I’m not an expert on beer nor do I claim to be. I don’t brew my own beer(yet) nor do I belong to an exclusive brewing society. I am however, like many people a fan. I show my support of craft breweries on an almost daily basis. As most fans of craft beer know, beer is seasonal and some beers are only offered during certain times of the year. This still being the early stages of the fall season, we as consumers are wandering in the calm of what will soon be the onslaught to a perfect storm of pumpkin flavored everything, “psl” for you trendier readers. I’ve had my fair share of of Pumpkin beers both good and bad. Here are five beers, all brewed in California, all brewed with pumpkin that I thought I would share with you. Why five beers? Because I couldn’t carry six…Why only California beers? I don’t know, because I live here I guess. Obviously there are hundreds of great breweries out there that make great pumpkin beers, probably better than the ones on this list. My suggestion, if you’re feeling festive, and want to indulge in the tastes of the season, pour that awful Shock Top garbage down the drain, and be a little more adventurous, or not, and try something new, it may not be a pillowcase full of chocolates, but as adults, it may be the next best thing to trick or treating…Happy Halloween!

A quick note, I’ll be listing the beers in order of my enjoyment, with the first being okay and the last being amazing. Also I’ll be including the descriptions from each breweries’ website. Cheers!

Black Market Brewing Co. Temecula CA

Superstition is a Pumpkin Spice Ale brewed with the perfect amounts of malt, hops, spices and of course pumpkin. Nothing brings the comfort of Fall better than a nice cold glass of Superstition. If you are really daring, try Superstition by consuming it in a glass rimmed with pure maple syrup and cinnamon sugar. It’s like drinking pumpkin pie in a bottle.
score: 3 out of 5
Bootlegger’s Brewery Fullerton CA
Pumpkin Ale

Pumpkin Ale is our Fall Seasonal Release Beer. Brewed with cinnamon, nutmeg, molasses, brown sugar and real pumpkin juice to create this special beer. A beer that reminds us of coming home to family and getting the fresh pumpkin pies out of the oven. A perfect beer to sit back and relax with while watching the leaves change color in the fall.
score 3.2 out of 5. Of the five, this one has the most pronounced pumpkin flavor.

Coronado Brewing Company. San Diego CA
Punk’in Drublic
8% abv

Brewed with brown sugar, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and a heaping helping of would be jack-o-lanterns, Punk’in Drublic delivers autumn’s trademark flavors along with a hint of West Coast character, whether enjoyed in a pumpkin patch or on the beach.
score 3.5 out of 5. Great beer, bonus points for being named after punk band NOFX
The Bruery. Placentia CA
Ignis Fatuus

Ignis Fatuus is a special brew created just in time for Autumn activities. The base is a rich, robust porter that was brewed with an addition of puréed pumpkins. Like all great pumpkin recipes, we then added a subtle addition of seasonal spices to balance with the roasty character. We invite you to enjoy the nuanced flavors while telling ghost stories around an illuminating jack-o’-lantern.
score 3.6 out of 5. Hard to find, delicious and dark

Anderson Valley Brewing Company. Boonville CA
Pinchy Jeek Barl.

Aged for 6 months in Wild Turkey® barrels, this bourbon barrel-aged pumpkin ale is pleasantly creamy with a silky body and sweet caramel flavor. The aging process imparts notes of coconut, vanilla, and oak to compliment the tang of the spices and a hint of hops, all wrapped in a smooth, round finish.
score 4 out of 5. This beer was hands down my favorite. Easy drinking porter, smooth vanilla, with a hint of the barrels, I definitely recommend picking up a couple of bottles before they’re gone. Delicious, a must have at all costume parties this year.


The Great Pumpkin! Five pumpkin beers from California worth giving a try.


One hell of a Mulligatawny, and the joys of making soup

“He’s not a Nazi. He just happens to be a little eccentric. Most geniuses are.”
– Kramer, in “The Soup Nazi”

One of my favorite childhood books was the story of Stone Soup. In the story a group of hungry travelers arrive in a town with nothing but an empty pot. They ask some locals if they can spare any food but are denied. So one of the travelers goes to the river and fills the pot with water and drops a large stone inside. A curious villager walks up and asks what’s cooking? We’re making stone soup, says the traveler, it’s delicious, buts needs a few garnishes to make it even better…the local runs and gets some carrots. Another person walks by and adds more ingredients, and so on and so on, until the soup is complete and the whole town enjoys the soup. It’s a basic lesson in sharing, community and eating well. Whenever someone asks what is my favorite thing to cook, without a doubt my answer is soup. For me making soup is a break from the crazy everyday world. From roasting bones for a hearty stock (when I have time) to getting lost in thought while chopping vegetables, keeping a steady simmer careful not to boil, to skimming the skum that rises to the top of the pot, soup is therapy. Soup is delicious.

Last week in class our focus was hearty fall soups. Of the six we prepared all of them were delicious. Keeping in mind that recipes are guidelines, and not set in stone, it’s the little things that can make an average recipe great. Things like being consistent in your knife cuts, the right amounts of seasoning, always tasting your food, and so on, are the things that can instantly make you a better cook. Of the six recipes one of them in my mind stood out the most; the Mulligatawny!

Mulligatawny is an Indian influenced stew, usually with a curried flavor base, and a lot of times made with chicken, and usually lentils. The following recipe is from an East coast staple called Daily Soup. They have numerous locations in New Jersey and New York, so if you’re ever on that side of the country I highly recommend stopping by. This version happens to be vegetarian, with several types of curry for a deep levels of flavor, smoothed out with a touch of coconut milk and lemon, on a chilly fall day, it can’t be beat.
Mulligatawny with Lentils
1 TB ginger, fresh, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 TB vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 cup whole mustard seeds
1 TB Garam Masala curry powder
2 tsp curry powder
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 (28 oz) can of diced tomatoes
6 cups of stock, vegetable or chicken
1 lb brown lentils
1cup coconut milk
1 bunch fresh spinach, rinsed, chopped
1 TB fresh lemon juice
1 TB sugar
1/4 cup cilantro, fresh, chopped

1. Purée the ginger and garlic together in a blender or food processor.
2. Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion and ginger purse and sweat for four minutes until tender and golden.
3. Add the mustard seeds and cook until they begin to pop.
4. Add in the garam masala, curry powder, salt, cardamom, and cayenne and stir to coat the vegetables.
5. Add the tomatoes and simmer for five minutes.
6. Add the stock and lentils and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, partially cover, and simmer for thirty minutes until the lentils are tender but not mushy.
7. Stir in the coconut milk and simmer for two minutes.
8. Remove from heat and stir in the spinach, lemon juice, and sugar.
9. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and top with chopped cilantro.
Makes 12 cups. Courtesy of Daily Soup


Green Chicken Pozole, with all the garnishes

Split pea with smoked ham hocks

Roasted Acorn Squash Soup

Roasted cauliflower and parsnip soup


Mushroom and barley

And we just couldn’t let this extra ham hock go to waste.
Any questions or wanted recipes just let me know, I’ll be more than happy to share, but make sure you do it right, otherwise…No Soup for You!


A few updates, and some upcoming events!

First of all, I want to send my thanks for the support of this blog and all of the great feedback it has gotten.  I’m excited to continue to share and update this blog on a regular basis. I’ve got some great stuff coming up which I can’t wait to share. My biggest concern is, is it actually worth sharing, and does anyone really give a damn. Well, hopefully the answer is yes. Everything from, which seasonal beers you should be sipping, killer recipes, future class updates, as well as highlights from my upcoming culinary voyage to Monterrey Mexico which I am absolutely stoked about.


Spicy sesame crusted pineapple noodles, Prosciutto and Mascarpone stuffed chicken breast, Veal Osso bucco.

The Eclectic Cafe continues to roll out some great options every Friday. I’m also happy to announce we will be having our first OCCtoberfest at the Eclectic Cafe! It will be held during our October 24th service. The menu will feature authentic, scratch made German Cuisine, as well as live polka music from local band the Oompah Meisters! is should be an amazing event, so if you’re in the area and free for lunch, I strongly advise you to make reservations, throw on your leiderhosen, and head over for a great time! All for $11! Sorry no alcohol will be served…I know it’s a bummer, but it will still be fun!

Menu for OCCtoberfest

The unofficial flyer for #OCCtoberfest

The unofficial flyer for #OCCtoberfest

One last thing, I have a couple of spots open for my Hearty Fall Soups class this Saturday! We will be focusing on six delicious soups made from real stock, as always lunch is included and I’ll even take care of the dishes for you! Hope to see you there!

Culinary Basics: Hearty Fall Soups

I  recently submitted several more classes for Spring 2015. I added a new class called “we can pickle that” (any Portlandia fans out there?) this class will feature some great quick pickling recipes including pickled asparagus, escabeche, and home-made Sriracha. So stay tuned for more details to come!