The Harp

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Good Life at The Harp, London, UK.

Looking for a great bar in Covent Garden, London? Somewhere close to Charing Cross Station and Trafalgar Square maybe? Then come and try the Harp – a fantastic pub in Chandos Place.

The pub’s emphasis is firmly on real ale, real cider and real conversation, with 8 hand pumps on our bar serving a great selection of beers from our favourite breweries. It’s a place to meet friends and make friends.

Try the buzzing downstairs bar with its collection of old victorian portraits and beautiful coloured glass frontage. Or seek out the calmer upstairs room with its comfortable chairs – a place to relax and enjoy a more intimate atmosphere.

BOTW–Ovila Saison

Ovila Abbey Saison

For centuries, the monastic tradition has followed the Rule of St. Benedict–Ora et Labora (prayer and work.) This Saison farmhouse ale is in honor of the noble labor in which the monks engage. Hazy blonde in color, these rustic ales are designed to be complex and contemplative but also refreshign and drinkable after a day in the fields. With earthy and spice aromas this Saison has notes of green grass, and a faint citrus tang. The body is light and layered with fruit and spice accents and a dry, peppery, and refreshing finish. Released June 2011.

Sliced tomatoes, Basil, and vinaigrette.

Cap of the Saison. A very, very enjoyable beer. You’ll often catch me enjoying a small one of these when I’m off the clock after Savoy Night at Alembic Bar.

Steak rubbed with salt, pepper, and spices.

Heat that cast iron skillet up hot and sear the first side.

If you don’t set off the fire alarm, you’re doing it wrong.

Roasted potatoes, coming out of the oven.

After searing, we rest.

Tomatoes with Basil and Arugula in a Balsamic Vinaigrette.

Joseph Swan 2006 Zeigler Vineyard Zinfandel

According to winemaker Rod Berglund: “Noticeably sweeter with aromas of fresh blackberry cobbler. In the mouth it is a big wine with the richness and acidity of a light port. The fruit is bright and focused, and, like the Stellwagen, it has excellent balance. Great by itself, with cheese or with dessert. I can’t wait until the wild blackberries ripen as I am going to pick a bunch and make a blackberry cobbler to try with it. Yum!”

Cast Iron Seared Ribeyes, Braised Russian Kale, and oven roasted fingerling potatoes.

Who can resist a St. George Single Malt Whiskey Flavored Gelato Bar?

Porkpourri

It’s funny, a lot of my friends got the Momofuku cookbook and the first thing they tried to make was the ridiculously complicated Ramen recipe.

To me, though, the first thing that stood out was the Bo Ssäm.

All you do is order a pork shoulder from your favorite butcher, say Avedano’s Holly Park Market. Make a sugar and salt rub for a pork shoulder.

Let it sit in your fridge for a day or two. I will warn you, the smell of the semi cured pork shoulder will draw neighborhood dogs. Ignore their pleading eyes and throw it in the oven at 300F.

Get the rest of your dinner in order, like a Plum Frangiapani tart from Mission Pie.

Baste the roasts every hour. Really, who needs air fresheners when you can slow roast a pork shoulder?

And something like 6 hours later, you have a delicious dinner. This was about half way.

Discussing exactly how much longer for the roast. Seemed pretty tender to the fork.

Have some friends over who know how to shuck oysters.

Get set up…

Have them teach you how to shuck.

Though you have to be careful not to stab yourself.

Get rolling on the shucking…

Have some friends over who make beer. My favorite comment of the evening: “You have no idea how hot it is watching my Jewish wife learn to shuck oysters.”

Heck, it never hurts to have a scientist around to remind you about the potential dangers of eating raw shellfish…

Unfortunately, after this things got a little greasy and somehow none of the rest of the photos turned out. Suffice it to say, a good time was had by all.

BOTW–Ryed Piper

First, just a reminder that Sunday, September 25, 2011, is our monthly exercise in folly, Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar. If any of the cocktails, (they also have a great beer selection,) on this blog have captured your fancy, stop by after 6 and allow the skilled bartenders, (and me,) to make them for you. It is always a fun time.

Picked up Ryed Piper on the recommendation of the staff at Healthy Spirits.

Ale Industries, Rye’d Piper 5.8% ABV

This hoppy red rye is a rich and flavorful beer with a touch of rye spice that compliments the roasty chocolate flavors of the malt. This beer will speak to the hop head in all of us.

This is the second beer I’ve had from Ale Industries, the first was the delicious Sour Peche they donated to the SF Chefs Unite dinner.

I tend to be a bit dubious about Rye based beer, about 9 out of 10 times they end up with an extreme alcohol nose. I also am not usually a fan of most “Red” beers, most of those are just far too sweet.

So it was a little trepidation that I approached Ryed Piper.

Those concerns proved to be completely unfounded.

This is a delicious, well balanced, hoppy California beer. Definitely worth searching out.

Come to me, my little hops, listen to my siren song…

…and into the kettle with you!

Love the label, love the beer!

BOTW–Late Harvest 2010 v.2

First, just a reminder that Sunday, September 25, 2011, is our monthly exercise in folly, Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar. If any of the cocktails, (they also have a great beer selection,) on this blog have captured your fancy, stop by after 6 and allow the skilled bartenders, (and me,) to make them for you. It is always a fun time.

With both of us working more than full time jobs, some weekends it is nice to get away. Leave everything behind and stay somewhere with “No Service”. Fortunately, there are still places as close as Western Marin County which have resisted the siren song of comprehensive cell coverage.

Upright Brewing Late Harvest 2010 v.2

Just last week we released a second blend of Late Harvest, a brew we like to call a provision beer because while it’s quaffable now, is bottled with the intention of cellaring for up to 3 years. This batch uses the Six as a base. It’s a blend of 4 former pinot noir barrels: one with chocolate syrup from Alma here in Portland, two with different forms of black pepper and one straight up, each filled at different times ranging from as little as several weeks to nearly a year ago. The peppercorns, long pepper and Tasmanian peppercorn, are very aromatic, the first being remarkably fruity and bright while the latter are earthy and intense while also lending a numbing sensation to the mouthfeel. The finished beer is very tart and dry with lots of bite from the pepper as well as some from the rye and hops. That bite will mellow with age and the beer will round out with more chocolate and oak flavors coming through down the road.

When visiting Portland in early December 2010, we were had the good sense to visit the Upright Brewing Tasting Room. While there, we tasted a number of fantastic beers, but one of the standouts was this Late Harvest v.2. We knew we had to get a bottle to take home. Chocolate and Peppercorns at first seems like an unusual taste combination, though when you think about it, Chocolate and Chiles is a classic combo, so maybe Chocolate and Peppercorns, not so odd.

Even last December, I remembered the Peppercorns being more dominant in this. 10 months down the line, it is the mild sour character and chocolate which stand out. Not sweet enough to be a dessert beer, this is still a very rich tasting brew. Delicious and a treat to enjoy it in Northern California.

It wouldn’t be a trip to West Marin, without a nice hike. This time we hiked with a friend along the Bolinas Ridge. We spotted this mystery herb at the beginning of our hike and saw it throughout the trip. Smelled delicious, minty with a hint of camphor. I suspect it is Pennyroyal. If so, it’s fortunate we only smelled it, as it appears Pennyroyal is fairly poisonous.

These are the flowers of the mystery herb, probably Pennyroyal.

I didn’t take a picture, but it was nice to also notice for the first time Yerba Buena growing along the trail. One of my favorite native mint-ish plants.

Hm, wait, if we are walking in a quadrangle, and this juncture is the second corner, that means it’s half way?! Wait, if I add that up, it comes to about 8 miles… About half my friends will think I am a wimp for finding 8 miles is on the edge of my hiking tolerance, and the other half will think I was crazy for walking it.

Well, it was very beautiful. A great weekend (not too far) away.