Monday, May 30, 2011

Radegast Hall & Biergarten, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Restaurant Review

Rating:  ****

Well, a Memorial Day isn't complete without some quality family time.  After we went to the East River Park, my husband, daughter and I sauntered over to the Radegast Hall & Biergarten in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  What's wonderful about this establishment is that it is both all about beer and totally kid-friendly, too.  Sounds like a paradox, no?

We've been there a few times, for both brunch and for dinner, and the staff is friendly, the beer is great and the food is good too.  There's a dark, intimate restaurant/bar side, with cozy booths, a labyrinthian bar and candle-lit tables, and a bright biergarten side, with huge skylights 20 feet up (which were removed for open-air ambiance today) and long communal tables.

The food is good in general, sometimes great.  The standouts are their enormous pretzels (served with delicious sweet/hot mustard and cornichons) and their fries.  Today I had a bratwurst, which was good, but I've definitely had better (I'm a Stassenfest/Oktoberfest veteran from Midwestern German stock)....  The skin-on fries which are perfectly sized (not too skinny, not too fat) were hot, crispy and delicious.  We devoured the fries while waiting for the sausages.

What's a bit of a pain is that the grill is self-serve -- so if you want any bratwurst, fries or sausage, you have to walk over to the grill, place your order and wait at your table.  The grill master wasn't too busy, so he took our orders over to us when they were done, but I think you're supposed to check on them yourself.  They have other food that's on the menu and ordered from a server...more expensive, more fancy, but not necessarily better than the hearty grill fare. One time for brunch I had the  eggs with potato pancakes, thick-cut bacon and apple horseradish relish -- it was quite tasty, especially the potato pancakes and bacon.

We've only gone to dinner there once.  I had the smoked pork chop with spinach mashed potatoes and cabbage.  It was an enormous portion -- I shared my meal with daughter (I think we called the cut-up pork "chicken" and she liked it) and there was plenty to spare.  The pork chop was smoky in flavor, juicy and thick -- quite good.  I used to hate eating pork chops as a kid because they were always so dry -- now it's a fun change of pace, but I only trust a few restaurants for good chops (nearby Fanny also has an excellent pork chop).

They serve .5 L tall glasses and enormous1 L mugs of of beer.  I prefer the half-liter glasses, because even if I want that much, the liter mugs would get warm too quickly for me to enjoy it.  My favorite draft beers are the Schneider Weisse and the Franziskaner Hefe-Weizen.   The Franziskaner Hefe-Weizen is a wheat beer, but its a lot more citrusy and tart than others I've had.  The Schneider Weisse is a nice medium amber beer that has interesting spice notes, but goes down very smooth and is not bitter on the tongue.

Back to the kid-friendly aspect.  I'd say 50% of the seated parties today had either infants, toddlers or kids with them.  It's refreshing to be among your peers, yet be with your kids and not feel like you're in a pizza parlor or a McDonalds.  The mood at Radegast is joyous...the sun was shining, the beer was cold and everyone was having a great time.  It made for a memorable Memorial Day.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Food Review: Shady Brook Farms Italian Style Ground Turkey

Rating: *

Before I go into this review, you should know that my husband and I eat a lot of Shady Brook Farms ground turkey products -- specifically the unseasoned Ground Turkey and the Sweet Italian Sausage.  We love them both.  So it came as a big surprise that the "Italian Style" Ground Turkey is such a bummer of a food product.

The first time I used this ground turkey was in an Italian meat ragu tomato sauce.  Unfortunately, the seasonings themselves do not taste Italian at all -- just very heavily seasoned with salt, pepper and hot red pepper.  Therein lies the rub.  The package isn't labeled as a "hot" product.  (In fact, if you're in a hurry, you can barely differentiate the Italian Style logo from the regular ground turkey logo.  Several times I've grabbed one of these packages by mistake when I just want plain ground turkey.)  It's just too spicy, and this is coming from a person who loves and adores hot Thai Green Curry and spicy Indian food.  The heat factor is just the beginning of my Italian Style Ground Turkey woes.

Two weeks ago, I prepared Turkey Sloppy Joes with this Italian Style turkey.  Okay, maybe not the best flavor combination, but I had grabbed the Italian style package by mistake.  I had been planning to make Turkey Sloppy Joes for a few days and presto, this was what I found in the fridge.  When I ate a bite of the turkey sloppy joes made with the aforementioned product, my stomach was immediately "in distress."  I began to have heartburn, burping and belching.  My throat became sore (and had been sore for days....thank you, GERD!) and I had to quickly pop some Pepto Bismo tablets for relief.  Since I make turkey sloppy joes all the time (with unseasoned turkey) without incident, I know that it's not my added seasonings that are the problem.  It's the dreaded Shady Brook Farms Italian Style Ground Turkey.  Also, my husband also experienced heart burn after eating this product, so it's not an isolated incident.

But do not lose hope.  Shady Brook Farms makes a delicious sweet Italian sausage that tastes like real sausage, isn't too spicy, and is wonderful in Italian dishes (I usually split the casings, brown in extra virgin olive oil with chopped onions and add herbs, tomato sauce, etc. for a great sausage ragu.)
Skip this in the poultry aisle and go for plain or the sweet sausage.  You have been warned. ;)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Vitamin D Deficiency

Yesterday I called my doctor to find out my blood test results.  I had gone to her the previous week, after experiencing several days of tingling hands and general weakness following a digestive issue.

Initially, she'd thought I'd had a Vitamin B-12 deficiency or a bacterial infection.  I was kinda hoping for a B-12 shot, having heard it gives you great energy.  (I've been largely caffeine-free for about nine years, so I can't just rely on coffee any more for a boost....)

It turns out I have a Vitamin D deficiency.  It comes as a bit of a surprise, since I use a women's multi-vitamin every day that has 1,000 iu of Vitamin D....250% of the RDA.  But if the digestive issue was preventing proper absorption, it would follow that the vitamins that I thought I was getting are just getting flushed out of my system.

The good news is that it's getting sunny again after over a week-long spell of rain and cloud cover here in the Northeast.  I've read that 15 minutes of daily sun exposure can help the body make its own Vitamin D, and with my daughter's enthusiasm for the playground, I'm sure to get more than I need this summer.

In the meantime, the doctor suggested I take Citracal with Vitamin D.  I just hope it gets absorbed better than my multi-vitamin, since otherwise I'm just duplicating efforts.

Has anyone else been diagnosed with a Vitamin D deficiency?  What were your symptoms?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Food Review: Starbucks Caramel

Rating:  *****
I'm not a huge Starbucks fan, since their coffee seems overpriced and over-roasted to me, but I used to go once in a blue moon to indulge in a caramel frappuccino. So when I saw this in the grocer's freezer aisle on sale, I grabbed it.

That was about a year ago.  Let's just say that this flavor, vanilla and coffee ice creams swirled with a caramel ribbon, is now my FAVORITE ice cream, perhaps ever. 

I go into convulsions of 'mmm-ing' and closed-eye reverie.  I never eat it in front of anyone, even my husband, since it might make him a little jealous.   The ice cream is a perfect match of flavors -- the coffee flavor is not too strong, the caramel is not too thick, the vanilla is smooth and complements the stronger flavors perfectly.  I used to love Ben and Jerry's, but now that most of their flavors have enormous chunks of things in them, candy, nut or otherwise, I find that I crave the smooth textured ice creams in their stead.

When I'm running low on my favorite ice cream, I add Hagen Daaz vanilla to the mix to extend the life expectancy of the Caramel Macchiato pint.  By the way, I appreciate the fact that it's a whole pint, yes 16 ounces, instead of a paltry 14 ounces that Hagen Daaz and other brands have shrunk too.

I also appreciate the fact that it doesn't make me wired -- I don't think there's much caffeine in a single serving.  The coffee flavor is balanced, but not crazy strong like espresso.

5-Stars, my fave.  I just hope you don't go to the same grocery store I do or we'll run into some inventory trouble.  Happy eating!


Welcome to Anon-o-mom!  I'm a SAHM and WAHM, depending on whether I'm freelancing at the moment.  My toddler daughter is quite a handful... and so are our expenses.  With that in mind, I'm hoping to create a mom-centered blog with parenting issues, food reviews, recipes and general musings.

I hope you'll stay awhile.


the Anon-o-mom