Talking eggs and beer with a stout fellow
Beer: It's not just for breakfast anymore. But the greatest beverage in the history of mankind, which guys often use to hook up with womankind, is the perfect accompaniment to the first meal of the day.
I found this out after making a recipe for Scotch Egg, which I got from "The American Craft Beer Cookbook," the fabulous new culinary and libational bible by a guy with the best job on the planet, beer writer John Holl.
For strictly journalistic purposes, I decided to talk with Holl about his laudable purpose in life, which is to spread the gospel of beer. So I met him at Alewife, an estimable establishment in Long Island City, Queens, that serves vast varieties of the aforementioned brew.
"Millions of guys would give their right arms to have your job," I told Holl, adding that they'd then have to drink beer with their left hands.
"It's not as glamorous as you might think," he replied. "I don't go out carousing. In fact, sometimes I'm in bed at 10 or 10:30 at night. In Seattle, on my book tour, I was sitting in a hotel room with the curtains closed, eating olives out of a box. Still," Holl added with a smile, "it's not a bad gig."
The dedicated journalist showed that he has a nose for brews by sniffing a Riprap Baltic Porter and commenting on its nutty aroma. I proved to be a little nutty myself by emulating Holl and ending up with a schnoz full of foam.
Next we tried a Medula, an English Imperial IPA, which like the first beer is made by the Barrier Brewing Co. of Oceanside.
"It smells like Juicy Fruit gum," said Holl.
"Except you can't chew it," I noted.
What we could chew was dinner, which we ate at the bar. Holl ordered a salad (fewer calories, less filling) and I had a burger (just the opposite). Holl suggested another Barrier beer, Rembrandt Porter. Like the painter, it was a Dutch treat.
"It goes well with meat," said Holl, who had a lighter brew with his salad.
"I once made my own beer," I told him. "Jerry's Nasty Ale."
"How was it?" Holl asked.
"It didn't kill me," I replied proudly. "It had a smoky flavor. I don't know why. I didn't put cigar ashes in it. But it was pretty good."
As responsible beer drinkers should always do, we paced ourselves and didn't overindulge. At the end of the evening, I told Holl I had decided to make Scotch Egg, mainly because the recipe came from Half Full Brewery in my hometown of Stamford, Conn.
"Besides," I added, "I've never had beer for breakfast before."
"An Irish stout goes well with eggs," said Holl, 33, a warm, funny guy who has tried all the recipes in the colorful, 343-page book and is anything but a beer snob. "Let me know how it turns out."
A couple of days later, I bought a four-pack of Murphy's, an Irish stout that is imported by United States Beverage, also in Stamford. The next morning, I opened "The American Craft Beer Cookbook" to page 10, laid it on the kitchen counter and commenced to make Scotch Egg.
"Please don't burn the house down," said my wife, Sue.
Easier said than done because somewhere around step 3, as I was heating oil in a deep fryer and had turned my attention to removing pork sausage from its casing and simultaneously boiling eggs, the smoke alarm went off.
The phone rang. It was a nice woman from the home security company, calling to ask if I had burned the house down.
"No," I explained. "I'm just making breakfast. Want to come over for eggs and beer?"
"I'd love to," she said, "but I have to work."
Sue opened the windows to get the smoke out and I finished making breakfast. I put the spiced, sausage-wrapped eggs on a plate and dug in. They were delicious.
I washed them down with an Irish stout. After a cooking experience like that, I really needed it.
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