Thursday, June 12, 2014

Eastern Shore Brew Tour


My parents recently came for a visit. When I asked what sort of activities I should plan and what they'd like to see, all I was given was "beer."

Well, beer they had.

They arrived Sunday evening to a home cooked meal. Because I am just awesome like that.

Monday, I arranged for a tour at Evolution Craft Brewing (Evo), which happens to be our local brewery and where we eat at least once a week.

Usually on half price burger night. Or half price brisket night. Or $10 burger and a pint night...

Behind the scenes at EVO
Homemade pretzel and dip sampler.
Even though we had just eaten there Sunday, we took the family for lunch on Tuesday. Since my folks had the dogs with them, we made sure we could bring them along if we sat in the outdoor seating.

The food was fantastic, as always.

After lunch, we headed to Assateague and stopped by Burley Oak Brewing for a pint along the way.

Digging that logo!

Aside from having one of the coolest logos, Burley Oak also has some good beer and a laid back tasting room. It's a BYOF place, which means they don't serve food so you can bring your own. They also have stuff going on almost every night of the week from game nights to live music.

The new outdoor fountain at Ava's Pizzeria and Wine Bar.
Complete with Evo's Rise Up Stout!

Wednesday we headed up to St. Michael's to see the sites and have dinner with Mike's folks. That gave us the afternoon to walk around and explore town. Mike is friends with the couple that just started up Lyon Distilling so he arranged for us to stop by and do a tasting. Aside from being awesome people, the dark rum we tasted might be the best rum I have ever had.

Wait a sec...if that's the camera...
How'd I take a picture?
After rum tasting, we heading to Eastern Shore Brewing, another place where Mike knows the owner. We've been a few times, but were excited to be able to bring the dogs in. It was a hot day and they aren't used to the humidity.

First, we got a flight of all 5 beers on tap. Upon trying their Hefeweizen, I got a pint. It had the crisp wheat flavor and cloudiness that I love about Hefeweizens. It also had banana notes to it, giving it a fruitiness that I enjoyed.
Flights; all the beer minus the drunk.

For our final full day together, we headed across the bridge for some car shopping. Not exactly how we wanted to spend the day, but we still managed to hit a brewery so we could continue the one a day trend.
Flights a Ellicott Mills

We had some time to kill before we wanted to try and head into the city, so my mom and I took the dogs for a walk, while Tom and Mike grabbed a beer at Ellicott Mills Brewing Company. As it turns out, no pets are allowed in commercial buildings in Howard County.... Which is complete bullshit because the wine store in downtown Ellicott Mills has a dog. Maybe it's just food establishments, but I still think that's crap. Whatever.

While there are many other breweries we could have hit, we had hoped to make it to Dogfish Head as the sort of cap stone to our brew tour, but we just didn't have the time.

I guess it'll be a good reason for a return visit!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Tabbouleh flavored couscous(aka what I ate for dinner last night)

Couscous was the base of my food pyramid growing up.
Seriously, we ate so much couscous.
I work at a coffee shop. What does that have to do with a blog post about cooking food? I'll get there.

When you work as a barista, tips are kind of a big deal. The extra cash is awesome and you know you did your job well when you leave with a large roll of cash.

Thing is, not all tips are of the cash variety. Sometimes customers bring in random things. Sometimes it's flowers or maybe a gift card around Christmas, but the most random tip of all is food.

A little parsley, red onion and diced
grape tomatoes.
Yes, food.

I'm sorry, but I grew up in a society that inspected its Halloween candy for razor blades and other horrifying additions. Why the hell are strangers bringing me food at work?!?

And yet....while it took me awhile to get over my initial trepidation, I have come to enjoy the random gifts of food.

So now I will get to the whole point of this post. A few weeks ago, a customer brought some homemade Mediterranean food including really awesome tabbouleh. I have been craving more ever since.

This recipe is really a half-assed attempt at tabbouleh, but I didn't really care. I just threw in a bunch of stuff I had in my fridge but I think it turned out pretty delicious.

If you want the actual recipe, it was pretty basic.

  • 2 cups couscous
  • 1/2 bunch of parsley (this was in my fridge from the last time Mike made dinner so I used what was left)
  • 1/4 red onion
  • Several grape tomatoes (any tomato would likely work here, I chose grape tomatoes because I wanted more skin so that the chunks would hold shape better, instead of becoming mush)
  • 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Noms.
  • Salt to taste

I also threw in other green stuff from my fridge, including some cilantro (since I was already using lime, I figured I would just roll with giving this dish some Spanish flair) and kale. I put kale in pretty much everything these days. No mint. I didn't realize until after I was home and already chopping that most traditional tabbouleh had mint (at least according to the various recipes I was comparing with on the internet).

Dice up all the veggies and herbs, cook the couscous according to the directions on the package, mix everything up in a large bowl and squeeze the lime over it all.

Easy peasy.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Veronica Mars Movie

Warning: If you haven’t see the Veronica Mars movie already, do NOT read this blog post. First, it’s full of all kinds of spoilers. Second, it probably won’t make any sense.

See the trailer for the movie here.

We know, it was good. Now go watch the 3 seasons of this show on Amazon, and then watch the movie and then come back here and read this review.

It’s OK. We’ll wait. After all, we’re experts at waiting seeing as how we waited SEVEN YEARS for this movie to offer closure.



Kristen: So, I don’t really know how to write a movie review. Especially for a movie that I feel so invested in, like the Veronica Mars Movie. As Ariana mentioned in an earlier post, we were both backers for the Kickstarter that turned Veronica Mars from a forgotten, cancelled show into a movie (and a line of books!) with renewed interest. Because the movie was funded by fans of the TV show, it was made with us in mind. So how can I write a review on a movie that was made to pander to me? Because pander it does.

Ariana: I’m pretty sure this is the first review we’ve done for media. I mean, I reviewed the BestEssays website because HOLY SHIT, WHAT AN AWFUL SERVICE. But the Veronica Mars Kickstarter campaign was nothing like that.

Kristen: From reprising the roles of some of my favorite secondary characters, to a reference to the proposed fourth season trailer that was pitched to networks after the show was originally cancelled, it kept the fangirl in me happy. Plus the ending. Whoa.

Sorry to those that bought Team Piz shirts. 
I love that throughout the process of making the movie and getting it into theaters, the Logan vs. Piz debate was a way to get people excited about the movie. I also love that this debate was clearly settled by the end of the movie, and with the correct answer (TEAM LOGAN BITCHES).

Ariana: I’ll be real with you. I’’ve rewatched the Logan/Veronica “shipper” episodes more times than I care to admit. Rob Thomas (The creator) totally knew it, too. I didn’t even have to tell him. Logan and Veronica together is how the show is supposed to be, and I’m glad he sided with us. That said, I’m equally as impressed with how he translates Logan and Veronica’s tumultuous teenage love roller coaster into the adult relationship that takes place 10 years later.

There was one big thing that kind of got to me, though. Let me show you a picture of it:

*And the award for least believable transformation goes to. . . LOGAN ECHOLLS. (And also for looking awkward in his ill-fitting uniform)
Maybe it was just me, but I didn’t buy him as a Marine. Logan could have gone a million different ways, but he became a Marine and then dated a pop star? Which active service member do you know that has time to deal with all that drama?

A big theme in movies and TV in the last few years has been addiction. We crave what we shouldn’t have. High risk, high reward. We need a “fix” of something to make us whole. Thomas went that route in the movie and I was impressed, because that’s something that has always made Logan stand out as her love interest: he’s volatile, he’s unstable, he can’t be trusted. . .but he makes you feel great. A drug, if you will. When she shitcans Piz and goes after Logan, you get to see Veronica’s character flaw as an addict. For anyone who also watches Showtime’s Shameless, I hope you’re seeing the parallels between Fiona Gallagher and Veronica Mars.

Kristen: One of my biggest complaints with the movie is that at times, it moved too quickly. As much as I was a (rabid) follower of the show, I can understand that someone just being introduced to these characters, might not be able to follow what is going on quite as easily. I think the movie was short enough, that a few more scenes could have been added to help the flow of the movie.

My other complaint would be the side story that involves Weevil. Had this been a TV episode, I would understand leaving a loose end like that, but this was a movie. There is no guarantee we will see these characters again and I feel that this movie should have done its best to wrap everything up nicely. Is that selfish of me? Probably. Regardless, I didn’t like that Weevil’s story was left untold. Maybe that will come up in one of the books. . .

Ariana: The fact that they don’t finish Weevil’s story and don’t give me more information about him DRIVES ME CRAZY. I loved Weevil’s character and I loved his relationship with Veronica in the show. They tell us that he’s married and has a child but we get NOTHING about how he got there. With so many characters to catch up with, it would have been nice to get more information on the ones we actually cared about. I could have done with a whole lot less of Krysten Ritter’s character. Honestly, if anything, I’d have loved to see a plot that focused a lot more on Weevil. He was that important to me as a character.

Team Weevil, anyone?
I’m confused about why Thomas decided to use a supporting character (Carrie Bishop) as the lynchpin that held this plot together, knowing that Leighton Meester couldn’t play her. Why not use a supporting character that could actually come back to play a bigger role? The actress who played Susan Knight, for instance?

Kristen: If I learned anything from the making of this movie, it’s that I was not alone in my desire to see what had become of my beloved Veronica Mars in the years since the show was cancelled. It was pretty neat to be a part of movie making AND kickstarter history and I hope that other franchises will take note and give their fans the same opportunity.

Ariana: Overall, I liked the movie. I second Kristen here, though: I LOVED being a backer. They gave us on-set updates and teasers as well as cast-to-fan videos and T-shirts. I got a fun VM sticker that is currently plastered on my laptop, forever showing my Veronica Mars fandom. I’d back other TV-turned movie projects. After how amazing this experience was, I’d even venture out and back other media projects for new shows or movies. I liked the rewards and getting the inside scoop? Pretty neat.

Liz here.
You’re probably wondering “Who the frick is this Liz character?” I’m Kristen’s fetching younger sister and I know my movies. I’ve been graciously recruited to this blog solely for my witty and intuitive commentary on films.

Me and my "fetching", "younger" "sister".
We *might* be related.

As far as the Veronica Mars movie goes, I was actually quite satisfied with my experience. Unfortunately, I did not contribute to the Kickstarter that allowed the film to (finally!) be made, mainly because I am a college student who can barely afford to satisfy my appetite, let alone make a movie. But I was impressed by how quickly the Kickstarter filled up with donations from devoted fans and backers, proving that Veronica Mars is not forgotten.

One of the biggest satisfactions I found with the film was the amount of returning characters, which was very much due to the comradery of the cast. The show created one big sassy, dysfunctional family who were all willing to come back together after 6 years and make this movie. One particular return that I enjoyed was Max Greenfield (New Girl) reprising his role as Leo D’Amato, Veronica’s easily-seduced inside man to numerous cases. His short appearance was stocked with saucy exchanges and smug adorableness that I love love LOVE about Greenfield. Basically he’s just super cute and funny okay?

I agree with dear Kristen when she says the film seemed to move along too quickly. That is not to say that the film wasn’t filled with staple Mars-ian characteristics, but I felt like there wasn’t enough of it. And maybe that’s because it’s been too damn long since we (“we” being the die hard fanatics) have seen Mars and we’re simply thirsting for the nostalgia. I for one nearly shit my pants when Mac (Tina Majorino) and Wallace (Percy Daggs III) showed up on Keith Mars’ (Enrico Colantoni) front porch, surprising Veronica and falling back into the swing of their friendship, cheeky as ever. Mac was one of my favorite characters in the show, if not my all time favorite, and I was so very happy when she showed up.

Honestly, my all-time favorite line in the movie was probably when Veronica is on the phone, impersonating Martina Vasquez (the Latina bombshell news anchor). Veronica, as Miss Vasquez, is trying to get the inside scoop on a big case by flirting her little heart out with the sleazy Sheriff Lamb. While on the phone, Veronica’s dad strolls into the room and hears her in the midst of her seduction, in a sultry Spanish accent, mind you.

A father-daughter bond full of snark.
Listening briefly to the conversation, he stops and says, “Would you say I was a good parent?” However simple the line was, it was a killer for no reason other than the back story behind the movie. No matter how chaotic either of their lives got, how much trouble Veronica would get herself into, or how humiliated Keith was amongst the entire Neptune community, the father-daughter duo never lost respect or admiration for each other. And amid that respect, there was always an abundance of snarky and hilarious conversation, which continued into this movie.

All in all, I was utterly and completely satisfied with the film if for no other reason than waiting SEVEN YEARS to see it. The abundance of returning characters, the continuity of gags and fallbacks from the series, and the undeniable chemistry between Logan and Veronica all rang true in the long-awaited, and well-received, film.

KRISTEN: 4 out of 5 (-1 for not enough storytelling and moving too quickly)

ARIANA: 4 out of 5(Overall Movie +2, Fandom +2, Characters +1, Small Gripes -1.)
LIZ: 4 out of 5 (-1 for having to break little Piz’s heart)

(But 4 + 4 + 4 = 12...)