberry jam, light brown sugar, vanilla, a hint of pipe tobacco, and licorice.
  • Taste: Light bodied. Starts off with a healthy dose of licorice and peat smoke. At mid palate there’s an odd mix of sweet fruit and light spice. The Cabernet cask influence shows up at the end with a red wine tannin-like astringency. Medium finish with a lingering combination of smoke/licorice/red wine tannins.
  • ABV: 52%

Definitely one of the more unusual whiskies I’ve ever had. I like the potency and how it starts off, but the finish puts me on the fence. Love the smoke and fruit, yet confused by the wineyness. I will say this, I can never call this whisky dull.

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Scapa 16

  • Appearance: Pale amber color.
  • Aroma: Lightly spiced fruit scents. I’m thinking baked apples made with cinnamon, nutmeg, honey, and vanilla.
  • Taste: Definitely has some weight to it thanks to a lightly oily mouthfeel. Flavors are concentrated on the front 2/3 of my tongue. A bit of brown sugar and honey sweetness at the onset immediately followed with a soothing baking spice type heat. Levels off as you approach the finish. Ends on a lightly spiced and fruity note.
  • ABV: 40%

A smooth and flavorful whisky with a lovely balance of sweet and spicy flavors. As is usually the case, I would love to try this at a higher octane. FYI, this went really well with the smoked gouda that we ordered from room service as a pre-dinner snack.

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A Few More Photos…

While it would have been great to get away for more than just a 4 day weekend, I have absolutely no complaints about our time spent aboard the Disney Dream. Maximum fun with minimum effort. It doesn’t get much better than that!

Whisky Review – Crown Royal XO


Crown Royal XO

We’ve already reviewed the Crown Royal XR and Crown Royal Maple. Now it’s time to review their newest whisky, Crown Royal XO. Here’s what Crown Royal has to say about their latest expression:

This is no ordinary reserve quality whisky.

Crafted by the Crown Royal Master Blender, XO furthers the Crown Royal® signature blend from 50 of our finest whiskies, and then finishes them in cognac casks. Resulting in both an extraordinary complex and smooth expression, Crown Royal® XO is an elegant whisky that is deliciously balanced with hints of vanilla, spice and rich dry fruit.

This extraordinary blend is best enjoyed neat or on the rocks.

In case you couldn’t tell, I’m not in a back story kind of mood, so let’s just get on with our tasting notes…

Talk about a very generous sample! Loved the flask like shape of the bottle.

Talk about a very generous sample! Loved the flask like shape of the bottle.

  • Appearance: Pale copper color.
  • ABV: 40%
  • Aroma
    • Limpd: A little astringent then a good bit of citrus (orange bitters). Once I work past that, there’s a good bit of sweetness, i.e. candies sugar orange slices followed immediately by the expected maple syrup notes. Also getting a bit of caramel.
    • G-LO: This smells like what I imagine a barrel aged whisky cocktail would smell like. Getting lots of candied orange peel, bitters, and botanicals, along with some maple sugar (it is Canadian Whisky after all!), and a hint of peppermint.
  • Taste
    • Limpd: Very light mouthfeel with a definite Manhattan Cocktail quality. It’s almost as if I can taste the Vermouth, bitters, and Rye whiskey when I drink this.
    • G-LO: It even tastes like what I imagine a barrel aged cocktail would taste like. It’s reminds me of drinking a very dry Rye Manhattan. Everything in the nose carries through to the palate with some candied orange peel, maple, mint, and rye spice.

The Verdict

The Crown Royal XO was definitely a unique and unusual drinking experience. We’re both curious to try this chilled alongside a Rye Manhattan to see if our impressions were accurate. While we both enjoyed it, I doubt that we’d buy a full bottle, especially given it’s $50 suggested retail price. Definitey worth a try, just not sure if it’s worth the asking price.

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Many thanks to Taylor Strategy for providing us with this very generous sample!