Wednesday, December 22, 2010

private tasting of victory brewery's dark intrigue

On the morning of Thanksgiving Eve, November 24, as early as 7:30 am, beer fanatics flocked to Victory Brewing Company, in hopes to score a case of the brewery first-ever bourbon barrel-aged beer, Dark Intrigue.
Just one month ago, the brewery leaked, via their Facebook, that their upcoming release had made use of an attractive lineup of Heaven Hill Kentucky Bourbon oak barrels found in-house. 

Keeping up with the mystery of what one-off marvel would soon be available was an adventure in itself, and even more so, the excitement of only 80 cases available for purchase, at a limit of one case per customer—an amount that quickly sold-out in less than 45 minutes.
Recently accepting an invitation to sample the elusive brew aside the mad-scientist mastermind, Frank Iosue, a small beer-hungry crew and I became cozy in the brewery’s barrel-aging room, just hours after the sold-out mayhem.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

cd's place: rock and roll's delicious rumble with breakfast, lunch, & dinner

Nearly everyone resembles regulars at Boyertown's CD's Place—whether you casually waltz in for brunch, or if you are embracing your obsession with above-par diner food displays. The small town café, peeking from a corner of North Reading Avenue, comfortingly resides in one of three once-notorious “cup” ice cream stops assembled in Berks and Montgomery counties in the early 1940s. However, if you speed indoors, the illusion of a soda, milk-heavy spot is shattered—but only for something better.

Chris Dietz, owner & chef of CD's Place, unleashed his breakfast, lunch, and dinner café to the local dining scene eight years ago, come February, offering closeby empty stomachs simple, comfort cuisine that doesn't cut corners to affect the integrity of his food. From slapping fresh, never frozen slabs of beef and scrapple on his flat-top, to preparing his own 20-ingredient rub for his jerk chicken, Dietz tackles all the eatery's tasty concoctions himself, all while socializing and talking shop in an always-booming dining room.
Confessing that he knows over 90 percent of his everyday clientele, the local haunt also celebrates other small businesses doing simple stints, including supporting Bally-based Butter Valley Harvest, which provides the owner with fresh produce, even through winter. While he regularly trots specials that do include locally-produced goods, the standard CD's Place menu marvels in some of the area's best brunch bites, including the generously-sized Jamaican omelet that packs the New Hanover-native's jerk chicken cozily aside sautéed onions and the dutch-inspired three-egg beauty, the country-style potato, and onion roundup.
Of course, Dietz would be amiss to omit appropriate accompaniments for your morning platters, including his crinkled cottage fries, homefries, all necessary meats (bacon, scrapple, etc.), toasts and, if you live in hungry man's delight, short flapjack stacks, and even full stacks, done in regular, blueberry, or chocolate chip. His endless array of fresh, from-scratch soups, sandwiches, wraps, burgers, and baskets will please all variations of personal taste preferences, and we hear that his “slaw dog,” made with mustard, onion, and the namesake, is a favorite amongst many.

The mouth-watering, guilty pleasured lineup is what keep patrons repetitively revisiting, but the dining room flooded with memorabilia from Dietz's other obsession—music—is what keeps CD's cushioned on being named one of the best decorated hub's in town. With black-and-white photograph-lined tabletops sourced from his own album collection, ticket stubs, concert posters, musical instruments situated on the walls, and even, a rock-and-roll mural painted by his daughter, Aleah Dietz, the whole eye-catching package of the past “cup” shop is successful in being a necessary, must-visit addition to the borough of Boyertown.

Find CD's Place at 237 North Reading Avenue or online at (he does catering, too).

Hours of operation are as follows—Tuesday & Wednesday, 7 a.m. – 2 p.m.; Thursday & Friday, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Saturday,  7 a.m. – 2 p.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m. – noon.

( This post also appeared in print and on news, not blues. Enter a contest to win a $20 gift certificate to CD's Place, by clicking here. )

Thursday, December 16, 2010

from amateur chef to holiday kitchen crusader

I like to consider myself a fairly tuned-in taste-tester and quite a knowledgeable nosher, but despite donning such a title, I, myself, have yet to boldly cross into that wild frontier of skillful cooking.

Beginning at a young age, I was always given free reign of the kitchen. My mashing, chopping and most importantly munching went unrestrained as I assisted my grandmother in preparing her eye-catching feasts, perfectly lining a table that seated more than 20 family members. However, my way might not have screamed with neatness or efficiency, and I adore my grandmother for that.

But, as I speed past age 25, my mastery of absolutely zilch formal kitchen skills has transitioned from adorable to embarrassing, which led me to seriously entertain the idea of attending a cooking course to, at the least, acquire a smidgen of proficiency with a knife.

After shuffling through hand-outs and course catalogs of near-and-far brief culinary programs, I spied that Chester Heights' Hamananassett Bed & Breakfast & Carriage House offers several two-day cooking classes throughout the year, as part of their Brandywine Country Cooking School.

Friday, December 3, 2010

thanksgiving potluck at the hartman's

I am still dreaming the scrumptious spread I had the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, at a friend's arranged potluck. Gathering her group of friends together for an evening of amazing eats, while she prepared her first-ever 19-pound turkey, the 16+ person celebration was delicious and darling, and great conversations were had amongst new and old friends (new mostly to B & I, for we were only acquainted with the host). The night's feast was so darling, in fact, that we were even given place card settings, with "B" getting his notorious letter nickname, one known by all my friends.

I believe I am still brimming on bloated from my four Thanksgiving dinners as of last week, so please excuse me while I offer up just a photographic recap in reminiscing over my most-treasured holiday meal found in bowls and bowls brought by many fantastic chefs.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

eco-etiquette: eat local—even in winter

My personal plea to support your local food movement
It is an irresistible endeavor to embrace Berks County's extreme array of fresh produce found easily hand-picked at farm stands, markets, and roadside stands throughout the prosperous months of May through October. As convenient as a trip to a supermarket may be, there is something reassuring about knowing where your food comes from, especially if it arrives on your plate sourced from somewhere as close as your backyard. 

Crafting meals solely around locally-grown and produced foods may seem like a difficult task, but not so, in gratitude of tackling the locavore movement—a title that came about a few years back, which applies to individuals who strive to ingest food grown within a 100-mile-and-under radius, an act that helps decrease environmental impacts and supports the local economy.