Monthly Archives: December 2008

Beer Cheese Soup

Being vegan for about 5 years, its only been recently that I’ve come to experience the awesomeness of beer cheese soup.

The first time I had some was at Hamilton’s Tavern a few months ago, my friends were raving about it, but I was still a little skittish about my lack of cheese for so long I didn’t appreciate it for what it was. I tried it again later and enjoyed it. Then we went to Stone World Bistro and Gardens one night and I had their Garlic Cheddar & Stone Ruination IPA Soup. Garlic and good beer are two of my favorite foods, and the Stone Ruination IPA is a good beer, so this soup was perfect. With extra sharp white cheddar it was good and flavorful and bitter and tasty.

Last night I set out to make my own Beer Cheese Soup with some lackluster results. So I’m turning to you dear readers to leave a comment below telling me how to spice up this soup and make it something to be proud of.

I started by sauteing half a white onion and about five cloves of garlic in butter, then adding two diced jalapenos. After they were cooked a bit I added about a pint of Stone IPA and about the same amount of vegetable broth. I let this cook for about 20 minutes and then threw it in the food processor to make it smooth.

Back on the stove I added about a cup of low-fat milk and 8oz of shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese. To thicken it up a bit I slowly added some flour while stirring. Then some salt and pepper.

I think I served it too hot and as it cooled down it just didn’t have the right taste to it, but I couldn’t figure out what went wrong. It had plenty of cheese and beer in it, but just lacked that delcious flavor of the soups I’ve had a restaurants.

Some things I’m thinking of trying next time:

  • No jalapenos, they made it spicy but overpowered it I think
  • Roasted garlic and more garlic
  • Some spices, maybe paprika
  • Less vegetable broth
  • Half and half or cream instead of milk
  • Less flour
  • A higher quality cheese, maybe more cheese

If anyone out there has any experience with homemade Beer Cheese Soup or any ideas on how to make it let me know.

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Christian the Lion

My friend Oliver sent me this video.

This might be my favorite youtube video ever.

Halls, the Worlds Candies

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I just finished a pack of Halls. Ginger Ale Halls to be exact. I bought them last night around eight o’clock. I’m not sick, I don’t eat them as “cough drops”, but rather as the most addictive little candies I’ve ever had (to be fair I did give two away).

I don’t really eat too much candy, but there’s just something about Halls, the pseudo-medicine that gets me hooked. Until just a few years ago I always thought of Halls as cough drops, something to be taken when sick and not thought of much else. A couple years ago I noticed a housemate of mine, from Italy, always had a bag of Halls and was eating them constantly. I asked her how she was feeling and if she was sick. She had no idea why I thought that, and after a few cultural differences we got it figured out that she wasn’t sick and Halls aren’t medicine. “Cough drops? Medicine? In Italy these are candies”, she told me. And when you think about it, the only thing even close to medication in them is menthol.

I don’t remember when I started eating them like candy, I know she gave me some at the time, and I would eat more of them when I had a sore throat or cough, but soon enough I was popping them just like the little mint candies they are.

While I Brazil I realized that they weren’t treated as medicine in that country, they were sold in grocery stores along side candy and by street vendors on nearly every block. If I remember right they were about twenty-five cents US for a pack of them (nine to a pack). They had all sorts of flavors, regular “Mentho-lyptus”, extra strong menthol, strawberries and cream, and my favorite, the Brazilian Acai flavor with guarana. Acai is a berry grown in the Amazon that they make smoothies out of, and it contains guarana which has caffeine in it. These were good, they were the perfect balance of menthol and other flavors. Most of the flavored Halls are far too sweet.

When I moved down to Mexico I got hooked on them again. Same as in Brazil, they’re sold in the grocery stores with candy and by street vendors. A few weeks ago I got “Paloma” flavor, I’m not quite sure what that is, it had a picture of a grapefruit on it, and grapefruit and agave were listed in the ingredients, but it was far too sweet. In Mexico a pack of hall is about fourty-five cents US at the grocery store, probably cheaper from street vendors. They have some with jelly inside the hard candy, but I find that to be a bit much.

There are plenty of interesting flavors stateside also. Cherry seems to be a regular (which I’ve somehow never had. I’m sure it’s too sweet). Watermelon is around a lot too. But since they’re not seen as candy around here they don’t stray too far from those flavors associated with cough drops too often.

I must not be truly addicted, I can go weeks without having any, but once I buy a pack they’re almost always gone within a day or two. And I get excited when I see new flavors, like last nights Ginger Ale.

New Music: Joel P West

I finally saw Joel P West live last week. After months of listening to his new album, his live show didn’t disappoint.

He played the final show in the Adapta Project vs Sezio art shows at Cream Coffeehouse in University Heights.

Kinsee first introduced me to his album Dust Jacket which can be downloaded by trading something with him. Most people send pictures, poems or songs, I sent a poem and he sent me a link to download the album. A few weeks later I saw the poem posted on the Dust Jacket Project blog. I downloaded the album and was immediately hooked, its catchy and fun, one of the best new albums I’ve heard in a long time. So I was a little afraid the live show wouldn’t live up to the greatness of the album, thankfully it did.

Just a guitar and a cello, the music was soft and quiet and beautiful in the corner of the cafe. The PA wasn’t up to task though and the music couldn’t be heard over the chatter of the crowd. After a few songs the show moved outside onto the sidewalk. A smaller, quieter crowd followed and we were treated to a few more songs. It’s not often you see a musician decide to move their show outside so the people that really want to hear the music can, but thats what we got that night.

There are some pictures and commentary from the whole night at Sezio.

Sensations lead to Memories

Yesterday, dripping wet from running to my car in the pouring rain, I turned the heater to full blast and put on Okkervil River’s Down the River of Golden Dreams. As the music started to get going the sounds, the wet hair and clothes and the smell of the heater all sort of combined nostalgically reminding me of the rain, space heaters and most importantly, listening to a lot of Okkervil River when I lived in Santa Cruz.

As I listened to the whole album, and then some other songs of theirs, most of the songs reminded me of a specific event, person, time or feeling.

It Ends With a Fall reminds me of walking down a brightly lit and decorated Pacific Avenue after work, on cold but dry December evenings, working my way through the Christmas shoppers and then down to a dark Laurel street and a lonely walk home alone.

Blanket and Crib – a housemate who didn’t like me much and never really gave me a chance.

The War Criminal Rises and Speaks– The smell of fresh baked bread coming from the Subway on Pacific Avenue.

The Velocity of Saul at the Time of His Conversion– This memory is much more recent. Standing on the deck at a friend’s apartment, winded from running, drunk from drinking, tired from not sleeping, a phone call and a conversation, Ryan playing this song for me as the night quietly winded down.

Song About a Star- New Years Eve with a German anarchist, staring up at the stars in the cold night just before midnight.

Red – drunkenly slow dancing, waltzing even at times when my feet would remember thats what they were supposed to do, in the common room.

Kansas City – Sunday afternoons and cooking with Elena, making and drinking vin brulé. Pretending like we knew what we were doing in the kitchen while talking about freedom and autonomy.

Westfall – Megan playing it on the guitar and the unexpected looks on people’s faces as she sang the lyrics.

Listening to Otis Redding at Home During Christmas – A cold December night spent drinking room temperature Guinness at the Poet  with a new friend. Talking about the past and the future.

No Key, No Plan – Scrawling the lyrics out on the shower wall with special shower crayons.

A Favor – Lying in bed in silence with a friend, this song blaring from speakers, but neither of us with the energy to get up and turn the volume down. Finding out the next day that she was sure we were dying and our lifeless bodies would be found the next morning.

The Way I Measure a Bar

There are two types of bars I care to frequent. Both need to have friendly bartenders and a good vibe.

The first type is the beer bar, it should have good draft beer and at least a decent selection of bottles. A good example of this type of bar in San Diego is Hamilton’s Tavern.

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If a bar isn’t a beer bar, with an excellent selection, then I don’t really care about the beer at all, but they better have some decent whiskey. Most bars will have at least one or two good bourbons, so the way I measure these bars is very simple. Do they have ginger ale? I don’t always like to drink whiskey on the rocks, and no other mixer compares to real ginger ale (don’t try to give me seven-up and coke please).

Last night I finally made it to Starlite. I’d been wanting to check it out since they opened last year and I saw this picture on the cover of the Citybeat. (In fact, it was this fella that inspired me to start growing a moustache last year, which made it all the more funny when someone jokingly asked me last night if that was me in that picture).

So I knew Starlite was a good bar when I saw they had ginger beer (I’m really not sure what the difference is between ginger beer and ginger ale). They had a specialty drink, the Kentucky Colonel, which was bourbon, ginger beer, lemon and bitters. It was good, but the bourbon and ginger beer alone was good enough.

If I’m not drinking whiskey on the rocks I prefer the Whiskey Pres (short for Presbyterian apparently…). Whiskey with half ginger ale half club soda. In Santa Cruz where I was first introduced to the Whiskey Pres ($3 at the Rush Inn) they made them with Seven-Up, I never realized how wrong this was until I had one properly made.

I really wish more bars would have ginger ale for mixing drinks.

A Rainy Weekend

The weekend was rainy and mellow.

We watched a handful of movies; The Triplets of Belleville and Paris, je t’aime. I fell asleep watching No Country for Old Men and I half watched The Darjeeling Limited.

I finally finished The English Major by Jim Harrison, I really enjoyed it but it took me far too long to read.

While grocery shopping I found this:

Havana Club

Havana Club

I couldn’t resist. Even though the weather wasn’t right for it, I made a Lime Daquiri (rumored to be Hemingway’s favorite drink) as soon as I got home.

At the store we also got some tomatillo’s so I decided to make some salsa. It was surprisingly easy to make delicious fresh tasting salsa. With all this good salsa we needed something to eat it with, so I made a giant plate of nacho’s (which proved to be too much food).

Nachos

Nachos