Home brewed ginger ale

home brewed ginger beer

When the weather gets warm, I start craving refreshing, carbonated, cold beverages. Gin rickey? Don’t mind if I do! But some people may frown on having an alcoholic beverage so early in the day, or so often, which is why ginger ale comes to the rescue.  I had a bunch of ginger laying around the house and instead of waiting them to dry out or mold, I decided to put them to good use.

Two large pieces of ginger, pureed in the Vita-mix blender, some water, a couple heaping table spoons of sugar, and  a pinch of baker’s yeast was all it took to make this simple beverage. Oh, that and some time, since you need to wait for the yeast to turn the drink fizzy during fermentation.

The hardest part was figuring out where to put this ale while it fermented. At first, I put it in a glass soda bottle with a rubber gasket top, but I was scared that the carbonation was going to make it explode, so I wrapped the opening with plastic wrap instead of making a really air-tight seal.  I let that sit overnight, tried it in the morning, and it tasted sort of like ginger ale, but with a stronger yeasty taste than the commercial kind. Mission accomplished, kind of!

Poured in a glass with some ice and topped off with soda water (I made my concoction TOO sweet and needed to dilute it some), it got the job done.  You can even pour it into a stemless wine glass (or a mason jar!) for extra yuppie points.

Cocktails @ The Tasting Kitchen

Although I still have tons to say and lots of pictures to post of my trip to Asia, let’s go back to our regularly scheduled programming for a bit.

A few weeks ago, I finally made it to The Tasting Kitchen on that trendy strip of Abbot Kinney in Venice thanks to a write-up about it on eatdrinknbmerry.  Although the dishes on their menu, an emphasis on house-made pasta, were all things I’d eat, so far I’ve only tried their cocktails.

On my first visit there, Devin Espinosa (you may have heard of him from such films as BreadBar’s Hatchi Mix Series) was tending the bar and was full of smiles and enthusiasm.

Little Italy & Snacks

I asked him to make me a Little Italy and he admitted that he wasn’t familiar with the drink, but after he learned the ingredients, he proceeded to make it wonderfully. Deceptively good for a first try.

Hot Toddy

My cousin, who accompanied me, was feeling under the weather so I suggested she order a Hot Toddy. As luck would have it, The Tasting Kitchen has a special version of the drink with freshly squeezed ginger.  This was one of the best Hot Toddy’s I’d ever tasted.  It was warm, boozy, and slightly sweet with the punch-in-the-face spice of ginger. My cousin was feeling much better after that.

Vieux Carré

Will ordered a Vieux Carré and when he tasted what Devin mixed up, he declared it one of the best Vieux Carré’s he’d ever had.

From the handful of drinks we ordered, I could see that Devin is skilled in the art of balancing drinks.  I was afraid that the various bottles of house-made bitters, cherries were all for show, but after my first sip, my fears were quelled. The only negative thing I can say about The Tasting Kitchen’s drinks is that they’re all the way in Venice, which is a long way to drive if I’m at home on the east side.

The Tasting Kitchen
1633 Abbot Kinney Boulevard
Venice, CA 90291-3744
(310) 392-6644

Some of my favorite things

Sourdough & Cheese

Fresh baked sourdough bread and some good, stinky cheese.  Is there anything better than that to start off a morning?  My sourdough starter is about a month old and it’s already got a nice tangy taste.  It has pretty good leavening power too.  I just wish I was better at making good looking bread as well as good tasting bread.  The cheese is some blue goat cheese and some soft cheese from the Cheese Store in Silver Lake. I don’t know too much about cheeses other than what I like and don’t like, so I told the lady behind the counter to pick me a soft, un-mild, stinky cheese, and another cheese that’s kinda like Humboldt Fog. I’m happy with her choices even though I don’t remember what she picked out.

Jamaica tea & new iPhone coverSince the weather has been getting warmer (finally!) I started making a pitcher of a refreshing summer drink just to have around in the fridge.  The first pitcher I made was hibiscus (aka jamaica), ginger, and a little bit of sugar.  This second pitcher I made was hibiscus, lemon balm, lemon verbena, and some pineapple mint.  It still tastes strongly of hibiscus, but with a refreshing aftertaste thanks to the pineapple mint.

The corner of my last iPhone case was cracked because of the 100 or so times I’ve dropped it. I’m glad it was the case that’s cracked and not the iPhone.  I wasn’t planning on getting a new case, but I saw this one today and I couldn’t say no.  It looks exactly like the back of my iPhone, except it’s pink! How can I say no to that?  It doesn’t have as much coverage in the front as I’d like, but maybe that’ll teach me to be more careful with my phone.