Here's the actual McRib sandwich.

It doesn't look quite like the picture on the menu board but it tastes just like I remember. The pickles and onions balance out the sweet and smokey BBQ sauce that tops the excellent " chunked and formed" pork patty. The bun is reasonably fresh as well. For what it is it ain't bad. All hail the McRib! #tastesensation #fastfoodreview #mcrib #sandwich #mcdonalds

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McRibs Are Back!

Look what I found, #mcrib I haven't had one of these in years. Actual sandwich picture to follow..... #mcdonalds #fastfood #legend #lunchtime

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Time for a little Wigle

Enjoying my first taste of this bottle of Pittsburgh made artisnal, organic "Monongahela Straight Rye Whiskey". This is an excellent whiskey, full of spice, smoke, vanilla and backed with a nice earthiness. The distillery is in the #stripdistrict of #pittsburgh and everyone there takes the history of whiskey in Pittsburgh and their craft very seriously. If you are a fan of good whiskey or bourbon and are anywhere near them you need to check them out! #wigle #pittsburghdistillingco #organic #whiskey #rye #whiskeyrebellion #artisnal

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Best Prime Rib Recipe Ever: Salt Encrusted Prime Rib

If you are scrambling to find the perfect Christmas Day (or any other special occasion) meal I might have the answer......Salt Encrusted Prime Rib!!! This is the single best prime rib recipe I have tried. It's easy to make and will earn you lots of "wow, this is great!" comments from your family and friends. What you see below is a re-post of something I put on an old blog of mine way back in 2008 but the recipe is absolutely timeless!

Trust me, if you are looking for the best prime rib recipe you owe it to yourself to try this one out:

Salt Encrusted Prime Rib Recipe Originally Posted in December 2008

This Christmas we decided to have Prime Rib but I was undecided as to how to fix it.  Last week I figured it out.  We decided to do a salt encrusted version on the Big Green Egg.  Well Christmas came and it was time to make some Prime Rib!

The Preparation

The recipe for this is pretty basic.  Season the meat with salt and pepper then cover it with salt then cook it.  I took the meat out of the fridge about an hour before cooking to get the temperature closer to 50 or so before cooking.  Here's the 3 pound boneless prime rib roast on its cookie sheet with a bit of salt and pepper on it:

Prime rib with salt and pepper dusting

Once the meat was "pre" coated it was time to put it in its salt overcoat. I used basic kosher salt (about 1.5 cups or so) and just wet it a enough so that the salt would stick together. I covered 3 of the 4 sides with the salt. When it was done it looked like a blob of shaved ice sitting on the cookie sheet:

Salt encrusted meat going on the Big Green Egg

The Cooking

I placed the prime rib on the Big Green Egg (you can use your oven just as easily) at about 250 degrees, inserted my thermometer and set the temperature alarm to 130 degrees.  When I inserted the thermometer into the meat the temp was 52  degrees.  Then I closed the lid on the 'Egg and sat on the deck with a holiday beer brewed by my brother and enjoyed the 60 degree temps we had that day.

After about 90 minutes the alarm went off.  I took the meat off of the 'Egg and covered it with foil to rest for 20 minutes or so.  I took the foil tent off and began scraping off all of the salt.  Here's what it looked like as I was just about finished removing the salt:

Removing the salt crust from the cooked prime rib

The Serving

I removed all of the salt crust and then sliced it.  The inside was very pink and warm, a perfect medium rare:

Sliced prime rib ready to eat

We served the prime rib with a nice 2006 Coppola Black Label Claret, fresh grated horseradish sour cream, sauteed mushrooms, asparagus, and rice. It was a fantastic meal. The meat was incredibly tender and not salty at all.

This was some of the best prime rib either of us had ever had.  It was super tender and juicy with just enough salt and pepper seasoning.  It was very easy to make.  As long as you keep an eye on the internal temperature and let the meat rest before eating it should come out great.  What a great holiday meal!

Craft Beer Review: Stone Enjoy By 10-31-14 IPA

I love IPA's. I especially love really fresh IPA's. Stone Brewing is known for their IPA's and a couple years ago they started a series of fresh IPA's, the "Enjoy By" series of beers. All of these IPA's are meant to be consumed quickly, typically within 30 days after bottling. I picked up a bottle of their "Drink By 4-1-13" last year and was very impressed. Today, while in the beer store, I saw their latest rendition, the Drink By 10-31-14 and figured it might be time to re-visit the beer. This particular bottle has a "bottled on" date of 9/26/2014 and I bought it on 10/11/2014. Considering that the beer comes from the San Diego area, I'd consider that a pretty fast turnaround: Stone Drink By 10-31-14

Appearance

I poured the beer in my New Mexico IPA Challenge glass that I got while visiting my good friend +Joe D in Albuquerque a couple years ago. As expected the beer had the classic golden/orange color that we've all come to expect from Craft IPA's. This beer is fairly clear and produced a nice, long lasting head that stuck around. A good looking beer!

Aroma

All of the "Enjoy By..." beers have a bit different aroma/flavor profole. This one has a great, super-fresh aroma that's a nice blend of citrus, floral and pine. There's also some nice malt aromas. The beer is 9.5% ABV and Stone does a great job of hiding that. Bottom line is that this beer smells like it just came out of the brew kettle, which is exactly how I'd expect it to smell.

Taste

The flavor of the Enjoy By 10-31-14 IPA is much like the aroma with a very fresh flavor that is well-balanced between malt and hops. The beer is definitely an IPA but the hop bitterness isn't over the top by any means. It's there (especially in the middle) but not completely dominant. The flavor starts off with some fresh pine, then citrus (think orange and sweet grapefruit), followed by some nice bitterness that appropriately dries out your tounge and back of the throat. The malt is there in just the proper amount to keep things in balance.  If you look on the neck of the bottle in my photo you'll see the phrase "Devastatingly Fresh" emblazoned on the bottle. That pretty much describes it :-)

Drinkability

Some IPA's are "built" to be hop lover's wet dreams, overflowing with juicy hop bitterness. If you love hops that's fine but sometimes drinkability can be impacted. That is definitely NOT the case with the Stone Enjoy By series of IPA's. While they are Imperial IPA's (typically defined by ABV over 8%) they are very east drinking. The 9.4% is very well hidden and the beer goes down very easily. If you are enjoying this away from home I would exercise extra restraint and make sure you have a designated driver because this beer goes down "Smoooooooth..."

The Final Score

Appearance: 8 out of 10

Aroma: 9 out of 10

Flavor: 18 out of 20

Drinkability: 9 out of 10

 

Total Score: 44 out of 50 points- A "4 Mug" Beer

Stone Enjoy By 10-31-14 IPA is a great example of the American IPA style of beer. It has a great fresh aroma and flavor with some nice bitterness. It is eminently drinkable and reasonably priced (I paid $8.99 for the 22oz Bomber bottle). If you have the ability to get these beers in your area and like IPA's I highly suggest you pick up a bottle to try! :-)

 

Beer Review: Pilsner Urquell

Time for another beer review. This time I review Pisner Urquell, which is a classic Pilsner from the home of the style, the Czech Republic. Sometimes only a lighter, easier-drinking beer will do. For me, that time is often accompanied by hot weather. Pilsner Urquell is one of those beers and I picked up a 4-pack of 16oz cans to have after I finish some of the many outdoor chores I do in the heat and humidity of the Georgia Summer air. This particular pack had four different "vintage" can designs representing how the labeling has changed over the years. It was a good-looking 4-pack:

Pilsner-Urquell

Now, let's see how the beer tastes.

Appearance

Pilsner Urquell is a good looking beer, especially when poured into a Pilsner glass. There was a nice stream of bubbles coming from the bottom of the glass. The beer gave up a nice fluffy white foam head that actually stuck around a bit. The beer has a nice golden straw color, which is in line for the style.

Aroma

Pilsner Urquell has a pretty good aroma. There's some honey and citrus along with some nice herbal/grassy notes. There is a slight bitterness as well, perhaps from the classic Saaz hops that are used.

Taste

To me, a Pilsner should be clean and crisp while still having a good amount of flavor. Pilsner Urquell meets that requirement though not spectacularly. The beer is definitely clean and crisp and there is some nice flavor but there is something missing. I got some initial bitterness followed by some malt, biscuit/bread flavors, finishing up with some earthy bitterness. Everything was there but not at the level that I expected.

Drinkability

Pilsner Urquell is a very drinkable beer. The crisp carbonation and lighter body make the beer a near perfect warm weather thirst quencher. The low 4.4% ABV means you can enjoy a couple of these without feeling overwhelmed.

 

The Final Score

Appearance: 7 out of 10

Aroma: 6 out of 10

Taste: 15 out of 20

Drinkability: 8 out of 10

Total Score: 36 out of 50- A Solid "3 Mug" Beer

Pilsner Urquell is a solid, well-made beer that has some good flavor and is very refreshing. It looks pretty good in the glass and has a decent, though slightly bitter aroma. The flavor is solid if a bit lacking. Drinkability is very good on this beer. I can recommend Pilsner Urquell as a good choice but I think there are some better pils beers out there. Victory Prima Pils is an example and there are others as well.

Craft Beer Review: Oskar Blues Old Chub Nitro

Time for another craft beer review! This time I review Oskar Blues Old Chub Nitro Scotch Ale, which is brewed in Longmont Colorado. I'm a fan of the Scotch Ale style of beer, which is full of tasty malt and smoke. I'm also a fan of Oskar Blues Brewery, which is in Longmont, Colorado and was one of the very first craft brewers to can their beer. So when they released their Old Chub a few years ago I immediately picked some up to try, and really liked it. Now they have released a version carbonated with Nitrogen, which gives a great creamy smooth drinking experience. I picked up a 4-pack of 16oz cans of the Oskar Blues Old Chub Nitro at my local Total Wine for the price of $8.99, which seemed like a very fair price for the 8% ABV brew. I was interested in seeing if the Nitro version of this Scotch Ale in a can was as good as the regular Old Chub:

Oskar-Blues-Old-Chub-Nitro-Scotch-Ale

Appearance-10 possible points

As you can see from the photo above, Old Chub Nitro is a very nice looking beer. It has an almost "stout dark" color but with a little extra red. The Nitro carbonation yields that super-tiny bubble head that looks like a soft pillow on top of the beer.

Aroma-10 possible points

Old Chub Nitro has a very similar aroma to the "regular" Old Chub with a slightly sweet and smokey aroma that has hints of dark chocolate & molasses. The 8% isn't noticeable at all, unlike some Scotch Ales I've had which sometimes reveal their higher alcohol in the aroma. So far so good, let's see how the flavor is.

Taste-20 possible points

Oskar Blues Old Chub Nitro doesn't disappoint in the flavor department. It has all the stuff that I like in a Scotch Ale, slightly sweet malt backed up with some smoke and complemented with a little spice, dark fruit and molasses. The Nitro adds a nice level of creaminess to the beer.

Drinkability-10 possible points

Old Chub Nitro is an eminently drinkable beer. The 8%ABV is well hidden and the Nitrogen carbonation gives the beer a super-smooth and creamy texture. I've had a couple cans of the beer with grilled Lamb, smoked Pork ribs and Chocolate Ice Cream and it went well with all of them.

The Bottom of Every Oskar Blues Can Has Some Unique Text

 

The Final Score

When I add every thing up, Oskar Blues Old Chub Nitro scores very high. Here's the final tally:

Appearance: 8 out of 10

Aroma: 7 out of 10

Taste: 17 out of 20

Drinkability: 8 out of 10

Total Score: 40 out of 50- A "4 mug" Beer

Oskar Blues Old Chub Nitro is a very good beer with all the right stuff when it comes to Scotch Ales. The Nitro component adds a great bonus to the beer. If you like malt-forward beers with a hint of smoke, especially with hearty grilled foods, you need to give Oskar Blues Old Chub Nitro a try!

Craft Beer Review: New Belgium FOCOllaboration

This is the first of what will probably be a fairly consistent series of posts about one of my passions, quality Craft Beer. I've been a lover of good beer for almost 30 years, ever since my 1st taste of a Boulder Porter way back in 1985-1986 at an Old Chicago in Old Town Fort Collins. Since then I've been lucky enough to watch, and enjoy, the growth of the Craft Beer Revolution. During our time in Fort Collins we witnessed the growth of both New Belgium Brewing and Odell Brewing. That brings us to the subject of this review...

A Beer From Two of My Favorites

Over the last 20+ years New Belgium and Odell's have both grown, but grown differently. New Belgium has aggressively expanded while Odell's has taken a more conservative route. Both are on my favorites list and I have enjoyed their beers almost since the beginning. I used to pick up growlers from both breweries on a regular basis and always looked forward to their new beers. Since we moved away from Ft Collins in 1998 I've been unable to get Odell's except when visiting Northern Colorado. New Belgium expanded to Chicago and then here in Georgia so I've been able to mostly keep up with their beers.

Well, they have finally gotten together and collaborated on a Pale Ale, FOCOllaboration. I had a growler of it from my local Growler Store, Peachtree Growler, Co (owned by a fellow CSU Alum!) and I picked up a bottle while in Chicago a couple weeks ago to try at a later date. Well, this past Sunday was a "later date" so I opened up the 22oz bottle, poured some into my New Belgium glass and made this photo:

wpid5265-FOCOllaboration.jpg

As you can see, FOCOllaboration is a good looking beer. It has a nice caramel/red color that is a bit darker than the typical American Pale Ale. This probably comes from the Odell Brewing malt bill that was used in the beer.

The aroma is very nice, with a good balance between malt and hops. I get more fresh-pine than citrus hop aroma. There is a very slight sweet smell to the beer as well, once again from the Odell malt bill.

As for the flavor, FOCOllaboration is a tasty Pale Ale. There's a nice mix of caramel malt and fresh hops, which is a good balance of fresh-pine and citrus.  The flavor is closer to an IPA than Pale Ale but still in the pale ale universe. Drinkability is very good with the 6.75% ABV not at all obvious. Carbonation is fine and the aftertaste is balanced with a hint of hops and crispness at the back of the throat.

FOCOllaboration is a very good beer that should agree with many craft beer lover's tastes. It's a nice warm-weather beer with some flavor yet I could see drinking this in the depths of Winter as well. It went great with some Big Green Egg smoked Pork ribs. There is enough hops to cut through/complement the smokiness and spice of the ribs. Pale Ale is a classic BBQ pairing and New Belgium FOCOllaboration fits right in.

FOCOllaboration seems to still be available on a fairly-wide basis so if you want to try a tasty Pale Ale from two of Ft Collins original craft brewers, pick up a bottle/growler/draft and give it a try. Be sure to let me know your thoughts on the beer.

Cheers!