Yesterday, I rummaged around town foraging for food and drink like a driving bear.
First, I went to the Asian Market and loaded up on the requisite dumplings, wasabi, fish sauce, and the like. Then, bounced over to get some beer. And, then doubled back to an Indian store to get some curry paste and coconut milk. The order was supposed to be Asian, Indian, then Beer. But, as is usual, I missed the turn off to the Indian place and had to double-back.
After watching a slew of David Chang cooking episodes on Netflix yesterday (called Mind of a Chef), I was inspired to go on my romp. When cooking ethnically, two parameters are essential: The right ingredients and the right technique. The same deal for craft beer. Right ingredients with poor process ruins a beer. Bad ingredients with good technique never has a chance. Need both. Most Americans who cook ethnically don’t go to the right venues to get the best ingredients. Rule of thumb (pretty obvious), go where those of the ethnicity go to shop for the ingredients. Not the local supermarket. Or Walmart, for goodness sake.
I have made beer by hand and am trying to master Indian and Asian cooking. Or at least become decent. I may brew some more in the future yet find brewing to be much more arduous than cooking and better left to the professionals. A big issue is cost. I can save a lot by learning to cook my own Asian and Indian food. The margin of saving on making my own beer is considerably narrower unless I am making a Belgian Quad which is usually where I try to stake out my brewing repertoire.
I came across Yards’ Tavern Spruce Ale crafted from Ben Franklin’s own recipe at the Distributor. I had this brew awhile back at the City Tavern in Philly so I knew it was good although I didn’t recall the details. Interestingly, Ben–being the inventive individual he was–by necessity had to use molasses for malted barley and spruce tips off of evergreen trees for the hops, because both of the traditional ingredients where hard to come by.
The substitutes really work here and the brew has a great taste and not too sweet. Just enough to take the edge off the ale and spruce tips. It shows that one call still make a great beer (and food for that matter) if the substitutions essentially fill the same space. But, it can’t be half-assed. Know enough to know when an alteration can happen.
I am very encouraged by the inventiveness and innovation of the craft beer movement. A consistent theme in 40/40 from the beginning is that if we can begin by taking back or beer from the corporate hegemons and autocrats, who knows where the cracks of liberty will continue.