Sunday, March 14, 2010

Berserkerfest II

Southern California food blogging sensation clayfu invited me this past weekend to Berserkerfest II, an epic no-holds-barred "What Happens in Lompoc Stays in Lompoc" wine party with the fabulous folks over at Wine Berserkers.

The trip took us from LA to SLO, then back south to Lompoc for an early afternoon tasting at Arcadian Winery to kick things into gear before heading over to the host of Berserkerfest II, Brian Loring's Loring Wine Company.

Barrel-stand, anyone?

The Hitching Post
catered the event, which was very neat. But the fact that 'Zerkers each brought a motherload of jizzerific wines to share and enjoy with friends totally kicks HP to the curb. Ain't nothin' able to top fine wine and good company.

Oh right. I do apologize if I get any names wrong in this post. Too many 'Zerkers to meet! While good n buzzed, no less...

Let's begin!

'Zerkers trickling in and setting up

HP preparing to feed us. Keep the meat comin', gramps!

Grilled Quesadillas - duck, corn, cheese.


No silly macrobrews here. Only craft, micro, and hella rare vintage bottles. Most of the good stuff aren't pictured, but do give you an idea of what was available, some dude popped open a spicy Anchor Brewing Co. Christmas Ale...from 1995. Holy frijoles.

Actually, it was this dude (in purple tie-dye):

Gathering of my fellow beer advocates

Seeing such prime-o booze being opened, I naturally had to toss in my 1.5 y/o Alesmith Grand Cru and year-old Stone RIS for a good measure. But really, I was way out of my league here. And a special thanks to Brian who lugged in some very well aged Belgians. Delicious, matey! Except for the Sour.

Berserkerfest II underway!

Grilled BBQ Chicken Pizza

Food was solid for the most part. Could not stop munching on the quesadillas, smokey bbq pizza, and BLT pizzas in between mouthfuls of grilled meat. Speaking of meat...

Beef skewers were whatevers, so let's pretend this is beef is the impeccable grilled lamb.

Thanks Humberto! Loved it.

As a very interested newbie to the scene, I had just about a bazillion questions to ask and like any enthusiastic hobbyist, several 'Zerkers were more than happy to share their tastes in wine, walk me through tastings, and show me the ropes. Big shout-out to my man Humberto, Fu, Prof. Lin, and Mr. & Mrs. Gonzalles!

Grilled Gulf Shrimp w/ Cajun 'Slaw

50% Prof. Lin and too much Fu

Ribs and shrooms.

So Paul, remind me again what happened here at the end of the evening?

Yoni's tag placed up high to compensate for a certain inadequacy. ;D

MAH Gs! Dan, Paul, D-Unit (thanks Walsh), and cutie-pie Chris, you guys rock!

And with a few drinks down the hatch, silliness, hilarity, and violence ensued!

Checking for a puncture wound

Yeah that's right, Lauren. Don't tolerate crap from Fu! Show him who's boss. Work those sexy heels!

Taking a breather from Burgs

Yes, not all the grub and social cliqs are pictured. A real comprehensive shoot would require sobriety and declining offerings of grilled meats held up by cute little blondie servers. Ain't gonna happen!

Berserkerfest II was a blast and I am very happy to have had the chance to come out and meet this wonderful online community. What a great bunch of fun-loving folks. You guys really tickle my funnybone. Thanks for the good times and wine education. And of course, a big thanks to Brian for having us!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Uncle Jerry's Handmade Pretzels

I got hired to snap some product shots for Uncle Jerry's Pretzels awhile back and it looks like the photos are starting to make their way to their website. See if you can ID my photos and the original ones from Uncle J! Pal of mine from the good old undergraduate days is currently redesigning the website and a second photoshoot is planned, so maybe some lucky San Diego or LA/OC bloggers can swing by for some tasters :) We'll see.

Here's a small handful of photos from the first shoot:

The original Plain-Jane

Okay okay. Calling The Original a plain Jane isn't exactly fair. It really puts typical pretzels to shame. I especially like the faint smokiness that the salt gives. Dough tastes light, clean, and fresh. That probably doesn't make any sense, but think of it as a supermarket cake VS cake from a capable bakery or dessert cafe. One's obviously finer. If ya can't tell the difference, then I don't know what to tell you. (Maybe "L2Taste, n00b" ?)

My only complaint is that Uncle Jerry was a bit too gung-ho when sprinkling on the salt. I suggest brushing at least 25% of it off or washing it down with some good local brew*. A beefy IPA or Belgian Strong Pale Ale would go very nice with these.

Extra Dark

Hands down my favorite of all Uncle Jerry's offerings, even though I have yet to taste the chocolate pretzels. For reals, you just can't beat that smokey, lightly charred taste. Love it! The Original is good, but giving it a good burn puts it at a whole new level of awesomeness. This variety is definitely for folks who enjoy strong, bold flavors.

Milk Chocolate

Hope to try it on the next shoot. Smells good, though!

Dark Chocolate

Have not tasted this sexay thing yet either, but I do salivate at the sight of it. Like its Milk Chocolate sibling, this baby is one big hefty fella. You can really feel the weight in your hand.

Family portrait

Uncle Jerry also carries Whole Wheat and Sesame flavors. I'm not exactly a fan of those two, but they do have their merits other than being higher in fiber and therefore healthier than their chocolate or OG counterparts. The Whole Wheat really does taste like...whole wheat, which is to say it tastes like "blah." Slight nuttiness with a rough texture. I'll eat it only because it's a healthier option. The Sesame is two or three steps ahead of Whole Wheat in terms of flavor. Their textures are similar, but the Sesame is more aromatic thanks to the addition of sesame (ah duuuhrr, Roger). Try 'em and let's compare notes. I'm sure some folks would enjoy the nuttiness.

I do want to emphasize that Whole Wheat and Sesame don't taste bad at all, but they can't hold a candle to the OG or Extra Dark. However, when you are working your way solo through a whole bag of OG or Extra Dark like the pig and stress eater that I am, it is really nice to have some sort of palate cleanser. Sesame's my choice fo sho.

Stay tuned for Berserkerfest II + me and my bro's Grace burger night celebration.

*UPDATE (3/7/10): Apologies to readers and Uncle Jerry. It completely slipped my mind to mention that all flavors are also available in Low Salt. Sorry, fellas!

Uncle Jerry's Handmade Pennsylvania Dutch Pretzels
Uncle Jerry’s Pretzels
PO Box 695
Lancaster, PA 17608
(717) 872 - 0803