Friday, February 11, 2011

Wake up, it's beer time

There aren't many things that will get me out of bed early -- the smell of bacon cooking in the kitchen, a fire alarm going off and of course, the offering of beer. Thursday morning it was the call of beer that had me wiping sleep out of my eyes at the crack of 9 a.m.

Once a year the northern California brewery Russian River releases a limited amount of the 11%ABV brew Pliny the Younger. After finding out from Brewery Rowe that the San Diego bar O'Brien's would have a keg on the weekend, a friend did some searching and found out we could enjoy the tasty beverage at an earlier time. Thanks to Toronado San Diego we were able to enjoy it three days earlier. A lot of other bars around San Diego are being very hush-hush on when they will tap their prized keg.

When we arrived at Toronado at 9:20 a.m. there were already 10 people in line in front of him. My job was to stop for donuts on the way to the bar and by the time I got there around 9:40 there were about 20 people in line. There were moms with kids, men in business suits, hipsters and me in my workout clothes (eating a donut and getting ready to drink beer, that's how I roll).

While waiting in line people started showing up with cameras taking pictures of the odd spectacle of people waiting in line for a bar before 10 a.m. on a workday. And finally, with about 30 people in line, the doors to Toronado opened just past 10 a.m.

Like the orderly beer drinkers we are, everyone filed in to the end of the bar and in order, took a seat at the bar. After the bar chairs ran out, beer fans filed in behind in a calm, orderly fashion. And the Pliny started flowing.

So, was it worth getting up early and waiting in line to try? When craft brews reach the threshold of 10%ABV, they have the tendency to get a bit syrupy, but Pliny the Younger was extremely smooth and full of flavor. I give the Younger two very enthusiastic thumbs up. I wish I could have had more than one, but after my inaugural drink I could feel the fact that it was an 11% beer. I knew that if I would have had more than one I would have been struggling to hold poses at yoga afterward. I am glad, however, that this beer only comes out once a year, because if it were available at all times, that could lead to some trouble -- and the addition of a beer belly.
Fallen soldiers.
By the time I left the bar around 11:30 to head to yoga class, there were probably close to 75-100 people. I read later that the first keg was dust by noon and while Toronado was lucky enough to have a second keg, it was tapped out around 3 p.m. Well done fellow beer drinkers.

Friday, February 4, 2011

More bacon & a new kitchen gadget

Boy, how time flies. I know all you regular readers out there (are there any of you?) have been longing for a new post here on Eating in Front of the TV. Well, the day has finally arrived! And here we go.

Last month I celebrated the last birthday of my 20s. I had to work on my birthday this year, so to make it a bit more enjoyable I thought it would be appropriate to add some bacon to my day. There is no more appropriate way to bring bacon to work for your birthday than in the form of cupcakes. That's right, chocolate bacon cupcakes! I wish I would have known about these cupcakes in elementary school, I would have been the most popular kid on the playground.

The other exciting element to this birthday undertaking was the fact that my former roommate gifted me a new kitchen gadget for Christmas called the BabyCakes Cupcake Maker. This machine boasts the ability to produce 8 mini cupcakes in 5-8 minutes.

BabyCakes Cupcake Maker + Chocolate Bacon Cupcakes = match made in birthday heaven.

Here's how it went down.

I love having the use of a stand mixer. Makes baking a breeze.

The BabyCakes in action.

Getting down and dirty with the frosting.

So cute I could just every last one...good thing I took them to work to share with others.

A big birthday smile to go with a big plate of mini cupcakes.
The recipe from All Recipes:

12 slices bacon
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 eggs
1 cup cold, strong, brewed coffee
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
powder, for dusting
1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside.
2.In a large bowl, stir together the flour, 3/4 cup cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the eggs, coffee, buttermilk and oil. Stir just until blended. Mix in 3/4 of the bacon, reserving the rest for garnish. Spoon the batter into the prepared cups, dividing evenly.
3.Bake in the preheated oven until the tops spring back when lightly pressed, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in the pan set over a wire rack. When cool, arrange the cupcakes on a serving platter. Frost with your favorite chocolate frosting and sprinkle reserved bacon crumbles on top. Dust with additional cocoa powder.

* For the mini cupcakes I halved the recipe and it made 24.

And, while I did not watch it while sitting on my couch and eating these delicious cupcakes, I did see the movie The Social Network during my birthday weekend. I have to say I enjoyed the film. I never would have thought a movie about the inception of Facebook could have been interesting, but turns out it really was. And for my birthday dinner I went to Cucina Urbana in San Diego. Fantastic place. The drinks alone will bring my return business. They make their own infused alcohol and they had a jalapeƱo infused tequila mixed with ginger beer and lime juice that was fantastic.