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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Big Apple has Big Pretzels!

The Cronut - Dominique Ansel
New York City (NYC) might have Dominque Ansel's Cronut, not to mention a plethora of other yummy cuisine, but as an avid pretzel lover I had to see how the city’s pretzels stacked up against those in Portland. It turns out that Houston Hall, a massive beer hall in NYC’s West Village, has a tasty (and massive) Soft Bavarian pretzel!




Houston Hall Giant Warm Pretzel

Alex Tucker eats a pretzel
 
While traveling for work, I was able to soak up some of the city and fortunately for me, Matt's friend Alex lives close by so I was able to meet up with him for some pretzel eating and site-seeing. When we got to Houston Hall, we ordered one Giant Warm Pretzel and then had to order a second one because I overlooked that for a little extra money ($2) they also had some Cheddar ale dipping sauce. It was delicious and well worth every bite and the extra pretzel!


We walked off the pretzel(s) - oh and meat & cheese plate - on our way to see the Flat Iron Building, which is easily my favorite building in America. While I should have been full from all of our pretzel eating and beer drinking, I couldn't pass up the chance to eat at Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. Their squished, juicy little burgers were so savory and they let us wait to get our frozen custard shakes until we were done eating our burgers! 


Contrary to what it might seem I didn't just eat my way through NYC, but as a lover of food I couldn't pass up the opportunity to truly taste what they big city had to offer!




Houston Hall Cheddar ale dip
 



Monday, February 3, 2014

I love making pretzels and I cannot Lye...

I got Andrea Slonecker's cook book "Pretzel Making at Home" for Christmas and my boyfriend (Matt) and I decided SuperBowl Sunday would give us the perfect excuse to try out our first recipe from the book! In case you didn't get enough food yesterday during the big game, read along and be on your way to a pretzel making adventure!

Step 1: INGREDIENTS 

Baking Soda (in lieu of lye), flour, sea salt, Pilsner, unsalted butter, active dry yeast, brown sugar (instead of barley malt syrup), a mixer (with a dough hook), cookie sheets, parchment paper, egg, water, Kosher salt!



Step 2: Put active dry yeast (one 1/4 oz) in warm water. Add brown sugar, butter, sea salt, flour..

and beer - we used Pilsner Urquell


Get dough hook for the stand mixer!



Stand back and let the magic happen (until dough is elastic - about 7 minutes).  We used about a cup of water to help make the dough less dry, a little more than the recipe recommends. 

Once it's fermented, knead it out a bit, grease the bowl with butter, put the dough back in and refrigerate!

Andrea recommends letting the dough rise in the refrigerator for 24 hours, so we stuck to that (more or less). At the same time we baked baking soda for about 1 hour at 250 degrees. This will eventually be combined with water to dip the pretzels in before baking!

The following day...we kneaded out the dough, and were able to yield 16 TWISTS!

 



Once we twisted them into shape (my favorite part), we then dipped each of them in the simmering hot water/baking soda solution for about 20 seconds. Note: in some cases the bread is actually boiled, which I think I might try next time just to see the difference in the pretzel.
 


Then we brushed egg yolk + water on the pretzels, sprinkled with Kosher salt and popped them into the oven for about 8-11 minutes. 


 

I must say, they turned out quite spectacular - just the right amount of salt, thickness and softness - and our friends would agree. Nothing like pretzels for #SuperBowl Sunday!
 












Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Happiest Place on Earth...just got a little saltier!

Happy 2014 Pretzel Lovers!
 
My boyfriend's parents recently took a trip to Disneyland and found chocolate dipped pretzel-rods, which naturally inspired me to write a blog post. Not only did it look delicious, but after one bite I was hooked because it was filled with caramel.
 
It tasted the way you hope a Twix bar tastes each time you decide to indulge in one, but arguably better. Maybe there should be a "pretzel-inspired" Twix bar? The pretzel M&M's were a hit (well at least in my world). If anyone from Mars is reading this, I will allow you to steal my idea, but only if I get a few free Twix-pretzels in the mail?! I also accept pretzel M&M's!
 
A girl can dream, right?

 
I guess in 2014 I just might have to do a little traveling to Disneyland myself and you can bet that I will be in search of pretzels (along with all my favorite Disney characters, of course).

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Aunt Fanny has some Hot Pretzels

A roadtrip from Portland to San Francisco would not be the same without pretzel tasting...well and maybe wine tasting ...but you can probably guess what I gravitated more towards. 



Pier 39 at Fisherman's Wharf has a lot of touristy restraunts and shops but buried closer to the ocean, near the salty water taffy shop, is a little stand called Aunt Fanny's Hot Pretzels. The pretzels are indeed hot but also doughy, drowned in butter, salted to perfection (if you prefer) and complete when dipped in cheese sauce (think nacho cheese sauce, so nothing too fancy). The first bite convinces you that you have embarked on one rich pretzel eating experience.

I think I would frequent this place a lot should the brand ever decide to expand to Portland - maybe close to the waterfront? 




Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Bier Stein Pretzel is Mighty Fine

My first trip to Eugene, OR was spent at The Bier Stein, a local beer shop that has over a thousand bottles of beer with at least ten unique brews on tap! It has only been around since 2005 but has expanded over the years given its popularity, especially with U of O students. 

Their food is amazing, but of course I  am partial to their pretzels. They are soft, salty, and complement their beer selections to a T. The cheese fondue and mustard give the pretzel an added kick too. I think I could have had several more helpings of their beer cheese fondue sauce by itself! 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Hand Made Hammond's Pretzels: A Tasty Tradtion

While not kin to Portland, if you haven't had a Hammond's pretzel you're missing out. Hammond's pretzels might be crispy but somehow they look and taste like a soft pretzel. Music to my taste-buds.

My boyfriend's co-worker recently introduced us to this little family-owned and operated bakery based out of Lancaster, Pennsylvania and naturally I needed to try their pretzels to see what all they hype was about.They have been producing hand-made sourdough pretzels since 1931 and are regarded as the "oldest continuously family operated hand-made pretzel bakery in America." Their little Amish/Pennsylvania Dutch Hard pretzel is definitely something to brag about.

Their pretzel products range from no salt to extra salty to dark pretzels (which have a more burnt consistency but are surprisingly still pretty tasty). I had the regular pretzel and dark pretzel and would have to say I am a bigger fan of the regular one, although it's pretty tempting to order some of the "extra salty" pretzels... for comparison purposes.

It turns out Pretzels were first introduced to the Americas by "Palatine Germans" or "Pennsylvanian Dutch" and the birthplace of the American Pretzel as we know it today began in Lititz, a city right outside of Lancaster in Pennsylvania Dutch country. Philadelphia in particular is one of the well known cities, in addition to New York and Chicago for their scrumptious soft pretzels - I wonder what it will take to get Portland on that list? I guess if Portlandinans start consuming twelve times more pretzels than the national average like Philly then we might also be recognized as a place for pretzels!







Saturday, August 10, 2013

Bretzels and Brewfests

Summer in Portland means many things, but one thing that always catches my eye are brewfests. Portland International Beerfest and Oregon Brewers Festival are two of my favorites.


Held right in the heart of the Pearl district, the Portland International Beerfest offers 150 world class beers from 60 different countries. These beers are strong, but luckily Fressen pretzels were available on-site to remedy me from getting too out of hand.

The Oregon Brewers Festival, located alongside the waterfront, offers beer selections that are more my style. In addition to 21st Amendment's Hell or High Watermelon, this year I also took a liking to Oakshire OBF 26 an Imperial Oregon Ale.

In terms of pretzels, however, I would say the Oregon Brewers Festival has a doughy leg up on the International beerfest. While Fressen is delicious and if you can't tell by now, abundant in Portland restaurants, it's pretty hard to compete with Gustav's pretzel. Along with a sumptuous texture and abundant flavor the cheese fondue that accompanies this salty treat pushes this tasting experience into realms normally reserved for the original pretzel masters in Bavaria. In fact, Gustav's pretzel was what kicked off this blog and I must say it still stacks up pretty high in my book.