Where to Find Good Beer
Published on July 12, 2012 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I write about some cool bars I've visited recently. The common thread: They all promote and specialize in good beer, from both American craft breweries and well-regarded overseas breweries.

Click here to learn ore.

How to Make Beer Ice Cream
Published on June 11, 2012 by Sara Foss

Courtesy of The Awl, a recipe for beer ice cream, which certainly sounds like a summer treat.

The Traveling Meat Salesman
Published on June 4, 2012 by guest author: Tatiana Zarnowski

"That's what I need," Matthew said wistfully between bites of chicken salad. "A traveling steak salesman."

It sounded like a daydream for an idle Saturday evening, and I laughed as the pickup truck that inspired my boyfriend's reverie drove slowly down the street, its custom paint job advertising meat.

Certainly this slow-moving truck was traveling the dead-end street for someone else, I thought, as we ate dinner on Matthew's front porch. The truck passed his house and then did a careful U-turn. It was headed back our way.

Must be lost, I figured.

The driver eased into Matthew's driveway and got out.

"He probably wants directions," I said.

The driver, a man in his late 50s or early 60s, mounted the porch steps and then backed away when he noticed we were eating, but Matthew put him at ease with an eager, "Are you selling steak?"


How to Make Gruel
Published on May 13, 2012 by Sara Foss

I've always enjoyed lying to kids, and when I worked at camp, I lied to kids often. One of my favorite lies involved dinner - whenever the kids asked me what we were having, I always said, "Gruel."

Anyway, The Awl has a nice little story about how historians and scientists are able to reconstruct millennium-old recipes, and how they were able to recreate the recipe for Bogman's Weedseed Gruel, which sounds like an even better answer to the "What are we having for dinner?" question than plain old gruel. Much to my delight, this recipe calls for water infused with sphagnum moss, which makes me think of the eighth grade, when I ran for class president on the slogan "Vote For Sara Foss or She'll Turn You Into Sphagnum Moss." Ah, nostalgia.

Click here to visit the piece in The Awl.


Banana Bread Beer
Published on April 9, 2012 by Sara Foss

The other night I went out to Mahar's, a bar in Albany with an eclectic beer menu, and encountered a kind of beer I'd never had before: banana bread beer.

Sounds weird, right?

Anyway, I decided I had to buy it.

My thinking: How could I resist something as strange as banana bread beer?

I had high hopes.

I generally assume that if a reputable establishment is selling a particular food or drink, it's going to be good - otherwise they wouldn't sell it. This logic is sound, but it has led me astray: For instance, I once bought peanut butter and jelly French toast, and discovered that it was as awful as it sounded - two foods that were never meant to go together. (The restaurant was probably cleaning out its pantry, and decided to trick diners like me into eating something gross.)

Much to my delight, the banana bread beer was good - an interesting and delightful mix of banana bread and beer, as its name implies. You could definitely taste the banana bread flavor, but it wasn't too strong or overwhelming. Made by Wells & Young's Brewery in the United Kingdom town of Bedford, the beer received mixed reviews over on, but I really enjoyed it. It's a nice, amber beer - not too heavy, and not super-light. I'm not sure I would want to drink it all the time - it was too much like dessert, and probably best in moderation as a result - but I'd certainly drink it again ... especially if I had a hankering for beer and banana bread.



First Day at Jumpin' Jack's
Published on April 2, 2012 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I write about opening day at Jumpin' Jack's, the Scotia-restaurant that was underwater last August, due to Hurricane Irene, but has been fixed up with great fanfare.

Click here to learn more.

"Savage" Barbecue Sauce
Published on March 6, 2012 by Sara Foss

My former colleague Wade Kwon has written a smart piece about an Alabama-made barbecue sauce that features a racist logo, and can be found in supermarkets statewide.

Click here to find out more.

Two Recommendations
Published on February 23, 2012 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I recommend a local wine bar, and a local dixieland jazz band. 

Click here to learn more.

Best Canned Beer
Published on February 22, 2012 by Sara Foss

I've noticed that canned beer is making something of a comeback.

For a long time, my main experience with canned beer involved drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon in college. This stuff is awful, although my feelings about PBR might be strongly influenced by the fact that it was sort of a beer of last resort, and we typically ended up drinking it long after we should have stopped drinking beer altogether.

More recently, I've enjoyed the occasional can of Utica Club, which is sold at one of my favorite Albany bars, as well as Miller Lite, which my landlord keeps stocked in her fridge.

Now Esquire has posted an item ranking the "best canned beers to drink now." Number one on the list is Dale's Pale Ale, which I've had on a few occasions and which comes from Oskar Blues, a brewery that has been canning all of its beers since 2002.

Click here to read the entire list.

Diet Soda Will Kill Me
Published on February 1, 2012 by Sara Foss

I keep reading articles about how bad diet soda is for your health.

According to a new study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, drinking diet soda every day is linked with a higher risk of heart attack and death. Which is unfortunate, because I drink a lot of diet soda. The question is: Why do I drink so much diet soda? And how hard would it be for me to stop?

One theory is that diet soda helps me get through the day, especially at work. I stay up late, and get up earlier than I'd like, so it helps to have some caffeine in my system. And I've never been much of a coffee drinker, although I don't mind coffee and on rare occasions have been known to drink it. I also think work is an activity that becomes more bearable when I have something sweet to imbibe while doing it, and that a periodic trip the vending machine is something to look forward to, especially when I've been writing for a long period of time. But I also drink soda when I'm at home, so I can't blame my addiction solely on working at an office.

Anyway, I am not the only person questioning a bad soda habit. Over at GOOD magazine, Amanda Hess has posted a piece titled "Why I'm Reconsidering My Diet Soda Addiction." She writes:

"For me, diet soda isn't an occasional treat—it's an occupational hazard, one of the few things keeping me from face-planting into my keyboard. It's my version of chain smoking.

It should have been obvious that my excessive consumption of diet soda was not a wholesome choice. But as a press release accompanying the study notes, our 'current climate of escalating obesity rates' tends to reinforce the idea that reduced-calorie options are healthier than their alternatives. I want to believe it's not that bad."


Check Out These Cocktails
Published on January 26, 2012 by Sara Foss

My old friend Lauren Viera has a cocktail blog.

You can check it out here.

Would Fracking Hurt Beer?
Published on January 17, 2012 by Sara Foss

I just finished off a four-pack of Ommegang Abbey Ale, a Belgian beer brewed by Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, N.Y. And it was DELICIOUS.

Today the Washington Post reports that Brewery Ommegang is concerned that the controversial drilling procedure of hydraulic fracturing - often referred to as hydrofracking - could damage the quality of the brewery's beer, if approved by the state of New York. Specifically, the brewery worries that hydrofracking would pollute the wells that supply it with the water used to make its award-winning beers.

All I can say is that I don't want anything to ruin the quality of my beer.

Click here to learn more.


This Christmas Give the Gift of Bacon
Published on December 13, 2011 by Sara Foss

I love bacon, and so do many of my friends. Which is why I was pleased to see that Deadspin has put together a list of gifts for people who love bacon. Such as bacon-flavored soap. I mean, who wouldn't want that? Anyway, click here to see the rest of the items.

You Should Drink Applejack
Published on December 7, 2011 by Sara Foss

Over at Slate, Troy Patterson explains why this is the season to drink applejack, which he describes as a cider brandy.

Patterson suggests buying applejack produced by Scobeyville, N.J.,-based Laird & Company, "America's first commercial distillery and the producer of as much as 95 percent of its applejack." (He notes that Laird & Company boasts that it once lent its applejack recipe to George Washington.)

But there are other places to get applejack, especially now that certain parts of the country are experiencing a mini-craft distillery boom. Located about 30 minutes from Albany in the village of Valatie is Harvest Spirits, a small distillery based at the family-owned apple orchard Golden Harvest Farms. Derek Grout, son of the owner of Golden Harvest Farms, runs the distillery, and he has created an excellent applejack, which I've sampled a couple times. (I keep meaning to go back and buy a bottle.) He also makes vodka, brandy and grappa, and is working on a black raspberry vodka, peach schnapps and frozen applejack, which the website describes as "like an apple pie in your face."

Sounds delicious! I can't wait to try it. In the meantime, maybe I'll seek out some applejack.

Drinking is Good For You?
Published on November 29, 2011 by Sara Foss

We often hear that drinking too much is bad for our health. But research suggests that drinking too little can also be problematic.

On Alternet, Anneli Rufus writes:

"I don't want to go to rehab, but a raft of recent studies show that moderate alcohol consumption lowers our risks for many dire conditions including heart disease, stroke, gallstones, diabetes and dementia. Some studies even suggest that the answer to pesky menopause symptoms comes in six-packs and goes great with pretzels.

The keyword here is "moderate." Some studies define this as one drink per week; others as up to four drinks per day. This haziness notwithstanding, these studies show that heavy drinkers are far more likely than moderate drinkers to die from certain diseases.

But so are people who don't drink at all."

Click here to read the whole thing.

Overall, I'd say that these studies are good news for the likes of me, as well as most of my family, and many of my friends.

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