Satchel’s, Get the Bumper Sticker

Satchel's Pizza
Satchel's Pizza
Satchel’s Pizza

If you live within 300 miles of Gainesville, you’ve seen the bumper stickers on everything from the ratty Subaru wagons to dusty Lexus SUVs. Hand-lettered, artsy signs asking forgiveness for being late because the driver was at Satchel’s. Contrived cute hippie statements worthy of Be Here Now. These are the great, galloping herds of the Satchel’s temple cult.

You may sense a slightly sarcastic note here, so I have to confess. We live mere blocks from Satchels. Close enough that when the wind blows, I can smell hot cheese, burnt dough, and patchouli. In the early days when I first moved in to this house, I ate Satchels often. Too often. I burnt out–no pun intended.

Reluctantly I’ve started eating there again. From time to time, friends play live music at the Lightening Salvage stage, and of course The Man drags me out for live music, pizza and beer. (I protest at the lack of air conditioning in the Salvage area in the dead of summer while eating hot pizza.) I’ve once again become intimately familiar with the menu.

I am well aware of how many people adore the kitschy decorations at Satchel’s. Here’s me going out on a limb to have an opinion (rare, I know). The place is kind of cool, and obviously a lot of work went into it all. It gives me the shivering willies. I can’t help but imagining a trailer park in Arizona completely populated by alien enthusiasts in aluminum foil hats. End opinion.

That aside, the food is spectacular. The salad is a delicious meal in itself. The calzones are deadly pockets of yum. They’ve got a small selection of beer and wine. As for the actual pizza, there’s a great selection of toppings, and the crust and sauce taste handmade. The good kind of handmade. If you’re lucky and smart, you’ll call ahead and get them to start a deep dish pizza for you since they have a limited quantity of the crusts, and they take a while to cook (I suggest basil, garlic, and black olives on top!). In fact, I suggest calling them with your order as soon as you get in the car to head over there, since it can often be hugely busy and you might wait an hour for your food.

So slavish followers and creepy decor, vs. distinctly delish pizza. Kind of even battle there. The thing that throws it for me is the culture of Satchel’s business practices. There are stores I don’t shop at because I don’t agree with the mood of the company and the way they interact with their community. Satchel’s strives to exhibit the gold-star standard of how a business should treat its employees and its community. This is the good side of the hippie culture (yes, I’m a direct descendant of hardcore hippies, so I know what I’m talking about).

If you’ve never been to Satchel’s, here’s a few things you need to know. There is seating in the old van parked out front, as well as around back past the gift shop. Yes, they have a fun gift shop. Parking is lousy, especially when it’s busy. They do catering, and you can do carry-out orders. This is a cash-only establishment (but they have an ATM in the hall). The deep dish pizza is the best, but they only prep a quantity and can run out. You will not be able to look at everything they have decorating the place.

This is one of those places that is intrinsically Gainesville. For good or bad. G’ville was a haven for hippies through the years, and these flower children grew up, had kids, had grandkids, and evolved their ideals to survive in the real world. Then there’s the poor Southerners who couldn’t escape to the big cities, and the college kids (some of whom can’t escape G’ville even after their multiple degrees have been earned). So we have this gumbo of unusual local characters and transient upwardly-mobile youths.

You’re highly likely to meet this gumbo at Satchel’s. If you make it through dinner without seeing someone you recognize–well, I have to wonder how long you’ve been living in the area. In fact, if you’re reading this and haven’t been the Satchel’s, you must have just moved here this year. But that’s okay. Go to Satchel’s try the salad and the deep dish pizza, and buy a bumper sticker to put on your car so you’ll blend in with the locals. And no, it’s not an excuse for being late.

Satchel’s Pizza
1800 NE 23rd Ave
Gainesville, FL 32609
Tuesday-Saturday | 11:00am-10:00pm


Donnybrook & The Beer Monogamy Myth

Victory, Donnybrook Stout

Before I bring down the wrath of thousands of Guinness lovers upon my head for what I’m about to say, I will preface this with the emphasis that there’s nothing like a Guinness beer. But…. No, wait! Just listen for a minute while you sip your beer.

If you’ve not had a lot of Guinness, and not developed a deep, abiding love for the beer, then this whole post might be lost on you. Guinness appears dark and brooding, as beer goes. It has a head on it that looks like you have to chop a hole in it with an ice fishing saw. Yet it is creamy. Almost milky. And underneath that is the bright, soulful, yeasty, hoppy stout beer. There are a good many people that are devout Guinness drinkers.

The Man is a diehard Guinness lover, through and through. The glassware in our home is a seemingly endless supply of Guinness pint glasses. (Not my ideal stylish home entertaining statement to make. Dorothy Draper would have to go lie down if she saw this.) He will give any sketchy, sh!thole bar a chance if they claim to offer Guinness on draft.

So you can imagine the evening we were at our home-away-from-home bar for a relaxing drink on the patio, and we were casually told of plans to switch the place over to carrying only American craft beers. It took a moment for The Man to realize this meant Guinness was included in that sweeping gesture, as it’s from Ireland. There was a brief twitch of his bottom lip and a wild look of panic in his eye as he imagined having to go elsewhere for his favorite draft beer.

But lo, the angels played their harps and flower petals fell from the sky. Hope was offered in the form of a new beer that was similar to Guinness yet made in the U S of A. Victory Brewing Co. is gaining support for its Donnybrook Stout as a beer similar to, or even better than (gasp!), Guinness. The Man clung to this mad hope like Bob Barker clung to his career as host of The Price is Right.

It took some doing, a few false starts, but eventually the Donnybrook arrived on site and was ready to pour. It wasn’t quite as tarry brown as Guinness but it had a lovely creamy head on it. The Man had a ceremonious sniff, then a sip. He made me sip it, and then nearby friends had to try it. There was shrugging of shoulders and shaking of heads. More tasting. More grunting among the men at the bar. Then with very little fanfare and a remarkable lack of earth shattering chaos, Donnybrook was declared a perfectly good swap for Guinness. I was expecting a hoard of irate Irishmen frothing at the mouth and brandishing shillelaghs to appear through a crack in the floorboards.

It was actually a few weeks later that the true impact of this arrival was revealed. After quite a few delicious Donnybrooks, a Guinness connoisseur can have a Guinness and realize what the Donnybrook is missing. Guinness has always had this lactic mouth feel and a tangy aftertaste as an entertaining contrast. So does the Donnybrook. But the Donny lacks Guiness’ burnt caramel undertones that actually muddle the flavors quite a bit. So with the Donny you can taste the hops, yeast, roasted barley, and the full clean cresting flavor curve better.

That’s not to knock Guinness. It’s still a tasty beer that is much lighter and flavorful than the dark color would suggest. In fact, there’s the rumor of the bloke that tried the Guinness diet–only Guinness beer, a little milk for calcium, and a vitamin C supplement for a week, and you’ll be fine. As far as we’re concerned, it remains a rumor since the guy’s blog has disappeared (aliens?!). But that won’t stop college guys across the country from trying their own Guinness diets, I’m sure.

If you like Guinness and want to send us all kinds of hate mail for suggesting Donnybrook is at least as good as your favorite, I invite you to have a Donny first. We don’t believe in this one-or-the-other TV show contest thinking. We’ll have a Donny and a Guinness at the same time if it is an option. There’s no such thing as beer-monogamy. I checked.

Have a Guinness to calm your nerves if you have to, and then try a Donnybrook Stout. If you still need to rail at us for having an opinion, sit on your shillelagh.

Victory Brewing Co.
Donnybrook Stout
420 Acorn Lane
Downingtown, PA 19335
[Brewery & Restaurant!]

• On tap at Loosey’s
Downtown Gainesville


Guinness Stout
[Dublin location offers museum and bar!]

• Found on tap at a variety of local establishments such as The Top, Durty Nelly’s, and Gator City.


Dogfish Head, Namaste

Dogfish Head, NamasteI’m not a girly-girl but I’ve never much cared for beer. I am German. I come from a long line of German drinkers. My last name is synonymous with beer. Every time I say I don’t like beer, I can feel generations of ancestors turning in their graves.

When The Man and I first started dating, he told me he was going to teach me how to love beer and spicy food. Not doing so good with spicy food, but he’s making headway with the beer. I am starting to appreciate beer the same way I appreciate wine and cigars. Unfortunately, he likes the super-hoppy IPAs which make my face want to turn inside out.

I don’t know what I like yet. I haven’t found it. But I’m searching. I used to shoe shop and go a little crazy when I found a pair of Steve Maddens in my size on clearance. Now I impulse-buy beer. What? Yes, I had my first pointless beer splurge the other day. It’s hard not to when you’re standing at the Great Beer Wall in Ward’s. “I would look GREAT holding that bottle!”

Not quite that silly, but since I don’t know what I like, I am willing to take a few wild shots in the dark. Hence the bottle of Dogfish Head Namaste Ale that chilled in the fridge for three days, staring at me, while I decided if I was going to try it. It’s ale, brewed with orange, lemongrass, and coriander. Unusual.

The Man decided on scotch one night, but I wasn’t up for that, so I opened the Namaste. It was a pretty little drink, reminding me more of a good cider than a beer. The bouquet of flavors are balanced and work in harmony. The orange and lemongrass add fresh notes, while the coriander mellows it with a soft earthy tone. It creates a variety of delicate, false flavors that flirt with the tongue without revealing themselves. Hints of lavender, caramel, cardamom, and pear surface barely long enough to wink playfully before disappearing.

“Namaste” is one of those multi-use terms, like ‘aloha’ or ‘dude’. The simple meaning is “the spark of god in me honors the spark of god in you.” Or some such hippie variations. With that same spirit, I am approaching beer. Starting slow with a mild, frilly beer like this Dogfish Head variation. Namaste.

Dogfish Head
750 mL bottle | $7-9

320 Rehoboth Ave.
Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971

#6 Cannery Village Center
Milton, DE 19968


The Orphaned Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake

Expectations. What you think something is going to be is as important as what it ends up actually being. What you think it should be makes or breaks the results before you even meet face to face. Ask anyone who’s joined an online dating service.

Friends bought a Groupon for Cake Classics, a long-standing cake maker here in town that specializes in weddings and other upsetting events. In a pinch, to use the Groupon before it expired, she ordered a cake on the fly. She was less than excited when she got the cake home and had a piece. I heard about the cake in a mysterious way when she offered to bring it along to an impromptu late-evening get-together.

She had ordered the carrot cake, which was quite nice, expecting something larger and slightly different. Carrot cakes generally arrive with cream cheese icing, according to many fans. (There are people who would rather eat slugs than carrot cake. You know who you are.) There was cream cheese icing between the layers of this one, but the outside was just a general sugar icing. The kind of overly-sweet icing that feels like pure cocaine injected into your eyeballs. Not that I’ve had that, but it feels like a jolt to the body in an unwelcomed intrusion.

Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t bad. The cake itself was quite nice. There were just enough raisins. The density of the cake was just right, with just enough carrot. The icing was not the icing on the cake though.

I was taken aback but not surprised that at the tail end of the night, when the house had finally cleared out and I was washing up glasses, I found the cake box left behind with more than a third of the cake sitting quietly. Waiting. Orphaned. I adopted it.

Yes, carrot cake needs cream cheese icing. Yes, the sugar icing was like a bad Disney movie. Yes, it was quite small for the price she paid (even with a Groupon). But essentially the expectations didn’t match the reality and it was abandoned in my kitchen.

This worked too well for me, unfortunately. That was the week of the month that I become a sugar vampire (but not with glittery skin). I finished the cake, nibbling away over the week. I’m not ashamed to admit it. Not so much of the icing. But my expectations were different.

12″ Carrot Cake
Daisy Themed, Cream Cheese/Butter Cream Icing
Cake Classics
Phone: (352) 371-1665


Southern Tier, Farmer’s Tan

Southern Tier Farmer's TanSouthern Tier is a classic made-for-TV story of small business success. At the turn of the millennium, there seemed to be a hundred new microbreweries popping up every day. And like garage bands in suburbia, many were just something for guys to say they did in order to get pretty girls to talk to them. A few–rare few–made it to the big time, and Southern Tier was one of those.

We were in Upstate New York visiting family last summer, and the thing you may have noticed about people from Upstate New York is that they are fiercely proud of where they’re from. (And the accents.) (Oh, and the attitudes.) So of course we were constantly being offered wine, beer and food made locally. Including Southern Tier beer. Most drinkable and accessible were Phin & Matt’s, IPA, and Harvest; but they have a significant roster of every-day and seasonal options.

Fast forward to this summer, back in Florida of course, and it’s 98 degrees at 11:00 PM, with humidity at approximately 300%. We wander down to our favorite pub to take refuge in the air conditioning. The Man is delirious from the heat and forgoes his usual Guinness in favor of a Southern Tier beer. Perhaps dreaming of the cooler New York weather. Farmer’s Tan. On draft. Yum.

Farmer’s Tan is a summer seasonal pale lager, classically light colored, with the distinct malty and grassy flavors of barley and wheat. The mouth feel is somewhat thick, but very cool and crisp overall. It finishes with clean, bitter hops. This summer/German style lager is sweet but balanced nicely with undertones of hops and a non-sweet finish. Hmmm, so if you used to drink Heineken before you became a beer geek, then you’ll indubitably like Farmer’s Tan.

Although pale lager is hands-down the most popular style of beer world-wide, it’s often sneered at by beer aficionados. Mostly because many of the epic, lowest-rated beers are pale lager. It’s about statistics really, but we’ll leave that to the math nerds to explain. Pale lager was invented fairly recently by a German who took the concepts of pale ale brewing (warm fermentation of pale malts) back to Germany and grafted them into the traditional lager style of brewing (cool fermentation).

Lagers and ales traditionally tend to be low ABV, usually 4.5% to 5.5%, but with these new fangled microbreweries pushing their creative limits with flavors, they’re also increasing sugar content, which increases alcohol content. Although Farmer’s Tan is at 8.6% ABV, you can find some specialty brews up to the 9.9% or higher mark. If you’ve ever had to drink alcohol while sweating out in the hot sun, you’ll know why a lower ABV on a mild beer is so attractive.

I’m not going to bore you with a lot of details about beer, bottom-fermenting yeast, ale, hops, nanobreweries, continuous fermentation, malt liquor, ale wives, or saccharomyces pastorianus. Books, huge volumes of books, have been written about making beer, the history of beer, our love of beer, and why beer makes the world a better place. In this heat of August in Florida, I just want a cold drink on a muggy summer night, and a good seat on the patio to people watch. I urge you to do the same.

If you happen to wander downtown Gainesville and swing past Loosey’s, we’ll probably be out on the patio with a cold drink. I suggest you stop in and try a Southern Tier beer. Or peruse their selection of domestic microbrews for something else that tickles your fancy.

Southern Tier
Farmer’s Tan [summer seasonal]
Draft at Loosey’s