Sam Adams, Porch Rocker

So why does this bottle of Sam Adams Porch Rocker beer have a bag over its head? Why do you think?

Remember way back in high school… I mean college when you had just turned 21. Remember Zima? Yeah, that. Imagine someone drank a lot of Zima, then grew up and wanted to make a beer that tasted like it. Yes, that’s a strange idea, but you can’t stop people from doing silly things. Like face tattoos.

Better yet, imagine a mild but acceptable beer had ‘maritals’ with a glass of off-brand country-style lemonade drink. Their child would be this beer. Not bad. Not actually bad. Just not… good.

I take that back. I’m going to hazard a guess that if you’re at the beach on a hot day, with sunblock smeared all over your sizzling skin, and you pop open a frosty bottle of Porch Rocker, you’re going to make those nom-nom-nom, lip smacking sounds of satisfaction. You might put the empty bottle in your neighbor’s recycling bin when you’re done, but that’s probably for the best.

If you drink this beer and you like this beer, I’m not judging. Really, I’m not. You have to drink what you like. And you have to like what you drink. It got a rating of 79% on BeerAdvocate.com, and a 39 on rateBeer.com (basically averaging 2.94 out of 5.0). So some people thought it was acceptable.

As for Zima and the like, a lovely term has been kicking around – malternatives. Nothing like beer, except in the eyes of a noob.

[Girl21]

P.S. Looking or a good read? Try this article: The Long, Slow, Torturous Death of Zima

Falafel Burger, The Top

Growing up vegetarian meant a burger was a ‘veggie burger’ and what was in that patty could be almost anything but meat. Carrots, black beans, brown rice, mushrooms, tempeh, TVP, etc., etc. My mom’s recipe was mostly lentils, bulger wheat, and oats. I got stuck making those burgers far too often, which was a chore because the recipe produced about five dozen burgers at a time. I’m sure you’ve had more than your share of ‘WTH is this?’ moments with veggie burgers.

These days veggie burgers look and taste good, but you still don’t know what’s in them. The out-of-the-box kind that have the grill marks painted on. Until recently, the Top did what most restaurants do, and offered pre-made burgers like Boca or Morningstar Farms. Which are okay. Really. But I can make one at home, so why am I going to order that?

Then came a new dawn in the Top’s kitchen and they started making more and more things in-house. From sauerkraut and fake bacon, to burgers, to French fries and salad dressings. The black bean patty stayed and was joined by a falafel patty. Yes, I said that. A patty made from the same stuff you usually get in a pita sandwich. It’s not as sturdy as a pre-made burger, but that’s not a bad thing. It has flavor and texture, and makes your belly so happy!

The falafel burger usually has the standard lettuce/tomato/pickle innards on a delish pretzel roll, and you can choose the theme of your burger. I usually go with the True Blue, with blue cheese, seitan bacon, and fried onions. Or a little more mild is the Triple Cheese with sharp cheddar, Swiss, and smoked gouda (and of course friend onions too).

There are over a dozen pre-set themes for your burger, or you can customize it with a list of extras. Or swap out the bread (locally sourced). Sub out the usual sides (ginger slaw, potato salad, or fries) for something more fun like sweet potato fries, side salad, or soup (and they have some cool soups to choose from).

The black bean patty is nice too, but the falafel burger has more flavor, and makes my mouth so happy. I can’t ever finish it the first try because I usually go for a side salad. Which is why I find myself eating the rest of it cold, straight out of the fridge, the next morning while I make coffee.

This is not date-night food. There’s no dignity in trying to jack your jaw open enough to bit this thing. Expect to get messy. That’s all I’m saying about that. And it’s nom nom nom.

My meal:
Triple Cheese Falafel Burger – $8.95
+Side salad upgrade – $1.50
Angry Orchard Cider

The Top
30 N. Main St.
Gainesville, FL 32601
352-337-1188

No Website Yet (seriously? I know they don’t need it, but come on?!)
On Facebook

[Girl21]

Loosey’s: Not Just Good Beer

I’m not going to lie to you. The Man and I practically live at Loosey’s the random chances we get time to go downtown for a drink. So it’s kind of hard to write up the food. (And I hope the kitchen guys will NOT “alter” our food at all the next time we go there to eat if they don’t like what I’m saying here.)

For a long while there wasn’t much for us veggies to eat because Loosey’s was focusing on their American craft beer lineup. That’s entirely forgivable because they have a great selection. But recently the good folks who put up with us vegetarians decided to upgrade the menu and graced The Man and I with a few interesting options. They refrain from calling themselves a gastropub (too trendy), but do serve elevated pub food for a real foodie to enjoy.

First of all, this girl couldn’t have been happier to see the Veggie Egg Rolls back on the menu. In the far distant past, they were on the menu and then cruelly taken away. And now back. The crunchy, crispy rolls are served with teriyaki sauce and Loosey’s ass kickin’ sauce (which brings tears to this wimpy girl’s eyes). As you can tell from the above picture, my priority was reuniting my face with these rolls rather taking a picture for you, dear readers.

The Man has been talking about trying the BBQ Tofu Sandwich since he laid eyes on the new menu. I am not kidding. So he barely hesitated when I suggested forgoing The Top and heading to Loosey’s for an early dinner. I think he was salivating by the time we walked in the door. But he generally gets excited when we enter the presence of so much good beer.

Not many people know what to do with tofu, so offering it on the same menu with a burger is rare. The tofu sandwich is grilled and served with mustard and vinegar BBQ sauce, a Carolina style of sauce that came from Germans that settled the midlands areas. It’s topped with citrus ginger slaw that adds crunch to the tofu and soft bread, so you get this mouth full of textures.

The picture you see here was the only one without hands in it because everyone pounced on the truffle fries, a simple and tasty upgrade. (REAL French fries from actual potatoes! And then you get truffle oil, parmesan, and parsley on them… my gahd!) The only think I would do to improve this sandwich is a marinade on the tofu, because let’s face it, tofu has almost zero flavor of its own.

Our non-veggie friends got burgers and were so happy, they were doing the happy belly dance in their seats. Loosey’s is kind of known for their burgers these days. So feel free to drag your carnivore friends to eat here. For the veggie people like us, there’s the egg rolls, a pasta dish, several salads, chips & salsa, onion rings, and a big plate of the cheesy truffle fries. The Man is a pescetarian and has a few more seafood options to go with.

Of course you can see the whole menu is intended to be enjoyed with a beer or three. It’s not the frozen and flat usual pub food, so be prepared for actual flavors. I know, right? But really, beer is good with this stuff, so when you’re done ordering, ask the bartender what would go best with your meal. These folks know beer like you know your pillow. Intimately and passionately.

Our dinner:
Veggie Egg Rolls – $6.50
BBQ Tofu Sandwich – $7.50
+truffle fries upgrade – $1.50
Victory Summer Love Ale
Sasion du Buff 2012

Loosey’s
120 SW 1st Avenue
Gainesville, Fl 32601
352.672.6465

Looseys.com
Menu
On Facebook

[Girl21]

P.S. I wish I had a dime for every time I’ve sat on the patio and heard someone say ‘Market Street Pub’ as they walked by. MSP was an icon for the Downtown area, but it closed. Loosey’s took over the spot and completely cleaned it up. Like refinishing the bar, taking the sticky whatever layer off the floor, and removing the lingering odor of vomit. They redid the tap lines, brought in a happy selection of American craft beers, and offer live music and regular events at night. So… old Market Street Pub is gone. Shiny happy new Loosey’s is here. And bring your dog. The dog-friendly patio is just something you can expect from people who named their bar after their dog 🙂

Fresh Off the Vine

We’d heard some rumblings about this local bakery popping up quietly in town. There were breads showing up at Ward’s and Citizen’s Co-op, farmer’s markets, and then The Top! What? How did this sneak under our radar?

I hunted them down online and stalked them on Facebook. And then like a big, wet, unexpected kiss from an overly friendly dog, I saw that they were actually opening up a storefront right across the street from Satchel’s. Boom! There you go. Vine Bread & Pasta.

I always said that the reason I wasn’t heavier on the scale was because Uppercrust was across town, and harder to get to. Now this place is right around the corner. I could walk there if I wanted to (yeah, like that’ll happen). So when The Man and I had a spare morning free, we went to check this place out.

If you’re driving there, you will miss it. It’s back off the road in a little warehouse park between the Ole Barn bar and the row of storefronts next to it. It was hot the day we showed up (check their days and hours before popping in), and it was a typical warehouse space, so as the summer warms up, it should get painful in there for working.

Anyhow, we grabbed up some pastries and a loaf, and scurried home because we hadn’t even had coffee yet (gasp!). We got a cheese croissant and chocolate croissant, a cranberry scone, and a country loaf. The croissants were tasty; the pastry dough was not as flakey as Uppercrust’s but miles better than Flour Pot. I would have liked a bit more cheese in the cheese one, maybe another kind of cheese in with the Swiss? And a great deal of the chocolate in the other croissant was designer and you could taste the quality.

The country loaf is a sourdough, and I can count the ingredients on one hand. It’s good bread. That being said, we did one set of sandwiches with it which wasn’t very successful, and then one set of grilled sandwiches, which worked out better. The bread didn’t quite hold up in its unaltered state, and required a bit of toasting or grilling to give it some structure. And the whole heel of it turned out to be a giant air pocket, which was disappointing, but happens with wild bread like this. On the whole (haha, pun intended), it was a nice, simple bread that somewhat lacked the stronger sourdough qualities we were expecting.

The scone was nice, and I’ve craved and scored a few more since our first visit. It feels like eating a bowl of oatmeal instead of a pastry. Happy belly and happy mouth–almost a meal in itself. The cranberries are a nice touch, but I’d love to add a hint of orange or lime to give it a little pop of flavor.

We’re looking to get our hands on more of the other bread styles, including the rosemary baguette. And I really, really, really want to try some of their fresh pasta. Overall, it’s good bread, and a local business, so I highly recommend trying it if you can (look at their site to see what other local businesses use their bread, like Tempo Bistro, Manuel’s Vintage Room, and Civilization).

We will be watching and tasting, and keeping our fingers crossed. This bakery has some growing to do (haha, another pun! I am so not funny), and there’s a lot of potential here. It’s fresh off the vine and might need to ripen just a little longer (okay, done with the horrible plays on words here, I swear).

Vine Bread & Pasta
1801 NE 23rd Ave, Unit C2
Gainesville, FL
352-682-8038

VineGainesville.com (their site has been down since I last checked 5/14)
On Facebook

Check site for hours and other place to get Vine products.

[Girl21]