Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Allentown Brew Works - Recap of the Bourbon, Beer, & Bryson Festival

I arrived a tad late to the fest on Saturday, 8/22/10 because I punched in the address to the location at the golf course, instead of the actual Allentown location.  No matter, I arrived and was given some brief details, along with a glass to start checking out the treats on hand.

Up on the third floor was the Bourbon tasting section, where there was enough Bourbon to keep me well entertained, and feeling good.  I made my rounds, getting into Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare 10 Year Single, Blanton's Single, Woodford Reserve, Maker's Mark 46, 4 Roses Single Barrel, 4 Roses Small Batch, And Wild Turkey Rye.  There were a few others on hand like Wild Turkey 101, Knob Creek, and Gentleman Jack but I've had them so many times, it almost seemed like a waste to even check them out at this juncture.
     On the second floor, there were specialty beers aged on oak, including Brew Works Bourbon Barrel Porter, Brew Works Apple Lambic, Stoudt's Bourbon Red Lady, Weyerbacher Insanity, and Yards Bourbon Thomas Jefferson.
The food was well prepared and was outright delicious.  I happened to miss the Fried Plantains topped with Bourbon Pulled Pork and Smoked Mozzarella but fellow blogger, Brian, tells me that they were really good.  I enjoyed the carved ham, sliced brisket, collard greens, fried okra, corn bread, and Apples Foster with a raisin, bourbon, and pecan caramel over vanilla ice cream.

To the right, some guy named Bryson rambles on about distillation, etc.  He actually did a good job.  :)


I got to check out some samples from Easton Salsa Company and I liked both the salsas, and the hot sauces provided by Art Skrzenski.  I also spoke with Rick, the sales guy from Yards...while enjoying several glasses of the Bourbon Thomas Jefferson.  I relayed the story to him about how I pitched an idea to former Yards employee, John Rehm, about possibly doing some of the Ales of the Revolution in spirit soaked oak.  My idea was to call the limited series, Whiskey Rebellion...but alas, my friend left them shortly after the split into Philadelphia Brewing.
I got to chat with Brew Works Founder, Dick Fegley for a while.  We chatted about one of their latest beers, Arctic Alchemy.  A wonderful night of one of my favorite beverages, bourbon - by itself and with my other favorite beverage, beer!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Rocco's Steaks (Paoli) - Cheesesteak

Appears a 10" long roll with sliced pieces of ribeye that's been sprinkled with black pepper and has some of the residual olive oil left on there from the quick cook time on the grill.  Bits of sauteed onions are left on the exterior of the top layer of beef. - 3.5
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The roll is a Carangi roll.  Really fantastic stuff.  A firm outer crust and an absorbent interior make this roll a nice match for this steak with the olive oil.  It acts as a nice sponge in gathering all of the sweet oils and salty, herbal flavors. - 4.5
The meat ...they call it a ribeye cut.  It probably is.  If I would've ventured a blind guess, I would've thought it was sliced top round, or eye round based on a few of the pieces having large portions of fat on the exterior.  Other than that, the beef is well seasoned, and very tender. The slice of this sandwich actually reminds me more of Steve's Prince of Steaks, or Geno's, rather than Pat's(where I got 3 little squares of beef last time)- 4

The cheese - the quantity is good but the placement makes it hidden behind the slices of beef.  I (along with many other steak sandwich aficionados in the area) always appreciate it when the grill man makes the effort to blend the cheese throughout the sandwich instead of taking the easy approach of putting the cheese on top of the cooked steak followed by the roll.  The greatest approach I've seen thus far is from Steve's Prince of Steaks putting the cheese in a double boiler and scooping it on, albeit a bit too much.  This was a little above average. - 3.5

Overall, the positives far outweigh any negatives to gripe about in this sandwich.  Factor in the convenience of not having to drive into the city and you've got yourself a nice little find here.  I'll be returning for repeat visits, which is a true tell tale of what I thought of the food.  Check out the cheese fries, as well.  They are as good as any that you'll get at the steak stands in South Philly. - 4

Total Score: 3.9/5

Of course, Rocco's Steaks is just a 2 minute ride from another favorite stop in Paoli that I speak highly of, TJ's.

Rocco's Website

Rocco's Steaks on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bacco (North Wales) - "The Original" Old World Crispy Pizza

Appears a large, thin crusted pie with a scattering of crushed tomatoes, which are layered atop a melted cheeses and a light swirl of olive oil drizzled atop. - 4.5

The crust is extremely thin and crunchy towards the outer edges.  No charring really found on the bottom but the outside edges show glimpses of being cooked in the hot coal oven.  I did happen to ask what the current temperature was on the oven but the answer I received was, "very hot!"  Based on the texture of the underside of the pie, I would say it was in the 600 F range, which is a far cry from the potential heat thrown off by these coal fired ovens.  A few of the NY pizzerias use the coal fire method to get the heat over 800 F, leading to a near charred crust, and extra crispy underside...just the way I like it!  Not bad though.  Perhaps next time, I'll ask for my pie extra cooked to receive the anticipated crispiness that is achieved by wood-fired, or coal fired ovens. - 4

The sauce is the best part of this pie.  It is flavorful, rich, sweet, yet robust all at the same time.  I'm thinking San Marzano's are used.  If not, they fooled me because this sauce is the real deal and one of the best that I've had in a while. - 4.5

The cheese is a flavorful blend hilighted by mozzarella, and provolone.  It's ok but compared to some of the other examples I've gotten with fresh, flavorful mozzarella cheese that liquifies and spreads in the high heat without burning, this cheese combo used here almost seems second tier. - 3.5

Overall, this pie is a good one.  The presentation is certainly there.  The sauce is great.  The crust, while a slight let down from my anticipated "near char" style, was decent enough.  I would get this again without hesitation but I would ask if they could leave it in a bit longer next time.  Nice to have these guys within driving distance. - 4

Total Score: 4.1/5

Bacco's Website

Pizzeria Bacco on Urbanspoon