Melanie Cooks: From Lard to Picture Pies

Hi guys!  It’s summer, and that means it’s time for my favorite summer treat-cherry pie with ice cream!  The trickiest part is the crust, but my friend Melanie is an excellent cook and wrote up her favorite recipe for you-it’s ALMOST as good as my grandma’s ;-).  (Anna’s note:  you can use regular sweet cherries, but they really REALLY aren’t the same.  It’s worth finding an orchard where you can pick the sour ones!)

My great-grandmother always said ‘Lard makes everything taste better.’ She’d be devastated to know that I’ve shirked my duties and use Crisco in my pie crusts instead. Alas, we all can’t be as great as our elders! She would be happy to know, however, that I continue to use her original ‘Picture Pies’ cookbook.

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I’ll stand by these pie recipes til the end; you know it has to be a good book when it has everything from true mincemeat pies to eggnog pie to lemon fluff pie! But for today, in line with the upcoming 4th of July holiday, we’ll stick with good ol’ traditional cherry pie.

Ok, I’ll admit, I’ve had my share of failed pie crusts over the years, but sticking with my Picture Pies crust has gotten me to the point of being able to make a scrumptious flaky crust that I can’t resist. Here is the original recipe:image_1

The key to a good pie crust, in my opinion is cutting the lard (or in my case, Crisco) into the flour and salt and then handling it as little as possible after mixing in the water and rolling it out!

My favorite part if any pie is deciding what to fill it with! Since my aunt and uncle live near by and were kind enough to allow me to steal some of the sour cherries off their tree, this pie filling was an easy choice.

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There were so many cherries on their tree this year, I had an easy time picking; I stood in one spot and ended up with enough cherries for three pies! I made one and froze the remaining cherries for future pies.image_3

In case you’re not a cherry expert, they do have pits and pitting these guys can be tricky without your handy-dandy cherry pitter, that we common folk call a bobby pin. Yes, that’s right: poking the bobby pin into the cherries and popping out the pits left me a juicy, stained mess but it was definitely worth it in the end!

I used about 5 cups of cherries, a cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of flour, nutmeg and cinnamon to taste and a few pats of butter on top before putting on my top crust. I admittedly don’t always end up with the most beautiful pies, but they sure do taste wonderful, especially ala mode on these hot summer days!

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Here’s a piece for you, Anna, for allowing me the opportunity to guest post on your blog.  Thank you and until next slices – Toodleloo!

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Sushi Bar, Broadripple

I would probably never have tried this place if foodie friend Abby hadn’t suggested we give it a shot last Friday night.  Sushi Bar is newish and has a high rating on Urbanspoon, but I usually try to avoid Broadripple on the scallywag nights of the week for parking and congestion reasons.  But we are adventurous so we made reservations for 8 pm and braved the crowds to check it out.  Photo Jun 21, 8 14 34 PM

I don’t actually have too much to say about Sushi Bar.  We ordered from across the menu and were all pleased with our food, and the prices weren’t too high.  But I would never be tempted to go back-the service was THAT bad.  Photo Jun 21, 8 14 30 PM

I love going out to eat-the whole experience.  Picking a restaurant, scouring the menu all day, dressing up, the whole thing.  So basically for me, nights out start at a high basal level of happiness, and service or food has to be pretty bad for me to end the night grumpy.  I’ll list my problems in bullets to keep from ranting.

  • Sushi Bar was full on a Friday night and had about 4 people working aside from the 2 chefs.  It looked to be an adequate number of servers, but everything was beyond slow. We spent the better part of 2 hours waiting for our entrees and then another 20 minutes waiting for someone to take our payment.  My drink was refilled twice in the two and a half hours we were there and both times a member of our party had to flag down a a server to get refills.  And the flagging down was not easy.  We also had to flag down someone to take our payment.  I’m still not sure who actually got my abysmally low tip, because nobody really seemed to have assigned tables.

 

  • The food took probably a full hour to arrive once we ordered it, and the sushi for 3 of us came about 20 minutes before the bento box for the 4th.  This led to the starving 3 eating their sushi and feeling bad about it, and the 4th being hungry and then eating alone.  I understand there may be a lag, but this was just way too long.  It also wasn’t addressed at all.  Because we had no server.

 

  • The bathrooms were just gross.  I’m pretty generous about these things but I leaned against the wall in the hall while waiting for my friend and it was palpably sticky.  Just don’t.

The positives of the night were that the sushi was tasty and the price wasn’t bad.  We ordered pork and vegetable gyoza for an appetizer.  Gyoza are always delicious and these were especially good because they came at about 9 pm and we were famished.  Photo Jun 21, 8 35 31 PM

We also got a teriyaki chicken skewer that left a bit to be desired visually but had wonderful flavor and nice crispy bell pepper.  Photo Jun 21, 8 37 51 PM

Sushi selections were, L-R,

Asparagus tempura roll, Spider rolls, California Roll (Top), Spicy Tuna roll (bottom), Jaguar Roll. (I’d elaborate on the Jaguar roll but the restaurant has no menu listed online)Photo Jun 21, 9 14 16 PM

The only complaint we had was that the spicy tuna roll was of the chopped-into-a-paste variety, which isn’t my favorite.

I had a Spider Roll and salmon nigiri, both of which were great.  Not better than anywhere else, but soft shell crab and salmon are just usually pretty good.Photo Jun 21, 9 14 21 PM

We also had a bento box with a spicy tuna roll, shrimp and vegetable tempura and an entree of beef wrapped around green onion which was very nice.  The bento box was served with soup and salad.  Photo Jun 21, 9 24 43 PM

Since the menu isn’t listed online, I can’t give prices for the items, but the bento box, Spider roll, salmon nigiri, and both appetizers plus a large Sapporo and a non-alcoholic drink was $51.  Definitely a good value and I can see why this place has a good approval rating based on the sushi.

In summary, I would go back for takeout if it were the closest place to me, or possibly for lunch if it were the closest place for me.  But there are SO many other solid sushi places around with comparable prices, easier parking and much better service that I’m just disinclined to ever try Sushi Bar again.

http://Sushi Bar on Urbanspoon

Bosphorus Istanbul Cafe

I know I keep saying I don’t really particularly care for Greek/Mediterranean/Middle Eastern food and then going and eating it anyway.  But seriously, I’m usually not a huge fan. Not that it’s ever bad, I just order a kebab every time and it’s like “Cool, meat on a stick with some rice.  Check, please”  The most notable exception to this personal preference is Bosphorus Istanbul Cafe in Fountain Square. I’ve been dying to revisit ever since foodie friend Abby introduced me this winter.  And it’s not just me-this place has amazing ratings on Urbanspoon and Yelp.

Bosphorus is not in the “main street” of Fountain Square, but in a row of cheerily-colored houses just north off the interstate on East St. Photo Jun 14, 8 21 24 PM (1)

The whole place has a warm cozy vibe that’s backed up by an owner who makes Regis Philbin look antisocial. You know when someone chats you up for five minutes when you call to make a reservation and has a “I AM TURK” license plate, they’re going to be a character.  This guy does not disappoint.  He wore a Pikachu tshirt and talked to EVERY person in the place-half of them understood his accent and ALL of them loved him.

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I would estimate the cafe has about 20 tables, and both times I have been in, this little place has been packed with people (packed as in all tables occupied, not as in my-neighbors-are-bumping-me-like-sardines.  Talking to you, Patachou.)

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With reservations we were able to snag a spot on the deck on a perfect summer night. The service was a tiny bit slow but perfectly acceptable for such a rush hour.

We opted to try the Borek appetizer, “flaky pastry filled with feta cheese and parsley.”  I was surprised to discover the pastry shaped in tubes like those Pepperidge Farm Pirouette cookies, but these were like little savory cheesecakes and every bit as delicious.

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I would also note that they (an other appetizers here, like the falafel) are served on about a half cup of hummus with pita wedges.  So if you’re debating whether to get the obvious hummus or try something new, ask the server if the “something new” comes on hummus.  Two birds with one stone!  On that note, the hummus is tasty but milder in salt and garlic than many.  Definitely good, but if you’re a fan of super flavorful hummus, maybe try something else.

For dinner, I wanted stuffed eggplant, the dish Abby had on my first visit.  For those of you who don’t know me, this may sound like a natural choice.  However, I don’t think I have EVER ordered off the vegetable-eater’s menu in my life.  The menu describes this dish as “Baby eggplants stuffed with onions, tomatoes, garlic, green peppers, roasted pine nuts, topped with cheese, served with rice.”  It also has raisins and mushrooms, which you can clearly see in the filling but are inexplicably not listed on the menu.  If I hadn’t tried Abby’s, I would never in a million years have ordered this dish, since 1. I don’t care for half the ingredients and 2. There’s no meat.  Photo Jun 14, 8 49 27 PM

But it’s just awesome.  It reminds me of golumpki and goulash’s love child born in Turkey.  I really can’t describe it except to say that it’s delicious enough to make me reconsider every food preference I have.  It also comes with deliciously seasoned rice (maybe a mild vinegar dressing, I’m not sure) and salad tossed in a tangy vinaigrette.  Perfection.  I was able to eat the whole thing at the urging of the owner, who said it was bad luck to leave food on my plate.  How do you argue with that?

Phil got the beef kebab, which is what I had on my first visit.  This is my standard order at any restaurant of this genre, because it’s never bad.  But it’s hardly ever this good.  Perfect char on the beef, perfectly (lightly) seasoned, simple and wonderful.  Also served with that awesome rice and salad and some roasted vegetables.  Photo Jun 14, 8 49 02 PM

For those of you who are health-conscious, please take note of the generous amount of vegetables and meat compared to the amount of rice.  This is pretty typical of Bosphorus: appropriate amounts of food with guilt-free ratios of rice/bread to vegetable/meat.  The prices are very reasonable and I don’t feel like I’m paying for fillers like rice and pita.  I think our whole meal (minus dessert) was almost exactly  $40 before tip, including 2 non-alcoholic drinks.  Not at all bad considering every single thing I put in my mouth was oh-my-gosh wonderful.

We finished with baklava, of course.  The pieces were perfectly small and delicious.  Normally baklava is too sweet for me, but this seemed to have more vanilla and less honey than normal and was the perfect end to the meal.

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Well, actually the perfect end to the meal was the hookah bar next door (literally in an attached building but owned by different people, if I’m not mistaken)  If you visit on a weekend like we did, I’d recommend making a night of your trip to Bosphorus with coffee and hookah next door after your meal.  Nice atmosphere, not too crowded, good music.  Photo Jun 14, 9 38 42 PM

Please do yourself a favor and head to Bosphorus for your next dinner with friends or date night.  It’s just so so good.  Actually, please invite me.

A couple of notes because I’ve gotten questions:

1.  Bosphorus is a place you could dress up to visit or a place you could wear jeans.  I wore jeans this time and a dress and heels last time and felt totally comfortable in either, and there were people there in both. I know my girls want to know which places they can use as an excuse to dress up and this is one 😉

2.  As a personal rule, I don’t tell owners or staff that I’m going to write about their restaurants-at least not until after the meal.  If I had a great experience and plan to write a glowing review, I have occasionally mentioned it if they ask how my meal was so they can read the review.  However, I want to know how the experience normally is and how my friends will be treated if they visit.  Not that I’m anyone worth bending over backward for, but just in case!

http://Bosphorus on Urbanspoon

K&T Deli-cious

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I’m not proud to admit it, but when K&T Deli was recommended to me by foodie friends Nick and Alice as “Dirt cheap and authentic Vietnamese food,” I was fully prepared to write a hole-in-the-wall blog:  “You can ignore the grungy floors and flickering lightbulbs because the food is so good” type of deal.   I will still tag it as a hole-in-the-wall  because it’s small, limited English-speaking, and located in…an interesting part of town, but honestly, K&T is way too nice for that moniker.

The first thing you notice about K&T is that it’s pretty clean inside.  This isn’t one of those things I like saying, but you all know what I mean.  It’s tidy, it’s bright, the tables and chairs all match.

The second thing you notice is that you have no idea what to order because everything looks tasty but all kind of sounds the same.

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I’d been told the pho was delicious, so we ordered a bowl of#30, the Pho bo, “rare beef and rice noodle.”  The server told us “rare beef” actually meant “beef flank, tendon, brisket, and tripe,” but that he could leave out the…connective tissues if we wanted.  Well, I didn’t come for Campbell’s, bring it on! Photo May 15, 1 32 44 PM Photo May 15, 1 32 49 PM

The pho was $7 and literally came in a 2 quart bowl.  At least.  I didn’t realize it from the menu, but it was clearly intended to be shared.  It was served with a plate of amazingly fresh bean sprouts, jalapenos, lime, and what looked and smelled like Thai basil.  The pho itself was a very simple beef and rice noodle in a rich beef broth, enhanced with only white and green onion.  Between two of us, we were able to eat almost 2/3 of the pho, but seriously contemplated staying all afternoon just to finish.  (In case you were wondering, the 1/3 we left did include all the miscellaneous animal bits.  I’m not proud, but I’m also not hungry for tendon.  Oops.)

The pho was tasty and I will absolutely have it again.  But what I was really excited to try was a good pork banh mi.  Banh mi is sort of the Philly Cheesesteak of Vietnam. Literally, the phrase refers to bread, but ordering one usually yields a sandwich with cucumbers, julienned pickled carrots and some type of meat or tofu.  It’s become very hip lately to make dishes “inspired by” a banh mi, and I’ve had plenty of those, but never tried the actual sandwich!  When I saw a pork belly version listed on the extensive menu of banh mi options, you know I had to pick it. Photo May 15, 1 36 35 PM

This thing.  Holy cow.  The first thing I noticed was the perfection of the bread.  Soft and easy to bite through, but so crispy on the very outside that my shirt was covered in crumbs.  Crackle, crackle.  There was just enough pork belly that you could taste it, but this wasn’t a meat sandwich, per se.  This sandwich was an exercise in balance.  Crispy, mellow cucumbers, tangy pickled carrot,  flavored with cilantro and pork and what I think was a touch of mayonnaise-like dressing.  I could have eaten six.

The last thing I noticed about the sandwich was that is was THREE. FREAKIN. DOLLARS.  Ok, actually $3.50.  The man who was helping us pick lunch said his personal favorite was the sardine banh mi, and let me tell you, I won’t make it a week before going back to try it.  For that price and that amount of perfection, I could eat one every day.  Unfortunately, the banh mi aren’t listed on the regular menu, so I’ll just have to go take a photo of the list for you.  So soon.

Ok, I confess, I went back before I could even post this and tried the sardine banh mi and it was fabulous.  I also tried the egg rolls, the charbroiled pork chop, and the beef and noodles.  Guess what?  They were all excellent!  And cheap!  Photo May 19, 3 27 18 PM Photo May 19, 3 22 48 PM Photo May 19, 3 22 12 PM

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The drink menu was almost as extensive as the food menu and included a variety of things I’d never heard of, like sugar cane juice and avocado smoothies.  Don’t laugh, but I’ve had a decades-long aversion to avocados stemming from an unfortunate bout of gastroenteritis very close in chronology to consumption of guacamole.  Since I realized I actually love them (about a year ago), I’ve basically been shotgunning them to make up for lost time.  Naturally, therefore, an avocado smoothie was ordered.  Did we want boba, fruit jellies, or lychee?  Um…let’s try all three. Photo May 15, 1 34 38 PM

There’s really no way to describe this drink, except to say it was silky and smooth and mildly sweet and perfect.  Even if I said it was awful, you know you’d have to go try one now that you know they exist.  So just go try one.

While we’re on the topic of ethnic food, allow me to rant for a moment.  I’m always irritated when I go on Yelp and people are like “Pffffffft!  Trust me, I’m from San Francisco (lived there for a year while trying to be a musician!) and THERE we have WAYYYYY better *insert ethnic or specialty food*. This isn’t authentic at all!”  1. You sound like a pretentious ass.  2.  Does everyone’s Grandma make the same chicken noodle soup?  Does every American make apple pie the same way?? No!  When I review food, I try to decide whether or not I like it, period.  I realize that comparisons are natural, but they should have basis:  this bread wasn’t cripsy enough, I like sweeter sauce, etc.  Please don’t expect that your taste is the same as everyone else’s and if the sauce was too sweet for you, that means it was too sweet period.  Nobody cares that the one cup of coffee you had in Brussels or wherever Daddy paid for you to spend freshman summer was SO much better than this. End Rant.  (By the way, everyone on Yelp loves K&T Deli.  But even if they didn’t, I would.)

The moral of the story is this:  I’ve never been to Vietnam.  I’ve never been to a Vietnamese restaurant.  But this place was fantastic and I loved it and you should give it a try. You’ll probably see me there.

http://K & T Deli on Urbanspoon

Phil Drinks Indy: Black Acre Brewing

Hi everyone! As you know I accompany the pale and peckish one on most of her taste-ventures. Today, I will be writing about Black Acre Brewing Company, and I will warn you: this post is long. I highly suggest going to their website to get a feel for it, and I also recommend going there. It is the best, well alright, only spot I know of in Irvington.

Black Acre Brewing Company is a small batch artisan brewery and tap room located in the Historic Irvington neighborhood of Indianapolis with a focus on unique, specialty beers along with a few traditional favorites.

Small? Yes. Artisan? Yes. That word has been cheapened by people with marketing degrees – artisan wheat thins anyone?- but this place certainly lives up to the original meaning.

Photo Jun 07, 4 59 34 PMThe first thing you will notice when walking into Black Acre is the size. It is not a hole in the wall, but it’s small enough that it could be filled very easily on a Friday or Saturday night.

Photo Jun 07, 4 59 17 PMThere is a small wooden stage that doubles as an elevated seating area, and that is where we sat. We had a table with a love seat and two chairs, an odd and cool combination that worked out with our group.

Photo Jun 07, 4 59 41 PMThe room was a pleasant volume when we ate, and there were sparingly few empty tables. Now on to the FOOD!

We had the Crostini Plate ($8), a plate of baguettes from a local bakery with tasty toppings. The toppings we opted for were the Capocollo with house tapenade, the Sun dried tomato and goat cheese spread. and a brie and sliced duck with arugula and fig preserves.

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All of them were delicious, especially the goat cheese with sun dried tomatoes. Goat cheese tends to slap you around a bit with its pungent flavor, and the tomatoes dulled the punch of the cheese while adding in more tasty-ness. The Capocollo with house tapenade was okay, I am really not a fan of olives so I crossed it out of my mind before we even ate it. I love brie, so naturally that was tasty.

We also ordered sweet potato fries (1/2 off before 6 PM, $2.75!). Now let me tell you, you need to experience these for yourself. I know, I know, even fried bung will taste like calamari. But these fries, oh man, they were TAST-E.

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I wish I could transmit fried potato texture to your mouth, but sadly the internet doesn’t allow for that yet. The fries were not extremely crispy, but had a good bite to them and were not soggy. They were just the right stiffness/meatiness ratio. We had all three aolis with the fries: garlic aioli, chipotle aoli, and apple butter. I stuck with the chipotle, being a fan of all things spicy, but the other two garnered rave reviews from the group.

On to the beer! We ordered 2 flights of 5 oz sampler sizes, with two extra glasses of other things and a barley wine beer on the side. Before you read the beer reviews, understand that nearly every beer here is above average. I don’t mean better than Bud Light, I mean better than other craft brews. I have been to some of the other breweries in Indy such as Flat 12 and Sun King. While they both have unique beers, it is not the same as this place. Nearly everything exudes quality and tastes so, so good.

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Architect’s Breakfast (Rye Whiskey Barrel Aged Coffee Stout) – By far my favorite beer. This dark delicious beer has great spice to it. It is strong, tastes like coffee, and finishes smooth with a bite.Weighing in at 7.4% this is a fairly hefty beer, though not as much as other stouts I have drank. Which is good, cause I want more.  The pale one, normally not a fan of hefty stouts, was a huge fan as well.

Fair Wind (Porter) – This beer is pretty delicious, with a nice dark burnt flavor. I like it, although if I personally would reach for the Architect’s breakfast before I got this. It’s definitely got a unique taste to it, some whisky comes through when drinking it.

Green Tea Pale Ale – Decent pale ale, but to be honest, I didn’t really catch much of the green tea taste. It was good, but if I were looking for something pale from here I would not reach for it first.

Hipster Bird (Black IPA) – I have no idea what makes an IPA dark, but it was pretty darn delicious. If I wanted an IPA and I was here, this is what I would get. It was not as bitter as many other IPA’s even though it has a high IBU (127) and a whopping 9.7% alcohol content!

Lunch Break (Pale) – This beer could definitely be a staple for me. With a name like “the lunch break” and a simple smooth, not too sweet or bitter taste, it delivers standard quality. This is something you could bring to any party or outing and be satisfied while exploring new brews.

Ol’ Fritz (Berliner Weisse) – This is my favorite non dark beer from here. When I drink this, it is like a delicious wheat beer with an awesome dryness/fruitiness that is kind of like a good dry white wine. The Berliner Weisse is refreshing like citrus drinks, and would be excellent for those that don’t drink beer often. This beer would go excellently with a summer BBQ, or anything in the summer, really.

Valve (California Common) – This beer was a bitter lager, and it was tasty. Good clean finish. It seems that it is really difficult to make a good lager, and I think Black Acre has hit a pretty sweet spot here. I just think they have such excellent beers that this does not stand out among the others.

Stone Brewery’s Old Guardian Barley Wine – This beer is a delicious barley wine, and apparently has been the reason for a lot of my friends getting into craft brews. As evidenced by the name,this is not a Black Acre brew but an illustrious guest tap. It’s wonderful getting it here instead of a liquor store – because it is a lot less expensive and it is fresh. It was great, sweet & smooth with not a lot of carbonation. It also packed a punch (as a style barley wines tend to do that.) Yum.

There was only one beer I did not like, and it was the blonde ale. It was a little skunky.  This sentiment was echoed in the wrinkled noses of our entire group.

My overall experience here was excellent. Nearly everything I drank was not just ‘good’, but delicious. Honestly to have that many beers on tap that are that great is a feat. I would highly recommend this place to anyone. Cheers!

TL;DR: The beer here is delicious, best to try, IMO, are the Berliner Weisse and the Architect’s Breakfast. Get the sweet tater fries.

http://Black Acre Brewing Co on Urbanspoon

Bakersfield Mass Ave.

I’ve been wanting to try Bakersfield since it opened about six months ago and the buzz began.  One of the things that’s been keeping me from reviewing Bakersfield is that it is usually incredibly crowded and I have very little patience for that sort of thing.  A friend of mine recently had cause to celebrate during a very low-volume time of day (about 5 on a Tuesday), so I voted to try this place out.  Photo Jun 04, 5 14 27 PM

A lot of people don’t know this, but Bakersfield is actually a chain, albeit a small chain, with at least one branch that I know of in Cincinnati.  The concept of the restaurant is ” …inspired by a city (Bakersfield, CA) known for spawning an era of music called the Bakersfield Sound. The “Sound” was a reaction to the slick, pop country music coming out of Nashville. It was firmly country but had more of a rock n’ roll influence, and was a bit less polished than other records of the time.”  This means there is always pretty loud country music playing in the restaurant.

The interior has a Restoration-Hardware-Meets-Rodeo feel to it:  it wants to be gritty and cowboy-industrial but tries way too hard.  There are giant upended barrels for tables.  That said, the whole restaurant opens to the outside via massive windows lining the front wall, which compensates for the lack of outdoor seating and makes this a great spot for a summer night drink.

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The Bakersfield theme gets a little confusing at this point  “Bakersfield CA was a small agricultural city with Mexican influence. Therefore Bakersfield will be throwing down Mexican-influenced street fare with a focus on tacos, tequilas, and whiskeys.” Now, I love whiskey, but the thought of drinking it with a taco is just plain confusing for me.  Nevertheless, they have their story and they’re sticking to it.  The menu consists of basically tacos and tortas.

Christina and I decided on house margaritas, which I had heard were good, and chips and guacamole.  I’d had their Milanesa torta on a previous visit and was rather underwhelmed, so I decided to try a taco on this trip.  I picked the crispy mahi taco with tabasco lime sauce and citrus slaw.  Christina ordered the short rib torta with caramelized onions, chihuahua cheese, arugula, black beans, and roasted tomatillo salsa.

I’ll start, as did our meal, with the positive, which is that our drinks and guacamole were outstanding.  The guacamole comes in a cup that looks small but must contain two whole avocados.  This guacamole is one of my favorite restaurant guacamoles-giant chunks of avocado, lots of garlic, no raw onion.  Aces.  Photo Jun 04, 4 30 26 PM

The margaritas were perfectly sweet and salty and disarmingly strong.  Even with the chips and guacamole, I had to walk this one off for a bit.  It was delicious and at $6, put Bakersfield right near the top of my list for a drink with friends.

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The meal got a little disappointing from there.  My fish taco was beautiful but tiny-literally a 1 oz piece of fish-and the taste was a bit subtle for me. And $4 for that tiny of a taco is a little ridiculous.  The whole thing was over in 2 bites.

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Christina’s torta was more substantial and reasonably priced.  The braised shortrib was very sweet and barbecue-like, but the flavors were unremarkable.  It was a fine sandwich, although nothing the more authentic tortas I’ve had.  Not that authenticity is a requirement for me at all, but don’t have expectations of a sandwich like the ones you’d get from Super Tortas.  Basically this torta was like eating a good pulled-pork sandwich.  Photo Jun 04, 4 48 21 PM

Another note, which I’m sure was a fluke but probably would have improved my experience a significant amount, was that the limes served with everything I ate seemed to be having a really rough day.  You can see in my photos:  absolutely not one drop of lime juice could be elicited into my cocktail or onto my taco.  I love citrus juice and I think limes are actually kind of a big freakin deal for a Mexican place, so I hope this was just a one-time bad order.

I will never suggest Bakersfield if a friend asks me for a good place for Mexican.  But If I’m on Mass Ave on a warm summer night and I need a drink and a snack?  Absolutely!  It’s got an outdoor feel, cheap tasty cocktails, and decent snack food.  There’s a reason this is where the beautiful people are.

http://Bakersfield Mass Ave. on Urbanspoon

Jay Drinks Indy

400613_10151611777500272_1413547808_nI’ve wanted to write something about beer for quite sometime so naturally I could not pass up an offer from the lovely Anna to write in her blog! I think we are really lucky in Indiana to have so many quality breweries at our disposal. Here is my take on a few of the local Indy ones and some of their beers:

Flat 12

I really love Flat 12. An additional perk of living downtown is that it is extra convenient to bike (fairly close to the Monon) or run to this microbrewery. They have a neat indoor area (shopping cart chairs !) and a great deck outside to soak up some sun and drink up some fine brews. A couple of beers to try are their Half Cycle IPA (their bread and butter), Double Pogue’s Reserve (bourbon barrel porter), Upside Down Blonde (currently chilling in my fridge) and their Walk-About Pale Ale (has some Aussie hops and a really interesting passion fruit flavor).

Another awesome quality about this brewery is that they do a lot of cool seasonal type events. Around the holiday season, look out for their 12 Beers of Christmas tapping. They will literally tap 3-4 new beers a week for several weeks. They have something called the Glazed Ham Porter that I’ve been dying to try that they exclusive release around this time.

Sun King

This brewery is actually my least favorite of the Indy breweries. Though I admire their boldness in trying to make a unique craftbrew, they just seem to be off in making them taste right. That said, this is the only place you can try Montezuma’s Revenge (cream ale with roasted red peppers) for Cinco de Mayo. Which was pretty bad. I’ve gone consistently for the last 5-6 months and can’t say I have been impressed. But here are some pros:

1) Free tasting on Thurs-Sat. is great and costs free forty free (how could you pass up some free beer?)

2) Their Friday $5 growler (64oz) refill specials on classic beers is a steal and

3) Their Bike to the Ballpark event is so much fun!

I might have just bashed them a little but I practically fill up their Osiris Pale Ale every week. Look…here is proof (excuse cheeky pic of me with a growler):

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It’s a great citrus beer with a mild bitter taste that even my friends that hate bitter beers love. It’s great to share with friends and won’t break the bank. Also, look out in the fall for their Java Mac. It’s essentially the coffee infused variant of the Scottish Ale Classic they are well known for. As much as I didn’t like some of their recent seasonal beers, I could never stop giving them a shot. It’s like the child you really want to see succeed…and I think they will!

Bier Brewery

I only recently did I pay a visit to this brewery for the first time. I was really really really really times infinity impressed. First of all, who the hell drew this!? It’s amazing. JDP3

Just like their chalk boarding skills, their beer brewing skills are quite exceptional. They rotate their beers every week so I have not had the chance to hone in a favorite beer. In fact, they claim that they have not had the same beer lineup for a given week for 1 year, 6 months, 5 days, and 4 hours (since their inception). WOW!

On the week I went, I tried the Roggenschnizzle (seriously who can pass up a beer with a name like that), the John’s Porter, and the P.D.G. (Pretty Damn Good) Pale. I’m a sucker for pale ales and the PDG Pale was as crisp, flavorful, and hoppy like an IPA. I haven’t had too many pale ales like the one at Bier. The plethora of medals on their wall are clearly well deserved.JDP4

Also word on the street is that there is an Optimus Prime statue lurking around their brewery. Go visit ASAP before he must deploy with his fellow Autobots to fight Megatron 🙂

History of Beer Beerfest Connor Prairie

I had the unique opportunity to go to Conner Prairie and get drunk like it was 1865.  This experience included VIP passes (courtesy of my baller friend Sam and his mother Mrs. Logan), an all you can eat buffet, a fancy glass with which I could sample as much beer as I wanted, and coupons for several full sized beers of my choice. YAY!

There was also this guy:JDP5

Because, you know, it’s history and ‘merica loves its guns and booze. Simultaneous with historic gunshots, I also had a chance to sample from ten breweries around Indy. Here are a few that made an impression:

Fountain Square Brewery (Fountain Square area SE of downtown): I’ve only had their Pilsner and wasn’t a fan. Must research with MOAR BEER! It’s on a hip side of town too and definitely worth exploring. I’m sure Anna’s blog will keep you posted on great places to visit.

Thr3eWiseMen Brewery (Broad Ripple): Awesome pizza, cool place to hang out during the ball game, and a killer 8.00% ABV Centenial Martyr Double IPA. I also noticed they have a Hubbard and Cravens edition Porter that I am very interested to try.

Triton Brewing Co (NE of I465 in the Lawrence area)- The Rail-Splitter IPA is a great hoppy IPA without going overboard in the bitter department.

Barley Island Brewing Co (Noblesville): I’ll forgive the fact that they are from Noblesville, especially since their Sheet Metal Blonde is among the best blonde beers I’ve had. On a hot summer day, a refreshing blonde ale would certainly hit the spot.

Union Brewing Co (Carmel): I won’t forgive these guys for being from Carmel but I’ll certainly try their beers out. It’s right off of the Monon and certainly a good place to take a break after a long bike ride. They also have a porter that matches the ‘tude of it’s name: The Sassy Pants Porter.

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On that bombshell, I hope you’ve enjoyed and, maybe, learned a few things from my post. This is an awesome blog run by Anna and really goes a step beyond what your average Yelp! review can do. I am truly happy to be a contributing writer on this blog about one of my favorite hobbies.

The great thing about being a beer drinker is that everyone has a different opinion about beers (like anything and everything). I love hearing what other people think about beers and listening to someone’s perception of the beer they drink. “Beer is proof God loves us and wants us to be happy,” said a notable founding father. What better way to be merry than to hang out with some friends and share the product of a brewmaster’s diligent and delicious engineering!?