Friday, January 4, 2013

Welcome to 2013

I always get a little freaked out the first few times I have type out the name of the new year. It's a little weird to think that it's really 2013. The years are really starting to sound futuristic to me. That's when you know you are getting old.

One thing we all love about Christmas is getting gifts, and this year my wife bought me something I've always wanted: a dutch oven. For those who are not big into cooking, a dutch oven is a cast oven pot with (sometimes) an enameled interior surface. They're perfect for making stews and that sort of thing. Traditionally, good quality dutch ovens have been associated with fancy-ass companies like La Creuset. Their dutch ovens are very nice, but are just a wee bit on the pricey side. However, in recent years, other companies have been producing comparable quality dutch ovens at sub $100 prices. I ended up getting a blue Lodge, which is supposedly almost indistinguishable from a Creuset in terms of performance.

I took the Lodge out for test drive by making some beef ribs braised in Guinness. The recipe is simple. Brown the ribs, add veggies, add beer, and then braise until the ribs are tender.  Guinness was specifically called for in the recipe, but I couldn't help but wonder if using a better stout would have made the ribs even tastier.

The primary ingredients.
A word about Guinness for the beer-perplexed -- Guinness is one of those famous beers with a storied history, but that really isn't that great tasting.  At least it isn't nowadays; everyone seems to think it used to taste better years ago. In bottled form, it comes in three standard varieties. Guinness Draught is available in probably every liquor/grocery store across the land. It's thin, weak and doesn't taste like the Guinness you remember.  Guinness Extra Stout is a wee bit better. It's what I used to braise the ribs in. If you are in the US, you'll be disappointed to learn that the stuff on your local shelves is brewed in Canada. Far and away the best Guinness, if you can find it, is the beer labeled Guinness Foreign Extra Stout. This is a version of Guinness mostly made for sale outside of Ireland. For some reason, I haven't seen it on the shelves in a while. Supposedly the Foreign Extra Stout most closely resembles the classic Guinness of yesteryear.

Braise the ribs for a couple hours.
The Lodge cooks like a dream. It is literally the perfect thing to cook soups, stews, roasts, etc. I can easily see it becoming the most essential object in my kitchen. The more I look at it, the more I start feeling a little week in the knees. Is it possible to fall in love with a pot?

The recipe, if you want to try it yourself, or just learn about braising, is here.  As a side dish, I made roasted potatoes, rutabaga, parsnips, and celery root.

The results - beef that falls off the bone.
My next cooking projects: fruit cake (yes, fruit cake season is over, I know) and aged egg nog! I'll keep you updated.

In video game related news - I also received my new graphics card on Monday. I popped that baby in, and once I realized I had to use 8-pin connectors instead of 6-pin, I was good to go. But, in a developement that will kill even more of my time, AMD was having a special offer -- three free games came with the card. These are Far Cry 3, Sleeping Dogs and Hitman. Also, it came with a discount coupon for... Medal of Honor: Warfighter!  I won't be redeeming that one.

It's a stylish looking card, I'll give it that.

I also don't know if I'll be playing Hitman. The Hitman series always bothered the hell out of me. I am quite curious about Far Cry 3, however. I didn't dig the first Far Cry, but I understand in this one you get kidnapped, go crazy, take drugs and run around killing people? That sounds like my kind of game. Have any of you played it?


Unknown said...

Well a podcast I listen to, player one podcast, actually had Far Cry 3 on a couple of its top 5 games of the year lists. As far as Guiness. Im not like super old, but who are these people who say Guiness tastes better than it used too? I mean I'm 38 and I dont remember it tasting better in my youth. That said Guiness is one of my favorite beers. I can drink that like some people would Bud light. It may not have a complex set of flavors or taste like some other Stouts I like but I just love drinking that beer. It just goes down smooth and has just the right hint of bitter and creaminess. I will say I always thought it tastes better off of tap than in the bottle, and I prefer the can slighty over the bottle taste as well. I have seen lots of recipes with Guiness as ingredients, maybe because it does not have overpowering flavors and has a more subtle effect on the food. My best Guiness story is when I was 23 or so and drinking in Singapore, which has alot of British style pubs and expats from colonial days. I was drinking a Guiness and they had news on TV about an IRA train bombing. This British guy comes up, takes my Guiness and dumps it out on the bar and says some nasty remark about the Irish. Then he drops like 10 ringit (Or whatever the money is called there.) on the bar to buy me another drink and walks away. I bought another Guiness.

killias2 said...

Yeah, I haven't played FC3, but it's getting rave reviews, aside from the apparent racism/etc.

As for Guinness, I swear it tastes better in Ireland. I've never been a fan of it really, but I drank it in Ireland "just because" and, lo and behold, I found myself enjoying it for the first time in my life. As soon as I got back to the UK, I excitedly opened a bottle and... found myself disliking it again. Weird. (I lived in the UK for a few months and visited Ireland. I'm actually a U.S.-er.) I still don't really drink the stuff. It's just not that great. I can't explain why my tastes shifted so wildly.

Skymaster T said...

We're inundated up here with Guiness Foreign Extra. I started noticing it a couple years ago, and now it's at just about every store where I live; even the gas station down the street! It's a very tasty stout and by far my favorite of the three, although not my favorite overall.

Guinness is brewed in something like 50 countries around the world now. Wikipedia says Nigeria consumes more Guinness than the US, unbelievably.

Doctor Sparkle said...

Sean - that's a crazy story!
Well, I for one, am around your age, I seem to recall Guinness being better. As I mentioned, the extra stout we have in North America is not even from Ireland, it is brewed by either Labatt or Moosehead in Canada.

Here's an interesting blind taste taste of bottled Guinness Draught. All three guys identify it as being something other than Guinness. Nitro is the way to go with Guinness, but even so, it tastes different to me now.

Even our president agrees Guinness in Ireland tastes better. I drank Guinness in the UK a while back (faux Irish pubs seem pretty popular in London), and I remember it being pretty decent. Still I would take Samuel Smith over Guinness any day of the week.

Unknown said...

After watching that video it pretty much confirms what I said above, that I dont like it out of the bottle as much. It does taste different and as such I rarely buy it in the bottle. I think thats propbrably why they misidentified it. I would love to try it in Ireland though. Although most British and Irish beers I had overseas tasted great. I think those places like Hong Kong and Singapore that were former British colonys still get great beer in thier pubs. I also have quite enjoyed Samuel Smiths in the past. It probrably is better. But for some reason I find Guinness more drinkable if there is such a term. It goes down easy.

Mind Tank Studios said...

My brother's big into open world games and he loved Far Cry 3. Much like Skyrim or Fallout 3, it's best to ignore the main quest, according to him. From what I've heard, the story is a failed attempt at being edgy and provocative.

Sleeping Dogs is almost the opposite. It's an open world game that you should really only play if you're into cop stories. I wrote a review if you're interested in knowing more about the game:

Unknown said...

So all this talk made me pick up some Guiness. So I was looking at the labels, the bottled stuff is made in Canada, and the cans are brewed in Dublin Ireland. So that might be another reason I like it in the can better. Looks like the cans are imported from Ireland.

Kamiboy said...

Beer, food making and PC games?

My, my. Not a single subject I can relate to even in the slightest.

My starved mind hungers desperately for new episodes. But I find myself in the mood for a PC Engine themed episode. I imagine it will be quite a while before we are treated to another one of those.

Doctor Sparkle said...

Kamiboy - Actually, I see that we are just about due for another Chronturbo. Next episode will cover April - June 1989.

Its funny - I realized I had no idea who actually made the Far Cry and Sleeping Dogs games. It turns out they are both Canadian in origin. Nice the see the Great White North turning out something other than boy pop singers and bogus Guinness. I'm looking forward to Sleeping Dogs quite a bit.

I have to check out the Guinness cans at some point. As for the stuff on tap, who knows where that comes from? In the world of massive corporate takeovers of breweries, beer has become less about a particular brew made at some particular location, and more of a brand name that is applied to any number of products made by different breweries around the world. Hence, "Guinness" made by Labatt.

Anonymous said...

I'm happy for you that you got those free games but I'm super disappointed that they could possibly cause the next Chrontendo to come a little bit later. You make the best show on the whole internets.

Anonymous said...

Doctor Sparkle could upload more of his episodes to YouTube ;)

Anonymous said...

Also the AVGN's youtube channels were shut down today. I was a sad panda.

Kamiboy said...

Bah, what shame. I see Gunhed was released just a few days too late to make it to the next ChronTurbo episode.

Well, I hope there are some gems in the next episode.

synt4x said...

A little late perhaps, but I just wanted to say that all three of those games are apparently really good so I can see this delaying the next episode quite a bit. :)

Also, I love the beer posts. Especially about the more obscure beers. I'm not a huge beer drinker myself but I can always appreciate a fine belgian ale. So keep that up! :D

I wish you the best.

Anonymous said...

Hey Doctor Sparkle:

I just wanted to drop in and tell you how much I love your web shows (which I discovered randomly on Youtube). I can't believe the depth you bring to these videos! I was a huge video game geek in the 8-bit-era, and I learn all kids of trivia every episode of Chrontendo. Also, I finally know who to blame for my unhappiest childhood memories: Micronics!

Keep up the awesomeness.