Lucky 13: Oregon Chocolate Festival Beer & Chocolate Menu

One of our fine team members getting the goods plated…

Mmmmmmmm

Ahhhhhhhhh

Ooooooooo!!

Robust crowd sounds abounded last weekend at the 13th annual Oregon Chocolate Festival, held at the Ashland Hills Hotel & Resort in Ashland Oregon. It was my 6th year presenting and they’ve come a loooooong way since they started. They’ve continued to see increased attendance, invite a variety of tasty and engaging vendors, host a line-up of educational presentations and have even added a run.

Six years ago when I started giving the classes, I literally didn’t know any chocolate makers. So – about twenty minutes before my talk, I ran around the festival floor, introducing myself and asking, “would you like me to feature your chocolates?” to a handful of vendors.

Great crew (slightly chocolate-goofy!) helping out

Dagoba was one of those vendors and they’ve become a long-term partner for me – and I’m so grateful and glad! World class organic chocolate, variety of flavors and styles (drinking chocolate powder, bars and so forth) and very easy to work with. Props to Jill and the Dagoba crew for their continued support. If you were there and liked the chocolates, be sure to let them know (they graciously give [read: donate] the goods each year).

This year was so much fun, as usual – because of the guests who come to partake of all the fest offers. And I’d like to give a special shout out to all the fine flavor lovers who attended one of my two Beer & Chocolate Classes! Thanks for everyone who came back and thanks to every one who experienced it for the first time.

My thanks as well to the fine volunteers from The Hospitality Club at Southern Oregon University, Asante, and the world class staff with the Neuman Hotel Group who makes sure everything is smooth and fabulous for me and our guests every year. To my captains, Katrina & Larry – you rocked it! Till next year ~

Love live the Festival!!

Here are the menus we enjoyed.

Saturday:

  • Standing Stone Brewing (all beers deliciously made by their brewer Larry Chase) Milk Chocolate Ale + Polenta with Dagoba Superberry + fresh blueberries & strawberries
  • Twin Plunge Double IPA + Dagoba Orange &  Lemonberry bars
  • Chocolate Porter + Ginger cookies with Dagoba Chai drinking chocolate & Xolcolatl chocolate chevre

Sunday:

  • Chocolate Porter + Dagoba Milk Chocolate bar
  • Twin Plunge + Lemonberry polenta & lemon zest
  • Milk Chocolate Ale + Ginger cookies with Dagoba Chai drinking chocolate & Authentic chocolate chevre

Recipes:

Chocolate Polenta

I made a large batch of polenta (to feed 100!) for each day. Essentially 12 cups of water + 4 cups of polenta; adding 2 bars of chocolate to each batch + 1 cup cream (not milk – it’ll separate). You can add more as desired – and I didn’t add any sugar at all, so the results were lovely and mild. Enhance and play with them as you wish.

Chocolate Chevre

Since I love love love goat cheeses, it was an easy pick to enhance chevre with the drinking chocolate powers. Allow the cheese to reach room temp and soften a bit more. When they’re room temp, sprinkle in the chocolate as desired. I highly recommend you add, mix & taste – following this pattern until you reach the flavor target desired.

Ginger cookies in testing mode

Ginger Cookies (on which we spread the chevre)

Yield = approximately 108 with a size 60 scoop dollops cut in half

Beat together until creamy: 1 + 1/8 c bacon fat* and 1.5 c sugar (mixing white and brown is a delight!)

Add: .25 c malt syrup or molasses + 2 large eggs

Sift together: 3 c flour, 1 t salt, 3 t baking soda, 1 heaping t powdered ginger, pinch cayenne, 1 heaping t cinnamon and .5 c Dagoba Drinking Chocolate powder of choice

Add dry ingredients to the wet, combine completely and don’t overbeat the batter.

Scoop or spoon out as desired. Note – with the bacon fat, they’ll spread so be conservative unless you want wide and flat cookies! Chilling the dough after mixed and before baking may help retard spread somewhat.

Bake at 350 for only 9 minutes; they can dry out and be really crumbly (if you like that style of cookie, go for it). Remove from the over after 9 minutes, cool for 1 minute, and remove to cooling racks. They cool and harden quickly too; store in airtight container. I surmise they’d freeze okay – and are always best fresh!

*I use Beeler’s 2# packages of bacon cuttings; it’s really low in salt and simple high quality bacon and a great value.

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Experimenting With Beer In Your Kitchen

Beer is an ingredient. So is Chocolate.

That’s how I sometimes view it – as a component, rather than limiting it to a glass for drinking. To limit is to cut off future opportunities and my taste buds don’t appreciate that!

Willing Dagoba chocolate volunteers, ready for duty!

So into the kitchen I’ll go this weekend to develop a menu and likely new recipes for the coming Oregon Chocolate Festival. While the sessions I lead would be successful with straight forward beer & chocolate, I’m more ambitious than that….preferring to come up with new ways to use tasty foods.

Come join us for the festival.

And if you run a food oriented event and are looking for a lively and crowd pleasing presenter, call me anytime. T’is always a pleasure to enlighten taste buds + brains with fun people.

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Beer & Chocolate

It’s that time of year again – the Oregon Chocolate Festival is coming right up. And yours truly is again presenting lively & delicious chocolate and beer tasting sessions.

For the past 5 years (this year = 6th) it’s been a pleasure to be part of this event at the invite of my fine colleague, Karolina of the Neuman Hotel Group. As I look back at the previous years, I like what I see.

OCF 2012

2012: First year invited to the festival by Karolina. My Fine Husband is a brewer in the same town and he was invited to make a beer for and talk at the Friday night Chocolate Makers dinner. Yum! I was lucky enough to go along and enjoy the hospitality and get a glimpse of what was ahead. We also were given a booth in exchange for my presentation, wherein we sold WEB goodies.

It’s always fun to see returning guests like Michelle.

2013: On the grow – the festival keeps attracting return guests and new guests into the flavor fold. I’m invited back thanks to our success last year and it’s a great time again, this time with an even fuller room (2 sessions, one Sat & Sun) that last year. Returning guests provide a humbling bonus.

Felicia enjoys the festival, with a fresh beer in hand.

2014: Getting bigger! And our last year in the actual room inside the hotel. We’re bursting at the seams and I give away a few tickets to the event – even better to help the Hotel generate more enthusiasm for a consistently well run and well done event. Felicia is the Winner and I’m so glad to have her the other 40 – 50 guests for each session. The Hotel Group has a terrific team, year over year, too so that makes the life of a presenter so much easier and more fun.

2015: Last year at the Ashland Springs Hotel, Downtown Ashland. In the tent we had a ball with as many guests would fit on Saturday, as well as a robust audience on Sunday too. Still with chairs only, we can snugly fit 60ish guests seated, with a few standing in the back. Thankfully I had enough of everything to serve the groups. Even better, my filmmaker Sean and PR pro Erika are in the house to capture all this tasty fun (clip above).

Join us at the Hills for the Festival

2016: We made a big leap forward to the new location, Ashland Hills Hotel, where the room can seat significantly more. We set up for 80 (seats & tables) and had big overflow of likely 100 = 120! While it’s a thrill to get that many people in the room who want to take part, it’s a disappointment to not be able to fully serve everyone who wanted to be there.  Big thanks to my team, Stacy & Russ, for working with the NHG crew to make it sing for me and our fine guests. I also gave away some private beer & chocolate tasting sessions (only 1 of 3 was redeemed…).

Soon: March 3 – 5, 2017. We’ll seat 100 people only, making sure that those who get there in good time have a literal seat and chair to enjoy the fun. Saturday & Sunday will allow for two different sessions, separate menus and as likely a few surprises. I’m deep into the throes of menu planning and development – creating a fun and delicious & enlightening menu for the 100 guests we’ll have Saturday and the other 100 we’ll have Sunday. Plus Karolina has given me the opportunity to be the moderator of a panel of beverage & food specialists – can’t wait!

Paula, Cassie, Ginger & Karolina are ready for you to join the fun!

Why am I walking down this chocolate memory lane today? Because in a world of sometimes feeling like I didn’t accomplish anything some days, these events are incredibly tangible and real. They’re like my fairway: a successful event like this helps me keep moving forward, knowing what I do matters.

  • Thanks to all the guests – one timers, repeats and stalwarts.
  • Thank you to Karolina and my crews – you make it all the better and successful for everyone.
  • Thank you for my flavor partners, including Dagoba Organic Chocolate and Larry/Brewer and others.

I’m relishing the upcoming festival and hope to see you there. Here’s the agenda. Please, come join us.

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Happy New Beer!

Events are a lot of damn work.

So I’m always grateful for client partners who understand a few things:

  1. They want to work together to further beer education, for the beer and for the education.
  2. They understand we both have skin in the game and anticipate – ne expect – to pay me for my services.
  3. They are on top of the details. Logistics are involved and time-consuming – no wonder people specialize in events management!
  4. They forge ahead and make it work.

So my new year goblet of beer is raised today to the hard-working, smart and clever people with Fermenta today. I’ve the pure tasty pleasure to being their guest for a special January event coming right up on the 11th. Here’s the link – save your seats today (space is very limited and it’ll be a tasty blast into the new year).

I’ll even be bringing some bootlegged Women Enjoying Beer koozies as gifts for all guests. The company Kolder stole my logo this summer and called it a mistake’… (more on that another time).

This event is open to all flavor enthusiasts, all makes and models. We’ll have a grand time in Michigan Winter tasting, talking and learning together.

Like I say in the opening of my book, this is one of those occasions: “Lotta damn work, made easier with help.” Thanks.

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Fermenta Flavor Trip

With a nod to the Ancient Mariner, one of the very best aspects of beer is flavor – hands (and pints) down. And one of the reasons is that we all enjoy flavor.

Do we all enjoy the same flavors? Oh goddess, no! That’s not important. What is important to is to enjoy beer and the beer community for all it offers, all beer flavors and characters included.

In my travels and adventures of beverage and food, I frequently lead beer and food pairings – often beer and chocolate. This eye-opening and often unexpected partnership of two everyday goodies is met with skepticism and enthusiasm. “Really, we’re going to have chocolate with beer?” Yes, really. Here’s why.

fermentablackBeer’s grain bill – the actual grains in the beer recipe – has so many affiliations with flavors in various chocolates. In fact, since they both have a prominent base ingredient (beer = grain, chocolate = cocoa), they are naturally set up to deliciously co-exist. While I may sound bias, I can tell you that the light bulbs I see go on in a room experiencing beer and chocolate make the effort so incredibly worthwhile.

Teaching to flavor, opening minds by starting with our palate is gratifying and satisfying. Gratifying because there are always people in the room who have epiphanies. Voila! “Whoa – who knew??!!” reactions that in turn make me grin. Satisfying because I get to refresh my taste buds with beer and chocolate at the same time, thereby renewing the joy of flavor exploration.

Join us January 11th as the fine Fermenta folks and I host a lively educational event at gracious host Arcadia Ales in Kalamazoo. I’ll be giving the talk, HerStory: The Story of Women & Beer, with the bonus goodies of fresh beer, Dagoba chocolate and Rogue Creamery cheese. Bring your open mind and open palate, good humor and a friend. Space is limited so register today.

See you soon in the Great State of Michigan for a flavor filled night. Cheers till then!

g

this article was originally written for Fermenta, 2017.

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Ditch The Appetizers, Sell Them Beer

To everyone who helps operate a beer with food establishment:

Ditch the Appetizers, Sell them Beer.

Why do so many places feel compelled to cut into the already thin margins of food as attractant for business for ‘happy hour’ or other reduced price events?

This practice makes no sense – in fact it can only damage the business. And never mind reducing prices on beer. That’s sacrilege in real life. Good grief.

Here’s what we need to all focus on: VALUE.

Value is the worth we place on some thing, experience and all other whatevers in our lives.

Are they worth our time? Our money? Our attention? Our repeat business? Our talking about them? Our sharing them? Our buying them to give as gifts?

Value is what matters most.

Value is what matters most.

Value is the true proposition we can all embrace and really sit back and ponder. It’s how we perceive worth. It’s also a smart business practice: to price on value.

For instance, I don’t offer my services by the hour – that’s simply encouraging the practitioner to keep you in the loop for longer to make more money. Is that really an ethical idea? No. Is taking care of your customers within one project rate better? Absolutely. Will you sometimes spend more time and others spend less in accomplishing what you agree to do? Yes, and it all evens out in time.

Appetizers are teasers. They warm up our palate and theoretically get our (literal) juices flowing to entice us to order more food. Is offering a reduced price appetizer the best way to get people to come to your business? It may get them in but it won’t keep them. There’s no value in discounting.

Don’t ask for a reduced price and don’t offer one. Offer value, in all ways, all the time.

Beer deserves to be a full value for everyone, all the time. Get the appetizers, order a beer and simply let it all be.

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Have We Gone Overboard?

There was a time when we simply described things as they were: carrots, beer, cars, songs. Hot cold, spicy, bland, fizzy, flat, red, blue and green.

Now it feels very different to me. Words like craft, artisan, farmhouse, and custom are bandied about with a carefree nonchalance that the most hardened foodie may find appalling.

And to what end? Are all these words used in context to what we put into our mouth merited? Does it truly matter to you where they came from or is it trendy? Said another way, do you think you need to be aware and care or do we fundamentally and genuinely care? Do we use the words because they really matter or because we’re keeping up with the organic-farm-eating Jones’? Here’s a few food words to consider.

Case in point: Paired.

Paired is a “craft beer + food” event offered to attendees of the Great American Beer Festival, fall every September. What was once titled Farm to Table is now Paired. Why the switch of the name, is my first question. Are we in a day and age where single glib or seemingly gravitational words are how we want to sum up an entire experience? Do we want the feeling of something or do we want to enjoy the literal fruits of someone else’s labor? Farm to Table is straight forward and descriptive.

Paired menu 2016

Paired menu 2016

Don’t get me wrong: the Paired event is quite a show. The host organization, The Brewers Association, has deemed me worthy of a media pass several years, for which I’m grateful. Trappings of that badge include admittance to this event. Any time I get to eat with drink I’m happy. The planning and effort that goes into this one event, for example, looks to be a remarkable undertaking. Kudos.

So let’s look at the menu. Read one way, we can safely say it’s chock full of learning opportunity! An overflow of words that are new to me, so no doubt a collection of new vocab to others as well. Take for instance: rillette, mignonette, tataki, fromage fort, taleggio, membrillo, fish headcheese, chorizo seco, duck pipian, loukaniko...and on it goes. A crash course in Italian and French in many ways. Cool! I love to learn so there’s a build in homework option.

And if we’re looking at keeping it real and every day, this isn’t the event for you. I honestly think that someone looking for everyday food they cook (in a broad general sense) would not fully enjoy or appreciate. Words that are unfamiliar and to some unpronounceable don’t really engender new ideas; they engender fear of mispronunciation and sometimes, due to that, simple avoidance.

I’ve found the best way to navigate this event is to simply wander and ask lots of questions. The crews present are always very knowledgeable and it’s a good way to make new connections. Simply know that the next person in line will likely also ask some of the same questions of the crew. It’s gotta be a long repetitive day, and that’s what this is about: meeting, talking & educating on a redundant soundtrack to help people learn more about what they are eating, beverage paired with food.

To that end it’s a smash. Again, I enjoy it. I also find that by the time I’m ready to go all I want is a plate full of one food I know and recognize and to fill up on with a full glass of beer.

Have we taken the beer & food pairing too far?

Likely it’ll get pushed farther still. So be it. For me it’s about knowing what I’m getting into, embracing it for what it is – Italian lessons beforehand be damned – and then coming out the other side. Enlightened, fuller and perhaps more curious, “Woman overboard!” an infrequent call.

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Beverage Pro VIP Seminar: Register by 11/9, Limited Seats

  • Are you a professional and in some way selling or marketing beverages to women?
  • Do you want more high-value customers?
  • Do you understand the value of both building more long-term customers AND professional development for you and your team?

Then call Ginger today at 515.450.7757 to register for your seats at this exclusive event.

VIP Professional Marketing To Women Seminar

Date: Thursday November 10th, 6 – 8 pm

Please join us for cocktail & beer hour + hors d’oeuvres between 5 and 6 pm. The program will start promptly at 6 pm. We recommend you arrive by 5:45 to settle in.

Location: our friends at Immortal Spirits, Medford OR

Agenda of The Evening: Based on the newly published book, How To Market Beer To Women: Don’t Sell Me A Pink Hammer, this singular groundbreaking-book seminar is designed for beverage pros who want to develop and hone their customer service and selling skills. The program will go through specifics in the book, you take note and makes notes in your copy of the book, and walk out of the event with Real Useful New Insight to apply to best sell beer to women.

This seminar is designed for beverage and beer brands, brand representatives, beverage marketers and operators, distributors and importers, retailers and restaurants and bars that sell 21+ beverages.

You get a custom menu 3-course delicious dinner prepared exclusively for you, for this event. Our fine friends at Immortal Spirits are planning a menu to include beverage and food for each course. It’s one of my Third Places and they make stellar spirits and pour delicious beers.

Why Should You Attend: Because women buy 75-85% of all goods & services in America. Because you want to sell more beverages. Everyone who sells adult beverages needs women. Women want these drinks. This exclusive seminar connects the dots, giving your company a competitive advantage over those who do not attend.

Registration required by end of day 11/9/16

SEATS ARE VERY LIMITED. Call today to reserve your seats (payment in full saves your seats; registrations are non-refundable once purchased.) And frankly: you should be there if you’re in the business.

Investment: You’ll more than recoup your entry fee of only $99 per person. The ROI will happen quickly when you apply what you learn at this seminar and from the book in totality.

If you love your beverage, if you want to sell more, if you respect women as the world’s most powerful market then plan on joining me for this incredibly high value event.

THIS WILL SELL OUT. Call today 515.450.7757

The videos we’ve been posting get you started…reserving your seats assures your increased success. Talk soon.

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I Think We Can Do Better

“I think we can do better.” – Julia Herz, Beer and Food Summit, CIA, St. Helena CA 2015

Julia’s a wise and savvy person. And I agree with her entirely.

We all have the power & tools to be better.

We all have the power & tools to be better.

I know we can do better to invite women into beer. I know we can do better to describe beer flavors and attributes. I know we can do better to explore pairings of beer and food together. I know women can pull a chair up to the table to get involved. I know beer brands must be fully respectful to everyone they wish to sell beer to. I know we can do better in so many ways.

Doing better means you have to have a mark in which to see what ‘better’ means.

So if we think, say, pairing  beer and pizza is good, I’d say – we can do better. Let’s look at focusing in from the way too generic Beer and Pizza to something like Porter and Crimini Mushroom Pizza. That’s better.

To pair beer and cheese: we can do better by pairing not just any beer and any cheese. We can use a great resource like Janet Fletcher’s Cheese & Beer book to educate ourselves and learn to match flavors.

To market beer: we can do better by universally assuming full respect for all people, all makes, models, identifications and preferences. Who cares what all those ‘things’ are when what the human population simply craves togetherness. Let’s do better by getting together over what is universal: flavor.

We can do better. And we can do a bit better every day. In the interest of continually improvement, we can all do better when we realize that doing better makes the world better too.

Doing better means one thoughtful action at a time, adjusted to be better. Try it. Have fun, see improvements domino.

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Heavenly Tastes

It was big fun to be the featured speaker at a recent Des Moines Iowa Barley’s Angels event. On a Monday night we had 35 hungry guests join us at Lefty’s Live Music venue.

Ariane warming up the crowd at Lefty's.

Ariane warming up the crowd at Lefty’s.

Being in Iowa to enjoy beer is not new to me. I founded Women Enjoying Beer when I was living in Ames years back. In fact, the very first interest group I hosted to see who might be willing to talk about women and beer happened there. When 28 people showed up to find out more, I knew I was onto something.

Fast forward to today: the first book on How To Market Beer To Women is coming out directly, I’ve been invited to work with dozens of clients across North America to teach, consult and advise on various elements of women and beer. This event was a sterling example of what I love to do: present, teach, entertain and taste. Turning on the brain for full engagement of flavor makes me very happy – and I truly believe it’s worthwhile.

When we talk about women and beer, we open up all sorts of other conversations.

The crowd was a mixed one, women and men alike, for which I laud groups for doing. The menu was a robust one, focused on Iowa Beers, cheese from The Cheese Shop and Dagoba Organic Chocolate. Is your mouth watering yet?

Ariane & Ginger at the event. Tasty success!

Ariane & Ginger at the event. Tasty success!

Big thanks to Ariane and the whole chapter as well as Anne and Rita from Lefty’s for making it all happen smoothly. Here’s the menu we enjoyed.

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The Bully Beer Pulpit

“It’s different to talk about beer with a beer savvy audience than it is to talk to a non-beer audience.” – Julie Johnson

Julie is right. And that lesson is on my mind a lot these days since I’ve got a variety of non-beer (focused, yet included) work coming up soon.

The Texas Restaurant Association is one such audience. It’s a thrill to be returning to the nation’s second largest restaurant industry show to talk about marketing, beer, and business.

Julie’s quote above will help guide me to success as I keep a few things in mind.

  1. All of us in business need marketing guidance; no matter where our beer education is.
  2. Beer has much to teach us in the business world, like how important it is to savor the experience.
  3. Marketing is critical to success of all kinds, no matter tax-status or locale or size of business entity.
Terrific panel at the 2015 TRA Marketplace

Terrific panel at the 2015 TRA Marketplace

When I head to Houston in a few weeks, I’ll be delivering a few talks: Beyond the Deep Fryer Better Beer & Food Pairing for Better Business Success as well as What’s New Right Now? in craft beverage.

Clearly the titles have been set…and to paraphrase my friend Marti, I’m ready to direct the talk where ever the best direction seems to be, outline or not. The audience always knows more of what they want to know, than I can surmise. So it’s really important to me – as an educational speaker – to take care of the questions they brought with them. I can always send a follow-up outline to attendees afterwards.

The show hosts thousands and thousands of people, hundreds upon hundreds of vendors, and dozens of speakers & events. It’s important to me – as it is the attendees – to invest our time wisely and give & get what will provide value and meaning.

Beer invariably infiltrates talks I give, including my TED talk. I bring it into the conversation because it’s part of who I am. And I’m aware that the TRA crowd will be interested insofar as whatever beer insight I give them will help them improve and build their businesses.

I could talk about marketing all day long – I love it. The TRA Marketplace is be an ideal opportunity to integrate, overlap and connect the dots. Sound hospitality business includes smart marketing; if you hold a license to serve, then knowing about beer and how it affects your success is also important. I combine both, for varied audiences, with success.

Speaking is an activity and work I truly love. Making sure the audience can relate and find useful takeaways is my goal. Call me when I may be at your service in this capacity. ‘Tis always a pleasure.

 

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Summer School: CAMFA

A few years ago I introduced CAMFA, a beer learning concept I based on 5 elements of enjoying beer: Color, Aroma, Mouthfeel, Flavor, and Alcohol.

As we head full on into summer, I’d encourage you to use this fun, easy & memorable concept to fully enjoy your beer.

Enjoy using CAMFA with your summer beer adventures

Enjoy using CAMFA with your summer beer adventures

Here are a few things to keep in mind when using CAMFA:

  1. Color. Color is only color. Said another way, it’s not flavor so lets your taste buds speak to flavor, leave the color for your eyes only (, James).
  2. Aromaaaaahhhhhh! It’s one of the most delightful and oft overlooked elements of beer – aroma. Really breathe it in. It’s lovely to smell your beer.
  3. Mouthfeel, aka Texture. Mouthfeel is that surreptitious friend who enables us to really get our oral sensory receptors fully engaged. Put them to work.
  4. Flavor, aka Taste. Flavor is the number one reason women engage in beer (WEB research 2008 – present). Learn to try every beer you have opportunity to do so.
  5. Alcohol. Moderation is Alcohol best friend and is ours too. Beers full glory can be best appreciated when it’s consumed and therefore enjoyed in a modest fashion.

Enjoy your summer schooling in beer with CAMFA. I’d love to get your “What I Did This Summer” essay come fall – send ’em my way! And tell me all about your beer, CAMFA adventures.

Cheers ~

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What The &%$! Is It??

“That’s bad – but what the hell is it?” – recent off flavor class attendee

So true. We can often identify that something may be ‘off’ yet we can put our taste buds, olfactory or brain on precisely what we think is wrong. Or we can’t name the flavor we’re trying to isolate. Or we can’t remember where we’ve smelled that aroma before.

Smell & taste education = fun!

Smell & taste education = fun!

It’s all part of the learning curve in beer and all things gustatory.

Here’s the key: Keep learning.

Self-education combined with outside education is the answer to all improvement and progress. We can’t learn it all ourselves – and to think we can would only be fooling yourself. The smartest people around know that they must keep learning from others. They proactively pursue what they don’t know and surround themselves with people who know what they don’t.

And why would you want to?! Half the fun and magic of education is when you get to do it with other people who are also turned onto the idea of learning.

Think of it this way: the last time you really enjoyed any type of presentation, what did you enjoy about it? The more we enjoy it, the more we remember. The more we remember, the higher the value and impression of the experience.

So get out there. Find a class, host a class, take a class, and invite friends or plan to go solo to meet new folks.

Education makes the world go ’round. I’ll drink to that!

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Creating Believers: Beer & Chocolate Tastings

“I used to be a beer racist, but you changed me.” – April A

Ninkasi’s Believer Red has long been a beer that makes me smile. Yes, it’s delicious. More importantly I really like the philosophy around the name: Believer.

We all want to believe in something and last night I made believers of new beer & chocolate tasters. April’s quote, my host of last nights event, nails it: remove your prejudice and simply fall into the possibilities.

Beer: Just Add Chocolate to pair.

Beer: Just Add Chocolate to pair.

As part of the annual Oregon Chocolate Festival, I deliver lively & tasty “Beer & ____” sessions each year. This year – my 5th year doing so – I also introduced what I dubbed the ClassPort. Everyone who attended all three of my tasting sessions over the course of the Friday – Sunday weekend event was eligible to win a complimentary private beer & chocolate tasting; they got their ClassPort stamped at each class.

Three people dedicated themselves to the task (!) and I ended up giving away 3 sessions. Why not!? They made the time and participated, I love engaged guests, and it’s fun all the way around.

Last night I delivered the first of the three private tastings to 8 game and mostly unfamiliar-to-this-concept folks. Suffice to say minds were changed!

Here’s what I find are 3 of the consistent surprises when people put beer and chocolate together.

  1. Most people have never even thought of putting beer and chocolate together, never mind attended an actual planned tasting event. The element of Surprise & Delight is on my side!
  2. The tasting first of the beer alone, then the chocolate alone, then the two together is a good pattern for the S & D factor. “Wow! Who Knew? Really??” are all rallying exclamations from guests.
  3. Since beer is so incredibly diverse, it’s easy to blow minds multiple times with however many courses you choose to feature. I planned 3 last night (menu below).

The next time you think of beer, think of chocolate.

The next time you think of chocolate, think of beer.

Then invite some friends over and make some new believers out of them.

Oh – and Ninkasi beers, by the way, make great choices. I’ve featured them many a’time with success. Choose the beers and chocolates you like, mix and match, and simply have fun exploring.

Discovery awaits!

Menu:

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Chocolate In The Kitchen Class Registration

Join us!

I’m looking forward to seeing you at our new class: Chocolate in the Kitchen. It’s a 3 part series of demo classes to fill you up with ideas on how,where, and when to include chocolate and cocoa in your cooking adventures. Simple, lively, fun and tasty. You’re sure to walk away with loads of ideas and meet other terrific new people.

  •             When: Tuesday nights 6 – 8 pm, April 12th, 19th, & 26th
  •             Where: my sweet ol’ etcetera Bakery, 250 Oak Street #2, Ashland Oregon
  •             What: Classes (demo style) on using chocolate in the kitchen – new ideas, recipes and tastes abound. You’ll get copies of everything post-class as well so you can relax and enjoy it fully. (by all means take your own notes as you wish!)
  •             Value: Only $129 per guest, includes all instruction and supplies per person

Dress comfortably and know it’s a cozy space. I recommend you bring a water bottle – we’ll have some tea available too.

Chocolate In The Kitchen - ideas aplenty!

Chocolate In The Kitchen – ideas aplenty!

Since the classes are during the dinner hour for many, feel free to bring snacks as you wish. We’ll have you taste & nibble, though it’s not a full meal.

Please call me to reserve your seat/s. You can print off and mail all necessary information below & send payment in for each person and we’ll look forward to welcoming you in April.

  1. Guest First & Last Name ____________________________________________________

Direct & best phone number _______________  Direct email address _______________________

  1. Guest First & Last Name ____________________________________________________

Direct & best phone number _______________ Direct email address ________________________

Add more as desired – NOTE: we have room for 8 guests total. You’ll get confirmation when payment is received.

Payment can be made with checks (yep!) & cash.

Send registration and payment of $129 to: Ginger Johnson, 509 James Street, Talent OR 97540.

Payment for the class is due in full before April 10th to ensure we’re ready for you – and ready we want to be for a great time.

I’ll be glad to connect with you in person if you’d like to pay with cash. We’re fine tuning online payments – my apologies for any inconvenience at this time!

Note: Once you buy the series, the seats are yours. Like a scheduled concert, you’re welcome to pass your seat/s forward to someone else if you have a conflict with any of the dates once you pay (said another way, sorry – no refunds).

Thank you & see you soon ~

Ginger

World HQ: 515.450.7757                                    gcj 2016/ Women Enjoying Beer / Ginger Johnson LLC

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Oregon Chocolate Festival 2016: Workshop Recipes

Welcome back!

Thanks to those who are seeking this out do to your attending one of my sessions at the 12th annual Oregon Chocolate Festival. As a returning presenter, I’m very glad to share the menu + recipes (or links therein) so you can do this at home.

OCF 2016 Workshop signage

OCF 2016 Workshop signage

Of course, if you liked the presentation – if you like lively engaging entertainment period – call me for your own events. Business and home, private and public events are all fair (and fare) game.

Friday

Chocolate Gingerbread cookies, courtesy Martha Stewart

Fast Fondue, courtesy Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library, Chocolate cookbook

  • 1.25 c brown sugar
  • .25 cup stout/robust deep roasted flavored beer
  • .5 heavy / whipping cream
  • 9 oz semisweet chocolate chips/chopped
  • In a medium saucepan, stir together the stout and browns sugar, then add cream and bring to a steady boil. Remove pan from heat, stir in chocolate till all melted. Keep warm to serve. Fresh fruit, biscuits, and cookies are all good dippers.
  • Dip, drizzle, have fun!

No-Fail Fudge, courtesy Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library, Chocolate cookbook

  • Grease an 8 x 8 pan with butter.
  • Combine: 1.5 c unrefined sugar, 2 T unsalted butter, .5 t salt, .5 c evaporated milk in a roomy saucepan over medium heat. Stir continually until boiling, lower heat slightly, and simmer & keep stirring for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in chocolate until smooth. Add 2 t vanilla extract and stir again. Quickly pour into the pan, smoothing the surface as desired. Place in fridge for 1 – 2hours until firm. Cut & serve. Store in airtight container at room temp for up to 1 week.
  • (I used Scharffen Berger’s Coconut Macadamia Nut in one batch, their Sea Salt Pistachio in another. Both delish!)

Saturday

  • Fast Fonue (see above) – I used Dagoba’s Xocolatl in one batch, their Milk chocolate in another
All that remained after one of the workshop tasting sessions...

All that remained after one of the workshop tasting sessions…

Barley wine Poached Pears

  • Peel, quarter and core as many Bosc pears as desired. Chunk if desired (hint: more surface area = quicker cooking) Make sure they are just ripe, not overripe. Place them in a pot and add roughly 4 cups of barley wine + water so they are gently floating. Add mulling spices for extra flavor. Simmer until pierceable with a fork. Remove from heat, letting them cool down in the liquid. Place pear pieces in serving dishes, drizzle with Fast Fondue (above), garnish with fresh mint if desired. Serve.
  • Tip: Keep the liquid to keep cooking with.

Citrus Cookies

I adapted the Gingerbread cookie recipe above, replacing fresh lemon & orange zest for the savory spices and cocoa. These cookies will cook best if the dough is chilled for .5 – 1 hour before scooping & cooking. I rolled the dough into fat logs to cut into coins for baking.

Sunday

Both the Sour Cherry Jam & the Apricot Lemon Marmalade are from the excellent book, The Canning Kitchen, Amy Bronee. I highly recommend you buy it for the recipes.

Cheers & keep nibbling ~

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2016 Oregon Chocolate Festival Recap: Beer & Chocolate &…

First of all, THANK YOU to all the super engaged and fun flavor loving guests at the very recent 12th annual Oregon Chocolate Festival, Ashland Hills, Ashland OR.The organizers moved it to a roomier venue – and in my opinion, with great success. Way more room and opportunity for everyone to fully get around

Elegant tasting-ready room at OCF 2016, Ashland Hills

Elegant tasting-ready room at OCF 2016, Ashland Hills

and mingle. The previous venue is now too small for this ever-growing destination event.

It marked my fifth year presenting at this yummy Theobroma cacao saturated festival. Each year I’ve given lively & tasty beer and chocolate tastings. We’ve gone from a room that’ll seat 30ish to a tent that seats 45/50ish to (now) a roomy room for 80+.

When people started coming in, 30 minutes before the sessions started, I knew we were in store for more incredible crowds of enthusiasts. I’m happy to report, every single person who was our guest at all three of the sessions was a pure pleasure to have in the room! I especially liked the multi generational families with offspring of varying ages.

With 22+ Friday night, 80 – 100+ Saturday afternoon, and 80 – 100 Sunday, it was a packed crazy good time had by all. Can’t wait to return next year! I’m always humbled by guests who return to my sessions on purpose – so a special thanks to them all.

Russ, Ginger & Stacy - revved up for the 2016 OCF

Russ, Ginger & Stacy – revved up for the 2016 OCF

The sessions ran smooth in large part thanks to my exceptional (not exaggerating here) crew, starting with my second in command for the weekend, Russ. He’s a service professional, kept it all going, gave directions to the hotel staff (who are always fantastic too!), and made my job easy. Hats off to my colleague and occasional assistant Stacy, equally competent, sharp and guest focused. The hotel staff & crew, management and security hired – all of them were smiling, helpful and fun to work in delicious harmony with and for.

So – what’d we have, you may be asking? Good question! Let me whet your whistle with the menus we served. I encourage you to try this at home:

Friday / Always a Classic: Beer + Chocolate Pairing & Tasting

  • Standing Stone* Chocolate Stout with chocolate gingerbread cookies & Dagoba** Lemonberry Zest chocolate.
  • Barleywine* with shortbread cocoa sticks with Xocolatl** fondue + red raisins
  • Milk & Honey* with Scharffen Berger Coconut Macadamia fudge

Saturday / Together Forever: Beer, Wine & Chocolate Tasting

  • Barleywine* + Weisingers Syrah with barleywine poached Bosc pears drizzled with unsweetened** fondue and Rogue Creamery Flora Nelle blue
  • Chocolate Beer* + Weisingers Sauvignon Blanc with citrus cookies and mandarin oranges

Sunday / Better All The Time: Beer, Chocolate & Cheese Tasting

  • Noble Stout* with more Coconut Macadamia fudge + Scharffen Berger sea salt pistachio fudge and unsweetened coconut shavings
  • Twin Plunge Double IPA* with Orange** chocolate, mandarin oranges, and rustic french bread crostini topped with Rogue Creamery Cacow Belle cheese & either lemon orange marmalade or cherry citrus jam
  • Milk & Honey* with Milk chocolate** and water crackers topped with soft chevre, dusted with Drinking chocolate powder**

Hungry yet?

Good.

I’ll post recipes tomorrow.

*Standing Stone Brewing Company beers

**Dagoba Organic Chocolates

 

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Personal Anniversary Beer Dinner

My Fine Husband and I met February 6th, 2002. I was on a date (with someone else) and he was the Brewmaster leading a beer dinner with the AKM, at Granite City Food & Brewery, Sioux Falls SD.

To celebrate this meeting and then our first date March 1st 2002, we recently decided to recreate the specialness of that meeting by making our own in-home beer dinner. Date night. What a great idea!! And why hadn’t we thought about it before….oh well…no matter.

First course....complete with a cozy fire.

First course….complete with a cozy fire.

Once we decided to have this fun dinner celebrating us, we endeavored to put together a menu. Larry chose and procured the beer he desired for the evening, then I put together a complementary food menu. What fun it was to do so – knowing so much more about beer, pairing and cooking with beer now than I did 14 year ago….

When I went on that fateful February date, I went because it was Something To Do – not because it was a beer dinner proper. It was a fun thing two people who hardly knew each other could do together and converse throughout. In retrospect, it was the fact that the date in particular was quickly becoming a first and last with that person (nice guy, just not for me) that motivated me to turn my full attention to the event: learning about beer and food together.

Now, I grew up with a dinner party throwing family so the idea of coming together over beverage and food was familiar and attractive to me. To feature beer was the new idea – since my family mostly had cocktails and a bit of wine. Beer was around, simply not at these parties for whatever reason. I shared a bit more of the story in my TED talk here.

Fast forward to a month ago. The beer dinner we decided to throw ourselves was a really fun way to celebrate meeting and beginning our relationship. Here’s the menu we enjoyed.

My Fine Husband & me celebrating - cheers!

My Fine Husband & me celebrating – cheers!

If this all sounds good to you, go ahead and reproduce it as you wish, of course! Celebrate your own wonderful occasions with this or a menu of your own devising.

Life is worth celebrating. Do it often.

Cheers to My Fine Husband, professional brewer and love of my life. Here’s to years of fun dinners together forever.

 

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Beer Syrup

Yes, you read it right – beer syrup. What, you ask, exactly is that?

It’s a lovely elixir of almost unbelievably luscious flavors made by using beer in reductions and, well, to make syrups. On pages 197 & 199 of the new (totally fantastic!!) Beer Pairing book by Julia & Gwen, they cover making syrups.

goodies simmering in beer....

goodies simmering in beer….

I’ve got some in my fridge from the prep I did for the Big Beers festival in early January. For the seminar I lead, I had simmered various fresh citrus fruits & dried vegetables in beer. Once the fruits and vegetables were done, I saved the liquid. Almost every liquid in my kitchen finds a new life in other dishes. At a minimum the worms in my compost pile are extremely happy with what we give them!

Making beer syrup is quite simple with perhaps the most difficult part simply deciding which beers to reduce. Caveat: very bitter beers are not good candidates, as they can get very unpleasantly tannic. (I first learned this in cooking prep for the TFOB). It’s not what you or the beer really wants. All the same, experiment and cook a variety of beers down to see what you get, taste every few minutes to learn more about what’s happening and how the flavors change until you find what you want.

In preparation for my Vail session, I simmered ruby red grapefruit, lemons, limes, blood oranges, valencia oranges, and kiwi in 3 different beers: New Holland Dragon’s Milk, Allagash Nancy, and Bruery Terreaux Oude tart with Bosenberries. WOW! Talk about a very fun and tasty experiment – or shall I say exbeeriment….in all events, the syrup in my fridge from those exploits is deliciously awaiting being included in recipes. So far, I’ve used some for baking sweet potatoes (yum), smoothies (yum), and punch

I love sharing new ideas with hungry audiences - Vail rocks!

I love sharing new ideas with hungry audiences – Vail rocks!

(yum). They’re quite versatile so get creative.

Lucy Saunders, long time food & beer pro, is an outstanding resource for cooking with beer. Her books are useful, fun and a delight for the enthusiastic cook using beer in the kitchen. And I’m just starting to get to know Adam Dulye, beer chef for the BA.

When you find yourself looking for a new idea, make some beer syrups. I guarantee it’s beer as you’ve never had it before and well worth while. Oh, and sipping on a beer while you’re cooking is the best way to happily wait for the alchemy to happen.

Cheers!

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