The Brooklyn Brewery Mash Tour: Slow Supper, Long Table

June 2014

My inner control freak avoided the piss-beer phase of college drunkenness, from which most budding beverage aficionados graduated and advanced into the realm of craft beers. Between buying into the antioxidant powers of grapes and discovering the flavor merits of bourbon barrels, I came to associate with the wine and cocktail side of menus. Beer escaped me.

The Brooklyn Brewery Mash Tour

Explaining these missing leaps in my life to beer drinkers usually garners many a volunteer. Some of you are probably even mentally volunteering as you read this. “Oh, I will teach you to love beer,” says the self-nominated hero of hops. However, somewhere between volunteering and beer drinking, these heroes usually fall to the wayside, and I continue to sip with purple lips. That is until Brooklyn Brewery came to Pittsburgh!

J.Heineman Warehouse

Despite an increase in national attention, Pittsburgh is still like a nerdy kid in gym class, waiting awkwardly while Philly and Chicago easily make the cut. When the Brooklyn Brewery put Pittsburgh on its Mash Tour, it was the equivalent of the coordinated captain picking the gangly nerd to be on his team while other jocks were still available.

Brooklyn Brewery Chef

Welcome Cocktail

Beyond recognition for Pittsburgh as a growing scene for food and culture, this dinner was a milestone for me for a couple of reasons:

1. My styling partner and I had the opportunity to design the event, from the menu illustrations all the way to the suspended floral installation. This was a big step for our venture, Harvest & Gather.

2. Yours truly drank more than a few baby bird sips of beer and thoroughly enjoyed it. With their bourbon barrels and notes of chocolate and orange peel, those Brooklynites might be the first to really push me in the beer direction. Good thing I walked away with some bottles for the sake of drinking practice.

Mulberry Shrub Shandy

Shrub and Shandy

After a live band and a Mulberry Shandy in the parking lot, garage doors of the historical warehouse opened to expose guests to their dinner table. The setting was the J. Heineman company, a wholesale food distribution warehouse, where Civil War ammunitions were once stored. A century and some years later, the high wooden ceilings, natural light, steel beams and concrete floors made the perfect backdrop for the Slow Supper, Long Table.

The Table

The menu was a collaboration between Brooklyn Brewery Chef Andrew Gerson and local Chef Kate Romane. Each course featured a different beer variety, as featured on the pallet pedestals with an array of foraged florals.

Pallet Beer Displays

Brooklyn Beer Display

Cuvée Noire was the high note of the night for this novice drinker. Its description boasts coffee, chocolate and citrus, and unlike many pretentious promises of flavor notes, these three winners are legitimately present. Dessert beer might be this baby bird’s wings to the great big sky of craft beer!

Mash Dinner Menu

Greens and Scallops

Snap peas, Pea Puree, Pea Tendrils, Slow Cooked Egg, Mint Oil
Brooklyn Wild Streak (10% ABV): A Belgian-inspired golden ale aged for several months in second-use bourbon barrels, giving it a soft, round character infused with a balanced oak flavors. 100% bottle re-ferment with a blend of priming sugar, Champagne yeast and the wild yeast strain Brettanomyces providing a wonderfully complex earthy funk.

Scallop and Apple Crudo, Roasted Sour Cherries, Apple Jus, Brown Butter Gel
Brooklyn Sorachi Ace (7.6% ABV): A classic saison, cracklingly dry, hoppy unfiltered golden farmhouse ale featuring the rare Sorachi Ace hop. It tastes like sunshine in a glass. 100% bottle re-fermented.


Grilled Lamb Chops, Braised Turnips, Radish, Rhubarb and Carrot Puree, Citrus Pickled Onions, Charred Onion Emulsion with Family Style Farmer Greens, Champagne Vinaigrette
Brooklyn Local 2 (9.0% ABV): Combines European malt and hops, Belgian dark sugar, and raw wildflower honey from a New York family farm. The beer emerges with a mahogany color, dry fruity palate and complex aromatics. 100% bottle re-fermented.

Dark Beer

Brklyn Brewery Beignets

Ginger Sugar Doughnuts, Spiced Cherries, Apple Caramel
Brooklyn Cuvée Noire (10.6% ABV): A Belgian Stout brewed with Mauritius sugar and orange peel, aged for six months in bourbon barrels, and then 100% bottle re-fermented.

Beer Varieties

Here’s to transforming industrial spaces for one evening only!
Here’s to suspended florals and flickering candles!
Here’s to Brooklyn and Pittsburgh, their bridges, beers and chefs!
Here’s to some serious sips of beer and more to come!



P.S: Check out my other post about Brooklyn Brewery’s Pittsburgh stop on the Mash Tour.

Instagram Lately: When Was Thursday?

July 2014

Note: The scene is the line at an independent coffee shop with its required share of brick, reclaimed wood, mason jars and thick-framed glasses staring at laptops. The protagonist, Quelcy, is in desperate need of caffeine. While she waits, she encounters a few familiar faces and “shoots the shit.”

“Hey Quelcy! I meant to ask you, how was your event on Thursday?”

“………….” said Quelcy’s blank stare.

I stalled in a way one does when trying to recall the name of the person in front of her, but rather than racking my brain for a name, I struggled to recall Thursday.

Thursday… Thursday… what the hell had I done on Thursday?

The sad fact? It was only Saturday.

Granola and Blue Skies

A beautiful breakfast brainstorm…
A tour of a houseboat as part of a creative meeting…
A backyard garden party with toe-tapping ukulele songs…
A glimpse of an enviable olive VW…

When the days and hours are so disparate, my inability to recall Thursday becomse a little more excusable.

Flowers and Feet

Though these busy spells leave me ever so slightly mentally frenzied, I’m truly grateful to forget what day it is if I’m pursuing beautiful experiences rather than trudging through a work week, so… Happy Monday?!?



p.s: You can follow more of my Instagram adventures here.

#TBT: Christmas in July

July 2014

It’s late at night, and the hot, humid day finally offers a break in the form of a cool breeze. The little one and I walk the hills of my neighborhood, taking in the glittering views those hills afford, and maybe she rolls in some freshly cut grass because that pup loves her some freshly cut grass.


This is summer, and god damn it, it’s passing me too quickly! Before summer sprints into August, let us take a minute to appreciate these little bastard snowmen cakes in the spirit of Christmas in July.


Merry July!

#TBT (Throw Back Thursdays) glimpse into the vintage visual feasts in my personal collection of food and entertaining books.

A Wednesday Wander: Yellows in Puerto Rico

From A Wander in San Juan, Puerto Rico in September 2011

Logic might follow that summer’s heat would inspire me to revisit my pictures from colder times and places. However, this girl loves her some sun, both on her shoulders and on her memory lane, so this Wednesday’s Warm Wander is brought to you by the letters P and R and the color yellow!

Soda Facade

Tiled Door

Telephone Yellow

Yellow Paint Black Door

A Wednesday Wander is a way to revisit journeys past and work my way through my many photos and journals that might otherwise collect proverbial dust. Thanks for wandering with me!


May Your Wednesday Be Warm & Colorful!

Balsamic Cherry Pie with Whole-Wheat Black Pepper Crust

July 2014

“Don’t overwork it. Don’t overwork it. Don’t overwork it.”

This is what plays over and over in my brain, like some sort of Rain Man, while I rub flour and butter through my fingers, aiming for that sweet spot of “pea size” or “coarse meal.” Knowing there is a right answer to forming a pie crust sends similar shudders down my spine as math and science did in junior high. The perfectionist inside me wants to SPRINT to Language Arts class, where I could dance around themes and concepts and not worry about being right or… god forbid… wrong!

Fresh Cherries

Much like my math and science track record in junior high (nerds get A’s despite self-induced stressing), my pie past should encourage me. People eat my pies, and they even request future pies, but somehow that’s not enough to assuage my inner fears, for in that record, is one miserable failure. By “failure,” I mean one EPIC failure. Much like a lunchtime cramming study session, I had not prepared at all. I just read “butter and flour” and went to town pulverizing those ingredients together until a cookie-ish crust emerged from the oven. Was it a pie crust? Hell no. Was it delicious? Yes, it was still quite edible.

Cherry Carnage

Regardless, that failure plagues me, and in some twisted sense of logic, rather than just avoid pies, I set out to make overly ambitious pies…and in the case of the 4th of July, deep dish pies…meaning even more pie crust than necessary!

Black Pepper

Furthermore, rather than stick to custom/safe fillings, I tend to stray from tradition, which is why this particular recipe from Adventures in Cooking appealed to my overcompensating, perfectionist side. The addition of coarsely ground black pepper adds an element of surprise to bites of this crust. The unexpected contrast is abrupt, but the mouth continues to chew, the mind processes the flavor, and everything meshes with the slightly balsamic notes of the cherry filling.

Cooling Rack

Though I stressed, though I recited my “don’t overwork it” mantra repeatedly, the pie earned the good graces of my friends, and if the idea of pitting 3.5 lbs of cherries has you hesitating, at least take comfort that this pie lasts for a long while. It is, after all, a very deep dish pie!

Final Deep Dish Pie

Balsamic Cherry Pie with Whole-Wheat Black Pepper Crust
adapted from Adventures in Cooking

Filling Ingredients

3.5 lbs Cherries, pitted (1.75 quarts, pitted)
1 1/4 cup turbinado sugar
2 Tablespoons honey
3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
2 Tablespoons organic cornstarch
3 Tablespoons organic, unsalted butter

Crust Ingredients

4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 cup plus 1 Tablespoon organic, unsalted butter

2-3 Tablespoons water & 1-2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar, combined & chilled


1 organic egg, whisked
1 Tablespoon water
turbinado sugar

For the Filling

Bring the ingredients to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium high heat, stirring every few minutes.

Lower the heat and allow the mixture to simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, taking care not to crush the cherries while stirring. Remove from heat and set aside.

For the Crust

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Use your fingers to rub the butter and flour mixture together until the texture resembles coarse meal.

Begin adding the tablespoons of ice water & vinegar while stirring gently.

Separate the dough into two pieces, one that is 2/3 of the total dough and one that is 1/3 of the total dough. The larger portion will be the base, and the smaller portion will form the lattice top.

On a well floured surface, roll the larger portion of dough into a circular shape, about 1 cm thick. Carefully transfer the dough to a lightly greased and floured, 8-inch springform pan. Mold the dough into the sides of the pan, letting the extra crust hang off the edge. Trim excess crust.

Roll out the remaining crust. Cut it into 1-inch strips for the lattice pattern, but leave the lattice pieces on a large plate lined with parchment paper.

Place the plate and the crust shell, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Whisk the egg and water in a small bowl until combined.

Remove the pie shell and lattice from the refrigerator.

Pour the filling into the pie shell and then arrange the lattice strips on top. Use your thumbs to press the edges of the crust and lattice strips together and cut off any excess crust. Brush the tops of the lattice strips with the egg mixture and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Set the egg mixture aside.

Place the pie on the second-lowest rack of the oven, and bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, lightly brushing the surface with more egg at the 45 minute mark. If you notice the edges of the crust browning too quickly, cover them with tin foil.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 45-60 minutes before serving. Serve with a healthy scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on a sunny deck!


Here’s to Pie Stresses & Successes!

Instagram Lately: 2000 Ways to Keep Occupied

July 2014

On weekends when all activities hinge on cooperative skies, gray mist can be a monochromatic motivation sucker. I had to choose a coffee shop for a meeting and make evening plans, and every option felt utterly exhausted. Nothing in this city felt new, and spending money on the same old felt futile. Then mentally, my mother pointed her finger at me in that tisk, tisk, tisk way, “Oh you’re bored? Would you like to fold some laundry? I didn’t think so. What do you propose you do instead?”

Wine Cheese Friends

Not laaaaaaaundry! Noooooooo!

Time to be a little creative à la wine, cheese and game night with good friends. It was the perfect solution. After tipsy laughter and competition, I returned to seeing the city as a place of possibilities. Lots of new and exciting elements are popping up, and others have existed unbeknownst to me. I tried my very first Pizza Boat pie (there will be more!). I had my first brunch at a restaurant I like and learned the transformative power of using sushi style salmon in eggs benedict (I might not be able to go back to lox. I may be screwed). I watched my dog delight in fountain fun.

Thommy of Ikea

I snapped my 2000th Instagram photo, and if I step back enough, that 2000th photo was a reminder of how a camera, even a phone camera, can help the everyday to hold more possibilities, more documentable moments, more beauty.

In conclusion, gray days come and go, but life is about laundry or living, ie, “Quelcy, get over yourself and do something.”

What do your Instagrams reveal lately?



P.S: You can follow my Instagram adventures here.

A Perfect Summer Burger

July 2014

If a foreigner were to lump me into the ultra white, New Balance sneaker class of tourist, I would be offended. If a foreigner were to fault me for putting Bush into office, again, I would take offense. If a foreigner were to assume I eat a lot of cheeseburgers, I might just have to shrug and embrace the truth in his or her assumption.

Julep and the Burger

Thus, when the 4th of July rolled around, and my dear friend with a hospitable deck suggested sushi, I humbly objected. Burgers; burgers are American. In the end, I do believe everyone thanked me for it (not to toot my own horn; just to encourage you should you be feeling bullied into sushi).

Mega Burger

What a perfect burger it was: grilled, grass-fed, organic, hand-formed patties, with cheddar, avocado, egg, greens and a toasted bun. Knowing this burger would be the star of the BBQ gathering, I prepared an equally impressive dessert. More on that to come!


Patriotically yours,