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Party Happy: Rialto + Jack’s Abby Brewery

A few things I learned at last week’s event at celeb chef Jody Adams’ acclaimed Cambridge, MA restaurant, Rialto: beer cocktails are bubbly and delicious; french fries are better sliced like ruffled potato chips; any type of soft cheese compliments saffron roasted peppers on bread; and Jack’s Abby Brewing co-owner, Sam Helder hates punny beer names.

Friend and food blogger, Jacki Morisi (Boston.com’s Chow Down Beantown, Just Add Cheese) was the brains and brawn behind the event, having slipped gracefully into her new position as Rialto‘s marketing and PR coordinator. Amongst the charcuterie, passed plates and educational beer tasting, our guests chatted with the aforementioned Sam Helder (one of the three brothers who own Jack’s Abby), who expressed his utter disdain for the pun-riddled beer names his siblings constantly devise.

At the request for un-punny beer name suggestions, some pals and I commenced our brilliant naming technique: punny beer names.

“Drop it Like it’s Hops?”

Blank stare.

“Lager? I Hardly Know Her!”

Blank stare.

“Too Hops to Trot?”

Walks away.

Regardless, the star of the evening was a deep, dark chocolate-colored lager called Smoke & Dagger, which, as the description reads, “skirts the line between a schwarzbier and smoked porter.” As an only occasional beer drinker myself, I still loved the malty, full-bodied flavor of the brew, which paired well with Rialto’s epic grilled seafood spread.

Verdict: If you enjoy a hearty lager, the Abby boys will be your jam; and for the full experience, check out their tasting room and brewery tour. Also, if you’re looking for beer names, my friends and I would be hoppy to help. GET IT?

For more info on the Framingham, MA-based brewer, visit JacksAbbyBrewing.com and follow them on Twitter at @JacksAbby.

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Cocktail Happy: Pegu Club at Backbar

Backbar is Somerville, Massachusett’s joint; a favorite for industry folk, a hangout for the irony-free hipster types, neighborhood twenty-somethings, and, well…me. I fall into any of these categories (except for the fact that I don’t live in the ‘Ville), and into the most important one: people who simply want a good drink.

The art of the cocktail is practiced at Backbar, and it’s obvious the staff cares — you’ll wait a little longer for your concoction to be crafted, but it will be all worth it once that liquid gold hits your lips. Case in point: bartender Sam Treadway’s riff on the Pegu Club, a drink my friends at Barker & Mills (a superb handmade garnish company) urged me to try, which features their cherry juice.

A mix of gin, cherry cordial, lime juice and angostura bitters, this one is tart, slightly sweet, and has a smoky, gin-y bite. Sip it, because you’re classy.

Healthy/Geeky: The Astonishing Super-Powered Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa, as in, “It was really keen-wa when Johnny took me to the soda shoppe. I think he’s going to give me his Varsity jacket!”) is any superhero’s best friend – it’s a complete protein, and considered one of the healthiest foods on the planet, cultivated by Incan tribes in the Andes Mountains of South America. I’m pretty sure Hoth or Caprica doesn’t have anything comparable (duh, look at the climate on Hoth, you idiot!). I’m also pretty sure there was an Indiana Jones movie about the quest for the ancient Quinoa grain of the dark Incan mountain.

And so, my secret recipe – for this nearly perfect, completely vegetarian meal (great to bring to cookouts!), with tons of protein, healthy veggies and fats, and a little cheese thrown in there for good measure. Enjoy, healthy geekies!
 

The Astonishing Super-Powered, Protein-Packed Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

(adapted from a recipe by Coulter)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups vegetable broth or stock
  • 1 tbs garlic salt/powder (or to taste)
  • 1.5 cups uncooked quinoa (I like Bob’s Red Mill Organic Grain Quinoa)
  • 1 medium yellow or red onion, diced
  • 1 large red, orange or yellow bell pepper, diced (mix up the colors! you can also use jarred roasted red peppers if you prefer)
  • 1 medium cucumber, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped kalamata olives
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh or dried chives
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar*
  • 1/4 cup olive oil*

*a salad dressing will also work for this instead of the vinegar and oil – balsamic vinaigrette or a red wine and vinegar dressing is best, and you’ll only need a few tablespoons – the flavor goes a long way!

Directions

  1. Start by sauteeing the onions and garlic salt/powder in some light olive oil in the large saucepan you’ll use to cook the quinoa. Once pleasantly browned, pour in the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Stir in the quinoa, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender and the water has been absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. You won’t need to stir it, but keep an eye on it that it doesn’t get too dry.
  2. Once the quinoa is finished cooking, dump it into a large mixing bowl, where you’ll want to immediately, gently, stir in the crumbled feta cheese (so it gets a little melty over the grains – nomnomnom!), balsamic vinegar, olive oil. De-seed the lemon and squeeze the juice over the quinoa mixture – stir everything, then let sit for 5-10 minutes, depending on how patient you are!
  3. Once a bit cooler, the fresh veggies go in – stir in the bell pepper, cucumber, olives, chives, until evenly mixed. Serve warm or, I prefer letting it sit in the fridge overnight to get cool and flavorful.
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Healthy/Geeky: Adri + Yoda’s Jedi Power Smoothie

Since I moved back to Massachusetts about 7 months ago, I’ve had to say peace out to my Brooklyn frequents of the past few years and create some new weekly haunts. Which wasn’t hard, considering there are a couple of nearby spots worth infesting: Jerry’s Comics & Collectibles, and Rawbert’s Organic Garden Café – an all raw, all vegan restaurant - in Beverly, MA.

My favorite after-workout orders are the kale chips and their Yoda’s Jedi Power Smoothie, which I OBVIOUSLY first ordered for its name – but then became hooked. When I order it now, I’ve modified it to be more diet-friendly (I’m trying to keep below a certain number of calories) but the whole thing is super-healthy.

The best part? The smoothie is GREEN. Judge it by its color, do you? This smoothie’s ally is DELICIOUSNESS!

So, if you can’t make it to Rawbert’s Organic Garden and want to try out this sweet and fluffy high-protein, high-fiber smoothie, here’s the recipe to whip one up yourself…with The Force. Or, you know, your blender or Cuisinart-thingy.

Adri + Yoda’s Jedi Power Smoothie
(Modified from Rawbert’s Organic Garden in Beverly, MA’s recipe) 

Ingredients

1 medium banana (frozen preferable)
1- 1/2 cup berries of choice (Goji berries, strawberries, raspberries, etc.)
2 teaspoons agave nectar
1 teaspoon Spirulina or Spirulina Protein Powder (What’s Spirulina?)
1-2 tablespoons of sprouted buckwheat, wheat germ or flax seed
Water and ice to desired consistency

Directions
Blend in a blender, you dummy! (said in the voice of Dr. Steve Brule)

Foodz, Glorious Foodz!

Being healthy makes me happy. I’ve struggled for years with maintaining a healthful lifestyle, and I’ve always been an all-or-nothing type of gal; case in point: exercising religiously for 3 months, only to drop off on a pizza and margarita binge, leading to a 3-month gym hiatus. Or that time two birthdays ago when I couldn’t really afford groceries, and lost 15 lbs. I looked good! Took horrible care of myself – I was partying, drinking, not eating, sleeping odd hours.

For the first time in a LONG time, I’ve found a lifestyle change that’s stuck with me, and that’s through creating attainable short-term goals, exercising patience for my body to adapt to a new way of eating, and allowing myself to really get buck wild with the food I crave (see: PIZZA) once a month or so.

I’m not thin. I’ll never be “skinny” – that’s not my objective and I’m not built that way. I got junk in the trunk and I ain’t cleanin’ out my sedan any time soon. But I can proudly say that I take good care of my body and that I’m healthy – and can totally lift weights with the dudes at the gym. Which does not make my boyfriend uncomfortable.

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