Local, Grass-Fed Chevre Burgers At Humboldt Brews

I found myself at Humboldt State University over this last 4/20 weekend. No, not for the reason you are thinking, it was for a fencing tournament. Actually, The 5th Annual Redwood Coast Assault of Arms, an official national tournament held by the Historical Fencing Association. Along with seven other of my Salle Lancier (Pasadena City College’s fencing club) colleagues, we were invited to come up to defend the name of our lovely community college.

Well, most of us ended up getting slaughtered. Literally too, as was apparent by the epees this school of fencing uses, the tips actually have three sharp little teeth that are made to “cling on to your clothing” and create an “uncomfortable feeling.” Unlike the electricity-assisted, sport version of the dueling weapon sport that is more popular and made it to Olympic status that only has a flat screw top.

historical fencing epee tip
These dudes are hardcore.

There are only two cool things that came out of this trip. First, enjoying the edible splendors of their hippy student market (it hast stuff like crystallized ginger sheep’s milk yogurt and puffed sorghum “popcorn,” available daily?!) Second, eating and drinking at Humboldt Brews.

market goods
Pre-Fencing Breakfast of Champions

Humboldt Brews is disguised as the local collegetown pub but it’s the pride and joy of the city of Arcata really. And while the rest of the 20+ fencers that participated in the tournament feasted like lumberjacks at the local historic restaurant, Old Samoa Cookhouse for the dinner reception, I asked to get dropped off and go solo at Humboldt Brews for a burger and a beer. As soon as I walked in, I knew my anti-social decision was the correct one. I sat at the bar and the cook had long hair, wore shades and was listening to “Iron Man” at a decibel level that would rival that of a metalhead cooking lunch on his day off.

I opted for their “Shroomers Delight” burger: 1/3 lb Humboldt grass-fed beef, roasted red peppers, sautéed mushrooms, a thick smear of Cypress Grove local chevre on soft buns with a steak knife stabbed in it. The meal came with mixed greens, tomato, red onion and their “Pub Fries,” which is basically their own unfussy rendition of fresh-cut Pomme Frites, for about $12.

last burger pic

The burger was bomb. Under seasoned, but in a consciously healthful way. Since well, grass beef doesn’t need much salt. Unsurprisingly, their medium rare was more “well” done than rare. The buns were amongst the softest I’ve had, as far as burger standards go. But all this just digresses from the fact that there was a thick, white, opaque dollop of local Cypress Grove chevre on a freaking burger. Chevre is the missing link on burgers. It works double shift; soft and creamy enough to replicate what a mayonnaise or aioli would do, and richly flavored enough to satisfy that tangy richness that a slice of cheddar or any other hard cheese would impart. The mushrooms and peppers were ample as well, barely cooked and unmushy.

To further the heavy metal feeling of the dinner, I washed the beast down with a “Back in Black” Black IPA from 21st Amendment Brewery in San Francisco. I am in the “Black IPA” phase of a budding beer enthusiasts at this moment and this was by far my favorite. It’s just something about the corequisite flavors of malt and hops in the same cup of beer, for the beer geek that wants it all.

The meal set me back only $17 and it turned out that the bartender is close friends with the owner of Cypress Grove cheese, yes creator of Humboldt Fog cheese. She informed me that the owner “was a single mom who did every step of the process by herself,” including driving down to San Francisco and distributing her cheese weekly. And that she recently, “sold her company for millions to Swiss dairy.”

Well, I may have not discussed the subtleties of an inquartata fencing pose with the rest of my fencing adversaries but I did eat one of the best damn burgers of my life thus far.

Humboldt Brews

856 10th St. Arcata, CA 95521

707.826.BREW

 

Eager For The Younger: Russian River Night At The Surly Goat Bar


eager for the younger
Behold: The Power Of Craft Beer

Last night, the line to get into The Surly Goat Bar in West Hollywood stretched nearly to Fairfax Ave. The doors opened at 6 PM, they were hosting 13 exclusive beers from the highly coveted Russian River Brewery in Santa Rosa. 13 beers that had never, ever been on tap in L.A before.

Eager masses of beerheads far and wide united outside and “started showing up since 3:30 [PM]!” said bar owner Ryan Sweeney in a frenzied rush as he expedited orders. Everyone was hoping to get just a small 4 oz. taste (max available per person) of River’s highest prized brew, the Triple IPA–cult favorite–know as Pliny The Younger.

    Russian Rivers On Tap

Pliny The Elder
Pliny The Younger
Blind Pig IPA
Russian River IPA
Damnation
Redemption
Rejection
Mortification
Perdition
Consecration
Temptation
Supplication
Sanctification

“I am leaving at 5 PM, whether you are here or not” says an eager as hell Chuy Tovar as I agreed to meet at his loft. “How the hell did they get 13 kegs?!?” said a flustered Neil Kwon, fellow beer enthusiast and owner of Biergarten
in Koreatown. Well, according to Chuy, they actually went up to Nor-Cal and brought all the barrels themselves!

Why was everyone so freaking eager for this beer? Well, I thought I wasn’t going to find out anytime soon. Not even half hour after opening, the doorman decreed the inevitable “We are out of the Younger!” Sweeney had only procured a 5 gallon keg of the stuff, apparently there is something that sells faster than hotcakes.

It didn’t matter. I also heard rumors that they were also bringing their elusive sour beers, which was good enough for me to wait 2 + hours like everyone else was doing. At just past 8:00 PM, we were finally inside.


Get Your Beer Here!
Get Your Beer Here!: Eager Patrons Were Trying Hard To Get Bartenders Attention

When you come to a tasting of this caliber with a dedicated beer connoisseur who’s real job is selling Tequila and an owner of a German-Korean Beer Bar, you bet your ass we were going to do the rounds.


russian river trio
Tasted 12 out of 13 Beers

Favorites included the fruity, full-flavored Temptation, a wild ale brewed in Chardonay barrels. Yes, it actually tasted like a Chardonay, light honeydew notes and all that stuff. Supplication, a wild ale that is brewed in Pinot Noir Barrels. Yes, that one also tasted lightly like a Pinot Noir. Consecration, another wild ale even a little more sour than the rest. And lastly, a crispy and caramel-yMortification, Russian River’s stab at a Belgium Quadrupel.

About 7 beers in…it happened. Owner Ryan Sweeney passed by and poured the homie Chuy a small tasting glass full of some mysterious golden brew from his personal growler. Could it be? YES…it was!


pliny the younger (fucked up contrast but oh well!)
Pliny The Younger: Triple Hopped = Triple Pleasure

The nose on it was simply peerless. Faintly herby, vegetal…damn right hoppy. And within those two meager sips I took, I understood just why people formed. The mouth feel was thick and buttery. It was the smoothest IPA I have ever tasted without being flat. And its taste? Well, I simply don’t know how else to put it other than…KUSH BUTTER! Not hash butter or canna-butter made with only the ends of cheaper quality stress. I’m taking the 5th here but it literally tasted like the many edibles I have had the pleasure of tasting in my younger days.

Shortly after sipping this, the bar play list started bumping The Buzzcocks – “Ever Fallen In Love (With Some You Shouldn’t)”.

…It was one one of the happiest moments in my life I have experienced thus far.


the surly fucken goat
The Surly Goat: Indeed

Check out Russian River Brewery Website:

http://www.russianriverbrewing.com

The Surly Goat
7929 Santa Monica
West Hollywood
CA 90046

323.650.GOAT

The Art Of The Cannabis Chef: A Glutster 4/20 Special

The date of 4/20 is a national holiday to many. The world’s counterculture all gather on this day and pay hazy homage to cannabis. Smoking it, vaporizing it, drinking it and… eating it.

For this last 4/20, the Glutster was privileged enough to hang out with one of the leading suppliers of edibles in Los Angeles. Although choosing to remain undisclosed, this couple is not new to the L.A food world. An alumni from both the French Culinary Institute in New York and the baking program here at the School of Culinary Arts in Pasadena, she is the baker of the team. And him, well, he’s definitely not unknown in the small world of L.A chefs, he makes the Caramel Corn and handles most of the business stuff.

They have been steadily at this for about a year and a half, that was when they both decided to call it quits in the hardcore world of the conventional food industry. And now, their stuff is available in 10 different dispensaries all around L.A.

canna-butter
Cannabis Compound Butter: 1 lb

Their extensive fine dining restaurant upbringing has resulted in doing everything they make from scratch. Starting out with their basic compound butter they infuse with the stuff that they use for everything they make. Unsalted butter goes hand in hand with T.H.C since it is fat soluble. For this, he uses some stuff he gets from up north, B Grade buds with minimum stig and and almost no sun leaf. He refuses to use the byproduct of a bunch of low quality stuff known as shake that most other bakers use.

When I walk in, they are baking up a storm. 4/20 was only a day away and their orders were not getting smaller for that significant day.

piping peanut butter pots
Piping Pot: Peanut Butter Cups

From peanut butter cups, raspberry bars, blondies, cookies brownies…they make everything single handedly and only in small batches to insure uniformity. Weighing everything and personally sealing wrapper for every single thing they pump out.

stoned speed rack
Speed Rack-o-Stoned Goods

They are particularly proud of one product though, their canna-caramel corn.

canna-caramel corn
Canna-Cracker Jacks?

Selling 140 bags of it a week, it is one of their best sellers. And I see why after I see the attentiveness he puts into making just one batch.

candy thermometer
The Art of Fine Canna-Candy

First, he makes the caramel base with sugar, corn syrup, baking soda and salt using a candy thermometer to make sure it is just at the right temperature for optimal melding.

canna-caramel
Canna-Caramel

When the temperature and ideal viscosity is reached, he adds a 1 lb of the compound butter to the base, creating this vivid, green emulsion process.

Letting it reduce just a little bit, he then pours the molten hot caramel into a batch of popcorn he popped the old fashioned way earlier.

pouring the canna-mel
Fascinating

He then mixes thoroughly and sets it out in an even layer on baking trays to let it cool until hardened and crispy.

Mondays are usually their hustle day, baking and cooking all day ’till midnight sometimes and Tuesdays they deliver everything.

They sell 400 cookies a week along with 140 bags of popcorn and 120 peanut butter cups.

Their customers have grown to recognize their products by a special symbol found on all the products. Reliability and consistency is hard to find nowadays in anything, but their customers don’t keep coming back for nothing…