stone brewing

in my mussels post, i mentioned taking a tour of stone brewing. so i thought i should actually follow-up and write about that. in early april, while i was in san diego, i talked my family into checking out the stone brewing co., although it wasn’t really a hard sell.  we decided to head up on a friday evening after checking out wild animal park (which, again, could be a post unto itself). long story short about wild animal park – you need at least a day to get through it, maybe two. lions and tigers and gazelles, oh my!

stone bourbon barrel aging

anywhoo – back to the beer. we got to stone about a half hour before the tour began, so we checked out their assorted gift shop items (glasses, shirts, hats, beer) and news articles until the [free] tour began. you had to “sign up” ahead of time because the tour is limited to 25-30 and you need a pass to get on the tour.

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links for 2008-06-18

my first attempt at steamed mussels

mussels on the stovei like to cook. if you know me (i assume the 3 or 4 people who actually read this blog do), then you know i enjoy cooking. i find it very fun to experiment with cooking, baking, etc. today, i decided it was time i tried my hand at mussels. i’ve thought about doing this for a long time but was always a bit nervous that it would be difficult or turn out gross.

after googling for a recipe and deciding that i didn’t quite like any of them, i wrote my own – sort of. it was more like a list of ingredients with relative amounts and a few ideas about when to add/subract/heat/move ingredients. i’m sure you’re quite intrigued by now as my explanation has been just amazing. so without further ado, here is my “recipe”:

  • ~1lb. mussels (from the fresh market down the street, btw, i love this store)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. butter
  • 2 habanero peppers
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 2/3 c. white wine #

above is what i used. here is how i did it (not necessarily how i should have done it)*:

  1. rinse mussels
  2. remove broken/open mussels – throw away – because they are dead and will taste gross (or kill you)
  3. trim “beards” from those mussels which need it
  4. heat butter in large pan – i used my calphalon 3qt. saute pan with lid
  5. chop garlic into chunks – dicing didn’t seem necessary because it was just for flavor.
  6. slice habaneros into thin slivers – i didn’t remove any of the seeds or membrane (may have been a mistake, more later)
  7. add garlic and peppers to heated butter – probably like medium-high heat, when the butter starts to sizzle a little
  8. saute until the garlic is browning a bit
  9. add wine – i took it off the heat for this
  10. add mussels
  11. bring to a [light] boil and then turn down heat to simmer
  12. put lid on pan
  13. remove mussels as they open nicely – some take longer than others [who knew?]
  14. pour broth over cooked mussels
  15. get rid of mussels that don’t open

overall, i was pretty happy for the final mussel dishmy first attempt, but guess what? it was damn spicy. i thought sautéing the habaneros would reduce the spice enough, but boy was i wrong. don’t get me wrong – i love my food spicy, but this was a bit too much, even for me. also, i was not content with the garlic flavor of the “sauce.” so, here are my thoughts for the next time i try this:

  1. either use 1 whole habanero or 2 with seeds and membranes removed – this i will have to experiment with, but i just can’t deal with that spice again
  2. lots more garlic – i couldn’t even taste the garlic in this which is usually one of my favorite flavors in mussels. i will probably try 6 cloves next time and see what happens
  3. more butter as well – couldn’t taste this either and i think it would have added a lot to the overall experience. i might also try olive oil – in the “sauce” – i think it might be a good flavor
  4. i meant to add fresh ground pepper but forgot. i think this would add a lot to the flavor and texture. not sure if i would recommend milling or hand-grinding, another experimental ingredient for the future.
  5. as for stove heat – think i will try keeping it higher next time. some mussels were done in a few minutes while others took 10 or so minutes. i would like to try to have more finish at the same time so will also try to experiment with this.
  6. finally, i think i might cut the wine down a bit – while the flavor of the wine wasn’t overwhelming (even though i drank the same wine with the meal), i think i might cut it down with some water or…something next time. the “sauce” was a bit sweet with the spicy – maybe like 1 c. wine with 2/3 c. other liquid

as i said, overall, i was quite happy, but think my recipe needs work. i think at $3.99/lb for the mussels i can afford to try this a few times without breaking the bank.

if i make this again in the near future, i’ll be sure to post my thoughts as a comment or update here, or a whole new post depending on the recipe. stay tuned and good cooking!

#the wine i used (and incidentally drank with the meal) was a 2006 Simi Sauvignon Blanc [Sonoma County]. the flavor was crisp and very soothing. the wine cooled my taste buds from the habs and was not at all overpowering of the dish – which was very nice. i kept the bottle out and it warmed quickly in my apartment as the a/c was off. it was much more soothing when chilled – just something to keep in mind.

*excessive detail included for those who haven’t tried cooking mussels before

now off to some stone smoked porter if it is cold. i’ll have to tell you all about the brewery tour one day. it was quite a good time….

the rocker with rainn wilson looks hilarious

just caught this trailer on the ultimate trailer show with robert wilonsky (HDNet). i think the rocker looks like it will be pretty darn funny. and really, who can’t resist a rock spoof – think this is spinal tap (maybe not quite on the same level, but still). watch for yourself:

useful progress screen

i’m in the process of installing wubi, at the recommendation of ben, and noticed a very useful progress screen:

very useful

it actually tells you what is giong on and how much time is left, for reals. the time estimate even seems accurate and in tune with the progress bar, what a novel idea. i wish more software installs were like this one.

links for 2008-05-27

segway tours of san diego are the way to go

do you like san diego? how about segways? if you answered yes to both questions, check this out: Segway Tours in San Diego – Adventure for everyone!

nick, dad, and i on segways in sd

i had the opportunity to take this tour with my family in early april and let me tell you, it was a blast. it can run up to around two hours, but the tour guide will customize it to your liking if you ask nicely.

you get the chance to see lots of downtown including a trip through petco if there’s not a game in progress, a scoot by the uss midway, gaslamp, and many other attractions. definitely a unique and fun way to see downtown.

none of us had ever been on a segway before (‘ceptin the guide, natch) but everyone caught on quickly and made it through the tour with little incident. no need to be afraid as it’s nearly impossible to tip the little guy over. even at a max speed of something like 12mph, you feel like you’re flying at a decent clip especially when compared to the slowpoke pedestrians on foot.

so, if you are going to san diego, call up Kenny at anothersideofsandiegotours to set up something nice for you.