DIY: Sangria!

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I love Sangria. I’m not a big drinker, but I do enjoy a glass of sweet and fruity in the summer, So this time I made my own.

I have a bottle of Rose that is a little meh on its own, but would work perfect as the base–you can use pretty much any wine as the base for Sangria as long as its drinkable but not too expensive (since you’re mixing it with a bunch of other stuff anyway). Spanish red wine is most traditional, but I’ve seen recipes with rose and white as well. Then you usually add some sort of fruit juice–often also alcoholic, sometimes not–and whatever fruit you fancy (apples, oranges, watermelon, lemon, strawberry, etc). Mix it all up in a pitcher and then–this is the important part–let it sit for a bit so the flavors, especially from the fruit, get a chance to meld together.

This time I mixed 2-3 parts rose with 1 part fruit punch with blueberries and strawberry I had left in the freezer. I then let it sit in the fridge for a couple hours. Easy peasy and very yummy 🙂

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Rhode Island Brewfest 2015

We’re currently in the grips of another snowstorm, but in the brief window in between snow dumps, I got out to the Rhode Island Brewfest, an annual gathering of mostly local breweries with the odd out-of-state (also, national?  Sierra Nevada Brewery?).  They give you a two-ounce plastic cup and you go around and sample till you drop.  I hit about ten or so, and my favorite had to be the blueberry-flavored kolsch from Newport Storm.

Blueberry Kolsch beer, Newport Storm Brewery

Blueberry Kolsch beer, Newport Storm Brewery

The kolsch style is light and airy anyway, and instead of dialing the sugar up to eleven, they concentrated on the fruity notes of the blueberry, which was nice.  Of course, if you do want sweet (*nudges entropyenator*), Chaucer’s had honey mead on sale.  Raspberry or original, and sweeter than Bailey’s.

Raspberry Honey Mead, Chaucer's

Raspberry Honey Mead, Chaucer’s

Food-wise, I was introduced to the stuffie (which, spurred on by too many hoppy IPAs, I ate without photographing), a variation on the stuffed clam that is like a fist-sized ball of delicious clam-tinged Thanksgiving stuffing.  Yes, please.

Roadtrip: Milwaukee, WI

Milwaukee was stop two on the Wisconsin trip.  I had a couple brewery options lined up to tour, since it’s winter and you need something to keep you warm and go with the cheese.  And no, the brewery was not Miller’s.  I never liked that stuff even when I was in college, and everyone in college drinks terrible, terrible beer.

We went to Sprecher’s.  Its root beer is pretty common all over the Midwest, and I was surprised to find out the soda was actually a sideline for them.  Sprecher’s facilities are located in a suburb of Milwaukee, in a very ugly building that looks like it’d house dentists from the eighties, and the tour isn’t much to speak of.  But it does allow you four beer samples (about 6 oz of each) per person, plus as much soda as you can drink at the end, so we had a good, alcoholic time of it.  My picks: Shakparo, an unusual African-style beer made from millet, which puts it more in line with the Asian beers of my ancestors, and the blueberry soda, which avoids being supersweet and is nicely fruity.

Assorted sodas and beers from Sprecher's in Milwaukee, WI

Assorted sodas and beers from Sprecher’s in Milwaukee, WI

It took a bit longer than expected to work through twelve beers and four or five types of sodas, collectively, so we skipped the second tour and just hit up the gift shop of the Great Lakes Distillery for some liquor (maple syrup-flavored rum for the absent entropyenator’s sweet tooth).  Got lunch at Wisconsin Cheese Mart (so many flavors of cheese curds!), and dinner at the Ginger tapas bar, which culminated in a sort of ultimate drunk-food poutine with local cheese and very salty, very flavorful little dark curls of crispy duck skin.

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And then we went back to the hotel, and wandered into the mall next door, attracted by the sound of music.  Because apparently, animatronic bear concerts are a holiday thing in Milwaukee.  Plays every hour, on the hour.

Singing holiday display, mall in Milwaukee, WI

Singing holiday display, mall in Milwaukee, WI

(I was sober at this point, honestly.)

Trip: New Orleans Jazz Fest, Part III (Food)

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Food!  Food!  Foodfoodfoodfood, oh, God, I’m still having indigestion.  But it was worth it.

Pictured:

Muriel’s: Blackened redfish with crawfish tails, double-cut pork chops that were incredibly juicy and tender and salty-savory (more like a good ham than a chop), and a purple sunrise cocktail (not pictured, on the fruity side but well-balanced).  Found out later it’s haunted, but did not see a thing when we were there.

Café du Monde: Beignets and frozen café au lait.  Beignets, hot, crisp exteriors with airy interiors, just a magical kind of fried happiness, are my strongest memory of my first visit to this city.  Still so good.  The café au lait was really blended fine, ice particles that melted before you could crunch with your teeth.  Also, conveniently close to the French Market where we did some quick souvenir shopping (or Bourbon Street, which we walked through, quickly, just so we could say we went there, because it is still icky tourist).

Willie Mae’s Scotch House: Amazing fried chicken.  The breast meat was dripping juice.  The good, lick-your-chin kind of greasy.  And a breading that went crunchsaltcrunch that you dream about for hours later.  Also, the homemade lemonade is real, legit homemade, tangy instead of over-sugared, and the sweet peas are really good, too.  Fried okra (not pictured) was a bit of a let-down.  It was fried fine, just nothing special flavor-wise.

Cochon: Spicy oysters roasted over a wood fire, popping briny and warm and delicious in your mouth.  Fried boudin balls were less good, the spice level keeping me from assessing the other flavors in the mix, but those pickled peppers were awesome.  Gumbo was fine, nothing standout, and the fried alligator was like every other alligator I’ve tried: stringy and tough.  Stick with the oysters.

Roosevelt Hotel: Sazerac tasted like a Sazerac should taste.  I’ve had more exciting twists on it, but you go here for the standard and that’s what you get.  The shrimp and grits paired plump, spicy shrimp with smooth, cream-cheesy grits, while the cochon benedict suffered somewhat from really dry pulled pork.

Not pictured (either because it was too dark for the camera, or I was too busy drinking to bother snapping photos):