Monday, May 25, 2015

Catfish Milanese

If you want to trace the impact of a cuisine upon the world, then all you have to do is pick a recipe.  For example, take the dish known as Milanesa (or Milanese in English). Originating in Milan, Italy, a Milanesa is a breaded veal cutlet. The original recipe required a cutlet from a milk-fed veal, bone-in, and fried in clarified butter in the manner that one would fry Weiner Schnitzel, It is known as Cotoletta alla Milanesa

During the Italian diaspora in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, many emigrants took this dish to their new homes, many of which were in the Western Hemisphere.  The breaded cutlet dish found a new home in restaurants, especially in South America.  The dish evolved over the years and decades, with cooks breading much more than veal.  They breaded chicken cutlets and beef cutlets.  Cooks in different countries also made their own mark on the dish.  For example, in Argentina, Bolivia and Uruguay, cooks prepared the cutlets with potatoes, calling it Milanesa con papas frites.  Milanesa has become so common, particularly in Latin American countries, that one could think that the dish originated in the New World, as opposed to restaurants and homes half a world away.

Drawing from the New-World inspiration, I decided to make a variation of a Milanesa.  This variation did away with the meat, and relied upon fish.  In particular, I used blue catfish for this dish.  The blue catfish originated in the Missouri, Mississippi and Ohio river basins; however, the fish were introduced into rivers in nearby Virginia.  The blue catfish are a very sturdy species and have made their way into the Chesapeake Bay.  The blue catfish has done so well, that it is considered an invasive species in the Chesapeake Bay, threatening the Bay's iconic residents, most notably, the blue crab. 

While the blue catfish may not have many natural predators in the water, it has a very big predator outside of the water.  Given its designation as an invasive species, and its threat to native species, it is always open season to catch blue catfish and cook them around here.  Indeed, unlike the iconic rockfish (which has a 1 to 2 fish catch limit), the State of Maryland does not place any limit on catfish.

When I came across blue catfish fillets in my local grocery store, I thought that these fillets were perfect for a Milanese recipe.  The fillets were just thick enough that they could be breaded and fried like a chicken or veal cutlet.  The fillets also appeared hardy enough to serve as an adequate substitute for meat.  My initial thoughts proved accurate, as the blue catfish worked extremely well in a Milanese recipe.  The only hitch is that, unlike veal or chicken, one cannot pound catfish to get the desired thickness.  Therefore, it is very important to purchase fillets that are even in thickness and just thick enough to stand up to about six or eight minutes of cooking.

A Chef Bolek Original
Serves 4

4 catfish fillets, about 6-8 ounces each 
2 large eggs 
1 1/2 cups of panko breadcrumbs
4 tablespoons of butter
1 lemon, juiced
6 tablespoons of olive oil
3 cups of arugula, lightly packed

1.  Bread the catfish.  Place the panko bread crumbs on one dish.  Beat the eggs in a separate dish. Dip each filet in the beaten eggs and then into the bread crumbs.  Make sure the fillets are completely coated and press gently to adhere the coating the fillets.

2.  Fry the catfish. Heat 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat.  Add 2 fillets and fry until brown and crisp, about 4 minutes.  Flip the fillets and continue to cook for about 2 minutes.  Remove to a plate lined with a paper towel and place in the oven to keep warm.  Repeat the process with the remaining fillets.

3.  Prepare the arugula.  Whisk 2 tablespoons of olive oil with the lemon juice.  Toss the oil and juice with the arugula, shallots, and tomatoes.

4.  Plate the dish.   Place the catfish in the center of the dish.  Add the arugula mixture over the catfish.  Serve immediately.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Green Fire Ribeye

It seems that chile heat is in vogue.  Turn on your television and your eyesight is burned with commercials for Wendy's Jalapeno Ghost Fries or Popeye's Ghost Pepper Wings.   The Ghost Pepper, officially known as the Bhut Jolokia, is one very spicy pepper.  The Scoville Rating for the Ghost Pepper, which is the official rating of piquancy, ranges somewhere from 855,000 units to 1,401,427 units.  By way of comparison, Tabasco sauce is approximately 10,000 units.

There is a part of me that loves the challenge of eating fiery foods.  I used to relish eating the spiciest food on the menu and my go-to dishes that I make usually involve combinations of various chiles.   However, as I have pursued cooking as a hobby, my desire to eat the fieriest food within reach has waned.  I think that, over time, it has become more about flavor than heat.  While I still love very spicy peppers and dishes, my attention has turned to ways in which I can highlight, complement or contrast the flavors of chiles.  It is very hard to pursue this goal when the chile, such as the Bhut Jolokia, could be used to simulate nuclear reactions in one's stomach.  

Consequently, I have looked to a wide range of other chiles, many of which have substantial, but not overpowering heat.  I have used Sanaam chiles, Piri Piri chiles, Scotch Bonnets, and others.   One of my most favorite chiles to experiment with is the Hatch chile.  It is definitely on the low end, with only about 1,000 to 2,500 units on the Scoville Scale. 

Sometimes less can be more.  When one uses a chile with a lower piquancy, it allows for other the flavors of other spices to shine in a rub or marinade.  This is what I tried to achieve with a recent rub that I made for a grilled steak.  I call it the "Green Fire" rub, because the backbone of the mix is ground green Hatch chiles.   I took advantage of the lower piquancy of the chiles to allow for other ingredients, such as coriander, garlic and cumin, to come through in the flavor of the rub.  The rub still packed a kick, because I made sure that a sizable amount of the ground chile was used.  About 1 teaspoon per per pound of meat.  This ensured a good amount of heat, without numbing taste buds or otherwise taking away from the dish.

A Chef Bolek Original
Serves 1

1 ribeye, about 1 pound
1 teaspoon ground green hatch chile
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon cumin

1. Apply the rub.   Combine all of the spices and herbs in a small bowl.  Apply the rub to all sides of the ribeye.  Let the ribeye stand at room temperature for about ten to fifteen minutes.

2. Grill the ribeye.  Heat the grill on high heat.  Grill the ribeye for about three minutes, shift by 90 degrees, and grill for about 3 minutes more.  Flip and repeat for a total of six minutes.  Remove and let rest for 10 minutes.


Friday, May 1, 2015


Under a threatening sky, BESIEGED by rain clouds, lightening glinting in the hills, the winemaker worked alone to collect grapes destined for one of his debut wines. As he worked, the ravens cackled from above but instead of being harbingers of doom, they brought him good good fortune, becoming the totem for his winery.  The winery is Ravenswood.  And the wine.  It is Besieged.

I have to admit that the label caught my eye.  However, I do not buy wines solely on the label.  Many a bottle has stood on a shelf because I will not allow myself to be swayed by what is little more than marketing.  The one thing that led me to purchase a bottle of this wine was the blend ... Petite Sirah, Carignan, Zinfandel, Alicante Boushet, and Mourvedre.  I am a big fan of Petite Sirah, and have a great interest in both Carignan and Mourvedre.  But Alicante Boushet?  I had never heard of that varietal.  It was the prospect of having a wine made with a grape that I had never tasted.

The grape, Alicante Bouschet, is a hybrid, produced by crossing Petit Boushet and Grenache.  It was first cultivated by ... Henri Bouschet ... in 1866.  The result was a high quality grape that enticed French vineyards and winemakers throughout much of France, including Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Loire Valley, as well as by Portuguese vineyards in the Alentejo.  It is also a popular grape among winemakers and vineyards in California, including Joel Peterson of Ravenswood.

The Besieged pours a dark red to almost black. Something that echoes the colors of a raven's wings.  The aroma is full of fresh, ripe dark fruit, such as blackberries, black cherries and plums.  There is a slight spice or pepper in the background, but it struggles to make itself known amongst the fruit.

As for the taste, I have to say that I was truly impressed with this wine.  The elements include the fruit -- blackberry, black cherry, and plum.  The winemakers also suggest a rather peculiar spice ... cardamom.  And, I have to say, I actually picked up the cardamom in the wine.  It revealed itself for just a few moments before being wrapped in the dryness of the tannins in the wine. The finish is a little dry, but that is to be expected given the use of Zinfandel and Mourvedre.

When it comes to pairing, this wine is perfect for a grilled steak or other grilled meat, such as chicken or pork.  The fruit flavors, and the cardamom, contribute to the flavors of the grilled meat.  I paired this wine with my Green Fire Ribeye, which is a grilled steak with a rub made of green Hatch chile, coriander, cumin, onion powder and garlic powder.  Notwithstanding the use of chile powder, the wine still worked very well because the tannins are relatively tame.

I found this wine in a local grocery store.  A bottle runs from $14.99 to $16.99.


Monday, April 27, 2015

Pan Seared Scallops with a Roasted Red Pepper Curry Coulis

My relationship with scallops as an ingredient has, historically, been a troubled one.  At times, I love the ingredient and think of various different ways to prepare this shellfish.  Those times often coincide with other inspirations and influences.  The results are dishes such as Seared Sea Scallops with Carrot-Orange Gastrique and Cauliflower Puree.  Then there are the periods where I hate scallops.  I see it on a menu and I keep looking.  When I am in the kitchen or my local grocery store, my mind races away from the ingredient, looking for substitutions or different recipes altogether.

Recently, I was inspired by my beautiful Angel to make a scallop dish.   I perused the Internet looking for recipe ideas and I came across the idea of scallops served with a red pepper coulis.  A coulis is a thick sauce made from fruits or vegetables.  The name itself comes from an old French word -- couleis -- which, in turn, comes from the Latin word -- colatus -- or "to strain."  The sauce is made by pureeing the fruit or vegetable and then passing it through a sieve or strainer.    The one coulis most often paired with scallops is a pepper coulis.  I found a recipe from a website, that for a roasted red pepper curried coulis.  Given my love for curry, this recipe seemed perfect.  I had my recipe - Pan Seared Scallops with a Roasted Red Pepper Curry Coulis.

Jessica Gavin happens to be a certified food scientist and her recipe included something else that interested me ... a step that called for brining the scallops.  This step originated with Thomas Keller, who has a recipe for Caramelized Sea Scallops in his cookbook, Ad Hoc At Home, that calls for the scallops to be brined before being seared. A brine for scallops is intriguing.  Like many seafood, scallops are notorious for how quickly they cook and for how absolutely horrible they are when overcooked.  The brine helps to provide some additional flavor to the scallops and also helps to firm the scallops' flesh.

These two new elements -- the  brining of the scallops and the use of a coulis -- have opened new doors for me, to say the least.  From now on, a brine will be a mandatory, preparatory step whenever I prepare scallops.  As for the coulis, the ease of making it means that I will be experimenting with this sauce, particularly on those evenings when I have less time to prepare a nice meal.  

Recipe adapted from one by Jessica Gavin
Serves 2

Ingredients (for the scallops):
1 pound of jumbo scallops, muscle removed (about 8 to 10 pieces)
3 tablespoons of grapeseed or olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Sea salt, as needed
Freshly ground black pepper 
Micro-greens, for garnish

Ingredients (for the scallop brine):
1/2 cup kosher salt
1 cup hot water
4 cups cold water

Ingredients (for the Roasted Red Pepper Curry Coulis):
1 large red bell pepper (about 2/3 cup of roasted pepper)
1 tablespoon of grapeseed or olive oil
1 tablespoon of shallots, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon of curry powder
1 tablespoon of coconut milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

Ingredients (for the Vegetable Stack):
1 eggplant, sliced
1 Yukon Gold potato, sliced
1 sweet onion sliced
Grapeseed or olive oil
Salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste

1.  Prepare the coulis.  Roast the red peppers directly over a gas flame or under the broiler, turning occasionally until the peppers are blackened all over.  Transfer the pepper the pepper to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to cool completely.  Peel the pepper and discard the skin, seeds and core.  In a food processor or blender, combine the peppers with the oil, shallot, curry powder, coconut milk, salt and ginger.  Puree the coulis until very smooth and then strain through a sieve to remove air bubbles.  Season the coulis with additional salt if needed.  Set aside until ready to serve.

2.  Prepare the vegetable stock.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a baking sheet with a non-stick spray.  Place the sliced eggplants, potatoes and onions on a baking sheet.  Brush the vegetables with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and black pepper.  Bake for about 15 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked. 

3.  Brine the scallops.  In a medium sized bowl, combine the salt with boiling water, stirring to dissolve the salt.  Add ice water to cool the brine.  Add scallops to the brine and let stand for 10 minutes.  Drain the scallops, rinse under cold water and arrange in a single layer on a paper towel lined baking sheet.  Place a paper towel on top of the scallops and gently press to remove the additional moisture.  Allow to sit for 10 minutes at room temperature before cooking.

4.  Sear the scallops.  Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large stainless steel frying pan over medium high heat until it ripples and begins to smoke.  Sprinkle scallops lightly with salt and add them to the pan without crowding.  Cook the scallops without moving them, until the bottoms are a rich golden brown, about 3 to 3 1/2 minutes.  Add 1 tablespoon of butter to the pan.  Turn the scallops and caramelize the second side, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.  Transfer to a serving platter.  Lightly season with freshly ground black pepper.

5.  Plate the dish. Stack the vegetables, alternating eggplant, potato and onion.  Spoon the coulis over the vegetable stack and on the plate.  Place 2 scallops on top of the stack and 3-4 scallops on the plate.  Top with micro-greens. 


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Steak Marchand de Vin

French cooks believe that good meat deserves a sauce.  These words were written by Anne Willan, the author of one of my favorite French cookbooks, The Country Cooking of France.  Anne Willan is a member of the James Beard Cookbook Hall of Fame.  She received that honor for her cookbooks, which have focused on French Cuisine.  She wrote those books with the goal of helping home cooks, like myself, learn the techniques and recipes used by French cooks and chefs.

One of these recipes is called "Steak Marchand de Vin," also known as "Winemaker's Steak."  A "Marchand de Vin," is a quick jus or sauce made with wine and fresh herbs.  In this case, the sauce is made after pan frying a steak.  Willan says that any cut of steak can be used in this recipe, from a filet to T-bone or entrecote.  With all of the fond in the pan, a cook uses wine to deglaze the pan and incorporate those flavors into what becomes the sauce.   As the wine reduces, with the alcohol evaporating, along with some of the liquid, the pan is removed from the heat and fresh herbs are added.  The end result is a very simple sauce that is full of flavor.

One last note, as any chef or cook will tell you, you cook with a wine you want to drink.  For this recipe, I used a Saumur Champigny, a wine from the Loire region of France.  The wine worked very well with this recipe, because of its ripe cherry and cranberry elements.  If you can't find that wine, look for a Côtes du Rhône or another red wine from France, especially if you want to keep with the French inspiration.   If you are looking for other inspirations, many consider a Carmenere from Chile.  Those wines often have a spice or pepper element to them that could provide another layer of flavor to the sauce.

Recipe from Anne Willan, The Country Cooking of France, p. 135
Serves 4

4 steaks, cut 3/4 inch thick (about 1 1/2 pounds)
4 tablespoons of butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 cup of full bodied red wine
Leaves from 3 to 4 sprigs of fresh tarragon, chopped
3 to 4 fresh chives blades, chopped
3 or 4 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped

1.  Brown the steaks.  Season the steaks on both sides with salt and pepper.  Melt half of the butter in a frying pan over high heat until it stops foaming.  Add the steaks and fry until well browned 2 to 3 minutes.  Turn them, lower the heat slightly, and continue frying until brown and cooked to your taste, 2 to 3 minutes for rare steak, 3 to 5 minutes if you prefer it more done.  Lift out the steaks and set on warmed plates, keep warm.

2.  Make the wine sauce.  Pour all of 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pan and return to high heat.  Add the shallots and garlic and saute until soft, about 2 minutes.  Add the wine and boil rapidly until reduced by half.  Take from the heat and whisk in the remaining butter in small pieces.  Stir in the herbs, taste, and adjust the heat.  Spoon the sauce over the steaks and serve at once.


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Saumur Champigny (2011)

Saumur Champigny.  According to some, the name is derived from Latin, campus igni, or "fields of fire." Those "fields" are nestled in the Loire Valley of France, between the cities of Angers and Tours.  The terrain in this region is a low plateau of tuffeau, which is a yellow, sandy and porous metamorphic rock that is ideal for the cultivation of grapes in this appellation.

The principal grape grown in the Saumur appellation is Cabernet Franc, although Cabernet Sauvignon and Pineau d'Aunis (a rare varietal) are also cultivated there.  The wine - Saumur - is made from Cabernet Franc grapes.  Indeed, the rules require that at least 90% of the grapes used to make Saumur wine must be Cabernet Franc, allowing for the use of the Cabernet Sauvignon or, more rarely, the Pineau d'Aunis grapes. Those Saumur wines of the highest quality are given the designation of "Champigny."

The Saumur Champigny pours a garnet to crimson red color.  The aroma of this wine provides hint of some cherry and other ripe berries.  However, what makes this wine remarkable is its mouthfeel and taste.  On the one hand, the Saumur Champigny has what seems like a relatively light body.  This lightness is somewhat deceiving, because the taste of the wine is full of ripe cherry and even a little cranberry.  These elements suggest a darker, bolder wine.  There is also a minerality to the wine, along with well balanced tannins.  The result is a full bodied wine with a deceptive lightness, encased in tannins that frame the entire experience.  

All of these features would seem to suggest more Cabernet Sauvignon than Cabernet Franc. Nevertheless, the rules of the appellation clearly say that it is much more Cabernet Franc than Cabernet Sauvignon in the production of this wine.  For this reason, I find the Saumur Champigny to be a very interesting and enjoyable wine.

When  it comes to pairing, the Saurmur Champigny is best paired with grilled or roasted beef or poultry.  I paired this wine with a Steak Marchand de Vin and the pairing was perfect.  The wine also pairs well with roasted chicken or fig-stuffed rabbit.  (I need to find a recipe for that rabbit, because it sounds interesting).

As for the wine, I purchased a bottle a couple of years ago from Le Bistro du Beaujolais, which is my favorite French restaurant. The owner recommended the wine and I have to say that he was right.  I can't recall what I paid for the wine, but if you see a bottle, it is definitely worth trying.  


Monday, March 9, 2015

Chipotle-Garlic Roasted Turkey Thighs with Roasted Potatoes and Turkey Crackling

It has been a while since I tried to create my own recipes, or a recipe that I would deem worthy of being published on this blog. To be sure, I am not a professional chef.  I cannot expect that I will create dishes at a level of many of the chefs that I follow through social media.   That is not really the objective of this blog.  Instead, this blog is about my journey through food.  It is about learning new things about ingredients, cooking techniques, cuisines and much, much more.  

Yet, there are times when I return to things I know and love.  I know how to roast a turkey thigh.  I love the combination of Mexican inspired ingredients, such as chipotle peppers, garlic, cumin, and adobo, in a rub.   That is how this recipe for Chipotle-Garlic Roasted Turkey Thighs developed.  I purchased a couple of bone-in, skin-on turkey thighs and returned home to rifle through my spice drawer to get together all of ingredients for the rub.   

Once I gathered all of the ingredients, I stopped and looked at the thighs, focusing upon the skin.  I could prepare these thighs with the skin, hoping that the skin would crisp up by the time the thighs themselves were cooked.  That had not always happened in the past.  Or, I should say, the skin has not always been as crisp as I would have liked it.    I was halted, at least for the moment.  The question was what to do with the skin.

The answer came in one word.  Crackling.  I have passed bags of pork crackling on the shelves of my local grocery store.  I thought to myself, "why can't I make turkey crackling."  Apparently, that thought had crossed the minds of many others.  There are many different recipes for turkey crackling.  However, they all say the same thing -- stretch the skin out on a non-stick pan or baking sheet, sprinkle with salt, and bake until brown and crispy at about 350 degrees Fahrenheit in the oven.

As one question was answered, another arose.  What to do with the crackling?  One obvious answer was simply to eat it.  I decided that I would break it up and add it to the potatoes that would be roasted with the turkey thighs.   Once that decision was made, the recipe was set and the cooking commenced ....

A Chef Bolek Original
Serves 2-3

2 turkey thighs, with skin and bones
2-3 large garlic cloves, diced finely
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
1/2 teaspoon toasted, granulated onion
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/4 teaspoon adobo powder
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1 pound of red skinned potatoes
1 onion, peeled and quartered

1.  Make crackling.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Remove turkey skin from thighs.  Spread skin on baking sheet and salt generously.  Bake the skin for 30 minutes until brown and crispy.  Remove from the oven and place turkey skin on a plate.  Set aside.

2.  Prepare marinade.  De-bone thighs.  Combine garlic, chipotle powder, granulated onion, Kosher salt, dried oregano and adobo powder.  Apply marinade to turkey thighs.  Place thighs in the refrigerator to marinate for 1 to 2 hours.

3.  Boil the potatoes.   Clean the potatoes. Slice the potatoes in half.  Bring a pot of water to boiling.  Add the potatoes and boil until almost tender, about 5 to 10 minutes.  Drain and set aside for the moment.

4.  Roast the turkey thighs.  Increase the temperature of the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place the turkey thighs in a roasting pan with the onions and potatoes.  Roast for 15 minutes and then lower the temperature to 375 degrees.  Continue roasting until the temperature of the turkey is 165 degrees Fahrenheit, about 35 to 40 minutes.   

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Trail Head

Few beers are brewed with a purpose but the Fat Head's Trail Head Pale Ale is one of them. The purpose is clearly set forth on the can: get your can off the couch, find a Trail Head, and give back some good vibes.  A "trailhead" is, as the word suggests, the head of a trail.  There is more to the word than its obvious meaning.  A trail head is not simply the beginning of a trail.  It is the start of an adventure through the wonder that is Mother Nature. 

The Trail Head Pale Ale is dedicated to the adventures that one can enjoy in the Cleveland Metro Parks.  The Metro Parks are a ring of connected nature preserves encompassing more than 21,000 acres.  That ring is also known as the "Emerald Necklace," providing a deep green that contrasted with the brownish image of a once-proud steel town that became part of the Rust Belt.  The necklace is invaluable to local residents, offering an escape where people could hike, boat, fish and observe all sorts of nature.

The Metro Parks
I know the Metro Parks well.  Having grown up outside of Cleveland, I have memories of riding my bike with my father along the trails.  I also have memories of fishing in Baldwin Lake with my grandfather.  Even after I left the Cleveland area, I would still return to visit family and friends. Inevitably, I would find myself in those parks, walking the trails, taking pictures and enjoying the beauty that is nature.

The head brewer of Fat Head's brewery, Matt Cole, is also familiar with those trails. He brewed the Trail Head Pale Ale and a portion of the sales of every pint and growler goes to help maintain the 270 miles of trails of the Metro Parks.  Just as I visit the Metro Parks, I also visit Fat Heads.  I've had this beer on a few occasions.  However, Fat Head's now bottles and cans its beers, which allows me to take some home to enjoy ... and, of course, write a beer review.  

Matt Cole and the other brewers at Fat Head's brew this beer with a variety of ingredients.  The hop list is four-fold: Citra, Mosaic, Simcoe and Amarillo.  Each hop has a reputation for its aroma or taste; but together, the hops provide a chorus of pine, citrus, and tropical fruit.  The malt list is also four-fold: pale, Munich, Crystal and Carapils.  The end product is an American Pale Ale with a 6.3 ABV and 55 IBU.

The Trail Head pours a dark orange, copper color, with a thin cloud of foam that floats on the surface of the beer.  As the beer sits in the glass, the aromas of lemon and other citrus, wrapped with pine needles greets the nose.  The taste of the pale ale gives hints of each of the hops used in the brewing process.  The citrus notes are well developed and complemented by piney notes that follow.  With each sip, there is a pleasant bitterness that accompanies the beer.  That bitterness gently grasps the edges of the tongue, holding through the finish.  This is a pale ale for hop heads, and, it is definitely a great beer.  

As with any American Pale Ale, the Trail Head pairs well with shellfish dishes, such as Sauteed Shrimp with Shrimp Hummus or Grilled Soft Shell Crabs.  The pale ale also pairs well with any grilled or roasted meats, such as a grilled porterhouse or grilled ribeye.

The Trail Head is available for sale at the Fat Head's restaurants or tap room.  It might also be available at grocery stores in the Cleveland area, but I could not say that for certain.  If you happen to come across a six pack, it is definitely worth the price.

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