04:08 pm - Sushi class (finished now, I think) Hoppie and I did a sushi making class in Boston this weekend at Sea To You in Brookline. We bought coupons for the class @ Groupon when they did a half off special. So instead of 60$/class, it was 30.
The class was set up this way: The first half, he gave us general information about various techniques and ingredients. Then he demonstrated what we'd be making. Then we made it. (More on results as appropriate) We had a great time, but I will clearly be needing practice, particularly with the inside-out rolls.
( Cutting, negiri, and sashimiCollapse ) And that was sushi school. We still have to go for the third class. They haven't posted our pictures (that I've seen yet), but if i see them on facebook, I'll take them.
12:29 pm - You could drive a person crazy If you have anything nice to say about anyone who reads this blog, feel free to say it here: I might update this later with something nice about all my usual suspects. (which is to say people who comment to the blog, as I can't tell if you read without it.) Current Mood: amused
12:41 am - Administrivia: Holiday cards If you've not gotten a card from me in the past, or have moved in the last year and aren't sure if I have your address, please feel free to reply to this mail with your address or email me.
11:15 am - Confession When I run my search and replace scripts, I feel like the program I use is saying, "You cqn't seriously need to rerun this script again. What do you do that you constantly need to fix the same files repeatedly?" Current Mood: busy Current Music: Animotion "Obsession"
12:49 pm - Beer and afterwards So we did our beer bottling yesterday. Because we were split into groups, obviously everyone bottled their own beers. Where the setup at Incredibrew was very assembly line, the setup here was a bit more chaotic. Also, the bottling at incredibrew was more manual, but easier in a way.
The bottles were ready to be sanitized when we got there. I was part of a sanitizing run, but after loading up the tree, I moved on to mostly capping and labeling. Hoppie did most of the sanitizing and some of the other people there helped as well. Barleycorn's had automatic 3 beer bottlers. (Incrediblew has manual one beer bottlers) But they, often as not, didn't fill up a bottle. The way it's supposed to work is that when the bottle is full, it trips a censor. But for most of the machines at least one during each run didn't fill full, which meant rerunning them several times. Hoppie and Lester and Dan did most of the filling. I did one run of filling. (I like to do at least one of everything)
The capperrs were not mounted (which makes sense because you want the freedom to move them around and use the table in different ways), but it made them harder to use. I did a lot of capping. Hoppie started capping, but he had trouble with the machine refusing to release the bottle, but I've had lot of experience with stubborn things, so I was quickly able to fix that. (press the level back down again, firmly, hold the bottle, and push the level back up. Wiggle the bottle, while holding it down, if necessary.)
The labeling process was nicely retro. I think the last time I used a sticky labeler like that, I was living in Kentucky full time. For those who have never used a classic label creator (or a stamp moistener, they work the same way), you load the label, top side up behind a roller. Roll the label through the machine and it emerges with the backside covered in glue (or water in the case of stamps). Press, hold, and smooth the label onto the bottle.
It took about two hours, which is what you'd expect. Then we came home and had steak and ginger beer. (A kind of beer I'll drink! Yea!) I did not try the beer we made. Tom took one sip and said, "Yeah, you're not going to like this. It's so hoppy, it takes like a forest." he said.
My wrist hurts today, probably from squeezing the capper. (wow, that sounds naughty and vaguely British "Common then, love, fancy squeezing a capper?")
10:52 am - Stories I never wrote meme Give me the title of a story I’ve never written, and feedback telling me what you liked best about it, and I will tell you some or all of: the first sentence, the last sentence, the thing that made me want to write it, the biggest problem I had while writing it, why it almost never got submitted to magazines, the scene that hit the cutting room floor but that I wish I’d been able to salvage, or something else that I want readers to know.
10:09 am - The wedding I've been meaning to talk about wedding. It was beautiful. My pictures are up here. It was at the Four Seasons overlooking the Boston Garden on what was probably the nicest day of the year, clear and slightly cool, so that being in dress clothing wasn't horrible. We sat with two of my coworkers, Deb and Mark, with Carl and Mrs. Carl behind us and Elaine and Jack across the way. We weren't sure whether there was a bride side/groom side.
They used white zinfandel for their ceremonial wine. The Chupah was stunning, like an open Sukkah, just covered with white roses and other flowers, and greenery. When the bride entered, Hoppie asked me if I could see her. I said all I could see was flowers and her hair. He said, "that's basically all there is." She is a really tiny woman. The dress was lovely, a mermaid style strapless that was really flattering.
The food was amazing, a fabulous Sunday buffet with an omelet station, including egg white and egg beater options, spinach, asparagus, and the usual vegetables, and the choice of cheddar or swiss cheese. They had a sushi station, and a Belgian waffle station, and a bagel station with all the trimmings, lox, cream cheese, butter, egg, tomato onion, capers, etc. Salad, pasta salad. And on and on. The desserts were stunning too, a blackberry bread pudding, cream puffs, wedding cake, chocolate covered strawberries dipped in pistachio nuts, and stuff I'm forgetting.
They had a jazzy band playing in a very swanky big bang/lounge style. Lots of Sinatra. Lots of classics. A great version of "Brown Eyed Girl." Hoppie has been so Richard Cheesified that he has a hard time listening to it without hearing Richard Cheese's "Ice, Ice, Baby", but I thought it was lovely. We only danced one song together (recovering), but we had great conversation, with very little work talk, which is amazing. People who take vacations, ie: not like me and Hoppie, talked about that. Deb and Mark went to the Islands. Sal recently returned from Italy. We talked about books and shopping and just, we really had fun. Current Mood: accomplished Current Music: Opie and Anthony
11:30 am - All my bags are packed and I'm ready to go All ready for the wedding. Dress on. Nails polished. Makeup acceptable. Earrings lovely. Necklace stunning, but maybe too light in color? Shoes, strange, but matching and comfortable. Drugs packed. Camera ready. Spare batteries. Phone. Go.
So last night, Ellen, Lester, Hoppie, Lori and I went to make beer at Barleycorn's in Nashua. We went on a Brewfest night. The guest brewmaster of the evening was Dann Paquette of Pretty Things Beer. (on twitter, if you're into that sort of thing at PrettyBrew) He's done brewing events at Barleycorn's before, but not in awhile. Getting there proved to be quicker than we expected, so we arrived about a half hour early which was time enough to meet and greet with Dan, the owner, (and that's not confusing at all! Actually it wasn't. We were able to easily distinguish between the Dans who were both very knowledgeable and patient.)
The profile of the space is small, but efficient. in the front, to the right of the door, there's a table, chairs, cashier counter, brewing periodicals, and brewing supplies for sale. The centre of the store, contains the work tables, milling machine, ingredient coolers for the hops and finished beer bottles for drinking, the bottling stations, bottle purifiers and trees, and sinks. To the left of the door are the kettles along the window line, more sinks, the liquid extract storage, and the storage areas for fermenting, and more sinks. (Seriously. There are a lot of sinks. Sinks are good. Clean.)
Before we started, Dan brought out an tapped a keg of beer. I want to say it was called Amarillo Armadillo. He'd made that one. Several types of beer came out and I can't remember all of them. One of the guys who was brewing had brought in some of his stuff from home, and, although I didn't try it, Hoppie and Lori said it was quite good. I think Ellen's favourite of the ones they brought out was the Bambino Summer Ale, which Dan said is extremely popular - apparently with good reason. She liked it because it was slightly sweet. I did not try any of the beers.
Before we started, Dann talked about his resent stay in England (Yorkshire) to further his brew knowledge and the beer recipes he'd created to brew with us. So let me be clear, these are not the currently on the regular recipes of Barleycorn's. It's possible that Dan will add them, as he does seem to add guest brewer recipes to the list of available recipes, but they aren't there yet. However, the Amarillo Armadillo and Bambino Summer Ale are available selections, should anyone on my flist feel the need to get their brew on.
( Beers of the Evening from Dann's list in Dann's own wordsCollapse ) Because we were standing closest to the grains, and because Dan had talked to Ellen and Lester extensively while people were arriving and he knew we were new, we were assigned to the first kettle (score!) which was the English Golden Bitter. Lester measured the grains and Ellen (and I a little) did the milling and I filled the bag with the grains. Then we walked over to kettle 1. There were a number of assistants helping us with the brewing, and while I'm not totally sure I remember their names (since we met them later in the evening, after we'd met a bunch of other people, I think they were Greg and Mark, with a K. That I'm sure of because there was some discussion of Ellen's son Mark, also with a K. Anyway, Greg helped tied our tea bag, um, grain bag to the handle of the kettle and wrote down our timings on a sheet of paper and directed our attention to the clock over the kettles and told us to stir the bag every five minutes until the first time on the paper at which point we'd turn up the heat on the kettle.
Then we went over the liquid extracts and measured out 5.5 l of whatever sugar base we were using. Hoppie did the measuring on that one. While that was going on, Lester, Lori, and I got beers. (When I say "I" I mean, I got a glass and put beer in it for Hoppie, since he was measuring.) Lori had already watered him a little before I got him one, sharing her beer. Wasn't that sweet?
We put our supplies on the cart next to the kettle to await the proper time for addition. We switched off stirring up the grains to keep things moving. Then we measured out the hops. Ellen and Lester did hops measurements. We used three different hops in two separate additions. Dan explained that the first addition was for flavour and the second two were more for colour and aroma. I saw yeast bags in the fridge when we got the hops out, but we didn't have to bloom our own, they'd already prepped yeast in bottles with water corks for us.
When the grains were ready to come out, Hoppie pulled the bag out and pressed the water out of it. And then Hoppie and Lori took turns stirring up the beer before and after the first hops addition. Then (some time later) we added a tablet to clarify the beer, and then the final hops and then it was time to empty the kettle, run the beer through the cooling plates and add the yeast. Greg extracted some beer to check the specific gravity. It was 10.42, which Dann said wsa perfect, and Dan thought might be a little high, but Dann extracted a promise from Dan not to dilute it. Dann told us it was unsaleable in Britain where the alcohol content is strictly regulated, but it was just fine, perfect for American audiences. Ellen added the yeast.
And we left. Dan told us he'd email us with the date confirmation for bottling and pick up. He projects three weeks, possibly Tuesday or Wednesday depending on the participant availability. In the meantime, Lester has tasked Ellen and I with producing custom labels.