willandmegan

"Stuart rose from the ditch, climbed into his car, and started up the road that led toward the north…. As he peeked ahead into the great land that stretched before him, the way seemed long. But the sky was bright, and he somehow felt he was headed in the right direction." (from Stuart Little by E.B. White)


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No Guts No Glory – Pumpkin Ale Tasting

pumpkinaleedit1

On Sunday September 15th, Megan and I had an adventurous day spurred on by our desire to enjoy an approaching fall-like climate. We completed a blog more fit for the month of October, but figured it should be shared sooner than never. After a quiet date in the park with talks about our family and upcoming wedding, we decided to bike to Penfield. On the way home a beautiful monarch butterfly specimen appeared before our feet on the sidewalk. It was fully intact and fully dead. Score one for our butterfly/moth collection!

We then took the monarch in a plastic case and continued onward with plans to start a pumpkin ale tasting. While Megan prepared pasta for dinner I setup a simple arrangement with mason jar mugs and faux Fall berry decor. Not bad eh? Here are the results of our tasting with notes on flavors/aroma. I opted not to go into specifics with color as there clearly isn’t an extreme variation from one ale to another.

-w&m

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AMERICA’S ORIGINAL PUMPKIN ALE

ALE BREWED WITH REAL PUMPKIN AND NATURAL SPICE FLAVOR

BUFFALO BILL’S BREWERY

This beer has a complexity of flavors which we noted as uncommon for pumpkin ale. To me it smelled like a vanilla flavored tootsie roll. 

There was a subtle sweetness like molasses with the consistency of syrup. The flavor of molasses was complimented by bitter black cherry and oats. The aroma also came through as artificial spice similar to men’s deodorant.

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Wolavers fine organic ales

Pumpkin Ale

BREWED WITH VERMONT PUMPKINS

This ale brewed in Vermont had a bland flavor from start to finish. It has floral aromas and a lasting sweetness like nectar, but really too much spice and not enough pumpkin. We both noted what smelled like lavender, but why in a pumpkin ale?

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Dogfish Head (7% Alc.)

Pumpkin Ale brewed with pumpkin, brown sugar, allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg

We were excited about this ale from Dogfish Head as they listed specific ingredients as well as alcohol content. As much as it seemed to smell like moss/dew, It was very malty with the satisfying sweetness of caramelized sugar. The bitter notes came through like a salty pretzel and the vanilla-like undertones reminded meg of marshmallow.

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Blue Point Pumpkin Ale

Malt beverage brewed with pumpkin and spices

This ale was highly aromatic and reminded Meg of some “hippy head shop”. It had the aroma of incense, creek water, pine, lemon peel and patchouli. The flavors came through as too intense and sickening for my likes, but I could taste something like sandalwood oil which reminded me of bitter chocolate. Along with the standard nutmeg, cinnamon, spice you expect from a pumpkin ale this one offers a unique variety of flavors. Maybe more acceptable to those who aren’t a fan of pumpkin beers.

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Post Road Pumpkin Ale (5% Alc.)

Ale brewed with pumpkin and spices

This ale had a nice peach aroma that reminded me of a White Ale by Hitachino Nest. The flavor is zesty like orange peel with a crisp opening, but overall watered-down experience. There are some light notes of nut and floral and a lasting bitterness.

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pumpkinalemugsedit


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Short and Stout – Irish Beer and Cheese Tasting

cheese . stout display edit

Last Thursday while Megan was away as a church chaperone for the youth group in the Adirondacks, I inherited her Irish beer and cheese. For me that meant a solo tasting late at night in the comfort of my room. The setup for this tasting was as simple as a cutting board, knife and basic pint glass to hold our savory stout. The combination makes for a nice movie date snack or addition to relaxing with Irish / bluegrass music. Here are the details for color, flavor profile and consistency for both. Enjoy!

-w&m

MURPHY’S IMPORTED STOUT (DRAUGHT STYLE)

Color: Dark cola with 1/4 – 1/2″ cream head. From above the appearance is similar to a malted milkshake.

Consistency: Silty, thick, after pouring separation is entertaining and reminds me of a cola waterfall.

Flavor: Toasted bread, smoky, liquorice.

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KERRYGOLD DUBLINER CHEESE WITH IRISH STOUT

Color: Green wax outer, light tan/buff cheese.

Texture: Creamy, dense, oily outer, crispy pieces throughout.

Flavor: Bitter, salty, sharp.

stout . cheese display edit 2


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Oatie Nib Cookie (Oatmeal and Roasted Cocao Nib Cookies)

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“Oatie Nib Cookies

– 22 Good Sized Crunches of Heaven-

I love oatmeal. I love a sweet treat. And goodness, I love texture. And suddenly, I had a revelation! Why not use our crunchy, unabashedly enticing leftover cocao nibs to add just the right crunch to cookies?! (Note to readers: before editing this blog I realized I accidently wrote ‘add just the right CRUNK to cookies. These are things no one ever knows).

And thus, the oatmeal nib cookie was born! Before we embark on the recipe (and I know, if you’re like me, you’re ignoring these first few paragraph babbles) but I wanted to give a quick blog to Dandelion Chocolate out in California. While working at a local coffee shop I had the pleasure of encountering these little bits of crunchy heaven. They were so good, Will and I ordered a bag and had it sent to us in the mail. I will spare you my pretending-to-be-super-cool-on-wordpress and quote Dandelion directly on the natural flavor attributes of the bean (and boy is there!), “Our Madagascar bar’s crazy fruit notes are present even straight from the bean, but here they show an acidic bite punctuating the nuttier undertones.” So, there ya have it. And it animates these cookies in a way that no amount of walnuts or raisans can!

Ingredients:

The Big Schtuff

2 cups of oatmeal (some say quick oats, some say regular. I used regular)DSC_0909

1/2 cup of Dandelion Chocolate Cocao Nibs

1 cup wheat flour and 1/2 cup all purpose (variations of this would turn out fine)

1/2 cup ground flax (or not. or more. but it gives you some Omega 3)

1/2 cup butter (that’s a giant stick of fat thrown in a bowl & melted in microwave)

1/4 cup honey (in place of 1/2 cup white sugar)

1 cup raw cane sugar (or brown)DSC_0908

2/4 cup applesauce

1 egg (or eggwhite? haven’t tried that yet)

1 cup peanut butter chips (or whatever you want)

The Not-So-Big Schtuff

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 3/4 teaspoon vanilla (or however much you want it to taste like vanilla)

1/2 teaspoon of apple pie spice (which really means some clove or nutmeg or allspice or pumpin or or or)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:DSC_0931

1- Preheat to 375 (I preheat to 389 because my oven hates me)

2- Grease a cookie sheet or use a super cool silpat

3- Big bowl for the dry stuff: oatmeal, flour, baking soda & powder, salt, flax, spices<–StirDSC_0930

4- Not as big bowl for the ‘wet’ stuff: butter, brown sugar, vanilla, honey, egg, applesauce<–Stir

5-Drop wet stuff into dry stuff and mix

6-Drop them on your baking sheet, however big you want (I made 12 1st round, 10 the second)

7-Service with Almond Milk.

8-Eat them all in one day.

Seriously, the best. I’m gonna fatten’ up William Head.

Cheers,

willandmegan


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New Tree Display edit

Just when William and I thought we had reviewed the entire selection of chocolates offered at our surrounding stores, a brand called New Tree Gourmet Chocolate popped up! This fresh, modern brand focuses on the added flavor attributes of natural extracts to compliment the taste of their chocolate. They also use non-GMO emulsifiers which is positive for those seeking a sweet treat without modified or artificial ingredients. With a line of bars extending from the standard Dark (66% cocoa solids minimum) to a vibrant Ginger, it’s worth noting that New Tree focuses on creating Belgian chocolates with “all-natural” flavors and extracts. This includes a product that “features 2 times more fiber than regular chocolate”.

To avoid both the possibility of being critical or biased we aimed to compare overall experience to the broad spectrum of store bought chocolates vs. artisan small batch chocolate. In this tasting the array of textures were notable as well as how well the chocolate contained naturally infused flavors.

All chocolates were “Belgian Chocolates”, 66% cacao, and weighing in at 2.82 ounces.

New Tree Cherry edit

Cherry Chocolate (Origin: Latin America)

Texture: Tiny granules, truffle

Flavor: Confectionery sugar, graham cracker, this is a straight-up cordial cherry chocolate with a flavor that builds and ends on bright fruity notes.

New Tree Ginger edit

Ginger Chocolate (Origin: Latin America)

Texture: Generous amounts of candied ginger

Flavor: Bright, warm, up-front ginger flavor. Sweetness of cane sugar compliments while ginger climbs to a “nose-clean”. This is a great bar for those who can’t handle intense ginger.

New Tree BlackCurrant edit

Blackcurrant Chocolate (Origin: Latin America)

Texture: Rich, fibrous

Flavor: Tart fruit pulp, minerals, “Smuckers Jelly”, overall fruit taste with bitterness of currants.

New Tree Dark edit

Dark Chocolate (Origin: Dominican Republic and Peru)

Texture: Syrupy

Flavor: Molasses, oats, overall subtle flavors with little complexity.


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Rothaus German Beer Tasting

rothaus display edit

It’s crazy to think that we are already into the month of July. Birthday events, full time work schedules and a wedding engagement have thrown Megan and I into a whirlwind of planning. Somehow we managed to prepare at least two upcoming blogs and one from the month of May that was never brought to completion. We prepared a tasting of three different beers from Rothaus.

Rothaus is a brewing company in Grafenhausen, Germany. They have a highly successful line of beers including a Pils that is rated as one of the best. Comparatively, we felt that all three compared to the American standard of beer such as Budweiser, Labatt, Pabst etc. The notable difference however, was Rothaus’ unique bottle graphic and foil seal.

Rothaus Ef Weis edit

Hefeweizen Zäpfle (Alc. 5.4 % Vol.)

Taste: Citrus, orange zest, fruit pulp, metallic.

Aroma: bubblegum, watermelon rind, banana bread.

Color: Caramel, hazy amber.

Lacing: Heavy

eis zapf edit

Märzen Export Eis Zäpfle (Alc. 5.6 % Vol.)

Taste: Floral, apple

Aroma: Buckwheat honey, mild pine, buttered meat.

Color: Clear, golden

Lacing: Little/none

Pils edit

Pils tannenzäpfle (Alc. 5.1 % Vol.)

Taste: Floral, pine, “Labatt”

Aroma: Marigold, honey, urine

Color: Clear yellow, “Redbull” lemon

Lacing: Medium/low

bottle series edit


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Intoxicating – Chocolate tasting with liqueur and whiskey

germ choc arrangement

 

Last Saturday afternoon Megan and I set up a relaxing back porch chocolate tasting. As she labored in the kitchen preparing a cauliflower/curry dish I took out coffee beans, cacao beans and picked up a bottle of Wild Turkey Rare Breed Whiskey.

 

In order to prepare these aesthetically pleasing arrangements we often become manic and focus on color, quality, form factor, lighting etc. We included relevant ingredients such as vanilla, ginger and whiskey. Yes, you heard right. These bars are made using whiskey and egg liqueur. This is our first tasting of chocolate made by an Austrian company called Zotter. Meg managed to pick these up in Germany as they are found in other European countries.

 

Fur Lang edit

 

für langschläfer (50% min cocoa)

 

The name of this bar actually translates to “for late risers” in English. The reason being that is contains coffee beans and whiskey. The overall taste is a classic malt flavor with the inner consistency of truffle creme. It contains subtle hints of oak and bourbon with notes of sweet, honey graham cracker. The lack of coffee flavor and texture was a bit disappointing, but overall this bar was quite satisfying.

 

eiertanz edit

 

Eirtanz (40% min cocoa)

 

The name of this bar translates to “egg dance” in English. Why egg dance? Well this bar is made with egg liqueur and chili. It is creamy and has both the inner appearance and consistency of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. However, the overall quality is higher containing less artificial and more natural certified fair trade ingredients. The initial satisfaction of flavors come from unique cinnamon undertones and overall sweet milk chocolate flavor. The experience increases with intensity as a strong chili kick emerges and remains until the end.

Hasenjagd edit

 

Hasenjagd (46% cocoa)

 

The name of this bar translates to “hare hunting” in English. Does it contain rabbit meat? No! The additional ingredients include apples, carrots, ginger and brandy. This bar transforms the typical smooth chocolate experience to a subtly tangy one. Notes of buckwheat honey can be tasted beneath the zest of light lemon. Small chunks of fibrous fruit pieces (likely dehydrated) creates additional flavors and texture throughout.

 


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Crack It Open – Coconut Chocolate Tasting

coconut full display edit

Last night we created one of the most elaborate tasting displays to date in our long awaited Coconut Chocolate Tasting. To gauge the level of my anticipation for said tasting, 4/5 of the bars shown were purchased a month in advance along with the coconut and coconut milk (for aesthetic purposes). The final installment is a brand called RitterSport and was purchased by Megan a week ago during her trip to Germany. Whoot for our first German brand chocolate included in the lineup! The first thing I noticed upon a quick overview of packaging is the occurrence of blue/turquoise as a color choice from brand to brand. Does blue indicate the cool refreshing feeling of a bite into raw coconut? Well this tasting is equally about the chocolate as it is the coconut. Which chocolate company effectively blends the flavor and texture of coconut with milk/dark chocolate?

*Note* I’d like to state that the bars we chose cover a variety of approaches to the inclusion of coconut. Our tastes may vary differently from yours. We felt that a broad spectrum of very simple additives to extremely complex spices/flavor would make the tasting more interesting. We hope you feel the same. Enjoy!

-w&m

alter eco coc edit

1.) Alter Eco Dark Coconut Toffee (47% cocoa) ~$3.88 2.82 oz.

This bar opens up with a bright warm flavor that has the crunch of toffee bits and sweetness of a frappucino. The overwhelming abundance of large organically shaped chunks of toffee removes any opportunity for coconut to shine through. However, the satisfying bite of salt, undertones of butter and oats make this bar hard to put down. Think of it like a dessert!

good cacao coc edit

2.) GOOD CACAO – Coconut Omega-3 (72% Dark Cacao) ~$4.89 1.5 oz.

The super dark tone of this bar is intriguing along with its bright white flecks of coconut on the underside. The flavors are slow to release, but gradually move from cool notes of floral to dried fruit and cinnamon. It has a very fine and fibrous texture throughout. Imagine the subtle aroma of good perfume and taste of apricot. By far one of the most complex bars we have tasted to date. Take one look at the list of ingredients such as Raw Lucuma and Nutri Plankton and you won’t feel guilty indulging on this bar.

ritter sport kokos edit

3.) Ritter SPORT KOKOS (45% Milch-Creme) ~$1.20  3.52 oz. (price conversion from Euros!)

Meg describes this German native bar close to the Almond Joy, but more specifically “Heaven On Crack”. It has a rich creamy outer layer with a coconut frosting-like inner layer. In my mind it tasted like someone took a box of Samoas Girl Scout Cookies and condensed them into one chocolate bar. If you aren’t a health freak with concerns for emulsifiers, corn syrup and the like, this bar is for you.

sweet riot kickin coc edit

4.) sweetriot KICKIN’ COCONUT (70% Dark Chocolate) ~$3.99 3.5 oz.

The use of texture in this bar is well done, however it doesn’t have much coconut flavor. The buttery notes of the chocolate itself stand out along with a hint of floral that wants to jump to your taste buds, but never quite makes it. A sweet tasting bar with great texture, but doesn’t deliver in overall flavor.

theo coc curry edit

5.) theo Coconut Curry Milk Chocolate (45% Cacao) ~$3.25 2 oz.

The first warning I heed is that this is not your mamas chocolate bar. The level of spices and fiery intensity that comes in this little package is quite delectable to some.  The oily consistency comes with a bitter twist of dried spice bits that bite your tongue periodically. Expect the cardamom to overcome your senses along with undertones of cayenne and mustard. From start to finish this bar delivers in flavor complexity, intensity and some level of texture, but no coconut flavor.