Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Brickskeller

Washington, DC

Beers on Tap: None in the cellar. There's a separate restaurant upstairs with taps.

Hello, folks. Well, after the arugula salad, I was feeling pretty sick for a few days, so I went to the doctor. He informed me that I have a severe vegetable allergy and injected me with bacon grease to suppress the reaction. He said I’ll be just fine; as long as I take my 400 CC’s of Pale Ale twice a day with food.

Sometime after that, I headed down to Washington, DC for a long weekend of city-slicking fun. There are a number of topics I could do a write-up on, but for the purposes of this blog, one place stands apart from the rest: The Brickskeller.

Deep inside the beer Mecca.

If you’re a beer lover living in the D.C. area, either you already know about Brickskeller or you don’t know how to use Google. The Brickskeller has more than 1,000 bottled beers and has held the Guinness World Record for largest beer list. (You've also got to love a place that owns the domain name "" Big props for that.)

If you want to try a beer from Trinidad, Guatemala, Ethiopia or Lebanon, this is your place. If you don’t want to try a beer from one of those places, they’ve got approximately infinity American beers, too. So don’t be a downer.

I went with my sister and girlfriend at the end of a night of bar-hopping, at something like midnight or 12:30 a.m. To get into the bar, we had to walk up the stairs of what looks like a hotel, then immediately turn right and walk down into a brick cellar. I can only assume “Brickskeller” is what comes out when you try to say “brick cellar” after a few heavy-hitting brews. The bar was dark, but cozy, and the walls had plexiglass cases filled with funny-looking old beer cans – interior decorating at its finest.

I had a Stone Ruination IPA, Brittney had an Allagash White, and I have no idea what my sister had. I have no idea what she had because earlier, we had attended a happy hour that offered half-priced bottles of wine. Party!

The Ruination was strong, super-hoppy, and delicious. We also shared a cheese plate – a hot loaf of bread accompanied by cheddar, pepper jack, brie, and two other cheeses that I’ve forgotten (again, happy hour). Unfortunately, we only stayed for one round, because it was getting pretty late at that point. It’s probably a blessing in disguise, because it would be easy to spend a fortune in that place.

So, if you’re a beer lover visiting DC, Brickskeller is a necessary stop. I mean, just look at that beer list. It’s like the Library of Congress, but of beer. So it’s only fitting that it’s located in our nation’s capital. God bless America.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Garden Fresh Arugula Salad and a Wine Spritzer

Hey all!

We here at FPB have had it up to here with winter. (You can’t see what I’m doing, but rest assured; I’m holding my hand right in front of my forehead).

So, now that the sun has begun to shine and warm weather is heading our way again, Kyle and I thought we’d celebrate the birth of spring the way we do every year; with an elegant garden-fresh arugula salad and a wine spritzer.

I know this seems like a departure from our usual fare, but let’s be honest; bathing suit weather is right around the corner, and we’ve got to get started if we plan on shedding the hibernation weight brought on by a winter full of pizza, burgers, stouts and ales.

With that in mind, Kyle and I tied each other’s aprons, and it was off to the vegetable garden for some organic treats! We collected the dew-kissed arugula leaves, the ripe little cherry tomatoes, and the plump avocado needed to create the foundation of our dish. Our pine nut tree hasn’t matured yet, so we reluctantly had to use the ones we bought at the farmer’s market. Similarly, we were forced to use store-bought goat cheese, as we accidentally over-milked our doe making Sunday night’s stuffed fig leaves with prosciutto.

We didn't photograph our arugula salad, but here's one on a pizza crust. Extra carbs? No thanks!

I’m not going to bore you with the nitty-gritty of making an arugula salad; the farm-fresh ingredients do all the work for you. So let’s move onto our homemade spirits.

Kyle and I love to split a bottle of white wine and watch Entertainment Tonight, but that’s when we’re being bad. For our spring celebration meal, we felt that a glass of Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc would surely overpower the fragile palate notes brought on by the arugula salad, so we decided to go with white wine spritzers instead.

Springtime calls for a clean, simple spread. A nice votive candle doesn't hurt!

It’s easy to make a white wine spritzer; just mix white wine and club soda. This crisp drink has its share of benefits. For one, as stated before, it complements the delicate flavors of a spring salad without bombarding your taste buds. Secondly, it’s lower in calories. (That wine can be hell on your figure!) And perhaps most importantly, it lowers the alcohol content. White wine goes right to my head and causes me to behave in a manner not befitting a gentleman.

And we simply couldn’t have me hooting and hollering during such a nice meal.

So, Kyle and I sat on the veranda, with a cool breeze blowing through our hair, and we welcomed spring, the only way we knew how: Porcelain plates, cloth napkins, fresh ingredients…just two best buddies clinking wine glasses over an arugula salad.

Until next time!