Travel Vlog! Making Dinner for the Parents, Beers at 5,000 ft, and the longest covered bridge in NE?!

I hope you enjoy today’s travel vlog! We spent 10 days visiting Andrew’s family back in New Hampshire and took a little trip to the white mountains while there. We hiked the flume gorge (highly recommended!), took a gondola up to the highest bar in New Hampshire (which is funny because its still lower than the elevation at our house in Nevada), and took the famous Cog Railroad up to the summit of Mt. Washington.




To make steak the way Andrew does, check out our tutorial here:


Brussel Sprouts

  1. cut 1 pound of brussels sprouts lengthwise through the stem. Toss in a bowl with a generous amount of olive oil, kosher salt and black pepper.

  2. Roast in the oven at 375 F for 45 minutes, turning each brussel sprout over halfway through the cooking process (or until browned).


Potato Gratin

Ingredients

  • Butter, for greasing

  • 1 1/2 pounds all-purpose potatoes

  • salt and fresh ground black pepper

  • freshly grated nutmeg

  • 1/2 Cup heavy cream

  • 1/4 Cup milk

  • 2 Tbsp grated parmesan or gruiyere cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F

  2. Grease an ovenproof casserole dish with butter. Peel and wash potatoes and cut into thin slices (a mandolin makes this super quick and easy)

  3. Layer the potatoes in the dish, overlapping the slices, and season with salt and pepper. Combine the milk and heavy cream and pour evenly over the potatoes.

  4. Sprinkle the top of the casserole with cheese and a small grating of nutmeg

  5. Bake in the preheated oven for about 34 minutes until golden on top.



How to Pair Beer With Enchiladas

Hey guys! I'm so excited to share with you today some footage from last weekend's camping trip in the Sierras. Since I'm trying to make as much content as possible, why not make a video of what we ate and drank?

So I give you, Dinner and Drinks, camping edition.

Andrew and I like to go all-out when it comes to eating while camping, but that doesn't mean we want to spend hours cooking (unless that means sitting around a campfire while your food cooks!). So prepping ahead is key.

This was the first time I made this enchilada recipe, and it was very easy to prep at home and then just assemble in camp. We just cooked them on the stovetop, but if you're making these while camping, feel free to use a grill or a dutch oven in the campfire, whichever you prefer. The meat is already cooked prior to camp so you basically just need to warm everything up and melt the cheese!

Check out the video for some fun camping footage:

The Pairing

To me, the best beer to pair with Mexican fare like enchiladas is American Pale Ale, which is a snappy, refreshing beer that showcases the flavors of Cascade hops. Pale Ales have a fresh, citrusy quality (from the hops!) that match the spices in dishes like enchiladas. They are also fairly bitter, which will cut through the fattiness of all the cheese as well.

I brought along Sierra Nevada Pale Ale on our camping trip, but feel free to use any American Pale Ale you prefer. If you can't find any Pale Ale, American IPA will also work nicely, although since it is more bitter and has less FLAVOR from the hops, it is not my first choice. But then again we were camping, so I wouldn't have been too picky on any beer I drank with dinner. Cheers and happy pairing!


Camping Enchiladas

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1.5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced into small pieces
  • 1 (4 oz) can of diced green chiles
  • 1 (15.5 oz) can black beans
  • flour tortillas
  • shredded cheese
  • 1 can red enchilada sauce
  • 1 can refried beans
  • sour cream (for topping)
  • salsa (for topping)

At Home:

In a large saute pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add diced chicken and green chiles, season with salt and pepper. Saute for about 10 minutes, until the chicken is cooked completely through. Remove from heat. If making for camping, let cool and store in a container in the cooler until ready to use.

At Camp:

1. Lightly oil a cast iron pan or dutch oven. Place some of the chicken mixture, refried beans, enchilada sauce, and shredded cheese into a tortilla, then roll up and place in the pan.

2. Continue filling remaining tortillas (we ate 2 per person and were STUFFED!) then place, rolled up, into a line in the pan. top with remaining enchilada sauce and cheese. Lots and lots of cheese. Any remaining beans may be heated separately and served on the side.

3. Place pan over medium-high heat on a grill or stovetop. To make the cheese melt quicker, place foil on top. If using a dutch oven in a campfire, place near hot coals...the enchiladas will be done in about 15 minutes.

4. Serve with sour cream, salsa, chopped onion, cilantro, or whatever other toppings you desire!

beer enchiladas pin.jpg

What I'm Sipping--Terra d'Oro Vineyard Lunch

As I sipped my glass of zinfandel, standing in the vineyard from which it came, I had a solid moment of realization. Wow, do I love my career. I was in the one of the oldest vineyards in America (planted in the 1880s) watching the vines do their work to produce the same wine in my glass. We were in the historic Deaver Vineyard in Amador County, and it was the end of our incredible tour of Terra d'Oro Winery.

Lets start at the beginning, shall we? My friend Nikki and I found ourselves in Amador County this past August while on a trip to see a concert in Sacramento. About an hour south of the city, Amador County is most famous for its historic and quaint towns from the gold-rush era, but it also is home to many wineries specializing in Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and the newest sensation in the area, Barbera.

Nikki and I were excited to go see Terra d'Oro winery after driving around the previous day and getting completely lost through windy-roads with no shoulder, no cell phone service, and thus no GPS. But that's all part of the fun. Upon our arrival, we were welcomed by Jeff Meyers, Terra d'Oro's VP, General Manager and previous, but still very involved, winemaker. He immediately piled us up into his pickup truck and we went for a little off-road adventure into their vineyards. A pretty awesome "welcome" if you ask me.

Terra d'Oro Winery Amador County | CaretoPair.com

Low and behold as we're going through the vineyard he starts telling us all about the different varietals planted in the different plots, when they were planted, when they were pruned, why the leaves are turned a certain way...yeah, this guy knew his stuff. I immediately sensed this wasn't going to be our typical "this is how wine is made" basic tour I sometimes get with wineries. Jeff was passionate and he wasn't afraid to show it. We had questions, and he had ALL the answers.

We made our way through the first vineyard, passing an awesome dead tree that they purposely never cut down because it was so creepy, and reached a shady little grove with a picnic table, bottle of wine, sandwiches, salad, cookies, and even a vase of fresh flowers for lunch. What hospitality! They served us Terra d'Oro's Chenin Blanc-Viognier white blend which went perfectly with our assortment of sandwiches. It inspired me to do the Chicken Salad Sandwich pairing featured at the end of this post.

At the time, I didn't think it got much better than this. A little wine, a little lunch, and a great view of the vineyards makes for an awesome tour for me! But we were just beginning. We piled back into the truck and made our trek back to the winery for THIS ridiculous tasting. Yes, that's 16 wines, a water glass, and a spit cup. Thank God for that spit cup!

Wine Tasting

If I wasn't convinced that this winery's wines wouldn't equal the amazing hospitality we'd already been getting, this was my confirmation. We tasted almost all of Terra d'Oro's current offerings as well as their sister winery, Montevina, which offers even more approachable, affordable wines that I would suggest to friends any day of the week. They were all great, but my favorites were Terra d'Oro's  Barbera, “Home Vineyard” Zinfandel, and small-batch Aglianico which is unfortunately not distributed much. They also do a lovely Pinot Grigio and Moscato for the white-wine lovers out there.

After that, we did an actual tour of their SPOTLESS winery--I'm telling you, I've never seen a winery floor so clean! Crazy! This was Jeff's time to shine. He told me more about winemaking in an hour than I've learned in the last 4 years of studying it. It was great. He finished up with doing an extensive barrel sampling of perhaps 10 or 12 wines. Man, were we spoiled! My favorite of that batch of tastings, again, was the aglianico. It was a cool little grape that unfortunately has such small production, its hard to find.

And then, after all that, we piled up into the car and made our way to the historic Deaver Vineyard, home to 130 year-old vines, with yet another spread of cheese, fruit, and a glass of Deaver-Vineyard zinfandel waiting for us at the top. The vineyard was weedy and unkempt, but Jeff was proud to say they leave it that way on purpose. In a vineyard that old, you just have to let the vines do their own thing and make minimal impact. See how different it looks than a normal vineyard? Zinfandel vines are so cool.

 It was a 5-hour winery visit and an incredible day. With his passion for what he does and all he knows, Jeff inspired me to also stay passionate, keep learning, and remember why I entered this industry in the first place. I hope I can inspire anyone reading this blog to enjoy wine as much as I do and encourage you to keep learning and appreciate it. If you ever make your way to Sacramento, I definitely suggest you make a day trip down to Amador County and visit this winery and a few others. If you can't make it there, lucky for you these wines can be found at wine shops and some grocery stores. Pick up a bottle and have it at your next outdoor picnic!

Chicken Salad Sandwich Paired with Viognier Blend

As I just described, Terra d'Oro's Chenin-Blanc and Viognier white blend went really well with our picnic lunch. I recreated this pairing with a chicken salad sandwich I made for myself one Saturday afternoon. This wine will go with almost any sandwich or lunch entree (except peanut butter and jelly--keep the milk for that one). The wine works so well with lunch because it is a heavy-bodied wine, weighing out almost any flavor combination that comes its way. With every bite of sandwich, chips, or salad, this wine will stand up to it. Despite its weight, however, the flavor is light enough not to overpower any delicate, complex flavors you'll get in all the lunch goodies. With common flavors of tropical fruits, peaches, and floral notes, its a great choice as a day-drinking wine. The Cranberry-Chicken Salad Sandwich recipe I made for myself can be found on Ari's Menu Blog. Enjoy!

What I'm Sipping--Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA

"If you truly believe in what you're doing, nothing can stop you" --Sam Calagione, owner of Dogfish Head Brewery, Brewing Up a Business Ahhh. So here is the first of many "What I'm Sipping" posts. Consider this a beer memoir, not a review. I won't, after all, put anything on this blog that I don't believe you should try, nor put anything on here that I don't like! Of course my first beer memoir must be from one of my favorite breweries in the entire nation--Dogfish Head's 120 Minute IPA. Do read on if this picture entices you...

I was fortunate to enjoy a Dogfish Head 120 minute IPA (India Pale Ale)  a few weeks ago. As I was sipping it, a great idea came to my head...why not share this beer with everyone? This beer is a meal on its own, but that doesn't mean it should be neglected on my blog! On top of that, I visited the brewery a few months ago, why not share that experience as well?! Brilliant.

I had the pleasure of visiting Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton, Delaware this past February with my friend Kristi, whose life I’m pretty sure was changed forever after our experience ;) I've become a big fan of Dogfish Head after reading Sam Calagione's book Brewing Up a Business, where he shares his rough beginnings, determination, and ultimate success from building Dogfish Head brewery from the ground up. When I realized the original brewery would be just a short road trip away, we jumped in the car...and went to Delaware! Visiting the brewery after reading the book confirmed how all of his hard work paid off. Check out these two pictures. The first is the original brewing room…the second is just a snippet of their current bottling warehouse.  It is bigger than any facility I’ve ever seen:

Dogfish Head is truly a unique brewery—there’s really no other brewery like it. In his book, Sam talks about how he was always throwing random fruits, herbs, spices, anything into his batches of beer…he could never just stick to the normal recipe! And the brewery reflects this in all their beers…they’ve got an IPA brewed with syrah grapes, a brown ale aged in Paraguayan wood, a pilsner brewed with pear juice…there’s just nothing normal about these beers, which is absolutely fantastic.

My brewery tour was phenomenal...I will let the pictures tell the rest of the story. I was lucky enough to be invited to their employee happy hour after closing for the day—everyone was so nice; it was obvious what an incredible community the company has built with its employees. For that reason alone, it is definitely a brewery I am proud to support.

Okay, now on to our featured beer…Dogfish Head 120 minute IPA. I should note that this beer is brewed only a few times a year (because it is a difficult beer to brew), so it is hard to find. If you come across any, buy a few (I’ve had good luck at Whole Foods). I just saw on their Facebook page that they will be releasing their latest batch in a few weeks...so now is the time to look for it! Drink one whenever you like, but save another to drink in a few years—the beer ages beautifully (flavors mellow out/change into a completely new experience). Andrew and I opened this bottle after about a year of aging. Maybe we should have waited, but sometimes you’ve gotta live a little, right?

120 Minute IPA is boiled for an entire TWO hours…most IPAs are boiled for 1 hour...and they continually add hops during that entire boil.  On top of that, it is then dry-hopped every day for a month and then aged for another month on whole leaf hops! People say it is the ultimate beer for hop-heads; it comes in at 120 IBUs (International Bitterness Units) after all, which is way more than most IPAs. However, I don’t really put this beer in the IPA category…to me, it drinks more like a barleywine than anything.

The aroma immediately enticed me with a beautiful, subtle sweetness of cherry pie and raisins. There may have been some hoppy aromas, but what really drew me in were these dark red fruits that made me feel as if I were smelling an aged tawny port. When I took that first sip, I got all those fruit characteristics and more—it was complex, but somehow subtle, and bitterness was restrained, hidden by the warming alcohol and balanced maltiness. It is a meal on its own, but would go well with an assortment of cheese, charcuterie, and crusty French bread…nothing more. And with its alcohol percentage around 18%...you might want to share a bottle with a friend :)

If you are looking for that “ultimate hophead” beer, look elsewhere—the bitterness is so balanced that, no matter how much you want it to ruin your palette, it won’t.   It really is a beer you have to experience for yourself, because there is nothing like it. If you’re lucky to get your hands on a few, drink one now, and age the rest—each one will probably be a completely different experience than the others.