Moo Juice Chocolate Milk Stout
Warm weather makes me think of chocolate milk. Sweet, velvet smooth and that almost celebratory gesture of wiping rings of milk off the lips. Memories that stretch back to childhood. But I’m an adult now; I drink beer. However, my adult taste doesn’t impair Hop Nuts’ ability to satisfy my nostalgic cravings. With the wide front door rolled up to let in those summer breezes and the panes of light swooping across the room, I take the first sip of the Moo Juice ($6 a pint, $4 during happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m.). The milk stout creaminess cozies against my tongue, like the comfort of chocolate milk, but like chocolate milk the sweetness doesn’t present itself immediately. It gradually grows with each sip. With the ice-cold glass in my hand I begin to think I’m holding a chilled milk bottle, and I gulp the last few sips, clunking the glass on the bar top. A cloud covers the sun, and the room darkens. There’s only one thing to do now: with the back of my hand I wipe the ring of beer foam off my lips.
Casa Blanca Moroccan Tagine Harissa Roasted Vegetables
Its description alone reads like a riddle whose answer opens the door to a lost temple. There’s a lot to know to decode this dish. First we need to understand “Moroccan”: coriander, garlic, the warmth of spice, the flavors of a nation. Then “Tagine”: a stoneware cooking dish used by cultures throughout the Middle East and North Africa, especially Morocco, for centuries (versions of it were in “Arabian Nights”) to slow roast food. Slooowww. That means soft, juicy, unctuous and exploding with flavor. The next word in the riddle, “Harissa,” sounds like a name from the movie “Avatar,” but it’s a spicy North African chili paste made with red peppers and garlic. Finally, there’s the most confusing word of all: “vegetables.” We all know the word, but for meat-eaters it’s synonymous with garnish. Which vegetables and how could they possibly taste good without meat? Well, taste is not a problem for the VegeNation kitchen. As I lift the bright orange lid off the tagine a cloud of steam parts, revealing soft sweet potatoes and zucchini squash hashed with crunchy thick-cut onions and chewy tomatoes, all resting on a bed of quinoa, which pops like fireworks with each bite. Eat the Casa Blanca ($11.95) and enter the temple of vegetables.