Kopparberg Pear Cider

Koppaberg Pear Cider

It was dark in there and I was sitting front row, so...

This weekend I saw The Bither Brothers Band play at The Bitter End in NYC….PAUSE –  I can’t even get through the description of this lovely night without a grimace on my face as I remember the taste of this god awful cider.

I know I sound like a hater, but if you’ve followed this blog at all you may have been skeptical of my honesty up until now. I know what I like (and let’s face it, there isn’t much that I don’t like) so I know what to order and how to order it; what to cook and how to cook it (most of the time).

Because of my keen sense of awareness of my taste, I rarely blunder in ordering, leaving all of the blundering up to the establishments – which just hasn’t happened to me all that often.

So, I’m not a hater, I’m just being honest. And no, “god awful” is not too strong of a phrase. None of my friends who tried Kopparberg Cider were able to swallow it with a straight face (TWSS).

Back to the story: we’re having a grand ol’ time at The Bitter End listening to The Bither Brothers  (Lady Gaga played here back in the day) and I’ve already enjoyed a few libations. BUT now I am looking to try something new; you’re surprised, I know.

I mosey on over to the bar, take a look at the scribbled list (just how I like it) and I see “Kapp???? Pear Cider.” I couldn’t quite make out the name, but I love me some cider! And pear – even over apple – happens to be my favorite.

the bither brothers band

Michael

The Bither Brothers Band

Patrick

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am immediately mentally (and possibly emotionally) taken back to my alma mater to a local bar and restaurant, HomeGrown where I would frequently order – and even recommend – the oh-so-delicious Ace Pear Cider . My mouth starts to water  (then and now as I write this) and I’m pumped for my cider.

I am given my receipt, the bottle and… a glass of ice?! I was so befuddled that I’m sure I hesitated, but I chalked it up to the bartender’s ignorance of cider. It’s not all that common so I wasn’t holding it against her.

Leaving it up the “expert” I poured some cider over the ice and took a nice, long sip. BLECH! What the F**** is this?!

It is super duper, crazy-over-the-top sweet, syrupy, watery (I know, that sounds contradictory – think watered down syrup) barely carbonated and bland all at the same time.

I said to myself, “okay, maybe it’s this weird glass-of-ice-thing,” and took another big swig right from the bottle: EQUALLY BLECH.

It didn’t taste terrrrrrible in that it wasn’t expired, it didn’t smell bad, it wasn’t thick or even flavorful at all. For that reason, and the fact that it set me back almost eight big ones, I finished it. But not without a grimace on my face.

It wasn’t good. To confirm my thoughts I passed that puppy around the table..

You know, the oh-so-strangely-common “This is gross! Wanna taste it?!” thing…

(Why do we ask that? And why do so many people say “yes”?)

I got the same review from every. single. person. A grimace.

I do not recommend, under any circumstances, that you try this cider. Not if you are a fan of cider. Not if you aren’t a fan of cider. Not if you are the cider expert of the world and… okay, maybe then. Otherwise: STAY AWAY.

I know that this seems like a very strong opinion. And you’re right. And although I’m sure someone somewhere likes this – they do continue to sell it and they do carry it is bars (apparently) – so maybe there is some kind of “acquired taste.” However, for those of you who like Strongbow, Ace or even Woodchuck’s – you’re not going to like this. It tastes absolutely nothing like it’s highly superior counterparts.

Have you ever tried hard cider? What’s your favorite brand?

Apple or Pear?

Ever have an equally surprisingly displeasing experience after ordering a drink? I’d love to hear about it!

Sorry, Kopparberg. I SEO’d the shit out you and your god awful cider. Hopefully for you your SEO is strong and Google won’t index this blog on your first page… Oh look, it’s actually on page one. Whoops.

Drink Something New: Harney & Son’s Green Tea with Coconut, Ginger and Vanilla

Today was the first day back to work since Hurricane Irene and we still don’t have power at home. Being that I have a few side projects (including this blog) that I usually work on at night, I had to go somewhere after work to get some things done. Where else but Starbucks where the caffeine and power are a plenty.

After setting up shop in at the Starbucks in my hometown Barnes and Noble, I headed over to the counter to ask for a platic spoon so I could eat my YoCrunch Greek (post coming soon!). As I sat down and started to “borrow” their electricity and their plastic spoon, I started to feel guilty. I also started to feel thirsty, so I decided to buy a hot tea. At the counter they had some point-of-sale items nicely displayed and, as a marketers dream (really ironic, I know) I fed right in to it.. kind of.

Sitting there was a bright green, beautiful tin of Harney & Son’s tea sachets. This is my favorite brand of tea – so much so that I’ve ordered some offline. If you know me, you know this is mildly out-of-character and shows just how much I love their tea. The Earl Grey Supreme with Lemongrass and Bergamot is my absolute favorite. But I digress.. Tonight they had Green Tea with Coconut, Ginger and Vanilla (and, come to find out, lemongrass). I just could not resist.

I thought it was a long shot, asking if they sold this in single cups, hoping I didn’t have to buy the whole tin that boasted a $10.95 price tag to satisfy my intrigue. I was in luck! I ordered a venti and brought it back to my work station to cool off.

I’m not a huge fan of green tea. Tea in Chinese or Japanese restaurants, quite frankly, I think is gross. I get it. I appreciate it. But I don’t like it. With the other flavors mixed in – all of which rank amongst my favorites – I figured I would like it.. and I was [mostly] wrong.

I take my tea plain. I hesitate to say black because unlike coffee, even black tea isn’t all that dark. I love my Earl Grey Supreme or Tazo Awake with nothing but, on occasion, a little light agave nectar. Sometimes I’ll add a splenda if I’m in the mood or if the tea stinks, but usually plain is just how I like it.

This tea is okay, but it tasted a little “earthy” and needed that extra bit of sweetness. I add a few drops of honey, which did the trick, and it wasn’t too bad. But then by sip three I started to think It tasted like spinach.

My tea tastes like spinach. Never a good thing.

I would recommend trying it if it sounds like something you would like and if you like green tea. But, unlike many other things I suggest, I don’t suggest you try it if it doesn’t sound like something you’d like. I will not be ordering this one offline.

Side note: These sachets come out to less than 40 cents each, which is less than K-cups. I was surprised and thought I would share! If you’re a tea lover and don’t mind spending 40 cents per cup, or currently buy the tea in K-cup form, I would head over to http://www.harney.com! The elegant tin is decieving, it’s really not that expensive.

Harney & Son’s Earl Grey Supreme, however, I would strongly recommend! Many restaurants bring a wooden box filled with Harney & Son’s Tea, so next time you’re out to eat and  in the mood for a little post-dinner tea, ask if they have Harney & Son’s and try the Early Grey Supreme.

Drink Something New: Lil’ Sweet, Lil’ Fizzy: Yellow tail Moscato

While in Texas, where they sell liquor in the grocery store, I stumbled upon a new flavor of one of my favorite economical wines: yellow tail Moscato. A tag on the neck of the bottle read “Lil’ Sweet, Lil’ Fizzy” and that cute tagline is spot on. It was a sweeter white wine with a little bit of fizz. Not nearly as carbonated as champagne or even soda; more similar to Pellegrino as far as level of fizziness is concerned.

I drank it chilled with dinner, but they suggest drinking it with dessert or fruit. Personally I think that wine pairing is more of a personal thing than a by-the-book thing. I like to try wines with their suggested pairing and then either stick with it or modify it based on my personal preference. Reisling is suggested for spicy foods, and as my favorite wine I enjoy it with just about anything, but I do believe it is best with Mussels in spicy Marinara. To each their own, I think.

If you enjoy wine but also the occasional vodka club with a splash of cran, chances are you’d like this wine. If you like champagne, or even just the idea of champagne, but it’s too carbonated for your taste, then try yellow tail Moscato.

Reisling still holds the number one slot for wine in my heart, but I like the Moscato and It has opened my eyes, and mouth, up to other Moscato’s. I’ll report back when I try a few others with my favorites.

Side note: Anyone else hear the Giada de Laurentis Moscato radio commercial? Every time I hear the word I think of how she says it. Much more eloquently than I do, but no matter the accent it tastes just the same.

Barefoot and Yellow Tail are my favorite economical wines – what are yours? Do you prefer one over the other?

Have you tried Moscato? Are you a fan?

Heartland Brewery, NYC

One recent Friday afternoon around 2pm I found myself in NYC, and to celebrate the commencement of  summer hours, we decided to take advantage by having a late lunch during happy hour. I had a coupon for a retail establishment, and we noticed that just around the corner was a place called Heartland Brewery. Although I hadn’t been there before, Phil had, and he highly recommended it, suggesting we go there for an appetizer and to try their seasonal Summer Apricot Ale.

He had me at Brewery.

Being that it is a brewery, I thought it would be best to try one of their house beers and one of their seasonale, allowing us to share and sample each. We ordered their house lager, the Cornhusker and the Seasonal Summer Apricot Ale. We also ordered the appetizer sampler. Get this: it’s called the “Heartland Pu Pu Platter” – if I wasn’t in to sampling as many things as possible, I’m not sure I would have had the courage to ask for it out loud.

The Atmosphere

The sign out front says “Brewery and Rotisserie” which has me skeptical, as the vision in my head that of Boston Market with beer on tap. Can’t judge a restaurant on it’s tagline, apparently. I was impressed from the second I walked in. Dark wood on the floors some of the walls, with a design theme that is chic yet sporty and homey. There are stairs everywhere. If you aren’t seated on the first floor you will be led down a curved staircase to the bar area where there is a mix of seating options, great lightening and a very, very comfortable feel.

Drink Something New: The Brews

House Cornhusker Lager

This beer was very, very light and refreshing without lacking in the flavor department. If you’ve read my earlier Drink Something New posts, you know that I have come to enjoy malted beers and Belgians, and that I am not a big fan of hops. This beer had virtually no hoppy taste and was very smooth. A great light lager for anyone who likes that kind of beer.

The Seasonal Summer Apricot Ale

This was absolutely delicious, and up there on my favorite beers list for sure. The second you fill your mouth with a sip of this beer there is a rush of flavor. It isn’t overly sweet or fruity, just a strong classic ale taste with citrus notes. It has a smooth finish, not too hoppy and definitely no “dirt” taste. Although it is a very strong taste, it isn’t too heavy or thick, which is perfect. I STRONGLY suggest that you try this beer if you’re in New York City this summer.

Eat Something New: The Food

Like I said, we ordered the Heartland Brewery Pu Pu Platter appetizer sampler, a sampling of their “5 house dishes.” The presentation was great and extremely unique, unlike any other plating I’ve ever seen, especially for a place this casual. It came in a stacked tower, as you can see here, each level devoted to one of the five dishes.

From the top down:

Pulled pork sliders:

I am not a big fan of pulled pork or BBQ in general because I like to taste all of the ingredients I am eating, including the meat. Often times I have found that BBQ style food is drenched, even sometimes drowning, in BBQ sauce, not allowing for any other flavors to come through. These pork sliders surprised me and I liked them more than I had thought I would. Cooked very well, tasty sauce, soft, fresh bun. I only ate half because I wanted to save room and it was the first thing I ate, but if you like pulled pork or even just BBQ, these would be a good choice.

Fried Pickle Spears:

These were, hands down, the best fried pickles I have had to date. And yes, I’ve had fried pickles a number of times. It was a pickle spear cut the way they are usually served with a burger or sandwich in a restaurant. It was fully intact, breaded and fried. The pickle was still perfectly crispy and juicy and tasted like a pickle. Sometimes, when left in the fryer too long I assume, the pickle part of a fried pickle loses its pickle tastes because the breading is too thick or it is too greasy. Not the case at Heartland. The breading, and this goes for all of the breaded items, was perfect. The food obviously is not frozen and the breading is added by hand. It is crunchy and crispy, not at all soggy. The best fried pickles I have ever had.

Mozzarella Sticks:

Like the pickle spears, the mozzarella sticks were perfectly breaded and came in long strips that almost looked like they could have been string cheese in a former lifetime. Very tasty!

Skewers:

The skewers were my least favorite of the five, to the point where, if I was to return and order this sample again, I would ask to substitute a second helping of one of the other 4 to replace this one. The meat was cooked perfectly, not tough or dry and slid right off of the skewer. However, there was almost no seasoning, they were cold, and they alternated with what I think were pieces of tomatoes. It just didn’t go. Very bland and the fact that it was cold didn’t make it any better.

Buffalo Chicken Wings:

Pretty standard appetizer, but Heartland did them very well. I don’t like Buffalo Wild Wings’ wings because of all of the thick breading. I like to still taste some of the chicken. Heartland’s wings are tender and juicy, and the sauce has a great taste and has just the right amount of heat.

 

Overall I highly suggest this place, hope to return, and think you should try to make it there this summer. Being a brewery, they brew their own beer and it is really very good. The food was good and the atmosphere was classy and relaxed all in one. A great place for happy hour, a dinner date, or even a casual night out.

 

Have you ever been to one of the Heartland locations?

Do you prefer Breweries to other types of restaurants?

What’s your favorite Brewery in NYC?

Santa Fe Sangritas

Yes, that’s right a Sangrita. No, I am not confused. This is a Sangria Margarita from Santa Fe Mexican Grill in Newark, DE. This place is famous for its Happy Hours where they featured discounted beers and single as well as pitches of their delicious margaritas. They have great good; very traditional and absolutely delicious. My favorite thing to eat there is their shrimp quesadillas, but their homemade salsa and guacamole are both amazing, too.

Ok, enough about food – this is a drink something new post. One of my good friends from grad school, who also went to undergrad here in Newark with me, was shocked and borderline appalled when I told her that I didn’t know what a Sangrita was. She could not believe it. She explained that this sangria-meets-margarita is to die for, absolutely delicious, the best combination, and an absolute must-try. So of course I had to take her up on this!

I’ve been trying to eat at all of my favorite places during my last two weeks here in Newark, and last Friday Santa Fe, with a coupon in tow!, was the pick of the night. I ordered the shrimp fajitas (delicious! They are very good with their shrimp! Shrimp is another tricky thing to cook but they’ve mastered it, I think) and we ordered a round of Sangritas. I ordered mine frozen with salt.

What a beautiful drink. A super pale green lime margarita literally swirled with a fuchsia sangria, the rim laced with chunky salt along and a ripe lime wedge on the side. I couldn’t wait to take a sip! I dove right in and the taste was amazing – a great mix of sweet and tangy between the berries and the lime. But.. holy alcohol! I like cocktails made with tequila because I like the taste of tequila, so it wasn’t bad – plus the strong citrus cuts the alcohol’s edge – but boy, could I taste it! By the end of just one Sangrita, I was feeling it. And no, I am not generally a light weight. As my friend would say, “They will knock you on your butt!” and I wholeheartedly agree.

What’s your favorite summer cocktail or summer seasonal beer?

Have you tried the Skinny Girl Margaritas? LOVE Bethenny and can’t believe I haven’t yet.. Thoughts?