Brew Review: Newton’s Folly Granny Smith Draft Cider

As I have been blogging for the past few weeks, I seriously miss fall. Last year, my first LA fall, was a total novelty. It hardly rained and it was 80 into January and I loved every moment of it. But this year I am missing the changing of the seasons. One way I have coped was looking for seasonal beers. I still need to buy myself some Sam Adams Octoberfest. I realize that this isn’t the best fall beer by any stretch but it reminds me of Boston. I also want to find a really killer pumpkin beer. If you have a recommendation please drop a comment! I will likely go to BevMo! to search this out.

One type of beer-like drink that really reminds me of fall is Granny Smith Draft Cider. I had Woodchuck a few years ago at The Lower Depths in Boston (if you love beer and live in Boston you must check this place out) and I loved it! Cider is so light and tasty. Yeah, its kinda a light-weight beer but its so fall-like I thought having some might quell my New England nostalgia.

Since I already tried Woodchuck, and because I frequent Trader Joe’s, I tried Newton’s Folly Granny Smith Draft Cider.

This was a pretty good cider. My first thought is that I like Woodchuck better, but it has been a long time since I had the pleasure of having Woodchuck. Plus, this cider is pretty cheap and thus a good and easy option. It was light, just bubbly enough, and not too sweet or tart.

To recap: it was pretty darn tasty! I would like to taste test it next to Woodchuck to determine the true champion but Newton’s Folly is a good, convenient and a quality replacement. One fall craving satisfied! Now where can I get some cider doughnuts…

HBO Night

At the risk of sounding like an advertisement: If it’s Sunday, you know I’m watching HBO. What can I say? I love True Blood and Entourage is starting to get interesting again (in my opinion).

But first let’s rewind a little bit:

After my long run this morning I read some of my book, The Help, which I am loving! Then I spent some quality time with Izzy Cat. We played with her new bird toy:

Oh hi Izzzz!

Then I cleaned the house and prepared for guests. Emily and Catie came over to watch HBO and have dinner.

Before they came over I made some guacamole.

I made this last week when I made fish tacos and I ate it all week. I love the fresh, creaminess of the avocado. It’s great to put on sandwiches, dip veggies into or pita chips. Don’t you love the bright green color?

I also cracked open one of my favorite beers of all time, Sam Adams Summer.

I love Sam Seasonal. It takes me back to last summer and being around Boston. It’s the perfect cure for homesickness. Also, I’ve shared before that after running I sometimes crave a beer. After a long afternoon of cleaning it sure was nice to unwind.

Then I got down to the business of dinner. When having a group over, pizza is an excellent default. I started with Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat crust. Then I prepped my ingredients.

Holy Heirloom Tomato! Check out those colors! I know that I have blathered on in more than one post about the color of my foods, but I like to eat eclectic colors. It’s how you know you’re eating healthy.

A ball of mozzarella. Cheese is always better when it isn’t from a bag that says Kraft.

I also diced onion and garlic and I tore some pieces of prosciutto. When I constructed my pie I used those ingredients and S&P.

Check out the before. I sparsely distributed the  cheese and baked at 450 for 10 mins. While I waited for the pizza to cook I shredded some Parmesan from the biggest wedge of parm I have ever seen! Emily bought it from costco.

I present “After”:

I let the parm melt on top of the pizza after I took it out of the oven.

Simplistic but delicious, this was one of the best pizza’s I ever made.

Melting the parm on top of the good mozzarella was a great idea. I used a lot of tomato paste as a base and used a nicely proportioned bit of prosciutto. But the standout of this dish was the heirloom tomatoes. Let me tell you, they taste as delicious as they look. The heirlooms were actually kinda sweet compared to the best of the dish. Having simple, minimal ingredients really let the heirlooms stand out.  Now that they are in season at the Farmer’s Market I will have to cook with them more often. This is was way higher quality tomato then I typically use and I should utilize it more often!

This was my portion (+1 slice after this photo was taken). Definitely delicious and I will be making again.

Umami Burger

Yesterday night Kelly and I went to Umami burger for dinner. We both have heard rave reviews of Umami. Some even say that it is the best burger in LA. We all know that I have strong feelings about Father’s Office, so I knew I had to check out Umami! How could I not weigh in on the great debate?

Kelly and I went to the Santa Monica location which is located in Fred Segal and has  a parking lot. The importance of a parking lot cannot be under emphasized. Looking for parking is never fun, especially in Santa Monica. The interior of the restaurant is small, but was not over crowded and it had cute, kitschy things on the wall including taxidermy.

We started with beer. What is better than beer and burgers? I would argue nothing.We both had a Belgium Blonde.

So delicious!

Kelly and I both are big believers in sharing. Like we did at Taste, we both decided to order our own burgers and share them. Umami has a wide selection of burgers to choose from. Our server suggested that on our first trip we should have their signature Umami Burger.

Money shot:

Whoops a bit blurry. I have to say that this was pretty good. I am not a huge mushroom fan but I didn’t mind them in this burger. I loved the meat. Again, I am not typically a big fan of ground beef but the quality of the meat was fantastic.

We also tried a bit more “avant gard” burger, the “triple pork burger” which features a patty made of pork, chorizo and bacon with manchego cheese and a pimenton aioli.

So good! A little bit spicier. It reminded me of a pulled pork sandwich.

And now of the sides… Kelly and I knew that we wanted sweet potato fries and at the last min our server convinced us to also try the cheesy tots!

The sweet potato fries were just OK. They had a cinn sugar topping on them which was different and unexpected. It was not bad, but it was… different. Probably not my favorite sweet potato fry but pretty damn good.

And how can you not like a cheesy tot?

So good! The cheese was not overwhelming and the fried outside was better than say, ore ida. I would absolutely order it again. And, going back, I would probably only order one side. The sides are good and the portion isn’t huge but I would have been happy with just one side.

There were also toppings for the fries and tots:

Mustard

homemade ketchup.

So where do I stand in the Umami vs. Father’s Office debate? Well, they are entirely different animals. Father’s office is a great bar with awesome food. They have a better selection of wine and craft beers. You get a ton of food and I love the burger. On the other hand, Umami is more restaurant like. It is less expensive (in the aggregate- but a $10 burger isn’t “cheap”) and we didn’t have an issue getting a table, which is almost always an issue at FO. I do have to say that the sweet potato fries at FO are better than Umami. Umami has more veggie options.

So, in my humble opinion, they are about equal. Different moods, different venues. What do you all think?

#101 Finish 1L

I cannot believe this year is over! This has been a challenging year for me and I feel so accomplished now that its over. Nothing matches the feeling of taking on a challenge, working hard, and finishing the task. Of course, yesterday was a gorgeous LA day:

Seriously, I’m never leaving. I love that its almost always going to be a perfect day is LA.

We had our final from 1:15 til 4:45, then we were shuffled from the testing room directly to the courtyard for this…

and this…

I knew when I got the email that there would be cake after the final that I picked the right law school. I love UCLA because literally all I wanted after the final was cake and champagne. And of course there were picture.

And there were drinks…   Car bomb and margaritas and champagne oh my.

I have to admit that I’m a little sluggish this AM but that’s OK because I have NOTHING to do today. Well, actually not nothing. I have a pool party in the Valley to attend. But nothing that requires brain power. I have to get going but, UCLA LAW class of 2012, we did it!!

In Control

“There are two ways to live life. One is stressed-out, the other isn’t. One hurts, one doesn’t. Look, if you’re having a nightmare, don’t you want to wake up?” -Eckart Tolle

Um, yes I would like to pick the second one please! Since yesterday was essentially a family/social/small amount of work day, today became the first “real” day of reading period. Reading period in law school lasts for two + weeks. This is wonderful, since my entire grade is dependent on one exam which is curved against a bunch of truly brilliant people. Obviously this is also a recipe for stress. The theme of the entire last semester was “clinging on for dear life”. This semester the theme is “I have the power to make choices”. We are all in control. I can choose to go on my run, eat well, set a realistic study schedule, and manage my stress. I am in control. That is what I intend to do this semester.

Along the lines of eating well…Last night for dinner I had a multi grain rice pilaf with roasted Brussels sprouts! I never liked/tried Brussels sprouts before but I figured that there was no way I wouldn’t like them roasted. Everything is better when slathered with EVO, salt and pepper, right? Naturally. Plus, its probably the healthiest thing I’d had in a while (because we have to balance out all my treats). And now for another gratuitous shot of my dinner.

After dinner a (very) small group of section 3 people went to the Gaslite, in Santa Monica. They are known for having karaoke every night. Of course there was an eclectic group of regulars hanging out and rocking out. Hardcore. I also observed some new dance moves for the next time I dance with a mic stand.

The only down fall was that there was no tonic at the bar. What is a g&t loving preppy to do?

There was a girl in a North Face, pearls + she had a martini. I felt like I was back in the North Shore, but I opted away from the martini. I love me a martini but I had a review session today and it is finals. Time to show restraint! I was really glad I went out last night. It mellowed me out and reminded me that fun and finals CAN coexist, despite all other indications. Lets hope I can keep this mellow zen up until May 6th around 5 pm. Whose with me?