Monday, August 15, 2011

Yards of Beer

This could be about gardening, but, as it turns out, there was something better in store (pun intended).  In what used to be an upscale gardening boutique, a lively restaurant with over 130 beers on tap moved into town.  It was an easy and honest mistake to misapply the name of The Yard House, thinking it was a purveyor of tools and lawn statues rather than a glorious eating establishment housing over a hundred beers on tap and other fine drinks and foods.  But this is a far cry from dirt and snails.

The centerpiece of this restaurant is the elongated bar, a good place to cozy up to and quiz the knowledgable bartenders who are here to help you find your perfect libation.  (Even the servers are required to undergo a six-week intenstive training to learn all the ins-and-outs of the myriad of drinks they serve.)  All beer is cooled to a perfect 34-36 degrees in the keg room which is, then, piped in refrigerated tubes that run along the ceiling to their taps in the center of the bar. 
Their appetizers, such as the tower of onion rings, are a perfect pairing with the beers.  Or, if you are in the mood for something more, they serve delicious thin-crust pizzas, jumbo, full-flavored burgers, and other appetizing main dishes.

It is a requirement that you order beer here. It is highly unlikely, even if you normally dislike beer, that you will be unable to find something to satisfy on their extensive menu.  At least try their rotating six-pack beer sampler or their deliciously sweet Double Chocolate Stout beer float.  (C'mon, it's chocolate, ladies!!)

It is difficult to get to the last drop at the bottom, but don't let that deter you.

The half-yard glass is a specialty piece of The Yard House. Most of their draft beers are offered in this tower of beer. I'm always afraid an errant hand in aid to animated conversation is going to send it flying in one fellow swoop.  Actually, they had to do away with the yard glasses due to a growing tendency of folks using them as lightsabers after finishing....
Tsk, tsk....playing with your food.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Morning Star

The sun is but a morning star.  ~ Henry David Thoreau

And the early one is perhaps the best to bake by....

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

L' Escargot, S'il Vous Plait.

I love French food. I have yet to meet a French dish that I did not like. Which is why I had always hesitated to try the escargot. I did not want my bubble burst. I wanted to stay in my happy comfort zone of loving all things French, for if I didn't try it, I couldn't possibly dislike it.

But deep down, with that lurking sense of adventure, I had to know how it tasted. Each time I would see it on the menu, I would make note of it in my head, that it was something that needed to be crossed off the bucket list. But not this time.... The courage would rise and dissipate.

The latest time I saw it on the appetizer menu, I mentioned it to Stephen.

"They have escargot here," I casually remarked.

"Oh, really? Would you like to order it?" he asked.

"I've never had it, but I'm not sure I would like the texture. I don't like slimy things in my mouth or otherwise."

"Well, I'm going to order it and you can try it if you want."

Which, essentially, was his way of not-so-subtly telling me I would be trying it that night, since he knows if it is placed on the table, I will muster up the courage to consume a bite. It's a dare. And I will not turn that down.

As we await the arrival of the dish, I get a little anxious sitting in my chair. Have I ever been this nervous to try a food before?

It comes arranged in a circle of six little pods each containing one escargot hidden in melted butter, garlic, and herbs. A tiny double-pronged fork is placed before me. Stephen reaches for his and then, again, I'm not sure I want to.

I bide some time talking about the lemon wedge, which is probably just an ornament, but question whether it is to be used in consumption of the escargot. Finally, Stephen has had enough of this dilly-dallying; he grabs his fork and gets ready to dive into the pod. Not wanting to miss out, I quickly scoop mine up and get ready to stab at whatever is hidden beneath the liquid.

I'm surprised by the greyish-brown blob which surfaces, certainly not pretty by any means. I pop it into my mouth swiftly, without a lot of extra thought. The garlic-butter mixure they have been bathing in is delightful. The texture of the escargot isn't as horrible as I thought. Perhaps the slime is dried out of them prior to cooking. Still, a bit on the rubbery side; it is not my favorite feeling when I'm eating something.

I eat my share, happy to partake in this gourmet French fare.  I might even venture to try them again. (Actually, I was researching ways of cooking them oneself: There are even instructions on how to harvest them. I don't know if I'll go that far....)

Although, I do wonder how the French ever got la grande idée to cook up the insects eating the leaves in their gardens.  Perhaps it was form of punishment....execution for their bad behavior.

Sunflower Cupcakes

Move over, cupcake speciality shops!

This little girl's cupcakes will put you all to shame.

A treat from one of our young students. Made by hand, with love. <3

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


A pleasant memory of a summer past. Who knew an ice cream bar could hold so much power?

  Source {via}

My first visit to France during the summer of 2003 was spent with many hours poolside sipping a refreshing limonade and consuming bite after bite of a little delicious little bar called Magnum. It was the summer of a magnificent heat wave that caused the expiration of many, especially the eldery, due to a lack of cooling systems. My brother and I, however, had found the solution. Or, rather, Mamina had provided it. My dear friend's French grandmere filled her freezer to the brim with these delightful frozen morsels for us to eat. After each short dip in the water, we would climb out, dash to the floor freezer in the musty basement, and choose a Magnum bar to enjoy. This would occur, oh, at least a dozen times a day.

I was thoroughly disappointed when I returned stateside and could not find them in any grocer's freezer this side of the Atlantic. I would search for other ice cream bars that would fit the bill, but none could compare. Dove bars, I think, were the closest I could find, but they were still lacking.

Until now.

When Foodbuzz's Tastemaker Program asked if I would like to receive a trial box of Magnums, I was first in a state of shock, not believing what I read. After I snapped out of it, I was literally rejoicing with songs of praise for the person who made the honorable decision to make these available to grateful Americans! Thank you!!!

Source: {via}
Magnum means "great" or "mighty," an apt name for this, albeit small, flavorful bite of sweetness. Their chocolatey coating is, in fact, mighty. Certainly not for those who prefer the taste of Hershey's. Their hearty shell contains a delightful ice cream, every bit rich and creamy. There was a bit of difficulty finding these at the store as others had discovered their greatness too. If you find some lurking in the freezer section, be sure to snatch them up quickly before others in your area are turned on to their supreme flavor. Only 3 in a box, you might need to stock up.