Beer, Politics and the Budding of America

Budweiser Label from the year Bonnie & Clyde were killed.

Yea, I stay on top of current events. In these mid-apocalyptic times it's as important as a forceful flossing after a tasty rack of pig ribs. And like you, I was caught up in the 'Beer Wars' of this weeks 'Beer Summit' in Washington. And I thought "sure", Obama had no other choice but to drink a Budweiser product. It was obvious. Case closed. Then my Neighbor Bob walked up to my (way too low) fence, threw up his fist and said, "Damn Obama, what's he got against the Most American Beer we have, Samuel Adams, Huh?" Crap. I hate when politics enters the back yard; it really spoils the 'vacation vibe' I try to maintain out here. So I politely told him to take his hate to the front yard and we'd hash it out. He never showed (probably because I got busy scrubbing the grill grate and forgot all about meeting him, sorry Bob).

But Bob had a point: Samuel Adams IS a true American Beer, not only brewed here but it also bears the name of a great American Hero (do I need to say his name again?). And the Boston Beer Company, its parent group, is the second-largest American-owned brewery. But there's a problem--it's a bit pricy. It reflects the middle class, not the struggling man and the daily drinker like myself. It's not found in greasy drive-up taco stands and back room juke-joints. No, the President needed a cheaper beer to fill the void of the classes. But that's not the only hurdle... There's the little problem of the war between the States. North vs South. Yes, it is only spoken of in hushed tones, and like a mutant baby, it is kept locked in the cellar - but yes Virginia, there is a rivalry still festering there - and that's where the the beer war really turns nasty.

Northerners in the East drink their Yuengling & Rolling Rock, and in the West their Sierra Nevada - and in Texas their Shiner Bock, but none of these have any appeal to the Southerners. No sir, they don't want that 'Cold Mountain Water' crap. They refuse to buy into the rhetoric of RedHook, the Hipster duffas brew. They are distrustful of the 'Boston' Beer Companies moniker on the Sam Adams label. They shudder at the trendy 'Alehouses' (Pyramid Breweries) and 'Cream Ales' (High Falls Brewing) and 'Hefewiezens'. They just want a good 'ole Red White & Blue cold-ass no-frills, cheap-as-gutter-water and easy-to-find-as-my-shotgun beer damn-it.

Cut through the clutter and only ONE beer can appease an entire Country, and that's Budweiser. It's offered EVERYWHERE. From Alaskan Truck stops to Baja taco stands, From Southern tire stores to Northern chainsaw outlets. It's in 96% of all boat coolers and 50% of all school children's back packs (okay, I made that last statistic up). It dominates the stands at NASCAR and it flows from the taps at Miley Cyrus concerts. It IS the American athlete's foot of beers, and it's here to stay.

But maybe I'm wrong and its NOT a matter of Social Economic North & South Political Correctness. Maybe the President just chose Bud Light because he's just a Bud light kinda guy. I don't know. But I do know Bob spends too much time obsessing about it.

I only do one Recipe with Budweiser Beer, but I do it well (when I have a leftover can of beer, which almost NEVER seems to happen, DAMN IT)....


1/2 can Budweiser Beer (drink the other half)
2 TBS Apple Cider Vinegar
2 TBS Fresh Orange Juice
2 TBS granulated Garlic (or 2 cloves minced)
2 TBS fresh chopped Cilantro
1 TSP Dijon Mustard
1 TSP Soy Sauce
1 TSP Worcestershire Sauce
1 TSP Honey (or brown sugar)
1/2 TSP Sripacha Hot Sauce (I love this stuff)
2 dashes Louisiana Hot Sauce
Black Pepper

- Pour all the ingredients into a pan on the stove top. Heat to a boil, reduce heat and cook 8 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and let fully cool to room temperature. Pour into a large plastic Zip Lock Bag and add your steak (a cheap cut will do well, as the marinade will tenderize as well as pack great flavor into it). Now just let it chill in the marinade overnight.
Grill your steak as usual and open a new six-pack.


INVASION OF THE MEAT BEES - my red foot wore a yellow jacket

It should have been a simple walk out across the grass just a few feet from the patio (to grab a neighbors poorly thrown doggie ball) and back again before retreating to cocktails and refreshing shade. The Bastard got me before I even got a third step down. The books call him a Vespid pest, or yellowjacket. Here we call them Meat Bees or Mackerel Bees. They sting like a son-of-a-bitch. Jimmy buffet ain't got nothing on my filp-flop blow out this day, the sting site ballooned to the size of a half dollar and felt like a red hot branding iron on an open cold sore. The scary part is he was not alone. I looked around and suddenly saw the grass was alive with these bastards. The were silently hovering less than an inch over the dry grass that was pot marked by fallen & rotting purple Jacaranda flowers. It was the rancid sweet nectar of the flower bud they were seeking, I was a mere casualty of the feeding frenzy. My yard had become a mine field and I never saw it coming.

I had deep concern because Yellowjackets are more than just your run-of-the-mill lawn 'nuisance' bug, Yellowjackets are notorious for their aggressiveness, often grouping in large numbers when provoked and taking farm equipment and machinery 'hostage' when the operator ventures too close to their territory. Just the sound of lawn tools will anger and provoke a swarm of these black & yellow bastards and they WILL attack. Unlike the common house bee, these nasty devils don't die after stinging - they just pull out, turn, and charge you again - often resulting in repeated stings. And it only takes 60-70 stings to kill a healthy human, not a far fetched number when you figure that each hive can contain up to 300 workers on the job at any given time. But wait, it gets worse! Entomologists are now warning of a new, far more aggressive species of these bastards making the rounds in Southern California, a nasty North European Yellowjacket that is much more belligerent and quicker to sting than it's American cousin - with or without provocation, it doesn't care. This new strain of yellowjacket is particularly frightening when you realize that it has a hive that can produce up to 6,000 workers a season. There's even a recent case on record where a horse died from their venom after running into one of these hell-spawned yellow swarms.

So why are they called 'Meat Bees'? Because they eat meat, pure and simple. They are protein sucking vampires. Actually these devils also feed on sugars and carbohydrates but most often are found feeding from the carcass of a dead animal or picking at a dead fish at a lake's edge. I've personally had trouble keeping them away from fresh cut Mackerel bait during fishing trips up at Quail Lake. They have been known to attack and kill mice for food, as well as other small animals and insects. But they could also just as easily be called 'Sugar Bees', as they will target soft drinks, beer, orange juice and any other sugar based drink. Many high schools have reported problems with Yellowjackets, mostly due to the fact school trash bins are littered with soda cans and citrus drink containers (and, yes my 'in denial' parents, beer cans). Or in the case of my lawn, sweet flowers. Yet another reason to hate the Jacaranda tree (because the fact they ruined the paint on my car just wasn't enough).

So what now? Time to build a damn Mackerel Bee Trap, that's what - Follow along now, you may need this someday. I started with a green liter plastic soda bottle (yes, I see the irony), and I cut a large hole into the side of it. I filled the bottom with 6 inches of water and added 5 drops of dish soap to 'slick' the top of the water (The soapy water weakens the surface tension so they quickly sink). I then hung a small can of fish based cat food (with 4 large holes punched in the bottom of it) about 1/2" above the water - a string running from the can to the top of the bottle then tied to a stick should hold the can in place (A hunk of Turkey or Ham can be used in place of the cat food). I then hung this entire contraption from a tree in the yard (after putting shoes on) - The idea is the Yellowjacket will enter the bottle and start feeding from the bottom of the cat food can - gorge himself on my dime and then fall into the water and sting me no more. That's the theory anyway, time will tell.

Next move? I say a dollop of calamine lotion, a shot of Bourbon and a marinate for my dinner chicken with the GD Sweet Meat Bee in mind. With Honey as a base, I came up with this Grilled Red Honey chicken, perfect for boneless skinless Chicken - be sure to reserve some of the marinade for basting during the grill process, and maybe a tablespoon or two for a nice red (spicy) plate drizzle. It reflects the throbbing red area from the sting nicely!


1/4 cup Olive Oil
1/3 cup Wild Honey
1/3 cup reduced sodium Soy Sauce
1" piece fresh Ginger (minced fine)
1 TBS ground Achiote powder
1 TSP ground Chipotle Chili Pepper

- I chose Achiote powder to give the sauce the nice deep red look of a BBQ Sauce (a reflection of the sting site) and an earthy chili / pepper flavor- I love this stuff, so versatile and very easy to find here in L.A.. Small packages of ground Achiote (packaged in 79 cent EL GUAPO packets) hang from the Mexican spice racks in most major grocery stores - I got mine from Ralphs. The ground Chipotle Chili pepper maybe a little harder to find, but worth the search - a must-have to impart a nice smoky bite to the sauce (and reflect the actual sting in a pleasanter way). I was able to get a 2.35 oz bottle from the Hot Pepper store at the Fairfax Farmers Market (Pacific Natural Spice Brand). The wild honey was locally collected.
The only problem I have now is getting out the back door and over to the grill with a platter of sweet marinated raw chicken without drawing attention to myself... Damn those Sweet loving, Meat eating, soulless Bastards!



I don't know, could be like kicking sand into a sink hole, this whole Blog idea. What the hell, I figure I'd give it a shot and see where it landed. At the worst I'd have a petty diary of the time spent in the moment - a captured breath of my history as it were. At the best I'll meet a few like-minds and learn a few new tricks along the way. It's also an exercise in stick-to-it-ness, can my short attention span go the long haul of a blog? As long as alcohol remains in the house and the spell check continues to correct my dyslexic 'all thumbs' typing, I don't see why not. Thus it begins...

These notes flow from just a little left of the center of Los Angeles, a tiny spot somewhere between "I wish I lived in that beautiful house' and 'lock your doors, we're coming to a stop light'. It's rented, which suits me fine (for now) as I'm not the do-it-yourself kinda guy. I once owned and for the last few years I had a broken oven that I never got around to fixing. Mice moved in through the bottom and it soon became a big metal container that held one small cheap wooden mouse trap. I sucked as my own landlord. Now I rent. And I once again enjoy the comforts of crisp food from an oven.

They say Los Angeles is a state of mind, and if true, then I have lost mine. This is a land without a central nerve system - like a jellyfish in a vat of aloe, it seems to aimlessly exist. Now I don't mean that in a purely negative way, I just mean it feels so displaced and spread out that central social centers and 'main streets' are nothing more than urban legends brought here from other time zones. For the majority of us, gas stations are still required to get groceries and the GPS system is the new Thomas Guide for finding the grocery store. "Down Home" will never apply here....

I have a history of smaller cities - I was born and raised in South Florida, moved to San Francisco (to attend Art School) and later moved to New Orleans and they all had one important thing in common, world class food on every level. I have been spoiled by this past, and I now struggle with high expectations for culinary excellence every time I walk into a restaurant. I know from the thousands of places I've eaten from Florida to San Fran, from taco bars to crab shacks, It doesn't take much to make a flavorful and enjoyable meal. Unfortunately, when I first moved here, I found most of Los Angeles to be a huge disappointment in this area. Like a truck stop serving year-old frozen 'boil bag' meals, the overall experience of L.A. restaurants was bleak. But things started changing....

You've gleamed by now that this is all leading up to a (rambling) food blog. I am indeed a 'food hound' in search of a food high. And L.A. is quickly becoming a Food Hounds' heaven. I've been in L.A. 20 years and it is only recently that I've seen a trend of food moving away from the can & cardboard ready-mades to 'fresh and local'. Maybe it's the internet with intensely informed readers wanting more, maybe it's the constant influx of young travelers who have developed refined taste buds and expect more from a major city, maybe it's the cable 'Food' shows that have opened home kitchens to the forbidden secrets of the Food Gods... or maybe it's that people just want to get back to simple pleasures like a well crafted plate of comfort food. Things are changing quickly and it's a good time to be a food hound.

I've decided to write this blog as I live my life, an utter mess - cluttered and (seemingly) without direction, but with an underlying thread connecting it all - Food. No grammar checks, no cares. I have stubborn ideas about food and what is good and why, and like all cultural anthropologists, I come with hidden personal biases & influences. But the passion is sincere and the focus true. I hope to dump notes and thoughts here when I get the urge, using this Blog as an excuse to experience new restaurants, unusual ingredients, or at the least, drop a fork and drop my pants in public. Call it Culinary Adventurism. And feedback is welcome, as long as you wash your own plate, thank you.

Let me start this blog with one of my favorite recipes:
Head out to a REAL roadside Farmers market - the kind found on the edge of an apple farm and buy yourself a BIG-ASS glass jug of raw apple cider - this is the unprocessed, unpasteurized stuff. That's important. Now pour some out so that there's at least a 6" to 8" gap between the screw top and the contents. Now seal it back up good and tight (Hey, just for kicks let's add a few tablespoons of sugar first). Now stick it in your car trunk and forget about it for two months. Drive around with it. Park the car in the sun.... Yea, You know where I'm going with this...