Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Local beers enjoyed in warmer months. At Madhouse, Exile, and CABCo.

The sign outside Madhouse Brewing at Scott and E. Fifth says it all, "Crazy good beer." After sampling a flight I was fairly impressed with Madhouse's range of beers. On the way to the head I spotted a beaker filled with a mystery liquid. I fought off the desire to pound it, fearing a wicked yeast infection if I did.

The deeply malty Oak-Aged Imperial Red Ale, above left, is a beer best to fortify ones self on a crisp Fall day. Smoky Sumatra Coffee Stout, above center, is heavily influenced with a Sumatra coffee blend from Zanzibar's Coffee Adventure. An effervescent espresso is there ever is one to be had; a magnificent brew! A pairing of both would make a fine 'Black and Red.'

Earlier this year I was most pleased with some of Exile Brewing's new brews, including their citrusy Giving Tree IPA [see blog post]. Exile has since tweaked the recipe with the release of the Giving Tree Redux IPA. Appropriately bitter without being harsh, but not as grapefruity as its progenitor. I rather miss the latter.

The Beatnik Sour from Exile is impressive! Quite puckery and bright with a sauerkraut finish on the palate. I'd love to boil some brats in this flavorful brew.

Not all innovation is limited to the young brewers in the Metro. Court Avenue Brewing's Belgian Tripel EntendrĂ©, above left, is aged in white wine oak barrels. Its high ABV – 10.4% – imparts a dry mouthfeel and slightly masks its juicy pear-like flavor. The Iowa Oaks Ale, above right, offers a nice balance of malt and hops, with some acidity. A cromulent brew!

Madhouse Brewing Company on Urbanspoon Exile Brewing Co. on Urbanspoon Court Avenue Brewing Company on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Winding down after a long day in Omaha.

Summertime visits to Omaha, Part 5;
July 19, 2014

I had planned all along to take the bus on my final leg of the journey along with some leftovers. But after consuming an entire medium sized pizza from La Casa Pizzaria [see blog post] and with enough light in the sky on that July evening, I once again opted for a walk. Passing through Elmwood Park and the University of Nebraska at Omaha campus, I found myself back at Crossroads Mall, scoring a water for the road and a needed restroom break at Target.

Epic neon along Leavenworth St. in Omaha.

Winding down after my half-marathon trek across Omaha, I waited for the inevitable crash along with the returning Megabus. Upon boarding I smacked my Glob-darned head on the low ceiling while entering from the rear because some lazy driver had to sit her behind on the front stairwell, blocking any entry through the front.

The half-marathon I walked that day in Omaha.

I was hoping for a quiet ride home until my neighbors, a chatty pair, settled in across the aisle from me. After our on-time departure some buffoon who didn't get to the stop in time followed us for miles trying to get the bus to stop. Note to anyone else who encounters a similar situation: the driver will not stop. Even if you try to hinder the buses path, they'll just go around you. Not Megabus, not Greyhound, nor Burlington Trailways or Jefferson Lines.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Crisp crust and toppings aplenty at Omaha's La Casa Pizzaria.

Summertime visits to Omaha, Part 4;
July 19, 2014

After nearly eleven hours walking and drinking about Omaha, I finally came to my ultimate destination, La Casa Pizzaria at S. 45th & Leavenworth. Upon entering, the aroma of Romano cheese baking in the pizza ovens was intoxicating! I moderated my beer consumption to accommodate, but I did indulge in the pleasure of a limoncello with club soda while waiting for my pizza, a medium with one side Classic Hamburger, and Margherita on the other. Both sides came with an unbroken veneer of toppings.

The Classic Hamburger offers finely ground beef precooked slowly with onions and seasonings, with choice of romano or mozzarella cheese, or a combination of both. Extra hamburger topping is also an option.

The crust on the Margherita is brushed with garlic olive oil, topped with homemade tomato sauce, diced roma tomatoes, fresh basil, oregano, mozzarella, and a touch of romano cheese. Chicken is an optional add-on.

La Casa's crust is really freakin' thin, crisp and sturdy yet flaky, with a crunchy, pie dough-like rind, and a richly golden crust. How La Casa accomplishes this is to grill the pizzas after baking. It makes for one of the most unique pizzas I've ever eaten, and is now my favorite pizza in Omaha, with Orsi's pan-style pizza coming a close second [see blog post].

The Classic Hamburger at La Casa Pizzaria.

Pizza Margherita at La Casa Pizzaria.

La Casa Pizzaria on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Fine libations along Farnam Street.

Summertime visits to Omaha, Part 3;
July 19, 2014

Incredibly, despite all intentions of utilizing the Omaha Metro service, I continued with my walk around Omaha, now proceeding westward on Farnam. A 'relief station' along the way sure came in handy.

Farther along at the corner with 25th Street I came upon a shuttered barbecue joint called Smoke Pit BBQ. I found the anthropomorphic illustrations on the outside walls rather amusing.

Coming upon the Midtown Crossing neighborhood for the first time I was fairly impressed with its hub of entertainment venues, restaurants, shops, apartments and condos, neslted amongst corporate headquarters.

Truth at Farnum House Brewing.

At Farnam House Brewing I enjoyed their house Belgian IPA, sporting some hop and malt for character, but light enough for summertime quaffing. Their Grissette Light Saison is a much less heady brew, quite refreshing and most appropriate after time spent mowing the lawn or some other laborious task.

Further on down the road at S. 40th Street I was hoping to score a beverage at Archetype Coffee, but finding it already closed for the day I settled in across the street at Sullivan's Bar, a delightful, proud, Irish tavern, with an honest to goodness regulation table shuffleboard.

I spent about an hour or so there enjoying both fine cocktails and excellent conversation with the affable barkeep. Its always a joy to happen upon a place such as Sullivan's where one can come in as a stranger, but leave with a hearty handshake and an open invitation to return. I hope to do so, and finally get that espresso I had walked so long for.

Farnam House Brewery on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Drinks in Omaha's Old Market.

Summertime visits to Omaha, Part 2;
July 19, 2014

With a full belly after my breakfast at Lisa's Radial Cafe [see preivous blog post] I continued my walk eastward. I had to detour around a Color Run, and spent a minute with one of Omaha's finest wondering just how much of the colored dust thrown about was getting inhaled by the participants. It was interesting to note the volunteers hired to toss the powders were wearing masks.

Coming upon the Woodmen Tower always cracks me up. And what the Glob were they doing along 16th Street? Taking away its seedy charm along with the trees?

At ten o'clock on a Farmers' Market morning in the Old Market I was hoping to quaff a Bloody Mary, but to my surprise could find no bars open yet. Instead I settled on a pot of Moroccan Mint tea at The Tea Smith. The atmosphere was much akin to a coffee shop, as opposed the apothocary feel of my usual tea haunt, Gong Fu Tea in Des Moines' East Village [see blog post]. Gong Fu's table service spoils me a bit so as well.

While enjoying my tea a precocious lad asked me if I was there by myself or with a wife? I replied that I was "painfully alone." His poor mom was agog by his boldness. Before I left I bade the young man a good day, and told him to never stop asking questions.

Next door to The Tea Smith is Billy Frogg's Grill & Bar, a typical Old Market bar catering to your average Old Market patron. The doors opened at eleven whereupon I took up a barstool and finally got my cocktail. Despite an Absolut Peppar vodka backbone, the bottled Bloody mix used was sweeter than RagĂș spaghetti sauce. I also had to fish the skewer of olives up from the bottom of my cocktail, losing an olive to the ice cubes in the process.

After some idle wandering around the Old Market, I settled down for a much needed decaf iced Americano at Howlin' Hounds on 16th Street [see blog post]. I've gotten to the age now where I lounge in tea and coffee shops as most do people do in bars. I rather miss flirting with down-and-out barflies though. Over the several hours I spent nursing one beverage after the other, the drink-of-the-month special at Howlin' Hounds was selling quite well.

The Tea Smith on Urbanspoon Billy Frogg's Grill & Bar on Urbanspoon