Monday, July 27, 2009

Massive Beer Showdown - 2006 Avery The Beast vs. 2005 Dogfish Head Raison D'Extra



I was happy to have enjoyed this back to back battle of the titans with my father-in-law during our Sunday video golf & beer ritual. The '06 Avery's The Beast boasts a hefty 14.6% abv, while the '05 DFH Raison D'Extra is a whopping 18% abv. Both true heavyweights in the beer realm.

2 Beers Enter - 1 Beer Leaves!!!
(ala Thunderdome style)

Joe was ready to pronounce a winner after his first few sips of D'Extra, claiming that it was, "even better than The Beast." After pouring The Beast though, he quickly rethought the comments and declared them equals. They both share many similar qualities, especially the hearty abv% and the abundance of raisins & fermentable sugar, which makes each one drink like a port, or brandy.

In the end though, if I could only choose 1 to drink, the nod would go to The Beast. Mild edge of complexities, IMO.

Avery's The Beast
A+ / 4.8
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | drink: 4


2006 vintage...
Appears a dark mahogany toned amber with a small, off white cap that retains nicely considering the abv of 14.6%. Scattered streaks of lacing are left around the glass.
Smell is hugely complex mimicking a fine cognac, or port wine. Lots of malty brown sugar, molasses, raisins, prunes, dates, honey, doughy bread, tropical fruit. I could smell this stuff all night long.
Taste is of the enticing aromas. Great mix of raisins, dark sugar, molasses, honey, and date sugar. I mean...there's nothing I could say that's bad about it. It's just one to be savored and enjoyed as a digestif.
Mouthfeel is sugary, doughy, chewy, boozy, and warming. Despite the high abv, it's actually quite delightful and enjoyable. I could see how some would be turned off due to the amount of residual sweetness but I'm perfectly fine with it. To me, it's not cloying. It's just a sipper that's been smoothed out with a countering of hops and age. Lay it down for 3+ years and you'll be glad you did.

DFH's Raison D'Extra
A+ / 4.65
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | drink: 4
Vintage, 2005 bottle that's been hiding in my cellar since the day I purchased it.

Appears a slight haze of dark amber with a small tan head that quickly fizzles out into a tiny cap and collar. The lacing is minimal and tends to droop back down into the outer rims.
Smell is of huge amounts of rum soaked raisins that have had all of their nectar squeezed out as a fermentable sugar. Lots of brown sugar, a hint of cocoa, and notes of brandy and port. Very slight trace of oxidation showing, which is welcomed in this massively complex beer.
Flavors of caramel, raisins, prunes, dates, figs, and tobacco jump out along the tongue.
Mouthfeel is medium-full bodied, chewy, mildly carbonated, sweet, and boozy. A true sipper.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Moccia's Train Stop (Schwenksville) - Pizza



Appears
an extra wide slice with a thin, golden crust, and a layer of cheese that overtakes most of the visible sauce on the pie. Light brown bubbles appear on the layer of mozzarella. There is a large pooling of oil, unfortunately, towards the center of the pie. I dabbed all of that off with some napkins and it was ok after that. - 4

The crust is nice, crispy, and mildly charred around the edges and corners. The underside of the pie is crispy, and deep golden brown. Upon a bite, the underside of the crust gives a beautiful crunchy crackle while the top is countered by the light, soft cheese. - 4

The sauce is good. Not really penetrating through the abundance of cheese but it's enough for me to taste. I like it. It's of crushed tomatoes with some salt and sugar added. Mildly sweet, which is good to me. - 3

The cheese is of a large amount of shredded mozzarella...perhaps some provolone and sharp parmasean, as well. Not as nice as a fresh mozzarella from a soaked ball but it gets the job done. I'd consider it slightly above average. It's certainly not on the "worse than average" scale with some of the plastic cheeses I've had in my day. - 3

Overall, I enjoy this pie. It's probably one of the better pizza's that I've had on the outreaches of the suburbs, nearing rurual neighborhoods. For some reason, this particular pizza reminds me of the kind that you get at the boardwalk. It's large, crispy underneath, with a large amount of greasy cheese on top. I'd put it up there with some of the best Jersey shore boardwalk places, as well. An enjoyable treat far from the shore! - 4

Total Score: 3.6/5

Moccia's Website: http://www.mocciastrainstop.com/


Moccia's Train Stop on Urbanspoon

Dimeo Pizza (Berwyn) - Neapolitan Pizza



Appears a large slice with a crispy, crunchy, brown underside, along with some steam bubbles nearing the outer crust. A nearly solid layer of mozzarella seems to blend with a light layer of tomato sauce. - 3.5

The crust is very good. I've had this pie quite a few times and it has what I consider a "charred marshmallow" crust. It's crispy, crunchy, yet it retains a little bit of spring underneath the outer layer. The outer crust is crackly and flavorful. That oven must be really hot on the underside. I watched the guys in the back spinning the dough and it looked like it was actually a thicker style dough. No sign of cornmeal, or flour residue found. Oiled bottom? - 4

The sauce is ok. It's really playing second fiddle though to the cheese and crust. It's a balanced sauce that seems to compliment the crispy bread nicely. It's not going to make you buy the pie but it's not going to turn you off either. - 2.5

The cheese is of a shredded mozzarella that's been melted into the sauce. It sort of melds together with everything in a nice manner. Not fresh cut from a mozzarella ball, & certainly not a Buffalo mozzarella but it's decent enough. - 3

Overall, it's a nice pie. It certainly grabbed my attention enough to come back and order it again, which is always a good sign. The fact that I felt compelled to write about it and add it to the blog is testament enough in my book. Not one that will blow you away but the crust is a nice change of pace from the standard norm of pizza parlours that seem to pop up in every strip mall out in the suburbs. As a side note, this isn't a "true" Neapolitan pie, as it isn't from a wood fired oven...but that's what they call it, hence the tag. - 3.5

Total Score: 3.3/5

Dimeo's Phone #: 610-993-0885

Dimeo Pizza on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 10, 2009

Ray's Burgers and Fries (Collegeville) - Cheeseburger


 ***Update 5/2/10 - Ray's has been replaced by Corner Cafe 29, which still serves Ray's Burgers on the lunch menu. 
Okay. I know it's not the usual cheesesteak, or pizza thing I do but I figured I'd throw this one out there because it's foodie worthy.
No rating on this because it's not part of the blog focus. I enjoy burgers from this establishment. They make them fresh to order & they customize the toppings. The only mild downside is the fact that they just cook it till there's no more pink in the center like a fast food burger joint does. Other than that, it's a tasty burger with a fresh bun(my buddy Tom B. doesn't care much for their buns) & it's affordable for a family outing. I like mine with grilled onions, jalepeno peppers, and barbeque sauce. They offer kid's combo meals on Monday and Tuesday nights for only $1.99 each. I get my daughter a good vanilla milkshake for something like $0.70 more. Check them out if you're in the area.

Ray's Website: http://www.raysburgersandfries.com/

Ray's Burgers and Fries on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Philly Cheesesteaks N Wings (Collegeville) - Cheesesteak


Appears a large, 12" steak roll that's been packed with steak, onions & cheese. It's not as jammed as Pudge's but it holds it's own. It looks appetizing enough. - 3.5

The roll is from the local suburban standby, Conshohocken Bakery. I knew it as soon as it sat in front of me...though I still confirmed this before I left. As always, a great roll with a thin but crisp outer shell and a semi-soft interior that holds up to juices. - 4

The meat is sirloin steak that's been very finely cut, much like the steak sandwiches at Pie in the Sky, over in Wayne. I always thought that Pudge's really had cut their steak finely until I ran into this place and the aforementioned. Regardless, it holds plenty of moisture and is tender. According to the menu, they don't use any oil to cook the steak. They let the steak cook in it's own juices...dangerous on preserving a tender steak but they make it work. If there's seasoning on here, it's light but the steak flavor shines through. - 3.5

The cheese is nice in this one. It's melted through the sandwich, covering most of the pieces of meat inside before leaving a tiny pool on the bottom of the roll. - 4.5

Overall, this was a nice sandwich. Another pleasant surprise for the 'burbs and an addition to the Ridge Pike/Main Street cheesesteak shops(Pudge's 2, Satchmo's, Ace's, Lou's 2, Sonny's, & Franklin's Classic). - 4

Total Score: 3.9/5

Philly Cheesesteaks & Wings' Telephone #: (610) 489-2838

Philly Cheesesteaks & Wings on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Sonny's Italian Deli (Limerick) - Cheesesteak


Appears a 8" Italian "mini" steak roll, stuffed with sliced strips of ribeye and layered with fried onions. The cheese is hidden from this angle but upon inspection, the layers start near the middle of the sandwich and pool on the bottom of the bread. - 3.5

The roll is from the South Philly iconic bakery within the 9th Street Italian Market, Sarcone's. I actually opted to go with the mini roll this time because the regular sized one has seeds on it. I dig the seeds on a hoagie but not-so-much on a cheesesteak. This roll has a firm, crusty, outer shell and it gets spongier towards the center of the roll, much like a loaf of crusty French bread. It keeps the steak juice, oils, & cheese contained nicely intact during the duration of the meal. Great stuff & a pleasure to be able to get this roll in the 'burbs. - 4.5

The meat is sliced into medium sized strips and piled within the confides of the crusty roll. It's cooked & seasoned just right with an ever so slight spicing of black pepper shining through the lightly cooked, tender, and juicy steak strips. When I went, it wasn't during prime lunch hour, so the grille flap was actually down. I don't believe that "mass production" comes during any part of this shop's business. Micro produced with care and done correctly. - 4.5

The cheese seems alright in this one. Perhaps a bit more mixing amongst the meat and onions would've made it better but the majority of the cheese is pooled on the bottom of the sandwich. There's a little towards the middle that shows me this wasn't really a "slap & flip", carefree way of getting the cheese on there. Certainly not the careless debauchery that goes on at Pat's Steaks in South Philly where they not only don't bother to place the cheese, or roll on the meat while it's still on the grill; the cheese actually stays un-melted. Anyway, like I said, the cheese was ok in this sandwich but could be executed a bit better. - 3

Overall, I enjoyed this one. The fresh steak & Sarcone's roll are the highlights here. The owners represent true South Philly style when it comes to sandwiches. Check this place out. - 4

Total Score: 3.9/5

Sonny's Website: http://www.sonnysdeli.com/index.html

Sonny's Italian Deli on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 6, 2009

Franklin's Classic Steaks & Hoagies (Limerick) - Cheesesteak


The appearance is of a -cut down the center- 10" tender steak sandwich with some fried onions and cheese intertwined between the slices of beef. The fullness of the sandwich comes up a bit short in regards to getting the salivitory glands pumping. - 2.5

The roll is decent. It's an Amoroso Hoagie(Food Service Delivery) roll. This roll works for this sandwich, as it's not really dripping with any juice, grease, or cheese, which deteriorates the soft interior of the roll, leading to the bottom tearing, or the roll just falling apart. Amoroso rolls get the job done...not my particular favorite for steak sandwiches(on hoagies, they work great) but if you're in a bind, they work. I suppose I question this location using Amoroso delivery rolls when they have Corropolese Italian Bakery directly accross the street. That would be option #1 in my book but perhaps that's just me. - 3

The meat is thinly sliced chip steak/ribeye that retains most of the moistness during the cooking. It's very lightly seasoned with oil and perhaps a shake of salt & pepper. My only complaint is the actual amount placed on the roll. If you've read my previous postings, I really appreciate a sandwich that has meat stuffed in between the bread, or even overflowing with meat. This is just layered in there with no chance of meeting the top of the bread. In fairness, these Amoroso rolls have very deep sides and are tough to fill. In the end though, the bread shouldn't overwhelm the steak like it does here. - 3

The cheese is ok. Seems to be mostly stuck to the bottom of the bread but there is a bit mixed in between the pieces of steak. Not much though...perhaps 2 slices that gets gobbled up quickly by that large roll. It gets slightly lost in the grand scheme of the cheesesteak sandwich. - 2.5

Overall, this was an ok outing. The local group on Chowhound threw these guys out there a few times on one of the forums discussing cheesesteaks on Main Street. I decided to give them a try. While the roll is ok, it seems to be a bit too much for the cheese & steak. A good taste but in need of some balance between the steak, & cheese to the large roll. As a plus, the owner is a genuinely nice guy who takes pride in the food and asks for feedback. - 2.5

Total Score: 2.7/5

Franklin's Website: http://www.franklinsclassic.com/default.htm

Franklin's Classic Steaks & HG on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 3, 2009

Santucci's Square Pizza (North Wildwood) - Pizza


Appears a large 12" x 18" "square...ahem, rectangle pie." As you can see, the top is covered in a red sauce with many pieces of dried herbs. If I hadn't felt the heat coming off this thing, I would've thought it was a tomato pie. The whole milk mozzarella is hidden underneath the sauce. That's the way they do it. Cheese on dough, & sauce on top. Nothing overly appealing about the look. I can't say that I'm itching to bite a slice just by the looks. -2.5

The crust is decent enough. We call these "non-Chicago deep dish", or "deep pan/baking pan/or just plain 'pan'pizza" where I'm from. It's got a bit of a crisp to the edges due to the high oven temperature of 500+ F. Imagine breadsticks with crispy edges...there you go. - 3

The sauce...man, people rave about this stuff, like it's the greatest stuff out there. I don't get it. I found it to taste like canned Hunt's tomato sauce with a whole lot of dried oregano, black pepper, and basil added. I can't say I would repeat, or even seek out this pie because of the sauce. Furthermore, it was just too darn spicy with dried herbs. - 1.5

The cheese is a whole milk mozzarella that is placed on the pie before the sauce. To be perfectly honest, it was a huge stretch for me to even find, or taste the cheese on this pie. I actually took a knife to one slice and scraped the sauce off and there was a thin layer of melted mozzarella cheese there. It was very lost and muted behind the large amount of spiced sauce taking over this pie. - 1

Overall, it was a huge let down for me. After reading and hearing about Santucci's pizza for a long time, I was expecting to be blown away. My friend, Craig, commented that he had frozen pizza that tasted better than this. I didn't disagree because I felt the same way. This was my first time having pizza from these guys and perhaps it wasn't the best example. Lord knows there are numerous Santucci locations floating around Southeast PA nowadays...I'm sure several are franchised. Whether or not they are consistent between all the locations has yet to be determined in my estimation. - 1.5

Total Score: 1.9/5

Santucci's Pizza is a two time Best of Philly winner for their pizza.

Santucci's Website: www.santuccis.com

Santucci Square Pizza on Urbanspoon