Station House Beer House & Whiskey Den: Positively Piquing Taste Emotions.

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With the end of summer and the advent of winter dangerously lurking behind the few weeks we call Fall, cozy bars with great food are now in season for me.

Within the harvest season we harvest many things that we desire to store as we baton down the hatches for the ever nearing long and cold winter.
A new acquaintance, a sweater or cinnamon swizzle stick for your hot apple cider, we all surround ourselves with things that make us feel cozy and comfortable and perhaps, places we can comfortably burrow into and relax within.

My stocking consists of a short list of the finest local food and beverage establishments where I can swing by at anytime and enjoy comfort foods and some fine craft beer selections. Which has always been the motus operandi of my blogs focus. Putting Local Back On The Menu. (bestbitesclub.wordpress)

Never has Station House delivered less than top eats served up by a well trained staff and a beer list that is fit for food pairings, beer club discussions, there are no bounds to what great beer can do to lift spirits and raise a meals flavor profile.

To illustrate:
1. For lunch a friend and I ordered the special for starters. Lamb, feta cheese, cucumbers and sauteed tomatoes atop an amazingly light and crisp flat bread. New Holland’s Full Circle was the accompanying beer, light in body and tangy crisp it did not overtake the delectably light appetizer.

2. Medium rare cook temp for The Decadent Burger allowed the boursin cheese and demi-glace to work into the magnificent chopped meat creating a unique burger texture change with the braised short rib topping. As per Steve’s suggestion I dove into my Southern Tier Imperial Stout with reckless abandon.

3. The hits just kept on coming with a hearty plate of beautifully encrusted Haddock fillets, crisp on the outside moist yet well textured on the inside, I slapped some dollops of the tarragon tartar of the fishes side and down the hatch it went.

The Many Mac & Cheese has just arrived to the table, choosing the sausage and bacon meat infusion. I wavered not. Fork in hand I took down the greatest beast of comfort food but not without the help of River Horse’s Bourbon Oak Vanilla Hip Lantern.

Thank you Station House for whipping up another memorable lunch experience.


A Shape That Remains

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They were a tradition of sorts, those golden brown dehydrated sack shaped figs that magically appeared during the holiday season. “Are these exotic looking items actual fruit or mainly purchased for looks?” I often wondered. Nobody really ever ate them, not family nor visitors and the few that I did try I would cautiously pierce into with the tips of my front teeth. I questioned the inhuman feeling of the leathery texture and the seemingly thousands of tiny seeds that find their way into the deepest caverns between teeth and gums and scrape the roof of my mouth like sandpaper. I would always manage to chew down a few before Christmas but after Thanksgiving, yet the taste of pasty blood and brown sugar was never truly palatable, cloyingly sweet.

Come January when all the desirable treats had vanished I would revisit the figs again that now had a light coat of dust upon their cheap, cracking cellophane packaging. I liked the packaging, perhaps more than the figs. The Made in Greece label kept me coming back as I conjured up views of goats with bells around their necks, just walking the mountains in this distant land, which is why I suppose I still do purchase them, but its more than that.

Now I am the faithful holiday purchaser though nobody will ever eat them but me, I have a full year to do so. Yet year after year, they endure this same debate and remain with me. I guess they remind me of being home during the holidays which had all the joys of eating figs.


When I Eat Sushi

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The slices of Yellow Fin Tuna, Mackerel, Salmon and Roe are served up at my favorite table along with a bottle of Biwa No Choju as it has not arrived sooner as imagined. Rows of piano tuning pin sized scales and slabs that sit erect next to the pickled ginger and wasabi sitting patiently on the trays outer corner sharpening its great breath.

I gaze closely to unravel the briny map that tells 0f the deep dark ocean recently carrying these narezushi to my dish. There’s an echo calling out about the Sushi slices that once rippled through the Southeast Asian currents about a place the fish began, a place I could never find on my own, nor were ever meant to.

Even the plum and the tiny eggplant are no relief. Perplexed and inflamed I continue hoisting piece after piece off my ceramic plate as the fish now seems as diminutive than possible.

My mouth opens for the last piece, exposing the truth it so desperately wanted to keep hidden from you,
and you,
and you,
and you.


Charcoal: Choice Cooking Fuel

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The aroma of carbon and ash begins as the material charres, creating to some a disagreeable but very necessary initial reaction. But this smell is not disagreeable to me, for it is the smell of the presence of friends who come and gather in the yard at my humble abode.

The smell speaks of temporary moments of younger days activities, current days hopes, laughing, drinking, smoking all while awaiting the large barbecue grill to heat the unheralded brittle, lightweight, black wood briquettes.

We grill steaks and we roast potatoes, we eat with our hands as if on safari and watch as the coals glow on. Mature conversation was the one dessert purposely unplanned for our summer evenings.

We drank bad wine and fine beer while watching the heat consume itself.

It died at last; we had time to burn.


If I were a Spice, What Spice Would I Be?

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If I were a spice I would be Paprika.

Hot tempered and adventurous, I would lurk beneath the surface while you stir slowly. Just waiting inside the pot for that moment to singe a tasting lip, if only for a brief chuckle.

My vibrant color would ward off any foolish varmint who pressed its lips on the precious Capsicum Pepper, from which I was derived from.

But as I matured into my final stage of fine powder, I would elevate from an under appreciated spice to a force to be reckoned with. Don’t let my rich, red coloring scare nor concern you. Will you try me as a garnish or atop your deviled eggs?

Do you think I will create a heat more fearsome to taste than a stream of volcano lava poured upon your unsuspecting tongue? If only you knew me better. My intention is not to cause pain. Seething fiery breath is not my goal for those that will choose to enjoy me, I am a spice of healing. Not only beautifully vibrant in color but my genetic make up contains Vitamins C & E, I lower Hypertension and provide anti again benefits. I also have a healthy fear of wrongdoing, and I’m passionate about being a good condiment, abiding by all cabinet and spice rack laws.

Don’t look at me as some conjurer of cheap spice thrills, or one who will explode in laughter when you snarl and fan the flames of your mouth. I am really none of these. I’m just a little different; it’s just a natural instinct. Fancy yourself a dash or two of my mystery, I reward those who are loyal.


Cooking Salvation – A Poem

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What I’d sensed as a large failure upon one of my first high heat cooking endeavors, seared bits
securely clinging to the inner section of my cast iron pan, near scorched at the verge of burning into a state irretrievably beyond bitter, sour, salty or sweet- I salvaged.

With a splash of beef stock I had been simmering on the back burner and vigorous stirrings with a slotted and flat edged wooden spoon, salvation and discovery began.

The burned chips, flakes and flecks liquefied into a glaze born of incertitude and recalling this evening years later at the very same table, however set for two this night candles ablaze within the
presence of beautiful company, I recall the decision I made that very night years earlier with a table set for one.

It was then I vowed to make a meal each day from scratch, to make of solitary tedium a spiritual practice, beginning with the overture of chopping and dicing into the cabaletta of
saute and simmer. Watching you raise the piping hot creation, pressing it fast against your lips for a quick moments respire before taking nourishment there.

I learned to savor loss, to find beauty in the death of the raw ingredient as it lead me to understanding salvation.

Tonight I once again roll my tongue around and around recalling my day of cooking salvation. I hold it tight in my mouth and in my mind, the irony of it.


So What’s New About Olives?

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As I wander around my local markets here in Queens NY, I always keep a special eye out for a new olive oil that I have yet to experiment with. Due to the versatility of most olive oils, I tend to keep multiple bottles and jars close at hand in my kitchen. At any given time, my pantry could contain six different bottles of all different shapes, sizes and qualities.

After collecting all of these bottles, it was becoming glaringly clear that my enjoyment of olive oils and the shopping attention given to them, had eclipsed the food pleasure of the olive itself. So I decided to delve a little deeper into the olive’s background, the olive that creates the oil which is such a intricate part of not only my cooking, but my overall diet as well.

Technically classified as fruits of the Olea Europea Tree, a tree that typically lives for hundreds of years, most all olives we as shoppers encounter come mainly from California, but also from the Mediterranean region in Europe. While some olives can be eaten right off of the tree during harvest months, late September through November, others find their way to the smaller cans and jars we have become accustomed to purchasing them in. As finding an olive tree with which I could harvest my own olives is not likely, leaving me the alternative of going to different neighborhoods beyond Queens to locate new and exciting olive options. Unfortunately, most olives sold commercially have been processed to bring down their intrinsic bitterness. These processing methods vary with the olive variety, region where they are cultivated, and the desired taste, texture and color the producer is looking to achieve .Some olives are picked unripe, while others are allowed to fully ripen on the tree.

To bust a quick myth that I have heard around my foodie circles is that the color of an olive is directly related to its state of maturity. It is true that many olives start off green and turn black when fully ripe. However, some olives start off green and remain green when fully ripe, while others start of black and remain black. In the United States,California more specifically, olives are typically green in color, picked in an unripe state, they lye-cured and then exposed to air as a way of triggering oxidation and therefore a conversion to a black outer color. Water curing, brine curing, and lye curing are the most common treatment processes for olives, and each of these treatments can affect the color and composition of the olives.

How beneficial to your health is it to eat olives?
Dozens of health protective nutrients have been identified in olives, yet recent studies that have taken a closer look at olive processing, recognize changes that take place in olive nutrients which are not necessarily health protective. However, the overall conclusion from these studies is that olive’s from the tree and preparation olives, provide valuable amounts of many different antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients. This holds true for all varieties. From Greek style black olives to Spanish-style green olives to the more common Kalamata style olives.
Two quick top benefits:

1. Hofydroxytyrosol, is an olive nutrient that has long been linked to cancer prevention and it is now regarded as having the potential to help people prevent bone loss as well. As we all have been reading about over the course of the past few years, the consumption of a Mediterranean style diet has been associated with decreased risk of osteoporosis, and olives often find themselves on center stage in Mediterranean diet studies.
2. Olives supply anti-inflammatory benefits to our bodies, especially during circumstances involving allergy. Olive extracts have now been shown to function as anti-histamines at a cellular level. By blocking special histamine receptors (called H1 receptors) olive extracts may help to lessen a cell’s histamine response.

How can you locate the best olive options close to your home?
Olives have been traditionally sold in jars and cans, sitting up on an occasionally dusty and neglected shelf, today many stores offer them in bulk, sold in large barrels or bins. Buying bulk olives allows you the consumer to experiment with many different types of these health protective little fruits of a formerly far away land. Just keep in mind that if it looks unfamiliar, do not let that dis-way you from the purchase, buy two or three only if your not completely sure if they will be to your liking.
It’s not uncommon to find several different textures, including shiny, wilted, or cracked. The size of olives may range from fairly small to fairly large or jumbo. In general, regardless of the variety you choose, select olives that still display a reasonable firmness to pressure and are not overly soft or mushy. If you purchase olives in bulk, make sure that the store has a good turnover and keeps their olives immersed in brine for freshness and to retain moistness.

Go out and try some of the olives that are available in your area and if it looks good, eat it!


The Five Sources Guide.

The Five Sources Guide to buying local.

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The Five Sources is a guide and quick reference connection to the freshest, locally grown and locally processed food in your area for those that care not to buy GMO contaminated foods.

1. Go to Your Local Farmer’s Market
Is there a better place to get to know your local farmers? Not only can you purchase fresh produce and products, but you can talk to the people actually growing the food. Asking questions and getting answers right from the source is such a pleasure for those who are selective about the quality of their food source. This personal interaction allows you to make educated decisions about your food purchases.
To find a local Farmer’s Market, the website, localharvest.org will help you find Farmer’s Markets plus community-supported agriculture, (CSA’s) farms, restaurants, and more.

2. Use Farm Plate
Farmplate.com is a website that connects you to farmers, restaurants, and food in your area that fit your needs. You can search for ingredients or more for more specific specialty items like bakeries, butchers, and cheese-makers.

3. Eat Wild
Eatwild.com is an impressive website that links the user to the best places to discovery pastured meats, dairy products, and eggs in your town! To navigate this site is so simple: Simply pick the state you reside in, from there, a list gets populated regarding where to purchase pastured food nearby.

4. Get your Raw Milk
Beyond solid foods, some websites offer raw milk dairy products. Similar to Farmplate, this website shows you where to buy raw milk in your state. (please keep in mind that raw milk is illegal in some states) However, this is a great resource to keep in the back of your mind if you are visiting non stste resident family and friends or if you move to a new location.

5. The Eat Well Guide
At eatwellguide.org you can locate high quality, sustainable, organic and local real food in your neck of the woods. The great thing about this site is it will direct you to outstanding local food stores with the products you are specifically looking for. This is something most other sites do not offer and it is fundamental portion uncovering a pattern with your real food resources.


Chinese Cuisine, a Little Unconventional.

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After swallowing two dozen bowls of noodles, Pan Yizhong the amazingly gaunt man from China described as “Big Stomach King” had barely broken sweat and announced his hunger for more. Mr. Yizhong, 45, is the most celebrated exponent of the art of competitive eating in China
“I can continue,” said Yizhong, with fragments of noodles still in sight at the edges of his mouth, as the other challengers at an eating competition fell away one by one in the face of his relentless appetite.

Once he passed the 25th bowl, there were no more opponents and the cheers fell away into awed silence. “The Big Stomach King is our hero,” said Lu Nan, one of Pan’s defeated competitors. “He has magic powers.”

However, some view him with revulsion in a country just beginning to grapple with widespread obesity. Just a decade before Pan’s birth, as many as 45 million people died in the famine resulting from Mao Zedong’s disastrous Great Leap Forward, and he recalls eating leftovers discarded by his schoolteachers as a child. But that time seems a distant memory in Pan’s life now.

So, if you are wondering how much can Yizhong eat and in what matter of time? In a December 2013 eating race held in Liuyang in China’s central province of Hunan, Yizhong had eaten 147 dumplings in one sitting, and polished off 40 bowls of noodles in 15 minutes. Now China’s most renowned competitive eater is now searching for his most ambitious challenge yet. No further details were available.


New York City’s Oyster History

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For most of us NYC dwellers, oysters have been an iconic part of the city’s food system, but what do we know about their history in the waters of the Big Apple?
This article will give a snapshot into the history and long awaited return of the NYC oyster.

The oyster’s population all but disappeared from the NYC harbor during the industrial revolution, but in the past few years they’ve made a comeback in local waters and are gaining popularity with city inhabitants.
When Henry Hudson arrived in what is now New York City in 1609, there were approximately 350-miles of oyster reefs in the harbor and its surrounding waters. At the time, experts estimate that was likely more than half the oyster supply in the world. They were a major staple of Native American diets, and as a colonial city took form on the nearby island of Manhattan.

Oysters have had an international reputation far prior to the founding of the good ‘ole USA, but when they became available here in our country ritzy oyster bars began popping up and were frequented by New York’s wealthy upper classes. They were also the city’s first real street food. Poor city dwellers could purchase them on the cheap from street carts, making them a staple of many New Yorkers diets.

By the early 1900’s, the oyster populations were declining rapidly due to increased water pollution. Hundreds of gallons of sewage water was being dumped into the harbor daily, and the oysters were making people sick.

The last of the city’s oyster fisheries shut down in 1927, however there were still oyster bars throughout the city, but most imported their products from New England. As decades passed, New York’s oyster legacy was forgotten. But things are starting looking up for the city’s mollusks. In the past ten years, the oysters started reappearing in New York harbor in larger numbers. Conservationists students and civilian scientists are banding together to help rehabilitate these wonderful organisms, which oddly possess both male and female reproductive organs.
Unfortunately, there’s a catch. These oysters still are not safe to eat. The 1972 Clean Water Act has made the New York harbor sanitary enough to support the growth and development of oyster populations, but they are still toxic due to residual pollutants in the waters and still some intermittent dumping. That includes, but is clearly not limited to heavy metals, PCB’s, and even napalm. These toxins are left over from decades of industrial waste dumping in the mid-20th century.
Oyster farms and community-supported fisheries around Long Island have taken up the torch to supply local oysters to New York City mollusk consumers. Oyster farms such one on Fishers Island n the Block Island Sound and the Blue Point Oyster Company on Long Island raise oysters in hatcheries and then move them to open waters, where they are eventually harvested.
As a result, New Yorkers can keep slurping these salty treats regularly at oyster bars throughout the city. In the meantime, scientists continue to work with oysters in the New York harbor that may, one day, be safe to eat.