Sunday, September 30, 2007

A Birthday Feast.

Tomorrow is the husband's 30th birthday and we celebrated tonight, as we have all weekend, with the husband's favorite foods - meat & beer, this time in the form of steak & Guinness. It was a fabulous meal, better than the vast majority of steak houses we've been too - certainly much cheaper. We've got some extra steak which will make a great steak salad later in the week. There aren't any real recipes, just some minimal flavoring which enhanced the natural flavor of the meat & vegetables.

The husband grilled some thick NY strip steaks, which were perfectly seasoned with some seasoning from Old Hickory (a steak & rib place in Dayton). Accompanying the steak was grilled asparagus seasoned with extra virgin olive oil, Kosher salt, pepper and chopped garlic, baked potato, salad and some olive oil bread with a dip of olive oil, Kosher salt, basil & red pepper flakes. For dessert, which may be eaten tomorrow as we're pretty stuffed, I made the classic Southern banana pudding layered with 'Nilla wafers & banana's.

Our meal was washed down with several different kinds of beers, one of which has already been profiled on here & another that any true beer connoisseur should already be intimately familiar with. The new beer of the evening was a Red Hook Long Hammer India Pale Ale (6.5% / $7 six pk.). Brewed in Portsmouth, NH, this IPA has an incredibly smooth & mild flavor, which went well with dinner. The vast majority of IPA's have a distinctive bitter aftertaste, which this one did not. We both agreed it tastes a little watered down, but overall I think it's a great beer that will at some point be worked back into the rotation.

The history of the India Pale Ale is an interesting one, it's also fitting to mention here because not only did we sample some tonight but I've just finished up a unit with my 8th grade American History class on the early colonists, British mercantilism, triangular trade, etc.. I'm sure many of you are wondering what this has to do with the history of the IPA, so I'll boil it down for you. The British had somewhat of a problem when it came to transporting beer around the world. Their beer didn't do well on long voyages, especially in more tropical locations such as the East Indies. As you can see from the map to the left (obtained from On Tap), it wasn't a short trip from England to India and as a result the beer was often sour & flat, and likely didn't make for a happy crew. I know I'd like to enjoy a beer after a journey that long! Many experimental tries later, it all came down to some tweaks on a recipe and a way was finally found for beer to make these long voyages and for eventual retail sale in the East Indies. George Hodgson, of Bow Brewery in London, altered a recipe and began shipping Hodgson's India Ale in the 1790s. Considering the sun never sat on the English Empire, this likely made British sailors, explorers & merchants very happy. Falling out of favor in England, the IPA has made a tremendous comeback in the U.S., with many micro brews producing new and distinctive flavors all their own.

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