Friday, January 8, 2016

Book Review | The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook

The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook
by Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez

Goodreads SynopsisAt first glance Hot Bread Kitchen may look like many other bakeries. Multigrain sandwich loaves, sourdough batards, baguettes, and Parker House rolls line the glass case up front in the small shop. But so, too, do sweet Mexican conchas, richm’smen flatbreads, mini bialys sporting a filling of caramelized onion, and chewy Indian naan. In fact, the breads are as diverse as the women who bake them—because the recipes come from their homelands.

Hot Bread Kitchen is a bakery that employs and empowers immigrant women, providing them with the skills to succeed in the culinary industry. The tasty corollary of this social enterprise is a line of authentic breads you won’t find anywhere else. Featured in some of New York City’s best restaurants and carried in dozens of retail outlets across the country, these ethnic gems can now be made at home with The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook.

Review: Even without the incredible photographs, the delicious recipes and the great bread baking tips, this whole book (and kitchen!) is a fantastic concept. You're not just looking at Indian-only recipes or Guatemalan-only pointers — it's every culture you can think of. I'm sad to say that I had not heard of this bakery when I was still living in NYC. But I can guarantee that the next time I visit, again, I will be sure to stage here.

The photographs: Ugh. Food porn at its finest. But also beautiful portraits of these immigrants who have the opportunity to share their culture with the world. It makes me wish I could bring an American bread recipe to a new country and bless a great human with a new recipe. Alas, I think the burger bun directions are pretty well known. 

The recipes: There are leavened and unleavened bread recipe from across the globe. There are loaves of breads to make and new, full dishes to taste. There are stuffed doughs and challah, challah, challah and beyond. 

The tips: As a novice bread baker, I love learning about new techniques and different ways to try a recipe. This book has simple explanations for kitchen equipment that I haven't yet learned the names of and different ways to store the breads and even step-by-step instructions with the simplest start-to-finish bread directions. 

I cannot wait to try all of these breads whose names I absolutely cannot pronounce correctly. 

Rating: 5 out of 5 goats

Song of the Blog: "Sail" by AWOLNATION

I received a copy of this book for free from Blogging for Books. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Clearly.

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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Book Review | As You Wish

As You Wish | Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride
By Cary Elwes

Goodreads SynopsisFrom actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes a first-person account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories, exclusive photographs, and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner.

Cary Elwes was inspired to share his memories and give fans an unprecedented look into the creation of the film while participating in the twenty-fifth anniversary cast reunion. In As You Wish he has created an enchanting experience; in addition to never-before seen photos and interviews with his fellow cast mates, there are plenty of set secrets, backstage stories, and answers to lingering questions about off-screen romances that have plagued fans for years!

Review: "As you wish." That is just one of the many incredible quotes from the classic Princess Bride. It seemed almost silly to me to read a memoir just about one movie but I am so glad I did because it made me remember how truly remarkable this movie is. 

Did you know Cary turned 24 years old halfway through filming?
He's absolutely *swoon* worthy. 
It is timeless. Anyone at any age can watch it and be entertained. And to get a very good look behind the curtain was wonderful. 

Sure, the whole book was a little cheezy. But I think that's because the movie is perfectly cheezy. And we, as readers, get to see that this cast really and truly fell in love with each other. 

We get to see how every person was selected for their roles. We get a glimpse into how beloved Andre The Giant was. We get to see how Rob Reiner truly cared for every cast and crew member. We get to see how terrified Wallace Shawn was that he would get fired! We get to see which lines were improved and which were from the brilliant author Bill Goldman (it was almost all Bill). We get to go on the journey with Cary and Mandy of rigorous sword-fighting training and how much it paid off. We get to see the man behind the ROUS!

And the rest of the hilarious cast and crew drops in (often!) to give their side of the stories. 

I found myself choking up near the end. We get to know these people so well and see how hard they worked. I think it's a miracle greater than Max could perform that it really took off and became the success that it is today and will be for many more years to come. 

Rating: 4 out of 5 goats

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Friday, November 13, 2015

I Do Spy | Foxes

I'm not sure why foxes remind me of the fall but they do. Maybe it's because the animal is associated with changing leaves but I think it's safe to say that I'd incorporate these into my daily life year-round.

Tail Me About It! Scarf
Aura and Fauna Skirt
Walk On the Wily Side Measuring Cups
Clever So Sweet Flats

Song of the Blog: "What Does the Fox Say?" by Ylvis

These links are Modcloth affiliate marketing links. This means that if you click them and buy something, I get a little tiny piece of commission. But that doesn't mean I don't love each and every one of them. In fact, I think I need those measuring cups for my new baking job #professional. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Book Review | Why Not Me?

Why Not Me?
by Mindy Kaling

Goodreads SynopsisIn Why Not Me?, Kaling shares her ongoing journey to find contentment and excitement in her adult life, whether it’s falling in love at work, seeking new friendships in lonely places, attempting to be the first person in history to lose weight without any behavior modification whatsoever, or most important, believing that you have a place in Hollywood when you’re constantly reminded that no one looks like you.
Mindy turns the anxieties, the glamour, and the celebrations of her second coming-of-age into a laugh-out-loud funny collection of essays that anyone who’s ever been at a turning point in their life or career can relate to. And those who’ve never been at a turning point can skip to the parts where she talks about meeting Bradley Cooper.

Review: If Amy Poehler is the Queen, then Mindy Kaling is the Princess.

Her voice comes through in every aspect of her writing and throughout the entire memoir, all I could hear was Mindy. This is one of the first celebrity memoirs where I thought, huh, maybe she didn't have a ghost writer.

Mindy does a great job at making all of her stories relatable, because she's basically the perfect girl-next-door celebrity. She talks about her ups and downs with her body image and the struggles of making and keeping friends. She describes her "weird as hell" relationship with B.J. Novak and gives us her insights on why she hates weddings. I really enjoyed how she included photos to really make her point or add to the story. For instance, there's an entire essay on "A Day in the Life of Mindy Kaling," where she allowed her assistant to take pictures of her at her finest and her worst for several days. It's like we're married now.

But I think my two favorite sections were the story time essays. In "One of the President's Men," Mindy gives us the low down on her very slow-moving yet quick relationship with a man who works for the president and it's filled with intrigue and heartache and The President of the United States. What more could you ask for? In "A Perfect Courtship in My Alternate Life," she gives us a glimpse into what her life would have been like in 2005 should she have chosen to stay in NYC and become a Latin teacher — and it's told entirely in e-mail exchanges with a happily ever after. She's brilliant.

Finally, Mindy leaves us with an impressive and everlasting final word:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 goats

Song of the Blog: "Human Nature: by Michael Jackson

I received a copy of this book for free from Blogging for Books. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Clearly.

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Friday, October 30, 2015

I Do Spy | Beer

It brought me great sadness to wrap up #IntothePintGlass this week. I knew I had to remember and celebrate it for as long as possible. When I realized I hadn't featured beer yet in this quirky shopping round-up, I was both shocked and please. It was like I knew I would need this week to release my beer loving needs. Good job, subconscious.

**also, I need every single one of these items**

Hop Pendant Necklace — Feral Strumpet
I Run Because I Really Like Beer T — Awesome Best Friends Tees!
Pour-ganic Chemistry Glass — ModCloth
Bottle Cap Shadow Box — Christine's Craft Samplers

Song of the Blog: "Let's All Go To The Bar" by Dear Tick

Some of these links are Modcloth affiliate marketing links. This means that if you click them and buy something, I get a little tiny piece of commission. But that doesn't mean I don't love each and every one of them. In fact, I think that pint glass needs to be added to my ever growing collection. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Into the Pint Glass | Meads

This is it. This is Mariah and I's last regularly scheduled program of #IntothePintGlass. Sure, we'll have special season posts and when a new style becomes popular, we'll be sure to tell you all about it, but it won't be the same.

We decided to finish off this series with, ironically, a non-beer. In fact, it's sometimes referred to as a honey wine. But we thought every one should be included and that includes all you glutards out there. 

Mead is really frickin cool. It's basically the oldest beverage known to mankind. It existed even before there was a thought in a vineyard. Many sources differ at where it originated from: some say it was created in India; other's that it came from the Island of Crete in Greece. It's found in history all across the world and even in some culture's folklore. It is, after all, The Nectar of the Gods. What's even cooler is that the word "honeymoon" derives from the practice of the father of the bride including enough mead in his daughter's dowery to last the entire month of the wedding celebrations. 

Mead is simply fermented from honey, water and yeast and, given the perfect climate, can even ferment on its own (you know that's how the dinosaurs for their buzz on). And it's a very similar process to brewing beer, only much easier! In a very short nutshell, you boil some liquids, mix those with other liquids and yeast and then you let it all sit for a long time. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Once you start adding in a whole bunch of other ingredients and flavors, it actually has other names:

Braggot | Traditionally brewed with honey and hops, Currently brewed with honey and malts, with or without hops
Melomel | Fermented with honey and any type of fruit, although some fruits have their own specific names
Cyser | Fermented with honey and apple juice
Perry | A blend of honey and milled, ripe pears
Sack Mead | Made with a lot of freaking honey
Pyment | A blend of honey and red or white grapes

Mead can be still or carbonated, sweet or dry. But it's always delicious.

Redstone Meadery's Black Raspberry Nectar
Style: M2E. Melomel
ABV: 8%

Aroma: It has a lighter honey scent with only a small twinge of raspberry. Like, really small.

Appearance: It's pink! That was my first reaction when I poured it and that's all anyone should ask of me. It's also very bubbly. It looks like a sparkling rose so I'm already game.

Flavor: Woah. There is way more raspberry flavor than the aroma would make it seem. The raspberry definitely outflavors the honey, which I can appreciate in a melomel.

Mouthfeel: It's a little bit water-y. And not as carbonated as I would have thought. This mead is just full of surprises.

Overall: It's incredibly drinkable. Like any mead, it's a little bit sweet (helloooo honey!) but I would have another bottle. Right now. Who wants to get day drunk with me?!

Moonlight Meadery's Fling
Style: M2E. Melomel
ABV: 13.3%

You guys don't know my attachment to Moonlight Meadery. The first time I ever had mead, my mind was blown. Then, my dad and I were at pro-brewers night at the NHC a couple years back and Moonlight was there. They had seven meads and we would get our cup filled, then get back in line to try the next flavor. After the last one (these are much higher ABVs than beer), we both looked at each other and said with a sway, maybe we should stop. It was the best. God, I love mead.

Aroma: Heaven. I only smell heaven. And honey. And rhubarb. And strawberries. Heaven.

Appearance: It's a ruby red-honey color with very light carbonation.

Flavor: The Web site labels this as semi-sweet but, dear lord, it is sweet. The main flavor is definitely the honey with a backdrop of strawberries and rhubarb.

Mouthfeel: Thick and syrup-y. But the semi-sweet makes sense to me now because it has a great dry finnish.

Overall: If you all haven't had a Moonlight Meadery mead, I urge you to go to your local bottle shop and pick up a bottle. It can be any flavor. You're only going to win. I loved this mead. I could drink it like water. In fact, screw water. I'll drink 8 glasses of this a day from here on out.

It's been a real privilege drinking with all of you. I hope you learned something new every style. I hope your love for beer grew. I hope you tasted only fantastic beers. 

Keep drinking, my friends, and stay classy-ish. 

Song of the Blog: "Closing Time" by Semisonic

Monday, October 26, 2015

How To: Drink Beer in Italy

What do you think of when you think of Italy? Beautiful beaches. Pizza and pasta. Rolling hills. A sinking city.

And wine. All the mother loving wine.

But what about us beer drinkers? Do we have to have wine at every meal, or worse, drink Peroni or Nastro Azzuro (the Miller of Italy)?

The answer is a resounding no. The craft beer scene in Italy had a late start compared to its other European and American amici but that doesn't mean they aren't kicking some serious birra butt. Many of the breweries are in the far off country side, only accessible via car down windy roads with crazy drivers.

I don't know if you all heard, but while I was on my travels throughout Italia, I happened to run into at least one beer-only bar in every. single. city. The hops called to me. I slowly began to realize that not only is Italia brewing beer, it's brewing some fantasticly delicious beer.

Salerno, IT

I was walking back from dinner toward my hostel looking for a place to have a night cap when a handsome redhead Italian man asks me if I'd like something to drink. I reply, a glass of wine? He said he only had beer. Little did he know that was the key to my heart.

This bar has three beers on tap and an industrial-sized beer fridge filled from top to bottom with Italian craft beers. There's a tiny little bar, where I sat two nights in a row talking it up with Giampiero (the perfect man) and Maria (the cutest Italian young woman) and drinking fine beer. If you wanna drink your beer outside, there are plenty of tables outside on the cobblestone to people watch in this perfect, small town.

Bir & Fud
Roma, IT

Luigi, the owner of BAI, told me that when I'm in Roma, I must visit this restaurant and bar and say hello to his friend, Alfonso. I met up with a friend my first night in the Capital city and we were looking for a place to eat when, of course, we stumbled across Bir & Fud. Not only is this the most perfectly named restaurant in all the land, it is awesome. The bar inside seemed a little dark and cramped so we sat outside on one of the few perfect-weathered nights.

Their bir selection is extensive and, even though they had The Duchesse on tap, I went with another wonderful light sour ale. The fud was out of control awesome. I had a bruscetta (pronounced brew-sket-ta) like dish with thick, salami-like meat, a creamy cheese and lemon shavings that knocked my socks off.

Open Baladin
Roma, IT

I was not able to make it to Open Baladin on this trip but from the looks of the photographs, it looks like I would have never left, so it's probably for the best. They have over 100 Italian craft beers to choose from and some tasty-looking eats.

BrewDog Firenze
Firenze, IT

I was not cool enough to actually step foot into this place, let alone go in for a beer but that didn't stop me from going here multiple times throughout my ten-day stop in the greatest city in Italia. The only catch is that BrewDog is not Italian beer — it's a famous brewery based in Scotland. But many of their bottled beers are Italian and they do have several rotating guest taps that will feature one or two Italian breweries.

Overall, it's a really cool punk rock bar with American food (those burgers looked amazing but I couldn't bring myself to eat one while I was in, you know, Italy) and BrewDog really does produce some fantastic brews.

Beer House Club
Firenze, IT

Let me just say this: a large pizza and a large beer for €10. They have a good amount of craft beers on tap, the pizza was decent and the owner (a female!) was so interesting to chat with. I was there at 14:30 on a week day so it was empty, but I bet this place would be really fun to go to at night.

Archea Brewery
Firenze, IT

I LOVE IT HERE. Guys. I love it here.

They don't brew their beers on site — they brew it at another facility in Southern Italy so you're not able to get a tour. But who cares because I just wanted to sit at the bar, drinking awesome beer, talking to Antony, the greatest own co-owner, taking in the vintage movie posters (like Big Trouble, Little China) and listen to classic rock music.

I'm going to make sure my future apartment is right next door to Archea so that I can go here every day.

If you want to learn about Italian craft beer and it's history, this is a great book to read. 

Do you have a favorite Italian craft beer? How about a favorite place for beer in Italia?

Song of the Blog: "When Love Finds You" by Vince Gill