Sunday, September 17, 2017

Broiled Lamb Hearts with Salsa Verde and Fresh Chickpea Salad

If you are looking for an economical cut of meat that is still very tasty, then you have to look no further than lamb heart.  At about $4.99 a pound (give or take a few cents or a dollar),  as compared to $9.99 or even $19.99 for other more popular cuts of lamb or beef, it is definitely worth a try.  The only thing is that you have to look very hard to find lamb hearts.  The average grocery store does not stock them.

Fortunately, I have found lamb hearts on occasion at a certain large grocery store that just happened to merge with an online behemoth.  I have cooked with this ingredient twice before.  My first dish was Khalyat Alkadba Wal Galoob (Fried Heart and Liver), which is a Libyan dish I prepared in connection with my Around the World in 80 Dishes challenge.  The second dish was Cuore di Agnello Brasata al Chianti (Lamb Hearts Braised in Chianti).  Both dishes were very good and have always left me wanting more.  

During a recent trip to said large grocery store soon to be owned by even larger online behemoth, I saw that it had lamb hearts.  I decided to buy them and try a more simpler preparation.  I was not going to prepare them in an ethnic style (although I did give that a thought for a moment).  I was not going to do anything fancy with a bottle of wine.  Instead, I decided that I would broil the hearts and try to find different ways to add contrasting and complementing flavors.  

I found a recipe for broiling lamb hearts on LiveStrong, which had a preparatory step that I did not know.  The recipe called for placing the lamb hearts in a bowl of salted water.  In other words, to do a brine.  The recipe did not provide any time limits for the brining of the lamb hearts.  I was also working only with slightly over a half of a pound of meat, as opposed to a twelve pound turkey.  So, I decided that, at most, a half an hour in the brine.  That half of an hour made an incredible difference.  Once cooked the meat was far more tender than my previous attempts and a little more flavorful.  After trying this preparation, I would strongly recommend a brief brine for lamb hearts because it will pay off in the end. 

Still, I only had lamb heart.  I needed something to go with that meat.  I pulled out my cookbooks and surfed the Internet until I came across two recipes from Michael Symon, the well-known chef who hails from Cleveland (which is also my hometown).  One recipe was for a salsa verde, which I thought would go well over the broiled lamb heart.  The recipe was for a Fresh Chick Pea Salad, which made a great side dish.  Both sides are very easy to make and helped to round out a complete meal. 

Now, I know most people are already turned off by the lamb hearts.  Unfortunately, we have been raised to only think about steak, like ribeyes, strip steaks, or burgers.  The supposedly more adventurous think about lamb shanks and rack of lamb.  But, it is in these often overlooked cuts of meat where one can find some true culinary joy. 


BROILED LAMB HEART WITH SALSA VERDE
AND FRESH CHICK  PEA SALAD
Lamb heart recipe adapted from Live Strong
Salsa Verde and Fresh Chick Pea Salad from Cooking Channel

Ingredients (for the lamb):
1/2 pound of lamb heart
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of sherry vinegar
Salt
Ground pepper

Ingredients (for the salsa verde):
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 shallot, minced
1 salt packed anchovy (or a teaspoon anchovy paste)
2 tablespoon salt-packed capers
Pinch red chile flakes
1/2 Fresno chile (or a Cubanelle or Anaheim chile)
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1/2 cup chiffonade fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chiffonade
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Freshly cracked black pepper
Kosher salt

Ingredients (for the chick pea salad):
Salt
3 cups fresh chickpeas, shelled
1/2 shallot, thinly sliced
1/2 Fresno chile (or a Cubanelle or Anaheim chile)
Freshly cracked black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly picked flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup freshly picked mint leaves

Directions:
1.  Prepare the lamb hearts.  Use kitchen scissors or a sharp knife to remove as much fat and connective tissue from the surface of the lamb heart as possible.  Rinse the heart and place it in a bowl of cold water mixed with a pinch of salt.  Preheat the broiler.  Combine the oil and vinegar and whisk together.

2.  Prepare the salsa verde.  In a medium bowl, add the garlic, shallot, anchovy, capers, red chile flakes, chile, lemon zest (save juice for later), mint and parsley.  Save the lemon juice just until serving  - this will help prevent the herbs from turning a dark unappealing color.  Add the extra virgin olive oil and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste.  Set aside.  Do not salt now.  Allow the flavors to come together.  

3.  Prepare the chickpea salad.  Put a large pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil.  Once at a boil, season with salt and add the chickpeas.  Allow to blanch for about 10 to 15 seconds.  Add the shallots and chile to a medium bowl.  Drain the chickpeas and add to the shallots and chile.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.  Toss in the parsley and mint leave.  Taste and season if needed.

4.  Broil the lamb hearts.  Remove the heart and pat dry with towels.  Put on a broiler pan.  Brush with the olive oil/vinegar mixture.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place under the broiler for about 3 minutes.  Flip the hearts and brush the other side with the olive oil/vinegar mixture.  Continue to cook for 3 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit.  Remove from the broiler and let rest for 3 minutes.  

ENJOY!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Black Ankle Vineyards Slate 3

Wine blends are very intriguing. I have spent a lot of time learning about different varietals, especially ones that people don't usually see.  However, while I work to get an understanding of different grapes, there are people out there who are blending different varietals together.  The learning process almost has to start over again.

Yet, I am willing to continue learning, especially when it comes to the blends such as Black Ankle Vineyard's Slate 3.  This is the third iteration of this blend.  I have previously reviewed the original Slate.  I have tasted the Slate 2, and, there is a bottle in our wine cage.  (That means a wine review may be in the offing.)  But, my beautiful Angel pulled out a Slate 3 from that cage and opened it recently.  So, the wine reviews of the Slate iterations are going to be out of order.  

The Slate 3 is a blend of Bordeaux grapes - Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petite Verdot.  This blend already marks a departure from the original Slate, which had a substantial amount of Syrah and a little Malbec blended into it.  The breakdown for the Slate 3 is 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Cabernet Franc, 25% Merlot and 9% Petit Verdot.  The grapes come from vines that grow on decomposing slate laced with veins of quartzite, with the slopes facing predominantly to the west and the south.  The wine was aged 18 to 30 months in French oak barrels, with 31% of those barrels being new.   It was bottled in April 2017 and 725 cases were produced. 

The wine pours a crimson red with burgundy tones, suggesting a robust red wine.  The winemakers describe the wine with aromatic elements of dried plums, blackberries and currants, with additional taste elements of orange peel and cracked pepper.  

The fruit elements are clearly present in the aroma of the wine.  In addition to blackberries and currants, I thought I sensed some raspberries.  The body of the wine is firm, with a soft middle gently introducing the fruit elements of the wine, while the edges are a little tighter, with some tannins.  The edges also give those pepper notes and even, appropriately enough, some mineral or slate tones.  There is a dry finish that one would expect from a bold red.  

Overall, the Slate 3 is very good and probably will be even better with age.  That is why we still have a couple additional bottles still sitting in the wine cage.  The wine sells for $45 a bottle. 

ENJOY!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Chicken Saltimbocca

As the story goes, the dish known as Saltimbocca originated in Rome.   The story seems kind of sketchy, because one of the featured ingredients - Prosciutto - does not hail from Rome or the province of Lazio, where the capital is located.  Prosciutto comes from two places.  First, there is Prosciutto di Parma, which comes from the region of Emilia Romagna.  Second, there is Prosciutto di San Daniele, which comes from Friuli-Venezia-Giulia.  Given that prosciutto comes from places other than Rome, it made me a little skeptical of the story. 

So, I did my research.  According to one source, the dish of Saltimbocca came from Brescia, which is in Lombardy.  That source also traced the recipe to its first written origin, which was an "influential book" published toward the end of the 19th century by Pellegrino Artusi, an Italian chef.  Chef Artusi included a recipe for "Saltimbocca alla Romana" as Recipe No. 222 in his book.  He also claimed to have the dish at a trattoria named "La Venete" in Rome. 

On additional note about the history of Saltimbocca.  In Rome, Saltimbocca is most commonly prepared with veal.  The recipe adapted as it made its way to America with Italian immigrants, who prepared it with chicken instead of veal.  Chicken is far more commonplace in the United States and is far cheaper than veal. 

I found a recipe for Chicken Saltimbocca in a cookbook by Mario Batali, America Farm to Table.  The recipe looked simple enough to prepare on a busy weekday night, and it included a pan sauce with mushrooms that looked delicious.   

As I made this recipe, I would note a couple of observations.  First, the marsala wine.  One could buy a nice bottle of Marsala wine, which I am sure would make a difference in the final product.  I did not want to spend a lot of money on a wine that I don't drink and, to be honest, don' t cook with very often.  So, I got a store-bought version that probably barely resembles marsala wine.  The cheaper version worked just fine.  Second, the recipe calls for cremini and oyster mushrooms.  That is definitely a good pairing of mushrooms, but I could not find any oyster mushrooms when I went shopping.   The thing about fungi is that they are, for the most part, fungible.  I bought some shiitake mushrooms and they worked just as well as the oyster mushrooms.  

In the end, I can see why Chicken Saltimbocca is a very popular dish.  The flavors from the chicken, sage and prosciutto, enhanced by the sauce and, in this preparation, the tender mushrooms, made for a very enjoyable dinner.   


CHICKEN SALTIMBOCCA
Recipe from Wedge Oak Farm
Printed in Mario Batali, America Farm to Table, pg. 176
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 cup all purpose flour
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs,
8 large fresh sage leaves
8 large slices prosciutto
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound of a mix of cremini and oyster or shiitake mushrooms, 
     cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 cup sweet marsala wine
1/2 cup of chicken stock
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 bunch fresh, flat leaf parsley, finely chopped (1/4 cup)

Directions:
1.  Prepare the chicken. Place the flour in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper.  Lightly pound the chicken thighs to 1/4 inch thickness.  Season with salt and pepper and lay a sage leaf on each thigh.  lay 1 slice of prosciutto over each thigh and fold in half like a book.  Secure the two sides with a toothpick and dredge the whole piece in the seasoned flour. 

2.  Saute the chicken.  In a 12 to 14 inch saute pan, heat the oil until just smoking.  Add the chicken and saute until golden brown on both sides, then transfer to a plate.  Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook until the mushrooms have sweated out their liquid, 5 to 6 minutes.  Add the marsala and chicken stock and cook over high heat until reduced by half.  Return the chicken thighs to the an with the sauce and simmer for 3 minutes.  Swirl in the butter, add the parsley and serve. 

ENJOY!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Massaya Le Colombier (2014)

When one thinks of wine, he or she probably thinks of France or Italy.  Australia or Chile.  Argentina or California  Very few people would think of Lebanon.  Yet, the land of the Cedars happens to be one of the oldest wine producing areas in the world. The history of wine-making can be traced back as far as 2686 BC, when wines of Byblos were sent to the Old Kingdom of Egypt.  Wines of other cities in what is now Lebanon -- such as Tyre and Sidon -- were reknown throughout the Mediterranean, spreading along with the Phoenicians as they traveled across the sea.

Wine continued to be produced over the years, decades and centuries.  As the region came under control of a caliphate, wine production decreased.  It was prohibited outright by the Ottoman Empire, although exceptions were made for Christians in the region (as consumption of wine by Muslims is prohibited).  Wine experienced a resurgence when the region came under the control of the French in the 1920s.  After Lebanon gained its independence, wine production continued, although it suffered during the long civil war.  Once the war ended and peace was restored, the wine production experienced another boom. 

The boom has taken place principally in the southern portion of the Bekaa Valley (or Bequaa Valley). The grapes grown in this region include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah and Carignan. The largest producers are Chateau Ksara, which produces about 70% of the wine in the region.  The next largest producers are Chateau Kefraya and Massaya.

I recently purchased a bottle of Massaya's Le Colombier (2014).  The wine is described as a "vin plaisir" or "pleasure wine" that resembles a blend inspired by French wine.  The blend for Le Colombier is 35% Cinsault, 35% Grenache Noir, 15% Syrah, and 15% Tempranillo.  All of the grapes were grown on the hillsides of the Beqaa Valley.  The wine was aged in Faqra cellars, which were dug into the mountainside.  

The Le Colombier pours a deep crimson red, symbolic of a very hearty wine, well beyond any French blend.  The wine looks more like an old vine wine (the vines are old, some as old as 40 years).  As one breathes in the wine, there is some hint of fruit, but also earth, slate, and minerals. The fruit shows through more in the taste, There is some strawberry, but raspberry and blackberry notes quickly overtake the milder fruit.  There is a well developed tannin presence, which grips the sides of the tongue and never lets go.   The strength of the tannins is symbolic of the strength of the Lebanese people, who have endured so much over the course of history (especially between 1975 and 1992) yet their grip over their lives and their futures remained strong despite those odds. 

This wine is a great example of why one should venture beyond the standards.  Beyond a Californian Cabernet Sauvignon.  Beyond a French Pinot Noir.  Beyond a Tuscan Chianti.  Beyond an Argentinian Malbec. The Le Colombier is a great example of why people should search out wines from regions that one would not think of when one thinks of wines.  This wine sells for about $12.99 per bottle.  

ENJOY!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Big Bob Gibson's Bar-B-Q Chicken with White Sauce

As a recreational (and novice) chef and pitmaster, I have spent a lot of time trying to learn all about the different styles of barbecue.  Much of the barbecue literature is fixated on the well known styles of barbecue, such as Texas brisket or eastern Carolina whole hog.  There are many other styles of barbecue, some of which you have to discover by either going to the locale or trying to bring that style to your kitchen.

One such example of a barbecue style is that found in the State of Alabama.  Pitmasters in Alabama smoke pork, ham and chicken, using sauces that are reminiscent of other southern styles, such as the Carolina vinegar sauce.  However, Alabama has a barbecue sauce that is unique to that State's barbecue.  It is a white sauce, used to dip smoked chickens right before serving.  That sauce originated with Big Bob Gibson, who opened a barbecue joint in Decatur, Alabama back in 1925. 

As the story goes,  Big Bob Gibson served pork and chicken at his restaurant.  Gibson used an Eastern Carolina vinegar sauce for his pork, but he needed something for his chicken.  The sauce had to help keep the moisture in his chickens, which were smoked for about 3 hours.  Big Bob Gibson developed a white sauce using mayonnaise.  The sauce gave the chicken a "peppery, vinegary" flavor that helped to keep the chicken moist.  Gibson served this white sauce alongside the Carolina vinegar sauce when he opened his store in 1925.

More than 80 years later, my beautiful Angel's parents took me to Big Bob Gibson's to experience barbecue in Alabama.  I ordered a sampler, which did not include the chicken with white sauce.  I have to admit that, at the time, I was a little skeptical of the white sauce.  Added to that skepticism was my general distaste for mayonnaise.  Consequently, I never tried it at Big Bob Gibson's restaurant.

But, as I noted above, there is the option of bringing the style to your kitchen.  Recently, I decided to  set aside my general distaste for mayonnaise and try the Big Bob Gibson's recipe.  I spatchcocked a couple of whole chickens and put them in the smoker.  I followed the "simple technique" used by the pitmasters at Big Bob Gibson's, namely smoking the chickens over hickory wood, basting the chickens with oil, and then dipping the smoked chickens in that white sauce.   The flavor of the hickory smoke was present in the chicken, especially in the dark meat.  The skin did crisp up, but not to what I would have liked.  (I always need some room for improvement; and, in this case, it is working on how to crisp the skin better.)  

I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by the results. The white sauce combines mayonnaise with vinegar, prepared horseradish, apple juice and lemon juice.  The vinegar and horseradish give the sauce the kick that one would expect (in my humble opinion) from a barbecue sauce.   That kick gets a little boost from cayenne pepper, but the horseradish is what does the trick for me.  While I followed the recipe in this case, I think that I would add a little more horseradish the next time.    

One final note, the consistency of the white sauce was a little more like a mop sauce than what I would consider to be a barbecue sauce.  That probably explains why the chicken is submerged in the white sauce.   When the chicken was served, I included some of the white sauce in a ramekin or bowl for dipping.


BIG BOB GIBSON BAR-B-Q CHICKEN
WITH WHITE SAUCE
Recipe from Chris Lilly, Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book, page 119
Serves 4 to 8

Ingredients (for the chicken):
2 whole butterflied chickens
1 tablespoon of salt
1 cup oil (vegetable, olive, lard)
2 tablespoons black pepper

Ingredients (for the white sauce):
2 cups mayonnaise
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup apple juice
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions:
1.  Prepare the fire.  Build a fire (wood or a combination of charcoal and wood) for indirect cooking by situating the coals on only one side of the cooker, leaving the other side void.  Preheat the cooker to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.  Smoke the chickens.   Dust each whole chicken evenly with salt.  Place the chickens over the void side of the cooker, with the skin side  up.  When the skin on the chicken is golden brown, about 1 1/2 hours, turn the chickens skin side down, basting both sides with the oil.  Sprinkle the cavities of each chicken with pepper.  Cook the chicken for an additional 1 1/2 hours or until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the thigh reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit.  Add more wood to the fire as needed to replenish the supply of coals and maintain a temperature of 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

3.  Prepare the white sauce.  While the chicken is being smoked, combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and blend well.  

4.  Finish the dish.  Pour the white sauce into a narrow deep container and position it next to the cooker.  Remove each chicken from the cooking grate and submerge it into the pot of white sauce.  Remove the chicken from the sauce, cut each chicken in half between the breasts and then quarter by cutting between each breast and thigh.

ENJOY!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Market Garden Brewery's Citramax IPA

When it comes to the craft beer scene in Cleveland, as one person it, "the word is out." There has been a remarkable growth in craft brewers.  At one time, there was only Great Lakes Brewing Company.  Now, there are breweries like Fat Head's Brewing, Platform Beer Company, Butcher & Brewer, and Market Garden.

The latter brewery, Market Garden, is located next to my favorite spot in Cleveland ... the West Side Market.  THe past couple of times that I have been in Cleveland and I have made a trip to the market, it has always included a side trip to Market Garden.  That side trip was a necessity, because it offered me a chance to try some very good beer.  Beers like the Cluster Fuggle, an IPA, or the Illuminator, a Doppelbock.

The great thing about Cleveland craft beer is that there are so many choices, even within one brewery.  The bad thing about Cleveland beer is that I can only get it when I am in Cleveland.  However, there has been a recent push for many of these breweries to bottle or can their beer.  And, during a recent visit to Cleveland, I was able to find Market Garden's Citramax in a local grocery store.  Needless to say, I bought a six pack and took it back home with me.  

The Citramax is described as a West-Coast style IPA.  The feature of this beer is in the name - Citra.  The brewers dry hopped this West Coast IPA with organic Citra hops.  The goal was to impart intense tropical and citrus fruit aromas in a beer with an aggressive-boldly bright American Hop character that will leave you craving another.

Mission achieved.  The Citramax pours a golden color with a thick foam.  That foam recedes quickly to the edges of the beer, opening the way for an aroma full of tangy citrus fruits, such as grapefruit and tangerine.  As one sips the Citramax, there is a moderate level of bitterness, encasing elements of those citrus fruits with some pine notes on the edges.  This IPA differs a little from most other IPAs that I have had in that the moderate bitterness is also followed by a little sweetness on the palate.  The sweetness helps to balance the beer, making it more palatable for people like my beautiful Angel who are not big hop heads.

As with most Cleveland beers, the Citramax is available in the Cleveland area. If I recall correctly, that six-pack cost about $9.99 or $10.99.  If you see a six pack sitting on the shelf, it is definitely worth trying.

ENJOY!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Fire Roasted Gazpacho with Maryland Lump Crab

My beautiful Angel, Clare, loves gazpacho.   Previously, I made a gazpacho with shrimp based upon a recipe from Patricia Fernandez de la Cruz, who is the wife to Jose Andres. That particular chilled soup was so delicious that it has become one of our favorites.  It was a traditional gazpacho, with raw tomatoes, cucumbers and green peppers being blended into a liquid (with other ingredients, such as stale bread) and served with a garnish.

Indeed, a traditional gazpacho is made with raw tomatoes and vegetables.   The raw nature of the tomatoes and vegetables is what, in my humble opinion, gives this soup its fresh character.   And, it is a very delicious character.  However, I did not want to make just another gazpacho.  I wanted to experiment with this dish.  The only question is what tweeks or twists could I do to make something that is just as delicious as the traditional soup.

As it turns out, I was planning to smoke a pork shoulder when I was thinking about this issue.  The thought of lighting the chimneys for the smoker got me to think about grilling the tomatoes and vegetables.  I then did some research and came across a recipe for a Fire Roasted Gazpacho.  The recipe comes from Steven Raichlen, the professor at Barbecue University.  The recipe calls for grilling the traditional ingredients to a gazpacho -- tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers -- along with onions.  It also calls for roasted garlic (which is not an ingredient in the traditional soup).  After all of the grilled vegetables are cool, then you remove the skins and blend them just as you would if they were raw vegetables.  The end result is just as delicious as the traditional recipe.

But, I wanted to experiment a little further.  Rather than using traditional gazpacho garnish, such as diced tomatoes, peppers and stale bread cubes, I decided to garnish this dish with some jumbo lump blue crab.  A nod to Steven Raichlen's roots of growing up in the State of Maryland, where the blue crab is king. It was definitely a great final touch to this recipe.  (It was a bit of a splurge, so you can use lump crab or even claw meat, but don't use special or backfin because the pieces will be too small for the soup).  


RAICHLEN'S GAZPACHO ON FIRE
WITH MARYLAND LUMP CRAB
Recipe adapted from Food & Wine
Serves 4

Ingredients:
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
3 large tomatoes (1 1/2 pounds)
1 medium cucumber
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1 medium sweet onion, unpeeled
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, unpeeled
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup chopped mixed herbs, plus more for garnish
1 cup cold water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Directions:
1.  Grill the vegetables.  Light a grill.  Wrap the garlic cloves in a sheet of foil.  Grill the tomatoes, cucumber, green and red peppers, onion and garlic until the vegetables are charred all over and almost softened, about 8 minutes for the tomatoes, cucumber and bell peppers, about 10 minutes for the garlic and 15 minutes for the onion.  When the vegetables are cool enough to handle, remove the charred skins as well as any stems and seeds and chop them coarsely.

2.  Prepare the gazpacho.  Transfer all of the vegetables, including the peeled garlic to a food processor and puree.  With the machine on, gradually add the 1/4 cup of olive oil, then blend in the vinegar.  Add the 1/4 cup of the herbs, then transfer the mixture to a bowl.    Stir in the water and season with the salt and pepper.  Refrigerate until chilled.  Ladle the gazpacho into bowls, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with herbs and serve.

ENJOY!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

A Head Trip

It is the beer with the "kaleidoscope eyes."  That fat-headed man, wearing a monk's robe, who adorns a label that asks you to "[p]icture yourself in a worn tie-died t-shirt" and "your head in the clouds."  All you see is "Belgian malt in the sky." You hear "somebody tells you to sip it quite slowly."  You oblige, and you experience, "spicy phenolics with yeast, fruit and clove.  Showering over your head."  The experience is such that, "you can't help but smile when it drifts past your nose."  You take another sip.  "The aroma so incredibly fine.  Complex fruit, hops, yeast and more clove.  A rich mouthfeel and a slightly sweet finish."

That is quite the description for a Belgian Tripel.  I could just see a bunch of Trappist Monks at Westmalle (where the style is said to have gained its popularity), strolling around the brewery wearing their tie-died Rassaphones, Stavrophores, and even Great Schemas.  All looking up in the Belgian sky while those spicy aromatic compounds rain down on their hooded heads.   

The Belgian Tripel style has its traditional characteristics. According to the Beer Judge Certification Program, a tripel should be deep yellow or deep gold, with aromatic fruity esters of pepper, cloves, and citrus or banana.  Those phenols find themselves in the taste of the tripel beer.  a combination of spicy, fruity, and alcohol notes.  The spice comes from pepper notes, the fruit comes from the banana or citrus elements, and the alcohol comes from, well the ABV, which can fall within the range of 7.5% to 9.5%.

The brewers at Fat Head's have created a Belgian-style Tripel that fits neatly within the BJCP guidelines and worthy of an award.  The Head Trip pours a mellow golden color, with a thin foam that sits like lazy clouds on a warm summer day.   The aroma of this beer speaks of malt, with some banana, clove and yeast.  As for the taste,  with a thin level of foam. Aromas of malt, some banana and clove, yeast.  Those phenols find themselves in the taste of the Head Trip. Clove, banana gum, allspice.

This beer is not available where I live, because Fat Head's does not distribute in my area.  However, if you happen to be in the Cleveland, Ohio area, or in another area where you see it sitting on the shelves, this beer is definitely worth a try.

ENJOY!
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