Monday, May 31, 2010
Better yet, Zoe picked up an idea from a cookbook for skewered and grilled fish, which we adapted into Cod-Kabobs. Cod is a fairly firm fish, and suits itself well to riding a skewer and hanging out on the grates. Just as long as your grates are clean and oiled, when done, all of your fish should remain on the skewer and off the grill.
We took two pieces of cod which I cut up into roughly one inch cubes. The cod was threaded onto skewers along with cherry tomatoes. The skewered fish was then covered with olive oil, rolled in panko breadcrumbs, and seasoned with salt and pepper.
With the grill prepped for direct medium heat, the skewers were grilled for approximately 10 minutes and fliped once half way through. It is easy to see when the cod is done, as it begins to flake easily. Be sure to take them off the grill before they are overcooked.
The Cod-Kabobs were a nice way of having something rather boring. The tomatoes and panko added a different texture and taste which I imagine I will turn to...when needing to eat healthy, that is. Now to be completely up front, Zoe thought she didn't buy enough fish. So, in order to placate me, she picked up a bone-in ribeye too. Yes, I ate healthy fish...but I also ate some great beef too. Old habits die hard I suppose, but at least I had them both without chips.
Sunday, May 30, 2010
As time went on, I used APP as a place to document my backyard exploits. During this process, I have met some great people (IRL and otherwise) and I believe, learned a lot about food, grilling, and beer (and not just because of consumption, mind you!). This has always been a hobby for me. The only professional training I ever received was from the guy at ACE Hardware explaining how to fill up a propane cylinder.
Internally, I have always felt my writing suffers from a grammar standpoint. This I hang entirely on my 7th grade English teacher who through her inability to teach, stunted my understanding of the English language. This train wreck of a learning experience explains why, still today, I grasp with dangling participles, misplaced modifiers, and commas.
So, imagine my surprise when I was contacted by two editors who wanted to hire me as a freelance writer for a new magazine. Hitting Barnes & Nobles and Wal-Mart Supercenters across the country this month is Grilled and yours truly is involved. For the first issue, we used some historical content from this site including a recipe and pictures. Better yet, one of the pictures was used for a Stephen Raichlen recipe!
Starting with the next issue, I will be writing original content. I am excited, but nervous at the same time. It is easy to kick back and upload a grammatically disastrous post about a frivolous topic of my choosing. It is something else to have an assignment, deadline, and an editor. I feel especially sorry for the editor.
Next time you are at the store, pick up an issue. I am not just saying this because I am in it. This really is a great magazine. I still have not had time to absorb the entire issue. There is some great content and some great pictures. I am really proud to be a part of its launch.
In closing, I would like to thank you. If it was not for my circle of food bloggers, friends, and weekly readers, I would not have had the encouragement and support for this blog. I also need to thank Zoe. She puts up with enough from me as it is and here I am adding one more thing to my "to do" list! I owe you all my thanks and gratitude for giving me the ability to have this new venture. Grill on!
Friday, May 28, 2010
After a great two weeks in England, it is back home, and more importantly, back to the grills. Although it shall only be a two day weekend for me, I shall grill like I have all three.
While I continue to assimilate myself back into the real world, I encourage you to check out last year’s What’s on the Grill Memorial Day post for ideas on holiday weekend grilling. Also, check out today’s Memorial Day post on Lifehacker. The Lifehacker post first ran a couple years back and includes one of my pictures (one I happen to not like…ironic….ehh?), as well as some of my suggestions on shooting food (which at the time solely consisted of: get close!).
I will have some other exciting news this weekend, as well as some hot food on grill action! Grill on, and Happy Memorial Day!
Monday, May 24, 2010
Saturday, May 22, 2010
I have promise of awesome steak early eve tomorrow if yr interested -come on what more can we offer?
Nothing Matt, not a thing. I was in!
Earlier this month, Matt & Cat gave a rave view to The Bay Grill, a new restaurant in Ryde. The dynamic restaurant review duo are not ones to throw accolades around easily. They recognized The Bay Grill as an up and coming dining destination and placed its hopeful long term success on the hard work and leadership of Chef Ryan Burr.
It is from Chef Ryan the steak invitation stemmed. Per Matt & Cat, Chef Ryan claimed to have the most excellent steak for us to try and even wagered our satisfaction versus the bill. The hook had been set.
The Bay Grill has about 15 tables and sits atop a cafe which overlooks Appley Park, the beach, and the Solent. The view is incredible and the weather was absolutely perfect. We sat outside on the terrace taking it all in.
First up, the beer. The Bay Grill serves Estella Dramm in frozen goblets. Having been on a huge ale kick the last couple weeks, on a warm day, this cold Spanish lager hit the spot.
Next, the menu. Although Matt and I knew we were having steak, there were several things on the menu that caught my eye. I like to eat local. Especially on the island. The menu provided ample opportunities to do just that. Sausage, chicken, steak...it ran the gamut.
Before I get into the meal, I first offer a slight confessional: I'm a meat snob. As even the casual reader of this blog knows, I kneel at the shrine of red meat. I have also experienced, that on the whole, most English do not enjoy their meat like I do...meaning mooing several seconds before landing on my plate. At home, I have mastered the crazy task of grilling two pieces of meat, medium-rare & well done, so they come off the grill at the same time. It truly is ying/yang grilling.
I have eaten out a lot the last two weeks, and although steak has always been on the menu, I have not ordered one thus far. Instead, it took the invitation of Matt & Cat to help me chance fate. Can I find a steak I like in England? Well gang, the answer is yes.
My first clue was when Chef Ryan suggested the steak be served medium-rare. I'm fairly certain, but I believe, somewhere, I heard angels singing.
The steak was topped with garlic butter and served with mixed greens and frites. It.was.awesome.
Chef Ryan told us the steak comes from a local Isle of White farmer and was butchered in the kitchen. He explained further how most steaks arrive in cryovac. He believes, and I agree, that there is something different about getting a whole side of beef and cutting it on premise.
The steak, the frites, the greens, the beer, the view, the company...It was all great.
Chef Ryan confess his efforts with The Bay Grill is all teamwork. There are only three people on staff. As an outsider, I think he is really on to something. The Appley Grill has location, it has great food, and it has great people. I really hope it does well so I can make a return trip on our way back to the island. My thanks to Matt & Cat and Chef Ryan for the invite. I had a great time and hope to be back soon.
Friday, May 21, 2010
We took the other day to have lunch at one of my favorite places on the island, Culver Haven. The pub sits a top Culver Down, a wind swept barren peak that overlooks Sandown to one side, and Bembridge to the other. Outside of the pub, the only other "residents" of the down include a few holiday chalets, some old WWII artillery pads, and sheep. On a nice day, it is a fabulous place to grab a good meal and a great view.
Historically, I've always looked forward to two things at Culver: Pork Medallions in a peppercorn sauce and Badger beer. On this day, they had neither. The pork was off the menu and as of a year ago, Badger stopped providing their beer to off-licenses. An off-license is a pub not tied into a brewery. They often (when allowed it seems) have beers from several different breweries. A licensed pub, is tied directly into a particular brewery.
No worries, I had a pint of Yates Undercliff Experience instead. Which, might be one of the last. If I remember right, the Yates brewery (which is on the island), has gone out of business. Bummer.
We were lucky to have Zoe's college friend, Jenny, join us. Jenny is always a trip, and hasn't changed much since her visit stateside two years ago.
For lunch, Jenny had the bacon, brie, and cranberry baguette (yum!), Zoe had the seafood pie, and I had a lamb shank. The shank was great. In fact, anytime I can order a shank of anything for a meal, I am bound to be pleased.
We arrived shortly before lunch, so I found it neat to watch the lunch crowd saunter in after us. I watched seniors, vacationeers, and a few owners with dogs come in to grab their mid-day meal. After a long walk up the down, Culver Haven lives up to its name as a destination.
After our meal, we stopped at the ice cream stand where both girls grabbed a Mr. Whippy with a flake bar, or as I call it: soft serve ice cream with a candy bar lodged in it. Not for me, but they were certainly jazzed about it. Culver Haven has been checked off my list for this trip, and I'm pleased. Now off to our next destination...
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Sitting at the hill of a 9th century church, Godshill's main road is often filled with large tour busses of tourists taking in the shops, the pubs, and the Old Smithy Gardens Tea Room. These monstrous buses drop off groups of OAPs (Old Age Pensioners or what I call back home: Mom & Dad) who, like today, end their trip to Godshill with Cream Tea.
We opted on sharing a double pot of tea and two scones, with whipped cream. I actually like tea, but as with my coffee, prefer it black. I want to taste the tea without hiding it in layers of milk and sugar. Now the downside to black tea is its temperature. The English like to serve everything skin scalding hot. Tea, food, you name it...hot, hot, hot. Since I like the skin on the roof of my mouth, I typically have to wait before I can drink my tea. Since everyone else adds a little milk to bring the temperature down, I'm stuck holding my cup and waiting for it to enter the "safe temperature for Mike's mouth" zone.
The tea was nice, and the scone and cream was even nicer. The English love their sweets, and they love their tea even more. When you put them together in a Cream Tea, you can see why Old Smith is such a popular spot.
In order to balance out the English traditions, after walking through Godshill we ended up in the beer garden of The Griffin pub. The Griffin was another "non-local" pub which appeared to cater more to tourists than residents. The place was large, clean, and empty, as most of the shops in Godshill had closed and all of the tour busses had left. I had a pint of Old Speckled Hen pulled for me and went out back with everyone to enjoy the warm evening air.
So, what will it be, tea or beer? Well depending on the time of day, I'll take both.
Filled with bed & breakfasts, pubs, and holiday chalets, Ventnor is a vacation destination for many island visitors. With its quaint charm and unique island character, it is not hard to see why.
Our destination was the Spyglass Inn. Situated at the far end of the seafront, this large pub sits right on the coast line and offers an impeccable view of the ocean and town.
The Spyglass has so many hallmarks of a good pub: uneven stone floors, short ceilings, and a great selection of beer. The inside of the pub is full of disjointed small rooms and cozy nooks.
I really like this. Although your tiny room may be shared with a small group of other people you don't know, it allows for a more intimate experience with your friends.
Our room also featured a stuffed lobster, which, as you can tell, perplexes me a little bit.
The Spyglass is not a "local" pub and is more aimed towards "holiday makers". I would almost consider it a "chain" pub, as it is one of several pubs under the same owners. This is not meant to be a slight. All of these pubs are quite different, I imagine the similarities are more behind the scenes. Unlike the other night where Bob and I went to a true local, which was basically like drinking beer in your living room with 20 strangers, The Spyglass is more of a well oiled commercial establishment.
The menu was expansive. Wendy chose a mussel chowder, Bob & Zoe had cottage pie, and I had fried king prawns. While everyone else chose a chokolota for dessert, I, not-surprisingly, had a pint of Goddard's instead.
The food was good and the beer were top notch.
After eating inside, we moved ourselves outside to soak up some of the afternoon sun. If it wasn't for the sound of the surf kissing the shore and jackdaws scavenging for loose chips, I could have fallen asleep and lost track of time. Ventnor is a great place and The Spyglass is a worthy destination.
Monday, May 17, 2010
Ever since my first trip to the Isle of Wight over 10 years ago, I have made it a point to have local beers. Goddard's is one the first beers I remember, in part because of the names: Fuggle Dee Dum, Duck Lloyd's, and Ale of Wight. I have even been lucky enough to even have them at home, when Wendy "smuggled" some bottles over in her luggage.
Goddard's is not generally open to the public, but after a phone call from Wendy, they were kind enough to welcome Bob and me in for a look around. The brewery is located just a few miles from Bob and Wendy's and is housed on an old farm. We would have walked, but I was still crippled form yesterday's walk.
Upon arriving, we were met by Richard, the brewmaster and Associate Director of Brewing. Richard has over 30 years in the brewing industry and has been with Goddard's for just over a year.
Richard was a great host and led us through the brewing operation. We started off in the grain loft. In this elevated loft, the grains are stored, measured, and then staged for brewing. Richard expressed the brewery's desire to use only the finest ingredients. They use whole hop leaves, which we rubbed in our hands taking in the beautiful remains of oil and resin left on our skin.
To translate the placard above, Gyle refers to the batch number. FDD is the style, Fuggle Dee Dum and cask is where it is ultimately headed. B is the brew date, May 10, 2010.
Goddard's can produce 15 barrels a batch, which from talking to Richard and using math that involved taking my shoes off, equates to roughly 3000 barrels a year. In comparison, Stone Brewing, puts out around 70,000 barrels a year. Stone is a small craft brewer by US standards, Goddard's is small by UK standards. However, as I have found time and time again, in the end all that matters is the quality of beer. As one of only two brewery's on the island, Goddard's has quality down pat.
Whether you are brewing in the backyard or a brewery, the process is relatively the same. They were actively brewing today, as the mashtun had just been emptied. Unlike at home where the spent grains get dumped in the backyard, Goddard's sells theirs off to a local farmer.
After going through the brewery room, we went into the racking area, where kegs were being cleaned and prepped for filling. Goddard's only makes Real Ale. Their bottling is handled on the mainland, so even beer brewed for bottling is kegged "live".
Richard was kind enough to let us sample a pint of Goddard's Ale of Wight. The keg had been tapped for "testing". This was as natural as you get. I have had Ale of Wight before in the bottle, but this taste, right from the keg, was amazing. Served at a warmer temperature, the hops really came out. Not only is Ale of Wight a great beer, at 3.7% ABV it is a great session beer. This is something that would be great for our brewdays.
With such a living product, the brewery depends not only on making good beer, but the pub keepers maintaining it. Richard described some pubs who check and taste their kegs every day and others who try to set it and forget it, which you can't. It's not hard to guess which of the two types of pubs flounder.
While drinking our beer, which Bob was quick to fill up again, we discussed island life, the changing of the pub scene, and Richard's work in the brewing industry. Richard has a passion for sailing, and commutes weekly to the island via his boat. What a life.
In order for Richard to get back to work, we parted in hopes of sharing a pint in the future. We had a really nice time and truly appreciate the generosity and openness of Richard and Mr. Goddard. Just like our previous trips to Bury St. Edmonds and Stone, it was a great experience to see where the beer I enjoy is crafted. I also know if I lived this close to a brewery such as Goddard's, I would be applying for a part-time job.