The Jealous Crumpet

A sweet little blog


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I’ve Been a Bad Blogger!!

1Okay, so I have been a bad blogger for over 3 months! Ouf, that is a long time and pretty much everything you are not supposed to do if you have a blog. In retrospect I wish that I’d written short easy posts just to maintain consistency, but I didn’t.

So, here come the excuses. There’s so much good television! The Man in the High Castle, Stranger Things, I just started watching Legion.. so good! But that’s not really why I’ve been a slacker. The real reason is because I was writing my first book! A history book about beer no less.

And I know this sounds very naive of me, but I had no idea how much work it was to write a book. The book took thirteen months to write, but the last three months were insanely  intense and nearly did me in.

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SO many papers!! Everywhere.. for months!!

Book writing led to me to be very neglectful to my blogging, but if it makes you feel better I was neglectful to everything and everyone. My friends were ignored, my house was like an episode of Hoarders and the laundry situation was bleak to say the least. It also took a personal toll.  I’ve always been fascinated by the photographs of presidents over time so I did a mini version of myself during the book writing process. I took photos of myself at different points. As you can see I start out so happy and then degrade until a ball of stress and then back to tired but happy at the end. 2To see the different within 24 hours the photo on the left is the day before the book is due and the photo of the right is 10 minutes after I mailed the transcript to my publisher.  img_5563Happily survived and my book North Alabama Beer: An Intoxicating History comes out in August.

Going forward I swear I’ll be blogging more and when I write book number two I’ll be more prepared for the workload.

Thank-you and I am sorry. Foodie posts will be on their way.


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Green Bus Brewing

1Huntsville has a new brewery!!! Let’s all toast Green Bus Brewery with a pint of Hop Bus IPA!!1y2b7819Back in 2009 craft beer in Huntsville was in its infancy. Prior to this beer with an alcohol content of more than 6% was banned from the state. Other prohibition era laws remained of the books and essentially stifled an industry that was thriving and benefiting other states throughout the country. In 2005, a group of passionate beer lovers started the Free the Hops movement to change the laws and bring more sophisticated beer drinking habits to the state.  And once change started there was no stopping it.  Throughout Alabama craft breweries started expanding, but no place took to it like Huntsville.  Maybe it’s all of our out-of-state brew drinking transplants, maybe it’s our high populations of beer-loving engineers, but whatever the reason, Huntsville loves craft beer!2Now that we’ve hit 2016 Green Bus will be the 8th brewery in Madison County.  I had the pleasure of dropping into the Grand Opening.1y2b7808The Grand Opening lasted all day and I picked a time that I thought would be dead, but I would be wrong.  There were tons of people, lots of beer, food, games, live music, raffles, and a guy in lederhosen. ‘Tis the season I suppose.  1y2b7833They even had the infamous green bus! It was covered with stickers from all the other local breweries. I love how the craft beer industry in Alabama is so supportive of each other. I can’t tell you how many times brewers have told me ‘when one of us succeeds we all do’.1y2b7839I’d loved to have tasted the beer, but unfortunately I am currently under a strict gluten-free diet (doctor’s orders) so alas I could only photograph it.  I will say it was quite pretty and the drinkers around me seemed immensely happy.3


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Prohibition Tunnel and Pecans Galore

Untitled-1Several weeks ago, I read a newspaper article about a prohibition-era hidden tunnel underneath a pecan shop in Decatur, AL. I knew as soon as I read the article I knew I had to investigate. I trekked out the Tennessee Valley Pecan Co. and popped into the shop.5The shop itself it well worth the trip, even without the secret booze den. The pecan company sells a large variety of the most delicious pecans, coffee, and Piper & Leaf teas.  1Y2B2875The shop is adorable with many squirrel themed products. I also learned that there are numerous types of pecans.  Who knew?! 2I ordered a coffee and some dark chocolate pecans and asked to see the secret tunnel.  3Owner David Armistead was very obliging and explained to me how they found the tunnel, a bit of its history and what was down there. 7He showed me to the tunnel which they left exposed with a piece of plexiglass over the top.  Through the hole you can see the scary rickety ladder, whiskey crates, and remaining prohibition debris. 10David kindly invited me to come back on a different day to go down into the tunnel.  I’ll admit it was a pretty scary hole to go into.  I was glad I had been working out because if I was any wider I would not have fit in.  6It was super thrilling and a bit scary.  We found old beer bottles, whiskey boxes and even pecan shells.8It was also an adventure to get myself, camera, and tripod down this very steep ladder. 9

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Blog Tour Hildegard’s Biergarten #dineHSV

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Our second stop of the Food Tour for Restaurant Week brought me and my fellow bloggers to Hildegard’s Biergarten.  This was the one restaurant I hadn’t yet visited so I was especially excited to dine here.

Hildegard’s was voted the Best International Restaurant in the Valley, the Best German Restaurant in The Valley AND the Best German Restaurant in Alabama, so I went into the restaurant with high expectations and I’m happy to report that I wasn’t disappointed.

Hildegard’s has two locations: one on Whitesburg Drive and the other on Heathland Drive, which is across the street from the Madison Square Mall. We visited Hildegard’s on Heathland and it was a little bit difficult to find, so I used my GPS to get there. Once you know where it is, it is easy. feature1

The restaurant is large, which makes it ideal for big parties, but I saw plenty of couples there as well.  The decor is cute with, appropriately enough, lots of garden (or should I say “garten”) paraphilia. As you walk into the restaurant, you are greeted by bundles of flowers, gardening accessories and even a bird bath. feature8They have very comfortable patio and picnic tables, and booths decorated with floral themes.
feature6Though the decor is lovely, the star of the restaurant is definitely the food. We met the owners Sabina and her husband Jeff, and they were happy to talk to us about the restaurant’s history and cuisine.feature9Then Sabina brought out dish after dish for us to try. In fact, there were so many different things that I started to lose track and didn’t even photograph the pork schnitzel, which was to die for! Everything we ate was perfectly cooked, amazingly seasoned, and most importantly delicious (even the stuffed cabbage, which I was never a fan of before now). feature3 copyBeing a biergarten, they also had an extensive selection of beer (my kind of place!) and I had an Amber Ale with my meal.feature2When we were so full we doubted we would be able to walk out of the restaurant without assistance, Sabina brought the desserts.  I actually lost count of how many I tasted, but my favorites were the Black Forest Cake and the Blueberry Cheesecake. Her mother makes all the desserts in-house and she is a culinary artist. Everything was wonderful.feature7As an added bonus, I made my first TasteMade Video about Hildegard’s Biergarten. Check it out at the link below. Note: Be kind, this is my first video! Also, I don’t know why it is so hard to say “Hildegard’s Biergarten”. 

Hildegard’s Biergarten

We also had a new blogger with us on this leg of the journey, Bo Williams, who blogs for Rocket City Mom.

Make sure you check out all of the bloggers’ wonderful posts.

Clint Cantwell with Grillocracy

Phillip Fryman with Southern FATTY

Bo Williams with Rocket City Mom

Constance Smith with Cosmopolitan Cornbread

Katie Wright with Katie Actually

Website:

http://www.hildegardsgermancuisine.com

Location:

1010 Heathland Dr Huntsville, AL 35816

Phone:

256 – 513 – 8260

Hours:

11: 00 am to 9:00 pm Mon-Sat

Closed Sunday

 


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Search for the Elusive Beer: Heady Topper

headytopperIt is said that the goddess Aphrodite aka Venus was born after Cronus castrated his father Uranus and threw his … um … er… ‘member’ into the sea. (ouch!) Sea-foam formed where Uranus’s genitals fell into the water and from this foam Venus sprang forth, fully formed and a goddess to be reckoned with.

I don’t believe the craft beer, Heady Topper, has quite as dramatic of an origin story, but the beer is as revered, loved, and sought-after as the great Venus herself. I recently had the pleasure of encountering this highly ranked, elusive beer while on a trip to see my family in upstate New York.

While in New York, I was posting various photographs of local brews to my Instagram account and a friend jokingly commented that if I wanted to bring her back a souvenir, she would love some craft beer.

“What do you want?” I asked.

“Heady Topper if it’s available! Never had it.. only heard the folklore,” she said.

Sure, why not, I thought. Little did I know the journey she was sending me on. The ‘folklore’ comment should have been my tipoff.

Over the next couple of days, I glanced at the grocery store’s beer selection but didn’t see anything, so I decided to research it. It was then that I learned how complicated it was to get this beer.

Heady Topper was ranked by Beer Advocate as the # 1 beer starting in 2013. It is currently ranked # 2 on the list, but could move back to the number 1 spot at anytime. It is hard to get because it is a world-class beer that is only distributed in Vermont. Heady Topper often sells out within the hour and people wait in long lines to get it. There are even a story of 1 can of beer selling for as much as $42. After learning all of this, I was ready to throw in the towel and just send my friend a post card, but my Dad got quite inspired about getting his hands on some. We had a trip planned to Burlington, so he started watching the brewery’s website to see where Heady would be distributed.

He learned that it would arrive at City Market on Tuesday.City MarketOn the big day, we got a late start and didn’t get into Burlington until 12:30 pm. I figured we had missed out, but then we saw this sign.Heady TopperThe most important part of the sign was that the beer wouldn’t be brought out until 2pm, so we hadn’t missed out! My father was very excited and after a visit to customer service to inquire about the appropriate Heady purchasing protocol, he promptly got in line. I kept on asking if he was sure he wanted to wait for an hour for a beer we’d never even heard of a week earlier, but he was adamant that he was in it for the long haul.

My mother and I went across the street to a local bookstore as my father bonded with his line-mates. Some were newbies like himself, but others were Heady fanatics that raved about how much they LOVED this beer.

At one point, a woman came by and observed the growing line of Heady shoppers.

“You know, there is perfectly good beer that you don’t have to wait in line for!” she exclaimed.  She shook her head at their ridiculous fanaticism.

As she walked away the man behind my father said, “That used to be me, wondering why someone would stand in line for beer. Then I had Heady and now here I am, standing in line.”

By 2pm, over 50 were waiting for the beer. There was no limit on how much a customer could purchase, so everyone had to hope the person in front of them didn’t buy everything. My father was 5th in line, so he was able to get his prize quickly: a case of Heady Topper.

My mother and I met with him at a nearby restaurant to celebrate his victory. I noticed that the menu featured another beer from The Alchemist brewery so I ordered it.

“I’m sorry,” said the waitress. “We’re all out, but we do have Heady Topper.”

“Perfect!” I said, and my mother, father and I all ordered some.

Heady TopperWe toasted to my father’s vigilance and to Heady Topper’s excellence. We drank it out of the can, as recommended, and then walked around Burlington with a pleasant buzz.

On the ride home to New York, a double rainbow smiled down upon us. Heady Topper IS magical!!

IMG_1982I sent my friend, who initiated this adventure, a picture of the magical brew.

IMG_1975I carefully wrapped two hoppy gems in bubble wrap and tucked them in my checked luggage for the flight back to Alabama.

IMG_2037Despite my trepidation, they made it home unscathed and still cold!IMG_2038


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Singin’ River Brewing

Singin River Brewery

….At times soft and quiet,
other times loud and boisterous.
This was how the Yuchi Indians
described the Tennessee River
as it poured over the rocks and reefs
of the shoals.

                                                           − Singin’ River Brewing Co.

Singin River Brewery FlightMy first leg of the Florence Restaurant Week blog tour began at Singin River Brewing Co. and it was the perfect way to start.

Rob and Michelle Jones started the Singin River Brewing Co. just over a year ago.  They celebrated their 1 year anniversary May 1st. Rob has been experimenting with brewing since the 90’s and Michelle discovered her love of craft beer through Rob after they started dating. The two of them have been touring craft breweries throughout the States since they met. Their shared passion for craft beer turned into a career with the creation of Singin’ River Brewing, Florence’s only craft brewery!

Singin River BrewingMy husband (Olivier) and I visited the brewery/taproom early Friday evening, when it was “soft and quiet”. I’ve been to Singin’ River when it was packed with loud, boisterous patrons and though that’s a fun time to visit, it isn’t very conducive to good photography and leisurely chats with friendly bartenders.

feature7The taproom is gorgeous, which if you visit a lot of taprooms, you’ll quickly find this isn’t always the case. There are beautifully designed rustic tables and chairs throughout.  Carefully matching artwork adorns the walls and the bar is a stylish combination of corrugated metal and raw wood.

Singin River Brewing

The flight (from left to right): Handy’s Gold, Dopplemaibock, Renaissance City Red, and Porter.

When I visit a taproom the first time I usually start with a flight of flagship beers so I can get a feel for the general style of the brews. It is a great way to try a little bit of everything without emptying the wallet and over-indulging. The flight cost only $5.

Daniel was our very helpful bartender. In addition to bar tending he is also a photographer (what luck!), so he was able to give me beers that were tasty, as well as beautiful. He also helped me scope out good locations to photograph them in.

The flight (from left to right): Handy’s Gold, Dopplemaibock, Renaissance City Red, and Porter.

Olivier and I have very different palates, so usually if he isn’t thrilled with a beer I know I’ll love it and vice versa. This makes us the perfect drinking partners! I loved all the beers, but my favorite was the Renaissance City Red and Olivier’s was the Dopplemaibock.

feature4I also tried the Hard Pear Cider, which was nice and light. It was a perfect ‘summer evening watching fireflies on the porch swing’ drink. It was very bubbly, which gave it a celebratory feel. I really wish they bottled this one. (hint hint)
feature5For my last drink I had the Cornbread Saison, which was interesting in a good way. It is brewed with jalapeños so it has a spicy kick to it, which sounds weird, but it is actually really good.

feature6The taproom has a television to watch various sporting events and steel-tiped darts, with dart boards, of course. They frown on you throwing the darts directly into their walls.

After Daniel explained to us how to play Cricket, we played darts for a while.  Sadly, I lost, but it was a close game (mostly because I was cheating).

We had a great evening and will definitely be back the next time we are in Florence!

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Make sure you read the other bloggers posts from Restaurant Week: Dirt Plate and Friday Date Night

Taproom Hours:

  • TUE 5PM-8PM
  • THUR 5PM-9PM
  • FRI    5PM-9PM
  • SAT 2PM-9PM

Disclosure: I was invited to participate in the Florence Restaurant Week by Florence Main Street.  My hotel was paid for by them to make it easier for me to participate and I received a $10 gift card from Singin’ River.  I paid the remaining balance out of my own pocket and all thoughts and opinions about the brewery are my own.


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Beer Glazed Chicken Wings

Beer Glazed Chicken WingsIn the states the air is starting to chill, the leaves are developing a rosy hue and most importantly (especially in the southern regions of the states) tailgating season has started.  This means weekends filled with American football and lots of beer and food.  3I recently wrote article for a local magazine, NoAla, about Alabama’s exploding craft beer industry and different dishes you can make with the local brew.  It wasn’t specifically for tailgaters, but they would love these dishes.

yellowhammer1My friend and colleague, Lily Plauché, developed four amazing recipes for the article, my favorite being the Dark Hammer Chicken Wings.yellowhammer15Dark Hammer Chicken Wings

Serves: 4-6

2 pounds chicken wings

½ cup cherry juice

1 cup Yellowhammer Dark Hammer beer (Belgian Quad)

¼ cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon molasses

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

½ teaspoon ground coriander

1 lime, cut into wedges

Fresh cilantro

 

1. Heat oven to 425°F. Arrange chicken wings on a foil-lined baking sheet with sides.

2. In a medium pot, combine juice, beer, sugar, soy sauce, molasses, vinegar, pepper, and coriander. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, watching carefully as it can boil over. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until reduced to 1 cup (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat.

3. Pour the glaze over the wings. Bake at 425°F for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until done. Preheat broiler. Broil wings 1-2 minutes or until browned. Serve with lime wedges and cilantro.2