Beer Buzz

Over past couple weeks, beer has been catching my eye in the news. Here’s a look at what’s happening in the world of brews:

Americans Are Drinking Less Beer (


According to a recent Gallup poll, only 36% of Americans who drink alcohol say beer is their beverage of choice. No need to signal any alarm bells though, beer is still at the top of the alcohol industry as a $100 billion market, opposed to wine ($35 billion) or spirits ($62 billion) says Nancy Koehn of Harvard Business School.

Japan Brewing Up Wacky Summer Beers (

Double Cultured Fermented Milk Beer

via Asahi Breweries Ltd.

In an effort to attract younger drinkers (especially women) who prefer sweeter drinks, strange pours are a brewing in Japan. Kirin, for example, is selling 12 creative beer cocktails including the colorful Ichiban Shibori Two-Tone Draft, featuring beer layered on top of cassis liqueur. Other notable flavor combinations include beer mixed with pineapple, lemon and blueberry liqueurs and even fermented milk (pictured).

Get Your Ice, Cold Frozen Beer (

Personally, I’m pumped about this because I cannot drink a beer fast enough before it gets warm. (It’s just too filling.) Can’t wait to try one of these out ASAP!

NO WAY! Just-Add-Water Beer (

via Pat’s Backcountry Beverages

Camping just got a whole lot better. To be honest, I’ve never been camping, so I’ve always imagined that half the fun is drinking outside, however lugging beer cans to a camp site has never sounded appealing enough to me. Well here’s the solution: just-add-water beer concentrate and an easy-to-carry carbonation system. I was skeptical on how a carbonation system could be easy-to-carry and still work, but after watching this video, I may actually give it a shot.

Beers Implicated in Emergency Room Visits (

via Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

Well, well, well…now isn’t this something. Sorry to end on a serious note, but can you believe that roughly a third of all emergency room visits are due to alcohol related injuries, with the top brands being Budweiser, Steel Reserve, Colt 45, Bud Ice and Bud Light. Not to be offensive, but these all kinda sound like college beers to me…


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Vegetarian Wedge Salad


I’m not exactly sure where or when the wedge salad was invented, but the combination of iceberg lettuce, creamy dressing, tangy blue cheese and crispy bacon seems like a quintessentially American creation.

While looking in my fridge one night, I spotted a number of Wedge Salad ingredients and started to get excited, until-–dun dun dunnnn–-I didn’t have any bacon. In search of a quick substitute, I found that I had falafel and thus a (meat-free) salad plan was hatched. To go along with my newly-inspired Mediterranean take on the wedge salad, I whipped up a feta-buttermilk dressing in place of the standard blue cheese dressing and substituted grilled romaine for the typical iceburg lettuce (I don’t think romaine is typically Mediterranean, but I just really like the chargrilled romaine flavor, so I went with it).


Serves: 2


1 head of romaine lettuce, sliced in half
extra virgin olive oil
4 pre-cooked falafel patties
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/3 red onion, thinly sliced then chopped
2 tbsp. cheese; the classic recipe uses blue cheese, I use whatever tangy and crumbly cheese I have on hand
Salt and pepper to season

For the dressing
1 small garlic clove, pureed or finely chopped and mashed
2 ounces feta cheese; again you can substitute whichever cheese you have around
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary (or 1 tsp. fresh rosemary)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tbsp. sherry vinegar
Freshly ground pepper


  1. To make the dressing: In a mini food processor or a mortar and pestle blend together garlic, cheese, rosemary, buttermilk and vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let sit for at least 30 minutes and up to a day in advance to allow flavors to meld.
  2. Preheat grill or grill pan over medium high heat. Dress cut-side of romaine with olive oil and salt and pepper. When grill pan is hot enough for water droplets to sizzle and evaporate immediately, place romaine cut side down. For the best and most prominent grill marks, avoid moving and flipping the romaine too often. Ideally each side of the romaine will only touch the grill pan once.Since I like the grilled romaine to be warm when eating the salad, I make sure all of my other ingredients are chopped and ready to go before I turn on the grill pan.
  3. Simultaneously, heat the falafel in your preferred method and chop into smaller pieces.I like to grill the falafel in the same pan as the romaine.
  4. Place one romaine wedge each on two plates and drizzle with feta-buttermilk dressing. Divide and sprinkle remaining ingredients over each wedge and serve.

Tip: For extra protein, add a sprinkling of a chopped hard boiled egg.

Dirty Pickle Martini

When it comes to my drink of choice, I often find myself going on “cocktail kicks,” where I prefer a certain cocktail for a specific period of time. Recently, I’ve been on a dirty martini kick and to mix things up, so started using pickle juice instead of olive juice and the result has been super satisfying–and lip puckering!

Inspired by one of my friends’ favorite shots–the Pickle Back, a whiskey shot chased with pickle juice–the Dirty Pickle Martini is crisp, sour and salty all at once. Though I prefer all of my martinis made with gin, the Dirty Pickle Martini is especially tasty when made with gin. Just a word of warning though, once you find out how good these martinis are, you might be inspired to shake up a few more so you can experiment and taste the various flavors different pickle juices bring–or maybe that was just me? After rigorous testing, my personal favorite–so far–has been spicy pickle juice. Yum!

Dirty Pickle Martini by Judith Pena


Serves 2


5 ounces gin
2 ounces pickle juice
1 ounce dry vermouth
2 pickles, for garnish (pickle slices could work as well)


Pour gin, pickle juice and vermouth into a shaker filled with ice. Stir (or shake, if you must) with a (bar)spoon for 1 minute. Strain into two chilled martini glasses and garnish.

Heirloom Tomato Salad

When tomatoes are in season, you really don’t need to do much to them to enjoy them. I love making this super simple heirloom salad as an easy appetizer, side dish or anytime snack. It’s important to wedge the tomatoes so each bite has a mix of seeds and jelly which actually contain the most flavor (as opposed to the flesh). 

Heirloom Tomato Salad

Heirloom Tomato Salad

Serves 2


3-5 small to medium heirloom tomatoes, cut into wedges
1/4 serrano chile, thinly sliced with seeds removed
1 scallion, green part only, thinly sliced
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper


Place all ingredients into a small bowl and mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let stand for 5-10 minutes (or more) to let flavors combine.

Vegetarian Farro and Corn Salad

The best part about this recipe is that you don’t really need a recipe. Just toss together however much (or little) of each ingredient you’d like and eat. To save time on the week days, prepare the farro ahead of time and keep in the fridge until you’re ready to build the salad with whatever else you’ve got—like corn, avocado, asparagus, etc.

Vegetarian Farro Salad

Vegetarian Farro Salad


2 cups farro
1 1/2 cups corn, raw or cooked
2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 cucumber, sliced then quartered
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup pea shoots, torn in half or chopped
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
2-3 tablespoons honey balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper


  1. Cook farro as directed and drain. Set aside to cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, toss whatever ingredients you’d like such as corn, chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, pea shoots and feta cheese in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together vinaigrette. (Typically for a vinaigrette, you’ll want one part vinegar/acid to two parts oil. For this specific recipe, I used honey balsamic vinegar and olive oil, but you could also use lemon juice or sherry, apple cider or rice wine vinegar. To kick up the flavor a little more, you can also mix in a small amount of dijon mustard or soy sauce, depending on whatever type of flavor-profile you’re going for.)
  4. Combine all ingredients in large bowl, toss until well coated and season with salt and pepper. Finito!

Tip: I like to let the farro cool a little bit so that it doesn’t wilt the greens too much. However, don’t let it cool too much! Tossing the farro with the vinaigrette when it’s slightly warm allows the farro to absorb more of the vinaigrette.

Tip: Serve this salad on its own or over a bed of greens such as arugula, spinach or escarole.

Tip: Wanna keep it meatless, but still want more protein? Add a soft-poached or hard boil egg.