Category Archives: microbrew

Dining: Osteria A Priori | Perugia, Italy

th_peruroma 034After the nightmare that was getting into Perugia, it was all uphill from there (literally). The hill-top towns of Umbria lured us in with charm and some of the best meals of our entire trip. But one of the most memorable was here, at Osteria A Priori– right in the heart of Perugia’s historic core. Located within a couple of blocks from our hotel, this little osteria has gotten numerous glowing reviews from professional critics and bloggers alike. But don’t think you’ll be walking into some stuffy, white tablecloth establishment. Osteria A Priori is as down-to-earth as they get. A modest spread of tall wooden tables in the back of a specialty shop (with a smaller private dining room upstairs). The food is all local. Meats, cheeses, and produce from less than 50 kilometers away to compliment the locally produced wine and beer.

Reservations fill up quickly, so book in advance. We witnessed many walk-ins being turned away during our visit– even locals who visit often were told that they were “al completo” for the night and to come back the next day. The menu is simple. Traditional dishes; hearty and lacking fuss. The star of the meal for me was the charcuterie platter which featured delicious salumi and prosciutto with local cheeses, honey, and nuts. The pasta dish was also memorable– served simple with a generous heaping of black truffles and olive oil. Regrettably, I was pretty full by the time my Osso Bucco hit the table. Although it’s melt-in-your-mouth goodness is surely worth noting. I don’t even need to tell you that we skipped dessert. Do yourself a favor and check this place out. If you don’t have time to stay for a meal, at least take advantage of their wonderful selection of beer & wine. A craft beer and natural wine lover’s must-try destination.

Two hours, a bottle of Paolo Bea’s ’06 Rosso de Veo, and too much food later, we stumbled back through Perugia’s back streets in hardly any light and uneven cobblestones (in heels). But my, we were happy.

Osteria a Priori is located at Via dei Priori, 39; Perugia, Italy. 

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Filed under Dinner, Italian, Italy, local eateries, local food, microbrew, Pasta, seasonal foods, Travel, Vacation, wine

Dining: Meat & Potatoes | Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

I’ve been sitting on this post for about a month now, which is nobody’s fault other than my own. Our dinner at Pittsburgh’s Meat & Potatoes was pretty much my favorite meal on our recent trip, and yet, it’s the last to get mentioned on this blog. I started a new job a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been playing catch-up on the web, so before this glorious meal starts to fade in my memory (which on second thought, probably wouldn’t happen since it was darn good), let me tell you of a place you must try if you find yourself in the area.

While searching for a place for dinner with the boyfriend and the pseudo-in-laws, I stumbled upon the website for M&P. Open for less than a year, the menu for this awesome gastropub made my mouth water. A stellar selection of craft beers, decent wine, and a cocktail list using fresh ingredients that could warrant the term “mixology” but without the “mixology” price tag? I’m in!

But while the casual-hip atmosphere and well-curated libations are definitely reason enough to go here, the food stands out as innovative yet familiar; filling, well-executed, and affordable. Our table started the meal off with an order of their mussels cooked in a white wine sauce and served with fried taters (fries) with a black truffle aioli. These mussels were fresh and quite flavorful with the addition of smokey chorizo, chili, and broccolini– it’s broth soaking in great flavor and accentuated with a touch of cream.

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The boyfriend’s parentals ordered the salmon (pictured at the top of this post) and the roast chicken, respectively. The salmon had a beautiful presentation and was exotic and packed some heat with its Brussels sprout kim chi, pineapple, chili, and Korean BBQ flavors. The Pan Roasted Chicken had more south of the border flavors with black beans, yucca fries, salsa verde, and queso fresco.

Boyfriend went the route of their Hudson Valley Duck Breast which was cleverly crusted with pastrami seasonings and served with sauerkraut pierogies, ramp butter, dandelion greens, and chimichurri– we shared bites of this and I must say, that duck was served at a perfect medium-rare and had loads of flavor. For my entree, the Braised Lamb Shank. I surprised even myself when I made this my dinner of choice, but the description sounded too good to pass up (and it did not disappoint). A giant bone-in lamb shank was placed before me; perfectly fall-of-the-bone tender and covered in a glorious sauce and gremolata. This entree was served on a bed of creamy Tuscan white beans, broccolini, and a bitter braised kale that helped cut through the fatty, homey goodness of the lamb. If you can’t tell, I was an absolute fan of this dish.

Completely stuffed from this rich and comforting dinner, we opted to skip dessert. But with Southern Tier’s Creme Brulee stout on the menu, the boy and I couldn’t resist. Do yourself a favor and head to Meat & Potatoes next time you’re in downtown Pittsburgh.

Big thanks to the McDowells for a lovely time!

Meat & Potatoes is located at 649 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA. | http://www.meatandpotatoespgh.com 

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Filed under beer, Cocktails, Comfort Food, Dinner, duck, lamb, local eateries, local food, microbrew, organic, seafood, Travel, Vacation

Straight Trippin’: Reno 411- A Guide to Local Gems

I always hated going to Reno when I was a child. We had a family friend who used to live there and we could make the trecherous drive in the winters to visit them and day-trip to some ski resort near the beautiful Lake Tahoe areas. My memories of Reno were confined to cheesy outdated casinos, creepy motels, and little old ladies blowing cigarette smoke into my face as we made a B-line to the casino’s arcade. However, this month we made the trip over to Reno on a business trip. I was sent there to cover the Third Annual CANFEST (which was a totally awesome event). Before heading to the Silver State, I made it a point to do some research online to see where the younger locals go, and luckily (with the help of Yelp), I was able to find some awesome places just within walking distance to casino-land that really made me like Reno.

The first place on our Reno 411 adventure is an awesome coffee shop called The Hub Coffee Company. This relatively young coffee shop and roaster is the perfect way to start your day with locally roasted beans and artfully made espresso drinks. We liked this place so much, we came here each morning we were in town. Small, cozy, and hip with a very strong local vibe. The baristas were knowledgable and friendly. On our first visit we had cappucinos courtesy of Ashlyn; perfect, well-rounded, and delightful while sitting out in the morning cold. The next day we met Ian and Mark (the owner), who were a dream team if we ever did see one. You can’t go wrong with anything on their menu, nor can you help but love the sense of community here. Laptops, dogs (on the patio), and lingering is welcome. www.thehubcoffeeco.blogspot.com 

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Filed under Brunch, coffee, local eateries, microbrew, Travel, Vacation

The Bruery’s 3rd Anniversary (Re-Cap)

We had the good fortune of snagging two complimentary VIP passes to the Bruery’s 3rd Anniversary celebration at the Phoenix Club in Anaheim this past weekend. The Bruery is one of the heavy-hitters in the Orange County craft beer scene, which seems to grow exponentially every year, and they were fantastic hosts for both the beer-loves in attendance and the wonderful selection of California craft brewers that were guests for the event.

General admission was $35 and came with 10 four-ounce tastings (with a cute little tasting glass). VIP had an additional five tasting tickets to be redeemed at their VIP tent, which served their limited edition brews. To be honest, I didn’t even get to use much of my VIP privileges, as the line was constantly long (although it moved at a decent rate) and there were just so many other stations that had no line at all that I wanted to try. Luckily, some of my favorite Bruery brews were available at their four other Bruery stations throughout the grounds.

I was very impressed with the amount of guest breweries that were present in the Festhalle (19+ according to my count). We were reacquainted with familiar folks like Firestone, Ballast Point, Stone, Eagle Rock, and Craftsman; and we got to know some fantastic newbies in the micro-brew world. Did you know that there was an Inland Empire Brewing Company in Riverside? I didn’t! And you know what, their Porter was pretty good. Other stand-outs include Cismontane, Ladyface, and Noble Ale Works, but I will go into a little more detail about the beers that we tried in another post.

Along the lines of Bruery brews, there were three hits and two misses. Unfortunately, it was Ryan’s tastings that were misses. The ones I tried were great.

I was absolutely thrilled to finally try their Salt of the Earth. A serious treat for the truffle lover. Earthy, well-balanced, and of course, salty! This German-style wheat beer is definitely not a beer you’d reach for at a party, but definitely one that pairs fantastically with food. I’m thinking seared foie gras, roasted duck breast, or even portabello mushroom burgers!

The Orchard White was very clean and very drinkable. Nothing out of the ordinary for this one, but definitely one that you can nurse at a summer garden party or have while snacking on something light in the middle of the day. And of course, the Bruery’s Cuir.

One of my personal faves, the Bruery’s 3rd Anniversary version of their Cuir is beautiful. It’s the kind of beer that wine-lovers (like me!) would love. Dark fruit, vanilla, notes of caramelized sugar, and….OAK! Complex, rich, and overall, a treat. I am so sad I didn’t get to try the special reserve version of this which is 100% barrel aged. This version, I think was 75% fermented in oak, and 25% in barrel.

Overall: A great celebration! Beer pours were generous and ample, snacks were free-flowing (great cheese and crackers), people were mellow, parking was free, lines weren’t hectic, and check-in was a breeze. Cheers!

The Bruery: www.thebruery.com

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